Jacobite Collection

18 December 2018

The Jacobite Risings were a series of wars and rebellions across Britain and Ireland from 1688 – 1746 with the aim of returning King James VII and II of Scotland and England, and his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne. James, the last Catholic monarch, had been deposed by Parliament during the Glorious Revolution and his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange formally became Britain’s monarchs in 1689.

Portrait of Charles Edward Stuart, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender. 

When James succeeded his brother Charles II in 1685 he attempted to increase religious tolerance of Roman Catholicism and other Protestant Dissenters, alienating many of the Anglican establishment who were suspicious of any increase in Catholic power. His attempts to placate the Presbyterians were also unpopular as they had long memories of his earlier attempts at suppression and doubted the sincerity of his change of heart.

Despite these unpopular decisions his reign was tolerated because James was in his 50s and both his daughters were Protestants who would soon take the throne back in to what many thought would be safe hands. However, in 1688 James’s second wife Mary of Modena gave birth to a boy, James, who was baptised Catholic. The laws of succession at the time meant that baby James became heir to the throne ahead of his half-sisters and the certainty of a Catholic dynasty controlling the throne of Great Britain was re-established.

Seven Englishmen, now remembered as the Immortal Seven, wrote a letter to William of Orange, received 30 June 1688, asking him and his wife Mary to depose James and rule jointly in his place. William arrived in November and James fled London for France. By February 1689 William and Mary were officially recognised as England’s monarchs although many Catholics and royalists still supported James.

The rebellions that followed over the next 60 years took their name, ‘Jacobite’, from Jacobus, the Latin form of James. Every uprising had its own unique features, but all had the same goal; the restoration of a Stuart monarchy in Scotland and England. The two major Jacobite rebellions were known as ‘the Fifteen’ and ‘the Forty-Five’ after the years they were fought, 1715 and 1745. The Forty-Five was the final Jacobite rebellion, led by Charles Edward Stuart, known as the Young Pretender, who was well and truly defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 ending any hope of a Stuart restoration.

During the Jacobite rising of 1715 James Stuart, 2nd Earl of Bute, appointed by George I as Commissioner for Trade and Police in Scotland, Lord Lieutenant of Bute and Lord of the bedchamber, kept the peace in Argyll and Bute as commander of the Bute and Argyll militia. Nevertheless, the Mount Stuart archive and collection is home to many interesting Jacobite objects.

In the Collection we have a pair of pistols that belonged to Charles Edward Stuart, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender, made by the famous Scottish gunsmith John Murdoch, armourer of Doune. The guns were formally owned by Charles Manning Allen who often went by the assumed name Charles Edward Stuart, Comte d’Albanie. Charles and his brother John were joint authors of the dubious book Vestiarium Scotium on tartan and clan dress. They claimed to be descended from the Stuart Kings.

‘Snuff Mulls’ were containers, larger than snuff boxes, for storing snuff tobacco, usually kept on tables. This example is made of ivory with a ‘butterfly’ hinge and inscribed with a thistle whichrepresents the Order of Thistle which James VII received in 1687. The crown and letters JR, for Jacobus Rex, connects the engraving to potential royal or national property.