The Jacobite rebellions were a series of armed risings which took place between 1789 and 1746. Their aim was to restore the Stuart monarchy, whether  James II, his son or his grandson Bonnie Prince Charlie to the English and Scots throne, removing William and Mary who had displaced them.

Conflicts stretched across Great Britain and Ireland, and far beyond to include mainland Europe, America and India. These risings defy the simplistic interpretation they often invites. It is tempting to describe them as a struggle between protestants and catholics or a fight for Scottish Independence, but in fact. catholic fought catholic, protestant fought protestant, and Englishmen, Scots and Irish fought their own nationalities.

If the Jacobites of Scotland had been successful, they would simply have placed another king on the throne whose rule unified England and Scotland. And  whose views many in Scotland had long opposed. 

The first aim here is to illustrate, at least in part, how the lives of the Essons and their neighbours in Cromar and Aberdeenshire were affected, but it also seems important to outline the broader facts underlying these events.

Some background.

After Charles I was executed, his sons, Charles and James left to France where their cousin Louis XIV gave them shelter. James proved himself a capable soldier and leader in Louis’ army, rising to become Lieutenant General. He was forced to leave France for Spain however, when his brother asked for help from Spain to regain the throne.  In Spain James saw military service again, he also turned to Catholicism.

Back in England n 1660 Cromwell stood down and the Commonwealth collapsed. James’ brother Charles was restored to the throne in England as Charles II. James returned to England too, but kept his Catholicism secret dues to intolerance. Charles II had remained a staunch protestant but he too became a catholic under pressure from Louis XIV in return for help in Britain’s war with Holland. Charles insisted however that James’ children Mary and Ann should be brought up as protestants, and following the war Mary was married to William of Orange of Holland to help restore peace.

James succeeded to the throne when his brother died in 1685. His reign was marked by growing resentment over his promotion of the Catholic faith and his belief in the monarchies absolute authority. Hr face opposition but in the main he was tolerated, as the continuity he brought assured the peace and in any case his successors, Mary and Ann were both Anglican.

In 1688 two things happened to change things. Firstly, he arrested and prosecuted seven Bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, for petitioning him to reconsider his views. Secondly and perhaps even more importantly, that year he had a son, James Frances Edward Stuart, to James’ second wife, the Catholic Mary of Modena. The fears of protestant subjects became too strong to restrain.

1688 The Glorious Revolution 

At the request of elements in England. William mounted an invasion. He landed at Torbay with 35,000 foot soldiers and 4,000 cavalry, a formidable force.

James went to meet William as he landed at Torbay, but many of his men simply went over to William’s side. His unpopularity and the strength of William’s force were enough to deliver a bloodless coup. James felft to Ireland leaving William and Mary on the throne. 

1689 Jacobite Rebellion

A military response aimed at restoring James to the throne came in 1689. It formed part of the broader Nine Years War, a conflict between France on one hand and and “The Grand Alliance” of England, Holland, Spain, Savoy and Portugal and notably the Holy Roman Empire. This has sometimes been called the first global war, and the Jacobite struggle for the throne of England between William and James was fought across Great Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, and extended to the colonies too, notably America, India and the Caribbean.

The Williamite Wars in Ireland began when William landed with English, Dutch and Danish troops. On the other side France provided men and arms to support James. Louis XIV of France was James’ cousin and his ally against William. France provided support to Jacobite causes throughout the generations of struggle, although their efforts were often ill fated.

In the end James was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne, then Athlone and Aughrim. He left for France, where he remained in exile until his death. 

In Edinburgh the Convention of Scotland was convened to decide the matter of Scottish succession. The church had particular issues to face. Charles II had forced the church to appoint bishops, in other words it became Episcopalian rather than Presbyterian. Some of the Bishops and clergy would not swear allegiance to William and they were forced to leave, they did so forming the Scottish Episcopalian Church and in general supported James. The Kirk as the main church was called became Presbyterian again and backed WIlliam, although they did commonly provide support to the Jacobites when they needed it.

There were few Catholics in Scotland. Based on all of this James could scarcely look to the church for support, so much of his army arose because of family and clan loyalties.

One person who was staunchly loyal to James was John Grahame of Claverhouse, the Episcopalian Viscount of Dundee. Dundee attended the convention and tried to whip up support for James, but soon realised things were weighted against him. He left the convention one March day, ostensibly to go back to Dundee, but was seen shortly afterwards scrambling up the cliffs beneath Edinburgh Castle to confer with the Duke of Gordon and Constable of Edinbyrgh Castle in order to persuade him to remain loyal to the Jacobite cause. Gordon wavered and in the end surrendered the castle however.

Dundee looked to the highland clans for support. Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, and Sir Alexander Maclean joined him and John Farquharson of Inverey in Glen Muick. The army went South towards Edinburgh and around 2,500 Jacobites under Dundee met twice that number led by Hugh Mackay. The Jacobites won, but critically Dundee was killed. His replacement Alexander Cannon was probably a bad choice to lead the Jacobite forces from there. He was from a soldier from Kirkudbright who had fought for William in Holland before being sent to help …

They fled to Braemar and along Deeside, with Hugh Mackay leading a cavalry force in hot pursuit. The Jacobiotes escaped only by disappearing into the hills around Aboyne and Kincardine O Neil where Mackay dared not follow them.


A regiment known as the Cameronians, former covenanters, not long since outlaws but now fighting for the government occupied Dunkeld much to the disgust of local people. They swelled the Jacobites numbers to 5000 outnumbering the Cameronians 1200. The Jacobites suffered heavy losses were defeated, more or less ending the rebellion. The Highlanders mindset was more in tune with short sharp raids than long campaign and it was always hard to be prevent them thinking of home after a time. The Jacobite army headed North, Thomas Buchanan replaced Alexander Cannon and engaged with the enemy at Cromdale but their meagre force of only 800 men was defeated at Cromdale.

jad pJacobite army North, to Aberdeenshire

giment of Cameronians was sent North to the goivernmnet Dundee led td 2000 government troops were killed there, but also a third of the Jacobite Army. Badly defeated at Dunkeld shortly after, the Jacobites were pursued back to Aberdeenshire. Farquharson had prevented government troops to Braemar Castle and burnt the castle at the start of the conflict in retribution for the Earl of Mar’s allegiance to the government stance protest  In return Inverey Castle was destroyed.

1696 and 1708

A plot to assassinate William failed in 1696, an abortive French Invasion in 1708.

Jacobite Rebellions as a whole.

Jacobite Rebellion of 1715

John Erskine, Earl of Mar may have been a Jacobite at heart, but his nickname of Bobbing John suggested a reputation for guile and political expediency. He had supported the Acts of Union and had shown his loyalty to the throne in the office of Scottish Secretary of State. In 1714 however George I came to the throne and removed his from his position and an annual income of £5000 a year. The loss must have been hard to accept, he had inherited the Earldom of Mar with many debts not long before.

Wasting no time it is thought, it is likely he started plotting by letter with the clan chieftains of Scotland to put James II;s son on the throne more or less from the time he was sacked.

In 1715 he travelled to Scotland and lodged with John Farquharson  at Invercauld, since he had no established home in Scotland. John Farquharson owned his lands only through the patronage of Mar, and knew he was about to be called to arms. He is said to have been very reluctant to go along with the demand,  but had little choice, since he could do that or forfeit his house and estates. He is said to have had his Land Charter chest hidden his weapons and the estates Charter Chest at a remote place on Craig Clunie, in an effort to forestall Mar. 

Mar was determined however and simply chained up Farquharsons’ servants until the weapons were produced and the inevitable was accepted.

Erskine met with a number of clan chieftains at Aboyne to discuss plans, Invercauld attended, but was not allowed into the discussion its seems because his opposition to the venture was now well understood. Erskine went to Braemar on 6th September, to meet with all the chieftains and to raise the banner, declaring James II and VII’s son, James Frances Edward Stuart, to be King James VIII of Scotland.

The speed with which all these things happened suggests that communications had long been in place and support gained, and a substantial army was soon raised. So much so that the rebel forces typically exceeded those of the government they opposed by some way.

Most of Scotland North of the Forth was taken bar Stirling was soon secured. However, Erskine was not an experienced military commander and a failed attempt to take Edinburgh castle by stealth and hesitant leadership after the inconclusive battle of Sherrifmuir led to failure just 2 months after the rising began. A rebellion at Preston met a similar fate with Jacobites, English and Scottish defeated there too. 

John Farquharson had the rank of Colonel in the Clan Chattan federation and was said to have fought and led his men well and bravely whether he relished the campaign or not. He was captured at Preston, and imprisoned for 9 months at Marshalsea, a notorious prison in London. He was sentenced to death at the Tower of London, but reprieved with two others Jacobite officers on the day of execution. George I listened to petitions from Farquharson and others  emphasising his dislike of the rebellion and the brutal way he had been press ganged into service. Invercauld was granted a pleasant audience with the King and Queen. On his return to Invercauld  there was much to do to straighten his estate out.   


During a war with England a Spanish invasion of South West England was thwarted by a storm which destroyed or scattered the main fleet. A smaller group landed in Stornoway but was soon defeated at Glenshiel.

Jacobite Rebellion of 1745

In early 1745 James II’s grandson, Charles Edward Stuart, plotting to take the throne of England must have contacted 21 year old Lord Lewis Gordon, 4th son of the Marquis of Huntly because Gordon deserted suddenly deserted his position of Lieutenant on HMS Dunkirk in the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet. He made his way to Scotland to swear allegiance to Stuart at Hollyrood in September of that year. Gordon was made Lord- Lieutenant of the counties of Aberdeen and Banff, and in that role shaped much of what happened in Aberdeenshire during the 1745 Rising.

The lords of Aberdeenshire could at best be classed as sitting on the fence over the new rebellion. John Farquharson of Invercauld remembered his experiences of the 1715 rebellion well and chose to stay well out of this. He left Invercauld for Aberdeen and then Leith and Lewis Gordon made it his headquarters for a time.

Gordon appointed Frances Farquharson of Monaltrie and James Moir of Stoneywood to be colonels, both were willing conscripts, which illustrated how the rebellion divided families. Frances was John Farquharson’s nephew, and John Farquhardson had removed him from his role of Factor at Invercauld when the youinger man enlisted. Notably neither men had much to lose bhy the venture and all to gain. Charles Gordon of Blelack, Gordon of Pronie, and Harry Farquharson of Whitehouse, all of Logie Coldstone were made officers, along with James Farquharson of Balmoral.

None of these men however went to England with the main body of the army, a point which upset Monaltry no end, as he did not wish to be left out of the fighting. They were tasked  instead in the first place with raising money, men and arms in the North East.

Recruitment was successful. Stoneywood gathered 700 men around Aberdeen, Frances Farquharson on Deeside gathered 300 men together and Charles Gordon 100, around 50 of those being from Cromar, and Gordon of Avochie in Strathbogie gathered a rag tag army consisting of unwilling conscripts and mercenaries freed from Inverness Jail. ??

Gordon of Blelack did not relish the work. Threats of “martial execution”, burning of houses, and imprisonment, and no doubt the real thing were used to obtain the right response. Lewis Gordon insisted his charges use ruthless methods to ensure support, although he was not the only one responsible. In Strathbogie people were particularly reluctant to join up and some intervened when the behaviour of unruly troops grew too bad. A letter from Lewis Gordon to Stoneywood mentions he is sending 50 men to help him persuade people, while urging him to threaten and use any means necessary to get support. He also mentioned Blelack had done a good job gathering resources, overcoming objections at Invercauld and Braco. 

John Shaw, the son of Invercauld’s factor, was in Monaltry;s command, and a close friend. He wrote to tenants on his iland as follows:- .

“To John Stewart in Kienetton and John Symon in Delldownie ‘ ‘ John Stewart in Kienetton John Symon in Delldownie,’ You’ll preceisly be here tomorrow be day light to march Directly with us to Tullich, where we are to be tomorrow Night, faileing that you will not come you may Assure yourself that I shall go up and visite you with a party to burn your Corns, house, and Drive away your Cattle, so that my humble Advice to you is to Join your Company at this place to morrow be day light, and I shall be your friend, while I am John Shaw”.

‘Crathy, February 13th

A story also goes that our own relative, John Easson of the Newton in Logie-Coldstone was ordered by Gordon to “go out as a soldier or send someone in his place”. A man called John Smith, a servant of John Garden of Bellamore in Glentanar claimed after Cuilloden that he had been been promised £75 if he went in John Easson’s place. When Easson refused to pay him the £75, Smith took the case to court, but the case was thrown out by the judge who ordered Smith to pay £3 costs. The truth of the case is lost until the actual records for this case are found, but it seems either being paid to fight for the rebellion was not approved of by the court, or perhaps Smith fabricated the story. It seems a little hard to imagine anyone going to war solely on a promise of payment, and there are no records of a John Smith in fairly detailed government records. We do know for a fact that John Easson of the Newton married Euphame Gordon of Muir of Tulloch just six weeks after Culloden and may well have been expecting a child.

One set of people happy to sign up were the many outlaws who wandered the area as outlaws and bandits at that time, terrorising law abiding citizens. The problem had become so bad by 1741 that John Farquharson convened a meeting at Tarland with the landowners of eight parishes to discuss the problem. Many of the outlaws were remnants of past conflicts, including the Jacobite army which had retreated to Aberdeenshire in 1745. The departure of these outlaws was a significant blessing.

The Jacobites took control of Aberdeen after John Cope left with his forces. Seeking to halt recruitment and take back Aberdeen 700 government troops marched South from Inverness and elsewhere. They were at Inverurie when the Jacobites confronted them. Nominally Lewis Gordon led the Aberdeenshire and Deeside battalion, while Gordon of Avochie led the other, a total of around 1700 men. Major     Lancelot Cuthbert an experienced soldier took military command however. The Jacobites surprised the Government troops by fording the Don at night and with superior numbers won the battle.

Jacobite spirits were high at this point, with victory at Inverurie, and what they seemed to see as a successful incursion into England. The Aberdeenshire Jacobites headed south to meet the returning army at Stirling on 15th January 1746. On 17th they met the advancing government army at Falkirk and defeated them, although confusion and bad conditions stopped them pressing home the advantage. The siege at Stirling was resumed. Government troops regrouped at Edinburgh and set off back to Stirling. Taking the town of Stirling was not hard, the castle however was strongly defended and many of the Jacobite men. most of whome were conscripted clansmen than professional soldiers set off towards the Highlands.     

The disarray in the army and conflict between its leaders showed in the March North.  Bony Prince Charlie went by Blair Atholl, some went via Cairnwell to Braemar and others went on via the lowlands towards Aberdeen. The Jacobite army, perhaps 7000 to 9000 would never be as strong again.

Monaltry and Blelack went via Glen Clova and the Capel Mounth to Glen Muick and Ballater and then to Coldstone . It was  slow hard journey as they were held up by storms at Clova. They stayed just one day at Coldstone on 14th February 1746. They “conveyed the colours” to Tarland accordng to James Michie, presumably to show people. 

There is little doubt or wonder that the returning men, whichever way they went would have chosen their route to visit their home country if not their homes. Some were slow to return to join back up and some never didi. the Farquharson of Inverey failed to reach Culloden in time, instead only meeting companions retreating from the slaughter six days after the battle.

Givernment troops chased after them hot on their heels, harrassed them and cutting down their strength. Ships sent by France including one called Le Prince Charlie were captured along with much gold and arms.

Captain Alexander Stuart of Dunearn wrote a letter from Aberdeen describing how they had just returned from a difficult jouney in bad weather to destroy arms stored at Corgarff Castle. They travelled to Monymush then to Tarland, twenty miles a day over difficult ground in bad weather. From Tarland rebels went to warn Corgarff of the approaching army. By the time Stuart arrived at the Castle there was only a cat by the fire in the place. They found hundreds of flintlocks, ammunition, and thirty two double barrels of high quality Spanish Gunpowder, far better than their own. They carried back what they could and destroyed the rest. Stuart wrote he was relieved to get away safely, saying if it had snowed another day they would have been stranded in country where 100 men could defeat 1000.

The Jacobite army had no rest and marched from place to place until their ill fated attempt to suprise the givernment troops.

As for the battle, the carnage during and after battle is well known. Around three hundred governmnet troops were killed, one and a half to two thousand Jacobites. Many hundreds of wounded and fleeing Jacobites were slaughtered and many atrocities visited on innocent people in the hunt for Jacobite soldiers and sympathisers, as well as the innocent.

Bonnie Prince Charlie famously went ion the run before escaping to France as others did.

Around 380 Jacobites were captured and many executed. Donald Farquharason of Monaltrie was captured and taken to London where he was imprisoned at Marshalsea and Southwark Jails and like his uncle sentenced to death. Practically every church minister in and around Deeside signed petitions speaking of his good character and asking for clemency and there were stories of petitioning by at least one wealthy English lady too, someone taken by Frances “Baron Ban’s” striking looks and charm. Maybe that was Elizabeth Eyre of Haddon Hall who visited Southwark Jail to support the prisoners there. Her family were Jacobite sympathisers. 

Farquharson was pardoned at the last minute like his uncle before him, but banned from returning to Scotland for 20 years. He married Elizabeth Eyre and with the help of her money, and knowledge he gained in England of new farming, planning and building techniques he did much to improve the area, its rods and its roads and to developed Ballater. 

The government set out to prevent another rising, Troops tried to hunt down Jacobite sympathisers,  in December 1747, Lieutenant Colonel David Watson, commander of the Tarland barracks wrote of his concern that some were still “meeting in public, holding ‘Traiterous Caballs, and all manner of Artifices to keep up a Spirit of Rebellion and Sedition”.

Highland clothes, bearing of weapons, and feudal laws which made it easy to raise troops  quickly were changed, and teaching of Gaelic in schools was stopped. A system of roads to aid troop movements was built, along with bridges.

Everyday life slowly returned to stability. Land and money changed hands to settle debts and confiscations.

Tenant farmers with very little land to subsist on objected on Monaltry estate because of soldiers being given land, while John Shaw was once again tenants move, this time to let him move into their homes.


Some of Charles Gordon of Blelack’s story in the rebellion is shown at the link here.

The 1745 rising is described here:

Some Letters and documents here:

The History of Logie Coldstone and Braes of Cromar by Michie describes much of the

The  book “A Lyon in mourning” is a collection of writing collected by Robert Forbes Bishop of Ross and Caithness (1708 – 1775) written after the rising. And this web page is about Francis Farquharson. Francis Farquharson was known as much as a benefactor of Deeside building roads and doing good works as for his part in the rebellion. The Farquharsons of Invercauld owned Millhead.

For some reason when the debts of Francis Farquharson were settled in 1770, a debt was repaid from Francis Farquharson to Margaret and Jean Farquharson who were living in Millhead at the time of the rebellion (described above). Francis Farquharson (Farquaharson of Monaltrie) – who went South with the Army was a Jacobite sympathiser, unlike his uncle John and he raised troops to fight. He was captured at Culloden and sent for trial and execution to London, but was pardoned after a petition was raised to save him. He was imprisoned still, but eventually released and he married into the Eyre family in Derbyshire before returning and leasing back some at least of his estate at Monaltrie which had been confiscated after the rising.

The table below shows people who were at Culloden with the name Easson or from familiar locations.

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