‘Read them the Riot Act!’

Another set of phrases from the 18th Century for you to enjoy. Firstly, reading someone the riot act.

Whilst today this is simply a phrase, used to warn people to try and stop them misbehaving, in 1715 the Riot Act was law and would be read out before being enforced.

With King George I taking the throne and the fear of a Jacobite Uprising looming the ‘Riot Act’ was passed in 1714 and came into force in 1715.  Designed to prevent groups gathering and forming into a mob the Riot Act was more formally called ‘An act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters‘ and contained this warning:

“Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the King.”

Example of the Riot Act

Any group of twelve or more people, that the authorities didn’t like the look of, could be arrested if they didn’t disperse within an hour of the Riot Act being read to them by a magistrate. And, if they didn’t obey, the punishments were severe. Either penal servitude for at least three years, or imprisonment with hard labour for up to two years.

After the Hanoverians were established in power the Riot Act began to fade into disuse. It was read to a group of demonstrating mill workers at Manchester Town Hall in 1842, but was used with decreasing frequency and had become a rarity by the 20th century. Surprisingly, the Act remained on the UK statute books into modern times and wasn’t formally repealed until 1973. It was eventually superseded by the 1986 Public Order Act but the phrase still remains today.

Another Jacobite born phrase is ‘going off half cocked’. This one stems from the flintlock musket as did ‘flash in the pan’. Flintlocks have a striking mechanism called a ‘cock’ which is held in a raised position ready to fall and make a spark used to fire the gun. This mechanism can be set at half cock, when the gun was in a safe state, or at full cock, when the gun was ready to fire. A gun would only go off at half cock by mistake.

Close up of a flintlock firing mechanism

Today we use the phrase ‘go off at half-cock’ or ‘go off half-cocked’ to mean doing something or saying something impulsively rather than thinking it through, but interestingly in the 18th Century it was used to mean tipsy or a little bit drunk. At this time there were many ‘half’ phrases to imply someone was on their way to drunkenness including ‘half-seas-over’ and ‘half-and-half’. It wasn’t until about 1880 that the modern meaning became the norm for the phrase.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully you discovered something new and as always please like, share, follow, tweet and try to keep the rioting to a minimum.

All the best. K & D.


Women of the ’45

Most of what you read and hear of the ’45 Rising was about the men of the time so here we’ve decided to do a quick tribute to the some of the women who played an important role in the Jacobite Uprising.

Today, we focus on two Annes; Anne MacKintosh and Anne Mackay.

Portrait of Anne MacKintosh

Anne MacKintosh was the wife of the Clan Chief of Clan Chattan who fought on the government side. However, Lady Anne was an ardent Jacobite. When Prince Charles landed in Scotland at the age of 22, Anne took a pistol and money to threaten and bribe the men of Clan Chattan to join her and fight for the Prince whilst her husband was away. In total she managed to raise some 300 men who affectionately christened her Colonel Anne.

As Prince Charles retreated back up towards Inverness in early 1746 Lady Anne put him and some of his men up at her home of Moy Hall. Unfortunately, Lord Loudon of the government army heard of this and sent 1,500 of his men to attack Moy Hall and capture the Prince. Lady Anne and the Prince were vastly outnumbered but they didn’t give in just yet…

Lady Anne sent just five men out in the lands surrounded the house and they ran about screaming as many different war cries as they could, holding their kilts aloft to make them look bigger and crashing their weapons. The Govenment hearing the cries of many clans and spotting men around the house found their courage failing and retreated back without firing a single shot. Lady Anne had helped pave the way for Prince Charles to march back into Inverness.

Lady Anne didn’t quite get off scot free though and she was later arrested for her Jacobite activities and put in a town house. After six weeks during which time she was allowed visitors she was released into her husbands care. She later went on to meet the Duke of Cumberland at a ball in London where he apparently asked her to dance to a Government tune which she agreed to on the condition he would then dance with her to a Jacobite tune.

Culloden, Inverness.

This just shows what money could do for you. Those less well off didn’t get treated so kindly, which brings us to Anne Mackay. A poor woman from Skye she moved to Inverness with her two children to await news of her husband who was fighting for the Jacobites.

Whilst in Inverness the Government used Annes cellar to imprison two Jacobite men, Ranald MacDonald and Robert Nairn after Culloden. Anne was convinced by a women of higher standing (no prizes for guessing who that might have been) to distract the guards thereby helping them escape for which Anne was arrested. She was offered 10 guineas to tell the Government where the men were hiding but she refuse to do so.

Her unwillingness to cooperate resulted in her being punished. She was beaten by the government men and forced to stand for 3 days without food or water. At the end of this she was so weak she had to crawl away and would never be able to walk properly again. Her son complained over the treatment of his mother and was beaten so badly he later died from his wounds.

These two women highlight the role women played in the ’45 but also the difference in treatment that was given based on your standing within the community.

Whilst we realise this may not be the most fun post we’ve written we hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about 18th Century life and as always do like, share, follow, tweet and tell all your friends about us.

All the best. K & D

Top Six … Gardens

With some hail and sleet this week we’re being positive and hoping Spring is just around the corner. So, to share our positive outlook we thought we’d introduce some of our favourite gardens throughout the Trust to brighten up the day. We were going to do a top five which sounded perfect but we couldn’t decide and so it’s ended up having to be a top six.

We’ve picked them at random so there’s no favourites just six great spots to enjoy a sunny day and walk amongst some beautiful spaces.

So, here goes…

1. Inverewe Garden

Inverewe Gardens

This one had to be on the list. There is no way we can miss out the Highlands premier garden. Inverewe, on the west coast of Scotland is a pretty special place for a number of reasons. Created in 1862 Inverewe has its own special climate making it a secret oasis and allowing plants to grow that you would never expect. And secondly, the drive over is gorgeous. Winding through the majestic mountains before dropping down to come out on the coastal estate is beautiful.

2. Threave Garden

Threave Garden

Skipping from the top of the country to the borders. More a series of gardens than just one Threave has been created over the years by students from the Trusts School of Heritage Gardening. It is home to a lovely secret garden, walled garden, glasshouses, terraced rose garden, azalea walk, rhodedendron garden and much more. The diversity of habitats allows Threave to host ospreys and is designated as a Bat Reserve for the wildlife enthusiasts out there.

3. Crathes Castle and Gardens

Crathes Castle Gardens

With a 240 hectare estate Crathes Castle offers a lot with six trails to explore. However, our highlight is probably the yew hedges as they stand out framing the croquet lawns. We do want to try and visit in Autumn though where apparently the Katsura tree drops its leaves with an aroma of toffee apples. Sounds lovely.

4. Brodie Castle

Brodie Castle & Gardens

This one had to be included because its a garden we know so well and visit so often being just 20 minutes down the road. The gardens are famous for their daffodils and in fact they actually host the royal collection of daffodils. In its hay day Brodie had over 400 different types of daffodils growing on the grounds and the team are slowly trying to grow this collection back up. There’s also a lovely pond walk and for the, little and big, kids a great adventure playground.

5. Greenbank Garden

Greenbank Garden

We chose this little garden again for more personal reasons. Having studied in Glasgow this was just a short stop down the road and a nice place to relax away from the city. If you visit be sure to sit by the fountains on a hot day and let the water cool you down or take a wander and find the lovely snowdrops that use to pop up across the grounds in winter.

6. Pitmedden Garden

Pitmedden Garden

Like Crathes Castle this garden in situated out towards Aberdeen and the Great Garden is definitely the highlight. Annual bedding plants create elaborate designs which are based from the 17th century. When it’s in full bloom it is spectacular with over 5 miles of box hedging in intricate patterns. Don’t fancy trimming all those hedges!

Hopefully we’ll get some great weather and can head out to some gardens this year. Obviously, this is not a complete list and the National Trust for Scotland has plenty more fantastic gardens to check out at www.nts.org.uk

Until next time fingers crossed for sunshine. As always share, like, tweet, comment and perhaps treat yourself to a cheeky wee ice cream if you can. K & D

It’s a date!

Studying the ’45 Uprising we have the joy of being caught in a time before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. As such, dates can be something of a little nightmare for those who are unaware of how they came about, and the added mystery of two dates on the same document can be confusing.

So, to solve this problem we’ve tried to explain dates in the simplest way we can considering they try to confuse you at every turn.


First things first there are two calendar systems, the Julian Old Style calendar and the Gregorian New Style calendar. Most European countries changed over to the new (Gregorian) style by the time of the ’45 but the protestant countries were reluctant as the new calendar had been initiated by the Vatican which is why we have the confusion of different dates.

The main reason for the change in calendars was a discrepancy between the calendar year and the solar year. (Yes, there is more than one year.)

The calendar Julian year was given as 365.25 days, so every year had 365 days and every fourth year an extra one making it a leap year. But. 365.25 is in fact a slight over estimate of the solar year, or the time taken for the Earth to make one complete revolution around the sun. This slight discrepancy meant that by the sixteenth century a difference of about ten days had accumulated between the calendar year and the solar year. May not seem like a big deal but to keep in line with the seasons it’s best to try and stick with the solar year.


The Gregorian calendar was first introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII to solve this problem. He corrected the error already accumulated by adding ten days to the year 1582 and changed the calendar to make the last year of every fourth century an additional leap year. This meant that the Gregorian calendar year differs from the solar year by only 26 seconds—accurate enough for most mortals, since this only adds up to one day’s difference every 3,323 years.

In addition to this, just to make things even more exciting, he also decreed that the year start on the 1st January and not the 25th March as it had previously.Before the Gregorian calendar the start of the year was often a day of religious significance and until the introduction of the Gregorian style 25th March was the start of the new year in Britain 25th March was used as this was the Feast of Annunciation or Lady Day, the day that celebrated the Virgin Mary.  Hence, dates would be for example, 24th Mar 1714 followed by 25th Mar 1715.


Many places including Spain, Portugal and Italy adopted the Gregorian calendar very swiftly but others were slow to take up the new system. As a result two calendars were being used across Europe and many historical documents displayed two dates on them to reflect this e.g. 11/21 March 1651 to reflect the Julian and Gregorian styles.

In 1600 Scotland began to change when it made 1st January, New Years Day which resulted in 1599 having only nine months but it did not entirely convert to the Gregorian style which cut ten days out of the year to align with the solar year.

England meanwhile began the change in 1752 by making 1st January, New Years Day and then switched fully to the Gregorian calendar in September 1752 bringing dates forward 11 days which brought it into line with the rest of Europe. Scotland also removed the 11 days at this time bringing it into the Gregorian style. Finally, both England and Scotland were on the Gregorian calendar as we know it today and everyone’s dates were the same!


Hopefully that makes some sense! As always if you’re not too brain tired please share, follow, like, tweet and deliberate over exactly which day it is. All the best.

K & D