Thursday, May 02, 2019

Sir John Gramson's Regiment of Horse..

The man himself (caught in perhaps one of the
first selfies), while serving in the low countries
By way of a bit of fun..  here's the next regiment to join the Parliamentary ranks.. 

Bawdy, cowardly, and courageous by turns, Sir John (known to his closer acquaintances, and a fair few ladies, as Lee) Gramson was a seventeenth century gentleman who over the course of his lifetime was caught between, and served,  various allegiances, and who at separate times had to either bludgeon, lie, or bed his way out of a number of troubles.

Born in 1601, Sir Lee's family’s fortunes came from his Scottish father’s boyhood friendship with King Charles, and as the heir to Gramson House, the family mansion on the Thames near Richmond, he always believed himself  destined for greater things.

As a young man, he was sent to Oxford University, where he spent three years deciding that he was not interested either in continuing academic life. or entering one of the professions—law, the Church, or medicine. An uninspired scholar, his time appears to have been sent mostly at "The Vulgar Unicorn", a public house of ill repute where he was usually to be found (when not upstairs with Meg, Lill, Kate, and/or Beth) in a corner of the bar with friends.

While he was at university, his father died and he inherited..

Sometime around 1626 (his memoirs are unclear, possibly due to his life-long prodigious appetite for Sack and Malmsey), he lost the house and inheritance in a game of Cribbage. Subsequent accusations that the game was rigged were unproven, yet resulted in a life long enmity for the man  he believed to have deprived him of his fortune (Sir Mamaduke Forstescue).

Much taken with the two "yellow duns" (really..) in the middle..

With no money, and pursued by debtors and ladies of ill repute, Gramson crossed the Channel and after minor adventures on the road, arrived in Paris. Facts are unclear but his subsequent early departure from Paris may have been due to him killing a man in a duel and needing to avoid the authorities.

He journeyed to Italy and travelled there for some time, arriving in Vienna in 1631 and then going on into Bavaria. In Germany, he was witness the fighting between the Protestant Germans, led by the Elector-Duke of Saxony, and the Catholic forces headed by Emperor Ferdinand. Needing money he took a commission as a volunteer officer in the Protestant forces and was present at the siege of Magdeburg where the Gramson coffers were replenished again by the looting that followed.

Love that uniform blue..

After the fall of Magdeburg, Gramson was introduced to Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who had joined the Protestant Germans against Emperor Ferdinand and was apparently impressed enough that he took service with the Swedes as a gentlemen volunteer and was present (but not conspicuous) at both Lutzen and Breitenfeld, and where the coffers were added to again.

On the death of Adolphus he again surrendered his commission, and returned to France via Holland, before eventually returning to England, when the news of the troubles (that were to lead to the English Civil War) reached him.

As a hardened veteran of the wars in the Low Countries, his memoirs also make clear that he is still also seeking revenge on Forstescue, the man who he believed cheated him, but who is serving Charles. Driven by revenge then, rather than a conviction to serve Parliament’s cause, he takes service with Parliament and is given a commission to raise a regiment of horse, and passes the time while doing this, cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress, and plotting the death of Forstescue.

Gramson died in 1662, childless, possibly as a result of cirrhosis of the liver following a lifetime of Sack and Malmsey intake (right up to his death his usual breakfast was a dozen oysters washed down with a jug of Malmsey).

Forstescue outlived him ()

Figures Peter Pig - painted March '19 (but not by me - as can clearly be seen!) - love them, cheers, Lee!

The real stuff:

The vast majority of the above is of course scurrilous nonsense, but it was fun inventing it, and I wanted a way of marking Lee's kindness in painting these two regiments of horse for me and this seemed as good a way as any.. 

The following however, are actually true..


  1. Nicely painted! I very much like the contrast of the blue and buff - very striking!

    1. AJ... the bugger of it is, he's given me a right old challenge for any of my future cavalry units to match these.. LOL! :o))

  2. A fine tale with which to baptize a new unit and character!

    1. David, scurrilous... utterly scurrilous.. a legend is born.. :o)

  3. Great looking figures and a fine story too. Great story too,You've created a legend!

    1. Ta Ray.. liked your new Donnybrook figures as well!

  4. I'm honoured Steve, thank you. What an exciting life I led, and as for the breakfast of Malmsey and Oysters, well of course! Loving that 'selfie' portrait, how funny. Here's to the regiment fighting well.

    1. Lee - you did a smashing job and I'm quite chuffed I came up with such a cracking idea to remember your kindness... now.. if Sir John (or Lee'kins, as Kate at the Vulgar Unicorn likes to call him) can drag himself away from his cards and Malmsey, there's a troop to be trained, and six more to be recruited!! LOL..

  5. Lovely looking troop of horse and a splendid backstory!
    Best Iain

  6. Hehe. What a brilliant backstory. Amazed that cribbage is so old!