"that memorable story of the ghost of George Villiers"

George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham
Public DomainGeorge Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham - Credit: Peter Paul Rubens
George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592 - 1628) was the favourite, and some claim the lover, of King James I of England.  He was introduced to the King in 1614.  James referred to Villiers as his ‘sweet child and wife,’ lavishing him with affection and rewards, and Villiers reciprocated the King's love.  James knighted him in 1615, and thereafter he rose rapidly through the peerage, becoming Duke of Buckingham in 1623, at that time the highest-ranking subject outside the royal family.  Villiers orchestrated a number of military campaigns, none of which went particularly well.  In 1628 he was assassinated by John Felton, an army officer who had been wounded in one of Villiers’ military forays, and then passed over for promotion.  Felton stabbed Villiers to death at the Greyhound Pub in Portsmouth. 

Various tales circulated in the period after Villiers’ murder, that his father, Sir George Villiers, had appeared to an old servant of his, and warned him that Buckingham would be murdered.  The ghost apparently appeared several times to this servant, warning that the Duke would be stabbed to death.  While the Duke was probably informed of the ghost’s warning, it did nothing to prevent his murder.