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,  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."  In dictating an
account of his adventures to Mr Pepys, he narrates his embarkation as follows:-


About 4o'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.


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  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.



Below is an extract from The History of King Charles the Second where Captain Tettersall is                                              not mentioned by name
In the mean time, the king journeyed secretly on from the residence of one faithful adherent to another, encountering many perplexities, and escaping narrowly many dangers, until he came at last to the neighborhood of Shoreham, a town upon the coast of Sussex. Colonel Gunter had provided a vessel here. It was a small vessel, bound, with a load of coal, along the coast, to the westward, to a port called Pool, beyond the Isle of Wight. Colonel Gunter had arranged it with the master to deviate from his voyage, by crossing over to the coast of France, and leaving his passengers there. He was then to return, and proceed to his original destination. Both the owner of the vessel and the master who commanded it were Royalists, but they had not been told that it was the king whom they were going to convey. In the bargain which had been made with them, the passengers had been designated simply as two gentlemen of rank who had escaped from the battle of Worcester. When, however, the master of the vessel saw the king, he immediately recognized him, having seen him before in his campaigns under his father. This, however, seemed to make no difference in his readiness to convey the passengers away. He said that hews perfectly willing to risk his life to save that of his sovereign, and the arrangements for the embarkation proceeded.

The little vessel - ”its burden was about sixty tons - ”was brought into a small cove at Brighthelmstone, a few miles to the eastward from Shoreham, and run upon the beach, where it was left stranded when the tide went down. The king and Lord Wilmot went to it by night, ascended its side by a ladder, went down immediately into the cabin, and concealed themselves there. When the rising tide had lifted the vessel, with its precious burden, gently from the sand, the master made easy sail, and coasted along the English shore toward the Isle of Wight, which was the direction of the voyage which he had originally intended to make. He did not wish the people at Shoreham to observe any alteration of his course, since that might have awakened suspicion, and possibly invited pursuit; so they went on for a time to the westward, which was a course that rather increased than diminished their distance from their place of destination.

It was seven o'clock in the morning when they sailed. There was a gentle October breeze from the north, which carried them slowly along the shore, and in the afternoon the Isle of Wight came fully into view. There were four men and a boy on board the ship, constituting the crew. The master came to the king in the cabin, and proposed to him, as a measure of additional security, and to prevent the possibility of any opposition on the part of the sailors to the proposed change in their course which it would now soon be necessary to make, that the king and Lord Wilmot should propose the plan of going to France to them, asking their interest with the captain in obtaining his consent, as it had not yet been mentioned to the captain at all; for the sailors had of course understood that the voyage was only the usual coastwise trip to the port of Pool, and that these strangers were ordinary travelers, going on that voyage. The master, therefore, thought that there would be less danger of difficulty if the king were first to gain the sailors over himself, by promises or rewards, and then all come together to gain the captain's consent, which could then, at last, with apparent reluctance, be accorded.

This plan was pursued. The two travelers went to the sailors upon the forecastle, and told them, with an air of honest confidence, that they were not what they seemed. They were merchants, they said, and were unfortunately a little in debt, and under the necessity of leaving England for a time. They had some money due to them in Rouen, in France, and they wanted very much to be taken across the Channel to Dieppe, or some port near Rouen. They made known their condition to the sailors, they said, because they wanted their intercession with the captain to take them over, and they gave the sailors a good generous present in money for them to spend in drink; not so generous, however, as to cast suspicion upon their story of being traders in distress.

Sailors are easily persuaded by arguments that are enforced by small presents of money. They consented to the plan, and then the king and Lord Wilmot went to express their wishes to the captain. He made many objections. It would delay him on his voyage, and lead to many inconveniences. The passengers, however, urged their request, the sailors seconding them. The wind was fair, and they could easily run across the Channel, and then, after they landed, the captain could pursue his course to the place of his destination. The captain finally consented; the helm was altered, the sails were trimmed, and the little vessel bore away toward its new destination on the coast of France.

It was now five o'clock in the afternoon. The English coast soon disappeared from the horizon, and the next morning, at daylight, they could see the French shore. They approached the land at a little port called Fecamp. The wind, however, failed them before they got quite to the land, and they had to anchor to wait for a turn of the tide to help them in. In this situation, they were soon very much alarmed by the appearance of a vessel in the offing, which was coming also toward the shore. They thought it was a Spanish privateer, and its appearance brought a double apprehension. There was danger that the privateer would capture them, France and Spain being then at war. There was danger, also, that the master of their vessel, afraid himself of being captured, might insist on making all haste back again to the English coast; for the wind, though contrary so long as they wished to go on into their harbor, was fair for taking them away. The king and Lord Wilmot consulted together, and came to the conclusion to go ashore in the little boat. They soon made a bargain with the sailors to row them, and, hastily descending the vessel's side, they entered the boat, and pushed off over the rolling surges of the Channel.

They were two miles from the shore, but they reached it in safety. The sailors went back to the vessel. The privateer turned out to be a harmless trader coming into port. The English vessel recrossed the Channel, and went on to its original port of destination; and Lord Wilmot and the king, relieved now of all their anxieties and fears, walked in their strange English dress up into the village to the inn.
HMY Royal Escape painted by Willem van de Velde the Younger