Autobiography of Lady Anne Halkett


These remarkable handwritten memoirs of Lady Anne Halkett (1623–1699) explore romantic rebellion and political intrigue from a female perspective, at a time when the vast majority of writing was still produced by men. Although there are some earlier autobiographies written by English women, they are largely religious. This is perhaps the first to deal with the drama of human love. It tells of Halkett’s struggle between passion and pious obedience, and between illicit love and the security of marriage.

In its themes, the work may remind us of an early modern drama like Romeo and Juliet or an 18th-century novel with dashing men in disguises and courageous, conflicted women.

Youthful disobedience: Anne’s affair with Thomas Howard (ff. 1r–8v)

Writing in 1677–78 with the hindsight of middle-age, Lady Halkett looks back at the turmoil of her youth in 1644–56 when the English Civil Wars were raging. The royalist Anne Halkett expresses her staunch support for King Charles I in his conflict with Parliament.

From the start, Anne takes pains to insist that she is grateful to her parents for her refined Christian education and close connections with court. Her mother Jane Drummond had been governess to Charles I’s children, while her father James Murray (who died when Anne was a baby) had been Provost of Eton College.

But Anne confesses to ‘an act of disobedience’ at the age of 21, when she gave way to Thomas Howard, son of the exiled Lord Howard of Escrick. Thomas had been sent from France to make a ‘rich match’ to a suitably wealthy woman (f. 3r), but instead fell passionately in love with Anne against their parents’ will. When Anne’s mother threatened to ‘turne [her] outt of her doores’ if she ever saw Thomas again (f. 5v), she artfully resolved to be ‘blindfolded’ at their next secret meeting to prevent her from technically ‘seeing him’ (f. 8r). But, despite temptation, she steadfastly refused to marry him ‘without consentt of parents’, since this would be the greatest sign of ‘ingratitude’ (f. 8v). The last we hear of Thomas is in 1646, when he marries ‘an Earle’s daughter’ (f. 11r).

Anne’s affair with the royalist secret agent, Colonel Joseph Bampfield (ff. 12r–15v)

In 1648, Anne shifts her attention to another man, Colonel Joseph Bampfield. In that year the Colonel was plotting to help the Duke of York – the future James II – to escape from imprisonment at St. James by disguising him in women’s clothes. Anne took on the task of ordering the Duke’s scarlet ‘petticoate’ and ‘wastcoate’, though the tailor raised his eyebrows at the unusual size of the waist (f. 13r). Anne bravely dressed the duke in ‘wemen’s habit’, noting that he ‘was very pretty in itt’ (f. 14r) and he succeeded in escaping. Excited by this intrigue, Anne became embroiled with Bampfield, who insisted that his wife was dead and asked Anne to marry him (f. 15v). For years she wrestled with her conscience, but was finally forced to admit that his wife was alive and kicking. The autobiography ends some years later, in 1656, when Anne finally agrees to marry a suitable widower, Sir James Halkett (f. 59r), and takes on her own work in medicine.


his word. And since wee have an advocate with the Father of

Christ the righteous, hee will plead for mee wherin I am inocentt

and pardon wherin I have beene guiltty; for God sentt nott his Son

into the World to Condemne the world, butt that the world through

him might bee Saved, in whom we have boldnese and adrese with

Confidence by the faith of him. And that is the reason why I faint

nott under tribulation, for there is noe sin that ever I

have been guilty of in my whole Life butt I repent

with as much sincearity as I seeke pardon. And I supli

cate for Grace and Live uprightly here, with the same

fervor that I seeke for heaven here affter.

And if the Lord sees fitt to continue mee still in the furnace of

affliction, his blesed will bee done so that I may bee one

his chosen.

[The following statement, in an early hand but not Lady Halkett's]

“This Manuscript”

written by Anne, Dau: of Mr. Thos Murray, Provost of Eton,

and Preceptor of Charles 1_st_ She was Lady of the Bedchamber

Queen Henrietta Maria, and married Sir Jas Halkett, Knt of Pitfirren

[The following is, again, Lady Halkett's hand. This is a transcription of the surviving portion of the text. The missing parts of lines are represented by the margins]

For my parentts I need nott say much, since they were

And I need nott bee ashamed to owne them

was mentioned as my reproach that I was of

ion, whereas hee that now succeds to that fa

was once which was as good a gentleman as any

ter, I shall ever bee sattisfied with what can

the advantage of that familly, but some that

to, both by father and mother would take it till nott

  thought Gentlemen; for my father claimed

of beeing derived from the Earle of Tillibardin's familly and

my mother from the Earle of Perth's.

Hee was thought a wise King who made choice of my f

to bee tuter to the late King of blessed memory; and what

the excellentt Prince learnt in his youth kept him stedfast

in his religion though under all the temptations of Spaine,

temperate in all the exceses that attend a court, vertuous

and constant to the only lawfull imbraces of the Queene,

and [unmov]able and undisturbed under all his unparaleld suffe

rings. For all recompence to my father's care in discharging his

duty, hee was made Provost of Eaton Colledge, where hee

     ved nott long butt died when I was butt three months old;

yett itt seemes the short time hee lived amongst those

prebends they were so well sattisfied both with him and my

mother that after my father's death they pettitioned to have

his place continued to my mother a yeare was never before

granted to any woman. And during her time they all renued

there leases as a testimony of there respect & desire to give

her that advantage.

As this may evidence what my father's partts were, So

my mother may bee best knowne by beeng thought fitt both

     the late King & Queene's Majesty to bee intrusted twice

       h the charge & honor of beeng governese to the Duke of

       ocester & the Princese Elizabeth, first during the time that

     e Countese of Roxbery (who owned my mother for her cousin)

   went, & continued in Holland with the Princese Royall,

and then againe when my Lady Roxbery died. The first

was only by a verball order, butt the last was under the

      gnett dated [        ] I have by mee to produce

   f itt were nesesary.

By this short accountt I have given of my pa

   seene what trust the greatest thought them Cap

   erfore they could nott butt performe a duty to

     tt that care was wholy left (next to God’s pro

   y mother (my father dying when we were all very

who spared noe expence in educating all her ch

    the most suitable way to improve them; and if I ma

    tt the advantage I might have done, it was my ow

    ault & nott my mother's, who paid masters for teachin

    my sister & mee to writte, speake French, play

    lute ˄& virginalls, & dance, and kept a gentlewoman

  to teach us all kinds of needleworke, wch shows I was

nott brought up in an idle life. Butt my mother's

   reatest Care, & for which I shall ever owne to her

   memory the highest gratitude, was the great Care

   hee tooke that even from our infancy wee were ins

   ructed never to neglect to begin and end the day with

prayer, and orderly every morning to read the

Bible, and ever to keepe the church as often

as there was occation to meett there either for

prayers or preaching. So that for many yeares to

gether I was seldome or never absentt from devine

service att five a clocke in the morning in the

summer & sixe a clocke in the winter till the usurped

power putt a restraintt to that puplicke worship

so long owned and continued in the Church of England;

where I blese God I had my education and the

example of a good Mother, who kept constantt to

her owne parish Church and had allways a great

respect for the ministers under whose charge shee


What my childish actions were I thinke I need

nott give accountt of here, for I hope none will thinke

they could bee either vicious or Scandalous. And from

that time till the yeare 1644 I may truly say all

my converse was so inocentt that my owne hart

cannott challenge mee with any imodesty, either

in thought or behavier, or an act of disobedience

to my mother, to whom I was so observantt that

as long as shee lived I doe nott remember that

I made a visitt to the neerest neibour or went any

where withoutt her liberty. And so scrupulous I

was of giving any occation to speake of mee, as I

know they did of others, that though I loved well

to see plays & to walke in the Spring Garden

sometimes (before itt grew something scandalous by the

abuse of some), yett I cannott remember 3 times

ever I wentt with any man besides my brothers &

if I did, my sisters or others better then myselfe was

with mee. And I was the first that proposed and

practised itt, for 3 or 4 of us going together withoutt

any man, and every one paying for themselves by

giving the mony to the footman who waited on

us & hee gave itt in the play howse. And this

I did first upon hearing some gentlemen telling

what ladys they had waited on to plays and

how much itt had cost them, upon which I resolved

none should say the same of mee.

In the yeare 1644 I confese I was guilty of an act

of disobedience, for I gave way to ye adrese

of a person whom my mother, att the first time

thatever hee had occation to bie conversant wth

mee, had absolutely discharged mee ever to allow of:

and though before ever I saw him severalls did tell

mee that there would bee something more then ordinary

betwixt him and mee (wch I beleeve they fudged from

the great friendship betwixt his sister & mee, for

wee were seldome assunder att London, and shee & I

were bedfellows when shee came to my sister's howse

att Charleton, where for the most part shee staed while

wee continued in the country), yett hee was halfe a

yeare in my company before I discovered anything

of a particular inclination for mee more then another

and as I was civill to him both for his owne meritt

and his sister's sake; so any particular civility I recea

ved from him I looked upon itt as flowing from the

affection hee had to his sister and her kindness to mee.

After that time itt seemes hee was nott so much master

of himselfe as to conceale itt any longer. And having

never any opertunity of beeng alone with mee to speake

himself, hee imployed a young gentleman (whose confi

dent hee was in an Amour betwixt him & my Lady

Anne: his Cousin German) to tell mee how much hee

had indeavored all this time to smother his passion

which hee said began the first time that ever hee

saw mee, and now was come to that height

that if I did nott give him some hopes of faver

hee was resolved to goe backe againe into France

(from whence hee had come when I first saw

him) and turne Capucin. Though this discourse

disturbed mee, yett I was a weeke or ten days before

I would bee perswaded so much as to heare him

speake of this subject, & desired his friend to repr

esentt severall disadvantages that itt would bee to

him to pursue such a designe. And know˄ing that

his father had sentt for him outt of France with an

intention to marry him to sum rich match that

might improve his fortune, itt would bee high

ingratitude in mee to doe any thing to hinder

such a designe

                       since his father had beene so obleeging

to my mother & sister as to use his Lordship's interest with ye

Parliamentt to preventt the ruine of my brother's howse and k.

Butt when all I could say to him by his friend

could nott prevaile, butt that hee grew so ill and

discontented that all the howse tooke notice, I did

yield so farre to comply with his desire as to

give him liberty one day when I was walking in ye gallery

to                     come there & speake to mee. What

hee said was handsome; & short, butt much disordered,

for hee looked pale as death, & his hand trembled

when hee tooke mine to lead mee, and with a great

sigh said If I loved you lese I could say more.

I told him I could nott butt thinke myselfe much

obleeged to him for his good opinion of mee, butt itt

would bee a higher obligation to confirme his esteeme

of mee by following my advise, wch I should now give

him my selfe, since hee would nott receave it by his

friend. I used many arguements to diswade him from

pursuing what hee proposed, and in conclusion told

him I was 2 or 3 yeare older then hee, & were there

no other objection, yett that was of such weight with

mee as would never lett mee allow his further adrese.

Madam said hee what I love in you may well in –

crease butt I am sure itt can never decay. I left

arguing & told him I would advise him to consult

with his owne reason and that would lett him see

I had more respect to him in denying then in granting

what with so much passion hee desired.

After that, hee sought, & I shunned, all opertunittys of

private discourse with him butt one day in the Garden

his friend tooke his sister by the hand and lead her into

another walke & left him & I together. And hee with

very much seriousnese began to tell mee that hee had

observed ever since hee had discovered his affection

to mee that I was more reserved & avoided all converse

with him & therefore, since hee had noe hopes of my faver

hee was resolved to leave England, since hee could nott

bee hapy in itt. And that what ever became of him

might make him displease either his father or his

friends, I was the occation of it, for if I would not give

him hopes of marying him, hee was resolved to putt him

selfe outt of a Capacity of Marying any other and goe

imediately into a conventt, and that hee had taken

order to have post horses ready against the next

day. I confese this discourse disturbed mee, for though

I had had noe respect for him, his sister, or his familly,

yet Relligion was a tye upon mee to indeaver the

prevention of the hazard of his soule. I looked on

this as a violent passion which would nott last long

and perhaps might grow the more by beeng resisted,

when as a seeming complaisance might lessen itt.

I told him I was sory to have him intertaine such

thoughts as could nott butt bee a ruine to him and

a great affliction to all his relations, wch I would willingly

preventt if itt were in my power. Hee said itt was ab

solutely in my power, for if I would promise to marry

him hee should esteeme himselfe the most hapy man

living, and hee would waite what ever time I thought

most convenientt for itt. I replied I though itt was

unreasonable to urge mee to promise that which ere long hee

might repentt the asking, butt this I would promise

to sattisfy him, that I would nott marry till I saw him

first maried. Hee kist my hand upon that with as much

joy as if I had confirmed to him his greatest hapinese

and said hee could desire noe more, for hee was secure

I should never see nor heare of that till itt was to my

selfe. Upon this wee parted, both well pleased, for hee

thought hee had gained much in what I promised,

and I looked upon my promise as a cure to him, butt

noe inconvenience to myselfe, since I had noe inclin

ation to marry any. And though I had, a delay in itt

was the least returne I could make to so deserving

a person. But I deceaved myselfe by thinking this

was the way to moderate his passion, for now hee

gave way to itt withoutt any restraintt and thought

himselfe so secure of mee as if there had beene nothing

to opose itt, though hee managed itt with that discretion

that itt was scarce visible to any within the howse, nott

so much as either his sister or mine had the least

suspittion of itt, for I had injoymed him not to lett ym

or any other know what his designes were because

I would not have them accessory, what ever fault might

bee in the prosecution of itt. Thus itt continued till

towards winter that his sister was to goe home to her

father againe, and then, knowing hee would want much

of the opertunity hee had to converse with mee hee

was then very importunate to have mee consent to marry

him privately wch itt seemes hee pleased himselfe ˄so with

the hopes of prevailing with mee that hee had provided

a wedding ring and a minister to marry us. I was much

unsattisfied with his going that lengh, & in short, told him

hee need never expect I would marry him withoutt his

father's and my mother's consentt. If that could bee obtained

I should willingly give him the sattisfaction hee desired

butt withoutt that I could nott expect God's blesing neither

upon him nor mee, and I would doe nothing that was

so certaine a way to bring ruine upon us both.

Hee used many argumentts from the examples of others

who had practised the same and was hapy both in there

parentts' faver and in one another, butt finding mee

fixt beyond any perswasion, hee resolved to aquaintt

my sister with itt & to imploy her to speake of itt to

his father & my mother. Shee very unwillingly un

dertooke it, because shee knew itt would bee a surprise

to them and very unwellcome. But his impertunity

prevailed, and shee first aquainted my mother with itt

who was so pasionately offended with the proposall that

whereas his father might have beene brought to have

given his consentt (having ever had a good opinion

of mee & very civill), shee did so exasperate him ag

ainst it that nothing could sattisfy her, but pre

sently to putt itt to Mr. H. choice either presenttly

to marry a rich cittisen's daughter that his father had

designed for him, or els to leave England. The reason

I beleeve that made my mother the more incensed

was, first, that itt was what in the beginning of our aq

uaintance shee had absolutely discharged my having

a thought of allowing such an adrese; and though in

some respect his quality was above mine and therfor

better then any shee could expect for mee, yett my Lord

H. fortune was such as had need of a more consid

erable portion then my mother could give mee, or els

it must ruine his younger chilldren. And therfore my

mother would nott consentt to itt, though my Lord H. did

offer to doe the uttmost his condition would allow him

if shee would lett mee take my hazard with his son.

But my mother would nott bee perswaded to itt upon

noe consideration, lest any should have though itt

was began with her allowance; and to take away ye

suspittion of that, did, I beleeve, make her the more

violent in opposing itt and the more scavere to mee.

My sister made choice of Sunday to speake of itt

first, because shee thought that day might put them

both in a calmer frame to heare her, and confine

there passion, since itt would bee the next day before

they would determine anything. Butt finding both by

my mother and my Lord H. that they intended

nothing butt to part us so as never to meett ag

aine, except itt was as strangers, Mr. H was very

importunate to have an opertunity to speake with mee

that night, wch I gave. My sister beeng only with

mee, wee came downe together to the roome apointed

to meett with him. I confese I never saw those two

pasions of love and regrett more truly represented, nor

could any person exprese greater affection and reso

lution of constancy, which with many solemne oaths

hee sealed of never loving or marying any butt

my selfe. I was not sattisfied with his swearing

to future performances, since I said both hee & I

might find itt most convenient to retract, butt

this I did assure him, as long as hee was constantt

hee should never find a change in mee, for though

duty did obliesge mee nott to marry any withoutt

my mother's consent, yet itt would nott tye mee to

marry without my owne. My sister att this rises

and said I did nott thinke you would have ing

aged mee to bee a wittnese of both your resolutions

to continue what I expected you would rather have

laid aside, and therfore I will leave you. Oh, madam

said hee can you imagine I love att that rate as to

have itt shaken with any storme? Noe, were I secure

your sister would nott suffer in my absence by her

mother's sevearity, I would nott care what misery I were

exposed to, butt to thinke I should bee the occation

of trouble to ye person in the earth that I love most

is unsuportable and with that hee fell downe in a

chaire that was behind him, butt as one withoutt all

sense, wch I must confese did so much move mee yt

laing aside all former distance I had kept him att,

I satt downe upon his knee, and laying my head neere his

I suffred him to kisse mee, wch was a liberty

I never gave before; nor had nott then had I

nott seene him so overcome with greefe, wch I in

deavered to suprese with all ye incouragementt I

could, butt still presing him to bee obedientt to his

father, either in goeing abroad or staying att home

as hee thought most convenient. Noe says hee since

they will nott allow mee to converse with you, France

will bee more agreeable to mee then England nor

will I goethere except I have liberty to come

here againe & take my leave of you. To that

I could nott disagree if they thought fitt to allow itt

and so my sister & I left him, butt shee durst nott

owne to my mother where shee had beene.

The next morning early my Lord H went away and

tooke with him his son & daughter and

left ˄mee to the seaveritys of my offended mother who

nothing could pacify. After shee had called for

mee & said as many bitter things as passion

could dictate upon such a subject, she discharged

mee to see him & did solemly vow that if she

should heare I did see Mr H shee would turne mee

outt of her doores & never owne mee againe. All I

said to that part was that itt should bee against

my will if ever shee heard of itt. Upon Tuesday my

Lord H. writt to my mother that hee had determined

to send his son              to France, and that upon

Thursday after hee was to begin his journey butt

all hee desired before hee wentt was to have liberty

to see mee wch hee thought was a sattisfaction could

nott bee denyed him and therfore desired my mothers

consentt to it, wch shee gave upon the condittion

   hat hee should only come in & take his leave

  of mee, butt nott to have any converse butt

  what shee should bee a wittnese of her selfe.

   This would nott attall please Mr H and

   therfore seemed to lay the desire of itt aside.

   In the meane time my chamber & liberty of

   lying alone was taken from mee, and my sisters

woman was to bee my guardian who watched

sufficiently so that I had nott ye least opertunity

either day or night to bee without her. Upon

Thursday morning early my mother sentt a man

of my sisters (whose name I must mention with ye

rest that att that was in the familly, for there was

Moses Aron & Miriam all att one time in itt &

none either related or aquainted together till they

met there) ˄this Moses ˄was sentt to my Lord H with a letter

to inquire if his son were gone. I must here relate

a little odd incounter wch agravated my misfortune.

There came noe returne till night, and, having gott

liberty to walke in the hall, my mother sentt a child

of my sisters & bid him walke with mee & keepe

mee company I had nott beenethere a quarter of an

hower butt my maid Miriam came to mee & told mee

shee was walking att the backe gate & Mr H came

to her & sentt her to desire mee to come there &

speake butt two or three words wth him for hee had

sworne nott to goe away withoutt seeing mee

nor would hee come in to see my mother for he

had left London that morning very early & had

rod up & downe that part of the country only

till itt was ye gloome of the evening to have the

more privacy in comming to see mee. I bid her

goe back & tell him I durst nott see him because

of my mothers oath & her discharge. While shee

was presing mee to run to the gate & I was

neere to take the start, the child cried out

O my aunt is going wch stoped mee and I

sent her away to tell ye reason why I could not

come. I still staid walking in the hall till shee

returned, wondering shee staid so long. When shee

came shee was hardly able to speake and with

great disorder said I beleeve you are ye most

unfortunate person living, for I thinke Mr H is

killed. any one that hath ever knowne what

gratitude was may imagine how these words

disordered mee, butt impatientt to know how (I was

resolved to hazard my mother's displeasure rather

then nott see him), shee told mee that while shee

was telling him my answeare, there came a fellow

with a great club behind him & strucke him

downe dead, & others had seazed upon Mr T

(who formerly had beene his governer and was

now intrusted to see him safe on shipboord)

and his man. The reason of this was from

what there was too many sad examples of att

that time, when the devission was betwixt ye King

and Parliamentt, for to betray a master or a friend

was looked upon as doing God good service.

My brother in law Sr Henry Newton had beene

long from home in attendance on the King for whose

service hee had raised a troope of horse upon his

owne expence & had upon all occations testified his

loyalty for wch all his estate was sequestred,

and with much dificulty my sister gott liberty to

live in her owne house and had the fifth part

to live upon wch was obtained with impertunity

There was one of my brothers tenants called Mus

grove, who was a very great Rogue who farmed

my brother's land of ye Parliamentt and was imp

loyed by them as a spye to discover any of the

Cavaliers that should come within his knowledge

hee observing 3 gentlemen ˄& a upon good horse scoutt

ing aboutt all day & keeping atta distance from

the highway, aprehends itt was my brother who

had come privately home to see my sister and

resolves to watch when hee came neere ye house

and had followed so close as to come behind &

give Mr H that stroake, thinking itt had beene

my brother Newton, & seased upon his governer

and servantt (the post boy beeng left att some

distance with the horses) In the midst of this dis

order Moses came there and Miriam having told

what the occation of itt was, he told Musgrove itt

was my Lord H son hee had used so upon which

hee & his complices wenttimediately away and Moses

and Mr Hs man caried him into an alehouse hard

by and laid him on a bed, where hee lay some time

before hee came to himselfe. So hearing all was

quiett againe & that hee had noe hurt, only ston

ished with the blow, I wentt into ye roome where I

had left my mother & sister, wch beeing att a good

                                                            ˄ distance

from the backe gate they had heard nothing

of the tumult that had beene there. A litle after

Moses came in and delivered a letter from my Lord

H                wch after my mother had read shee asked

what news att London hee answeared the greatest

hee could tell was that Mr H went away that

morning early post to Deepe & was going to France

butt hee could nott learne the reason of itt. My

mother & sister seemed to wonder att itt. for none

in the familly except my maid knew any thing

that had fallen outt, or had any suspition yt

I was concerned in itt, butt my mother & sister.

after Moses wentt outt my mother asked mee if

I was nott ashamed to thinke that itt would bee

said my L H was forced to send away his

son to secure him from mee. I said I could nott

butt regrett what ever had occationed her displeasure

or his punishmentt, butt I was guilty of noe unhand

some action to make mee ashamed And therfore what

ever were my presentt misfortune I was confident to

evidence before I died that noe child shee had had

greater love and respect to her, or more obedience.

to wch shee replied, Itt seemes you have a good opinion

of your selfe. My mother now beleeving Mr H gone

I was nott as former nights sentt to my bed and ye

guard upon mee that was usuall, butt I staid in my

mothers chamber till shee & my sister (who lay together)

was abed. In the meane time Mr H had sentt

for Moses and told him what ever misfortune hee

might suffer by his stay there, hee was fully deter

mined nott to goe away without seeing mee and

desired I would come to the banketting howse in ye

garden & he would come to ye window & speake to

mee, wch hee told mee & with all that Mr T (who

was a very serious good man) did earnestly desire intreat

mee to Condescend to his desire to preventt what

might bee more inconvenient to us both. I sentt him

word when my mother was abed I would contrive some

way to sattisfy him, butt nott where hee proposed, be

cause itt was within the view of my mothers chamber

window. After I had left my mother & sister in

there bed, I went alone in the darke through my brothers

closett to ye chamber where I lay, and as I entred

the roome I laid my hand upon my eyes and with

a sad sigh said was ever Creature so unfortunate

and putt to such a sad dificulty either to make Mr

H forsworne if hee see mee nott, or if I doe see

him, my mother will bee forsworne if shee doth nott

expose mee to the uttmost rigour her anger can

inventt. In the midst of this dispute with my selfe

what I should doe: my hand beeng still upon

my eyes, itt presently came in my mind that if

I blindfolded my eyes that would secure mee from

seeing him & so I did not transgrese against

my mother. And hee might that way sattisfy him

selfe by speaking with mee. I had as much joy

in finding outt this meanes to yeeld to him wthoutt

disquiett to my self, as if itt had beene of more

considerable consequence. Imediately I sentt Moses

to tell him upon what condittions I would speake

with him: first, that hee must allow mee to have

my eyes covered & that hee should bring Mr T

with him. and if thus hee were sattisfied I ordered

him to bring them in the backe way into ye cellar

where I with Miriam would meett them the other

way; wch they did. As soone as Mr H saw mee

hee much impertuned the taking away the covert

from my eyes wch I nott suffering, hee left disput

ing that, to imploy the litle time hee had in regret

ing my nott yielding to his impertunity to marry him

before his affection was discovered to his father & my

mother. For had it beene once past there power to

undoe, they would [have] beene sooner sattisfied and wee

might have beene hapy together and nott indured

this sad separation. I told him I was sory for

beeing the occation of his discontentt butt I could

nott repentt the doing my duty what ever ill succese

itt had, for I ever looked upon marying withoutt

consentt of parentts as the highest act of ingratitude

and disobedience that Chilldren could Committ &

I resolved never to bee guilty of itt. I found his

greatest trouble was the feare hee had that my

mother in his absence would force mee to marry

M L (who was a Gentleman of a good fortune

who some people thought had a respect for mee)

To this I gave him as much assurance as I could

that neither hee nor any other person living should

lessen his interest till hee gave mee reason for itt

himselfe. Itt is unnesesary to repeatt the Solemne

oaths hee made never to love nor marry any other.

for as I did not aprove of itt then, so I will nott

now agravate his Crime by mentioning them. Butt

there was nothing heeleft unsaid that Could exp

rese a Sinceare virtuous true affection. Mr T (who

with Moses & Miriam had all this time beene

so civill to us both as to retire att such a

distance as nott to heare what we said) came

and interupted him & desired him to take his

leave lest longer stay might bee prejudiciall to

us both all. I called for a bottle of wine and

giving Mr T thankes for his Civility & care drunk

to him wishing a good & hapy journey to Mr H So

taking a farewell of them both I wentt up the

This was upon Thursday night ye 10th of October 1644

time, and nott the worse that hee profesed to have a

great friendship for my brother Will!

This gentleman came to see mee sometimes in the

company of ladys who had beene my mothers neibours in

St. Martins Lane and sometimes alone. butt when ever

hee came, his discourse was Serious, handsome, and tending

to imprese the advantages of piety loyalty & vertue

and these subjects were so agreeable to my owne in

clination that I could nott butt give them a good recep

tion, especially from one that seemed to bee so much

an owner of them himselfe. After I had beene used

to freedome of discourse with him, I told him I apr

oved much of his advise to others, butt I thought his

owne practise contradicted much of his profession

for one of his aquaintance had told mee hee had

nott seene his wife in a twelvemonth and itt was

imposible in my opinion for a good man to bee an

ill husband and therefore hee must defend himselfe from

one before I could beleeve the other of him. Hee said

itt was nott nesesary to give every˄one that might condemne

him the reason of his beeng so long from her, yett to sa

tisfy mee hee would tell mee the truth wch was that hee

beeng ingaged in the Kings service hee was oblieged

to bee att London where itt was nott convenient for her

to bee with him, his stay in any place beeing uncertaine.

Besides, she lived amongst her friends who though they

were kind to her yett were nott so to him, for most of

that country had declared for the Parleament and were

enemys to all that had, or did, serve the King and

therfore his wife hee was sure would not condemne him

for what hee did, by her owne consentt. This seeming

reasonable, I did insist noe more upon that subject.

Att this time hee had frequent letters from the King,

who imployed him in severall affaires butt that of the

greatest concerne wch hee was imployed in was to

contrive the Duke of Yorkes escape outt of St. James

(where His Highnese and the Duke of Glocester & the

Princese Elizabeth lived under the care of the Earle

of Northumberland & his lady). The dificultys of

itt was representted by Coll. B butt His Majestie still pres

sed itt & I remember this expresion was in one of the

letters I beleeve it will bee dificult and if

hee miscary in the attempt it will bee the greatest

afliction that can arive to mee butt I looke

upon James escape as Charless preservation

and nothing can content mee more therfore bee

carefull what you doe. This letter amongst

others hee shewed mee and where the King aprov

ed of his choice of mee to intrust with itt For to

gett the Dukes cloaths made ˄& to drese him in his

disguise. So now all C.B busynese & care was

how to manage this busynese of so important con

cerne, wch could not bee performed withoutt severall

persons concurrence in itt For hee beeng generally

knowne as one whose being stay att London was in order

to serve the King few of those who were intrusted

by the Parliamentt in puplicke concernes durst owne

convearse or hardly civilitty to him, lest they should

have beene suspect by there party, wch made itt

deficult for him to gett accese to ye Duke. butt

(to bee short) having comunicated ye designe to a gen

tleman attending His Highnese, who was full of honor

and fidelity by his meanes hee had private accese to

the Duke to whom hee presented the Kings letter &

order to His Highnese for Consenting to act what CB

should contrive for his escape wch was so cheerefully inter

tained and so readily obayed, that beeng once designed

there was nothing more to doe then to prepare all things

for the Execution. I had desired him to take a rib

ban with him & bring mee the bignese of the Dukes

wast & his lengh to have cloaths made fitt for him.

In the meanetime C.B was to provide mony for

all nesesary expence, wch was furnished by an honest

cittisen. When I gave the measure to my tailor to

inquire how much mohaire would serve to make

a petticoate & wastcoate to a young Gentlewoman

of that bignese & stature hee considered it a long

time & said hee had made many gownes & suites

butt hee had never made any to such a person in

his life. I thought hee was in the right butt his

meaning was, hee had never seene any women of so

low a stature have so big a wast. However hee made

itt as exactly fitt as if hee had taken the measure

himselfe. It was a mixt mohaire of a light haire

couler & blacke & ye under petticoate was scarlett.

All things beeing now ready, upon the 20 of Aprill 1648

in the evening was the time resolved on for the Dukes

escape. And in order to that itt was designed for

a weeke before every night assoone as ye Duke had

suped, hee and those servants that attended His

Highnese (till the Earle of Northumberland & the rest

of the howse had suped) wentt to a play called hide

and seeke and sometimes hee would hide himselfe

so well that in halfe an howers time they could

not find him. His Highnese had so used them to this

that when he wentt really away they thought hee was

butt att the usuall sport. A litle before the Duke wentt

to super that night, hee called for the Gardiner (who

who only had a treble key (besides that wch ye Duke

had) and bid him give him that key till his owne

was mended wch hee did. And after His Highnese

had suped, hee imeadiately ˄called to goe to the play & went downe ˄the privy staires

into the garden & opened the gate that goes into

the parke, treble locking all the doores behind him.

And att the garden gate C.B waited for His High

nese & putting on a cloake & perewig huried him

away to the parke gate where a coach waited yt

caried them to the watter side and taking the

boate that was apointed for that service they rowed

to the staires next the bridge, where I and Miriam

waited in a private howse hard by that C.B had

prepared for dresing His Highnese where all things

were in a readinese. Butt I had many feares, for CB

had desired mee, if they came nott there prescisly by

ten a clocke, to shift for my selfe for then I might

conclude they were discovered and so my stay there

could ˄doe noe good, butt prejudice my selfe. Yett this

did nott make mee leave the howse though ten a clocke

did strike & hee that was intrusted often wentt to

the landing place & saw noe boate comming was much

discouraged & asked mee what I would doe. I told

him I came there with a resolution to serve His Highs

and I was fully determined nott to leave that place

till I was outt of hopes of doing what I came there for

and would take my hazard. Hee left mee to goe

againe to ye watter side, and, while I was fortify

ing my selfe against what might arive to mee

I heard a great noise of many as I thought comming

up staires wch I expected to bee soldiers to take mee

butt itt was a pleasing disapointmentt for ye first

that came in was the Duke who with much joy I tooke

in my armes & gave God thankes for his safe arivall.

His Highnese called quickely quickely drese mee

and putting off his cloaths I dresed him in the

wemens habitt that was prepared, wch fitted His

Highnese very well & was very pretty in itt. after

hee had eaten some thing I made ready while I

was idle, lest His Highnese should bee hungry

and having sentt for a Woodstreet Cake (wch

I knew hee loved) to take in the Barge, with as

much hast as could bee His Highnese wentt crose

the Bridge to ye staires where the Barge lay

C.B leading him, and imediately the boatmen

plied the oare so well that they were soone

outt of sight having both wind & tide with ym.

Butt I afterwards heard the wind changed &

was so contrary that CB told mee hee was ter

ribly afraid they should have beene blowne backe

againe. And the Duke said Doe any thing with

mee rather then lett mee goe backe againe wch

putt CB to seeke helpe where itt was only to bee

had & affter hee had most fervently suplicated

assistance from God presently the wind blew

faire and they came safely to there intended

Landing place. Butt I heard there was some defi

culty before they gott to ye ship att Graves-End

which had like to have discovered them had nott

Collonell Washingtons Lady assisted them.

After the Dukes barge was outt of sight of ye

Bridge, I and Miriam wentt where I apointed the

coach to stay for mee & made drive as fast as

the coachman could to my brothers howse where I staid.

I met none in the way that gave mee any aprehension

that the designe was discovered nor was itt noised abr

oad till the next day. For (as I related before) ye Duke

having used to play att hide & seeke & to conceale him

selfe a long time when they mist him att the same play

thought hee would have discovered himselfe as formerly

when they had given over seeking him. butt a much long

er time beeng past then usually was spentt in thatt

deverttisementt some began to aprehend that His Highnese

was gone in earnest past there finding wch made the

Earle of Northumberland (to whose care hee was commit

ed) after strict scearch made in the howse of St James

and all theraboutts to noe purpose) to send and aquaint

the Speaker of the howse of Commons that the Duke

was gone butt how or by what meanes hee knew nott

butt desired that there might bee orders sent to the

Cinque Ports for stoping all ships going outt till the

passengers were examined and scearch made in all

suspected places where His Highnese might bee concealed.

Though this was gone aboutt with all the vigillancy im

maginable yett itt pleased God to disapoint them of

there intention by so infatuating those severall persons

who were imployed for writting orders, that none of them

were able to writt one right butt ten or twelve of ym

were Cast by before one was according to there mind.

This accountt I had from Mr N who was mace bearer

to the Speaker att that time and a wittnese of it.

This disorder of the Clarkes contributed much to the

Dukes safety for hee was att sea before any of the

orders came to the Ports and so was free from what

was designed if they had taken His Highnese.

Though severalls were suspected for beeng accesory

to the escape yett they could not charge any with

itt butt the person who wentt away & hee beeng outt

of there reach, they tooke noe notice as either to exa

mine or imprison others.             After C.B had beene so

Succesfull in Serving the Duke The Prince imployed

him and commanded him backe againe to London with

severall instructions that might have beene serviceable

to the King had nott God Allmighty thought fitt to blast

all indeavers that might have conduced to his Matie

safety.        As soone as CB landed beyond the Tower

hee writt to desire I would doe him the faver as to come

to him as beeng the only person who att that time hee could

trust & when hee should aquaint mee with ye occation

of his comming, hee doupted nott butt I would forgive him

for the liberty hee had taken. I knowing hee could come

upon noe accountt butt in order to serve the King, I ime

diately sentt for an honest hackney coachman who I knew

might bee trusted and taking Miriam with mee I wentt

where hee was. who giving mee a short information of

what hee was imployed aboutt and how much secrecy

was to bee used both as to ye Kings interest and his

owne security it is nott to bee doupted butt I contributed

what I could to both and taking him backe in the

coach with mee left him att a private lodging nott

very farre from my brothers howse, that a servantt

of his had prepared for him. The earnest desire I had

to serve the King made mee omitt noe opertunity wherin

I could bee usefull and the zeale I had for his Matie

made mee not see what ˄inconveniencys I exposed my selfe to, for my

intentions beeing just & inocentt made mee nott reflect

what conclusions might bee made for the private visitts

which I could nott butt nesesarily make to CB him in order to

the Kings service. For whatever might relate to itt yt

came within my knowledge I gave him accountt of

and hee made such use of itt as might most advance

his designe. As long as there was any posibility of

conveying letters secretty to the King hee frequently

writt & receaved very kind letters from His Matie with

severall instructions and letters to persons of honour and

loyalty butt when all access was debarred by the strict guard

placed aboutt the King all hee could then doe was to keepe

warme those affections in such as hee had influence in till

a seasonable opertunity to evidence there love and duty

to His Matie. Though CB discovered himselfe to none butt

such as were of knowne integrity yett many comming to

that place where hee lay made him thinke itt convenient

for his owne safety to goe sometime into the country &

att his returne to bee more private. One evening when I

wentt to see him I found him lying upon his bed and

asking if hee were nott well hee told mee hee was well

enough butt had receaved a visitt in the morning from

a person that hee wondred much how hee found him

outt. hee was a Solicittor that was imployed by all the

gentlemen in the County where hee lived wch was hard

by where his wife dwelt and hee had brought him word

shee was dead & named the day & place where shee

was buried. I confese I saw him nott in much greefe &

therfore I used nott many words of consolation but left

him after I had given him accountt of the busynese I wentt

for. I neither made my visitts lese nor more ˄to him for this news

for loyalty beeng the principle that first led mee to a

freedome of converse with him, so still I continued itt as

often as there was occation to serve that interest. Hee

putt on Mourning and told the reason of itt to such as hee

conversed with, butt had desired the Gentleman who had

first aquainted him with itt nott to make itt puplicke

lest the fortune hee had by his wife & shee injoyed while

shee lived should bee sequestred.        To bee short after a

litle time hee, on a day when I was alone with him

began to tell mee that now hee was a free man hee

would say that to mee wch I should have never knowne

while heelived if itt had beene otherways which was

that hee had had a great respect & honour for mee

since the first time hee knew mee butt had resolved

itt should die with him if hee had nott beene in a

condittion to declare itt withoutt doing mee prejudice.

For hee hoped if hee could gaine an interest in my

affection itt would nott apeare so unreasonable to marry

him as others might representtitt, for if it pleased God

to restore the King of wch hee was nott yett outt of hopes

hee had a promise of beeng one of his Matie bedchamber

and though that should faile yett what hee & I had toge

ther would bee aboutt eight hundred pound ˄sterling a yeare wch with

Full title:
Autobiography of Anne, Lady Halkett, wife of Sir James Halkett, of Pitferran; to the year 1656
Anne Halkett
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 32376

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Juliet's eloquence

Article by:
Penny Gay
Tragedies, Gender, sexuality, courtship and marriage, Poetry, Language, word play and text

Over the course of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet goes from being a sheltered child to a young woman passionately in love. Penny Gay considers how this transformation, and its tragic consequences, are accompanied by Juliet's development as a poet.

Daughters in Shakespeare: dreams, duty and defiance

Article by:
Kim Ballard
Tragedies, Gender, sexuality, courtship and marriage

A number of Shakespeare's plays show daughters negotiating the demands of their fathers, often trying to reconcile duty with a desire for independence. Kim Ballard considers five of Shakespeare's most memorable literary daughters: Juliet, Desdemona, Portia, Katherina and Cordelia.

The turbulent 17th century: Civil War, regicide, the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution

Article by:
Matthew White
Politics and religion

The 17th century was a time of great political and social turmoil in England, marked by civil war and regicide. Matthew White introduces the key events of this period, from the coronation of Charles I to the Glorious Revolution more than 60 years later.

Related collection items

Related works

Romeo and Juliet

Created by: William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet begins with a Chorus setting the scene in the Italian city of Verona, where the Capulets and the ...