Declaration of King James VIII, December 23, 1743

A manuscript copy of this declaration can be found among the Stuart papers at Windsor (volume 254, number 93).

A printed version of the text can be found in A collection of declarations, proclamations, and other valuable papers (Edinburgh, 1749), 2-6 (Eighteenth-Century Short-Title Catalogue T163992).

James the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of Scotland, England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. to all our loving subjects of what degree or quality soever, greeting.

Having always borne the most constant affection to our Ancient Kingdom of Scotland, from whence we derive our royal origin, and where our progenitors have swayed the sceptre with glory through a longer succession of kings than any monarchy upon Earth can at this day boast of, we cannot but behold with the deepest concern the miseries they suffer under a foreign usurpation, and the intolerable burdens daily added to their yoke, which become yet more sensible to us, when we consider the constant zeal and affection the generality of our subjects of that our Ancient Kingdom have expressed for us on all occasions, and particularly when we had the satisfaction of being ourselves amongst them.

We see a nation, always famous for valour and highly esteemed by the greatest of foreign potentates, reduced to the condition of a province, under the specious pretence of an union with a more powerful neighbour. In consequence of this pretended union, grievous and unprecedented taxes have been laid on and levied with severity in spite of all representations that could be made to the contrary and these have not failed to produce that poverty and decay of trade which were easily foreseen to be the necessary consequences of such oppressive measures.

To prevent the just resentments which could not but arise from such usage, our faithful highlanders, a people always trained up and inured to arms, have been deprived of them. Forts and citadels have been built to garrison where no foreign invasion could be apprehended, and a military government has been effectually introduced as into a conquered country. It is easy to foresee what must be the consequences of such violent and unprecedented proceedings, if a timely remedy be not put to them, neither is it less manifest that such a remedy can never be obtained but by our restoration to the throne of our ancestors, into whose royal hands such destructive maxims could never find admittance.

We think it needless to call to mind how solicitous we have ever been, and how often we have ventured our royal person, to compass this great end, which the Divine Providence seems now to have furnished us with the means of doing effectually by inspiring our dear brother His Most Christian Majesty to assist us with such a body of forces to be landed in England as may enable our good subjects there to shake off the york under which they have likewise felt their share of the common calamities. Our former experience leaves us no room to doubt of the cheerful and hearty concurrence of our Scots subjects on this occasion towards the perfecting the great and glorious work.

But that none may be deterred by past miscarriages from returning to their duty, and being restored to the happiness they formerly enjoyed, we in this public manner think fit to make known our gracious intentions towards all our people.

We do therefore by this our royal declaration absolutely and effectually pardon and remit all treasons and other crimes hitherto committed against our royal father or ourselves, from the benefit of which we except none but such as shall after the publication hereof willfully and maliciously oppose us or those who shall appear or endeavour to appear in arms for our service.

We further declare that we will with all convenient speed call a free Parliament, that by the advice and assistance of such an assembly, we may be enabled to repair the breaches caused by so long an usurpation, to redress all grievances, and to free our people from the unsupportable burdens of the mall tax and other hardships and impositions which have been the consequence of the pretended union, that so the nation may be restored to that honour, liberty, and independence which it formerly enjoyed.

We likewise promise upon our royal word to protect, secure, and maintain all our Protestant subjects in the free exercise of their religion, and in the full enjoyment of all their rights, privileges, and immunities, and in the secure possession of all churches, universities, colleges, and schools, conform to the law of the land.

And this we shall be ready to confirm in our first Parliament in which we promise to pass any act or acts that shall be judged necessary to secure such private person in the full possession of his liberty and property, to advance trade, to relieve the poor and establish the general welfare and tranquility of the nation. In all such matters we are fully resolved to act always by the advice of our Parliaments, and to value none of our titles so much as that of common father of our people, which we shall ever show ourselves to be by our constant endeavours to promote the quiet and happiness of all our subjects. And we shall be particularly solicitous to settle, encourage, and maintain the fishery and linen manufactory of the nation, which we are sensible may be of such advantage to it, and which we hope are works reserved for us to accomplish.

As for those who shall appear more signally zealous for the recovery of our just rights and the prosperity of their country, we shall take effectual care to reward them according to their respective degrees and merits. And we particularly promise as aforesaid our full, free, and general pardon to all officers, soldiers, and sailors now engaged in the service of the usurper, whether by sea or land, provided that upon the publication hereof and before they engage in any fight or battle against our forces they quit the said unjust and unwarrantable service and return to their duty. In which case we shall pay them all the arrears that shall be at the time due to them from the usurper. We shall grant to the officers the same commissions they shall then bear, if not higher, and to all soldiers and sailors a gratification of a whole year's pay for their forwardness in promoting our service.

We further promise and declare that the vassals of such as shall, without regard to our present declaration, obstinately persist in their rebellion and thereby forfeit all pretensions to our royal clemency, shall be delivered from all servitude they were formerly bound to and shall have grants and charters of their lands to be held immediately of the Crown, provided they, upon the publication of this our declaration, declare openly for us and join heartily in the cause of their country.

And having thus declared or gracious intentions to our loving subjects, we do hereby require and command them to be assisting to us in the recovery of our rights, and of their own liberties, and that all our subjects from the age of sixteen to sixty do upon the setting up of our Royal Standard immediately repair to it, or join themselves to such as shall first appear for us in their respective shires, and also to seize the horses and arms of all suspected person and all ammunition, forage, and whatever else may be necessary for the use of our forces.

We also strictly command all receivers, collectors, and other persons who may be seized of any sum or sums of money levied in the name or for the use of the usurper, to retain such sum or sums of money in their own hands till they can pay them to some person of distinction appearing publicly for us, and demanding the same for our use and services, whose receipt or receipts shall be a sufficient discharge for all such collectors, receivers, or other persons, their heirs, etc.

Lastly we do hereby require all sheriffs of shires, stewards of stewardries, and their respective deputies, magistrates of royal boroughs, bailiffs of regalities, and all others to whom it may belong to publish this our declaration at the market crosses of their respective towns and boroughs, and there to proclaim us, under the penalty of being proceeded against according to law, for their neglect of so necessary and important a duty.

Given at our court at Rome, the 23rd day of December, 1743, in the 43rd year of our reign.

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