Margaret Cavendish nee Lucas.
William Cavendish - Marquis of Newcastle. Paris and Marriage.
William moved on to France on the 16th Feb. sailing to Rotterdam and then continued the journey by coach. He reached Paris on the 20th April having spent time at Brussels, Cambrai and Peronne where he was royally entertained by the local dignitaries. On arrival he hurried to pay his respects to Queen Henrietta Maria who was in residence in apartments at the Louvre.
The Queen had aged noticeably during the 2 years since their last meeting. She had suffered a gruelling pregnancy giving birth to another daughter and the strain of her escape from England had taken its toll. The voyage from Falmouth to Brittany was a particularly frightening experience being chased by a Parliamentary warship guns blazing with the plucky Queen ordering her captain to blow up the ship rather than lower his flag. The frightful weather was also a considerable discomfort with much seasickness on board. When they finally landed on the rocky coast of Brittany the party staggered up the cliffs and was forced to take shelter in a thatched hovel with some ignorant peasants who thought they were pirates. Subsequent financial difficulties had also resulted in considerable strain on Her Majesty and the effects were clear for all to see.
During his visit William met Margaret Lucas for the first time. Margaret was a maid of honour for the Queen and had been with her at Exeter and during the escape to France. Margaret was the youngest of the large Lucas family from Essex. William had known her brother, Sir Charles, quite well. Sir Charles had been captured at Marston Moor and William had seen him more recently than Margaret.
Margaret was a very attractive reserved girl of about 21. She was rather uncomfortable in grand company in spite of her position at court. However she was eager for news of her brother which William was able to provide and this helped to overcome her reticence. The two developed a good friendship and a strong mutual attraction soon resulted notwithstanding the fact he was old enough to be her father.
William had been widowed for 2 years. He was clearly taken with Margaret and she with him. The prospect of a second marriage was an appealing one and the relationship certainly was beneficial to William who had been weighed down with financial and personal problems since he was forced to leave England. His spirits improved considerably.
The Queen moved to an old chateau at St Germain-en-Laye 10 miles from Paris and William was forced to remain in lodgings in Paris. He was able to ride out on occasions to meet Margaret and a regular and intimate correspondence developed between them. William wrote a number of poems expressing his undying love.
Whilst he was a cultured man with many talents poetry was not one of them. Margaret, however, was suitably flattered and liked them even so. She replied to his many letters and odes with respect referring to him as “my lord“. Margaret urged him to be careful as the court was a hotbed of gossip and many did not approve of their relationship. This caution was shared by William’s friend Lord Widderington who considered that the liaison was ill conceived and not worthy of him. Margaret was 30 years his junior and thought by many somewhat strange and stupid. She was also almost destitute. However so was William so they at least had one thing in common.
He wrote one of his better poems on the subject.
Sweet heart, we are beggars; our comfort’s, ‘t is seen,
That we are undone for King and the Queen;
Which doth make us rejoice, with royal brags,
That now we do foot it with royal rags.
We cannot borrow, nor take up trust,
So water we’ll drink, and bite hard crust:
Let care go kill cats, what comfort’s in sorrow?
Therefore let tomorrow care for tomorrow.
By November 1645 their marriage was secretly agreed although Margaret was troubled at the prospect due to the hostility William faced from many of his closer associates. She agreed to release him from their engagement but he would have none of it. At around the end of November or beginning of December and they were married by Dr Cosin, the Queen’s chaplain and a clergyman well known to William. His prodigious output of amorous verse continued unabated for some time after they were married.
“There is no happy life, But in a wife .....” etc. etc.
After the wedding Margaret moved to William’s lodgings with her maid. It is not thought that William’s sons were greatly impressed by their step mother. William’s brother, Sir Charles, was however most welcoming and the two became close friends. This is surprising as he was a highly educated man and a skilled mathematician and she had limited schooling, even by the standards of the time. Inspired by her husband Margaret took to writing verse. William was now writing plays which were performed by an exiled English stage company in Paris.
King Charles I surrendered to the Scots in May 1646 effectively bringing an end to the First Civil War
At this time William was living almost solely on credit and his finances were in a perilous state. Even Margaret’s maid, Elizabeth Chaplain, was forced to hock her jewellery. In desperation William was forced to meet with his creditors and had to use all his charm and persuasive powers to convince them to extend his credit and also give him a loan. Elizabeth was dispatched to England to see Margaret’s brother John and request he forward the small marriage dowry. Also the boy’s tutor, Benoist, went to England to try and get some Cavendish money out of the country to France. Neither were successful. Even though the First Civil War was over and all Royalist armed resistance had now come to an end nobody in England dare to help them.
Queen Henrietta Maria’s court in Paris attracted increasing numbers of exiled Royalists many of whom were well known to William. The Prince of Wales arrived in July and Prince Rupert some weeks later. The fugitives all had financial troubles of their own. William considered marrying his two sons off to wealthy brides to obtain some small settlement for himself to relieve his own financial difficulties. The two boys were sent back home but were less than enthusiastic about this idea and, on arrival back in England, declared they did not yet wish to marry. However Queen Henrietta Maria repaid £2000 of the £3000 he had loaned her when in Yorkshire and this proved a most welcome boost and he was able to take a house, furnish it in some style and this enabled him to gain more credit. He could now resume entertaining in these more suitable and convivial surroundings.
Amongst William’s guests was his old friend Thomas Hobbes who had been in Paris tutoring the Prince of Wales. Also in this circle were friends and associates of Sir Charles Cavendish, like Descartes, Gassendi and Mersenne, all great scholars and thinkers. William accepted as part of this impressive clique. Margaret knew little French and so could not participate in the discussions. In any case she had, at that time, little interest in scientific and mathematical theory and debate preferring to rely her imagination and intuition for her creative output.
William’s improved finances enabled him to renew his love of fine horses and he purchases a Barbary horse for £180 and another from “ Madcap” Crofts, a Royalist exile, for £100. Paris was a great equestrian centre and William was able once more to enjoy his passion to the full and mix with many other expert horseman of the time.
In 1648 the mood at the Queen’s court in St Germain became much more positive with news of renewed Royalist support , a navy mutiny and risings in England. In June Rupert and the young Prince of Wales headed for the Hague with a view to taking command of a number of errant Royal Navy ships and crossing to England to rescue the King. The Queen dismayed of this scheme and was greatly concerned over the safety of her son. She asked William to accompany them but he reluctantly declined pointing out that he was unable to leave Paris because of the arrangements with his creditors. The Queen agreed to underwrite his debts and several others supporters raised small sums of money on his behalf. William left Paris with Margaret by carriage along with Sir Charles, Widderington and several servants and supporters.
On arrival at Rotterdam they were disappointed to find Prince Rupert and the Prince of Wales had already sailed for England. William hired to boat to pursue the Royalist fleet but Margaret rightly considered this a futile venture and William was ultimately forced to agree. The Royalist fleet returned having accomplished nothing. The risings in England had been ruthlessly put down and the invading Scottish army crushed. Margaret’s brother, Sir Charles Lucas, was executed for his part in the siege of Colchester which was a grievous blow compounded weeks later with the news of the death of her eldest sister and mother.