When the British monarchy was restored in 1660, King Charles II was faced with the conundrum of what to with those who had been involved in the execution of his father eleven years earlier. Facing a grisly fate at the gallows, some of the men who had signed Charles I's death warrant fled to America. Charles I's Killers in America traces the gripping story of two of these men-Edward Whalley and William Goffe-and their lives in America, from their welcome in New England until their deaths there. With fascinating insights into the governance of the American colonies in the seventeenth century, and how a network of colonists protected the regicides, Matthew Jenkinson overturns the enduring theory that Charles II unrelentingly sought revenge for the murder of his father. Charles I's Killers in America also illuminates the regicides' afterlives, with conclusions that have far-reaching implications for our understanding of Anglo-American political and cultural relations. Novels, histories, poems, plays, paintings, and illustrations featuring the fugitives were created against the backdrop of America's revolutionary strides towards independence and its forging of a distinctive national identity. The history of the 'king-killers' was distorted and embellished as they were presented as folk heroes and early champions of liberty, protected by proto-revolutionaries fighting against English tyranny. Jenkinson rewrites this once-ubiquitous and misleading historical orthodoxy, to reveal a far more subtle and compelling picture of the regicides on the run.
A lively and engaging account of two of the regicides who fled to New England and how they subsequently came to be remembered and mythologized in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century America. Drawing on a wide range of both historical and fictional sources (including novels, plays, and visual art), this fascinating study reveals the crucial role that the subsequent refashioning of the story of the regicides played in forging a nascent American national identity. * Tim Harris, Munro-Goodwin-Wilkinson Professor in European History, Brown University * Jenkinson's work ... offers a refreshing corrective to recent popular accounts, which have tended to rehearse the now familiar story of the dramatic pursuit of these 'king killers' across the wilds of New England by Royalist bounty hunters ... The picture presented by Jenkinson of the increasingly cloistered existence endured by two ageing revolutionaries wracked with spiritual doubt may make for poorer fiction but is certainly the stuff of excellent history. * Edward Vallance, Literary Review * The book's forte is its careful analysis of the available material and the patient exposure of its frustrating inadequacies. * Andrew Taylor, The Times *