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The Peculiar Grave of Elizabeth Scroope

Daughter of a  regicide.

There are many strange tales from the graves of St. Mary’s Collegiate Chapel in Youghal but none are so strange as the gravestone of Elizabeth Scrope, (pronounced “Scroop”) , in St. Mary’s Collegiate Church , Youghal, somewhat poorly repaired and with the text missing from the bottom part of the stone.

The gravestone is mounted on the north wall of the nave on the inside. 

The wording is peculiar. Usually a married woman is called by her married name – the wife or widow (relict) of the husband. In this case, it is clear she is a widow but her maiden name is given first, and her parentage and, only then, a brief reference made to her husband, Jonathan Blagrave , D.D.  

Looking at the stone one might wonder about the way it is broken, why it was broken, about the wording that is visible and about the missing wording. It is a curious and thought provoking grave stone.

At the rear of the church is an old sign detailing the names of those buried in and around the church.  There are four names listed for the grave – Adrian Scrope, his wife, his daughter and her husband, Jonathan Blagrave. Reading this list you might think Adrian Scrope and his widow are buried in a grave in front of the church along with Jonathan Blagrave and the daughter of Scrope. The year (1655) is not explained. It is grave number one, which makes it quite significant.  Today the gravestone is not in front of the church, the gravestone is on the inside north wall. The gravestone has been moved indoors for some reason.

 A brief search into the name of Blagrave tells us Jonathan was a noted preacher who was invited by Queen Mary to give a sermon “On the Nature and Mischief of Envy” which was published. On the front cover of the booklet he is described as chaplain “to their Majesties”.  Jonathan Blagrave was a very illustrious man indeed but it is Adrian Scrope, an unrepentant regicide who was hanged, drawn and quartered in 1660 for his part in the trial of King Charles I, who features first on the tombstone. Equally strange is the fact that Daniel Blagrave, probably an uncle of Jonathan, was also a judge who signed the death warrant for King Charles I.

After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 the regicides and all connected with them were very reticent about this episode in their past.  There was a list of some eighty names implicated in the regicide. Some, like Cromwell and Ireton were already dead by 1660. Some, like Adrian Scrope, were arrested and executed. Some were imprisoned. Some, like Daniel Blagrave, fled abroad and, even there, were not safe as squads of assassins were sent to track them down. One such squad was led by James Cotter of Carrigtwohill who was sent to kill John Lisle in Switzerland and later Edmund Ludlow.[1] References to the killing of the King were to be wiped out of history . That is the explanation given for the missing piece of the inscription.  However it is but a plausible explanation at best.

  Certainly initially, in 1660 the regicides were widely unpopular. The restoration of the monarchy brought with it the reopening of theatres, the relaxation of puritan attitudes….. but barely a generation later, after the battle of the Boyne, the Jacobite supporters of the Stuarts were again defeated and Parliament was back in control. As my father used to say, “Good Friday always follows Palm Sunday”. Attitudes to the Regicides changed.  From the very start of his reign Charles II was faced with an impossible task – there were loyal supporters of Charles I who looked to him to restore their confiscated property, there were Cromwellian supporters who demanded the retention of property given to them under the terms of the Cromwellian settlement. It would be impossible to satisfy both.

 The monarchy was dogged by bad luck. The bubonic plague arrived in England and spread to London in 1665. This was followed a year later by the Great Fire of London. There was a disastrous war with Holland and a humiliating peace. There was ever increasing contact with Catholic France which was not liked by Protestant England. There was more and more Catholic influence at court. 

The King spent lavishly, lived extravagantly, had 13 mistresses and as many illegitimate children but, worryingly, for “Protestant England” there was no legitimate heir. Even more worrying was the action of James, next in line to the throne who not only converted to Catholicism, but his second marriage (this time to a Catholic) produced a male heir. There was a real prospect of a Catholic on the throne of England. A series of intrigues and negotiations ended with William, son in law of James being invited to become King of England at the expense of his Catholic father in law. The battle of the Boyne was decisive in that war. William won.

In Youghal there seems to have been an even stronger anti Catholic atmosphere. Elizabeth Blagrave died almost eighty years after her father and by then, there had already been the War of the Two Kings – between Catholic King James and Protestant King William of Orange.  Something happened during that brief war which hardened anti Catholic sentiment in Youghal. There is another untold story,  suggested by Hayman, in the Annals of Youghal. He says elderly Cromwellian soldiers were locked up for a year in Tynte’s castle and other castles around town until they were released by the army of King William of Orange. Hayman says that a father told his son “Child, never forget ’89, never forgive King James!” ( Hayman,p.55).  This is probably the same occasion when an angry Catholic mob threatened to burn Tynte’s castle but were dissuaded by Thomas Ronayne (a Catholic) who was appointed mayor when the Protestant Corporation of Youghal was thrown out by supporters of King James.  The Protestant population were so grateful to Ronayne that bells in the town were tolled whenever a Ronayne died.  Among those present when the Protestant corporation was restored was John Cooke, who, you will recall,  claimed to be related to the regicide John Cooke.

The original records for the Youghal burials are in the RCB archives in Dublin. Strange to say, the name Scrope is not listed.  Elizabeth Blagrave is the name. The record states simply “Mrs. Elizabeth Blagrave, relict of Revd. Jonathan Blagrave, late Prebendary Worcester, aged 83 years”.  Which is what you would expect but it does not fully explain the wording on the grave which generated the wording on the list at the rear of the church.

The Church registry of deaths contains a second entry relating to this family – in 1763, Miss Elizabeth Blagrave, daughter of Elizabeth Blagrave nee Scrope,  died in Youghal.  One might think that both would have been buried in the same grave and that the name of the daughter would feature on the gravestone. Perhaps that is the missing writing on the grave. It more than likely was on the grave that does not explain why some would be erased. There has to have been some more writing before the 1763 section.

There are significant names at the bottom of the page – Thomas Taylor, church warden and curate Atkins Hayman. The latter is related to Valentine Greatrakes who served with Colonel Robert Phaire (one of the three colonels given the Warrant of Execution by Oliver Cromwell and asked to carry it out).  Phaire commanded the garrison in Youghal in Cromwell’s time.

Phaire and Greatrakes both lived near Youghal and remained in contact long after Cromwell had died.  Greatrakes was the “miraculous healer” who was able to cure Phaire of gout. He was also involved in the witchcraft trial of Florence Newton in 1661.  Atkins Hayman is the grand father of Samuel Hayman, the historian of Youghal whose “Annals of Youghal” remain the main source of information about the town and this grave.

Two distinct branches of the Cooke family settled in Youghal, one had no male descendants, but on the maternal side the Taylor family are related to them. The Cookes publicly claimed a family connection with John Cooke, former Chief Justice of Munster in the Cromwellian era and the brilliant legal brain who devised a solution when King Charles refused to recognize the court. Cooke lived in Waterford.  John Cooke, probably a relation, lived in Youghal. John Cooke, the regicide,  was hanged , drawn and quartered like Adrian Scrope. William Cooke Taylor, a prolific writer, born in Youghal,  claimed to be descended from this John Cooke, although it cannot be directly as the executed man had but one child, a daughter called Freelove.

There is an explanatory note next to the gravestone saying it was deliberately defaced because of a reference to the execution of King Charles I. That may be  true as all references to the regicides were to be removed in 1660, their property and titles declared forfeit. Some of them, including some  the Scropes, changed their name to avoid recriminations. A number of families called Throop, in America, claim they are descended from Adrian Scrope (also spelt Scroop) and, in their family tree, mention Elizabeth, the lady buried in Youghal  (Findagrave.com).

There is the confusion between what is written on the grave and what is recorded in the archives. Probably Elizabeth Blagrave decided she wanted the connection with her father mentioned on her grave. She may even have wanted to include the phrase Thomas Scot wanted written on his grave  that he “adjudged the King to death”.  She was with her father and the rest of the family on the night before his brutal, bloody execution. It was possibly the most traumatic experience of her life. She may well have nurtured a strong hatred for all those who killed her father, she may well have been proud of her father. 

Her daughter, Elizabeth, would have taken charge of the burial and respected her mother’s wishes. Authorities in the church – people like Cooke would have allowed a significant statement to be made and the grave was placed in a really prominent position, under the main window as seen in the little drawing here.

The gravestone is currently inside the church but according to the index of graves it was initially outside. Samuel Hayman in his “Annals of Youghal” fills in some of the detail about the location of the grave:

“Beneath the east window,  on the outside, is the grave of a daughter of Colonel Adrian Scrope, the Regicide. The monument is an upright slab fastened to the wall, having one extremity supported by the ground, and the other shaped into a triangular headpiece. Mrs. Blagrave was buried , 4th August, 1738 (Youghal Register). She was but five years old when her father, along with Harrison, Carew, Clement, Jones and Scot, (all having sat in judgment on the late King, and signed his death-warrant) was executed, 17th Oct. 1660.” (Hayman). 

Thomas Scot was married to Sir Thomas Mauleverer’s daughter, Grace.  Maulever, too, was a regicide but died before the Restoration. Scot’s great granddaughter married Pierce Drew, Rector of St.  Mary’s at the time Hayman was writing his Annals. 

 Francis Rowe, brother of Owen Roe (another of the regicides) is buried in Youghal, and the family remained for several generations. Sir Hardress Waller (a regicide who was pardoned) married the daughter of Sir John Dowdall of Kinsalebeg. Waller is mentioned several times in the records of Richard Boyle, they stayed in each other’s house. Boyle lent Waller money. 

 Waller, Phaire, Cromwell and others have huge connections with the Boyle family. When Cromwell left Youghal to attack Clonmel and Fethard, it was a three pronged attack. Broghill (son of Richard Boyle) attacked the Irish on the Macroom side and, having defeated them, hanged Bishop McEgan in an attempt to force the defenders at Carraigadrohid to surrender. The second prong of the attack was led by Phaire and Ireton (Cromwell’s son in law).

 Why did Elizabeth Blagrave come to Youghal?  

For some reason, a number of the regicides or family members found their way to Youghal. Under the terms of the Cromwellian settlement many were given land in Ireland. Adrian Scrope himself had no love for Ireland, his troops mutinied when they were told they would be going to Ireland! In the case of Elizabeth Blagrave the answer is more likely to be found with the Scrope family in Bristol.  Sir Adrian Scrope’s brother, Thomas Scrope , was a merchant of Bristol. Merchants in Bristol were constantly trading with Youghal. Young men from one town served apprenticeships in the other and would be very familiar with Youghal.  It is likely that Elizabeth Blagrave and her daughter went to Bristol after the death of her husband, Jonathan, and later moved to Youghal after the death of Thomas Scrope in 1704,  assured of a warm welcome.

Could Adrian Scrope be buried in Youghal?   

The simple answer is no. The list of burials would suggest he was buried in Youghal, along with his wife. It is not accurate. It makes no reference to the daughter of Elizabeth Blagrave .  The list was made some time after the grave was defaced. Whoever made the list did not know about Elizabeth Blagrave’s daughter. Hayman makes no reference to part of the inscription being erased. The list is based on a misreading of what is written on the grave. Adrian Scroop is not buried in Youghal, his daughter and grand-daughter are. If not in Youghal, where might Adrian Scroop be buried?

First of all, the ghastly method of execution involved dismembering the body and displaying the head and quarters in various locations.   The first hand accounts of the executions of the regicides tell us that, after a period of time on display, family members were allowed to gather the remains and give them a Christian burial. 

The Genealogy service Ancestry says Adrian Scroop is buried in the Lincoln Monument in London. The building is not open to the public so this cannot be, at present, verified. There was an older church on the site before it became a memorial to Abraham Lincoln.

 In the case of Adrian Scroop we are told he suffered the same death as the others, so he could have been given a Christian burial after the public humiliation of the display of his body parts. According to the Ancestry website there are only two bodies in the Lincoln Memorial – Rowland Hill and Adrian Scroop.  Hill,  a slightly unconventional but extremely popular preacher who was six times refused  ordination but who persisted nevertheless,  died in 1833. He set up a church with a series of Sunday Schools in the building to-day referred to as the Lincoln Memorial. There were over 3,000 students at the Sunday Schools.

There is a connection between Scrope and Rowland Hill. Ann Scrope, the grand daughter of Adrian Scrope married Thomas Fane, who was under the command of Sir Rowland Hill (father of the Rowland Hill we are discussing) during the Napoleonic Wars and was mentioned by the Duke of Wellington in dispatches (March 1814).  Without visiting the Lincoln Memorial it is difficult to go further with this possibility, but no mention of Adrian Scrope is in the original church records in Youghal so he is NOT buried in Youghal. The Lincoln Memorial is probably the burial place for Adrian Scrope, not Youghal.

When was the tombstone defaced ?

This is a difficult question.  First of all, the break in the stone must have been undertaken after the writing was defaced. Possibly it was an accident during the reconstruction of the nave in the church. The writing looks genuine for the time. Other contemporaneous graves have similar writing – so perhaps Elizabeth Blagrave was very proud of her father and determined to preserve his memory. When her daughter, also called Elizabeth, died some years later, it is likely that her name was added to the grave. Her name is missing. The possible script can by therefore be suggested – the words “who adjudged the King to death” were probably on the tombstone, followed by the name of Elizabeth Blagrave’s daughter.

If that is plausible the script would be something like this :

Here lyeth the body of Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Colonel Adrian Scrope of Warmesly in the county of Oxford, widow of Jonathan Blagrave, D.D. of Longworth in the county of Berwick, born in the year 1655, aged 83 years. 

Colonel Scrope it was who adjudged the King to death. 

Here lyeth also Elizabeth Blagrave, spinster, who died 1763.” 

Or similar words. 

Some time after 1763, I suggest, the tombstone was defaced, leaving only the current script. There was, at that time, a strong undercurrent of Jacobite support in Ireland. Piaras Mac Gearailt, the poet, from Ballymacoda ( author of Rosc Catha na Mumha, in English – the Battlecry of Munster) was writing of his bonny prince coming over the ocean to Ireland, was writing of “going up the hill” to the local Protestant church (in order words, changing religion to save his land). If he did go up the hill to St. Mary’s, the first thing he would have seen would be the grave of Elizabeth Scrope, with the reference to the killing of the king. Perhaps that is when that section of the inscription was erased.

By the time Hayman was writing his Annals, some one hundred years later, the defacing of the script had been done but not in the recent past.  Hayman does not refer to Elizabeth Blagrave’s daughter also buried in Youghal. He does not seem aware of it. He would have mentioned the vandalism had it been a recent event as it would have attracted some controversy. Not everyone supported the regicides! Had the breaking of the stone been connected to the defacing much more damage would have been done. It would have been smashed! Therefore, it is more likely that the breakage occurred much later, possibly during the repairs and restoration work undertaken by the Reverend Drew.

The grave of Elizabeth, daughter of Adrian Scrope hides a huge story!

Kieran Groeger    


[1] See A.K Groeger  “The Trial and Execution of James Cotter”,  Createspace, 2014

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