By Andrew Murrison
The people of London are gathering around the scaffold to witness the execution of King Charles I. The English Civil War between Roundhead and Cavalier – followers of Parliament or King – appears to have reached its bloody climax.
But who’s the executioner sweating beneath his heavy disguise? The clerk scribbling the King’s last words is in no doubt. He scratches the name that has eluded historians since and calculates the money he can make from it.
Six years earlier, a heated disagreement between west-country yeoman Nathaniel Salt and his neighbour, the wealthy merchant Erasmus Carew, turns into a dangerous vendetta when Nat’s house is torched by Carew’s thugs and his children burned alive.
Carew supports the King and his cause. Nat meanwhile joins the Parliamentarians, vowing to avenge his dead children and he rises up within the ranks of Oliver Cromwell’s side against the King, and against Carew.
Marriage to his childhood sweetheart, the Squire’s daughter Euphemia – Effam – Farrington, brings Nat land, status and a new name. He becomes Captain Nathaniel Farrington and succeeds the Squire as Member of Parliament for Hinton.
An incompetent midwife dashes the couple’s hopes of children but adopting the product of an earlier liaison gives them their son and heir. The child is named after his godfather Oliver Cromwell.
Nat’s rise is facilitated by one Foxwood, a political fixer and spin-doctor. The Westminster insider’s diary of secrets contains plenty of material to feed the news books of London and for blackmail.
As King Charles’ vengeful son is restored to his father’s throne, Foxwood prepares his final deception. With Nat taking ship for Massachusetts, the identity of the King’s executioner is finally revealed, and his true relationship with Erasmus Carew…
Andrew William Murrison is a Member of Parliament and former defence minister. He was a medical officer in the Royal Navy for nearly 20 years. In 2003 Andrew voted against and served in the Iraq war. A regular contributor to print, broadcast and social media, Andrew lives in Westminster and Wiltshire with Jenny, their five daughters and a variety of farm animals.