The Most Impertinent Slut In The World

I once went poking round the Internet trying to find out if I’m royal. Of course, I don’t believe that there’s anything particularly special to ‘royal blood’, but that’s the whole point. If I can be a king, anybody can.

Charles II had no legitimate children, (he was succeeded as King by his brother James II) but acknowledged paternity of 12 sons and daughters by his mistresses. A number of them took the surname of ‘FitzRoy’, from the Norman French for ‘child of the King’, and boys were given peerages, while girls were married off to minor gentry.

Mary 'Moll' DavisPerhaps the most famous of Charles’s girlfriends was the actress and former orange-seller, Nell Gwynne; but Nell’s predecessor, Moll Davis, also worked in the entertainments business. She acted, sang, danced and did stand-up comedy. (Even played the guitar, according to contemporary paintings.) Her reputation for vulgar humour resulted in the diarist Samuel Pepys recording that his wife had called her ‘the most impertinent slut in the world’.

Moll was herself illegitimate. Her father was Thomas Howard, 3rd Earl of Berkshire. Moll and Charles’s daughter Mary did not take the surname ‘FitzRoy’, but instead got ‘Tudor’ from the royal geneaology box. I knew that Lady Mary Tudor’s second husband was one Henry Graham of Levens, so that was the family link I was trying to trace. (Actually, Moll’s blood relation, the succeeding 4th Earl of Berkshire, and 11th Earl of Suffolk, also married into my family, and his own, by marrying his cousin Catherine Graham. But who’s interested in mere Earls?)

Nell Gwynne made her move on Charles in 1669, shortly after Mary Tudor’s birth. Moll was dumped, but at least given an annual pension of a staggering £1,000. Nell possibly was a classier companion than Moll, given her more serious acting career, although both women posed for ‘Page 3’ etchings.

But it looks as though Lady Mary and Henry Graham had no offspring, so they can’t be twigs on my family tree. In fact, Henry only lived for a couple of years after the marriage. (Which had begun one month after her first husband’s death! There was also a third.)

Actually, now that I think about it, while being related to the current Prince William might have been slightly interesting, I’d be more proud of being descended from the most impertinent slut in the world.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s