The Cameronians and the Attempted Jacobite Rising of 1708 #History #Scotland

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The veracity of the claims made John Ker of Kersland about his role as a spy in Union Crisis of 1706 to 1708 have been much debated. Whether he had the influence he maintained he had in his Memoirs in swaying the Hebronites and the Cameronians away from joining with the Jacobites to overthrow the Union is an open question. However, at a point later in the Memoirs, Kersland reproduced a letter that he states he received from Cameronian officers seeking payment of arrears for the services of themselves and Cameronian irregulars…

It is only a minor detail in Kersland’s account of his alleged dealings with the Cameronians, but it is one that can be checked. It appears that the officers concerned were probably all veterans of the Lord Angus’ Regiment raised from among Society people in early 1689, which fought at the Battle of Dunkeld and on the Continent. Kersland, it seems, did not fabricate the names of the Cameronian officers who subscribed the letter. That indicates that he probably did have dealings with the Cameronians in 1707 and early 1708. What those dealings were is another question, but clearly he was known to them and had made offers ‘in the Name of England’ to them.

Perhaps the most intriguing line in the whole Cameronian letter is ‘what can be expected from People thus abused, if the Pretender ever makes another Attempt?’

Kersland’s Memoirs:

‘I came to London, which was about the latter end of March 1709.

The Lord Treasurer, upon my Arrival, payed all Accompts due to myself [for his role as spy in the Union Crisis]; but to my Sorrow, could never prevail in the Matter of the Cameronian Arrears, not withstanding all that the good Duke of Queensberry, &c. could do, who did every thing in his Power to serve and oblige me, and used his Argument very often with the Treasurer for that end, and which I cannot in Honour and Gratitude to his Noble Memory forget gratefully to mention; he generously, always, remembring my good Services, and as generously forgetting the several Disobligations I had given him, in taking a Part with the Squadrone, &c. tho’ much to his Prejudice.

Next May, the following Letter from some of the Cameronian Officers, in behalf of the
whole, came to my Hand.

[Penpont 15 May, 1709.]

Honoured Sir, You may remember when the Pretender [James VIII] was upon our Coasts [in March 1708], what Promises you was pleased to make us in the Name of England, and, indeed, we shall never impute Non-Performance of them to any Neglect or Fault in you, but only to those concerned in the Government; you was Witness to our Zeal then, and our readiness to oppose the Pretender, had he landed: Be pleased to let us know if we are to expect the payment of our Arrears, or not.
England, who hath no Opportunity to know any thing of us, may probably despise us; but it is well known, that under the Conduct of your worthy Predecessors [e.g., Daniel Ker of Kersland], we durst look our Enemies in the Face, and defend ourselves in the Reigns of King Charles [II] and King James [VII]: But what can be expected from People thus abused, if the Pretender ever makes another Attempt? However, Sir, whether you Succeed in your Endeavours for us, or nor, we shall always have an Esteem and Affection for you; and a due Regard to the worthy Family [of Kerslands] you have the Honour to represent.
We add no more, but commit you to God’s Blessing and Keeping, and remain with all Sincerity and Respect, in our own, and our Friends Names,
Your most Humble Servants,

[Captain William] Harris, [Captain John] Matthewson,
[Captain James] Gilchrist, [Lieutenant John] Howartson [i.e., Hewatson],
[Lieutenant] Hutcheson, [?] Campbell.

This Letter made me stay in London to negotiate their Arrears, and that made the Difference I betwixt a certain great Man and me; for a change of the Ministry happening soon afterwards, the Treasurer and his Friends were very anxious to have me out of Town; because I knew abundance of Things they were willing to conceal:’ (Kersland, Memoirs, 68-69.)

I have given the ranks the officers held when the regiment was mustered in 1689.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free link to this post on Facebook or other social networks or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

~ by drmarkjardine on April 22, 2016.

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