World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

James Francis Edward Stuart

James Francis Edward
Prince of Wales
James Francis Edward Stuart, "The Old Pretender"
Jacobite pretender
Pretence 16 September 1701 – 1 January 1766
Predecessor James II and VII
Successor Charles "III"
Spouse Maria Klementyna Sobieska
Issue Charles Edward Stuart
Henry Benedict Stuart
Full name
James Francis Edward Stuart
House House of Stuart
Father James II and VII
Mother Mary of Modena
Born (1688-06-10)10 June 1688
St. James's Palace, London, Kingdom of England
Died 1 January 1766(1766-01-01) (aged 77)
Palazzo Muti, Rome, Papal States
Burial St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales (the Chevalier de St George, "The King Over the Water", "The Old Pretender" or "The Old Chevalier"; 10 June 1688 – 1 January 1766) was the son of the deposed Jacobitism.


  • Birth and childhood 1
  • Struggle for the throne 2
    • Jacobite rising 2.1
    • The Fifteen 2.2
  • Life as Pretender 3
    • Marriage 3.1
    • Bonnie Prince Charlie 3.2
    • Death 3.3
  • Titles and honours 4
    • Honours 4.1
    • Arms 4.2
  • Ancestry 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes and sources 7

Birth and childhood

James Francis Edward, about 1703, portrait in the Royal Collection attributed to Alexis Simon Belle

From the moment of his birth, on 10 June 1688, at St. James's Palace, the prince was the subject of controversy. He was born to the reigning king, James II of England and Ireland (VII of Scotland), and his Roman Catholic second wife, Mary of Modena, and as such was automatically Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, among other titles.

The Wars of Religion were fresh in the minds of the populace, and many British feared a revived Catholic dominance of the government. James II had two adult daughters from his first marriage, the future queens Princess Mary and Princess Anne, who had been raised as Protestants. As long as there was a possibility of one of them succeeding him, his opponents saw his rule as only a temporary aberration. When people began to fear that James's second wife, Mary, would produce a Catholic son and heir, a movement grew to replace him with his elder daughter Princess Mary and his son-in-law/nephew, William of Orange.

When the young prince was born, rumours immediately began to spread that he was an impostor baby, smuggled into the royal birth chamber in a warming pan. The true child of James and Mary was allegedly stillborn.[1] In an attempt to scotch this myth, James published the testimonies of over seventy witnesses to the birth.[2]

On 10 December, within six months of his birth, Mary of Modena took baby James to France, worried about his safety, while his father continued to fight (unsuccessfully) to retain his crown. James and his sister Louisa Maria were brought up in France. There, James was recognised by his cousin, King Louis XIV of France, as the rightful heir to the English and Scottish thrones and became the focus for the Jacobite movement.

Struggle for the throne

On his father's death in 1701, James declared himself King, as King James III of England and VIII of Scotland and was recognised as such by France, Spain, the Papal States and Modena. These states refused to recognise William III, Mary II or Queen Anne as legitimate sovereigns. As a result of his claiming his father's lost thrones, James was attainted for treason in London on 2 March 1702, and his titles were forfeited under English law.[3]

Jacobite rising

Though delayed in France by an attack of Tory administration led by Robert Harley, who entered into a secret correspondence with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, de Torcy, and claimed to desire James's restoration to the throne if James converted to Protestantism.[2] However, a year later the British government pushed for James's expulsion from France as a precondition for a peace treaty with France. In accordance with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), Harley and the Secretary of State, Lord Bolingbroke, colluded with the French in exiling James to the Duchy of Lorraine which bordered France.[2]

Queen Anne became severely ill at Christmas 1713 and seemed close to death. In January 1714 she recovered but clearly had not much longer to live. Through de Torcy and his London agent, Abbé François Gaultier, Harley kept up the correspondence with James, and Bolingbroke had also entered into a separate correspondence with him. They both said to James his conversion to Protestantism would facilitate his restoration. However James, a devout Catholic, said to Torcy: "I have chosen my own course, therefore it is for others to change their sentiments".[2] In March came James's refusal to convert and Harley and Bolingbroke came to see James's restoration as infeasible, though they maintained their correspondence with him.

As a result, in August 1714, James second-cousin, Kingdom of Great Britain.

The Fifteen

The Old Pretender lands in Scotland after Sheriffmuir. An 18th-century engraving.

In the following year Scottish Jacobites started "The 'Fifteen" Jacobite rising in Scotland, aimed at putting "James III and VIII" on the throne. On 22 December 1715, James finally set foot on Scottish soil, following the indecisive Battle of Sheriffmuir (13 November 1715), but was disappointed by the strength of support he found. Timid and clearly uncomfortable with crowds, James failed to establish himself as a credible leader. He soon fell ill with fever, his illness made more severe by the icy Scottish winter. Instead of going through with plans for a coronation at Scone, he returned to France, sailing from Montrose on 5 February 1716. He was not welcomed on his return: his patron, Louis XIV, had died on 1 September 1715 and the French government found him a political embarrassment.

Life as Pretender

Pope Siena, was the Gentiluomo di camera (Chamberlain).


Louise Adélaïde d'Orléans (Mademoiselle d'Orléans), daughter of Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, was at one time suggested as a wife for James Francis Edward Stuart, but nothing came of it.

On 3 September 1719, James Francis Edward Stuart married Maria Clementina Sobieska (1702–35), granddaughter of King John III Sobieski of Poland (and sister of Maria Karolina Sobieska). The wedding was held in the chapel of the Episcopal Palace in Montefiascone (near Viterbo).

They had two sons:

  1. Charles Edward Stuart (31 December 1720 – 31 January 1788), nicknamed "Bonnie Prince Charlie"
  2. Henry Benedict Stuart (11 March 1725 – 13 July 1807), Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Following James's failure, attention turned to his courageous and charismatic son Charles, "the Young Pretender", whose rebellion of 1745 came much closer to success than his father's. With the failure of this second rebellion, however, the Stuart hopes of regaining the British throne were effectively destroyed. James and Charles later clashed repeatedly, and relations between them broke down completely when James played a role in the election of his son Henry as a Cardinal (the celibacy required meaning that Henry would not have any legitimate children and thus could not carry on the line of succession), infuriating Charles, who had not been consulted.

In 1759 the French government briefly considered a scheme to have James crowned King of Ireland, as part of their plans to invade Britain, but the offer was never formally made to James. Several separate plans also involved Charles being given control of a French-backed independent Ireland.

Tomb of James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons in St. Peter's Basilica.


James died in Rome on 1 January 1766, and was buried in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. His burial is marked by the Monument to the Royal Stuarts. Refusing to recognise James's eldest son Charles, from 14 January the Papacy instead accepted the Hanoverian dynasty as the legitimate rulers of Britain and Ireland. This led on to the slow reform of the anti-Catholic "Penal laws" in Britain and Ireland.

In 1792 the Papacy specifically referred to George III as the King of Great Britain and Ireland, leading to a protest from James's second son, Henry, who was then the Jacobite claimant.[4]

James's 64 years, 3 months and 16 days as the Jacobite pretender to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland lasted longer than the reigns of any recognised monarch of those kingdoms or their successor states. To date, the longest serving British monarch is Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years, 7 months and 2 days. To surpass the record set by the titular James III, the current monarch Queen Elizabeth II would need to remain on the throne until at least 23 May 2016.

Titles and honours

Coat of arms of James Francis Edward Stuart

James was created Prince of Wales on 4 July 1688.[5]



As Prince of Wales, James bore a coat of arms consisting of those of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of three points.[6]


See also

Notes and sources

  1. ^ Margaret McIntyre, Mary II (1662–1694), in Anne Commire (ed.), Women in World History, vol. 10 (2001), ISBN 0-7876-4069-7, p. 516
  2. ^ a b c d James Edward Gregg, 'James Francis Edward (1688–1766)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2012, accessed 23 June 2013.
  3. ^ Complete Peerage: "Duke of Cornwall".
  4. ^ Vaughan, Herbert (1906). The Last of the Royal Stuarts: Henry Stuart, Cardinal Duke of York. London: Methuen. pp. 212–214. 
  5. ^ "The Prince of Wales – Previous Princes". Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Francois R. Velde. "Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family". Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
James Francis Edward Stuart
Born: 10 June 1688 Died: 1 January 1766
British royalty
Title last held by
Prince of Wales
Duke of Cornwall
Duke of Rothesay
Title next held by
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
James II & VII
(deposed from throne)
King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland
(Jacobite succession)

Succeeded by
Charles Edward Stuart
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.