In the years following the flight of the deposed Stuart king, James II to France, Catholic support for the Stuart claim to the English throne remained strong in Scotland. The supporters were known as Jacobites from 'Jacobus', the Latin version of James, the favoured Christian name of Stuart kings.

In 1745, a Jacobite rising began under the leadership of the grandson of James II, Charles Edward Stuart, better known as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'. Charles landed from France in July. He planned to raise an army in Scotland and northern England then march south to London, while the French invaded from the south, and reclaim the crown for his father, James.

In the absence of George II, who was in Hanover attending to his affairs as Elector, the Lord Justices of England issued this proclamation on 1 August. A reward of £30,000 was offered "to any person who shall seize and secure" Charles Edward Stuart. The proclamation provoked a counter-proclamation from Charles offering the same reward for the person of the Elector of Hanover.

On his return to England, the king urgently appealed to Parliament for funds to send an army northwards: "So wicked and daring an attempt in favour of a popish pretender to my Crown, headed by his eldest son, carried on by numbers of traitorous and desperate persons within the Kingdom, and encouraged by enemies abroad, requires the immediate advice and assistance of my Parliament to suppress and extinguish it."