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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The Stuart Papers: from Neglect and Oblivion to the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle

We know that the Stuart Papers were acquired by George IV when he was Prince Regent (1811-1820) following the death of Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal York, the final Jacobite heir, and that it was around this time they were moved from Rome back to the UK. They’re now housed in the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle. I decided to search through Gale Primary Sources, focusing particularly on newspapers and periodicals, to see if I could find out more about how the papers of the exiled Jacobite heirs returned to the UK, and how it has been reported in the press at that time, and since. The initial discovery of the Stuart Papers and their subsequent journey from Rome to Windsor Castle makes fascinating reading.

Read moreThe Stuart Papers: from Neglect and Oblivion to the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle