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There was quite a big response to last week’s post on King Charles I’s possible illegitimate daughter, Joanna Bridges, so I thought I’d follow it up by instituting a new occasional series, ‘Highways and Byways of the 17th Century’, covering some of the odd or lesser known stories that I’ve come across during over thirty years’ research into, and teaching of, this endlessly fascinating period. This will complement my other occasional series, ‘Dead Admirals Society’, which provides pictures and descriptions of various interesting naval graves and memorials; I’ll try to add a new post in that series within the next week or two.

For this week’s post, I’ve chosen a footnote in one of the best known of all the stories in 17th century British history – the escape of King Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. By far the best known element of this is the legend of the ‘Royal Oak’ at Boscobel House, where the King hid while Parliamentarian patrols passed below. Other aspects of the story are almost equally well known, such as the very tall and swarthy Charles disguising himself as a woman at one point. But equally important to the King’s safe departure into exile was the ship that eventually carried him across the Channel. On 15 October, after taking a tortuous and often fraught route across southern England, Charles reached the coast at Brighton. The ship chosen to receive him was the collier Surprise, about 34 tons, 42 feet long and 30 feet broad. Her captain and owner, Nicholas Tattersell or Tattersall, had already agreed to take an unnamed passenger and his attendants across to France, but when he met the party and recognised the King, he was furious at being exposed to such danger. Delicate negotiation followed, but Tattersell eventually agreed to make the voyage in return for a further £200. The Surprise duly crossed the Channel, and on 16 October, Charles landed at Fecamp.

The Royal Escape, by Van de Velde the Younger

The Royal Escape, by Van de Velde the Younger

When the monarchy was restored in 1660, Charles promptly bought the vessel from Tattersell and renamed her the Royal Escape. The King had her moored in the Thames off Whitehall Palace, and showed her off to important visitors. Perhaps she was also a reminder of the potential insecurity of his position, or of God’s providence in preserving his life (or both).  The Royal Escape was put into commission between July 1672 and October 1674 under Captain Augustus Birtch, before returning to her moorings in the Thames, eventually ending up in Deptford Dockyard. She long survived the King who owed so much to her, and was nominally rebuilt at Deptford in 1714. This Royal Escape continued to serve as a stores vessel at Deptford Dockyard until broken up in 1750, by which time a lighter in the same yard had taken the name. This, in turn, was replaced by a new vessel built in 1792 to exactly the same dimensions, which survived until 1877 – so in one very tenuous sense, the Royal Escape continued to be a part of the Royal Navy until Winston Churchill, the 50th anniversary of whose death takes place this week, was three years old!

As for Nicholas Tattersell, Charles II treated him with considerable generosity. He commissioned him captain of the frigate Sorlings on 25 July 1660 and of the powerful Third Rate man-of-war Monck on 20 April 1661, in which capacity he served until 12 February 1663. But he then returned to his old life, albeit cushioned by the security of a £100 annuity for life, and by 1669 was skipper of the ketch Happy Entrance, trading between Sussex and London. He served as High Constable of Brighton in the following year, becoming a particularly vicious persecutor of dissenters in that role. He later bought the Old Ship Inn in the town, and died on 26 July 1674, probably aged 59. His tombstone in St Nicholas Church, Brighton, states that ‘he preserved the Church, the Crown, and the Nation’. His son continued to receive the pension from the crown until after the Glorious Revolution.

One of the great delights of writing this blog, of having a website, and of being moderately active on Twitter, is that I sometimes gets really interesting feedback from those who follow me. Last week’s post, for example, brought a reply from Steve Mercer of the Grimsby Wargames Society, who are already well advanced in planning a detailed reconstruction of the great Four Days Battle of 1666 – the subject of the fifth Quinton novel, The Battle of All The Ages - to mark the 350th anniversary in June next year. It’s great to hear that, and really appropriate, too, given the strategic importance of the Humber estuary during the Anglo-Dutch wars. Back in October of last year, I also heard from Michael Lowe, who’d picked up on a statement I made in a previous post about Joanna Bridges, a possible illegitimate daughter of King Charles I (and Michael’s direct ancestor). Her story provided the inspiration for one of the storylines in the third novel, The Blast That Tears The Skies, where one of the characters (which is about as spoiler-free as I can make this…) is similarly an illegitimate child of the King. I picked up this idea from Joanna’s story, which forms a very odd footnote in the histories of both the British Civil Wars and my home county, Carmarthenshire. So, somewhat belatedly, here’s the curious tale of Joanna Bridges, Michael’s ancestor.

Famously, Charles I’s attitude to sexual morality was very different to that of his two sons, who racked up the grand total of some sixteen or seventeen illegitimate children between them. But this very much reflected the situation after Charles’ marriage, when he and Queen Henrietta Maria became devoted to each other. His behaviour as Prince of Wales, and in his first years as King, was not necessarily quite so conventional – or, as one of the 19th century sources used for this blog put it, he was led astray ‘under the guidance of the dissipated and licentious [Duke of] Buckingham’. If he really had an illegitimate child, its birth almost certainly took place during a period in the 1620s, probably between c.1622 and c.1627. According to the legend of her paternity, Joanna Bridges was the child of Charles and the Duchess of Lennox, who was then raised ‘in much privacy’ in Wales, growing into a young woman who ‘both in circumstance and disposition…displayed a striking resemblance to her unfortunate father’. The only Bridges family of gentry status in Wales seems to have lived in Radnorshire, and that may have been where Joanna was brought up.

The Duchess of Lennox

The Duchess of Lennox

There is some evidence to support the otherwise very unlikely theory. The thrice-married Frances, Duchess of Lennox, was a prominent member of the circle around Buckingham and Charles when the latter was Prince of Wales; her husband Ludovic, a cousin of the Prince and of his father King James, had actually been the heir to the Scottish throne for some twenty years, and he plays a very prominent part in my book Blood of Kings: the Stuarts, the Ruthvens and the ‘Gowrie Conspiracy’. Although she was in her forties, it’s quite conceivable that the Duchess might have had a ‘Mrs Robinson’ affair with the young Prince, and Pauline Gregg, Charles’ biographer, documents the fact that the latter presented the Duchess with a chain of diamonds valued at over £3000 – although the latter was actually a gift from King James, who also seems to have been a target for the Duchess’ affections. (She had serious ‘form’ when it came to winning much older men – her second husband, forty years her senior, was Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, a nephew of Henry VIII’s Queen Jane Seymour.)

Further circumstantial evidence is provided by Joanna’s marriage, at some point in the mid-1650s, to Dr Jeremy Taylor, a prominent Anglican clergyman and religious writer who had served as a chaplain to King Charles I’s court at Oxford. Taylor was in Wales by the beginning of 1645, when he was in Lord Gerard’s force that was defeated at Cardigan Castle, and he then became a schoolteacher at Llanfihangel Aberbythych in the Tywi valley. This was almost immediately adjacent to Golden Grove, the home of the influential Vaughan family and its head, the Earl of Carbery, one of the most prominent Royalists in south Wales. Taylor soon became chaplain to Carbery and remained in west Wales for ten years or thereabouts. This explains his meeting with, and eventual marriage to, Joanna Bridges – she owned a small estate at Mandinam, a little further up the Tywi valley (possibly a telling fact in itself). But the most curious, and telling, connection of all is recounted by Pauline Gregg in her biography of King Charles. Following his defeat by Parliament, Charles was imprisoned at Hampton Court from August to November 1647. Taylor was among those who attended him there, and as Gregg records, ‘Charles gave Taylor a ring with two diamonds and a ruby, a watch, and a few pearls and rubies which ornamented the ebony case in which he kept his bible. There was no reason why he should give these to Taylor unless they were to pass on to Joanna Bridges…’

The couple married at some point between 1652 and 1656, had two children, and moved to Ireland, where Taylor became Bishop of Down and Connor; he died in August 1667. The date of Joanna’s death is unknown, but her eponymous daughter still owned Mandinam in 1707. The house still exists, and now provides holiday accommodation. Perhaps one day I’ll carry out more intensive research into the legend of Joanna Bridges – and of course, that would provide an ideal excuse to go and stay at her former home!

 

Happy New Year to all!

2015 already, though…? I’m increasingly convinced that I fell through a worm hole in the space-time continuum in about 1976 and have largely lost track of things ever since. But then, I have a sneaking feeling that many of my friends, and my ex-students in particular, have suspected that all along!

Anyway, regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve made a number of pleas for the current wave of major anniversaries – notably of World War I, Magna Carta and Waterloo – not to completely overwhelm and obscure other important commemorations. Above all, I’ve made the case for remembering the 350th anniversaries of the events of the second Anglo-Dutch war of 1665-7, a period I’ve studied for over 30 years and which now forms the backdrop to my series of historical fiction, the Journals of Matthew Quinton. Although I’ve no doubt that the ‘headline’ events of that period, notably the Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666, will be given due recognition (indeed, we’ve already endured a pretty dreadful TV dramatisation of the latter), and the English acquisition of New Amsterdam / New York before the war officially began already has been, I wonder if the same will be true of the naval events of the war. Of course, I’m talking here from an exclusively British perspective: it’s a racing certainty that the naval anniversaries will be commemorated amply in the Netherlands, where they’re counted among the great triumphs of the country’s ‘golden age’. If you need further proof, the premiere of the new Dutch blockbuster movie Michiel De Ruyter at the Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam on the 29th of this month should provide it.

(By way of digression, when was the last time Britain made a movie about any naval hero, even Nelson? And no, the fictitious Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander doesn’t count, nor does Clive Owen’s bizarre turn as Sir Walter Raleigh in Elizabeth: the Golden Age!)

It has to be said, the omens aren’t good. For example, English Heritage’s list of the ten most important anniversaries of 2015 omits the war entirely – and, indeed, also consigns to oblivion the Jacobite rising of 1715 (before you try the ‘but it was entirely Scottish’ cop-out excuse, English Heritage, no, it most certainly wasn’t…). However, said list does include, umm, the 700th anniversary of the siege of Carlisle. That being the case, it didn’t take too much thought on my part to realise that my pleas for proper recognition of the forthcoming 350th anniversaries had a logical consequence: namely, “if not me, who”? So as of 1 January, I’ve started tweeting the anniversaries as they happen. I don’t mean just the big events, like the destruction of the London on 7 March or the battle of Lowestoft on 3 June; I’m also tweeting about relatively small occurrences, or examples of bigger themes, to try and give as full a picture of the war as it’s possible to develop in 140 characters at a time. The title of this blog post is the hashtag that I’m using, and that I’ll continue to use until the end of the war in 1667/2017 (failure to drop off perch in the interim permitting). If you’re not on Twitter, you should still be able to follow my tweets in the feed to the right of this post. Naturally, I’ll be giving due attention to the really big anniversaries in this blog as well, and over the course of the next few months I’ll also be providing more information about the forthcoming Quinton novel, The Rage of Fortune, a prequel focusing on Matthew’s eponymous grandfather during the last years of Queen Elizabeth’s titanic naval war against Spain. Oh, and I expect there’ll be the odd rant and complete digression along the way, as I hope you’ve come to expect from these posts. So welcome to 2015, and to #2ADW350!

gentlemenandtarpaulins:

I hoped to get a new post up this week, but have been stymied by a combination of domestic issues and by the fact that I’m preparing a couple of new posts for imminent publication on other sites, namely one for my Welsh naval history blog, britanniasdragon.com, and one for the Llanelli Community Heritage website. So here’s a reblog of a very well received post from a couple of years ago, looking at how Christmas was celebrated in Charles II’s navy. This blog will return on Monday 5 January 2015, a year which marks the 350th anniversary of the beginning of the second Anglo-Dutch war, the backdrop to the most recent ‘Quinton Journals’. So expect plenty of attention to be given to that on this site, to provide at least some balance for the ongoing commemoration of World War I and the imminent politically incorrect junketing for the bicentenary of the battle of Waterloo! In the meantime, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all readers of my books and/or this blog, and thanks for your continuing support!

Originally posted on Gentlemen and Tarpaulins:

Henry Teonge, a Warwickshire clergyman, was fifty-five when he first went to sea as a naval chaplain, presumably forced into the job by the extent of his debts. In 1675 he joined the Fourth Rate Assistance, commanded by William Houlding, which was despatched to the Mediterranean as part of Sir John Narbrough’s fleet, operating against the corsairs of Tripoli. Teonge kept a lively diary of his time aboard the ship, and during his subsequent service on the Bristol and Royal Oak. This is one of the best contemporary sources for the nature of shipboard life in the Restoration navy, and I’ve used it often during my research for the Quinton books. For example, several of the ‘menus’ for officers’ meals in Gentleman Captain were taken straight from Teonge, while my description of Matthew Quinton’s Christmas at sea aboard the Seraph in The Mountain of Gold was based closely…

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Cue drum roll…cue trumpets…

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that the next ‘Journal of Matthew Quinton’, the sixth book in the series, will be entitled The Rage of Fortune.

But this is a ‘Quinton Journal’ with a twist, because the central character is a different Matthew Quinton. Followers of the series will know that one of the biggest influences on the personality of my hero, the Restoration naval captain Matthew Quinton, is the memory of his eponymous grandfather, the eighth Earl of Ravensden, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s ‘sea dogs’. Indeed, Matthew sometimes ‘hears’ asides from what might or might not be the shade of the long-dead swashbuckler, a colleague and rival of the likes of Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. I’d always envisaged a prequel centring on the first Matthew Quinton, and thanks to Ben Yarde-Buller at Old Street Publishing, I’ve now got the opportunity to do it!

The story begins in 1651, just after the Battle of Worcester, the final conflict of the British Civil Wars. The eleven year old Matthew Junior and his twin, Henrietta, are exploring an abandoned corner of their family home when they discover the long-forgotten papers of their grandfather, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Roundhead troops intent on searching for their elder brother, the tenth Earl of Ravensden, who has been seriously wounded in the Cavalier cause. Gradually, though, the papers of the old Earl and of some of those who knew him – including the recollections of his wife, Matt and Herry’s grandmother – start to paint a picture of a very different world: the world of the turn of the seventeenth century, when England was still fighting a seemingly endless war against Spain, when William Shakespeare was writing Henry V and Julius Caesar, and when the whole country was obsessed by the question of who would succeed the ageing Queen Elizabeth.

The Rage of Fortune is set against the backdrop of a series of real historical events. Many still wrongly assume that the Spanish Armada was the only significant naval campaign during Elizabeth I’s war, and that nothing of much note happened after it. This is simply untrue – the war lasted for another 16 years, and Rage places Earl Matthew at the centre of such remarkable, but sadly little known, naval actions as the affairs of the ‘Spinola Galleys’ and the ‘Invisible Armada’, and at the Battles of Castlehaven, Kinsale and Sesimbra Bay. Meanwhile, he and his new French wife are thrust into the heart of the intrigues over the succession to the English throne and of one of the most mysterious incidents in the whole of British history, while being threatened by a mysterious and malevolent enemy who threatens to bring down the entire Quinton family. Rage also provides a startling revelation about the history of one of the principal characters from the Restoration-era books!

I’ve really enjoyed returning to a time period and to themes that I know well. I spent over ten years researching and writing my non-fiction book, Blood of Kings: the Stuarts, the Ruthvens, and the ‘Gowrie Conspiracy’, which provided a lot of inspiration and material for The Rage of Fortune; and I spent many more years teaching Elizabethan and Jacobean England, together with such related European History themes as the French Wars of Religion, Habsburg Spain, and the Revolt of the Netherlands (all touched upon in Rage), to A-level students. So in some ways, writing The Rage of Fortune has marked a return to pastures old! But I’ve also relished the opportunity to learn more about matters that I’d been only dimly aware of until now: for instance, the very brief and somewhat bizarre interlude when both England and the Netherlands became convinced, almost literally overnight, that galleys were the future of naval warfare, even in stormy northern waters, and embarked on programmes of galley-building.

Regular readers of the series will already have come across references in Matthew Junior’s ‘back story’ to some of the other characters who appear in The Rage of Fortune: notably to his grandmother, the ‘imperious termagant’ Louise-Marie, Countess of Ravensden, a distinctly feisty Frenchwoman, twenty years younger than her husband, and to his remarkably long-lived great-great-grandmother Katherine, a former nun. And those regular readers needn’t fear – Matthew Junior will be back in his own right in 2016, the 350th anniversary of both the Four Days Battle (the subject of the most recent published title in the series, The Battle of All The Ages) and of the Great Fire of London, which will play a very significant part in the plot of ‘Quinton 7′, Death’s Bright Angel. 

The Rage of Fortune will be published by Old Street Publishing in the spring or summer of 2015. I really hope that readers enjoy it!

gentlemenandtarpaulins:

Another re-blog of one of my early posts today – I’m about to lock myself away in a Landmark Trust property for a week so that I can complete the sixth Quinton novel without the distractions of drilling, hammering etc that are currently taking place at home! Details of ‘Quinton 6′ coming this way soon… But in the meantime, this post still seems quite apposite: if anything, there are even more shock horror headlines proclaiming something to be ‘the worst x since y’ or ‘the biggest z ever’, and Pepys, of course, recently had a star turn on TV in the atrocious mini-series about ‘The Great Fire’. Just one slight factual update, though, and that’s to point out that I’ve stood down from the committee of the Samuel Pepys Club.

Originally posted on Gentlemen and Tarpaulins:

Last week saw the anniversary of Samuel Pepys’s birth in 1633, and Twitter was abuzz with the inevitable superlatives – the greatest English diarist! the founder of the modern Royal Navy! One only needed Queen to belt out ‘Pepys, Saviour of the Universe’, with Brian Blessed bellowing ‘Sam’s alive?!’, and the hyperbolic overdose would have been complete. There’s been plenty from this ‘Daily Mail headline’ school of historical analysis of late – witness the hysterical reaction in the Twitterverse to recent defence cuts (‘Navy at its smallest since Henry VIII!’, ‘Army at its smallest since the Zulu war!!/Agincourt!!!/Mount Badon!!!!’ and so forth, as if such comparisons have any validity at all – one might as well come up with such equally astute observations as ‘Fewer novels featuring starving urchins being written now than in Charles Dickens’s day’). No doubt this is all part and parcel of the Anglo-Saxon world’s obsession…

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Just in case anybody didn’t know, I’m [a] Welsh, and [b] an author of naval historical fiction.

Now, the world contains quite a lot of Welsh people. The world also contains a lot of authors of naval historical fiction. But the number of current Welsh authors of NHF, as I’ll call it for the sake of brevity, can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. Indeed, it’s possible that they can be counted on one finger, but I suspect I’m tempting fate by suggesting that – especially in an age when so many books are self-published exclusively in electronic format that it’s simply impossible to keep up with the origins of who’s written what. Indeed, for all I know there might well be an entire collective of NHF authors somewhere up in the Valleys, having violent arguments about the merits of Forester and O’Brian in the bar of The Admiral and Floozy at Aberflyarff. But assuming this isn’t actually the case, it’s clear that there have never been very many of us. I suppose one could count that outrageous old yarn-spinner Tristan Jones, but I’m not sure if someone who essentially fictionalised much of his own life qualifies. Wikipedia describes Showell Styles as a Welsh author, and he certainly wrote plenty of NHF, including the Midshipman Septimus Quinn series (which I’ve never read), the Lieutenant Michael Fitton books (ditto), and many individual titles including Admiral of England, about Sir Cloudesley Shovell, which does adorn my shelves. But Styles was Birmingham born and bred, so although he became an ‘adopted Welshman’, I’m not sure if he qualifies, either. On a similar basis, Patrick O’Brian lived in Wales – but only for four years, before moving to France because he couldn’t stand the weather.

Don’t worry, this post isn’t turning into a plea from a lonely lost soul for fellow practitioners to identify themselves so we can meet in the Admiral and Floozy to do what all Welsh people do all the time, namely to indulge in close harmony singing of cheery songs about rain and death. (TV and film stereotypes, passim – see the excellent Wales in the Movies channel on You Tube.) All of the foregoing is actually by way of introduction to the curious fact that one of the very first books that could be termed ‘naval historical fiction’ was written by a Welshman, with a Welsh central character – and what a character! The Legend of Captain Jones was written in 1631 by the somewhat unlikely figure of David Lloyd, an Oxford-educated clergyman, born at Llanidloes, who became Dean of Saint Asaph after the Restoration. This story of the mightily exaggerated adventures of a braggart Welsh sea-captain-cum-soldier was first published in 1636, had a second part added to it in the 1640s, and went through several editions thereafter; it seems to have been a popular children’s story after the Restoration, no doubt the Pirates of the Caribbean of its day (although with an infinitely more plausible hero…) To a considerable extent, it lampoons the great seamen, warriors and explorers of Queen Elizabeth’s time – Sir Walter Raleigh even turns up as a character, a la Blackadder – and some scholars have regarded it as a satire on Captain John Smith, of Pocahontas fame. (See, for example, the article by Alden T Vaughan in The William and Mary Quarterly, 45, 1988.)

Title page of the 1671 edition of The Legend of Captain Jones; Folger Shakespeare Library via Creative Commons

Title page of the 1671 edition of The Legend of Captain Jones; Folger Shakespeare Library via Creative Commons

The full text is freely available online, so I’m not going to quote from it at great length. (As I said to many of my students during my teaching career, ‘No, I’m not going to summarise it for you, go away and read the whole thing’. ‘Aww, sir, but it’ll be so much quicker if you summarise it…’) Although it’s not great poetry by any means, it’s certainly great fun, and actually pretty readable by the standards of some early seventeenth century literature. Try this, for instance:

‘Mongst all those Bluster’ng sirs that I have read

(whose greatest wonder is that they are dead)

there’s not any Knights, nor bold Achiever’s name,

So much as Jones’s in the Book of Fame.

They much of Greece’s Alexander brag,

He’d put ten Alexanders in a Bag.

Eleven fierce Kings, backt with two thousand Louts

Jones with a Ragged Troop beats all to Clouts.

 

Born in (yes, in) a Welsh mountain, Jones goes off to sea at eighteen. Among other exploits, he wrestles a bear, fights a lion, defeats eleven Native American kings and their armies, fights duels, defeats the Spanish (but is captured, made a galley slave, has a personal interview with King Philip II, and is finally ransomed), fights a giant, rejects marriage to the Queen of No-Land, and ends up single-handedly winning Queen Elizabeth’s war against the Irish Earl of Tyrone. At one point he goes back to his native land to recruit men, and the author has a field day at the expense of his countrymen’s foibles, for instance their apocryphal reputations for thieving and drinking, and their obsession with incredibly convoluted patronymics (one of my own ancestors, from exactly this period, is the spectacular Jenkin ap Harry ap Jenkin ap Harry Malephant):

 

 

Jones lost no time, goes in five days to Wales

Shewes his commission, tells them glorious tales;

He need not beat a drum, nor sound his trumpet,

His name’s enough to make these Britons jump at

This brave employment under such a Chief

Whose fame’s reserve enough for their relief.

Perplext he was in choosing his commanders,

For he still fancied best his old Highlanders;

But many worthies of the lower parts,

Offer to him their fortunes and their hearts.

But all respects put by, he inlisteth ten

Of his old gang, all hard bred mountain-men

For his Life-guard, Thomas Da Price a Pew,

Jenkin Da Prichard, Evan David Hugh,

John ap John Jenkin, Richard John dap Reese,

And Tom Dee Bacgh,a fierce Rat at green cheese,

Llewelling Reese ep David Watkin Jenkin,

With Howell Reese ap Robert, and young Philkin, 

These for his guard, his Officers in chief,

Lieutenant Colonel Craddock, a stout thief

With Major Howell ap Howell of Pen Crag

Well known for plundering many cow and nag

Captain Pen Vaare, a branch of Tom John Catty,1

Whose word in’s colours was, YE ROGUES HAVE AT YE.

Griffith ap Reefe ap Howel ap Coh ap Gwilin,

Reese David Shone ap Ruthero ap William,

With many more whose names ’twere long to write,

The rest their acts will get them names in fight.

We must conceive they all were men of fame

For here we see them all men of great name.

Jones with these blades advanceth to the Dale 2

There lines himself and them with noble Ale…

 

[1 – Twm Sion Cati, ‘the Welsh Robin Hood’

2 – Lloyd adds a marginal note here to point out that this is a village on Milford Haven! It would actually have been well known to 16th and 17th audiences as the place where King Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty, landed in 1485.]

 

Finally, Jones retires back to Wales, and the staunchly Royalist Lloyd can’t resist a suggestion that if he had been born later, he would easily have won the Civil War for the Cavaliers. But Lloyd’s final epitaph for the larger-than-life hero also has a neat double entendre sting in the tail:

 

Tread softly (mortals) ore the bones

Of the world’s wonder, Captain Jones;

Who told his glorious deeds to many,

But never was believed of any:

Posterity let this suffice,

He swore all’s true, yet here he lyes.

 

So even if Welsh naval historical fiction is a pretty small and exclusive genre, I’m very happy to be in it alongside David Lloyd and his hero. You can forget Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain America – come on, Hollywood, give us a film of Captain Jones!

 

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