I have often found the throw-away comments in history books to be the some of the most intriguing and The King’s Revenge, by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, proved no exception. The book deals with what happened after the Restoration of the Monarchy, or, one might say, Charles II reclaiming of the Sovereignty of Britain. It includes some good spy stories, which I will use at some later date but …
By the late 1650’s, many had grown weary of the Puritan Commonwealth Republic and were turning their coats, including one, George Downing.
Downing had come from Massachusetts to join Cromwell and the others, had even been the Scoutmaster General, the field intelligence officer of the army, when Cromwell went north to tame the Scots, and his republican credentials were well established.
Some years later, however, having been sent to set up a spy network in the area in and around the Dutch Republic, he appeared, disguised as a grey haired man with a long beard during a visit to that area by Charles, to warn him of an intended capture.
After the Restoration, he was knighted, and became the spy-master for the Royalists, successfully abducting, from the continent, a number of those who had been involved in the beheading of Charles’s father.
At some later date, Sir George Downing was immortalised in the most important political address in London – Downing Street.
One might say, history was adding further honour by having a resident of Downing Street reclaim British sovereignty from Europe. Then again, there will be those who, hankering after ‘the good old days’, might suggest it was another abduction.
History was aye a two edged sword!