This is the 17th century pistol of the Baron who escaped the Civil War by dressing as a woman but was caught after asking for a shave

By Culture24 Reporter Published: 06 July 2016

The 1st Baron Delamer had quite a life, including a spell imprisoned in the Tower of London and an ambassadorial role with Charles II. His pistol is a beauty

A photo of curator Glyn Hughes, of the National Civil War Centre, holding a pistol
Glyn Hughes, of the National Civil War Centre, with George Booth's pistol from 376 years ago© National Civil War Centre
A misguided request for a razor by George Booth, the 1st Baron Delamer who was eager to have a shave, ultimately cost the Royalist turncoat his liberty.

Booth had fought for Parliament and became a Cheshire MP in the Civil War, then switched sides and participated in a Royalist uprising in 1659 before being thwarted by Republican soldiers.

Disguised as a woman, he fled, but practically handed himself in when he inadvertently revealed himself – facial hair and all – at Newport Pagnall.

A photo of a portrait painting of George Booth, the 1st Baron Delamer
The 1st Baron Delamer is perhaps the only man to have been imprisoned at the Tower of London following a misunderstanding about shaving© Public Domain
A trip to the Tower of London was his fate, but he was released, dispatched to Holland on a mission to invite Charles II to return, and rewarded with a £10,000 bounty from Parliament, as well as his Baron title. He had rejected a previous reward of £20,000, and his honour gave him the right to nominate six Knights.

At the National Civil War Centre in Newark, Booth’s pistol bears a brass plaque with the words “dog lock Cromwellian pistol 1640”.

“It’s had a bit of woodworm,” says Curator Glyn Hughes.

A photo of curator Glyn Hughes, of the National Civil War Centre, holding a pistol
© National Civil War Centre
“But it has been successfully treated. The pistol is beautifully made and of the type carried into battle by cavalry.

"Once it was fired, it would have been secured and swords drawn for close-quarter combat.”

The centre has acquired the gun on a long-term loan, and plans are afoot to put it on display.

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Three pistols in museums

Brechin Town House Museum
A fine steel 18th century flintlock pistol by James MacKenzie of Brechin, the Flintlock Pistol is manufactured from a time when Scottish pistol making was at its height.

Nautical Museum, Isle of Man
Exhibits include a leather pistol holster, a flintlock pistol mechanism, some coconut shell drinking cups and what is believed to be an 18th century microscope.

National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket
Highlights include a special display about Fred Archer, the late Victorian jockey who committed suicide, which features the pistol he used to take his life.