A long time ago, in a land far from here, there was a great war. With swords and spears, lord fought against lord, each sitting astride his horse. It was a very hard battle and many hundreds of men were killed. The duke was thrown from his horse and badly wounded. His men, including a man named Honestus, carried him to the woods, away from the battle. They laid him on the ground, under the protection of a great oak tree.
While the rest of the men went to find a way to carry the duke to safety, Honestus remained behind, in order to protect and care for his lord. At the request of the duke, Honestus put on his lord’s armor and took up his sword.
In a little while, Honestus saw five of the duke’s enemies coming through the woods. Honestus was very skilled with the bow and slew three of the men without ever giving away his position. The other two men ran away, but then sneaked back to find Honestus’s hiding place. As Honestus raised his lord’s sword to battle his enemies, the duke said, faintly, “Now, God speed thee, Honestus!” They fought a long time and Honestus was wounded. Weary and ready to faint, Honestus suddenly spotted the rest of the duke’s men, hurrying toward him through the woods. The sight gave Honestus renewed strength and he smote off the head of one of his attackers. The other man fled, but was pursued by the duke’s men and killed. Honestus and the others then carried the duke to a church for safety. Honestus stayed there with his lord until he was healed of his many wounds.
When the duke was recovered enough to return to his own castle, Honestus went with him. There they found all the duke’s lands completely destroyed and all his people gone. Honestus’s cottage was also destroyed and his wife and children were missing. The duke fled for safety, but Honestus stayed behind in a hut in the woods. He thought his heart was broken.
One night, Honestus heard voices outside, mingled with the screaming of children. He rushed from his hut. On the ground, he found two children in their night clothes. One was covered in blood. He picked them up and carried them to his hut to care for them. There, he discovered that they were the duke’s own children. Honestus cared for the children and loved them as if they were his own.
After many months, Honestus and the children heard a great commotion outside. It was the duke who, while returning home, had found Honestus’s wife and children. Upon seeing his own children in the care of Honestus, the duke fell upon Honestus’s neck and kissed him and called him a nobleman. The duke carried them all to the castle where they had great rejoicing.
In reward for his bravery and loyalty, the duke gave Honestus many acres of land and built him a house called Greystone Garth. Over the door was laid a stone, carved with the words, “God speed thee, Honestus.” Honestus was very happy and much thought of and his children and their children and their children kept the estate in their family for a long time.
Many years later, during the reign of Charles I, Jonathan and Thomas Bliss, two of Honestus’s descendants, rode to London with members of the House of Commons. Upon his succession to the throne, Charles declared himself supreme ruler and had refused to call Parliament for 11 years. In 1640, at war with Scotland, Charles was obliged to call a session of Parliament to obtain funding for his military endeavors. The members of Parliament, furious with the king and citing numerous public grievances, refused to consider his request for finances. The session was dissolved after only three weeks.
The king was very angry and sought revenge against all those who had waylaid his plans. Jonathan and Thomas Bliss were marked for destruction. Before long, they were fined for nonconformity and kept in prison for several weeks. Their belongings were seized, their horses and cattle were driven off and their father was tied to the back of a horse and dragged through the streets. Jonathan was thrown into prison again, along with his father. Thomas and another brother, George, were forced to sell many of their belongings in order to obtain a release for their father, but they were not able to raise enough to buy freedom for Jonathan. He died in prison.
Thomas and George sold the estate, which had been in the family for over 200 years, and secured passage for themselves and their families to America. They arrived in Boston in 1635.
This remarkable tale would be a classic example of the kind of family story that should be passed through the generations except for one thing: none of it is true.
To be continued…