… [we] humbly beg Leave, with the common Voice of your dutiful and well-affectioned People, to express our Horror and Detestation at the wicked and unnatural Rebellion of those ungrateful Wretches, who endeavour to set up a popish Pretender to your Crown. It is with the greatest Pleasure that we can assure your Majesty, that all your Subjects in this Island are so zealous and unanimous in their Fidelity and Affection to your Majesty and Royal Family, and to the Protestant Religion, that we know not one Jacobite nor one Papist amongst us.
Declaration of allegiance to King George II and the British Government by the Lieutenant Governor and inhabitants of Guernsey published in the London Gazette, 26th – 30th November 1745.
In the winter of 1745 England was invaded. A rebel army led by the Jacobite claimant to the British throne, Charles Edward Stuart, swept southwards to reach a point less than 150 miles from London. For several months the nation held its breath as the British army engaged the Jacobite forces in a series of battles and skirmishes.
The Jacobites were the supporters of the restoration of the Catholic King James II and his successors, James Francis Edward Stuart, known as the ‘Old Pretender’, and Charles Edward Stuart, known as the ‘Young Pretender’ and ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. They took their name from Jacobus, the Latin form of James. In the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 James II had been replaced on the thrones of England and Scotland by the Dutch Protestant William of Orange (William III) and his wife Mary, who was James II’s own eldest daughter. William was succeeded in 1701 by Queen Anne, and upon her death in 1714 the crown passed to the German Protestant House of Hanover, thus excluding the Catholic Stuarts for a second time. The Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745 were the most dramatic responses to these events.
The Jacobite cause was marked by a diverse and international character. Its supporters could be found not only in Scotland, but also in England and Ireland, and it had allies amongst the Catholic monarchies of Europe, including France and Spain. While a belief in the legitimate claim of the House of Stuart to the British crown was the fundamental principle of Jacobitism, reasons for supporting the cause varied greatly. Catholicism was certainly a common bond amongst many Jacobites, but there were also Protestant Jacobites, just as there were Catholic anti-Jacobites. For some, support for Jacobitism reflected political and economic grievances against the Union of 1707 between Scotland and England. It is also notable that Jacobite support readily crossed class and gender divides.
The outcome of the 1745 rising was finally decided by the Jacobites’ strategic retreat to their stronghold in the Scottish Highlands, and reached its bloody conclusion in the spring of 1746, with the crushing defeat of the rebels by the Duke of Cumberland at the battle of Culloden. Charles Edward Stuart escaped capture and fled to exile in France – although the hope that he would one day return to reclaim his rightful place on the British throne lived on among his supporters.
Following this defeat the British government sought to repress the Jacobite movement, and Jacobitism went underground. In order to identify and exclude potential Jacobite sympathisers from public office and positions of authority, the British government made the swearing of the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown and the Protestant succession mandatory. However, fear and suspicion of the Jacobites persisted, even for several decades after the rebellions. With the continued presence of the exiled ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ and his Jacobite court on the Continent, Jacobitism was still viewed as a treasonable menace to Britain. Heavy penalties were imposed for treason and sedition, so that almost any open expression of Jacobite sentiments could incur legal sanctions up to and including execution. Jacobites were therefore forced to communicate their allegiance covertly in a way that was understood only by those who shared their sympathies.
Consequently everyday objects such as drinking glasses, personal possessions and even clothing could incorporate motifs or symbolism intended to inspire courage, loyalty, hope and unity and promote the Jacobite cause. Such objects provided an outlet for privately expressing both pro- and anti-Jacobite feeling and covertly communicating allegiances in an often dangerous environment. Subtle and ambiguous messages also had the ability to affirm loyalty to those capable of understanding their meaning whilst avoiding public detection. Therefore the deliberately obscure and secret nature of coded imagery often makes clear identification of Jacobite messages difficult.
We have to remember this when we think about the residents of Fairfax House – the 9th Viscount Fairfax of Emley and his daughter Anne – who were devout Catholics in a period when Catholicism was widely regarded with fear and suspicion. For many in Hanoverian England Catholicism was still closely identified with Jacobitism, so the Fairfaxes could be perceived as potential sympathisers whose loyalty to the Crown was in question. And yet, then as now, the Fairfaxes’ true sympathies cannot be unequivocally established.
Name: Hannah Phillip
Source: In the Name of the Rose: The Jacobite Rebellions, Symbolism and Allegiance (Fairfax House, 2013)