Graduates of Aberdeen's two colleges supported opposing sides in the Union controversy.
In the 1710s, George Keith, Earl Marischal of Scotland, represented the family that had founded Marischal College. He was also a prominent Jacobite. After the failure of the 1715 rising, Keith fled into exile and entered Prussian service.
Robert Paterson, Principal of Marischal, was another Jacobite who nurtured loyalty to the Stuarts through patronage of the local arts and an ambitious refurbishment of the college.
King's College also provided a haven for Jacobitism, though some figures associated with the college were less than consistent in their political principles. Simon Fraser of Lovat, who graduated with a MA from King's in 1683, was universally perceived to be an untrustworthy rogue. An opportunistic supporter of the Hanoverians in 1715, he sided with the Jacobites in 1745-6. Executed for treason in 1747, aged 80, he was the last person to be publicly beheaded in Britain.