L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
James Stanley, later 7th Earl of Derby, his wife and a daughter, by van Dyck, 1632-41
James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby (31 January 1607, Knowsley – 15 October 1651, Bolton), the eldest son of William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby and Elizabeth de Vere, daughter of Edward, 17th earl of Oxford. At nineteen, he was Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, and chamberlain of Chester. And due to his family's connections to the Isle of Man, from a young age he assisted in the administration of the island and was appointed Lord of Mann in 1627; he came to be known there as "Yn Stanlagh Mooar" (the Great Stanley). Subsequently he was appointed lord-lieutenant of North Wales and in 1628 he was called up to the House of Lords as Baron Strange.
In 1626 he had married Charlotte (1599–1664), eight years his senior, who was French born, the daughter of Claude de la Trémoille, 2nd duc de Thouars and Charlotte Brabantina of Nassau. Her maternal grandparents were William the Silent and Charlotte de Bourbon. James and Charlotte would be the parents of four daughters and five sons, but only four of their children would survive to adulthood.
Lord Strange was a writer of history and devotional works - he was deeply religious - and he took no part in the political disputes between king and parliament, preferring his country pursuits and the care of his estates to court or
public life. Nevertheless when the English Civil War broke out in 1642 - the same year his father died and he succeeded to the earldom of Derby - he devoted himself to the king's cause. Not very successful in the field, he was yet single-minded in his support of the Royalist struggle. Even after the trial and execution of Charles I in 1649, he refused to settle terms and fought on. He was later captured, convicted of treason, escaped and recaptured, and finally executed, beheaded at the market cross in Churchgate, Bolton. He was forty-four years old.
His wife, the Countess of Derby, became famous in her own right during the First English Civil War for her robust defense of Lathom House which began in February of 1644. During the absence of her husband, she was left in charge of
what turned out to be the last remaining Royalist stronghold in
Lancashire. The Countess refused to acknowledge Parliament's authority and
surrender her house. She had fortified the castle to resist bombardment and assembled a
militia of seasoned marksmen who were able to inflict significant losses
by sniping, and she expressly denied repeated offers of surrender. At the end of May royalist forces arrived and the siege
was broken. Lady Derby and her staff were then evacuated to the Isle of Man.
Seven years later, still resident there, she attempted to negotiate the surrender of the island to parliamentary forces in exchange for the release of her imprisoned husband. A Manx nationalist revolt promptly broke out, the parliamentary fleet was sent, and Lady Derby was compelled to surrender her two fortresses. The eighteenth century historian David Hume writes of her that, with her husband now dead and Charles II defeated by Cromwell and fled to France, she had, "the glory of being the last person in the three kingdoms, and in all
their dependent dominions, who submitted to the victorious rebels." Nine years later she would see the monarchy restored, and would live four more years until her death at the age of sixty-five.
Stephen O'Donnell, painter and singer/performer. A mid-career fine artist, I have been showing professionally since 1995. Married to author and graphic designer Gigi Little, with whom I occasionally perform a mother and daughter singing act, Madeleine and Penny Prévert.