As no hostile attack has been made on Dundee from the above period, it only remains to give a brief account of its decline, rise, and recent improvements. The slaughter of the inhabitants and the plunder of the town by Monk was evidently the first cause of the decline of Dundee, as seven years’ famine which happened about the end of the same century also contributed to its disadvantage. The overthrow of the grey woollen manufacture, called plaiding, the chief support of the town, was a subsequent misfortune. Besides a considerable home consumption of this stuff, it was exported to Holland, and there consolidated and dyed for clothing to the army in various parts of Germany. From an increasing demand, favourable ideas of success were entertained, but the Union which took place between Scotland and England completely blasted every flattering prospect. The exportation of woollen cloth out of the former, was expressly prohibited, while the exportation of wool, the raw material, was earnestly enjoined. The manufacture, thus ruined beyond recovery, was greedily engrossed by the English, while the trade and ancient independence of the Scots were basely sacrificed to the interests of a rich and envious rival.
The discontent excited by the Union and other grievances produced a rebellion in the year 1715, when the adherents of the Pretender were defeated, and some of them beheaded.
The adventures of this prince, and the incidents connected with that memorable era are too well known to require any recapitulations in the present history. The Chevalier landed at Peterhead, with a retinue of six gentlemen disguised as sea officers, on the 22nd December, 1714, and lodged one night in the town. Next night they arrived at Newburgh, the seat of the Earl Marischal. On the 24th they passed incog. through Aberdeen, with two baggage horses, and arrived that night at Fetteresso, the principal seat of the Earl of Aberdeen, where he remained till the 27th. On that day, with the Earls Marr, Marischal, and Hamilton, who proclaimed him in fr0nt of the castle of Fetteresso, James intended to proceed from thence immediately to Perth, but was seized with an aguish distemper, which detained him several days at Fetteresso. During this time, his declaration, dated at Commercy, was printed and dispersed in several places under his influence. Copies of it were dropped during the night in the streets of Dundee, Forfar, Arbroath, Montrose, and other towns where his friends durst not publish it openly.
The Chevalier was followed, soon after his landing, by two small vessels in company, having his equipage and domestics on board. One of them got safe to Dundee, but the other stranded near St Andrews, and was staved to pieces, the men and goods bring saved. Among the passengers were Sir John Erskine of Alva, who had previously been sent by the Earl of Mar into France with a message, Brigadier Bulky, brother to the Duchess; whence 100 of the rebels came next day, and conveyed away the money and the rest of the cargo. A short time after, another vessel from France, for the Chevalier’s service, was cast away near Arbroath. The crew, chiefly Scotsmen and the money on board, were said to be lost. Several other ships sailed from Dieppe and Havre de Grace, with arms, ammunition, money, and officers, for the Chevalier’s service, and actually arrived in Scotland.
In 1715 the discontent in Scotland, arising from the passing of the Act of Union, and feeling of loyalty existing in many districts of the country towards the exiled family of Stuart, developed into the Rebellion of 1715, which, however, was at last terminated at the battle of Sheriffmuir. The Municipal officials of Dundee, who had all along been loyal to their native Princes, were considerably implicated in this rising, and along with Mr Wedderburn, Town Clerk, exerted themselves in the cause of the Pretender, alias the Chevalier St George. On 18th May the Magistrates in their zeal, by tuck of drum and public proclamation issued on 27th, prohibited the appearance of the inhabitants with arms in the streets next day, which was the anniversary of the birth of George I., under the penalty of forty pounds, to be exacted from every one who should offend, the proceeds of which penalties they probably expected as a fund to devote to the service of him whom they accounted their lawful sovereign. The loyal and peaceable portion of the inhabitants, however, took no notice of the proclamation; but on that day, proceeding in a body to Dudhope Castle, they there, drawing themselves up in arms, drank to His Majesty King George’s health, with several other loyal and patriotic toasts, accompanying each with a volley; and, having thus expressed their loyalty and affection to his Majesty’s Government, they returned quietly to their homes, to the great mortification of the burgh authorities, who did not dare to interrupt that demonstration of loyalty to the House of Hanover. But the following day being the 29th, the anniversary of the Restoration of Charles II., was, in perfect consistency with their principles, celebrated by the Magistrates with the accustomed ceremonies.