Charles Radclyffe

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Charles Radcliff, 5th Earl of DERWENTWATER (1693- 1746)

Charles Radclyffe (3 September 1693 – 8 December 1746)[1] titular 5th Earl of Derwentwater, who claimed the title Fifth Earl of Derwentwater. He was the youngest son of Edward Radclyffe, 2nd Earl of Derwentwater and Lady Mary Tudor.[2]

Charles was born in Little Parndon, Essex. The Radclyffe family were ardent followers of the House of Stuart, James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater (1689–1716), being raised at the court of the Stuarts in France as companion to James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender. James and his brother Charles joined the Jacobite rising of 1715 and after being captured at Preston both were tried in London on charges of treason and condemned to death. James was beheaded on Tower Hill, London on 24 February 1716, declaring on the scaffold his devotion to the Roman Catholic religion and to King James III, but Charles escaped from prison through a clever ruse and rejoined the Stuarts in France. In 1731, James Radclyffe's son, John (the fourth Earl) died and the title passed to his uncle (Charles).[citation needed]

He travelled to Rome and was an active participant in the court of the Jacobite claimant James Francis Edward Stuart and was private secretary to Bonnie Prince Charlie. While a captain in Dillon's regiment Charles was re-captured by the forces of George II of Great Britain in November, 1745 while sailing to join Charles Edward Stuart, the young Pretender, in Scotland, during the Jacobite rising of 1745 known as the Forty Five. Charles Radclyffe thus became one of the few Englishmen to take part in both the Fifteen and the Forty Five. Condemned to death under his former sentence by Lord Chancellor Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, he was beheaded on 8 December 1746, aged 53.[3]


Charles married, on 24 June 1724, Charlotte Maria Livingston (1694–1755). She was the daughter of the 2nd Earl of Newburgh and was the widow of Thomas Clifford, son of the 2nd Baron Clifford of Chudleigh. Charles and Charlotte were the parents of six children;

  • James Bartholomew Radclyffe, 4th Earl of Newburgh (23 August 1725- 2 January 1787), married Barbara Kemp, by whom he had issue.[4]
  • Maj.-Gen. James Clement Radclyffe (5 November 1727 – 1788), Married Clementina Parry
  • Lady Mary Radclyffe (5 April 1732- 27 August 1798), married on 11 February 1755, to Francis Eyre, by whom she had issue.[4]
  • Lady Charlotte Radclyffe Died unmarried in London 1800
  • Lady Barbara Thomasine Radclyffe - a nun
  • Hon. Charles Radclyffe - died as a minor - Died 1749[5]

Charles Radclyffe also had two step-daughters through his marriage to the Countess of Newburgh:

  • Lady Anne Clifford, who married, firstly, Lt.-Gen. John Joseph Mahony, Comte Mahony, son of Lt.-Gen. Daniel O'Mahony, Comte de Castile, on 22 December 1739. She then married Don Carlo Severino on 13 April 1773. She died on 1 April 1793 on the Island of Ischia.
  • Lady Frances Clifford, who married William Middleton of Yorkshire on 20 September 1738. She died in 1771.

Charles Radclyffe in the letter of farewell to his wife the night before his execution refers to "Fanny, that other mother of my dear children." This is generally taken to refer to Lady Frances Clifford who may have assisted in bringing up Radclyffe's own children.

He is listed as having several illegitimate children although no contemporary records of these seem to exist. He allegedly had an illegitimate daughter, Jane or "Jenny", as she was commonly known, by a mistress, Margaret Snowden, with whom he went through a form of marriage which was not legally binding. Jenny's story has been popularized in the novel "Devil Water" by Anya Seton. Charles Radcliffe returned to England during his exile on several occasions notably in 1725/1726 and in 1732 where he used various aliases such as Mr Thompson and Mr Johns. The will of his nephew John, the titular fourth Earl leaves a legacy to "my kinsman Mr Thompson" possibly referring to Charles Radclyffe under his alias and allowing him to collect the legacy. Charles Radclyffe was also possibly the father of Joseph Radcliffe (born 1726), the husband of feminist writer Mrs Mary Ann Radcliffe as indicated by hints in her Memoirs.[6]

Priory of Sion[edit]

Charles Radclyffe is mentioned in the work of the pseudohistorian Laurence Gardner as a grand master of the Priory of Sion.[7]


  1. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Charles Radclyffe". The Peerage.[unreliable source]
  2. ^ Born on 16 October 1673 Lundy, Darryl. "Mary Tudor". The Peerage.[unreliable source] was an illegitimate child of Charles II and Moll Davies.
  3. ^ Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester, Vol. 44 pg. 451
  4. ^ a b Lundy, Darryl. "". The Peerage.[unreliable source]
  5. ^ Memoirs of the Jacobites of 1715 and 1745, by Mrs Thompson
  6. ^ The Memoirs of Mrs Mary Ann Radcliffe, Edinburgh 1810
  7. ^ The Bloodline of the Holy Grail by Laurence Gardner. Fair Winds Press; Rev Exp edition (September 1, 2002)

External links[edit]