Duncan Forbes, Lord Culloden

Today we’re taking a look at the life of Duncan Forbes.

Born in 1685 near Inverness his early life does not hold much tales. When he was old enough he began his university education in Edinburgh studying law before moving across to the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He returned to Scotland in 1707 and not long after his return married the daughter of Hugh Rose, the 12th Baron of Kilravock.

Forbes’ work in law eventually became quite well known and after the Act of Union in 1707 he is credited with working hard to stabilise the Scottish legal system. Though Forbes was born near Culloden it would be wrong to assume he was a Jacobite. In fact, during the 1715 Rising, he was loyal to the Government and he and his brother, John raised forces for the government side.

forbes3.jpg
Portrait of Duncan Forbes

Together Forbes and his brother joined with Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat and were part of the Government men who forced the Jacobites to surrender Inverness back into Government hands on 12th November 1715. Following this, and his work in supporting the Government, Forbes was offered the position of depute-advocate. However, he was not keen to take this office as he was not happy with the methods that were being used to prosecute the Jacobite ‘rebels’ from the 1715 Rising.

The Government suspended the law that stated trials should take place in the countries in which the treasonable actions had taken place. This meant that many Jacobites were facing trial in Carlisle rather than in Scotland and Duncan saw this as unfair. Apparently, he was so shocked by this treatment that he wrote to Sir Robert Walpole, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to protest the actions and even collected money to help support the Jacobite prisoners at Carlisle.

Between 1715 and the next major Jacobite Rebellion in 1745, Forbes became Lord Advocate and was appointed to the post of President of the Court of Session in 1737, the most senior judge in Scotland. Unfortunately, his family life was not as successful as his career. His wife died early in life, the exact date is not known but it is believed to have been before 1717. Then, in 1735 his older brother John died and Forbes became heir to the family estates at Culloden, including Culloden House.

forbes.jpg
Engraving of Duncan Forbes

When 1745 arrived and another Jacobite Rising was beginning to form Forbes sent out letters to many of the highland leaders. In particular he wrote to Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat who he had joined forces with in 1715, to try and convince him to stay away from Prince Charles and his Jacobite cause. By August Forbes had based himself at Culloden House where he spent six months in a crucial role organising Government support in the North East and setting up independent companies and disrupting Jacobite recruitment.

Forbes’ actions helped warn Sir John Cope, the Commander-in-Chief in Scotland of an ambush awaiting him and his men at Fort Augustus. This helped Cope reach Inverness safely but also allowed the Jacobites to move south without encountering the Government men. Duncan Forbes became such an apparent threat to the Jacobites that it is said Prince Charles himself issued a warrant for his arrest.

In October 1745 Forbes managed to hold off an attempted raid on Culloden House. Around 150-200 rebels surrounded the property and crept towards the building walls. As they approached though they were spotted by an alert sentry and greeted with a rally of gunfire. A small paterero, or swivel gun, was also fired from a balcony and at that point the rebels fled leaving behind a dead man but consoling themselves by running off all the sheep and cattle they could find. The next morning a search of the nearby woodland turned up another casualty who confessed the men had been commanded by James Fraser of Foyers and they had been sent by the supposedly neutral Lord Lovat.

forbes2
Gravestone of Duncan Forbes at Greyfriars Kirkyard

Forbes later joined forces with nearby Lord Loudon and managed to raise a force of some two thousand men. When the Jacobites retreated north in 1746 Forbes and Loudon ultimately ended up retreating and heading out towards Skye which is where they most likely heard news of the Battle of Culloden.

Culloden House was used by Prince Charles to house the most senior officers during Culloden but following his defeat he fled and his Jacobite supporters were then rounded up. Despite his support to the Government and the actions against him by some Jacobites Forbes still spoke out against the brutal methods of the Duke of Cumberland. Many believed he had gone soft and his rebuke of the Govenrment actions apparently lost him a certain amount of influence.

Eighteen months after Culloden Forbes died. Some said he fell ill from a broken heart, with the suffering that he saw across Scotland causing him great distress. He died on 10th December 1747 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh. His grave is marked by a stone slab added in the 1930s by the Saltire Society.

We hope you enjoyed the insight into Duncan Forbes. As always please like, tweet, comment, share and you can still see Culloden House and even stay in it as it is now a lovely hotel.

All the best, K & D

271 Years

Today, marks the 271st anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on 16th April 1746.

DSCF1505.jpg
Wreaths laid at the Memorial Cairn

 

This weekend we have been thrilled to see so many people coming to the battlefield to join us in our commemorations of this event and remember the events of 1746.

The Battle of Culloden is an important part of Scottish, British and indeed world history. In the space of less than an hour the final battle of the Jacobite Rising of ’45 was concluded with 1,500 Jacobite men and 50 Government men killed. Soon after the battle the Rising was over and Prince Charles Edward Stuart had fled, never to return to Scotland again. The impact of the day has had far reaching and long lasting effects that are still recognised to this day.

DSCF1477.jpg
The Procession out to the Memorial Cairn

 

The story of the Battle of Culloden resonates with so many different people from across the world and it is wonderful to see all these people coming together at this time of year to remember the past and the history that shaped so many lives. We are grateful that visitors from all corners of the world come to Culloden to trace their ancestry and visit Culloden to try and help gain a sense of life in Scotland in the 18th Century.

DSCF1458-2.jpg
Flags Flying for the Procession

 

This site is so special for all of us who work here and despite the weather being less than ideal this year (we like to say atmospheric) it was lovely to see so many coming along to attend the annual Commemoration Service with the Gaelic Society of Inverness. The sight of so many people forming a procession out to the memorial cairn is one of the highlights of the year, with flags waving, colourful tartan displayed and pipes playing, it is a wonderful way to remember the battle.

clan chattan wreath.JPG
Wreaths Laid to Remember the Battle

 

We wanted to thank everyone who attended, and also those who held their own ceremonies across the world, for being part of Culloden’s journey and helping us keep this incredible story alive.

The 16th April 1746 is a date that hopefully will not ever be forgotten and it is our privilege to share its story with visitors from around the globe. We hope you enjoy listening to the story and take this time to remember Culloden in your own special way.

All the best, K & D

The Veteran

After the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden and the end of the ’45 Rising there was a small problem in how best to cope with the number of people taken prisoner for their roles in the Rising. Unsurprisingly the solution was transportation with many Jacobite prisoners sent overseas to colonies in North America and the West Indies.

One such ship that had the job of taking prisoners across the Atlantic was the Veteran which had an interesting experience on one of its voyages.

On 8th May 1747 the Veteran set sail from the port of Liverpool with some 150 prisoners on board. The prisoners recorded apparently included men, some young boys still in their teens and 15 women. The women included a group of seven who had been captured some 18 months previously and were still together in a group.

The Veteran was to head for the Leeward Islands where the prisoners would most likely be sold as indentured slaves to plantation owners in Antigua, Barbados and St Kitts & Nevis. The journey seemingly went well enough with no apparent problems until the day before their scheduled arrival in Antigua. Unprepared the ship was attacked by a French ship, the Diamond. After a short engagement the French ship, under the command of Captain Paul Marsale claimed victory and took control of the Veteran.

The Diamond took the prisoners back to the French island of Martinique where they were released. Here the Governor of the island freed the prisoners and gave them their liberty.

When news of this reached the British Government they wrote to the Governor demanding that he return the prisoners to the British. It is said the letter was rather direct and though polite in its terms was none the less insistent. It stated that all the prisoners belonged to the British Government and therefore should be returned to a Government representative. The Governor of Martinique, having received the letter some six months after the prisoners had been freed, refused the request.

It is a bit of a mystery as to what happened to all of the prisoners who were freed on Martinique. Some accounts have men travelling back across the Atlantic to settle in France; some suggest men stayed in Martinique and began a new life there; whilst other accounts have men joining the French service.

Regardless of what the freed men, women and children decided to do the story of the freedom is worth sharing and we hope you enjoyed reading this short version of the events. As always please like, comment, tweet, and share your own Jacobite stories with us.

All the best, K & D

Who was General Wolfe?

Major General James Wolfe is quite well known for his time in Canada when he led British forces to victory over the French in Quebec. This victory then contributed to the end of French rule in North America.

However, before his time in Canada, Wolfe played a part in the Jacobite Risings and indeed fought in the Battle of Culloden. Many visitors are surprised to his name amongst the information on display in our exhibition and indeed ask whether he is the same man who ended up in Canada. Therefore, he seems an appropriate figure to explore a little bit further.

wolfe
James Wolfe

 

James Wolfe was born in England, in Kent, in 1727 to Edward Wolfe, a soldier, and Henrietta Thompson. By most accounts his upbringing was fairly humble but from a young age his destiny was always the army. At age thirteen he joined his fathers regiment as a volunteer and the following year he was given his first commission as a second lieutenant in the 1st Marines regiment. He moved through the ranks in the British Army, being promoted to Lieutenant and took part in the Battle of Dettingen in 1743 as part of the War of Austrian succession.

Wolfes actions at Dettingen caught the attention of the Duke of Cumberland and in 1745 Wolfe and his regiment were called home to help Cumberland to help cope with the Jacobite threat. At the beginning of 1746 Wolfe was present at the Battle of Falkirk and, although this was a Government loss,  shortly after he was made aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Hawley. Later, at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746, he fought again on the Government lines and there is a famous tale that Wolfe refused to shoot a wounded Jacobite soldier. Some say it was Cumberland who ordered Wolfe to shoot, whilst others believe it may have been Hawley. Either way Wolfe apparently refused stating he would rather resign his post than take the shot.

For a while after Culloden Wolfe returned to the continent but came back to Britain in 1748 where he was posted in Scotland. For many years he worked hard to become a better leader and soldier and also found time to study Latin and Mathematics. By 1754 Britain and France’s relationship had fallen apart and fighting soon broke out in North America. In 1758 he joined an expedition to Louisburg as one of three brigade commanders. Here he distinguished himself as a capable soldier and was ultimately put in charge of an expedition to take Quebec.

On 13th September 1759 Wolfe launched his long awaited plan to take Quebec. He used boats to transport his men along the St Lawrence River to attack the city from the south-west. Here he and his men surprised the French drawing them out of the city itself and into a waiting battle. Wolfe was victorious but he paid for his victory dearly. Fatally wounded early in the battle Wolfe lived just long enough to hear his plan was a success.

wolfe2
The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West

When news of his death reach Britain it seized the publics imagination. Wolfe was a young leader who had been an inspirational leader. His image was celebrated in paintings, prints and he became one of the greatest military heroes of the eighteenth century. Today he is remembered mostly for his triumph over the French in Quebec but it is interesting to know his past and how it seemed he was always destined to be the great leader that he is considered today.

 

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into Wolfe’s life. We couldn’t possibly cover everything about him in this short space so there is plenty more to discover if you wish. As always please like, comment, tweet, share and if you want to learn more you can always visit Quebec House , Wolfe’s childhood home, which is now run by our counterparts the National Trust.

All he best, K & D

Was Tartan Really Banned?

Following the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden and the eventual end of the ’45 Jacobite Rising came the Dress Act of 1746 which essentially banned the wearing of ‘Highland Clothes’ by anyone, as of 1st August 1747. From this stems the belief, by some, that this meant the banning of tartan, but, is this fact or fiction?

To be able to answer this question we need to look back to the full history of this Act which starts a good while earlier than 1746. To understand the Dress Act you have to consider it not as a singular entity but part of a much larger history.

cull tart
Culloden Tartan

 

First, it is wise to look at the Disarming Act of 1716. After King George I took the throne in 1714, as the first Hanoverian king, there followed the 1715 Jacobite rising. This Rising saw over 12,000 Jacobites take up arms against the King but were eventually defeated. The aftermath saw harsh penalties against the Jacobites in an attempt to prevent them regrouping and challenging the throne again. The Disarming Act was an attempt by the Government to limit the strength of the Jacobite men. Unfortunately, for the Government, the Act was very ineffective. While those loyal to the King may indeed have handed over their weapons, for those not loyal the Act pushed them further away and many hid their weapons and handed over old rusted blades that were of no use anyway.

In 1719 the Jacobites tried again with a short lived Rising and this led to the Disarming Act of 1725 which was ‘An act for the more effectual disarming the highlands in that part of Great Britain called Scotland; and for the better securing the peace and quiet of that part of the kingdom‘ This time General Wade led the movement and was more successful in seizing weapons with some suggesting he managed to gather roughly 2,500 weapons, but still many families hid their swords and guns away from the Governments eyes.

25613 Culloden 256
A couple of our volunteers in typically 18th Century outfits

 

So, in 1745 there were still Jacobites ready to come and support Prince Charles Edward Stuart. Following their eventual defeat the Government took clear steps to ensure that there would be no hope of any further risings. In 1746 they brought out the Act of Proscription. This was similar to the Disarming Act but the penalties for not conforming were more severe and it is under the Act of Proscription that we find the clause that became known as The Dress Act.

The Dress Act stated that ‘That from and after the first day of August, one thousand seven hundred and forty seven, no man or boy, within that part of Great Briton called Scotland, other than shall be employed as officers and soldiers in his Majesty’s forces, shall on any pretence whatsoever, wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland Clothes (that is to say) the plaid, philibeg, or little kilt, trowse, shoulder belts, or any part whatsoever of what peculiarly belongs to the highland garb; and that no tartan, or partly-coloured plaid or stuff shall be used for great coats, or for upper coats’  Anyone found breaking these rules could be imprisoned for six months, and, if they were caught again, they could be sent to a plantation overseas for seven years.

So, here we can see that the Dress Act does not completely ban tartan as many people believe, it only banned it for certain parts of clothing. Also, it is worth remembering the ban did not apply to men serving in Highland Regiments or to the Gentry, sons of Gentry or women and according to the Act it only affected Scotland. The Act did however affect men who had fought for the Government army as well as the Jacobite army. So, even if you fought for the Government they could still arrest you for breaking the Dress Act making it much more than just an action against Jacobites.

It wasn’t until 1782 that the act was repealed on 1st July. However, it would take many further years before the Highland dress returned to the mainstream and even then it was worn by many more for occasions and not as everyday wear.

We hoped you enjoyed this little insight into the Dress Act and as always please like, share, comment, tweet and keep joining us for more titbits.

All the best, K & D

 

 

Peter Grant – The Last Surviving Jacobite

cairn

In 1824 the last known survivor of the ’45 Jacobite rising died aged one hundred and ten. This man was Peter Grant, also known as Auld Dubrach, and today we’re taking a little look at the life of this interesting man.

Born in 1714, Peter Grant was the son of a crofter and grew up in his families croft at Dubrach near Braemar. When he was old enough, and had received a basic education, he became an apprentice to a weaver and tailor in the small village of Acuhindryne. From this he would later become a tailor in his own right.

Peter would only have been a baby during the 1715 Jacobite Rising but at the age of thirty one he was certainly ready for the start of the ’45 Rising when Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised the Jacobites again. Peter soon enlisted with the Jacobite army joining Monaltries regiment. As part of the Jacobite army he most certainly saw various action but it was at Prestonpans that Peter was recognised for his bravery and he was raised to the rank of Sergeant-Major.

At Culloden Peter survived the battle but was captured by the Government and was taken prisoner. Initially he was held in Inverness before being transported south to Carlisle. Here he awaited sentencing. It would not have looked good for Peter; many Jacobites were being sentenced to death, deported or dying from the poor conditions of the prison. It seems that Peter though had other ideas and he found a way to escape the prison. It is possible he managed to find a route over the walls but it is not certain. However he did it though he made his escape and seemingly made his way north back into Scotland, where he was forced to remain hidden as a known Jacobite.

During his years in hiding Peter was never recaptured, despite there being a price on his head. Finally, after many years he was able to return to a relatively normal life and he was able to come out of hiding. He returned home and took up his trade as a tailor once again. Eventually he married a local woman, Mary Cummings, who was seemingly much younger than himself, some say it was Peter himself who had made her christening gown. He returned to Dubrach and had six children, three boys and three girls.

Later Peter and his wife moved into a small cottage on his sons farm in Angus and it is here he sadly lost his wife in 1811 when she was 65. Little is known about Peter for many years and it is not until a decade later that his story reemerges with an intriguing turn. Already well past a hundred years old two walkers met Peter and were fascinated by his tales of the Jacobites. The walkers began a petition which was given to King George IV when he visited Edinburgh in 1822.

There is a story that says Peter was then presented to the King. When they met the King supposedly said ‘Ah, Grant, you are my oldest friend’ to which Peter replied ‘Na,na, your majesty, I’m your auldest enemy’. The story is certainly a great tale but whether it is true or not is under debate. There are no clear records of Peter having met King George IV and it seems more likely that just the petition was delivered. Regardless of whether Peter met King George IV or not what is true is that King George IV awarded Peter with a generous pension.

Two years later on 11th February 1824 Peter passed away, aged 110, at his sons home. His funeral was one of the largest the village had ever seen and was attended by some 300 people. It is said that roughly four gallons of whisky was consumed before the coffin was laid down to rest in the cemetery at Invercauld beside Braemar Castle. A stone tablet was erected at his grave site which was inscribed with the words ‘The old, loyal Jacobite was at peace. he had kept faith with those whom he thought were his rightful Monarchs all of his life, a hero and a man of honour to the last.’

We hope you enjoyed this insight into the ‘last Jacobite’ and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and we will do our best to keep finding more interesting stories for you to enjoy.

All the best, K & D

The MacGillivrays at Culloden

As you walk the battlefield here at Culloden you pass the memorial cairn and many clan graves, but you  also pass the ‘Well of the Dead’. This small spot on the battlefield stands at the point where the Chief of the MacGillivray clan supposedly fell during the battle and, as we are often asked about this spot, we thought we’d take this chance to look a little at the MacGillivray’s during the time of Culloden.

gill
Stone at the Well of the Dead

 

The MacGillivray’s were strong followers of the Jacobites and came out to support the cause in both the 1715 and the 1745 Risings. They are a part of Clan Chattan, which was essential an alliance between several clans including MacGillivray, Mackintosh and Macpherson. In 1745 Clan Chattan the majority of Clan Chattan followed Prince Charles Edward Stuart in his cause.

However, an interesting exception to this was the chief of Clan Mackintosh who was serving with the Black Watch in 1745 and thus was unable to raise his men for the Jacobites. Thus it was left to his wife, Lady Anne Mackintosh to raise Mackintosh’s for Prince Charles. She herself could not lead the men in battle and so she appointed Alexander MacGillivray of Dunmaglass, the chief of Clan MacGillivray to help lead the men of Clan Chattan at Culloden. MacGillivray was a strong choice as he was a respected leader and fearsome warrior, standing some 6ft 5in tall.

gill3
Clach an Airm

 

Before the battle the stories say that Clan Chattan gathered to sharpen their swords at the Clach an Airm, an ancient stone which rested near the battlefield. Here the men queued in line to sharpen their blades on the four foot high stone, ensuring that their weapons were sharp and ready for the battle to come.

In battle it was MacGillivray who began the Highland Charge with Clan Chattan, making the first moves towards the Government men. The charge, lead by MacGillivray, was a ferocious effort to try and claim a Jacobite victory. MacGillivray led the clan against the Government cannons, grapeshot and musket fire and the Chattan clans were remarkably able to break through the first line of the Government army. They breached Barrells regiment but unfortunately could not make any further progress. The Government ranks from behind moved forward and surrounded the Jacobite soldiers with heavy musket fire and ultimately forced them to withdraw.

MacGillivray himself was gravely hurt in the attack but managed to stumble back a little way before he began to succumb to his wounds. There is a story that tells of MacGillivray as he lay dying. A young drummer boy was moaning for water and MacGillivray, in his last act, was able to lead him to a spring in the moor. The spring is now known as the ‘Well of the Dead’ and is said to mark the point where MacGillivray died.

w-of-dead
Well of the Dead at Culloden

 

After the battle MacGillivray was apparently buried in a mass grave with many other men who had fallen in combat. The graves were supposedly guarded by Government men for six weeks before the MacGillivray’s men were able to go and exhume his body. They then took him to the nearby kirk of Petty where he was given a proper burial.

As a consequence of joining the Jacobite cause the MacGillivray’s forfeited their lands for several years before they were able to regain them. Unfortunately bit by bit the lands had to be sold of to pay various debts. With life in Scotland proving tough many clansmen emigrated overseas to America and Canada. Included in these men was a Lachlan MacGillivray whose son, Alexander, would go on to become High Chief of the Creek Indians in Alabame and William MacGillivray who would become the superintendent of the North West Trading Company of Montreal and after whom Fort William in Ontario is named.

So, there you go, a bit more information about just some of the many men who fought here at Culloden. We hope you enjoyed it, as always please like, share, tweet, comment and next time you walk past the Well of Dead you’ll know the story behind it’s importance.

All the best, K & D