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

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

The Romance of Jacobitism

The history of Jacobitism is long and complex and is debated over in many different ways. Today we thought we’d take a little look into how the Jacobites have been romanticised over the years since Culloden.

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Culloden Battlefield

 

One of the most obvious examples of this is ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. In his lifetime he was Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the man who attempted to lead the Jacobites to victory against the British Government and reclaim the throne for his father. Following his defeat however, he became an alcoholic and a wife beater but many do not know of this side of him, they only know the ‘Bonnie Prince’ which did not come about until after the end of the ’45.

So how did he become such a ‘hero’? The Jacobites capture peoples attention for many reasons. They could be portrayed as the underdogs fighting for what they believed in. Their defeat in 1746 led to the pacification of the Highlands and the destruction of a way of life. It is not hard to see how the main characters can form a good vs evil with Bonnie Prince Charlie and ‘The Butcher’ Cumberland.

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Culloden Memorial Cairn

 

In the Victorian era we saw the publication of ‘Waverley’ by Sir Walter Scott. This book helped popularise a relatively new notion of the romance of the Jacobites in the age of Scottish Enlightenment. After this we then have King George IV visiting Scotland, the first visit by a reigning monarch in nearly two centuries. His visit was orchestrated in part by Sir Walter Scott who used the occasion to bring old traditions back to life. Clan chieftains were celebrated, tartan worn proudly and Scotland was swept up in a new wave of popularity.

It is in the Victorian age where we see clan tartans born. In Jacobite times there were no specific clan tartans, patterns were often regional based on available materials. But in the 1800’s each clan could have their own design and wear it with pride. So in Victorian times as the Scottish Highlands become more accessible and the idea of clans and tartans become popular it is not too hard to see how the Jacobites become another symbol of Scotland and are morphed into characters that might not quite match the reality.

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Culloden Grave Stones

 

The Jacobites have become to some an image of a brave and loyal Scottish warrior even though the truth can be much more bitter. Firstly, Jacobites were not all Scottish, there were men from England, Wales, France and more supporting the Jacobite cause. Not only that but many men did not choose to be a Jacobite. Men were forced out of their homes to fight and if they refused they would have faced terrible penalties. Secondly, whilst they could certainly be classed as brave they could be as brutal as any other army in their acts against their enemies. When discussing history today it is important we are not swept up in an idealised situation and recognise the truth of people actions and their outcomes.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart has been viewed as selfish, arrogant and unworthy and it is important we portray these interpretations of the man as well as the image of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ who was brave, heroic and loyal.

We hope you enjoyed our wee insight into the world of romanticised history. There are many stories to tell which we couldn’t possibly cover in one go. As always please like, comment, share, tweet and keep coming back for more.

All the best, K & D

The Veteran

After the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden and the end of the ’45 Rising there was a small problem in how best to cope with the number of people taken prisoner for their roles in the Rising. Unsurprisingly the solution was transportation with many Jacobite prisoners sent overseas to colonies in North America and the West Indies.

One such ship that had the job of taking prisoners across the Atlantic was the Veteran which had an interesting experience on one of its voyages.

On 8th May 1747 the Veteran set sail from the port of Liverpool with some 150 prisoners on board. The prisoners recorded apparently included men, some young boys still in their teens and 15 women. The women included a group of seven who had been captured some 18 months previously and were still together in a group.

The Veteran was to head for the Leeward Islands where the prisoners would most likely be sold as indentured slaves to plantation owners in Antigua, Barbados and St Kitts & Nevis. The journey seemingly went well enough with no apparent problems until the day before their scheduled arrival in Antigua. Unprepared the ship was attacked by a French ship, the Diamond. After a short engagement the French ship, under the command of Captain Paul Marsale claimed victory and took control of the Veteran.

The Diamond took the prisoners back to the French island of Martinique where they were released. Here the Governor of the island freed the prisoners and gave them their liberty.

When news of this reached the British Government they wrote to the Governor demanding that he return the prisoners to the British. It is said the letter was rather direct and though polite in its terms was none the less insistent. It stated that all the prisoners belonged to the British Government and therefore should be returned to a Government representative. The Governor of Martinique, having received the letter some six months after the prisoners had been freed, refused the request.

It is a bit of a mystery as to what happened to all of the prisoners who were freed on Martinique. Some accounts have men travelling back across the Atlantic to settle in France; some suggest men stayed in Martinique and began a new life there; whilst other accounts have men joining the French service.

Regardless of what the freed men, women and children decided to do the story of the freedom is worth sharing and we hope you enjoyed reading this short version of the events. As always please like, comment, tweet, and share your own Jacobite stories with us.

All the best, K & D

Weapons of the ’45

One of the things that people seem to really enjoy discovering more about here at Culloden is the weapons. Mainly, I think because you get to handle replica weapons. So, we thought we’d attempt a short post on the most common weapons used in the ’45.

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Some 18th Century weapons

Firstly, the broadsword. Basket-hilted swords would have been in use in Scotland from about the mid 16th century. The design came first from Scandinavian and German sword makers before making it across to England and Scotland. Throughout the 17th Century ribbon baskets were being made in large quantities and as we reached the 18th Century and the main Jacobite risings the Highland basket was an intricate piece. The broadsword was an essential weapon for the Jacobties with broadsword in one hand and targe in the other. They were ideal for the favoured tactic of the Highland Charge with sweeping deadly motions and a heavy pommel weight at the base to deal with enemies close at hand.

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Close up of the basket of a replica broadsword

Since we have already mentioned the targe it’s only fair it should be next on the list.

The targe or ‘shield’ was traditionally round from 19 to 21 inches in diameter and made from two layers of wood positioned together with the grains at right angles. Often they were made of fir but most light woods would do the job. Targes were often decorated across the front with a central boss of brass, from which a spike could be screwed in, and this was surrounded by geometric patterns in the leather and studs of brass.

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Scottish Targe or Shield

With the broadsword and targe you may think there would be no room for any other weapons but often the Jacobites would carry a dirk as well. This stabbing knife, sometimes up to 50cms long would be held behind the targe largely hidden from sight and would be ideal for close quarter fighting. The Highland dirk was usually distinguished from other similar weapons of the time by its long triangular and single edged blade and by its handle which was traditionally cylindrical with no guard. It would be shouldered at the junction of the blade, the grip swellin gin the middle and the pommel circular and flat topped.

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Typical 18th Century Style Dirk

Similar to the dirk was the Sghian Dubh. This was a smaller knife only four to six inches in length that was often hidden in a small holster up a sleeve. It would have been used when no other weapon was available and it is believed it was more common in the late 18th Century following the ban of weapons of Scotland. Dubh is Gaelic for black and traditionally the handle and scabbard of the sghian dubh were made from dark coloured woods and leather to keep it out of clear sight.

When the Act of Proscription was lifted the sghian dubh came out of hiding and was then worn mainly in the stocking. In the 19th century when the wearing of the sghian dubh became less functional and more fashionable the hilt would often been made from stag horn or ebony and even decorated with jewels.

Obviously there were more weapons in use and we haven’t touch on guns and cannons but hopefully this has given a little insight into some traditional weapons. As always please share, comment, like, tweet and feel free to come along to Culloden to get a closer look and the weapons of the ’45.

All the best, K & D.

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

 

 

 

James VII & II

On 16th September 1701 James VII & II died of a stroke in exile, at the Chateau of St Germain-en-Laye in France. Aged 67 when he died James led a complicated life and within it lie some of the roots of Jacobitism.

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James II & VII by Sir Godfrey Kneller

 

James ruled England and Ireland as James II and Scotland as James VII from 1685 until 1688 when he was deposed. When he first took the throne, following his brother, Charles II’s, death there was little in the way of opposition to his coronation and he was generally welcomed warmly to the throne. However, only a month after his coronation there was a rebellion in England led by the Duke of Monmouth; as well as one in Scotland led by the Earl of Argyll. The Duke of Monmouth was James’ nephew and believed he was the rightful heir to the throne as he was the son of Charles II. He insisted his mother was married to Charles but there was no evidence of this and therefore he was illegitimate and did not qualify as a suitable heir. Fortunately the rebellion was not to last long and in the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6th July Monmouth was defeated and executed for treason just nine days later.

James was not to prove to be very lucky though and this rebellion would prove to be just the start of his trouble. After the rebellion ended he decided to ensure he was protected by forming a large army which alarmed many people. Then, James began to anger the parliament with his views on Catholicism. James was brought up a Protestant but later converted to the Catholic faith. In 1687 he issued a Declaration of Indulgence which allowed people to worship out with the Church of England and removed the need for people to take religious oaths before they could advance in civil or military roles. James ordered public clergy to read the Declaration in their churches but when seven bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, attempted to petition against this they were arrested.

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James Francis Edward Stuart, son of James II & VII

 

Finally things reached the boiling point when, in 1688, James and his second wife gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward Stuart on 10th June. Now there was a new successor to the throne and he was a Catholic. When it had just been James’ Protestant daughters, from his first marriage, things weren’t so serious, but now, the threat of a Catholic succession had people scared. On 30th June a group of seven prominent men invited William of Orange, husband to James’ daughter Mary, to come over to England with the intention he would bring an army to fight for the throne.

William arrived in November 1688 and many key Protestants began to defect from James’ army and join Williams. James’ other daughter Anne also joined William and Mary in contesting the throne. James had the larger army on his side but for whatever reason decided not to fight the invasion. A month after William arrived James attempted to flee to France and even allegedly threw the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames on his way. Unfortunately he was caught but William allowed him to go free and he was received in France by his cousin, Louis XIV.

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William of Orange by Sir Godfrey Kneller

 

Following James’ departure the English parliament decided he had abdicated and therefore the throne was vacant. William and Mary were quickly offered the throne and declared joint sovereigns. Meanwhile in Scotland the parliament took a little longer but eventually decided the James had indeed forfeited the throne and they too offered it to William and Mary who accepted in May 1689.

Thus, the crown stayed with the Protestants and after William and Mary it moved on to their sister Anne. During their reigns they saw the Act of Union in 1707 and also the Act of Settlement in 1701 which removed Catholics from the line of succession. Therefore, when Anne passed away without any heirs the crown moved over to the Hanoverian line and King George I and not with James II & VII’s son, James Francis Edward Stuart. Unsurprisingly the Stuarts were not pleased and in 1715 we saw the first Jacobite Rising to try and take the throne from George I with the 1719 and 1745 Risings completing the Jacobite Rebellions.

James II & VII may only have been king for a short four years but it cannot be denied that he started a fight that lasted for much longer. Without him we would not have the Jacobite Risings and all the history they contain and who knows who would be ruling now.

We hope you enjoyed this little foray into James II & VII. As always please like, share, comment, tweet and check out more of our posts for tales of the Jacobites.

All the best, K & D