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Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter 1 - Earldom and Earls of Mar
Section VII


JOHN, EARL OF MAR—CHARLES, EARL—JOHN, EARL—SECRETARY OF STATE FOR SCOTLAND— RISING OF 1715—ARRIVAL OF JAMES VIII — HIS PROGRESS SOUTHWARD — RETREAT —FLIGHT.

THE Earl first married Mary Scott, a daughter of Walter, first Earl of Buccleuch; and secondly, Mary Mackenzie, a daughter of the Earl of Seaforth. He died in 1665, and was succeeded by his son Charles, Twenty-third Earl of Mar and tenth Lord Erskine. The Earl married Mary, a daughter of George, Earl of Panmure, and had issue. This Earl was a Jacobite, and was almost ruined by his attachment to the Stuart dynasty. He died in May 1689, and was succeeded by his son John, Earl of Mar and eleventh Lord Erskine.

Earl John was an able politician. Although, like his predecessors, he was at heart a Jacobite and distrusted by William of Orange; yet, in the reign of Queen Ann; in 1706, Mar was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland; and he assisted the Government to carry the Treaty of Union through the Scottish Parliament. Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath said:—"Mar gained the favour of all the Tories, and was by many of them esteemed an honest man, and well inclined to the Royal Family. Certain it is that he vowed and protested so much many a time; but no sooner was the Marquis of Tweed-dale and his party dispossessed than he returned as the dog to his vomit, and promoted all the Court of England’s measures with the greatest zeal imaginable.. . . His great talent lay in the cunning management of his designs and projects, in which it was hard to find him out." The Jacobites made the utmost efforts in Parliament and the country to obstruct and defeat the passing of the Treaty of Union; and they were extremely enraged at the Earl of Mar for assisting the Government to pass it.

Mar continued Secretary of State for Scotland; and in the latter years of the reign of Queen Ann; it appears that the Jacobites had been very active, and were gaining ground. The Queen died on the 1st of August, 1714. Thereupon the Elector of Hanover was proclaimed King, under the title of George I. The Earl embraced the earliest opportunity of offering his service to the new King, but somehow he did not receive His Majesty’s commands. On the 24th of September, 1714, he was dismissed from the office of Secretary of State for Scotland, and the Duke of Montrose appointed to it. Yet Mar remained for some time about the Court in London; no special favour, however, was granted to him by the new King; and at last the Earl resolved to be revenged.

He left London in the beginning of August, 1715, and landed in Fifeshire. Then he proceeded to Braemar, issuing intimations, as he advanced northward, to the Highland Chiefs and his friends to join him at a great hunting party in the forest of Mar. He reached Invercauld Castle on the 19th of August, and immediately commenced operations for the memorable gathering, which met on the 26th of August, at Braemar. The party then assembled round the Earl of Mar included the Marquis of Huntly, eldest son of the Duke of Gordon; the Marquis of Tullibardine, eldest son of the Duke of Athole; Earl Marischal, the Earls of Erroll, Seaforth, Southesk, Linlithgow, Carnwath, Traquair, and Nithsdale; the Lords Duffus, Rollo, Drummond, Stormont, Strathallan, Ogilvie, and Nairn; the Viscounts Kenmure, Kilsyth, and Kingston; Gordon of Glenbucket, the lairds of Auldbar and Auchterhouse; and about twenty men of note and influence in the Highlands. The number of men assembled at Braemar was nearly eight hundred.

There were palpable indications of the coming rising in other places. In Aberdeen, early on the morning of the 11th August, 1714, even before the accesion of George I. had been proclaimed in the city, two fiddlers playing Jacobite tunes, and accompanied by a number of young men, marched through the streets; and on reaching the Castlegate, they gathered round a well and drank the health of James VllI. Tidings of this reached the Government in London, and the Magistrates were commanded to give an account of the incident to the Lord Justice Clerk. On the 21st of August, the Earl of Mar, who was then Secretary for Scotland, wrote to the magistrates asking for particulars of the affair. Similar incidents occurred in other places.

On the 3rd of September, 1715, a special meeting was held at Aboyne Castle to deliberate on the projected rising. At this meeting there were present—the Marquis of Tullibardine, Earl Marischal, the Earl of Southesk, and Lord Huntly; Glengarry from the Clans, Glenderule from the Earl of Breadalbane and the gentlemen of Argyleshire; Lieutenant-General Hamilton, Major Gordon, and a few others.

The final resolution having been taken at Aboyne, the die was cast. On the 6th of September, the standard was raised in Castletown of Braemar, on the spot where the Invercauld Arms Hotel now stands. From this originated the spirited Jacobite song, adapted to the reel tune called "The Braes o’ Mar." A stanza or two of the ballad may be quoted :—

The standard on the Braes of Mar
Is up and streaming rarely;
The gathering pipe on Lochnagar
Is sounding lang an’ sairly.

The Highland men,
Frae hill and glen,
In martial hue,
Wi’ bonnets blue.
Wi’ belted plaids,
An’ burnished blades,
Are coming late and early.

Wha wadna’ join our noble chief,
The Drummond and Glengarry,
Macgregor, Murray, Rollo, Keith,
Panmure and gallant Harry?

A large number of the Braemar men, and men from other quarters of the country, joined the rising. There is evidence, however, that a considerable number of those who joined the rising had no choice, but were forced to follow their feudal superiors. Even John Farquharson of Invercauld entirely disapproved of Mar’s movement, and was extremely unwilling to join it; but he had no alternative, as the Earl was his feudal superior.

Mar himself assumed the rank of commander-in-chief of the insurgent force; and his followers, and those of the barons and chiefs, immediately commenced to move southward by the Spital of Glenshee. They marched through Moulin and Logierait to Dunkeld, receiving reinforcements as they proceeded; and at Dunkeld the army numbered 5000 men. On the 16th of September, a detachment took possession of Perth; and to this centre the whole army marched, and Mar made it his headquarters.

Meanwhile the accession of James VIII. was being proclaimed in the cities and burghs of the north. On the 20th of September, Earl Marischal entered Aberdeen with a party of men and proceeded to the Cross on the Castlegate, where Patrick Sandilands, the depute sheriff, read the document which proclaimed the accession of James VIII. to the throne of his ancestors. At night the city was illuminated, and the bells of St Nicholas Church were rung in honour of the memorable occasion. The following day Earl Marischal and his company were hospitably entertained by the members of the Incorporated Trades; and on the departure of the Marischal in the evening they accompanied him to Inverugie House. The trades and the professors of the Colleges were thorough Jacobites; but the magistrates were inclined to continue loyal to the Government. They were, however, suddenly assailed by a mob, overpowered and forced to yield; and the Jacobite party obtained command of the town. On the 28th of September Earl Marischal returned to Aberdeen; and a few days later a head court of the burgh was held in St. Nicholas Church; and a Jacobite Council was elected, with Patrick Bannerman as Provost. Thus the city was placed under the reign of James VIII.

The Earl of Mar ordered the new Council of Aberdeen to supply three hundred Lochaber axes for the army; and imposed a tax of upwards of two hundred pounds for supplies, and conveying the press and types of James Nicol, the town’s printer, to Perth; and also imposed on the citizens a requisition for £2000 sterling—the first instalment of £500 to be immediately paid, under the penalty of rebellion.

As the rising spread, some of the leading Jacobites in the North of England joined it. By the month of November, there were fourteen thousand men in arms for the Stuart cause. Mar himself, however, had little military skill or energy, and remained too long inactive in Perth. The body of the insurgents, mainly consisting of Scots and some Englishmen, who were operating in England, under the command of Forster, were overtaken by the royal troops at Preston. On the 12th of November, a severe battle was fought, in which the insurgents were completely defeated, and many of the Scots and their leaders taken prisoners. Among others, John Farquharson of Invercauld was taken and imprisoned. He was confined till 1717, when by the efforts of the Rev. Mr. Ferguson, minister of Logierait, who had once been minister of Crathie, Invercauld was liberated. Mr. Ferguson was the father of Dr. Adam Ferguson, the philosopher and historian.

Mar at last made a movement from Perth southward; and on the 13th November, his force and the royal army, under the Duke of Argyle, met and fought the Battle of Sheriffmuir, near Dunblane, which was indecisive. As the loss of men on each side was nearly equal, both claimed the victory. The actual result, however, was that Mar retired with his army to Perth, where his force began to melt away.

James VIII. landed at Peterhead on the 22nd of December, 1715. On the following day he passed through Aberdeen, only staying to take some refreshments in Skipper Scott’s house in the Castlegate. Thence he proceeded to Fetteresso, where the professors of the Colleges of Aberdeen presented him with loyal addresses; and Provost Banner-man received from His Majesty the honour of knighthood. James was suffering from attacks of ague in his progress southward, and he reached Perth on the 6th of January, 1716. His presence inspired no new hope, as this representative of the Stuart line had not the mien of a man likely to lead an army to victory and glory. Preparations were made, however, for his coronation at the historic burgh of Scone, on the 23rd of January. But ere that day came the Stuart King was seriously thinking of retiring from the advance of his enemies.

The Duke of Argyle was lying at Stirling Castle with the royal army. On the 23rd of January he commenced his march upon Perth, but his progress was very slow, owing to the depth of snow upon the ground.

At midnight on the 30th of January the insurgent army commenced to retreat, crossed the Tay on the ice and marched to Dundee, and thence by Arbroath to Montrose. There, on the 3rd of February, the Pretender, the Earl of Mar, and a few other persons went aboard a small vessel and sailed for France. This incident caused a stir and much indignation in the army, and a number of the men left for their homes. General Gordon was left in command, and marched the fast diminishing army northward. On reaching Aberdeen, on the 7th of February, the remainder of the army dispersed. But a large number of those who joined the rising never returned to their homes, being either slain or taken prisoners.

Comparatively lenient feelings towards the insurgents prevailed in Scotland. But the English Government took the punishment of the prisoners and those implicated in the rising, into their own hands. Many of the prisoners were executed at Carlisle and other places, and hundreds were sent to the plantations to drag out a wretched life in slavery. Several persons of rank made their escape from prison and fled for their lives, amongst whom were Forster, Lord Nithsdale, and Mackintosh of Borlum. The estates of over 40 families in Scotland were forfeited to the Crown.


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