Stefanie Magid

Professor Wilkes

English Legal History

December 7, 2007

 

Monmouth’s Rebellion

 

            On the evening of July 5, 1685 as Monmouth’s rebels stealthily encroached on the sleeping royal army in one last dire effort to overcome the strength of the King’s forces, a shot rang out from a pistol, prematurely awakening the unsuspecting royal army.  With quick agility and speed, the king’s army dismantled the rebel forces and ended the nearly two month civil war against the throne of England.  Ten days later, the rebels’ leader, James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth, was executed at the Tower of London for high treason against the King of England, James II.[1]

 

i.                    Background on the Rebel Leader

 

Thirty six years earlier, Monmouth entered into the world with a fate sealed with mixed fortune.  Monmouth was the illegitimate son of King Charles II, born to Lucy Walter on April 9, 1649 at Rotterdam after Charles II’s met Lucy during a visit to The Hague in 1648.  While rumored that Charles married Lucy after Monmouth’s birth, the validity of the union has never been proven.[2] 

 

Text Box: James Scott (Croft), Duke of Monmouth

During his childhood, Monmouth endured what most children could never imagine.  His status as the illegitimate son of the King led to attempts at his kidnapping by agents of the Commonwealth and his mother’s disappearance for a short while.[3]  Eventually, in 1658 Charles II managed to successfully have his son kidnapped and “placed in the care of William, Lord Crofts, a gentleman of Charles’ bedchamber, whose surname he [took].”[4]  Monmouth never saw his mother again, who died at the end of that year just shy of his tenth birthday.

 

      After his tragic childhood, Monmouth proceeded to live a life of privilege.  While Charles II saw little of his son, he made sure Monmouth was well provided for.  Charles ensured his son gained influence at the Court, granted him title of Duke of Monmouth and arranged his marriage to the wealthy Scottish heiress, Anna Scott, countess of Buccleuch.[5]  Monmouth continued to enjoy his life in the lap of luxury as the typical Restoration courier of the time: hunting, racing, gambling, drinking and womanizing.  Eventually his charades led him to the love of his life during an affair with Henrietta Maria Wentworth, whom he met in early 1680.[6] 

 

What Monmouth lacked in his childhood Charles compensated in his adult life by bestowing on him honors under the crown and military leadership roles.  However, it was in these honors that led to his eventual disgrace with his father.  The king’s doting on his son, troubled James, the duke of York who stood to gain the throne following Charles II’s death as the heir behind his brother.  James feared Charles would legitimize his son and he would be surpassed in gaining his title.[7]  The feud with James led to Monmouth’s opposition of the Tory party and disfavor with the Court in an effort to disagree with his uncle.  Yet at the time the Whig party, to which Monmouth gradually fostered support became the target of the Popish plot and Rye House Plot against the King.  Monmouth lost favor with his father following the plots against the throne to murder Charles and the Duke of York.[8]  He joined other political dissenters and exiles in the Netherlands, where he remained until his father’s death without formal reconciliation.

 

ii.                  Precursor to Rebellion 

 

Though exiled to the Netherlands, Charles II “still loved [Monmouth] passionately.”[9]  His disfavor with the King and the court resulted from Charles’ fear of his brother, and an effort to support his heir to the throne, James II, duke of York.  Yet, despite his love of Monmouth, “Charles II had forbidden Englishmen [in the Netherlands and elsewhere] to show Monmouth ‘any mark of respect- to placate York.”[10]  However, against the king’s proclaimed [11]wishes Monmouth was warmly received in Holland by the hospitality of William Prince of Orange, who “told the senior British officers in Holland that ‘he would break the first who failed’ to obey his... commands”[12] to treat Monmouth with marks of friendship. 

 

Upon news of Charles II’s death, William “could no longer sanction Monmouth remaining in

Holland... [for] if he were to do so, he would incur the enmity of his father- in- law James II.”[13]  Around this time, Monmouth had been in contact with the Earl of Argyle, “one of the most desperate of the exiled conspirators, who constantly stressed the importance of action [to prevent the Duke of York from firmly establishing a position on the throne of England].”[14] 

 

While content to enjoy his retirement with his mistress Henrietta in the Netherlands, Monmouth’s “restless confederates, Grey, Ferguson, and Rumsey... gave him no peace and constantly egged him on to action [against James].”[15]  Furthermore, his mounting speculation that James II had poisoned his father to gain the throne, fueled Monmouth’s passion to avenge his father and gain the throne,[16] as the rightful heir who would represent the Protestant interest of the English citizens.  Also, James II’s outing of his Catholic faith left a country in fear of a “papist monarchy” and left the door open for Monmouth to protect the Protestant interest.  Monmouth believed he had “many agents in England,”[17] who would rally behind him once he reached England.  With Argyle’s growing impatience for Monmouth’s procrastination, the two finally agreed to a joint rising led by Monmouth in England and Argyle in Scotland.  “Argyle set sail from Amsterdam on May 2.”[18]  Unready to leave, Monmouth’s force set sail for South West England, a strongly Protestant region, on May 24, 1685.[19]  “There were eighty-three men in three ships:  Monmouth with such men as Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, Colonel Foulkes and Nathanial Wade- all fine soldiers—and Robert Ferguson, who was appointed Chaplain- General to the rebel army.”[20]   

 

iii.                Monmouth lands at Lyme Regis

 

In the early morning of June 11, 1685, Monmouth landed on the western shore of

England at Lyme Regis in Dorsetshire.[21]  As the duke touched shore, “he felt like a Crusader, whose mission was to deliver the nation from oppression... [and] he passionately believed in the rights of the Common man.”[22]  When the ships landed, “they stood off the harbour all day while a customs official examined them.”[23]  In a day filled with uncertainty by all the town folk, Monmouth finally emerged as the sun set, “dressed in a magnificent purple and red uniform, with a silver star on his breast.”[24]  As he disembarked, Monmouth set the standard for his rebellion proclaiming, “For Religion and Liberty” to the crowd.[25]  Monmouth then “[fell] on his knees... to thank the Almighty for their safe arrival.”[26]  “As the Duke marched easily down Broad Street [with his rebels] many welcomed him with shouts of ‘A Monmouth!, A Monmouth!, the Protestant Religion.’”[27]  Large crowds had gathered at the market to hear the following declaration read aloud:

           

As Government was originally instituted by God, for the peace, happiness and security of the Governed, and not for the private interest or personal greatness of those that rule:  so that the Government has always with all the Power and Prerogatives that might capacitate, not only to preserve the people from Violence and Oppression, but to promote their Prosperity; and yet where nothing was to belong to them by the Rules of the Constitution that might enable them to injure and oppress them.

And it hath been the glory of England, above most other nations, that the Prince had all entrusted with him that was necessary either for advancing the Welfare of the people, or for his own protection in the discharge of his office; and withal stood so limited and restrained by the Fundamental Terms of the constitution, that without violation of his own oath, as well as the rules and measures of the Government, he could do them no hurt, or exercise any act of authority, but through the administration of such hands as stood obnoxious to be punished in case they transgressed; so that, according to the primitive frame of Government; the Prerogatives of the Crown and the Privileges of the subject were so far from jostling one another, that the Rights reserved unto the people tended to render the King honourable and great; and the Prerogatives settled on the Prince were in order to the subjects’ Protection and Safety.

            But all humane things being libable to Perversion as well as decay, it hath been the fate of the English Government to be often changed, and wrested from what it was in the first settlement and institution.  And we are particularly compelled to say, that all boundaries of the Government have of late been broken, and nothing left unattempted for turning our Limited Monarchy into absolute Tyranny.  For such has been the transaction of affairs within this nation for many years long past, that though the Protestant religion and Liberties of the people were fenced and hedged about by as many laws as the wisdom of man could devise for their Preservation against Popery and arbitrary power, our religion has been all along undermined by Popish Councils, and our privileges ravished from us by Fraud and Violence.  And more especially, the whole course and series of the life of the present usurper hath been but one continued conspiracy against the Reformed Religion, and Rights of the Nationals.[28]

           

            The declaration went on to accuse James of “forging treason against Protestants, and suborning witnesses to swear the Patriots of [their Protestant religion] and Liberties.”[29]  Monmouth even accused the king of murdering Charles II proclaiming, “He hath poisoned the late King, therein manifesting his ingratitude as well as cruelty to the world, in murdering a brother, who had almost ruined himself to preserve and protect him from punishment.”[30]  Monmouth then declared his resolution to pursue James as a “mortal and bloody enemy... [and promised] with the assistance of his friends and the Law, to have justice executed upon him.”[31]

 

Not everyone welcomed the duke’s arrival.  The Mayor of Lyme, Gregory Alford, “was loyal to James II, and in great trepidation he... left for Honiton in Devon,”[32] to alert the king of Monmouth’s arrival.  From Honiton, Alford wrote at midnight to the king.  “It was not surprising that he should exaggerate the enemy’s numbers.  [He wrote]...

At least 300 men, the Duke of Monmouth among them, so that they became masters of the town.  I presently, well knowing I should be the first seized, took my horse and came with speed to this town; and gave notice to all the country as I came; and sent my servants that notices should be given to Somerset and Dorsetshire... to be ready to take themselves to their arms against the rebels.[33]

The king immediately responded and “in the House of Commons the duke of Monmouth was attainted of High Treason.”[34]

 

            Meanwhile, “all through the summer night, Lyme was the scene of heady bustle and warlike preparations.”[35]  The rebels, under the guidance of Nathanial Wade, the commissioned Major under Monmouth, unloaded the arms and ammunition from the ships along with the muskets, which were stored at the Town Hall.[36]  During the night, “some sixty young fellows of the town joined [Monmouth’s rebels]... and hundreds more from the farms and villages the next day.”[37]  “Before the close of the second day the Duke’s army amounted to 1,000 foot and 150 horses.  It is related that Monmouth enlisted more men in one day than William of Orange on his landing three years later did in ten days.”[38]  The “greater part of the rebels came from urban backgrounds, with a heavy concentration from the depressed west country cloth trades, though there were some farmers and village craftsmen and labourers.[39]  Many who enlisted were either dissenters or people who sympathized with their plight.”[40]  The men were formally enlisted, made into squads and sent with a guide to the Town Hall to be issued their arms and ammunition.[41]  “Other guides then took them to the outposts, where the officers in command set about teaching them how to use their muskets... within an hour of enlisting, the recruits were in what might at any moment become the firing- line.”[42]  While Monmouth’s men made an impressive effort to recruit after realizing the “promised” army he thought would be waiting in England did not in fact exist, “the rebel army probably never exceeded 3000 men.”[43] 

 

On June 13th, news of Monmouth’s landing reached James in London who actively began preparing his defense.  “On 15th June regular troops under Lord Churchill, including four troops of the King’s Dragoons, four troops of the Earl of Oxford’s Horse, five companies of the Queen’s or West Surrey (the Queen- dowager’s regiment) set out for the West [to quash the rebellion].”[44]  Within two days, Churchill’s Royal army had reached Bristol and “on the following day, [they] were at Axminster before marching to Chard.”[45] 

 

Around this time, Monmouth also had to accept the defeat of losing “his best officer, Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, for killing his paymaster general, Thomas Dare, in a squabble over a horse.”[46]  One evening while Monmouth’s men were still in Lyme, “he dined together with Lord Grey and Fletcher of Saltoun at the George.[47]  The men drank too much and Fletcher “mounted Heywood Dare’s excellent horse, which the Taunton man had brought from the stables of Ford Abbey.”[48]  There was an exchange between the two, “and when the paymaster [Dare] threatened violence, Fletcher shot him in the head with his pistol.”[49]  Because Dare’s son insisted

on justice for the death of his father, Monmouth, was forced to dismiss Fletcher.[50]  The loss of the two men, “was disastrous for the Duke.”[51]  Andrew Fletcher “was a brilliant and intrepid leader of Cavalry, while old Dare had much influence on Taunton.  Monmouth, being very superstitious, now felt full of foreboding, and that an evil star dogged his enterprise.”[52]        

 

iv.                 Monmouth Proclaims himself King

 

With the King’s royal army in quick pursuit, the rebels made their way out of Lyme,

brushed with Dorset Militia at Bridport, and occupied Chard by the 16th of June.[53] On June 18th, Monmouth’s army reached Taunton to a warm and rapturous welcome.[54]  “Flowers decorated the houses, and his supporters wore in their hats green boughs, the badges of Monmouth’s case. Deafening shouts arose on all sides:  ‘A Monmouth!  A Monmouth!”[55]  Then, “twenty girls of the best families of Taunton presented their hero with ‘a small curious Bible,”[56] to which the Duke replied: “I come to defend the truths contained in this book, and to seal them with my blood if occasion require it.”[57]  The Maids then presented the colours to Monmouth.[58] 

Taunton was the “most disaffected and factious town in all England.  It was referred to by the Court party as “a roguish place,” and “the sink of all the rebellion in the West...  Among the people of Taunton were some of Monmouth’s most enthusiastic adherents, weavers, carpenters, masons, shoemakers, and bricklayers.”[59]  After his warm welcome, Monmouth made his first proclamation against pillage.[60]  Heeding the advice of Grey and Ferguson to garner support for his cause through leadership, Monmouth again addressed the crowd at Taunton market cross on June 20th with another proclamation.  “The townspeople were rapturous at the words they heard...

Whereas, upon the decease of our Sovereign Lord Charles the Second, late King of England, the right and succession of the Crown of England... did legally descend and devolve upon the most illustrious and high- born Prince James Duke of Monmouth... but James Duke of York, (taking the advantage of the absence of the said James Duke of Monmouth beyond the seas) did first cause the said late King to be poisoned, and immediately thereupon did usurp and invade the Crown, and doth continue to do:  We therefore, the noblemen, gentlemen and commons... do proclaim that said high and mighty Prince James Duke of Monmouth, our lawful and rightful sovereign...[61]

 

The proclamation “was read [and] affirm[ed] that on the death of Charles the crown did legally descend upon... Monmouth’ and declare[ed] him ‘our lawful and rightful sovereign and king, by the name of James the Second.[62]

 

v.                   Net Closes in on the Rebels headed toward Bristol

 

On June 21st, Monmouth and his army left Taunton for Bridgwater, where they moved to

Glastonbury and Shepton Mallet with the intention of marching on Bristol.  The morning Monmouth marched out of Taunton was a Sunday, and “John, Lord Churchill, a fine looking solider of thirty-five, with intelligent eyes and resolution drawn on his lips, attended matins[63] at the fifteenth- century church at Chard.[64]  Meanwhile, “the net was closing”[65] on Monmouth’s rebels.  James II had appointed Lieutenant General Louis Duras, Earl of Feversham as commander- in chief of the Royal Army on June 19.[66]  “Lord Feversham had left London the previous day with a troop of Life Guards and sixty Horse Grenadiers...[the next day] the main artillery train would leave the Tower, with an escort of Sir Francis Compton’s troop of Lord Oxford’s regiment.”[67]  The regiment included “16 large cannon with carriages, powder, ball, shovels, pickaxes and other warlike provisions... and eight more field- pieces were already on their way from Portsmouth to Sherborne under [the] excellent gunner, Mr. Sheres, with an escort commanded by Churchill’s brother.”[68]  The King would have no trouble reoccupying Taunton with such force.[69]

 

            Despite the increasing threat of face to face contact with Feversham’s army, Monmouth’s “army was in good morale and in a fighting mood.”[70]  The day before Monmouth’s army left Taunton, “Churchill had sent out a party of Lord Oxford’s Horse under Lieutenant Monoux to see what damage could be done to the rebel outposts... and in a skirmish at Ashill, Monoux got a pistol shot through the head for his trouble.”[71]  Moreover, as Monmouth’s men arrived in Bridgwater, the people gave him a royal and warm reception.[72]  “Hundreds of fresh volunteers came in, and nearly half as many were turned away for lack of arms.” [73]  In an effort to increase his army’s power with lack of resources, Monmouth used “his old tactical imagination, [and] had scythes converted into hand- weapons.”[74]  That night, Monmouth slept at the Bridgwater Castle, “but there was little to encourage sleep.... The news that Feversham was on his way... kept him preoccupied with strategy, for with no open support coming from the north, it might be neither possible nor expedient to march immediately for Gloucester.”[75]

 

            The next day, Monmouth marched to Glastonbury through rain and had a minor cavalry encounter at Langport.[76] Indeed, “all the while that the rebel army had been advancing in triumph, they were being mildly harassed from behind by dragoons under Colonel John Churchill.”[77]  By the 23rd of June, Monmouth’s men had reached Shepton Mallet.  “It was [there] that Major Oglethorpe discovered them.  He had left London three days before, in charge of a reconnaissance party of fifty mounted guards, whose assignment was to seek out the exact whereabouts of the rebel army and report to his chief, [Lord Feversham].”[78]  That day, Feversham and his forces reached Bristol.  Feversham then “moved back to Bath, where he found Oglethorpe [and] instantly dispatched him again to gather more certain information regarding the enemy’s strength and intentions.”[79]  The more skilled and experienced Feversham utilized the strategizing of the Royal army and patiently waited for the right moment to strike.  Meanwhile, on June 26th Churchill’s forces joined Feversham at Bath to amass a threateningly large and powerful royal army waiting for the time to shut down Monmouth’s rebellion.[80]

 

vi.                 Fight or Retreat?

 

            “This was a decisive moment in the story of the rebellion.  Monmouth had to decide whether or not to fight the King’s army, now concentrated around Bristol.”[81]  On the 25th, Monmouth held a council of war and abandoned his project for Bristol in favor of an advance into Wiltshire.[82]  “Doubtless [Monmouth] and his staff considered several plans of attack, such as creating a great diversion on the south- western side of Bristol, but then assaulting it from the east.  Several of his soldiers, including Colonel Wade and Captain Tyley, were Bristol men and knew the layout well.”[83]   Monmouth knew that if he could defeat Feversham then, he would “temporarily have defeated the whole Royalist army... [and] he could march straight to London.”[84]  However, Monmouth likely took into account the potential harm to the inhabitants of Bristol and decided to march on toward Bath instead.[85]     

 

v.                   News of Argyle’s Execution and the Rebels’ Retreat

 

The pressure continued to intensify on Monmouth’s rebels, who were daily deserting the cause.  By the time the rebels reached Frome on the 28th of June, “as many as two thousand men deserted him.  Probably the disappointment of not having fought a decisive battle [at Bristol], coupled with the foul weather, made the temptation of their own homes and hearths over-mastering.  Discipline, which had been excellent, now deteriorated.”[86]  On June 29th, the rebels learned of Argyle’s execution.  “When news of Argyll’s defeat reached the rebels at Frome, Monmouth seriously considered abandoning the whole enterprise and taking ship to Holland.”[87]  “With the collapse of the rebellion in Scotland, and with the anticipated rising in Cheshire and London having failed to materialize, Monmouth knew that the cause was lost.”[88]

 

Monmouth might have retreated had it not been for an “impassioned speech by Lord Grey, in which he argued that for Monmouth to leave the army now would be an act, ‘so base that it could never be forgiven by the people’...  [This] persuaded Monmouth to [press forward with the rebellion].[89]  On the day that Argyle was executed, Monmouth turned west and returned to Shepton Mallet.  He had wanted to move in the direction of London, but Feversham had marched across his intended route as far as Westbury, and this had deterred him.”[90]  At this stage in the rebellion, “Monmouth still had enough men to fight a decisive battle, and he had now to find a way of achieving this successfully.  Bridgwater was chosen as a base, to occupy and fortify, before exploring new areas.”[91]

 

vi.                 The Battle of Sedgemoor

 

“Once again, arrived within the town of Bridgwater, Monmouth was having to make up his mind about future action.”[92]  When Monmouth re-entered the city on July 3rd, he received a lukewarm welcome, quite different from the cheers he received the first time his rebels passed through.[93]  Monmouth’s “first thought was to prepare the place for siege, and orders were issued for the local villages to send in workmen and labourers to assist with the task, as well as large amounts of requisitioned supplies.”[94] 

The citizens of the town did not relish the prospect:  Bridgwater had been destroyed in a disastrous fire.  Memories of Civil War died hard; it was one thing to cheer a handsome ‘King Monmouth’ and his supporters through the streets when his cause had appeared to be on the flood-tide; it was quite another to be expected to support him to the last now that his fortunes were so clearly on the ebb... The local peasantry relished even less the prospect of having both their labour and their remaining cattle and grain committed to what to many must already have been seen as a ‘lost cause.’[95]

However, Monmouth’s efforts in Bridgwater were merely a scheme to confuse the Royal army on the rebels’ heels.  “According to Wade... who was privy to Monmouth’s plans, the idea of the rebels sustaining a siege at Bridgwater was only a cover for a more ambitious scheme.”[96]  Monmouth simply wished to rest his army, “then march hard for Keynsham once more, cross the Avon, and head deep into Gloucestershire... [end eventually] to Cheshire... an area committed to his cause.”[97]  Monmouth still believed the Protestants and Whigs of London would rise to the occasion and support his rebel army.

 

            Monmouth’s plans were foiled when Feversham received word of the news that he was contemplating a siege.  On July 4th, the royal army moved forward from Somerton to Westonzoyland with the intent to blockade Bridgwater.[98]  With little choice to break-away from the Royal army waiting on him, Monmouth called a council of war with his most trusted men, including Grey and Wade and decided to “surprise the enemy in the dead of the night.”[99]  Excitement ensued amongst the rebels over the plan, who now had a sliver of hope that their efforts might prevail after all.  “Bridgwater had rarely known such animation as it knew that evening of 5 July 1685.  It was loud with horsemen’s boots, scabbards and jingling spurs over its cobbled streets, and with the cheerful speculation of simple countrymen living the lives of temporary warriors... [and] it was filled with admiration for the rebel commander.”[100]  The men also took with them “cider and the fruits of Bridgwater’s cellars”[101] for courage.

           

vii.               Good fortune runs out

 

            Therefore, under Godfrey as their guide out of the town, the rebel army, horses, ammunition and all headed out silently in the night through the marshes and banks toward Sedgemoor.[102]  “Fear must have been in every rebel heart at this juncture—and doubtless the religious euphoria or effects of rough cider had worn off [by now].”[103]  The men attempted to stealthily move forward, however “the good fortune that so far had blessed the rebel march was about to run out.”[104]  Godfrey’s stopped short in the mist upon finding himself at the bank of Langmoor Rhine which was about eight feet across.  Not warned of the ditch,

the horsemen crowded up in the darkness; horses stumbled and neighed; men ran into one another; horses whinnied and snorted; a weapon or two were dropped; men doubtless cursed.  This time they were heard.  The time was shortly after one in the morning [on July 6th].  Suddenly there was a flash in the darkness, followed by the sound of a shot.[105]

 

viii.             Battle, Flight and Execution

 

“All at once the camp began to stir... Frantic but orderly activity ensued as the regular soldiers [of the royal army], hardly pausing to rub the sleep from their eyes... quitted their tents to seize muskets or pikes from the bells- of- arms.” [106]  They then “began to run towards the open space... [and] within minutes, the six battalions were formed in the line of battle.”[107]  “Monmouth’s infantry, guided by the glowing slow matches of the opposing muskets, moved to a position more than twenty yards from the edge of the ditch.”[108]  The rebels, “standing in battle order, started shooting, but they aimed too high to do any harm.”[109]  Feversham’s Royal army stood back as Monmouth’s infantry attempted to fight and cross the ditch, only to be “beaten back [and] los[e] both horses and men.  “Perhaps daunted by this, Feversham refused to make any new offensive moves until the first streaks of dawn appeared in the sky.”[110]  It was then “that his infantry and the rest of the cavalry were ordered over the ditch, and by light of the early sun, pursued and routed their enemies [who were fleeing for their lives].”[111] 

 

It remains unclear exactly how many rebels died during the battle.  Some accounts claim “400 were killed on the battlefield, and up to 1000 more on the swords of the royal horse and dragoons or the pike-points and plug- bayonets of the royal foot... Many of the rebels were caught at the Langmoor Rhine.”[112]  Others were hunted through corn fields and “1200 were taken prisoner,”[113] to meet their dreadful fate later before Judge Jeffrey’s during the Bloody Assizes.  Monmouth’s fate was no different from his men.  After two days of flight, he was captured on July 8th by Royalist forces near the Woodlands in Dorset.[114]

 

The fallen rebel leader was taken to London where “he spent many of his last hours abjectly pleading for his life on any terms.  He would reveal names of all his fellow- conspirators, become his uncle’s most loyal subject, and even become a convert to the Roman Catholic Church.”[115]  Finally, on July 14, King James II agreed to see Monmouth.  “Many believed this was a sure sign that a reprieve might be forthcoming.  Doubtless so Monmouth hoped, and he was prepared to sob and grovel at his uncle’s feet.”[116]  However, all the groveling in the world would not change the merciless King’s decision to sign Monmouth’s death warrant for the next day.

 

Following his meeting with the King, Monmouth was sent to the Tower where he regained some dignity on his final day.  “He saw his estranged wife, and their three children, and signed a written statement to the effect that his father, King Charles II, had always told him that he had never been married to his mother, Lucy Walters.”[117]  Monmouth refused the bishops’ insistence that he publicly declare “it would be a heinous sin to rebel against the King [but] he did apologise from the heart for all the trouble he had caused... particularly to his... supporters... and declared his undying affection for Lady Henrietta Wentworth.”[118] 

 

On the scaffold Monmouth gave his executioner, Jack Ketch a sum of money and promised more from his servant if he made a quick cut.  However, “to the horror of the vast and sympathetic crowd,”[119] Ketch’s first blow barely broke the skin and four more blows followed with struggle to severe Monmouth’s head before the rebel leader could finally rest in peace.  On July 15, 1685, “the agony of James Scott was over.”[120]

 

ix.                 The end

 

The question of who fired the fatal shot rousing the King’s sleeping army to victory against Monmouth’s rebels when they were within a mile of a successful rebellion is unknown.[121]  Some speculate the shot was an accident resulting from the surprise halt at the Langmoor Rhine.  Others speculate treachery.[122]  Regardless of the outcome for Monmouth, his rebellion can be remembered with pride for the ideals he stood for.  While unsuccessful in his own attempt, his rebellion spurred the even more irrational behavior of King James II to consolidate his power through fear.  Three years after Monmouth’s failed attempt, a new savior of the Protestant religion and ideals, William of Orange would finish Monmouth’s task and peacefully take the throne of England to restore liberty and peace to a weary people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix A

 

 

 

Map reproduced from Peter Earle, Monmouth’s Rebels the Road to Sedgemoor 1685 (Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1977).

Appendix B[123]

 

All dates are Old Style.  To convert to New Style, add ten days.  Thus the first entry could read 16 February (NS) or 6 February (OS).

 

6 Feb. 1685                 - Death of King Charles II in London

2 May                          - Earl of Argyle sails from the Netherlands to start the Scottish revolt

1 June                          - Monmouth sets sail belatedly from the River Texel for the West Country.

11 June (Thurs.)          - Monmouth lands a Lyme Regis, preceded by small party landing at

   Chideock to collect supporters and horses.  Red Regiment is recruited.

13 June (Sat.)              - NEWS OF MONMOUTH’S LANDING REACHES JAMES II IN

   LONDON

14 June (Sun.)             - Rebels brush with the Dorset Militia at Bridport.

                                    - JOHN LORD CHURCHILL APPOINTED TO COMMAND FIRST

   ROYAL FORCES SENT WEST.

15 June (Mon.)            - Monmouth marches to Axminster, narrowly forestalling Albemarle’s

               Devon Militia

16 June (Tues.)            - Rebels occupy Chard.

17 June (Wed.)            - Rebels camp at Ilminster. 

- ALBEMARLE REACHES WELLINGTON WITH DEVON AND

   SOMERSET MILITIA

18 June (Thurs.)          - Monmouth enters Taunton to rapturous welcome.

  CHURCHILL’S HORSE MAKE CONTACT WITH THE REBELS

  NEAR CHARD; FINAL DEFEAT OF ARGYLE IN SCOTLAND.

19 June (Fri.)               - Maids of Taunton present colours to Monmouth; first proclamation of

  Monmouth

- JAMES II APOINTS LORD FEVERSHAM TO OVERALL

                                      COMMAND IN WEST.

                                    - CAVALRY SKIRMISH AT ASHILL; ROYAL HORSE FALL BACK

  ON CHARD

20 June (Sat.)              - Second proclamation of Monmouth (as King) at Taunton.  Blue

   Regiment raised.

21 June (Sun.)             - Rebel army marches to Bridgwater; receives warm welcome

                                    - COLONEL KIRKE JOINS CHURCHILL WITH HIS INFANTRY AT

  CHARD

- MAIN ROYAL FORCE EN ROUTE FROM LONDON.

22 June (Mon.)            - Monmouth marches to Glastonbury through rain; minor cavalry

   encounter at Langport.

23 June (Tues.)            - Monmouth reaches Shepton Mallet,

                                    - FEVERSHAM REACHES BRISTOL

24 June (Wed.)            - Rebel army marches to Pensford, harassed by Churchill’s cavalry.

- FEVERSHAM VISITS BATH; MAIN FORCES APPROACHING   

  BRISTOL

25 June (Thurs.)          - Monmouth’s rebels repair bridge at Keynsham and cross; skirmish with

   Royal cavalry and militia and bad weather cause rebels to retire;    

   Monmouth holds council of war; abandons Bristol project in favour of

   advance into Wiltshire.  Rebels march to Bath overnight.

26 June (Fri.)               - Monmouth camps at Norton St. Philip

                                    - CHURCHILL JOINS FEVERSHAM AT BATH.

27 June (Sat.)              - Royalist attack on Norton St. Philip repulsed

                                    - FEVERSHAM FALLS BACK TO BRADFORD- ON AVON

                                    - Rebels set off after dark for Frome through rain.

28 June (Sun.)             - Rebels reach Frome

29 June (Mon.)            - News reaches Monmouth of Argyle’s fate; Council of War

                                    - FEVERSHAM AND ROYAL ARMY MARCH TO WESTBURY AND

  RECEIVE REINFORCEMENTS INCLUDING THE ARTILLERY

  TRAIN

                                    - Rebels prepare to march on Warminster.

30 June (Tues.)            - Thwarted by Royal Army, Monmouth abandons plan to march on

   London through Wiltshire, and marches to Shepton Mallet.

- FEVERSHAM OCCUPIES FROME.

1 July (Wed.)              - Monmouth reaches Wells, capturing some royal waggons.  Desertions

   mount.

- FEVERSHAM RESTS ROYAL ARMY AT FROME.

2 July (Thurs.)             - Rebels march towards Bridgwater, camp on the moor; joined by 

  Clubmen.

3 July (Fri.)                  - Monmouth enters Bridgwater to lukewarm welcome; orders its

   fortification.

- FEVERSHAM MARCHES THROUGH GLASTONBURY TO

   SOMERTON.

4 July (Sat.)                 - Monmouth considers break- away towards Bristol.

                                    - News of siege preparations reach Feversham;

                                    - FEVERSHAM RECONNOITRES CAMP-SITE NEAR

  WESTONZOYLAND

5 July (Sun.)                - ROYAL ARMY CAMPS AT WESTONZOYLAND.

                                    - Monmouth decides on night- attack

6 July (Mon.)               - Night battle of Sedgemoor.  Monmouth flees to Downside.  Rebels

  routed and pursued. 

- CHURCHILL ENTERS BRIDGWATER; REBELS ROUNDED UP

7 July (Tues.)               - COL. KIRKE MARCHES INTO TAUNTON.

                                    - Monmouth reaches Cranborne Chase

8 July (Wed.)              - Monmouth captured near Woodlands in Dorset.

15 July (Wed.)                        - Monmouth executed at the Tower.

 

 

 

 


Bibliography

 

Bryan Bevan, James Duke of Monmouth 185- 200 (Trinity Press, Robert Hale & Company

1973).

 

The Bloody Assize, 11 Nov. 2007, http://www.somerset.gov.uk/archives/ASH/Bloodyassize.htm.

 

Rev. C. P. Brown, Monmouth’s Rebellion (Somerset Gateway 11 Nov. 2007),

http://www.somersetgateway.com/history/monmouth/ essay.htm.

 

David G. Chandler, Sedgemoor 1685:  An Account and an Anthology 43- 181 (St. Martin’s

Press 1985).

 

Peter Earle, Monmouth’s Rebels the Road to Sedgemoor 1685 (Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1977).

 

Tim Harris, Scott [Crofts], James, duke of Monmouth and first duke of Buccleuch (1649- 1685), 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed.  Lawrence Goldman. Oct. 2007. 9 Nov. 2007, http:www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/24879.

 

Bryan Little, The Monmouth Episode 96 (T. Werner Laurie Limited 1956).

 

Charles Chenevix Trench, The Western Rising 117- 127 (Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd. 1969).

 

J.N.P. Watson, Captain- General and Rebel Chief 222- 242 (George Allen & Unwin 1979).

 

Violet Wyndham, The Protestant Duke, A Life of Monmouth 101- 146 (Weidenfeld and

Nicolson 1976).

 

 

 



[1] James Scott will be addressed as Monmouth herein to avoid confusion with James II.  All dates are in Old Style which recognizes the style used before the Gregorian calendar was adopted.  To convert to New Style add ten days.

[2] Tim Harris, Scott [Crofts], James, duke of Monmouth and first duke of Buccleuch (1649- 1685), 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed.  Lawrence Goldman. Oct. 2007. 9 Nov. 2007, http:www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/24879.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Tim Harris, supra note 2.  The duke’s last name changed to Scott at the request of Anna’s father who stipulated any female heir had to marry someone who took the family name.

[6] Id..

[7] Id.

[8] Contemporaries of the time described the events of the planned attempts to assassinate Charles II by saying, “indeed this plot as to the murdering part of it seems to have been contrived by the Duke of York [James II] for the staining of the Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch [Monmouth’s wife], and getting him removed forever from the Court.”  Violet Wyndham, The Protestant Duke, A Life of Monmouth 101 (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1976).

[9] Id. at 118.

[10] Id. at 120.

[11] Emphasis added to note William of Orange never believed his actions to befriend the Duke of Monmouth were truly against the king’s wishes.  On July 7, William wrote to his friend Bentinck:  “I do not think I have given any occasion to his Majesty of being dissatisfied with me for seeing the Duke of Monmouth and Lord Brandon.  The first is his son, whom he has pardoned for what he may have committed; and though he has removed him from his presence.  I know that in the bottom of his heart he has always some friendship for him, and that the King cannot be angry that I have rendered him some civilities.

[12] Id. at 121.

[13] Bryan Bevan, James Duke of Monmouth 185 (Trinity Press, Robert Hale & Company 1973).

[14] Id.

[15] Id. at 186.

[16] Id. at 197- 198.  Monmouth accused James II in his Declaration upon landing at Lyme Regis of murdering Charles II saying, “he hath poisoned the late king, and therein manifested his ingratitude as well as cruelty to the world, in murdering a brother who had almost ruined himself to preserve and protect him from punishment... [and Monmouth] resolve[ed] to pursue the said James, Duke of York as a mortal and bloody enemy.” 

[17] Id. at 188.

[18] Tim Harris, supra note 2.

[19] Id.

[20] Violet Wyndham, supra note 8, at 131.

[21] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 195.

[22] Id. at 195.

[23] Violet Wyndham, supra note 8, at 132.

[24] Id.  

[25] Id.

[26] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 195.

[27] Bryan Little, The Monmouth Episode 96 (T. Werner Laurie Limited 1956).

[28] Id. at 133.  The Declaration, written by Robert Ferguson and read aloud at the Market Cross in Lyme “continued for many thousands of words and is too long to quote in full.” Id. at 133.

[29] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 197.

[30] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 197.

[31] Id.

[32] Id. at 196.

[33] Charles Chenevix Trench.  The Western Rising 117 (Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd. 1969).

[34] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 196.

[35] Charles Chenevix Trench, supra note 33, at 127.

[36] Id.

[37] Id.

[38] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 196.

[39] The Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion is often referred to as the Pitchfork Rebellion due to the composition of his rebel army.  Rev. C. P. Brown, Monmouth’s Rebellion (Somerset Gateway 11 Nov. 2007) http://www.somersetgateway.com/history/monmouth/ essay.htm.

[40] Tim Harris, supra note 2.

[41] Charles Chenevix Trench, supra note 33, at 127.

[42] Id. at 127- 128.

[43] Tim Harris, supra note 2.

[44] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 198.

[45] Id.

[46] Id.

[47] Lord Grey was Monmouth’s second in command.  David G. Chandler, Sedgemoor 1685:  An Account and an Anthology 181 (St. Martin’s Press 1985).

[48] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 198

[49] Id. at 199.

[50] Tim Harris, supra note 2.

[51] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 198.

[52] Id. at 199.

[53] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 178.

[54] Id.

[55] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 200.

[56] Id.

[57] Id.

[58] David G. Chandler, supra note 48, at 178.  The “colours” were a banner.  This action would later face dire consequences from Judge Jeffrey’s during the Bloody Assizes, where Jeffreys held the maids on trial for High Misdemeanor for their actions.  Their relatives had to pay high ransom for their release.  The Bloody Assize, 11 Nov. 2007, http://www.somerset.gov.uk/archives/ASH/Bloodyassize.htm.

[59] Bryan Bevan, supra note 13, at 200.

[60] Id.

[61] J.N.P. Watson, Captain- General and Rebel Chief 222 (George Allen & Unwin 1979).

[62] Tim Harris, supra note 2 (citing ‘Monmouth’s Proclamation at Taunton,’ Watson, 278).

[63] Churchill attended a church service (mass).

[64] J.N.P. Watson, supra note 61, at 225.

[65] Id. at 226.

[66] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 180.

[67] J.N.P. Watson, supra note 61, at 226.

[68] Id..

[69] Id.

[70] Id.

[71] Id.

[72] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 179.

[73] J.N.P. Watson, supra note 61, at 227.

[74] Id.

[75] Id. at 228.

[76] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 179.

[77] Violet Wyndham, supra note 8, at 140.  Churchill was now second in command behind Feversham.

[78] Id.

[79] Id..

[80] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 179.

[81] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 141.

[82] Id  at 179.

[83] Violet Wyndham, supra note 8, at 142.

[84] Id.

[85] Id.

[86] Id. Note also that the number of Monmouth’s rebels varies from source to source.  There is little accuracy to the number cited but demonstrates the severity of the rebellion desertion as Feversham neared their forces.

[87] Id. at 145. 

[88] Tim Harris, supra note 2.

[89] Id.

[90] Violet Wyndham, supra note 8, at 146.

[91] Id. at 146.

[92] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 43.

[93] Id. at 179.

[94] Id. at 43.

[95] Id. at 43.

[96] Id.

[97] Id.

[98] J.N.P. Watson, supra note 61, at 238-239.

[99] Id. at 241.

[100] Id. at 242.

[101] Id.

[102] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 57-58.

[103] Id.

[104] Id.

[105] Id. at 59- 60.

[106] Id. at 61.

[107] Id.

[108] Violet Wyndham, supra note 8, at 157.

[109] Id.

[110] Id.

[111] Id.

[112] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 73.

[113] Violet Wyndham, supra note 8, at 158.

[114] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 77.

[115] David G. Chandler, supra note 47, at 81.

[116] Id.

[117] Id.

[118] Id.

[119] Id. at 82.

[120] Id.

[121] Id. at 60.

[122] Id.

[123] David G. Chandler, Sedgemoor 1685:  An Account and an Anthology 181 (St. Martin’s Press 1985).  The Chronological Table is copied in it’s entirety from Chandler’s appendix.  The capital, red letters distinguish events involving the Royal Army.