Declaration of King James III, March 21, 1717
In late 1716 and early 1717 King James III engaged in negotiations with the government of King Charles XII of Sweden to support a planned invasion of Scotland. When, however, the Swedish Minister in England, Count Gyllemborg, was arrested and his papers seized, all plans were cancelled.
Several versions of this declaration were issued with very slight variations: these include a version for Scotland, and a version which adds the word "Protestant" in the ninth paragraph before the word "dissenters".
A printed version of the text can be found in the Calendar of the Stuart Papers, Historical Manuscripts Commission (Hereford, 1910), IV, 128-131.
As we are firmly resolved never to omit any opportunity of asserting our undoubted title to the imperial crowns of these realms, and of endeavouring to put ourselves into the possession of that right which is devolved upon us by the laws of God and man, so must we, in justice to the sentiments of our own heart, declare that nothing in the world could have given us so great satisfaction as to have owed to the endeavours of our loyal subjects, without the concurrence of any foreign aid, both our and their restoration to that happy settlement which can alone deliver this church and nations from the calamities which they lie at present under, and from those future miseries which must be the consequences of the present usurpation.
We gave our people a late and undeniable proof of this by exposing our own person to so great toil and danger in the prospect we then had, that our subjects alone might be the instruments of our restoration, and the brave appearance made upon that occasion by many of our loyal subjects of both nations, gave such a prospect of success to our endeavours that it drove our enemies, though in possession of the government, to the necessity of calling in foreigners to their assistance, which gave a public proof that true British hearts, animated with a natural love of their own lawful sovereign and ancient constitution, are an overmatch to the abettors of usurpation, even when supported with the public treasure and standing forces.
The usurper and his associates, finding by that experiment that they had no share in the hearts of the people nor any safety in the national forces, found it at last necessary to make sure, by a new treaty, of new foreign auxiliaries, by throwing themselves into the protection of those very powers who ever till then were reputed by them as being of an interest incompatible with that of Great Britain, and whom they had represented in so odious a manner that it was made a crime to use, though they themselves had forced us to it, to have had our education amongst them. The inhuman persecution of our own person was made another main article of this new alliance. The usurper, not satisfied to have engaged as far as in him lay all Christian powers to refuse us even the common rights of hospitality, forced us to remove from place to place, and at last to retire beyond the Alps, thinking by our being at so great a distance to render our restoration absolutely impossible.
But what is impossible to man is not so to God Almighty, for that Divine Providence in which we have ever settled our confidence, and of whose particular protection we have received so wonderful proofs upon all occasions, has now raised up a powerful prince in the pursuit of his own right against the usurper of ours: our ancient ally, the brave and generous King of Sweden, whose principles, cause, and nation can never raise any jealousy in Britain. Wherefore, not to neglect the way which Providence has so visibly opened to us, we have accepted the more willingly the assistance of this generous prince, that the barbarous cruelties by which the usurper has destroyed or banished so many of the best of our subjects, and the numerous foreign troops he has engaged to support his usurpation, makes it now impracticable for our subjects alone to bring about our restoration and their liberty.
Being therefore fully resolved to come in person, as soon as possibly we can, to assert and recover our rights and relieve our people by the assistance of our aforesaid ally the King of Sweden, we have thought fit, by this our royal declaration, to renew and confirm our offers of pardon and indemnity, as contained in the former declarations for our kingdoms of England and Scotland of the 20th July and 25th October, 1715, promising to extend them in ample form by advice of our first Parliament, which we hereby promise to call as soon as matters shall be so far settled as that a free Parliament can meet together.
And being sensible that our unbounded offers of clemency in our aforesaid declarations have been abused by the stubbornness of some people, who after our late arrival in these our kingdoms did continue traitorously to exercise their functions and offices civil and military, in contempt of our royal authority: we do, therefore, command and require as a test of their duty to us, and as a title to our royal indemnity, that immediately upon notice of our arrival, or of that of our aforesaid ally the King of Sweden, or his troops in our dominions, all officers whatsoever, civil or military, by sea or by land, acting by commission or authority from the usurper, shall either declare for us or resign their said commissions and abandon their respective posts and stations, promising hereby that such as resign and withdraw in manner aforesaid shall be thereby entitled to our royal pardon in manner specified; and that such as shall with all convenient speed, after our arrival, or that of our aforesaid ally, or his troops, either declare for us in their respective stations, or join our royal standard, shall be continued by us in their former commissions, and receive a reward to themselves, and to such soldiers as shall repair to our said standard or our ally's, and that all such, both officers and soldiers, shall be paid all the arrears due to them by the usurper.
We do likewise renew and confirm all the promises made by us in our foresaid declarations to protect, support and maintain our subjects of the Church of England and Ireland in the full and free exercise of their religion, and to secure the said Church as by law established and all the members thereof in as full enjoyment of all their legal rights, privileges and immunities, and in as full and peaceable possession of all their churches, universities, colleges and schools as ever they enjoyed them under any of our royal predecessors of the Protestant Communion.
And as we have ground to hope that the frequent assurances we have given for the entire security of the said Church of England and Ireland under our government will quiet the minds of all our Protestant subjects, so we doubt not but our now returning to our kingdoms by the aid of a Protestant prince, will wholly dissipate what may yet remain of jealousy in the minds even of the most biassed of our subjects of that communion.
And as to dissenters from the aforesaid Church established by law, of whatever communion they may be, as it is not our intention that any of our subjects shall be persecuted under our government merely for conscience sake, so we shall refer to our first Parliament to grant such indulgence to truly tender consciences as shall be thought fit.
We also refer to our said Parliament the confirming of all the civil as well as religious rights of our subjects, and the securing them more than ever in all that relates to their liberty and property. And as to all public engagements and debts upon the nation contracted since the unhappy revolution, we do also refer to the wisdom of our said Parliament to take such ways and means as shall be thought most proper by it to ease the nation of the intolerable burdens under which it now groans.
And as to all other matters relating to the satisfaction of our people more amply set forth in our aforesaid declarations, we do hereby renew and confirm them as if they were here particularly specified.
Having thus declared our gracious intentions, we hereby require and command all our loving subjects to be assisting to us in the recovery of our right and their own liberties, and that all able to bear arms repair to our standard or to that or our said ally, or join such as shall first appear for our service, and to seize the horses and arms and secure the persons and all ammunition and whatsoever else may be necessary for our service of all such as are suspected to be disaffected to us and our service.
We also strictly charge all treasurers, commissioners and officers of the Treasury, all collectors and receivers of the public in our said kingdoms and in all our other dominions thereto belonging, to forbear issuing out any money in their hands to any other than to us or to our orders, or to such principal persons as shall appear for us or to their order.
We do hereby require all mayors, sheriffs, etc., to publish this our declaration immediately after it shall come to their hands in the usual places and manner, and there to proclaim us under pain of being proceeded against for failure thereof and forfeiting the benefit of our general pardon.
And now having thus explained our royal intentions, we beseech Almighty God so to dispose and incline the hearts of all our people, that, without effusion of blood, righteousness and peace may take place.
This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (firstname.lastname@example.org) and was last updated October 26, 2003.
© Noel S. McFerran 2003.