Search This Blog

Monday, October 10, 2011

Guest Susanna Kearsley--Dangerous Loyalties: The Jacobites in Cornwall

Linda Banche here. My guest today is Susanna Kearsley and her knock-your-socks-off time travel back to 1715 Cornwall, The Rose Garden. Here she tells us about the politics of the time.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the copy of The Rose Garden which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Susanna will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of selection, I will award the book to an alternate. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winner Susanna selected is Harvee! Thanks to all for coming over, and Susanna said she appreciates you coming over, and she enjoyed reading your comments.

Welcome, Susanna!

Susanna Kearsley:

Say “Jacobites”, and most of us think “Scotland”, but the truth is there were many on the English side as well who held the true heir of the throne to be King James III, a Catholic, not his Protestant half-sisters, who had ruled in turn since their joint father, James II, had been chased across the Channel into exile by his daughter Mary and her husband, William, Prince of Orange.

Politics then was as divided as it is today, and Britain’s parliament was split between the Whigs—who believed the monarch’s role should be strictly limited, and that progressive social and political reform was necessary—and the Tories, who stood for tradition, the old church, and a strong monarchy. Just as the Whigs had opposed the openly Catholic James II’s right to the throne, many of the Tories had supported him, and continued to consider him the true king even while they served his daughters in their parliaments.

When James II died in 1701, the Jacobites transferred their loyalty to his young son, James III. And when Queen Anne herself died in 1714 without a child to succeed her, Jacobites on both sides of the Scottish border felt the time had come to bring her brother back from exile to assume his rightful crown.

The Whigs, who did not believe in the hereditary right of kings, had found their own candidate for the royal succession. The Prince of Hanover, who despite being only distantly related (more than fifty Catholic relatives of Anne, besides her half-brother, had better claims) and speaking no English at all, was crowned King George I of Great Britain in October of 1714.

Not everyone approved. Public rumblings and riots began to spread out from the capital into the countryside, becoming particularly intense in the spring, since George I’s birthday unluckily fell the day before Restoration Day—a half-century old Stuart celebration of the day King Charles II was restored to his throne after being similarly exiled in the wake of the Civil War. The festivities for George’s birthday devolved into angry protests of his coronation, and several towns and cities across England erupted in riots and bonfires.

In response, the Whig-controlled parliament passed the famous Riot Act, which gave officials the right to break up any gathering of 12 or more people. Anyone who ignored the reading of the Riot Act was guilty of treason, and they could be beaten, arrested or shot dead on the spot without any further warning or liability.

At the end of July, George I also announced the suspension of the right of Habeus Corpus, meaning his agents could arrest anyone they suspected of treason and imprison them indefinitely, without having to bring actual charges or hold a proper trial.

He did this not only because of the riots, but also because he had learned from his spies that the Jacobites—not just in Scotland, but closer to home—were preparing to rise. And one of the strongholds of highly-placed Tories and Jacobite leaders was Cornwall.

The Duke of Ormonde and Lord Bolingbroke, two of the Tories’ highest men, had been accused of treason and had fled to France, but the popular and charismatic Ormonde had been planning his return, intending to support James III’s landing in Scotland by landing himself in the West of England and leading an army from there towards London against George’s parliament.

The plans had already been set in motion, led by one of the most influential men in Cornwall, Sir Richard Vyvyan, and aided by others like powerful MP John Anstis—who was not only a cousin of King James III’s private secretary but was himself the hereditary steward of the tinners who made up a large portion of the Cornish population—and his good friend George Granville, Lord Lansdowne, whose own family had a long history of backing the cause of the Stuart kings. (Granville, an accomplished poet and playwright, had even written poems while at Cambridge about King James III’s mother, Queen Mary of Modena).

But these men had a powerful enemy in another MP, Hugh Boscawen, who through his own family connections was part of George I’s inner circle, and who had an ongoing personal rivalry with George Granville.

It only took one man to ruin the Jacobites. The Duke of Ormonde’s secretary, Colonel John Maclean, had been sent to travel down through Cornwall, seeking out supporters for the cause and letting those already faithful know of Ormonde’s plans. Known and trusted by all those connected with the uprising, and privy to their plans, he then, for reasons never specified, turned traitor. He told George I’s agents all that he knew, and in turn George I gave Boscawen instructions to raise a militia and send out his Messengers (agents who had the ability to make arrests) to take care of the men who’d been named by Maclean.

Anstis and Granville were arrested on the same day in late September, and shortly afterwards Sir Richard Vyvyan was arrested at his grand house Trelowarren, although the story goes that the Messenger sent to arrest him was purposely delayed at an inn by Vyvyan’s friends while they sent someone to warn him. He reportedly used the time, not to escape, but to destroy potentially incriminating documents. If true, this tactic seems to have worked, because although he was sent to the Tower and held prisoner there for a time, he was eventually released for lack of evidence against him.

On October 7, the day after Vyvyan was taken, a group of Cornishmen led by James Paynter proclaimed James III King of Great Britain at a gathering in St. Columb. He and his friends were arrested and taken to Newgate prison, but Paynter, like Vyvyan, eventually managed to win his freedom (though at least one of his friends wasn’t so fortunate).

When the Duke of Ormonde finally managed to cross the Channel later that month, instead of being met as he’d hoped by an army of men under Sir Richard Vyvyan, he found the whole affair in tatters. Being told of Maclean’s treachery, and learning that his best men and allies were all in the Tower of London, he gave up his hopes of a Cornish rebellion and went back to France.

Would history have been any different if Colonel Maclean hadn’t sold out his friends to the enemy? Nobody knows. But considering just how well-liked and how powerful all of the great Cornish Jacobites were, there’s no saying how much they’d have helped James III when he landed that winter in Scotland, if they had been able to raise him an army in Cornwall as well.


Eva Ward is a modern woman thrown back three centuries to 1715 only to find that might be exactly where she belongs. There she finds true love with Daniel Butler, but the discord surrounding Hanoverian King George plunges the lovers into a world of intrigue, treason, and love.

About the Author
Susanna Kearsley’s writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne Du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. Her books have been translated into several languages, selected for the Mystery Guild, condensed for Reader’s Digest, and optioned for film. She lives in Canada near the shores of Lake Ontario. Her previous works have won the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award, and finaled for both the UK Romantic Novel of the Year and the Romance Writers of America's RITA awards.


Tracey Devlyn said...

Susanna, congrats on your release!

Loved reading about the Jacobites--really fascinating. And I don't believe I've ever read such a concise definition of the Whigs and Tories. Thanks for that!

Linda Banche said...

Hi Susanna,

Goes to show you how something completely unexpected can change history.

I LOVED The Rose Garden!

Harvee said...

I've been reading books set in Cornwall lately and would love to win this historical one.

harvee44 at

catslady said...

Oh, wow. I have to say I would have done anything to have gotten my hands on this while in school. You made it all make such sense and so succinctly. I enjoy time travels but this one seems like so much more. I've been reading about your book on other sites too and it totally intrigues me! And what a striking cover too.

Emery Lee said...

Hi Susana! I recently read THE WINTER SEA and was incredibly impressed by the accuracy of your history and the meticulous detail. (Two things I also take immense pride in.) I am thrilled that you have another release on the Jacobites and look forward to reading it very soon.
Emery Lee

Susanna Kearsley said...

Thanks, everyone. I have to confess I was reading this post over late last night after I'd sent it, and I thought, "Wow, I've made this so confusing,", so I'm really happy to know I didn't bore you with it. :-)

But Linda, I also just noticed I made a mistake:

In the paragraph beginning "On October 7th", I've called poor James Paynter "William" instead, for some reason (I must have been under-caffeinated whilst writing...)

If you have time to change his name back to the proper "James", I'd really be grateful.

Thanks again, and best of luck to everyone!


Linda Banche said...

OK, Susanna, I made the fix.

Susanna Kearsley said...

Thanks, Linda.

And I forgot to say it before, but thank you and your fellow Historical Hussies for having me here!

It's an honour.


Linda Banche said...

You're welcome, Susanna. Come back any time.

Heather Hiestand said...

Thank you for this fascinating slice of history!

Heather Hiestand

Dee said...

Fangirl squee! It's out! I now have to find time to run to the store and pick it up... Haven't read anything by Susanna that I haven't loved, including alter ego Emma Cole who made me cry. Happy thanksgiving Susanna and thanks for the giveaway.