Stirrings for the next Jacobite uprising came on the heels of the Scottish discontent with the act of Union in 1707 and with the death of the last Stewart/Stuart monarch, Queen Anne, on August 1st, 1714. Unfortunately, despite 17 births Anne left no heir for the crown of Great Britain and the parliament looked to the 1701 act of Settlement to name the next monarch. George I, the son of Sophia of Hanover (whose mother was the daughter of James VI/I of Scotland and sister to Charles I and aunt to Charles II and James II) was crowned on October 20, 1714 which allowed for 3rd Jacobite uprising in September of 2015.
Third Jacobite Uprising 1715
The official beginning of this uprising began on September 6 when the earl of Mar, John Erskine, (who some historians suggest had the nick name of Bobbing John because he often changed sides and informed on his allies) raised the clans at Braemar. Mar’s army of 12, 000 began to head toward Perth and along the way encountered skirmishes with the gov’t troops (6000) led by Duke of Argyll, John Campbell but were not very successful. When Argyll heard that they were heading to Perth he moved his troops to Sheriffmuir.
The Jacobite army of 12,000 met the government troops of 6000 on the battlefield at Sheriffmuir on November 13, 1715. The battle at the end of the day ended when both sides reduced in numbers, the earl of Mar allowed Argyll’s troops to withdraw. The result of the battle was that each side declared themselves the winner. And though the realty was neither side won, the Jacobites were stopped from further advancing out of the highlands where they had the greatest support. Also after the battle, the Jacobite forces lost the support of the Spanish and French for this uprising.
Some historians suggest it was Mar’s lack of tactical fighting knowledge that defeated the Jacobite cause in this period, because had they skirted around the government troops and headed for northern England where there was a large English Jacobite and Catholic presence, they could have been far more successful when pushing into England.
Along the Scottish/Anglo borders a Jacobite army of about 1700 troops led by Mackintosh of Borlum, William Maxwell, earl of Nithsdale, James Radcliff, earl of Derwenwater and Thomas Forster of Northumberland moved into northern England and settled at Preston, Lancaster intent on driving out the government troops. The government hearing of the Jacobite army grew to about 4000, sent an army led by Charles Wills. Meanwhile, the Jacobite army had taken the town and set it up for a siege. When the government troops arrived on November 2 they found the streets barricaded and ordered an immediate attack. This attack included setting fire to many of the houses held by the Jacobites snipers who were firing on them causing many casualties for the government side.
Although Wills allowed the government locations to be lighted at night which gave giving the Jacobite snipers an advantage, many of the Jacobites in the dead of night began to withdraw with some defecting to the other side. The next morning, November 13, when fresh government troops arrived, they surrounded the town cutting off the retreat for many of the Jacobites who remained. That morning the English leader of the Jacobites, Thomas Forster wanted to negotiate terms with the British commander without telling the Scots/Highlander troops, However, his terms were refused by the government commander. The Highlanders, angered by what they saw as a betrayal by the English Jacobites went thru the streets of Preston commanding and bullying the remaining Jacobites who remained to stay the course. The next morning Forester surrendered the army seeking terms but again it was refused by the government troops unless the Highlander/Scots also surrendered. Of the 1400 Jacobites who surrendered 463 were English. Most of the common Scots soldiers and Highlanders who surrendered were transported to the American plantations.
Four Scottish noblemen were arrested and taken to the tower of London, George Seton, earl of Winton, William Maxwell, earl of Nithsdale, William Gordon, viscount of Kenmuir and William Murray, lord of Nairne. Seton escaped from the Tower of London to live the rest of his life in exile. Maxwell also escaped from the Tower of London but his story is the stuff of legends. The night before (Feb 1716) he was to be executed, his wife helped him to escape when she came to visit him by dressing him in her maids clothes and leave under the jailers noses. They escaped to Rome where he died in exile. Gordon was tried for treason and was beheaded on February 24 1716 and all his estates and titles were forfeited. Murray was tired for treason, attained (losing land titles) and condemned to death on February 9 but for some reason his execution was stayed and in 1717 as part of the Indemnity Act he was released. James Radcliff, earl of Derwentwater, the only English Jacobite nobleman captured, was beheaded with Gordon on February 24, 1716. A legend surrounding his death says that in the area of Northumberland where his estate is located that night the Northern lights were especially bright and from that time forward the northern lights are called Lord Derwentwater Lights in that region.
The final stage of this ill-fated rebellion occurred on December 22 when James III (Old Pretender) landed at Peterhead, Scotland to join forces with the remaining Jacobite Army in Perth. He came with a number of sons of Scottish nobles living in exile with the Stuarts; James Francis Fitzjames Stuart (1696-1738), grandson of James VII, and Lieutenant Allan Cameron (a son of Lochiel). These two who were sent with the news to the army in Perth that the kind had landed. James III brought no French troops with him, nor guns or goods needed for his troops but set up a court at Scone. Sone after his arrival he grew despondent over the lack of support he received from the people of Scotland. He with the help of Charles, 13th earl of Erroll and his sister Mary, later countess of Erroll and other Jacobites, James II escaped from Scotland at Montrose on February 4, 1716, returning to French exile and never to returned to Scotland despite the uprising in 1745 (next blog entry).
Glen Shiels 1719
After the James III left, like the former Jacobite uprising the followers disbanded with many going underground to arise in 1719. Although throughout much of Scotland's history the French were their main supporter against the English, during the Jacobite uprisings the Spanish, a strong Catholic nation, supported the Jacobite cause. Cardinal Alberoni on behalf of Philip V of Spain sent five thousand men to aid the new Rising with 300 arriving at Eliean Donan Castle on Lochalsh, which had become a supply depot for supplies for this latest uprising.
The Scottish leaders of this “little” uprising included John Cameron of Lochiel, XVIII Captain and Chief of Clan Cameron, along with Lord George Murray and the Earl of Seaforth (Mackenzie) with a force of less then 1000 men. When this Jacobite army headed toward Inverness to engage the government troops leaving some of the Spanish to defend the castle. The government used their substantial fleet along the western coast to defend against any arrivals from France sent three frigates to Eliean Donan Castle to destroy the castle and supplies. It is important to note the government army was composed of soldiers from these notable highland clans: Munro, McKay, Fraser, Sutherland, and Ross. The Jacobites army was composed of soldiers from the following clans: Cameron, MacGregor, Mackenzie, McKinnon, Keith, and Murray. Two hundred Spanish soldiers from the castle at Eileen Donan were taken prisoner, but most of the Jacobite Highlanders fled back to their homes and the Jacobite was again disbanded.
Meanwhile the government troops from Inverness led by Col Wightman met the Jacobites at Glen Sheil (on June 10) where the two armies battled for three hours early in the evening. The expected Jacobite support from the south never materialized which resulted with many of the highlanders escaping into the fog in retreat.
Lord George Murray was injured but escaped and hid in the Highlands until he could escape to the continent in 1720, he would return for the ’45 and be the Scottish commander of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s army. William, Lord Mackenzie was wounded but escaped and with the help of his sailors hid in the Western Isles until he too could get to France. John Cameron escaped and died in exile in Flanders in 1748. Rob Roy MacGregor was also injured and hid in the highlands until the things died down and he could return home. (watch the movie Rob Roy with Liam Neesom and you will see a bit of this skirmish.
“Argyll along with many other Scots viewed Jacobitism as a political problem which could be resolved through political means by persuading the Jacobite nobles of the benefits of a regime in London. The Government in London saw things differently, viewing Jacobitism as a military problem, which required a military solution. Like Cromwell before them, they opted to garrison the Highlands, building barracks like Ruthven to quash further rebellion and constructing a system of roads and bridges, under the command of General Wade, in order to supply the new system of forts and allow the rapid deployment of troops. Wade oversaw the construction of over 250 miles of road and numerous bridges, which are in use to this day. It was a hugely expensive operation which was scaled down by the early 1740’s when the Jacobite threat appeared to have receded, but it showed how seriously the House of Hanover took the Jacobite threat.”
The next twenty plus years, the Scots especially those in the Highland grew dissatisfied with the action of the Westminster Parliament toward Scotland and its people. After the 1715 uprising saw the invasion government troops in forts barracks strung throughout the Highlands. This coupled with government's new road building in the Highland of General Wade opened access to the Highlands for the government allowing them to squash any Jacobite stirrings. This intrusion in the culture of the Highland way of life trying to make it more British both economically and politically provided the growth of the final Jacobite uprising in 1745.
The most famous and final Jacobite uprising, written about in the "romantic" period of the Scottish literature of Scott and Burns, began with the arrival of Prince Charles Stuart in 1745 at Glenfinnan and culminating a few 9 months later with the disastrous battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746. This event was not only the final nail in the coffin of Jacobite cause but also the Highland way of life. The last post in this series on the Jacobite will be the "45, the who, what, where and when but also the result for the Highland Culture of Scotland.