Louisa Stuart: The Princess over the Water

Louisa Maria Stuart was born in France in 1692, almost four years after her father was deposed as King of Scotland, England and Ireland. To the Jacobites, however, as her father was still seen as King James VII and II, Louisa was known as the “Princess over the Water”.

She was born the second living child of James and his second wife, Mary of Modena. Her brother, also James, was four years older than her. As there had been rumours of babies being swapped at their son’s birth, James and Mary of Modena invited several Protestants to witness the birth of Louisa, including her half-sister Queen Mary. Louisa was born at Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the residence that had been gifted to her parents in their exile by King Louis XIV of France; she was named after Louis, who served as her godfather. Of her arrival, her father said, ‘See what God has given us to be our consolation in exile’; as she grew up, her parents continued to think of her in this way, nicknaming her ‘La Consolatrice’.

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Portrait of Louisa Stuart

 

Her father died when she was nine, and her brother was recognised as King James VIII of Scotland and III of England and Ireland in France, Spain, the Papal States and Modena. For accepting the claims, in London he was declared a traitor.

Louisa was taught religion, Latin and history, among other things, and as a teenager she enjoyed spending time at the French Court, where she was well-liked. Potential future bridegrooms were discussed for her, including one of King Louis’ grandsons and the King of Sweden, but nothing ever materialised. Her uncertain position acted as an obstacle, and it was believed that she was reluctant to leave her mother. Out of her personal funds, Louisa paid for some Jacobite daughters to be educated.

In 1712 James fell ill with smallpox, and after a while it was discovered that Louisa had it too. It soon became apparent that Louisa’s condition was worse than James’s. She was bled, which weakened her, and she slipped into a coma and eventually died. She was buried in Paris alongside her father. James was not told of his sister’s death until after the funeral, as it had been feared that his own health would have suffered if he had been told earlier. Luckily James managed to recover from the disease.

The year following Louisa’s death, things changed again for James Francis Edward Stuart. France had been a home to him for many years, but under the conditions of the Treaty of Utrecht, Louis XIV had agreed to offer him no more support. After Louis’ death in 1715, the French Government told James that he was no longer welcome. His 1715 Uprising failed, and he spent most of the rest of his life at the Palazzo Muti in Rome.

We hope you enjoyed this little post on Louisa Stuart. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, The Culloden Team

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Aberdeen and the Jacobites

Having recently done blog posts on Edinburgh and Stirling, today we thought we would write about another Scottish city’s connection to the Jacobites; here are some significant events that took place in Aberdeen.

During the 1715 Jacobite Rising, James Francis Edward Stuart was proclaimed King at the Mercat Crosses of Aberdeen and Old Aberdeen (the two being separate until the end of the nineteenth century). Decorated with engravings of Scottish Monarchs, thistles, roses and unicorns (Scotland’s national animal), the Mercat Crosses around Scotland, as well as being centrally located, held a lot of symbolic importance. There are more than a hundred Mercat Crosses in Scotland, and they were traditionally the site of many public occasions, including markets and fairs, executions and the proclamation of a new monarch; to this day, important public events, such as the calling of a general election, are read out at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh.

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Mercat Cross in Aberdeen

 

After James was proclaimed King, elections were held at the Kirk of St Nicholas for a new Council. The Fifteen ended up failing, and James travelled back to France in early 1716. The Jacobite army heard about his return to France in Aberdeen.

Almost thirty years later, James’s son Charles Edward Stuart came to Scotland on his father’s behalf to fight and get him recognised as King. The Jacobites attempted to replicate what had been done previously at the Mercat Cross in Aberdeen. Once they found the keys to the monument, they forced the Provost, as well as several Council officials, to go to the Mercat Cross and witness their proclamation in support of Charles and his father. A few of the councillors toasted to their health, but the Provost refused.

After arriving in Edinburgh near the beginning of 1746, the Duke of Cumberland made his way to Aberdeen with the Government army. While there, the Government army gathered supplies and Cumberland had them trained in new tactics, which he hoped, after the army’s defeats at the Battle of Prestonpans and Falkirk Muir, would ensure success. They left Aberdeen at the beginning of April.

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Duke of Cumberland

 

After the Battle of Culloden, The Tolbooth in Aberdeen held almost a hundred known or suspected Jacobites as prisoners. There were mostly made up of tradesmen and servants. Some of the upper classes did not escape being branded traitors; Alexander Irvine, 17th Laird of Drum, and his younger brother fought on the Jacobite side at the Battle of Culloden. They were listed among those ‘never to be pardoned’. Alexander escaped to Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire, and hid in a secret room, while his sister spoke to some of the Government troops. His brother Robert died in an Edinburgh prison, but after a few years in exile, Alexander was allowed to return to his estate.

We hope you found this short post interesting. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, The Culloden Team

The Highland Clearances

A controversial chapter in Scotland’s history, the Highland Clearances are mostly looked back at with sadness and some bitterness. The ‘Clearances’ refer specifically to the period in the mid-to-late 18th century to the mid-19th century in which tens of thousands of Highlanders were evicted from their homes; it is also used more broadly to include the restriction on tartan and other rules that altered the Highland way of life forever. To many, the Clearances are an example of ethnic cleansing but others consider them an economic necessity, a result of the industrial revolution. To the latter set of people, the Clearances are known as the ‘Improvements’.

After Culloden, and the defeat of the Jacobites in 1746 the Government introduced the Heritable Jurisdictions Act 1746, which reduced the powers of the Clan Chiefs to those of a landlord. The Act of Proscription, also introduced in 1746, restricted the wearing of tartan, as well as the ownership of weapons. The Government were brutal in enforcing these laws, with many Highlanders being killed for the slightest deviation from the new laws. Charles Edward Stuart had escaped to France, and the Highlanders attempted to get by in Scotland’s changing climate.

The reduction of the powers of the Clan Chiefs weakened the relationships between them and the rest of the people. Many Chiefs, as a result of attempting to keep up with their acquaintances in the Lowlands, England and other places in Europe, were in debt. Tacksmen (Gaelic: Fear-Taic meaning ‘supporting man’) had paid an annual sum to the Clan Chief for a bit of land, and then let it out to sub-tenants for rents. Wanting to cut out the middleman, the Clan Chiefs phased out the position of the tacksman. Out of jobs, many former tacksmen emigrated to Canada and America.

Wool sold for a high price, and the Highland landlords realised that they could make more money from sheep, specifically the Cheviot and the Blackface, than from people. The rents were increased, and when inevitably many of the tenants were unable to come up with the money, they were evicted. Sheep farmers from the Lowlands and northern England came up to take their place. An addition financial benefit for the landlords was that as there were fewer people to collect from, the administrative costs were lower.

The former tenants moved either to industrial cities in Scotland, other countries or small crofts, mainly located on the coast. The weather made for hard working conditions, and there are reports of the women, while they worked, having to tie their children and livestock to posts to prevent them from being blown into the sea or off a cliff.

Despite the uncertainty and hardship endured by many of the Highlanders, there were still a significant number of people motivated purely by profit. The Duchess of Sutherland had about 15,000 people evicted from the Sutherland estates, ordering hundreds of crofts to be burned in the process; her factor went to trial for presiding over the burning of a croft that contained an old woman who had refused to leave and for letting his sheep eat the other crofters’ corn. For both he was acquitted, which the crofters put down to many of the jury members being landowners.

The population continued to grow. People viewed it as proof of Scotland’s strength, but in reality it was putting increasing strain on everything. In the 19th century, the combination of the failure of the kelp industry in the 1810’s and famine led to more and more Highlanders emigrating, mainly to Canada, Australia, the US and the rest of Europe.

It is believed that around 150,000 Highlanders were removed from or left their homes in the entire process of the Highland Clearances. Of this number, many, either immediately or after further attempts at living in Scotland, emigrated. Today the descendants of these people are now scattered across the world resulting in a massive sharing of Scottish heritage.

We hope you found this article interesting. As always we love to hear your comments and read your thoughts on these topics.

All the best,

The Culloden Team