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James Edward Stewart Old Pretender

  • Name  : Stewart
  • Born  : 1688
  • Died  : 1766
  • Category  : Famous Historical Figures
  • Finest Moment : Some good fighting in the French Army, 1708-9

He mounted the first Jacobite rebellion in 1715, and fathered 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'.

Born in St James's Palace, London on 10 June 1688, only surviving son of the deposed Roman Catholic monarch James II of England. His supporters called him James III of England, and James VIII of Scotland; later he would be referred to as 'The Old Pretender' (i.e. claimant to the throne).

In an attempt to discredit the Jacobites of the time (Jacobite from the Latin for James incidentally), the Whigs put about the story that he was in fact an impostor, who had been smuggled into the Queen's bedchamber in a warming pan. When William of Orange deposed James II, James was exiled to France.

There was still some sympathy remaining in Scotland for the Stewart cause, and this was increased in 1707, with the Act of Union. When James heard of this he decided to make an attempt on the throne, setting out from Dunkirk with a small fleet in 1708. Convalescing from measles, and a poor sailor, he nonetheless reached the Firth of Forth, where they were chased north by the arrival of an English squadron under Admiral Byng. They eventually returned to France, despite James's protests. England I - Stewarts 0.

For the next year he served with the French forces, and won admiration for his bravery, but with the Peace of Utrecht, Luis had to expel him from France and he went to Lorraine. In 1714 he turned down requests to renounce his Catholicism, so as to be able to designated as Queen Anne's heir to the English throne.

His fate was taken in hand in 1715, when John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, started a Jacobite rebellion in Scotland. In disguise, James landed at Peterhead on 22 December, by which time the Jacobite had been unsuccessful at winning the Battle of Sheriffmuir. James reached Perth before withdrawing to the east coast and returning to France from Montrose in February 1716, moving on to Lorraine and then Italy. England 2 - Stewarts 0.

He attempted to invade England in 1719, having been summoned to Spain by Cardinal Alberoni, but the small fleet was wrecked at Corunna before he had reached it, and only a diversionary expedition to Scotland appeared, losing at the Battle of Glenshiel. Hence the rather oddly named hill there Sgurr nan Spainteach (Peak of the Spaniards). James withdrew from Spain and settle in Rome, finding support from the papacy there. England 3 - Stewarts 0.

In 1719 he married the 15-year-old Clementina Sobieski, granddaghter of Poland's King John Sobieski. They had two sons; Prince Charles Edward Stewart (The Young Pretender), in 1720, and Prince Henry Benedict, (1725-1807). When his son Charles mounted the final Jacobite rebellion in 1745, James would have nothing to do with it, and was then shunned by his son. He died on New Year's Day, 1766, in Rome, and was buried in St Peter's.

It is probably fair to say that James had more than his fair share of bad luck, otherwise the history of Scotland may well have taken a different turn. His support was often indifferent, he stuck with his religion when another might have changed, and his marriage was unhappy.

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