At first they managed to keep their affair secret, but an alarmed James at length came to
hear of it, and also the highly disturbing news that they were planning to get married. Such a
marriage he saw as a threat to his own safety on the throne, for Sir William Seymour was also
descended from Henry VII, and any offspring of such a marriage would be dangerous indeed.
James summoned each of the offending lovers before his Council, and they were told in
no uncertain manner that such a marriage between them could not be countenanced unless the
King gave his express permission. In order to disarm suspicion Arabella and Seymour agreed to
They well knew that James would never under any circumstances permit them to marry,
and so they married secretly. Eventually this came to the ears of James, who, incensed at their
duplicity, ordered their arrest. Seymour was sent to St. Thomas's Tower and Arabella to Lambeth
Palace under the guard of Sir Thomas Perry. This was in the summer of 1610.
There was a great deal of sympathy for the young couple, and it was made quite easy for
them to meet secretly. All their friends were ready to help them, and Seymour did not have much
difficulty in leaving the Tower to go to Lambeth. All he had to do was to bribe his jailer, who
was then quite willing to turn a blind eye to the absence of his charge.
The two lovers often met in the gardens of Lambeth and sometimes in the Palace. These
meetings were as happy as they could be under the circumstances, and during their walks together
beside the banks of the Thames they talked of the day when they would be able to live a normal,
happy life together. It seemed that the only solution was to escape to the Continent.
Meanwhile their friends at Court-even the Queen herself-were trying to intercede for
them and persuade James to adopt a more lenient attitude. But James, afraid for his throne, was
adamant. It was inevitable that news of their stolen meetings should eventually come to his ears,
and he ordered a stricter guard to be put on Seymour, and that Arabella should be moved to
Durham under the surveillance of the Bishop, who was ordered to keep a firm watch upon her.
But Arabella, being of strong character, refused to be sent to the north of England where
she would not be able to see her husband. When ordered to go, she flatly refused to get out of her
bed. So her bed was carried out of Lambeth, with her in it, placed in a boat and rowed up the
Poor Arabella became extremely agitated at such forthright and demoralizing treatment
and by the time they reached Barnet she appeared to be really ill with a high temperature. A
doctor was called, diagnosed a fever, and pronounced her too ill to travel. James therefore
arranged for her to be taken care of in the home of the Earl of Essex at Highgate, stating that he
would allow her to remain there for only a month, after which time it was reckoned she would be
strong enough to continue her journey to Durham.
This respite brought about a swift recovery in Arabella's health, and she instantly got in
touch with her husband through their many friends, of whom James probably had much to fear,
for he had proven to be a disappointing King to many people. Apart from being extremely
unprepossessing and scandalous in his private life, he had broken many promises and made many
Sir William Seymour realized that he and Arabella must make their escape plans quickly.
With the help of their friends they arranged both to escape at the same time and to meet at
Blackwall where they would board a ship for France. The day chosen was one when the Bishop
was to go to Durham to prepare for lady Arabella's reception, and thus Arabella's escape was
made much easier.
She disguised herself as a man, wearing a large black hat and a cloak. She wore also a
peruque, doublet and hose and a sword, and passing very well as a young blade of the times, she
set off with one retainer as an escort to an inn at Crompton where horses were waiting. They rode
to Blackwall and arrived at the agreed time, but there was no sign of Seymour. After inquiring
for him at the inn, they boarded the French ship which was to take them across the water.
Arabella waited for her husband, anxiously scanning the riverside as the precious time went by,
watching the tide go down, and praying desperately that her beloved would get there in time.
The French captain was concerned about other things than the tide. He was worried about
the serious nature of his commission, and despite Arabella's entreaties he moved his ship further
down river to the mouth of the Thames.
Meanwhile Sir William's escape from St. Thomas's Tower had been planned with the
help of a carter who delivered cartloads of faggots and hay. The carter had been bribed to
exchange places with the prisoner on an outward journey. However, the switchover took longer
than anticipated and the coast had to be quite clear before the carter would part with his smock
and enveloping hat and hide himself under the hay. Seymour, dressed in the carter's clothing, and
wearing a peruque and a black beard, walked out of the Tower with the empty cart without a
hitch, though well behind the agreed time.
When he reached Blackwall, he was too late. The French barque with Arabella on board
had sailed without him. He eventually managed to bribe the captain of a collier to take him to
Ostend. It cost him forty pounds-a large sum in those days-and after many delays he finally
landed on the Continent, and made his way to Calais where he reckoned his would be awaiting
But Arabella's luck had deserted her. Her inquiry for Seymour at the inn at Blackwall had
come to the ears of Admiral Monson, to whom a courier had been dispatched telling him to be on
the lookout for the Lady Arabella and Sir William, whose flight was already known to James and
was causing him the greatest consternation, for he was certain that a new conspiracy against him
was afoot. Couriers had in fact been sent in all directions in an effort to intercept the runaway