Collection of material relating to the Jacobites

Scope and Content

The material consists of: treatises against the Jacobites, 1713 and undated; letters to the Earl of Belloment about Culloden, 1746-1747; and, an essay The Jacobites in Edinburgh.

Administrative / Biographical History

Jacobites were those who continued to support the legitimacy of King James VII of Scotland (James II) and his son Prince James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender) after the accession of William and Mary 1688-1689. The word Jacobite was derived from Jacobus, the Latin form of James. King James VII, his son, and grandson Prince Charles Edward Stuart were just as keen to win back the English crown as the Scottish one, regarding the former as the greater prize. In Scotland itself, loyalty to the House of Stewart generally, the unpopularity of the Union in 1707, and bad relations between the two countries even before the Union (not least because of the collapse of the Darien Scheme), gave the Jacobite cause a particular appeal. From the Jacobite court in France and later in Italy contact was maintained with Scotland, and between 1689 and 1745 actual or attempted rebellion occurred several times.

In 1689, with a force of Highland Jacobites, John Graham of Claverhouse (1648-1689) Viscount 'Bonnie' Dundee, defeated William's forces at the Battle of Killiecrankie, near Pitlochry in Perthshire. The Viscount was himself killed however, and his Jacobites were later defeated at the Battle of Cromdale in Speyside (the Haughs of Cromdale) in 1690.

A dozen years later, in the opening years of the eighteenth century, both James VII and William died - James in 1701 and William in 1702. In Scotland the effects of the collapse of the colonial adventure in Darien were being felt and brought some advantage to the Jacobite cause which, because of the passing of William, had increased its support. In the wider world the War of the Spanish Succession brought Louis XIV of France into opposition with Queen Anne's government and Louis was happy to support the Jacobites and to recognise James Francis Edward Stuart (1688-1766) as King of England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1708 a small Franco-Jacobite fleet sailed from Dunkirk to the Forth estuary, planning to land at Burntisland and to make for Stirling. Although it was believed that support would be widespread and that there would be only minimal resistance, the French commander had felt intimated by the presence of an English fleet in the Forth under the Command of Admiral Byng and so he returned the force to France.

On the death of Queen Anne in 1714 a new opportunity arose for Prince James. Resentment in Scotland against the parliamentary Union with England in 1707 had been added to by the succession of the House of Hanover and George I. In England there was strong opposition to the Whig domination of George's government and thus some sympathy for the Jacobites, particularly in the north-east. Led by John Erskine, 11th Earl of Mar, rebellion broke out in Scotland in September 1715. By the end of the month his forces had occupied Inverness and by November had control of eastern Scotland as far south as Perth, and Prince James had sailed from Dunkirk landing at Peterhead, north of Aberdeen. Rallied against Mar were government forces led by John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll. In spite of their numerical superiority the Jacobite forces under Mar were checked at the indecisive Battle of Sheriffmuir near Dunblane, Perthshire, on 13 November 1715. It then proved impossible for him to join up with other Jacobites in Edinburgh and southern Scotland. Inverness then fell to government forces and the Jacobites were pursued from Perth to Aberdeen over January-February 1716. With the collapse of the rebellion James sailed back to France from Montrose in Angus.

James then travelled to his court in Italy. There he found new support for his cause from the Spanish government of Philip V. The Spanish foreign minister Cardinal Alberoni planned an invasion of south-west England accompanied by James, along with a diversionary landing in north-west Scotland. In the event, storms caused the landing in England to be aborted but a small force of Spaniards and Jacobites landed in Kintail, Wester Ross. The Jacobites under William Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine (1689-1746), managed to take Eilean Donan Castle but the castle was bombarded by the Royal Navy and the force itself was defeated at the Battle of Glenshiel on 10 June 1719.

In 1719 too, James had married Clementina Sobieski, the grand-daughter of Polish King John Sobieski. Their first son Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart, Prince of Wales (the Young Pretender, 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'), was born in 1720. Prince Henry Benedict (who would later style himself Henry IX) was born in 1725.

Although by the 1740s Scotland was beginning to see benefits from the Union, support for the Jacobites and the exiled court continued in the Highlands. With French encouragement this time, it was Prince Charles, then in his mid-twenties, who would try to win back the throne for his father. In July 1745, accompanied by seven supporters, he landed at Moidart in the west of Scotland. Within six weeks of the raising of the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan in August 1745, Charles had overrun Scotland and had defeated government forces under General Sir John Cope at Prestonpans. By December, the Jacobites had reached Derby, but although still undefeated they had won little support neither in the Lowlands of Scotland nor in England, and they began a fateful withdrawal to Scotland pursued by the Duke of Cumberland. They again successfully engaged government forces at the Battle of Falkirk on 17 January 1746 and laid siege to Stirling. With the approach of Cumberland in February, the Jacobite force continued northwards towards Inverness. On 16 April 1746, at the Battle of Culloden, the last battle to be fought on British soil, the Jacobites were defeated.

Until September 1746 and his escape from Arisaig to France on the frigate 'L'Heureux', Prince Charles lived as a fugitive across the Highlands. In 1750, in London, he formed a relationship with Clementina Walkenshaw whom he had met in Scotland. In 1772 he married Princess Louise Maximilienne of Stolberg-Gedern but she escaped the turbulent marriage in 1780. Latterly he shared his home with Charlotte Stuart (1753-1789) his daughter by Clementina Walkenshaw, and he created her HRH Duchess of Albany. Charles died in 1788. His father, the Old Pretender, had died in 1766 and was buried in St. Peter's, Rome. His brother Henry Benedict, Cardinal Duke of York, died in 1807.

Do any Stuarts survive today? A claim to the Scottish throne is made by Prince Michael James Alexander Stewart (born 1958), 7th Count of Albany. His claim lies on the basis of the marriage of Bonnie Prince Charlie to the Comtesse de Masillan in 1785, and through the subsequent birth of Prince Edward James Stuart in November 1786, and through subsequent descendents. In addition, a Polish historian Count Peter Pininski has indicated another line of descent through Charlotte Stuart and her marriage to Prince Ferdinand Maximilien Mériadec de Rohan-Guéméné, Archbishop of Cambrai. Although their son Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1784-1854) died childless in Scotland, one of their two daughters, Princess Marie Victoire de Rohan (1779-1836), is said to have lived in Poland marrying Paul de Nikorowicz. They had a son, Antime, and a grandson and grand-daughter, Charles and Julie-Therese. The latter married Count Leonard Francis Xavier Pininski. The Pininskis had four sons, the youngest of whom was Alexander who provided another generation, Ladislas and Mieczyslas. In turn, Mieczyslas had a son called Stanislas, father of Peter Pininski who today lives in Warsaw. He is said not to claim any crown or throne.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994. (2) Peter Pininski, Interview by Sarah Powell. The Stuarts - a secret revealed. Burke's Peerage and Gentry. Full-text [online]. Burke's Peerage and Gentry  [Accessed 25 April 2002].

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to material related to the Jacobites in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): early Jacobite poems, circa 1690, at La.III.557; journal of the march into Lancashire, 1715, at La.III.257; list of the contents with extracts from a quarto volume of tracts and manuscripts relating to the Rebellions of 1715-1746, at La.IV.29; letter of Richard Henderson describing Lord Forfar's part in the Battle of Sherrifmuir, 1715, at La.III.375/51; an address to the Jacobites in Scotland, 1745, at La.II.975; letter discussing Duke of Cumberland's proclamation that ministers should give lists of all concerned in the Rebellion, 1746, at La.II.620/5; and, notes by Lord President Duncan Forbes of Culloden on matters to be dealt with after the Rebellion, 1746-1747, at La.II.123.

There are papers relating to the Battle of Culloden in the Laing Collection: an account of the battle and aftermath, 22 April 1746, at La.II.73/48.

Relating to James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender) there is: A free and fair enquiry into the birth of the Pretender, plainly proving it to be spurious, at Dc.3.65/1, and relating to Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart (the Young Pretender) there is: a letter to M. Carnegy... chez M. le Chevalier Stuart a Guissalle pres d'Angoulesme, 1749, at La.III.553; A full collection of all poems upon Charles Prince of Wales ... published since his arrival in Edinburgh the 17th day of September, till the 1st of November, 1745 at La.II.674; and, an account of the birth of Charles, at La.III.791, ff.1-4.

Refer also to the Edinburgh University Library description on Archives Hub: Papers relating to William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765).

Also, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes for Prince James Francis Edward Stuart: correspondence and papers, Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, Ref. MSS Carte 180-181, 208-211; papers relating to marriage to Maria Clementina Sobieska, 1719, National Library of Ireland; miscellaneous letters, West Highland Museum, Ref. NRA(S)0451 NRA 13685 W Highland Mus; papers, British Library, Manuscript Collections, and letters to FA Gualterio, 1713-1727, Ref. Add MSS 20241-583, 31255 passim; papers, Royal Archives, Ref. restricted access, see HMC 56 Stuart MSS, and papers, Ref. SP NRA 43349 Windsor; and, letters (18) to Admiral Gordon, 1716-1730, National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD24/943 NRA 29367 Stirling Home.

In UK NRA for Prince Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart: letters to his father and proclamation as Prince of Wales and Regent, Holyrood House, 1745, Warwickshire County Record Office, Ref. p.12 NRA 5674 Lucy; letters (15) to his brother the Cardinal, 1781-1785, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MS 34634, and letters to Cardinal Gualterio etc, 1728-1744, Ref. Add MS 20661; letters and papers, 1716-1743, Private, Ref. NRA(S)0201 NRA 10562 Murray; papers and letters, Royal Archives, see Introduction, HMC 56 Stuart MSS, and miscellaneous papers, see HMC 15, 10th report App. VI (Braye MSS), and miscellaneous papers, Ref. SP NRA 43349 Windsor; papers and letters re the '45, West Highland Museum, Ref. NRA(S)0451 NRA 13685 W Highland Mus; miscellaneous letters and papers of and relating to him and his family, 1716-1821, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. Acc 10742/27-33 NRA 29292 NLS misc; narrative of his visit to Manchester, 1746, Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, see HMC 55 Various Collections II (Buxton MSS); miscellaneous papers, 1745-1746, Stirling Council Archives Services, Ref. NRA(S)1256 NRA 19926 MacGregor; miscellaneous papers, 1745-1769, Ushaw College, Ref. J NRA 13674 Ushaw; and papers relating to Avignon, Musee Calvet, NRA 18664 Jacobite papers.

Geographical Names