Queen Anne

Anne was the last official Stuart sovereign, ruling Scotland, England and Ireland from 1702. During her time in power, Scotland and England merged and Anne became the first monarch of Great Britain, ruling until her death in 1714. Throughout her reign, the Jacobites considered her half-brother, the Catholic James Francis Edward Stuart, to be the true King.

Anne was born in 1665. Her uncle Charles II had been King since the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, and her father, James, was the heir. Of James’s marriage to his first wife, Anne Hyde, Anne and her elder sister Mary were the only two children to live into adulthood. Anne Hyde died when her daughters were young, and James soon remarried. The fact that Mary of Modena, James’s second wife, was Catholic meant that the idea of the marriage was unpopular with many of the people. James was already suspected of being a Catholic, and this increased the rumours. Charles II insisted that his nieces Anne and Mary were to be raised Protestant.
In 1683, Anne married Prince George of Denmark, a Protestant. Two years later, Charles II died and Anne’s father became James VII and II. From the beginning of his reign, James attempted to increase the powers of the Catholic Church, which was met mostly with hostility and anger, including from Anne. As time passed, father and daughter became more and more estranged from one another. When Mary of Modena gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward Stuart, rumour spread that a baby had been smuggled in after the real heir had died. Of this, Anne, who had been absent from the birth, wrote to her sister in the Netherlands, “I shall never now be satisfied whether the child be true or false. It may be it is our brother, but God only knows…”

ANNE
Queen Anne

Several months later, Anne’s brother-in-law William of Orange invaded England, and James was deposed. Anne had been aware of William’s plans. James soon discovered that, as well as his daughter Mary siding with her husband, Anne had also abandoned him. He reportedly said, “God help me! My own children have forsaken me!” From then on he considered Anne and Mary “ungrateful daughters”. Mary and her husband William were crowned jointly in 1689, and James spent most of the rest of his life in France.
Mary II died in 1694. Mary and Anne had not been speaking at the time of Mary’s death, as she had suspected Anne’s best friend’s husband, the future Duke of Marlborough, of being a secret Jacobite. William III died in 1702. As they had had no children, Anne became Queen. Her father had died in 1701, and the Jacobites had proclaimed her half-brother James VIII and III.
In 1708, one year after the Acts of Union, James Francis landed in Scotland with a French fleet, intent on taking the throne from Anne. He failed, and no serious attempt was made again until a year after her death. As Anne had no surviving children, there was no clear successor. Obviously the Jacobites wanted it to be James Francis, but Catholics were barred from inheriting the throne. When Anne died of a stroke in 1714, George of Hanover, a distant Protestant cousin, inherited the throne, beginning the reign of the Hanoverians.

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All the best, The Culloden Team

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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.

anne
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.

george i
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.