by John Blankenbaker
As a result of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 in Scotland, George Hume spent nearly all of his adult life in Virginia where he became a respected surveyor including areas inhabited by Germanna people.
Also, he was an ancestor of several Germanna families that makes him of special interest to Germanna historians. This note examines the reasons behind the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715.
Henry VIII of England declared himself to be the head of the Catholic church in England. This was shortly after the start of the Reformation in the 1520s.
Henry did not desire to reform the church in England but as the head of it he could approve his divorce from Catharine of Aragon that the pope in Rome would not approve.
Down through the succeeding monarchs, changes were made in what became known as the Church of England. Not all of the monarchs were staunchly Catholic or Protestant though many showed some inclination to one belief or the other.
In 1588, during the reign of Elizabeth I, who was a daughter of Henry VIII, Philip of Spain looked upon himself as the lay leader of the Catholics in Europe.
He felt that he was beholden to return England to the Catholic fold. At this time, many the citizens in England regarded themselves as Catholic but within the framework of the English church.
Philip assembled an army and a navy for the invasion of England. His navy was the largest in the world and highly regarded. The fleet, called the Armada, was assembled in the English Channel.
The defending English fleet was only about half the size of the Armada but they had some advantages. They knew the navigation problems of this area, they had faster ships though they were smaller on the average, and they had larger cannon that they could fire at three times the rate of the Spanish guns. T
he Spanish were not well supplied logistically as they had shortages in water and munitions. Also, they were suffering from an epidemic of influenza.
The English attacked the anchored ships of the Spanish at night with fire ships that caused panic among the Spanish who cut their cables and attempted to flee.
The English were able to sink a large number of the disorganized Spanish ships. After a battle at sea the next day, the Spanish decided upon retreat via the North Sea around Scotland and back to Spain with about half of their original number. This was perhaps the most important single battle in modern European history. Had Philip won and been successful in sending his army into England, the whole course of history in England and North America could have been changed.
In view of the Spanish intentions, the English viewed the Catholic church less favorably. At the same time, more extreme forms of religion thoughts were developing in England and Scotland that were definitely Protestant.
John Calvin, an early leader in the Reformation, influenced the development of the Presbyterian church in Scotland. In England, the Puritans became a prominent though small force.
These Protestant groups were strongly opposed to the Church of England since they did not approve of a church hierarchy that included bishops.
Elizabeth was succeeded by her cousin James of Scotland who was at the time James VI of Scotland. He became James I of England. At this time England and Scotland were separate entities.
Though James had Tudor ancestors as did Elizabeth, James is considered as the start of the English Stuart dynasty. James was succeeded by his son Charles I who became embroiled in disputes with Parliament.
The extreme forms of the Protestants sided with Parliament because they did not believe in bishops or monarchy. One leader of the Parliamentary forces was Oliver Cromwell who had developed a well-trained army.
He easily overthrew the forces of Charles I who was beheaded by the Parliamentarian forces. For a few years, until he died, Cromwell was the executive head of the government.
The English citizens generally preferred the hierarchies of bishops and the monarchy. After the death of Cromwell, the son of Charles I, another Charles, was invited back from exile to take the crown.
In gratitude to some of his supporters during the exile, Charles II created the Northern Neck of Virginia. He also settled his family’s debt to the Penn family by yielding up what became Pennsylvania. Charles II had no legitimate heirs and he was succeeded by his brother James II.
James II was an avowed Catholic who attempted to restore the English church to the Catholic fold. This could imply a potential for foreign domination to which the English were very adverse.
When James’ second and Catholic wife gave birth to a son in 1688 that would be the natural heir, many people were alarmed. A group of the nobility invited William of Orange to overthrow James.
William had married Mary, the elder daughter of James by his first wife, and Mary was a Protestant as was William. William landed in England in 1688 with a small force.
Many of the people in James’ army favored the Protestants and they deserted him. William won and James went into exile.
Parliament declared William and Mary to be joint sovereigns. When Mary died in 1695, William remained on the throne. He was succeeded in 1701 by Anne, the younger sister of Mary.
While Anne was pregnant seventeen times, no child lived for long. So when Anne died in 1714, the question as to her successor arose.
In Scotland, there was a sentiment to restore James II to the throne. The ancient Stuart line had originated in Scotland and James was a Stuart.
The effort to restore James II to the throne was the origin of the Jacobite rebellion of 1715. The restoration was less motivated by religion than by support for a “native son.”
A few years previously, Parliament enacted an Act that required the king and his wife to be Protestants.
After Anne’s death, her nearest Protestant relative was her first cousin, (King) George of Hanover, who was invited to become King of England. He accepted and this became the start of the Hanoverian line.
Three of the participants in the Jacobite rebellion were Sir George Hume, his brother Francis, and Sir George’s son, another George who was only 17.
These three were captured at Preston and received severe sentences but these were reduced. Sir George lost his estates. F
rancis was transported to Virginia in 1716 where his second cousin once removed, Alexander Spotswood, purchased his freedom. However, Francis was an embarrassment to Spotswood who was a supporter of King George. Spotswood’s solution was to send Francis to Germanna to be the overseer of the Germans there.
This far westward location would keep Francis out of the limelight. However, Francis died within a year and was buried at Germanna.
George Hume landed in Virginia in 1721 after a few years serving on slave ships. At first his prospects looked bleak but he was able obtain accreditation as a surveyor from William and MaryCollege.
George was well prepared for this as he had studied mathematics in Scotland. As a surveyor he was very successful and was appointed a Crown surveyor in 1751.
Four of the grandchildren of George Hume married Germanna descendants, three Criglers and one Fink. There were other Hume and Germanna descendant marriages, see the referenced articles.
The entire period from Henry VIII to William and Mary was a time of conflicting views between Catholics, the Church of England, and the more extreme Protestant groups.
This is reflected in Virginia where the Church of England was the approved church at the expense of the Catholics and non-Anglican Protestant groups.
Also, it was a time of conflict between the crown and parliament with the latter gaining more strength.
The Jacobite rebellion was a late attempt to thwart the will of Parliament.
1. Karl R. Hume, “George (Hume) Home, Surveyor,” Beyond Germanna, vol. 7, n. 1, p.363f. Many references to the history of the Hume family are given in this.
2. Karl R. Hume, “Hume and Wilhoit/Wilhite Connections,” Beyond Germanna, vol. 7, n. 2, p.371f.
3. Turner, Edward Raymond. Europe 1450-1789, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1923.
4. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Thirteenth Edition, 1926.
5. Vallance, Edward. The Glorious Revolution, 1688: Britain’s Fight for Liberty, Pegasus Books, 2008.