Having recently done blog posts on Edinburgh and Stirling, today we thought we would write about another Scottish city’s connection to the Jacobites; here are some significant events that took place in Aberdeen.
During the 1715 Jacobite Rising, James Francis Edward Stuart was proclaimed King at the Mercat Crosses of Aberdeen and Old Aberdeen (the two being separate until the end of the nineteenth century). Decorated with engravings of Scottish Monarchs, thistles, roses and unicorns (Scotland’s national animal), the Mercat Crosses around Scotland, as well as being centrally located, held a lot of symbolic importance. There are more than a hundred Mercat Crosses in Scotland, and they were traditionally the site of many public occasions, including markets and fairs, executions and the proclamation of a new monarch; to this day, important public events, such as the calling of a general election, are read out at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh.
After James was proclaimed King, elections were held at the Kirk of St Nicholas for a new Council. The Fifteen ended up failing, and James travelled back to France in early 1716. The Jacobite army heard about his return to France in Aberdeen.
Almost thirty years later, James’s son Charles Edward Stuart came to Scotland on his father’s behalf to fight and get him recognised as King. The Jacobites attempted to replicate what had been done previously at the Mercat Cross in Aberdeen. Once they found the keys to the monument, they forced the Provost, as well as several Council officials, to go to the Mercat Cross and witness their proclamation in support of Charles and his father. A few of the councillors toasted to their health, but the Provost refused.
After arriving in Edinburgh near the beginning of 1746, the Duke of Cumberland made his way to Aberdeen with the Government army. While there, the Government army gathered supplies and Cumberland had them trained in new tactics, which he hoped, after the army’s defeats at the Battle of Prestonpans and Falkirk Muir, would ensure success. They left Aberdeen at the beginning of April.
After the Battle of Culloden, The Tolbooth in Aberdeen held almost a hundred known or suspected Jacobites as prisoners. There were mostly made up of tradesmen and servants. Some of the upper classes did not escape being branded traitors; Alexander Irvine, 17th Laird of Drum, and his younger brother fought on the Jacobite side at the Battle of Culloden. They were listed among those ‘never to be pardoned’. Alexander escaped to Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire, and hid in a secret room, while his sister spoke to some of the Government troops. His brother Robert died in an Edinburgh prison, but after a few years in exile, Alexander was allowed to return to his estate.
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All the best, The Culloden Team