|Elizabeth Claypole, The Royal Collection|
Elizabeth Claypole is one such example. The short entry on the Westminster Abbey website where she is buried intrigued me and I tried to find out more about her but with little success.
It seems that no-one has attempted a biography - there isn't even an historical novel - about Elizabeth's interesting, if short, life. She has walk-on roles in a few books about her father Oliver Cromwell, but the only detailed articles I could find on her were written by men in the 19th Century and it is odd that she does not seem worthy of more recent scholarship.
Too often, the truth of history is altered or re-written to suit changing times, and when King Charles II was restored to the English throne he was determined to blacken the reputations of everyone who had been responsible for the execution of his father, King Charles I, or had been supporters of Oliver Cromwell. Many individuals (including Cromwell himself) who had originally been buried at Westminster Abbey were exhumed, hung at Tyburn and the bodies eventually ended up in a communal pit in the churchyard of St Margaret's next door and only Elizabeth Claypole remained where she was. Perhaps she was simply overlooked or, more likely, she was still remembered as someone who tried to intercede with her father on behalf of royalist offenders and others; that she was the only person who had the power to move him. It was said that she even berated him on her deathbed for the blood he had caused to be shed.
|John Claypole, National Portrait Gallery|
|Elizabeth Claypole, Victoria and Albert Museum|
‘a lady of an excellent spirit and judgment, and of a most noble disposition, eminent in all princely qualities conjoined with sincere resentments of true religion and piety’
(Mercurius Politicus, 5–12 Aug 1658).