Jacobite rising of 1715

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The Jacobite Rising of 1715
Part of Jacobite risings
Prince James Francis Edward Stuart by Alexis Simon Belle.jpg
James Francis Edward Stuart
Great Britain
Result Decisive Hanoverian-British Victory
Kingdom of France Kingdom of France
 Great Britain
Commanders and leaders

John Erskine, Earl of Mar

Brigadier General William Mackintosh, Laird of Borlum
John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll

The Jacobite rising of 1715 (Scottish Gaelic: Bliadhna Sheumais [ˈpliən̪ˠə ˈheːmɪʃ]; also referred to as the Fifteen or Lord Mar's Revolt), was the attempt by James Francis Edward Stuart (also called the Old Pretender) to regain the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland for the exiled House of Stuart.


Tory leader Henry St John, Lord Bolingbroke, Jacobite Secretary of State in 1715

The 1688 Glorious Revolution deposed James II and VII and replaced him with his Protestant daughter Mary II and her Dutch husband William III and II, ruling as joint monarchs. Since neither Mary nor her sister Anne had surviving children, the 1701 Act of Settlement ensured a Protestant successor by excluding Catholics from the English and Irish thrones, and that of Great Britain after the 1707 Act of Union. When Anne became the last Stuart monarch in 1702, her heir was the distantly related but Protestant Sophia of Hanover, not her Catholic half-brother James Francis Edward. Sophia died two months before Anne in August 1714; her son became George I and the pro-Hanoverian Whigs controlled government for the next 30 years.[1]

French support had been crucial for the Stuart exiles but their acceptance of the Protestant succession in Britain was part of the terms that ended the 1701-1714 War of the Spanish Succession. This ensured a smooth inheritance by George I in August 1714 and the Stuarts were later banished from France by the terms of 1716 Anglo-French Treaty.[2] The 1710-1714 Tory government actively prosecuted their Whig opponents, who now retaliated by accusing its members of corruption; Robert Harley was imprisoned in the Tower of London while Lord Bolingbroke escaped to France and became James' new Secretary of State.

On 14 March 1715, James appealed to Pope Clement XI for help for a Jacobite rising: "It is not so much a devoted son, oppressed by the injustices of his enemies, as a persecuted Church threatened with destruction, which appeals for the protection and help of its worthy pontiff".[3] On 19 August, Bolingbroke wrote to James that "..things are hastening to that point, that either you, Sir, at the head of the Tories, must save the Church and Constitution of England or both must be irretrievably lost for ever". Believing Marlborough would join him, on 23 August James wrote to the Duke of Berwick, his illegitimate brother and Marlborough's nephew, that; "I think it is now more than ever Now or Never".[4]

Raising the standard[edit]

Despite receiving no commission from James to start the rising, the Earl of Mar sailed from London to Scotland and on 27 August at Braemar held the first council of war. On 6 September at Braemar Mar raised the standard of "James the 8th and 3rd", accompanied by 600 supporters.[5]

In response, Parliament suspended habeas corpus by the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act 1715, and passed an Act that gave tenants who refused to support the Jacobites the land of their landlord if he was a Jacobite. Some of Mar's tenants travelled to Edinburgh to prove their loyalty and acquire title to their land.[6]

Struggle for Scotland[edit]

In northern Scotland, the Jacobites were successful. They took Inverness, Gordon Castle, Aberdeen and further south, Dundee, although they were unable to capture Fort William.[7] In Edinburgh Castle were arms for up to 10,000 men and £100,000 paid to Scotland when she entered the Union with England. Lord Drummond, with 80 Jacobites, tried under the cover of night to take the Castle, but the Governor of the Castle learnt of their plans and successfully defended it.

By October, Mar's forces (nearly 20,000) had taken control of all Scotland above the Firth of Forth, apart from Stirling Castle. However, Mar was indecisive, and the capture of Perth and the move south by 2,000 men were probably decided by subordinates. Mar's indecisiveness gave the Hanoverian forces under the command of the Duke of Argyll time to increase their strength.[5] Reinforcements were brought over from the Irish Garrison to boost Argyll.[8]

On 22 October Mar received his commission from James appointing him commander of the Jacobite army. The Jacobite army outnumbered Argyll's forces by three-to-one and Mar decided to march on Stirling Castle. On 13 November at Sheriffmuir, the two forces joined in battle. The fighting was indecisive but nearing the end of the battle the Jacobites numbered 4,000 men, compared to Argyll's 1,000. Mar's army began to close in on Argyll's forces, who were poorly protected, but Mar did not order them to advance, possibly believing that he had won the battle already (Argyll had lost 660 men, three times as many as Mar). Mar then retreated to Perth. On the same day as the Battle of Sherrifmuir, Inverness surrendered to Hanoverian forces, and a smaller Jacobite force led by Mackintosh of Borlum was defeated at Preston.[5]


Amongst the leaders of a Jacobite conspiracy for a rising in western England were three peers and six MPs. The government arrested the leaders on the night of 2 October, and on the following day easily obtained Parliament's permission for these arrests.[9] Included among those arrested was the head of the English Jacobites, Sir William Wyndham. The government sent reinforcements to Bristol, Southampton and Plymouth to ensure they did not fall into Jacobite hands.[10] Oxford was a city famous for its monarchist sentiment and was held by the government to be favourable to the Pretender, and so on 17 October General Pepper led the dragoons into the city and arrested some leading Jacobites without resistance.[11]

A diversionary rising had been planned in Northumberland to accompany the main rising in the West. The rising in the West was forestalled by prompt Government action, but the rising in Northumberland went ahead on 6 October 1715. This English rising contained some prominent figures, including two peers of the realm, James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, and William Widdrington, 4th Baron Widdrington, and a future peer, Charles Radclyffe, later de jure 5th Earl of Derwentwater. Another future English peer, Edward Howard, later 9th Duke of Norfolk, joined the rising later in Lancashire, as did other prominent figures, including Robert Cotton, one of the leading gentlemen in Huntingdonshire.[12]

The English Jacobites joined with a force of Scottish Borderer Jacobites, led by William Gordon, 6th Viscount Kenmure, and this small army was joined by Mackintosh's contingent. They marched into England as far as Preston, where the Government forces caught up with them. This led to the Battle of Preston, on 12–14 November. The Jacobites won the first day of the battle, killing large numbers of Government forces, but Government reinforcements arrived the next day and the Jacobites eventually surrendered.[13]


Broadside image: the Pretender, Prince James, Landing at Peterhead on 22 December 1715

On 22 December the Pretender landed in Scotland at Peterhead,[14] but by the time he arrived at Perth on 9 January 1716, the Jacobite army numbered fewer than 5,000. In contrast, Argyll's forces had acquired heavy artillery and were advancing quickly. Mar decided to burn a number of villages between Perth and Stirling, so as to deprive Argyll's army of supplies. On 30 January Mar led the Jacobites out of Perth; on 4 February the Pretender wrote a farewell letter to Scotland, sailing from Montrose the following day.[5]

Many Jacobites who were taken prisoner were tried for treason and sentenced to death. The Indemnity Act of July 1717 pardoned all those who had taken part in the Rising, but the whole of the Clan Gregor, including Rob Roy MacGregor, was specifically excluded from the benefits of that Act.[15]

Another attempt, this time with Spanish support, was undertaken in 1719, only to end again in defeat in the Battle of Glenshiel. James's son Charles Edward Stuart attempted to win the throne for his father in 1745, in another Jacobite rising, but was defeated at the Battle of Culloden. James died in 1766.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Somerset, Anne (2012). Queen Anne; the Politics of Passion. Harper Press. pp. 532–535. ISBN 978-0007203765.
  2. ^ Szechi, Daniel (1994). The Jacobites: Britain and Europe, 1688-1788 (First ed.). Manchester University Press. pp. 93–95. ISBN 978-0719037740.
  3. ^ Michael, p. 134.
  4. ^ Michael, p. 152.
  5. ^ a b c d Christoph v. Ehrenstein, 'Erskine, John, styled twenty-second or sixth earl of Mar and Jacobite duke of Mar (bap. 1675, d. 1732)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 20 January 2011.
  6. ^ Michael, p. 156.
  7. ^ Michael, p. 158.
  8. ^ Reid p.19-20
  9. ^ Michael, pp. 163–164.
  10. ^ Michael, p. 164.
  11. ^ Michael, p. 165.
  12. ^ Baynes, John. The Cacobite Rising of 1715. England Gazetteer: North-East and Yorkshire, England Gazetteer: North-West. pp. 83–104. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  13. ^ Baynes, John. The Cacobite rising of 1715. England Gazetteer: North-East and Yorkshire, England Gazetteer: North-West. pp. 105–128. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  14. ^ James Panton, Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy (2011), p. xxxiv
  15. ^ Peter Hume Brown, A History of Scotland to the Present Time, p. 154


  • John Baynes, The Jacobite Rising of 1715 (London: Cassell, 1970).
  • H. T. Dickinson, Bolingbroke (London: Constable, 1970).
  • Christoph v. Ehrenstein, ‘Erskine, John, styled twenty-second or sixth earl of Mar and Jacobite duke of Mar (bap. 1675, d. 1732)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 20 Jan 2011.
  • George Hilton Jones, The Main Stream of Jacobitism [sic] (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1954).
  • Wolfgang Michael, England Under George I. The Beginnings of the Hanoverian Dynasty (Westpoint, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1981).
  • Stuart Reid. Sheriffmuir 1715. Frontline Books, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Daniel Szechi, 1715: The Great Jacobite Rebellion (Yale University Press, 2006).