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James Street, Covent Garden

In 1696 the antiquarian John Aubrey (12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697) published his Miscellanies which included the following account of an apparition being seen in a house on James Street, Covent Garden.

Anno 1647, the Lord Mohun's son and heir (a gallant gentleman, valiant, and a great master of fencing and horsemanship), had a quarrel with Prince Griffin; there was a challenge, and they were to fight on horse-back in Chelsea-fields in the morning: Mr. Mohun went accordingly to meet him; but about Ebury-Farm, he was met by some who quarrelled with him and pistoled him; it was believed, by the order of Prince Griffin; for he was sure, that Mr. Mohun, being so much the better horse-man, &c. would have killed him, had they fought.

In James-street, in Covent-Garden, did then lodge a gentlewoman, a handsome woman, but common, who was Mr. Mohun's sweet heart. Mr. Mohun was murdered about ten o'clock in the morning; and at that very time, his mistress being in bed, saw Mr. Mahon come to her bed-side, draw the curtain, look upon her and go away; she called after him, but no answer: she knocked for her maid, asked her for Mr. Mohun; she said she did not see him, and had the key of her chamber-door in her pocket. This account my friend aforesaid, had from the gentle-woman's own mouth, and her maid's.

I am not one hundred percent sure who the Mr Mohun in the account actually is. It may be John Mohun (pronounced "Moon") who was son and heir of the politician John Mohun, 1st Baron Mohun of Okehampton (born 1595 – died 28 March 1641). John was born in Boconnoc, Cornwall in 1614. It seems that duelling was quite popular with the Mohun’s so that fits in nicely with the above account. The following may explain his character a little. John was actually imprisoned in Fleet Street in 1637 after Lord Lumley was injured on Snow Hill near Holborn. John had been returning from the Dutch Embassy with two servants, his chaplain and Cassius Burroughs. They were unprepared for a fast moving coach belonging to Lord Savage and Mohun struck the horses with his cane to try and avoid being crushed between the coach and a wall. In response the coach driver whipped Mohun. Swords were quickly drawn on both sides and a fight began. Lord Lumley was apparently sat quietly within the coach and it was not made clear how he was injured.

However, John died during October 1639 and was buried in Kensington on 31st October 1639, whilst his father was still living. This is of course earlier than Aubery’s 1647. John’s younger brother Warwick became 2nd Baron Mohun of Okehampton following their father’s death.

The proposed site of the said duel was Ebury Farm, or Eybury Farm. This is thought to have been near Chelsea, where now stands Ebury Square which is not far from Kensington.

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