The beginning of the end for the '45 Rising

The Rising of 1745 was orchestrated by the deposed Stewart/Stuart dynasty, with the aim of returning them to the throne. Not to the throne of Scotland, but rather to the throne of the United Kingdom. There is a common misconception about this Rising, that it was a struggle between the Scots and English, but it was never anything of the kind. Many of the Scots in the ranks of the Jacobite forces may have considered that they were fighting to restore their independence, and to put a Scottish king back in Holyrood once again, but the Stuarts never saw it that way.

The Italian born, Italian speaking Bonnie Prince Charlie always had his eyes firmly set on London, not Edinburgh. It was the British crown he desired for his father, King James, and for himself. The Stuart dynasty were backed by the French and their original plan was for a French invasion force not to land in Scotland but in the south, within easy striking distance of London. This invasion was scheduled to take place in 1744.

It was the French forces that were to take on the British army initially, Bonnie Prince Charlie was then supposed to rally supporters to his side under their protective umbrella. There is no doubt that this could have worked well had such an invasion took place, as there are always those in England and Scotland willing to flock to a winners banner, regardless of previous loyalties.

A secondary landing of French troops was planned to take place in Scotland but it was never supposed to be anything other than a minor side show to the main event. The abandonment of the planned invasion of 1744 changed things radically.

Scots and English Jacobites had originally made it clear to the Stuarts that they would only rise under the protection of a French invasion force. The impulsive Bonnie Prince Charlie ignored this and landed in Scotland virtually alone, all except for a small force of Franco-Irish volunteers. The clans were not keen to rise, indeed Bonnie Prince Charlie was actually advised to go away again.

In the end many chiefs did eventually bring their people out to support him, often by force and threat, but there were also those who did not and wanted nothing to do with his ill-fated dynastic adventure. The Sutherlands, MacKay's and Gunn's of the north were amongst those who refused to join the 1745 Rising.

After initial success at the Battle of Prestonpans on 21st September 1745, when the Jacobite forces numbered only 2,500 raw untrained men, the growing and more experienced Jacobite army headed south. They took Edinburgh before moving into England and entering Manchester on the 28th November, where English volunteers joined the Jacobite army and formed what became known as the Manchester Regiment.

The Jacobite forces entered Derby, only 125 miles from London, on the 4th December 1745. It was here that the fate of the Rising was decided. The Jacobite council of war having received false information from a double agent, decided not to risk an advance upon London but instead to turn around and head back to Scotland, much to the displeasure of the royal Prince. This was a fateful decision as at that point the French were actually on the verge of sending an invasion force to England, but upon news of the retreat they cancelled the invasion. The Jacobite army began its long march back to Scotland on the 6th December, a march that was to end in the bloodbath at Culloden on the 16th April 1746.

Since 1990 the Charles Edward Stuart Society of Derby has held a colourful pageant and battle re-enactment to commemorate the arrival of the Jacobite army. It is an illustration of how interwoven the long histories of England and Scotland are.

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ęCopyright - James of Glencarr