Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby

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Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby by Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt Charlotte de la Tremoille (1599-1664), Lady Strange, Later Countess of Derby.jpg
Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby by Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt

Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby (December 1599 – 31 March 1664), born Charlotte de La Trémoille, [1] is famous for her robust defence of Lathom House during the English Civil War.


Early life

Charlotte, born at the chateau of Thouars, Poitou, in France, [2] was the daughter of the French nobleman Claude de La Trémoille, 2nd Duke of Thouars, and his wife, Countess Charlotte Brabantina of Nassau. Her maternal grandparents were William I, Prince of Orange, and Charlotte de Bourbon.

On 26 June 1626, Charlotte married the English nobleman James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, and was naturalised as an English citizen by Act of Parliament in February 1629. [3]

Her husband was a Royalist commander in the English Civil War, later taken prisoner at Nantwich in 1651 and beheaded at Bolton.

English Civil War

Lady Derby was famous for her defence of Lathom House in the Siege of Lathom House by Parliamentary forces during the First English Civil War in 1644. During the absence of her spouse, she was left in charge of what turned out to be the last remaining Royalist stronghold in Lancashire. [1]

Immediately after the fall of Warrington, she was requested to acknowledge Parliament's authority and surrender her house, but she refused on the grounds that doing so would dishonour her husband. She offered to limit herself to defending her home and this postponed further attacks on her position. [4]

In February 1644, Latham House was besieged by the forces of Sir Thomas Fairfax. Lady Derby had fortified the castle to resist bombardment and assembled a militia of seasoned marksmen who were able to inflict significant losses by sniping. She expressly refused repeated offers of surrender. On 27 May 1644, Prince Rupert arrived with Royalist forces and the siege was broken. Lady Derby and her staff were evacuated to the Isle of Man. Lady Derby's heroic defence of Lathom House is commemorated in Letitia Elizabeth Landon's poetical illustration in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1833 to a portrait of Lord and Lady Derby (by William Derby after van Dyck). [5]

Isle of Man

Her husband was also Lord of Mann. Lady Derby's attempt to barter the Island for her husband's freedom provoked an anti-English revolt led by Illiam Dhone.

Lady Derby was holding Man, but the total destruction of the Royal army at the Battle of Worcester, the flight of Prince Charles to an exile in France and the execution of her husband left her without hope of assistance. The last Royalist stronghold to surrender to parliamentairan forces at the conclusion of civil war hostilites was Castle Rushden at Castletown on the Isle of Man, defended under the leadership of the redoubtable Charlotte, widow of James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby. It yielded to Colonel Duckenfield in October 1651 **

She eventually yielded with reluctance to the necessity of a surrender and retained, [6] says David Hume incorrectly, "the glory of being the last person in the three kingdoms, and in all their dependent dominions, who submitted to the victorious rebels". [7] [lower-alpha 1] The last holdout against Cromwellian forces occurred on the island of Inishbofin, County Galway, Ireland in 1653.


Charlotte and Derby were parents of four daughters and six sons. Only five of their children appear to have survived to a marriageable age:

Charles's two sons, William, the 9th Earl (c. 1655–1702), and James, the 10th (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. From him the later Earls of Derby are descended.


  1. Not all historians agree with this assessment. Jonathan Duncan postulated that Elizabeth Castle on Jersey may have surrendered later; (Sir George Carteret, the governor of the castle, surrendered it on 15 December 1651). [8]

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  1. 1 2 Pennington, Reina (2003). Amazons to Fighter Pilots - A Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 415. ISBN   0-313-32708-4.
  2. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "House of Commons Journal Volume 1: 04 February 1629 Page 926 Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1547-1629. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802". British History Online. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  4. P. Draper "The House of Stanley" 1864, pp 100-101.
  5. Landon, Letitia Elizabeth (1832). "picture". Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1833. Fisher, Son & Co.Landon, Letitia Elizabeth (1832). "poetical illustration". Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1833. Fisher, Son & Co.
  6. PD-icon.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain : Lodge 1842 , p. 137
  7. Hume 1822, p. 78.
  8. Duncan 1841, pp. 96–99.


Further reading