© June 2005; revised 25 June 2008

19th-century printer's ornament
Sidebar giving the official letter patent making William Cavendish a Knight Elect of the Order of the Garter in 1650 (1649 O.S.)

(for the Gallery exhibit, “Richard Lovelace on Lely’s Talent for Psychological Portraiture, 1647”)

Letter for William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle, prepared by Sir Edward Walker, Garter, signed by Charles II, and carried to Newcastle by Sir John Marley in January 1650

Charles the Second, by the Grace of God King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. and Soveraign of the most Noble Order of the Garter. To our right trusty and entirely beloved Cosen, William Marquis of Newcastle, &c. Greeting, Whereas our Royal Progenitors, the Kings of England, have, in all Times since the Institution of the most Noble Order of St. George, called the Garter, by our most Noble and Victorious Ancestor King Edward the Third, elected and chosen into the Fellowship thereof such Princes, and other eminent Persons, as well Strangers, as of their own Subjects, as have for the Nobility, and Greatness of their Births (accompanied with Heroick Virtues, especially in Martial Actions) been thought worthy of the same, Wee therefore considering that, since the late most horrid Rebellion in that our Kingdom, many of the Companions thereof are dead, and finding how necessary it is for our Service, and the Honour of our said Order, to elect others in the Places vacant, who for their Nobility, Courage, and Fidelity, may be fit to be admitted thereunto. Wherefore Wee, duly weighing the Nobleness of your Birth and Family, together with the great and extraordinary Services performed by you against the Rebels in the Condition of Lieutenant-General of the North Part of our Kingdom of England, under our late Dear and Royal Father, King Charles of ever blessed and glorious Memory: And likewise considering your great Affection and Inclination to perform no less to Us: Have thought fit to confer upon you such signal Mark of our Favour and high Esteem, as may fully evidence the same. Know Yee therefore, that Wee by our Power, as Soveraign of the said most Noble Order (dispensing with the usual Ceremonies) do elect and choose you, our said right trusty and entirely beloved Cosen, William Marquis of Newcastle, to be Fellow and Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter: And do hereby send you the George and Ribband, Part of the Ensigns thereof, by our trusty and wel-beloved Sir John Marley, Knt. &c. The which George and Ribband, We do hereby Will and Authorise you, to wear, together with the Garter. And because it is not possible, at the present, to have all Other additions and Ceremonies incident to the same fully perfected, Wee do further Will and Authorise You, to wear, with the George and the Garter or Ribband, on your left Legg, the Glory or Star of Silver with St. George’s Cross, embroidered within a Garter on your Cloak or upon Garments; as likewise the great Collar of the Order, on such Days as are accustomed. To use the Garter about your Armes, and to stile yourself, Knight and Companion of the said most Noble Order of the Garter; in as amp1e Manner, as if you had been installed in our Castle of Windsor, where (when it shall please God to restore Us to the Possession thereof) you shall formally be invested, and receive the Habit, and all other Ornaments of the said most Noble Order. And Wee are most assured, That as you have hitherto with singular Courage, Conduct, and Fidelity, served Us, so you will still do the same, as becomes a Knight and Companion of so Noble an Order. Given at our Court at Castle Elizabeth, in our Island of Jersey, this 12th Day of January, in the first year of our Reign, 1649.

— from Sir Edward Walker’s contemporary Historical
Account of the Knights of the Garter, MS. p. 11;
rpt. in Arthur Collins, Historical Collections of
the Noble Families of Cavendishe, Holles, Vere,
Harley, and Ogle ...
(London, 1752), pp. 38–9

Feeling a pressing need “to supply the vacant places” in the Order of the Garter and to keep this institutional symbol of royal power intact and functioning, Charles II “publickly declared in Council, that he did make choice of, and elect into the Order” not only his old tutor, William Cavendish, marquis of Newcastle, but also three other Knights elect: William, duke of Hamilton; James, marquis of Montross (then in Norway, preparing for the invasion of Scotland); and James, earl of Darby (then in the Isle of Man).

Membership in this elite Order was more than just ceremonial, although as Charles’ detailed letter to Newcastle suggests, the insignia of membership were all-important. Charles ensured that Garter business was conducted in exile, despite “the Danger of the Usurper in England.” Sir Edward Walker recorded that in May 1650, “three of the most Noble Companions Elect, the Dukes of Buckingham, and Hamilton, and the Marquis of Newcastle” reported to Charles that “they had read and considered Garter’s [Walker’s] Petition, and find the Allegations therein mentioned to agree with the Statutes, and antient Practise of the said Order.... And they make this Report to his Majesty, to the end he may be pleased to maintain the Petitioner in his just Rights.”

Description of Garter apparel for the formal installation of William Cavendish and fellow Knights Elect at Windsor on 15 April 1661

“The King, by his Warrant April 10, 1661, to the Earl of Sandwich Master of the great Wardrobe, ordered the Delivery to his Lordship [William, marquis of Newcastle], of 18 Yards of blue Velvet for an upper Robe, and 10 Yards of crimson Velvet for an under Robe or Surcoat, together with 16 Yards of white Taffata, to line them both. Also, by another Warrant of the same Date, Sir Gilbert Talbot, Master of the Jewels, was ordered to deliver him one Collar of Gold, containing the usual Number of Garters, with red Roses enameled in the Midst of them, and as many Knots, the Collar weighing 30 Ounces Troy Weight: Likewise, one rich George on Horseback, with the Dragon, fastened and pendant thereto. And every one of the Knights, then installed, had the same delivered to them, against the Installation ....

— from Arthur Collins, Historical Collections of
the Noble Families of Cavendishe, Holles, Vere,
Harley, and Ogle ...
(London, 1752), p. 41
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