Charles Edward Stuart, Count Roehenstart, lived from 6 May 1784 to 28 October 1854. He was born the illegitimate son of the legitimised daughter of Charles Edward Stewart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender, and his is a sorry tale of ambitions unfulfilled, of opportunities and fortunes lost, and of an untimely death caused by a traffic accident in Scotland. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Roehenstart was the illegitimate son of Prince Ferdinand of Rohan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cambrai, and Charlotte Stuart, the Duchess of Albany, herself the legitimised daughter of Charles Edward Stewart. It would seem that the young Charles was the third of three children Charlotte had by Prince Ferdinand, and that she concealed the existence of all three from her father, though not from her mother, Clementina Walkinshaw. Making the infant "Count Roehenstart" seems to have been a way of combined the names of his parents without formally identifying his father, which would have caused a scandal. When he was baptised a week after his birth, Roehenstart was described as a son of Maximilian Roehenstart and of Clementine Ruthven.
Roehenstart was largely raised with his siblings by his grandmother Clementina Walkinshaw, while his mother looked after the ailing Charles Edward Stewart. Bonnie Prince Charlie died in 1788, but Charlotte Stuart herself died the following year. She left a considerable fortune to her mother, who moved with the children to Switzerland. Many aspects of Roehenstart's life appeared to have changed with the telling and retelling as he grew older, but it seems likely that he joined the Imperial Russian Army as an artillery officer in 1800, when he would have been around 16. He appears to have left the army by 1806, by which time he was working in the household of Duke Alexander of Wurttemberg, who was Tsar Alexander I's Governor of White Russia.
Clementina Walkinshaw had died in 1802, leaving the family fortune to her grandchildren. Roehenstart lost much of his share when the firm he had invested it with, Turnbull, Forbes & Co., went bankrupt in 1803. In 1811 Roehenstart was offered the hand in marriage of a Russian heiress, Marianna Hurko, but seems to have blown his chances by falling in love with her sister instead. Meanwhile, the remainder of Roehenstart's fortune disappeared when his Russian banker, Sofniev, failed. Roehenstart abandoned his life in Russia and headed for London, from where he sailed for North America in pursuit of John Forbes, a partner in Turnbull, Forbes & Co. who after the firm's failure had absconded to the United States with money Roehenstart believed to be rightfully his.
Roehenstart seems to have lived for three years in the United States before travelling to Scotland in 1816, apparently in pursuit of the family's long-standing claim over the dowry of Mary of Modena, Queen Consort of King James VII/II. In 1820 Roehenstart married Maria Antonietta Sofia Barberini, the daughter of an exiled Italian nobleman. She died the following year. In 1826 Roehenstart married Louisa Smith, the wealthy daughter of the recently deceased lord of the manor of Kidlington in Oxfordshire, and the couple moved to Paris.
Accounts vary as to what happened next, but it seems most likely that while Louisa lived in Paris, Roehenstart, now aged 40, resumed his military career, though this time in the service of the Austrian army. He later claimed he rose to the rank of general (and this is how he is described on his tombstone), though by some accounts he left the army as a colonel. Louisa died in Paris in 1853. The following year Roehenstart travelled to Scotland, where he visited the Duke of Atholl at Blair Castle. After his visit he was travelling south towards Perth when a wheel came off his coach, which overturned. Roehenstart was severely injured, and died two days after the accident on 28 October 1854. His grave marker, in the shell of the nave of Dunkeld Cathedral, is inscribed: "Sacred to the memory of General Charles Edward Stuart Count Roehenstart who died at Dunkeld on the 28th October 1854 Sic transit gloria mundi". He left no known descendents.