How did the 1715 Rising begin?

The 1715 Jacobite Rising is largely considered to be the Rising that should have worked. It had many points in its favour, including a large amount of support across Scotland and England, but it’s mismanagement and poor communication led to its ultimate demise. For many the end of the Rising may be most significant but the start is just as interesting.

From as early as March in 1715 James III & VIII ( the Old Pretender) appealed to the Pope for help with a Jacobite Rising and small events throughout the year increased the tension throughout Britain. The Riot Act was brought out in response to the threat of invasion, the Habeus Corpus Act was suspended and a reward offered for the capture of James.

John Erskine, Earl of Mar


Still it was not until 6th September 1715 that the Rising began in somewhat unorthodox fashion. A couple of weeks earlier at the end of August the Earl of Mar had travelled from London north to Braemar. Mar was one of the most powerful men in Scotland, he was governor of Stirling Castle and from 1705 was Secretary of State for Scotland. However, when King George I came into power, in 1714, he fell out of favour and left the capital, returning to his estate in Scotland where he took up the Jacobite cause. Here he summoned clan leaders to a grand hunting match. Some say there were as many as 800 men present who went hunting in Glen Quoich. At the Linn of Quoich, a natural bowl carved into the rock was filled with brandy or whisky and the men drank to a Jacobite rising. To this day the ‘Earl of Mars punchbowl’ can still be seen.

Earl of Mar’s punchbowl at Linn of Quoich

Following his hunting party the Earl of Mar declared James II & VIII King of Scotland, England and Ireland at Kirkmichael in Braemar. On 6th September 1715 Mar had begun the 1715 rising. Unfortunately, he had done this without any authority and had neglected to tell James in advance of his planned uprising. Not a wise move. He also failed to recognise that there were wider plans being put into action and he had not coordinated with risings happening south of the border. To add more disaster to the event the ceremony itself did not run smooth.

As the Earl of Mar raised the new standard for James III & VIII an ornamental globe fell from the top of the pole. This caused alarm amongst the many spectators and the suspicious Highlanders as it recalled the time when the head of Charles I’s staff fell as he stood trial. It was considered an omen of bad things to come. The site where the standard was raised is now home to the Invercauld Arms Hotel.

20th Century illustration of the 1715 rising of the standard


The Rising had begun in a less than ideal manner and unfortunately for Mar his fortune did not turn around. He was considered a poor general and when the Rising fell apart he was held for high treason. He was exiled, his title removed and his lands forfeited.

The 1715 would remain a rising of possibilities that never achieved it’s potential. Had it been better coordinated who knows what would have happened but for Mar the Rising was a failure from the beginning to the end.

We hope you enjoyed this short account. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and hopefully events will be more fortuitous for you than Mar.

All the best, K & D


4 thoughts on “How did the 1715 Rising begin?

  1. Thanks! Interesting indeed. ‘Bobbing John’ Mar was a disaster, wasn’t he.
    (A pedant whispers) You might want to correct James’s title to James III & VIII in the second paragraph. Feel free to delete this comment if you like 🙂


  2. As a descendant of John Erskine, the Earl of Mar, I’m kind of offended. This is propaganda, akin to the kind which saw foreign support withdrawn from the Jacobite Cause in the first place. The Battle of Sheriffmuir was not a Jacobite defeat, but by painting it as such, the Hanoverians were able to manipulate the odds in their favor. Of course John Erskine rebelled against King George only after he showed complete disrespect and disregard for him, the Earldom of Mar being the oldest earldom in Scotland, King George was insulting Scotland itself not merely John Erskine. The Erskines had their earldom restored to them by the Stuarts, by Mary Queen of Scots herself, so why would he not be loyal to the rightful Stuart King? And What evidence is there that John Erskine did not have orders of King James? He certainly claimed to have in his speech at Braemar, given authority among several other notable names. Placing the blame of the 1715 Jacobite Rising’s failure entirely on John Erskine is slanderous and inaccurate, the same sort of shaming Robert the Bruce gets in Braveheart. It is bad for Scottish history and it is simply inaccurate.

    “Our rightful and natural King James VIII, by the grace of God, who is now to relive us from our oppressions, having been pleased to intrust us with the direction of his affairs, and the command of his forces in his ancient kingdom of Scotland. And, some of his faithful subjects and servants met at Aboyne, viz the Lord Huntly, the Lord Tullibardine, the Earl Marischall; the Earl of Southesk, Glingary from the clans, Gelnderule from the Earl of Breadalbine, and gentlmen of Argyle shire, Mr. Patrick Lyon of Auchlerhouse, the Lair of Auldbair, Lieutenant-General George Hamilton, Major General Gordon, and myself, *having taken into our consideration his majesty’s last and late orders to us*, find that as this is now the time that *he ordered us* to appear openly in arms for him, so it seems to us absolutely necessary for his majesty’s service, the relieving of our native country from all its hardships, that all his faithful and loving subjects, and lovers of their country, should with all possible speed put themselves into arms.

    The King, intending that his forces shall be paid from the time of their setting out, he expects, as he positively orders, that they behave themselves civilly, and commit no plundering nor other disorders upon the highest penalties and his displeasure, which is expected you’ll see observed.

    Now is the time for all good men to show their zeal for His Majesty’s service, whose cause is so deeply concerned, and the relief of our native country from oppression, and a foreign yoke too heavy for us and our posterity to bear; and to endeavour the restoring, not only of our rightful and native king, but also our country to its ancient, free, and independent constitution under him whose ancestors have reigned over us for so many generations.”

    – John Erskine, The Earl of Mar during his speech at Braemar, where he initiated the Jacobite Rising of 1715.


  3. History is written by the winners and as rightly pointed out, referring to Braveheart, history is again rewritten in the cinema. As a descendent of the Campbell’s that were ordered by their parent, Chief, to fight for the Jacobite’s, I should remind you that it was due to the help of the Scots, that Charles was defeated in the first place. It is as Ireland continue to demonstrate a religious war and if you search the British, Scots and Irish history, we have always been in conflict over the support of Rome. It was Malcolm Canmores wife that forced the Celtic religious center from Iona to Dunkeld to make us more in line with Roman leadership, but it was James the V that signed the agreement to return to old Celtic principals and those of Calvinism.
    To conclude, the leaders pushing Jacobite or Hanoverian causes did it for their own financial gain and were willing to encourage their families to die for this greed.


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