m. ABT 1625
Facts and Events
Lucy Walter or Lucy Barlow (c. 1630 – 1658) was a mistress of King Charles II of England and mother of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth. She is believed to have been born in 1630 or a little later at Roch Castle near Haverfordwest, Wales into a family of middling gentry. Rumours that she had married the king during his exile (and thus that she was Queen of England) appeared by the mid-1650s, but the question was later seized upon during the Exclusion Crisis, when a Protestant faction wished to make her son the heir to the throne, while the king denied any marriage, and supported the claim of his brother, the Duke of York.
Lucy Walter, a Welsh noblewoman, was the daughter of Richard or William Walter, of Roch Castle and of Haverfordwest and wife Elizabeth Protheroe, daughter of John Protheroe, of Hawkesbrook and wife Elinor Vaughan, maternal granddaughter of Walter Vaughan, of Grove and wife Mary or Katherine ferch Gruffud FitzUryan, in turn daughter of Griffith ap Rice FitzUryan (d. 1592) and wife Eleanor Jones, daughter of Sir Thomas Jones, and paternal granddaughter of Rhys FitzUryan and wife Lady Katherine Howard (c. 1518 - 12 April 1554, interred 11 May 1554), daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and Agnes Tilney. The Walters were a Welsh family of good standing, who declared for the king during the Civil War. The family home Roch Castle was captured and burned by the parliamentary forces in 1644, and Lucy Walter found shelter first in London and then at the Hague.
Life as a Courtesan
The nearest thing to a contemporary biography of Lucy Walter is a short memoir drawn from the state papers of King James II, her son's successful rival for the throne. This states that Lucy Walter moved from Wales to London as a young girl, and nearly became the mistress of Algernon Sidney, a Roundhead officer and second son of the Earl of Leicester. When he was sent out of the capital on military duty, she moved to the Netherlands, and instead began an affair with his younger brother, Colonel Robert Sidney, who commanded a regiment of English soldiers in the Dutch army.
John Evelyn, a junior member of James II's government, also reported the story of a relationship with a member of the Sidney family, and Samuel Pepys and Lord Clarendon also record similar tales about her background. Evelyn had met Lucy Walter briefly in 1649, and remembered her as a "brown, beautiful, bold but insipid creature", a "beautiful strumpet".
What is certain is that Lucy was a distant cousin of the Sidneys, and that she left England around the age of eighteen, using the name "Mrs. Barlow" (or "Barlo"). Around the same time, The Hague became a base for exiled English Cavaliers after the king's defeat in the Civil War, and by the autumn of 1648, Lucy had become the lover of the exiled Prince of Wales.
In January 1649, the prince became Charles II, king-in-exile. Shortly after this, Lucy bore a son, James, who Charles acknowledged as his own, and whom he subsequently created Duke of Monmouth. James II and Evelyn, in contrast, reported that the boy's father was one of the Sidney brothers.
There is no conclusive evidence to support the story that Lucy Walter was secretly married to the king, but the intimacy between them lasted with intervals until at least the autumn of 1651, and perhaps for rather longer. Lucy's maid claimed to Oliver Cromwell's interrogators that the couple had spent "a night and a day together" as late as May 1656, long after the memoir claims their relationship was over.
The next month, Lucy Walter moved back to London. The reason is not clear; propaganda written in support of her son claims that she was received as Queen by the royalists, but she was quickly arrested by the Republican regime, who publicly announced the capture of "Lucy Barlow, who... passeth under the character of Charles Stuart's wife or mistress", and sent her back to Holland in a bid to embarrass the king.
After her return from London, there were claims of an affair with her cousin Colonel Thomas Howard, and at the end of 1657 and the start of 1658, concerted attempts were made by the King, encouraged by Sir Edward Hyde, to separate her son from her; a clumsy attempt at kidnapping was obstructed by the Earl of Castlehaven, the rulers of the Spanish Netherlands and the burghers of Brussels, but eventually, her son was transferred into the care of a Cambridge-educated tutor named Thomas Ross.
By this time, however, Charles's exiled court had moved to Brussels, where Lucy also was; in August, a Commonwealth spy reported that she had engaged in a "combat" against one of his chaplains, and emerged victorious. But by December, she was dead, apparently in Paris, where she was living in the care of the Earl of Mar's brother - his sister's granddaughter would later marry her son. It is generally assumed that she had been separated from her son, but he seems to have also been brought to that city; the memoir says she died of syphilis, but is certainly wrong about the date, which it places after 1660.
A daughter, Mary Crofts (The Hague, 1651 - 1693), was later repudiated by the king. James II's papers identified the father as "E. Carlingson" (according to the copy made by Thomas Carte around 1740) or "the Earl of Carlington" (in the copy by James Macpherson in the 1770s, the independence of which is unclear). Later historians have identified this man with the Earl of Carlingford, who was sometimes called "Earl of Carlington" and who acted as go-between for Lucy and the King, or else with the Earl of Arlington.
Mary Crofts married firstly William Sarsfield and had female issue, and married secondly William Fanshawe (b. The Hague, May 1651), and had issue.