More than any other family, the Verney’s – a dynasty of Buckinghamshire squires – embody the tragic conflicts and divided loyalties of the English Civil War. The family patriarch, Sir Edmund Verney, was a courtier and former close friend of King Charles I, even accompanying Charles on his fruitless marriage mission to Madrid when he attempted to woo the Spanish Infanta. However, as MP for Wycombe, Verney often found himself in opposition to Royal policy – and as a staunch Protestant particularly deplored Charles’ devotion to High Anglicanism and Bishops. However, when the push of Parliamentary politics came to the shove of Civil War, Verney reluctantly placed his loyalty to the Crown above his conscience, telling a friend: ‘For my part I do not like the quarrel and do heartily wish that the King would yield and consent to what they [Parliament] desire… [but] I have eaten his bread and served him near thirty years, and will not do so base a thing as to forsake him; and choose rather to lose my Life (which I am sure I shall do) to preserve and defend those things, which are against my conscience to preserve and defend’. Sure enough, in accordance with his own prophecy Verney did die in the Civil War’s first battle, Edgehill. According to legend, he defended the Royal Standard so stoutly that his severed hand was found still clutching it after the battle. Verney’s eldest son and heir, Sir Ralph, also an MP, was a stout Parliamentarian; but his younger brother, Edmund junior. was a passionate Royalist who died at the hands of Cromwell’s troops in the massacre that followed the storming of Drogheda in Ireland. This two-volume family history, published in 1892, and much drawn upon by Civil War historians, tells the story of the conflicted family’s fortunes – and the tragic wounds inflicted on close families who find themselves ‘by the sword divided’.
MEMOIRS OF THE VERNEY FAMILY DURING THE CIVIL WAR
Based on extensive family correspondence. Covers the early history of the Verney family, the political developments of the 1630s, and the participation of various members of the family in the Civil War.