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MILLENNIUM LIFE; The Jacobites' glorious failure.

THE Act of Union was meant to settle the differences between Scotland and England - but the ink was hardly dry on the treaty before old tensions and bitterness started to resurface.

Scots immediately suspected that the union between the two countries was more of a takeover than a merger and that they were ending up as the losers.

Their anger at the way they were treated by the new British Government helped to once again fan the flames of Jacobitism and led to a remarkable attempt to snatch the British throne which could very easily have succeeded.

The Treaty of Union was breached almost as soon as it had been signed. One of its most important provisions was the payment of an Equivalent - a cash sum of nearly pounds 400,000 to be paid to Scotland for taking its share of England's pounds 14million national debt.

But the money was paid three months late and caused huge antagonism on both sides of the border. The English were furious that Scots were getting their gold, while the Scots were convinced that the wily English weren't going to give them the money at all.

Other moves, too, served to reinforce the suspicion between the two newly-merged countries. In 1708, the Scottish Privy Council was abolished and, a year later, the harsh English Treason Act came into effect north of the border.

Tensions were also evident at the new British parliament at Westminster.

Scottish MPs were often ignored and mocked by the vastly-superior army of English MPs, many of whom had no experience of their new partner country to the north and regarded their own culture as vastly superior.

Strains on the new relationship mounted. The use of English liturgy in Scots Episcopalian services, the quashing of measures to boost the Scottish linen industry and the decision to apply an English malt tax to the Scots all caused anger in Scotland. For a time, the new union seemed to be in very real danger of collapse.

Across the water in France, the exiled Stewarts saw their chance. The ousted James VII and II died in 1701 and his successor to the throne, William of Orange, was killed in an accident the next year. William's sister-in-law Anne became Queen, while James' son, also James, was the new Stewart pretender.

If the new Stewart heir, who would have been James VIII and III, had been well organised, he could have seized his chance when William died as - despite the fact James was only 14 - his claim to be the legitimate monarch might have been accepted. But he did not move quickly enough and the chance was lost.

An attempt by the French to put James back on the throne by invading Scotland was launched in 1708, but he suffered badly on the sea voyage and caught measles and the French naval forces were chased away.

James was to wait six years until the death of Queen Anne for his next chance. With the throne set to pass to the House of Hanover and with a German King, George I, who couldn't even speak English, plenty of support for the exiled Stewart cause could be found.

In August 1715, the rebel 6th Earl of Mar drew up plans for an uprising. The following month, the standard of King James VIII was raised at Mar's castle at Braemar and an army marched south.

The rebellion struck a national mood in England as well as Scotland. Within days, Mar's 10,000-strong force had seized Perth and he decided to base his headquarters there. Another force was raised in Northumberland by an English MP, Thomas Forster, who was a Jacobite sympathiser. Yet another rising had taken place in the south of Scotland.

Mar's problem was one of communication. Despite having perhaps double the number of men of the Duke of Argyll, who controlled government troops in Scotland, Mar did not know other Jacobite risings were breaking out. He ignored the advice of his own soldiers and refused to move on.

The delay provided Argyll with a chance to assess his strategy. It also meant the rebels failed to unite.

Instead of coming north, Forster's troops marched south into Lancashire, where they hoped to win more support, but were defeated at Preston. Another force was ordered to attack Argyll from the south, but wasted time trying to take a fiercely-resistant Edinburgh.

Mar knew he had to move against Argyll. He still had superior numbers to the government forces, but was badly hampered by his own military inability and by the fact that the Jacobite leaders disliked each other almost as much as they hated the Hanoverians.

The clash finally came at Sheriffmuir, not far outside Perth, on November 13 1715. It was a messy, indecisive battle which neither side won. But Argyll had faced a force four times bigger than his own and had not decisively lost. That gave him a huge psychological victory.

The following month, the Pretender, James VIII and III, finally arrived in Scotland, landing at Peterhead after his long-awaited journey from France.

It was too late. Government forces now had the initiative. James' troops were further demoralised by news that 6000 crack troops from Holland were on their way to reinforce the government.

Six weeks later, James decided to cut and run. He left for France with the leaders of his army, including the Earl of Mar, never to see Scotland again.

The whole affair had been a disaster. If Mar had been more decisive, and if James had arrived earlier, the rebellion might well have succeeded. Many in both Scotland and England had no real love for George or the Hanoverians and there was still plenty of disenchantment with the Act of Union.

The government moved quickly. The ringleaders who had not fled were taken to London and imprisoned. Only two, the Earl of Derwentwater and Viscount Kenmure, were executed.

Others involved in the campaign were taken to Carlisle. A large number were sentenced to death, though most were pardoned the next year. The government had decided that most of its sanctions against the rebellious Scots were to be economic, rather than judicial. The estates of those involved in the uprising were confiscated and sold.

The collapse of the campaign did not quell Jacobite anger: if anything, it was only fuelled by it. In 1719, another rebellion, this time with the help of Spain, was organised and two fleets sailed for Scotland.

Only one made it and the campaign was immediately hampered by the fact that its two leaders, the Earl Marischal of Scotland, George Keith and the commander of the forces, Lord Tullibardine, hated each other so much that they would not even pitch camp together.

Once again, the rebellion was a disaster. In a battle at Glenshiel, government forces pounded James's troops.

At last, the government was waking up to the very real threat Jacobitism was causing. It was determined to quell the movement once and for all. It banned Highlanders from carrying arms and started to make plans to fortify the Highlands, the natural stronghold of the Jacobites, and show that the Hanoverian government meant business.

All these moves did, however, was to reinforce English arrogance over the Scots and start a chain of events which led to the biggest Jacobite rising of all ... the legendary '45.England's arrogance a threat to the Union

Q ONCE James VII had been ousted from the thrones of Scotland and England, what sort of a person did he become?

ABY all accounts, a pretty unpleasant one. He is said to have been a Catholic bigot who spent much of his life praying and thrashing himself in penance. He saw his own daughters Mary and Anne, who took the throne after him, as traitors.

QWHAT sort of an accident did King William die in?

AA PRETTY farcical one. His horse tripped up on a molehill when he was out riding, causing him to fall and break his collarbone. That, in turn, led to him catching pneumonia, from which he died. Jacobites drank toasts to the mole, branding him as a "little gentleman in black velvet".

QWAS Scots' suspicion over the payment of the English Equivalent justified?

ATO a point, yes. Certainly, despite worries, the money was actually paid, having been hauled up from London to Edinburgh by road. But when the chests were opened, it was discovered that the money was in English Exchequer Bills, which were considered suspect at the time, rather than in the cash which was expected.

QDID things actually become so bad between Scotland and England that the Union really was in serious danger?

AYES. In 1713, Viscount Seafield moved in the Lords to have it dissolved and his motion was only defeated by a majority of four. If it had gone to the Commons instead, it might well have been passed.

QWHAT sort of a King would James VIII have made if he had ever captured the throne?

APROBABLY quite a good one. He was certainly brave - he won a reputation for fearlessness while serving with the French forces - and was fair and principled. Unlike George I, he also had the rather useful attribute for a British monarch of being able to speak English.

QWERE the vast majority of Scots at the time Jacobite and the English Hanoverian?

AIT wasn't as simple as that. When Queen Anne died, riots and disturbances in support of Jacobitism broke out right across England. But when the Earl of Mar tried to raise troops in Scotland for the Jacobite cause, his own troops were so reluctant that he had to threaten to torch their houses to get them to comply.


1689: James flees to France after being deposed

1701: James VII dies

1702: King William of Orange dies. Anne, becomes Queen.

NOVEMBER 1702: First discussions between commissioners about Union

FEBRUARY 1703: Talks collapse. Anne calls for fresh Scottish elections

MAY 1703: New Scottish Parliament meets

AUGUST1703: Scots Parliament passes Act of Security

MARCH 1705: English pass the Alien Act

SEPTEMBER 1705: Scots Parliament agrees Queen Anne can appoint its commissioners to negotiation for Union

OCTOBER, 1706: Estates meet to discuss commissioners' deal

JANUARY, 1707: Estates pass Act agreeing to Articles of Union

MARCH, 1707: Estates adjourn

MAY, 1707: Act of Union comes into effect
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Collier, Andrew
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 17, 1999
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