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The rise & demise of the Stuart family 1603-1714

As family historians, our paper trail often peters out with the Georgians. Yet the Stuart era preceding it includes some of our most famous events from British history: the Gunpowder Plot, the English Civil War, the Execution of Charles I, the Restoration, the Plague, the Great Fire, the Monmouth Rebellion, the Glorious Revolution and the Jacobite rebellions. Steve Roberts explains the history and family tree of the Stuart monarchs over the period in which they ruled England, Wales and Scotland, and we hope it will inspire you to trace your own ancestral lines that bit further too

BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE & ANCESTRAL CO

James I, as depicted on the ceiling of the Banqueting House, Whitehall,
by Peter Paul Rubens

I was having a conversation with my wife when she asked me who some of the Stuart monarchs were and how they were related to one another, so I drew up a family tree. This got me thinking, how notable the story of the Stuart family is – both as part of history generally, and as the account of one, remarkable, family story. If we include the reigns of the various Stuart monarchs (James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II, and arguably both Mary II and Anne) then we have a period that runs from 1603 to 1714. If we include the ones that didn’t quite make it (the Old Pretender and the Young Pretender), then the story of the Stuart dynasty leads on to 1746 and the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden, an event that effectively extinguished the Stuart cause once and for all.

A mini timeline of Stuart history

Tudor twilight

‘Divorced, beheaded, she died. Divorced, beheaded, survived’. Bear with me starting the familial history of the Stuarts with a schoolchild ditty about Henry VIII and his long-suffering six wives. It is relevant to our story.

Henry staked everything on securing the Tudor succession with a male heir, preferably a few of them. For all his tribulations he ended with just one, the lad who ruled as Edward VI, but died aged just 15. It was Henry’s daughters who then held sway, the youngest, Elizabeth I, bringing the curtain down on the Tudor dynasty when she died childless on 24 March 1603. What next?

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About Family Tree

Where would today's family historian be without the wonders of the web? This issue we give you bespoke clues to help you mine that nugget of ancestral gold from among the billions of records available the major family history websites. But family history isn't just about researching facts. It's about recording and treasuring that family story. So to help you do just this, we also have a guide to building your own website for your genealogical discoveries - an online home for your family archive. Step up, and see where you can take your research next!