The Fifteen follow in the footsteps of Rising leader

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The Fifteen (The Northumbrian Jacobite Society)

THE Society held its 12th anniversary dinner at Capheaton Hall on Saturday, October 6, the actual anniversary of the start of the 1715 Jacobite Rising in Northumberland.

For the second year running, a large group of members were welcomed to dine in their atmospheric, beautiful home by owners and fellow members Will and Eliza Browne-Swinburne.

On arrival, members were greeted by the playing of the Northumbrian pipes by Nick Leeming from Haltwhistle, Piper to the Society.

Guest speaker was Peter Arnold, former Sheriff and Lord Mayor of Newcastle and current Chairman of The Northumbrian Language Society, who spoke of the long history of the local dialect and read several poems written in it.

He characterised Northumbrians as being naturally rebellious to higher authority, which helped partly to explain the important part played by Northumbrians in the 1715 Rising.

Member Douglas Smith from Middle Herrington gave a bravura performance with his broadsword as part of the traditional Jacobite rituals at the dinner that included three toasts and the playing of Derwentwater’s Farewell, as well as more light-hearted entertainment.

Chairman John Nicholls said that he greatly valued the society’s special relationship with Capheaton, since Will’s ancestor, Sir William Swinburne, 2nd baronet, had been a cousin of James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, one of the celebrated leaders of the Rising, executed on Tower Hill, London, in 1716 at the age of 26.

Lord Derwentwater would have dined under the same roof that they did as Sir William’s guest after returning to his family seat at Dilston, near Corbridge. Queen Anne had granted him licence to do so in 1709 and he came to Dilston the next year.

He had spent his teens at the exiled Stuart Court at Saint-Germain, near Paris, as companion to Anne’s half-brother James, The Old Pretender, recognised as King James III by France, Spain and the Papacy on the death of their father, James II, earlier deposed in a political coup by William of Orange (William III).

The Swinburnes owed a great debt to Lord Derwentwater’s family, the Radcliffes, for it was one of them, travelling abroad in the 17th century, who had recognised the seven-year-old John Swinburne, the heir to Capheaton.

He had been spirited away into the care of Benedictine monks when his father was killed in a swordfight at Meldon in 1643. He was able to describe a family cat and the marks on a silver punchbowl at Capheaton and thus reclaim his estate, later gaining a baronetcy in 1660 from Charles II.

He engaged Robert Trollope of Newcastle to build the present Hall in the Baroque style in 1668 and fathered no less than 23 children.

For more information on The Fifteen’s activities, see