Friday, December 1, 2017

Not Such A Fine Romance: Clementina Walkinshaw and Prince Charles Edward Stuart

by Lauren Gilbert

Clementina Maria Sophia Walkinshaw c. 1760 

Prince Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the very stuff of romance. A gallant prince, eldest son of James III/VIII (the Young Pretender to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland), known for his charm, and a lost cause... Who could resist such a creature? Surprisingly, there are rather fewer identified mistresses for Prince Charles than one might think. One of this number was Clementina Walkinshaw.

Clementina was born to John Walkinshaw of Barrowfield and his wife Katherine Paterson of Bannockburn, their 10th (and youngest) child, all of whom were daughters. Her full name was Clementina Maria Sophia Walkinshaw. Accounts of her place and date of birth vary, some sources placing it between 1720-1725 in Barrowfield in Scotland, others in Rome, Italy. Her father was a staunch supporter of the Jacobite cause, having supported the Stuarts previously in the 1715 uprising and having helped to bring his affianced wife to James III/VIII in 1719. There are suggestions that the family spent a great deal of time on the continent, that Clementina was named for the spouse of James III/VIII, Clementina Sobieski, possibly even her goddaughter, and that Clementina personally was known to the Stuarts in exile. Although suggestions that Clementina and Prince Charles Edward, born December 31, 1720 in Rome, had been childhood friends seem questionable, it does seem possible that there may have been an acquaintance.

At any rate, they definitely became known to one another in 1745. In January of 1746, he stopped at Bannockburn House apparently after the successful battle of Falkirk. Bannockburn was the home of Clementina’s uncle, Sir Hugh Paterson. Clementina was there visiting her uncle and her father may also have been present at this visit. During this time, the prince became ill with a cold and fever, and Clementina was supposedly one of the ladies assigned to nurse him. Much was made in some accounts of her cinnamon possets; there were even suggestions that she may have met him earlier and planned to meet him again in Bannockburn. Whatever prior connections there may (or may not) have been, Clementina and the prince definitely became known to each other at this time. Although David Wemyss, Lord Elcho (once the prince’s aide-de-camp, and a member of the council), and some others, stated unequivocally that Clementina became the prince’s mistress during this visit, it seems to me to be questionable, given her father’s and uncle’s status and the indications of Clementina’s possible connection to the prince’s family.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 1720-1788. By Allan Ramsay, c. 1745

At any rate, once the prince left Bannockburn in February of 1746, he did not return, as his road led to disaster at Culloden in April, then five months of running and hiding before finally escaping back to France in September of 1746. Once there, he continued to try to rally support for his cause with little success. When Pope Benedict XIX announced in 1747 that he planned to make Prince Charles Edward’s younger brother Henry a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, Prince Charles Edward was enraged, especially when he discovered that the move was made with their father’s support and approval, as this close familial allegiance to the Pope and Church (on top of his family’s known preference for the Catholic Church) would make it virtually impossible to convince the English of his Protestant sympathies, and to make a successful claim to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. He became estranged from his father and brother because of this perceived betrayal.

Sometime during 1747, he became reacquainted with his cousin Marie Louise Henriette de la Tour D’Auvergne, who was then married to Jules Hercule Meriadec de Rohan, prince of Guemene. The Prince of Guemene was away in the French army at this time, and Marie Louise and Prince Charles Edward fell passionately in love. They began a passionate secret affair that was quite difficult to conduct as Marie Louise’s mother-in-law tried to keep a close eye on her. It does not seem to have been a particularly happy affair, as Charles Edward subjected her to jealous rages and was known to have abused her. However, she was passionately in love with him. This may have been his first real relationship. The affair began to leak out, causing something of a scandal, and Marie Louise ultimately became pregnant. She was forced to end the affair and resumed sleeping with her husband to try to confuse the paternity of the infant. Enraged that she was sleeping with her husband, Charles refused her repeated attempts to see him alone, even though he continued to engage with the family. He told her that he had another mistress, and some sources indicate that the new mistress was Clementina Walkinshaw. However, in BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE IN LOVE, this mistress was identified as the Princess de Talmont with whom he spent at least a couple of years travelling after he was expelled from France in December of 1748. Marie Louise had the child in July of 1748, and named him Charles Godefroi Sophie Jules Marie de Rohan. Although it appears that James III/VIII was told that he had a grandson, there is nothing to indicate what Charles may have felt about the child. Sadly the child, who had been recognized as a legitimate de Rohan, died in infancy.

Where was Clementina Walkinshaw during this time? It is hard to say as little appears to be known. Her older sister Catherine Walkinshaw (about 12 years older than Clementina) was in England in the household of the Augusta, Princess of Wales (wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales). (After Culloden, there was an apparently an unsuccessful attempt to get rid of her.) Her family appears to have had a foot in both camps. Charles had made efforts to find a suitable German princess to marry, and had his relationship the Princesse de Talmont into 1750-51, marred as it was by jealousy and rages. He also made a brief clandestine visit to Jacobite supporters in London in September of 1750. Although numerous sources implied or stated that Catherine went with him when he returned to the Continent in 1746, this does not appear to be the case. There is no indication of even a correspondence between them.

Clementina appears to have lived quietly until she left Scotland in 1751 for France with the intention of joining a convent. Charles apparently heard she was in France, and asked for her to be found and brought to him. This is hardly an indication of a long-term, passionate affair on his part. Clementina agreed to join him, which does argue feelings for him on her part. Available data indicates she joined him sometime in 1752. Because of this, Clementina’s family cut all ties with her. Although Charles’ continental connections were courteous to her, the English and Scottish Jacobites urged him to break with Clementina, as they were convinced she was a spy for the English crown, passing information through her sister Catherine. (A real irony since Catherine had nothing further to do with Clementina once the liaison with Prince Charles Edward was known, just like the rest of the family.)

Charles and Clementina moved to Liege in the summer of 1753, and their daughter Charlotte was born in October of 1753. Prince Charles was by this time moody, bitter about his lost opportunities and increasingly drunk. Most accounts describe his drunken rages. They increasingly quarrelled, and he was known to mistreat her. However, they stayed together and there is an indication that they may have had another child that died in infancy. There were also rumours of a possible marriage between the prince and Clementina, although there is nothing to indicate either Charles or Clementina acknowledged a marriage. However, be that as it may, Prince Charles Edward continued to deteriorate and finally, after years of verbal and physical abuse, Clementina took their daughter and left him in July of 1760. They had lived together for eight years.

Clementina and Charlotte were supported by the prince’s father, James III/VIII until his death January 1, 1766, then by his brother the cardinal (albeit at a reduced rate, and he apparently had her sign an affidavit that she had never married Prince Charles Edward which was done in Paris in March of 1767). Charles refused to contribute to the support of Clementina or their child. The prince married in 1772, to the Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern. Unfortunately, his personal decline continued and the marriage was unhappy. It ended when he attacked her in November of 1780, causing her to leave him. There were no children of this marriage. After the end of that marriage, he made a will, leaving Charlotte as his heir, written in March of 1783. He also granted her the Scottish title of Duchess of Albany and signed an act of legitimation allowing Charlotte to inherit French properties. Unbeknownst to him (and apparently everyone else), Charlotte had had a long-term affair with Prince Ferdinand de Rohan, Archbishop of Bordeaux and subsequently Cambrai. They had two daughters and a son. She left them to move in with Charles in Florence in 1784, and she cared for him until his death the end of January of 1788. There are indications that she may have persuaded him to help Clementina, and certainly he wrote to Clementina occasionally before he died. Sadly, Charlotte herself died in November 17, 1789.

Charlotte Stuart, Duchess of Albany by Hugh Douglas Hamilton,  c. 1785-1786
At some point, Clementina was given the title of Comtesse d’Alberstroff. After Charlotte went to live with Prince Charles Edward, Clementina moved to Paris and then subsequently to Switzerland. Accounts indicate that Charlotte left her estate to her uncle, Cardinal York, with instructions for him to take care of her mother. A pension was generated. However, the payment of the pension is not clear. There are indications that, although Clementina should have been comfortably off, she was actually maintained by irregular payments generated by Thomas Coutts, a banker in London, with whom she maintained a friendly correspondence. Many sources indicate she was actually poor and in difficult circumstances. Clementina died in November of 1802. Most sources indicate she died in Fribourg, Switzerland, although there is also an indication that she may have returned to Paris and died there. There is no indication that she ever had any contact with any member of her family. A sad end to a mistress badly treated in a most unromantic affair.

Sources include:

Douglas, Hugh. BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE IN LOVE The Private Passions of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. 1995: Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, United Kingdom; 2016: The History Press, Stroud, England-ebook edition. (Kindle) A HISTORY OF GLASGOW Vol. III. By George Eyre-Todd. 1934: Jackson-Wylie & Co. Chapter 15 “A Glasgow Jacobite: John Walkinshaw of Barrowfield.” P. 121.  HERE  (An easier to read PDF of this chapter can be found HERE) MACMILLAN’S MAGAZINE, Vol. XL May 1879 to October 1879. 1879: Macmillan and Co, London and New York. “Burns Unpublished Common-place Book” by William Jack, Part III, PP. 34-39. HERE THE SCOTTISH HISTORICAL REVIEW, Vol. XVII, No. 67, April 1920. “Last Days of Clementina Walkinshaw” by A. Francis, Steuart. PP. 249-251.  HERE “The Real Woman of ‘Outlander’: Marie Louise de la Tour D’Auvergne” posted May 24, 2017 by Franziska. HERE Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 (I) “Clementina Walkinshaw, 1720-1802” (no date or author shown)  HERE “Charlotte, Duchess of Albany” (no author or post date shown, site maintained by Noel S. McFerran.)  HERE “Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Glaswegian Mistress” by Alison Campsie, January 4, 2017.   HERE MacFARLANE & FAMILIES GENEALOGY. Maintained by Andrew J. Macfarlane. “Individual Report for Clementine Maria Sophia Walkinshaw, Comtesse d’Alberstroff (1603).” HERE; "Lt-Col. John Walkinshaw of Barrowfield, J.P." HERE; "Katherine (Catherine) Walkinshaw" HERE

Images from Wikimedia Commons: Clementina HERE, Prince Charles Edward Stuart HERE and Charlotte HERE

About the author:

Lauren Gilbert, a long-time member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, lives in Florida with her husband.  In addition to contributing to the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, she published a novel set in Regency England titled HEYERWOOD: A NOVEL, and is working on a second novel, A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT.  You can visit her website for more information.

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