Inverness, now the capital of the Highlands, changed hands a few times over the course of the Jacobite Rebellions. Here we look at some of the key moments in its Jacobite history.
During the 1715 Jacobite Rising the town and castle was held by Clan MacKenzie who were led by Sir John Mackenzie of Coul. Locals clans loyal to the Government made their move in November of 1715 to take the town into Government hands. Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat along with John Forbes of Culloden and Hugh Rose, Chief of Clan Rose all joined forces against the Jacobites and began to plan a course of action.
However, before they had a firm plan in place , on 10th November, Arthur Rose, younger son of Hugh Rose, and a handful of his men seized boats in Inverness harbour and river to ensure the Jacobites could not use them to supply the town or escape. During this they managed to capture one of the Jacobite guards and forced him to take them to the towns tollbooth which was used as a Jacobite guard house. The men inside opened the door but as Rose pushed his way in the alarm was sounded and Rose was shot and mortally wounded.
Angered by his sons death Hugh Rose immediately sought revenge. Mackenzie of Coul sent a letter of condolence to Rose and allowed him to come and bury his son but Rose was apparently too incensed with grief and threatened to put the whole town of Inverness to sword and flame.
On 12th November the Government, led by Simon Fraser, took position along the side of the River Ness. Here they were able to prevent support, from the MacDonalds of Keppoch and the Mackintoshes at Moy Hall, from coming to the Jacobites aid. Realising the weakness of their position the Jacobites asked to march south, and join Mar and the main Jacobite army at Sherriffmuir, but Rose denied this and instead offered them the chance to hand over their weapons and return home. Later that day Government forces occupied Inverness, the only fatality of the short siege being Arthur Rose two days before.
In the 1719 Jacobite Rising there were plans for the Jacobites to head to Inverness and take the town but the men never made it that far east and Government men marched out of the town heading the Jacobites off at Glen Shiel. Thus, Inverness escaped any serious action in 1719.
Finally, in 1745, Inverness was held mainly by the Government, with an initial force of roughly 750 men based there to defend the site. After the Battle of Prestonpans John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudon, arrived at Inverness with arms and funds and took over command of the men that Lord President Duncan Forbes had been raising in the area but it wasn’t until early 1746 that the Jacobites actually came to Inverness.
On 16th February 1746 Lady Anne MacKintosh entertained Prince Charles at Moy Hall, her family home just south of the city. News of the Prince’s whereabouts reached Lord Loudon, and fearing an attack Charles left the Hall and took sanctuary in the nearby woods. When Loudon’s men approached the house Lady Anne’s blacksmith and a handful of men created the impression that the house was defended by a substantial force calling out to ‘regiments’. The tactic worked and Lord Loudon retreated back to Inverness in what is known as ‘The Rout of Moy.’
The next day a Government Council of War decided it would be impossible for Loudoun’s forces to defend Inverness and they retreated into Sutherland and Prince Charles was free to enter Inverness without contest. Only one barrier remained. There was still a small garrison holding Inverness Castle for the Government, led by Major Grant. The Jacobites quickly went to work surveying the building for any weaknesses. The walls were too thick to penetrate but they managed to find a weak point in the foundations and set about exploiting this point.
On 20th February Major Grant conceded defeat. They could not stop the strong Jacobite force and feared the rampart would be blown up beneath them. The Jacobites quickly plundered the stores and weapons held in the castle and then proceeded to blow the fortifications apart so that it would be no use if it were to fall back into Government hands.
This was the last action Inverness with the Battle of Culloden resulting in the defeat of the Jacobites in April. Hopefully you enjoyed this short history on Inverness and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and come along to Inverness where you can still see one of the walls of the old Castle burnt from the demolition.
All the best, K & D