Shortly after their marriage William’s regiment was posted to Canada and Dorothy accompanied him there. William retired from the army in March 1793 and the family returned to Yorkshire.
Major William Duff died aged 41 on 5 July 1795 at Fulford, near York. He was survived by his widow and only child. His inscription in the Duff family mausoleum (at Duff House, Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland) stated:
Sacred to the memory of William Duff of the 26th Regiment, a meritorious officer, a most sincere friend, an affectionate husband, an indulgent parent. He lived esteemed and respected. He died regretted and lamented in the 41st year of his age in the year of the Lord 1795.
Dorothy and Sophia stayed in touch with William’s family. A letter written by Dorothy to her father-in-law in London mentions a visit to William’s sister, and that Sophia was visited at school by her paternal grandfather.
Dorothy Duff (William’s widow) to Earl Fife Richmond, Yorkshire Dec’r 23rd, 1801. My Lord,— I have to thank you for a letter which yu were so good as inclose me fr Lady Duff before you left Duff House, and after being so long without hearing fr your Lordship, was glad to have so good an account of you which was confirmed to me by ye Miss Whartons who wrote me after ye Ball you gave them and that they seemed to have much enjoyed. I have to thank you, my Lord, likewise for your visit to Sophia at Doncaster, where, she tells me, you were so kind as to call upon her notwithstanding a very bad day on which you walked up to ye School, and by which she was much flattered. I had ye pleasure of receiving her a few days ago in perfect health when I returned home after being near three months with my friends at Redmoss Hall. Sophie is wonderfully grown, and is now nearly as tall as I am. When she was with me in Summer I had her at Scarborough two months for ye sea bathing, which gave us an opportunity also of being wt Miss Duff who we had not seen for a very long time. She is by this time gone to Ly Norcliffe. I hope ye much wished for Peace will be ye means of bringing Sir James and Ly Duff soon to England. Your Lordship may perhaps have heard that my Brother is married. It took place here a week ago, before I came home, and he has entirely left ye army — in which he has relinquished very flattering prospects. Your Lordship would be sorry for ye death of poor Ld Adam Gordon — in whom I lose an affectionate relation and friend. I was deeply hurt at ye event- Sophia and I were to have spent this coming Christmas wt him at ye Burn. It was so settled when he was so kind as visit me here in ye summer, but our plans formed so long have proved vain. Sophia sends her duty to your Lordship.— Wh my respectful good wishes I remain, My Lord, your much obliged, etc., etc., D. Duff. The Earl of Fife, Fife House, London.
from Alistair Tayler & Tayler, Helen Agnes Henrietta, 1869-1951, joint author (1914). The book of the Duffs. Edinburgh W. Brown. Volume 2 page 523 retrieved through archive.org
The letter mentions :
Sophia, who was about 11
William’s sister, Jean Duff,
William’s brother, Sir James Duff and his wife Basilia, Lady Duff nee Dawes
Dorothy’s brother, Gordon Skelly, who on 15 December 1801 married Elizabeth Newsome
Dorothy’s great uncle, Lord Adam Gordon, the brother of Dorothy’s paternal grandmother. He died on 13 August 1801.
Sophia’s school at Doncaster was probably the school of Mrs Ann Haugh on Hall Cross Hill, which opened in February 1797, accepting 12 young ladies. Mrs Haugh was the wife of the painter George Haugh, who taught his wife’s pupils.
Dorothy Duff nee Skelly, widow of Richmond, Yorkshire, remarried to Captain George Tobin of the Royal Navy on 13 June 1804 at St George, Bloomsbury, England. Her daughter Sophia was then about 14 years old.
Two children were born to Captain Tobin and Dorothy: George in 1807 and Eliza in 1810.
In August 1806 the Terrible was caught in a hurricane and dismasted. The Terrible was at the time in pursuit, in the West Indies, of a French squadron under the command of Jérôme Bonaparte, the youngest brother of Napoleon.
In later life Mainwaring commissioned seven marine paintings. These are mentioned in his will. Two have been mislaid; five are at Whitmore Hall. One is of the extant paintings is ‘The Battle of the Nile’ (mentioned in an earlier post). Another appears to be of a dismasted ship, perhaps the Terrible.
His service on the Menelaus included the following:
the capturing, without loss, of the St. Josef, a French brig, pierced for 16 guns, lying within pistol-shot of one battery, flanked by another, and also by musketry from the shore, near the Bay of Fréjus in the south of France. The account was gazetted on 25 April 1812.
in 1812, Menelaus was part of the blockade of Toulon in the Mediterranean and operated against coastal harbours, shipping and privateers off the southern coast of France with some success. Mainwaring was noticed for the following:
the attention and assistance he afforded on the occasion of the Menelaus (together with the Havannah and Furieuse frigates and Pelorus brig) being chased by the French Toulon fleet
by his admirable gallantry and good conduct when the Menelaus, having pursued the French 40-gun frigate Pauline and 16-gun brig Ecureuil under the batteries in the vicinity of Toulon, once more effected a masterly retreat from the fleet that had come out to their protection, by passing through its line ahead of one 74, and astern of another
by the manner in which, under circumstances peculiarly honourable to him, he boarded and brought out the French xebec or zebecLa Paix, mounting 2 long 6-pounders, with a complement of 30 men, from within pistol-shot of the towers of Terracina, under a galling fire
by his highly creditable behaviour in cutting out, under a heavy fire from the batteries in the river Mignone, near Civita Vecchia, the French letter-of-marqueSt. Esprit, pierced for 12 guns, but with only 2 6-pounders mounted
Rowland Mainwaring kept a diary all his life. He published several books based on his diary. One of these was ‘The First Five Years of My Married Life‘ (1853), a record of Mainwaring’s activities afloat and of his domestic life. The book includes a detailed account of 1815, his last year of active service.
There was a flurry of activity after Napoleon escaped from Elba in late February 1815. The Paulina was first involved in escorting a convoy of transports from Bona, present-day Annaba in Algeria, and Cagliari in Italy. The Paulina then proceeded to Naples and Gaeta in charge of a convoy with arms and ammunition for the Austrian forces. On arrival there was news of the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and Gaeta surrendered.
He proceeded to Genoa and Marseille and at Marseille attended a grand civic ball. In September he was back in Valetta and reunited with his wife and her third child who had been born on 14 August. This son was named in honour of Edward Pellew, Lord Exmouth, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean, and who had consented to be the child’s godfather. The Paulina was then ordered to proceed to Plymouth. He sailed on 30 September with his “family, goods and chattels, a milch goat, and various little comforts and luxuries for the voyage home.”
Mainwaring was paid off in November 1815 and did not serve afloat again.
O’Byrne, William R. A Naval Biographical Dictionary: Comprising the Life and Services of Every Living Officer in Her Majesty’s Navy, from the Rank of Admiral of the Fleet to that of Lieutenant, Inclusive. 1849. Page 711. Retrieved through archive.org.
Marshall, John. Royal Naval Biography : Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-officers, Superannuated Rear-admirals, Retired-captains, Post-captains, and Commanders, Whose Names Appeared on the Admiralty List of Sea Officers at the Commencement of the Present Year, Or who Have Since Been Promoted, Illustrated by a Series of Historical and Explanatory Notes … with Copious Addenda: Captains. Commanders. 1832. Pages 126 – 130. Retrieved through Google Books.
Cavenagh-Mainwaring, James Gordon. The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford; an account of the family, and its connections by marriage and descent, with special reference to the manor of Whitmore, with appendices, pedigrees and illustrations. 1934. Pages 104 – 115. Retrieved through archive.org
Cavenagh-Mainwaring, Christine and Britton, Heather, (editor.) Whitmore Hall : from 1066 to Waltzing Matilda. Adelaide Peacock Publications, 2013. Pages 82 – 92.
Babet was also among the numerous vessels that shared in the proceeds after HMS Dartcaptured the French frigate Desiréefrom Dunkirk harbour on 8 July 1800.
Loss of HMS Babet
In September 1800 HMS Babet left Spithead with orders to convey General John Knox to Jamaica, where he was to take up the position of Governor. On 24 October she arrived at Fort-Royal Bay, Martinique, sailing the next day for Jamaica. HMS Babet was never seen again. It seems likely that she foundered in a storm.
Newspaper reports in early 1801 reported on the probable loss. There were also a few suggestions that she had in fact survived.
Letters concerning the loss of the Babet
“About this time  we got the melancholy account of the loss of the Babet, the ship in which our dear John (General Knox) was gone out as Governor and Commander in Chief to Jamaica. Many, many tears did I shed for him, I loved him as a brother, and never, I believe, was there a man so deserving of the regard and regret everyone expressed for him. We long had hopes that the ship was not lost, as it was not seen to go down, but years have elapsed since, therefore no hope can be indulged, though I am sometimes fool enough to feel some, in spite of my almost conviction that it is impossible they ever should be realised.” [The Honourable Frances Calvert nee Pery at An Irish beauty of the regency page 13 retrieved through archive.org]
The letters of Henry Swinburne concerning the fate of his son who was aide-de-campe to Knox, document the uncertainty of the fate of the Babet.
“London , January 3rd, 1801. … I am uneasy at not hearing yet of Harry’s arrival in Jamaica, though various persons conversant with those seas laugh at my fears . [footnote: He went out as secretary and aide-de-camp to General Knox, commander-in-chief at Jamaica. The ship was never more heard of, and must have foundered between Martinique and Jamaica.]
February 2nd . Another Jamaica mail arrived this morning, which left the island on the 21st of December, at which time no account had been received of General Knox. They are very low at the Admiralty concerning it. I have been all the morning in the city, hunting for information ; but there are so many contradictory reports and conjectures that I returned just as I went, except feeling my spirits depressed by the fatigue. I assure you I keep nothing from you, nor palliate nor exaggerate; spero contra spent . I do all I can to resist the weight of despondency, but, indeed, I am cruelly alarmed, and prepare myself for the worst. I cannot pretend to bid you keep up your spirits, or hope or despond, for I know not what to do or to say. My thoughts are on the rack about your health, and the improbability that your shattered nerves will be able to resist such a blow as this may prove. Colonel Barry sits all day over the fire crying, and is angry if one suggests a hope. He quite kills me. I had got so far when Mr. Higgins came in, who declares upon his honour he would not buoy me up with false hopes, but his opinion is not the least altered by the arrival of this packet, nor will it till we hear from Honduras. There is nothing so common as ships driving past Jamaica and being lost for months; Admiral Parker was so for four months.
February 6th. Barry has quite got up his spirits, but I fancy from no reason but Higgins’s persevering in his opinion, or perhaps from forcing himself out into the fresh air. How often have I admired and felt the force of the Marquis of Ormond’s exclamation about his dead son! Ours, if gone, is gone “with- out a blot upon his fair fame.” How time runs on! — every day sinks so much of my hopes, that I feel myself unmanned by every desponding expression or look of other people.
February 12th. I write to save the last post. We had just dined when a letter came from Colonel Barry, enclosing one just received from the General, the date of which was the 25th of October, from Martinique. They had arrived, after an agreeable passage in a good ship, the day before. They were to re-embark that evening for Jamaica, where the General expected to be landed about the 1st of November. His letter is written in uncommon spirits. He says they were all well, but that he keeps Swinburne so busy he has no time to write, and therefore begs Barry to acquaint his family that he is safe and well. It was almost too much happiness to bear when these tidings came amidst all our anxiety, and we were quite overcome at such unusual ways of digestion.
February 21 st. … Higgins says there is a letter arrived to a Mr. Miller, announcing the safety of all the crew of the Babet. By that I should imagine they have been shipwrecked. I care not, so he is safe.
February 24th Nepean has just written to me in a style you must like: “I am a father, and can therefore participate in your feelings on the news of your son’s safety ; long may he live ! I am sure he will be an honour to his name.”
March 2nd , 1801. Another month begun, and yet no satisfactory accounts of my dear son ! My hopes and fears are exactly what they were, and I wait in silence and sullen patience the accounts from Jamaica.
March 4th. … This strong south-west wind might have blown some ships in from Jamaica. I dare not say I long for their arrival.
March 28th . Every day takes away part of our hopes ; there are letters by the Jamaica mail, and accounts have been received from Honduras and other parts of the island. They have seen nothing of the unfortunate Babet , so that little opening remains but the chances of capture, which I am afraid would have been known before now. The Knox family and Colonel Barry give it up as a lost case. I write illegibly, for my eyes are dim, and every letter appears double.Can it be that the Almighty made my Hariy so good, so perfect, and protected him through so many perils, to take him away so early? I cannot believe it, till compelled by time and circumstances. I will still hope, till hope itself shall turn to despair. Pray look among my papers for all his precious letters, and put them carefully together. Happy is the farmer whose son learns to plough his land, and remains with him till his dying day !” [Secret Memoirs Of The Courts Of Europe Letters Written At The End Of The Eighteenth Century Vol Ii by Henry Swinburne pages 264 to 274 retrieved through archive.org]
Lines on the loss of the Babet by the Poet Laureate
Jemmet Mainwaring’s second cousin Henry James Pye (1745 – 1813) was appointed Poet Laureate in 1790, and held the post for 23 years. (Justly or otherwise Henry Pye is widely regarded as England’s worst Poet Laureate). Among his work is a poem on the loss of HMS Babet and the deaths of Mainwaring and Knox. The poem was reproduced in The Naval Chronicle.
Captain Jemmett Mainwaring’s will was probated in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 1 July 1801. [PROB 11/1360/15] He left the bulk of his estate to Anne Mainwaring, daughter of his cousin William Mainwaring.
In the late eighteenth century midshipmen (‘young gentlemen’ aspiring to become commissioned officers) usually joined the British navy through patronage or ‘interest’: string-pulling. You got your berth under a captain your family had connections with. After six years of notionally voluntary service a midshipman who successfully completed a formal examination could be promoted to lieutenant. There was no system of purchased commission as in the army: this meant that a naval career could be open to boys of less wealthy families and to younger sons of the rich who were destined not to inherit.
Rowland was one of five cousins who joined the navy about this time. With the exception of Jemmett Mainwaring (1763 – 1800), a first cousin of his father, no member of this branch of Mainwaring family had ever followed a naval career.
Jemmett Mainwaring born 1763 was the youngest son of of Benjamin Mainwaring (1719 – 1782) who had three sons who survived to maturity . Jemmett’s oldest brother Edward (1744 – 1803) served as an officer during the first American war. The second brother, John Montague Mainwaring (1761 – 1842), also served in the army rising to the rank of Lieutenant-General.
Jemmett seems to have obtained a midshipman’s place no later than 1783. It was a requirement at the time that before being commissioned as a lieutenant, an officer had to serve six years at sea and pass an examination. Jemmett Mainwaring was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1789 when he was 26.
I have found no record of his career before he was lieutenant nor do I know who his patron was. However, Jemmett Mainwaring’s grandmother, Jemima Mainwaring nee Pye (1681 – 1721) had a nephew, Thomas Pye (1708 – 1785), an admiral. Although Jemima was no longer alive to exert any influence on behalf of her grandson, perhaps Jemmett’s father Benjamin appealed to his maternal cousin on his behalf. Jemmett was a younger son, with two surviving older brothers. His father was also a younger son. A naval apprenticeship for Jemmett, with the likelihood of a commission, must have seemed an attractive prospect, potentially very rewarding.
The Royal Navy was expanded rapidly, especially at the time of the French Revolutionary Wars of 1792 – 1801. In 1784 there were 2,230 officers of whom 1,499 were lieutenants. In 1800 there were 3,168 officers of whom 2,120 were lieutenants; increases of over 40%. Moreover, in 1784 only about 25% of officers were serving afloat. In 1800 60% of officers and 68% of lieutenants were serving afloat.
Jemmett Mainwaring’s first placement as a lieutenant, from June 1789, was on HMS Royal George, a 100-gun first rateship of the line, launched at Chatham Dockyard the year before Jemmett Mainwaring joined her. It appears that he served on the Royal George until 1795.
Jemmett Mainwaring may have been on the Royal George at the Glorious First of June, also known as the Fourth Battle of Ushant of 1794. This was the first and largest fleet battle during the French Revolutionary Wars. The French admiral, Rear-Admiral Louis-Thomas Villaret-Joyeuse, had sailed from Brest to intercept a valuable grain fleet from America, urgently needed in famine-stricken France. The English commander-in-chief, Lord Howe, sailed with the Channel Fleet to intercept the convoy; neither the French battle fleet nor the British encountered the convoy, which reached Brest in safety. Instead the two battle fleets made contact on 28 May, some 365 nautical miles (673 km) off Ushant, Brittany.
Only a few British ships managed to pierce the French line and engage closely with the enemy. The Royal George, Admiral Hood‘s flagship, was one of these. It engaged closely with two French ships but lost its foremast and suffered damage to the rigging during the battle.
In June 1795 Jemmett Mainwaring was commissioned with the rank of commander and was appointed to HMS Espiegle, a 16 gun French-built sloop captured by the British in 1793. When the Royal Navy took her into service they retained her name. Six months later in December 1795 Mainwaring was transferred to the command of HMS Victorieuse.
Victorieuse was a brig of the French Navy, launched at Honfleur in 1794. The British captured her in August 1795 and took her into service as HMS Victorieuse. She was fitted out at Portsmouth dockyard at a cost of £890. On 22 February 1796 she sailed for the Leeward Islands, a group of islands colonised by the British and situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean. Victorieuse was at the attack on St. Lucia on 24 May 1796 and was one of the vessels covering the landing of troops at Choc Bay. She shared in the prize money paid in June 1800.
In July 1796 Jemmett Mainwaring was promoted to Captain, with command of HMS Aimable, a 32 gun French frigate built in 1776 and captured by the British in 1782. The Aimable had a complement of 192.
On the evening of 22 July 1796, shortly after taking command, Mainwaring in the Aimable engaged the French frigate Pensee (44 guns and 400 men; Seine class frigate originally named La Spartiate) off Guadeloupe. Although the Pensee was a significantly more powerful vessel, the men of the Aimable were, so it is reported, more than willing to take her on, crying “To glory or to death!” when Mainwaring pointed out the superior force of their opponent. Mainwaring himself said that he would lead them into action against their republican foe with sincere pleasure.
In the exchange the Pensee suffered losses of 28 men killed and 36 wounded. The Aimable had two men wounded. The next morning the Aimable was preparing to capture the Pensee, making preparations to lash the Pensee’s bowsprit to the Aimable’s main mast when the French commander and his crew greeted the British frigate by pulling off their hats and waving them. The British sailors returned this chivalrous salute but then the Pensee sailed away and escaped. Three days later the Aimable arrived at the island of St Thomas, then a Danish colony, and found the Pensee there undergoing repairs. The British and French commanders subsequently dined together with the Danish Governor.
In other engagements under the command of Jemmett Mainwaring the Aimable captured the French Privateer L’Iris (6 guns) in September 1796 and in April 1797 took the Privateer Le Chasseur (6 guns).
…TO BE CONTINUED.
UK, Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy, 1660-1815 retrieved through ancestry.com
Marshall, John (1825). Royal Naval Biography : Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-officers, Superannuated Rear-admirals, Retired-captains, Post-captains, and Commanders, Whose Names Appeared on the Admiralty List of Sea Officers at the Commencement of the Present Year, Or who Have Since Been Promoted, Illustrated by a Series of Historical and Explanatory Notes … with Copious Addenda: Superannuated rear-admirals. Retired captains. Post-Captains. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. Volume II Part II pp. 600–5. [Biography of John Wight Esq who was lieutenant on the Aimable in July 1796.]
James, William (1826). The Naval History of Great Britain from the Declaration of War by France, in February 1793 to the Accession of George IV in January 1820. Harding, Lepard, and Company. pp. 484–6.
In May 1795, at the age of twelve, Rowland Mainwaring (1782 – 1862), my fourth great grandfather, joined the Royal Navy as a ‘young gentleman’, an aspiring officer. He was under the patronage of Admiral Sir John Laforey. His first ship was the Jupiter, a 50-gun fourth-rateship of the line commanded by Captain William Lechmere.
In the same year he became a midshipman on the Scipio, a 64-gun third rater, serving on the West Indies Station. He also served for a short while on the Beaulieu, a 40-gun fifth-ratefrigate, and on the Ganges a 74 gun third-rater. In just over a year Mainwaring had served in four ships, ranging in size from 40 to 74 guns. The Beaulieu had a notional complement of 320 officers and men and the Ganges 590 (naval vessels of the period were usually short-handed).
HMS Majestic under Westcott then joined the Channel Fleet, and was present at the Spithead Mutiny in April and May 1797. The mutiny at Spithead (an anchorage near Portsmouth) lasted from 16 April to 15 May 1797. It was one of two major mutinies in 1797. Sailors on 16 ships in the Channel Fleet protested against the living conditions aboard Royal Navy vessels and demanded a pay rise, better victualling, increased shore leave, and compensation for sickness and injury. During the mutiny the mutineers maintained regular naval routine and discipline aboard their ships (mostly with their regular officers), allowed some ships to leave for convoy escort duty or patrols, and promised to suspend the mutiny and go to sea immediately if French ships were spotted heading for English shores. Because of mistrust, especially over pardons for the mutineers, the negotiations broke down, and minor incidents broke out, with several unpopular officers sent to shore and others treated with signs of deliberate disrespect.
The mutiny ended with an agreement that saw a royal pardon for all crews, reassignment of some of the unpopular officers, a pay raise and abolition of the purser’s pound. Afterwards, the mutiny was to become nicknamed the “breeze at Spithead”.
The Battle of the Nile was fought from 1 to 3 August 1798 at Aboukir Bay, on the Nile Delta, 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Alexandria. The British fleet, led by Nelson, decisively defeated the French under Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys d’Aigalliers.
At this time Rowland Mainwaring was 15 years old. He never forgot the experience and frequently mentioned the anniversary in his diary entries. In later years he commissioned the marine artist Thomas Luny to paint the battle, himself sketching what he remembered of the scene, in particular the terrible moment when the flagship of the French Navy, L’Orient, was hit by a cannonball in her gunpowder magazine and exploded. The painting by Luny showing the battle at 10 p.m. on 1 August 1798 still hangs in Whitmore Hall.
Although it was late afternoon and the British fleet had no accurate charts of the bay, Nelson ordered an immediate attack on the French who were unprepared and unable to manoeuvre as the British split into two divisions and sailed down either side of the French line, capturing all five ships of the vanguard and engaging the French 120-gun flagship Orient in the centre. At 21:00, Orient caught fire and exploded, killing most of the crew and ending the main combat. Sporadic fighting continued for the next two days, until all of the French ships had been captured, destroyed or had fled; eleven French ships of the line and two frigates were eliminated.
Majestic was towards the rear of the British line, and did not come into action until late in the battle. Together with HMS Bellerophon, Majestic, passed by the melee and advanced on the so far unengaged French centre. In the darkness and smoke Majestic collided with the French ship Heureux and became entangled in her rigging. Majestic then came under heavy fire from the French ship Tonnant. Unable to stop in time, Westcott’s jib boom became entangled with Tonnant‘sshroud. Trapped for several minutes, Majestic suffered heavy casualties. The captain of the Majestic, George Westcott was hit by a musket ball in the throat and killed. Lieutenant Robert Cuthbert took command and was confirmed as acting captain by Nelson the day after the battle.
The Battle of the Nile was a great defeat for the French. The Royal Navy lost 218 killed and 677 wounded; the French losses were 2,000–5,000 killed and wounded, 3,000–3,900 captured, 9 ships of the line captured, and two ships of the line and two frigates destroyed.
The strategic situation between the two nations’ forces in the Mediterranean was reversed, and the Royal Navy gained a dominant position that it retained for the rest of the war.
A medal was issued for those who took part in the Battle of the Nile. Rowland Mainwaring claimed his medal only in 1847 and received it in 1850 with a medal for the Siege of Copenhagen. I am not sure why he left it so late to claim these honours.
In 1826 the English poetess Mrs Felicia Hemans wrote her well-known ‘Casabianca‘, which begins:
The boy stood on the burning deck Whence all but him had fled; The flame that lit the battle's wreck Shone round him o'er the dead.
The poem commemorates the young son of the commander of the French ship L’Orient who refused to desert his post without orders from his father.
(I will write separately about the rest of Rowland Mainwaring’s career.)
Parallels with the fictional Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey
Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey are fictional Royal Navy officers of the Napoleonic war years. Hornblower is the protagonist of a series of novels and stories by C. S. Forester published 1937 to 1967; Jack Aubrey is a fictional character in the Aubrey–Maturin series of novels by Patrick O’Brian published 1969 to 2004. Hornblower and Aubrey are both a little older than Rowland Mainwaring.
In Forester’s novel ‘Mr. Midshipman Hornblower‘ his hero has that rank between 1794 and 1799. In his fictional career Hornblower served under the famous admiral Sir Edward Pellew; Mainwaring also served under Pellew, evidently with respect and admiration, for he christened his second son ‘Edward Pellew’.
In ‘Master and Commander‘ O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey, at the time lieutenant on HMS Leander, earns a silver Nile medal. The medal is mentioned every time Aubrey puts on his dress uniform.
Sources and notes
O’Byrne, William R. A Naval Biographical Dictionary: Comprising the Life and Services of Every Living Officer in Her Majesty’s Navy, from the Rank of Admiral of the Fleet to that of Lieutenant, Inclusive. 1849. Page 711. Retrieved through archive.org.
Marshall, John. Royal Naval Biography : Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-officers, Superannuated Rear-admirals, Retired-captains, Post-captains, and Commanders, Whose Names Appeared on the Admiralty List of Sea Officers at the Commencement of the Present Year, Or who Have Since Been Promoted, Illustrated by a Series of Historical and Explanatory Notes … with Copious Addenda: Captains. Commanders. 1832. Pages 126 – 130. Retrieved through Google Books.
Cavenagh-Mainwaring, James Gordon. The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford; an account of the family, and its connections by marriage and descent, with special reference to the manor of Whitmore, with appendices, pedigrees and illustrations. 1934. Pages 104, 114, and 115. Retrieved through archive.org
Cavenagh-Mainwaring, Christine and Britton, Heather, (editor.) Whitmore Hall : from 1066 to Waltzing Matilda. Adelaide Peacock Publications, 2013. Page 82.
Note: Although the birthdate of my fourth great grandfather Rowland Mainwaring is usually given as 31 December 1783, he was baptised at St George, Hanover Square London on 18 January 1783 and thus his date of birth is actually 31 December 1782. [City of Westminster Archives Centre; London, England; Westminster Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: SJSS/PR/5/16 retrieved through ancestry.com]
The nineteenth-century English-born Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833 – 1870), is scarcely read now, and if he is remembered at all, it is not for his poetry. The best of Gordon’s verse rises very little above his over-quoted quatrain:
Life is mostly froth and bubble, Two things stand like stone. Kindness in another’s trouble, Courage in your own.
Gordon’s main interest was horse-racing, not poetry, and it shows.
Gordon’s biographer says that in his youth he caused his father ‘anxiety’. The strength of this euphemism may be judged by what he did about it, which was to boot his son out at the age of twenty on a one-way trip to the colony of South Australia with a letter of introduction to the governor and a bit of advice: join the police force. For the next few years he received ‘financial assistance’ from his father, that is, regular remittances on the condition that he stayed away.
For a while Gordon ran a livery stable behind one of Ballarat’s large hotels, conveniently placed, for he was a great drinker. We live in Ballarat and we also have enjoyed a glass or two at Craig’s, so I suppose we may be said to have a connection with Adam Lindsay Gordon.
I can claim an even closer connection. My third great grandfather Gordon Mainwaring (1817 – 1872), like Adam Lindsay Gordon banished to the colonies and living on remittances sent from home, knew him in Adelaide. Both Gordons joined the colonial police, and both drank to excess. An 1891 newspaper article claimed Gordon Mainwaring was “on very friendly terms” with Adam Lindsay Gordon “who was also with the police force”.
The ‘with’ in this formula is rather a stretch. Gazetted as a constable on 23 August 1852, Mainwaring lasted only six weeks. On 14 October he was absent from the barracks without leave and returned drunk; he was dismissed.
Gordon Mainwaring, though not Adam Lindsay Gordon, also had a military career, rather less than glorious, rising to the rank of corporal in No. 2 Company of the 1st Battalion, Royal South Australian Volunteer militia.
Mr. Mainwaring said he had been a soldier for twenty years, and was the first man who drilled the police in this colony. He had served for ten years in India ; he trusted he might say with credit. He had now settled at Walkerville, and purchased a house for £700. He respected the villagers as his friends and neighbours, and would not only volunteer, but gladly teach them their exercise either as artillerymen or infantry, being equally au fait at both. But it must be understood that he would take no additional pay for such extra services. (Cheers.)
Within a year this sketch of himself had become a little tarnished, when he was found in contempt of court, for having “been confined for drunken and disorderly conduct, but liberated on bail, [he] did not appear to his recognizances when called on to answer for his misconduct.”
Adam Lindsay Gordon, unhappy and half-mad, shot himself on Brighton beach Melbourne in 1870, 150 years ago today. Our Gordon, Gordon Mainwaring, married, bought a small farm and had seven children. He lasted until 1872.
William Barnston (1592-1665) of Churton, a village some seven miles/twelve kilometres south of Chester, was among the royalist defenders of that city against the attacks of parliamentary forces and the final siege of 1645-1646. He was imprisoned for a time after the Civil War and was obliged to pay a fine to the Interregnum government before he could return to his estates. The area had suffered heavy damage during the war, but soon after the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 Barnston was able to rebuild his parish church of St Chad at nearby Farndon, and he added a chapel with a memorial panel to his experience of the war and a window commemorating his comrades of Chester.
After general conflict in Cheshire between royalists and parliamentarians, the parliamentarian forces under Sir William Brereton (1604-1661) established supremacy in the county. Chester, held out as a royalist stronghold, however, and was important as an entry-port for troops from Wales and Ireland. After some early attacks in 1643 and 1644, full siege was laid in September 1645. The city held out for several months, repelling many assaults, but as supply lines were cut the people were faced with starvation, and the garrison surrendered in February of the following year.
After three and a half centuries it is not surprising that the Farndon window has suffered damage and decay: one panel at the top is missing and many details are blurred. By good fortune, however, a coloured copy was made in the early nineteenth century and an engraving of it was published in Ormerod’s History of Cheshire:
In the Barnston chancel …[is] a curious historical subject, which was rescued from a state of extreme decay, and repaired at the expence of the late dean of Chester. It is represented in the attached engraving, on a scale reduced about two-thirds from a fac-simile drawing, which was executed under the inspection of the dean, when the glass was in his possession.
The Dean of Chester was Hugh Cholmondeley (1773-1815), who held that office at Chester Cathedral from 1806 until his death, four years before Ormerod published his History. In the engraving, the blank panel at the top is occupied by a title sheet with an attribution to his patronage.
The engraving is presented on a two-page spread-sheet. It is certainly clearer than the photographs, and given that it was prepared under supervision we may accept it as a fair reproduction. A full copy appears at the end; details are used for comparison and clarification in this essay.
The window is divided into four registers, with four larger panels in the centre, four each across the top and bottom, and four each again in column on either side. Since the overall measurement is no more than 28 inches/72 centimetres high and 18 inches/46 centimetres wide, the twenty pictures are all quite small.
The four central panels have a display of arms, armour and other equipment, and the one in the upper left also shows an officer standing outside a tent and carrying a baton of command. From the shield part-hidden behind him: or, three mallets sable [yellow, with three black wooden hammers], he can be identified as Sir Francis Gammul (1606-1654). A former mayor of Chester, when King Charles raised his standard at Nottingham and issued a call to arms in August 1642 he raised troops in the city and brought a contingent to join him. He played a leading role in the defence of the city and was made a baronet in 1644.
Eight small pictures on either side of the window show figures of armoured infantrymen with muskets and pikes, and in four larger pictures across the base there are a pikeman, a junior officer bearing a flag, a flute-player and a drummer. In his discussion of the window, Colonel Field notes that the figures are based upon contemporary drawings published in France by the engraver and water-colourist Abraham Bosse (c.1604-1676): styles were the same on both sides of the Channel.
Like Sir Francis Gamull, the flag-bearer can be identified by the shield in the corner of his picture: the shield is black, with three white greyhounds, surrounded by a white border [sable, three greyhounds courant argent, within a bordure of the last]. This was the insignia of the Berington family of Cheshire, and the top of the shield has a “label of three points” – a bar with three pendants – indicating that he is an eldest son whose father is still living.
The senior lineage of the Berington family had held the estates of Bradwall and Moores-barrow, a short distance southeast of Middlewich in Cheshire, but they passed by marriage to the Oldfield family in the late sixteenth century. A cadet branch, however, still held property at Warmingham, some five kilometres/three miles south of Middlewich, and Hugh Berington was baptised there in 1626. In 1644 Hugh would have been eighteen, and Ensign – equivalent to a second lieutenant at the present day – was an appropriate rank for a young gentleman.
The shield of the Grosvenor family, blue with a yellow sheaf of grain [azure, a garb or] is marked at the top by a label of three points, indicating that – like Ensign Berington above – Richard Grosvenor is the eldest son and his father is living.
A label also appears on the shield of William Mainwaring. In his case, however, his father Edmund was a second son, so the family shield of two red bars on a white ground [argent, two bars gules] is also differenced by a crescent for cadency.
The Barnston shield is complex: blue with an indented bar of speckled with black across the centre, and six complex yellow crosses [azure, a fess dancettée ermine between six cross-crosslets or (ermine is a formulaic rendering of the animal’s fur)]. It does not, however, have any marks of difference, so William Barnston was the head of his family.
The colours in the window have been affected by age and in several places they are uncertain. Where the Cholmondeley copy, for example, has sashes in differing colours and Gamull and Grosvenor with yellow coats, Field argues that all the sashes and the senior officers’ jackets were originally red. With the handsome headgear, this was parade dress; Barnston, however, was wearing the long, close-fitting “buff coat” of heavy leather, often made from buffalo- or ox-hide, which gave basic protection in combat.
As pictured in the side columns of the window, some pikemen bore half-armour of metal plate over the leather. Such corselets, however, were heavy to wear and were going out of use, while musketeers had sufficient problems with their weapons. Two shown in the side panels are holding “matchlocks,” dangerous and erratic and requiring a pole to rest upon, but even the new, lighter “firelocks” shown in the other pictures were awkward to manage. Horsemen, like William Mainwaring’s cousin Philip, carried pistols and swords and were often armoured, but the soldiers in the Farndon window were defending a city and had no use for cavalry.
William Barnston, who had the Farndon window made in the early 1660s, has already been discussed, while nothing more is known of Ensign Berington – even his identification as the Hugh Berington baptised at Warmingham in 1626 is uncertain. We can, however, offer a brief account of the other officers shown in the window:
Following the surrender of Chester in 1646, Sir Francis Gamull was able to compound for his estates, but in 1654 he joined a rising against the newly-established Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. The rebellion was defeated and Francis Gamull was executed. He left no sons, and the baronetcy was extinguished.
The Grosvenor family of Eaton Hall in Eccleston, just to the south of Chester, were leading gentry of the county. As a member of Parliament in the 1620s, Sir Richard Grosvenor (1585-1645) had been a strong supporter of the royal interest, and he had been made a baronet by King Charles in 1622. His son, also Richard Grosvenor (c.1604-1665) was High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1643 and raised troops in the royal cause.
Richard Grosvenor succeeded to the baronetcy at his father’s death in 1645, and later generations of the family became increasingly successful and prosperous. The present-day Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, one of the wealthiest men in England, is a direct descendant, and Eaton Hall in Cheshire is his country house.
William Mainwaring (c.1616-1645) had been a Sergeant-Major of the troop brought by Sir Francis Gamull to join the king’s forces when he raised his standard at Nottingham in 1642. William took part in the campaign which led to the battle of Edgehill on 23 October, first engagement of the civil war, and he was knighted by the king at Oxford in January of the following year.
William’s father Edmund (1579-c.1650) was a younger son of Sir Randle Mainwaring of Over Peover (d.1612), some fifty kilometres/thirty miles east of Chester. While many gentlemen of the time determined their allegiance in the war through family interest and local alliances rather than by any political or religious conviction, the Mainwarings were divided. Philip Mainwaring of Over Peover, whose armour is shown above, was a son of Sir Randle and first cousin of William, but as William defended Chester for the king Philip was commanding a troop of cavalry in the parliamentary army.
Sir William Mainwaring was killed in October 1645, fighting on the walls of Chester. It was reported that he had been wounded by musket-shot under the arm and died on the following day. His widow Hester was left with two daughters and an infant son, who died a few months later. The elder daughter Hester had no children, but Judith married John Busby, who was knighted by Charles II in recognition of the service given by his father-in-law, and their daughter Hester married Thomas Egerton of Tatton Park near Knutsford in Cheshire; her descendants became barons and earls.
 There is a general history of the war in Cheshire in The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester: compiled from original evidences in public offices, the Harleian and Cottonian mss., parochial registers, private muniments, unpublished ms. collections of successive Cheshire antiquaries, and a personal survey of every township in the county; incorporated with a republication of King’s Vale Royal, and Leycester’s Cheshire Antiquities, by George Ormerod (1785-1873), 3 volumes, Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor and Jones, London 1819 [archive.org] Ormerod, History I, xxxv-xxxviii, and a modern account in “Early Modern Chester 1550-1762: the civil war and interregnum, 1642-60,” 115-125; digitised by British History Online [BHO] from A History of the County of Chester, Volume 5 Part 1 “The City of Chester: General History and Topography,” published by Victoria County History, London 2003; online at british-history.ac.uk/vch/ches/vol5/pt1/pp115-125.
 After the victory of Parliament in the civil war, gentlemen who had fought on the royalist side did not suffer a direct confiscation of their estates, but had to pay in order to keep them. The process was known as “compounding.”
 The window is discussed, with photographs, at the following websites:
There is also an article on “Army Uniforms in a Stained Glass Window in Farndon Church, Cheshire – temp Charles I,” by Colonel C Field, in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research V.22, 174-177 [https://www.jstor.org/stable/44227597].
I also acknowledge the most impressive and helpful site cheshire-heraldry.org.uk, described as “A web site dedicated to the art and science of heraldry in the County Palatine of Chester.” It provides a quantity of information, with excellent sources, and has impressive illustrations.
Ormerod, History II, page 408. This introductory paragraph is followed by another with a description of the contents, which has been drawn upon for some of the discussion which follows.
 His dates of appointment are given by Ormerod, History I, 221. Reproductions from the engraving are referred to below as the Cholmondeley copy.
 Ormerod notes disagreement whether Sir Francis received a baronetcy or only a knighthood, and the shield in the window is unclear, but the Cholmondeley copy shows the red hand, insignia of baronetcy, in the centre of his shield.
 “Army Uniforms,” 175. He suggests that five bars [Gamull and Grosvenor] may have indicated a colonel, four [Mainwaring] a lieutenant-colonel, and three [Barnston]
 “… two men of Captain Mainwaring:” Alice Thornton, quoted in Roger Hudson [editor], The Grand Quarrel: from the Civil War memoirs of Mrs Lucy Hutchison; Mrs Alice Thornton; Ann, Lady Fanshawe; Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle; Anne, Lady Halkett, & the letters of Brilliana, Lady Harley, Folio Society, London 1993, page 92.
 Summary accounts of weapons, armour and tactics at this time appear in Austin Woolrych, Battles of the English Civil War, published first by Batsford, London 1961, then by Pan 1966, at 100-101; and William Seymour, Battles in Britain and their political background, volume 2 (1642-1746), Sidgwick and Jackson, London 1975 and Book Club Associates 1976, at 26-27.
By the western door of Chester Cathedral there is a memorial relating to the Mainwaring family. It is described rather unkindly by Ormerod’s History ofCheshire as “ornamented with twisted pillars, weeping figures, and foliage in bad taste, but much laboured…” but it has a complex and quite touching story to tell of the English Civil War.1 2
The text may be transcribed as follows:
To the Perpetual Memory
of the Eminently Loyal Sir W[illia]m MAINWARING K[nigh]t
Eldest son of EDMUND MAINWARING Esqr
Chancellor of the County Palatine of Chester;
of the Ancient Family of the MAINWARINGS
of Peover in the said County.
He died in the Service of his Prince and Country
in the Defence of the City of Chester,
Wherein he merited singular honour for his
Fidelity, Courage and Conduct.
He left by HESTER his Lady (Daughter and
heiress unto CHRISTOPHER WASE in the County
of Bucks [Buckingham] Esqr) Four Sons and two Daughters.
His eldest daughter Judith married unto Sir JNo [John]
BUSBY of Addington in the County of Bucks K[nigh]t.
His youngest Daughter HESTER unto Sir
THOMAS GROBHAM HOW of Kempley in the
County of Glocester [Gloucestershire] K[nigh]t.
He died honourably but immaturely in the
Twenty-ninth year of his age Octobr 9 1644.
His Lady Relict erected this Monument
of Her everlasting Love and his neverdying
Octr 25th 1671
The shield at the top of the memorial is divided in two, with similar but different designs. The left has a white ground with two red bars; the formal blazon would be argent two bars gules, for cadency a crescent. The right hand side has six bars alternately white and red, blazoned as barry of six, argent and gules.
In heraldry, the left hand side – right from the point of view of the wearer – is referred to as dexter and is the more important. It was standard practice for a married couple to display a shield divided vertically in two [“per pale“], with the husband’s insignia on the left/dexter and his wife’s on the right/sinister. So the arms of white with two red bars are those of the husband, and they are impaled with those of the family of the wife.
In the seventeenth century the manor of Over Peover had been held by the Mainwaring family since the time of the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror in 1087. That male line of descent was extinguished in the early nineteenth century, and the main lineage of the family is now maintained by the Cavenagh-Mainwarings of Whitmore near Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire. The traditional shield of the family is white with two red bars, so the left hand side of the shield displayed here is that of Mainwaring. The small crescent in the centre is a mark of cadency indicating a second son. Though William was the eldest son of his father Edmund, Edmund was a second son: his elder brother Sir Randle was head of the family and when he died in 1632 the estate at Over Peover passed to his son Philip3
As to the right-hand half of the shield, the comprehensive list of coats of arms provided by The British Herald of Thomas Robson records several families named Wase or similar, and though they are in different counties there is a common base of six white and red bars. In the extract below, the name of the family in Buckinghamshire is given as Wasse or Washe; the link, however, is clear and such variant spelling is quite common at this time – Shakespeare spelt his surname in several different ways. And it is no more than coincidence that the shield of the Wase family has the same colours and a similar design to that of the Mainwarings.
The Mainwarings of Over Peover were among the leading families of Cheshire at this time,4 and though William’s father Edmund inherited no major property, he had matriculated into Brasenose College at Oxford University in 1594, took his Master’s degree through All Souls in 1600 and graduated as Bachelor of Civil Laws in 1605. He held substantial legal office in the archdiocese of York and was Deputy-Secretary to the Council of the North, chief agency of the king for the government of northern England.5 In 1629 he received the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws from Oxford, and in 1634 he was named Chancellor of Chester, head of the Consistory Court of the diocese, with authority over all matters of ecclesiastical law: accusations of heresy and witchcraft; failure to attend church; and the distribution of tithes; while he also held jurisdiction over claims of defamation and civil disputes regarding marriage, wills and inheritance.6
Edmund’s younger brother Philip – uncle to William – had an even more dramatic career. Born in 1589, he took his Bachelor’s degree from Oxford and then became a student at Gray’s Inn, one of the Inns of Court which provided qualification in law. Under the patronage of Sir Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel and a favoured courtier of James I, and of Sir Thomas Wentworth, a leading minister under Charles I, Philip did very well.7 In 1609, at the age of twenty, Philip received a salaried appointment at court; in 1624 he became a Member of Parliament; and in 1634 he was appointed Secretary of State for Ireland, being knighted at Dublin in that same year.
Though his father had taken his degree at Oxford, William went to Cambridge, matriculating as a Fellow-Commoner of King’s College in the Michaelmas term at the end of 1629. He is described in the cathedral memorial as being in his twenty-ninth year when he died, so he was born about 1616 and entered the university when he was thirteen years old; this was not unusual for the time.8 He graduated as Master of Arts in 1632, and in the following year he became a student at Gray’s Inn.9
On 24 September 1639 William Mainwaring married Hester Wase in the church of St Mary at Islington, Middlesex.10 He was in his early twenties, Hester was fifteen.11
Islington, some five kilometres/three miles north of Charing Cross, is now part of inner London but was countryside at the time. Hester’s father Christopher held property there at Upper Holloway and also in Buckinghamshire; his wife Judith was a daughter of Sir John Gore, a member of the Company of Merchant Taylors who had been Sheriff and then Lord Mayor of London; and Hester was named for her maternal grandmother, the mother of Judith: her father was Sir Thomas Cambell, who had been a member of the Company of Ironmongers, a Governor of the East India Company, and likewise Sheriff and Lord Mayor of London.12So the family was well-connected and prosperous, and Christopher Wase gave his new son-in-law a marriage portion of £1,500.13
By the time William married Hester, however, the political situation had become confused and dangerous. King Charles had managed to rule without calling Parliament since 1629, maintaining government finances by levies such as Ship Money. Early in 1639, however, a rebellion in Scotland proved so successful and dangerous that Parliament had to be recalled in hope it would approve the funds required to deal with the war. The “Short Parliament,” however, gave a platform to those who opposed the royal regime. It was swiftly dissolved, but by November 1640 the king was obliged to recall a new assembly, which would be known as the Long Parliament. This proved even more hostile to the king and his officials: Sir Philip Mainwaring’s patron Thomas Wentworth, lately enfeoffed as Earl of Strafford, was charged under a bill of attainder and executed in May 1641.14
Soon after their wedding, however, William and Hester had travelled north to take up residence at Chester, and in March of 1640 William sent a most agreeable letter to his mother-in-law Judith,15 with compliments and suitable courtesies to her husband Christopher; to Hester’s younger sister – also Judith – who had been born in 1635 and was not yet five years old; to Hester’s aunt Abigail, who had married Robert Busby in 1633;16 and to a cousin known here only as Kitt, short for Christopher.
It is clear from the letter that Hester is pregnant, and that there are plans for her to have her first child at her family home in Holloway. Indeed, their first son was baptised at Islington St Mary on 7 July 1640, and named in honour of his grandfather Christopher Wase.17
This letter of March, however, suggests that Hester was suffering from morning sickness, an affliction which normally affects women only in the first three months of pregnancy, so it is possible that the infant was premature, and he may have been sickly. In any event, it appears that he died shortly before his second birthday, and was buried at the Church of St Mary on 10 May 1642. He may well have been considered too frail to travel to his parents’ home in Chester, and stayed in the care of his maternal grandparents.18
After that first pregnancy, however, the following children were born at Chester: the baptism of Edmund the second son was recorded at Holy Trinity Church on 22 May 1641;19 he was followed by his sister Judith, born in 1642, probably in July; and then by William, who was christened in August 1643 but died in November just three months later.20
By the time Judith was born, however, England was on the verge of civil war. After months of uncertainty and negotiations, as Parliament applied increasing pressure to his royal authority and power, King Charles raised his standard at Nottingham on 22 August 1642 and issued a call to arms. The immediate response was not impressive, but Francis Gamull, a former Mayor and Member of Parliament, raised a troop at Chester and brought volunteers to join the assembly. William Mainwaring accompanied him as a Sergeant-Major, and one of his letters, written to Hester at that time, survived to be copied and printed in The Biographical Mirrour:21
Some notes may be offered:
Both from the address and from the enquiry about the journey it is clear that Hester had lately moved with the children from Chester to her father’s property at Islington. Edmund was just over twelve months old – he would die in the following year – and Judith had been born only a couple of months before. It may well have been felt that Hester would be more comfortable with her father and mother than in the north.
In the fourth paragraph, William says that he believes “all will end in a bonfire.” One might assume this anticipates the conflagration of war, but in this context – confirmed by his confidence of peace at the beginning of the final paragraph – he seems to expect that the trouble will blow over and that there will be negotiations and agreement and celebrations. He was, of course, mistaken.22
In similar fashion, despite the threat of war, neither he nor Hester appear to have been particularly concerned about any difficulty or danger of travel for a woman and small children. This is discussed further below.
Samuel Tuke (c.1615-1674), a gentleman from Essex almost the same age as William Mainwaring and also a member of Gray’s Inn, was obviously a personal enemy: they did not exchange a word but glared at one another; and William is pleased at Tuke’s financial embarrassment. There is no way to tell the reason for their hostility.
Samuel Tuke had a moderately successful war in the king’s service and later accompanied the prince, future Charles II, during his exile overseas. Known for his wit, he was a favourite at court after the Restoration and was made a knight and then a baronet. He was a founding member of the Royal Society, and his successful play The Adventures of Five Hours was thought by Samuel Pepys to be better than Shakespeare’s Othello.23
Paul Neile (1613-1686), son of Richard, Archbishop of York, had been at Cambridge with William Mainwaring.24 A courtier of King Charles, he was knighted in 1633 and was a member of the Short Parliament of 1640. He became a distinguished astronomer and was a founding member of the Royal Society.
On 13 September, a few days after William wrote to Hester, the king left Nottingham for Shrewsbury, further to the west, where he received reinforcements, and a few weeks later he began a march towards London. He was opposed by the Earl of Essex with a Parliamentary army and they met at Edgehill, northwest of Banbury in Warwickshire, on 23 October.25 The forces were evenly matched – some fifteen thousand on each side – and the result was effectively a draw, but most of the men and their leaders were unaccustomed to war, discipline was weak, and the deaths and other casualties came as a shock. Though Charles continued his advance, he was faced near Reading by a powerful array from London and was obliged to withdraw. On 23 November the royal court and headquarters were established at Oxford.
The “Memoirs of Sir William Mainwaring” record that he “was knighted at Oxford, Jan 9, 1643, by the description of ‘Sir William Mainwaring, of West Chester.'”26 The accolade was surely granted by King Charles himself, and it was a notable honour for a comparatively junior officer: Francis Gamull, commander of the troop in which William served, was awarded a title only in the following year; so William had distinguished himself in some way, presumably on the campaign or at the battle of Edgehill.
Since Hester and William’s third child, William, was baptised in Holy Trinity Church at Chester on 3 August, Hester and the children must have joined William at Oxford and returned with him there soon afterwards. Civilian travel was possible, though it was neither easy nor secure:
Alice Thornton, whose royalist father Christopher Wandesford had been a close friend and associate of the Earl of Strafford, described how her mother travelled from Chester to the family home in Yorkshire at that time. At an early stage of the journey,
With these and several servants and tenants, though with much difficulty, by reason of the interchange of the king’s armies and the Parliament’s, she was brought into the town of Warrington [in Lancashire]…: she finding more favour by reason of the captain’s civility and by a pass from Colonel Shuttleworth [of Gawthorpe Hall] than usual.27
Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley is now a National Trust property, but it was at that time the seat of the Shuttleworth family, and Colonel Richard Shuttleworth was a member of the Long Parliament which had demanded Strafford’s execution. Though they were on opposite sides in politics and Burnley is sixty kilometres/thirty-five miles from Warrington, Shuttleworth was prepared to assist a gentlewoman and her family and his influence extended far enough to be effective.
With a small escort and some assistance from local gentry, therefore, a lady could make her way; but it was often difficult and certainly risky.
The memorial inscription composed by William’s widow Hester says that they had four sons and two daughters, but names only the daughters Hester and Judith. Familysearch, whose entry for Edmund is cited above, has just three other children,28 and while some family trees on ancestry.com give six names, the information is erratic, few original sources are cited, and some names and dates are clearly mistaken; in most cases, one table does no more than copy another. On the basis of sources currently available, the children of William and Hester can be identified as follows:29
Their first son, Christopher Wase [?] was born at Holloway, Islington, in July 1640, and died there in May 1642.30
Edmund was born in 1641 and baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Chester, on 22 May; he died in 1643 and was buried on 10 August.
Judith was born in 1642 and baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Chester, on 23 May; as below, she married John Busby in 1658 and died in 1661.
William was born in 1643 and baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Chester, on 3 August 1643; he died just three months later and was buried on 6 November.
Hester was born in 1644 and baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Chester, on 10 July; as below, she married first Sir Thomas Grobham How and later the Hon Robert Paston; she died about 1688.
William, second of that name, was born in September 1645, just before his father was killed at Chester; he died at London in the following year, and was buried on 29 July at the chapel of St Michael, Highgate, some three miles/five kilometres northwest of Holloway.31
We may note further that
Some sites identify children born in 1634. Since William and Hester married in 1639, however, when Hester was only fifteen, they cannot have had children so early.
Some sites list a child named Horo, but there is no evidence for any person of that name; it may be a corruption of Hester, but the reference cannot be usefully used.
Some sites list a son named Thomas, born in 1634. As above, the date must be mistaken, while there is no record of a son of that name born to William and Hester. There was a Thomas Mainwaring who became a baronet, but he was the son of William’s cousin Philip, son of Sir Randle of Over Peover.32.
So none of William and Hester’s sons survived into manhood; it was no doubt for this reason that the memorial mentions only the number and gives no names.
It is a large number of children born in not many years, but Hester was evidently well able to manage physically, and she and her husband were surely fond of each other.
The two references to William as “Chancellor’s Son” in the death entries of Holy Trinity recognise the position of his father Edmund as Chancellor of the diocese,33 but William himself already held a leading position in the community of Chester. The city was important to King Charles, for it controlled access to north Wales, where much of his support could be found, and it also provided a port through which royalist troops might be brought from Ireland. Late in September 1642 the king visited Chester from his base at Shrewsbury and urged that its fortifications be strengthened.34 William Mainwaring had probably been a member of his escort at that time, but when he returned in the following year his recent award of knighthood gave him a position of authority among the defenders of the city.
Sir William Brereton had been appointed to command the Parliamentary forces in the county, and in March 1643 a substantial victory at Middlewich established his ascendancy over the royalists.35 Establishing his headquarters at Nantwich, some thirty kilometres/twenty miles southeast of Chester, he came to attack the city in July. Alice Thornton has an anecdote:
The wars falling out hot at the time, being we were beleaguered in Chester by Sir William Brereton’s forces for the Parliament, there happened a strange accident which raised that siege, July 19th, 1643. As I was informed, there were three granadoes shot into the town, but, through Providence, hurt nobody. The first, being shot into the sconce [earthwork] of our soldiers within, two men of Captain Mainwaring, having an oxhide ready, clapped it thereon, and it smothering away in [its] shells did not spread but went out.
The second light[ed] short of the city, in ditch within a pasture amongst a company of women milking, but was quenched without doing them harm at all, praised be the Lord our God. The last fell amongst their own horse, short of the town, slaying many of them, and by that means the siege was raised.36
Besides this account of men under William Mainwaring’s command, Ormerod’s History has two further references. In December 1643 he is listed as a member of the council approving the despatch of troops to assist an attack on Hawarden castle in Wales, and in March 1644 he is identified as a senior commissioner, required by the king’s general Prince Maurice of the Rhine to enforce an oath of allegiance to the royal cause from all within the city.37
We may note at this point that members of the Mainwaring family were on opposing sides of the civil war. In many parts of England, the choice of allegiance to the king or to Parliament was determined by family interest and local alliances rather than by any political or religious conviction,38 but in this instance circumstances divided the family. Very likely through the interest of his uncle Sir Philip, former associate of the Earl of Strafford and now in difficulties for his royalist connections, William supported the cause of King Charles. His cousin Philip, however, son of the late Sir Randle and now squire of Over Peover, was firmly for Parliament and commanded a troop of horse in the local army under Sir William Brereton.39
Though the inscription of the memorial in Chester Cathedral states that Sir William Mainwaring died “honourably but immaturely” on 9 October 1644, it gives no detail of the circumstances, and the date is mistaken.
A royal army had come to Cheshire in November 1643 and gained initial success against the Parliamentary forces under Sir William Brereton, but he was soon afterwards reinforced, and he defeated the invaders at Nantwich in January 1644.41 He made another attack on Chester in late October of that year, but the threat from royalist troops in April caused him to withdraw once more and the summer of 1645 was comparatively peaceful.
The full assault on the city of Chester began on 20 September, when a Parliamentarian assault over-ran part of the eastern defences. King Charles himself brought an army to aid the defence, but on 24 September he saw his troops defeated at Rowton Heath, just outside the walls. As the failed relief force withdrew, the city was left to its own resources, and was subjected to a long siege with constant attacks. The final surrender on 3 February 1646 was compelled by starvation.42
Before this, however, during the summer of comparative inactivity in 1645, Hester and the children moved south to Holloway. Her father Christopher had died in October 1643, but her mother had inherited his estates. Though London was firmly in Parliamentary hands it is unlikely that too many questions were asked of women living quietly in the country, and it was certainly more secure than Chester. By 13 September William was writing to Hester at Holloway, and it appears they have been parted for some weeks:43
Much of the letter is self-explanatory, though it may be helpful to say that the “two Judes” are William and Hester’s daughter Judith, three years old, and Hester’s sister Judith Wase, who was now ten; Hester’s mother, of course, was also named Judith. The “old people heare” refers to William’s own parents, Edmund and his wife Jane nee Pickering. Boughton is a neighbourhood just to the east of the city of Chester, but there is no further information about the little girl William mentions.
Two days later, William wrote again, on this occasion from Holt Castle, a stronghold near Wrexham in Wales, some fifteen kilometres/ten miles south of Chester.44
From the reference to “your delivery,” it appears that Hester had just lately given birth to their sixth child William, second of that name: the news must have reached Cheshire between this letter and the preceding one, dated two days before. In both letters, William expresses interest and hope for a position which will allow them to be together, while he appears confident that although Hester is in an area under Parliamentary control and Oxford is held for the king she can nonetheless travel safely there and back.
In his letter of 13 September, William spoke clearly of his wish
that wee may but live together, our being asunder being (next never seeing one another againe whiche God of Heaven forbid) the greatest curse and vexation can happen to mee.
But the worst did happen: William was killed just one month later, fighting on the city wall, and they never saw one another again.
Some three weeks after the event a friend named Thomas Gardener sent an account of the death to Hester’s mother Judith Wase, with a postscript explaining that he had delayed writing until he had confirmation of the “sad sertenty:”45
3 November 1645 was a Friday, so the Friday three weeks before, which Thomas Gardener indicates as the day of William’s death, was 13 October. The memorial in Chester Cathedral has miswritten the year as 1644, and the date as 9 October. Since the text of the inscription was composed in 1671, twenty-five years after the event, Hester’s memory may have been at fault, but is also quite likely that the engraver misread her text and she was not there to check. If the latter is the case, then we may suspect that the day of William’s death was actually Friday 6 October: the single digit 6 is more easily confused with 9 than with the doublet 13; and Gardener perhaps delayed writing a few days longer than he says.
Correspondence was in any case erratic, and Hester and her family may have heard the news before Thomas Gardener’s report reached them. Ten days earlier, on 24 October, William’s parents Edmund and Jane nee Pickering had also written to Judith Wase, enclosing a more detailed report – now lost – with the request that she pass on the news to Hester. Given the “straite” [tight] siege to which Chester was subject and the general confusion and difficulty of the time, it is not possible to judge when the letters arrived or in what order. It is appears, however, that William had been dead some weeks before Hester learned of his fate.46
Hester was in a sad and difficult position: a widow of twenty-one with several small children in a time of war. Three sons, Christopher, Edmund and William, had already died, in 1642 or 1643, so she was accompanied by two daughters and her youngest child, a second William. This William had been born at Holloway just a few days before his father’s death. He died in July of the following year,47 and Hester was left with just her daughters, Judith aged four and Hester two years old.
The will composed by Hester’s father Christopher Wase left his property in first instance to his wife Judith nee Gore, with the estate to be divided between his daughters after her death: Hester should then receive his properties in Buckinghamshire and Judith his holdings in Islington, these last amounting to some fifty acres with a “Mansion House built of brick.” Though he died in 1643, probate was not granted until 5 February 1647.48
We may assume that Hester stayed with her mother and sister at Upper Holloway: it was her original home, and a young widow with small children would be glad of any support they could offer. A little over two years from the death of her husband William, Hester married Sir Henry Blount; the wedding took place in the church of St Michael Paternoster Royal on 23 December 1647.49
Born in 1602, Henry Blount was more than twenty years older than Hester.50 A graduate of Oxford and of Gray’s Inn, he had travelled widely in the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt and his Voyage to the Levant was widely circulated. Knighted by Charles I in 1640, he fought at Edgehill and attended the royal court at Oxford, but was later a commissioner on a number of enquiries during the Interregnum.
… walked into Westminster Hall with his sword by his side; the parliamentarians all stared upon him as a Cavalier, knowing that he had been with the king; was called before the House of Commons, where he remonstrated to them that he only did his duty, and so they acquitted him.51
It is not known when or how Hester met Sir Henry Blount, but after their marriage they evidently lived at Hornsey, just three kilometres/two miles north of Holloway, and Sir Henry may already have established himself as the resident of a neighbouring property.52 When his elder brother died in 1654, he inherited the family estate, including the manor of Tittenhanger or Tyttenhanger at Ridge, south of St Albans in Hertfordshire, and built a large new house there. He was High Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1661 and later served again as a commissioner for trade.
The first child of Hester and Henry Blount was a daughter, Frances (1648-1699), and she was followed by seven sons, three of whom died in infancy – the youngest, Ulysses (1664-1704), was born when Hester was forty years old.53 The eldest son, baptised Thomas Pope (1649-1697), became a noted scholar and a Member of Parliament, and was made a baronet by Charles II.54
There was still contact with William’s parents in Chester, and one kind and courteous letter survives from Edmund to his former daughter-in-law.55
Born in 1579, Edmund was now over seventy, and it is likely that his wife Jane was already dead: she had signed the letter of October 1645 but not this one, and the privations of the siege would not have been good for her health; so we are not certain who the Jane is mentioned by Edmund in his postscript. Sir Philip Mainwaring, Edmund’s younger brother, was the former assistant to the late Lord Strafford, now in an enforced retirement.56 Lady Brerewood was the wife of Sir Robert Brerewood, member of a leading family of Cheshire; his first wife was Edmund’s sister Anna nee Mainwaring, but she died in 1630 and this was the second Lady Brerewood, Katherine nee Lee.
Despite the good will and good wishes, it is unlikely that Edmund Mainwaring saw his grand-children again.
Hester’s mother Judith Wase nee Gore died in the 1660s. Hester’s sister Judith nee Wase married George Master, a lawyer of Lincoln’s Inn, in 1660 and died after childbirth in 1669. She was buried with her father Christopher in the church of St Mary at Islington, where a memorial set up by her husband recorded that:
… during their ten year intermarriage, she was ever a most affectionate and observant wife, a real and judicious friend, by whom she had many children; but left him with only one son.57
Hester herself died in 1678; she was buried in the Blount family vault of St Margaret’s Church at Ridge in Hertfordshire on 6 November.58
Hester’s eldest daughter, Hester nee Mainwaring, married Sir Thomas Grobham Howe of Kempley in Gloucestershire and later, after his death,59 the Hon Robert Paston, a son of the Earl of Yarmouth who was a Member of Parliament for Norwich.60 She died about 1688, with no children by either husband.
The younger daughter, Judith nee Mainwaring, born in 1642, married John Busby of Addington in Buckinghamshire; the wedding was held in St Margaret’s church at Ridge on 15 February 1658. Born in 1635, John was the son of Robert Busby and Abigail nee Gore the sister of Judith Wase nee Gore, so husband and wife were first cousins once removed. On 5 June 1661 John Busby was knighted by King Charles II, and the Biographical Mirrour quotes from Kennett’s Register:61
This morning his Majesty was graciously pleased in his bed-chamber to confer the honour of knighthood on John Busby, of Addington, in the county of Bucks, Esq, which gracious favour had an honourable reflection upon the memory of that valiant knight Sir William Mainwaring, slain in the defence of Chester, whose daughter Sir John married.
So William Mainwaring was still remembered, and his service was recognised in the honour granted to his posthumous son-in-law.
Six months later, on 7 December, Judith gave birth to a daughter, Hester, but she herself died just three weeks later, no doubt from the after-effects of the birth. Birth and death took place at Tittenhanger House at Ridge in Hertfordshire, now the home of her mother Hester, Lady Blount, and Judith was buried at St Margaret’s Church in Ridge.62 She had previously borne a son, most likely in 1659, but it appears that he died young, and there is no further information about him, not even his name.63
In 1705, more than forty years after the death of Judith Busby nee Mainwaring, the Reverend Thomas Busby, son of Sir John by his second wife Mary nee Dormer, had a memorial set up to his father’s memory in the church of St Mary at Addington:
Near this place resteth in Hope to Rise
in the glory the body of the learned SIR JOHN
BUSBY Kt, late Deputy Lieut[enant] and Colonel
of the Militia of the County, deceased
the 7th January 1700 Age 65.
He had by his first lady JUDITH daughter of Sir
Wm MAINWARING Kt, Governor of West
Chester, a son and a daughter.
By his second lady MARY eldest daughter of
JOHN DORMER of Lee Grange Esq five sons
and nine daughters whereof most are
gone before. May the rest prepare to follow him.
To whose pious memory THOMAS BUSBY
D[octor] of Laws his son and heir consecrates
this Monument Anno 1705.63
So an enquiry which began with a memorial to Sir William’s death concludes with another which remembers his daughter.
1The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester: compiled from original evidences in public offices, the Harleian and Cottonian mss., parochial registers, private muniments, unpublished ms. collections of successive Cheshire antiquaries, and a personal survey of every township in the county; incorporated with a republication of King’s Vale Royal, and Leycester’s Cheshire Antiquities, by George Ormerod (1785-1873), Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor and Jones, London 1819 [archive.org], at 245.
The two works incorporated are The Vale Royal of England: or, the county palatine of Chester illustrated, by Thomas Hughes (1822-1896) and Daniel King (d. 1664?), J G Bell, London 1852 [online at archive.org]; and Historical antiquities in two books; the first treating in general of Great Britain and Ireland; the second containing particular remarks concerning Cheshire, and chiefly of the Bucklow hundred. Whereunto is annexed a transcript of Domesday-Book, so far as it concerneth Cheshire, by Sir Peter Leycester (1614-1678); first published in 1673, it is often cited as Historical antiquities or, as above by Ormerod, extracted as Cheshire Antiquities.
2 Major sources on the general political and military history of the period discussed in this essay, leading up to and including the civil war, are C V Wedgewood, The King’s Peace 1637-1641 and The King’s War 1641-1647, both published first by Collins, London 1958, then by Penguin 1983; also Austin Woolrych, Battles of the English Civil War, published first by Batsford, London 1961, then by Pan 1966; and William Seymour, Battles in Britain and their political background, volume 2 (1642-1746), Sidgwick and Jackson, London 1975 and Book Club Associates 1976
3The Biographical Mirrour: comprising a series of ancient and modern English portraits, of eminent and Ddstinguished persons, from original pictures and drawings, compiled by Francis Godolphin Waldron and Sylvester Harding, published at London by S[ylvester] and E[dward] Harding 1795-98 [archive.org: Google], Volume 1 at 19-22, has “Memoirs of Sir William Mainwaring, of West-Chester, Knt, Ob Oct 1645,” followed immediately by an account of his widow Hester. [TheDictionary of National Biography states that Francis Waldron was the author of all the biographies: wikisource.org/wiki/Waldron,_Francis_Godolphin_(DNB00)]
The “Memoirs” include a brief account of the Mainwaring family, including William’s father Edmund. The Christian name of his grandfather and his uncle, both styled Sir Randle, may also appear as Randolf and other variants. The uncertainty on the date of William’s death is discussed below.
On Philip Mainwaring of Over Peover, see further below at note 39.
Edmund’s appointment to the Council of the North is discussed by Ronald A Marchant, The Church under the Law: justice administration and discipline in the diocese of York 1560-1640, Cambridge UP 1969 [Google], 47 and 250..
6 Marchant, The Church under the Law, 47, says that Edmund Mainwaring was appointed Chancellor of the diocese in 1634, but that he appointed deputies to act for him in that office until 1638. The List of Chancellors in Ormerod, History, 87 at item 6, says that Edmund Mainwaring LlD is described by the antiquarian Sir Peter Leycester [in his Cheshire Antiquities (see note 1 above)] as being chancellor of Chester 1642, but “his patent is not in the office.” It is probable that he was appointed in 1634 but then took up full responsibility in 1638: the certificate of his appointment was evidently missing from the archives.
In 1635 Edmund heard a case concerning the distribution of tithes and other revenues from the parish of Whalley in Lancashire. In 1644, when William Laud the Archbishop of Canterbury was point of trial by Parliament, it was at one point claimed that he had interfered in Edmund’s decision: british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/chas1/1641-3/pp517-553 at 50. [The trial ended without a verdict, but – like the Earl of Strafford as below – Laud was later impeached and executed.]
The memorial to his son William Mainwaring describes Edmund as Chancellor of the County Palatine of Chester, but this is incorrect: his office was in the diocese of Chester, not in the county of Cheshire. England had three county palatinates, so-called because they occupied marcher territories close to the borders of Wales and Scotland. The county palatinates of Lancaster and Durham were administered by chancellors – and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is still maintained as a cabinet minister in the present-day United Kingdom. Cheshire was also a palatinate county, but the administration was headed by a Chamberlain: see, for example, “The rights and jurisdiction of the county palatine of Chester, the earls palatine, the chamberlain, and other officers; and disputes concerning the jurisdiction of the Court of exchequer with the city of Chester, &c., now first printed from the original manuscript in the possession of the editor,” by Joseph Brooks Yates [editor], in Remains, historical & literary, connected with the palatine counties of Lancaster and Chester, XXXVII; The Chetham Society, Manchester 1856 [archive.org; Google]. Edmund Mainwaring’s legal offices and membership of the Council of the North were important, but he was not the Chamberlain of the County Palatine of Cheshire.
On William’s age at admission, compare notes 8 above and 24 below.
10London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 for Islington St Mary, Islington 1557-1649; Hester’s name appears to be either wrongly or badly written as “Hoster.”
As in the discussion of the shield at the top of the memorial, her maiden surname is found in many different forms: Wace, Wasse, Waste etc. The will of her father Christopher, however, has the form Wase, and this seems preferable.
11 findagrave.com/memorial/185934914 notes that Hester’s gravestone of 1678 states that she was born in 1620; other sources suggest 1617.
London, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, however, records the wedding of Christopher Wase and Judith nee Goare at Holy Trinity the Less in the City of London on 10 February 1623/4 [modern 1624: see immediately below in this note]. Since there is no account of any previous marriage of Christopher Wase and it is most unlikely that Hester was born out of wedlock, while Judith nee Gore is regularly referred to as her mother in family correspondence below, Hester can have been born no earlier than 1624.
The official year in England at this time began on 25 March – it was not recognised as 1 January until 1752. The date of the marriage of Christopher Wase and Judith nee Gore is therefore recorded as 10 February 1624; here and in other such cases, however, we adjust to the modern form.
12 Sir John Gore and Sir Thomas Cambell have entries in Wikipedia and citations elsewhere.
The surname Gore appears also as Goare, and the surname Cambell, though well attested, is obviously a variant of the more common Campbell.
13 In his will of 18 October 1643, Christopher Wase mentions the marriage portion, then divides his estate between Hester and her younger sister Judith. Hester received his property in Buckinghamshire and Judith his holdings in Islington. His wife Judith nee Gore was named as executor. On the division of property, however, see further below.
Christopher died a few days after signing the will, and he was buried at St Mary, Islington, on 25 October: London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812.
The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 199retrieved from ancestry.com . On its probate, see below at note 48.
14 The process is described by Wedgewood, Strafford, 277-341.
William Laud the Archbishop of Canterbury suffered the same fate early in the following year, with some implication for William’s father Edmund Mainwaring: note 6 above.
The date is given as 20 March 1639. As in note 11 above, however, the official new year did not begin until 15 March, so the year was 1640 by modern reckoning.
16 The wedding is recorded at the church of Holy Trinity the Less in the City of London on 12 April 1633. The church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. On a later connection to the Busby/Busbye family, see below.
17 On the possible confusion of names, see note 18 immediately below.
18 The record of baptism at Islington St Mary gives the Christian name of the child as Wase, which is most unusual. A record of burial in the same church almost two years later has the name as Christopher and the surname is transcribed as “Mankinge.” Both records very likely relate to the same person: the baptismal name was miswritten as Wase rather than as Christopher, while the surname Mainwaring appears in several different guises and is often scrawled.
The original Church of the Holy Trinity may have dated from the fourteenth century, but it was substantially altered in the latter part of the seventeenth century and the eighteenth century and was rebuilt in the nineteenth century. It was decommissioned in 1960 and is now – known as the Guildhall – used for secular functions.
20 There is confusion about the identities and the dates of birth of the children of William and Hester; the question is discussed below.
21 Bibliographical details of the “Memoirs” are in note 3 above. The transcript of the letter is on pages 20-21.
22 There is no reference to the phrase “end in a bonfire” in either TheOxford Dictionary of English Proverbs [compiled by William George Smith with an introduction by Janet E Heseltine; second edition 1948 revised by Sir Paul Harvey], or in TheOxford Dictionary of Quotations [third impression 1956].
A bonfire, however, can be both destructive – as a conflagration or a funerary pyre – or, alternatively, a sign of celebration. Both meanings were well attested in William’s time, and he is clearly using the second and more favourable one.
23 Pepys saw the play at its first night on 8 January 1663 and was greatly impressed with it then. His favourable comparison to Othello appears in his Diary entry for 20 August 1666.
24 Alumni cantabrigienses I.3, 236, records his admission in 1627, noting that he was fourteen years old at the time. As above at note 9, William Mainwaring was about thirteen when he was admitted in 1629.
25 The campaign and the battle are described in detail by Seymour, Battles in Britain, 37-51, also by Wedgewood, King’s War, 134-139.
26Biographical Mirrour, 23. The date would therefore have been recorded as 9 January 1642, but the Mirrour has made the adjustment.
27 Roger Hudson [editor], The Grand Quarrel: from the Civil War memoirs of Mrs Lucy Hutchison; Mrs Alice Thornton; Ann, Lady Fanshawe; Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle; Anne, Lady Halkett, & the letters of Brilliana, Lady Harley, Folio Society, London 1993, 93.
31 In his letter from Holt Castle near Chester, written on 15 September and reprinted below at note 44, William speaks to Hester of “your delivery,” most likely referring to her giving birth. It would appear that the news had only just reached him, for there is no mention of the event in his letter written from Chester on 13 September. Given the military activity at the time, it is not possible to judge how long a letter would have taken, but the child had probably been born a week or two before.
St Mary, Islington, appears to have been the parish of the Wase family: Christopher Wase had been buried there, his daughter Hester had married William Mainwaring there, and up to this time those of their children recorded in London had been baptised or buried there. It is therefore is a little surprising to find William buried at Highgate, but the entry clearly names the parents of the infant as William and Hester Mainwaring. As below, two sons of Hester by Sir William Blount would also be buried there, but that was a few years later: note 52.
32 Philip Mainwaring of Over Peover (c.1600-1647), son of Sir Randle (d.1632), is discussed below; he must be distinguished from Sir Philip (1589-1661), who was his father’s younger brother and uncle to both him and to William: see at note 7 above.
34 Ormerod, History, 203-204, has an account of the king’s visit and the development of the fortifications.
35 Ormerod, History, xxxv-xxxviii, has a general history of the war in Cheshire, and there is a modern account, with a detailed plan of the city’s fortifications, in “Early Modern Chester 1550-1762: the civil war and interregnum, 1642-60,” 115-125; digitised by British History Online [BHO] from A History of the County of Chester, Volume 5 Part 1 “The City of Chester: General History and Topography,” published by Victoria County History, London 2003; online at british-history.ac.uk/vch/ches/vol5/pt1/pp115-125.
“Granado” is an archaic form of the modern “grenade,” in this case describing a small explosive shell which had been shot – somewhat erratically – against the city defences. Unlike a modern hand-grenade which disintegrates as it explodes, or shrapnel which throws out pieces of metal, early grenades relied upon their explosive force for effect – which could be considerable.
37 Ornerod, History, 205.Prince Maurice was the younger brother to the more celebrated Prince Rupert; they were sons of Princess Elizabeth, elder sister of King Charles and Electress of the Palatinate in the Holy Roman Empire, Germany.
38 See, for example, Alan Everitt, “The Local Community and the Great Rebellion,” in The Historical Association Book of The Stuarts, edited by K H D Haley, Sidgwick and Jackson, London 1973, 74-101 [first published as a Historical Association pamphlet in 1969].
39 A cadet branch of the family had acquired the property of Whitmore Hall in Staffordshire by marriage in the late sixteenth century. There, however, both Edward Mainwaring (1577-1647) and his son, also Edward (1603-1675), supported Parliament, and the Hall was fortified against royalist troops. See J G Cavenagh-Mainwaring, The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford; an account of the family,, and its connections by marriage and descent, with special reference to the manor of Whitmore, with appendices, pedigrees and illustrations, 1934, available through archive.org., at 65-67; also historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/mainwaring-edward-i-1603-75.
40 Photograph by David Schenk at findagrave.com/memorial/81535564; information from AHistory and Guide to the Church of St Lawrence at Over Peover, kindly provided by Ms Vicki Irlam.
Though the guide refers to Sir Philip and to Dame Ellen, there is no evidence that Philip received a knighthood. As in note 32 above, however, Philip and Ellen’s third and eldest surviving son Thomas was made a baronet by King Charles II.
41 Ormerod, History, xxxvii-xxxviii; Wedgewood, King’s War, 493; and Wikipedia entries for the second battle of Middlewich and the battle of Nantwich.
42 Ormerod, History, 206-206; Wedgewood, King’s War, 493-495, 529 and 538; and Wikipedia entries for the Siege of Chester and the battle of Rowton Heath.
Holt castle was held by royalist troops for most of the civil war until it was compelled to surrender in 1647; its fortifications were then destroyed and only the foundations now remain.
As background to the items of news that he mentions, we may note that the citizens of Chester resented the Welsh troops who had been brought in to boost the garrison, while Sir Francis Gamull was personally unpopular and William clearly disapproves of his conduct. The Savage family were leading gentry based on Frodsham, some fifteen kilometres/ten miles northeast of Chester.
The writer of the letter may have been Sir Thomas Gardiner, a leading royalist who has an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. There is no recognised place-name Darleston in England; the closest is Darlaston in the south of Staffordshire, now part of the borough of Walsall.
48 Note 3 above gives the site of the will at ancestry.com (The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 199). The will is in English, while the record of probate – in Latin – is attached at the end. Judith as executor is identified as Christopher’s widow [relicta]. The date is given as 1646, but February is a month before the formal New Year of that time, so it was 1647 on a modern calendar.
Ten years later Hester and her sister Judith – now twenty-one – agreed to a different and apparently more equal division, so that each held property at Holloway and in Buckingham. No doubt with their mother’s approval, the document was endorsed at a “Court Baron” or manorial court in December 1656; it contains a description of the property at Islington, including the “Mansion house:” London Metropolitan Archives, Halliday Collection 169, quoted by WHPRA [The Whitehall Park Area Residents Association] at whpara.org.uk/history/.
49 The church is just north of Southwark Bridge. The building of that time dated from the thirteenth century, but was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The present-day church was designed by Wren; damaged in the Second World War, it has since been restored. Though the surname in the marriage entry appears as Blunt, but it is generally written as Blount.
51 Richard Barber [editor], Brief Lives by John Aubrey: a selection based upon existing contemporary portraits, Folio Society, London 1975, 48-50 at 48-49. Also online at Google Books.
52English Baronetage at 669-670 says that the couple’s second son, named Henry (1650-1651) and their third, also Henry (1653-1653) were both buried at St Michael’s Chapel, Highgate, in the parish of Hornsey.
53 As in note 52 immediately above, the first two children were baptised Henry, and a third Henry was born and died in 1657 – it was not a fortunate name.
57The History, Topography, and Antiquities of the Parish of St. Mary Islington in the County of Middlesex, including biographical sketches of the most eminent and remarkable persons who have been born, or have resided there, by John Nelson, Islington 1811 [Google Books], 298-299 and also at 62.
58 The precise date is given by English Baronetage, 669.
59 The memorial to her father Sir William Mainwaring spells the surname as How, but it appears more commonly as Howe. Grobham was a supplementary personal name held by several members of the family at this time.
Since the memorial to Hester’s father Sir William, composed in 1671, mentions only her marriage to Sir Thomas, we must assume that he died after that time.
Biographical Mirrour, 21, says that her picture was painted by Sir Peter Lely, a Dutchman [Pieter van der Faes] who was most fashionable at the time, and that she appears to have been “most handsome.” The portrait, however, has either not survived or can no longer be identified as hers.
61Biographical Mirrour, 21.
White Kennett (1660-1728), Bishop of Peterborough, wrote several political and historical works, including his Register and Chronicle, Ecclesiastical and Civil: containing Matters of Fact delivered in the words of the most Authentick Books, Papers, and Records; digested in exact order of time; with papers, notes, and references towards discovering and connecting the true History of England from the Restauration of King Charles II. Only the first volume was actually published, at London in 1728, but it dealt with the period up to the end of 1662; the Mirrour cites page 482.
63 The only reference to a son of John and Judith Busby is in the text of the memorial, as immediately follows.
Sir John’s son Thomas, who arranged the memorial and composed the inscription, describes himself as the heir to his father. We must therefore assume that his elder half-brother, the son born to Judith nee Mainwaring in 1659, was already dead; otherwise he would have been the heir.
From the portrait with his mother – in which we believe he has been wrongly identified as his sister Hester – it is probable that the boy was born in 1659, the year after his parents’ marriage. His name was likely William or Roger for one of his grandfathers, or John for his father.
The shield at the base of the memorial has the arms of Busby in the centre and those of his two wives’ families on either side. The design for Judith nee Mainwaring has six red and six white bars: the Mainwarings normally had just two red bars on white, but a variant with multiple bars was also used.
In 1879, Gerald Mainwaring, my first cousin four times removed, just 24 years old, was tried and found guilty of murder. The case, widely reported, caused a sensation.
From the mid-1870s Mainwaring had lived in Canada, farming in Manitoba. In April 1879 he returned to England to attend the wedding of his sister Julia. A few months later, due to return to Canada, he went on a spree in Derby. He got drunk, and driving a trap with a ‘female companion’ too fast through the town, was pulled over by the police. When they began a search of his lady friend, Mainwaring fired several shots from a revolver, wounding two policemen, one fatally.
Found guilty of murder, he was sentenced to hang. It transpired, however, that the jury, unable to agree, had drawn a ballot to decide Mainwaring’s fate. There was an appeal to the Home Secretary and his sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.
Report in The Times 19 July 1879 page 11: Gerald Mainwaring being committed to trial for murder
New York Times 19 Aug 1879
House of Commons Aug 11 The Times 12 August 1879 page 6
Report in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph 14 August 1879 page 7 that Gerald Mainwaring’s death sentence had been commuted to life imprisonment
On 11 September 1879 Mainwaring was transferred from Derby to Pentonville Prison. In December 1880, after a brief stay in Millbank Prison, he was moved again, and on the 1881 and 1891 censuses he was recorded as a prisoner at Her Majesty’s Prison at Chatham, Kent. In 1891 he was moved to Portland Prison on the Isle of Portland, Dorset.
Pentonville Prison Register record for Gerald Mainwaring Occupation None Court Derby Assizes Series PCOM2 Source Pentonville Prison, Middlesex: Register Of Prisoners Piece number 77 Page number 660. Retrieved through FindMyPast.
Chatham Prison, Kent: Register Of Prisoners record for Gerald Mainwaring Occupation None Age 23 Court Derby Assizes Series PCOM2 Source Chatham Prison, Kent: Register Of Prisoners Piece number 4 Page number 312. Retrieved from FindMyPast.
On 16 May 1894 Gerald was discharged from Portland Prison. The Habitual Criminal Register of 1894 describes him as of fair complexion, with brown hair, grey eyes, 5 foot 7¼ inches tall. He had a large cut to the back of his head, a cut on his second right finger, a tattoo mark outside wrist and stab ribs, dot inside left forearm, anchor outside wrist and two moles near armpit. His destination on discharge was London.
I can find no record of Gerald Mainwaring on the 1901 census nor in death records of the period, and there no newspaper mention of him. I have been unable to find a shipping record with his name. A family history compiled in the 1930s asserts that he died in America, but it does not specify the place and date of death.
Since I last wrote about Gerald, in 2013, my father’s cousin, Christine Cavenagh-Mainwaring, has published a history of Whitmore Hall and the Cavenagh-Mainwaring family. She writes that Gerald was released after 15 years in prison on licence after innumerable pleas for clemency from his family. A family story has it that Gerald made his way to his old home at the Whitmore Rectory. His brother Percy, then Rector of Whitmore, would not let him in the house and sent him away with 5 pounds and an overcoat for the cold weather.
Christine Cavenagh-Mainwaring also wrote that some Mainwaring family relations were entertaining the former governor of the Portland prison for tea. One of the women “was holding forth about the Mainwaring family with its rather illustrious pedigree and its royal connections, when the governor suddenly said, ‘Mainwaring … why I had a Gerald Mainwaring as one of my prisoners.’ ” There was some consternation and embarrassment. “The governor, realising the effect that his remark had made on the
party, patted Mrs Colhoun on the arm and said, ‘Don’t worry my dear, he was one of the most charming men that I have ever had the privilege to meet.’ ”
Pentonville Prison was built between 1840 and 1842 to house convicts sentenced to imprisonment or awaiting transportation. When Gerald Mainwaring was incarcerated there Pentonville was a place for all male convicts to serve their probationary term of nine months, after which they would be sent to a public works prison. In the late 1870s
Pentonville held about 1,000 prisoners.
Millbank, in Pimlico, was opened in 1816. It was the first modern prison in London. In the late 1870s Millbank, like Pentonville also had a daily confined rate of just over 1,000 convicts. Millbank was demolished in the late nineteenth century. Among new buildings erected on the site was the National Gallery of British Art, now Tate Britain, which opened in 1897.
Chatham Prison, which opened in 1856, stood on St Mary’s Island near the Chatham Dockyards. In 1880, it was selected for the receipt of “star class” convicts: men with no previous convictions and kept separate from other classes of prisoners were sent there for public works. It closed in 1892.
Portland Prison in Dorset, 140 miles south-west of London, was a male convict public works prison, receiving prisoners who had already undergone periods of separate confinement at Millbank, Pentonville and specially contracted local prisons. It opened in 1848 and is still in operation today. In the early 1890s the daily confined rate was just over 1,000 convicts.
The prisons Gerald Mainwaring was incarcerated in near London are shown with black xs. Pentonville is to the north of the city, Millbank to the south and Chatham is far to the east of London.
Prison and criminal records from FindMyPast
Cavenagh-Mainwaring, Christine Whitmore Hall : from 1066 to Waltzing Matilda. Adelaide Peacock Publications, 2013. Pages 208-9.
Quite a few of my forebears studied at Oxford and Cambridge. Many of their names appear in the universities’ lists of their alumni, some in very early lists.
The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209. Oxford is older, with teaching in some form there as long ago as 1096. The University of Oxford developed rapidly from 1167, when King Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.
The earliest ancestor I have found at one of these universities is my fourteenth great grandfather Nicholas Vaux (1460 – 1523). He is listed as an Oxford alumnus. Unfortunately his college and dates of study there are not recorded.
Thomas Vaux (1509 – 1556), Nicholas’s son and my 13th great grandfather, studied at Cambridge university; again, I do not know when or which college.
My Mainwaring forebears, by contrast, showed some degree of family loyalty to a particular college. My eighth great grandfather Edward Mainwaring (1635 – 1704) attended Christ’s College Cambridge. His son Edward (1681 – 1738) attended St John’s College Cambridge from 1699. His sons, Edward (1709 – 1795) and Henry (1710 – 1747), both also attended St John’s Cambridge.
Venn, J. A., comp. Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Graduates and Holders of Office at the University of Cambridge, from the Earliest Times to 1900 2 Volume Set also available through Google books . Cambridge University Press, 2011
Foster, Joseph. Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1715-1886 and Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1500-1714. Oxford: Parker and Co., 1888-1892.