Godalming: The Oglethorpes

Theophilus Oglethorpe, son of Sutton Oglethorpe, came of an old Yorkshire family from Bramham, who had loyally supported King Charles I against the Cromwellian forces, and in consequence suffered severely at the hands of the Puritans with his home and lands being confiscated. With the restoration of the Monarchy, the Oglethorpes, as good Royalists came back into favour, and young Theophilus, soon a dashing major of Dragoons lodged adjacent to Whitehall, fell in love with Eleanor Wall, sempstriss to the King and who lodged at the palaces. They were married and continued in Royal favour, becoming particularly attached to the Duke of York, afterwards James II.

Theophilus played a prominent part in the defeat of James, Duke of Monmouth, at Sedgemoor being hailed as something of a hero. His fortunes changed however with those of the King, and when James II was forced to abdicate, Oglethorpe accompanied his King to France. His retirement from the Army, following the Glorious Revolution in 1668/9, and from all other offices, officially burying himself in his new home at Westbrook, served as a cloak for the continued plotting of himself and his wife, Eleanor, on behalf of the king over the water.

The result was that Theophilus was soon the subject of a warrant as a Jacobite conspirator. Following various alarms and adventures he was finally captured on the 30th May 1691, but received light punishment being required to pay a fine of forty shillings for failing to take the oaths of allegiance to William and Mary. In and out of the country he continued hiding at Westbrook from time to time plotting and counterplotting until after the death of Queen Mary II. Throughout the whole of this time, although loyally devoting himself to the Stuart causes, Theophilus had remained a Protestant as his father had been, and when James II finally rid his court at Saint-Germain of all non-Catholics in response to the pressure of his French hosts, Theophilus after twenty years of service to the Stuarts, ruefully returned to Godalming and, in the late autumn of 1696, took the oath of loyalty to William III.

Theophilus had been Member of Parliament for the Haslemere Division of Surrey and in this office he was succeeded first by his son, Lewis, and then his second son, Theophilus, junior. Sir Theophilus died in 1702.

His son, Lewes, who was a keen and devoted follower of Marlborough, gave up politics for the Army but died of a wound in the Battle of Schellenberg in 1704; Theophilus, junior, became an even more ardent Jacobite than his father and soon relinquished his parliamentary duties, his office of Squire of Westbrook, and his native lands and spent the rest of his life abroad involved in all the intrigues and plans that continuously surrounded the Stuart case. He died at the Court of St Germains.

Theophilus returned to Godalming in the late Autumn of 1696.

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