Bullen Reymes the First held some minor clerical post in the court of King James I of England. He had his fair share of good looks and charm – both pre-requisites for success at the new Stuart court.
The Reymes family also drew the attention of ‘a divinely handsome youth in an old black suit broken out in many places’ who used to hang around the racecourse at Newmarket.
This youth went by the name of George Villiers and, by 1614, he had been earmarked as successor to the current royal favourite Somerset.
On February 23rd 1612, ‘Bulline Reymes, gent. and Mrs Marie Peeter, d. of William Peeter, Esquier’ were married in the Holy Trinity Church in Exeter.
Their second child, Bullen Reymes the Second,was born on December 28th 1613 at Petre Hayes in Devon.
By 1629, only a year after the assassination of his father’s friend and patron, young Bullen was a member of the household of the widowed Katherine, Duchess of Buckingham.
Bullen senior had great plans for his son and heir. He was to become fit to serve the late duke’s son by travel and study. Therefore in 1631, the 18 year old Bullen found himself travelling from London as a new member of the English ambassador’s house in Paris.
By June 1631 Bullen Reymes was listed as one of the fourteen gentlemen ‘who doe eate at Sir Isaac Wake’s table.’
But young Reymes did not live at the embassy. He lodged with M. Naudine, an apothecary, and his wife and three daughters who lived over their shop at the Sign of the Golden Mortar in the rue de Seine.
Bullen, for all the new experiences Paris could offer, missed his home terribly. But he made many friends including Wat Montagu and Marie de Rohan, Duchesse de Chevreuse.
Since 1622, Wat Montagu had been Buckingham’s loyal ally and secret agent. His path and that of Marie de Rohan were to cross many times and they became the closest of friends. Their stories are inextricably entwined and Bullen’s too.
By 1631, the year that Bullen took up his new post, Wat – despite his many loyalties – had gained the admiration and confidence of his friends’ great enemy, Cardinal Richelieu. So close did these two become that Wat was able to see the Cardinal whenever he pleased, a courtesy not extended to Isaac Wake, as Ambassador.
We know these things and many hundreds of other details because Bullen Reymes kept a diary that recorded not just his years in France but also his wider travels.
‘We are lodged in the home of Mr Garroway, the merchant here. We had a colation, we rode about the town in his carriage. This is one of the best harbours I ever saw…’
Messina March 27th 1634.