Jane Lane and Charles II

Jane Lane and Charles II

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12, 1651 - a ship for the king

Early on the morning of October 12, Colonel Phelipps left Lawrence Hyde’s house at Hinton Daubney and rode to Heale House near Salisbury where Charles was hidden. “After 4 or 5 days [at Mrs. Hyde’s house],” Charles told Samuel Pepys many years later, “Robin Phillipps came to the House, and acquainted me that a Shipp was ready provided for me at Shoram, by Coll. Gunter.”

His description is surprisingly matter-of-fact, considering what he had been through over the five and a half weeks since he had fled Worcester.  But maybe he was recalling that after so many failures he couldn’t quite believe he was really about to make his escape.  Or maybe his recollection of the actual news is a little off, as according to Colonel Phelipps he informed Dr. Henchman of the plan, and “the same evening, Dr. Henchman went to Heale to give notice of the success and to prepare the King to bee ready at the meadow-gate opening into the river, where Coll. Philipps would bee by three of the clock in the morning with a leade-horse for the King.”

The coal-brig Surprise by Willem van Velder the Elder
after Charles converted it to a yacht which he kept moored near Whitehall
According to Richard Ollard’s The Escape of Charles II After the Battle of Worcester, “Nicholas Tettersell, master and owner of the coal-brig Surprise (thirty-four tons),” who was to carry the king to safety, “was a native of Brighton and an experienced Channel seaman.  He belongs to a type, now all but extinct since the decay in the last fifty years [Ollard was writing in 1966] of the inshore fishery and the coastal trade, which altered perhaps less than any other in our society between the Norman conquest, and the death of Queen Victoria … not only because of the obvious fact of geography but by the nature of the life they led, isolated from the world behind the harbor and untouched by social and technological change.  Colonel Gunter had recognized this when he told Wilmot that though he had lived all his life next door to these people he knew absolutely nothing about them.”

A small coal-brig usually used for fairly short trips out of a tiny place like Shoreham was probably not the kind of vessel Charles had first thought of when he conceived the idea of escaping from England by sea, but it was probably better that he would travel that way than in a larger ship from a more prominent port, which were much more conspicuous and likely to be searched. 

An old print of a collier, or coal-brig, unloading

According to a post by Iain MacFarlaine, (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8546308), Tattersall or Tettersell in later years bought the Old Ship Inn and was High Constable of Brighthelmstone.  Mr. MacFarlainen posted the photo below of the churchyard of St. Nicholas Church in Brighton where Tettersell is buried.

Iain MacFarlaine's caption to this photo says
"Captain Tettersell's grave is just to the left of the red door."
His headstone reads, in part, "Captain Nicholas Tettersell, through whose prudence, valour and loyalty Charles the Second King of England and after he had escaped the sword of his merciless rebels and his fforces received a fatall overthrow at Worcester Sept 3 1651 was ffaithfully preserved and conveyed into Ffrance, departed this life the 26th. day of July 1674. Approved ffaith honour and loyalty, In this cold clay he hath now tane up his station, At once preserved ye church the Crowne and nation, When Charles ye Greate was nothing but a breath, This valiant soule slept between him and death, Usurpers threats nor tyrant rebells froune, Could not affraight his duty to the Crowne, Which glorious Act of his for Church and State, Eight Princes in one day doth Gratulate, Professing all to him in debt to bee, As all the World are to his Memory."

Iain MacFarlaine's photo of Tattersall's gravestone

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