This is a bit different to my usual Who’s Who in that it’s not nearly as detailed. George, John and Bernard Stuart are largely known to us through Van Dyck’s outstanding portraits and details of their actual lives are very thin on the ground. Despite this – and for reasons that will become clear as you read the few lines below – I felt there was a strong case for featuring them.
Esme Stuart, 3rd Duke of Lennox and his wife Katherine had eleven children, six of whom were sons. Henry died at the age of sixteen, Francis at less than a year. Of the remaining four, only one – Ludovic – survived the Civil War.
Lord George Stuart, 9th Seigneur d’Aubigny
George was brought up in France by his grandmother and, on the death of his father, he became a ward of Charles 1. When his brother, Henry, died in 1632, he inherited the title of Lord d’Aubigny.
Returning to England in 1636, he married Katherine, daughter of the Earl of Suffolk, secretly and without her father’s permission – which suggests that the two of them were very much in love. They had two children, a son and a daughter.
George died of injuries received at the Battle of Edgehill in October 1642. He was twenty-four years old.
On a separate note, his widow later re-married and became Lady Newburgh. She and her husband were suspected of Royalist plotting after the 2nd Civil War and forced to flee abroad – though the date they did so is unclear as we know Charles 1 spent a night at their home on his final journey from Carisbrooke to London. You can meet Katherine [Kate] at the King’s trial in Garland of Straw.
Lord John Stuart 1621-1644 and Lord Bernard Stuart 1623-1645
Like his brothers, John [the one wearing gold] entered the King’s service at the start of the Civil War. He died at the Battle of Cheriton in March, 1644, aged twenty-three.
Bernard was created Earl of Lichfield as a reward for his gallantry at the first and second Battles of Newbury. He died of wounds sustained whilst leading a sortie against Parliamentary besiegers at the Battle of Rowton Heath. He was twenty-two.
All wars are fought by young men and the Civil War was no different. At present, many people around the world are remembering the sons and brothers, husbands and fathers who lost their lives in the First World War. The tragic losses suffered by the Stuart family in the 1640’s is a perfect illustration of how little things change.
As with several other portraits in my Who’s Who collection, the ones shown here are on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London.