George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, had become very powerful under both James I and Charles I. Villiers had promoted many of his supporters to high office – and had financially benefited from doing this – but he had also made many enemies. On a visit to Portsmouth in August 1628, the favourite of Charles I was murdered. A letter written to Henrietta Maria, the wife of the king, gave a graphic description of what occurred that day.


‘This day between nine and ten of the clock in the morning, the Duke of Buckingham, then coming out of a parlour, into a hall, was by one (John) Felton (a Lieutenant of this Army) slain at one blow, with a dagger-knife. As the Duke staggered, he turned about, uttering only this word, “Villain!” and never spoke a word more. But, presently plucking out the knife from himself, before he fell to the ground, he made towards the traitor two or three paces, and then fell against a table.


While he (Fenton) was in our custody I asked him several questions, which he answered. He said he was Protestant in religion. He also said he was partly discontented for want of eighty pounds pay, and that although he was a lieutenant of a company of foot, the company was given over his head unto another. Yet, he said that that did not move him to act. It was on reading the complaint of the Houses of Parliament it came into his mind that in committing the act of killing the Duke, he should do his country great good service.


But to return to the screeches made at the fatal blow given, the Duchess of Buckingham and the Countess of Anglesey came out into a gallery which looked into a hall where they might see the blood of their dearest Lord gushing from him. Ah, poor ladies, such was their screechings, tears and distractions, that I never in my life heard the like before, and hope never to hear the like again.”