John Sobieski Stuart and Charles Edward Stuart were names used by John Carter Allen and Charles Manning Allen, two 19th century English brothers who are best-known for their role in Scottish cultural history. As authors of a dubious book on Scottish tartans and clan dress, the Vestiarium Scoticum, they are the source of some current tartan traditions.
Life and Books
John and Charles were born in the last decade of the 18th century. Later they would claim to have discovered in 1811 that they were descended from the Stuart kings. They moved to live in Scotland and changed their Allen surname to the more Scottish spelling Allan, then to Hay Allan, and Hay, perhaps implying a link with the Hay family and the Earl of Erroll. In 1840 John would publish a Genealogical table of the Hays (full title: Genealogical table of the Hays, from William de Haya, pincerna Domini Regis Scotiae, 1170 to 1840). This is sometimes attributed to Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, the Scottish antiquarian who was attracted by the Vestiarium.
The date of their arrival in Scotland is unclear, but they are known to have been there in 1822. This is the year John published The bridal of Caölchairn and other poems under the name J.H.Allan. Another edition was published, also in 1822, giving the author's name as Walter Scott. This is now in the British Library's category of "doubtful and supposititious works".
In 1829 they failed to persuade Sir Walter Scott of the authenticity of a document they said was a copy of a "15th century" manuscript about clan tartans. The brothers liked to wear Highland dress themselves, apparently "in all the extravagance of which the Highland costume is capable". Contemporary observer quoted by Trevor-Roper. In the 1830s they moved to Inverness-shire, to a hunting lodge granted them by the Earl of Lovat. Here they "held court" and surrounded themselves with royal paraphernalia: pennants, seals, even thrones. During their time here, they adopted their Stuart names and the Catholic faith. (The Stuarts and their supporters, the Jacobites, were Roman Catholic.) They got to know various important Highland chiefs and noble patrons, one of whom was the Earl of Moray, and pursued the aristocratic pastime of deer-hunting. This was the inspiration for Lay of the Deer Forest. With sketches of olden and modern deer-hunting (1848). <ref> Lord Lovat wrote an introduction to this.
They published the Vestiarium Scoticum in 1842. This was followed, in 1844, with a broader "study" of medieval highland Scotland which included the ideas from 1842: The Costume of the Clans. With observations upon the literature, arts, manufactures and commerce of the Highlands and Western Isles during the middle ages; and the influence of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries upon their present condition. This involved "immense scholarship", but the historian Trevor-Roper is just one of many who consider it full of "fantasy" and "forgery".
In 1847 their claims to royal blood were set out by implication in a work of historical fiction: Tales of the Century: or Sketches of the romance of history between the years 1746 and 1846. After this, a strong attack on them published in the Quarterly Review in 1847 caused severe damage to their reputation. John responded with A reply to the quarterly review upon the Vestiarium Scoticum in 1848. Also published as The genuineness of the Vestiarium Scoticum but the brothers soon moved away from Scotland, to live in Prague, Pressburg and then London. There they continued to occupy themselves with research, using pens embellished with gold coronets. Only after death did they return to Scotland, to be buried in Eskadale.
Family: truth and fiction
John and Charles were the sons of Thomas Allen and his wife Katherine. They both married and Charles had children, but there are no descendants who could continue the "Stuart" brothers' claims to royal ancestry through the direct male line.
The Allen/Stuart brothers implied that their grandfather, Admiral John Allen, was merely foster father to Thomas, whose "true" father was Charles Edward Stuart, or Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Sobieski is the surname of John Sobieski, the Polish king, whose granddaughter Clementina (Maria Klementyna Sobieska) married a Stuart: the ""Old Pretender", Prince James Francis Edward. Their eldest son was Charles Edward Stuart, the "Young Pretender", and the Allen brothers claimed him as their "true" grandfather.
John also called himself John Sobieski Stolberg Stuart. Louise of Stolberg was married to Bonnie Prince Charlie and is sometimes called the Countess of Albany. In 1839, when his father Thomas died, John started to use the title Count d'Albanie, which "passed" to Charles on John's death in 1872. Charles died in 1880.
Sources and Notes
- Fraser, Marie John Sobieski Stolberg Stuart & Charles Edward Stuart
- Reynolds, K.D. Stuart, John Sobieski Stolberg in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Trevor-Roper, Hugh The Highland Tradition of Scotland in The Invention of Tradition ed. Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983)
- Copac catalogue
- National Library of Scotland
- British Library
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