New Release and a FREE Book!

Culpepper4The fourth book in the Culpepper Saga – Culpepper’s Rebellion – is here!!!! You can pick it up at Amazon by clicking HERE. If you haven’t yet read any of the Culpepper Saga, you can pick up the first book – I, John Culpepper – for FREE through November 4th by clicking HERE. The four books are the continuing story of the life of John Culpepper, the patriarch of the modern-day American Culpeppers, from his birth in 1606 in England to the end of his life in 1680 in Colonial Virginia. Check out the book blurbs below.

Culpepper_1I, John Culpepper

John Culpepper was born into a privileged childhood, surrounded by abundant wealth, vast land holdings, and stately English manors. As he grew, he was expected to follow family tradition—attend law school and serve in Parliament, following which he would retire to a quiet life as a country gentleman.

John, however, had different desires. He longed to captain a mighty ship, to hear the snap of the sails, to taste the salty spray on his lips. To follow his dreams, John would have to risk being disinherited by his unyielding father. He would have to defy family convention. He would ultimately be forced to choose between the woman he loved and his mistress—the sea.

The Merchant ebookJohn Culpepper the Merchant

For hundreds of years, the Culpepper family backed the monarchy, but when King Charles disbanded Parliament, married a Catholic princess, and appointed an archbishop who was a Catholic supporter, the royalist Culpeppers found themselves at odds with their friends and neighbors.

Years earlier, against his family’s wishes, John had purchased a merchant ship, sailed to Virginia, and spent most of his time there. While on American soil, he received word of the uprisings that followed the king’s actions.

When civil war began, John feared for the safety of his family in England. He was horrified when the king was captured, convicted of high treason, and beheaded. Would John’s family be next? The only way to rescue them would be with his ship, under the cloak of darkness. Would he succeed, or would they all be caught and tried as traitors?

JC Esquire (1)John Culpepper, Esquire

John Culpepper was a prominent figure in colonial Virginia, a merchant in Jamestown for two decades and a resident since the disastrous civil war that shook England to its core. The Culpepper family, decimated by the war, had known great defeat, but none as heartbreaking as the tragic event that abruptly left John in the position of family patriarch.

He struggled with this newly acquired role, marrying off his nieces to eligible colonialists, sending some of the boys back to England, purchasing a ship for his sons against their mother’s wishes.

Upon the collapse of the English Commonwealth, members of John’s family escorted the exiled prince back to London to be crowned as King Charles II. Would the Culpepper family finally reclaim the power and prestige it had once possessed? And how would John hold his family together on two continents?

Culpepper4Culpepper’s Rebellion

John Culpepper thought he had done right by his family when he married off his niece to his childhood friend, Sir William Berkeley, the governor of Virginia. When his cousin Nathaniel Bacon appeared and began an uprising against Berkeley, John was caught in the middle. He did everything in his power to advise his friend, protect his niece, and honor the crown.

He was unaware that during Bacon’s rebellion, his own son was planning a rebellion in Carolina. John had spent most of his life defying his father and the status quo, but when his son was arrested and charged with treason, he was forced to examine every idea he held about his life and his past. The legal training John had rebelled against in his youth would now be the only thing standing between his son’s life and death.

 

Nathaniel Bacon from the Culpepper Saga

book 4 nathaniel baconIn lieu of a Saturday Snippet, I’d like to introduce you to the ever handsome and dashing Nathaniel Bacon (photo).

THE MAN

Nathaniel was born in 1647 in England to an aristocratic family. In the early 1670s, he was charged with some phony land dealings and fled to Virginia. Fortunately, he had a few distant cousins already living there. One was the hero of the Culpepper Saga, John Culpepper. The other was Sir William Berkeley, the governor of Virginia, who was married to John’s niece. One big happy family. Berkeley assisted Bacon in obtaining land grants, and being family and all, Berkeley gave Bacon a seat on the Virginia Council in 1675. And all is well.

THE TIMES

In the 1670s, the colonists of Virginia fought continuously with the local Indians. The Indians were barbaric and destroyed colonists’ homes and crops and killed their families. The colonists needed some sort of militia to keep their families and property safe, but there were only 6,000 free men in the colony. These were mostly aristocratic men with a combined total of 2,000 indentured servants and 6,000 slaves. Do you really think they were the kind to go do the dirty work of fighting off the Indians? And they certainly didn’t want to arm disgruntled servants and slaves. In typical politician fashion, Berkeley’s only idea was to raise more taxes in hopes that something would work. One of the taxes was the Fort Tax, which was supposed to be used to build forts and to man them to keep a look-out for Indians. The “forts” ended up being nothing more than mud huts and of course were never manned. Berkeley’s colonists were not happy. He had a mess on his hands.

Along comes Bacon who would be happy to take care of the Indian problem. He doesn’t speak with the governor about his plans, but after serving copious amounts of brandy at his estate, he was unanimously elected the leader of the new militia. This illegal militia was not approved by Governor Berkeley and could certainly be construed as usurping the governor’s prerogative. Not something one should do in the times.

THE CRAZY GOVERNOR

SirWilliamBerkeley2Berkeley (photo) was pushing seventy years and his actions seem a bit nuts.

First, when he heard about Bacon’s militia, he named Bacon a rebel and took away his seat on the council.

Then he forgave him and gave him his seat back. He told Bacon if he stayed out of trouble for a fortnight, he would grant him the commission to raise a legal militia.

After Bacon went home, Berkeley named Bacon a traitor and sent his men to arrest him. Bacon fled and the two played cat-and-mouse for a few months. Berkeley was being threatened by the militia, bombarded by the colonists, and fighting with the Indians. Afraid for his life, he fled also.

With Berkeley gone, Bacon came back to Jamestown and tried to take back his seat on the council, but the council refused. Berkeley heard of Bacon’s whereabouts and sent his men to arrest Bacon. Bacon spread propaganda about his location – one day he was here with four-hundred men, the next he was there with five-hundred.

Following the rebels burning down the entire city of Jamestown, Berkeley came out of hiding to view the damage. Bacon followed and surrounded the state house with Berkeley in it. Berkeley came out and bared his chest, demanding that Bacon shoot him right now. Bacon refused and the two went inside to discuss terms to an agreement. Berkeley, of course, gave Bacon everything he wanted including command of the Virginia militia.

After Bacon left to begin forming his militia, Berkeley denied ever giving him the commission and again demanded his arrest. He then went back into hiding until this Bacon mess was over. While Berkeley was in hiding, he received word that Bacon had died October 1676 of dysentery and the rebellion was over.

Many think Bacon’s actions were simply to put an end to local Indian problems, but after studying the incident, I’m leaning toward the idea that Bacon’s ego was larger than that. I think he wanted to be the governor of Virginia. He wanted to run the aging Berkeley out of office and take the glory (and the tax money) for himself.

Following the rebellion, Berkeley gathered up the leaders of the militia and hung twenty-three of them. He was summoned to England by the king to answer for his actions. He sailed the following spring, but he became ill on the voyage and died shortly after his arrival in July 1677 – without ever seeing the king.

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Culpepper4Bacon’s Rebellion is a huge part of the fourth book in the Culpepper Saga, “Culpepper’s Rebellion.” It will be released October 31, 2015 and will be available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.

culpepper saga-001

Saturday Snippets – Coming Soon – Culpepper’s Rebellion

Culpepper4I’m finishing up the final revisions of the fourth book in the Culpepper Saga, Culpepper’s Rebellion.

In the first book of the series, John Culpepper struggles to realize his dreams, never seeing eye-to-eye with his father. His dad sends him to law school, and John hates every moment of it, wishing instead to own a ship and become a merchant between London and the colony of Virginia.

In the second book, the English civil war breaks out, and John’s ship is the only lifeline that saves the family from certain execution.

In the third book, John becomes the patriarch of the family, struggling to hold his family together on two continents.

In this final book, John finds himself in the middle of  Bacon’s Rebellion in Jamestown, Virginia. He is so wrapped up in the Jamestown drama, he doesn’t realize his youngest son is beginning his own rebellion in Carolina. When all is finally calming down in Virginia, John’s son is arrested in London on charges of treason. John’s law training, which he so desperately despised in his youth, becomes the only thing standing between his son’s life and death.

Here’s the first chapter of the new book. Culpepper’s Rebellion will be released October 31, 2015.

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CHAPTER 1

1680, The Tower, London

John followed the guard down the winding hallway. It was narrow and dark with only the light of an occasional torch resting in its iron holder, flickering shadows on the stone walls. Where John could see, the walls looked dark and damp, covered with a slimy layer of green mold, but the musty smell didn’t mask the overwhelming stench of urine and feces. He shook his head and wrinkled his nose at the insult.

As he passed intermittent arched doorways, prisoners yelled at him through small, bar-covered windows and pounded their fists on the wooden doors. Some begged for mercy, others pleaded for food and drink. The desperate voices echoing off the walls should have made John uneasy, but he only felt sheer hopelessness for those imprisoned. He didn’t look up when they called to him. He walked behind the guard with his head down, his heart heavy. How could any man endure this dreadful place? He remembered his older brother serving a short sentence within these walls during the civil war more than thirty years earlier, but in all of John’s seventy-four years, he had never seen the inside of the Tower. The unfortunate occasion that had brought him all the way from Virginia to be here on this day was more terrifying than the actual place.

The guard slowed when he rounded the corner, reaching inside his tunic pocket and noisily producing a ring of iron keys. John waited while the man found the appropriate key and placed it in the keyhole. When he turned it, there was a loud metallic snap. The guard pushed open the door, which moaned softly on its rusted hinges, and John entered.

The small room was lit by only a sliver of a window placed so high on the wall that none could see in or out. As the guard closed and locked the door behind him, John’s heart melted at the sight of the figure lying in a ball on a wooden platform, facing the moldy wall. John assumed the platform was a bed, but there was no blanket, no warmth, no comfort. A mouse scampered across John’s boot and disappeared into the tiniest of holes in the wall. At least the prisoners didn’t have to sleep on the floor with the mice.

“Johnny?” John said quietly.

Johnny sat up and spun around. “Father! What are you doing here?”

“I came to see to your welfare.”

“They’ve charged me with treason.” He ran his fingers through his disheveled curls.

“I know. That’s why I’m here.” His son looked so thin and worn. “You need a lawyer and I know of none better than myself.”

“You hate practicing law.”

“I’d hate it more to see your head on the scaffold.”

“I don’t think you can prevent it. They believe I embezzled the king’s funds.”

“Did you?”

“Of course not.”

“Then we’ll find a way out of this. Your mother will be very displeased with me if I allow you to lose your head.”

Johnny rose and wrapped his arms around John. “Thank you for coming, Father. I hate to admit it…” He paused and swallowed hard. “But for the first time in my life, I’m truly frightened.”

“I am too, son.”

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The first three in the series are available at Amazon. After you read them, please stop by the Culpepper Saga Facebook page to see pictures, paintings, and documents from the real history of John Culpepper.

culpepper saga-001

Frances Culpepper Stephens Berkeley Ludwell etc etc

frances_berkleyMy cousin, Frances Culpepper (photo), was born in England in 1634 to Thomas Culpepper and Katherine St Leger. Thomas’s brother, John Culpepper the merchant, was my 10th great grandfather and will play a role later in her life. Frances was baptized 27 May 1634 at All Saints Church in Hollingbourn, where all of the family at that time was baptized. Her siblings were: Mary (1629-30 who died as an infant), Ann (1630-95), Alexander (1631- 24 Dec 1694, Surveyor General of Virginia), and John (1633-74 who often gets confused with John the Carolina Rebel, son of John the merchant).

Culpepper Connections website describes Frances as, “Apart from Pocahontas, Lady Frances Berkeley, the strong-willed, thrice-married and childless Colonial dame who ruled the political roost in Virginia from around 1670 until her death in the 1690s, was the Old Dominion’s most notable 17th century woman.”

Well, doesn’t that make you want to know more about her?

Her father, Thomas Culpepper, was one of the original proprietors of the northern neck of Virginia when the Virginia Charter was formed, transferring control of the colony from the Crown to individual investors. Following King Charles I execution, Thomas moved his entire family to Virginia in 1650 when young Frances was only sixteen. When she turned eighteen, she married the governor of the Albemarle settlement in what is now North Carolina. He was also the owner of Roanoke Island. Yes, where the very first colony disappeared from. His name was Samuel Stephens. Samuel and Frances lived for seventeen years on his 1350-acre plantation called Boldrup in what is now Newport News, Virginia. The plantation land and the house’s crumbled foundation is all that is left today and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

SirWilliamBerkeley2Following Samuel’s death in 1669, Frances inherited his large estate and in 1670, she married yet another politician, Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia (photo). They took up residence at his estate called Green Springs (photo) near Williamsburg, Virginia. Today, about 200 acres of the original plantation land is preserved by the National Park Service, which acquired the property in 1966.

green springs

 

Nathaniel Bacon, T. ChambarsIn 1676 (100 years before the Revolution and the same year her cousin John Culpepper the Rebel was causing problems in Carolina) there was a dispute with the local Indians who had been chased north by militiamen. The Indians raided the Virginia frontier out of anger, hunger, revenge, who knows? Some colonists saw this as an opportunity to isolate or kill the Indians, some saw it as an opportunity for new slaves and lands. It was typical politics with each side rallying for their own cause. A newcomer to the land and the local Virginia Council was Nathaniel Bacon (photo). He asked Sir William Berkeley to form a party to kill off the Indians, but Berkeley refused as some of the Indians were Virginia’s closest allies. In defiance, Bacon raised a group of volunteers to fight the Indians. This led to a civil war of sorts, with Bacon’s followers against Berkeley’s loyalists. It also became a personal vendetta. At one point, tiring of Bacon’s threats, Berkeley bared his chest and dared Bacon to shoot him. After the public display, Berkeley threw Bacon out of the Council, later reinstated him, and then threw him out again. Berkeley ended up being chased out of town by Bacon’s men, who burned down the capital. Bacon died of dysentery in Oct 1676, but the fighting continued for a few more months without his leadership.

Here’s where Frances steps in…

King-Charles-II-king-charles-ii-25010100-333-400

Frances sailed to England on her husband’s behalf to ask King Charles II (photo) for help, and the King, unaware that Bacon was already dead, signed a proclamation for putting down the rebellion. He dispatched one thousand troops to Virginia, along with a commission of three men to find out what the hell was going on. By the time the soldiers arrived, without Bacon’s leadership, the rebellion had died down. The three members of the King’s commission watched Berkeley identify Bacon’s men as traitors and witnessed the hanging of twenty-three of them. Once the commission reported this back to King Charles II, he summoned Berkeley to return to England to explain his actions. As soon as spring arrived, Berkeley sailed to England to plead his case with the King. He became ill on the journey and went directly to his brother’s house in London upon arrival, where he died in July 1677 before getting a chance to tell his side of the story to the King. Frances didn’t receive the news of his death for months.

Here’s where uncle John steps in…

When John Culpepper the Merchant was fifteen years old, he attended Middle Temple, which was a law school. There he met a young William Berkeley, who was not a “Sir” at the time, and the two became fast friends. Though John was trained as a lawyer, he was more inclined to be a merchant, and in 1633, he bought a ship with his brother Thomas (Frances’s dad) called the “Thomas and John.” The ship delivered immigrants to the new world and shipped cotton, tobacco, and the like back to England. This was probably the vessel Frances and her family sailed on in 1650 to move to Virginia. During the rebellion, Frances and William Berkeley needed money to sail back and forth for this rebellion nonsense and they sold off Roanoke Island. Uncle John Culpepper was the lawyer who oversaw the sale of the land to the Lamb family, witnessing William Berkeley’s signature on the deed.

Gov_Phillip_LudwellIn 1680, Frances married her third husband, Col. Philip Ludwell (photo) of the 4,000-acre Rich Neck Plantation. Ludwell had been a chief supporter of Berkeley during the rebellion and also his cousin. Hmm. Frances never relinquished her title however and was known as Lady Frances Berkeley for the remainder of her life. She died around 1695 at the age of 61. Her body is interred at Jamestown Church Cemetery in Jamestown, Virginia.

As for Col. Ludwell, after serving as governor of the Colony of Carolina 1691-94, he returned to Virginia where he served as Speaker of the House of Burgessesin in 1695-96. In 1700, he moved back to England where he died in 1716.