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Lot 65: 17 century.- Felton (John) Statement of his reasons for stabbing the Duke of Buckingham to death, copy manuscript, 150 x 204mm., 1628.

Important Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper: Day One

by Forum Auctions

November 15, 2016

London, United Kingdom

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Description: Felton (John, soldier and assassin, murdered George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham in Portsmouth in 1628, c.1595-1628).- Statement of John Felton's reasons for murdering the Duke of Buckingham, contemporary copy manuscript note, in secretary hand, 2 inscriptions at tail in two different hands: "a Note found about Felton when he killed ye. Ducke of Buckingham 23. August 1628", folds, browned, very small tear at head, accompanied by a modern brown envelope with ink inscription: "From collection of Thomas Astle (1735-1803). His collection now in BM under title Stowe MSS", 150 x 204mm.", 1628. ⁂ Note reads: "That man is cowardly base and deserving not the name of a gentleman or Souldier that is not willinge to sacrifice his life for the honor of his God his kinge and his Countrie/Lett no man commend me for doeing of it, but rather discommend them selves, as the cause of it/ for if God had not taken away o[u]r harte for o[u]r sinnes he would not have gone so longe unpunished." Felton was a disgruntled soldier who felt that the Duke of Buckingham was responsible for his lack of progress as an army officer. In May or June 1627 he applied to go as a Captain on the expedition to capture the French fortress of Saint-Martin-de-Ré on the Île de Ré. Felton's initial request to join the expedition was turned down, but two months later he was appointed a Lieutenant with the second wave of troops that left as reinforcements. The expedition was a disaster and Felton was wounded and returned to England where he stayed in London near his mother, brother and sister. During this time, Felton submitted petitions to members of the Privy council over two matters, £80 of back-pay he believed he was owed, and his promotion to Captain, which he believed he had been unfairly denied, but he had no redress. On the morning of Saturday 23 August, Buckingham left his rooms at the Greyhound Inn in Portsmouth with the good but erroneous news that the siege of La Rochelle had been lifted and made his way to the king who was staying nearby. Felton was able to make his way through the crowd that surrounded Buckingham and stabbed him in the chest with a dagger. He missed a chance of escape in the ensuing chaos and, shortly after the murder, he presented himself before the crowd and announced his guilt. He was hanged at Tyburn three months later. The death of Buckingham was universally popular and copies of the written statements he carried in his hat during the assassination were widely circulated.

Notes: Category: Literature, Manuscripts and History

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