Military Wiki
James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby
Place of death Bolton
Buried at Ormskirk church
Allegiance Royalist
Battles/wars Bolton Massacre, Battle of Marston Moor, Battle of Wigan Lane, Battle of Worcester

James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby KG (31 January 1607 – 15 October 1651) was a supporter of the Royalist cause in the English Civil War. He is sometimes styled the Great Earl of Derby, although during his father's life he was known as Lord Strange.[1]

Early life[]

James Stanley,the eldest son of William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby and Elizabeth de Vere, daughter of Edward, 17th earl of Oxford, was born at Knowsley on the 31st of January 1607.[2]

After travelling abroad he was chosen Member of Parliament for Liverpool in 1625.[3] On 2 February 1626,[citation needed] James was created a Knight of the Bath on occasion of the coronation of Charles I of England. He was joined with his father the same year as Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and chamberlain of Chester. He assisted in the administration of the Isle of Man[3] and was appointed in 1627 as Lord of Mann.[citation needed] Subsequently he was appointed lord-lieutenant of North Wales and on 7 March 1628 he was called up to the House of Lords as Baron Strange.[3]

English Civil War[]

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 English Civil War broke out in 1642, Lord Strange devoted himself to the king's cause.[3] With the death of his father on 29 September 1642 he succeeded to the earldom.

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.[3]

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.[3]

Portrait of James Stanley by Anthony van Dyck, circa 1631–1641

In June 1643 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 his wife Charlotte de la Tremoille (Lady Derby) had successfully resisted the Siege of Lathom House, was relieved,[3] and Bolton Castle[3] and town were taken[4] in what became known as the Bolton Massacre.

He followed Rupert to the Battle of 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.[3]

In July 1647 (after the trial and execution of Charles I in January of that year) he scornfully refused terms offered to him by Henry Ireton. On 12 January 1650 he obtained the Garter. He was chosen by Charles II to command the troops of Lancashire and Cheshire, and on 15 August 1651 he landed at Wyre Water in Lancashire in support of Charles II's invasion, and met the King on 17 August. Proceeding to Warrington he failed to obtain the support of the Presbyterians through his refusal to take the Covenant, and on 25 August was totally defeated at the Battle of Wigan Lane, being severely wounded and escaping with difficulty.[3]

He joined Charles II at Worcester; after the battle on 3 September he accompanied him to Boscobel House, and while on his way north alone was captured near Nantwich and given quarter by the officer who captured him. He was tried by court-martial at Chester on 29 September, and on the grounds 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 II 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 Oliver Cromwell, he endeavoured to escape; but was recaptured by Captain Hector Schofield and executed by the market cross in Bolton on 15 October 1651[3][4] because of his part in the Bolton Massacre.[4][lower-alpha 1] He was buried in Ormskirk church.[3]


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 Charles I's death and as unfit instruments of the Restoration.[3] According to Clarendon he was "a man of great honour and clear courage",[3] and his defects the result of too little knowledge of the world.[3]

Literary works[]

Lord Derby left in MS. A Discourse concerning the Government of the Isle of Man (printed in the Stanley Papers and in Francis Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, vol. ii.) and several volumes of historical collections, observations, devotions (Stanley Papers) and a commonplace book.[3]


Lord Derby married on 26 June 1626 Charlotte (1599–1664), daughter of Claude, duc de Thouars and Charlotte Brabantina of Nassau.[3] Her maternal grandparents were William the Silent and Charlotte de Bourbon. They were parents of four daughters and five sons:[3]

  • Charles (1628–1672) his first son and heir.[3]
  • Charlotte(died young)
  • two sons (died young)
  • Henriette (17 November 1630 – 27 December 1685), married William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford, died without issue
  • Amelia (1633 – 22 February 1702/3), married John Murray, 1st Marquess of Atholl.
  • Edward (7 January 1639 – October 1664), unmarried
  • William (18 October 1640 – 25 October 1670), unmarried
  • Catherine, married Henry Pierrepont, 1st Marquess of Dorchester, died without issue

Charles' 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. The Earls of Derby are his descendants.[3] Meanwhile, the Barony of Strange passed in 1736 to the 2nd Duke of Atholl, grandson of James's daughter Amelia (see above).[citation needed]


  1. The execution took place outside the Man and Scythe Inn (owned at the time by the Earl of Derby's family). Outside, there is a cross on the site that bears a plaque which relates the stories of Bolton through the ages. However, within the pub itself, there is a chair that the Earl of Derby supposedly sat in before being taken outside to be beheaded, the inscription of which reads "15th  October 1651 In this chair James 7th Earl of Derby sat at the Man and Scythe Inn, Churchgate, Bolton immediately prior to his execution".[4]


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Yorke, Philip Chesney (1911) "Derby, Earls of#7th Earl" in Chisholm, Hugh Encyclopædia Britannica 8 (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press pp. 65–66 

External links[]

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Derby
Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and Lancashire
With: The Earl of Derby
English Interregnum
Vice-Admiral of Cheshire and Lancashire
Head of State of the Isle of Man
Preceded by
Elizabeth de Vere, Countess of Derby
Lord of Mann
Succeeded by
Thomas Fairfax
Peerage of England
Preceded by
William Stanley
Earl of Derby
Succeeded by
Charles Stanley
New creation Baron Strange

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