Letter of King James III and VIII to Princess Anne of Denmark, May 2, 1711

In 1711 the Jacobite court began negotiations with the ministry of Princess Anne of Denmark about who would succeed Princess Anne. In May the following letter was delivered to Princess Anne by means of the Abbé Gaultier and Abigail Masham. Gaultier had formerly been attached to the parish church at Saint-Germain, and was now French agent in London. Mrs. Masham was a woman of the bedchamber to Princess Anne; her husband, Samuel Masham, had been groom of the bedchamber to Prince George of Denmark, and in 1712 was given the title "Baron Masham" by Princess Anne.

Princess Anne seems not to have responded to James' letter.

Selections of this letter have been published in several works including pages 109-110 of Martin Haile's James Francis Edward: The Old Chevalier (London: J.M. Dent, 1907) and pages 132-133 of Peggy Miller's James (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1971). I have combined these selections in order to create the near-complete text below.


The violence and ambition of the enemies of our family and of the monarchy have too long kept at a distance those who, by all the obligations of nature and duty, ought to be more firmly united, and have hindered us from the proper means and endeavours of a better understanding between us, whcih could not fail to produce the most happy effects to ourselves, to our family, and to our country.

But whatever the success may be, I have resolved now to break through all reserve, and to be the first in an endeavour so just and necessary. The natural affection I bear you, and that the King our father had for you till his last breath, the consideration of our mutual interest, honour, and safety, and the duty I owe to God and my country, are the true motives that persuade me to write to you, and to do all that is possible for me to come to a perfect union with you.

And you may be assured, Madam, that though I can never abandon but with my life, my own just right, which you know is unalterably settled by the most fundamental laws of the land, yet I am most desirous rather to owe to you than to any living, the recovery of it. The voice of God and nature calls you to it; the promises you made to the King our father enjoin it; the preservation of our family, the preventing of unnatural wars require it; and the public good and the welfare of our country recommend it to you, to rescue it from present and future evils, which must to the lastet posterity involve the nation in blood and confusion, till the succession be again settled in the right line.

I am satisfied, Madam, that, if you will be guided by your own inclinations, you will readily comply with so just and fair a proposal as to prefer your own brother, the last male of our name, to the Duchess of Hannover, the remotest relation we have, whose friendship you have no reason to rely on, or be fond of.

In the meantime, I assure you, Madam, and am ready to give all the security that can be desired; that it is my unalterable resolution to make the law of the land the rule of my government, to preserve every man's right, liberty, and property, equally with the rights of the Crown; and to secure and maintain those of the Church of England, in all their just rights and privileges, as by law established; and to give such a toleration to Dissenters as the Parliament shall think fit.

Your own good nature, Madam, and your natural affection to a brother, from whom you never received any injury, cannot but incline your heart to do him justice; and, as it is in your power, I cannot doubt of your good inclinations. And I do here assure you, that, in that case, no reasonable terms of accomodation which you can desire for yourself shall be refused by me. But as affairs of this moment cannot be so well transacted by letters, I must conjure you to send one over to me, fully instructed and empowered by you, or to give security for such a one from me; for by that way only, things can be adjusted to our mutual satisfaction, which shall be managed on our side with the utmost secrecy.

I have made this first step towards our mutual happiness, with a true brotherly affection, with the plainness and sincerity that becomes both our rank and relation, and in the most prudent manner I could at present contrive; and will be directed by you in the prosecution of it, relying entirely on your knowledge and experience, as to means and instruments.

And now, Madam, as you tender your own honour and happiness, the preservation and re-establishment of our ancient royal family, the safety and welfare of a brave people, who are almost sinking under present weights, and have reason to fear greater; who have no reason to complain of me, and whom I must still, and do love as my own, I conjure you to meet me in this friendly way of composing our differences, by which only we can hope for those good effects which will make us both happy, yourself more glorious than all the other parts of your life, and your memory dear to all posterity.

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