7th Earl of Derby (1642-1651)
Lord of Man 1642-1651)
Born 1607 Died 1651
James Stanley, sometimes styled the 'Great Earl of Derby', eldest son of William, 6th earl, and Elizabeth de Vere, daughter of Edward, 17th Earl of Oxford, was born at Knowsley on the 31st of January 1607. During his father's life he was known as Lord Strange. After travelling abroad he was chosen member of parliament for Liverpool in 1625, was created knight of the Bath on the occasion of Charles's coronation in 1626, and was joined with his father the same year as lieutenant of Lancashire and Cheshire and chamberlain of Chester, and in the administration of the Isle of Man, being appointed subsequently Lord-Lieutenant of North Wales. On the 7th of March 1628 he was called up to the House of Lords as Baron Strange.
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 Civil War broke out in 1642, Lord Strange devoted himself to the king's cause. 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. 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 castles. 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. In June he left for the Isle of Man to attend to affairs there, and in the summer of 1644 he took part in Prince Rupert's successful campaign in the north, when Lathom House, where Lady Derby had heroically resisted the attacks of the besiegers, was relieved, and Bolton Castle taken.
He followed Rupert to 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. In July 1649 he refused scornfully terms offered to him by Ireton. By the death of his father on the 29th of September 1642 he had succeeded to the earldom, and on the 12th of January 1650 he obtained the Garter.
He was chosen by Charles II to command the troops of Lancashire and Cheshire, and on the 15th of August 1651 he landed at Wyre Water in Lancashire in support of Charles's invasion, and met the king on the 17th. Proceeding to Warrington he failed to obtain the support of the Presbyterians through his refusal to take the Covenant, and on the 25th was totally defeated at Wigan, being severely wounded and escaping with difficulty. He joined Charles at Worcester; after the battle on the 3rd of September he accompanied him to Boscobel, and while on his way north alone was captured near Nantwich and given quarter.
He was tried by court-martial at Chester on the 29th of September, and on the ground that he was a traitor and not a prisoner of war under the act of parliament passed in the preceding month, which declared those who corresponded with Charles guilty of treason, his quarter was disallowed and he was condemned to death. When his appeal for pardon to parliament was rejected, though supported by Cromwell, he endeavoured to escape; but was recaptured and executed at Bolton on the 15th of October 1651. He was buried in Ormskirk church.
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 the king's death and as unfit instruments of the restoration. According to Clarendon he was a man of great honour and clear courage, and his defects the result of too little knowledge of the world. Lord Derby left in MS. A Discourse concerning the Government of the Isle of Man (printed in the Stanley Papers and in F. Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, vol. ii.) and several volumes of historical collections, observations, devotions (Stanley Papers) and a commonplace book.
He married on the 26th of June 1626 Charlotte de la Tremoille (1599-1664), daughter of Claude, duc de Thouars, and granddaughter of William the Silent, Prince of Orange, by whom besides four daughters he had five sons, of whom the eldest, Charles (1628-1672), succeeded him as 8th earl.
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. From him the later earls were descended, the 12th earl (d. 1834) being his grandson.
BIBLIOGRAPHY.Article in Dict. of Nat. Biog, with authorities and article in same work on Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby; the Stanley Papers, with the too laudatory memoir by F. R. Haines (Chetham Soc. publications, vols. 62, 66, 67, 70); Memoires, by De Lloyd (1668), 572; State Trials, v. 293-324; Notes and Queries, viii. Ser. iii. 246; Seacombe's House of Stanley; Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion; Gardiner's Hist. of the Civil War and Protectorate; The Land of Home Rule, by Spencer Walpole (1893); Hist. of the Isle of Man, by A. W. Moore (1900); Manx Soc. publications, vols. 3, 25, 27. (P.C.Y.)
Extracted from the entry for DERBY, EARLS OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.