There is a story – a legend, almost – concerning the little village of Ilderton in the shadow of the Cheviots and an illegitimate line of descent from Charles II. It is a nice illustration of how a family can fall so quickly and completely from grace, leaving, of course, a trail of rumours and half-truths in their disappearing wake.
One of King Charles II’s many illegitimate offspring was thought to have been a chap by the name of Charles Dartiquenave (born about 1664), though he was not officially ‘recognised’ as such. Much of the evidence for his suspected regal roots stems from the man’s blessed career path, which, it has been assumed, was guided by the royal hand. Charles loved the high life, and enjoyed his various positions to their full extent. A carefully chosen wife ensured further riches, and he died in comfort at Albury, Hertfordshire, in 1737.
His son, also called Charles, enjoyed a respectable army career, inheriting his father’s many and varied possessions, too, it seems. Charles Junior died in 1748, leaving several young children, among them Charles Peter, Anne and Dorothy. The first named succeeded to the family residence, Patmer Hall (in Albury), but eventually sold the estate in 1775 for reasons unknown. For equally obscure reasons, he (together with his two sisters) then migrated several hundred miles north to take up the tenancy of Ilderton Hall, Northumberland, in 1776. Little is known of his life there, but he was a churchwarden for most of the 1780s.
By 1792, though, Charles had managed to squander his resources, and his entire farming stock and equipment, together with all of his household items and possessions, were sold at auction. His creditors were invited to grab what they could in the ensuing melee, and Charles scarpered to Alnwick (some sources suggest a legal dispute over his tenancy agreement of Ilderton Hall contributed to the move). He lived in a plain house, but maintained a coach and the title of a ‘gentleman’ until his death in 1801, aged 58. However, the man – a great grandson of King Charles II – doesn’t seem to have left a will, which is perhaps indicative of the financial depths to which he had dragged the family line.
Note: It is worth noting, too, that Charles’ sister, Dorothy, to whom he was very close, died in suspicious circumstances at Ilderton Hall prior to them vacating the property. Her supposed violent death resulted in a hasty burial in the garden, it was said. Stains which remain on one of the staircases of the hall are reputed to have been caused by blood from the wounds inflicted on Dorothy by her attacker.