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Henry Benedict Stuart lived from 11 March 1725 to 13 July 1807. The younger son of James Francis Edward Stuart, "The Old Pretender" he was was the fourth and final Jacobite to publicly lay claim to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Unlike both his father, and his brother, Charles Edward Stuart, "The Young Pretender" or "Bonnie Prince Charlie", Henry made no attempt to actively pursue his claim to the lost thrones. In the Jacobite peerage, Henry Benedict Stuart was known as the Duke of York and, after he inherited the Jacobite claim to the thrones on the death of his brother on 31 January 1788, as Henry IX.
Henry travelled to France in 1744 to help his brother Charles arrange his abortive 1745 uprising. After the uprising failed, Henry returned to Rome, where Pope Benedict XIV made him a Cardinal on 3 July 1747. Henry lost his property in France during the revolution there, and was awarded an annuity of £4,000 by King George III of Great Britain. Views differ on whether this was an act of charity by the Hanoverians to their now soundly beaten rivals; a bribe to buy off the Jacobite claim to the throne; or a partial repayment by the government of the dowry of Henry's grandmother, and James VII/II's second wife, Mary of Modena.
In September 1803, Henry became the Dean of the College of Cardinals in Rome and Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Velletri. He died in the episcopal palace at Frascati on 13 July 1807, aged 82. Henry's will, signed by him as "Henry R" passed the Jacobite claim to the British crown to his friend and nearest blood relative, Charles Emmanuel IV of Savoy, who had previously been King of Sardinia. Other property was left to Monsignor Angelo Cesarini, who subsequently sent the Prince of Wales, later to be George IV, a number of items that had formed part of the Crown Jewels of England or Scotland and which had been removed by James VII/II.
Neither Charles Emmanuel IV of Savoy nor any of his successors have ever publicly pursued the Jacobite claim to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. But neither have they ever renounced that claim, meaning that, in some eyes, the claim remains in place.