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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 9
This webpage reproduces part of
A Late Stuart Pretender

by George Sherburn

published by
The University of Chicago Press

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 11

p109 Chapter Ten

Last Journeyings

After the mid‑thirties we have few papers and little information about Roehenstart. Naturally he was exasperated by the increasingly frequent mentions in the public press of the romantic "Sobieski Stuarts." In the summer of 1836 a paragraph about them that he saw in Galignani's Messenger spurred him to adverse comment on these rival pretenders to Stuart blood. He sent his observations to the Glasgow Chronicle, which naturally refused to publish the communication because of its anonymity. After the intervention of a friendly agent, a nephew of Mrs. Harriet Hamilton, it was printed. In August, 1836, he had sent the piece to his wife in a very friendly letter addressed to "Madame Stuart, rue du Harley No. 4 au Marais, Paris." Since this is the last mention of Mrs. Stuart in the papers preserved to us, the letter may be given in full. The lady must have predeceased her husband: there is no evidence in the matter except silence. The letter reads as follows:

Here I send you, my dearest Constance, a copy of the Article I alluded to in my last, premising that I was almost compelled to write it. As I had no one who could act for me, I was obliged to address the Editor myself: this accounts for the little praise I threw in to disguise the writer. I saw in Galignani's paragraph, copied from a Scotch paper, giving an account of a visit paid to Scotland by two young men, brothers, one Chs Edward, the other John Sobieski, represented in glowing colours &c &c. I felt certainly ruffled, and having made up my mind not to stir any more in this melancholy business, I would not have taken any further notice of the paragraph if I had not been teazed into compliance. There must be an answer to my letter, and you shall know it, when I get it, which I think will be before we go from hence.

To the Editor of the Glasgow Chronicle

Sir: — Feeling deeply interested in every circumstance relating to the unfortunate House of the Stuarts, my attention has been attracted from time to p110time by various articles, which have appeared in different papers, all calculated to mislead public opinion. One of these paragraphs, to which I allude, was transcribed from the Glasgow Chronicle into Galignani's Messenger of the 14th of may last. I should feel much obliged if you could inform me, thro' the medium of your paper who are those "Two young men dressed in the Highland Costume, accompanied by a Piper" who have lately been paying a visit to Scotland. I perceive that their claim does not rise above illegitimacy, and even to such a pretension I must object, knowing as I do the private history of that illustrious Family. The only person who claimed this spurious descent was Mr Stuart Hall who, after having made his fortune in India, returned to Scotland, and this Gentleman designated himself as the son of Cardinal York. It is a fact well known that Prince Charles Edward had by his first marriage, one child, a Daughter, the Duchess of Albany, — he had no issue by his second marriage with the late Countess of Albany, well known as the mistress of Alfieri: — the Prince had no natural child. This Daughter, the Duchess of Albany, married a Nobleman descended in a direct line from the Earl of Darnley, husband to Mary, Queen of Scots. This union was kept secret on account of his being a Protestant, but on the birth of a son, the marriage was disclosed to Prince Chas Edward, who not only pardoned his daughter, but gave his own name to the boy. This grandson, the only remaining scion of the Stuarts, whom I have known almost from his birth, unites both branches of the Stuarts, and is living in comparative poverty and complete retirement. He has been the sport of that cruel destiny which has so relentlessly weighed upon his family with an iron hand, but he soars above life's frowns with a dignity becoming his Royal race, and a fortitude worthy of a better fate. Sir, your inserting this letter in your Chronicle will oblige. — A Scotsman.

Naples June 18 1836.

Many thanks for your kind letter, my dear Friend [Constance]; it arrived on the 27th July, and I have lost one courier, that I might inform you of R's answer. All's right; the money has been paid this morning. My letters ought to reach you much sooner than yours arrive to me, since they are intrusted to the master of a Barge, who is an honest man, and put into the post office at Naples, as this shall be to morrow morning, being the post day; I cannot account for the great delay you complain of. The postage of yr letters is more than double that which you pay for mine, and English letters do not pay half as much. I knew all about the King, and the news you communicate, even to Mdlle Garnerin, also the great heat you suffer at Paris, since I continue to read G's paper, twenty days old.

I am sorry to hear the Cholera is raging at Vienna, and nearer us, in the north of Italy, at Venice &c. They have already reestablished the Quarantine here, no, they would not let escape such a good opportunity of plaguing and plundering Travellers. The Italians are persuaded that it is contagious: I have not found it so last year at Genoa; but when I reflect that they are great p111cowards, the experience I have of this strange and as yet little understood malady induces me to believe that with them it may be in many instances contagious, for I am convinced that wherever it rages, those who tremble, are most liable to fall victims to the Cholera.

Should you wish to write, contrive it so that your letter may reach me in the early part of September, for our time is out on the 15th, and I hope we shall not prolong our stay here. The only inducement for coming to Sorrento during the hot weather is that the place is free from moschettos: true we have none, but we have plenty of little black flies, called sunflies, or I believe modges [sic] in England, and another specie of gnat, much smaller than the usual, and fully as troublesome. I am all covered with their sting, and they annoy me beyond expression: hardly any night passes away without my having the fever, so very maddening they are: partial as I am to Italy, I trust this will be the last summer I ever pass in it. You may rely on my writing you before we leave Sorrento, and when I know our further proceedings. The green tea, I find, is a most excellent remedy, and it is owing to bad management if it did not answer with yr friend — nonsense about the bad smell! There is no such thing. Let me end my letter by bringing back to your mind a very good resolution I heard you take several times, but which I have not had the pleasure yet of seeing you adopt: I had quite forgotten to mention it before: — it is to take lessons of French, not to speak it, because you do it indeed very well, and yr pronunciation is good, but to enable you to write the language correctly: for you must have found most distressing not to be able to do it when required. I shall expect in your letter half a sheet of French as a specimen of yr progress.

Ever truly and sincerely yours


1st Augst 1836.

Ultimately (June 7, 1838) the Glasgow Chronicle printed the communication copied into this letter, with two or three modifications seemingly due to Roehenstart himself. To his request for the identification of the "Two young men . . . who have been paying a visit to Scotland" he added the caustic phrase, "and made themselves so conspicuous." He thought better of becoming a descendant of Darnley and inserted the preferable "descended in a direct line from James Moray Stuart, uncle of Darnley." He also improved the status of his fictitious father by adding after the story that "Prince Charles Edward . . . gave his name to the boy" the fantastic statement that the father "had fully satisfied the Prince that he possessed strong claims to consider himself as belonging to, if not the elder branch of the Royal Stuarts, and amongst old documents religiously preserved in his family, one of them bearing date of January, 927, proves that his ancestors were then, at that early period, Lords of Sutherland and the Orkney p112Isles." Though grammatically incoherent this addendum was doubtless designed to put mere "Sobieski Stuarts" in their proper place. In the text sent to Mrs. Stuart one word appears coyly — perhaps humorously inserted — when Roehenstart, writing anonymously about himself asserts that he has known the grandson almost from his birth. The printed text lacks almost.

Notably in this major outburst against the Sobieski Stuarts, Roehenstart devotes more space to his own claims than to theirs. Consequently it may be interesting to see what they said about him. Nowhere in his papers does Roehenstart indicate that he ever saw the Ossianic brothers, but the aged surviving brother, then styling himself "Charles Edward Stolberg Sobieski Stuart, Comte d'Albanie" (his real name was Charles Manning Allen), in 1877 sent an anonymous communication to Notes & Queries which was there published in the issue for November 3, 1877. a In part it reads:

With regard to descendants of Clementina Walkinshaw, I may mention one (the last) with whom I was personally acquainted for some years before his death, and that was a Baron Rohenstart, a Swedish nobleman, who was said to be a grandson of Clementina Walkinshaw, and I have no reason to believe that he was not, whose father Baron Rohenstart, it was stated, was married to the daughter of Clementina Walkinshaw, which also I have no reason to doubt. Their son bore the names (as Christian names) of Charles Edward Stuart prefixed to his own family name of Rohenstart, which also I see no reason to dispute. He was first introduced to me as Baron Rohenstart in Prague, in the Casino, the club of the nobles of Bohemia, of which he was also a member. But he never assumed the title of Count of Albany. Had he assumed any title from his mother, it must have been Duke of Albany . . . but . . . Baron Rohenstart . . . was contented with the title which he inherited from his father. . . .

Baron Rohenstart, who died from injuries caused by the upsetting of a stagecoach in which he was travelling from Edinburgh to Inverness . . . was the same as stated above. . . . How in the inscription on his tomb he came to be called Count Rohenstart I cannot understand. . . . During my acquaintance with him we often conversed about Scotland; and as he had been accustomed to verse that country from time to time, we talked frequently about its history (which was generally brought about by me, as I had heard, many years before I became acquainted with him, that he was the grandson of Clementina Walkinshaw, though delicacy prevented me from touching on that subject, as he did not; neither did he ever allude to his relationship with the Stuart family or to the fact that he bore as Christian names Charles Edward Stuart).

p113 There is nothing clearly impossible in this account, though one feels the extent of the acquaintance is much exaggerated. It seems improbable that these two pretenders could converse often and long without touching on the one subject that really interested them: Scotland was all very well as a topic, but from Scotland one would naturally go on to the real matter. After all the aged Allen was seventy-eight years old when he wrote this communication, and Roehenstart had been dead over twenty years.

But in 1838 he was not dead, and since in his letter to his wife he remarks, that he had made up his mind "not to stir any more in this melancholy business," he may in later years have made it less a subject of conversation. It must have been in later years and in England or Scotland that he knew the surviving (second) grandson of Admiral Allen: he may of course have met him in Prague, but Prague is nowhere mentioned in Roehenstart's papers.

In these later years his closest friend was perhaps Charles Harrison of 9 Berkeley Street, Berkeley Square, whose house became (briefly?) Roehenstart's address in April, 1838. After about this time his preserved practically no personal papers except paragraphs sent to periodicals about Stuarts, actual or imaginary — a fact that suggests no discreet of interest in his ancestry. At the end of his life he was still traveling. He had studied a bit of Spanish and went off to Spain to see the country and collect pictures. His last letter, preserved in a draft, is to Charles Harrison, and it was written after Harrison's daughter, Frances Maria, had on July 27, 1853, become the wife of Lord Amelius Beauclerk, a younger son of the eighth Duke of St. Albans. The handwriting is more tremulous than usual, but the letter shows the eager, active, and forward-looking attitude of the writer:

Fonda del Oriente Barcelona   13th May [1854]

My dear Charles: — I must trouble you again with another of my epistles before I shall have the pleasure of meeting you. I duly received your kind letter directed to Valencia, and both yours & that of my dear cousin Lord Amelius, afforded me great satisfaction, although I must observe that you make too much of a thing which came of course & naturally, and did hardly deserve being mentioned. I had requested L. A. to tell me the state the oranges arrived in; and his silence on the subject proves that this was a failure: I am very sorry for it: but there is no mending the thing this year; I only trust that the same disappointment did not happen with the wine and that you did receive the quality I had selected. — I forgot to mention that they do not allow any letter to be paid in Spain for England, & therefore your last letter was paid twice. — p114Pray write me a short note, and if you are too much engaged, I request L. A. to do it for you, acquainting me with your plan that I may act accordingly, and direct it to Hotel Beauvau, Marseille. 'Tis very strange, but we were all three engaged in the same pursuit at the same time. I mean the search after pictures. I have seen many surpassingly fine, splendid beyond all description, and you will no doubt be surprised to hear me give the decided preference to the Madrid Museum over that of Paris! The Spanish School is extremely rich and hardly known either in France or England. — I have been very lucky in my ferretings, and I have actually laid my hand upon a Murillo which I paid extremely cheap, not one tenth of its value. — Two days after my purchase, I was offered $2500 piastres fortes which I did not accept; perhaps I was wrong! we shall see later. — What do you think of all my expenses being largely repaid, and having besides above £500 clear profit, — I have a pretty addition to make to both of your collections: however you must not expect anything in the style of Murillo: — they are modern but excellent cabinet pictures of the costumes & manners of Andalusia.

I have been unwell for above one week; but I am now quite recovered: 4 days & as many nights on the road (and what roads) had done for me, and my old bones could not bear it any longer. This is about the time I had fixed for leaving Spain, and I intend taking my passage by the next steamer to Marseille in about 4 or 5 days. I must go instantly to Nice to pay a last visit to a dying friend, and as I fancy that the German waters may do me some good, I think of proceeding straight on from Nice to Baden Baden, where I may remain a fortnight nursing myself a little, and then I shall move on to give you the meeting wherever you choose to fix it for that relaxation from business which you must want sadly. Recollect, I beg, that should you find necessary to give up for this year your excursion on the continent, this will equally please me, and I shall cross the sea from Ostend to join you in England, where they [sic] are many attractive spots to spend 6 weeks or 2 months in a charming way, besides auld Scotland all over which I should feel happy to chaperon you. — The little attention I am obliged to make cannot in the least interfere with you, since your time is not yet up, and I am afraid there is no chance of your stirring before July, even perhaps as late as the end of August. Then dear Lady A's interesting situation may detain you in town longer than you thought. I merely mention all these casualties to prove that my going so early in the season to a watering place cannot in any manner interfere with your project, and should it jar with anything you have resolved, I am sure I would give up with pleasure everything of mine in order to meet you on your own ground. — I had so many things to communicate, and I do not now recollect any more, besides 'tis time I should bid you adieu. With my best regards to all your circle, I remain most sincerely yours


When this letter was written Roehenstart, though naturally unaware of the fact, had slightly less than six months to live. Evidently the p115meeting with Harrison did not take place on the Continent, for late in October Roehenstart with friends was riding on the top of a coach near the town of Dunkeld. A wheel came off, the coach overturned, and the fall was fatal to Roehenstart. He survived for a few days apparently, and seemed to improve, but collapsed and died on October 28. His friends had him buried in the tranquil grassy nave of the ruined cathedral of Dunkeld, and placed on his stone the following inscription:

to the memory of
Charles Edward Stuart

Count Roehenstart
who died at Dunkeld
on the 28th October 1854
aged 73 years

Sic transit gloria mundi

Roehenstart was a colonel, but not a general, and one may doubt if he was more than seventy years old. One must assume that the friend who designed the stone (Charles Harrison?) was not perfectly informed as to many details of Roehenstart's life.

Before going to Spain Roehenstart had sketched out a last will for himself, and a copy of it, preserved among his papers, reads as follows:

This is the last Will and Testament of Charles Edward Stuart, Count of Roehenstart, now residing at No. 7 Cambridge Square, Hyde Park, London.

I give and bequeath to my friend Charles Harrison, Esquire, all my fortune and effects whatsoever in England and France, and I make him Executor of this my will, subject to the following bequests:

I give to the first born child of Lady Amelius Wentworth Beauclerk One Thousand Pounds Sterling, and should the said child die before he or she becomes of age, then the said sum of One Thousand Pounds, is to go to the next child and so on.

I give to Mrs. Margaret Hughes Five Hundred Pounds Sterling.

I give to Elizabeth Constance White Two Hundred Pounds Sterling.

I request Mr. Harrison to pay to Colonel Julien and his wife of No. 9 Rue Ne De de Lorette, Paris, Twenty Pounds Sterling, free from duty, to buy a little remembrance of me. They have taken charge of Two large Trunks & two small boxes belonging to me, containing Books, some plate, old rings & other valuable things, which they will deliver to Mr. Harrison.

p116 I also wish him to pay for the same purpose and free from duty Twenty Pounds to Madame Dafour [Dufour?], wife of Dr Dafour, rue Lamartine No. 46 Paris.

My papers are to be burnt, but particularly two sealed Parcels marked "to be burned at my death."

This is my will, to which (written with my own hand) I have subscribed my name this Twenty ninth day of December one Thousand Eight Hundred and fifty-three. C. E. S.

Count of Roeh––––

The papers were perhaps not all preserved, but they were not all burned. They evidently descended to Harrison's only daughter, who after the death of her first husband, Lord Amelius Beauclerk, later married General John Walpole D'Oyley. She died in 1910, and the papers were sold at Sotheby's in 1935.

The death of Roehenstart was briefly noticed in various newspapers. Practically no information concerning him was included except some mention of military rank and of his claim to be descended from Prince Charles Edward. The lack of information led to the following comment printed in the Perthshire Courier, November 9, 1854:

The late General Stuart, Count Roehenstart

It is very desirable that some one should bring forward authentic intelligence regarding the gentleman passing under that name, who died at Dunkeld on the 28th ult., in consequence of an injury by a fall from a stage-coach. A gentleman on whom we place reliance has known him as an occasional visitor of this country since the year 1830. He reports that the deceased General described himself as a son of the Duchess of Albany, the daughter of Prince Charles Stuart by Clementina Walkinshaw.

His father was also a Stuart, a Swedish count of Scottish descent, whom the Duchess had married without the sanction of her father. The Prince had become reconciled to the marriage, and the deceased remembered having often sat on the knee of his grandfather, at whose death, in 1788, he was about seven years old.

General Stuart had been in the Prussian [Russian?] service. He was a mild and amiable man, of dignified appearance and refined manners, and spoke of his connection with the Royal House of Stuart in modest and becoming terms. For many years he was accustomed to make a tour of the Highlands, to gratify his mind with recollections of the romantic struggle in which his grandfather had been engaged in 1745. He seemed to be an isolated individual, although in easy circumstances.

Assuming this report of his parentage and history to be correct, it is certainly an affecting consideration that the amiable old man should have perished p117in the Scottish Highlands in so unfortunate a manner. It may be added that, according to his own account, the title he bore was from an estate in Sweden, which had acquired from its first Scottish possessor the name of Roehenstart, with reference to a family legend, to the effect that at a hunt in the company of an early Scottish king, his ancestor had caused a roe and a hen to start at the same moment, greatly to the admiration of his Majesty.

This account is meant merely as a summary of what General Stuart stated regarding himself, and its verification by other intelligence is, of course, required before any great consequence can be attached to it.

Verification by further intelligence is, a in the more than a century after Roehenstart's death, furnished in part by this publication of his personal papers. With regard to the roe, hen, and start, as well as other matters, further intelligence is desirable.

Thayer's Note:

a pp351‑352, online.

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