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1745: John Campbell and the Jacobite occupation of Edinburgh

Portrait of John Campbell, 1759

On 23 July 1745 Charles Edward Stuart landed on the Scottish island of Eriskay, on a mission to win back the British throne for the Stuarts. Despite initial reluctance, Highland families who favoured the Stuart claim to the throne gradually gave the Prince their support, and a Jacobite army was formed. The army marched south through Scotland and into England, reaching as far as Derby on 6 December. On the way, it took control of Edinburgh, occupying the city from 16 September until 1 November 1745.

John Campbell was Cashier – that is, chief officer – of The Royal Bank of Scotland in the mid-eighteenth century. Throughout the Jacobite occupation of Edinburgh, he kept a diary. This diary survives today in the archives of RBS and is a valuable source of information about the city during the occupation. It records Campbell’s activities, including his courageous efforts to guide the bank through this period of danger, and to keep its assets safe.

This resource looks at the Jacobite occupation of Edinburgh through John Campbell’s eyes, using his eyewitness account to tell the story of an important historical event. It focuses on the chronology of events, and the causes and effects of individuals’ actions. The story is told through archival sources – primarily John Campbell’s diary – and so provides an opportunity to introduce pupils to the nature, strengths and limitations of historic evidence. The resource examines cause and effect, time and historical sequence and the nature of historical evidence; and develops understanding of chronology and skills in carrying out historical enquiry and interpretation. Throughout the resource pupils are encouraged to use evidence to solve a historical mystery; the question of whether John Campbell’s own loyalties were Jacobite or Hanoverian.

Teachers’ notes

Activity sheets for pupils

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