The Jacobite rebellions of 1715-45 were a series of uprisings in support of the Stuart claim to the British throne.
Ireland played a significant role in these rebellions, with many Irish people supporting the Stuart cause. However, the rebellions ultimately failed, and Ireland became part of the United Kingdom.
There are a number of reasons why the Jacobite rebellions failed. One reason was that they lacked strong leadership. Another reason was that they did not have enough popular support. Additionally, the British government took measures to prevent future uprisings, such as increasing its military presence in Ireland and passing laws that prohibited Catholics from owning firearms.
In spite of their failures, the Jacobite rebellions helped to shape Ireland’s history and identity. They also contributed to the eventual establishment of the Republic of Ireland.
The Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745-46 were the two most serious challenges to the Hanoverian monarchy in 18th Century Britain. Although there were many other minor efforts to restore the Stuarts to the throne, the ’15 and ’45 are among the closest to succeeding. This paper will examine several factors that contributed to these revolts’ failures.
Ireland will be examined as during both rebellions Ireland played a vital role, yet the English repeatedly failed to capitalise on Ireland’s support. The English government’s reaction to the rebellion and their treatment of those who remained loyal also contributed to the lack of success as it led to further alienation of potential supporters.
The first factor that will be looked at is Ireland, and more specifically the relationship between Ireland and England. Ireland had been in a state of rebellion since 1641 with various factions fighting for control of the country. In 1649 Oliver Cromwell invaded Ireland in an attempt to quell the rebellion and bring Ireland back under English control.
This invasion was successful in defeating the main rebel army but it also left a lasting legacy of bitterness and resentment. The English confiscated land from those who had supported the rebellion and gave it to those who had remained loyal, known as ‘adventurers’. This policy of transplantation, as it was known, created a class of dispossessed Irish people who were resentful of the English presence in Ireland.
The Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745-46 saw Ireland play a vital role. In both cases Ireland was seen as the best place to launch an invasion of England as it was closest to England and also because there was a large Catholic population who were sympathetic to the Stuart cause. Ireland was also an important source of financial support for the Jacobites; in 1745 King Louis XV of France agreed to provide financial assistance to the Jacobites on the condition that Ireland was invaded. The French believed that an invasion of Ireland would tie down English troops and prevent them from being used against France in continental Europe.
Despite Ireland’s importance, the English repeatedly failed to capitalise on Ireland’s support. In 1715 the Earl of Mar, the leader of the Jacobite rebellion, landed in Scotland with an army of around 6,000 men. Despite having a significant numerical advantage, Mar was cautious and did not want to engage the Hanoverian army in battle.
Instead he hoped to draw them north into difficult terrain where they could be easily defeated. This strategy relied on Ireland joining the rebellion but despite initial success in raising support, Ireland ultimately failed to join the rebellion. This meant that Mar was left without the numerical advantage he needed and the Hanoverian army was able to defeat the Jacobites at the Battle of Preston.
The 1745 rebellion saw a similar pattern with Ireland once again failing to join the rebellion. Despite this, the Jacobites were able to march south and victory seemed within their grasp. However, at the critical Battle of Culloden the Jacobites were soundly defeated by the Hanoverian army. Ireland’s failure to join the rebellion was a significant factor in the defeat as it meant that the Jacobites did not have the numbers they needed to win.
The English government’s reaction to both rebellions also contributed to the lack of success. In 1715 the English government responded to the rebellion by passing the harsh Alien Act. This Act made it illegal for anyone from Ireland or Scotland to live in England and also restricted trade between England and Ireland. The aim of the Act was to isolate Ireland and prevent them from providing assistance to the Jacobites. However, the Act also served to alienate those who were loyal to the English government as it made it difficult for them to trade with Ireland.
The 1745 rebellion saw a similar response from the English government with the passage of the Disarming Acts. These Acts banned all weapons in Scotland and Ireland and also required all Scotsmen to take an oath of allegiance to the Hanoverian king. The purpose of the Acts was to prevent Ireland and Scotland from providing assistance to the Jacobites but they also served to further alienate the Catholic population.
The Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745-46 were ultimately unsuccessful due to a number of factors. Ireland’s failure to join the rebellion was a significant factor as it meant that the Jacobites did not have the numbers they needed to win. The English government’s response to both rebellions also contributed to the lack of success as their harsh policies served to alienate those who were loyal to the English government.
Finally, the Jacobites themselves made a number of strategic errors which meant that they were unable to take advantage of their opportunities. Ireland’s role in the Jacobite rebellions was therefore significant but ultimately unsuccessful.
The American Revolution of 1776 appealed to dissidents because of the important role played by Ulster emigrants. It also prompted the need to withdraw British troops from Ireland and send them to America. In 1778, the Protestant Ascendancy established the Irish Volunteers in order to defend Ireland from attack.  The Volunteer movement was influenced by the liberal patriot opposition in Parliament, which sought political reform.
In response to the Volunteers’ demands, Ireland’s parliament passed several liberal Acts in 1782–83 that expanded voting rights and increased parliamentary representation for Catholics. These reforms however did not go far enough for many Volunteers and other reformers, who staged an rebellion in 1784. The rebels were easily defeated by government forces.
The outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792 led to a renewal of calls for Irish reform, as well as calls for Ireland’s independence from Britain. The Society of United Irishmen, formed in Belfast in October 1791 by middle-class Protestant dissidents like Wolfe Tone, was modeled on the Jacobin clubs of revolutionary France.
The society quickly spread to Dublin and other urban centers throughout Ireland. The United Irishmen sought to repeal the Acts of Union and reestablish Ireland’s independence. They also advocated for an end to discrimination against Ireland’s Catholic majority and for Ireland’s admission into the French Republic as an equal partner.
The United Irishmen united Protestant, Catholic, and dissenter opposition to British rule in Ireland. However, divisions within the movement contributed to the failure of several early rebellions. The most serious of these was the 1798 Rebellion, which was crushed by a massive deployment of British troops. In spite of this defeat, the ideas of the United Irishmen had a lasting impact on Irish politics.