Enquiry of the Princess of Orange into the Birth of the Prince of Wales

James, Prince of Wales (later King James III and VIII) was born June 10/20, 1688. In the following weeks his sister, the Princess of Orange sent to the Princess Anne of Denmark a list of carefully worded questions in which she asked her sister about the exact circumstances of the birth. The Princess Anne of Denmark had not herself been present at the birth; but she had decided several months previously that her step-mother Queen Mary Beatrice would not bear a son.

1. Whether the Queen desired at any time any of the ladies, in particular the Princess of Denmark, to feel her belly, since she thought herself quick, or of lat.

1. I never heard anybody say they felt the child stir; but I am told Lady Sutherland and Mme Mazarin say they felt it at the beginning. Mrs. Dawson tells me she has seen it stir, but never felt it.

2. Whether the milk, that, as is said, was in the Queen's breasts, was seen by many, or conducted in a mystery?

2. I never saw any milk; but Mrs. Dawson says she has seen it upon her smock and that it began to run at the same time as it used to do of her other children.

3. Whether the astringents that the Queen is said to have taken, were taken by her openly, or if a mystery was made of that? What doctors were consulted about the Queen before and since her being at the Bath? Whether Dr. Waldgrave alone, or others with him, knew the particulars of her condition all along?

3. For what they call restringing draughts, I saw her drink two of them; and I don't doubt she drank them frequently and publicly before her going to the Bath. Dr. Waldgrave was very earnest with Sir Charles Scarborough, to be for her going thither; but he was so fierce against it, that there was another consultation of doctors called, Sir Charles Scarborough, Dr. Waldgrave, Wetherby, Brady and Brown. After that, there was only Sir Charles Scarborough and Dr. Waldgrave. (And for the first, I believe he knew but little) excepting once when she was to be let blood, and when she was to have gone to Windsor. Then some of the others were called in, to give their opinions.

4. Whether the treating of the Queen's breasts for drawing back the milk, and the giving her clean linen, has been managed openly or mysteriously?

4. All I can say in this article is, that once in the discourse Mrs. Bromley told Mrs. Roberts, one day Mrs. Rogers's [Lady Sunderland's] daughter - came into the room when Mrs. Mansell [the Queen] was putting off her clouts, and she was very angry at it, because she did not care to be seen when she was shifting.

5. At what hour did the Queen's labour begin?

5. She fell in labour about eight o'clock. [a.m.]

6.At what hour was the notice of it sent to the King? Whether the King did not lie at St. James', or with the queen that night? Or if he was gone back to Whitehall?

6. She sent for the King at that time, who had been up a quarter of an hour, having lain with her that night, and was then dressing.

7. Whether, upon sending to the King, the thing was let fly over St. James' and Whitehall, or if the notice was sent secretly to the King?

7. As soon as the King came, he sent for the Queen-Dowager and all the Privy Council. After that, it was known all over St. James'.

8. Whether did the King send about for the Privy Councillors; or if he sent those that were by accident at Whitehall?

8. Most of the other men that was there, I suppose was at the King's rising.

9. At what time came the King with the Council into the Queen's chamber?

9. They came into the room presently after the queen-Dowager came, which is about half an hour before she was brought to bed.

10. Whether there was a screen at the foot of the bed, between it and the rest of the room, or not?

10. There was no screen. She was brought to bed in the bed she lay in all night, and in the great bed-chamber, as she was of her last child.

11. Whether did any woman, besides the confidants, see the queen's face when she was in labour? And whether she had the looks of a woman in labour? Who was in the room, both men and women? What time they came in, and how near they stood?

11. The foot curtains of the bed were drawn, and the two sides were open. When she was in great pain, the King called in haste for my Lord Chancellor, who came up to the bedside to show he was there; upon which the rest of the Privy Councillors did the same thing. Then the Queen desired the King to hide her face with his head and periwig, which he did, for she said she could not be brought to bed and have so many men look upon her; for all the Council stood close at the bed's feet, and Lord Chancellor upon the step.

12. How long was the King talking to the Privy Councillors, after the child was carried into the next room, before he went to look upon it? And in this, as well as in the other questions, relating to the point of time, a critical answer as near to a minute as it is possible, is desired. Who took the child when it was born?

12. As soon as the child was born the midwife cut the navel-string, because the after-burthen did not follow quickly; and then she gave it to Mrs. Labadie, who, as she was going by the bedside, cross the step, to carry it into the little chamber, the King stopped her and said to the Privy Councillors that they were witnesses there was a child born, and bid them follow it into the next room and see what it was, which they all did; for till after they came out again, it was not declared what it was; but the midwife had only given a sign that it was a son, which is what had been done before.

13. What women, or one sort or another, were present? And if no woman was called in to hold the Queen? And if the King did not use to be nearer the bed, and hold the queen, as in former labours?

13. When the Queen-Dowager came into the room she went up to the bedside, but after that stood all the while by the clock. There was in the rom Lord Chancellor, Lord Privy Seal, the two Chamberlains, Lord President, Lord Middleton, Lord Craven, Lord Huntingdon, Lord Powis, Lord Dover, Lord Peterborough, Lord Melfort, Lord Dartmouth, Sir John Ferneley, Lord Preston, Sir Nicholas Butler, Duke of Beaufort, Lord Berkeley, Lord Murray, Lord Castlemaine; these were of the Council; and for the others, there was Lord Feversham, Lord Arran, Sir St. Fox, and Mr. Griffin, besides pages of the backstairs and priests. The women that were there were Lady Peterborough, Lady Bellasis, Lady Arran, Lady Tyrconnel, Lady Roscommon, Lady Sophia Bulkley, Lady Fingal, Mme Mazarin, Mme Bouillon, Lady Powis, Lady Strickland, Lady Craven, Mrs. Cran, two of the Queen-Dowager's Portuguese, Mrs. Bromley, Mrs. Dawson, Mrs Waldgrave, Lady Wentworth and Mrs. Feraine. All these stood as near as they could. Lady Bellasis gave the midwife the receiver, and Mrs. Dawson stood behind a Dutch chair that the midwife sat upon to do her work. All the time the child was parted I do not hear of anybody that held the Queen except the King, and he was upon the bed by her all the while.

14. Whether in any former labour the Queen was delivered so mysteriously, so suddenly, and so few being called for?

14. Her labour never used to be so long.

15. If many observed the child's limbs being slender at first, and their appearing all of a sudden to be round and full? Who is about it, rockers and dry-nurse? If everybody is permitted to see the child at all hours, dressed and undressed?

15. I never heard what you say of the child's limbs. As for seeing it dressed or undressed, they avoid it as much as they can. by all I have seen and heard, sometimes they refuse almost everybody to see it; and that is, when they say it is not well; and methinks there is always a mystery in it, for one does not know whether it be really sick, and they fear one should know it, or whether it is well, and they would have one think it is sick, as the other children used to be. In short, it is not very clear anything they do and for the servants, from the highest to the lowest, they are all papists.

16. Is the Queen fond of it?

16. The queen forbid Lady Powis to bring the child to her before any company; but that, they say, she used to do to her other children. I dined there the other day, when they said it had been very ill of a looseness, and it really looked so; yet when she came from prayers, she went to dinner without seeing it, and after that played at Comet, and did not go to it till she was put out of the pool.

17. How Mrs. Dawson, Mrs. Bromley, stands with the Queen? Which of her bedchamber-women are most in favour?

17. I believe none of the bedchamber-women have any credit with the queen, but Mrs. Tureine; but they say Mrs. Bromley has an interest with the King.

18. Were no ladies sent for? And who was sent for? And at what time was the message sent to the Queen-Dowager? Also at what time she came?

18. I don't hear any ladies were sent for but the Queen's own, and they were called presently after the Queen-Dowager. She came a quarter after nine; where she stood and at what time she was sent for I have already told you.

This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (noel.mcferran@rogers.com) and was last updated October 26, 2003.
© Noel S. McFerran 2000-2003.