The Old Pretender Sails for Scotland
Richard Cavendish marks a failed attempt on the Scottish and English thrones by the last Stuart pretender, on March 23rd, 1708.
James Edward Francis Stuart, son and heir of James II and VII, grew up in France after his father’s expulsion from England. He was recognized as James III by Louis XIV after his father’s death in 1701, and when he was nineteen, the French sent him to attempt an invasion of Scotland. A fleet with some 4,000 troops on board was assembled at Dunkirk under Admiral Claude Fourbin and Louis XIV bade the prince farewell with the words, ‘The best wish I can make you is that I may never see your face again.’
Delayed when the prince came down with measles, the French sailed early in March, but an English fleet followed them up the North Sea. The French discovered this when they had reached the approach to the Firth of Forth and Fourbin decided he could not proceed with the plan. Refusing to land the prince, Fourbin moved out to sea, while the English blocked the mouth of the Firth. The next idea was to sail north to Inverness, but the plan was frustrated by storms and the expedition returned tamely to Dunkirk.
The ‘Old Pretender‘ did manage to land in Scotland in 1715, but the invasion came to nothing and he spent most of the rest of his life in retirement in Italy.