Stranger than fiction : ‘The Adventures of William Home’

If you have recently visited Culloden Battlefield, you might have gone on one of our museum highlight tours run by the volunteers in the learning team.

We all have our favourite objects and stories that we can talk about for hours, and for this blog John, one of our volunteers, is sharing one of his favourite stories:

Ensign William Home .

During war exceptional people can emerge from the carnage of battle as representing the true character of a hero and they are worth taking notice off. One of these individuals is William Home. At just 14 years old he carried the standard at the Battle of Falkirk and here at Culloden.

William was born at Duns in Berwickshire around 1731, the only son of Patrick Home of Langrig, who was a maltster by trade. He signed up to the Jacobite army in the role of a Cornet (Ensign) in Lord Balmerino’s Life Guards and fought at Prestonpans, Falkirk, and Culloden. On occasion he acted as aide-de-camp to Prince Charles Edward Stuart ,who presented him with a miniature of himself , a medal and Quaich . These items, along with Williams carbine, are on display in the first corridor at the Culloden Visitor Centre .

We know about William Homes activities at Culloden and the immediate aftermath, through a letter he wrote to a John Home.

The first troop of Lifeguards , commanded by Lord Echo and posted on the right of the front line were the first that gave way and in a very short time the infantry of this line broke their ranks and left their ground , no efforts were made by the second line , at best none of any consequence .As for the French auxiliaries, they did not fire a shot and indeed through the whole of the uprising from their landing in Scotland I never thought them of much use .

From the line giving way and the second line not being very forward , the rout became general and the confusion inexpressible in that situation of affairs the Prince quitted the field and not before as has been alleged by some ,and even then he went off with the utmost reluctance , the bridle of his horse having been seized and forcibly turned about after crossing the river , he dismissed the horsemen that were with him, they were ordered to proceed to Ruthven Barracks in Badenoch and there to wait the arrival of Lord George Murray , he accordingly came on the Saturday immediately following the day of the battle /( Wednesday ), he drew us all out and made a short speech, which he concluded by telling us to shift for ourselves as there were no more occasion for our services .”

After the Battle of Culloden William was captured and imprisoned in Stirling Castle before being transferred to Carlisle Castle. He was tried for treason and condemned to death on 19th September 1746. William was to be executed on 17th October at Carlisle. The day was chosen because it was market day for the town and therefore greater numbers than usual would observe the executions.

The Crown Solicitor Mr Philip Webb wrote the following remarks “ William Home who was in the “most guilty class “bore the Pretender’s standard at Falkirk and Culloden , but was at that time 14 years old ..”

Whilst in prison, under sentence of death, considerable efforts were made to secure a reprieve including a petition on behalf of William Home to the King George II .

“When the rebellion broke out and your unhappy petitioner was first seduced to depart from his allegiance he was not yet 14 years of age , one fitter to be employed at school , than in waging rebellion : but the appearance of some with whom your petitioner had been acquainted, and the temptations of a military dress were the only inducements , which first engaged , and since hurries him on to the taking of those steps which must now inevitably bring him to a miserable end , unless it should graciously please your Majesty , out of your Royal mercy otherways to dispense of him and to spare that life which he has forfeited by his crime of rebellion.”

Conditions in the prisons were bad and there was concern for Williams health because of a fever that was raging among the prisoners. Also, there was growing apprehension from Williams family that the petition would not work as news of more and more executions came in.

However, William was eventually offered a pardon upon condition that he enlisted in an independent company in the service of the East India Company. He was sent to Portsmouth  but, along with a number of others, he refused to enlist and was sent back to Carlisle. William never enlisted nor was he transported , instead, due to an error in paperwork, he was exiled and went to live on the continent . He entered service in the Prussian Army of Frederick the Great where he rose to the rank of Colonel .

We hope you enjoyed this post by our lovely volunteer John. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, K & D

 

A Family Affair…

The Jacobite story is a long one and has many complexities to it, from religion, to politics, to economics; there is a lot to contend with. But, the first thing you need to get you head around is the family connections, of which there are many.

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Firstly, let’s look at the Jacobites. We can start with James VII & II who was king from 1685-1688 when he was deposed. This is what kicked off the first Jacobite Rising in 1688, known as the Glorious Revolution. We then follow a pretty simple line with his son James VIII & III becoming ‘the Old Pretender’ and trying to take back the throne, and then his son Prince Charles Edward Stuart as ‘the Young Pretender’ making his attempt in 1745.

Meanwhile, there are obviously changes in the monarchy when James VII & II was deposed. The crown first passed to his daughter Mary, who ruled with her husband William of Orange. When they both died without heirs it then moved to James VII & II’s other daughter, Anne, who ruled until 1714.

At this point though there was a problem. The next successor should have been James VIII & III but many in the government did not want this. So, whilst Anne was still on the throne,  they passed a law that prevented Catholics from taking the throne, thereby ruling James VIII & III out of contention.

 

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House of Stuart – made by local school pupils

 

 

To find the next monarch they went back through the family tree to find the closest, suitable, relative. This takes us back to James VI & I whose granddaughter was Sophia of Hanover. She was named as the successor to the throne. Unfortunately, she died shortly before Anne so the next monarch was her son, George I.

By the time we reach the 1745 rebellion we have George I’s son, George II on the throne and it is his younger son, William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland who fights Prince Charles Edward Stuart at Culloden. Both men were 25 years old and were distant cousins.

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House of Hanover – made by local school pupils

 

 

 

In terms of other key historical figures which we sometimes get asked about at Culloden. Mary Queen of Scots was the mother of James VI & I. She was also the great niece of Henry VIII and challenged his daughter Elizabeth I to the throne but failed. Robert the Bruce was alive from 1274-1329, so quite a while before the Jacobites, but he was a direct ancestor of the Stuarts as James VI is his 8x great grandson.

We hope that helped you make a bit more sense of the family tree and the succession of the monarchs. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and feel free to ask us any questions you may have.

All the best, K & D

 

 

A day as an intern at Culloden Battlefield…

Hello! My name is Caroline and I am an intern at the battlefield. I’m currently studying Museology and Heritage Sites in France and I was very lucky to get an internship here in Scotland.

Since I know most of you are probably raring to know what an intern does all day in a place such as this, I’m going to tell you how my typical day goes.

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Culloden Battlefield

 

I arrive for 9:00 at the Battlefield. Then, depending on if volunteers are already here or not, I change into costume. You might have seen me with two different costumes on, that’s because each costume is for a different presentation.

A 9:30, if no other volunteer is in, I do a presentation for the visitors at the Battle Zone. It implies me talking about a topic (that can vary from Frenchmen in the Jacobite Army to the Highland Soldiers) in front of an audience, handling weapons and making people participate in military drills. It’s always a nice moment every time because I either get very enthusiastic people volunteering or I have to choose at random. The people who are chosen are also very cooperative once they get into the atmosphere. The goal is not to take yourself seriously.

After this presentation, I start handing out stickers and doing tours. Most of my day is spent at the back desk of the Visitor Centre, answering questions and taking bookings, and then on the Battlefield, doing tours. Even though the tour is only supposed to last 30 minutes, mine always last at least 40 minutes! It seems I just can’t stop talking sometimes… The tours are very enjoyable because they’re always different. In spite of the fact that I say a very similar text every time, the audience reacts in a variety of manners and asks a lot of different questions!

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Guided tours take in all the main parts of the battlefield

 

Sometimes, I can also stay in costume and work at the handling tables, where I present many replicas of objects from the time of the battle to the visitors, allowing them to touch them and interact with them. I’ve had quite a few visitors from France and Germany coming to the tables and since I speak these two languages, I’m able to explain things to them. It makes them happy and it’s always an experience: try to translate “Basket-hilted broadsword” in French (or in German for that matter)!

At the end of the day, I try to work on the project I decided to complete while I’m here. I was able to find a newspaper article telling about the battle from a French newspaper dating from 1746. I’m currently in the process of retranscripting and translating it. I would like to enable British pupils studying French to study it and translate it as part of a school program. It’s an interesting article, as much because of its contents, than because of the evolution of the French language you can witness in the article.

As you can see now, my days are quite busy at the Battlefield and they go by much too fast! I’m really enjoying every day I spend here and I hope I will be lucky enough to always work in such a nice environment.

As always please like, share, tweet and if you ever want to be an intern feel free to contact us.

All the best

Jacobite Jaunt

This week was time for our annual Jacobite Jaunt, where we head off with our volunteers to explore more sites that tackle Jacobite history. This year there was really only one choice for our destination and that was the National Museum of Scotland, which is running a special Jacobite exhibition, from 23rd June to 12th November, this year.

The National Museum of Scotland (NMS), which can be found in Edinburgh, is a beautiful building and worth a visit any time you head to the capital, but this year it is extra special as it hosts one of the largest exhibitions of Jacobite history for at least 70 years.

Following on from their very successful exhibition around Mary, Queen of Scots the NMS have now formed a fantastic display of artefacts including weapons, letters, portraits and unique trinkets that take the visitor on a dramatic journey through the whole of Jacobite history.

When we arrived at the museum we were lucky enough to have a short talk with one of the curators before being shown around by one of their excellent volunteer guides. Needless to say we were all very keen and excited to be visiting and we were not disappointed.

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Ticket for the exhibtion

 

The exhibition covers the whole of the Stuart dynasty breaking down the action into sections so that the highly complex story is taken in nice manageable stages. The objects on display are fascinating and we all spent hours in the exhibit trying to take in every bit of detail. The collection is comprised of pieces from the NMS as well as many other collections throughout Britain and Europe.

One of our highlights was seeing our own sword, known as the ‘Brodie Sword’ on display in the exhibition. It was lovely to see it on display in the capital and taking part in such an iconic exhibition alongside other incredible displays. Also on display are stunning letters and articles that, if you have the time, are wonderful to read. There are some great portraits and images that carry through subtle messages of power and monarchy. We also spotted a beautiful pin cushion embroidered with the names of men who fell at Culloden which was a lovely personal and sentimental item to see.  The exhibition covers the history very well and it was great to follow the journey right from 1688 all the way through to Culloden and beyond.

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The Brodie Sword in the exhibtion

 

If you are in Edinburgh we strongly recommend visiting the exhibition. We were all very reluctant to leave and it would have been easy to spend a day in the beautiful museum. The NMS has done a fantastic job and it is a great spot to begin your introduction to Jacobites before you head north to see us!

As always please like, share, comment, tweet and let us know if you have been to the exhibition.

All the best,

K & D

 

 

 

The Atterbury Plot

Between the Jacobite Rising of 1715 and 1745 lies the Atterbury Plot. Here in 1722 many prominent men joined forces to try and instigate a Jacobite Rising that would restore the Stuarts to the throne.

The plot is named after Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, who acted as James III & VIII’s representative in England. His reasons for joining the Jacobites are intriguing, as he was not considered a supporter during the 1715 Rising, yet, a year later he was a key component in another planned rising. It appears that the changing politics in England are the main reason for his change in position. In 1714 the Tory ministry collapse and the Whigs too over, leaving the Tories excluded from high office. As a prominent High Church bishop, Atterbury feared the Tories would never be able to regain enough power to restore the church to, what he felt, was its rightful place.  Thus, we start to see a collection of Tory supporters coming together to support the Jacobites.

Atterbury is the man named in the plot but he was not necessarily considered the leader of the plot. There are many big names associated with the plan. Lord North, the Earl of Arran, General Dillon, the Earl of Mar and the Duke of Ormond all supported the plan.

The collapse of the South Sea Company in 1720 led to economic crisis and political scandals in Britain and the growing tensions held an opportunity for the Jacobites to exploit. It is suggested that the plan was to capture London and the city of Westminster and then begin multiple rising across the country. They had plans to sail men to Cornwall to begin a rising in the west and a separate group would head for Scotland and raise support to the north. The group had formed a list of all the counties where they felt they could gain support as well as those they knew would oppose the men. There was a general election scheduled in 1722 and it is believed that they planned their rising to coincide with this event.

Before the plans could take place though they were discovered. In April 1722 the Earl of Sunderland passed away and upon his death the Regent of France supposedly informed government men that the Jacobites had asked him to supply three thousand men for an attempted coup which was to take place the following month.  Sunderland papers were confiscated and amongst them was apparently a letter of thanks from James III & VIII. Despite very little evidence arrests began upon the main suspects. Atterbury himself was betrayed by the Earl of Mar and was arrested in August and confined to the Tower of London. Following his trial he was exiled and joined up with James III & VIII and became his Secretary of State.

We hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about the Atterbury Plot. As always please like, tweet, share, comment and follow us as we try and uncover more interesting tales for your to enjoy.

All the best, K & D

The Stunning Standing Stones of Scotland

We are lucky enough to be situated just five minutes from the standing stones at Clava Cairns which are proving to be very popular with visitors. But why does Scotland have so many of these intriguing standing stones?

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Aerial View of Clava Cairns from Visit Scotland

 

The honest answer is no one really knows! Throughout Scotland there are stones arranged often in circular patterns that have no clear explanation as to where they came from or why they are placed in such ways. The stone circle at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis is thought to date from 5,000 years ago making it one of the oldest structures in the UK. How they were formed is also a mystery. Some of the stones in these formations can weigh up to 10 tonnes, so how were they transported and placed into position?

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Calanais Standing Stones

Many of the stones are believed to be part of ritualistic sites with many forming elaborate burial grounds used to commemorate the dead. At Clava Cairns there are three such burial chambers which are surrounded by standing stones. These can be clearly seen as the walls of the burial tombs are made from stones which are still standing. Over on Orkney there are the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar which are believed to be all that remains of large ceremonial sites. It is believed the stones were once surrounded by a large ditch with a central meeting point.

 

One of the most interesting things that seems to connect most sites is the relationship they seem to share with astronomical events. Many of the sites, including Clava Cairns, are aligned to the movements of the sun and moon and in particular the event of the  solstices. At Clava one of the burial cairns is aligned so that the sunset perfectly aligns with the entrance to the cairn on the Winter solstice.

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Ring of Brodgar from Visit Orkney

 

Whatever the purpose of these Neolithic sites, whether they be ceremonial, religious or elaborate burial grounds, today they are sites of incredible beauty and fascinating engineering. The stones capture peoples imagination and their sites are typically in peaceful settings with beautiful scenery that allow visitors to escape the modern world for a while and soak in the atmosphere of these incredible places.

We hope you enjoyed this little foray into the standing stones of Scotland. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and find your own favourite set of stones, although with hundreds to choose from it may be tricky.

All the best, K & D

How did the 1715 Rising begin?

The 1715 Jacobite Rising is largely considered to be the Rising that should have worked. It had many points in its favour, including a large amount of support across Scotland and England, but it’s mismanagement and poor communication led to its ultimate demise. For many the end of the Rising may be most significant but the start is just as interesting.

From as early as March in 1715 James III & VIII ( the Old Pretender) appealed to the Pope for help with a Jacobite Rising and small events throughout the year increased the tension throughout Britain. The Riot Act was brought out in response to the threat of invasion, the Habeus Corpus Act was suspended and a reward offered for the capture of James.

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John Erskine, Earl of Mar

 

Still it was not until 6th September 1715 that the Rising began in somewhat unorthodox fashion. A couple of weeks earlier at the end of August the Earl of Mar had travelled from London north to Braemar. Mar was one of the most powerful men in Scotland, he was governor of Stirling Castle and from 1705 was Secretary of State for Scotland. However, when King George I came into power, in 1714, he fell out of favour and left the capital, returning to his estate in Scotland where he took up the Jacobite cause. Here he summoned clan leaders to a grand hunting match. Some say there were as many as 800 men present who went hunting in Glen Quoich. At the Linn of Quoich, a natural bowl carved into the rock was filled with brandy or whisky and the men drank to a Jacobite rising. To this day the ‘Earl of Mars punchbowl’ can still be seen.

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Earl of Mar’s punchbowl at Linn of Quoich

Following his hunting party the Earl of Mar declared James II & VIII King of Scotland, England and Ireland at Kirkmichael in Braemar. On 6th September 1715 Mar had begun the 1715 rising. Unfortunately, he had done this without any authority and had neglected to tell James in advance of his planned uprising. Not a wise move. He also failed to recognise that there were wider plans being put into action and he had not coordinated with risings happening south of the border. To add more disaster to the event the ceremony itself did not run smooth.

As the Earl of Mar raised the new standard for James III & VIII an ornamental globe fell from the top of the pole. This caused alarm amongst the many spectators and the suspicious Highlanders as it recalled the time when the head of Charles I’s staff fell as he stood trial. It was considered an omen of bad things to come. The site where the standard was raised is now home to the Invercauld Arms Hotel.

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20th Century illustration of the 1715 rising of the standard

 

The Rising had begun in a less than ideal manner and unfortunately for Mar his fortune did not turn around. He was considered a poor general and when the Rising fell apart he was held for high treason. He was exiled, his title removed and his lands forfeited.

The 1715 would remain a rising of possibilities that never achieved it’s potential. Had it been better coordinated who knows what would have happened but for Mar the Rising was a failure from the beginning to the end.

We hope you enjoyed this short account. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and hopefully events will be more fortuitous for you than Mar.

All the best, K & D