A Government Spy…

Unsurprisingly the Jacobite Risings had lots of propaganda and intrigue and also plenty of opportunities for spies. Today we’ve picked a couple of the men believed to be spies during the ’45 Rising to have a look at their stories.

Firstly, Mr Dudley Bradstreet. Dudley was born in Tipperary in 1711 and his famly had once been quite well off during Cromwellian times. Unfortunately, by Dudley’s time the family had lost much of their land and money to bad debts and Dudley, as the youngest son, was raised by a foster family. In the 1745 Rising Dudley became employed by a government official to act as a spy in the Jacobite army. To be effective Dudley assumed the persona of a Captain Oliver Williams who was an ardent Jacobite, loyal to the Prince Charles Edward Stuart. However, when he could, he supplied both the Duke of Cumberland and the Duke of Newcastle with news of the Jacobite armies movements. It seems that Dudley’s cover held well and he managed to gain access to the Prince’s council of war in Derby. Here he is credited with persuading the Jacobite army to retreat back to Scotland. In the council he told of an army of some 9,000 men waiting for the Jacobites in Northampton. Of course, the force did not exist but this did not stop the Jacobites from believing him and it is considered one of the key points that led to the Jacobites retreating rather than carrying on to London.

Dudley is quite a well known example of a Government spy mainly because after the Rising the Government admitted he was under their services. However, despite this admittance Dudley was unable to get either money or a commission in the army from the government which he believed had been promised to him for his work. Eventually he managed to take his case and get it to the attention of the king. He then received a sum of apparently one hundred and twenty pounds for his spying efforts.

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart, leader of the Jacobites

 

Lesser known is the spy who went by the codename of ‘Pickle’. Most people agree that this was actually Alastair MacDonnell of Glengarry who managed to stop the ‘Elibank Plot’, a last ditch attempt by some Jacobites to remove King George II from the throne. During the ’45 Rising Alastair was captured and held prisoner in the Tower of London. After almost two years he was freed and fled to France but by this time his families estates had been confiscated and he was facing a life of poverty.

In 1749 Alastair visited London and it is believed it was at this time that he came to an agreement with the government to act as a spy on Prince Charles and the Jacobites over in France and on the continent. He would gather any information he could and then send it over to London signing off his letters as Pickle. One of the key things he is credited for is stopping the Elibank Plot. The plot apparently consisted of starting a rising in Scotland to coincide with an attempted coup in London. It was suggested the royal family of George II should be taken hostage and held until they agreed to abdicate. Alastair was a member of those involved in the planning and consequently passed all the information through to the government. When this was discovered the plot was adandoned, so no kidnapping ever took place. Alastair, or Pickle, was also responsible for the arrest of several key Jacobites including Dr Archibald Cameron. Another member of the Elibank Plot, Dr Cameron was arrested and imprisoned before being sentenced to death. He was executed in 1753 and was hung for twenty minutes before being cut down and beheaded.

For years the identity of Pickle remained a mystery, and some may say it still is today. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that a writer named Andrew Lang compared the writing on some of Pickles letters to those of a young Alastair MacDonnell and found that they shared a key similarity. It turned out that both men always wrote ‘how’ for the word ‘who’, thus seemingly confirming the identity of the mystery spy who had ruined the Elibank plot.

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Andrew Lang’s book on Pickle the Spy

 

There were certainly many more spies infiltrating the Jacobites and indeed many working the other way. We know of a Matthew Prior who was assigned to the British Embassy in Paris and discovered a number of Jacobite spies travelling between France and London before 1715 preparing for a Jacobite Rising. His information enabled the Government to arrest several men and help hinder the Jacobite plans.

Many more men will never be known, their secrets kept safe over time but we hope you enjoyed these couple of tales and as always please share, tweet, like, comment and let us know if you are aware of any other Jacobite spies.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

What was the Act of Settlement?

In 1701 the English Parliament passed the Act of Settlement, but what was this act and why was it put into place?

Basically, the Act of Settlement was passed in 1701 to decide who would take the English and Irish crowns following Queen Anne. The issue arose because Queen Anne, and also her sister Queen Mary, failed to produce any surviving children to take the throne. The most logical heir would be James VIII & III, son of the deposed King James VII & II, but as a Catholic this was not an avenue the government wished to go down.

Instead, the Act of Settlement was passed. The act disqualified anyone who became a Roman Catholic, or who married one, from inheriting the throne and this removed a lot lines who were closely related to Queen Anne and the Stuart line. The Act also helped strengthen Parliament position by restricting the monarchs power. They are not allowed to leave the country without Parliaments approval, nor are they able to throw the country into war without Parliaments agreement. Eventually it was decided that Electress Sophia of Hanover, a granddaughter of James VI & I, would be next in line to the throne.

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Sophia of Hanover

 

With the Act in place everything was sorted, but then, unfortunately Sophia died just a couple of months before Queen Anne in 1714. So, the throne eventually passed to her son King George I, who was Queen Anne’s second cousin, and he became the first Hanoverian ruler of Britain.

The Act of Settlement was, in many ways, also a major cause of the Act of Union in 1707, which formed the Kingdom of Great Britain. Unhappy with the Act of Settlement Scotland passed the Act of Security in 1704, which gave them the right to choose their own successor to Queen Anne. England retaliated with the 1705 Alien Act which stated that if Scotland did not accept the Hanoverian succession, or begin proceedings on a union of parliaments, then Scottish imports to England would be banned and Scots living in England would be treated as aliens. Finally, in 1707 the Act of Union was agreed and Scotland and England joined to become Great Britain with Queen Anne as its monarch to be followed by the Hanoverian line.

Reporduktion des "Act of Settlement" im Leibniz-Saal des Niedersächsischen Landtages.
Act of Settlement

The Act of Settlement ran relative unaltered in its main parts until 2013. Here the Succession to the Crown Act altered some of the laws within the Act of Settlement. The 2103 act instigated absolute primogeniture for those born in the line of succession after 28th October 2011. This meant that the eldest child would be heir to the throne regardless of gender, whereas previously males were given preference. The act also ended the disqualification of a person who married a Roman Catholic. The act was brought into force on 26th March 2015. Interestingly though the provision of the Act of Settlement requiring the monarch to be a Protestant still remains.

Following the implementation of the Succession to the Crown Act we saw George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews restored to the line of succession after he married a Catholic in 1988 and he now sits in 34th place to the throne.

Hopefully this has helped explain the Act of Settlement for you all. As always if you enjoyed the post please like, comment, share and tweet.

All the best, K & D

George I – The First Hanoverian King

George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1st August 1714 until his death on 11th June 1727 and was the first monarch from the House of Hanover. Before we look at George himself we need to first understand how exactly he came to become king.

When Queen Anne died in 1714 without heirs the throne of Great Britain would surely have gone to here nearest relative, James VIII & III. However, following the removal of his father James VII & II there were a number of acts passed that prevented James VIII & III from taking the throne.

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Queen Anne

Firstly in 1701 was the Act of Settlement. This prevented Catholics from the line of succession. The Act was put into place after William and Mary, as well as Anne herself, failed to produce any heirs and all the other members of the Stuart line were Roman Catholics. In 1700 Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, the only son of Anne to survive infancy, died aged only 11. His death destabilised the succession and ultimately led to the English parliament passing the Act of Settlement in 1701. Under the Act anyone who became a Roman Catholic or married a Roman Catholic was unable to inherit the throne. The Act was also used to reinforce the Bill of Rights (1689) and strengthen the principle that government was undertaken by constitutional advisers and not personal advisers chosen by the King or Queen.

Reproduktion des "Act of Settlement", der im Leineschloss in Hannover an Kurfürstenwitwe Sophie übergeben wurde. Mit dem "Act of Settlement" (dt. Grundordnung) schuf das englische Parlament 1701 eine neue Grundlage für die Thronfolge im Königreich England, die eine 123-jährige Personalunion (1714 - 1837) zwischen Hannover und Großbritannien begründete.
Act of Settlement 1701

This alone prevented James VIII & III from taking the throne but it did not guarantee the Hanoverian line would rule throughout Britain. In 1703 in response to the Act of Settlement, the Act of Security was approved by the Scottish parliament and was later ratified in 1704. This Act placed the power of appointing a successor to the Scottish throne in the hands of the Scottish parliament. The successor should be of the Royal line of Scotland, Protestant and not the same as the English successor unless various economic, political and religious conditions were met. The Scottish parliament were not happy that the English parliament had chosen Electress Sophia of Hanover as a successor without consulting them.

Finally in 1707 came the inauguration of the Treaty of Union which created the United Kingdom of Scotland, England and Wales. The Union mean the dissolution of the Scottish parliament and thus Act of Security was made invalid and there would be only one successor to the thrones of Scotland, England and Wales. This was decided to be Electress Sophia of Hanover who was the nearest relative to Queen Anne who was a protestant. By all rights it was her who should have followed Anne onto the throne but she unfortunately died a couple of months before Anne so her son George became King following Anne’s death.

Treaty_of_Union
Treaty of Union 1707

George I finally arrived in Britain in September 1714 after being forced to wait at the Hague while bad winds prevented passage. He arrived speaking only a few words of English with, it is said, 18 cooks and two mistresses, one very fat and the other tall and thin who became nicknamed ‘Elephant and Castle’ after an area in London. His coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 20th October and was accompanied by rioting in over 20 towns in the South West of England disrupting and, in some cases, assaulting those celebrating and ransacking their properties.

With some Tories sympathetic to the Jacobites, George turned to the Whigs to form a government, and they were to dominate politics for the next generation. This led to many turning against George and fighting to get James VIII & III onto the throne in the early Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1719.

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King George I

In 1720 the South Sea Company, with heavy government, royal and aristocratic investment, collapsed. The resulting economic crisis made the king and his ministers extremely unpopular. Robert Walpole was left as the most important figure in the administration and in April 1721 was appointed first lord of the Treasury and in effect, ‘prime minister’. His ascendancy coincided with the decline of the political power of the monarchy and George became less and less involved in government.

George remained unpopular in England throughout his life, partly because of his inability to speak English but also because of the perceived greed of his mistresses and rumours concerning his treatment of his wife. He finally died on 11 June 1727 during a visit to Hanover and was succeeded by his son, George II.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the first Hanoverian King of Britain. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, K & D.

 

 

Duke of Cumberland

This year marks 250 years since the death of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. In August 1760 Cumberland suffered a stroke and five years later on 31st October 1765 Cumberland died aged 44 at Upper Grosvenor Street in London.

(c) Ministry of Defence Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland

Today, Cumberland is largely known by his nickname ‘Butcher Cumberland’, following the Battle of Culloden and the pacification of the Highlands, and he remains a controversial British military figure. In order to fight the Jacobite army, led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Cumberland was recalled from duty in Flanders where he had been fighting in the War of Austrian Succession. His move back to England to the head of the British Army for a popular appointment and caused morale to lift amongst the government troops. He is credited with training the government men to stand fast against the Highland charge and to hold their firing until the Jacobites were within good range to inflict maximum damage. This training would help the Government army when they came to meet the Jacobites at Culloden.

The day before the battle, 15th April 1746, a copy of the general orders issued to the Jacobites was stolen, and someone, presumably on Cumberland’s instruction, inserted a forged addition, to the effect that no quarter was to be given to any Government prisoners. The Jacobites were to be portrayed as ruthless men unwilling to let ay Government men escape the battlefield alive. On the morning of the battle Cumberland’s troops were circulated with an order that said: ‘Officers and men will take notice that the public orders of the rebels yesterday was to give us no quarter.’ Cmberlands response was to in turn order his men to give no quarter to the Jacobite men and after the battle had been won his men marched across the battlefield bayoneting any man lying dying or wounded.

 

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Duke of Cumberland

Following Culloden Cumberland then began the process of the pacification of the Highlands. All men believed to be ‘rebels’ were killed, as were non-combatants; ‘rebellious’ settlements were burned and livestock was confiscated on a large scale. Over a hundred Jacobites were hanged and many men and women were imprisoned and often sent by ship to London for trial. The journey south could take up to 8 months and many of prisoners died in the ships before they reached their destination. Cumberland was known as displaying the strictest discipline in his camp. He was inflexible in the execution of what he deemed to be his duty, without favour to any man. In only a few cases did he exercise his influence in favour of clemency.

In the months that followed there appeared to be two very different opinions of Cumberland. Some christened him ‘Butcher Cumberland’ for the atrocities he was enacting on the Highlands whilst other nicknamed him ‘Sweet William’ and celebrated his success at defeating the Jacobite army. Cumberland was given the freedom of the City of Glasgow and made Chancellor of both Aberdeen and St Andrews Universities. In London a thanksgiving service was held at St Pauls Cathedral, which included the first performance of a new oratorio by Handel ‘Judas Maccabaeus’ which was composed especially for Cumberland and which contains the anthem ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes’.

However, the brutality of the aftermath of Culloden slowly began to take the shine off Cumberlands image and the taunts of ‘Butcher’ certainly did not help. His image further sank when he was defeated in the Seven Years War. Cumberlands men were vastly outnumbered and he was forced to retreat. On return to Britain he was publicly reprimanded by King George II and consequently resigned all his military and public offices and retired into private life. Retiring to Cumberland Lodge in Windsor, Cumberland largely avoided public life and died both unmarried and childless. Following his death he was buried beneath the floor in the Henry VII Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey.

The Duke of Cumberland is a figure of much controversy but hopefully this post gives you a bit of an insight into the actions that led to his ‘Butcher’ moniker.

As always please share, comment, tweet, ask questions and be inspired to learn more about the true history of the Jacobites.

All the best, K & D