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Castle link to 340-year cheques

Created on 28/06/2017 @ 08:24
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Three 17th century cheques signed by Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine and the grandson of the 1st Lord Powis, whose portrait hangs in Powis Castle in Welshpool, were sold at auction last week.

The cheques, which were issued by Child & Co bank in 1688, 1689 and 1690, sold for a combined total of £360 at fine art auctioneers Halls’ fine pictures, silver, jewellery and coins auction in Shrewsbury. The cheques were for ‘Four score pounds’, three pounds and 10 pounds.

Roger (1634–1705) was married to Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, who was famously a mistress of Charles II and mothered five of the king’s children.

After separating from his wife in 1662, Roger travelled in France and Italy. By 1664, he was in the Levant, serving as an officer in the fleet of the Venetian Republic, commanded by Admiral Andrea Cornaro.

A portrait of him hangs in Powis Castle, a National Trust property and has been attributed to Venice’s leading portrait painter at the time, Sebastiano Bombelli.

Roger’s parents were Sir James Palmer and Catherine Hebert, daughter of the Earl of Powis. An English courtier, diplomat, politician who sat in the House of Commons and Catholic writer, Roger was educated at Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge.

He was elected MP for Windsor in 1660 and King Charles II made him Baron Limerick and Earl of Castlemaine in 1661, a humiliating title that was limited to his children by Barbara, which made it clear that the honour was for her services in the king's bedchamber rather than his personal recognition. Roger didn’t want a peerage on these terms, but it was forced upon him and he never took his seat in the Irish House of Lord.

As a prominent Roman Catholic, he came under suspicion at the time of the Popish Plot between 1678-’81 and was committed to the Tower of London and subsequently tried for high treason, but was acquitted.

He became a member of the English Privy Council in 1686, following James II’s accession to the throne and was appointed Ambassador to the Vatican. After the Revolution of 1688, Roger took refuge in Llanfyllin, but was arrested in Oswestry and spent 16 months in the Tower until 1690 when he was freed on bail.

He was arrested and sent to the Tower again in 1696 after failing to attend the Irish Parliament but was released five months later. He died in Oswestry in 1705 at the age of 70 and was buried in the Herbert family vault at St Mary's Church, Welshpool.

Derek Ainsworth, Halls’ coins specialist, said few examples of 17th century cheques had survived.

PICTURE: One of the cheques signed by Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine.

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