Adderbury’s most notorious son is the subject of an intriguing new historical novel.
“Wit, wastrel, poet and libertine” John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester (1647-1680), narrates the intimate and sometimes bizarre events of his own life in a new historical fiction by author Susan Bridgewater.
Lord Rochester inherited his father Henry Viscount Wilmot’s Adderbury House estate and was exiled there in 1673 by Charles II after accusing the king of putting his sex life before good government.
Rochester divided his time between his country estates and a bawdy and often outrageously drunk existence at the king’s court in London, but all four of his children were Christened at Adderbury House and Rochester lived there periodically with his wife Elizabeth Malet after their marriage in 1667 until his death.
From a debauched spell at Oxford University, Rochester went on a grand tour of Europe before attempting to abduct his future wife to make up for his lack of funds, for which the King sent him to the Tower of London for three weeks.
Rochester then became an unlikely war hero after volunteering for the navy in the Second Dutch War in 1665,
Charles II duly rewarded him with the appointment of Gentleman of the Bedchamber, which allowed him to stay at Whitehall where – aside from his fine poetry –he became renowned for drunkenness and vivaciousness as part of a group of courtiers known as the Merry Gang.
Of Ink, Wit and Intrigue, Lord Rochester in Chains of Quicksilver, is out now priced £8.99.
Author Susan Cooper- Bridgewater will be signing copies on Tuesday at Adderbury Library from 5pm-7pm.