England's last Roman Catholic king, James II of England but James VII of Scotland. Born in St James's Palace and designated Duke of York until he ascended the throne in 1685 on the death of his brother Charles II. Married Anne Hyde. He was Catholic and persecuted the Protestants. New York City was named for him.
This may be overstating the case: 2016 - we were contacted by Antone Martinho who writes “It is completely inaccurate to suggest that he persecuted Protestants, when his reign was fundamentally pro-toleration.” We are far from experts on James II and rely on Wikipedia which include text such as “James sent a letter to the Scottish Privy Council advocating toleration for Catholics but that the persecution of the Presbyterian Covenanters should continue….”. Antone would like this added: "However, he established toleration for the dissenting Protestants as well as Catholics, ultimately granting relief even to the Covenanters he initially opposed." This is a complex topic and we advise anyone who want to understand it to look elsewhere.
His first wife, Anne Hyde, was Protestant and produced a daughter, Mary, who was raised Protestant. James and Anne were then drawn to the Catholic faith. He converted and when Anne died in 1671 he chose a Catholic for his second wife, Mary of Modena, who produced his first surviving son, James. This meant that both the Protestant faction and the Catholic faction each had a potential ruler to promote.
His daughter Mary married the Protestant William of Orange who effectively invaded England thus deposing James, in 1689, the Glorious Revolution. James fled and died in France, leaving his son James (1688 – 1766) as, according to some, the rightful heir to the throne. That James's son, Charles, born 1720, became known as the 'Young Pretender', making his father the 'Old Pretender'.
The only other statue in England of James II is at University College, Oxford.
As Duke of York he was the largest investor in, and was the first governor (for 16 years) of the Royal African Company which became one of the biggest in the Atlantic slave trade, achieving a 74% of the market.