Little Rebellions – Never Going Back


Treasury Board Papers, Account of State Prisoners at Marshalsea
12 July, 1746

John Read at Arne near Port Glasgow prayed to may never be sent again to France being forced into that Service to save himself from a Lingring death for want of victuals
Private Man taken in the Soliel Privateer and Committed 25th Janry 1745

Amongst the thousands of Jacobite prisoners taken during the Forty-five, which reflect the diversity of the movement both internationally and pan-culturally, a significant portion of these were regular or professional soldiers in the service of other countries. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the nation that made the largest non-Scottish contribution to the Jacobite army, as could be expected, was France. Though it was already fighting a frustrating war on the Continent against its old enemy Great Britain, maintaining a good relationship with the Scots on the northern border of the ‘Atlantic Archipelago’ made sound strategic sense and was seemingly worth the questionable support and, at least, lip-service to the Stuart cause.

In addition to harboring elements of the exiled Stuart Court since the Revolution, Louis XIV and XV were de facto enablers of the Jacobite cause, maintaining l’Auld Alliance not only to suit their own needs. France was in on Jacobite designs since at least 1701 (a year which featured the double-catastrophe of the War of Spanish Succession and the death of James II and VII), and it lent a significant force soldiers and materiel to attempted Jacobite invasions of Britain in 1708, 1715, and 1744-6. The only French troops that ever really saw significant fighting on British soil in the eighteenth century, however, were those companies and regiments from Scotland and Ireland in service to the two Louis.

A prisoner’s life…

Little Rebellions – Soothing the Savage


Treasury Board Papers, Evidence Against Rebels in Newgate Prison
Likely Spring/Summer 1746

He was with some Players at Manchester when the Rebells
came there and he was sent to by some of the Princes (Privt?) Rebells & asked
if the Company could play Gustavus Vasa and the Witness saying no &
going away from ‘em when Colo Grant who knew the Witness at
Dunkirk asked him to go with him and said his Compa was all
Frenchmen and he wod be an Interpreter to them but the Witness
refusing Collo Grant threatened to Shoot him if he did not go with him
and took him under a Guard of Highlanders to Derby and back to

According to the testimony of Joseph Buodeu, a musician in Manchester at the time of the Jacobite army’s arrival there in late November of 1745, he was bullied into joining the rebels at gunpoint. This was not an unpopular claim from those captured by the government during the final rising. When faced with the terminal charge of high treason in the London courts and its consequence, the dreaded gibbet, it only makes sense that terrified prisoners and witnesses would swear that they were compelled by force to pick up arms against the Hanoverian king. It was, in essence, a Hail Mary.

So many had claimed impressment, in fact, that most scholars marginalize the significance of its presence, holding to the traditional maxim that such claims exacerbate the perceived severity of the Jacobite army’s actual recruitment tactics. My own findings contradict this marginalization, instead revealing in no uncertain terms that not only was the last Jacobite effort wholly decentralized and hardly popular, but that the need for armed supporters was so great that coercion – by fire and sword, through financial or emotional manipulation, or simply at gunpoint – was markedly rampant at specific points during the affair.

Coercing you to read on…

Little Rebellions – Gimme Shelter


Captain James Campbell via General Humphrey Bland
Sunday, 24th August 1746

As Sheilings are only Sheds made in the hills to Herds, for herding Cattle in the Summer time, and not habitable in the Winter; consequently they are of no Importance; therefor it is required they may be destroyed and thrown down by the owners, so as they be no shelter to the Rebels; and that the owners may not plead Ignorance thereafter, and what ever houses have been burnt and destroyed are not to be rebuilt, without a Sign’d Order from the General or Commander in Chief.

Deeply buried within the extensive annals of the Montrose Muniments at the NRS are three bundles of extremely interesting letters and lists that provide a visceral, microcosmic snapshot of the last Jacobite rising in Scotland. After seeking permission directly from the standing Duke of Montrose, I’ve been taken with transcribing the contents for use within my thesis and also for a discreet article or two, if timing allows.

Much of what is contained within these bundles highlights the uncomfortable predicament in which the then 2nd Duke found himself: trying to maintain and defend the lives and homes of his contracted tenants – whether Jacobite or not – whilst upholding his duties and loyalties to the Georgian government of Britain, even despite its heavy-handed tactics of rebellion-purging. In addition to some extremely tense back-and-forth correspondence between Montrose’s estate of Buchanan and the military authorities based in Fort Augustus, the files also contain lists of suspected rebels, declarations both for and against accused persons, and the recorded depredations of Montrose’s lands carried out by the King’s troops.

The essence of Catch-22…

Little Rebellions – Something Rotten?

With a nod to my supervisor’s posts of last year’s interesting Documents of the Day (DotD) found along the way in archives and libraries, I’ve been tickled to do something similar in this forum, which has lain woefully underutilized since the commencement of my doctoral paper chase. The series had always been in the works to one day be hosted over at Spines of the Thistle, but that project has been set back by the apparent need to write a proper thesis, amongst other pressing things. Websites can come later, but until then, here’s some intrigue in Auld Reekie in what will likely become the very first Document of the Week (DotW)  – as long as my commitment to the project is allowed the space.

Hugh Blair to Colin Mitchell, September 1745

Hugh Blair to Colin Mitchell, Goldsmith in the Canongate, Edinburgh
Tuesday, 26th September 1745

                                               I beg the
favour you will come to my house this
day att half an hour after two precisely
about a piece of Necessary business. I am
                                                  Dr Sir
                                                    Hugh Blair

One of the benefits of working with a prosopographical database for historical research is being able to find commonalities in large amounts of data hitherto disconnected and most certainly unnoticed. Perhaps the most intriguing so far in my own studies is the discovery that about one-half of the active goldsmiths, or “hammermen”, in Edinburgh during the Jacobite Rising of 1745-6 gave evidence against the other half citing rebellious activities to the government authorities. That this strange web of blame occurs nowhere else and within no other occupation with such frequency is striking, and while there is no direct evidence yet uncovered that marks this as anything other than an odd coincidence, one gets the feeling that there might be something else to the story.

Here’s more to the story…