24 February 2012

Charles II wanted poster up for auction

A Proclamation for the discovery and Apprehending of Charles Stuart and other
Traytors his Adherents and Abettors
(Wednesday September 10th 1651)

'The most important wanted poster of all time' is up for auction in Shropshire next month.

A Proclamation for the discovery and Apprehending of Charles Stuart and other Traytors his Adherents and Abettors was issued by Parliament on the 10th September 1651, a week after the future Charles II fled Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester.

That's not all. Bidders will have the chance to purchase other fascinating 17th century documents ...

After seeking protection in Boscobel and spending a day hiding up the famous oak, Charles eventually reached Shoreham on the south coast. On the 15th October, only hours before troops arrived to arrest him, he finally escaped by boat to France.

The Proclamation, issued by Parliament clerk Henry Scobel when Charles was on the run, is printed broadside on a single leaf of paper and measures approximately 14"x9". It begins by setting out the crimes of the 'malicious and dangerous Traytor':

Whereas Charles Stuart, Son of the late Tyrant, with Divers of the English and Scottish nation, have lately, in traitorous and hostile Manner, with an Army, invaded this Nation, which, by the Blessing of God upon the Forces of this Commonwealth, have been defeated, and many of the Chief Actors therein slain, and taken Prisoners; but the said Charles Stuart is escaped: For the speedy apprehending of such a malicious and dangerous Traytor, to the Peace of this Commonwealth, the Parliament doth straitly charge and command all Officers, as well Civil as Military, and all other the good people of this Nation, That they make diligent search and enquiry for the said Charles Stuart and his Abettors, and Adherents in this Invasion; and use their best Endeavours for the Discovery and Arresting the Bodies of them, and every of them; and being apprehended, to bring, and cause to be brought forthwith and without Delay, in safe Custody, before the Parliament, or Council of State, to be proceeded with and ordered, as Justice shall require ... Read the full text

The document goes on to warn anyone harbouring the fugitive that they will be treated as 'Partakers and Abettors of their trayterous and wicked Practices and Designs'.

And the reward for dobbing Charlie in? £1000 - precisely the sum the Proclamation hopes to fetch next month!

Moseley Old Hall, near Wolverhampton, where Charles was hiding the day the
Proclamation was published. © Copyright John Darch (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The auction will also feature other 17th century lots including:

  • A proclamation from 1660 from Charles when King, offering a pardon to his former enemies;
  • A legal document created by Cromwell from 1664 banning horse racing for six months (races being the perfect places, so Cromwell feared, to hatch plots);
  • A 1652 Act for making salt-petre;
  • A proclamation for the apprehension of regicide Edmund Ludlow, from 1660.

See all available 17th century lots on the Mullock's Auctions website 

Most of these other items are expected to fetch a few hundred pounds. Would be great to see them stay in the country, though I suspect few museums have funds, given the dearth of public money around.

The sale is part of the upcoming auction of history and ephemera at Mullock's auctions, Shropshire, on the 8th March.

More detailed account of the escape of Charles II after Worcester

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