Alnwick, Family History Society

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Failed rebellion

Alnwick Family History group welcomed Elizabeth Finch, secretary of the Northumberland Jacobite Society.

Her talk on Jacobite Families of the North East considered how great families such as the Radcliffes were torn apart by conflicting loyalties.

Elizabeth’s talk focused on the part played by Northumbrian Jacobite families in the 1715 uprising, which took place over only two months at the end of that year.

The principal figure in the whole rising was James Radcliffe, the third Earl of Derwentwater, who lived at Dilston Castle, near Corbridge.

His brother Charles, along with William, fourth Earl Widdrington, Thomas Forster MP and William Blackett of Wallington, were all fellow conspirators in the attempt by James F Stuart, known as the ‘Old Pretender’ to regain the throne of England.

This had occurred due to the unpopularity of George I – a German who was brought to England and installed on the throne.

It was not wholly driven by religious beliefs as there were Roman Catholics and Protestants on both sides.

This ill-fated rising started in August 1715, with the Earl of Marr raising a standard at Braemar.

It ended in failure at the Battle of Preston, between October 12 and 14, 1715.

Poor communication between the Jacobite forces, which were badly organised and managed, was a principal factor in the failure.

Forces raised in the south of England were quickly quashed, and the forces from Scotland and Northumberland failed to communicate.

Thomas Forster, the general put in charge of the Jacobite army, was not a military man, and neither were the Earl of Derwentwater nor his fellow aristocrats.

The conspirators’ forces marched up and down the North of England trying to recruit more followers, including visiting Alnwick, where they had little success.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Preston on October 15, the ring leaders either fled abroad to France or were taken to London, or imprisoned.

James, Earl of Derwentwater, and William, sixth Viscount Kenmure, who had led the Scots, were both beheaded for treason.

Several of the conspirators also had their lands confiscated.

The effect upon these Jacobite families was often severe.

One consequence was that family members, who had survived the battle, were reluctant to support the 1745 rebellion.

Liz stressed that the Jacobean Society is keen to remember this time in history, and it is actively promoting awareness of the period through its involvement with Dilston Castle.

It erects plaques at key sites such as The Masons Arms at Warkworth.

The group also holds annual commemorations at the Derwent Cross, at Langley.

Descendants of those associated with the Jacobite uprising in Northumberland can be found among the family names of Andersons, Charltons, Dixons, Swinburns, and many others still living in the area. The next meeting is on Tuesday, May 3, when The Stephensons, A Family Driven By Steam, will be the topic, discussed by speaker Michael Taylor.