THE JACOBITE PLOT
The term Jacobite referred to the supporters of the deposed House of Stuart (founded by James I who in 1603 made claim to the holdings of the extinct House of Tudor.) The name (Jacobite) is taken from the Latin Jacobus (James) referring to King James II and VII, who was removed from the British throne due to his Catholic faith in 1688, and replaced by his Protestant daughter Mary II. Queen Mary reigned jointly with her husband and first cousin William of Orange, but left no living heir. The throne then passed to Mary’s sister Anne, who also had no surviving children, which left a question for Parliament to settle about the line of succession.
THE RISE OF THE HOUSE OF HANOVER
The naissance of the Georgian age, made glorious under the House of Hanover, was the direct result of the Act of Settlement. Without going into tedious details, suffice to say that upon Queen Anne’s death, Great Britain passed-over fifty Catholic aspirants to the throne in order to settle it upon the closest Protestant claimant to the throne, a distant cousin to the Stuarts who was a German princeling who neither desired the crown, nor spoke the English tongue!
What history says of the reluctant but avaricious Georg Ludwig, is that he left England to rule itself as much as possible, and took his living from it as much as achievable. During his rather apathetic reign, Britain began a steady transition of power away from the absolute monarchy favored by the Stuarts of old, toward a government led by a cabinet of (primarily Whig) ministers.
The Scots, the Irish, and the English Jacobites, however, were never completely on board with this plan of succession. While the primary seats of Jacobitism were Ireland and Scotland, particularly the Scottish Highlands, the movement to restore the Stuarts was also strong in the north of England, with some support also in Wales.
Many who wore the white rose of York, or the white cockade, embraced Jacobitism because they disagreed with parliamentary interference in the natural order of succession. Many still practiced the Catholic faith and hoped to end the discriminatory laws against them. Jacobite ideology passed on through families of the nobility and gentry who continued to support the exiled royal family, even by passing their toasts to the king over a glass of water (to represent their own secretly acknowledged Sovereign Over the Water.)
UPRISINGS AND INSURRECTION
Still others were simply disaffected and disenfranchised Tories who had fallen with the Stuarts, and who joined the Jacobite movement with the ambition of recouping the power they had lost to the Hanoverian-supporting Whigs. During the first half of the 18th century, these various Jacobite factions would unite to conduct secret intrigues and negotiations with the courts of France and Spain in their endeavor to restore the Stuarts.
THE LICHFIELD RACES
The insurrection plot depicted at the Lichfield races represented one such attempt, which would eventually gain the support of France, and come to fruition only a few years later when Bonnie Prince Charlie actually invaded England. The valiant young prince would make it as far as Derby before discovering he lacked the promised English support, which would force him to retreat and make his final stand at the Culloden Moor. His defeat to the Duke of Cumberland (George II’s younger son) effectively ended any further hope of restoring the House of Stuart.