Jody Baker: Reginald Musgraves' Other Ancestor

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - by Jody Baker
I. The Purpose of This Monograph

Reginald Musgrave, a college friend of Sherlock Holmes, was a scion of one of the very oldest families in the kingdom. His branch was a cadet branch (i.e., his line descended from a younger son). His part of the family had separated from the northern (Scottish) Musgraves in the 1500's and had settled in Sussex where Holmes's friend, Reginald, now attended to the family estates and resided in the Hurlstone Manor House. [See MUSG, p.388, Doub. single volume. edition]

Following the disappearance of Hurlstone's butler and maid, a nearby lake was dragged. The search produced a mass of rusted and discoloured metal with several dull coloured pieces which appeared to be pebbles or glass.

In solving the mystery, Holmes identified this to be the ancient crown of the kings of England, the diadem which once encircled the brows of the Stuarts. It had been stored for 250 years in a small chamber beneath a stone-flagged passageway in the older part of the Hurlstone Manor House. Coins which had been stored with it established the date of its placement there to be about the time of the reign of  Charles I (1625-1649).

Reginald Musgrave suggested his family's involvement in the matter when he said: "My ancestor, Sir Ralph Musgrave, was a prominent  cavalier and the right-hand man of Charles the  Second in his wanderings." [Doub. p.397]

It is the purpose of this monograph to suggest that Reginald gave credit to the wrong ancestor. While it is not my intent to disparage Sir Ralph Musgrave, it is important that history give credit where credit is due. The preservation of the crown was the work of Reginald's other ancestor, Sir Miles Musgrave. If you will please follow, I believe that you will agree.

II. Who Is Sir Miles Musgrave? 

The first part of the Ritual is: "Whose was it?  His who is gone."

This establishes beyond peradventure that the crown was hidden in the cellar of Hurlstone Manor after the death of Charles I. The executioner's axe fell on the neck of Charles I on January 30, 1649.

Thus, we have a definite point of reference in time. Recognizing the perils of the times, Charles I, shortly before his death, would have entrusted the crown to some reliable comrade and confidant for the benefit of posterity and for the preservation of the emblem of the sovereignty. At that time, the son, Charles II, was hiding out in France. Since Sir Ralph was the right-hand man of Charles II, we can safely assume that he was in France with him. Sir Ralph Musgrave was simply not available to receive or hide the crown. 

The second part of the Ritual is this:  "Who shall have it?  He who will come."

This tells us clearly that at the time the crown was secreted away,  Charles II (and his right-hand man, Sir Ralph Musgrave) had not yet returned to England. We know from history that Charles II remained in France during 1649 and for a part of 1650. He was not in England when his father died. We must look elsewhere for the receiver and protector of the crown.

History records that James Graham, the Earl of Montrose, was a supporter of Charles I and was his Scottish commander of troops. Montrose raised and commanded forces in the Scottish Highlands, and he waged war in support of Charles I and the Royalists. Against this background, it is certainly reasonable to conclude that it was Montrose to whom the crown was entrusted for safe-keeping.

Turning now to historical literature, we learn that there was at this very time on the stage of history a Sir Miles Musgrave; and that he has a close connection with the matters here under consideration. He was of the northern branch of the Musgrave family.

Sir Miles Musgrave is identified by Sir Walter Scott in *The Legend of Montrose.* He was "an officer in the King's service under the Earl of Montrose " at the time of Charles I. [See Brewer's *The Reader's Handbook,* Lippencott Company, 1904 at p. 739.]

So it seems that while Sir Ralph and his chum were tucked safely away in France, Sir Miles and Montrose were engaging the enemy in Scotland, and that it is where the action was.

After the death of Charles I (30 Jan 1649), the Scots proclaimed Charles II to be King in absentia. The crown, the emblem of the continuity of the royal line, must have been in Scotland at that time and, we suggest, it was in the possession of Montrose. How else would the Scots and Montrose have the authority to declare who was to be the King? The crown was the tangible evidence of the monarchy. Thus, it must have been upon the authority of that symbol that the proclamation was issued. The point is clear. The crown was in the possession of Montrose and his pal Sir Miles Musgrave.

III. Sir Miles Musgrave Heads South

After receiving the crown, Montrose fought some battles in support of the Crown until he was defeated at Corbiesdale on April 27,1650. He met his untimely end when he was captued by his enemies and taken to Edinburgh where he was hanged, drawn and quartered. on May 21, 1650.

During the Battle of Corbiesdale, we suggest, Montrose entrusted the crown to  Sir Miles Musgrave who, apparently, took the treasure and headed south with it. He did not stop until he reached safety in Sussex at the home of the southern branch of the Musgrave family, Hurlstone Manor. Once there, he secreted the crown away in its hiding place where it remained undisturbed for 250 years. 

Charles II, meanwhile, spent ten  years (1650-1660) attempting to regain the throne and being buffeted back and forth across the Channel by the ebbs and flows of fortune and misfortune. Then, in May 1660, he was finally restored to the throne of England (sans crown).

Thereafter, he enjoyed the good life, and reigned for 25 years until he died (of natural causes, I hasten to report) in February 1685. However, Charles was not coroneted with the ancient crown. It was nowhere to be found. Sir Ralph Musgrave, the right-hand man, had no way to know where the crown was. And history is silent as to what may have happened to Sir Miles, who had hidden it. 

IV. Where Is the Crown, Now? 

Sherlock Holmes told this tale to his biographer:

“And that’s the story of the Musgrave Ritual, Watson.  They have the crown down at Hurlstone– though they had some legal bother and a considerable sum to pay before they were allowed to retain it.” 

Although Holmes claims that the crown remains at Hurlstone, that is doubtful. The Stuart crown would not have been released to private ownership for any sum of money. The crown is nowhere listed among the National Treasures. This questions remain: Where is the Stuart crown today?

While it is not my purpose to impugn the integrity of Sherlock Holmes, I am constrained to observe that we shall probably not learn the answer to that question until the day that we discover, also, the whereabouts of the Countess of Morcar's Blue Carbuncle gemstone.

Insp. Baynes

(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at

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