Essays and Orations, Read and Delivered at the Royal College of Physicians to which is Added an Account of the Opening of the Tomb of King Charles

Halford, Henry



Edward Earle of Clarendon, Lord High Chancellor of England and Chancellor of the University of Oxford
[Extract from
's 'History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England,' Vol. iii. Part I. p. 393, Oxford,
His body was immediately carried into a room at Whitehall; where he was exposed for many days to the public view, that all men might know that he was not alive. And he was then embalmed, and put into a coffin, and so carried to
St. James's
; where he likewise remained several days. They who were qualified to order his funeral declared,
that he should be buried at
in a decent manner, provided that the whole expense should not exceed five hundred pounds.
The Duke of Richmond, the Marquis of Hertford, the Earls of Southampton and Lindsey, who had been of his bed-chamber, and always very faithful to him, desired those who governed,
that they might have leave to perform the last duty to their dead master, and to wait upon him to his grave;
which, after some pauses, they were permitted to do;
with this, "that they should not attend the corpse out of town; since they resolved it should be privately carried to
without pomp or noise, and then they should have timely notice, that, if they pleased, they might be at his interment." And accordingly it was committed to four of those servants who had been by them appointed to wait upon him during his imprisonment, that they should convey the body to
; which they did. And it was, that night, placed in that chamber which had usually been his bed-chamber: the next morning, it was carried into the great hall, where it remained till the lords came; who arrived there in the afternoon, and immediately went to Colonel Whitchcot, the governor of the castle, and showed the order they had from the Parliament to be present at the burial, which he admitted: but when they desired that his Majesty might be buried according to the form of the Common Prayer Book, the Bishop of London being present with them to officiate, he positively and roughly refused to consent to it; and said, "it was not lawful, that the Common Prayer Book was put down, and he would not suffer it to be used in that garrison where he commanded;" nor could all the reasons, persuasions, and entreaties, prevail with him to suffer it. Then they went into the church, to make choice of a place for burial. But when they entered into it, which
they had been so well acquainted with, they found it so altered and transformed, all inscriptions, and those landmarks pulled down, by which all men knew every particular place in that church, and such a dismal mutation over the whole, that they knew not where they were: nor was there one old officer that had belonged to it, or knew where our princes had used to be interred. At last, there was a fellow of the town who undertook to tell them the place where, he said,
"there was a vault, in which
King Harry VIII.
Queen Jane Seymour
were interred."
As near that place as could conveniently be, they caused the grave to be made. There the King's body was laid, without any words, or other ceremonies than the tears and sighs of the few beholders. Upon the coffin was a plate of silver fixed, with these words only,
King Charles
. When the coffin was put in, the black velvet pall that had covered it was thrown over it, and then the earth thrown in; which the Governor stayed to see perfectly done, and then took the keys of the church.
I have been the longer and the more particular in this relation, that I may from thence take occasion to mention what fell out long after, and which administered a subject of much discourse; in which, according to the several humours and fancies of men, they who were in nearest credit
and trust about the King underwent many very severe censures and reproaches, not without reflection upon the King himself. Upon the return of
King Charles II.
. with so much congratulation, and universal joy of the people, above ten years after the murder of his father, it was generally expected that the body should be removed from that obscure burial, and with such ceremony as should be thought fit, should be solemnly deposited with his Royal ancestors in King Harry the Seventh's chapel, in the collegiate church at Westminster. And the King himself intended nothing more, and spoke often of it, as if it were only deferred till some circumstances and ceremonies in the doing it might be adjusted. But, by degrees, the discourse of it was diminished, as if it were totally laid aside upon some reason of state, the ground whereof several men guessed at according to their fancies, and thereupon cast those reproaches upon the statesmen as they thought reasonable, when the reasons which were suggested by their own imaginations did not satisfy their understanding. For the satisfaction and information of all men, I choose in this place to explain that matter; which, it may be, is not known to many; and at that time was not, for many reasons, thought fit to be published. The Duke of Richmond was dead before the King returned; the Marquis of Hertford
died in a short time after, and was seldom out of his lodging after his Majesty came to
: the Earl of Southampton and the Earl of Lindsey went to
, and took with them such of their own servants as had attended them in that service, and as many others as they remembered had been then present, and were still alive; who all amounted to a small number; there being, at the time of the interment, great strictness used in admitting any to be present whose names were not included in the order which the lords had brought. In a word, the confusion they had at that time observed to be in that church, and the small alterations which were begun to be made towards decency, so totally perplexed their memories, that they could not satisfy themselves in what place or part of the church the Royal body was interred: yet where any concurred upon this or that place, they caused the ground to be opened at a good distance, and, upon such enquiries, found no cause to believe that they were near the place: and, upon their giving this account to the King, the thought of that remove was laid aside; and the reason communicated to very few, for the better discountenancing further enquiry.'

K. Charles, 1st, Martyred