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La Cloche, James De

LA CLOCHE, JAMES DE ["Prince James Stuart "] (1644 ?- 1669), a character who was brought into the history of England by Lord Acton in 1862 (Home and Foreign Review, i. 146- 174: "The Secret History of Charles II."). From information discovered by Father Boero in the archives of the Jesuits in Rome, Lord Acton averred that Charles II., when a lad at Jersey, had a natural son, James. The evidence follows. On the 2nd of April 1668, as the register of the Jesuit House of Novices at Rome attests, " there entered Jacobus de la Cloche." His baggage was exiguous, his attire was clerical. He is described as " from the island of Jersey, under the king of England, aged 24." He possessed two documents in French, purporting to have been written by Charles II. at Whitehall, on the 25th of September 1665, and on the 7th of February 1667. In both Charles acknowledges James to be his natural son, he styles him " James de la Cloche de Bourg du Jersey," and avers that to recognize him publicly " would imperil the peace of the kingdoms " why is not apparent. A third certificate of birth, in Latin, undated, was from Christina of Sweden, who declares that James, previously a Protestant, has been received into the church of Rome at Hamburg (where in 1667-1668 she was residing) on the 2gth of July 1667. The next paper purports to be a letter from Charles II. of August 3/13 to Oliva, general of the Jesuits. The king writes, in French, that he has long wished to be secretly received into the church. He therefore desires that James, his son by a young lady " of the highest quality," and born to him when he was about sixteen, should be ordained a priest, come to England, and receive him. Charles alludes to previous attempts of his own to be secretly admitted (1662). James must be sent secretly to London at once, and Oliva must say nothing to Christina of Sweden (then meditating a journey to Rome), and must never write to Charles except when James carries the letter. Charles next writes on August 29/September g. He is most anxious that Christina should not meet James; if she knows Charles's design of changing his creed she will not keep it secret, and Charles will infallibly lose his life. With this letter there is another, written when the first had been sealed. Charles insists that James must not be accompanied, as novices were, when travelling, by a Jesuit socius or guardian. Charles's wife and mother have just heard that this is the rule, but the rule must be broken. James, who is to travel as " Henri de Rohan," must not come by way of France. Oliva will supply him with funds. On the back of this letter Oliva has written the draft of his brief reply to Charles (from Leghorn, October 14, 1668). He merely says that the bearer, a French gentleman (James spoke only French), will inform the king that his orders have been executed. Besides these two letters is one from Charles to James, of date August 4/14. It is addressed to " Le Prince Stuart," though none of Charles's bastards was allowed to bear the Stuart name. James is told that he may desert the clerical profession if he pleases. In that case " you may claim higher titles from us than the duke of Monmouth." (There was no higher title save prince of Wales!) If Charles and his brother, the duke of York, die childless, " the kingdoms belong to you, and parliament cannot legally oppose you, unless as, at present, they can only elect Protestant kings." This letter ought to have opened the eyes of Lord Acton and other historians who accept the myth of James de la Cloche. Charles knew that the crown of England was not elective, that there was no Exclusion Act, and that there were legal heirs if he and his brother died without issue. The last letter of Charles is dated November 18/28, and purports to have been brought from England to Oliva by James de la Cloche on his return to Rome. It reveals the fact that Oliva, despite Charles's orders, did send James by way of France, with a socius or guardian whom he was to pick up in France on his return to England. Charles says that James is to communicate certain matters to Oliva, and come back at once. Oliva is to give James all the money he needs, and Charles will later make an ample donation to the Jesuits. He acknowledges a debt to Oliva of 800, to be paid in six months. The reader will remark that the king has never paid a pennyto James or to Oliva, and that Oliva has never communicated directly with Charles. The truth is that all of Charles's letters are forgeries. This is certain because in all he writes frequently as if his mother, Henrietta Maria, were in London, and constantly in company with him. Now she had left England for France in 1665, and to England she never returned. As the letters including that to " Prince Stuart "are all forged, it is clear that de la Cloche was an impostor. His aim had been to get money from Oliva, and to pretend to travel to England, meaning to enjoy himself. He did not quite succeed, for Oliva sent a socius with him into France. His precautions to avoid a meeting with Christina of Sweden were necessary. She knew no more of him than did Charles, and would have exposed him.

The name of James de la Cloche appears no more in documents. He reached Rome in December 1668, and in January a person calling himself " Prince James Stuart " appears in Naples, accompanied by a socius styling himself a French knight of Malta. Both are on their way to England, but Prince James falls ill and stays in Naples, while his companion departs. The knight of Malta may be a Jesuit. In Naples, Prince James marries a girl of no position, and is arrested on suspicion of being a coiner. To his confessors (he had two in succession) he says that he is a son of Charles II. Our sources are the despatches of Kent, the English agent at Naples, and the Lettere, vol. iii., of Vincenzo Armanni (1674), who had his information from one of the confessors of the " Prince." The viceroy of Naples communicated with Charles II., who disowned the impostor; Prince James, however, was released, and died at Naples in August 1660, leaving a wild will, in which he claims for his son, still unborn, the " apanage " of Monmouth or Wales, " which it is usual to bestow on natural sons of the king." The son lived till about 1750, a penniless pretender, and writer of begging letters.

It is needless to pursue Lord Acton's conjectures about later mysterious appearances of James de la Cloche at the court of Charles, or to discuss the legend that his mother was a lady of Jersey or a sister of Charles! The Jersey myths may be found in The Man of the Mask (1908), by Monsignor Barnes, who argued that James was the man in the iron mask (see IRON MASK). Later Monsignor Barnes, who had observed that the letter of Charles to Prince James Stuart is a forgery, noticed the impossibility that Charles, in 1668, should constantly write of his mother as resident in London, which she left for ever in 1665.

Who de la Cloche really was it is impossible to discover, but he was a bold and successful swindler, who took in, not only the general of the Jesuits, but Lord Acton and a generation of guileless historians. (A. L.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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