Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Walter, Lucy

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WALTER, LUCY (1630?–1658), mother of the Duke of Monmouth, was the daughter of William Walter (d. 1650) of Roch Castle, near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, by Elizabeth (d. 1652), daughter of John Prothero and niece of John Vaughan, first earl of Carbery [see under Vaughan, Richard, second Earl]. She is said to have been born at Roch Castle in 1630. In 1644, the castle having been taken and destroyed by the parliamentary forces, she sought refuge in London, whence she took shipping for The Hague. Algernon Sidney told James, duke of York, that he had given fifty gold pieces for her, but, having to join his regiment hastily, had missed his bargain. His brother, Colonel Robert Sidney [see Sidney, Robert, second Earl of Leicester, ad fin.] secured the prize, but did not retain it long. During the summer of 1648 this 'private Welshwoman,' as Clarendon calls her, 'of no good fame, but handsome,' captivated Charles II, who was at The Hague for a short while about this time. He was only eighteen, and she is often spoken of as his first mistress, but there seems good reason to suppose that he was déniaisé as early as 1646 (cf. Gardiner, Hist. of Civil War, iii. 238; Boero, Istoria...di Carlo II,Rome, 1863). James II admits Lucy's good looks, adding that, though she had not much wit, she had a great deal of that sort of cunning which her profession usually have. In August 1649 the respectable Evelyn travelled with her in Lord Wilmot's coach from Paris to St. Germain, and speaks of her as 'a brown, beautiful, bold but insipid creature.' During July and August 1649 she was with Charles at Paris and St. Germain, and she may have accompanied him to Jersey in September. In June 1650 he left her at The Hague upon embarkation for Scotland. During his absence Lucy intrigued with Colonel Henry Bennet (afterwards Earl of Arlington), and Charles on his return terminated his connection with the lady, in spite of all her little artifices and her attempts to persuade Dr. Cosin that she was a convert (Macpherson, i. 76). She now abandoned herself to a life of depravity. Early in 1656 she was at Cologne, whence the king's friends, by a promise of a pension of five thousand livres (400l. a year), persuaded her to repair to her native country. She sailed from Flushing and obtained lodgings in London over a barber's shop near Somerset House (Thurloe, State Papers, v. 160, 169). Cromwell's intelligence department promptly reported her as a suspected spy, and at the close of June 1656 she and her maid, Ann Hill, were arrested and clapped into the Tower. On 16 July, after examination, she was discharged and ordered to be deported back to the Low Countries (Mercur. Polit. No. 318). She found her way to Paris, still lovely, according to Evelyn. There, in September or October 1658, her wretched life came to an end, her death being attributed by Clarendon and James II to a disease incidental to her manner of living.

She is known to have had two children: (1) James, born at Rotterdam on 9 April 1649, who was on 14 Feb. 1663 created Duke of Monmouth [see Scott, James (known as Fitzroy and as Crofts), Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch); (2) a daughter, Mary (by Arlington ?), born at The Hague on 6 May 1651, who married William Sarsfield, elder brother of Patrick, earl of Lucan [q. v.], and secondly, William Fanshawe (d. 1708), master of requests, by whom she had issue.

Between 1673 and 1680 (while the exclusion bill agitation was maturing) a legend was prepared and industriously circulated by the country party to the effect that Charles had legally married Lucy Walter. It was asseverated in course of time that the contract of marriage was preserved in a black box in the possession of Sir Gilbert Gerard, son-in-law of John Cosin (the bishop himself had died in 1671). In a novel which had a wide circulation it was the designing Prince of Purdino (James) who advised his brother, King Conradus of Otenia, to marry the beautiful 'Lucilious,' but, in order to avoid disgusting the Otenians, to do so with the greatest privacy imaginable, and in the presence of but two witnesses, himself and the priest (Cosin) (The Perplex'd Prince, London, 1681? 12mo, dedicated to William, lord Russell, by T. S.) Sir Gilbert Gerard, summoned before an extraordinary meeting of the privy council convened by the king, stated that he knew nothing whatever of such a marriage contract; and the king issued three declarations in denial of the marriage (January, March, and June 1678). One of these declarations, signed by sixteen privy councillors, was entered in the council book and registered in chancery.

A 'demi-nude' portrait of Lucy Walter, in possession of the Marquis of Bute, was engraved by Van der Berghe for Harding's 'Grammont;' another portrait belongs to Earl Spencer, and a third to the Paynter family of Pembroke. At Ditchley is a portrait of the lady and the Duke of Monmouth I as the Madonna and Child. A 'curious' half-length by Honthorst was destroyed at Whitehall in the fire of 1699. Aubrey has this characteristic memorandum respecting a portrait: 'Mr. Freeman (who married the Lady Lake) has the Duke of Monmouth's mother's—Mrs. Lucy Walters, who could deny nobody—picture, very like her, at Stanmore, near Harrow-on-the-Hill' (Brief Lives, 1898, ii. 283).

Lucy Walter is often spoken of incorrectly as Mrs. Walters or Waters, and during her career she seems to have adopted the alias of Mrs. Barlo or Barlow (the name of a family with which the Walters of Pembrokeshire had intermarried).

[Dwnn's Herald. Visitations of Wales, i. 228; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ii. 375, with pedigree; Miscell. Geneal. et Herald. 2nd ser. iv. 265; Clarke's Life of James II. i. 491 sq.; Steinmann's Althorp Memoirs. 1869, pp. 77 sq., and Addenda, 1880; Clarendon State Papers, vol. iii.; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656-7, p. 4; Whitelocke's Memorials, 1732, p. 649; Heroic Life of Monmouth, 1683; Evelyn's Diary, ed. Wheatley, passim; Pepys's Diary and Corresp. 1842, ii. 34. v. 232; Rochester's Panegyrick on Nelly; Hamilton's Grammont, ed. Vizetelly, vol. ii.; Burnet's Own Time; Continuation of Clarendon's Life, 1857; Life of Dugdale, p. 95; Roberts's Life of Monmouth, i. 2-5; Ferguson's Robert Ferguson the Plotter, 1887, pp. 45, 50; Gent. Mug. 1851, ii. 471; Rapin's Hist. of England, 1793, ii. 712; Jesse's Court of England under the Stuarts. 1840, iv. 314 sq.; Lyon's Personal Hist. of Charles II, 1851. p. 35; Cunningham's Nell Gwyn. 1892, p. 162; Lingard's Hist. 1849, viii. 479; Masson's Milton, vi. 604.]

T. S.