John Adair, in his authoritative book ‘By The Sword Divided’, states that the two children were those belonging to one Bulstrode Whitelocke of Fawley Court near Henley. Whitelocke was a lawyer of some note and it is not clear which side he supported but it is clear that his house was ransacked by the Royalists in the first instance and then sometime later by Parliament forces. The picture was painted in Victorian times and the scene being portrayed was played out very early in the conflict before any major battles had been fought and it was still fairly difficult to distinguish between the two sides.
It seems that Whitelocke was absent when the Royalists arrived and an assistant of the household removed the two children to his own house and that is where they were ‘interviewed’ by Sir Thomas Byron, a Cavalier of some rank. It is he who is depicted sitting at the table resting his chin on his hands. Although the painting portrays a somewhat threatening scene, the eye witness, Whitelocke’s assistant, Cooke, stated that no harm befell the children and certainly no harm came to Whitelocke during the course of the war.
This post is part of our larger historical resource on the English Civil War. For a comprehensive overview of the English Civil War, click here.