Stories from the Jacobite Court in Exile: Sir David Nairne and his daughter, Lady Ramsay

Jacques Rigaud, Vue du Vieux Chateau de St Germain en Laye, engraving, 1725, and letter from Marie Ramsay to James Edgar

│By Edward Corp, retired Professor of British History at the Université de Toulouse│

A couple of years ago I published a biography of Sir David Nairne.1 He worked in the political secretariat of the Stuart court in exile for thirty years (1689-1728), and the Stuart Papers contain a great many letters written by him or to him during that period. I read and used those letters, and also consulted a private diary that he kept during the first half of that period. Unfortunately the diary comes to an end in 1708, and there was one thing that I was never able to discover. It might seem unimportant in itself, but it is significant in the context of a biography.

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One Man in Wangaratta

The town of Wangaratta in the north of Victoria, Australia, has a population of approximately 19,000, but little does that population realise that one amongst their number is a man who, but for an accident of history, could today be the King of England. This matter was originally researched by the British historian, Dr. Michael Jones, in 2003, and it can be updated with the help of Gale Primary Sources.

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The Cook, a Journey, the Queen, and her Husband – a snippet from exiled Jacobite Court history

│By Julia de Mowbray, Publisher at Gale│

While reviewing the content recently loaded into the online archive The Stuart and Cumberland Papers from the Royal Archives Windsor Castle, one document caught my eye: a plan of a journey with daily stops for meals or a night’s rest. Descriptions of journeys and itineraries, plotting out where someone travelled at a particular time, especially from earlier centuries, can transport me back to that time – placing my feet on that road or piazza, in that carriage or train – to experience the same journey in my imagination.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same – the Jacobite Uprisings of 1715 and 1745

Setting out boldly from France to Scotland with a loyal band of followers, the Pretender raises the Stuart standard upon arrival and the Highland clans rise in support. Edinburgh is attacked, declarations are made, battles are fought against Hanoverian forces – and French support fails to materialise. There are losses, and the Pretender flees back to France. The Uprising is over.

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Bonnie Prince Charlie and ‘the ‘45’

In August 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Highland army embarked on its journey across Scotland, marking the onset of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Determined to restore the Stuart monarchy to the throne, and severe the Union of 1707 which bound Scotland to Britain, the Prince led his Jacobite followers into battles across Scotland and the North of England. Replete with themes of individual heroism, and of the struggle of the few against the tyranny of the establishment, it is little wonder that the story of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ has come to acquire mythical status. 270 years on from what was effectively the beginning of the end of the Jacobite cause, I couldn’t resist delving into some of the original documents from our State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century resource, which gives us some clues as to why the rising – and the figure at its head – has become so romanticised.

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