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