There was a great deal of resistance in England to the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745, stemming from the loyalty already displayed towards George I and George II since they acceded the throne and even beforehand. This has often been hidden by the quest by historians for evidence of Jacobite activity and because much of the history of the period is focussed on military matters in which civilian activity is limited in its effectuality. Casting the research net wider into contemporary sources revealed a more nuanced picture.

There were numerous sermons and secular writings which depicted George I in a positive light in the crucial years of 1714–1716; the former being from both Anglican and Dissenting clergymen and throughout England. Churchwardens’ accounts reveal payments for bell ringing on the King’s coronation and accession and their anniversaries as well as his birthday. The anniversary of the deliverance from Catholicism in 1605 and 1688 on 5 November was another display of loyalty as it was explicitly against the Catholic James and the majority of his English adherents.

In the autumn of 1715 more was required than the words of addresses, sermons and writings because Jacobite armies were created on British soil, in both Scotland and, to a lesser extent, England, and posed a grave threat to the new status quo. Much of the opposition to these forces came from the regular army, because that was what its role was, and in this they were successful at both Sheriffmuir and Preston. However, there were also civil counter measures by the government’s supporters throughout the country, predominantly in the northern counties, where the threat lay.

Volunteers, militias and posses were raised throughout the north of England and elsewhere. Their success was varied; at Newcastle they deterred the Jacobite forces in October but when the posse in Penrith was faced with a stronger Jacobite force they routed; the Westmorland posse dispersed, the militia of Cumberland and Westmorland stood aside and at Lancaster the county militia withdrew in face of this strong force. Yet the latter force together with armed volunteers and played a supporting role to the regulars at Preston. The irregular forces had many military failings but as a political demonstration they indicate civil support for the government.

Apart from these, behind the front lines there were the JPs, constables and others who searched the properties of suspects, arresting some and confiscating the arms and horses of others. They may also have inhibited Jacobite supporters from being more active in their cause. There were also other examples of loyalist behaviour, such as the burning of effigies of James Stuart and the Pope.

After the defeat of the rebellion, celebrations were widespread. There was bell ringing for the military victories in November 1715 and on the day appointed for public thanksgiving on 7 June 1716. Success was inevitably popular; but there was very little opposition to it and widespread rejoicings in private as well as public.

In 1745, responses were broadly similar, but there were differences. Instead of the militia being called out en masse, as was ordered and as had occurred in 1715, a variety of responses occurred. There were the military associations; most famously at York and in Yorkshire, but also in Derbyshire, Durham and Northumberland and by corporations such as Bristol and Liverpool, where voluntary subscriptions were raised to pay and uniform volunteers. In the Midlands and the south other steps were taken instead; either money was raised to assist recruitment into the regular army or to create entirely new regiments. The latter two methods were wholly novel in 1745. Many of the militia and associated companies had minimal training and experience in military matters and had only just been armed. As troops capable of fighting a shooting war they were notably deficient.

Again, as in 1715 the militia and associated troops in the north of England were unable to resist the weight of the Jacobite army; surrendering at Carlisle, being disbanded in Lancashire and fleeing from Derby. But as in 1715 this was in the face of overwhelming numbers of a successful and fearsome invader. Elsewhere, such forces were able to achieve both practical and morally useful tasks, such as destroying bridges, denying weapons, horses and manpower to the Jacobite army, guarding suspects and prisoners and taking part in public displays to encourage loyalists and deter any latent Jacobites. All this activity may also have lifted morale elsewhere and showed other countries that the government commanded support throughout the localities.

Loyalist sermons and writings were more widespread in 1745–1746 than in 1715–1716 because of the increased number of printing presses and in the growth of the press at both national and regional level. Newspapers printed a great deal of negative and positive propaganda, both against the Jacobites and in favour of the loyalist cause. This meant that more people had the opportunity to read or hear such. This time it was also focussed against France, whom Britain was at war with and who had sent limited support to the Jacobite cause; not enough to be effective but enough to give propagandists a golden opportunity to exploit it. Catholicism was also used as a more prominent bogeyman. Reports were lurid and aimed at fearmongering. This led to several Catholic properties being destroyed, which had not been the case in 1715–1716. Positively the Hanoverian monarchy was associated with liberty at home and success abroad, as noted by the taking of Cape Breton from the French.

Similar security measures were taken by the JPs and constables in 1745 as in 1715, but, in contrast to the chapel wrecking mentioned above, a degree of tolerance was extended to many Catholics and few, apart from some priests, were arrested. In the north and the Midlands men were sent out from numerous towns in order to learn intelligence of the Jacobite army and some of this was then relayed to the regular armies, as it was by those along the Jacobite army’s route.

To a larger extent than in 1715, panic and fear were widespread among loyalists, especially in the north of England following the fall of Edinburgh and more so after news of Cope’s defeat at Prestonpans four days later. The prospect of an enemy army in their midst, capable of plundering and killing, was unappealing in the extreme. These fears subsided as the invasion from Scotland did not immediately transpire and as volunteer forces came into being, as well as the arrival of Marshal Wade’s forces. Following the eventual invasion, fears grew again along the actual and potential marches of the Jacobite army, but subsided in the latter when the reality was known.

From January to April 1746 the Jacobite army was still in existence, albeit in Scotland, so the responses in England were significantly lower. With no immediate threat from Scotland or France, volunteer and militia forces were stood down, as were other security measures. Even the Jacobite victory at Falkirk did not change perceptions as Prestonpans had. Some followed events in the press, which continued to print propaganda as it had in the previous year. Bell ringing took place to an extent after the retaking of Carlisle and on the Duke of Cumberland’s birthday.

Unlike 1715–1716, a soldier, Cumberland, became the hero of loyalists in a way that Wills, Carpenter, Argyll and Cadogan had not been seen 30 years earlier. This occurred almost as soon as he took over the reins of command in November 1745 and continued in 1746. He was feted on his way north in January 1746 and numerous propaganda verses devoted to him. The victory at Culloden raised this to fever pitch; public celebrations of bonfires, bell ringing and illuminations were in evidence in villages, towns and cities throughout England.

Support for the first two Georges came from all sections of Church and society. Dissenters were especially supportive; in 1715, this was undoubtedly because of Jacobite mobs destroying their chapels in 1714–1715 and because of the previous Tory government’s steps against Dissenters. Many in the Anglican Church were supportive of George I but others were less so, given that many were Tories and so antipathetic to the government of George I. In 1745 more and more clergy were Whiggish, after 31 years of Hanoverian and Whig rule. The Anglican Church was naturally opposed to the supporters of a Catholic would-be monarch and anti-Catholicism was a powerful force against the Jacobites in both rebellions; though more so in 1745 than in 1715.

Those in positions of responsibility in the civil state were generally at the forefront of support for the first two Georges. Acting in support of the status quo was naturally in their self-interest because the upheaval of successful rebellion would threaten their positions. Yet in 1642 and 1688 there had been a lack of support for the government, which was not the case in 1715 and 1745.

The importance of these displays of loyalty is not always possible to accurately assess. The impact of sermons and newspaper articles and of bell ringing and public activities of volunteers and militia is unknown. Almost no one commented on their reaction to these events or remarked on the effect of them on others. It is also impossible to know whether security measures and activity of volunteers and militia resulted in deterring any Jacobite behaviour or whether there was little or none to deter.

There is also much in these demonstrations that can be criticised. The propaganda, both sermon and secular, was prone to use stereotypes and exaggeration, especially in its depiction of both Catholics and Scots. Cumberland’s military prowess was over-lauded; comparing him to Marlborough or even Henry V was objectively too much. The destruction of Catholic chapels were acts of bullying mobs in patriotic trappings. The fear shown by many in the north was nothing to cheer about. There was also dissension among loyalists, for example at Cambridge and at Durham over associations and subscriptions, to name but two. Yet in war and politics exaggeration and denigration are hardly unusual; frightened people are capable of unworthy acts and to flee an invading army was not unique to the people of 1745.

However, that these displays of loyalty took place there can be no doubt. It is probable that they helped lift the morale of loyalists and they may have also helped sway the opinion of doubters. Much of this activity took place before the result of the conflict was known and so would not have appealed to the politically neutral and apathetic. Practical steps against the Jacobites and the Jacobite army were also in evidence, such as supplying the armies against them with transport, food, labour and intelligence.

It may also be worth comparing the degree of support garnered by the Jacobite cause when it mattered to that for their opponents. Support for the Jacobites was stronger in 1715; anti-Hanoverian riots in 1714–1715 followed by hundreds from Northumberland and Lancashire actively joining the Jacobite army. Yet even in 1715 there were far more men in the various loyalist forces in the north of England. In 1745 the active support for the Jacobite cause in England was even less; under 200 Englishmen joining the army in Lancashire and apart from that at Ormskirk no spontaneous Jacobite demonstration (and that was easily and quickly put down by local loyalists). Loyalists in Liverpool alone far outnumbered those active Jacobites throughout the rest of England. Had there been widespread discontent such efforts as were made would not have been. The Jacobite cause did not require active support in England; it could have succeeded with widespread apathy, but this did not occur.

The Jacobite cause, and this more so in 1745 than 1715, could be represented as being that of the outsider; of Rome, of France and of Highland Scotland. James and Charles were little known for positive virtues, but were associated with the hated other. The loyalist cause was that of Protestantism, of liberty and of individuals who personified these, as well as being known for military valour in the fight against them; Georges I and II and the Duke of Cumberland.

There is no doubt that the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745 were a testing time for many in England. The responses to them from a wide spectrum of civil society and Christian denominations, however diffident at times, was indicative of a strongly loyalist tendency, even from those who were not natural friends of the government at Westminster. Support for the Jacobite cause was patchy at best in 1715 and virtually non-existent in 1745. On both occasions, it was dwarfed by loyalist responses.

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