James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby

James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby
Died Bolton
Buried at Ormskirk church
Allegiance Royalist
Battles/wars Bolton Massacre, Battle of Marston Moor, Battle of Wigan Lane, Battle of Worcester

James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby KG (31 January 1607 – 15 October 1651) was a supporter of the Royalist cause in the English Civil War. Before inheriting the title in 1642 he was known as Lord Strange.[1] In the Isle of Man, as Lord of Mann, he was known as "Yn Stanlagh Mooar" ("the Great Stanley").

Early life

James Stanley,the eldest son of William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby and Elizabeth de Vere, daughter of Edward, 17th Earl of Oxford, was born at Knowsley on 31 January 1607.[2]

After travelling abroad he was chosen Member of Parliament for Liverpool in 1625.[3] On 2 February 1626, James was created a Knight of the Bath on occasion of the coronation of Charles I of England. He was joined with his father the same year as Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and chamberlain of Chester. He assisted in the administration of the Isle of Man[3] and was appointed in 1627 as Lord of Mann. Subsequently he was appointed lord-lieutenant of North Wales and on 7 March 1628 he was called up to the House of Lords as Baron Strange.[3]

English Civil War

James Stanley became Earl of Derby on 29 September 1642 when his father died.

He took no part in the political disputes between king and parliament and preferred country pursuits and the care of his estates to court or public life. Nevertheless, when the English Civil War broke out in 1642, Lord Strange devoted himself to the king's cause.[3] With the death of his father on 29 September 1642 he succeeded to the earldom.

His plan of securing Lancashire at the beginning and raising troops there, which promised success, was however discouraged by Charles, who was said to be jealous of his power and royal lineage and who commanded his presence at Nottingham.[3]

His subsequent attempts to recover the county were unsuccessful. He was unable to get possession of Manchester, was defeated at Chowbent and Lowton Moor, and in 1643 after gaining Preston failed to take Bolton and Lancaster Castle. Finally, after successfully beating off Sir William Brereton's attack on Warrington, he was defeated at Whalley and withdrew to York, Warrington in consequence surrendering to the enemy's forces.[3]

In June 1643 he left for the Isle of Man to attend to affairs there. In the summer of 1644 he took part in Prince Rupert's successful campaign in the north. The besieged Lathom House was relieved (the defence of which had been led by his wife Charlotte de la Tremoille, Lady Derby),[3] and the town of Bolton was taken with much bloodshed,[4] in what became known as the Bolton Massacre.

He followed Rupert to the Battle of Marston Moor, and after the complete defeat of Charles's cause in the north withdrew to the Isle of Man, where he held out for the king and offered an asylum to royalist fugitives. His administration of the island imitated that of Strafford in Ireland. It was strong rather than just. He maintained order, encouraged trade, remedied some abuses, and defended the people from the exactions of the church; but he crushed opposition by imprisoning his antagonists, and aroused a prolonged agitation by abolishing the tenant-right and introducing leaseholds.[3]

James Stanley was a man of deep religious feeling and of great nobility of character.

In July 1649 (after the trial and execution of Charles I in January of that year) he scornfully refused terms offered to him by Henry Ireton. On 12 January 1650 he obtained the Garter. He was chosen by Charles II to command the troops of Lancashire and Cheshire, and on 15 August 1651 he landed at Wyre Water in Lancashire in support of Charles II's invasion, and met the King on 17 August. Proceeding to Warrington he failed to obtain the support of the Presbyterians through his refusal to take the Covenant, and on 25 August was totally defeated at the Battle of Wigan Lane, being severely wounded and escaping with difficulty.[3]

He joined Charles II at Worcester; after the battle on 3 September he accompanied him to Boscobel House, and while on his way north alone was captured near Nantwich. He was tried by court-martial at Chester on 29 September, found guilty of treason under the terms of the act of parliament passed in the preceding month (which declared those who corresponded with Charles II guilty of treason), and he was condemned to death. His appeal to Parliament for pardon, though supported by Oliver Cromwell, was rejected, and he endeavoured to escape, but was recaptured by Captain Hector Schofield. He was taken to Bolton for his execution, because of his part in the Bolton Massacre.[3][4] The execution took place on 15 October 1651 at the market cross in Churchgate, Bolton, nearby the Man and Scythe Inn (owned at the time by the Earl of Derby's family). The market cross bears a plaque commemorating the execution. In the inn is a chair inscribed "15th  October 1651 In this chair James 7th Earl of Derby sat at the Man and Scythe Inn, Churchgate, Bolton immediately prior to his execution".[4] He was buried in Ormskirk church.[3]


Lord Derby was a man of deep religious feeling and of great nobility of character, who though unsuccessful in the field served the king's cause with single-minded purpose and without expectation of reward. His political usefulness was handicapped in the later stages of the struggle by his dislike of the Scots, whom he regarded as guilty of Charles I's death and as unfit instruments of the Restoration.[3] According to Clarendon he was "a man of great honour and clear courage",[3] and his defects the result of too little knowledge of the world.[3]

Literary works

Lord Derby left in MS. A Discourse concerning the Government of the Isle of Man (printed in the Stanley Papers and in Francis Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, vol. ii.) and several volumes of historical collections, observations, devotions (Stanley Papers) and a commonplace book.[3]


Painting of James Stanley, his wife Charlotte, and one of their daughters by Anthony van Dyck, circa 1631–1641

Lord Derby married on 26 June 1626 Charlotte (1599–1664), daughter of Claude, duc de Thouars and Countess Charlotte Brabantina of Nassau.[3] Her maternal grandparents were William the Silent and Charlotte of Bourbon. They were parents of four daughters and five sons:[3]

Charles's two sons, William, the 9th Earl (c. 1655–1702), and James, the 10th Earl (1664–1736), both died without sons, and consequently, when James died in February 1736, his titles and estates passed to Sir Edward Stanley (1689–1776), a descendant of the 1st Earl. The Earls of Derby are his descendants.[3] Meanwhile, the Barony of Strange passed in 1736 to the 2nd Duke of Atholl, grandson of James's daughter Amelia (see above).




    External links

    Political offices
    Preceded by
    The Earl of Derby
    Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and Lancashire
    With: The Earl of Derby
    English Interregnum
    Vice-Admiral of Cheshire and Lancashire
    Head of State of the Isle of Man
    Preceded by
    Elizabeth de Vere, Countess of Derby
    Lord of Mann
    Succeeded by
    Thomas Fairfax
    Peerage of England
    Preceded by
    William Stanley
    Earl of Derby
    Succeeded by
    Charles Stanley
    New creation Baron Strange
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