The Sobieski Stuarts

In the 1840's two brothers began to claim publicly to be the legitimate grandsons of King Charles III. They used the names "John Sobieski Stolberg Stuart" and "Charles Edward Stuart". The elder brother used the title "Count d'Albanie" until his death, when the younger brother adopted it. In 1847 the brothers wrote a book Tales of the Century in which they provided certain details about their supposed ancestry.

The brothers claimed that in 1773 Queen Louise, wife of King Charles III, gave birth to a son. Out of fear that the baby would be assasinated by agents of the Elector of Hanover, the child was handed over for safe-keeping to the captain of an English frigate. In the first account by the brothers, this English captain is called O'Haleran, but later he is called Admiral Hay and Admiral Allen. The brothers claimed that their father Lieutenant Thomas Allen, R.N., was not in fact the son of Admiral John Carter Allen (as he had always been supposed), but instead was the legitimate son of King Charles III.

The story is absolutely preposterous. It requires that one believe first that King Charles III would have sent his only son away, then that neither of his parents would have had any contact with their son ever again, and finally that even when Charles died that he would not acknowledge this supposed son.

The brothers presented no evidence for their claims. In spite of this they received the support of a number of members of society: the tenth Earl of Moray, the fourteenth Lord Lovat, the eighth Earl of Dumfries (called "Marquess of Bute"), Sir Thomas Dick-Lauder, and Dr. Robert Chambers.

The elder brother, John, died in 1872; the younger brother,Charles, died in 1880. John left a widow but no children. Charles left a widow, with one son and three daughters. The son, Charles Edward, married a daughter of the seventeenth Earl of Erroll (and granddaughter of the Elector Wilhelm of Hanover), but died without issue. Only one of Charles' daughters, Louisa, married, to the Austrian Eduard von Platt, by whom she had a son, Alfred Edward Charles von Platt.

Further reading:

Petrie, Charles. "The Sobieski Stuarts", Appendix I to The Jacobite Movement: The Last Phase, 1716-1807. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1950.

Robb, Steven. "The Sobieski Stuart Brothers", Royal Stuart Review 2003: 3-8.

"Stuart, John Sobieski Stolberg (1795?-1872), and Stuart, Charles Edward (1799?-1880)", Dictionary of National Biography, XIX, 104-107. Includes an extensive bibliography of older works.

Notes and Queries 157: 435-438 and 452-454.

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This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran ( and was last updated October 30, 2003.
© Noel S. McFerran 2003.