The Jacobite Diaspora 1688-1746: From Despair to Integration
The refugee supporters of the House of Stuart, explains Bruce Lehman, made new lives for themselves as Europeans, achieving success as bankers, merchants, soldiers, churchmen and diplomats.
The Latin word 'Jacobus' means James: the term Jacobite recalls the cause of James VII and II, who was driven from the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland by his Dutch son-in-law William of Orange between 1688 and 1690. However, the story in the Bible in Genesis , Chapter XXVII, where Jacob deceives his father Isaac into giving him a blessing meant for Jacob's brother Esau, was also part of the emotional loading of the term 'Jacobite' to mean 'imposter', as well as 'supporter of the exiled Stuarts'.
The history of those Stuarts has been written many times. James VII and II died in September, 1701 in exile at the Palace of St. Germain in France, which had been loaned to him by Louis XIV. Thereafter his son, James Francis Stuart, the old Chevalier, inspired various rebellions in Britain. In 1708 he led an abortive attempt to invade Scotland, but when there were risings on his behalf in both Scotland and northern England in 1715, he crossed to Scotland just in time to see the rebellion collapse. There was a small rising in the north-west Highlands in 1719, which was crushed by the troops of the new Hanoverian dynasty that had come to the English throne in 1714. Finally in 1745-46 Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie and son of the Old Chevalier, led the last Jacobite rising to eventual defeat at Culloden. But what of the fate of the thousands of Irish, Scottish and English Jacobites who went into exile with the Stuarts? For from 1688 until 1746, people had to flee from both Scotland and Ireland because they were Jacobites, and settle abroad. The story of these forgotten and despised communities is as neglected as it is fascinating.
There was a very substantial Jacobite exodus from Ireland in 1691 when the Treaty of Limerick put an end to the war there. Sarsfield, the outstanding Irish Jacobite Commander, was allowed to take a volunteer army to France on ships provided by his Williamite opponents. Along with many of them went their families. Twelve thousand soldiers went to France with at least 4,000 dependents and provided James VII and II with a ready-made army, paid for by Louis until 1697, when its regiments were absorbed into the French army. There was an Irish Brigade in the French service until 1789. With the outbreak, in 1702, of the War of the Spanish Succession, Irish regiments were formed to fight in Spain on behalf of the successful French claimant to the Spanish throne. After the peace of 1714 they continued as part of the Spanish army. However, it is important to recall that both Ireland and Scotland had a long tradition of sending their sons abroad as mercenary soldiers before 1688. There were already 6,000 Irish troops in France when Sarsfield's army of exiles reached the French shore. At the Battle of the Dunes in 1658 the victorious French general, Turenne, had had under his command a Scottish regiment formerly in Swedish service, while the defeated Spanish army had included a Scottish, an English and three Irish regiments.
It is true that the most famous over- seas unit composed of Scottish troops, the Scots Brigade in the army of the United Netherlands (which was totally absorbed into the Dutch army in 1783), was distinctly Protestant and Whiggish in tone, with regiments forming their own kirk sessions. There were also plenty of Scots who cared not for whom they fought, and a minority of Scottish Roman Catholic lairds who sought their fortunes abroad in the service of Catholic powers such as France or Spain, or the imperial House of Austria. Scottish and Irish military adventurers had been rising to noble status in Habsburg Austria, by fair means or foul, in significant numbers from the days of the Thirty Years' War of 1618-48.
Each successive rising on behalf of the Stuarts produced aristocratic Jacobite refugees, who came to form a network spread all over eighteenth-century Europe, from Sweden to Naples and from Spain to Prussia. Two years before the Irish Jacobite exodus of 1691, there had been a small but very violent Jacobite rising in Scotland on behalf of James, led by Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee. The latter was killed in his moment of triumph at the Battle of Killiecrankie, and the campaign ended with a negotiated settlement between William of Orange and a league of Jacobite Highland chieftains. The handful of Scots and English aristocrats who went into exile with James VII and II therefore tended to be courtiers deeply attached to the royal family or politicians who, either by their behaviour or by public conversion to Catholicism, had gone too far to jump on to the Williamite bandwagon. At the exiled Court they intrigued for the mere shadow of power or for advancement in the phantom Jacobite peerage, a peerage distinctly free with dukedoms. The Scottish politician Lord Melfort, with his outstanding talents for mismanagement and malevolence, epitomised all that was worst in this clique.
By contrast, the 1715 risings in Scotland and the north of England produced numerous political exiles from noble or gentry families. A good example is the heir to the very great ducal inheritance of Atholl in Perthshire who made the mistake of coming out for the Pretender. Because the old Duke of Atholl was a staunch opponent of the rebellion, he was able to save the family estates by being allowed to transfer them to his second son, who duly succeeded as James, second Duke of Atholl. His unfortunate Jacobite elder brother, William, the active rebel in 1715-16, escaped to the Continent with another brother, Lord George Murray. To Jacobites, naturally enough, the exiled heir was the rightful Duke of Atholl after his father's death. 'Duke William' even managed to displace 'Duke James' for a period in Scotland during the turbulent days of the '45. Yet 'Duke William' lived for years off an allowance provided by the Whig 'Duke James'. Many of the exiles never intended to work.
The range of jobs which an exiled aristocrat could accept without demeaning himself in the eyes of contemporaries was very limited, encompassing, at a suitable level, the Church, diplomacy, and the profession of arms. When a great cycle of wars came to an end in 1714, active military commissions became difficult to obtain. Diplomacy was not an easy field to enter, and as the vast majority of Scottish Jacobites were Protestant Episcopalians, a career in the established Church in the Catholic monarchies was closed to them by definition. Some exiles did carve out distinguished careers for themselves. George Keith, Earl Marischal of Scotland, escaped to France after the '15 but then entered the service of Frederick the Great of Prussia. He rose to great heights in the Prussian diplomatic service, acting as Ambassador Extraordinary to the courts of both France and Spain. Decorated with the Order of the Black Eagle, he ended his career as Governor of the Prussian enclave of Neuchatel. His younger brother entered the Prussian army, rose to be a Field Marshal, and met a hero's death at the Battle of Hochkirchen in 1758. The Keith brothers were exceptional. Most exiled Jacobite gentlemen hoped for regular financial help from family or friends in Britain.
Such help as came was seldom regular. That it came at alI was partly due to the network of business relationships between Britain and western Europe which made it relatively easy to forward remittances to the exiles. The most important banking house in eighteenth-century Amsterdam, that of the Hopes, was of Scottish extraction, though not inclined to Jacobitism. More important from a Jacobite point of view were the many businesses in Paris and on the western seaboard of France whose principals were either Irish or Scottish, or who were deeply involved in trade with the British Isles.
Scottish and Irish Jacobites settled particularly in ports like Dunkirk, St. Omer, Boulogne, Dieppe, Le Havre, Rouen, St. Malo, Marlaix, Brest, Nantes, Lorient, La Rochelle and Bordeaux. Antoine Walsh, who conveyed Prince Charles to Scotland in 1745 and organised his rescue in 1746, was a Franco-Irish Jacobite privateer owner from Nantes. Jacobite families seem to have been particularly welcome in Breton ports, perhaps because a significant proportion of them had, like the Bretons, a Celtic heritage. Similar exiled business communities could be found in Spain at Bilbao, Malaga and Cadiz, as well as in Scandinavia. In Sweden there were business houses of Scots Jacobite origin in Gothenberg and Malmo, while others established themselves in the joint kingdom of Denmark-Norway at both Copenhagen and Bergen. In the Baltic these groups could be found at Danzig and Riga.
Not all Irish or Scottish merchants trading to France had Jacobite connections. The celebrated 'Galway Mafia' of merchant landowners deeply involved in the French wine trade, for example, all conformed to the Protestant established Church and political ascendancy of eighteenth-century Ireland. But there is no doubt that these business networks provided the exiled Stuarts with an invaluable mechanism for the movement of men and correspondence, while the role of Jacobite bankers in Paris, like William Gordon and Sons, or Aeneas MacDonald, was important in actually financing Jacobite enterprises.
Aeneas MacDonald, the banker, who had been meaning to go to Scotland anyway, was one of the companions who helped Charles launch the '45. He was a cautious man who was captured after the rising but allowed eventually to return to France, where he resumed his business career and perished in the Revolution. The 'Gentle Lochiel', Donald Cameron of Lochiel, that peerless example of the Highland Jacobite chief, also escaped to France after the '45. Charles seems to have promised him a regiment in the French service if the rebellion failed; and Louis XV, though he eventually expelled Charles from France, made Lochiel a Lieutenant-Colonel in the French service. This, incidentally, probably gave him a larger income than he had enjoyed before the rebellion. Yet he did not really fit in to French society. The Duc de Luynes complains in his Memoirs that at a supper party he and his wife gave for Lochiel and his brother, Dr. Archibald Cameron, it was vexing not to know how to address these Gaelic gentlemen and Jacobite heroes. The term 'milord' was clearly not right, but then plain 'Monsieur' was unthinkable. Lochiel died in 1758. Dr. Archibald died tragically and heroically on the scaffold at Tyburn in 1713, after being captured on a dangerous visit to Scotland. He was the last Jacobite to die for his beliefs.
By then the Cause was dead. Prince Henry, the younger brother of Charles had the good sense to take up an ecclesiastical career in the Roman Catholic Church in 1747, when he became a Cardinal. The last French minister who seriously hoped to restore the Stuarts, the Comte de Maurepas, fell victim in 1749 to an intrigue organised by Louis XV's mistress, Madame de Pompadour. The English ambassador naturally kept an eagle eye on this development. He sent a salacious account of the episode to the Duke of Cumberland, victor of Culloden. It alleged that the plot nearly failed when the Pompadour went into a blind panic, suspecting, wrongly, that she was pregnant, and throwing the conspirators into confusion. As Louis objected to his mistresses becoming pregnant, this would have cost the Pompadour all her influence with the King. The Jacobite diaspora inevitably lost that hope which kept it separate from its host societies when it realised that France had finally turned its back on the Cause. Assimilation was the inevitable fate of the mass of the exiles. It was already well advanced in many cases before the '45. By 1784 it was so complete, and the once bonnie Prince Charlie was so notoriously a wreck of a man, drinking himself into the grave he reached early in 1788, that the Younger Pitt, Prime Minister of Britain, could afford the gesture of restoring to the heirs of Jacobite families estates forfeited after the '45. From dangerous plotters hoping to return, the bulk of the exiled Jacobite families had turned into respectable Frenchmen, Spaniards, Swedes, Austrians or Italians. Henry, the brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie, died in 1807 a pensioner of the Hanoverian George III, having lost all his wealth in the French invasion of Italy. Even the monument to the exiled Stuarts in St. Peter's in Rome was paid for by their Hanoverian successors. Such was the fascination of these shadowy monarchs that George IV of Britain bought the bulk of their papers which now repose in the Royal Archives at Windsor. If their exiled followers eventually merged into their surroundings, the royal Stuarts themselves survived as an immortal symbol of the glamour of a Lost Cause.
Dr Bruce Lenman is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at St. Andrews University.
- J. Miller, James II: A Study in Kingship, Wayland (London, 1977)
- B. Lenman, The Jacobite Risings in Britain 1689-1746, Methuen (London, 1980)
- E. Cruickshank, Political Untouchables: The Tories and the '45, Duckworth (London, 1979)
- G.H. Jones, The Main Stream of Jacobitism, Harvard (Cambridge, Mass., 1954)
- G.P. Insh, The Scottish Jacobite Movement, Moray Press (Edinburgh, 1952)
- J.S. Gibson, Ships of the '45, Hutchinson (London, 1967)
- Claude Nordmann, 'Les Jacobites é de Lille III', 81-101).
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