There is information available about a number of female Jacobites. Several of these women have been featured in previous blog posts. Here are a couple more, with details about what each of them did to support the Jacobite cause.
Isabella came from a family of staunch Jacobites, and she was just as devoted. When a talented young artist, Robert Strange, fell in love with her, she agreed to marry him on the condition that he focus his abilities on producing works in support of the Jacobites. Robert, who had not been political before, produced pro-Jacobite engravings and fans, with one design depicting Prince Charles among Ancient Greek heroes. Isabella herself would then sell these fans to other Jacobite women.
Robert fought with the Jacobites, before being forced into hiding where he stayed in the attic at Isabella’s family home. After a few months, Government troops turned up at the door, searching for Robert. He did not have enough time to get to the attic, so Isabella sat down at the spinning wheel, lifted up her huge hooped petticoat and got Robert to climb underneath, before covering him with her skirts. She sat singing to herself, while the troops searched the house, finding no one.
A year later the two got married, and when Robert was knighted Isabella became Lady Strange. She remained a Jacobite, long after Culloden, and whenever someone spoke of the ‘Pretender’ near her, she responded, ‘Pretender? Prince, and be damned to ye!’
Though an old woman when Prince Charles arrived in Scotland, Lady Nairne had a lot of influence over those around her. Always a committed Jacobite, the Earl of Mar had stated during the 1715 Rising that he wished that all of his men had her spirit. In 1745, a number of her sons, grandsons, nephews and sons-in-law participated in the Rising; she was quick to send men whenever one of her sons-in-law in Perth experienced trouble with Government troops.
Her daughters were also passionate about the matter. One of them, Lady Lude, developed a reputation for cruelty. She tried to bully people to join the Jacobite force, threatening to burn their homes if they did not. There were several instances where the threat was carried out and it is believed Lady Nairne was complicit in her daughter’s methods. Eventually Lady Lude was arrested, and the Government council wanted to prosecute both her and her mother. Lady Nairne wrote a letter to her Hanoverian nephew, the Duke of Atholl, asking for help and in the end both women escaped prosecution.
A descendent of Lady Nairne’s, Carolina Oliphant (who also became Lady Nairne), became a romantic Jacobite songwriter, and her works were popular with the Victorians. Her songs include The Rowan Tree, Wha’ll be King but Charlie, The Hundered Pipers and Charlie is my darling.
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All the best, The Culloden Team