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accompanied her and her husband as a servant to the continent. The youngest of the twins, who was named Sholto Thomas Stewart, died on the 14th May 1753, which event seems to have deeply afflicted Lady Jane, who returned shortly after to Edinburgh, and again tried to effect a reconciliation with her brother, but in vain. Her health was now completely broken up, and, in November following, the unfortunate lady died at Edinburgh.
After the death of Lady Jane, the surviving twin, Archibald, was befriended by Lady Schaw, who, generously pitying his destitute condition, took him under her protection, and supported and educated him. Upon her death, he found an able friend in the person of a noble peer; and in the year 1759, Mr Stewart succeeding by the death of his brother to the estate and title of Grantully, executed, as the first act of his administration, a bond of provision in his favour for upwards of L.2500, wherein he designed him as his son by Lady Jane Douglas.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Douglas continued obstinate in his refusal to acknowledge him as his nephew. The duke had, during the far greater part of his life, so entirely withdrawn himself from the world, and had lived in such constant retirement at his castle at Douglas, that there was little reason to expect that he would ever think of marriage, though that was an event much wished for by every friend of his family. However, the duke disappointed the public expectations; for, in the year 1758, he entered into a marriage with the duchess, which, by what followed, seems to have been an event highly favourable to Mr Douglas. The duchess seems immediately to have espoused his cause, with all that warmth which is natural to those who think they act upon the side of truth and humanity. But perhaps her Grace was rather too eager and keen in endeavouring to alter the sentiments of the Duke of Douglas with respect to the birth of the defendant, whether these sentiments were the effect of imposition, or of real conviction upon his part. Whichever of these was the truth, it is certain that the duke and duchess quarrelled upon this point, and that their quarrel gave rise to a separation betwixt them. But this did not continue long; the duke and duchess were soon, by the mediation of some friends, brought together, and effectually reconciled to one another.
In the summer of 1761, the Duke of Douglas was seized with a distemper, which, in the opinion of his physicians, would prove mortal. The duke was of the same opinion himself; and therefore, on the 11th July 1761, when he was drawing near his end, he executed an entail of his whole estate in favour of the heirs whatsoever of the body of his father James Marquis of Douglas, remainder to Lord Douglas Hamilton, brother to the Duke of Hamilton, &c. And of the same date, the duke executed another deed, setting forth, that as in the event of his death without heirs of his body, Archibald Douglas, alias Stewart, a minor, and son of the deceased Lady Jane Douglas, his sister, would succeed to him in his dukedom of Douglas; he therefore, by that deed, appoints the Duchess of Douglas, the Duke of Queensberry, and several other noble and honourable persons, to be his tutors and guardians.
Here was a surprising change in the fortunes of the destitute boy, who had seen her whom he believed to be his mother expire in a miserable garret, her last moments uncheered by the presence of any of her kindred, and had, after her death, depended for existence upon the bounty of strangers. His guardians proceeded, immediately after the duke's death, to have him put in possession of the estate of Douglas. He was served heir, ** before a jury, to the late duke, after the examination of a great body of evidence, the examination or inquest having been attended by counsel on the part of the Duke * In such proceedings, the king's warrant is issued from his Chancery to the judge ordinary of the place, desiring him to inquire, by a
a jury, into certain points mentioned in the brieve, amongst which the principal is-Whether the person claiming to be heir to the defendant is really so connected with him or not? and to report their verdict into the Chancery along with the brieve.
of Hamilton, who claimed the Douglas estate as heiranale.
The guardians of the Duke of Hamilton were not convinced, by the proof exhibited to the jury, of the legitimacy of Douglas, and, with the view of expiscating the truth, they despatched' Mr Andrew Stuart,* one of their number, to Paris. Mr Stuart's discoveries were, in his opinion, of importance, and his colleagues believed that they amounted to no less than a demonstration that the whole story of the pretended delivery, as set forth in the service of Mr Douglas, was an absolute fiction.
In these circumstances, three actions of reduction of that service were respectively raised at the instance of the Duke of Hamilton's guardians—Lord Douglas Hamilton and Sir Hew Dalrymple of North Berwickwhich actions were afterwards conjoined by the Court of Session. The effect of the conjoined action, if successful, would have been to declare that Mr Douglas was not the son of Lady Jane, and, consequently, to set him aside from the estate.
This extraordinary law-plea excited so much attention at the time, and has obtained so great a celebrity since, that we venture to think the following summary of the proofs on both sides will not be unacceptable to the non-professional reader.
The proofs for Mr Douglas consisted of–1st, The depositions of several witnesses, that Lady Jane appeared to them to be with child while at Aix-la-Chapelle, and other places. 2ılly, The direct and positive testimony of Mrs Hewit, who accompanied Lady Jane to Paris, to the actual delivery at Paris upon the 10th July 1748. 3dly, The depositions of other witnesses with regard to the claimant's being owned and acknowledged by Lady Jane and Sir John Stewart to be their child, and the habit and repute of the country. 4thly, A variety of letters which had passed betwixt Sir John Stewart, Lady Jane Douglas, Mrs Hewit, and others, respecting the claimants birth. 5thly, Four letters said to have been written by Pierre la Marre, who, according to the defendant's account, was the accoucheur to the delivery of Lady Jane, and which were presented as so many true and genuine letters. Add to these, that a few days before his death, which happened in June 1764, Sir John Stewart emitted a solemn declaration in presence of two ministers and one justice of the peace, declaring and asserting, as stepping into eternity, that the defendant and his deceased twin-brother were both born of the body of Lady Jane Douglas, his lawful spouse, in the year 1748. Mrs Hewit, who was charged with being an accomplice in the fraud, died during the law-plea of a lingering illness, and to the last persisted that all she had sworn about the birth of the defendant was truth, excepting some mistakes and errors as to names and dates, which she corrected in a letter to a reverend gentleman of the Episcopal communion, to whom, when visiting her in the way of his profession, she again and again affirmed solemnly that what she had sworn as to the birth was true.
* Mr Stuart was afterwards well known by his letters to Lord Mansiield, and his Genealogical History of the Family of Stewart.
We have here a body of evidence which at first sight seems irrefragably to establish the genuineness of Mr Douglas's claim; but no one can read the counter-proof without acknowledging that it is well calculated to make him “perplexed in the extreme.'
The pursuers maintained—1st, That Lady Jane was not delivered upon the 10th of July 1748, by the evidence of various letters written by Sir John Stewart and Mrs Hewit upon the 10th, 11th, and 22d July 1748. 2dly, That Lady Jane Douglas was not delivered in the house of a Madame la Brune, nor in the presence of a Madame la Brune and her daughter; under which head they brought various circumstances to shew that no such persons as the Madame la Brune in question, or her daughter, ever existed. 3dly, That Lady Jane Douglas could not have been delivered either upon the 10th of July, or in the house of a Madame la Brune, because that, upon that date, and during several days preceding
and subsequent to the 10th of July, Lady Jane Douglas, with her husband, and Mrs Hewit, resided at the Hôtel de Chalons, kept by M. Godofroi, where it is acknowledged she was not delivered. And this alibi the plaintiffs asserted to be clearly proved by the testimony of M. and Madame Godofroi, as well as by certain books kept by them, called the livre d'épense and livre logeur (book of expenses and lodger-book.) 4thly, The falsehood of the delivery in the house of a Madame la Brune upon the 10th July, is also proved by Lady Jane's situation upon her arrival at the house of Madame Michelle, and by the incidents which happened during her continuance there. 5thly, Is stated the evidence of imposture arising from the studied concealment and mystery at Paris in July 1748, when Sir John and Lady Jane, with their confidante Mrs Hewit, carried with them from Paris to Rheims one child;
and from their repetition of the same concealment and mystery, upon their return to Paris in November 1749, when the same three persons brought from Paris to Rheims a second child. Lastly, the plaintiffs brought a proof, that at Paris, in the month of July 1748, a male child, recently born, was carried off from his parents of the name of Mignion; and that, in the month of November 1749, another male child, born in the year 1748, was carried off from his parents, of the name of Sanry. That both these children were, under false pretences, carried off from their parents by British persons then at Paris, and that these British persons were Sir John Stewart, Lady Jane Douglas, and Mrs Hewit.
To these were added a most critical examination of the defendant's proof of Lady Jane's pregnancy, and a contrary proof brought to redargue it, and the proof of the non-existence of the Pierre la Marre, whom the defendant affirms to have been the accoucheur, with a proof of the forgery of the letters attributed to him.
On the 7th July 1767, the case came on for judgment in the Court of Session; and so important was the cause deemed, that the judges, fifteen in number, took no less