Spines of the thistle : the popular constituency of the Jacobite Rising in 1745-6
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This thesis examines the social record of popular Jacobitism during the 1745 Rising as expressed through its plebeian constituency. Such an assessment fills in the gaps largely ignored by scholars of the Jacobite period, who instead tend to concentrate upon the elites and the political and doctrinal ideologies espoused by influential gentry. Using a purpose-built database to compile and analyse a large number of resources including lists of prisoners, trial records, muster rolls, and government papers, a prosopographical survey of over 15,000 persona entries is presented. The study looks at four thematic aspects of popular Jacobitism, which describe motivation, constituency, recruitment, and consequences. These combine to provide a social profile of the ‘lesser sort’ of those persons involved in rebellion against the Hanoverian government, whether martial or civilian. The results suggest that practicality was a major influence in drawing the common people into civil war, and that the ideological tenets of Jacobitism, much diluted by 1745, took a backseat to issues of necessity. Widespread ambivalence to the political climate made harsh recruiting methods necessary, and rampant desertion reinforced that need until the army’s defeat at Culloden. Both the willing and unwilling supporters of Charles Edward Stuart’s landing in Scotland represented local, national, and international interests and stretched across class divides. Civilians contributed to the effort along with the soldiers, but limited martial support both domestic and foreign was insufficient to sustain the Stuart-sanctioned coup and the exiled dynasty’s hopes for a subsequent restoration. Understanding that weak punitive measures after 1715 enabled yet another rising thirty years later, the government’s response after Culloden was swift and brutal. Though its campaigns of containment and suppression strained the resources of the judicial system, effective punishment was seen as a necessity, dominating British policy even as the state was involved in a larger war on the Continent. This thesis demonstrates that plebeians used by the Jacobite elites were ill-equipped to support the strategies of the cause, yet they ultimately bore the brunt of the reparations for treasonous expressions, however questionable their commitment may have been.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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