West Highland Museum Trust logo

The Jacobites

The word Jacobite comes from Jacobus, the latin form of James, so literally meant a supporter of the line of James. James VI of Scotland, from the House of Stewart (or Stuart, the French spelling) was crowned King of England in 1603 and the Stuarts reigned over both Scotland and England until the death of Queen Anne in 1714.

James VII (and II) was forced to abdicate in favour of his daughter, Mary, and her husband William of Orange. James' son was still a minor when Anne succeeded and, at her death, he was passed over for the Protestant George I of Hanover. Two Jacobite risings on behalf of James and his son, Charles Edward Stuart - popularly known as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' - failed to overthrow the next Hanoverian George II.

By the time of the death of Bonnie Prince Charlie's brother, Henry, Cardinal Duke of York, support for the Jacobite cause had waned and few regarded anyone but George III as the natural successor.

The West Highland Museum has an outstanding collection of objects relating to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Cause. Have a look at our featured objects and enjoy their stories.

We are finding that fans of the Outlander books and TV series are making our Museum a 'must see' destination to learn more about the Jacobites and we can give them an excellent insight. As a guide we have produced this Outlander leaflet.

Jacobite signs and symbols

Various codes, symbols and emblems were used to signify support for the Jacobite cause, for example the white cockade and the white rose. Images of bees were also used (signifying loyalty), as well as butterflies and moths (signifying the return of the soul). The museum has a wealth of Jacobite memorabilia, including a wide variety of miniatures, Jacobite glass, standard holders, jewellery, and even spoons.

In late September of the year of the Jacobite Rising, 1745, a ball to celebrate the taking of Edinburgh was held at Holyrood in honour of the Prince. A fan was given to the ladies who attended. They were hand painted on paper and mounted on Chinese carved ivory sticks. The fan makers of Edinburgh who had been commissioned must have been put under considerable pressure to produce them within a matter of days of the event.

Jacobite fan