The Life-Story of Charlotte de la Trémoille Countess of Derby by Mary C. Rowsell
The Lady of Lathom by Madame Guizot de Witt
An Account of the Siege of Lathom House by Tho. Stanley
A notable woman of the English Civil War period
This unique Leonaur edition contains three works concerning the French noblewoman who became Charlotte Stanley, Duchess of Derby. Two of these works offer perspectives on the life of the duchess. The third, probably written by the Royalist, Captain (later promoted to Colonel of Infantry by Prince Rupert) Edward Chisenhall. Written in the English of the 17th century, though understandable for modern readers, this journal describes the first siege of Lathom House from the perspective of the besieged.
Charlotte married James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby in 1626. When the English Civil War broke out in 1642 he supported the king’s cause becoming a military commander for Charles I. Derby was absent on campaign in 1644 when a Parliamentarian army, under Fairfax, took to the field against Royalist strongholds in Lancashire—including Stanley’s family seat at Lathom. His wife had been left in charge of the estate and when called upon to surrender she refused, announcing that to do so would ‘dishonour her husband’. The first siege lasted for about three months until Lathom was relieved. It was besieged again the following year when, despite holding out for four months, it eventually fell to Parliamentarian forces when the garrison commander, Colonel Rawstorne, surrendered to Colonel Egerton. James Stanley was beheaded at Bolton in 1651.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
Then in the course of the sermon which followed, the preacher compared the Countess of Derby to the great city of Babylon; and finally this messenger of the Gospel of Peace announced that he reserved the verse which followed—“Shout against her round about; she hath given her hand; her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down,”—for the text of the sermon which was to celebrate the victory over Lathom.
The next day all lingering doubts came to an end; for the order to halt was given within two miles of Lathom House, and on the 28th February Captain Markland arrived to demand an audience of the countess. He brought with him a letter from Sir Thomas Fairfax, and a Parliamentary decree promising pardon to the Earl of Derby if he would make his submission. Sir Thomas, promising to abide faithfully by his part of the contract, further required the countess to deliver Lathom House into his hands. The letter was couched in courteous terms.
The countess responded in the same spirit of outward calmness and moderation. She expressed herself greatly astonished at being called upon to render up her husband’s house, without her having given the Parliament any offence; but that, in a matter of such importance, and one which at the same time touched on her religion and this present life, concerning moreover her sovereign, her husband and lord, and all her posterity, she asked a week for reflection, to settle her doubt of conscience, and to take counsel on the questions of right and of honour which it involved.
The countess thus replied for the purpose of gaining a little longer time. Each day was showing more and more a splendid promise of the courage and fidelity of her garrison; but they needed more experience and instruction from their skilful leaders. Sir Thomas Fairfax refused the concession thus demanded, and sent her a summons to repair at once in her coach to New Park, a house belonging to the earl not far from Lathom, for the purpose of an interview with him there, in order to discuss the whole affair at length.
The pride of the highborn lady now rose beside the courage of the heroic woman, her answer to this message was:—
Say to Sir Thomas Fairfax, that notwithstanding my present condition, I remember my lord’s honour as I remember my birth, and that it appears to me more fitting that he should come to me than that I should go to him.
After two days spent in messages and replies, the general demanded a free and safe entry into Lathom House for two of his colonels, and the countess promised to let them come and depart again in safety.
In due course the two colonels arrived. The sight which met their gaze as they neared Lathom House must have caused them some astonishment. The old house bristled with arms. The Parliamentarian assumption that an easy victory was about to be obtained over a houseful of women, children, a few men-at-arms and old servants, was dispersed to the four winds by the sight of these towers and walls manned with soldiers, and the batteries and ordnance facing at all points. Whether the countess desired to inspire the ambassadors with respect and awe, or whether she feared a sudden attack, she was there to meet the Parliamentarian deputies in formidable battle array. They were conducted to the mistress of the mansion between lines of armed men drawn up on each side, from the gates of the outer court to her presence in the Great Hall, each company ranged under its lieutenant.