The Ceasg, the Saltire and the Thistle – More Scottish Legends

In previous blog posts, we have featured a variety of creatures from Scottish folklore, as well as a couple of legends, such as the tale of King Robert the Bruce and the spider. Today’s post is about another mythological creature, along with the legends behind Scotland’s flag and national flower.

Ceasg

Ceasg

Also known in Gaelic as maighdean na tuinne (maid of the wave) or maighdean mhara (maid of the sea), the ceasg is said to have the upper half of a beautiful woman and the tail of a salmon. Found in the sea, as well as rivers and streams, the ceasg has the ability to grant three wishes if she is captured. Often she will marry a human man (in some versions of the legend the man has been promised to the ceasg), and any sons they have are destined to become fantastic sailors. Eventually, though, the water calls the ceasg back. As a form of mermaid, there are malevolent tales associated with the ceasg. She will sometimes swallow the man whole (or his wife if he is already married), and it takes the destruction of the ceasg’s soul (kept apart in a magical object, often an egg), to stop her and return the person to safety.

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The Saltire

Scotland’s flag is a white diagonal cross on a blue background. There are claims that the Saltire is the longest continuously-used national flag in the world, a claim also held by several other countries’ flags, such as Denmark’s. However long it has been in use, its origins are closely associated with Saint Andrew, Scotland’s Saint; another name for the Saltire is St Andrew’s Cross. The legend is that Andrew, who had been one of Jesus’s disciples, was crucified in Greece, but feeling too unworthy to have the same manner of death as Jesus, Andrew asked for the cross to be rotated so that it resembled an ‘X’. In tradition, the appearance of Andrew’s cross in the sky (clouds = white and sky = blue) in the 9th century spurred the Scots to victory in battle, and from that moment it became linked with Scotland.

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The Thistle

The thistle has been a national emblem of Scotland for centuries. There is a legend that in a planned attack upon the Scottish army (perhaps the 13th century Battle of Largs), a bare-footed Norseman stepped on a thistle, cried out and, consequently, alerted the Scottish. The spear thistle is thought to have been the species referred to, being abundant in the country at the time, though others, including the musk thistle and the melancholy thistle, are also contenders. According to the legend, it is this incident that lead to Scotland adopting the thistle as an important national symbol. Associated with it in official use is the Latin phrase Nemo me impune lacessit, which translates to “no one provokes me with impunity.”

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

All the best, The Culloden Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carlisle and the Jacobites

The city of Carlisle, located in the northern English county of Cumbria, has special significance in regards to the 1745-46 Jacobite Rising; then a town belonging to the historic county of Cumberland, Carlisle was the site of two sieges at the end of 1745.

Charles Edward Stuart had landed in Scotland in July 1745. After success at the Battle of Prestonpans, he and the Jacobites marched across the border into England to amass further support and take the throne back for the Stuarts. General Wade, in charge of the Government army, had his troops based in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Jacobites avoided Newcastle, their plan being instead to travel down to London through the North West of England. Capturing Carlisle, the first fortress on this route, would advance their mission.

The Jacobites reached Carlisle and it was soon apparent that the town’s defences had been neglected. More attention had been paid to the towns in the North East, such as Newcastle, which had been prepared for any suspected attacks from the Jacobites for weeks; Carlisle, on the other hand, had had less time and, consequently, was defended by a garrison mostly made up of old and infirmed men, with its Castle and wall being described as dilapidated by the locals. The siege lasted for just under a week before Carlisle surrendered to the Jacobites.

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart

Along with its capitulation, from Carlisle Prince Charles also got arms and horses for the Jacobites. With increased confidence, he and his army (excluding the 100 men he left to form a garrison in Carlisle) left and marched south. To the Jacobites’ disappointment, they found far fewer recruits in England than they had expected, although in Manchester 300 men volunteered and formed the Manchester regiment. There was also little explicit support from France.

In early December, the Jacobites turned back at Derby, after reaching the conclusion that it would be unwise to continue on to London. On their way back to Scotland, Prince Charles and the army stopped again at Carlisle, where he left a further 250-300 men (including the Manchester Regiment, who having suffered many deserters, now totalled 118) to garrison the Castle against the Government army.

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Carlisle Castle

On the 21st of December, Government troops, now led by the Duke of Cumberland, marched to Carlisle to retake it. General Wade had been replaced due to the displeasure at how he had failed to tackle the Jacobites on their journey to and from Derby. Unsure of when help would come from Scotland, and up against an army using large gun batteries, the Jacobite troops at Carlisle eventually surrendered on the 30thDecember.

They were immediately imprisoned within the Castle, where they were kept in squalid conditions, without food or water. There are accounts of them licking the stones of the dungeon walls in an attempt to obtain some liquid. Some were hanged, with others being transported. There is a legend that the traditional Scottish folk song “Loch Lomond” was written by a captured Jacobite at Carlisle Castle. The line “O, ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road” is the prisoner saying that his “true love” will return to Scotland without him, but his execution will mean that his soul will travel back there straight away.

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Dundee and the Jacobites

In the past six months, we have written blog posts on Jacobite connections to the cities of Edinburgh, Stirling, Aberdeen and Glasgow; today, here is one about Dundee.

After the deposition of James VII and II in 1688, his loyal supporters felt the need to do something to get him reinstated as King, and the Jacobite cause was born. In April 1689, the Parliament of Scotland, located in Edinburgh, declared for William and Mary. John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee, angered at the decision, marched with fifty men to the top of Dundee Law, a volcanic sill, and raised the Stuart Royal Standard. This signalled the beginning of the first Jacobite Rising.

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Dundee Law

The immediate response to Viscount Dundee raising the standard was rather unenthusiastic in the surrounding area. Dundee Law was outwith the burgh walls, and when Viscount Dundee attempted to enter Dundee, he found that the gates were locked and the walls were guarded with Government men. Despite the fact that he had just declared himself a ‘rebel’, curiously the garrison at Dundee made no attempt to capture or fight him, and so he travelled north in an effort to rally support for James.

Viscount Dundee would die at the Battle of Killiecrankie a few months later. Though the outnumbered Jacobites won against the Government troops, his absence as leader would be felt deeply. The Jacobites’ loss at the Battle of Dunkeld a month later ended the first Jacobite Rising.

In 1715, there was another rising, with the Jacobites aiming to get James’s son, James Francis Edward Stuart on the throne. The Earl of Mar proclaimed for James VIII and III at Braemar, and at first the Rising was successful, with the Jacobites holding several places, including Dundee. Their success was not to last, and by the time James Francis arrived in Scotland in December, the momentum had been lost. He visited a few places, including Dundee, in an attempt to spur people on, but soon, acknowledging that things had not worked out, he returned to France.

Following the 1715 Rising a number of Jacobite supporters lost their positions including Mr Wedderburn, the Clerk of Dundee. However, this did not stop his son John Wedderburn, revealing himself to be just as loyal to the Jacobite cause as his father had been when the 1745 Rising began. He fought with the Jacobites at Falkirk Muir and Culloden, and at the end of the latter he was arrested and moved to London for a trial.

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John Wedderburn

His signature recorded on tax receipts he collected for the Jacobites condemned him and he was sentenced to death. His young son rode to London to ask their contacts there for help in pleading for his fathers life, but tensions were high, and he was refused by them. His son also tried to convince John to dress up as a woman and attempt to escape from prison but John refused to do so. Afters months in capture John was hanged, drawn and quartered at the end of 1746.

These are just a couple of stories about the Jacobites and Dundee but we are sure there are plenty more to be found.

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All the best, The Culloden Team

 

More Jacobite Women

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 Lumsden

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!’

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Charles Edward Stuart – By Robert Strange, Isabella’s husband

Lady Nairne

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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Lady Nairne (senior)

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All the best, The Culloden Team

Cromarties Regiment

George Mackenzie the 3rd Earl of Cromartie, born in 1702, became the Earl after his father John Mackenzie died in 1731. During the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 George Mackenzie was doubtful about joining Charles Edward Stuart in his campaign to regain the British throne for a Stuart king.

Eventually George was persuaded by kinsmen and none other than the ‘old fox’, Simon Fraser the 11th Lord Lovat, to take up arms against the government for the ‘Bonnie Prince’. Lord Lovat handed George his great-great-grandfather’s sword, entitled ‘The Triumphing Sword of the Clan Mackenzie’ telling him to support his prince and be loyal to his country.

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George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie
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John Mackenzie, Lord Macleod

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though a lot of Mackenzie clansmen joined the government side during the ‘45 there were some Mackenzies who had a strong sense of being a Highlander, and felt they owed it to themselves and to Scotland to join George and his son John Mackenzie, Lord Macleod, in the fight for the British throne.

George and his son led 500 Jacobite Mackenzies, known as Cromartie’s Regiment, at the battle of Falkirk on the 16th of January 1746 after the return from Derby. The Mackenzies helped the Jacobites defeat the government troops, this victory also marked the last noteworthy Jacobite success during the ‘45.

After Falkirk, before Cromartie’s Regiment joined the bonnie prince on the way towards Culloden they laid waste to the lands of the Clan Munro and Clan Sutherland. They  burned Foulis Castle which was the seat of Clan Munro and captured Dunrobin Castle which was the seat of Clan Sutherland. Both Clan Munro and Sutherland supported the government during the ’45, and that made them an enemy of the Jacobites.

On the 15th of April 1746, a day before the Battle of Culloden the Earl of Cromartie was making preparations to travel back south to meet Charles Edward Stuart. Before they left they were attacked by the Mackay and Sutherland Highlanders who were supporting the government, in what later became known as the Battle of Littleferry. Cromartie’s Regiment was defeated; George and his son John were captured at Dunrobin castle and were not able to Join Prince Charles and the other Jacobites, and they never saw the horrors of the Battle of Culloden.

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Cromarties’ Regiment at the Battle of Littleferry

Soon after George Mackenzie and his son were captured the Earl of Cromartie’s titles were forfeited, until the title was recreated in 1861. John, the son of George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie, kept a diary during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 which was taken from him during his capture. This Diary is now in the hands of Register House in Edinburgh. The Diary tells about how tough the Jacobite life could be, often being ill equipped and poorly paid and having a small amount of food.

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Earldom of Cromartie Crest

Ultimately George was tried and sentenced to death but was never executed. He received a conditional pardon, probably because his wife was heavily pregnant. Even though he was pardoned he was condemned to living in extreme poverty because all his lands and his family estates based at Castle Leod were confiscated. Many years later George died in London at the age of 63 in 1766.

His son John Mackenzie, Lord Macleod, was never brought to trial after his capture even though he confessed and pleaded guilty to high treason. John received a full pardon in 1748 on the condition “that within six months of his 21st birthday he would convey to the Crown all his rights in the Earldom”. John eventually died many years later on the 2nd April 1789 at the age of 62.

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Siege of Fort William

The siege of Fort William began on the 20th of March, 1746. The Jacobites, having just captured the more northerly Fort Augustus after a two-day siege, were eager to expand their territories. The Government leader, the Duke of Cumberland, declared Fort William to be “the only fort in the Highlands that is of any consequence”, and shortly before the siege the fort’s aging governor was replaced with a man Cumberland thought more equal to defending it. This preparation, combined with the superior strength of Fort William, meant that the siege ended up lasting for two weeks before the Jacobites abandoned it.

Fort William’s new governor, Captain Caroline Scott, belonged to Guise’s 6th. This regiment helped to make up a 400-strong garrison, which also included the Argyll Militia. Meanwhile the Jacobite side was made up of Lochiel, Appin and Keppoch’s clansmen, the French regulars and was headed by Lieutenant Colonel Stapleton. These were the same men who had laid siege to Fort Augustus not long ago.

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Donald Cameron of Lochiel

Fort William was better built than Fort Augustus to withstand a siege with its location along Loch Ness making it easier to combat attacks. The previous month, the Government troops had begun to demolish Maryburgh, a nearby town, in order to clear the line of fire towards approaching enemies. Within the fort the armament was made up of enough 12-pounder cannon, 6-pounders, coehorns, 13-inch mortars and smaller pieces that Captain Scott believed that, with a suitable amount of ammunition, withstanding a siege was achievable.

The Jacobites, on the other hand, were disadvantaged in that, though they had some munitions, they lacked enough strong horses to carry heavy guns from Inverness. This, combined with bad weather and an interception on the road, meant that the Jacobites did not have as much good quality arms as they had originally hoped for when they planned their attack.

Nevertheless on the 20th March 1746 they opened fire against Fort William. Armed with cannon and 6-inch mortars, the Jacobites fired using old nails, grapeshot, cold roundshot and scalding lengths of notched iron as missiles. The notched iron was aimed to lodge in timbers. Over the course of the siege it was noted that the Jacobites made the roof of the fort “exceedingly damaged”, but failed to have that much of an effect on its walls. From the loch the Government side was assisted by sloops travelling along Loch Linnhe and with their stores of ammunition they kept the Jacobites at bay.

As March turned into April, the attacks began to lessen. The siege had been raging for two weeks and the Jacobites were no closer to achieving their goal. On the 3rd April the siege was officially abandoned. The Jacobites headed back to join the main army with Prince Charles who was keen to have as many men as possible united and ready to fight the Duke of Cumberland who was bust training his troops in Aberdeen.

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All the best, The Culloden Team

Jacobite Plots

In 1688, William of Orange invaded England and successfully overthrew James VII of Scotland and II of England and Ireland. The following year, William and his wife Mary were crowned joint sovereigns. The deposition of James lead to the formation of the Jacobite cause (Jacobus being Latin for James). In the 1690s, the Jacobites’ frustration presented itself in the form of several plots to get William off the throne and James, who to them had always been the rightful King, back on it. There were three main plots: the Ailesbury plot, the Fenwick plot and the Assassination plot of 1696.

The Ailesbury plot was planned over the winter of 1691-2. Those involved were mostly peers and gentlemen based in the south of England. The Earl of Ailesbury was an active participant, but the idea itself came from James’s Secretary of State: the Earl of Melfort. The plan was for a French fleet to deliver an army, led by James, to England; the conspirators would raise their tenants to join James and the French to fight to overthrow William and Mary.

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William and Mary

However, the Government soon got word of this plan and sent out people to round up the main plotters whilst arranging ships along the English coast in anticipation of the French. Bad weather kept the French from crossing the Channel, and in May the Anglo-Dutch fleet defeated the French in Normandy at the Battles of Barfleur and La Hogue. The plot was ended before it had truly begun but questions over who had been involved and how far they could have got aroused paranoia and panic on the British Isles.

In 1694 Mary, who had a better claim to the throne than her husband, died childless. The Jacobites still felt anger that William sat on the throne while James and his son lived in exile. The massacre at Glencoe had increased people’s distrust of William, for it was unclear how much involvement he had had in the brutal event.

The following year John Fenwick, the head of a number of Jacobites, led the Fenwick plot. He aimed to secure a port on the south coast of England so that a French army could arrive safely and march with him and his associates to London so they could capture William. It was a dangerous venture, and soon the plan was at a standstill; Fenwick did not want to risk seizing the port until the French had set sail, and the French did not want to set sail until they were sure had Fenwick had secured the port for them. They were stuck in a stalemate.

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James VII & II

All was not lost though as from the Fenwick plot sprang the Assassination plot of 1696.  This plan, organised by Sir George Barclay, was to attack William while he was out in his coach. Once again though word got out of Jacobites meeting and the plot was foiled when one of the men, Thomas Prendergast, revealed everything to the Government. The conspirators of both the Fenwick plot and the Assassination plot were searched for. Later, when questioned, the Jacobites caught insisted that they had only intended to kidnap William, but informers declared that murder had been central in their plan. They met varied ends, with some being executed or imprisoned, and some managing to escape. Of the two men conspirators Barclay managed to escape to France, while Fenwick was eventually executed.

These plots, rather than helping to achieve the ultimate goal actually hurt the Jacobite cause. Many who had before felt apathetic about the situation now felt sympathy towards William. Several of the most prominent Jacobites were now dead, in hiding or intimidated into inactivity.

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All the best, The Culloden Team