Characters and Families

John Leyburn was sprung of the old and hourable family of Leyburne of Cunswick, by Kendal in Westmorland and there are many references to his family's prominent position in the recusant population of England in the latter half of the seventeenth century. It is easy to identify the Leyburne family with the Layburnes of Cunswick, and the position of this family has been explored in detail in the doctoral thesis of Alison Wright at St. Andrews in 2002 (obviously not available to Robert Neill). Much of what follows is taken from this thesis.

On the first page of Moon in Scorpioquote> we learn that our hero, John Leyburne had:

Comparing this with the pedigree of the Layburnes produced by Alison Wright, we find a John Layburne (the youngest son of John Leyburne who died 1663) who died in 1702. He succeeded his uncle George as President of Douai after a period as Cardinal Howard's auditor in Rome, and was consecrated Bishop of Adrumentum and served as James II's Catholic bishop from 1685-1688.

This John had three brothers:

So either we have a 'real John Leyburne', a catholic, who died in 1702, around age 45, with a papist father, or, we have a 'fictional non-papist John Leyburne' with a fictional, non-papist father. However, both Johns have three uncles John, George and Thomas.

From the history of the Layburnes of Cunswick I am inclined to think that the introduction of a protestant element into such a dedicated Roman Catholic family was purely fictional, and I would like to absolve uncle Thomas from the taint of puritanism.

The John Leyburne of Moon in Scorpio was a fictional son of an additional fictional son of the 'real' John Layburne who died in 1663.

There is a memorial is in the Parish Church of Holy Trinity at Kendal in Cumbria to the last of the family, another John, the son of George.

As recorded above, the family name died out with John in 1737, and no family archive remains. However, official records of their affairs are to be found in the Cumbria Record Office at Kendal, the Public Record Office at Kew, the Archives of the Archbishop of Westminster, the Queen's Stuart Archives at Windsor, and the French Departmental Archives for St. Germain-en-Laye, and printed sources such as the Calendar of State Papers Domestic.

Seventeenth century Westmorland was deeply conservative, and included a profoundly Arminian Anglican-based society which had many pro-Catholic leanings. In this society the Layburnes adhered strongly to the old faith and provided numerous priests for the Catholic church especially throughout the seventeenth century. The strength and persistence of the Tory Anglican model of passive obedience to the Crown as preached by the Restoration Anglican Church was fully apparent in Westmorland. Presbyterianism never thrived in the county.

Just a mention of some earlier Layburne prominent catholics:

  1. James Layburne, was hanged, drawn and quartered in 1583 for denying Queen Elizabeth I's legitimacy and also for his support for Pius V's declaration that she had no right to the throne.

  2. Roger Layburne, consecrated in 1503 was a pre-Reformation bishop of Carlisle.

  3. John Layburne was admitted to St Alban's College in Valladolid in 1593.

  4. George Layburne was active on behalf of Charles I in the Civil War, but more significantly he was one of Queen Henrietta Maria's Court Chaplains.

  5. John Layburne (died 1663) married twice. He had four sons and four daughters by his first wife. The eldest, William, was killed fighting for the Royalists early in the Civil War. The second son, Thomas, inherited the estates of Cunswick and Witherslack. The third son, James, went to live in France and was possibly employed in Louis XIV's army, the fourth son, John was a possible candidate for the John Leyburne of Moon in Scorpio. Their father's second marriage produced five sons and two daughters. We have no record of two of the sons, or of the daughters. Three of the sons played influential, but less well-documented roles in seventeenth-century politics. George, the eldest, had cosiderable influence on Catholic affairs and local politics in Westmorland and North Lancashire. He eventually inherited the Cunswick estates as the main male line died out in 1680.

  6. George's younger brother, Charles, served at another Catholic queen's court (Mary of Modena). In 1688 Mary and her infant son fled to France. Charles accompanied the royal family and spent the rest of his life in exile at St. Germain-en-Laye. The youngest son, William (born in 1644 after the death of his half-brother), was ordained and probably assisted his elder half-brother John in Rome as secretary to Cardinal Howard. The last Layburne to inherit Cunswick was George's eldest son John. From a long line of Catholic Gentry, whose family had served James II, it was natural for him to join the 1715 Jacobite rising at Preston on 10th November. He was taken prisoner there when the Jacobite army surrendered. In London he was tried and attainted for treason, although not executed. He died in Kendal close to the Parish Church where, on his death on the 9th of December 1737, he is remembered.

(There is an Edgeworth which is a little village in Lancashire near Darwen and appears to have no relevance to Moon in Scorpio.)

There is an Agecroft in Pendlebury on the northen outskirts of Salford which has an association with the family name Langley.

The lord of Pendlebury married Alice de Woolley daughter of Richard son of Henry de Pontefract, the eventual heir was his daughter Alice, wife of Jordan de Tetlow. Her heir was her daughter, Joan, who married Richard de Langley, and the manor descended with the Langleys until Agecroft (also known as Achecroft or Edgecroft) was the manor house of Pendleburg (Pendlebury - now part of Salford) being the residence of the Prestwich family until Johanna de Prestwich married Roger de Langley - subsequently the Langley's, formerly of Middleton, are recorded as residing at Agecroft Hall in 1389. The Langleys married well and propitiously, having sons and daughters wed into the de Trafford family, the Hollands, and the Asshetons. These connections and their considerable land holdings in the region made them a powerful local family for several centuries. Sometime around 1340 Richard de Langley married Joanna, sole heiress of the Prestwich family, and subsequently the Prestwich and Heaton estates came into the possession of the Langleys. The Langley family history had already achieved notoriety by the early 15th century, when in October 1404, Charles Langley was elected Bishop of London and Archbishop of York, despite opposition from Rome - the Pope went on to excommunicate Langley as well as the King, who had promoted him. At the end of the 16th century. Robert Langley died 19 September 1561, leaving four daughters as co-heirs. On the division of the estates, Agecroft, and lands in Pendlebury, became the portion of Anne, who married William Dauntesey, from Wiltshire, and the Langley name expired. Agecroft and Pendlebury are at least fifteen miles from the Langley House.

It appears that Neill just borrowed the name to create Penelope's father Richard Langley.

Will Hoghton really did exist!

The old family of de Hoghton (or Houghton) had their country seat at Hoghton Tower, sometimes known as Houghton Castle, a few miles east of Preston. This old family is of Norman descent, tracing its history back to before the Invasion of 1066. It is reputed that a Houghton came over on the same ship as William the Conqueror himself, and that the Houghton coat of arms is the oldest in Cheshire and the second oldest in England. By the mid-16th century the Houghtons were fervent supporters of Catholicism, at a time when the Catholic Faith was outlawed. William Shakespeare stayed with the Houghtons for a while in the role of school teacher and actor. Richard de Hoghton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. The Hoghtons of Park Hall are an offshoot of this family. Henry de Lea in 1284 obtained a royal charter for a market every Friday at his manor of Charnock, and an annual fair on the eve, day and morrow of St. Nicholas; also free warren in his demesne lands. The market and fair do not seem to have prospered, but the grant of free warren led to the formation of a park, and the distinguishing name of the Park or Park Hall for that share of the manor. In 1606 was acquired by Richard Hoghton, an illegitimate son of a Sir Richard Hoghton of Hoghton. Richard Hoghton of Park Hall died in 1622, his eldest son Alexanderhad died before his father, and Park Hall descended to Richard's younger son William. This branch of the family had long belonged to the Roman Catholic faith, and William Hoghton supporteded the king's cause on the outbreak of the Civil War. He was made a lieutenant-colonel, but fell at the first battle of Newbury in 1643. The estates were at once sequestered by the Parliament, and in 1652 John, William's son and heir, petitioned for an allowance from his inheritance, as he was in no way guilty of delinquency, but was a recusant. The estates were sold under the third Confiscation Act of 1652, but were regained by John Hoghton who recorded a pedigree in 1664. His son William was born in 1659 (making him 20 years old in 1679). The fit for Will Houghton in Moon in Scorpio is perfect. So Will's father with gout was called John.

There is a recorded Mansell family of the period which had considerable noble connections, but they had no connection with Lancashire. In Moon in Scorpio, Henry Mansell, was a gentleman of the lesser sort who rode with the Parliamentarians in the 1640-42 and was left with Thornclough ... and not enough wealth to keep it: hardly the status of the Mansells.

Sir Edward Maunsell (Mansel) was appointed Chamberlain of Chester upon the death of Sir Rhys Mansel in 1559, and held it until 1565. Sir Edward married Lady Jane Somerset, daughter of Henry Somerset, Earl of Worcester, by whom he had a very numerous family. In 1569 he was made Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire and Cheshire. He died 1572, and his son Henry, fourth earl, succeeded him in these offices, dying in 1593. His 4th and most famous son was: Sir Robert Mansel, b. 1573, d. 1656, commenced his sea-training at an early age, became Treasurer of the Navy (1604-1618) before he was appointed, May 14, 161S, Vice-Admiral of England, a post second only in rank and importance to that of lord high admiral Mansell played no active part in the civil war. The parish register of St Alfege, in East Greenwich, where he lived, indicates that he was buried on 21 August 1652, so it is difficult to explain why licences to export horses were issued in his name in October 1655. He died childless and intestate, letters of administration being granted on 26 June 1656 to his widow, who died in 1658.

We must conclude that Neil borrowed the Mansell name, with no direct relevance to the Mansell family.

Henry Nevil Payne (died 1710?) was a dramatist and agitator for the Roman Catholic cause in Scotland and England. He wrote The Fatal Jealousie (1673), The Morning Ramble (1673), and The Siege of Constantinople (1675). After he finished writing plays, he was heavily involved in the Montgomery Plot in 1689, and was captured and put to torture on 10 December 1690. He was finally released in February 1701, and commenced further plotting.

John Gadbury (1627–1704) was an English astrologer, and a prolific writer of almanacs and on other related topics. Initially a follower or disciple, and a defender in the 1650s, of William Lilly, he eventually turned against Lilly and denounced him in 1675 as fraudulent.[1] His 1652 'Philastrogus Knavery Epitomized' was a reply to Lillie's 'Ape Whipt by the pseudonymous Philastrogus', defending Lilly, Nicholas Culpeper and others. He became a High Tory and Catholic convert. He had a number of brushes with the authorities: imprisonment (wrongful) at the time of the Popish Plot (as in Moon in Scorpio) and was suspicted later of plotting against William III of England (Lancashire Plot). He was in trouble for omitting Guy Fawkes Day from his almanacs.