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CHARLES II - Charles II Signs a Military Appointment on Guy Fawkes Day
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CHARLES II - Charles II Signs a Military Appointment on Guy Fawkes Day

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CHARLES II. (1630-1685). British king, restored to the throne in 1660 upon the death of Oliver Cromwell and the dissolution of the Protectorate. DS. (“Charles R”). 1p. Oblong Large 4to. Whitehall, November 5, 1664 (Guy Fawkes Day!). Appointing the former governor of Jamaica, SIR CHARLES LYTTELTON (1628-1716), captain of a company of foot “consisting of two hundred men besides officers in the Admiralls Regiment.”


The English Civil War, which pitted Parliamentarians against Royalists, reached its climax with the 1649 execution of King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell’s establishment of the Commonwealth of England and, later, the Protectorate. Charles II, who had accompanied his father into battle as a teenager, spent the Interregnum of 1648-1660 as an exile in the Dutch Republic, France and Spanish Netherlands. During the spring of 1660, a predominantly Royalist Parliament, dubbed the Convention Parliament, restored Charles to power as king of England, Scotland and Wales. His reign, which lasted until 1685 and is often referred to in its entirety as “the Restoration,” endured the challenges of the Great Plague that lasted from 1665-1666, followed by the Great Fire of London in September 1666, which largely destroyed the old city. At the same time, Britain and the Dutch Republic, which had earlier given Charles refuge, were at war in a struggle over maritime trade routes.


On October 28, 1664, King Charles II formed the country’s first official unit of naval infantry, the Admiral’s Regiment, which mobilized 1,200 men in anticipation of the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667). Its six 200-men companies were commanded by Sir William Killigrew (1606-1695; mentioned in our document) and Lyttelton, both of whom had been the king’s loyal supporters during his nine-year exile. Lyttelton, who had been knighted by the king in 1662, served as captain of the maritime regiment for one year, rose to the rank of brigadier general and, again, served as governor of Jamaica and a number of other port cities. He continued to serve in Parliament and inherited the Lyttelton baronetcy in 1693. Killigrew was a Member of Parliament, vice-chamberlain to the queen and a notable playwright.


Our document is countersigned by Secretary of State Henry Bennet (1618-1685), who had followed the royal family into exile in 1650. Bennet was primarily responsible for the December 1664 failed attack on the Dutch Smyrna fleet; Dutch retaliation for the attack was used by Charles as cause for war, declared on March 5, 1665. Bennet, the Crown’s favorite, was charged with procuring and managing the king’s royal mistresses as keeper of the privy purse from 1661-1662. At around the age of four, Bennet’s daughter Isabella was married to Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, Charles’ nine-year-old son born out of wedlock to one of his mistresses.


Signed on the 59th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, the November 5, 1605 attempt by Catholic rebels to blow up the House of Lords. Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated to this day with fireworks and bonfires, symbolized, during the Restoration period, the preservation of the monarchy. Written on folded parchment, the upper margin of which Charles II has signed his name. With a blind embossed paper seal attached to the upper left corner. Framed with an engraving of the monarch, but not examined out of the frame.



Item #20173  


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