William Livingston - Lord Kilsyth

A unique and fascinating document which is nearly 300 years old - signed by William Livingstone - Lord Kilsyth - has finally arrived back in Kilsyth from the USA following a successful Ebay auction bid by a small group of historical enthusiasts from Kilsyth. Top secret at the time, it now sheds new light on the illegal laundering of funds from Scotland to Rome to continue the Jacobite dream of regaining the British throne. Written during the lowest point in Jacobite fortunes between the adventures of the old and young Pretenders, (Bonnie Prince Charlie was born on 31st Dec 1720) it also reveals the deep and hitherto hidden complicity of the Edmonstone family of Colzium and Duntreath in the Jacobite conspiracy.

Signed by Lord Kilsyth as "W. Livingstone", in exile in Rome with the Old Pretender, 14 June, 1721,  and written to Sir Edmonstone at Kilsyth, the document particularly concerns the provision of funds for the Jacobite cause. 

addressed to Sir G Edmonstone at Kilsyth

Piazza di (illegible) 23

Rome 14 June 1721


Mr. Cumin (possibly a pseudonym for a junior member of the powerful Comyn clan) has arrived here from Scotland with much that is new to us here to the number of 23 who have followed the King here from (France?) for a tyme. He did not bring as I had expected from your last any order for our negotiations for a further(?) supply of money but semes(sic.) to believe that another is coming from you with directions. I have awaited from you an answer for a week past but have got nothing or any word and I doe not know how to advise B.M. to proceed. If he came with any information to his Majesty I see no reason for him coming to the Court as the case stands just now because he has no letter of credence from any good person and he although he did not speke of it met with no very warm reception. Moreover he did not bring any answer to the money matters which was most essential to his Majesty and I cannot think that in any way he has done good but rather the reverse, but in any way I have assurance today he has been honourably received, treated well and honourably dismised (sic.).But it is a strange matter for us to have no knowledge of his coming and I think that most have been disappointed thereat.

If you can send me any of the money which was given to you to retain for my use please do so because living is much dearer here than in Paris and what common(?) things they do keep is not so good. I would to God that when my peril is so great that more money could be sent because we do not know but that something may be done against us even here and we have unknown enemies of which we somewhat are afraid. Witness the case of B.W. (his?) months gone. It shows that we (could?) [not] expect much favour or charitie. Therefore if you can doe anything doe it quickly because we could then fare better then we doe just now.

Yours most assuredly in all 

W Livingstone

William Livingstone became the third Viscount of Kilsyth in 1706. In 1715 the pro-Jacobite Kilsyth, in the year of the first Jacobite uprising, aligned himself with the Earl of Mar and was present at the battle of Sheriffmuir. As a result he fled the country and took up residence in Rome in April 1716. He died there in 1733 and with him the Kilsyth title.

From the Statistical record: "Livingston, Viscount of Kilsyth, a branch of the Linlithgow family was at that time, and till the year 1715, the chief proprietor of this parish. There are the ruins of three mansion-houses which were occupied by the chief, or by branches of the family at Colzium (copper hill) where, in a modern house, near the ruins of the old castle, the present proprietor, Sir Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath, Bart, resides; at Dovecotwood, where there is a fragment of a very strong castle in a commanding situation, over-looking the town of Kilsyth; and in the town of Kilsyth, where there is the latest inhabited of the castles, of date 1655, which is still pretty entire: it was formerly surrounded with gardens and lofty trees, but is now inhabited by many poor families. William Livingstone, Lord Kilsyth, joined the rebels in 1715, and lost at once his property and home. The room and bed-closet are still, shown, in which Charles Edward spent a night. The unfortunate laird, after the failure of the Chevalier's enterprize, fled into Flanders, whence he never returned, unless, as is said, in disguise."

The address where Lord Kilsyth was living in Rome has not yet been traced but was probably part of a complex of piazzas and grand palaces leased by the Vatican to the Stuarts in exile. The main palace of the Stuarts is located at the north end of Piazza dei Santi Apostoli (no. 49). It was formerly called Palazzo Muti-Papazurri (and sometimes Palazzo dei Santi Apostoli or Palazzo Stuart).

According to Charles Petrie, The Jacobite Movement: The First Phase, 1688-1716 (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1948). "In 1719 Pope Clement XI provided the palace to King James III and VIII as his Roman residence. The palace was owned at that time by the Marchese Giovanni Battista Muti, nephew-in-law of Cardinal Pietro Marcellino Corradini.  The annual rent was paid by the Apostolic Camera, an administrative department of the Holy See; one source says that it was 1,600 scudi per year,  another that it was 12,000 scudi per year.  The palace rented for King James included not only that fronting on Piazza dei Santi Apostoli, but also two other palazzetti (smaller palaces) and two houses adjoining it.  One of the adjoining palaces is the Muti-Papazurri palace which fronts on Piazza della Pilotta and now houses the Pontificio Istituto Biblico.

King James III and VIII lived in this palace for over forty years. Here Queen Clementina gave birth to her sons: King Charles III December 31, 1720, and King Henry IX and I March 21, 1725. Queen Clementina died here January 18, 1735, and King James III and VIII January 1, 1766.

In 1766 Charles returned to Rome and used the palace as his major residence. After his marriage to Princess Louise of Stolberg he and his wife lived here until they moved to Florence in 1774. Charles returned to the palace in December 1785 and lived here with his daughter, Charlotte, Duchess of Albany. He died here January 30/31, 1788. At Charles' death, the tenancy of the palace passed to his brother Henry; the Apostolic Camera continued to pay the rent of 435."

see also: http://members.rogers.com/jacobites/documents/17461018.htm

A short timeline of the Jacobite rebellions

1685 Charles II dies; James II (a Catholic) assumes power; Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes; protestants are expelled from France

1688-9 Glorious Revolution in England; William of Orange & Mary invited to take the Crown(s)

1702 Death of William III, Accession of Anne

1707 Union of the two Crowns

19 March 1707: The English Parliament ratifies the Treaty of Union.
25 March 1707: The Scottish Parliament adjourns, and is dissolved three days later.
1 May 1707: The Treaty of Union comes into effect.
23 October 1707: The first Parliament of Great Britain meets in London.
6 March 1708: Prince James Stewart, "the Pretender", sails from Dunkirk with a French fleet for Scotland with 5,000 troops. His aim is to raise and lead a Jacobite uprising against Queen Anne.
13 March 1708: The French fleet arrives in the Firth of Forth, but is then attacked by the Royal Navy. The fleet, and Prince James, escapes and returns to Dunkirk without landing.
1 August 1714: Queen Anne dies and is succeeded by George, Elector of Hanover, under the terms of the 1701 Act of Settlement. George cannot speak English and is not popular in England.
13 November 1714: A Jacobite uprising in northern England is cornered and defeated in Preston.

6 September 1715: The Earl of Mar leads an uprising for "King James" at Braemar that attracts widespread support in north east Scotland.
14 September 1715: The Jacobites take Perth.
13 November 1715: At the Battle of Sherrifmuir near Dunblane the Jacobite army under the Earl of Mar is prevented from taking southern Scotland by a much smaller government force.
22 December 1715: Prince James, the Pretender, lands at Peterhead before moving through Aberdeen and Dundee to the Earl of Mar's Headquarters at Perth.
31 January 1716: The Jacobites abandon Perth in the face of reinforced government forces.
4 February 1716: Prince James boards a ship at Montrose and leaves Scotland for the continent. The Earl of Mar follows shortly afterwards. The Jacobite army simply disbands and dissolves. "The 1715" is over.

10 May 1719: A small Spanish force, believing itself to be part of a much larger invasion planned for England to return the Jacobites to power, lands in Loch Duich, inland from the site of Kyle of Lochalsh. Royal Navy ships destroy the Spanish headquarters at Eilean Donan Castle.
10 June 1719: The Spanish troops, now supported by only 1000 Highland Jacobites, are defeated at the Battle of Glenshiel which takes place on the steep mountainsides flanking the Glen. The Spanish surrender but their part in the battle is remembered by the name of the overlooking mountain, Sgurr nan Spainnteach, or Peak of the Spaniards.

1720 South Sea Bubble.

31 December 1720: Prince James, now living in Rome, has a son, Charles Edward Stuart, or "Bonnie Prince Charlie".

J S Bach completes his six Brandenburg Concertos. Walpole "first minister". Tobias George Smollet was born at Dalquhurn. Lord Kilsyth and a small group of Jacobites form the Court in exile in Rome

February 1744: A French fleet intending to invade southern England is caught by the Royal Navy then dispersed by a storm. On board the failed invasion fleet is Charles Edward Stuart, the "Young Pretender".

5 July 1745:Charles Edwards Stuart sails from France for Scotland with two ships. The Elisabeth, carrying his military supplies and gold, is badly damaged in an encounter with a Royal Navy ship and has to turn back.
23 July 1745: Charles Edward Stuart reaches the Western Isles before sailing on to land near Arisaig on the mainland with just eight supporters, no supplies, and no funds.
19 August 1745: Charles Edward Stuart raises his standard at Glenfinnan.

4 September 1745: The Jacobite army takes Perth.
16 September 1745: The Jacobites take Edinburgh without a fight.
21 September 1745: At the Battle of Prestonpans, east of Edinburgh, the Jacobites defeat the assembled governmental forces under General Cope in a ten minute engagement.
31 October 1745:Charles Edward Stuart moves south from Edinburgh despite views among his supporters that it would be better to retain Scotland and wait for a promised French invasion of England.
15 November 1745: Carlisle falls to the Jacobites.
4 December 1745:Charles Edward Stuart and the Jacobite army reaches Derby. In London, only 150 miles south, there is total panic.
6 December 1745: In the absence of the promised French invasion of England and in the light of very limited support from English Jacobites, Charles withdraws from Derby.
20 December 1745: The Jacobite army retreats into Scotland.
8 January 1746: Stirling surrenders to the Jacobite forces.
17 January 1746: A large Jacobite army defeats government forces at the Battle of Falkirk Muir. Charles Edward Stuart, increasingly drunk since Derby, fails to take advantage.
1 February 1746: The Jacobites move north in the face of increasingly strong government forces under the Duke of Cumberland.
16 April 1746: The opposing armies finally meet at the Battle of Culloden. For a full account of the final defeat of the Jacobites read our feature page on the battle.
20 April 1746: Bonnie Prince Charlie flees to Arisaig where he stays for a week.
21 April 1746: The City of Glasgow hosts formal celebrations to mark the defeat of the Jacobites, and awards the Duke of Cumberland the freedom of the city.
30 April 1746: Four days after Charles leaves Arisaig two French ships carrying supplies and funds arrive in an effort to help him.
20 September 1746: Bonnie Prince Charlie sails for France from Loch nan Uamh near Arisaig, very close to the spot at which he landed in July 1745.

The insurrection is over. Now the price is paid in ruthless cultural suppression, economic destruction and military occupation.

1760: The Highland Clearances gain momentum. The pressure on highlanders through increased rents and more direct means to leave the land results in 20,000 emigrating by 1773, many for Canada and other colonies.