No. 18a.

To my Cousin the Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.

My Cousin,

We are so strongly persuaded of your zeal for the Catholic religion that we do not doubt you will readily embrace every occasion which may present itself of manifesting it. And as we have particular gratification in seconding your good intentions in such laudable designs, we have resolved to dedicate to the Order of the Knights of Malta, Henry Fitz James, our natural son, already well known to you. For your kindness and civility extended to him when at Malta, we have to thank you sincerely. Although young1 he is not wanting in experience, for he has already crossed the sea, and for nearly two years fought against the heretics.

Wherefore when you have received this attestation of his sanctity which we have thought proper to send you on the subject, we hope that in your goodness you will kindly grant him the dignity of the Grand Prior of England, enregistering him according to the usual forms of that rank. And as we doubt not that you will grant this favour, we promise you all aid and assistance which is or shall be possible for the glory and advantage of so illustrious and useful an order in the service of God, and to the glory of His Church. May God keep us in His holy care.

My Cousin,

Your affectionate Cousin,


Given at St. Germain en Laye,

24th February, 1689.



Stuart (Stewart)Fitz James (6.8.1673-.12.1702) was the natural son of James II  by Arabella Churchill, sister of the famous Duke of Marlborough. Henry Fitzjames Stuart was created Duke of Albemarle2 had been in Malta where he became a Knight of St John, and afterwards Grand Prior of England, as this letter and the next attest.

The Grand Master and his council commanded by a unanimous vote that the above letter should be registered, and that His Majesty be thanked for the honour he had conferred on the Order, and for the affection he entertained towards it; assuring him that on receiving the attestation of which he wrote in favour of his natural son, it would be received with welcome.

 Two days after this record was made, the Grand Master  a letter to James II, which brought the answer reproduced in 18b.

Although Stewart Fitz James obtained the high dignities of Grand Cross and of Honorary Grand Prior of England in the Order of St John of Jerusalem, he was never professed. (Vide Bankes: Ext. and Dormant Baronett., vol. iii. p. 80.)

On 20.7.1700 he married Marie Gabrielle d'Audibert by whom he had a daughter, Marie de Fitzjames, who became a nun.

1. He was barely 16 years of age. 

2. In his biographical note, Winthrop mistook Henry's identity for that of his older brother James Fitzjames, the celebrated Marshal, Duke of Berwick and progenitor of the families of the Ducs de Fitzjames in France and the Duques de Liria y Xérica in Spain.