Richard III’s DNA

The discovery that analysis of Richard III’s DNA demonstrates that the House of Tudor was not descended from Edward III does not cast any doubt on the right of succession of the heirs of the Tudors, as some reports in the media have claimed. If John of Gaunt was not Edward III’s natural son (which is one possibility thrown up by the new evidence), this does not mean that the claim of his descendant to the throne was void. Under English common law, any child born in wedlock is deemed the son or daughter of the father, even if he or she is not the father’s natural child. Such a child is not ‘illegitimate’, as this term applies only to a child born outside wedlock. Thus, the Duke of Monmouth was illegitimate because Charles II was not married to his mother, but John of Gaunt, even if Edward III was not his father, was legitimate because Phillippa of Hainault was his mother. A claim that someone’s paternity was not what it appeared would have been enough to weaken, but not negate, his claim to the throne.

However, even if the break in the Tudors’ paternal succession did throw their claim to the throne into question, it does not have any impact on the legitimacy of the Stuart claim, which is founded not only on James VI and I’s descent from Henry VII but also on the House of Stuart’s descent from the House of Dunkeld, which was founded by Margaret of Scotland, the niece of Edward the Confessor and therefore an off-shoot of the ancient English House of Wessex. It is obvious to anyone with an interest in the Plantagenets that the Tudor dynasty were not the legitimate successors of the House of Plantagenet, and every self-respecting Yorkist knows that the present head of the House of Plantagenet is the 15th Earl of Loudoun. We did not need a DNA test to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Tudors!

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The Original ‘Gunpowder Service’, 1606

Today we commemorate the 409th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to exterminate the House of Stuart. Here is the text of the original ‘Gunpowder Service’, prayers of thanksgiving to be said at Morning Prayer in all churches and chapels every year on 5th November. The service was corrupted in 1689 by the additional of prayers of thanksgiving for the invasion and usurpation of William of Orange. It was removed from the Book of Common Prayer, along with the Commemoration of King Charles the Martyr, in 1858. Here it is in its original, unadulterated form from 1606.



to be used yearly upon the Fifth Day of November;

for the happy Deliverance of King JAMES I,

and the Three Estates of ENGLAND,

from the most traitorous and bloody-intended



In the Suffrages, these shall be inserted, and used for the Queen.

  1. O Lord, save the Queen;
  2. Who putteth her trust in thee.
  3. Send her help from thy holy place;
  4. R. And evermore mightily defend her.
  5. Let her enemies have no advantage against her;
  6. Let not the wicked approach to hurt her.

Instead of the first Collect for Morning Prayer, shall these two be used.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast in all ages shewed thy power and mercy in the miraculous and gracious deliverances of thy Church, and in the protection of righteous and religious Kings and States, professing thy holy and eternal truth, from the wicked conspiracies, and malicious practices of all the enemies thereof; We yield thee our unfeigned thanks and praise, for the wonderful and mighty deliverance of our gracious Sovereign King James the First, the Queen, the Prince, and all the Royal Branches, with the Nobility, Clergy and Commons of England, then assembled in Parliament, by Popish treachery appointed as sheep to the slaughter, in a most barbarous and savage manner, beyond the examples of former ages. From this unnatural Conspiracy, not our merit, but thy mercy; not our foresight, but thy providence delivered us: And therefore not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name be ascribed all honour and glory, in all Churches of the Saints, from generation to generation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord, who didst this day discover the snares of death that were laid for us, and didst wonderfully deliver us from the same; Be thou still our mighty Protector, and scatter our enemies that delight in blood: infatuate and defeat their counsels, abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices. Strengthen the hands of our gracious Sovereign Queen ELIZABETH, and all that are put in authority under her, with judgment and justice, to cut off all such workers of iniquity, as turn Religion into Rebellion, and Faith into Faction; that they may never prevail against us, or triumph in the ruin of thy church among us: but that our gracious Sovereign and her Realms, being preserved in thy true Religion, and by thy merciful goodness protected in the same, we may all duly serve thee, and give thee thanks in thy holy Congregation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God and heavenly Father, who of thy gracious providence, and tender mercy towards us, didst prevent the malice and imaginations of our enemies, by discovering and confounding their horrible and wicked enterprise, plotted and intended this day to have been executed against the King, and whole State of England, for the subversion of the Government and Religion established amongst us; We most humbly praise and magnify thy most glorious Name for thine infinite gracious goodness towards us. We confess it was thy mercy, thy mercy alone, that we were not then consumed. For our sins cried to heaven against us, and our iniquities justly called for vengeance upon us. But thou hast not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us after our iniquities; nor given us over, as we deserved, to be a prey to our enemies; but hast in mercy delivered us from their malice, and preserved us from death and destruction. Let the consideration of this thy goodness, O Lord, work in us true repentance, that iniquity may not be our ruin: And increase in us more and more a lively faith and love in all holy obedience; that thou mayest continue thy favour, with the light of thy Gospel, to us and our posterity for evermore; and that for thy dear Son’s sake Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

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Why we need the Human Rights Act

Chris Grayling’s absurd back-of-an-envelope proposals for a ‘British Bill of Rights’ to replace the Human Rights Act 1998 are an early sign of the Conservative Party playing fast and loose with Britain’s constitution. It is now open season for such meddling in the aftermath of the Scottish referendum, which used to be confined to the Liberal Democrats. I have commented before on the ‘Bill of Rights’ issue, which, apart from the fact that it recycles the name of a notoriously disingenuous piece of legislation (the 1689 Bill of Rights) is a step on the way to a written constitution. The original ‘Bill of Rights’ was a Williamite attempt to replace James II’s Declaration of Indulgence – but whereas James’s Declaration, promulgated by royal prerogative, promised real toleration and a vision of religious co-existence ahead of its time, William of Orange’s Bill of Rights enshrined the parochial English conception of ‘liberty’ that would come to dominate the 18th century: the ‘liberty’ that prolonged the slave trade, enabled the exploitation of the industrial revolution, and denied religious freedom to Catholics until 1829. For any piece of legislation to consciously echo the 1689 Bill of Rights would represent a highly selective reading of history, but one which the present coalition government seems to promote.

Conservative politicians bleat about the European Court infringing the sovereignty of Parliament – which, again, is a concept introduced in 1689 after the Revolution – demonstrating that they continue to embody the parochial libertarianism of the 18th-century Whigs, unable to bear the thought of something ‘foreign’ interfering in England’s national polity. Eurosceptic Tories and Nigel Farage’s UKIP are the true heirs of the unprincipled Whigs who made the Revolution and Hanoverian successi0n possible. England’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights is a symbol of our participation in a wider European project that is far more important than the narrow ‘little Englander’ conception of ‘liberty’ treasured by Eurosceptic politicians. Instances in which the European Court of Human Rights has behaved unreasonably are insignificant in comparison with the good that the organisation is capable of doing, and as Ken Clarke has pointed out, it would be unreasonable for the government to make a profound decision regarding Britain’s future relationship with Europe on the basis of dissatisfaction with a few recent decisions. Furthermore, it is obvious that the Conservative Party considers the issue a vote-winner.

It is an embarrassing fact of English and Scottish history for the politicians of the present day that Stuart foreign policy consistently treated Britain as part of Europe: hence why the success of James I and VI’s foreign policy, or indeed Charles II’s, is usually skipped over in favour of the short-sighted isolationism of Elizabeth I’s so-called ‘golden age’. Yet Stuart policy endured for a lot longer than Elizabeth’s.


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We Jacobites love a good defeat

Oh, well…

So the votes are in, and most of Scotland has said ‘No’ to independence. I find it interesting that Glasgow and its surroundings, the area where Catholics of Irish descent predominate, was the region where the ‘Yes’ vote was strongest. What we see on the map this morning is almost a modern-day equivalent of the divide that existed in the eighteenth century between the Catholic Highlanders (supporters of the Stewarts) and the Presbyterian Lowlanders (supporters of the Union).

Failure and defeat in Jacobite history are so frequent as to have become a defining feature of Jacobite identity. We strive and then get heavily defeated – that’s just the way it happens, and we might as well accept it. That does not make the original striving any less worthwhile, because we stand on principle, not for any advantage.

In some ways, I am relieved that the vote has gone the way it has. Of course, I would have preferred an independent Scotland, but I am relieved that I will not have to go through the agony of watching Scotland’s future as an independent nation sketched out on the back of an envelope by Alex Salmond. I am relieved that I will not have to stand by helplessly as a Scottish ‘constitutional convention’ churns out nonsense about popular sovereignty.

And the defeat of the ‘Yes’ vote means that this blog may be able to get back to discussing aspects of Jacobite political theory instead of the reality of Scottish independence.


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Prayer for Scotland

Scotland arms

Almighty God, who didst set thine anointed servant James the Sixth, King of Scotland, over the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland as undoubted heir of his crowns, and didst deliver thy faithful people in Scotland from tyranny by the restoration of thine anointed servant King Charles the Second to his just rights; vouchsafe now to deliver the Scottish nation from a union injurious to the rights and freedoms of thy faithful people. And graciously permit, according to thy holy will, the restoration of its ancient constitution to the Kingdom of Scotland, that thine anointed servant may govern with justice and mercy to the glory of thy holy name. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Sancte Andreus, ora pro Scotia

Sancta Margareta, ora pro Scotia

Sancte Niniane, ora pro Scotia

Omnes sancti Scotici, ora Deo pro Scotia

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A Word from the Prince

Prince Charles

Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Protest to the Crowned Heads of Europe at his Exclusion from his Lawful Rights, 16th July 1748

Charles, Prince of Wales, Regent of Great Britain

Nobody is ignorant of the hereditary right of our royal house to the throne of Great Britain. It is needless to enter into a detail of it here. All Europe is instructed with the troubles which have so often harassed these kingdoms, and with the wrongs which we have experienced. It knows that no length of time can alter the constitution of that country, nor form a prescription contrary to its fundamental laws. It could not without astonishment see us remain silent […]. For these causes, and authorised by the examples of our honoured grandfather and of our most honoured father and lord, who has given us full powers in confiding to us the regency of his kingdoms, and in our own and private name, as natural heir of that crown, protest in the manner the most solemn […] against all that which may be said, done, or stipulated in the Assembly which is presently held at Aix-la-Chapelle […] to the prejudice and diminution of the lawful rights of our most honoured father and lord, of our own, of the princes and princesses that are or will be born of our royal house.

We declare by these presents that we regard, and will always regard, as null, void, and of no effect, everything that may be statuted or stipulated which may tend to the acknowledgement of any other person whatsoever as sovereign of the kingdoms of Great Britain, besides the person of the most high and most excellent prince, James the Third, our most honoured lord and father, and, in default of him, the person of the nearest heir agreeably to the fundamental laws of Great Britain.

We declare to all the subjects of our most honoured lord and father, and more particularly to those who have given us recently strong proof of their attachment to the interests of our Royal family, and to the primitive constitution of their country, that nothing shall ever alter the lively and sincere love which our birth inspires us with love of them; and that the just gratitude which we have for their fidelity, zeal and courage, shall never be effaced from our heart, […] and that we shall be always ready to spill the very last drop of our blood to deliver them from a foreign yoke.

Given at Paris this 16th day of July, 1748.

C. P. R.

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Protect the Crown, not the Union

As readers of this blog will be aware, I am strongly in favour of the principle of Scottish independence. Indeed, a belief that England, Scotland and Ireland should be governed as separate kingdoms is constitutive of what it means to be a Jacobite. However, I have a deep feeling of unease about the future of the Crown in an independent Scotland under Alex Salmond’s leadership. Salmond has already proved that he has scant respect for the Crown by seeking to put words in the Queen’s mouth, claiming that she will be proud to be the Queen of an independent Scotland (no more proud than she is to be Queen of Scotland already, one presumes…). Indeed, the statement issued by the Palace reiterating the Queen’s political neutrality, and the need for political leaders to respect it, was undeniably a rebuke aimed primarily at the Scottish First Minister. I suspect this is but a foretaste of things to come in an independent Scotland. Salmond gives every sign of being about to turn into a latter-day John Knox, lecturing and cajoling Mary Queen of Scots and undermining her power in favour of a populist ideology, until eventually she was forced out of her kingdom entirely. I fear that the same fate awaits the monarchy in an independent Scotland. The SNP’s draft constitution revives precisely the same nonsense about sovereignty residing in the people rather than the monarch which Knox and George Buchanan were spouting at the end of the sixteenth century.

Having said that, fears for the security of the monarchy in Scotland are not a good enough reason to turn away from the hope offered by this referendum and vote ‘No’. The fact is that a win for the ‘Yes’ campaign does not guarantee that the SNP will get to impose its ‘back-of-an-envelope’ constitution on Scotland, although I fear that the SNP will think that a ‘Yes’ vote is an endorsement of their party. In reality, this referendum is only the beginning, and the constitutional settlement thrashed out after a ‘Yes’ vote is what will really decide Scotland’s future. The other parties must start putting together alternative constitutional proposals, otherwise Scotland is in danger of turning into a one-party state, where a single party not only rules but also gets to define the very nature of the state itself. That must not be allowed to happen.

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