RARE AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED WITH INITIALS
(1630-1685, King of Great Britain, restored 1660)
Autograph note in the King's hand signed with initials "C.R."
to "My Ld of Bath", Peter MEWS, (1619-1706, Bishop of Bath & Wells, 1672-1684, of Winchester from 1684), "pray goe imediatly and acquainte my Ld Tres: with what I have commanded you", and on the other side an autograph note by the Bishop "I recd this the 24th March 1678/9 and the comand was that I should gett out of the way & not appear ... This note is writt wth ye knigs [sic] own hand", on the back is Mews' autograph endorsement "The kings note, 24 March 1678/9", 2 sides 4to., no place, 24th March 1678 modern reckoning,
'My Lord Treasurer' is the Earl of Danby, (Sir Thomas Osborne, 1632-1712, Lord Treasurer, 1673-1679, later Marquess of Carmarthen and Duke of Leeds), at the most critical point of his career. Danby had built up a following based on his own skill in finance, the Church of England maintained by the King and the Bishops, a vigorous policy against dissenters and a fear, shared by the majority of the nation, of French influence. Unfortunately, in 1678, Danby tried to wreck Charles' secret arrangements with Louis XIV by making the sums asked by Charles exorbitant. Although Charles approved the letters, they were found and used against Danby by his rivals.
The Commons resolved to impeach Danby and by March 1679 he was in an intolerable position. On the 13th March the King asked him to resign, offering a 'golden handshake' of £5000 a year pension and a marquessate. To prevent possibly unwelcome disclosures at a trial, Charles urged Danby into hiding.The present note strongly suggests that Bishop Mews was acting as go-between. Perhaps he asked Charles to keep Danby in office. As it was, next day, the 25th, the Bishop having, it seems, 'got out of the way', Danby sent his white staff of office from his refuge, and the single Treasurer was replaced by a commission on the 26th.
Owing to moves and countermoves, Parliament never got as far as the impeachment, but from April 1679 to February 1684 Danby was in the Tower, till the judges allowed him bail, and in 1688 the Lords declared the impeachment had lapsed. Danby then played an important role in bringing over William of Orange.
During the Civil War, Peter Mews was an Army Captain, wounded and taken prisoner at Naseby, afterwards a royalist agent on the continent. From 1667-1673 he was President of his old college, St John's, Oxford, after marrying his predecessor's daughter. In 1685, when Bishop of Winchester, on hearing of Monmouth's rebellion against James II, his campaigning instincts revived and he hastened west. At Sedgemoor, finding the Royal Artillery were at a distance, he harnessed his carriage horses to two cannon and brought them into range, contributing significantly to the victory, but not without getting wounded in the fighting. He afterwards pleaded mercy for the rebels and became known as 'Old Patch' from the covering on his cheek of a war-wound.