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Bill Thayer

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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 1

 p. v  Preface

This volume presents a pioneer sketch of the life of a gentleman who at times called himself "the last of the Stuarts," and pretty certainly was the grandson of Prince Charles Edward, the Young Pretender to the British throne. It is largely based on the man's personal papers, purchased by the author on April 8, 1935, in a sale at Sotheby's. They are a highly miscellaneous lot of loose papers in at least a half-dozen languages, notably English, French, Italian, German, and Russian — with bits of modern Greek, Gaelic, and Spanish thrown in. As here printed, documents written in a language other than English have been translated. One may doubt if Roehenstart had (as most of us have) a native language; his faulty idioms (which make translation risky) may at times, however, be set down merely to hasty writing.

Roehenstart must have known that he was not a legitimate son, and to conceal his somewhat scandalous paternity, he used his imagination in creating for himself a respectable Swedish father, whom he knew to be quite fictitious. His title, Count Roehenstart, suggests a Continental pronunciation of Rohan-Stuart. Evidently one fiction led to another, and not all of his merely imaginative statements can be surely detected as such. Further complication arises from the diversity of his intellectual interests and his personal connections in several countries. These, partly revealed or merely hinted, increase the obscurity inherent in a fragmentary archive; but the unified skeleton of a varied picaresque career emerges clearly.

Apart from the papers now in the possession of the author, and presently to go to the Bodleian Library, the chief documents of use in the work are the letters of Charlotte Stuart to her mother, Clementine Walkinshaw, now already in the Bodleian (North MSS. d. 27, 28). In 1935 the author first read these letters, and was later pleased to find that when, at his suggestion, the learned Henrietta Tayler read them  p. vi again, she agreed that they showed definitely that before Charlotte Stuart went to Florence to live with her father, she had given birth to three children, still living in 1789. Other manuscripts in the British Museum, the Archives Nationales (Paris), and the Houghton Library at Harvard, have proved useful.

Most, but not all, of the facts here presented, are published for the first time. Shortly after 1935 the author sent to the late Henrietta Tayler information drawn from the papers, with permission to publish. She used details freely in her book Prince Charlie's Daughter (1950). In a few cases the information was too hastily sent, and some details are here corrected.

In the early stages of the work the author had valuable aid from Miss Tayler and from A. Francis Steuart, both now unfortunately deceased. More recently he has been aided by Rev. J. Edgar Bruns, S. T. D., and in much indispensable information and advice by C. L. Berry.

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Page updated: 8 Apr 17