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Lavington papers: Stuart negotiations

Call Number: OSB MSS 43

Scope and Contents

The Lavington-Stuart Documents are a small group of letters, legal memoranda, and documents concerning two interrelated negotiations between the Stuart heirs and the British monarchy: the Stuart claims for the arrears of exiled Queen Mary of Modena's dowry, and the Prince of Wales's effort to acquire the "George" jewel. This Order of the Garter jewel had been worn by Charles I to his execution in 1649 and was said to be in Stuart hands. The papers span the dates 1771-1799 and are arranged alphabetically by author.

During the 1780s, the Stuart heirs in exile were pursuing a claim for large sums against the British government, based on English agreements concerning the dowry of Queen Mary of Modena made at the Peace of Ryswick (1697). The death of Prince Charles Edward in January of 1788 resulted in changes to the Stuart strategy. The Stuart claim to the throne of Great Britain was asserted by his younger brother Henry, Cardinal of York, copies of whose protestations are found in folders 3-4. The Prince's personal estate, however, was inherited by his legitimated daughter Charlotte, Duchess of Albany, with whom Lavington (then Sir Ralph Payne) opened negotiations in early 1788 for the repatriation of the "George."

Lavington's extensive report to the Prince of Wales on the progress of these negotiations is located in folder 8. It stresses Charlotte's desire for "extreme secrecy" from her uncle the Cardinal of York, and her request that the Crown support her claims on the dowry. Folder 18 contains her authorization of Lavington as her agent in that matter, dated two days after his report and accompanied by a notarized copy of the Cardinal of York's assignment of his own claims on the dowry to Charlotte.

Folder 2 contains the reply of George, Prince of Wales, dated June 28, in which he offers "my dear Payne" his "sacred word" that he will keep the secret because of Charlotte's "delicate situation," as well as assurances that he will assist her suit "whenever her claims shall be transmitted hither."

The documentation of those transmitted claims fills folders 10-15 and includes memorials and memoranda on the responses by other governments to such claims; extracts from the 1697 stipulations; and drafts and summaries of the case prepared by the Roman Catholic conveyancer Francis Peter Plowden. Folder 15 contains a copy of the Foreign Secretary's official reply, written a few days before the death of Charlotte in Bologna in November 1789. The Marquis of Carmarthen notes that there is "little probability of the business succeeding" and strongly doubts a "successful issue" in Parliament. Folder 16 contains a letter by Andrew Stuart, dated 1799, urging Parliamentary supporters of an annual pension for Henry, Cardinal of York to drop the issue of the Stuart dowry claims

The collection also includes a letter to Lavington's wife, "Ladi Pain"; a Papal Chancery document apparently drafted by Henry, Cardinal of York; a copy of Henry's 1788 epitaph for Prince Charles Edward; and a brief note on the still unlocated "George" jewel of Charles I.


  • 1771-1799


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Lavington Papers: Stuart Documents are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased on the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Fund, 1974.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers include correspondence and copies of legal documents relating to Lavington's secret commission to negotiate with the daughter of the Young Pretender for the return of the jewel of the Order of the Garter, which Charles I had given to Bishop Juxon and which had descended to the Young Pretender.


Ralph Payne was born in the West Indies in 1738. The son of a governor of St. Kitts, he was educated in England and in 1767 married Françoise Lambertina Kölbel, daughter of Henry, Baron Kölbel of Saxony. After several years in Parliament, he was made Knight of the Order of the Bath in 1771 and appointed Governor of the Leeward Islands. Payne was recalled in 1775, and spent many years in various elective and appointive offices in England. In 1788 he journeyed widely on the Continent, during which his secret negotiations with Charlotte, Duchess of Albany took place.

Payne was created Baron Lavington of Lavington in the Irish peerage in 1799, and was reappointed to the Governorship of the Leeward Islands in the same year. He died at Government House, Antigua, in August of 1807.

Processing Information

This finding aid was produced in part from a previously existing card set in the Manuscripts Catalog, or from another inventory. All pertinent bibliographical information has been retained.

Guide to the Lavington Papers: Stuart Negotiations
Under Revision
by Diane J. Ducharme
March 2003
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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