Here above - Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley & his Mastiff Bevis by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger - Bruges 1561/62 – 1636 , Flemish artist of the Tudor court described as ‘the most important artist of quality to work in England in large-scale between Eworth & Van Dyck’.
Edward Jesse’ Anecdotes of Dogs mentions – ‘Then we have the well known and well authenticated story of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley’ Mastiff who guarded the house & yard , but had never met with any attention from his master . Contrary to any former custom , the dog one night silently followed Sir Henry and his Italian valet upstairs . He was allowed to remain in the room , and at midnight the door opened and a person entered . The Mastiff immediately pinned him to the ground . The intruder was the Italian valet who confessed that he came to murder his master .’
‘A Dog Named Bevis Takes Part in a Dangerous Moment in English History’ , a review by T Patrick Killough about Sir Walter Scott’ novel ‘ Woodstock or the Cavalier’ mentions – Woodstock is set in the year 1652. Months earlier at the battle of Worcester, the Republican General (and future Lord Protector) Oliver Cromwell had definitively stamped out the last resistance by ‘the King of Scotland’, Charles II , son of the beheaded Martyr King Charles I . Thirty-two year old CHARLES II is in full flight for the coast to find a ship to take him to his exiled mother in France . Cromwell promotes a plot to lure the young King to the ancient Royal Hunting Lodge at Woodstock , near Oxford, still (but not for long) in the hands of its hereditary custodian , Sir Henry Lee . Toward novel' end , Cromwell in person has led select troopers to surround the Lodge, but too late by three hours . The King has successfully fled . In a rage General Cromwell orders execution at high noon of every captured Cavalier and one Roundhead Presbyterian whom he blames for the King' escape . In this number he includes Sir Henry' loyal Mastiff , Bevis ! Fortunately , the General' aides , familiar with his bouts of melancholy , fits of rage and inevitable repentance , delay the sentence and all are pardoned , even , last of the lot , the dog Bevis .
We are introduced to Bevis in Chapter One, in which is described the desolation of the old chapel of Woodstock Lodge , defaced by the recently victorious anti-Royalists . Sir Henry Lee was grateful to his loyal pet for saving his life and had taken him regularly to church . Bevis sometimes even sang along with the chorus . Later Bevis is steadily suspicious of Charles II when the young man appears at Woodstock , disguised first as a gypsy fortune teller woman, then as a page speaking outlandish Scots and finally openly as King . In particular , whenever Bevis is at hand to growl , Alice , beautiful young daughter of Sir Henry , is never in danger, from Charles's unending efforts at seduction .
Oddly the Mastiff (or bloodhound) takes well to ‘Trusty’ Tompkin when he appears at the Lodge as an agent for Cromwell' three Commissioners deputed to take possession of this hated symbol of deposed royalty. It turns out that double-agent Tompkin had before the Civil War worked at the lodge as dog-keeper and assistant to the Anglican rector, an antiquarian writing the history of Woodstock .
Throughout Woodstock the dog Bevis moves gravely in and out . Cromwell has spared Sir Henry Lee because Lee is faithful to his King . And Bevis is faithful to Sir Henry . Cromwell wishes he had at least one follower who loved him as much as this dog does Sir Henry . At novel's end in 1660, 16-year old Bevis sits by his master' side during King Charles' triumphal procession to London . Having been shown special signs of regard by His Majesty , the old cavalier prays the nunc dimittis and dies a happy man, followed in a few days by Bevis .
Here below a painting by Anthony Van Dyck depicting a/o the infant Charles II together with a Mastiff of similar head type vs Sir Henry Lee’ Mastiff Bevis taking into account the former being ear cropped .