1715 – The rebellion that should have worked…

Culloden essentially marked the end of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 and as such it is marked as one of the most well known moments in Jacobite and Scottish history. But, there were quite a few other rebellions that took place before the ’45 and this year marks the 300th anniversary of one of these – the 1715 Rebellion.

The 1715 uprising is widely considered to be the Jacobite Uprising that should have worked. It had a large amount of support, across both Scotland and England, but it failed largely due to poor management and organisation.

In 1714 Queen Anne died and the throne passed to George I and the Hanoverian line. George I thought the Tory government were pro-Jacobite and thus replaced them with a Whig government. There was widespread unrest about the new king and riots ensued in favour of the Jacobites across England.

In March of 1715 King James VIII & III petitioned the Pope for money and military aid for a Jacobite uprising to capatilise on this tension. The plan was for two Jacobite uprisings to happen in England. First a diversionary smaller uprising in the north. Once the British army had rushed north to deal with this uprising, the main uprising in the south west of England would start.

However, matters soon got complicated. In August the Earl of Mar returned to his estate in Scotland having failed to convince King George that he was not a Jacobite sympathizer. Here he held a council of war with leading Jacobites apparently unaware of James’ plans. On 6th September Mar and other local Jacobites raised the standard at Braemar and caught everyone by surprise. The timing of Mars’ independent rising could be fatal to King James’ plans. It could pull large parts of the British army North before the planned diversionary rising.

Mars’ Jacobites took Inverness, attempted to take Edinburgh and then headed south and met up with English Jacobites in Northern England. All this action lead to leading Jacobites in south west England being arrested by the Government which effectively stopped the plans for a main rising in the south.

In November 1715 the Jacobite actions came to their climax.

From 10th-12th November remaining Jacobites in the Highlands took part in the Siege of Inverness which occurred when Government forces tried to take back the town. In the process of this Government man Arthur Rose, son of Kilravock was killed and Kilravock seeked revenge. With threats to burn Inverness to the ground the Jacobites met to discuss surrender. The Jacobites wanted to march south and join Mar but this was not allowed and eventually they agreed to hand over their weapons and return home and hand Inverness back to the Government.

Meanwhile from 12-14th November the Battle of Preston occurred with the English Jacobite rising trapped in Preston and eventually forced to surrender to the Government.

Finally on 13th November the Battle of Sheriffmuir occurred, this was the main battle of 1715. The Government were seriously outnumbered by Mars’ Jacobites but Mar refused to press home the advantage and risk his entire army so allowed the Government to withdraw after a day of fighting. There was no conclusive victor but the battle caused demoralisation amongst the Jacobites who should have won based on numbers.

After this nothing major happened only a few minor skirmishes. In an attempt to maintain the rising King James VIII & III arrived in Scotland in December but by this time the Jacobite army was suffering heavily from desertions and he left in February 1716 as the rising had essentially fizzled out.

Overall Government losses for the 1715 Uprising are estimated around 1,000 men whilst Jacobites lost roughly 250 men. If the men had been more coordinated in their attacks and had formed a united front rather than seperate groups who knows what the outcome may have been?

This September we will be marking the 300th anniversary of the rising with a special 1715 exhibition . So far plans are going well and we have letters from the Highland Archive Centre to showcase and hopefully a renactment of the raising of the standard at Braemar.

Hope you enjoyed the post. As always like, share, comment, blog and follow us to your hearts content.

All the best K & D

6 thoughts on “1715 – The rebellion that should have worked…

  1. A very interesting article. My ancestors were of the Baird Clan and there is a plaque of one of them at Sterling Castle. I’m proud to have Scottish roots.


  2. I know there is a school of thought that’s lays a lot of the blame on Mar, which is only partially justified. He faced an experienced commander at Sherrifmuir who had learned his trade in Europe. For me that factor plus the lack of non catholic support in England were the clinchers in the 15’s failure.


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