James Francis Edward Stuart

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
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 10 June 1688(1688-06-10)
St. James's Palace, London
Died 1 January 1766(1766-01-01) (aged 77)
Palazzo Muti, Rome
Burial St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales (James Francis Edward Stuart; "The Old Pretender" or "The Old Chevalier"; 10 June 1688 – 1 January 1766) was the son of the deposed James II of England (James VII of Scotland). As such, he claimed the English, Scottish and Irish thrones (as James III of England and Ireland and James VIII of Scotland) from the death of his father in 1701, when he was recognized as king of England, Scotland and Ireland by his cousin Louis XIV of France. Following his death in 1766 he was succeeded by his son Charles Edward Stuart in the Jacobite Succession.


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 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 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 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, a rumour immediately spread that a call for a warming pan had been the pretext for a substitution, implying that James and Mary's baby was allegedly stillborn.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] James and his sister Louisa Maria, were brought up in France.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[1]

Jacobite rising

Having been delayed in France by an attack of measles, James attempted an invasion, trying to land at the Firth of Forth on 23 March 1708. His French ships were driven back by the fleet of Admiral Sir George Byng.

Had he renounced his Roman Catholic faith, James might have strengthened the existing support of Tory, pro-Restoration, forces in England,[2] but he refused to do so. As a result, in 1714, a German-speaking Protestant became King of the recently created Kingdom of Great BritainGeorge I.

In 1713, the War of the Spanish Succession ended indecisively. Although the French forces and allies (of which Spain was one) were in complete control of Spain itself, they failed to retake the Spanish Crown's other European territories. Louis XIV of France accepted peace with Great Britain and her allies. He signed the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, that, amongst other conditions, required him to expel James from France.

The Fifteen

In the following year, the Jacobites started "The 'Fifteen" Jacobite rising in Scotland, aimed at putting "James III and VIII" on the throne. In 1715, James finally set foot on Scottish soil, following the indecisive Battle of Sheriffmuir, but was disappointed by the strength of support he found. Instead of going through with plans for a coronation at Scone, he returned to France, sailing from Montrose. He was not welcomed back, because his patron, Louis XIV, was dead and the government found him a political embarrassment.

Life as Pretender

Pope Clement XI offered James the Palazzo Muti in Rome as his residence, and he accepted. Innocent XIII, like his predecessor, showed much support. Thanks to the mediation of a close friend of his, Cardinal Filippo Antonio Gualterio, James was granted a life annuity of eight thousand Roman scudi. Such help enabled him to organise a Roman Jacobite court, where the Pope's cousin, Francesco Maria Conti of Siena, was the Gentiluomo di camera (Chamberlain).


On 3 September 1719, James Francis Edward Stuart married in the Chapel of episcopal palace of Montefiascone (Viterbo - Italy), Maria Clementina Sobieska (1702–35), granddaughter of the Polish king, John III Sobieski (sister of Maria Karolina Sobieska). 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

Initially a daughter of Philippe d'Orléans, Mademoiselle d'Orléans, had been suggested as a wife for James Francis Edward Stuart.

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Following James's failure, attention turned to his son Charles, "the Young Pretender", whose rebellion of 1745 came 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 children and 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 the British Isles 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.[3]

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 legitimate 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. In order 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 May 23, 2016.

Titles and honours

Coat of arms of James Francis Edward Stuart


  • 10 June – 4 July 1688: His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall
  • 4 July 1688[4] – 11 December 1688[4]: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
  • 10 June 1688 - 14 March 1689: The Duke of Rothesay
  • 11 December 1688/14 March 1689 (The dates of loss of his royal titles in England and Scotland, respectively)– 1 January 1766: James Francis Edward Stuart
    • Jacobite, 11 December 1688 – 16 September 1701: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
    • Jacobite, 16 September 1701 – 1 January 1766: His Majesty The King
    • Jacobite, 14 March 1689 - 16 September 1701: The Duke of Rothesay
    • Jacobite, 16 September 1701 - 1 January 1766: His Grace The King

James's full titles before his father's deposition were: His Royal Highness The Prince James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland,



As Prince of Wales, James bore a coat of arms consisting of those of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of three points.[5]


See also

Notes and sources

  1. ^ Complete Peerage: "Duke of Cornwall".
  2. ^ Sir Winston Churchill, ;;A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, vol. 2 (Dodd, Mead & Co., NY 1957), pp. 97-98.
  3. ^ Vaughan, Herbert (1906). The Last of the Royal Stuarts: Henry Stuart, Cardinal Duke of York. London: Methuen. pp. 212–214. http://www.jacobite.ca/documents/17921104.htm. 
  4. ^ a b "The Prince of Wales – Previous Princes". Princeofwales.gov.uk. http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/personalprofiles/theprinceofwales/abouttheprince/previousprincesofwales/. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  5. ^ Francois R. Velde. "Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family". Heraldica.org. http://www.heraldica.org/topics/britain/cadency.htm. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
James Francis Edward Stuart
Born: 10 June 1688 Died: 1 January 1766
British royalty
Title last held by
Prince of Wales Vacant
Title next held by
Titles in pretence
Glorious Revolution — TITULAR —
Prince of Wales
(Jacobite succession)

Preceded by
James II & VII
(deposed from throne)
King of England, Scotland, France & Ireland
(Jacobite succession)

Succeeded by
Charles III

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