James, 7th Earl of Derby


Ref. No.: KN56

James was the son of the 6th Earl and was born at Knowsley in January 1607. In 1625 at the age of 18 he was made both Mayor and MP for Liverpool. In 1627 he married Charlotte de la Tremouille the gand-daughter of William Prince of Orange. The couple lived at court for nine years before moving to Lathom House near Ormskirk.

James became Earl on the death of his father in 1642. He was a major figurehead in the region, able to raise an army of 60,000 men in a matter of days. A failed assassination attempt of the Earl was the first bloodshed of the Civil War. Both the Earl and his wife were strong Royalists, Charlotte successfully defending Lathom House during a four month seige. When the King was defeated, James retreated to the Isle of Man whereby Lathom House was sacked and James's properties were confiscated but he remained defiant of Cromwell.

In 1651 he went to assist Charles II and raised further armies in the cause. In one incident he was shot in the breastplate seven times and received thirteen cuts to the helmet. A few days later he was alongside the King at the Battle of Worcester, but was captured at Nantwich shortly afterwards. He was taken to Chester and was tried as a traitor, he was then transported to Bolton where he was executed on the 16th October 1651.

There is much at Knowlsey which bears tribute to the loyalty of the 7th Earl, including the chair on which he knelt for his execution, and a decorated mantelpiece.

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