The Atterbury Plot

Between the Jacobite Rising of 1715 and 1745 lies the Atterbury Plot. Here in 1722 many prominent men joined forces to try and instigate a Jacobite Rising that would restore the Stuarts to the throne.

The plot is named after Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, who acted as James III & VIII’s representative in England. His reasons for joining the Jacobites are intriguing, as he was not considered a supporter during the 1715 Rising, yet, a year later he was a key component in another planned rising. It appears that the changing politics in England are the main reason for his change in position. In 1714 the Tory ministry collapse and the Whigs too over, leaving the Tories excluded from high office. As a prominent High Church bishop, Atterbury feared the Tories would never be able to regain enough power to restore the church to, what he felt, was its rightful place.  Thus, we start to see a collection of Tory supporters coming together to support the Jacobites.

Atterbury is the man named in the plot but he was not necessarily considered the leader of the plot. There are many big names associated with the plan. Lord North, the Earl of Arran, General Dillon, the Earl of Mar and the Duke of Ormond all supported the plan.

The collapse of the South Sea Company in 1720 led to economic crisis and political scandals in Britain and the growing tensions held an opportunity for the Jacobites to exploit. It is suggested that the plan was to capture London and the city of Westminster and then begin multiple rising across the country. They had plans to sail men to Cornwall to begin a rising in the west and a separate group would head for Scotland and raise support to the north. The group had formed a list of all the counties where they felt they could gain support as well as those they knew would oppose the men. There was a general election scheduled in 1722 and it is believed that they planned their rising to coincide with this event.

Before the plans could take place though they were discovered. In April 1722 the Earl of Sunderland passed away and upon his death the Regent of France supposedly informed government men that the Jacobites had asked him to supply three thousand men for an attempted coup which was to take place the following month.  Sunderland papers were confiscated and amongst them was apparently a letter of thanks from James III & VIII. Despite very little evidence arrests began upon the main suspects. Atterbury himself was betrayed by the Earl of Mar and was arrested in August and confined to the Tower of London. Following his trial he was exiled and joined up with James III & VIII and became his Secretary of State.

We hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about the Atterbury Plot. As always please like, tweet, share, comment and follow us as we try and uncover more interesting tales for your to enjoy.

All the best, K & D

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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