Thursday, March 31, 2005


What is a Jacobite Part 2

Welcome to the next installment of What is a Jacobite for the Gathering of the Blogs. Hopefully after yesterday’s post you have a better idea of what a Jacobite is. Yet, there is much more to come. I’ve only started telling this story. Today we are going to go over the third and fourth Jacobite uprising.

In 1715 the Earl of Mar, John Erskine (Also known later on as “Bobbing John” due to his changing of sides and informing on his previous allies) raised the clans in rebellion. This may have been the best chance the Jacobites had of restoring the Stuart line to the throne. The union with England was even less popular then before in Scotland. Queen Anne (James VII’s daughter and wife of William) had passed away in 1714. Back in 1701 The English has passed the Act of Settlement. This act stated that upon Anne’s death the English Throne would pass to Sophia, Electress of Hanover. This was done because Queen Anne had no heirs. Even though Sophia was the grand-daughter of James VI, she was now of the House of Hanover. There was much animosity for the Hous of Hanover. Since the union, it was ensured that the throne of Scotland would also go to the Hanovers. Mar, an erstwhile politician, only wanted to be in a position of authority. He was however out of favor with King George I who took the throne upon Queen Anne’s death. There was much discontent in England with the non-English speaking King George. The authoritarian Whig party which had gained power since King George’s accession was also chaffing the populous. George I rejected Mar from his court due to misinformation given to him from the Whig party. Mar started the rebellion in order to resurrect his own political career by restoring the Stuarts to the throne. Meanwhile in France the exiled Stuart court wasn’t even aware of what was happening.

The rebellion was widely supported through out Scotland and England. The Jacobite Rebellion was enthusiastically embraced by a large section of the population. A large force quickly rallied around Mar. The Jacobites vastly outnumbered the British forces. However this is where the rebellion starts to fall apart. Mar did not make immediate use of his advantage. If he had, success would have been almost certain. Mar was not a soldier and didn’t have the military background nor experience to lead an army. He also was not quick to take advice from others. On September 14th Mar captured Perth. He did not take advantage of his success. The Duke of Argyll commanded the government forces in Scotland. Instead of taking him on, Mar waited even though he had him outnumbered more then four to one in just his forces. There was a second Jacobite army in the south of Scotland. Again, instead of attacking Argyll, they marched on Lancashire where they where defeated at Preston on November 14, 1715. The previous day, November 13, 1715, Mar finally decided to engage Argyll. The Duke of Argyll was an experienced and knowledgeable solder. Even with his greatly outnumbered forces. Argyll was able to hold off Mar at the Battle of Sheriffmuir. The battle was inconclusive and both sides withdrew. Mar failed to press his advantage when he had it. In December, Argyll received battle-hardened Dutch reinforcements. James admitted defeat and returned to France in February of 1716.

In 1719 the Jacobites, after the exiled Stuart court was removed from France, received assistance from Spain. The Spanish were using the Jacobites as pawns in their own power plays with the British just like the French had done earlier. Spain wanted to invade England and felt a two prong attack would be better. The Spanish sent a fleet including 5,000 soldiers to England. However England had heard of the pending invasion and was able to prepare for it. The fleet of 29 ships was summarily destroyed during a storm at sea. A small force of two frigates and about 300 Spanish infantry reached Scotland. This was a diversionary force used to distract the British from the main Spanish Force. These 300 soldiers where joined by exiled Jacobite troops from France. When they found out the main force would not reach England, they decided to stay and fight anyway. There was little support from the Clans; however the legendary Rob Roy Macgregor was one of those that did show up with some men. On June 10th the Jacobite forces of about 1,000 men faced off with an equal number of government troops. In an eerily foreshadowing event of what will happen 27 years later, the English troops hammered the Jacobites with artillery. The clansmen disappeared into the Highlands and what remained of the Spaniards surrendered, thus ending the rebellion.

Tomorrow we address the 5th and final Jacobite Rebellion best known for the Battle of Culloden. Again remember this is a very brief summary of the battles and history. Many details are being left out in order to keep this post as short as possible.