JAMES II, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts



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'this horrid conspiracy'

JAMES II (1633-1701). King of England 1685-1688.
Autograph Letter ('signed' with a paraph sometimes interpreted as 'J') to his niece Charlotte Fitzroy, Countess of Lichfield, 2 pages 4to, London, 19 July 1683. A family letter to a favourite niece, the illegitimate daughter of Charles II and Lady Castlemaine, giving news of the recently discovered plot, and the arrival of the Prince of Denmark (slight staining).
'... I could hardly have begun to write you newse with out having made my letter long and that I had not leasur to do, but now God be thanked there is so great a discovery of this horrid conspiracy, and some of them as you know are condemned, and will be executed to morrow and next day, that we have not so much businesse to do, the Prince of Denmarke is come into the river, and will I beleve be here this evening ...'
The 'Rye House Plot' was named for Rye House, a manor house in Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, owned by a well known Republican, Richard Rumbold. The plan was to conceal a force of 100 men in the grounds of the house and ambush the King and the Duke on their way back to London from the horse races at Newmarket. They were expected to make the journey on April 1 1683, but there was a great fire in Newmarket on March 22 1683 which destroyed half the town. The races were cancelled, and the King and the Duke returned to London early. As a result, the planned attack never took place. News of the plot leaked out, and Charles and his supporters were quick to act. Many well known Protestant members of Parliament and noblemen were arrested. Those executed included Algernon Sydney and Lord William Russell. Lord Shaftesbury, leader of the opposition to Charles's rule, fled into exile. Historians have suggested that the story of the plot may have been largely manufactured by Charles or his supporters to allow the removal of most of his strongest political opponents.
Prince George of Denmark had arrived in London for his marriage to James's daughter, the Princess Anne (1665-1714, later Queen of England). The ceremony was to take place on 28 July in the chapel royal at St James's.
[No: 21389]


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