A Government Spy…

Unsurprisingly the Jacobite Risings had lots of propaganda and intrigue and also plenty of opportunities for spies. Today we’ve picked a couple of the men believed to be spies during the ’45 Rising to have a look at their stories.

Firstly, Mr Dudley Bradstreet. Dudley was born in Tipperary in 1711 and his famly had once been quite well off during Cromwellian times. Unfortunately, by Dudley’s time the family had lost much of their land and money to bad debts and Dudley, as the youngest son, was raised by a foster family. In the 1745 Rising Dudley became employed by a government official to act as a spy in the Jacobite army. To be effective Dudley assumed the persona of a Captain Oliver Williams who was an ardent Jacobite, loyal to the Prince Charles Edward Stuart. However, when he could, he supplied both the Duke of Cumberland and the Duke of Newcastle with news of the Jacobite armies movements. It seems that Dudley’s cover held well and he managed to gain access to the Prince’s council of war in Derby. Here he is credited with persuading the Jacobite army to retreat back to Scotland. In the council he told of an army of some 9,000 men waiting for the Jacobites in Northampton. Of course, the force did not exist but this did not stop the Jacobites from believing him and it is considered one of the key points that led to the Jacobites retreating rather than carrying on to London.

Dudley is quite a well known example of a Government spy mainly because after the Rising the Government admitted he was under their services. However, despite this admittance Dudley was unable to get either money or a commission in the army from the government which he believed had been promised to him for his work. Eventually he managed to take his case and get it to the attention of the king. He then received a sum of apparently one hundred and twenty pounds for his spying efforts.

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart, leader of the Jacobites

 

Lesser known is the spy who went by the codename of ‘Pickle’. Most people agree that this was actually Alastair MacDonnell of Glengarry who managed to stop the ‘Elibank Plot’, a last ditch attempt by some Jacobites to remove King George II from the throne. During the ’45 Rising Alastair was captured and held prisoner in the Tower of London. After almost two years he was freed and fled to France but by this time his families estates had been confiscated and he was facing a life of poverty.

In 1749 Alastair visited London and it is believed it was at this time that he came to an agreement with the government to act as a spy on Prince Charles and the Jacobites over in France and on the continent. He would gather any information he could and then send it over to London signing off his letters as Pickle. One of the key things he is credited for is stopping the Elibank Plot. The plot apparently consisted of starting a rising in Scotland to coincide with an attempted coup in London. It was suggested the royal family of George II should be taken hostage and held until they agreed to abdicate. Alastair was a member of those involved in the planning and consequently passed all the information through to the government. When this was discovered the plot was adandoned, so no kidnapping ever took place. Alastair, or Pickle, was also responsible for the arrest of several key Jacobites including Dr Archibald Cameron. Another member of the Elibank Plot, Dr Cameron was arrested and imprisoned before being sentenced to death. He was executed in 1753 and was hung for twenty minutes before being cut down and beheaded.

For years the identity of Pickle remained a mystery, and some may say it still is today. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that a writer named Andrew Lang compared the writing on some of Pickles letters to those of a young Alastair MacDonnell and found that they shared a key similarity. It turned out that both men always wrote ‘how’ for the word ‘who’, thus seemingly confirming the identity of the mystery spy who had ruined the Elibank plot.

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Andrew Lang’s book on Pickle the Spy

 

There were certainly many more spies infiltrating the Jacobites and indeed many working the other way. We know of a Matthew Prior who was assigned to the British Embassy in Paris and discovered a number of Jacobite spies travelling between France and London before 1715 preparing for a Jacobite Rising. His information enabled the Government to arrest several men and help hinder the Jacobite plans.

Many more men will never be known, their secrets kept safe over time but we hope you enjoyed these couple of tales and as always please share, tweet, like, comment and let us know if you are aware of any other Jacobite spies.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

James VII & II

On 16th September 1701 James VII & II died of a stroke in exile, at the Chateau of St Germain-en-Laye in France. Aged 67 when he died James led a complicated life and within it lie some of the roots of Jacobitism.

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James II & VII by Sir Godfrey Kneller

 

James ruled England and Ireland as James II and Scotland as James VII from 1685 until 1688 when he was deposed. When he first took the throne, following his brother, Charles II’s, death there was little in the way of opposition to his coronation and he was generally welcomed warmly to the throne. However, only a month after his coronation there was a rebellion in England led by the Duke of Monmouth; as well as one in Scotland led by the Earl of Argyll. The Duke of Monmouth was James’ nephew and believed he was the rightful heir to the throne as he was the son of Charles II. He insisted his mother was married to Charles but there was no evidence of this and therefore he was illegitimate and did not qualify as a suitable heir. Fortunately the rebellion was not to last long and in the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6th July Monmouth was defeated and executed for treason just nine days later.

James was not to prove to be very lucky though and this rebellion would prove to be just the start of his trouble. After the rebellion ended he decided to ensure he was protected by forming a large army which alarmed many people. Then, James began to anger the parliament with his views on Catholicism. James was brought up a Protestant but later converted to the Catholic faith. In 1687 he issued a Declaration of Indulgence which allowed people to worship out with the Church of England and removed the need for people to take religious oaths before they could advance in civil or military roles. James ordered public clergy to read the Declaration in their churches but when seven bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, attempted to petition against this they were arrested.

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James Francis Edward Stuart, son of James II & VII

 

Finally things reached the boiling point when, in 1688, James and his second wife gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward Stuart on 10th June. Now there was a new successor to the throne and he was a Catholic. When it had just been James’ Protestant daughters, from his first marriage, things weren’t so serious, but now, the threat of a Catholic succession had people scared. On 30th June a group of seven prominent men invited William of Orange, husband to James’ daughter Mary, to come over to England with the intention he would bring an army to fight for the throne.

William arrived in November 1688 and many key Protestants began to defect from James’ army and join Williams. James’ other daughter Anne also joined William and Mary in contesting the throne. James had the larger army on his side but for whatever reason decided not to fight the invasion. A month after William arrived James attempted to flee to France and even allegedly threw the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames on his way. Unfortunately he was caught but William allowed him to go free and he was received in France by his cousin, Louis XIV.

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William of Orange by Sir Godfrey Kneller

 

Following James’ departure the English parliament decided he had abdicated and therefore the throne was vacant. William and Mary were quickly offered the throne and declared joint sovereigns. Meanwhile in Scotland the parliament took a little longer but eventually decided the James had indeed forfeited the throne and they too offered it to William and Mary who accepted in May 1689.

Thus, the crown stayed with the Protestants and after William and Mary it moved on to their sister Anne. During their reigns they saw the Act of Union in 1707 and also the Act of Settlement in 1701 which removed Catholics from the line of succession. Therefore, when Anne passed away without any heirs the crown moved over to the Hanoverian line and King George I and not with James II & VII’s son, James Francis Edward Stuart. Unsurprisingly the Stuarts were not pleased and in 1715 we saw the first Jacobite Rising to try and take the throne from George I with the 1719 and 1745 Risings completing the Jacobite Rebellions.

James II & VII may only have been king for a short four years but it cannot be denied that he started a fight that lasted for much longer. Without him we would not have the Jacobite Risings and all the history they contain and who knows who would be ruling now.

We hope you enjoyed this little foray into James II & VII. As always please like, share, comment, tweet and check out more of our posts for tales of the Jacobites.

All the best, K & D

Inverness and the Jacobites

Inverness, now the capital of the Highlands, changed hands a few times over the course of the Jacobite Rebellions. Here we look at some of the key moments in its Jacobite history.

During the 1715 Jacobite Rising the town and castle was held by Clan MacKenzie who were led by Sir John Mackenzie of Coul. Locals clans loyal to the Government made their move in November of 1715 to take the town into Government hands. Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat along with John Forbes of Culloden and Hugh Rose, Chief of Clan Rose all joined forces against the Jacobites and began to plan a course of action.

However, before they had a firm plan in place , on 10th November, Arthur Rose, younger son of Hugh Rose, and a handful of his men seized boats in Inverness harbour and river to ensure the Jacobites could not use them to supply the town or escape. During this they managed to capture one of the Jacobite guards and forced him to take them to the towns tollbooth which was used as a Jacobite guard house. The men inside opened the door but as Rose pushed his way in the alarm was sounded and Rose was shot and mortally wounded.

Angered by his sons death Hugh Rose immediately sought revenge. Mackenzie of Coul  sent a letter of condolence to Rose and allowed him to come and bury his son but Rose was apparently too incensed with grief and threatened to put the whole town of Inverness to sword and flame.

On 12th November the Government, led by Simon Fraser, took position along the side of the River Ness. Here they were able to prevent support, from the MacDonalds of Keppoch and the Mackintoshes at Moy Hall, from coming to the Jacobites aid. Realising the weakness of their position the Jacobites asked to march south, and join Mar and the main Jacobite army at Sherriffmuir, but Rose denied this and instead offered them the chance to hand over their weapons and return home. Later that day Government forces occupied Inverness, the only fatality of the short siege being Arthur Rose two days before.

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Inverness Castle from roughly 1745

 

In the 1719 Jacobite Rising there were plans for the Jacobites to head to Inverness and take the town but the men never made it that far east and Government men marched out of the town heading the Jacobites off at Glen Shiel. Thus, Inverness escaped any serious action in 1719.

Finally, in 1745, Inverness was held mainly by the Government, with an initial force of roughly 750 men based there to defend the site. After the Battle of Prestonpans John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudon, arrived at Inverness with arms and funds and took over command of the men that Lord President Duncan Forbes had been raising in the area but it wasn’t until early 1746 that the Jacobites actually came to Inverness.

On 16th February 1746 Lady Anne MacKintosh entertained Prince Charles at Moy Hall, her family home just south of the city. News of the Prince’s whereabouts reached Lord Loudon, and fearing an attack Charles left the Hall and took sanctuary in the nearby woods. When Loudon’s men approached the house Lady Anne’s blacksmith and a handful of men created the impression that the house was defended by a substantial force calling out to ‘regiments’. The tactic worked and Lord Loudon retreated back to Inverness in what is known as ‘The Rout of Moy.’

The next day a Government Council of War decided it would be impossible for Loudoun’s forces to defend Inverness and they retreated into Sutherland and Prince Charles was free to enter Inverness without contest. Only one barrier remained. There was still a small garrison holding Inverness Castle for the Government, led by Major Grant. The Jacobites quickly went to work surveying the building for any weaknesses. The walls were too thick to penetrate but they managed to find a weak point in the foundations and set about exploiting this point.

On 20th February Major Grant conceded defeat. They could not stop the strong Jacobite force and feared the rampart would be blown up beneath them. The Jacobites quickly plundered the stores and weapons held in the castle and then proceeded to blow the fortifications apart so that it would be no use if it were to fall back into Government hands.

This was the last action Inverness with the Battle of Culloden resulting in the defeat of the Jacobites in April. Hopefully you enjoyed this short history on Inverness and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and come along to Inverness where you can still see one of the walls of the old Castle burnt from the demolition.

All the best, K & D

Bring on the Bagpipes

It seems fair to say that most people associate bagpipes with Scotland. But there may be more to this instrument than meets the eye…

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Bagpipers at Culloden

Whilst Scotland may be the home of the bagpipes now their origins stem back thousands of years. Texts in both Roman and Greek make mention of bagpipe like instruments and it is believed that the were in existence even before these well known empires were around making the bagpipe one of the oldest known musical instruments. Indeed in Ancient Egypt it is believed that as early as 400 BC the ‘pipers of Thebes’ would blow pipes made from dog skin with bone chanters.

The bagpipe probably didn’t become quite so established until the middle ages where many places in Western Europe including Spain, France and Italy all have reference to instruments similar to bagpipes though every country seems to have slightly different characteristics. It is safe to say there is more than one type of bagpipe around but regardless of the many different forms they all seem to comprise of a basic construction with an air supply, a bag with a chanter and one or more drones.

In Italy people still play pipes known as Zampogna which are smaller than the traditional Great Highland pipes you may think of. In France meanwhile there is a pipe called the Musette which has been around for hundred of years.

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Northumbrian Smallpipes

Within Scotland there are different types of pipes. The Great highland pipes are the ones most recognisable but there are the Border pipes, which are slightly smaller and use bellows rather than a mouthpiece, and further south there are the Northumbrian small pipes, which are again similar to the Border pipes. Many other types have existed over the years but these are probably the main ones still around today.

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Typical highland bagpipe

In Scotland the original Highland pipes probably comprised a single drone with the second drone being added in the mid to late 1500’s. The third, or the great drone, came into use sometime in the early 1700s and this is when they really started to find their popularity.

Region also had an effect on pipers status. Those in England and the borders who played the pipes were generally part of the minstrel class, playing at feasts and fairs throughout the country. In the Highlands however pipers held a higher more honoured position perhaps due to the influence of the Celtic background. Indeed by the 1700’s the piper began to replace the traditional harpist as the musician of choice within the clan system.

Bagpipes have not had a simple history and today many associate the pipe with the military,with many military units throughout the world having pipers within them to this day. This tradition, at least in Scotland, dates from the 16th Century where pipers replaced trumpets in order to help inspire men as they went into battle. The sound from the pipe worked well with all the noise of the battle with the sound carrying for miles around, some say up to 10 miles away.

After Culloden the Government considered Jacobite pipers guilty by association. One piper, James Reid was a taken prisoner and held at Carlisle in 1746. He tried to argue that as a piper he had not played an active combative role against the government but still he was arrested and imprisoned. As the Government saw it, no Highland regiment would have marched without a piper and therefore he was guilty with some even considering the bagpipes an instrument of war. This is a well known tale that has been retold many times but it must be remembered that bagpipes were not the only instrument to be targeted. Drums and horns were given the same status as all these instruments were used to incite a riot and stir up the men to battle.

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Pipers at Culloden memorial cairn

Luckily today bagpipes are not used to incite riots but are still a big part of military culture and there are many military pipe bands throughout the world. Now though they play to entertain and to showcase the skill of the piper with annual pipe band championships, highland games and military tattoos to demonstrate the power of the bagpipes.

We hope you enjoyed this little look at bagpipes. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and why not pick up a set of pipe and give them a go yourself.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curse of Scotland

There are some who refer to the nine of diamonds in a deck of cards as the ‘curse of Scotland’. But, why is this and where did this belief first appear?

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There seem to be two main stories.

Firstly, to us here at the Battle of Culloden. Here it is said that on the eve of the battle the Duke of Cumberland was playing cards with some of his men. A young officer arrived wanting to know the Duke’s orders for the next day. The Duke allegedly ordered “no quarter” to the Jacobites. Worried about the nature of the order and the outcry it could cause the officer asked for the it to be written down. In annoyance the Duke grabbed a playing card and wrote the order down. The card the Duke picked up was supposedly the nine of diamonds. This may be a good story but it is highly unlikely to be true. The first references to the nine of diamonds as the curse of Scotland existed years before Culloden took place so the true origin must be earlier.

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Culloden Memorial Cairn

 

This leads us to the second story and to the massacre of Glencoe in 1692. Here the MacDonalds of Glencoe were massacred by another clan, the Campbells, after they missed the deadline to pledge their allegiance to King William.  Sir John Dalrymple, 1st Earl of Stair and Secretary of State for Scotland was the man who gave the order to carry out the massacre in February 1692. The Dalrymple coat of arms features nine diamonds arranged like the playing card, so it is very likely that the nine of diamonds became associated with the much-hated Dalrymple and the curse of Scotland was born. Again a good story but whether there is any truth to the matter remains to be seen.

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Dalrymple Coat of Arms

 

 

Other theories abound as to how the curse came about. It has been suggested that it is a misreading of the “Corse of Scotland” i.e. the “Cross of Scotland”. The St Andrew’s Saltire is similar in design to old style nine of diamond cards.  Whilst the cards of today  are arranged in an H pattern, early versions favoured an X shape. When viewed sideways, these cards look very similar to the Scottish flag. Some contest that it is possible the card was actually known as the Corse of Scotland and there is no curse at all.

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The Scottish Saltire

 

Finally worth mentioning is a theory from the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. During her reign nine diamonds were stolen from the crown of Scotland by an Edinburgh freebooter called George Campbell. After the theft a tax was levied on the Scottish people to pay for them and the tax apparently got the nickname “The Curse of Scotland”.

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Mary Queen of Scots

 

Who can say which theory if any is true but it is safe to say that many people still regard the nine of diamonds as an unlucky card so next time you’re playing you might want to steer clear of the nine of diamonds.

We hope you enjoyed this post and as always please like, tweet, share, comment and remember, never ask a Scotsman for the nine of diamonds if you’re playing ‘Go Fish’.

All the best, K & D

Battle of Aughrim

On 12th July 1691 the Battle of Aughrim commenced and was one of the decisive battles of the Williamite War in Ireland. It effectively ended Jacobitisim in Ireland, leaving subsequent Jacobite Risings to be fought just in England and Scotland.

The Williamite War ran from 1689 to 1691 and was fought over who would be king of England, Scotland and Ireland. Jacobites supported King James VII & II who had been removed from the throne, whilst Williamites fought unsurprisingly for King William.

In 1689 William landed a party of English, Scottish, Dutch, Danish and other troops in a bid to tackle the growing Jacobite resistance. The well known Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690 which saw a Williamite victory and left the Jacobites demoralised. William took Dublin while the Jacobites retreated to Limerick. After the battle some believed that the war was over but William’s apparently over-harsh peace terms encouraged the Jacobite army to keep fighting.

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William III of Orange

 

Finally, in July 1691, events came to a head with the Jacobite army holding a defensive position around Limerick. They were waiting for aid from France to help them re-take Ireland which the Williamites were determined to stop. As the Williamites began their march to Limerick they found their way blocked at Aughrim. Here both armies, roughly 20,000 strong a piece, lined up for battle.

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The Battle of Aughrim by John Mulvany

The Jacobites held a strong position with infantry lining the ridge of Kilcommadon Hill and stone walls and hedgerows marking local farmers fields helping provide defences for their men. In addition to this to the left of the army was a bog with only one causeway limiting any access to their left flank. These defences helped the Jacobites hold off numerous advances by the Williamite men. They pushed the assault back and drove the Williamites into the bog where many were killed or drowned.

 

Eventually the Williamites decided their only option was to try and flank the Jacobites along the narrow causeway through the bog. The worry was this was a bottleneck and the Jacobites would protect it fiercely. Luckily for the Williamites the Jacobites were running low on ammunition and their reserve ammunition would not fit in their French supplied muskets. The Williamites managed to breach the causeway and held a perfect flanking position.

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James VII & II

 

Meanwhile the Jacobite commander, Marquis de Saint-Ruhe, was still confident the battle could be won. However, as he tried to rally the cavalry he was struck by a cannonball which decapitated him. Without his leadership the Jacobite position very quickly collapsed. The cavalry fled leaving the Jacobite flank wide open as the Williamites surrounded them. Those who tried to flee were killed as they ran, chased down by the Williamite cavalry.

The battle of Aughrim was one of the more bloody battles in Ireland with an estimated 5-7,000 men killed and became referred to by some as ‘the Flodden of Ireland’. Many of those killed were Jacobites with some claiming as many as 4,000 men were killed with a further 4,000 taken prisoner after the battle. Not only this but the Jacobites lost much of their equipment and supplies as the Williamites ransacked their camp. Although the city of Limerick held out until the autumn of 1691 the battle of Aughrim is considered by many the final act in the end of Irish Jacobitism.

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into the Battle of Aughrim and the Jacobite rising in Ireland. As always please share, comment, like, re-blog and keep coming back to learn more about Jacobite history.

All the best, K & D

 

Something off the beaten track…

Most of the properties the National Trust for Scotland looks after are pretty well known and are easy to find on the map but there are a few that are tucked a little bit away from the main path. Today we choose a few of our favourite lesser known properties.

Firstly, the one nearest us, Boath Doocot.

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Boath Doocot

 

This is a small 17th century doocot (or dovecote if you prefer) which stands looking over the site of the Battle of Auldearn which took place in 1645. Just 20 minutes from Culloden it makes a nice stop between ourselves and Brodie Castle to pack a little bit more history into your trip. The doocot stands 7.5m high and houses 515 nesting boxes within its walls. It was donated to the NTS in 1947 by Brigadier J Muirhead of Boath.

Out west we have the ruins of Strome Castle.

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Strome castle ruins

 

One of the best things about this castle is its location as it sits on a little rocky outcrop at the end of Loch Carron offering gorgeous views out towards the Isle of Skye. If you catch it on a sunny day then it is a wonderful drive out along the west coast. The castle is believed to have been built in the 14th Century and changed hands many times over the centuries. Finally in the 1600’s it was besieged by Kenneth MacKenzie, Lord of Kintail and was eventually blown up.

To the east in Fife we have Balmerino Abbey.

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Balmerino Abbey ruins

Though now ruins the abbey was once an impressive Cistercian monastery from the 13th Century. Whilst it may not be as fancy as it once you can still see the beautiful stonework and the arches of the cloisters. Also in the grounds is a beautiful Spanish chestnut tree that is said to be amongst the oldest in Scotland. Tradition says it was planted in 1229 by Queen Ermengarde but more recent studies have shown it to be roughly 500 years old.

Finally why not head out to see Black Hill.

Black Hill

 

Found not far from Glasgow this hill makes a wonderful walk on a nice day. From the top are lovely views down the Clyde Valley and the hill also has a rich archaeological history. The site is home to a Bronze age burial cairn and was once an Iron Age fort. The area was donated to the National Trust for Scotland in 1936 and was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1969.

We hope you enjoyed reading about this different places. As always please tweet, comment, share and try to check out some of these places for yourself.

All the best, K & D