16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions

Larry Holzwarth - December 9, 2018

The Jacobite Rebellions were a series of conflicts in Great Britain and Ireland, a bloody time period in which the Catholic and Jacobite factions struggled to restore a Catholic Monarch to the thrones of Great Britain and England. The Jacobites were initially supporters of King James the II of England and VII of Scotland, the term Jacobite coming from the Latinized James, Jacobus. As the series of conflicts went on, the ascension of the Catholic House of Stuart to the thrones of Great Britain became their goal. The Jacobites enjoyed the support of the Catholic monarchs in Europe, especially of France and Spain. The conflicts began in the late 17th century and continued until the Seven Years War, when a planned invasion of Ireland and England by the French drew Jacobite support.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
King James II of England and VII of Scotland spent most of his “reign” living in exile in France and the Papal States. Wikimedia

As with most religious wars, the series of uprisings and outright warfare were particularly bloody, noted for the brutality practiced by both sides. They began with the Glorious Revolution which led to the overthrow of James II in England, the result of his son-in-law’s successful invasion of Britain with the support of a Dutch fleet. The flight of James to France led to bloody insurrection against the new British monarchs William and Mary in Ireland and Scotland, as well as considerable upheaval in Britain’s North American colonies. The creation of a Bill of Rights by Parliament ended the possibility of the return of an absolute monarchy, and severely hampered the restoration of a Catholic monarchy in Great Britain without wars between the Protestant and Catholic powers. And it brought about nearly a century of bloody conflict.

Here is a list of the bloodletting which occurred in the series of violent uprisings known together as the Jacobite Rebellions.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
A drawing of indeterminate origin depicting some of the military approaches prevalent during the time of the Williamite War. British Library

1. The Williamite War was the beginning of what came to be known as The Troubles in Ireland

The Williamite War was known by an Irish name which translated loosely to the War of the Two Kings. Prince William of Orange, who deposed his uncle and father-in-law James II, became King William, supported by the Protestants who mostly resided in the north of Ireland and became known as Williamites. The Catholics who supported King James, and who received military aid from Catholic France, became known as Jacobites. One of the great ironies of the wars were that the Protestant William of Orange received financial support in the form of loans from the ruler of the Papal States, Pope Innocent XI, who was more concerned with French political power than the religion of the occupant of the British throne. Innocent was concerned about French threats to his own continental influence.

During the Williamite War, the Battle of Newtownbutler between trained Williamite troops and an irregular Jacobite force revealed the ferocity that would mark the rebellions. The force of about 3,000 Jacobites began to withdraw immediately after coming under fire. Williamite cavalry pursued them and cut them down mercilessly. Men trying to surrender were slashed to death under Williamite swords. More than 500 fleeing Jacobites tried to flee the assault by swimming across Lough Erne, reports were that but one survived. Jacobite officers were spared from death and imprisoned to be either exchanged for Williamite prisoners or executed in captivity. Enniskillen, in Western Ulster, became the scene of longstanding grudges between Catholics and Protestants being resolved through guerrilla raids, outright murder, and the destruction of property, sanctioned by the victorious Williamite troops.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
A painting by Peter Graham entitled “After the Massacre at Glencoe”. Wikimedia

2. The massacre at Glencoe in 1692

The Scottish Highlands were a region in which loyalty to either King William or King James was secondary to loyalty to the clan to which one belonged and to those allied with it in a complicated, intertwined mix of feuds and ancient rivalries. Organized Jacobite resistance to King William had been suppressed by 1690 in most of the Highlands, but the potential for armed enmity against forces loyal to the King caused local regiments to be raised, and the burden for their billeting imposed upon the local clans in return for forgiveness of taxation. Many of the local clans, including the MacDonalds of Glencoe, had reputations for being contemptuous of royal authority whether it was in the form of the Jacobites or the Williamites, and were continuously warring with other clans, earning the status of outlaws from all of the various parties which struggled for control of Scotland.

In August 1691 William offered a pardon to those of the clans who swore an oath of allegiance to him before the end of the year. The chiefs of the MacDonalds asked King James for permission to take the oath, which was granted as part of his maneuvering to strengthen his position among Scottish Jacobite supporters. MacDonald clan military companies moved to take the oath of allegiance at Glencoe, billeted on land protected by government troops. On February 13 (a Wednesday, rather than a Friday as sometimes alleged as the source of that date’s bad luck), at least 38 of the MacDonalds were killed by the government troops, with some citing higher casualty lists. An additional forty or more were driven into the hills to die of exposure to the cold and rain. The massacre at Glencoe created a crisis for King William and a source of propaganda for later Jacobite uprisings, but it was neither uncommon nor the worst of the massacres of the Jacobite uprisings.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
A heavy cannon nicknamed Roaring Meg which was used for the defense of the city of Derry during its prolonged siege. Wikimedia

3. The siege and relief of Derry in 1689

In April 1689 James and the Jacobite army under his command appeared before the city of Derry, which was largely Protestant and loyal to William and Mary. It was the second attempt to take the city by the Jacobites, the first had been thwarted by thirteen young apprentices who locked the city’s gates in the face of enemy troops the preceding December. James demanded that the city surrender to him, which was refused, and the Jacobite army began a siege of the town. James commanded an army of Irish and French troops which numbered about 7,200 men, the majority of them French. The defenders of the city withdrew behind its walls after destroying the buildings of the town which lay outside them, denying their use by the attackers. After arriving before the city James delivered multiple demands for surrender, which were met with defiance.

As the siege went on hunger and disease began to take its toll on the defenders and the civilian population. James turned over command of the army to the commander of his French troops, the Marquis de Maumont, and left for Dublin. When Maumont was killed during a raid on the siege lines, he was replaced by Richard Hamilton, and subsequently by Conrad de Rosen. A fleet of ships carrying additional Williamite troops and badly needed supplies arrived in June, but was unable to enter the port due to the Jacobite defenses. Not until late July was the fleet able to fight its way through and relieve the siege, which endured for over 100 days before the Jacobite army withdrew. Over half of the population, more than 4,000 men, women, and children, died as a result of the Jacobite bombardment, starvation, or disease during the siege of Derry, nearly all of them Protestants.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
Louis XIV, King of France, supported the Jacobite cause because of the difficulties it imposed on the British government. Wikimedia

4. King James II and VII flees to France from Ireland

In the summer of 1690 Jacobite troops and those of King William engaged each other in Ireland at the Battle of the Boyne. The Jacobite army was ill-prepared for battle, with most of its troops recently recruited to the cause. Nonetheless the Jacobite Irish controlled all of Ireland with the exception of Ulster by 1690, and James enjoyed the support of the majority of the Irish population. The contending armies were commanded by the opposing kings, with William at the head of the British-Scot-Dutch army while James was in personal command of his forces, including French troops dispatched to support the Jacobite monarch by Louis XIV, King of France and cousin to James. Both kings were experienced soldiers and leaders, though William had never led an army in a major battle to that time.

About 50,000 men participated in the Battle of the Boyne, or rather were present when the battle took place. William outmaneuvered the Jacobite troops, which withdrew from the battlefield despite taking relatively low casualties. Less than 2,000 total casualties were suffered by both sides, though many wounded were killed as they lay on the battlefield by opposing troops. A victory for William, it was not a total defeat for the Irish, though James fled to Duncannon and thence to France, never to return to Ireland. His supporters however were encouraged, and continued to resist William’s army by establishing defensive positions along the River Shannon. James was allowed to flee unhindered by the victorious William, in part because James was the father of his wife, Mary. James’ departure to France earned him the disgust of the Irish with which he is still regarded, often referred to with a scatological nickname.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
The Battle of Aughrim was a crushing defeat for the Jacobite faction, and led to distrust of James in exile. Wikimedia

5. The Jacobites were crushed in Ireland at the Battle of Aughrim

In 1691 the Irish Jacobite cause was defended by an army which was established behind the Shannon, using the river and strategically placed fortresses in the province of Connacht as a protective barrier. The Irish troops were deployed in a manner to protect the province from invasion by William’s forces while awaiting the intervention of the French. Once military support from France was in hand they planned on going over to an offensive to drive William’s army from Ireland. The Williamites thwarted the Jacobite plans by capturing the town of Athlione in June of 1691. After laying siege to the town early in the month, the Williamite troops assaulted the garrison in late June after prolonged bombardment, and the order of battle for both sides was to grant no quarter on enemies attempting to surrender. Once Athlione was in Williamite hands, the road to Limerick lay open.

The Williamites advanced towards Limerick until they encountered the Jacobite army under the command of French general Charles Chalmont, Marquis de Sainte Ruth. Chalmont deployed his troops in a line anchored by the village of Aughrim, with his infantry deployed among hedgerows. The ensuing battle of Aughrim was among the most violent and bloody ever fought on Irish soil, and again both sides exhibited a disdain for taking prisoners. The Williamite army was mostly comprised of English and Scottish troops, supported by Dutch cavalry, and with the Jacobites running low on ammunition (some say the French supplied bullets did not fit their muskets) the positions were quickly overrun. Jacobite troops fleeing the battlefield were cut down mercilessly by pursuing cavalry. The crushing defeat of the Jacobite army in a battle in which more than 7,000 were killed for all intents and purposes ended the rebellion in Ireland.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
Queen Anne with her son, the Duke of Gloucester. Wikimedia

6. The French attempted to foment insurrection among the Jacobite faction in Scotland

In 1702, William III died, opening the way to the British throne for the daughter of James II and VII, Anne. Anne served as the last monarch of the Stuart succession. Under Queen Anne the Act of Union (1707) brought together the thrones of Scotland and Ireland under a single monarch. The first years of Anne’s reign were marked by the European conflict known as the War of the Spanish Succession, which grew to be deadlocked by 1707. Both sides used internal conflicts within their enemies’ political sphere to foment insurrection, and Scottish resentment over British rule soon led France’s Louis XIV to approve attempts to use Jacobite rebellion to aid a French invasion of the British Isles through Scotland. As it would throughout the long history of the British nation and empire, the Royal Navy stood in France’s way.

The French fleet’s arrival was anticipated by Jacobite leaders in Scotland, who assembled with their clans ready to join the arriving French troops. In the aftermath of the French failure to land troops, choosing to instead evade the British fleet and possible defeat in battle, several prominent Jacobite leaders were arrested and imprisoned in British jails, including at Newgate. After transfer to Edinburgh they were charged with the crime of high treason; upon conviction the punishment could be hanging, taken down from the gibbet still alive, and the body drawn and quartered. They were found not guilty by their Scottish neighbors, their only crime having been toasting King James and the health of his daughter, Queen Anne. The attempted invasion of England by the French supported by the Jacobite faction was a dismal failure and increased suspicion and hostility among the British for the Scots.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
Prince James Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender, was unable to recover the throne of England for the House of Stuart. Wikimedia

7. Lord Mar’s revolt in 1715 led to mass trials for treason and executions

Queen Anne had a half-brother, James Edward, who was living in exile in France and who was excluded from ascending to the throne because of his Catholicism. The Jacobite faction in Scotland desired the restoration of James Edward and the House of Stuart to the by then combined thrones of Scotland and England. In 1714, Queen Anne died, her heir had been a distantly related Princess Sophie of the German House of Hanover. Sophie’s son was invited to accept the throne by the Whigs in Parliament, and the House of Hanover became the Royal Family of Great Britain, with George I as King of a nation whose native language was beyond his linguistic abilities. James Edward, urged by supporters in Scotland to depose the new king, appealed to the Papal States for aid.

As Jacobite representatives plotted on the continent and in the British Isles, the Earl of Mar – without the instruction or permission of James Edward – raised his (Edward’s) standard as the rightful King of England and Scotland, hoping to gain British support against a German monarch. By October 1715 most of northern Scotland was under the control of Mar’s troops. By late November British and Scottish Jacobites had joined together in western England, where they were opposed by Royal troops. This combined Jacobite army suffered a defeat at the hands of the English at the Battle of Preston. Over 1,400 Jacobite troops surrendered to the British and imprisoned, tried for treason, and sentenced to death. Most of those who had not been executed were pardoned in 1717, except for the specifically excluded Clan Gregor.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
James Edward, styling himself James III of England and VIII of Scotland, arrives at Peterhead in 1715. Wikimedia

8. The First Pretender returned to Scotland in 1715

By the time James Edward arrived in Scotland to take part in the insurrection intended to place him on the throne, but which he had not authorized, the rebellion was already in serious trouble. James landed in Scotland at Peterhead in December, but there were few Jacobite followers ready to rally to his cause, since most were already engaged in the fighting which had been instigated prematurely by the Earl of Mar. James Edward moved to Perth in January 1716 to find that the Jacobite forces had been reduced in the north to about 5,000 troops, as well as learning of the defeat of the western forces at the Battle of Preston. Their opposing enemy had strengthened its army with heavy artillery and supporting cavalry. Mar’s attempted to delay their advance using scorched earth tactics to deny the use of supplies to the enemy as he retreated toward Stirling.

Considering the situation to be hopeless, James Edward sailed from Montrose after announcing via a letter to the Scottish Jacobites he was returning to France. During his absence his ally on the French throne, Louis XIV, had died and he was neither welcomed in France nor appreciated by the Scottish people whom he had abandoned. James Edward was forced to accept the shelter and protection of the Papal States under Popes Clement XI and Innocent III. James Edward remained under the protection of the Papal States and participated in several schemes and plots to overthrow the Hanoverians and restore the Stuarts to the British throne, though he participated from inside his royal court in exile, intriguing with spies and agents from the rival monarchies of Europe and from Jacobite leaders in Scotland, Ireland, and England.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
Charles XII of Sweden died before a joint Spanish-Swedish-Jacobite invasion could be launched against the Hanoverians. Wikimedia

9. France withdrew official support of the Jacobite Stuart dynasty in 1716

By the end of 1716 France, which had been at war throughout most of the long reign of Louis XIV, was financially and militarily exhausted, badly in need of a period of peace. France’s treaty with Great Britain that year officially ended French support for the exiled Stuart dynasty. War between Britain and Spain continued over the Spanish conquests in Italy and on the Mediterranean islands. In order to shift British attention away from the Mediterranean, where the British Navy dominated, the Spanish government sought the means of resurrecting Jacobite insurrection in Scotland, Ireland, and England. Allied with the Swedes, the Spanish were determined to invade England via Scotland, restoring the Stuarts by placing James Edward on the throne while Jacobites supported by the Swedish fleet struck south from Scotland.

A Spanish invasion force of several thousand soldiers and supporting fleet was joined by James Edward in Cadiz in 1719, but after the death of Sweden’s King Charles XII Swedish support for the expedition ended. Whether the Spanish attempt was a legitimate invasion or merely the creation of a fleet in being to tie up the British fleet, the Spaniards in the end did not land in the British Isles. A small Jacobite force advanced upon Inverness. This force collided with government troops at the Battle of Glen Shiel, a major defeat for the Jacobite cause. Following the battle captured Jacobite troops were released, the captured Spanish troops shipped to Spain, and the British declined to pursue those Jacobites who escaped, an unusual circumstance in the Jacobite insurrections, when capture and torture were commonplace.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
A drawing of a Scottish Highlander meant as a satire, with focus on bagpipes rather than the feared claymore. Wikimedia

10. Britain chastised Spain for its support of the Jacobite cause

In 1719 the British Navy responded to Spanish adventurism in the Mediterranean and in northern Europe by landing 6,000 troops near the Spanish seaport of Vigo, seizing the town and port, and holding it for more than a week before boarding their ships and vanishing over the horizon. A neighboring Spanish city paid a considerable sum in tribute to the British commander in return for a guarantee that they would be unmolested by the expedition. The expedition served to demonstrate Britain’s ability to strike at the Spanish anywhere, at any time, with overwhelming force. In 1720 the Spanish signed the Treaty of The Hague, surrendering their interests in the Italian territories. Meanwhile Scottish clans continued to actively resist the attempts of the Hanoverian government to control the Highlands, with Clan leaders actively fighting the British government troops seeking to collect taxes owed to the King.

Scottish clan leaders in exile in France sent armed groups to collect taxes and rents on their estates, where they clashed with other clans loyal to the king, or simply ancient enemies from other clans. The fighting between the Scottish clans was sporadic, and marked with a ferocity which exceeded that of battles with the troops of the king. While many clan leaders were pardoned for their activities during the uprisings to that time, others were specifically excluded from the royal mercy. Following the rising of 1719 and the inter-clan fighting which followed, the British government began a pattern of persecution of those clans which had yet to take an oath of allegiance to the Hanoverian king, and the Stuarts yet again became an attractive alternative to the rule of a German prince over the Scottish people. In Scotland’s Highlands, and in smaller part in the Lowlands, opposition to the Hanoverians continued to grow.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
Prince Charles Edward Stuart, known to history as Bonnie Prince Charlie. Wikimedia

11. The beginnings of the uprising of 1745

Although much less well known than the failure of the Spanish Armada a century and a half earlier, a similar event, in which the British Isles faced imminent invasion by an army conveyed to the shores of Britain by a foreign fleet, occurred during the War of the Austrian Succession in 1744. The French planned to launch an invasion of the British Isles with the support of the Jacobite parties in Scotland. England had been at war with the Spanish since 1739, and a resurgent France planned to launch an invasion against the preoccupied British from Dunkirk after first joining the war on the side of Spain. After defeating the British army the French intended to remove the Hanoverian King George and install James Edward on the British throne, an act which would have guaranteed them the support of the Highland clans.

As with the Spanish Armada, the French fleet was defeated primarily by the inclement weather in the British Channel, which sank at least a dozen of the transport ships carrying French troops, seven going down without any survivors. The heavy loss of life and the disposition of the British fleet convinced the French to call off the invasion. The French troops aboard the surviving ships were removed and dispatched to fight against their enemies in Flanders. The Jacobite leaders in Scotland took the opportunity to prepare for a much smaller attack in Scotland, which was calculated to gain the support of the Jacobite clans as it moved across the country. That expedition would be led by a new Jacobite and Scottish hero to whom it was believed the clans would rally. The son of James Edward, he was known as Charles Edward Stuart, becoming to the true believers Bonnie Prince Charlie.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
A portrait profile of Charles Edward Stuart, who become known as the young pretender in regard to his pretensions to the British Crown. Wikimedia

12. The man known to history as Bonnie Prince Charlie

The elder of James Edward’s two sons, Charles Edward was destined to spend most of his life as an exile. Charles was a firm believer in the divine right of kings, as well as in his family’s claim to be the rightful heirs to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Charles’ grandfather had been James the II and VII, and in the view of the young prince the removal of his grandfather from the throne and the installation of William and Mary as monarch’s was an affront to the laws of god and divine intercession. Charles was a Catholic, having spent his youth being educated in the Papal States while his father was in exile under the patronage of the popes, and his connection with Catholicism is one reason that the Jacobite Cause remained linked with the Catholic religion long after it vanished from the British political scene. In fact the majority of the Jacobite supporters were members of Protestant sects, half were Episcopalian alone.

Prince Charles was an observer in the Mediterranean conflicts when France began planning its 1744 invasion of Britain, during which it was to rely on Jacobite support, and he joined the expedition to command French troops following the landings. When that expedition was thwarted due to the Channel storms which wrecked the invasion fleet, the haughty young prince connected himself with another, smaller invasion of Scotland, which if successful in gaining popular support would be supplanted by another French invasion force. Named Prince Regent by his father in 1743, which gave Charles the authority to act on James Edward’s behalf in all matters, Charles moved to assemble a force to return to the Scottish Highlands and rally the Jacobite factions to remove the usurper Hanoverians and restore the rightful king as ordained by God to the throne.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
Highlanders prepare to advance at the Battle of Prestonpans, an early victory for the Jacobites during the “45. Wikimedia

13. The opening rounds of the Rebellion of 1745

Prince Charles, often referred to by his enemies as the Young Pretender due to his perceived pretensions to the throne, landed in Scotland with but seven supporters at Eriskay in July 1745. Word of his presence in the country spread quickly among the Highland clans, whose leaders recognized the possibilities presented by the fact that the bulk of the British army was engaged in continental warfare. At Glenfinnan Charles raised the standards of James III and VIII – his father, James Edward – and gathered about him the clans which rose immediately to his support. Most of the clan leaders still remembered and resented how James Edward had abandoned their cause years before, and it was in part the personal charisma of Prince Charles which appealed to the clans. In short order Edinburgh was in the hands of the Jacobite army, which moved towards Prestonpans.

The only army in the Highlands loyal to the government of the Hanoverian King, by then George II, was commanded by John Cope, and he chose to engage the Highlanders at Prestonpans. The almost equally matched armies (in terms of numbers, the government troops lacked experience) clashed on September 21, 1745, in a battle which was short, violent, and a stunning success for the Stuarts. More than 300 government troops were killed outright against less than three dozen from the Jacobite army. The government army began the battle with about 2,300 men, less than two hundred escaped to safety, the rest killed, wounded, or captured by the enemy. Charles ordered the wounded and prisoners be treated with magnanimity. The stunning victory, as well as its scope, led to more swarming to join the Stuarts. When word of the defeat reached George II, 12,000 British troops were recalled from their service in Flanders.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
An artists depiction of the Duke of Cumberland’s redcoats engaging the Jacobite Highlanders. Wikimedia

14. The French rise to support Bonnie Prince Charlie

The news of the splendid victory at Prestonpans led the French to dispatch money and supplies to the Young Pretender, as well as an envoy from the King. Despite the evidence of French support the seeds of the destruction of the rebellion had already been sown. Factions emerged within the Irish and Scottish members of the rebellion, with the Scottish chiefs expressing the desire to consolidate the gains already made within the Highlands and awaiting actual French support, rather than moving forward based solely on French promises. The Irish supported Charles, who wanted to move forward with an invasion of England before the British government could react by deploying more troops. Charles and his supporters argued that an invasion of England would uncap Jacobite support there, and it was reluctantly agreed that the invasion would go forward.

As the invasion force moved south into England, and gained some support from Jacobite supporters there, many of the Scottish clan leaders continued to argue that they should move no further south, and that instead they should return to Scotland and prepare for defensive operations against the British. The evidence of British response to their defeat at Prestonpans was by then known to the Jacobite army, with the Duke of Cumberland moving north to meet them at the head of an army of more than twice their strength. Charles finally yielded to the pressure and turned to the north, withdrawing his troops from England, though he left behind a garrison at Carlisle. When Cumberland’s troops arrived before Carlisle the garrison had little choice but to surrender to the overwhelming force. Cumberland executed several of his prisoners before moving on in pursuit.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
Illustration of the Battle of Culloden from a nineteenth century history text. Wikimedia

15. The Battle of Culloden Moor in 1746 was the beginning of the end for the Jacobite Cause

Following the invasion of England and the successful withdrawal to Scotland – a considerable military achievement given the army had been non-existent just a few weeks earlier – Charles attempted to reduce Stirling Castle, the gateway to the Highlands, by siege. While heavy siege guns provided by the French were used, supplies arriving from France slowed to a mere trickle as the British Navy patrolled the coast and stopped French shipping. The British Duke of Cumberland moved his army along the coast to Aberdeen during the winter of 1745 and the spring of 1746, moving out of the city in early April. Dwindling supplies and the proximity of the British led Charles and his officers to decide to give battle on ground of their choosing at Culloden Moor, where they were soundly and quickly defeated by the larger British army.

Culloden was notable not just for the speed with which the government troops swept aside the Jacobite troops, but for the ferocity of the slaughter which was imposed on the fleeing Highlanders. The killing didn’t end on the battlefield that day, following the battle government troops conducted house-to-house searches for anyone connected to the Jacobite cause. Jacobites numbering over 3,500 were arrested and charged with high treason, well over 600 died before they could appear before a courtroom. Those who were not sentenced to death (or pardoned, almost 1,000 were) were deported to the North American colonies, with many destined to settle in the back country of North and South Carolina. Culloden was the climax of the Jacobite insurrections, as well as being usually described as being the last pitched battle ever fought in Great Britain.

16 Bloody Tales of the Jacobite Rebellions
Charles Edward Stuart painted in 1775, nearly thirty years after the Jacobite cause died after Culloden. Wikimedia

16. The end of the Jacobite insurrections

In the aftermath of the defeat at Culloden, Prince Charles fled the battlefield and his army. Despite several officers and counselors pleading with the prince to remain at the head of his army, which could still rally as much as 9,000 men according to some estimates, Charles made clear his intention to return to France without delay. He did, was received at first as a hero, and never again returned to Scotland (though he did make a clandestine trip to London years later). When James Edward died the pope refused to recognize Charles as the rightful king. During the Seven Years War (known in North America as the French and Indian War) Charles was considered as part of another planned invasion of Great Britain by the French, but the possibility was dismissed due to the perception of Charles being too gone with drink.

Although the Jacobite uprisings and insurrections began initially as religious wars between Catholic and Protestant, they evolved over time to being driven by nationalism rather than faith. In many ways British laws which were intended to subjugate the clans strengthened them by appealing to their shared national heritage rather than their local tribal systems, such as with laws which denied them the right to wear their traditional tartans. The harshness of the British reprisals following the defeat of the ’45 at Culloden is also remembered by both Scot and English with somewhat difference perspectives, as are the divisive issues which remain in Ireland and elsewhere. The end of the Jacobite movement did not take place at Culloden Moor, but it was the beginning of the end, which by the death of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1788, was already old history.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Williamite War’s tragedy, cruelty and heroism retold in mud, blood and cordite”. Gerald Fitzgibbon, The Irish Times. January 20, 2016

“The Massacre of Glen Coe”. BBC History Trails, The Making of the Union. September 19, 2014. Online

“Siege Timeline”. The Siege Museum. Online

“The Battle of the Boyne”. BBC, History. Online

“King Billy’s other July 12th victory: Aughrim of the slaughter”. Redmond O’Hanlon, The Irish Times. July 12, 2018

“The Failed French Invasion of 1708”. Entry, Culloden Battlefield Online. July 22, 2018

“The 1715 Jacobite rising”. Entry, National Library of Scotland. Online

“James Edward, the Old Pretender”. Entry by the editors, The Encyclopedia Brittanica. Online

“The Battle of Glen Shiel”. Ellen Castelow, Historic UK. Online

“A Short History of Britain”. Jeremy Black. 2015

“The Jacobite Rebellion, 1745-46”. Gregory Fremont. 2011

“Bonnie Prince Charlie: Truth or Lies”. Roderick Graham. 2014

“Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion”. Jacqueline Riding. 2016

“The Jacobite in Scotland and in Exile, 1746-1759”. Doron Zimmerman. 2003

“Culloden: The Last Charge of the Highland Clans”. John Sadler. 2006

“The myths of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites”. BBC News Scotland. June 23, 2017. Online