November 12, 2016


King-Killers in America (and the American Who Avenged the King) : When Charles II regained the throne, he launched a global manhunt for the judges who had sentenced his father to death. (Michael Walsh & Don Jordan | The King's Revenge: Charles II and the Greatest Manhunt in British History)

The excerpt below is adapted from The King's Revenge, by Michael Walsh and Don Jordan. [...]

The spring of 1661 was significant not only for the crowning of the king. Hitherto Charles had paid little attention to the capture of regicides abroad, but that was about to change. As carpenters sweated over the erection of those magnificent coronation arches with their dual themes of royal triumph and revenge, Charles unleashed his bloodhounds in America and Europe. Two royalists set out from Boston to lead a hunt across New England for Whalley and Goffe, and the most ruthless operator in the king's service was drafted in to spearhead a search across Europe for Ludlow and the other nineteen regicides who had escaped in 1660.

The American manhunt was launched on May 6 by John Endecott, governor of Massachusetts. Endecott had received an arrest order from the king which, dispensing with flowery courtesies, had been brutally curt:

Trusty and well-beloved,

We greet you well. We being given to understand that Colonel Whalley and Colonel Goffe, who stand here convicted for the execrable murder of our Royal Father, of glorious memory, are lately arrived at New England, where they hope to shroud themselves securely from the justice of our laws; our will and pleasure is, and we do hereby expressly require and command you forthwith upon the receipt of these our letters, to cause both the said persons to be apprehended, and with the first opportunity sent over hither under a strict care, to receive according to their demerits. We are confident of your readiness and diligence to perform your duty; and so bid you farewell.

The abrupt tone reflected Charles's fury at the welcoming reception accorded the regicides in America. Their unchallenged presence was not only an insult but a danger that threatened to undermine still further Britain's fragile hold on the colony. The two men were openly enjoying their freedom, sometimes challenged by the odd royalist, but admired and welcomed by the majority Puritans. In London the Council of Foreign Plantations was told that the two were holding public meetings, praying and preaching that the two were holding public meetings, praying and preaching and justifying the killing of the king. Whalley was quoted as saying that "if what he had done against the King were to be done again, he would do it again."

All changed after May 1661. Having received the menacing royal command, John Endecott had to be seen to respond decisively. He commissioned two ardent royalists to conduct a manhunt right across the territory. The two men--a young Boston merchant called Thomas Kirk and Thomas Kelland, an English sea captain--were furnished with the governor's authority to impress all the men and horse they needed and with letters requesting help to the governors of other English colonies. There was also one for Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of the neighboring Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, a bolt-hole for people fleeing the English colonies. The search party set off on May 25, launching a hue and cry that would fade then sound again for years.

The hunters had the outward support of the most senior colonial officials like Endecott. But it was reluctant backing, and they could scarcely have known when they set out the depth of the opposition they would encounter.

Princess Diana's brother wrote a fine book about the killers of the king too.

Posted by at November 12, 2016 12:52 AM