The Shiffner family claim a relationship with Capt
Nicholas Tattersall who took Charles II to Fecamp in France from
Shoreham in his ship the “Surprise”, later named “The Royal Surprise”, after
his escape following the battle of Worcester in 1651.



After the
battle of Worcester, in 1651, Charles II., as is well known, roamed about the
kingdom for six weeks in disguise, passing through many adventures, and having
more than one hairbreadth escape, Lord Wilmot and Col. Gounter or Gunter, of
Racton, being foremost in their exertions on his behalf. After having tried
unsuccessfully at. Bridport, Bristol, and Southampton to obtain a ship to
convey him to the Continent, Col. Gunter decided to take the advice of some
merchant who traded with France, and accordingly consulted Mr. Francis Mansell
(who was paid £50, besides his expenses), who made enquiries, and introduced
him to Nicholas Tattersall, master and owner of the 29 coal-brig "
Surprise," of Shoreham, and a direct ancestor of the Shiffners of
Coombe," who agreed, on the 11th October; to carry two of the Colonel's
friends, said to have been fighting a duel, over to France, for the sum of £60,
to be paid before he took them on board.


Charles (after
lying, as one tradition has it, 31 whilst arrangements were
completed, at the little cottage at Portslade existing in 1866, and visible
from the South Coast Railway) arrived in Brighton on the 13th October, and stayed
all night at the " George" Inn, West-street, now called, from that
circumstance, the " King's Head."32  In dictating an
account of his adventures to Mr Pepys, he narrates his embarkation as follows:-


About 4
o'clock in the morning, myself and the company before named (Col. Gunter, Lord
Wilmot, Robin Philips, and F. Mansell) went towards Shoreham, taking the master
of the ship with us on horseback, behind one of our company, and came to the
vessel's side, which was not above 60 tons. But it being low water and the
vessel lying dry, I and my lord Wilmot got up with a ladder into her, and went
and lay down in the little cabin till the tide came to fetch us

off. But I was no sooner got into the ship and laid down upon the bed, but the
master came in to me, fell down upon his knees, and kist my hand, telling me
that he knew me very well, and would venture life and all that he had in the
world to set me down safe in France. So about 7 o'clock in the morning, it being high water, we went out
of the port. 33


What happened
afterwards is related by Col. Gunter, who says


At eight of
the clock, I saw them on sayle, and it was the afternoone before they were out
of sight. The wind (01 Providence) held very
good till the next morning to ten of the clock brought them to a place of
Normandie called Fackham (Fecamp), some three miles from Havre de Grace, 15th
October, Wednesday. They were no sooner landed but the wind turned, and a
violent storme did arise in soe much that the boateman was forced to cutt his
cable ; lost his anchor to save his boate, for, which he required of mee £8,
and had it. The boat was back againe at Chichester 35 by Friday
to take his fraught.


There is a
story which relates that while on the passage across the Channel one of the
sailors was observed smoking, standing to windward of Charles, with whom he was
chatting, and on being reproved for his familiarity, re-marked, " A cat
may look at a King, surelie," little knowing that their passenger was
indeed the fugitive heir to the throne.

Captain Nicholas Tettersell - trading from the Sussex
coast he agreed to take King Charles II to France
for £60 but then upped the price to £200 when he realised who his passenger
was. When Charles was restored to his throne he awarded Tettersell and his
family a pension of £100 a year for 99 years. He became landlord of the Old
Ship Inn, High Constable and is buried in St Nicholas’s Churchyard.

The King had been ferried to France
by Captain Nicholas Tattersall of Shoreham in his 60 ton collier The Surprise.
The dowty Captain presumably laid low after that episode but, after the King
was restored, he became somewhat peeved at not receiving due recognition and
sailed his boat round to the Thames to picket Whitehall
Palace. The King promptly entered
the boat into the Navy lists as The Royal Escape and granted the Captain an
annuity of £100. The gallant Captain eventually purchased the Old Ship Inn (now
hotel) in Brighton where no doubt, embroidered accounts
of his exploit greatly assisted trade. Relics of The Royal Escape are displayed
in the lobby of the Old Ship to this day. Captain Tattersall died in 1674

There are some
who have said that Tattersall was not instigated by any motive of loyalty to
risk his liberty and property to save the King, but simply by the magical
influence of money. This is perhaps hardly fair, but it is certain that he got
as much as he possibly could out of those who were desirous to make use of him,
and remonstrated with Col. Gunter when he found out who his passenger was.
After the Restoration, Mr. Mansell, who had been outlawed and ruined during the
Commonwealth, received a pension of £200 a year for his services. Tattersall,
finding that Charles, while rewarding those who assisted his escape, had
forgotten him, sailed the " Surprise" up the Thames, and moored
her close to the King's palace. James, who was then Admiral of his 'brother's
fleet, took her into the navy as a fifth-rate, under the name of the "
Royal Escape," 38 and appointed Tattersall to the command. He was
afterwards placed in command of the " Monk," when he seems to have
occupied a position of some importance, and after some time gave the King a
good deal of trouble. In 1663 a pension of £100 a year was settled on him and
his family for 99 (Mr. Blencowe "' says for 90) years. Charles granted him
a coat of arms, and gave him a ring bearing miniatures of himself and his
Queen,"' and in 1670 he became High Constable of Brighton. He died on the 26th July, 1674, and was
buried in Brighton parish churchyard, where a
monument has been erected to his memory.