Without social media being available in the 18th century other methods had to be used to communicate, songs played an important role in influencing popular sentiment both for and against the Jacobite cause.
Today relatively few Hanoverian or pro-government songs have survived over time but there are many Jacobite songs that have been written and recorded through the centuries.
Many Jacobite songs are in Gaelic as many Highlanders, though not all, fought on the side of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. Many of the great Gaelic poets of the 18th century were Jacobite supporters and composed songs on the subject including Alexander MacDonald.
Moidart-born Alexander MacDonald is considered one of the finest Gaelic poets of the 18th century and was also among the first to join Prince Charles when he arrived at Glenfinnan. It is also said that MacDonald was called upon to try to teach the prince some Gaelic though if this is true it seems it did not go that well. Nevertheless, MacDonald saw himself as a propagandist for the cause through his poetry, and wrote many inspiring songs during the campaign and afterwards, when he continued to write optimistically of a return of the rightful King. Some of his songs include : Òran Nuadh — “A New Song”, Òran nam Fineachan Gaidhealach — “The Song of the Highland Clans” and Òran do’n Phrionnsa — “A Song to the Prince,”
Many years after the Jacobtie risings finished songs were still written though by this stage they often romantised the history and were sentimental of the Jacobite cause. Such songs include ‘My Ain Countrie’, ‘The Skye Boat Song’ and ‘Will Ye No Come Back Again?’
The Skye Boat Song is probably one of the most well known songs and is a Jacobite lament describing how Bonnie Prince Charlie, disguised as an Irish woman, was rowed from Uist over to the island of Skye to hide from Government soldiers.