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Jacobite Sword

  • Scottish basket-hilted claymore sword
  • Bayonet, 1745 rebellion

Carlisle and the Jacobites

The Jacobites aimed to restore the Stuart dynasty to the British throne. Armed Jacobite rebellions occurred in 1689 and 1715. Carlisle was attacked, captured and recaptured during the final Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

In 1745 Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788) sailed from European exile, raised an army, captured Edinburgh and defeated government forces at the Battle of Prestonpans. The Jacobites then invaded the western part of England to pick up support in Cumberland and Lancashire.

The Jacobite army surrounded Carlisle on 13th November 1745. An unreliable militia, aged veteran troops and crumbling city walls stood in their path. When heavy snowfall stopped General Wade’s relief force the garrison surrendered after two days.

The Prince stayed at Highmoor House in Carlisle, before leading the army south toward London. The Jacobites then controversially retreated north at Derby. The rebel leadership was divided and infiltrated by spies, many men had deserted and larger government forces were approaching rapidly.

By 19th November, the Jacobites had returned to Carlisle. The Duke of Cumberland’s (1721-1765) army assaulted Carlisle Castle with large naval gun batteries from Whitehaven. The rebel garrison surrendered on 27th December 1745. The Jacobite army was later defeated and massacred at the battle of Culloden in 1746.

At the battle of Prestonpans in 1745 the ferocity of the highland charge caused British Army line regiments to run from the field in terror and confusion. Jacobites led by Lord George Murray (1694-1760) also inflicted casualties using a claymore attack on government Dragoons at Clifton Moor (near Penrith).

In response the British Army devised a special bayonet drill to counter the charge at the battle of Culloden in 1746. Soldiers were trained to bayonet the man to their left as opposed to the man facing them directly.  This action was able to repel a depleted highland charge after the Jacobites had been decimated by cannon fire and grapeshot.  The scene of Government bayonets vs Jacobite claymore is famously depicted by the Anglo-Swiss Artist David Morier’s (1705-1770) oil painting titled ‘An Incident of the rebellion.’ 

A bayonet used by British Government forces during the 1745 rebellion is also found in the collections of Tullie House (see image).

Key facts: 
  • Scottish sword left behind by retreating Jacobite forces in 1745
  • Carlisle was besieged in 1745 by the Jacobite forces who supported the Stuart claim of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonny Prince Charlie) to the throne
  • Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonny Prince Charlie) stayed at Highmoor House in Carlisle before leading his army South to London
  • The Jacobite forces were later defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

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