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EDINBURGH:

COMMERCIAL PRINTING COWFANV,

HOWE STSJCBT.

PREFACE.

THIS book is presented to the public at a time when popular attention is attracted to the subject of which it treats; but it is intended much less to gratify a temporary curiosity than to fill an empty page in our literature. In our own and in other countries Claimants have been by no means rare. Wandering heirs to great possessions have not unfrequently concealed themselves for many years until their friends have forgotten them, and have suddenly and inopportunely reappeared to demand restitution of their rights; and unscrupulous rogues have very often advanced pretensions to titles and estates which did not appertain to them, in the hope that they would be able to deceive the rightful possessors and the legal tribunals. When such cases have occurred they have created more or less excitement in proportion to the magnitude of the claim, the audacity of the imposture, or the romance which has surrounded them. But the interest which they have aroused has been evanescent, and the only records which remain of the vast majority are buried in ponderous legal tomes, which are rarely seen, and are still more rarely read, by non-professional men. The compiler of the present collection has endeavoured to disinter the most noteworthy claims which have been made either to honours or property, at home or abroad, and, while he has passed over those which present few remarkable features, has spared no research to render his work as perfect as possible, and to supply a reliable history of those which are entitled to rank as causes cdebres. The book must speak for itself. It is put forward in the hope that, while it may serve to amuse the hasty reader in a leisure hour, it may also be deemed worthy of a modest resting-place in the libraries of those who like to watch the march of events, and who have the prudent habit, when information is found, of preserving a note of it

London, November, 1873.

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