Scotland and the Act of Union



Until the eighteenth century, Scotland was an independent country with its own Parliament.  By the Act of Union (1707), however, England and Scotland became a United Kingdom.  Many Scots hated the Union.

After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, James II had gone to live in France.  Those Scots who hated the Union hoped that they could break free from England if the Stuart kings returned.  They were called 'Jacobites'.

In 1715, there was a small Jacobite rebellion in Scotland, but it failed.


Bonnie Prince Charlie

The years 1715-45 were years of peace and prosperity.  People became richer and happier.  In 1745, the king of England was King George II.  Many people had forgotten about the Stuart kings.

But the Stuarts had not forgotten.  Charles Edward Stuart was the grandson of James II.  In 1745, he left France and went to Scotland to claim his crown.  Many Scots joined him.  Most of them 'the Highlanders' came from the Highlands in the far north of Scotland.

Charles invaded England.  He got as far as Derby, but then he turned back.  The English army chased him back to Scotland, where it defeated him at the battle of Culloden in 1746. 

Charles had to run away.  For months, he was on the run in the Highlands.  In the end, he escaped to France.  But he never came back to Scotland again.  He took to drink and died in 1788.



After you have studied this webpage, answer the question sheet by clicking on the 'Time to Work' icon at the top of the page.


The following websites will help you research further:


Union with Scotland:

The BBC webpage on The creation of the United Kingdom , with a section on the 1707 Act of Union

The BBC webpage on the Jacobite Rebellions 


England in Ireland:

A decription of the English in Ireland, for comparison.


The '45 Rebellion

This is the story of the rebellion:

Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland on the island of Eriskay on 23 July 1745.  He had just seven men with him.

Charles raised his standard (his flag) at Glenfinnan on 19 August 1745.  Hundreds of Highlanders joined him.  They met an English army under General John Cope at the battle of Prestonpans on 21 September 1745.  It lasted four minutes.  The Highlanders made a mad rush at the English soldiers ... who ran away!  The Scots killed 300 and captured 1,500 English soldiers.

By the end of September, Charles had 5,000 men in his army.  He marched south, capturing Edinburgh, Carlisle and Manchester.  In London, there was panic.  It seemed that nothing could stop Charles.  People were sure that he was going to conquer England.  But no Englishmen joined Charles's army, and the Scottish clan leaders began to argue amongst themselves.

At Derby only 100 miles from London the Scots refused to go any further.  Charles turned around on 6 December 1745, and marched back to Scotland.  He was chased by a large English army of 18,000 men, led by the Duke of Cumberland.  Many of Charles's soldiers deserted and went back home.  

At Culloden, in the north of Scotland, Charles had only 2,000 men.  He tried a surprise night attack on the English army, but he set off too late.  His men arrived tired and hungry, just in time to see the English army waking up and getting ready to fight.  The battle took place on 16 April 1746.  For 20 minutes the English cannons bombarded the Scots.  The Scots charged, but the English army destroyed them.  Half the Highlanders were killed.  The English commander, the Duke of Cumberland, behaved cruelly.

Charles spent several months being hunted by Cumberland's soldiers.  He had many narrow escapes, but no one betrayed him to the English.  In the end, he went back to France.  The Scottish Jacobites loved 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'. They made up songs about him which have never been forgotten songs such as 'Charlie is my Darling', 'Over the sea to Skye' and 'Will ye no come back again'?  





A map of the '45 Rebellion, showing Prince Charles's route


Reaction in the city of London


This humorous 1750 painting by the English artist William Hogarth of The March of the Guards to Finchley shows English soldiers getting ready to defend London against the Jacobites.

Can you find:

   A drummer and piper summoning the troops

   A cart with a huge pile of baggage and weapons

   One woman walking arm-in-arm with a Grenadier Guard; she is selling copies of a new song: 'God Save the King!'

   Another woman attacking the same Guard with a rolled-up copy of a Jacobite newspaper

   The milkmaid giving one soldier a passionate kiss

   The drunken soldier who has collapsed

   Soldiers robbing civilians at knife-point

   A pieman selling his pies to the soldiers

   A boxing match in the background between two soldiers

   Hundreds of people who have turned out to watch and cheer?


Why did Charles turn back?

    Charles had marched as far as Derby in England, then turned back. Sources A-D suggest different reasons why.

By the time Charles reached Derby, the trap was closing on him. A British army had been brought back from the Continent, another had followed him from Scotland, while thousands of citizens were arming themselves to defend London. Charles turned back.
     L.E. Snellgrove, The Making of the United Kingdom (1993)


Charles led the Highlanders as far as Derby. But no English people of any importance joined him. He still wanted to push on, but his officers persuaded him to march back to Scotland.
     Joe Scott, The Making of the United Kingdom (1993)


In December, they reached Derby. Here the Scottish chiefs gloomily refused to go any further. Their own men were weary and footsore; many had deserted ... . In vain, Charles begged them to continue, but on the next day, 'Black Friday, he was forced to agree to the retreat.
     R.J. Unstead, Great People of Modern Times (1956)


The increased prosperity of the Scots helps to explain the failure of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. There was little support and although Charles's army reached Derby in England, it found no support and retreated.
     James Mason, The Making of the United Kingdom (1993)



The Romantic Rebellion

    For many people, the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie is one of history's great romantic stories:

After his defeat at Culloden, Charles and a few friends were on the run:
They had numberless adventures and narrow escapes in the Highlands...  Hungry, ragged, often soaked to the skin, they were hunted by Cumberland's soldiers.  When capture seemed certain, a brave, sweet girl, Flora MacDonald, disguised Charles as her maid, 'Betty Burke, an Irish girl', [and] took the Prince from under the very noses of the soldiers...  The Scottish Jacobites loved the gallant lad who led the 'Forty-five'.  The dress he had worn as 'Betty Burke' was kept as a precious relic and its pattern copied for the ladies to wear.  They made up songs about him which have never been forgotten, songs like 'Charlie is my darling,' Over the sea to Skye' and 'Will ye no come back again?'
But Charles Edward never came back again ... .
     R.J. Unstead, Great People of Modern Times (1956), a book of stories about famous people, written for children.


The Forty-Five ... has made Bonnie Prince Charlie a part of Scottish national legend.  In sober truth it never stood much chance of success; it was the last effort in the dying cause of the Stuarts.  Prince Charles himself in later years became a hopeless drunkard.
     C.P. Hill and R.R. Sellman, A Survey of British History (1950), an exam textbook for schools.