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The 1745 rebellion

After the 1715 Rebellion most of Lowland Scotland, like England, accepted the Hanoverian dynasty.

In the Highlands Jacobitism remained strong, though support steadily declined. But Jacobite activists, both in England and Scotland, continued to conspire for a restoration of the Stuart dynasty.

After failing to persuade French ministers to sponsor another attempt at invasion, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the 24-year-old son of the Old Pretender, decided to travel to Scotland to rally the Highland clans.

Force of 3,000

The Prince, - known as the Young Pretender -  landed at Eriskay in the Western Isles on 2 August 1745. Initially, the few clan chiefs he contacted showed little enthusiasm, but within a fortnight the Prince's force had increased to 3,000 men.

Charles Edward decided - against the advice of his officers - that rather than consolidate his hold on Scotland, he would march on London.  He hoped to make gains through the element of surprise and was heartened by French guarantees that substantial military aid was under preparation.

Defeat of the Jacobites

Following several battles, the final encounter took place at Culloden Moor, four miles east of Inverness, on 16 April 1746.

The Jacobite army of 5,000 Highlanders faced a government force of 9,000 commanded by the King's younger son, William, Duke of Cumberland.

Lord George Murray – supporter of the Young Pretender and one of his commanders - had argued for a guerrilla campaign, but Charles Edward took command himself and chose to give battle on poor, marshy terrain.


When the Highlanders began their charge they were met by a hail of cannon and musket fire, and within half an hour many were massacred. Some 2,000 were killed and another 1,000 taken prisoner.

Charles Edward escaped back to France, his story becoming the stuff of romantic legend and storytelling. Culloden and its aftermath marked the end of the Stuart claim to the throne in practical terms.

Dismantling the clan system

From 1746 on the British government passed laws to dismantle the clan system ending most Jacobite support in the Highlands.

Wearing of Highland dress and bearing arms were forbidden. More importantly for the long-term social structure of the Highlands, the feudal relationships and heritable jurisdictions which underpinned the power and authority of clan chiefs over their clansmen were abolished.



Supporters of the claim to the throne of James II, who abdicated in 1688, and his Stuart descendants, the ‘Old Pretender' (his son) James Edward Stuart and the ‘Young Pretender' (his grandson) Bonnie Prince Charlie.‘Jacobus' is Latin for James.

Heritable jurisdictions

Many of the monarch's subjects were not under the jurisdiction of royal courts either at local or central level. Instead they were answerable to a complex of hereditary jurisdictions in the hands of the feudal nobility. Though resented by the crown, the system, provided cheap, quick local justice. It was abolished after the 1745 rebellion.