Sir Andrew Sellwood had an excessive unselfish love for just one lady who never knew that this romeo held her so high as to be scared to ask for her hand.
Come with me now into the crazy world of 17th century England. In a house at Blakesley in the county of Northamptonshire Andrew Sellwood was born in 1620. His father a shoe maker in the year that the Pilgrim Fathers sailed to the Americas.
Andrews mother was of a noble family that had fallen on hard times. Her grandfather had ridden with Robert Ask against King Henry V111. Ask was hanged at York and all estates and homes of those whom had followed that revolution lost to the King their everything. In marriage to a common shoe maker she did not starve.
She being a well educated handsome lady far younger than her able husband who had little interest in her poems or talk of history. In this she turned to her son and her words went hard into the boys young head.
“Remember and not forget ,Andrew, that you are a gentleman born.”
Though he often landed in trouble stealing apples with the local boys from many a richer mans orchard he never forgot his mothers words.
To many this young man seemed strange,even eccentric but he grew to be Knighted for his bravery. The local lads proved too much and he rescued an old woman called Peg who had been accused of witchcraft. He grabbed his fathers cutting knives and shot back down to the village pond where he cut seriously many men holding the old lady to dump her in the water to see if she floated she be the witch. If she sank dead she would be but innocent. Either Andrew was too far advanced in thought to suffer this evil nonsense for he managed a rescue from the many local families who held poor terrified Peg. The Hunt came up and his Lordships allowed Andrew to take the poor bedraggled woman away.
In researching I found that Peg had rescued Andrew many many years before from his ordeal when he fell in the lake. So no doubt the debt was cleared on that kind act.
in those days it was common for educated people to learn an instrument and Andrew went to his fathers workshop and started designing a musical barrel. Over many weeks he made it work. On talk in the local markets Andrews mother proudly told all about her sons amazing barrel. Before long he was invited up to the big house with his invention from Sir Ralph Brisbane , a fine gentleman, a Baronet, with musical knowledge.
Andrew may have thought his invention may restore that family fortunes but when he started the handle to play a tinkled tune all started smiling which led to howls of laughter as the grinding tinkle of notes was so rare it was not made to entertain real musicians .The only one who did not laugh clapped him and smiled.It was Brisbanes youngest daughter a young and most beautiful girl stole Andrews heart from the second he saw her.The Baronet asked Andrew to leave with his barrel organ and so he sharply did.
As he dragged the barrel to the driveway Lucy Brisbane came to his side and spoke words of kindness to sooth that boys nerves at his worse daydream. He was not yet 15 and his love for this angel took him deeply into her eyes. She had said her words and now left him to return home. As he dragged his instrument into the shed at rear of fathers house his mind was far way and on that only girl in this world for him. He knew he had little chance him being a shoemakers son and her the third daughter of a Baronet.
The steps between them so many to climb but he was young and full of hope.
Within a month he was serving on the Royal ship Garland in the fleet of Admiral Sir William Monson in the newly opened war with the Dutch. Andrew was only a cabin boy acting as powder monkey to the guns. He saw suddenly the approaching enemy and jumped into action as he had no weapon but his body and no training to be useful he jumped right on to the famous Captian Von Spycke and downed him. The Dutch ship Jung Frau was taken fast by Monson and Andrew was rewarded. The Dutch trouble shooter Captain Von Spycke was so heavily bruised and unsteady it was an easy matter to arrest him.
Prince Maurice was on board and saw for himself what the boy had done and reported it to his brother Prince Rupert who took young Andrew into his service. Suddenly the civil war started and saw Andrew rise to commander of a colour of horse.
RUPERT KIng Charles at head of battle troops 1645
He so distinguished himself in battle that King Charles I Knighted him for valour on the field at the siege of Donnington Castle. He was later wounded in the foot by a pikeman and so was invalided out of the Army before the end of a Civil War that brought England to the peak of danger.
Whilst he was resting and having his wound dressed he was to heard by dispatch that a relative of his mothers had died and named Andrew as her only relative leaving him 50,000 pounds in her will. It made the Knight a very rich man indeed then when a shoemakers wage was around 3 pounds a month.
He did not think of houses not looking into a family with a wife. He could no longer ride a horse as he now walked with a limp and problems with his foot. He took the stage coach route back home to see if he could find Lucy the Baronets daughter who had long ago spoken so kindly to him. When he arrived he did not announce himself as Knight just Andrew Sellwood the shoemakers son.
He was given a job as stable hand mucking out the horse stalls. Lucy had married happily one Sir Arthur Fuller a man who had fought on the Kings side and now that King had been executed and Cromwell and parliament ruled England as a republic.
He had fallen on hard times and had put his faith in money lenders in order to pay wages to his servants. Lucy was out of her mind with worry but Andrew made sure she had cash and left a large amount on Lucys desk and said nothing.
The joy in that house was to him enough as all debts could be paid off and some lest over to store food for winter. Over some years Andrew became Lucys Butler and was her rock in life from that day forth. It is even doubtful that she ever recalled that boy with the invented barrel organ. Time ran by and then the restoration of Kings came on Cromwells death. It was 1660 and King Charles 11 was crowned King of England and her oversea colonies. Many had hoped for their family homes back but very few and only the high Lords achieved that. For many no riches promised by Charles ever came into being. He was known by the epitaph penned in his own life time by John Wilmot .”Here lies a great and noble King who promise none relied upon, he never said a foolish thing nor ever did a wise one.” It sums Charles 11 up perfectly we need say nothing else save that Sir Arthur was so put out as none of his incomes had been restored he was one who joined the plotters to remove the new King.
It was soon discovered by Royal spies that this was going on and one fine day Government soldiers battered on Sir Arthurs front door with a warrant for his arrest.
Then a servant came to the Captain of the guard who said.”If I tell you that I know Sir Arthur is in hiding.If I take you to that place will you promise me not to tell Lady Lucy as will want to stay in her service’ The Captain accepted and so this servant whom you think was Andrew happy to get rid of Lucys husband, took the army to a room. In this room a sliding polished wainscott panel was slide back and there as promised was their man hiding. The servant of course was no place to be found.
At the trail the court was packed and on the stand came the guilty man in chains. Suddenly up stood Prince Rupert .”What foolery is this. For I know this man I fought side by side with him in battle ,he is Sir Andrew Sellwood.”
While this case was going on Lady Lucy and her husband Sir Arthur had fled to France with the gift of Andrews fortune.
Here my friends my story takes a downward course as blamed for aiding a prisoner Sir Andrew Sellwood was jailed for life. He died not long after and his death was hardly noticed .One newspaper placed a short note in its pages about a man who gave his all for the love he saved in his heart that never was to be. Crazy Sir Andrew Sellwood died in his cell a gentleman to the end.
At least they called her son a gentleman as Andrews mother had wanted.
And so we come to the last now his invention passed down the centuries as a fairground instrument and a street beggars way of entertaining public for cash handouts. I recall Punch and Judy shows at seaside places in my early youth and that music played by turning the barrel handle I remember so well. Not really an instrument rather than a music box, or barrel.A monkey sat on the barrel turners shoulder as he made that tinkle music just the same as Andrew had done so long ago.
Thank you for your kindness in being with me here.Not many men today would play out an act just to be near the love of their life. He was not crazy, he was special.The fairground barrel organ of the past
Yours Sir Kevin, at your service.
Copyright Sir Kevin Parr, Baronet.2018