The Neapolitan Stuarts

by Philip Sidney

This article first appeared in English Historical Review, 18 (October 1903): 718-719.

Mr. A. F. Steuart's paper in the last number of the English Historical Review is, I venture to think, worth supplementing with some additional information, which I have lately acquired, relating to the 'eldest son of Charles II.' So far back, actually, as the year 1674 an account of James de la Cloche du Bourg, or Don Jacopo, was written by Vincenzo Armanni, of Gubbio, in Umbria, and published for him at Macerata, in the third volume of his Lettere. It is curious that none of the nineteenth-century authorities quoted by Mr. Steuart -- Father Boero, S.J., the report on the Venetian archives, and the article in the Home and Foreign Review (written by the late Lord Acton) -- make any mention of Armanni's work, which completely clears up the mystery surrounding the parentage of Don Jacopo, and proves him to have been one and the same person as James de la Cloche, the ex-Jesuit and undoubted son of Charles II. 1 Armanni derived his information from a priest who introduced Don Jacopo to Teresa Corona, and he tells us positively that the visitor to Naples was no other than James de la Cloche. James, tired of studying for the priesthood, had returned to the world, although remaining still a most devout catholic. Don Jacopo first encountered Teresa Corona when occupied with her devotions in the church of S. Salvatore, Naples, and fell in love with her on the spot. He was introduced to her by Armanni's informant, became a lodger at her mother's house, and there made her an offer of marriage, which was accepted. Teresa's parents had, at that period, owing to financial losses, descended in the social scale. It was, it seems, the boasting and extravagant behaviour of Teresa's father, Francesco Corona, concerning his son-in-law's noble birth that procured for Don Jacopo the unwelcome attentions of the viceroy, who threw him into prison.

In his Anglo-Roman Papers (1890) Mr. Brady makes an ingenious attempt to identify Don Jacopo's mother. He quotes Sir Bernard Burke as his authority for conjecturing that his mother may have been a daughter of Charles Stuart, sixth duke of Lennox and fourth earl of March. This theory is untenable, because at the date of the royal bastard's birth the duke was not more than eight years of age. It has been suggested that the mother may have been Lady Mary Stuart, a daughter of the fourth duke of Lennox and second earl of March: but this is equally impossible, for Lady Mary, who married Lord Arran, was not more than nine years old when Don Jacopo was born.

As to the date of the death of 'Prince James Stuart,' Don Jacopo's posthumous son (whose existence Armanni ignores), Mr. Steuart has apparently proved that he must have been alive in the year 1752. That he died soon after this date is, I think, quite likely for he must then have been in his eighty-third year, and his health had been reported very poor so far back as 1741.

1 Armanni is, however, freely quoted by William Maziere Brady in his Anglo-Roman Papers.

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