Bourne Archive: FNQ: C17 Civil War           Latest edit 11 Aug 2009.   

Interactive version ©2006 R.J.PENHEY

The Bourne Archive


Fenland Notes and Queries. Edited by Rev. W.D. Sweeting, Rector of Maxey.

Part 45. April 1900.

This quarterly periodical took the form of a forum in which people sent in questions about the history, ecology and so on of the Fens and the region’s environs and others replied with some sort of answer. Some ‘answers’ seem to have been spontaneous, so qualifying as ‘notes’.

Seventeenth Century Civil War.

838.          The King’s 10,000 Acres. – At the Restoration, several persons who had lost their estates by adhering to the King’s cause, petitioned for a grant of some part of the 10,000 acres in the Bedford Level which were reserved for the King’s use. Francis Underwood, of Whittlesea, who had been a colonel in the army of the Parliament, obtained a grant of 1156 acres “under pretence of his good service to His Majesty in the management of his work of draining the fens.”

This seemed strange to those who had lost all in the royal cause. Dr. Hudson’s widow went begging [See Article 517]. Alexander Downinge was also another petitioner who pointed out the wrong done to the King’s service by the grant to a rebel colonel. He had served loyally. His father, Major-General John Downinge lost life and estate in the King’s cause [Major-General John Downinge, not Major-General George Downinge, who was Scout-Master of the Parliament’s forces.]  and his mother had spent the small remainder of her fortune in vain solicitations.

His petition in the year 1661 is as follows: ---

To the Kg’s most Exclt. Matie the humble petn. Of Alexander Downinge esqr Humbly sheweth

That whereas Leut. Coll. Francis Underwood of Whittlesey in the Isle of Ely hath upon pretence of serving yor Matie and other things by him alleaged obteyned for himself and his sonne a considerable gratuity from yor Matie --- yor petnr being able to prove hee never served your Maty but was on of his cruellest and bloodiest persecutors that were agst yor Matys cause and friends and did not onely declare himself soe in his actions before yor Maty’s happy restauration but in his discourse hath declared as much since.

May it therefore please yor sacred Matie To hear yor petnrs witnesses agst the said Underwood who are very sufficient people And able to prove the premises

                                                      And yor petitioner will ever pray &c.

This petition was lodged with this letter for Sir Henry Bennet, Principal Secretary of State: ---


ffor Sir Henery Bennett, Kt. Principall

                        Secretary of State at Whitt-hall

                                          Present ---------


      I have been severall times to wayght upon yor honor about the incolsed but never could find a seasonable opportunity and nowe not being in a condicion to waight upon you for some fewe days I have made bould to send my Brother to waight upon yor honr. wth this knowledge of what is mentioned in my petition; first that Underwood hath been a great Rebill against the King and his interest both before and since this happy restauracon and also was fully paid off according to his contract for his services in the fenn and that these are all he can allege for himself wch I can verie well prove by mane [many] of his neighbours So though my desire be that such men shd not receave his Maties favors or as I have been promised anything I could find out that weare reasonable if I prove these things against Underwood I hope this may be as fitt for me as any other. The thing is worth 500£ a year besides what he pays for it. I will fully prove this against him so I may have yor honor’s assistance and if it be obtained in my name I freely yeald to have it equally divided between your honor and yor most obliged humble and unfeyned servant.

A. Downinge.

Mr Downinge did not then obtain any part of the King’s acres: but His Majesty provided him with a commission of captain in the Foot Guards, a force that was raised at the Restoration.


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