Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Who Are All These Kings?: James Edward Stuart

James Edward Stuart was regarded by considerable numbers as James III of England and James VIII of Scotland.

He is widely known as the Old Pretender.

James was born at St. James`s Palace in London in 1688. His father was James II and his mother Mary of Modena. At the time of his birth, a rumour circulated that he was a changeling, introduced into the Royal bed by way of a warming pan.

While he was still a baby, his father fled the country in view of the Glorious Revolution, and was preceded by little James. They reached France, and James was brought up at St. Germain, being acknowledged as heir to the throne by Louis XIV.

On his father`s death in 1701, James was proclaimed king in France.

He attempted an invasion in Scotland in 1708, but was defeated by the English, after which he served with distinction in the French army during the War of the Spanish Succession.

Queen Anne urged James to renounce his Catholicism, which would clear the way for him to succeed her, but he refused to do so.

When Anne died in 1714 and was succeeded by the George I, there was plenty of Jacobite feeling resenting the Hanoverians, and rebellion broke out in Scotland under the Earl of Mar. James, however, took several months to join the rebels, eventually landing at Peterhead.

He captured Perth, and held court at Scone, but was resisted by Stirling and Edinburgh.

James was unable to gain much fervent support, due to his gloomy nature, and after six weeks he slipped quietly out of the country and returned to France.

He eventually settled in Rome, where the Pope awarded him a pension and decreed that he should be known as King of England. He married Maria of Poland in 1719 at Montefiascone in Italy.

The Jacobite Rebellion in 1745 proceeded without James, and it was his son Charles Edward Stuart who fronted the cause, proclaiming his father king at Ashbourne.

James died in Rome in 1766 and was buried at St. Peter`s Basilica in the Vatican. He was survived by his two sons, Charles (the Young Pretender) and Henry.