Lucy Walter

Lucy Walter

Walter, Lucy, 1630?-1658, mistress (1648-50) of Charles II of England during his exile in Holland and France. She was the mother by him of James Scott, duke of Monmouth, whom the Whigs supported as heir to the throne in their attempt to exclude James, duke of York (later James II), from the succession. It was rumored at that time that Charles had actually married Lucy and that proof of the marriage was contained in a mysterious black box. Charles always denied the report. Lucy herself was a courtesan before and after her connection with Charles. She was arrested (1656) in London as a spy but was released and sent abroad. She died in Paris.

Lucy Walter or Lucy Barlow (c. 1630 – 1658) was the mistress of the English king Charles II and mother of the Duke of Monmouth. She is believed to have been born in 1630 or a little later at Roch Castle near Haverfordwest, Wales into a family of middling gentry.

Origins

Lucy Walter was the daughter of William Walter of Haverfordwest and wife, Elizabeth Protheroe, a Welsh noblewoman descended from the second marriage of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. The Walters were a Welsh family of good standing, who declared for the king during the Civil War. Roch Castle was captured and burned by the parliamentary forces in 1644, and Lucy Walter found shelter first in London and then at the Hague.

Life as a courtesan

She entered the fringes of London society through family connections, and at the age of seventeen was the mistress of Algernon Sidney, a Roundhead officer related to the Earl of Leicester. In the Netherlands she met his younger brother, a Royalist exile, Robert Sidney, with whom she began an affair. It was through Robert that she met Charles II.

There is little evidence to support the story that she was the first wife of Charles II, and it is certain that he was not her first lover in royal circles. The intimacy between him and this "brown, beautiful, bold but insipid creature," as John Evelyn called her, who chose to be known as Mrs Barlow (Barlo), lasted with intervals until the autumn of 1651, and Charles claimed the paternity of a child born in 1649 whom he subsequently created Duke of Monmouth.

After her relationship with Charles II ended for unknown reasons, she led a poor and dissolute life, which possibly resulted in her premature death at Paris in September/October 1658. The cause of death is unknown.

A daughter, Mary (b. 1651), whose father some sources claim to have been Theobald Taaffe 1st Earl of Carlingford and others Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington, married William Sarsfield.

In Books and Literature

  • The novelist Elizabeth Goudge published a novel about Lucy, The Child from the Sea, in 1970
  • Her descendent, Lord George Scott, published a biography called "Lucy Walter Wife or Mistress". London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd, 1947.

References

Notes

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