Each Jacobite Rising formed part of a series of military campaigns by Jacobites attempting to restore the Stuart kings to the thrones of England and Scotland (and after 1707, Great Britain) after James VII of Scotland and II of England was deposed in 1688 and the thrones claimed by his daughter Mary II jointly with her husband William of Orange.
The major Jacobite Risings were called the Jacobite Rebellions by the new governments. The "First Jacobite Rebellion" and "Second Jacobite Rebellion" were known respectively as "The Fifteen" and "The Forty-Five", after the years in which they occurred.
Jacobite war in Ireland
The Williamite war in Ireland was the opening conflict in James' attempts to regain the throne. It influenced the Jacobite Rising in Scotland which "Bonnie Dundee" started at about the same time. When it ended in October 1691 the Irish army left Ireland for France, becoming the Irish Brigade which provided forces assisting The 'Forty-Five Jacobite Rising in Scotland.
On 16 April 1689 John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, raised James' standard on the hilltop of Dundee Law with fewer than 50 men in support. At that time he was known as Bluidy Clavers for his part in dealing with Covenanters, but nowadays he is remembered as Bonnie Dundee from the words of a sentimental popular song written by the romantic Walter Scott in 1830. James had already arrived in Ireland and his letter was on the way promising Irish troops to assist the rising in Scotland. At first Viscount Dundee had difficulty in raising many supporters, but that changed after the Williamite commander Major-General Hugh Mackay of Scourie proved ineffective in chasing after Dundee around the north, and 200 Irish troops successfully landed at Kintyre. Dundee received support in the western Scottish Highlands from Roman Catholic and Episcopalian Clans.
By July the Jacobites had 8 battalions and 2 companies, almost all Highlanders. Dundee gained the confidence of the Clans by understanding the need to treat each Highlander as a touchy gentleman whose allegiance to his chieftain and clan with its etiquette and precedence was much more important than a secondary cause such as Jacobitism. At a time when infantry were trained to fight in formation, the Highlander's method was to set aside their plaids and other encumbrances before the battle, drop to the ground if their enemy fired a volley then, after quickly returning fire, run screaming at their foe in the Highland charge with broadsword and targe (shield) or whatever other weapon they had, sometimes pitchforks or Lochaber axes (a combined axe and spear on a long pole). This charge could be devastating to troops in formation still struggling to reload their muskets or fix bayonets.
This charge defeated a larger lowland Scots force at the Battle of Killiecrankie on 27 July 1689, but about a third of the Highlanders were killed in the fighting, and Dundee himself died in the battle. At the street fighting of the Battle of Dunkeld on 21 August the Jacobite Highlanders were set back by the Cameronians (now a government regiment), but much of the north remained hostile to the government and expeditions to subdue the highlands met with a series of skirmishes. Jacobite forces suffered a heavy defeat at the Haughs of Cromdale on 1 May 1690, and later that month Mackay constructed Fort William on the site of an old fort built by Cromwell. Then in June news arrived of William's victory over James at the Battle of the Boyne and Jacobite hopes petered out. On 17 August 1691 William offered all Highland clans a pardon for their part in the Jacobite Uprising, provided that they took an oath of allegiance before 1 January 1692 in front of a magistrate. The Highland chiefs sent word to James, now in exile in France, asking for his permission to take this oath. James dithered over his decision, eventually authorising the chiefs to take the oath in a message which only reached its recipients in mid-December. Despite difficult winter conditions a few took the oath in time. The exemplary brutality of the massacre of Glencoe sped acceptance, and by the spring of 1692 the Jacobite chiefs had all sworn allegiance to William.
The "Old Pretender"
The Old Pretender's attempted invasion
After a brief peace, the War of the Spanish Succession renewed French support for the Jacobites and in 1708 James Stuart, the Old Pretender, sailed from Dunkirk with 6000 French troops in almost 30 ships of the French navy. Their intended landing in the Firth of Forth was thwarted by the Royal Navy under Admiral Byng which pursued the French fleet and made them retreat round the north of Scotland, losing ships and most of their men in shipwrecks on the way back to Dunkirk.
Following the arrival from Hanover of George I in 1714, Tory Jacobites in England conspired to organise armed rebellion against the new Hanoverian government, but were to prove indecisive and frightened by government arrests of their leaders. In Scotland, however, 1715 saw what is often referred to as the First Jacobite Rising (or Rebellion).
The Treaty of Utrecht had ended hostilities between France and Britain. From France, as part of widespread Jacobite plotting, James Stuart, the Old Pretender, had been corresponding with the Earl of Mar and in the summer of 1715 called on him to raise the Clans. Mar, nicknamed Bobbin' John, rushed from London to Braemar and summoned clan leaders to "a grand hunting-match" on 27 August 1715. On September 6th he proclaimed James as "their lawful sovereign" and raised the old Scottish standard, whereupon (ominously) the gold ball fell off the top of the flagpole. Mar's proclamation brought in an alliance of clans and northern Lowlanders, and they quickly overran many parts of the Highlands.
Mar's Jacobites captured Perth on 14 September without opposition and his army grew to around 8,000 men, but a force of less than 2,000 men under the Duke of Argyll held the Stirling plain for the government and Mar indecisively kept his forces in Perth. He waited for the Earl of Seaforth to arrive with a body of northern clans, but Seaforth was delayed by attacks from other clans loyal to the government. Planned risings in Wales and Devon were forestalled by the government arresting the local Jacobites.
Starting around 6 October a rising in the north of England grew to about 300 horsemen under Thomas Forster, a Northumberland squire, then joined forces with a rising in the south of Scotland under Lord Kenmure. Mar sent a Jacobite force under Brigadier Mackintosh of Borlum to join them. They left Perth on October 10th and were ferried across the Firth of Forth from Burntisland to East Lothian. Here they were diverted into an attack on an undefended Edinburgh, but having seized Leith citadel they were chased away by the arrival of Argyll's forces. Mackintosh's force of about 2,000 then made their way south and met their allies at Kelso in the Scottish Borders on 22 October, and spent a few days arguing over their options. The Scots wanted to fight government forces in the vicinity or attack Dumfries and Glasgow, but the English were determined to march towards Liverpool and led them to expect 20,000 recruits in Lancashire.
The Highlanders resisted marching into England and there were some mutinies and defections, but they pressed on. Instead of the expected welcome the Jacobites were met by hostile militia armed with pitchforks and very few recruits. They were unopposed in Lancaster and found about 1,500 recruits as they reached Preston on 9 November, bringing their force to around 4,000. Then Hanoverian forces (including the Cameronians) arrived to besiege them at the Battle of Preston, and the surviving Jacobites surrendered on 14 November.
In Scotland, at the Battle of Sheriffmuir on November 13th, Mar's forces were unable to defeat a smaller force led by the Duke of Argyll and Mar retreated to Perth while the government army built up. Belatedly, on 22 December 1715 a ship from France brought the Old Pretender to Peterhead, but he was too consumed by melancholy and fits of fever to inspire his followers. He briefly set up court at Scone, Perthshire, visited his troops in Perth and ordered the burning of villages to hinder the advance of the Duke of Argyll through deep snow. The highlanders were cheered by the prospect of battle, but James' councillors decided to abandon the enterprise and ordered a retreat to the coast, giving the pretext of finding a stronger position. James boarded a ship at Montrose and fled to France on 4 February 1716, leaving a message advising his Highland followers to shift for themselves.
Spanish supported Jacobite invasion
With France still at peace, the Jacobites found a new ally in Spain's Minister to the King, Cardinal Giulio Alberoni. An invasion force set sail in 1719 with two frigates to land in Scotland to raise the clans, and 27 ships carrying 5,000 soldiers to England, but the latter were dispersed by storms before they could land. When the two Spanish frigates successfully landed a party of Jacobites led by Lord Tullibardine and Earl Marischal with 300 Spanish soldiers at Loch Duich they held Eilean Donan castle, but met only lukewarm support from a few clans and at the Battle of Glen Shiel the Spanish soldiers were forced to surrender to government forces.
Aftermath of the 'Fifteen
In the aftermath of the 'Fifteen, the Disarming Act and the Clan Act made ineffectual attempts to subdue the Scottish Highlands. Government garrisons were built or extended in the Great Glen at Fort William, Kiliwhimin (later renamed Fort Augustus) and Fort George, Inverness, as well as barracks at Ruthven, Bernera and Inversnaid, linked to the south by the Wade roads constructed for Major-General George Wade.
In 1725 Wade raised the independent companies of the Black Watch as a militia to keep peace in the unruly Highlands, but in 1743 they were moved to fight the French in Flanders. Tellingly, their commander at the Battle of Fontenoy in May 1745 was the Duke of Cumberland, soon to command at Culloden.
The "Young Pretender"
1744 French invasion attempt
During 1743 the War of the Austrian Succession drew Britain and France into open, though unofficial, hostilities against each other. Leading English Jacobites made a formal request to France for armed intervention and the French king's Master of Horse toured southern England meeting Tories and discussing their proposals. In November 1743 Louis XV of France authorised a large-scale invasion of southern England in February 1744 which was to be a surprise attack with troops marching from their winter quarters to hidden invasion barges which were to take them and Charles Edward Stuart with the guidance of English Jacobite pilots to Maldon in Essex where they were to be joined by local Tories in an immediate march on London. Charles, (later known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender) was in exile in Rome with his father (James Stuart, the Old Pretender), and rushed to France.
As late as 13 February the British were still unaware of these intentions, and while they then arrested many suspected Jacobites the French plans really went astray on 24 February when one of the worst storms of the century scattered the French fleets which were about to battle for control of the English Channel, sinking one ship and putting five out of action.
The barges had began embarking some 10,000 troops and the storm wrecked the troop and equipment transports, sinking some with the loss of all hands. Charles was officially informed on 28 February that the invasion had been cancelled. The British lodged strong diplomatic objections to the presence of Charles, and France declared war but gave Charles no more support.
Such is the connection between 1745 and the rising in the Gaelic mindset, that the '45 is known as Bliadhna Theàrlaich (Charles' Year) in Scottish Gaelic.
Charles continued to believe that he could reclaim the kingdom and recalled that early in 1744 a small number of Scottish Highland clan chieftains had sent a message that they would rise if he arrived with as few as 3,000 French troops. Living at French expense, he continued to badger ministers for commitment to another invasion, to their increasing irritation. In secrecy he also developed a plan with a consortium of Nantes privateers, funded by exiled Scots bankers and pawning of his mother's jewellery. They fitted out a small frigate le Du Teillay and a ship of the line the Elisabeth and set out from Nantes for Scotland in July 1745 on the pretence that this was a normal privateering cruise, leaving a personal letter from Charles to Louis XV of France announcing the departure and asking for help with the rising. The Elisabeth, carrying weapons, supplies and 700 volunteers from the Irish Brigade, encountered the British Navy ship HMS Lion and with both ships badly damaged in the ensuing battle the Elisabeth was forced back, but the Frigate successfully landed Charles with his seven men of Moidart on the island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides on 2 August 1745.
The Scottish clans and their chieftains initially showed little enthusiasm about his arrival without troops or munitions (with Alexander MacDonald of Sleat and Norman MacLeod of MacLeod refusing even to meet with him), but Charles went on to Moidart and on 19 August 1745 raised the standard at Glenfinnan to lead the Second Jacobite Rising in his father's name. This attracted about 1,200 men, mostly of Clan MacDonald of Clanranald, Clan MacDonell of Glengarry, Clan MacDonnell of Keppoch, and Clan Cameron. The Jacobite force marched south from Glenfinnan, increasing to almost 3,000 men, though two chieftains insisted on pledges of compensation before joining.
A list of clans that "came out" to join the Prince, or were prevented from doing so, is given below.
Most of the British army was in Flanders and Germany, leaving an inexperienced army of about 4,000 in Scotland under Sir John Cope. His force marched north into the Highlands, but found little support because of the unpopularity of the "Hanoverian"government of King George II and, believing the rebel force to be stronger than it really was, avoided an engagement with the Jacobites at the Pass of Corryairack and withdrew northwards to Inverness. The Jacobites captured Perth and at Coltbridge on the way to Edinburgh routed two regiments of government Dragoons. In Edinburgh there was panic with a melting away of the City Guard and Volunteers and when the city gate at the Netherbar Port was opened at night, to let a coach through, a party of Camerons rushed the sentries and seized control of the city. The next day King James VIII was proclaimed at the Mercat Cross and a triumphant Charles entered Holyrood palace.
Cope's army got supplies from Inverness then sailed from Aberdeen down to Dunbar to meet the Jacobite forces near Prestonpans to the east of Edinburgh. On 21 September 1745 at the Battle of Prestonpans a surprise attack planned by Lord George Murray routed the government forces, as celebrated in the Jacobite song "Hey, Johnny Cope, are you waking yet?". Charles immediately wrote again to France pleading for a prompt invasion of England. There was alarm in England, and in London a patriotic song which included a prayer for Marshal Wade's success in crushing the Scots was performed, later to become the National Anthem.
The Jacobites held the city of Edinburgh, though not the castle. Charles held court at Holyrood palace for five weeks amidst great admiration and enthusiasm, but failed to raise a regiment locally. Many of the highlanders went home with booty from the battle and recruiting resumed, though Whig clans opposing the Jacobites were also getting organised. The French now sent some weapons and funds, and assurances that they would carry out their invasion of England by the end of the year. Charles's Council of war led by Murray was against leaving Scotland, but he told them that he had received English Tory assurances of a rising if he appeared in England in arms, and the Council agreed to march south by a margin of one vote.
The Jacobite army of under six thousand men set out on 3 November. During the delay the government had brought seasoned troops back from the continent and an army under General George Wade assembled at Newcastle. Charles wanted to confront them, but on the advice of Lord George Murray and the Council they made for Carlisle and successfully bypassed Wade. At Manchester about 250 Episcopalians formed a regiment, but no other Englishmen joined the Prince. At the end of November French ships arrived in Scotland with 800 men from the Écossais Royeaux (Royal Scots) and Irish Regiments of the French army.
They entered Derby on 4 December, only 125 miles (200 km) from a panicking London, with a resentful Charles by then barely on speaking terms with Murray. Charles was advised of progress on the French invasion fleet which was then assembling at Dunkirk, but at his Council of War he was forced to admit to his previous lies about assurances. While Charles was determined to press on in the deluded belief that their success was due to soldiers of the regulars never daring to fight against their true prince, his Council and Lord George Murray pointed out their position. The promised English support had not materialised, both Wade and Cumberland were approaching, a militia was forming in London and they had a report of a third army closing on them (fictitious, from a government double agent). They insisted that their army should return to join the growing force in Scotland. This time only Charles voted to continue the advance, and he assented while throwing a tantrum and vowing never to consult the Council again. On December 6, the Jacobites sullenly began their retreat, with a petulant Charles refusing to take any part in running the campaign which was fortunate given the excellent leadership of Murray, whose brilliant feints and careful planning extracted the army virtually intact. The French got news of the retreat and cancelled their invasion which was now ready, while English Tories who had just sent a message pledging support if Charles reached London went to ground again.
There was a rearguard action to the north of Penrith. The Manchester regiment was left behind to defend Carlisle and after a siege by Cumberland had to surrender, to face hanging or transportation. Many died in Carlisle Castle, where they were imprisoned in brutal conditions along with Scots prisoners who Morier painted to depict the kilted clansmen in battle. Many of the Cells there still show hollows licked into the stone walls, as prisoners had only the damp and moss on these stones to sustain themselves. By Christmas the Jacobites came to Glasgow and forced the city to re-provision their army, then on January 3rd left to seize the town of Stirling and begin an ineffectual siege of Stirling Castle. Jacobite reinforcements joined them from the north and on 17 January about 8,000 of Charles's 9,000 men took the offensive to the approaching General Henry Hawley at the Battle of Falkirk and routed his forces.
The Jacobite army then turned north, losing men and failing to take Stirling Castle or Fort William but taking Fort Augustus and Fort George in Inverness by early April. Charles now took charge again, insisting on fighting an orthodox defensive action, and on 16 April 1746 they were finally defeated near Inverness at the Battle of Culloden by government forces made up of English and Scottish troops and Campbell militia, under the command of the Duke of Cumberland. The seemingly suicidal Highland sword charge against cannon and muskets had succeeded in earlier battles but failed now owing to the completely unsuitable nature of the battlefield chosen by Charles, his irresolute tactics and Cumberland having trained his men well with new bayonet tactics to withstand the charge. Charles promptly abandoned his army, blaming everything on the treachery of his officers, even though after the defeat the stragglers and unengaged units rallied at the agreed rendezvous and only dispersed when ordered to leave.
Charles fled to France making a dramatic if humiliating escape disguised as a "lady's maid" to Flora Macdonald. Cumberland's forces crushed the rebellion and effectively ended Jacobitism as a serious political force in Britain. The decline of Jacobitism left Charles making futile attempts to enlist assistance, and another abortive plot to raise support in England.
List of clans that joined the Prince
Eventually the following clans "came out" to join the Prince:
- Clan Cameron,
- Clan Chisholm,
- Clan Drummond,
- Clan Farquharson,
- Clan Fraser (Lovats),
- Clan Gordon,
- Clan Grant of Glenmorriston,
- Clan Hay,
- Clan Livingstone,
- Clan MacBean,
- Clan MacColl,
- Clan MacDonald of Clanranald,
- Clan MacDonald of Glencoe,
- Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry,
- Clan MacDonell of Keppoch,
- Clan MacFie,
- Clan MacGillivray,
- Clan MacGregor,
- Clan MacInnes,
- Clan MacIntosh,
- Clan MacIver,
- Clan MacKinnon,
- Clan MacLachlan,
- Clan MacLaren,
- Clan MacLeod of Raasay,
- Clan MacNab,
- Clan MacNeil of Barra,
- Clan Macpherson,
- Clan Menzies,
- Clan Ogilvy,
- Clan Oliphant,
- Clan Robertson,
- Clan Sinclair, and
- Clan Stewart of Appin.
Furthermore, the regiment of Atholl Highlanders was mostly made up of members of Clan Murray, Clan Fergusson, and Clan Stewart of Atholl. Significant numbers of men from Clan Boyd, Clan Elphinstone, Clan Forbes, Clan Keith, Clan MacIntyre, Clan MacKenzie, Clan MacLean, Clan MacLeod of MacLeod, Clan MacLeod of Lewis, Clan MacTavish, Clan MacMillan, Clan Maxwell, Clan Ramsay, and Clan Wemyss also joined the Jacobite army.
Some chieftains who were trying or planning to raise their clan for the Prince were stopped or even imprisoned, notably Sir James Campbell of Auchnabreck and Alexander MacDougall of Dunollie, who were stopped from raising Clan Campbell of Auchnabreck and Clan MacDougall by Campbell of Argyll, and Sir Hector MacLean and Dugald MacTavish of Dunardry, who would have raised Clan MacLean and Clan MacTavish had they not been imprisoned by the English.
Common misconceptions about the Jacobites and the '45'
- It was just a war between Highlanders and Lowlanders
- The campaign was of international significance; it was a bid to reclaim not just the Scottish throne - but ultimately the English throne as well - with support from Europe. Though donning Highland garb for psychological effect, the Jacobite army was made up of both Highland and (about one-third) Lowland troops, not to mention French and Irish troops.
- Lowlanders were forced to join the Jacobite army
- Recruiting records show the Lowlands provided many volunteers, including some gentry. Jacobite support was strong in the north-east Lowlands. England also supplied some volunteers, including a small regiment.
- Indeed, Highlanders were probably more often pressed into service than Lowlanders. The act of pressing was not exclusive to the Jacobites; it was also used by most other contemporary armies, including the British Army.
- The Jacobite army's organisation was a backward clan-based relic, with inexperienced commanders and untrained troops
- The Jacobite army’s organisation was similar to that of most other contemporary armies. Many Jacobite commanders had seen service in various armies, and field commander George Murray was easily one of the best of the time.
- It is interesting to note that while Culloden was Prince Charles’s only defeat (caused by the decision to entrench and defend Inverness as Jacobite funds were very low), it was Cumberland’s only ever victory.
- While many Jacobite soldiers were of poor appearance, some without even shoes, they were among the most feared troops the British faced. The hardiness, individuality, and resourcefulness of Highlanders made them known as some of the best troops in the British Army.
- London was never threatened by the Jacobites
- London had no significant defending forces and the Jacobite army was only two to three days march away. London officials had made evacuation plans for themselves.
- Jacobite soldiers were ordered to "give no quarter" at Culloden
- That is what Cumberland’s troops believed, because that is what Cumberland told them after the battle: that an order to that effect, signed by the Jacobite General Lord George Murray, had been found on a prisoner.
- But the 'order' was apparently a forgery, which helped to dehumanise the Jacobite troops and perpetuate their image as savages. Many in Britain at once believed the story of a "no quarter" order, and many also thought it justified their own army’s uncommonly savage behaviour after winning the battle, when government troops abused and butchered many prisoners, wounded, and even onlookers (including children).
- To deepen the mystery of who wrote the alleged order, it has been persuasively argued that the 'forgery' was no such thing; that "Whoever wrote it cannot seriously have drawn it up with a view to passing it off as genuine orders issued by Lord George." On the contrary, the inserted command "to give no Quarters to the Electors Troops on any account whatsoever" may genuinely have been found on the official, signed orders in a Jacobite prisoner's pocket; it may indeed have been interpolated by a Jacobite hand, and Cumberland may have been sincere when he announced the discovery of the apparently incriminating document to his outraged army. After issuing instructions for the coming battle, Lord George Murray tried to pre-empt it by leading a bungled attempt to ambush the Hanoverian army in their tents as they slept. He refused to give any separate orders for this attack because "everybody knew what he had to do": that is, "to cut the tent strings and pull down the poles, and where we observed a swelling or bulge in the fallen tent there to strike and push vigorously” with “sword, dirk and bayonet". It is conceivable that a Jacobite officer, in the absence of any separate orders for the intended merciless night-attack, simply amended those he had already been given. (Speck, 148–155).
- Nonetheless, in the morning the exhausted Jacobite soldiers were certainly not ordered to “give no quarter” at the Battle of Culloden itself.
- Walter Scott's first novel Waverley revolves around the 'Forty Five rising, featuring a vivid description of the Battle of Prestonpans and a description of the Jacobite stronghold of Doune Castle.
- In the Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson a family decides that the two sons will take opposing sides in the 'Forty Five rising to preserve the estates whoever wins. Kidnapped is based on real events in the aftermath of the rising.
- The events of the rebellion inspired the song Crua Chan by Sumo.