Clementina Walkinshaw

Clementina Maria Sophia Walkinshaw (1720 – November 27, 1802) was the mistress of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Clementina Walkinshaw
Clementina Walkinshaw, c. 1760.
Died1802 (aged 8182)
Known forMistress of Bonnie Prince Charlie
TitleCountess of Alberstrof
ChildrenCharlotte Stuart, Duchess of Albany

Clementina was the youngest of the ten daughters of John Walkinshaw of Barrowhill (1671–1731) and his wife Katherine Paterson.[1] The Walkinshaws owned the lands of Barrowfield and Camlachie, and her father had become a wealthy Glasgow merchant (founding the textile village of Calton).[2] However, he was also an Episcopalian and a Jacobite who had fought for the Prince's father in the rising of 1715, been captured at the Battle of Sheriffmuir, before escaping from Stirling Castle and fleeing to Europe.[2] In 1717, he had been pardoned by the British Government and returned to Glasgow, where his youngest daughter was born probably at Camlachie. However, Clementina was largely educated on the Continent, and later converted to Roman Catholicism.[2] In 1746, she was living at the home of her uncle Sir Hugh Paterson at Bannockburn, near Stirling.[3] The Prince came to Sir Hugh's home in early January 1746 where he first met Clementina, and he returned later that month to be nursed by her from what appears to have been a cold. Given that she was living under her uncle's protection, it is not thought the two were lovers at this time.[4]

Relationship with Charles Stuart

After the defeat of the Prince's rebellion at Culloden in April 1746, Charles fled Scotland for France. In the following years, he had a scandalous affair with his 22-year-old first cousin Louise de Montbazon (who was married to his close friend, and whom he deserted when she became pregnant) and then with the Princess of Talmont, who was in her 40s.[5] In 1752, he heard that Clementina was at Dunkirk and in some financial difficulties, so he sent 50 louis d'or to help her and then dispatched Sir Henry Goring to entreat her to come to Ghent and live with him as his mistress. Goring, who described Clementina as a "bad woman", complained of being used as "no better than a pimp", and shortly after left Charles' employ.[6] However, by November 1752, Clementina was living with Charles, and was to remain as his mistress for the following eight years. The couple moved to Liège where Charlotte, their only child, was born on 29 October 1753[7] and baptised into the Roman Catholic faith at the church of Sainte Marie-des-Fonts. Some contemporary accounts of British agents cite the birth of a baby boy and a second child.[8]

The relationship between prince and mistress was disastrous. Charles was already a disillusioned, angry alcoholic when they began living together, and he became violent towards, and insanely possessive of, Clementina,[5] treating her as a "submissive whipping post".[9] Often away from home on "jaunts", he seldom referred to his daughter, and when he did, it was as "ye cheild".[9] During a temporary move to Paris, the Prince's lieutenants record ugly public arguments between the two, and that his drunkenness and temper were damaging his reputation.[9] By 1760, they were in Basel, and Clementina had had enough of his intoxication and their nomadic lifestyle. She contacted Charles's staunchly Roman Catholic father James Stuart ('the Old Pretender') and expressed a desire to secure a Catholic education for Charlotte and to retire to a convent.[10] (In 1750, during an incognito visit to London, Charles had nominally disavowed Roman Catholicism for the Anglican Church.[5]) James agreed to pay her an annuity of 10,000 livres and, in July 1760, there is evidence to suggest he aided her escape from the watchful Charles, with the seven-year-old Charlotte, to the convent of the Nuns of the Visitation in Paris. She left a letter for Charles expressing her devotion to him but complaining she had had to flee in fear of her life. A furious Charles circulated descriptions of them both, but it was to no avail.[11]

Life with her daughter

For the next twelve years, Clementina and Charlotte continued to live in various French convents, supported by the 10,000 livre pension granted by James Stuart. Charles never forgave Clementina for depriving him of "ye cheild", and stubbornly refused to pay anything for their support. On 1 January 1766 James died, but Charles, (now considering himself de jure Charles III of Scotland, England and Ireland) still refused to make any provision for the two, forcing Clementina, now styling herself "Countess Alberstroff", to appeal to his brother Cardinal Henry Stuart for assistance. Henry gave them an allowance of 5,000 livres, but in return extracted a statement from Clementina that she had never been married to Charles – a statement she later tried to retract.[12] This lower amount forced them to find cheaper lodgings in the convent of Notre Dame at Meaux-en-Brie.[13]

In 1772, the Prince, then aged fifty-one, married the nineteen-year-old Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern (who was only a year older than Charlotte). Charlotte, now in penury, had consistently been writing to her father for some time, and she now desperately entreated him to legitimise her, provide support, and bring her to Rome before an heir could be born. In April 1772, Charlotte wrote a touching, yet pleading, letter to "mon Augusta Papa" which was sent via Principal Gordon of the Scots College in Rome. Charles relented and offered to bring Charlotte to Rome (he was now resident in the Palazzo Muti – the residence of the Stuarts-in-exile), but only on condition she would leave her mother behind in France. This she loyally refused to do, and Charles, in fury, broke off all discussions.[14]

Towards the end of 1772, Clementina and Charlotte unexpectedly arrived in Rome to press their desperate cause in person. (The trip pushed Clementina further into debt.) However, the Prince reacted angrily, refusing even to see them, forcing their helpless return to France, from where Charlotte's pleading letters continued.[15] Three years later, Charlotte, now in her twenty-second year and already in poor health, (she was apparently suffering from a liver ailment shared by the Stuarts) decided her only option was to marry as soon as possible. Charles, however, refused to give permission either for her to marry or to take the veil, and she was left awaiting his royal pleasure.[16]

Lacking legitimacy or permission, Charlotte was unable to marry. Thus, she otherwise sought a protector and provider. Probably unbeknown to Charles, she became the mistress of Ferdinand Maximilien Mériadec de Rohan, Archbishop of Bordeaux and Cambrai. She bore three of his children: Marie Victoire, Charlotte, and Charles Edward. Her children were kept secret, and remained largely unknown until the 20th century.

Later life

Charlotte was legitimized in 1783, and joined her ailing father, Charles, in Florence as his caretaker in 1784. Her three children by Rohan were left behind in Clementina's care. Charlotte died at age 36 (17 November 1789) of liver cancer at the Palazzo Vizzani Sanguinetti in Bologna.[17] In her will, written just three days before her death, Charlotte left Clementina, a sum of 50,000 livres and an annuity of a further 15,000.[18] However, it was two years before Cardinal Henry Stuart, her uncle and executor, and now considered by Jacobites to be King Henry IX, would release the money. Indeed, he only agreed to do this when Clementina signed a "quittance" renouncing, on behalf of herself and her descendants, any further claim on the estate.[19]

Occasionally, it has been suggested that Prince Charles married Clementina, and thus that Charlotte was legitimate and could legally claim to be her father's successor.[13] Charles' Catholicism and his naming Charlotte to the Order of the Thistle are suggested as evidence. However, there are no records to substantiate this claim, and the affidavit signed by Clementina on 9 March 1767 explicitly disavows the idea. Further, Charles's initial disavowal of Charlotte speaks against her legitimacy.[13]

In culture

She is the subject of a novel: Redgauntlet (1824) by Sir Walter Scott.

Scottish singer-songwriter Brian McNeill composed the song "How the Foreign Winds Do Blaw" on his tenth studio album The Baltic tae Byzantium about Walkinshaw.


  1. "The old country houses of the old Glasgow gentry XCIX. Wolfe's House". Glasgow Digital Library. University of Strathclyde. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  2. Maver, Irene. "Clementina Walkinshaw". The Glasgow Story. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  3. Kybett 1988, p. 186
  4. Kybett 1988, p. 190
  5. Magnusson, Magnus (2000). Scotland: The Story of a Nation. London: HarperCollins. pp. 628–29. ISBN 0-00-653191-1.
  6. Letter of June 1752, quoted by Kybett 1988, p. 269
  7. Kybett 1988, p. 269
  8. "Clementine Walkinshaw". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28523.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.) The first edition of this text is available at Wikisource: "Walkinshaw, Clementina" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  9. Kybett 1988, p. 270
  10. Kybett 1988, p. 271
  11. Kybett 1988, pp. 271–272
  12. Kybett 1988, pp. 282–283
  13. McFerran, Noel S. (22 December 2003). "Charlotte, Duchess of Albany". The Jacobite Heritage. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  14. Kybett 1988, pp. 283–284
  15. Kybett 1988, p. 285
  16. Kybett 1988, pp. 287–288
  17. McFerran, Noel. "Bologna: Palazzo Vizzani Sanguinetti". A Jacobite Gazetteer. The Jacobite Heritage. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
  18. "Will of Charlotte, Duchess of Albany". The Jacobite Heritage. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  19. Kybett 1988, p. 312


  • Kybett, Susan Maclean (1988). Bonnie Prince Charlie:An Autobiography. London: Unwin. ISBN 0-04-440387-9.
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