Prince Charles and siblings.
William Cavendish - Marquis of Newcastle. 1637 to 1639.
In 1637 there was still no news from the Palace but in March 1638 he received a letter from the Secretary of State Sir Francis Windebank to confirm the appointment he had so long sought. He was at last appointed as governor of the young Prince and was to report to the palace on the 8th April. Windebank emphasised that the choice was entirely that of the King and Queen and he was under no obligation to anyone else. William’s reply was suitably modest and rather ironic.
“ This princely employment was beyond a hope of the most partial thoughts I had about me. I have seldom had the honour of receiving letters from you but such as these you cannot write often.”
Thomas Wentworth wrote to William offering his congratulations but warned him against allying himself with any faction at the court. Wise words in difficult times.
Charles - Prince of Wales
Prince Charles was now almost 8 years old. The Royal children lived at St James Palace in the care of Lady Dorset. The Prince was officially appointed Prince of Wales on the 4th June and from that time was under the direct care of William at the palaces of Richmond and Oatland. The Palace of Richmond was adjacent to Richmond Green and the newly enclosed deer park offered excellent space for riding. William was able to teach the young prince much about equestrian pursuits and was the principle reason the young man became such a fine horseman. The Prince’s academic education was under the guidance of Dr Brian Duppa, Bishop of Chichester who was considered a reliable choice.
William and his young charge soon established a sound relationship with William favouring a more pragmatic approach to the instruction of the Prince based on sound practical experience rather the book learning. William is reported to have told him
“ I would not have you too studious ... the greatest clerks are not the wisest men.”
The matter of religious instruction was delicate with the Prince’s mother a devout Catholic and his father a High Anglican. The Scottish opposition to the Prayer Book showed that imposing religious change could lead to extreme unrest and unpopularity with certain sections of the population. William could only hope that his charge would be flexible in these matters. He sensibly advised to the Prince.
“ Beware too much devotion for a King. One may be a good man but a bad King. History records many, who in seeking to gain the kingdom of heaven, have lost their own.”
Wise words indeed.
In the matter of deportment William noted the unpopularity of James I and Charles I, the former due to crudeness and the later to coldness. Neither qualities made for a good monarch in the eyes of their subjects. He impressed on young Charles the need to adopt an agreeable and sociable demeanour in court and whilst undertaking his public duties.
In 1639 the situation in Scotland was becoming serious with extreme unrest due to the imposition by the King of the revised Prayer Book. The Scots would not accept the enforcement of unwanted religious ritual and were ready to go to war to prevent it. They prepared for hostilities.
The King conceived a plan to invade Scotland which was, to say the least, hopelessly impracticable. However he was able to assemble an army in spite of a distinct lack of enthusiasm amongst many of the nobility. William was a major contributor giving £10,000 to help finance the venture and raising a mounted troop of 120 fully equipped cavalry men. They were officially named the Prince of Wales’s troop and William commanded them himself. The King reached York in March and here his army assembled and trained. Many, including William, were complete novices at the art of warfare.
The Scots made the first moves in the Bishop’s War, as it became known, taking Edinburgh Castle, Dalkeith and Dumbarton. The King and his army headed north to Berwick in an unseasonable heat wave.
The commander of the Royalist force was Robert Rich, Earl of Holland, which was one of a number of ill advised appointments by the King and made largely at the suggestion of the Queen. William and Holland detested each other intensely. Holland was jealous of William because of his high position, great influence at court and also his fine cavalry troop. Both men were Earls and both inexperienced officers. As the Royalists advanced from Berwick William’s troop was ordered to take up the rear of the cavalry column. William took great exception to this insult arguing that his troop bore the title of the Prince of Wales and displayed the Royal Arms on their colours. They should therefore be given a place of honour at the front. Holland refused to compromise and a disgusted William reluctantly took his place at the rear of the advance but ordered that the troop colours to be furled.
Robert Rich - Earl of Holland
It was of no consequence. As the army advanced the cavalry moved way ahead of the infantry who were struggling to keep up in the hot weather. When Holland’s cavalry made contact with the advancing Scots the infantry were some miles behind and they were in no position to accept battle. Holland had no alternative but to withdraw his force back to Berwick looking somewhat foolish. The whole episode had been farcical. The bad blood between the two men continued on their return and William challenged Holland to a duel. Holland, although certainly no coward, delayed acceptance until the news leaked to the King who put a stop to the nonsense once and for all.
The King was advised by Thomas Wentworth to abandon the his Scottish venture as it was clearly totally impractical. He accepted this counsel and made peace. William was back at court within a few weeks.
Around this time William wrote 2 plays, The Country Captain and The Variety, the former assisted by James Shirley. Both plays were performed at His Majesties Theatre, Blackfriars in 1641. His interest in literature continued as did his patronage of the arts and Jasper Mayne was commissioned to translate Lucian’s Dialogues for William’s private entertainment.
In November 1639 William was appointed a Privy Councillor. What he heard in the private meetings of the Council caused him deep concern. The King had governed without a Parliament for 10 years and was now in serious financial difficulties.