Lucy Walter – Charles II’s Welsh Beauty

One of Charles II’s earliest great passions, Lucy Walter, sometimes Lucy Barlow, a Royalist exile of Welsh ancestry who became his bedfellow (possibly his wife) and then the mother of his son, James, the future doomed Duke of Monmouth. Lucy, born around 1630, was considered to be a stunningly beautiful, but quite vapid, woman. The image that has comes down to us over the centuries is that of a silly woman who was passed from man to man, bearing children as she went along, losing everything and ultimately dying in poverty.

This rather fanciful depiction is said to be of Lucy, and was made in the 18th century:

Lucy Walters by Ignatius Joseph van den Berghe. Image: The National Portrait Gallery, London.

John Evelyn wrote about her twice in his Diary:

August, 1649:

On the 18 I went to St. Germains to kisse his Majesties hands; In this coach (which was my Lord Wilmotts), went Mrs. Barlow, the King’s Mistris & mother to the Duke of Monemoth, a brown, beautiful, bold, but insipid creature.

The biggest mystery surrounding Lucy’s life was whether of not she was Charles’s wife or his mistress. There was a pervasive rumour that stated that the marriage certificate was kept hidden away in a black box in some secret place known only to Charles II. The Black Box intrigue was brought up frequently by Exclusionists who wished to see the Duke of Monmouth (a Protestant) become heir instead of James, Duke of York (A Catholic who would ultimately become King James II) and others, but the King himself denied it on numerous occasions, notably in this statement:

For the voiding of any dispute which may happen in time to come concerning the succession of the Crown, I do hereby declare in the presence of Almighty God, that I never gave nor made any contract of marriage, nor was married to any woman whatsoever, but to my present wife, Queen Caterine now living. Whitehall the 3rd day of March, 1678/9.

Charles R.

July, 1685, Evelyn wrote his second reference to Lucy following the grisly execution of her son, James, Duke of Monmouth:

His mother (whose name was Barlow, daughter of some very mean creatures) was a beautifull strumpet, whom I had often seene at Paris, & died miserably, without anything to bury her: Yet this Perkin (Monmouth) ben made believe, the King had married her; which was a monstrous forgerie, & ridiculous: & to satisfie the world the iniquitie of the report, the King he father (if his Father he realy were, for he most resembled one Sidny familiar with his mother) publiquely & most solemnly renounced it, and caused it to be so entred in the Council booke some yeares since, with all the Privy Couselors attestation.

Evelyn obviously was of the contingent who believed Monmouth was the son of Sidney and not Charles II. Why? Well, Lucy had been sleeping around with the brothers Sidney, too (Robert and Algernon). The Duke of York was said to believe this as well, but recently a DNA test was carried out which some have taken as evidence to prove that Lucy gave birth to Charles’s son.

Lucy Barlow (Walters). Image: Duke of Buccleuch.

I think it’s ridiculous to believe otherwise because you can see the Stuart features in the Duke of Monmouth’s face! There are some portraits where he has a look of his father, and we all know he inherited the same energy and sexual prowess.

Duke of Monmouth.Charles II

As you can see, quite similar.

Things went wrong in the years following Monmouth’s birth, and there was an attempted kidnapping of the baby, and later, Charles had the boy taken away from his mother. Apparently, Lucy was deemed an unfit mother – Monmouth had a very poor education, and he was taken to live with the Crofts, where he took his surname from. Lucy became another man’s mistress, and then was abandoned.

Poor Lucy, she has been much-maligned – during her time and up to now. She may not have been particularly bright, but I do not think she was as sexually promiscuous as we’ve been told to believe. That sort of thing was a common device to sully a woman’s reputation and I don’t buy it. She died in poverty in 1658, from what was said to be “disease incident to her profession.” I guess that’s the old “she’s a whore” line again.

Thank goodness she wasn’t alive to see her son’s brutal death.

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Hear ye! 3 thoughts — so far — on “Lucy Walter – Charles II’s Welsh Beauty”:

  1. Dale C. Rice

    The Kin’s love child had every right to Petition the Courts and Parliment to redress his standing…..He spoke the Truth of his birth, we now know this because of his Stuart Tudor Blood group, R1b1a2a and the last 4 sites on his Y Chromosomes match the Father Charles II with 14 , 15, 16, 17 segments in each of the last 4 of the first 25 sites measured…They now measure 101 sites and more…but it’s now Proved The Duke of Monmouth was indeed the Kings SON! Young though he was, he managed to Marry Well and took the Lady Scott’s name and thus dropped his name of Crofts for a title and fortune of his Bride…..becomming Sir James Walters Scott, first Lord of Buccleaux, pronounced Buck Loo.

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  2. Dale C. Rice

    Follow up thought: Ms. Luch Walter’s was descended from the ONCE GREAT Family of Sir ap THOMAS of Bosworth Field who’s knight, Wm. Gardiner used his pole axe to end the life and reign of RICHARD III. Griffeth ap Gruffed ap Rhys ap Thomas 1508 was married to Katherine Howard aunt to two queens, both beheaded by Henry VIII in his quest to find a male heir to his kingdom….Alas, Griffeth was beheaded Tower Hill Jan 4, 1531 and his lands which are worth Billions today were attained by the KIng along with some 22,000 lbs. worth of silver X $2,000 today’s money……This Young lady was indeed a victim of SLANDER by the POLITICAL Hacks of her day….The painted her as a SLUT, and deprived her of every recourse to make a claim on behalf of TWO children she bore to the KING. This is what happens to even the finest of women who dare to cross the line into the GAMES that RICH men play with dire consequences…..She died iimpoverished in FRANCE and her son was likewise shut out from his position. The point here is that LUCY BARLOW as she was known in the early days, was of substantial political background, and once her family had more resources than Henry VIII. Her, great great grandfather would be the son of Griffeth 1508….Griffeth ap RICE 1525 fyi.

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  3. Brat MacAll

    Indeed Lucy was greatly maligned by seventeenth century politicians in their determination to put James II on the throne. Evelyn’s first quote above has since been proven, due to his own inaness, to have been written on a much later date and deliberately predated to mislead. There was no such person as Duke of Monmouth on the date of 1649 so it had to have been written at least thirteen years later when there was. Lucy has been totally cleared of these charges of a slut although she was a fierce opponent to her enemies. The best rebuttal of the charges against her was published by Lord George Scott in 1947 (Lucy Walter: Wife or Mistress) though it was not the first or only book to correct the facts. Both Gilbert and Lamford also got it right (see the Index of “Memoirs of the Court of England in 1675” and “Defence (sic) of Lucy Walter” respectively). Additionally I have studied her in great detail and support their findings, publishing my findings in “Brown, Beautiful and Bold” in paperback and e-book for Kindle last year.
    Charles II’s denials were easily explained by the revelation in the nineteenth century of his Secret Treaty of Dover showing he was on retainer from Louis XIV in exchange for publicly announcing that he was Catholic and promising to bring that church back to power in England. He only did so by asking for a Catholic priest for last rites on his deathbed and making certain he passed the throne to a Catholic.
    The lower picture above is not Lucy but a bride by the name of Dorothy and the portrait is one of a pair of her and the other (not shown) is of Dorothy’s husband.

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