Mr Elphick meets ex-King of France (1848)

This snippet of history is from the Times of March 6th, 1848, at the time of a revolution in France, which saw the monarchy finally overthrown:


The ex-King and Queen of the French arrived at the Croydon station at 15 minutes past 12 on Saturday morning from Newhaven, whence they had travelled in a special train provided for them by the Directors of the Brighton Railway. We subjoin some additional particulars of the ex-King's arrival and conduct at Newhaven, which will be found interesting:

The King, Queen, and a few attendants landed on the pier from the Southampton steam boat Express, and were received by some of the Customs' officers who conducted them to the Bridge inn about 12 o'clock. The whole of the rooms there had been engaged early in the morning for some refugees; but the proprietors scarcely expected the honour of Royalty coming to them.

The news soon spread that the King had at last safely gained the shores of England; but to the credit of the inhabitants of Newhaven, no mob raised tumultuous shouts or noisy greetings. The Deputy-Consul, Mr Cole, soon waited on their ex-Majesties, and the King expressed his anxious desire to communicate his arrival to Buckingham Palace. Accordingly, having written a letter to the Queen, it was despatched to Mr Iron, the secretary of the Steamboat Company of Newhaven, who immediately set off for Lewes to proceed to London.

On Mr Iron's departure, it being thought proper to formally congratulate their Majesties on their safe arrival, and to offer the hospitality of the inhabitants of Newhaven, the Rev Theyre T Smith, the rector, the Rev P Spurrell, the curate, and Mr Elphick, the principal landowner, sent in their cards to His Majesty, intimating that they had arrived to pay their respects; and they were immediately admitted to his presence. The King advanced and immediately shook hands with all; expressing his delight at being once more among the English, whom he said were always his friends. "Truly happy and thankful indeed am I," the King said, "that I have once more arrived in England, and which I will not leave again. The bullets were striking the windows and doors when I escaped from the Tuileries, but here I am, safe and unhurt. I have nothing to tax my conscience with, and nothing to reflect upon (laying his hand upon his heart), and I thank you very much. But here are only two cards, and there are three of you, and I wish to take care of them all three, as containing the names of the kind friends, the first to welcome me to Newhaven and to England; where is the other?" Colonel Roumigny accordingly gave the other card, which happened to be that of the rector of Newhaven, to His Majesty. "Mr Smith", exclaimed the King, after identifying the individuals with their names; "that is very curious indeed! and very remarkable that the first to welcome me should be a Mr Smith, since the assumed name was Smith by which I escaped from France; and look, this is my passport made out in the name of William Smith!"

About half-past 2 o'clock, knowing the distress the Queen must be in from having no luggage, Mrs Elphick, accompanied by her sister, Miss F Gray, proceeded to the inn with a chest of linen and toilet necessaries, to offer for Her Majesty's use. Having sent in their cards and explained the object of their visit to the Queen's attendant, Her Majesty immediately desired them to enter that she might return her thanks. After condoling with Her Majesty Mrs Elphick begged her to make use of the contents of the box she had brought; but Her Majesty, with tears distinctly, yet most thankfully, declined the kindness. "Vous etes trop bonnes," she said, "mais j'ai acheté des habits."

Last updated on 21st January 1997 by Oliver Elphick