Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Scotland and the Second Jacobite Uprising

by Christy Nicholas

Many a tale has been set in Scotland. Some truly tragic and romantic events have taken place in this isolated corner of the UK, with strong personalities, implacable egos, and cruel masters. The Jacobite Risings were full of such stories, but none so tragic as the Battle of Culloden during the Second Jacobite Rising of 1746.

In 1707, the Act of Union brought England and Scotland together as one economic and political unit, allowing greater trade, and replacing Scottish systems of currency, taxation, and laws.

This move was unpopular in Scotland, of course, and the Jacobites rose again, under James VII’s son, James Frances Edward Stuart, aka “The Old Pretender”. He had lived in exile most of his life, and attempted several failed invasions, most notably in 1715. It was ruined by a failure of coordinated risings in Wales and Devon, lack of leadership, bad timing, and bad luck. By the time James finally landed in Scotland, he was told it was hopeless, and so he fled back to the relative safety of France. If you would like a glimpse into what life may have been like, watch the movie Rob Roy, starring Liam Neeson. Rob Roy was an historical character, though the stories of him are mixed. Some show him as a cattle-thieving rogue; others as a national hero, standing up to the oppressive evil English landlord. I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle. The real Rob Roy lived near Balquhidder, and there is a small cemetery there, where is grave is situated.

In 1745, James I’s son, Charles Edward Stuart, tried again to reclaim the Scottish crown. He was ”The Young Pretender”, or Bonnie Prince Charlie. The nickname Charlie most likely came, not from a diminutive of the name Charles, but from the Gaelic for Charles – Teàrlach. This rising was more successful, and he won some important battles, such as Prestonpans. Several clans joined the movement, albeit some very reluctantly. While he was successful at first, and managed to secure a good chunk of Scotland, he became greedy, and tried moving south into England. This overextended his resources, and many of his allies changed their minds. The rising ended with a horrible defeat by the Duke of Cumberland at Culloden. Charles fled to exile again, never to return.

If you ever visit Culloden field, please take the time to explore the visitor center. It has very poignant presentations on this time, this battle, and the events leading up to it. It is very moving, even if you have not a drop of Scottish blood.

The loss at Culloden broke the Highlanders and the Jacobites. What followed was a horrible part of British history – the Highland Clearances. In order to remove the teeth of the Scottish clans, the English outlawed Highland dress, custom, language – and capriciously stole from, killed, arrested, and transported thousands of Highlanders. These transportees ended up in Canada and America, often as indentured servants. Crofts were burned, cattle were slaughtered, valuables were stolen, and women were raped. Much of the land that was “cleared” of troublesome Highlanders was used for sheep, to support the budding wool trade in England.

Imagine living on a small farm. Life is hard, but peaceful. You tend your crops, your cattle or flock, and have enough to support your small family. There are, perhaps, four families within ten miles, also crofters. Your husband has gone off to a neighboring farm to help them with a building. Then the soldiers come – they slaughter the cows you rely on for your milk, run your sheep off, trample your crops, perhaps even salting the ground. They tear the door off its hinges, and violate you and your daughters. They leave, taking anything they think might be valuable… and you have no one you can complain to, for they are the Crown’s troops. You must either find a way to survive, leave, or perish. It was a very dark time, though many have managed to remain to this day.

This is an excerpt from my newly published ebook called Stunning, Strange and Secret, a Guide to Hidden Scotland. It contains some myth and history, tips and tricks to planning your own trip, and lots of hidden gems and photographs. It is available in several formats. Please visit my author page on Facebook.


Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she's a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were. She loves to draw and to create things. She says it's more of an obsession than a hobby. She likes looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or seeing a fragrant blossom or a dramatic seaside. She takes a picture or creates a piece of jewelry as her way of sharing this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus she writes. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.



  1. Thank you so much for hosting me! I look forward to any questions.

  2. Apparently my McIlroy ancestors were one of the sub-clans at Culloden. I just discovered them on my grandmother's side...
    Cheryl Ann, California

  3. Intriguing post, Christy! Just a wee point. After the Union, Scotland kept its own legal system. Though we share a legislature, Scots Law together with English law and Northern Ireland law, is one of the three legal systems of the United Kingdom. One of the reasons why eloping English couples fled to Gretna Green!

  4. I visited Culloden a few months ago. A very moving experience!

  5. Marie - I didn't know that! Thanks for the point. I knew that couples went to Gretna Green to get married due to differing marriage laws, but not the reason behind that difference!


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