More of the facts – legends tomorrow! – behind Rowan Bowman’s Checkmate today. You can find the book here.
James Radcliffe, third Earl of Derwentwater (1689-1716) was born in London. He was sent to the exiled court of James II in France in 1702 as a companion to the young Prince James who was a cousin of Radcliffe’s mother. In 1709, five years after the death of his father, James Radcliffe received a license to return to England and visited Dilston for the first time. He was introduced to the local Jacobite gentry and decided to settle permanently and improve the Castle to make a more suitable, modern residence.
On the 6th September 1715 the Earl of Mar rose in Scotland for the Jacobite cause. The government issued arrest warrants for Jacobite conspirators in Northumberland including Radcliffe. On the 6th October Radcliffe, sometimes referred to as the ‘Reluctant Rebel’, left the Hall at the head of between twenty and thirty mounted men and servants to join with the Jacobite army. The Jacobites engaged with the Government army at Preston where they were defeated and James Radcliffe was captured. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London as a Traitor and beheaded on the 24th February 1716. His head and body were interred at Dilston Chapel but his heart was removed and sent to France where it was lost.