Via Whitehall debauches to Sackville Street
Malcolm had the lawn mown before 9 a.m. coffee. This naturally induced a sense of well-being. To the venerable tune of Shrimp Boats (as from Jo Stafford, circa 1951) he found himself carolling:
Foxes is a-crapping,
Their turds are in sight,
Foxes come a-crapping,
Each and every night.
Why don’t they do goin’ home …
Not great stuff; but it was a stage in evolving this posting.
The Malcolmian thought-process from there:
A long way back Sam Jordison blogged on John Wilmot: the profane Pam Ayres of 17th-century poetry. Jordison had been pubbing (the Red Lion at East Adderbury, a commendable choice):
It was here – in Adderbury House, conveniently near the pub – that John Wilmot, the Secnd Earl of Rochester, had his country seat. All Shakespearean puns in that sentence are, I’m afraid, fully intended, since this was where the famous “profane wit” lodged his long-suffering wife. To her he wrote the sugared words:
When wearied with a world of woe,
To thy safe bosom I retire,
Where love and peace and truth does flow,
May I contented there expire.
But when he did bother to visit his wife in Adderbury, he had more pressing concerns than “peace and truth”. He had, for instance, to attend to the important business of dressing up as a tinker, trailing around the neighbouring villages offering to look at householders’ pots and pans – and then knocking out their bottoms. When in more self-reflective moods, he liked to dress up as a tramp, go out to meet other genuine hobos in the locality and encourage them to criticise the stinginess of the local aristo; namely, the second Earl of Rochester. As soon as he’d tricked them into insulting him, he’d reveal his true identity and then have them dunked into a barrel of beer as punishment.
Malcolm felt his bucolic effort was not much worse than Wilmot/Rochester at his most bathetic:
The Countesse of Falmouth, of whom People tell
Her Footmen wear Shirts of a Guinea an Ell:
Might Save the Expence, if she did but know
How Lusty a Swinger is Signior Dildo.
And there is worse.
However, let’s leave Wilmot for another occasion.
A Windsor beauty
There actually was such a Countess of Falmouth, but she is not the “Elizabeth” wikipedia ambiguously suggests.
Mary Bagot, Countess of Falmouth and Dorset (1645-79) hangs in the Royal Collection. She is one of the ten “Windsor Beauties” that came off the Sir Peter Lely production line, to ornament Queen Catarina Henriqueta/Catherine of Braganza’s bedchamber (and presumably were also some of the notches on Charles II’s bed-head).
Pause for a Malcolmian aside, for there is a wrinkle here.
Mary Bagot’s parents, gentry greatly impoverished by supporting Charles I and the Cromwellian delinquency fines, were Hervey Bagot and Dorothy Arden — she formerly of Pipe Hall, Curdworth, Warwickshire. Hello! Malcolm hears you mutter: Ardens! Warwickshire!
Yes indeed. We are in the process of hiting on two families (the Berkeleys and the Ardens) whom Burke’s Peerage (18th edition) reckon can be traced reliably back to pre-Conquest England — the only third are the Swintons.
And, yes indeed, also, this is Forest of Arden country.
Yet more yes indeed, that does make Miss Bagot’s mother a second cousin (or so) of Mary Arden, mother of one William Shakespeare. Small world, early modern Warwickshire — and that was very perceptive of you to spot the connection.
In a short life the erst-while Miss Bagot managed two well-connected, and both abbreviated, marriages.
At the age of nineteen, her first husband was the somewhat older, not-very-nice-but-frightfully-dim, Charles Berkeley, 1st Earl of Falmouth (right).
Berkeley’s father was Maurice Berkeley, 2nd Viscount Fitzhardinge of Berehaven — the elder brother, also Maurice, inherited that title. There seems no obvious irish connection for these Irish Barclay titles — if anywhere the Berkey interests were in Virginia — , except that Charles II was avoiding aggravating the Lord ,while keeping his favourites in the Commons (Charles Berkeley sat as MP for New Romney). Bishop George Berkeley came from another, distant, branch of the family.
We meet Charles Berkeley repeatedly in Pepys’s diaries, and never in a flattering light. For examples:
Monday 10th December, 1660, plotting against Anne Hyde:
After dinner [Colonel Robert Slingsby] came to me again and sat with me at my house, and among other discourse he told me that it is expected that the Duke [of York, the future James II] will marry the Lord Chancellor’s daughter [Anne Hyde} at last which is likely to be the ruin of Mr. Davis and my Lord Barkley, who have carried themselves so high against the Chancellor; Sir Chas. Barkley swearing that he and others had lain with her often, which all believe to be a lie.
Friday 17 October 1662, a severe Pepys dissing:
Sir Charles Barkeley is made Privy Purse; a most vicious person, and one whom Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, to-day (at which I laugh to myself), did tell me that he offered his wife 300l. per annum to be his mistress. He also told me that none in Court hath more the King’s ear now than Sir Charles Barkeley, and Sir H. Bennet, and my Lady Castlemaine, whose interest is now as great as ever…
Monday 15th December 1662, some juicy gossip:
Dr. Clerke, who in discourse tells me, that Sir Charles Barkeley’s greatness is only his being pimp to the King, and to my Lady Castlemaine.
Sunday 8 February 1663, bed hopping:
… my Lady Castlemaine, a few days since, had Mrs. [Frances] Stuart to an entertainment, and at night began a frolique that they two must be married, and married they were, with ring and all other ceremonies of church service, and ribbands and a sack posset in bed, and flinging the stocking; but in the close, it is said that my Lady Castlemaine, who was the bridegroom, rose, and the King came and took her place with pretty Mrs. Stuart. This is said to be very true. Another story was how Captain Ferrers and W. Howe both have often, through my Lady Castlemaine’s window, seen her go to bed and Sir Charles Barkeley in the chamber all the while with her.
The last first proof
Mary Bagot’s first marriage lasted fewer than six months. The first (and last of this creation: the marriage produced only a daughter) Earl of Falmouth copped it with a Dutch cannon-ball off Lowestoft in June 1665. Pepys has this:
The Earl of Falmouth, Muskerry, and Mr. Richard Boyle killed on board the Duke [of York]’s ship, the Royall Charles, with one shot: their blood and brains flying in the Duke’s face; and the head of Mr. Boyle striking down the Duke, as some say…
The poet John Denham was equally unimpressed:
Falmouth was there, I know not what to act,
Some say, ‘twas to grow duke too by contract;
An untaught bullet, in his wanton scope,
Dashes him all to pieces, and his hope:
Such was his rise, such was his fall unpraised,
A chance shot sooner took him than chance raised;
His shattered head the fearless duke disdains,
And gave the last first proof that he had brains.
The widowed Countess of Falmouth, lady-of-the-bedchamber to the Queen appears in the various lists of the King’s mistresses, though apparently not as one of the main contenders.
In 1674 the widow Mary remarried, in secret Charles Sackville (left), sixth earl of Dorset and fourth earl of Middlesex. The secrecy was somehow required because Sackville was taking legal actions against his parents over inheritances.
Here we have another reprobate, but one with a modicum of talent and wit.
At the age of nineteen Sackville was tried for the murder of a tanner in Newington (see Pepys for 22 February 1662), and needed a royal pardon. Later he would repay any compliment by surrendering his mistress, Nell Gwynne, to the King: according to Pepys, it was Sackville (then with the courtesy title of Lord Buckhurst) who:
hath got Nell away from the King’s house, lies with her, and gives her 100l. a year, so as she hath sent her parts to the house, and will act no more.
Sackville did a couple of diplomatic missions for Charles II, and was, in effect, the “minister for the arts”. He was a member of the Kit-Cat Club, translated Corneille, wrote verse, and was acknowledged as a critic by Dryden in Of Dramatic Poesy (1668). He was an early admirer of Paradise Lost.
This second marriage for Mary Bagot terminated after five years with her death in childbirth.
Sackville went on to remarry: this was the 17-year-old Lady Mary Compton, daughter of the Earl of Northamption. This produced three children, including the heir to the Dorset title, Lionel Cranfield Sackville, who in 1730-1737 became Walpole’s Lord Lieutenant in Ireland, and would give his name to Sackville Street, until that was re-named for Daniel O’Connell. So another Irish connection.