Wy?ho were trhe
Who were they?
-the original Royalists likely used no name initially, to avoid capture by the Parlimentarians. It would be after the Restoration, when the threat of political reprisal no longer existed - that they chose to hold their annual meetings, at the secluded Reffley Spring. Just why the Reffley spring was chosen, could have been because the spring had already been the site of many informal meetings between royalists for many years. For as Phyllis Hembry says, in reference to the - neglected by 1815 - spas of Astrop Oxfordshire, Wellingborough Northamptonshire and Richmond Surrey, where the wells were closed. “These had attracted royalists and been centres of political intrigue”.From British Spas 1815 to the Present A Social History by Phyllis Hembry p1-2..
Another place that “attracted Royalists and was also a centre of political intrigue” was Epsom Common,
“where surface water was much more apparent than today and… as the 17th century progressed the instability of the monarchy was to lead to the civil wars. It also led to the establishment of entertainment and sporting events at the spa and these two circumstances were to be entwined. Horseracing became popular on the Downs and was a cover for Royalist supporters on the buildup to the Interregnum. Roundheads and Royalists were arriving to take the waters and this brought horses to Epsom in considerable quantity, something that in turn prompted the development of horse racing.”From Epsom and Ewell Wells. The Historic Spa Salts and Springs of Epsom and Ewell. www.EpsomWells.com.
It is more than likely that Reffley spring also had been a “centre of royalist intrigue” for many years, before the activity was formalised into “30 men to meeting there on one day a year”, when there was no longer such a pressing need for the clandestine meetings, so they were then willing to risk more open defiance, of a rule or Edict that it appears, never actually became a “law of the land.”
At that time, Reffley Spring was on land belonging to the Thoresby Family of Haveless-Hall in Mintling. According to an early “History of Norfolk”, the land it was situated upon, had originally belonged to……
“….Sir Thomas Howard, Knt. Son of Henry, late Earl of Surrey, who being restored to the dukedom, was beheaded in the 15th year of Queen Elizabeth, and it was again in the Crown, that Queen Elizabeth who,…… in her 22nd year (1580) had licence to convey this manor of Gaywood, with the advowson*, to John Pepys, Gent, and he soon after, sold it to Thomas Thoresby of Haveless-Hall in Mintling, in which family it continued, till sold by Francis Thursby, Esq. to Sir Cyril Wyche Knt of Hockwold-Hall about 1697, whose grandson Cyril Wyche, is the present lord……
n.b. Kings Lynn itself has long standing links with the Hanse Towns, which later became known as the Hansa League. (Cyril Wich(sic) was Refident to the Hanse Towns, and Envoy-Extraordinary to the Ruffian court).
In July 1697, Francis Thoresby, Esq. sold this manor [Gaywode] to Sir Cyril Wyche of Hockwold, who was secretary of state in Ireland, in the reign of King William 111. son of Sir Peter Wyche of London; Sir Cyril dying in 1707, his son, Jermyn Wyche, Esq. inherited it; who by Mary his wife, daughter and coheir of John Hungerford, Esq. left Cyril Wyche, Esq.** his son and heir, the present lord; there is a fee farm rent payable out of it, to the crown, of 58l. 13s, 31/2d. q. per annum. ” from An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Clavering North Erpingham Eyford Freebridge Francis Blomefield Charles Parkin 1762 1772 1818.edns.
* The right in English ecclesiastical law of presentation to a vacant benefice.
** This book is evidently a reprint of an earlier text, as Cyril Wyche Esq. died in 1780
There is also, another report from 1909, that states that the Society was about 150 years old (The Register Adelaide South Australia and other S.A. papers, 19th October 1909.) This would date the start of the Society to approximately 1756, which happens to be the date inscribed on the obelisk that used to be over the spring, but since it was said to have replaced an earlier ruined one, then this date is assumed to be unlikely.
If there wasn't a royalist connection,-royalists being known to have met at springs elsewhere in the country at that time,- would it be likely that the “Subscribers” would have chosen to meet at Reffley Spring in the first place, instead of, for instance a hostelry in Lynn?