Meet My Main Character

This post is part of a blog tour started by Debra Brown, and passed to me by Deborah Swift

Elizabeth Murray Countess Dysart 1626-1698

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or an historic person?

Elizabeth Murray was born in 1628, the daughter of William Murray, 1st Earl Dysart and Catherine Bruce.  Her father was brought up with Charles I, reputedly his ‘whipping boy’, the child who accepted punishment for the prince’s transgressions.

Being from a family of staunch Royalists, Elizabeth, her mother and three sisters paid for their loyalty with confiscation of their income, fines, restrictions and having Parliamentarian soldiers billeted on them while their father remained in the exiled court at Oxford with King Charles I.

When and where is the story set?

Between 1642 and 1653, the years of the English Civil Wars, mostly at Ham House, the Murray’s family home on the Thames at Richmond, but also at the exiled Royal Court at Oxford and the home of Elizabeth’s first husband, Helmingham.

What should we know about your character?

That Elizabeth was educated as well as any boy in Stuart England, as her father’s heir she was made conscious that the fate of hers and her sister’s inheritance lay in her hands. When she was only in her teens, Elizabeth was conscious of the fact that the only way she could secure the Murray’s future was to make an advantageous marriage.

What is the main conflict she must face?

William Murray was arrested for spying in early 1646, so the Murray women had to endure the uncertainty of his imprisonment and trial. He was acquitted, with help from their Scottish Covenanter friends. However further fears existed in that his continued imprisonment in the Tower of Londdon during a plague city during a hot summer would undo all their efforts.  This was also not the only time William was hauled before the Lords and the army for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, until finally he was forbidden to be in the king's service altogether and fled to Paris to hide in the court of Queen Henrietta Maria.

Catherine Murray was a strong, persistent woman and appealed to the authorities to have him released.  William, however then went straight to Newcastle where King Charles I was at the time where he continued as a spy and envoy, and not back to his family.

What is the personal goal of this character?

Elizabeth knew the best way to keep the Murray's home, lands and therefore income out of the hands of the Parliamentarians, was for her future husband  to be wealthy, from a respectable family and non-political to take the spotlight off the Murrays and protect them.

Catherine Murray finally managed to secure an engagement for Elizabeth with Sir Lionel Tollemache, who had inherited a title and vast wealth, was single and only nineteen. Perfect - until Lionel was sent to the North to be held as a hostage against the King's good behaviour in their
negitiations with the Scots.

He wasn't held more than a few days, but Elizabeth must have been frantic until he was released, thinking all their carefully laid plans had been for nothing..

Where is this book available?

Royalist Rebel is available from Pen and Sword Books in e-book and paperback

I have passed this on to three excellent authors who write historical novels set in very different eras.

Lisa Yarde – writes about the last rule of the Moors in Medieval Spain 
Alison Stuart - whose latest release is a novel of English Civil Wars
Katherine Pym – writes about the ordinary lives of people in 17th Century London


Lisa Yarde said…
Hi Anita, aspects of Elizabeth's character that I found refreshing were her intelligence and decision-making abilities. As young as she was when confronted with turmoil, she had the acumen to make choices for her family.

Thanks for tagging me. My post on the same topic is up today.
Katherine Pym said…
Thanks for the wonderful post, Anita. Elizabeth was a great lady with a substantial spirit. I'd not want to scrap with her. My blog is set for Friday on almost the same topic. Hope to see you then.
Petrea Burchard said…
You mentioned the "whipping boy" position early on in the post. What a concept!
Anita Davison said…
Thanks for stopping by, Lisa, Katherine, I'll pop into your blog on Good Friday, and Petrea. Yes that 'whipping boy' thing was such a bizarre concept wasn't it? Working on the principal a royal child should never be struck by a commoner - Prince Charles was supposed to experience compassion for his friend being beaten so would try harder -hmmmm too many things wrong with that!

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