The Hunt for Rob Roy: The Man and the Myths

By David Stevenson | Go to book overview
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5
REBEL

The new regime of George I realised that a rebellion against it in Scotland, centred on the Highlands, was almost inevitable once the Jacobites got their act together. That it took a year to emerge was an indication of how successfully the chiefs had been deceived into thinking a peaceful Stuart succession had been secretly favoured by Harley’s government. Thus the new regime had time to consolidate itself before it was challenged. An immediate reaction by the new regime was to order the arrest of some chiefs, but they were released in October 1714 when it was realised that a rising was not imminent. Only a few extra troops were sent to Scotland, for fear of provoking instead of deterring rebellion. In some Lowland frontier areas it was feared that the change of monarch would herald immediate disorder in, and raiding from, the Highlands, and watches were hastily organised to guard against this. One was established on Loch Arklet, to prevent raids from Rob Roy’s homeland.1 But though there were isolated acts of defiance, it was to take a year for the Highland Jacobites to find a leader, in the person of the earl of Mar.

Late in 1713 Harley had revived the post of secretary for Scotland, and had chosen Mar for the job. Like many politicians, Mar was a man ready serve whoever succeeded Queen Anne, Stuart or Hanoverian, but he had close links with some Jacobites and he was a Tory. The Whig ministers of King George impressed on the new king that all Tories were at heart Jacobite traitors, however, so Mar’s position was in danger. He had written to the new king even before he arrived in England eagerly expressing his loyalty and desire to serve him,2 and he came up with a plan to prove that he was indispensable to the stable government of the Highlands. He had a strong personal following in the eastern Highlands, and a letter was hastily organised, addressed to him by eleven chiefs, writing for themselves and in name of others who lived in places too remote for

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