Jacobite Rebellions

1689 to 1745
Royalists — versus — Jacobians

Williamite War in Ireland — 1689-1690      Jacobite Rising in Scotland — 1689     
Rebellion of Fifteen — 1715      Rebellion of Forty-five — 1745-1746     

The Young Pretender
When James II, ascended to the English throne in 1685 he was the first Catholic monarch in nearly 130 years. For once, the Anglicans and Puritans of England, ever at each others throat, were united in opposition but since James had only two daughters by his first wife, and they had been raised as Protestants, no effort was yet made to depose him. In 1688 however, a son was born and with the prospect of a Catholic succession, there arose almost immediately, a widespread movement to depose James II and raise one of his protestant daughters to the throne. Within a year William III and Mary were crowned King and Queen of England, and James II was sent into exile. Catholic Ireland however, immediately declared for James II, but after several years, this rebellion was put down by Williamite Royalists. A smaller scale rebellion in Scotland was also put down at this time and for thirty years there was no further significant resistance. France and other Catholic countries however, still recognized James II and his descendants as the legitimate heirs to the English throne, and his cause was also popular in Ireland and Scotland. Loyalists to James II and his line were called Jacobites because Jacobus is the Latin form of James.

Further resistance by the Jacobite factions did not occur until both Mary and Anne Stuart died without issue, and the English crown was passed from the Stuarts to the German Hanoverians. This caused a great resurgence of sympathy of the Jacobite cause especially in Scotland, where the Stuarts had held sway for over 300 years. The two most famous Jacobite risings, in 1715 and 1745 occurred during the reign of the Hanovers, and were both centered in Scotland. Ireland, as always, was sympathetic to the Jacobite cause, but penal laws and other oppressive measures inflicted on the Irish following the Williamite War in Ireland, made it difficult for the Irish to lend much martial support to the cause.

Williamite War in Ireland : 1689-1690

Catholic Ireland was a bastion of support for James II. As soon as he had come to the throne he had made reforms in Ireland favorable to the Catholics who had lost almost all of their rights and properties after the Cromwell's conquests of 1650. He had appointed Catholic deputies and as soon as he was deposed in England, Ireland declared support for him. The only Protestant garrison in Ireland at the time was in Londonderry, and the Irish army immediately besieged the city. The siege was lifted after three months by heroic naval action, and the Jacobites were eventually driven out of Ulster. Unfortunately for Ireland, its native army was enthusiastic, but largely untrained, undisciplined and unarmed, and simply could not stand against the far more seasoned and disciplined English troops. After being forced to raise the siege of Londonderry, it was routed at the battle of Newtown Butler.

The Jacobite cause in Ireland was finally lost however, at the Battle of the Boyne, the first battle fought after William III landed on the island in 1690. The day was won by the English, but the Jacobites did not lose heart until James II, shortly after the battle, retired from Ireland and sailed back to France. This thoroughly demoralized the Jacobite troops that had pinned every hope on him, and desertions were rampant. Conversely, the Ulstermen who fought for William III did so with near fanatical zeal because they feared that a Catholic Ireland would lead to their utter ruin.

DateBattle Summary
Siege of Londonderry (Williamite War in Ireland ) Williamites victory
This town in which the Ulster Protestants, to the number of about 30,000, had taken refuge, was besieged by James II, April 19, 1689. It was defended by about 7,000 armed citizens, under Major Henry Baker, and held out until July 30, when Colonel Kirke succeeded in forcing the boom at the head of Lough Foyle and reprovisioning the town. The besiegers then withdrew, having lost 5,000 men during the siege. The garrison was reduced to 4,000. Among those who died during the siege was Major Baker.
Battle of Newtown Butler (Williamite War in Ireland ) Williamites victory
Fought August 2, 1689, between 5,000 Catholics, under Maccarthy, and 3,000 Protestants, under Colonel Wolseley, in defense of Enniskillen. The Catholics were totally routed, and fled in disorder, losing 1,500 in the action, and 500 drowned in Lough Erne.
Battle of the Boyne (Boshin War ) Williamites victory
Fought July 1, 1690, between the forces of William III, and the Irish under James II. William and the elder Schomberg attacked the front of James's position, while the younger Schomberg crossed the Boyne a few miles higher up, and attacked him in flank. William forced the passage of the river, and drove the Irish from their entrenchments at a cost of 500 killed and wounded, including the elder Schomberg. The Irish lost 1,500.

Short Biography
James II Catholic king of England, deposed by his daughter Mary and William III.
William III King of Netherlands, called to be king of England when James II, his father-in-law, was deposed.

Story Links
Book Links
The Story of Londonderry  in  Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary  by  Cambridge Press
Londonderry  in  Stories from English History, Part Third  by  Alfred J. Church
Reign of William and Mary  in  The Story of England  by  Samuel B. Harding
Institution of the Penal Code  in  Ireland: Peeps at History  by  Beatrice Home
William III and Mary II—Brave Londonderry  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
Relief of Londonderry  in  Historical Tales: English  by  Charles Morris
Struggle in Ireland  in  The Awakening of Europe  by  M. B. Synge

Jacobite Rising in Scotland : 1689

The Pretender
The Jacobite Rising in Scotland was primarily the work of Viscount Dundee, who was able to raise an army of highlanders in support of the cause of James II. The famous battle of Killiecrankie ended up as a route, with the Jacobite highlanders prevailing soundly over the covenanter lowlanders, but Dundee, their fearless leader, was killed in action. Undaunted, the highlanders continued to hold their own against the Scottish royalists, but when news of the defeat of James II at the Battle of Boyne arrived, it was determined that the cause was lost and resistance in Scotland ceased.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Killiecrankie (Rebellion of the Fifteen ) Jacobites victory
Fought July 27, 1689, between 4,500 Royal troops, under General Mackay, and 2,500 Highland Jacobites, under Dundee. Dundee allowed Mackay to enter the plain below the pass of Killiecrankie, and then descending from the heights, fell upon and utterly routed the Royalists, with a loss of over 2,000 killed and 500 prisoners. The Jacobites lost about 900, but amongst them was Dundee. Mackay on reaching Stirling had only 400 men with the colors.
Battle of Dunkeld (Jacobite Rising ) Williamites victory
Fought August 21, 1689, between the Highlanders under Colonel Cannon, and the Cameronian Regiment under Colonel Cleland. The fight took place in the town of Dunkeld, where the Cameronians held a house belonging to the Marquis of Athole. The Highlanders were unable to dislodge them, and eventually retired, Cannon being killed.

Short Biography
Dundee Jacobite general who raised a group of Highlanders in Scotland to support the cause of James II.

Story Links
Book Links
James VII.—The Battle of Killiecrankie  in  Scotland's Story  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
William III and the Revolution Settlement  in  The Tudors and the Stuarts  by  M. B. Synge

Rebellion of Fifteen : 1715

The Stuarts
There were no further major Jacobite rebellions during the reigns of William III and Mary, and Anne Stuart. When it became clear that neither Anne nor Mary would produce an heir, and the throne must pass from the Stuart line to the Hanoverians of Germany, there was predictable dissent in the realm. By this time James Stuart, the son of James II was a grown man, and had he been willing to renounce his Catholicism, he would likely have been accepted as king, but this he would not do. The Jacobite cause, was as always, popular in Scotland, as well as among some English Tories who opposed the Hanoverian succession, and George I himself (who did not even speak English) was popular only with a small cadre of Whigs in parliament. In 1714 therefore, soon after George I was crowned the king of England, a conspiracy was hatched to bring back James Stuart a.k.a the "Old Pretender", and restore the Stuart line.

The plot spear-headed by the Earl of Mar in Scotland, succeeded in raising at least 8,000 highlanders, and took Perth. They were, however, generally unsuccessful against the government forces and the rebellion did not spread to the lowlands, as hoped. James Stuart himself eventually landed in Scotland, but did little to motivate or lead the troops. Just as his father had surrendered and returned to France after the loss at Boyne, the "Old Pretender" quickly realized the effort was futile and boarded the next available ship, leaving his supporters to fend for themselves.

Four years later, yet another Jacobite plot was hatched involving Spain and Spanish naval support, but it too came to naught.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Preston (Rebellion of the Forty-five ) Royalists victory
Fought November 12, 1715, between 4,000 Jacobites, under General Forster, and a small force of Royal troops, chiefly dragoons, under General Wills. The Jacobites had barricaded the approaches to the town, and held their ground throughout the day, but reinforcements arriving, Wills was able to invest the place completely; and early on the morning of the 14th Forster surrendered. Many of the rebels having left the town on the night of the 12th, the prisoners numbered 1,468. The Jacobite loss in killed and wounded was 42, that of the Royalists about 200.
Battle of Sheriffmuir (Rebellion of the Fifteen ) Jacobites victory
Fought November 13, 1715, between 3,500 royal troops, under the Duke of Argyle, and 9,000 Highlanders, under the Earl of Mar. Argyle's left wing was routed by the Macdonalds, and his left and centre, though at first they held their own, were in the end compelled to retire, and Argyle effected a retreat in good order to Stirling.
Battle of Glen Shiel (Rebellion of the Fifteen ) Royalists victory
Fought June 10, 1719 between a collection of Jacobite Spanish marines and highland clans, under Lord Murray and Rob Roy, and 800 Royal troops. The battle was originally planned as a diversionary tactic to distract attention from a Spanish fleet intended to land in Wales. The fleet hit a storm and dispersed but the fight at Glen Shiel occurred any way. The Jacobites were defeated.

Short Biography
Old Pretender Son of James II, led Jacobites in a bid to restore Stuarts to the throne of England.
Duke of Argyll Led royalist forces loyal to George I against the Jacobites in 1715.
Earl of Mar Organized support for the Jacobite cause among the highlanders of Scotland.
Rob Roy Legendary Scottish highlander who participated in the Jacobite rebellions.

Story Links
Book Links
The '15  in  Stories from English History, Part Third  by  Alfred J. Church
Story of the Earl of Mar's Hunting Party  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
George I.—For the King over the Water  in  Scotland's Story  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Hunting of Braemar  in  Historical Tales: English  by  Charles Morris
Story of Scotland  in  The Awakening of Europe  by  M. B. Synge

Rebellion of Forty-five : 1745-1746

Flora MacDonald
The most romantic and best known of the Jacobite rebellions occurred the following generation, nearly thirty years after the abortive attempt of James Stuart to regain the throne in 1715. The rebellion of 1745 involved his son Charles Stuart, and occurred during the War of the Austrian succession, when Britain and France were openly at war. This rebellion differed somewhat from the others in that Charles Stuart himself was an enthusiastic advocate of the rebellion and personally led his troops in battle, even to the point of over-ruling the advice of some of his generals. He remained undaunted in spite of several setbacks, and the failure of promised support from France to materialize, and he assured his troops that he, unlike both his father and grandfather, would not retreat to France in case of difficulties.

Charles did succeed in raising an army in Scotland, won several important battles against the British, and claimed the Scottish cities of Perth and Edinburgh. He was aided in his early efforts by the fact that many of Britain's most experienced troops were deployed to Europe. Eventually however, the brother of George II, known as the Duke of Cumberland, led an army against him, and at the Battle of Culloden the Jacobites were defeated with great loss. Charles briefly continued his fight, but after massive desertions realized his cause was lost and that he would have to flee the country. By this time, there was a great reward for his capture and all of Scotland was being ransacked by British soldiers in search of him. He made good his escape by dressing as a maid-servant with the help of the famous Flora MacDonald and many other faithful Scottish loyalists.

The Jacobite cause suffered seriously from the failed invasion of 1745 and at the close of the War of the Austrian succession in 1748 Britain insisted as part of the peace, that France stop supporting the Jacobite cause and expel the Stuarts from their dominions. Britain also took active measures to destroy the clan system in Scotland that had lent support to continual rebellions against the British government, by disarming the clans, reducing the power of the local chieftains, and prohibiting native highland dress. With these measures, and the lack of active support for the Stuart cause by any major European power, the Jacobite cause was irrecoverably lost.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Prestonpans (Rebellion of the Forty-five ) Jacobites victory
Fought September 21, 1745, between 2,300 Royal troops, under Sir John Cope, and a slightly superior force of Jacobites, under the Young Pretender. Cope's infantry failed to stand up against the charge of the Highlanders, and fled in confusion, losing heavily in killed and wounded, and 1,600 prisoners, including 70 officers. The Highlanders lost about 140 killed and wounded. This action is also known as the Battle of Gladsmuir.
Siege of Carlisle (Rebellion of the Forty-five ) Jacobites victory
This city was besieged by the Jacobites under the Young Pretender, November 9, 1745, and was defended by the Cumberland and Westmoreland Militia, with small force of regulars, under Colonel Durand. The besiegers opened fire on the 13th, and on the evening of the 14th, under pressure of the inhabitants, Durand surrendered.
Battle of Falkirk (Rebellion of the Forty-five ) Jacobites victory
Fought Jan 17, 1746, between the rebel Highlanders, 8,000 strong, under the Young Pretender, and a force of 8,000 British troops, with 1,000 Campbells under General Hawley. The charge of the Highlanders broke the British line, and they were driven headlong from the field, with a loss of 600 killed and wounded, 700 prisoners, 7 guns, and all tents and baggage. The rebels lost 120 only.
Battle of Culloden (Williamite War in Ireland ) Royalists victory
Fought April 16, 1746, between the Royal troops under the Duke of Cumberland, and the Highlanders under the Young Pretender. The rebels were completely routed by the English regulars, and in addition to heavy loss in the field, suffered terribly in the pursuit, being ruthlessly cut down by the cavalry. Cumberland's cruelty on this occasion earned for him the title of "Butcher." The Royalists lost 309 killed and wounded. This battle is sometimes called the Battle of Drummossie Moor.

Short Biography
Young Pretender Grandson of James II, led Jacobites in bid to restore Stuarts to the throne of England.
Flora MacDonald Heroine who help Bonnie Prince Charles escape from Scotland.
Duke of Cumberland Brother of George II who harshly put down the Jacobites at the battle of Culloden.

Story Links
Book Links
The '45  in  Stories from English History, Part Third  by  Alfred J. Church
Bonnie Prince Charlie  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin
George II—The Story of Bonnie Prince Charlie  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
George II.—Prince Charles Came Home  in  Scotland's Story  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Flight of Prince Charles  in  Historical Tales: English  by  Charles Morris

Image Links

The Entry of Prince Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, into Edinburgh
 in The Hanoverians

Colloden Moor after the Battle, 1746
 in The Hanoverians

The First meeting of Flora Macdonald and Prince Charles Edward
 in The Hanoverians

William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, Third son of George II.
 in The Hanoverians

James II. landing at Kinsale
 in Ireland: Peeps at History

The Phoenix breaking the boom at the siege of Londonderry
 in Ireland: Peeps at History

The Siege of Londonderry
 in Ireland: Peeps at History

The flight of James II.: After the Battle of Boyne
 in Ireland: Peeps at History

They took a sad farewell of each other.
 in Our Island Story

Gentlemen', he cried, drawing his sword, 'I have thrown away the scabbard.'
 in Scotland's Story

King William III. at the Battle of the Boyne
 in The Tudors and the Stuarts