Of a Kings’ Birth

What follows is the true account of Margaret Gosfright, on the birth of James, future Duke of Monmouth. Then living in Rotterdam with her husband, the Dutch Merchant Peter Gosfright.

Rotterdam, 9 April 1649

Download the file:  The-Savage-Truth-Of-a-Kings-Birth.pdf

Dear William,

You asked me in your past correspondence to give an account, as best I could remember of the events surrounding the birth of young Jamie.

“The sun was not yet up when the first scream echoed around my house. The church clock had struck the quarter hour, which was followed by another scream, then another, it was time to fetch the midwife back to birth my niece. I called for Lucy’s maid, Mary, a nice young girl.

‘Mary, Mary, fetch the midwife, girl and quick about it’

It was quarter past two and the peace in my district in Rotterdam was being shattered. The whole house was now awake, and I sent my husband Peter and little Francis to the parlour. For although men, were good at making the children, they were next to useless nine month after.

With Mary and the men duly dispatched, I return to my niece’s chamber on the second floor. It had been my room, but it was the biggest and warmest in the house. So, it was only right that I offered Lucy this room when she arrived. For not only was she with child and so to be in labour, she was my only niece and married to a King of sorts.

In the room, the water was still boiling next to the open coal fire and the clean sheets made ready all night. It was only an hour since the midwife had left to get some rest, after Lucy’s waters had broken at seven yesterday evening, since it had been a long slow night.

I remembered the birth of my two boys and felt the pain once again. Now Lucy’s screams became quicker and I gripped Lucy’s hand once more. Offering comfort and support, I muttered,

‘Mary will be back with the midwife soon, my dearest Lucy, she’ll be here soon’

Yet, I knew that it would be another hour before the midwife would return, so as the clock struck the half-hour, I prepared the birthing steps in my mind. As the screams from Lucy became faster and stronger, I knew the time for action was coming. It was quarter to the hour when the screams become one shallow moan. With that I mopped Lucy’s brow one last time and let go of her hand.

‘Lucy, the time has come, open your legs and start pushing with all your strength’

I was on my own, but she could do this, ‘Lucy, push, PUSH for your King’,

For me, time had frozen, I had to take control, ‘Lucy, push, the head is close’, then with a rush of cold air the midwife entered the room, with Mary close behind.

‘Out the way lady, this is my time and my job’

With that I stepped back and returned to Lucy’s side.

‘Lucy, I told you, she’d be here’ and as the clock struck the quarter hour once more, Lucy made one final scream. To be followed moments later by the screams of new lungs.

‘It’s a boy, it’s a boy’, called the midwife triumphantly, ‘it’s a dark haired and handsome boy, now fetch me those sheets girl, look lively’

The midwife cut the cord and handed me the boy, ‘lady here’s your new nephew’

I took the baby into my arms and wrapped the linen sheets close around him. With that I placed him in Lucy’s arms and muttered, ‘this handsome boy will break hearts’.

It was quarter past three on the ninth April sixteen hundred and forty-nine. It was nearly nine months from when we travelled to Liege, so god had blessed them both.

With Lucy settled down to sleep, and the boy went with his wet nurse. So, I sat and wrote a note for Charles, which was dispatched with Peter to The Hague. Only then could normality and quite return to my household, for a short while at least.”

Mrs Margaret Gosfright

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