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Sir Henry Bard - A Potted History

Sir Henry Bard's Achievment of Arms
Sir Henry Bard's Achievement of Arms

Sir Henry Bard was born in 1615, the youngest son of the Reverend George Bard and Susan Dudley. He attended Eton College then went on to King's College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow and graduted with a BA and an MA, probably in 1636.

Bard travelled extensively after graduating, journeying through parts of europe and the middle east, including Egypt. It is supposed that it was in Egypt that he "obtained" a copy of the Koran, which was the property of a mosque there; he later presented this to his old college, which still retains it.

He initialy served in the Royalist army as a Lt. Colonel in Lord Percy's regiment of foot, which was one of two regiments formed from the Marquis of Newcastle's Army when it was sent south to Oxford as guard for a convoy of ammunition. The other regiment was Colonel Thomas Pinchbeck's regiment.

Bard immediatly came to the notice of the King because of his reputation as a linguist and of being well travelled. He also gained the respect of Prince Rupert.

Early in 1643 Bard was sent to Ireland to raise more troops for the royalist cause. He brought back two regiments of foote.

When Pinchbeck was killed at the first battle of Newbury in 1643, Henry Bard was appointed to take over as the commanding officer - Pincbeck's regiment being renamed Colonel Henry Bard's Regiment. It is around this time that Col. Henry Bard was knighted and became Sir Henry Bard.

Bard's first major engagement after taking command of his new regiment was the battle of Cheriton Wood, in March 1644. At this battle Bard impetuously lead his regiment in a charge, contrary to orders, against the Parliamentary cavalry. The regiment was decisively routed by the cavalry, with most of the regiment being killed; Bard himself lost the use of an arm and was captured by the parliamentary forces. He was given the title of 1st Baronet Bard of Staines in October 1644.

Once securing release from Parlimentary custody he returned and took command of his regiment again, being appointed the governor of Campden House, in Gloustershire. When the garrison was withdrawn from the house it is probable that Bard ordered the house to be burnt down, to deny its use to enemy.

Following this Bard was at the storming of Leicester in May 1645, where he was in fact credited with being the first over the defences - no mean feat for a man with only the use of one arm. He's also credited, somewhat less honourably, with ravishing two women of the town. Still with only one arm.

Bard's active participation in the English Civil War ended in June 1645 when his regiment was destroyed at the battle of Naseby. However, he was elevated to the peerage in July 1645 when he was made 1st Baron Bard of Dromboy, co Westmeath and the 1st Viscount Bellamont, co Dublin.

After Naseby Bard was sent to Ireland again, pressumably to raise more troops. However during the crossing he was captured by parliamentary forces. Bard secured his own release by sending a letter to Parliament declaring 'that he had not taken arms for neither religon or that mousetrap the laws...'. He was permitted his freedom so long as he went abroad and did not return without permission. He did so by joining the Royal court in Exile at The Hague.

During his time in exile he was implicated in the murder of a prominant parliamentarian abroad, Isaac Dorislaus. Though he was released due to lack of evidence - probably because he had nothing to do with it. He was later sent as a special envoy of Charles II to the Shah of Persia and the Great Moghul of India to raise money for the Royalist cause.

Sir Henry Bard died in June 1656 in India, the cause of his death is variously reported. He is burried in the catholic cemetary near Agra. Bard was survived by his son, Sir Charles Rupert Bard, but he only outlived his father by 11 years. Charles fell at the battle of St. Kitts, in Barbados, trying to recapture it from the French. On his son's death, all of Bard's titles fell extinct.

Also of note is Bard's eldest daughter, Frances, who was the mistress of Prince Rupert, they had an illigitmate son called Dudley. Dudley, like his father, grandfather and uncle, was a soldier. He was killed in 1686 at the siege of Buda, in Hungary, fighting in the effort to liberate the city from the Turks.

An interesting, but a little fanciful, post script to this little piece: there is a document, of uncertain authenticity, that, if true, would mean that Prince Rupert and Frances were in fact married. If this was true then Dudley would have been the legitimate issue of Prince Rupert; and had he not died in action when he did, then we could today have a descendant of Sir Henry Bard sat on the English throne, as the lawful heir of Prince Rupert. Just another of the "What If?"s of history, comprised mostly of ifs and ands; but one that has some appeal to those who love Sir Henry.

hikari (April 2005)

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