Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Radcliffe, James

Contains subarticle [[#Charles |Charles Radcliffe]] or Radclyffe (1693–1746).

RADCLIFFE or RADCLYFFE, JAMES, third Earl of Derwentwater (1689–1716), born in Arlington Street, London, on 28 June 1689, was the eldest son of Edward Radclyffe, the second earl (d. 1705), by Lady Mary Tudor, a natural daughter of Charles II, by Mary Davis or Davies [q. v.], the actress. Lady Mary was granted precedence of a duke's daughter by her father, married Radclyffe, to whom she was unfaithful, on 18 Aug. 1687, and died in Paris on 5 Nov. 1726 (Hist. Reg. 1726, Chron. Diary, p. 42). The second earl was eldest son of Sir Francis Radclyffe (d. 1697), who was created Viscount Radclyffe and Langley and Earl of Derwentwater on 7 March 1688, this being one of the few peerages created by James II. Sir Francis was the grandson of another Sir Francis Radclyffe, created a baronet by James I in 1619, who was a lineal descendant of Sir Nicholas, the grandfather of Sir Richard Radcliffe [q. v.], the adherent of Richard III. This Sir Nicholas acquired the Derwentwater estates in 1417, by marriage with the heiress of John de Derwentwater (see Surtees, Hist. of Durham, i. 32; Nicolson and Burn, Hist. of Westmorland, ii. 78; and Whitaker, Hist. of Whalley, 3rd edit. pp. 412–14).

James was brought up at the exiled court of St. Germain, as a companion to the young prince, James Edward, remaining there, by the special desire of Queen Mary of Modena, until his father's death in 1705. After that he travelled on the continent, sailed from Holland for London in November 1709, and thence set out to visit his Cumberland estates for the first time early in 1710 (Hodgson, Hist. of Northumberland, I. ii. 225). He spent the next two years at Dilston Hall, the mansion built by his grandfather, and on 10 July 1712 he married Anna Maria, eldest daughter of Sir John Webb, third baronet, of Odstock, Wiltshire, by Barbara, daughter and coheiress of John Belasyse, first baron Belasyse. A generous and impulsive youth, a Roman catholic, and a distant kinsman of the exiled house of Stuart, he joined the conspiracy of 1715 without much reflection. His disloyal sentiments to the house of Brunswick were suspected by the government, and on the eve of the insurrection the secretary of state (Stanhope) signed a warrant for his arrest, and a messenger was sent to Durham to secure him. But Derwentwater's tenantry were devoted to him, and the news of his meditated arrest reached him long before the messenger's arrival. He consequently went into hiding until he heard that Thomas Forster (1675?–1738) [q. v.] had raised the standard of the Pretender, whereupon he joined him at Green-rig, on 6 Oct. 1715, at the head of a company of gentlemen and armed servants from Dilston Hall. His following did not exceed seventy persons, the troop being under the immediate command of his brother, Charles Radcliffe [see below]. The subordination of Derwentwater to Forster was apparently due to the Pretender's anxiety to conciliate his protestant adherents. Neither he nor Forster had any military experience. Their plan was to march through Lancashire to Staffordshire, where they looked for support, and the conduct of the expedition was left mainly in the hands of Colonel Henry Oxburgh [q. v.], who had served under Marlborough in Flanders. When the rebels occupied Preston, Derwentwater showed much activity in encouraging the men to throw up trenches; but he seems to have acquiesced in Forster's pusillanimous decision to capitulate to the inferior force of General Wills, who, moreover, had no cannon. He was escorted with the other prisoners to London by General Henry Lumley [q. v.], and lodged in the Devereux tower of the Tower of London, along with Earls Nithsdale and Carnwath, and Lords Widdrington, Kenmure, and Nairn. He was examined before the privy council on 10 Jan. 1716, and impeached with the other lords on 19 Jan. Derwentwater pleaded guilty, urging in extenuation his inexperience, and his advice to those who were about him to throw themselves upon the royal clemency. He was attainted, and condemned to death. The greatest efforts were made to procure his pardon. Petitions were brought before both houses, and an address was carried from the upper house to the throne on 22 Feb., praying that his majesty would reprieve ‘such of the condemned lords as might appear to him deserving of clemency.’ Upon Widdrington, Carnwath, and Nairn being reprieved, the efforts of Derwentwater's friends were redoubled. The countess, accompanied by her sister, their maternal aunt, the Duchess of Richmond, the Duchess of Cleveland, and other ladies, was introduced by the Duke of Richmond into the king's bedchamber, where the countess, in French, invoked his majesty's mercy. The king, however, prompted by Walpole (who declared that he had been offered 60,000l. to save Derwentwater, but that he was determined to make an example), was obdurate. Derwentwater was beheaded on Tower Hill on 24 Feb. 1716. Upon the scaffold he expressed regret at having pleaded guilty, and declared his devotion to the Roman catholic religion and to James III. Lord Kenmure suffered at the same time. The Earl of Nithsdale escaped from the Tower the day before [see under Maxwell, William, fifth Earl of Nithsdale].

Derwentwater's body was buried by his servants in St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and was subsequently conveyed to Dilston and buried in the Derwentwater vault. The earl left a son, John Radclyffe, who, but for the attainder, would have been Earl of Derwentwater, and who so designated himself (he died, at the age of nineteen, at Sir John Webb's house in Great Marlborough Street, London, on 31 Dec. 1731), and a daughter Mary, who, with a fortune of 30,000l., married, on 2 May 1732, Robert James Petre, eighth baron Petre [see under Petre, William, fourth Baron Petre]. The bodies of the first three earls were, on 9 Oct. 1874, reinterred at Thorndon in Essex, in the family vault of Lord Petre as the representative of the Derwentwater family. The Countess of Derwentwater died in a convent at Brussels in 1723, aged 30, and was buried in the church of the English canonesses at Louvain. The extensive Derwentwater estates in Northumberland and Cumberland were in part settled upon Greenwich Hospital; the sale of the remainder gave the trustees an opportunity to perpetrate a typical ‘job,’ at which Walpole connived (cf. Hervey, Memoirs, ii. 66).

The compassion excited by Derwentwater's fate was mainly due to his youthful bearing and the simplicity of his motives. Locally he was extremely popular. Patten, the renegade historian of the rebellion, says that he was ‘a man formed to be generally beloved. He spent his estate among his own people, and continually did offices of kindness and good neighbourhood to everybody, as opportunity offered.’ The earl's gallantry to the fair sex is celebrated in ‘O Derwentwater's a bonny lord!’ while his fate forms the subject of the plaintive Jacobite melody, ‘Lord Derwentwater's Good Night,’ and of other songs still current in the north of England (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 492; cf. Gent. Mag. 1825, i. 489). The aurora borealis (which appeared specially bright on the night of the earl's execution) is still known locally as ‘Lord Derwentwater's Lights.’ A portrait by Kneller was engraved by Cook for Mrs. Thomson's ‘Memoirs of the Jacobites’ (1845). Another engraving of the same portrait is prefixed to Gibson's ‘Dilston Hall’ (1850). Four other portraits are preserved at Thorndon Hall in Essex.

The third earl's brother, Charles Radcliffe or Radclyffe (1693–1746), third and youngest son of Edward, the second earl, was born at Little Parndon, Essex, on 3 Sept. 1693, and on the death of his nephew, John Radclyffe (see above), in 1731, assumed the title of Earl of Derwentwater. He joined the Jacobite rising, and, in company with his brother, surrendered himself prisoner at Preston on 13 Nov. 1715. He was found guilty of high treason, but his extreme youth would probably have procured his pardon (he was only twenty-two) had he not broken out of Newgate with thirteen fellow-prisoners on 11 Dec. 1716. The accounts of his escape, which conflict in other respects, agree that he escaped through the debtors' prison (cf. Griffiths, Chronicles of Newgate, pp. 196–197). He joined the Stuart family on the continent, and was for a time secretary to Prince Charles Edward. He is stated, in the ‘Memoirs’ of 1746, to have paid several clandestine visits to London during the period of his exile. On 24 June 1724 he married, at St. Mary's, Brussels, Charlotte Maria (granddaughter of Sir James Livingstone of Kinnaird, first earl of Newburgh [q. v.]), who in 1694 had succeeded her father Charles, second earl of Newburgh, as countess suo jure; she was widow of Thomas Clifford (d. 1718). Derwentwater is said to have urged his suit fifteen times without success, and then to have adopted the expedient of entering the lady's apartment by way of the chimney (the incident is represented in a curious picture at Thorndon). Radcliffe subsequently went to Rome, where several of his children were born, and where he made many friends. In November 1745 he was captured off the Dogger Bank by the frigate Sheerness on board a French ship of war bound for Montrose from Dunkirk, and carrying arms and warlike stores, doubtless to join the Chevalier, though of this fact no proof was obtained. With several other officers he was taken prisoner to the Tower of London. His identity having been established, he was condemned to death under his former sentence on 21 Nov. 1746. Though not legally a peer, owing to the attainder, he was accorded the privilege of decapitation, and met his fate bravely on Tower Hill on 8 Dec. 1746, reiterating his adhesion to the catholic faith and the Stuart cause; he was buried in St. Giles's-in-the-Fields on 11 Dec. Of all the victims of the rebellion his execution most affected the Pretender James Edward, who had known him at Rome for many years, and regarded him as the most zealous and loyal of his adherents (State Papers, Tuscany, 17 Jan. 1747 ap. Ewald, Life and Times of Prince Charles, ii. 68; Mason, Gray, 1827, p. 335). His widow died in London on 4 Aug. 1755, aged 62, and was buried with him. There is a mezzotint portrait by an unknown artist (Smith, Mezzotinto Portraits, pt. iv. 1703).

Charles Radclyffe's eldest son, James Bartholomew Radclyffe (1725–1786), became third Earl of Newburgh on the death of his mother in August 1755. He was baptised at Vincennes on 25 Aug. 1725, the Pretender James Edward standing as his godfather, and he was taken prisoner with his father in 1745, but soon afterwards released. In 1749, by act of parliament, a sum of 30,000l. was raised for his benefit from the Derwentwater estates; in the same year he married Barbara, heiress of Anthony Kemp of Slindon, Sussex, by Anne, daughter of Henry Browne, fifth viscount Montagu, and left issue. The only son, Anthony James, fourth earl, died without issue in 1814, and the peerage devolved upon the descendants of Charlotte Maria, countess of Newburgh, by her first husband, Thomas, son of Lord Clifford (cf. Surtees, Hist. of Durham, i. 33; G. E. C.'s Peerage, s.v. ‘Newburgh;’ Burke, Peerage, s.v. ‘Newburgh;’ Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xii. 405, 7th ser. vols. iv. and v. passim).

[The romantic fate of the third Earl of Derwentwater and his brother occasioned a small literature of dying speeches and chap-book lives. Among these may be noted: Genuine and Impartial Memoirs of Charles Radclyffe … with an Account of his Family, London, 1746, 8vo, two editions, and Dublin, 1746, 8vo; A Sketch of the Life and Character of Mr. Radcliffe, 1746, 8vo; Penrice's Genuine and Impartial Account of the Remarkable Life of C. Radcliffe and … his Brother, 1746, 8vo; History of the Earl of Derwentwater: his Life, Adventures, Trial, &c., Newcastle, 1840, 12mo (several editions with small modifications). See also Gibson's Dilston Hall, or Memoirs of James Radcliffe, Earl of Derwentwater (a careful piece of family history), 1850, 8vo; G. E. C.'s Complete Peerage, ii. 78; Burke's Extinct Baronetage, p. 436; Burke's Anecdotes of the Aristocracy, i. 263; Stowe MS. 158, f. 173 (containing particulars of the disposal of the Derwentwater estates); Miscell. Topogr. et Genealog. iii. 154; Ellis's Family of Radclyffe, 1850; Howitt's Visits to Remarkable Places, 2nd ser.; Patten's Hist. of the Rebellion, 2nd edit. 1717, passim; Jesse's Pretenders and their Adherents, i. 101; Hogg's Jacobite Relics, 2nd ser. p. 270; Jacobite Minstrelsy, 1829; Stanhope's Hist. of England, vol. i.; Historical Register, vols. i. ii. and iii. passim; Wheatley and Cunningham's London, iii. 398–9. See also articles Forster, Thomas (1675?–1738), and Oxburgh, Henry.]

T. S.