Royal scandals are not what they were

If you ever think the current British royal family is prone to scandal, how about this one from the 1660s as told by Samuel Pepys in his diary. It involves the future King James II, who in 1668 was the Duke of York and heir to the throne. I don’t think Diana, Charles, Philip, or Fergie quite had this to deal with:

[6 April 1668] …whither came my Lady Kerneagy, of whom Creed tells me more perticularly: how her Lord, finding her and the Duke of York at the King’s first coming in too kind, did get it out of her that he did dishonour him; and so he bid her continue to let him, and himself went to the foulest whore he could find, that he might get the pox; and did, and did give his wife it on purpose, that she (and he persuaded and threatened her that she should) give it the Duke of York; which she did, and he did give it to the Duchesse; and since, all her children are thus sickly and infirm- which is the most pernicious and foul piece of revenge that I ever heard of. And he at this day owns it with great glory, and looks upon the Duke of York and the world with great content in the ampleness of his revenge.

(Pepys, Samuel. The diary of Samuel Pepys : a selection / selected and edited by Robert Latham. London : Penguin, 2003. 9780141439938 p. 901-902.)

A note on people:

  • “Lady Kerneagy” is Lady Carnegie
  • “her Lord” is her husband, Lord Carnegie
  • The Duke of York is the heir to the throne and the future King James II
  • the “Duchesse” is his wife, the Duchess of York
  • The King is Charles II whose “coming in” is the Restoration of 1660
  • John Creed is an acquaintance of Pepys who worked for the same patron