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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Revolting Jacobites

Feel free to ignore this. Just latest part of an ongoing creation of history.

Maxwell's mixed voting record is matched by that of his fellow commissioner, Robert Johnston of Kelton. Johnston, who represented the burgh of Dumfries, was also later considered to have strongly opposed the Union (as celebrated by the words “unioni fortiter opposuit” on his gravestone), yet abstained from several key votes. [Whitelaw: 1007]. However unhappy Maxwell may have been with the Union of 1707, anticipating a Jacobite challenge to the Hanoverian succession, he took the lead in organising a south-west Scotland anti-Jacobite alliance. The first meeting of this alliance took place at Dalmellington in 13th March 1714. Here, along with Thomas Gordon of Earlston ( whose Covenanter father Alexander had fought at Bothwell Brig) and Alexander Fergussson of Craigdarroch (whose father had died fighting against Claverhouse at Killiecrankie), Maxwell passed

resolutions to the effect that a general correspondence be entered into among the well- affected nobility, gentry, and citizens "within the shires of Clydesdale, Renfrew, Ayr, Galloway, Nithsdale, and the Stewartries and bailiaries thereof;" that meetings be held in each of these districts, for furtherance of the common object; that each district shall be invited to send representatives to general quarterly meetings, the first of which was fixed to be held at Dalmellington; that intercourse by letter or otherwise be kept up with their friends in Great Britain and Ireland; and that " it be earnestly recommended to each of the said particular meetings to fall upon such prudent and expeditious methods to put their people in a defensive posture, in such a manner as they shall see most proper and conform to law." [McDowall:1886, quoting Rae:1718]

Mackenzie [1841] adds that “these various gentlemen, well affected to a Protestant Government... raised considerable sums of money; and; having provided arms and ammunition, they took care to see the people instructed in military exercises. Many peoples in both districts [Galloway and Nithsdale] assembled regularly to accustom themselves to the use firearms under the specious pretence of shooting for a prize.”. Shortly afterwards, under the pretence of attending a horse race at Lochmaben in Annandale, there was a similar gathering of local Jacobites.

Upon Saturday, the 29th of May, 1714 [the anniversary of the Restoration], there was a great confluence of gentlemen and country people at Lochmaben, on the occasion of a horse-race there. Two plates, which were the prizes, had peculiar devices: the one had a woman with balances in her hand, the emblem of justice, and over the head was Justitia, and at a little distance Suum cuique. The other had several men, with their heads downwards, in a tumbling posture; and one eminent person, erected above the rest, with that Scripture, Ezek. xxi. 27, ` I will overturn, overturn, overturn it : and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.' After the race, the Popish and Jacobite gentry, such as Frances Maxwell of Tinwald, John Maxwell, his brother, Robert Johnston of Wamphray, Robert Carruthers of Rammerscales, the Master of Burleigh (who is under sentence of death for murder, and made his escape out of the tolbooth of Edinburgh a little before he was to have been execute), with several others I could name, went to the Cross, where, in a very solemn manner, before hundreds of witnesses, with drum beating and colours display'd, they did upon their knees drink their King's health,” the Master of Burleigh prefacing the toast by invoking perdition on the heads of those who refused to drink it. [McDowall:1886, quoting Rae: 1718] Also see http://www.antique-silver.com/des/2959.htm

Unfortunately it is unclear from Rae's account if the proposed 'quarterly meetings' at Dalmellington were continued through 1714 and into 1715. Szechi [2006:107] mentions that 'Associations' for the defence and support of George I were formed in late July 1715. However these 'armed zealots' seem to have alarmed George and his ministers almost as much as the Jacobites did and so their offer of support was politely declined. This account of official disapproval conflicts with Rae, who states that towards in August and September 1715 a Major Aikman visited Galloway and Nithsdale and reviewed assemblies of volunteers and made arrangements for their deployment in the event of 'the Pretender' landing at Kirkcudbright or Loch Ryan. The absence of “dissenters from the Church of Scotland” I.e. McMillan's Cameronians and Hepburn's Hebronites from these reviews may explain why Major Aikman was able to treat with these volunteers. If Colonel William Maxwell was involved in the organisation of these volunteers, this would also have provided reassurance. That Maxwell was considered a Hanoverian loyalist is shown by his appointment as 'Governor of Glasgow' [Reid:1898:29]on 2nd October 1715. On 12th March 1716 the Town Council of Glasgow presented Maxwell with a service of silver plate to the value of £35 1s 8d “ as a mark of the town's favour and respect towards him for his good service in taking upon him the regulation and management of all the Guards that were kept in the city, quhich, during the rebellion and confusion were judged necessary to be kept for the security thairof...” [Reid:1898: 31, quoting Minutes of Glasgow Town Council]

Meanwhile, the southern Jacobites under the leadership of William Gordon, the 6th Viscount of Kenmure raised their standard at Moffat on 12th October. This move had already been anticipated by the government. On the 8th of October, Adam Cockburn, Lord Justice Clerk, had written to Robert Corbet, the Provost of Dumfries:


Having good information that there is a design framed of rising in Rebellion in the Southern parts, against His Majesty and the Government, I send this express that you may be on your guard: For what I can rely upon , their first attempt is to be suddenly made upon your town. I heartily wish you may escape their intended visit. I am Sir, etc

Ad. Cockburn [Mackenzie : 1841:366]

At the same time, William Johnston, marquis of Annandale, acting as Lord- Lieutenant for Dumfriesshire and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright appointed Alexander Murray of Broughton, Thomas Gordon of Earlston, William Muir of Cassencarie, Patrick Heron of Kirroughtrie, Robert Johnston of Kelton, Nathaniel Gordon of Carelton, Adam Craik of Arbigland and Robert Maxwell of Hills as Deputy Lieutenants of the Stewartry, with orders to assemble all the 'fencible (militia) men' of the Stewartry at Leathes Muir (near present day Castle Douglas on the Old Military Road to Dumfries) on the 11th of October. Rae claims 5000 assembled, but this must be an exaggeration. A similar gathering, which had already been rehearsed in mid- September, took place near Closeburn in Nithsdale on the same day. On the 10th of October, the ministers of Tinwald and Torthorwald had assembled a group of armed parishioners at Locharbridge, just outside Dumfries, and offered their services in defence of the town. On the 12th October a company of armed volunteers from Kirkcudbright, led by their provost, arrived in Dumfries.

The Jacobite forces, which amounted to only 153 armed horsemen, had reached within a mile and half of Dumfries on the afternoon of the 12th October before becoming aware that they had lost the element of surprise. They then retreated to Lochmaben and continued heading east into the Borders via Langholm , Hawick and Jedburgh before crossing over in to Northumberland where they joined with a group of English Jacobites at Rothbury on the 19th October. This joint force then crossed back over into Scotland to meet up with a force of 1500 Highlanders led by Mackintosh of Borlum at Kelso on the 22nd October. With the support of these reinforcements, the Jacobites decided to make another attempt on Dumfries. On the night of the 31st of October, an advance party of 400 Jacobite horsemen came within 3 miles of the town, but once more retreated on learning that the town was now fortified and defended by 1500 fully armed volunteers under the direction of 7 'half-pay' officers. Additional support was given by a similar number of volunteers equipped with scythes blades attached to long poles. A few of these primitive weapons can still be seen in the Dumfries Museum.

After much debate, the Jacobites then decided to invade England, getting as far south as Preston where they surrendered on the 14th of November. For 16 of those who surrendered at Preston, a Galloway or Dumfriesshire connection can be established, of whom 6 were Roman Catholic Maxwells:

William Maxwell, earl of Nithsdale

John Maxwell of Stielston

Edmund Maxwell of Carnsalloch

William Maxwell of Munches

George Maxwell, his brother

Charles Maxwell of Cowhill

William Gordon, viscount Kenmure

Robert Dalzell, earl of Carnwath

John Dalzell, his brother ( their sister Mary was married to William Gordon)

William Grierson of Lag

Gilbert Grierson his brother (sons of Robert, persecutor of Covenanters)

Andrew Cassie of Kirkhouse

Walter Riddle of Glenriddle

Robert McClellan of Barscobe

Robert Douglas of Auchenshinnoch

Basil Hamilton of Baldoon

Significantly, although it was feared that the the Roman Catholic tenants of the Maxwells, in the parishes of Caerlaverock, Troqueer, Terregles and Kirkgunzeon might support the Jacobites, these fears proved groundless. Indeed, at least some of the Maxwell, Gordon and Dalzell tenantry “were in arms at Dumfries, and manifested a great deal of zeal against the Rebellion”.[Rae: 1718] But whilst William Gordon of Kenmure and William Maxwell of Nithsdale led the Jacobites, the 18 year old Basil Hamilton of Baldoon was the wealthiest of the southern Jacobites in 1715. The estate Hamilton forfeited in 1716 had a total rental value of £1494 (of which £1225 was cash rent ). Maxwell's was worth £803 (£749 in cash rent), Gordon's £600 (£538 cash rent) and Greirson's £424, all in cash rents. [Mackenzie: 1841]. Had the southern Jacobites been able to recruit their tenants as foot soldiers in the Jacobite cause, as their northern compatriots were able to, they would have posed a substantial threat to the rear of Hanoverian army led by Argyll.

That their tenants chose to resist rather than support their feudal superiors seems to have infuriated the southern Jacobites, who then threatened to make Galloway a 'hunting field'. This threat was a reference to a 'let them eat cake' quip by James II 's queen, Mary of Modena who said “Scotland will never be at peace until the southern parts are made a hunting park”. [Morton: 1936] The implication being that the methods of Graham of Claverhouse and Grierson of Lag had been insufficiently forceful. Only the wholesale clearance of the insolent and rebellious Whigs from the land would create a satisfyingly peaceful wilderness. Although uttered in the heat of war, the Jacobites' words were not forgotten by those who had volunteered to defend king George in the late rebellion.

For, although the battles of Preston and Sherrifmuir ended the Jacobite threat at national level, the Hanoverian forces involved were part of a professional army. In south-west Scotland, the Jacobites had been, if not defeated, at least 'seen off' by groups of volunteers without even the official status of a 'militia'. The Marquis of Annandale, who had the authority to call out the militia, returned from Dumfries to Edinburgh on 20th October 1715. On the 22nd October the magistrates of Dumfries were advised that the Jacobites gathered at Kelso and now including Mackintosh of Borlum's Highlanders, were advancing towards Dumfries. Acting on their own initiative, the magistrates urgently requested help from their 'friends' in Galloway and Nithsdale. “ In answer to these urgent requests, two thousand well-armed men volunteered their services for the protection of the town. “ Since the militia of the county were not yet raised, “Dumfries had to depend for its defence on volunteer soldiers alone.” [ McDowall: 1886]. It was at this point (30th /31st October) that John Hepburn of Urr and 320 of his armed Hebronites arrived to volunteer their additional, but conditional, assistance.

In its local context then, the events of 1715 were part of a long drawn out civil war between pro-and anti- Stuart forces. Back in 1640, Robert Maxwell, the 1st earl of Nithsdale had held his castles of Caerlaverock and Threave for Charles I . Opposing Maxwell were Covenanting forces raised, amongst others, by Alexander Gordon of Earlston as a member of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright's War Committee of the Covenenters. Seventy five years later, Alexander Gordon's great-grandson Thomas helped raise, train and arm the force which opposed William Maxwell, 5th earl of Nithsdale (Robert Maxwell's great-great nephew) and James Stuart, grandson of Charles I . In those seventy five years, the ebb and flow of the Stuart family's fortunes had seen a revolution, a restoration, another revolution and now a counter-revolution aimed at a second restoration. The fates and fortunes of many families across south-west Scotland had followed those of the House of Stuart. The 'Killing Times' of 1685/6 may only have created 80 or so martyrs graves but thousands more had already died in battles fought far from home and hearth. The father of Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch, who raised an anti- Jacobite volunteer force in Nithsdale in 1715, had died fighting 'bluidy Clavers' at Killiecrankie. (In 1746 Craigdarroch House, built for Alexander by William and Robert Adam in 1726, was looted by the retreating army of Charles Edward Stuart).

For others, the memory of fines and forfeitures imposed on those Presbyterians deemed less than loyal to an originally Episcopalian, now Roman Catholic, House of Stuart would not have been forgotten. Given this history and the contemporary ( if relative and genteel) poverty of, for example, William Maxwell [Maxwell Stuart: 1995], the practical fear that a Jacobite victory in 1715 would lead to subsequent 'land grab' must be recognised.


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