Our new season is now open: Spring 1677 !
|Full Name:||Louis Edward Killington|
Treasurer of the Household
|Estate Name:|| Basildon , and several estates |
in Hertfordshire, Beauchamp
|London:||St. James Square|
Reputation: «.. a confident man who doesn’t shy from either political scheming nor flirtations, lord Basildon seems to have little time for polite niceties as he dedicates all of his time to his financial and political endeavours...»
Tall and dark, Louis is strikingly handsome, and he knows it.
Initial Impression of Personality
The first thing one notices when Louis enters the room is his confidence. He walks almost with a swagger. Most often he can be seen fashionably attired with a sword at his hip. He can either be found in the company of attractive women, or his circle of young male bravados.
The name Louis Edward Killington was once reviled as a young irresponsible rake. Now that the very handsome Earl has come into his inheritance, married into the powerful Seymour family, and rose to Privy Councillor as Treasurer of the Royal Household he is viewed as an influential politician with a ruthless streak. Some even dare suggest he has reformed and become proper.
A reknown libertine and debaucher, but also a famed duelist.
Saint Georges day Awards, 1676
To Lord Basildon, for whom His Majesty adds congratulations upon the birth of his son, we announce is given royal charter of the West Indies Company, and granted 1000 acres on Jamaica and 1000 acres on Antigua.
The Life and Times of Louis Killington
It was quite a first season for the new Earl of Basildon. Known mostly as a wastrel and a rogue prior to his elevation, he seemed to make May his month and he achieved much.
From the very first ball, he was named the May King, along with Philippa Archer (who was his May Queen). They made a handsome couple together.
A social creature, Louis made many acquaintances early. There were the ever present list of debutantes that he met, but also renewed acquaintances with the Countess of Shrewsbury, a known libertine like himself, and even an Anglican priest from the colonies.
His climb in standing first began with a chance encounter with the Duke of Monmouth in the gardens. He and the naive Catherine Erskine-Fox observed the Duke having an assignation. Louis was invited to the Duke's home, where they practiced fencing and a football match was arranged.
Later, after his first visit to the House of Lords, Louis aligned himself to the Earl of Danby and sold his vote to the minister in return for an introduction to the French mistress to the King, the influential Duchess of Portsmouth. Visiting Danby at the Woolsack and later joining he and the Duchess at the Playhouse, Louis bargained with the Earl to stand and speak for him. His terms were to be admitted into the Woolsack club and to learn finance from the master himself.
The football match went well enough, with Louis relying on his new acquaintance, Adam MacGregor, to help him field a team. He also made the acquaintance of John Churchill, who played on his team. Louis even managed to score a point.
His mistress, the Countess Hawthorne, asked Louis to look out for her new young lover, William Fox. Fox was a bastard with a chip on his shoulder. He asked Louis to help ascertain the identity of his father. After securing some leads, Hawthorne asked Louis to stop looking. It was clear that she knew the father's identity, so Louis abandoned the project, telling William that he had hit a roadblock.
Repeatedly, Louis attempted to seduce Philippa, to no avail. Yet, the Duke of Monmouth succeeded where he had failed. He had better success with the widow Heather Thompson. She was a sheltered young wife from the provinces who knew nothing of the joys of lovemaking. Louis corrected that.
In seeking a wife to help catapult his ambition, Louis had focused on three ladies. There was the Maid of Savoy (Mignonette), the King's bastard daughter (Anne Palmer) who was also the daughter of Barbara Palmer, the Duchess of Cleveland, and Elisabeth Seymour who was the heiress of a great English family. The first was eliminated as she would make him "too French" and the second was abandoned due to the advantages offered by Seymour.
Louis in a short span befriended Elisabeth's brother, the Duke of Somerset. He died in Louis' company, which helped Louis decide that Elisabeth was much more to his liking than Anne.
Having already gone to meet the King on an early morning walk, Louis had asked permission to court Anne, which was given. Yet, the King indicated that he had another in mind and made plain that Barbara Palmer would not be a part of the equation. This served as a warning to Louis. He had already befriended, and bedded, Barbara and he felt the King warning him to be careful of that connection. The King also encouraged Louis to speak up in the House of Lords to support Danby, which he did. There was nothing like making two persons happy at once.
Elisabeth was quite supportive of his plan to gain royal favor by supporting Danby. She even came to Lords to watch him. It should be noted that she liked dressing up as a man and that she had befriended Louis in this guise while playing tennis. Louis found this trait intriguing and played along as if he did not know, at least in the beginning. She even fenced in the tournament as well. She was dressed up as a man the night they had gone carousing with her brother, Monmouth and Ablemarle.
Louis plotted also with his French namesake, Louise, who was upset by the arrival of a new Scottish mistress for the King. Louis, though also friendly with Nell Gwynn, offered to help the Duchess of Portsmouth in return for her support. He escorted her at the Playhouse and the funeral for the Duke of Somerset, as well as the King's Masque. Unlike most of Louis' other alliance with ladies, this one was not sealed in a bed, Louis having no taste to cheat with a royal favorite.
There were other minor adventures along the way. He met the French Ambassador and was invited to dine at a party there. There was the Hawthorne Masque, a libertine affair to be sure. He also found himself investing his inheritance in a coaching inn that could be a secret place for assignations and intrigues. His speech in Lords won him acclaim with the Royalists and emnity from the new Whig party.
Along the way, Louis attempted special friendships with Althea, Isobel, and others. Whether he will give up his old ways next season, who is to say?
In the closing days of the season, Louis informed the King of his choice for his bride. The King was not pleased, for he had hoped to marry his son Charles Fitzroy to her. He made Louis promise to donate to the new Chelsea hospital, but gave his blessing. Anne was not pleased to hear the news, but for different reasons. Her mother held her responsible for losing the interest of Basildon.
In the dying embers of court, Heather reveals to Louis that she is pregnant. As always, Louis attempts to scheme around it.
The May season found Louis Killington rising from obscurity to prominence at court. The season ended with his proposal to Elisabeth Seymour and everything seemed to be falling into place. Rather, this proved to be the calm before the storm.
In June, rather than follow the King to Newmarket, Louis negotiated a dowry with Elisabeth’s family. Though she was indeed quite wealthy, it seemed that many of the estates were not appropriately maintained, with several falling into disrepair. There were gambling debts of her deceased brother, William, that hung over the estate like a shroud. In addition, the Dowager Duchess made clear that she expected her allowance to continue from the estate. In the end, a betrothal was signed and the engagement was official.
In his free time, he saw to the construction of his private suite at his inn. Sorrowfully, he made arrangements for his two French maids to be placed at the Inn. There would be no way that his wife would tolerate their presence once she discovered how close they were.
June ended even more poorly than it began. An old lover, Amelia Wilmington came forward when the betrothal was announced. She claimed to have secretly married Louis and that she bore his child. This caused quite a scandal since, if true, it would prevent him from marrying Elisabeth. Amelia was insanely attached to Louis and managed to manufacture a believable story, much to the chagrin of her husband, Percival Matterby, an older knight. She even found a priest with more wine than blood in his veins to attest that he had married the couple.
If that was not bad enough, the Earl of Newbury, an Admiral of England, and an enemy of Louis, came forward with the story that Louis had ruined his daughter and that she had committed suicide because of him. This, of course, painted a very dark picture of a rogue that preyed on ladies.
Though he swore that the allegations were not true, Louis found himself being shunned by many at court. Invitations to parties became scarcer. The Duke of Monmouth gave him the cold shoulder, not just because of the scandal but because he blamed Louis for Philippa Archer leaving court, and remembered Louis’ support for the Earl of Danby. Nell and the Earl of Rochester were equally cool, but solely for the reason that Louis was often seen in the company of the Duchess of Portsmouth, the French Catholic mistress of the King.
All was not bad for Louis. Though members of court distanced themselves from him, he was still able to associate with Danby, Portsmouth, and even the Duke of York, who found Louis’ pro-Danby stance (as well as his growing alienation with his nephew) to be to his liking. Louis even managed to find a playwright to draft a play for his duchess ally. Danby teaches Louis the basics of finance and accounting.
To thwart Amelia’s assault on his character, Louis turned to his old drinking companions. It was a group of other poor bravados that often covered for one another. They were able to convince the priest to retract his testimony, with threat of great bodily harm. They also provided testimony before the church and courts that they each had sampled the charms of Amelia Wilmington, so that any of them could be the father of her child. This caused her case to collapse by late August. Though Amelia had done great harm to Louis’ reputation, she now found herself in desperate straits as her husband cast her out without any support for her or her child. By September, she was staying with a cousin in London, still convinced that Louis would marry her and no other.
Yet another opportunist surfaced in July. Magdelena Witherspoon came forward claiming to be carrying the child of William Seymour. She claimed that he had promised her marriage and that she was carrying the heir to the Duchy of Somerset. The Seymour clan gathered together to dispute her claim. Testimony was offered that she too had many lovers and her case collapsed. She returned to the provinces a broken woman. Yet, perhaps this made the Seymours a bit more sympathetic to the plight of Louis.
As the September season approached, Elisabeth was appointed a lady in waiting to Lady Mary Stuart. She was also seen often in the company of the Queen.
Having taken some time to visit some of the Seymour holdings, Louis knows that it will require funds to support them. Then, there is the matter of a contribution to the new hospital in Chelsea. Suddenly, what seemed like unlimited wealth was quickly dissipating.
While May had seen great advances and the Summer months had found hints of scandal, September was to be a month of redemption for Louis.
The focus of his September had been to marry Elisabeth Seymour and secure access to her great fortune and connections. He had surprised himself to find that she was smart and useful to him. As such, he respected her, which was an unusual thing for a man like Louis.
One impediment to his marriage was the arrival of Amelia Wilmington. She was pregnant with his child, or so she claimed, and claimed also that he had secretly married her. He discredited her in court during the summer months, but September found her appearing at the Whitehall chapel to dispute his marriage to Elisabeth. Doing his best to paint her as insane, Louis spoke with her estranged husband and collected documents from him and his family doctor that Amelia was insane. Second, he visited the Warden of Bedlam prison to make sure that she would be kept in solitary confinement, where she could speak to no one. Then, utilizing his gang of amoral drinking companions of the past, he waited for her to show up at the chapel again. When she did, she was arrested by his men and hauled away to prison ... there to be forgotten and die. It was a lesson for those who sought to oppose him. Adam MacGregor had thought to interfere with her arrest, and Louis became convinced that the Scotsman worked for his enemy, the Earl of Newbury.
Louis is a man of business and did not satisfy himself with merely owning a coaching inn. He sought to expand his financial empire to newspapers and trade companies. Successfully acquiring the Gentleman Spectator, Louis visited the Woolsack to begin planting seeds for a grander scheme -- the creation of the West Indies Company. The Earl of Danby and other lords expressed interest. So too did his ally, the Duchess of Portsmouth. A visit to Danby gained him the name of a lawyer to draw up the charter for this new company.
The Duke of Monmouth had become estranged from Louis in the Summer, so Basildon shifted his support to the Duke of York. This budding alliance was cemented by the rescue of the Princess Mary from a gang of Turks who had kidnapped her from Elisabeth's watchful eye. He and his betrothed raced to Chelsea to try and capture them. In a fight at a remote farmhouse, Louis and Lisa were successful in killing eight brigands and getting Mary back to the palace. The Turks wounded Louis in the leg and he walked with a pronounced limp throughout the month.
In the House of Lords, Louis delivered pro-Royalist speeches and found common cause with the eccentric Earl of Breckland. His membership at the Woolsack gentleman's club was used often to advance his connections with known Royalists.
Visiting the royal family, Louis strove to make sure his wedding was not only well-attended, but also the social event of the season. Offering free money to sailors and navy men, Louis sought to not only win the hearts of the Royal Navy, but also help fill Westminster Cathedral with a throng of well-wishers. It worked as he planned, with the King attending and speaking, as well as the Duke of Cumberland. The afterparty was equally grand and a successful affair.
Finding himself quite enamoured with his new bride, Louis began to forget his fancies with other ladies at court. For example, his interest in Isobel evolved from carnal to one of mere amusement at her expense. His encounter with Julia in the garden appealed more to his scheming interests than his carnal interests.
On the morning after his wedding, he learned that his wife had royal blood and was a direct descendant of Henry VII. This had to be hidden, for it would endanger her life if it was known widely.
So, the month ended with Louis taking account of his large number of assets and planning his next steps to building his financial empire larger, while planning a honeymoon tour of his estates. This tour would include a visit to Basildon and his estranged mother and newly rediscovered younger sister.
Following the wedding and a brief honeymoon in London, the happy couple diverted their attention to some of their London business. Elisabeth became editor-in-chief of the Gentleman Spectator, with the plan to report a spectacular outpouring of love and goodwishes for the newlyweds. The aggrandizement of the King, Royalists and the Basildon name became the prime directives for this newspaper. The circulation list was embellished to include a free subscription for the King, royal family, the Duchess of Portsmouth, and every member of the Privy Council. Not only was there a desire to enhance the power of the readership; but, Louis planned to gain a royal license for the paper. By demonstrating pro-Royalist sentiments, the task would be easy. Though the print shop did not turn a profit during these months, Louis did manage to gain a license for it.
In his goal to advance the creation of the West Indies Company, lawyers were paid to draw up the Royal Charter. Two of Louis' cronies were sent to Jamaica and Barbados to begin establishing an intelligence gathering apparatus.
With all local business attended to, the couple went on a tour of Basildon and then the other estates. The Grand Tour took six weeks to accomplish and Louis took notes and met with stewards for each property. His plan was to assess the ability of each and replace those that did not seem talented.at estate management. Investments were needed at each site and Louis studied the costs and benefits of investing additional capital to gain greater cash flow.
As they returned to London in mid-November, Louis had decided upon which properties to invest in and which to sell. Renovation work had begun in the Fall and he planned to sell the surplus properties in the Spring, when the markets were stronger.
Louis kept himself busy attending the Woolsack and cultivating friends and allies amongst Royalist circles. Among the most elite circles, Louis made little secret of the West Indies Company. His other plan was to generate sufficient good will to attain the office that he desired. It could carry with it a seat on the Privy Council. His new interest and education in the field of finance was about to pay off.
Christmas in Windsor
Louis was not particularly in the Christmas spirit as he found himself at Windsor Castle for Christmas Court. With all his business dealings, he preferred to remain in London. Yet, up and coming courtiers needed to be at court every season, no matter where held.
The most important news to the Basildons was the discovery that Lisa Killington was pregnant with their first child. Not long thereafter, the Ghost of Christmas Past called upon Louis in the form of a bouncing baby boy -- the child of Amelia Wilmington, who had died in Bedlam prison (thanks to the planning of Louis). Deciding to send the maid and boy to Basildon to be raised by his Puritanical mother, the chapter was closed on that one particular indiscretion.
The murder of the Queen effected Louis by offering an opportunity to slip his manservant out of the castle to ride to London where his newspaper, the Gentleman Spectator was able to scoop other London newspapers with the breaking story. It was a welcome opportunity to get his newspaper's circulation increased.
In other developments, Louis made contact with the Lord Treasurer, Owen and Alexander about his trading ventures in the West Indies, with the idea of furthering his idea of a West Indies Company acting under Royal Charter, and with monopolies over trading certain commodities.
As fast as Louis schemed to make money, Lisa was spending it. A flood of year end bills caused quite a scene at the Killington apartment. She promised to do better.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Monmouth had designs on his wife and an ensuing chance for a scandal was averted when she was able to get her cross returned.
Otherwise, the season was largely a social one. Louis met Danby's eldest son and Lord Roos, as well as other colorful individuals. At the Dutch Reception, Lisa handled herself well in fighting the brigands. Louis, too, handled himself well in advancing into the ballroom to assist his wife.
It was with joy that the Killingtons returned to London. There were plans to set into motion.
Having spent much of his winter season reading and responding to letters and bills, Louis found himself only too happy to return to London, so that he could tend to his various business interests personally. With the West Indies Company still very much on his mind, Louis waited until he heard from the King about the Treasurer of the Household position, not wanting to ask any favors of the monarch until word was received.
At last, word was received a few weeks into the recess that he would be given the position. Celebrating, he wrote letters to Finch, York, Portsmouth and Danby for their support, and sent a magnificent 100 piece set of china (with the royal coat of arms) to the King as a thank you. Smaller china sets were sent to the others as well. The china sets would be from the Basildon china factory in Somerset. Not only did this control costs, but he wanted to advertise the Somerset china works, their symbol being evident on the bottom of the plates.
Also, when in London, Louis inquired about whether a seat on the Royal Exchange might be available, and at what price. He spent the remainder of January interviewing agents for his new newspaper scheme, and hiring a few ex-navy toughs (who were down on their luck but hardy) to be added security.
Agents sent to the cities of Dover, Brighton, Southhampton, Portsmouth, and Bristol to locate a newspaper in each city that had a fair subscriber list but were in financial distress and in need of a financial partner. Each of these cities were selected since they were important port cities where news might enter first, and were far enough from London that he could not expect anyone to subscribe to the Gentleman Spectator. Printers in Bristol, Portsmouth and Dover were purchased.
Friendly correspondence was exchanged with: Owen, Alexander, Heather, Charles Blount, as well as all of the Finches, the new Duke of Somerset, the Duchess of Portsmouth, York, Danby, and others who wrote him. Lisa's stepmother, the Dowager, did not reply to Louis' letter refusing to pay her bills, though she sent a letter to Lisa complaining that her husband was niggardly towards the needs of ladies.
Speaking of Lisa, Louis was quick to hire the most tenacious accountant/bookkeeper/auditor that could be hired in London. The healthy sum of 25 pounds a month was offered. The task of this middle aged man was to go through the account books of all businesses, rents, and bills received and make recommendations to increase revenue and decrease expenses. This also included traveling to negotiate transactions for his master.
In February, the Duchess of Portsmouth asked to meet Louis, which they did in a public place. She cried that she had debts to pay and that the King had told her that the Privy Purse was empty. She feared it was a sign that he did not love her any more, or was truly bankrupted by that terrible Parliament. Louis was not inclined to loan her the money directly, as it would look improper and her ability to repay was suspect. Instead, Louis went to see the King. The King informed Louis that his purse was indeed empty. The demands of his mistresses (as well as his own spending) had left him unable to fulfill his obligations. Louis agreed to loan the King 5000 pounds, and received a note also signed by Baptist May. Louis made clear that he was aware that Louise was in dire financial straits, hinting that the money should be used to give her. The King did not reply to the suggestion. Louis also mentioned a Royal Charter for his West Indies Company, that would include a monopoly for certain goods. The King promised to grant the royal charter but hinted that the 5000 pounds he had borrowed would be but a down payment if Louis hoped to gain monopolies on sugar and other commodities traded there.
Louis showed the promissory note to Louise, who was pleased and rushed off to borrow the money that the King had borrowed; but, the King did not give it to her, claiming he had need of it himself. They quarreled, she cried, and the King promised to give her some.
During recess, Louis further worked to become skilled at finance. He would need it for his new appointment.
Minirecess 3-6 May 1676
On the surface, the four days passage might seem mundane. There were trips to his office in the palace. Visits to his house in Pall Mall. Frequent coach rides in the country and to Chelsea were seen to aid his weapons practice. At night he was seen reading newspapers and writing letters.
Beneath the surface was another tale. Slanderous articles were drafted for the Gentleman Spectator, spy networks fostered, and a daily tryst was maintained with his lover.
With no distractions at court, Louis was free to further the creation of his company and gather information necessary to the advancement of his interests. The palace spies seemed ignorant of which candidate might be selected for Queen, even though one had professed earlier that Baptist May had been overheard to say that it would be Chartres. More details were necessary from the Seymour saga; but, they would need further time to reveal themselves.
As for Darlene, Louis was more than attentive to her needs, as well as his own. They had a common goal and it needed the maximum attempts to achieve. If the hours and energy devoted to her had been redirected to linguistics, they might have mastered another language. As it was, they spoke the same language in bed, and spent their time in between laughing about further creative ways to meet upon the next day or the next evening.
With his wife away, as well as Darlene and Diana, Louis was left alone to do business in the several days he had to himself. Days were spent at the Royal Exchange interviewing persons that had trading experience administering trading companies to find someone to be President of the West Indies Company. Louis would be Chairman of the Board, but did not wish to run the company day to day.
A stock ledger was created, authorized to issue up to 1000 shares. Bylaws were adopted to establish the company. Officers were to be appointed by the board. The board could have up to 30 members, of which an executive committee would be established to make decisions on behalf of the board in between board meetings. Louis was to be Chairman of the board and would have the ability to unilaterally name someone to the board. That selection would need to be ratified by a simple majority of the board at the next meeting. The Chairman controlled the agenda of the board and could rule any motion out of order. The Chair would supervise the President of the Company and all other officers. The executive committee would have the power to hire or fire officers. The Chair could do the same in the absence of the committee.
Arrangements were made at the Royal Exchange for shares to trade each day for an hour. Arrangements were made with Exchange members to make markets in the stock. They would be willing to both buy and sell shares, much the same as was done for the East Indies Company. In his private meetings with traders, secret arrangements were made to conspire to increase the price of the shares. In return, the traders would be given stock under the table to compensate them for their risk.
The certificates were printed through Louis' print shop. A corporate secretary was hired to keep control of the stock ledger (in duplicate) and to act as clerk for the board. Pamphlets were printed to advertise the creation of the company and the availability of shares to begin trading June 1st. Notices were published in the Gentleman Spectator as well.
A lease was signed on behalf of the company to rent Louis' house upon Pell Mell as a headquarters, paying 100 pounds a month. The salary of the Chairman of the Board was likewise set at 100 pounds a month. The President was to receive the same.
In the meantime Thomas Bromhill visited Saint Marks to see if there were any rooms better than the others. If so, he would see what could be done to to get Darlene a good room.
By the time the King returned, the personnel were being hired and the company was falling into place. A loan of 1000 pounds from Louis to the company was needed for seed capital. Ship captains were interviewed and ships inspected. It would require another few weeks to put the pieces in place, but the company was set to launch.
When a man has carefully-laid plans, he carries them out step-by-step whether during a court season or not. The summer of 1676 was to be highlighted by the wedding of his sister to the Duke of Somerset. It was a relatively small affair at Somerset. The King was away in Scotland and many of the Privy Council were away as well. So, it was mostly a family affair. The key was to get his sister married before she could do something to jeopardize the wedding. There would be plenty of time to have a party next spring in London to celebrate the union. A former lover from Scotland begged charity of him and was placed into Lucy's household.
Behind the happy facade was the machinations of Edward Stewart, Lisa's purported brother. He was a threat to Francis Seymour's claim to the Duchy. There were demands overt and covert; but, Louis would have none of it. They took turns spying on each other, if not threatening each other. The story would need to play out in the coming year.
The trial of Admiral Newbury continued. There was little for Louis to do other than to continue to hire false testimony against him, while libeling him in the newspapers.
The other great mission of the summer was the launch of the West Indies Company. Considerable funds had been lent to it and its first ships were purchased. Shares of stock would go on sale in the Fall. The officers of the company were hired and the newspapers touted the riches of the West Indies to their readership.
Apart from a carefully and covertly scripted assignation with a certain dark-haired beauty outside of London, Louis was ever seen to be the doting husband. They collaborated in everything, it seemed.
While in London, the Earl resides in St. James Square.
Children with Elisabeth Killington :
- Elisabeth (b.1676, d. 1676)
- William Heneage Killington (b. 1676)
Is rumoured to have several illegitimate children but none publicly acknowledged.