1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Henry Benedict Maria Clement Stuart

HENRY, or in full, Henry Benedict Maria Clement Stuart (1725–1807), usually known as Cardinal York, the last prince of the royal house of Stuart, was the younger son of James Stuart, and was born in the Palazzo Muti at Rome on the 6th of March 1725. He was created duke of York by his father soon after his birth, and by this title he was always alluded to by Jacobite adherents of his house. British visitors to Rome speak of him as a merry high-spirited boy with martial instincts; nevertheless, he grew up studious, peace-loving and serious. In order to be of assistance to his brother Charles, who was then campaigning in Scotland, Henry was despatched in the summer of 1745 to France, where he was placed in nominal command of French troops at Dunkirk, with which the marquis d’Argenson had some vague idea of invading England. Seven months after Charles’s return from Scotland Henry secretly departed to Rome and, with the full approval of his father, but to the intense disgust of his brother, was created a cardinal deacon under the title of the cardinal of York by Pope Benedict XIV. on the 3rd of July 1747. In the following year he was ordained priest, and nominated arch-priest of the Vatican Basilica. In 1759 he was consecrated archbishop of Corinth in partibus, and in 1761 bishop of Frascati (the ancient Tusculum) in the Alban Hills near Rome. Six years later he was appointed vice-chancellor of the Holy See. Henry Stuart likewise held sinecure benefices in France, Spain and Spanish America, so that he became one of the wealthiest churchmen of the period, his annual revenue being said to amount to £30,000 sterling. On the death of his father, James Stuart (whose affairs he had managed during the last five years of his life), Henry made persistent attempts to induce Pope Clement XIII. to acknowledge his brother Charles as legitimate king of Great Britain, but his efforts were defeated, chiefly through the adverse influence of Cardinal Alessandro Albani, who was bitterly opposed to the Stuart cause. On Charles’s death in 1788 Henry issued a manifesto asserting his hereditary right to the British crown, and likewise struck a medal, commemorative of the event, with the legend “Hen. IX. Mag. Brit. Fr. et Hib. Rex. Fid. Def. Card. Ep. Tusc:” (Henry the Ninth of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, Cardinal, Bishop of Frascati). In February 1798, at the approach of the invading French forces, Henry was forced to fly from Frascati to Naples, whence at the close of the same year he sailed to Messina. From Messina he proceeded by sea in order to be present at the expected conclave at Venice, where he arrived in the spring of 1799, aged, ill and almost penniless. His sad plight was now made known by Cardinal Stefano Borgia to Sir John Coxe Hippisley (d. 1825), who had formerly acted semi-officially on behalf of the British government at the court of Pius VI. Sir John Hippisley appealed to George III., who on the warm recommendation of Prince Augustus Frederick, duke of Sussex, gave orders for the annual payment of a pension of £4000 to the last of the Royal Stuarts. Henry received the proffered assistance gratefully, and in return for the king’s kindness subsequently left by his will certain British crown jewels in his possession to the prince regent. In 1800 Henry was able to return to Rome, and in 1803, being now senior cardinal bishop, he became ipso facto dean of the Sacred College and bishop of Ostia and Velletri. He died at Frascati on the 13th of July 1807, and was buried in the Grotte Vaticane of St Peter’s in an urn bearing the title of “Henry IX.”; he is also commemorated in Canova’s well-known monument to the Royal Stuarts (see James). The Stuart archives, once the property of Cardinal York, were subsequently presented by Pope Pius VII. to the prince regent, who placed them in the royal library at Windsor Castle.

See B. W. Kelly, Life of Cardinal York; H. M. Vaughan, Last of the Royal Stuarts; and A. Shield, Henry Stuart, Cardinal of York, and his Times (1908).  (H. M. V.)