Stuart papers offer ‘unparalleled’ insight into Jacobite movement

A collection of original documents revealing the personal lives and political ambitions of the Stuarts and their Jacobite followers is being published online for the first time.

The newly digitised Stuart and Cumberland Papers from the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle will be available to academic institutions and libraries via educational technology provider Gale.

The 245,000 papers are said to offer an “unparalleled” documentation of the Jacobite movement and the opposing forces of the ruling Hanoverian monarchy.

The Stuart Papers bring together the private and diplomatic correspondence of James II (James VII of Scotland), who was forced from the throne during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and that of his son, James Francis Edward Stuart, and his grandson, Charles Edward Stuart, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie.

In one of the most personal letters in the collection, James Francis Edward, writes in a letter to his son after the failed 1745-46 rebellion: “Do not for Gods sake drive things too far, but think of your own safety, on which so much depends; Tho’ your Enterprize should miscarry, the honor you have gaind by it will always stick by you, it will make you be respected & considerd abroad.”

The collection includes the papers of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the second surviving son of George II, who was a key figure in the Hanoverian monarchy.

An account by Lord Charles Cathcart, aide-de-camp to the Duke, describes the Hanoverian victory at the Battle of Culloden and how its forces, “after leaving 1,000 dead” on the battlefield, pursued the fleeing Jacobites and “cut 1,000 to pieces”.

Seth Cayley, vice-president of Gale Primary Sources, said: “The history of the exiled Stuart Court, with all of its intrigues, larger-than-life personalities and thwarted ambition, is revealed in intricate detail through these documents and papers of court life and politics.

“The digital availability of the Stuart and Cumberland Papers in State Papers Online will enrich 18th century studies research around the world.”

Oliver Urquhart Irvine, librarian and deputy keeper of The Queen’s Archives, said: “The Stuart and Cumberland Papers project forms part of our ongoing commitment to make the historic treasures of the Royal Archives as widely accessible as possible through digital technology.

“We are grateful to our partners at Gale for enabling us to make this invaluable resource available online, giving students and scholars from around the world the opportunity to explore these compelling original documents first-hand.”