Puzzles in the Historical Record: The Highwayman Did It?

When sifting through historical records, it’s not uncommon to accept at face value the recorded events, particularly when the source is contemporary. But people remember events differently, either naturally or by design. We observe our world through a lens thickened by expectation and human experience. Even well-documented historical events have gaps. The escape of King Charles II is a good example of this. The details of his flight following the Battle of Worcester are contained in the collection of contemporary accounts known as the Boscobel Tracts. These were written during the Restoration, over a decade after the escape. But there is…

Finding the Fugitive King (Part 2): Moseley Old Hall

The trusty Penderells (see Part 1) brought Charles to the next safe house five miles away in Wolverhampton. Moseley Old Hall was the home of Sir Thomas Whitgreave, a papist and former Royalist officer who had last fought at Naseby in 1645. The hour was midnight in the wee hours of Monday, the 8th of September. Thomas greeted Charles at the manor’s orchard door. On hand was the King’s friend, Lord Henry Wilmot (see below), and the Whitgreave’s priest, Father Huddleston. Introducing the King to a Catholic priest was a bit risqué considering that practicing Catholicism was against the law. But…