Glasgow and the Jacobites

Having done blog posts on Edinburgh, Stirling and Aberdeen, today we thought we would write about Scotland’s largest city.

In Webster’s census, completed nine years after the Battle of Culloden, Scotland was recorded as having a population of 1,265,000, with around 23,500 of its people living in Glasgow. This was the first reliable census to be taken within the British Isles, and it showed a large increase in Glasgow’s population that had occurred since the beginning of the century, when it had been estimated at around 12,000.

 

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Mercat Cross in Glasgow

Before 1700, Scottish people were spread out across the country, working the land, but as a result of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, many moved to the bustling centres where there was an increasing demand for workers. When Scotland and England merged with the 1707 Acts of Union, Scotland was given access to trade with the Americas, and the Glasgow merchants had ships sent out to trade for tobacco, sugar, cotton and rum. Though Glasgow would later greatly support abolition, for a while the merchants benefited from the slave trade.

Many in Glasgow, a largely Presbyterian area, were initially against the Jacobites having no desire to see the Catholic Stuarts restored. However, despite promises of economic improvement, the 1707 Union did not bring the immediate benefits that the Scottish people had hoped for and, as a result, some of those who had been apathetic about or against the Jacobites began to support them in the hopes of James Francis having the unification undone. After failed 1715 and 1719 Uprisings, James made no further attempt to defeat the Hanoverians. By the time his son arrived in Scotland many years later, enthusiasm for the Jacobite cause had dwindled in Glasgow.

In 1745, Charles Edward Stuart wrote to the council in Glasgow requesting £15,000. Ex Provost Buchanan refused, stating that the people of Glasgow did not care for the cause, and that he feared their riots on the streets more than he feared the Jacobites. A smaller sum of £5,500 was given to appease Prince Charles, but simultaneously citizens of Glasgow were contributing money to fund Government troops to resist the Jacobites.

 

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart

Charles arrived in Glasgow at the end of 1745 and, perhaps attempting to give off more confidence than he felt, he held several balls. It was said that he admired Glasgow itself, but was forced to acknowledge that he had few friends there. He soon found out about the plans to raise troops against him, and angrily demanded that Provost Buchanan give him names, threatening to hang him if he did not. Buchanan gave no names but his own, declaring that he believed he was doing a duty, and that he was not afraid to die because of it.

Charles’s troops’ clothes were worn and ragged, and so he made Glasgow pay for them all to have new outfits before they left; this amounted to a cloth coat, two shirts, a waistcoat, a pair of shoes, a pair of stockings and a bonnet for each of his 6,000 men. This did nothing to endear the inhabitants of Glasgow to his cause. The Glasgow Militia would fight against the Jacobites at the Battle of Falkirk Muir in January 1746.

Before he left Glasgow, Prince Charles inspected his newly attired troops on Glasgow Green; a witness said of him, “He had a princely aspect, and its interest much heightened by the dejection which appeared in his pale fair countenance and downcast eye. He evidently wanted confidence in his cause, and seemed to have a melancholy foreboding of that disaster which soon after ruined the hopes of his family for ever.”

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into the Jacobites and Glasgow. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, The Culloden Team

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