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York and the Jacobite Rebellions

Bonnie Prince Charles around the time of the second Jacobite rising in 1745

The Jacobite rebellions, which aimed to return the Stuarts to the English and Scottish monarchy, largely passed York by.  The city’s main role after the first rebellion in 1715 was to house some of the prominent rebels in its castle.

When Bonnie Prince Charlie attempted to seize the throne 30 years later, there was a mixed reaction within the city, but anti-Jacobite feeling prevailed.  The Archbishop preached a sermon against the rebels in the Minster, and a group of volunteers called the Yorkshire Association was assembled to take on the Stuart forces.  Included were the mayor, the clerk, and many members of the gentry.  Preparations were made to defend York, including a programme to patch up the city walls.

In the event, the decisive battle took place many miles to the north at Culloden in 1746.  When the rebels were defeated, the city sent congratulations to the king and invited the successful commander, the Duke of Cumberland, to accept the freedom of the city in a hundred-guinea gold box.  The Duke was known in Scotland as 'The Butcher'.

Twenty-two Jacobite rebels were executed at York, and two of the heads were placed on Micklegate Bar in 1745.  They stayed there until 1754 when a York tailor, William Arundell, stole them. He was jailed for two years for the theft.


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