Had you been around in the England of 1685, you would have seen coins and medals and banners proclaiming “Jacobus Rex.” Following the death of Charles II on 6 February 1685, his Catholic brother King James II succeeded him to the throne. That Latin title would give rise to the term “Jacobite” for those who continued to support the royal house of Stuart, once James had fled into exile in Europe and the throne had been taken by his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange.
The crisis came with the birth of a son to James in 1688. Here was a likely future Catholic King. In exile, that child became in time The Old Pretender and eventually his son Bonnie Prince Charlie became the romantic figure known as the Young Pretender.
In the mid 17th century, many great and landed families had been split between the support of the Stuarts and the support of Cromwell. It was the same with the Jacobite cause. There were many, both Catholic and Protestant who remained loyal to the House of Stuart.
Prince Charles Edward Stuart led two serious invasions in order to take back the throne; one in 1715 and one in 1745.
The fact that Browsholme Hall has a varied collection of Jacobite items is an indication that one or more members of the Parker family were clearly Jacobites. In 1715 the Jacobite cause, sweeping South from Scotland, met defeat at the battle of Preston. Thirty years later Bonny Prince Charlie led a greater army that grew in size as it passed through Lancashire. A plaque can be seen in Lancaster that marks the spot on which he was proclaimed as Regent in November 1745. Many of the items at Browsholme relate to that rising, “the ‘45”
When the Jacobite cause was a real threat to the rule of the Hanoverian King George’s, the ownership of Jacobite items was a dangerous business.
At Browsholme you can see a pin cushion that bears the names of those Jacobites who were executed following the failure of the 1745 invasion. The length of ribbon was for making Jacobite decorations such as cockades for hats and it was manufactured in Manchester and in Staffordshire for distribution among supporters. There were many trinkets, like the small round box, that were made quickly to show support for Bonnie Prince Charlie. These were used as snuff boxes, patch boxes or dice boxes. What they had in common was that they could be easily hidden on the person of the supporter.
Browsholme Hall has a varied collection of Jacobite glasses. These are 18th
century wine glasses used for toasting “The King over the Water.” ie a toast would be taken at the dinner table to the King, but the glass would be passed over a bowl of water to show that the King in question was from the exiled House of Stuart. The glasses themselves were full of symbols that held political meanings. Most Jacobite glasses were produced, not in Scotland as many people assume, but in London, at workshops near The Strand, very close to the seat of Hanoverian power. About 6 workshops can account for 90% of Jacobite glasses distributed around the great houses of England and Wales. They were often used at special drinking clubs with names that disguised their cause , like “The Friendly Hunt” or “The cycle club.”
At Browsholme you can see some small glasses with air-twist stems that carry motto’s such as “Fiat” which means “let it be so” or the Latin taken from Virgil’s ancient book, the Aeneid, “Audientor ibo” which means “I shall go with greatest daring.”
These glasses are covered with engravings of the Jacobite rose. This is a 6 petal flower which represents the Old Pretender. On a thorny stem there are then two buds. One is open and represents the Pretender’s son, Bonnie Prince Charlie. There is also a closed bud representing his brother Henry who had been made a cardinal at Rome and was the Cardinal Duke of York. He would eventually be the very last Pretender as the Jacobite King Henry IX.
Many other symbols can be found on Jacobite glasses and on the Browsholme collection you can see engravings such as the moth. This represents the soul of the exile returning to it’s home after death.
The many glasses at Browsholme span the years from 1745 to the 1760’s and beyond, so someone in the Parker clan was a keen Jacobite who kept the romantic hope of the House of Stuart alive.