Chris Brown has kindly shared this document from his extensive Northumbrian Jacobitism site with readers of the Victorian Web. Thanks to David Davies for his help.
After the ending of the '45, Jacobitism all but died in England. Occasional prosecutions for Jacobite activities continued into the early 1760s but both sides knew that the cause was effectively finished. In Northumberland, the drinking of Jacobite toasts and the occasional meetings of those who kept the old loyalty alive would have continued for a few years but as the generation that had participated in the fifteen died out, the cause died out to. By 1770 there were probably no active Jacobites left in Northumberland.
However, the people of Northumberland retained their strongly independent attitudes and their tradition of recording important local events in poems and ballads. The most famous of these is Lord Derwentwater's Farewell, but there were many others. Many songs and poems written to commemorate the Jacobites have survived. The earliest of these were written by anonymous Northumbrian farmers within a generation of the events recorded. Many were collected by James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, in his Reliques of Jacobite Poetry. Lord Derwentwater's Lament was passed off as a genuine ballad written by Derwentwater himself on the night before his execution, but in fact it was written by Robert Surtees of Durham in 1807.
He had sent it to Sir Walter Scott for inclusion in Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, and Scott seems to have believed it was genuine. The work of Scott and Hogg mark an new interest in the Jacobites in the early years of the nineteenth century. Their treatment of Jacobitism played down its political side and the failings of its leaders, and concentrated instead on its romantic aspects.
The publication of Scott's work created a group of locals who were keen to find out more about the romantic Jacobite past of Northumberland. Surtees was not the only person to write poems and songs remembering the Rising and pertaining to have been composed by the Jacobites, but usually the real authors were honest enough to admit they had written the material themselves. Some of them had a genuine connection with the Rising, such as the poet s whose relatives had been out in the '15. His Jacobite "Exile's Lament" is a wonderful evocation of the Northumbrian landscape rather than a record of the rising.
This new interest in the local Jacobites was given a boost by the publication of William Sidney Gibson's book, Dilston Hall, in 1850. This book was the first biography of the Earl of Derwentwater and the first attempt to write an outline history of the '15 in Northumberland. He wrote in a flowery, romantic style which secured the image of Derwentwater as a tragic, almost saintly, hero. 'Dilston', he wrote, 'is surrounded by the poetry of historical tradition; and the character of the scenery which encircles the ruined hall of Radcliffe's fallen line, seems to invest with a romantic charm, the shadows of the past that crowd upon the thoughtful visitor at every step in his approach'. This book brought many visitors to the ruins at Dilston, including the 'Countess Amelia', one of the most extraordinary characters in the whole history of the Jacobites.
Last modified July 2000.