Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Henry Benedict Maria Clement

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HENRY BENEDICT MARIA CLEMENT, Cardinal York, styled by the Jacobites Henry IX (1725-1807), second son of the Chevalier de St. George, styled by his adherents James III [q. v.], and of the Princess Clementina, a daughter of Prince James Sobieski, was born at Rome about eleven o'clock of 5 March 1725 (Lockhart Papers, ii. 148). At an early age he took orders in the Roman church, but was known to the Jacobites as Duke of York. He is referred to by Gray the poet in 1740 (Works, ii. 89) as 'having more spirit than his elder brother,' Charles Edward [q. v.], who himself said of him: 'I know him to be a little lively, not much loving to be contradicted.' He went to Dunkirk in 1745 to join the troops assembling in his brother's support. 'A Genuine intercepted Letter from Father Patrick Graham, Almoner and Confessor to the Pretender's son in Scotland, to Father Benedict Yorke, Titular Bishop of St. David's at Bath,' was published by authority in the same year, and shows that Henry Benedict came to England to take part in the rebellion (cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xi. 477). Soon returning to Italy, he was made bishop of Ostia, Velletro, and Frascati, vice-chancellor of the Roman church, archpriest of the Basilica of the Vatican, and prefect of the Fabric of St. Peters. On 3 July 1747 he was created cardinal by Benedict XIV, an event which had a prejudicial effect on the support accorded to the Jacobite cause in England and Scotland. Horace Mann relates that the Cardinal York, or of York (as he was called from his titular dukedom),' pretends to wear ermine on his cappa as a sign of royalty, and consequently to take place of Cardinal Ruffo and all the other cardinals, by whom he insists on being visited' (Doran, Mann and Manners, i. 263). On 19 Nov. 1759 he was made archbishop of Corinth by Clement XIII, and on 13 July 1761 was transferred to the bishopric of Tusculum. From this time his favourite residence was the Villa Muti at Frascati. When the Countess of Albany in 1777 separated from his brother, Charles Edward, and took refuge in a convent in Rome, she was kindly treated by the cardinal, who received her into his house, and allowed her lover, Alfieri, to have access to her. On his father's death on 1 Jan. 1766, he had a medal struck with the inscription, ' Henricus M[agnus] D[ecanus] Ep. Tvsc. Card. Dux. Ebor. s. r. e. v. Cane' On the death of his brother—who had never been recognised as king of England by the papal authorities— on 31 Jan. 1788, the cardinal caused a medal to be struck with the inscription, 'Henricus Nonus Magnæ Britannia} Rex' on the one side, and on the reverse 'Non voluntate hominum sed Dei Gratia.' Another medal, also dated 1788, bears on the obverse: 'Hen. IX. Mag. Brit. Fr. et Hib. Rex. Fid. Def. Card. Ep. Tusc.;' and on the reverse 'non desideriis hominum sed voluntate Dei, An. MDCCLXXXVIII.'

On the outbreak of the French revolution the resources of the cardinal were greatly narrowed by the loss of two rich livings— the abbeys of St. Auchin and St. Amand— which the king of France had granted him, and also of the pension which had been conferred on him by the court of Spain. But he willingly sacrificed the remains of his fortune to enable Pope Pius VI to meet the tribute demanded by Napoleon, parting with the greater part of the family jewels, including a ruby valued at 50,000l. Crippled in fortune, he continued to reside at Frascati. In 1799 his residence was sacked by the French, all his property seized, and he narrowly escaped with his life. Old and infirm, he fled to Padua, and thence to Venice, supporting himself by the proceeds of his silver plate until reduced to the verge of destitution. In these circumstances the Cardinal Borgia induced Sir John Hippisley to lay his case privately before the English government, and George III at once sent him 2,000l., to be renewed within six months 'should he continue disposed to accept it.' The gift was gratefully acknowledged by the cardinal. Subsequently he returned to Frascati, where he died, 13 July 1807. By his death the line of James II came to an end. To the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV, the cardinal bequeathed the crown jewels which James II had carried with him to France in 1688. The correspondence of the exiled Stuart family, formerly in the possession of Cardinal York, was purchased by George IV for the Royal Library, Windsor. In 1819 the prince regent commissioned Canova to design the wellknown monument for the chapel of the Virgin at St. Peter's, Rome, with half-length portraits in mezzo-relievo of the cardinal and of the cardinal's father and brother. Though deficient in force of character, the cardinal appears to have possessed more tact and prudence than either his father or brother. His disposition was genial and amiable, and, if not highly cultured, his tastes were elevated. He formed a splendid collection of art treasures and a valuable library.

A whole-length life-size portrait of the cardinal as a boy belongs to the Earl of Orford. Several miniatures of many members of his family, including one of himself, belong to the Earl of Galloway. Other portraits belong to the Duke of Hamilton and to Lord Braye. A fifth is at Blair's College, Aberdeen (Cat. Stuart Exhibition, 1889, pp. 58, 60,62). Gavin Hamilton (1730-1797) [q. v.] painted a portrait which belonged to Mr. Drummond of Edinburgh (Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iii. 418). In the National Gallery there are three, portraits respectively by N. Largillière, Pompeo Batoni, and Carriera Rosalba.

[Life appended to Orazione per la Morte di Enrico Cardinale Duca de York, da D. Marco Mastrofini, Rome, 1807; Collection of Miscellaneous Papers on the Cardinal York, bound in one vol. in the British Museum; Letters from the Cardinal Borgia and the Cardinal York, 1799-1800; Doran's Mann and Manners at the Court of Florence; Horace Walpole's Letters; Jesse's The Pretenders and their Adherents; Oliphant's Jacobite Lairds of Gask.]

T. F. H.