Tuesday, 9 May 2006

The Jacobite Code

Thanks to the DVC, everyone seems obsessed with deciphering codes and discovering long-hidden secrets. Dan Brown's code is pure fiction - but here is one that is real!

I recently found a piece of paper in the diocesan archives that dates from the 1690s and contains the meanings of about 200 code words as used by the 'Jacobites.' In case your English history is a bit rusty, the Jacobites were those who supported our last Catholic King, James II, and his heirs. He lost his Throne during the Revolution of 1688 and he was replaced by William and Mary (who were Protestant). Many of the Jacobites were Catholic and lived in exile at the Stuart Court at St Germain and, later, in Rome.

Here are some examples of this secret Jacobite Code, used in their correspondence and, indeed, their plotting for the return of a Catholic monarch:

'Mr Grace' or 'Mr Good' = King James
'Mrs Patience' = Queen Mary of Modena
'Mr Cupid' = James, Prince of Wales
'Mr Bullion' = Louis XIV of France
'Prisoner' = Jacobite
'Highwayman' = Williamite [supporter of William & Mary]
'Beggar' = Papist [Catholic]
'Drugster' = Church of England man
'The Doctor' = Pope
'Physician' = Cardinal
'Mr Popes' = a Priest
'Operator' = an Italian prince
'Watermen' = the Irish
'The Garden' = Scotland


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