chapter  6
28 Pages

Stratagems for Survival: Sir Robert and Sir Francis Throckmorton, 1640–1660

The Catholic landed community as a whole was in a quandary in the middle years of the seventeenth century. On the one hand, the crisis of the Stuart monarchy, which began in 1640 with a war with Scotland and ended ten years later with the execution of the king and the establishment of a republic was, after all, a conflict between various groups of Protestants. In such circumstances keeping a low profile might seem the best course of action. Catholics, on the other hand, with their commitment to a hierarchy in the Church at the head of which sat an elected monarch, seem like natural royalists, especially as Charles’s wife Henrietta Maria had done something to restore the respectability of Catholicism at court, if not in the country. Yet it could be equally well argued that Catholics at the start of the crisis had grounds for being cautious in supporting a king who had assiduously collected recusancy fines, which in the case of the Throckmorton family deprived them of about 15 per cent of their income from land between 1638 and 1642.1 Moreover, there seems no reason why Catholics should not have been as alienated from the king as other landowners by the various financial exactions of dubious legality introduced in the 1630s. Robert Throckmorton, like several of his Protestant neighbours, had delayed paying Ship Money in 1637.2 In his case this was not through penury or neglect, but because he had reservations about paying a tax that had not been approved by parliament. In the end he did pay, probably after listening to the advice of Richard Betham, one of his correspondents, to the effect that the tax had been collected in 1625 whilst parliament was sitting without the members taking umbrage, or indeed showing any interest.3