A Fight for Freedom…

The story of John Wedderburn of Ballindean and Joseph Knight is wonderfully intriguing and was begging to be shared here.

In 1745 Johns father joined the Jacobite army to fight with Prince Charles Edward Stuart. He served as a colonel but after the Battle of Culloden was captured and held prisoner. Eventually he was taken south to London where he awaited trial. On 4th November 1746 he was tried for treason and found guilty. John followed his father south and is said to have pled for his fathers life amongst his fathers friends. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful and his father was hung, drawn and quartered on 28th November.

Following his fathers death John made his way back north to Scotland where he found himself with little inheritance and no prospects in his home country. Whilst in Glasgow he managed to convince the captain of a ship to let him work for passage to the Caribbean where hopefully he would find better chances for himself.

Eventually John landed in Jamaica and it was here he based himself for the next few years. The island, which had previously been seized by the Spanish, was quickly emerging as a centre for exportation and sugar production. John apparently tried his hand at a number of jobs including working as a doctor despite having no qualification for this. Finally though he managed to get some land and entered the profitable world of sugar production.

Over time his business prospered and he acquired more land becoming, at one time,  Jamaicas largest landowner, owning some 10% of the island. He soon had other members of his family joining him and owned vast estates on the island as Britain became one of the largest consumers of sugar.

In 1762 John purchased a young African boy called Joseph Knight. John decided that rather than working the fields like many slaves Joseph would be a house boy and saw that he was taught to read and write. Some years later in 1769 John returned to Scotland and brought Joseph with him.

For a while everything went well. John met and married Margaret Ogilvy and Joseph met a servant girl from Dundee named Annie Thompson and John gave the pair permission to marry as well. However, in 1778 Joseph became aware of a ruling that had occurred in England which held that slavery did not exist under English law. Assuming this would be the same in Scotland Joseph demanded his freedom and asked for backdated wages from John who refused his claim.

John felt he had treated Joseph well, he had given him an education and taken care of him, and was apparently not impressed at Josephs actions against him. When Annie fell pregnant John dismissed her and refused to allow Joseph to go with her. Joseph packed his bags to leave but John had him arrested and thrown in jail. Joseph then brought a claim before the Justice of Peace court against John. Initially things moved in Johns favour and the Justice of the Peace found against Joseph but he appealed to the Sherriff Court who found in Josephs favour. It was then taken to the Court of Session in Edinburgh who again found in Josephs favours. Finally Joseph succeeded in arguing that he should be allowed to leave domestic service and provide a home for his wife and child.

John Wedderburn was the first time a man was taken to court by another to claim their freedom. We hope you enjoyed reading the story of John and Joseph. As always please keep sharing, tweet, commenting and joining us for more intriguing stories.

All the best, K & D





Clan Mottos

Many people who come to Culloden are interested in their own family history and the ties they may have with Scottish culture. One of the most popular questions we get asked is for information about clans and visitors own family connections to their clan heritage.

One area of interest is the mottos of clans. Every clan has their own motto and whilst some have simple or clear meanings, others can be more complicated, and some have great stories connected to them. Today we thought we’d pick a few of our favourite clan mottos and stories to share with you.


MacGillivray Clan Motto


Firstly, the motto of Clan MacGillivray which is ‘Touch not this cat’. The MacGillivray motto has existed for some 300 years or more and in its full version is ‘Touch not the cat bot a glove.’ Often people can mistake this as meaning ‘don’t touch the cat unless you are wearing a glove’, however, the true interpretation is ‘touch not the cat without a glove’. A cat is said to be without a glove when its claws are extended. Therefore the motto is a warning to others not to tackle a MacGillivray when their claws are showing.

Fraser Clan Motto

One of the most famous mottos now is that of the Fraser of Lovat clan, which is ‘Je suis prest’, or ‘I am ready’ in English, and is well known thanks to the popularity of Outlander. The motto is in French as the clan originates from France. Indeed some believe the name Fraser stems from the French word ‘Fraisier’ meaning strawberry which incidentally is the clans plant badge.

Brodie Clan Motto


For a good story regarding mottos it is nice to look at Clan Brodie. The Brodie clan, whose home, Brodie Castle, is just down the road from Culloden, has the simple motto ‘Unite’ which is nice and easy to understand. When you visit the castle you can enter the dining room with its gorgeous plaster work ceiling and see the elegant dining set. Each piece of the set has the clan motto delicately portrayed in its centre right underneath the coat of arms. Unfortunately though on two of the pieces the word has been misspelled and instead of ‘unite’ the pieces read ‘untie’. An unfortunate mistake to make. With just two letters the creators have completely altered the meaning of the ancient clans motto. Now of course it serves as an excellent story for the tour guides!

One of the gorgeous pieces from Brodies dining set

These are only a few example of clan mottos but each clan has its own and during fighting these may have been yelled out by the fighting soldiers to strike fear into the opposition and rally the clans to join together to fight.

We hope you enjoyed this very short look at mottos and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and let us know of any stories you’d like to know more about.

All the best, K & D


Preview of the new learning resources!

For the past 10 months our learning team has been working on a new resource for school teachers.

In this blog post we thought we would share some of the resource with you and show you what our learning team get up to!

It all started when our Head Education Guide, Catriona, was tasked with a re-vamp of our teacher resource pack, what started out as a refresh ended up as a brand new Gaelic/English resource.

One of the bits some pupils, and sometimes the teachers, find the toughest is getting to grips with the family tree!  For Catriona it was one of the most important parts of the resource. The family tree can look off-putting and confusing so we have made a simple, not too fussy version of it. It goes from Mary, Queen of Scots all the way through to George III; Catriona would have loved to go all the way through to Queen Victoria or even the current monarchy, sadly it wouldn’t all fit on an A4 double page spread!

Family Tree
This is a section of the family tree taken from the new teacher resource

One of the other aspects of the resource is biographies of Prince Charles Edward Stuart and William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. There is a lot of information out there on the two Princes and the learning team wanting to bring the key information into one place which was accessible for teachers.


The final section of the resource should be one of the most useful – over time the words we use to talk about the conflict have changed.


A wee explanation covers what the Act of Settlement(1701) actually is, what does Divine Right of Kings mean and other key phrases.

One of the most interesting things that the team discovered while writing this related to the word Red Coat. The term redcoat came widely into use after Culloden and starts to be used during the American Revolution/Wars of Independence (depends on which side you fall) in the 1760s. Dearganach is a Gaelic word and it describes men in red coats; some believe it was used during the Jacobite era to describe government soldiers.

Hopefully it will help teachers who maybe don’t know too much about the ’45 to feel inspired and encourage them to teach it in their classes!

With much valued input and advice from 18th century historians and Jacobite specialists:  Prof. Murray Pittock, Prof. Christopher Duffy, Prof. Allan MacInnes and Dr Domhnall Uilleam Stiubhart this resource will be available from later October 2017.

All the best, K&D (and our lovely learning team!)



King Charles II

We tend to start our story here at Culloden with James VII & II but before he became king, it was his brother Charles II who ruled in Scotland and England.

Charles II was king of Scotland from 1649 when he was proclaimed by the Parliament of Scotland on 5th February. He was eventually crowned at Scone in 1651. However, he only became King of Scotland, England & Ireland in 1660 when the English restored the monarchy following a period of republican rule led by Cromwell.

Prior to the restoration of the monarchy Charles II operated in exile. He attempted to lead a force against Cromwell and the republic. It was during this time that the famous story of Charles hiding in an oak tree to escape capture originates. Charles II was unsuccessful in his attempts to overthrow Cromwell and following his defeat he spent ten years moving from country to country to stay out of Cromwell’s reach.

Charles II


When Cromwell died in 1659 Charles issued a declaration in which he promised to uphold the Anglican church and offered his enemies a pardon if he was restored to the throne. Finally, he was eventually invited back and became King of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1661 for which a new set of crown jewels had to be made after Cromwell melted down the previous set.

Charles II’s reign was filled with some major events, including an awful plague in 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666. He unsuccessfully led the English against the Dutch in the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667) and then joined forces with the French to fight again in the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-1674) which ended with the Treaty of Westminster.

Part of his agreement with the French when he joined to fight with them was a treaty he signed in which he agreed to convert to Catholicism. Although he did not do this straight away it was still a worry for the parliament who did not want a Catholic ruler. Charles and his wife, Queen Catherine, had not managed to produce an heir to the throne and many were already concerned that the crown would pass to his brother James who had become a Catholic. To try and dispel some of the worry amongst his subjects Charles II arranged for his niece Mary to marry William of Orange, a protestant, in 1677.

Charles II coronation in 1661 at Westminster Abbey


However, this did not solve the issue. A year later there was a plot to assassinate Charles II’s brother and the tension between Charles II and his subjects appeared to take a toll on him. Eventually, apparently fed up with all the conflict, he dissolved the Parliament in 1679 and decided to rule alone.

He continued as King for another 6 years when he suffered a suspected stroke. On his deathbed he finally made good on his treaty with France and did indeed convert to Catholicism. The suddenness of Charles II’s death led some to believe he had been poisoned but this has been shown, through modern analysis, to be false. Charles II was buried in Westminster Abbey in Henry VII’s chapel but there was no monument raised for him. Instead, a life size wax effigy was placed over his grave and this figure can still be seen in the museum at Westminster Abbey.

We hoped you enjoyed this little insight to Charles II. As always please like, tweet, comment and share and feel free to delve deeper into the history of what many would call the most popular member of the Stuarts.

All the best, K & D