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Royal Baby Name Focus: James

It’s suddenly rising up the bookies’ lists and now we know that Baby Cambridge is a boy, the name James is getting a lot of love as a possible pick for the House of Windsor’s newest prince. Of course it’s got family credentials. The Earl and Countess of Wessex called their son James, and it’s the also name of the Duchess of Cambridge’s little brother. But it’s got plenty of historical royal pedigree, too. Here’s a look at the regal links of the name suddenly on everyone’s lips for the new royal baby.

Scottish Roots

The name James was established as a royal name in Scotland in the 15th century. The first Scottish king to be called James was actually a third child, born to King Robert III and his wife, Annabella. He took the throne on his father’s death in 1406 and ruled for over thirty years. He had a son with the name, and James II of Scotland succeeded his father in 1437, and from then on, a chain of James staked their claim to the throne of Scotland.

James III succeeded James II in 1451 and when his rather inglorious reign came to an end with his death at the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488; he was followed by his son, James IV (born 1473). Guess what happened next? That’s right, this Stewart king was succeeded by his own son, James V, who became monarch at the age of 17 months. He would go on to marry twice and called his first son James but that little boy died young, and this king was succeeded by his newborn daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots.

That romantic, tragic queen had just one child of her own, a son named James who was born in 1566 and became King of Scotland the following year when his mother was forced to abdicate. And it was thanks to him that the name entered English royal lines.

The English Kings called James

James VI of Scotland was picked by his cousin, Elizabeth I, as her successor and took the throne of the Virgin Queen on her death in 1603, becoming James I of England. His eldest surviving son, Charles I, used the name for several of his children. His firstborn son was Charles James (born and died on May 13th, 1629) while the third boy he had with wife, Henrietta Maria of France, was christened James (born October 14th, 1633).

He went on to be King James II of England (James VII) of Scotland but his decision to call one of his sons James would lead to him losing his throne. When he and his second wife welcomed a little boy in 1688, it caused alarm amongst the Protestant ruling classes that this Catholic prince would mean a change in state religion for England. Within months, James II had been deposed by his own daughter, Mary II, and her husband, William III.

His baby son, James Edmund Francis, is known to history as the Old Pretender. He staked a claim to the throne, leading to the unsuccessful Jacobite Revolution. And, unsurprisingly, from that moment onwards the name James disappeared from royal view.

Modern Mentions

The name was given a wide berth for a long time after the end of the House of Stuart, but in the 20th century, it came back into royal view. In 1964, Princess Alexandra and her husband, Angus Ogilvie, welcomed a son called James Robert Bruce. The Earl and Countess of Wessex named their son James Alexander Philip Theo on his birth in December 2007.

A new royal James?

It’s now a favourite for the baby prince born to the Duchess of Cambridge on April 23rd, 2018, with odds shortening with bookmakers throughout the day. We’ll find out soon whether William and Kate have made this their pick – stay with Royal Central for the latest developments.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.