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

Highbridge Skirmish

We all know the ’45 Rising saw it’s last battle at Culloden, but the first engagement was back in August 1745 in the Highbridge Skirmish.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart had landed in Scotland and the prospect of a Jacobite Rising was suddenly a reality. In response to Prince Charles attempting to gather support and draw people towards him at Glenfinnan the commander-in-chief of the Government forces in Scotland, Sir John Cope, sent orders to dispatch two companies of men to head to Fort William where they would reinforce the garrison that stood there.

The men sent out were from the Royal Scots regiment and were commanded by Captain Scott of Clan Scott. In total roughly 85 men began to make the journey south to Fort William marching along the roads built by General Wade after the 1715 Rising. Prince Charles was not idle though. He heard of the Governments plan and informed his Jacobite supporters so they would be prepared for the men.

The Government troops marched seemingly easily along the road, encountering no resistance, until they reached the River Spean on 16th August 1745 and headed across the High Bridge. Here they found Jacobite supporters waiting. Major Donald MacDonell of Tirnadris was ready to meet the Government troops with a dozen of fellow members of Clan MacDonald of Keppoch. As Captain Scott approached it is believed that the dozen Jacobites moved swiftly about by the now demolished High Bridge Inn. They held their plaids wide and created the illusion that there was a formidable number of Jacobites waiting.

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Plaque at the location of the skirmish in 1745

 

Captain Scott approached cautiously sending forward just two of his men to try and negotiate with the Jacobites. Unfortunately for him the men were swiftly taken prisoner and Captain Scott made the decision to retreat and regroup. They fled to Loch Lochy but were caught out when some 50 Glengarry Highlanders met them with volleys of gunshot whilst the MacDonalds continued their pursuit from behind. Captain Scott was hit in the shoulder and eventually found himself and his men surrounded. He had no choice but to surrender.

The Jacobites took the remaining Government men prisoner in the Achnacarry Inn as Donald Cameron of Lochiel arrived to take charge. Captain Scott was taken to Lochiels house where reports suggest he was treated more like a guest than an enemy. The men were later marched to Glenfinnan to meet Prince Charles himself and he made the decision to pardon the prisoners of their actions. Some say the Jacobites did not lose a single man in the skirmish whilst the Government lost at least two men with several more injured. It is believed that the Government recruits were new soldiers from Ireland who perhaps were not used to the Highland terrain and were unprepared to face the local Jacobites.

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Remaining pillars of the original Highbridge

 

The skirmish however, marked the first land-based action between Government and Jacobite forces and began to set the ’45 Rising into motion. The High Bridge itself, which cost £1,087 when it was built in 1736, was superseded by a newer bridge in 1819 and now only the pillars remain of the original bridge. In 1994 the 1745 Association erected a cairn near the south side of the bridge at Highbridge to commemorate the first action of the ’45 which can still be seen today.

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into the first action of the ’45 and as always please like, tweet, share, comment and keep discovering.

All the best, K & D

Weapons of the ’45

One of the things that people seem to really enjoy discovering more about here at Culloden is the weapons. Mainly, I think because you get to handle replica weapons. So, we thought we’d attempt a short post on the most common weapons used in the ’45.

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Some 18th Century weapons

Firstly, the broadsword. Basket-hilted swords would have been in use in Scotland from about the mid 16th century. The design came first from Scandinavian and German sword makers before making it across to England and Scotland. Throughout the 17th Century ribbon baskets were being made in large quantities and as we reached the 18th Century and the main Jacobite risings the Highland basket was an intricate piece. The broadsword was an essential weapon for the Jacobties with broadsword in one hand and targe in the other. They were ideal for the favoured tactic of the Highland Charge with sweeping deadly motions and a heavy pommel weight at the base to deal with enemies close at hand.

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Close up of the basket of a replica broadsword

Since we have already mentioned the targe it’s only fair it should be next on the list.

The targe or ‘shield’ was traditionally round from 19 to 21 inches in diameter and made from two layers of wood positioned together with the grains at right angles. Often they were made of fir but most light woods would do the job. Targes were often decorated across the front with a central boss of brass, from which a spike could be screwed in, and this was surrounded by geometric patterns in the leather and studs of brass.

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Scottish Targe or Shield

With the broadsword and targe you may think there would be no room for any other weapons but often the Jacobites would carry a dirk as well. This stabbing knife, sometimes up to 50cms long would be held behind the targe largely hidden from sight and would be ideal for close quarter fighting. The Highland dirk was usually distinguished from other similar weapons of the time by its long triangular and single edged blade and by its handle which was traditionally cylindrical with no guard. It would be shouldered at the junction of the blade, the grip swellin gin the middle and the pommel circular and flat topped.

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Typical 18th Century Style Dirk

Similar to the dirk was the Sghian Dubh. This was a smaller knife only four to six inches in length that was often hidden in a small holster up a sleeve. It would have been used when no other weapon was available and it is believed it was more common in the late 18th Century following the ban of weapons of Scotland. Dubh is Gaelic for black and traditionally the handle and scabbard of the sghian dubh were made from dark coloured woods and leather to keep it out of clear sight.

When the Act of Proscription was lifted the sghian dubh came out of hiding and was then worn mainly in the stocking. In the 19th century when the wearing of the sghian dubh became less functional and more fashionable the hilt would often been made from stag horn or ebony and even decorated with jewels.

Obviously there were more weapons in use and we haven’t touch on guns and cannons but hopefully this has given a little insight into some traditional weapons. As always please share, comment, like, tweet and feel free to come along to Culloden to get a closer look and the weapons of the ’45.

All the best, K & D.

A Government Spy…

Unsurprisingly the Jacobite Risings had lots of propaganda and intrigue and also plenty of opportunities for spies. Today we’ve picked a couple of the men believed to be spies during the ’45 Rising to have a look at their stories.

Firstly, Mr Dudley Bradstreet. Dudley was born in Tipperary in 1711 and his famly had once been quite well off during Cromwellian times. Unfortunately, by Dudley’s time the family had lost much of their land and money to bad debts and Dudley, as the youngest son, was raised by a foster family. In the 1745 Rising Dudley became employed by a government official to act as a spy in the Jacobite army. To be effective Dudley assumed the persona of a Captain Oliver Williams who was an ardent Jacobite, loyal to the Prince Charles Edward Stuart. However, when he could, he supplied both the Duke of Cumberland and the Duke of Newcastle with news of the Jacobite armies movements. It seems that Dudley’s cover held well and he managed to gain access to the Prince’s council of war in Derby. Here he is credited with persuading the Jacobite army to retreat back to Scotland. In the council he told of an army of some 9,000 men waiting for the Jacobites in Northampton. Of course, the force did not exist but this did not stop the Jacobites from believing him and it is considered one of the key points that led to the Jacobites retreating rather than carrying on to London.

Dudley is quite a well known example of a Government spy mainly because after the Rising the Government admitted he was under their services. However, despite this admittance Dudley was unable to get either money or a commission in the army from the government which he believed had been promised to him for his work. Eventually he managed to take his case and get it to the attention of the king. He then received a sum of apparently one hundred and twenty pounds for his spying efforts.

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart, leader of the Jacobites

 

Lesser known is the spy who went by the codename of ‘Pickle’. Most people agree that this was actually Alastair MacDonnell of Glengarry who managed to stop the ‘Elibank Plot’, a last ditch attempt by some Jacobites to remove King George II from the throne. During the ’45 Rising Alastair was captured and held prisoner in the Tower of London. After almost two years he was freed and fled to France but by this time his families estates had been confiscated and he was facing a life of poverty.

In 1749 Alastair visited London and it is believed it was at this time that he came to an agreement with the government to act as a spy on Prince Charles and the Jacobites over in France and on the continent. He would gather any information he could and then send it over to London signing off his letters as Pickle. One of the key things he is credited for is stopping the Elibank Plot. The plot apparently consisted of starting a rising in Scotland to coincide with an attempted coup in London. It was suggested the royal family of George II should be taken hostage and held until they agreed to abdicate. Alastair was a member of those involved in the planning and consequently passed all the information through to the government. When this was discovered the plot was adandoned, so no kidnapping ever took place. Alastair, or Pickle, was also responsible for the arrest of several key Jacobites including Dr Archibald Cameron. Another member of the Elibank Plot, Dr Cameron was arrested and imprisoned before being sentenced to death. He was executed in 1753 and was hung for twenty minutes before being cut down and beheaded.

For years the identity of Pickle remained a mystery, and some may say it still is today. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that a writer named Andrew Lang compared the writing on some of Pickles letters to those of a young Alastair MacDonnell and found that they shared a key similarity. It turned out that both men always wrote ‘how’ for the word ‘who’, thus seemingly confirming the identity of the mystery spy who had ruined the Elibank plot.

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Andrew Lang’s book on Pickle the Spy

 

There were certainly many more spies infiltrating the Jacobites and indeed many working the other way. We know of a Matthew Prior who was assigned to the British Embassy in Paris and discovered a number of Jacobite spies travelling between France and London before 1715 preparing for a Jacobite Rising. His information enabled the Government to arrest several men and help hinder the Jacobite plans.

Many more men will never be known, their secrets kept safe over time but we hope you enjoyed these couple of tales and as always please share, tweet, like, comment and let us know if you are aware of any other Jacobite spies.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

Inverness and the Jacobites

Inverness, now the capital of the Highlands, changed hands a few times over the course of the Jacobite Rebellions. Here we look at some of the key moments in its Jacobite history.

During the 1715 Jacobite Rising the town and castle was held by Clan MacKenzie who were led by Sir John Mackenzie of Coul. Locals clans loyal to the Government made their move in November of 1715 to take the town into Government hands. Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat along with John Forbes of Culloden and Hugh Rose, Chief of Clan Rose all joined forces against the Jacobites and began to plan a course of action.

However, before they had a firm plan in place , on 10th November, Arthur Rose, younger son of Hugh Rose, and a handful of his men seized boats in Inverness harbour and river to ensure the Jacobites could not use them to supply the town or escape. During this they managed to capture one of the Jacobite guards and forced him to take them to the towns tollbooth which was used as a Jacobite guard house. The men inside opened the door but as Rose pushed his way in the alarm was sounded and Rose was shot and mortally wounded.

Angered by his sons death Hugh Rose immediately sought revenge. Mackenzie of Coul  sent a letter of condolence to Rose and allowed him to come and bury his son but Rose was apparently too incensed with grief and threatened to put the whole town of Inverness to sword and flame.

On 12th November the Government, led by Simon Fraser, took position along the side of the River Ness. Here they were able to prevent support, from the MacDonalds of Keppoch and the Mackintoshes at Moy Hall, from coming to the Jacobites aid. Realising the weakness of their position the Jacobites asked to march south, and join Mar and the main Jacobite army at Sherriffmuir, but Rose denied this and instead offered them the chance to hand over their weapons and return home. Later that day Government forces occupied Inverness, the only fatality of the short siege being Arthur Rose two days before.

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Inverness Castle from roughly 1745

 

In the 1719 Jacobite Rising there were plans for the Jacobites to head to Inverness and take the town but the men never made it that far east and Government men marched out of the town heading the Jacobites off at Glen Shiel. Thus, Inverness escaped any serious action in 1719.

Finally, in 1745, Inverness was held mainly by the Government, with an initial force of roughly 750 men based there to defend the site. After the Battle of Prestonpans John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudon, arrived at Inverness with arms and funds and took over command of the men that Lord President Duncan Forbes had been raising in the area but it wasn’t until early 1746 that the Jacobites actually came to Inverness.

On 16th February 1746 Lady Anne MacKintosh entertained Prince Charles at Moy Hall, her family home just south of the city. News of the Prince’s whereabouts reached Lord Loudon, and fearing an attack Charles left the Hall and took sanctuary in the nearby woods. When Loudon’s men approached the house Lady Anne’s blacksmith and a handful of men created the impression that the house was defended by a substantial force calling out to ‘regiments’. The tactic worked and Lord Loudon retreated back to Inverness in what is known as ‘The Rout of Moy.’

The next day a Government Council of War decided it would be impossible for Loudoun’s forces to defend Inverness and they retreated into Sutherland and Prince Charles was free to enter Inverness without contest. Only one barrier remained. There was still a small garrison holding Inverness Castle for the Government, led by Major Grant. The Jacobites quickly went to work surveying the building for any weaknesses. The walls were too thick to penetrate but they managed to find a weak point in the foundations and set about exploiting this point.

On 20th February Major Grant conceded defeat. They could not stop the strong Jacobite force and feared the rampart would be blown up beneath them. The Jacobites quickly plundered the stores and weapons held in the castle and then proceeded to blow the fortifications apart so that it would be no use if it were to fall back into Government hands.

This was the last action Inverness with the Battle of Culloden resulting in the defeat of the Jacobites in April. Hopefully you enjoyed this short history on Inverness and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and come along to Inverness where you can still see one of the walls of the old Castle burnt from the demolition.

All the best, K & D

Lord George Murray

We all know Prince Charles Edward Stuart led the Jacobite army in 1745 but he had plenty of help from his band of advisers and generals. One of the most well known members of Prince Charles’ council was Lord George Murray.

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Lord George Murray

 

Born in Perth, Scotland in 1694, George was the sixth son of the 1st Duke of Atholl, chief of Clan Murray. He joined the army in 1712 and then three years later, along with two of his brothers, he joined the Jacobites in the 1715 Rising with each brother commanding their own regiment of Atholl men. He fled to France for a while before returning to help aid the short lived 1719 Jacobite Rising. Here he was injured and spent months in hiding before finally finding his way back to the continent.

Not much is known of his life on the continent but he finally returned to Scotland in 1724 following his fathers death and settled down with a wife and five children. When the ’45 Rising began George was sceptical of Prince Charles and his scheme despite his earlier support of the Jacobites. Indeed a month after Charles landed in Scotland George went to pay his respects to Sir John Cope, commander of the government forces, and was appointed deputy-sheriff of Perthshire.

George then met Prince Charles for himself when he stayed at Blair Castle and eventually announced his support for the Jacobite cause. Something had changed his mind, though there were those that suspected he had never truly supported the government and still others that now thought he could be a government spy. Either way George quickly won the Jacobites armies confidence with his decisive leadership and by September he was practically running the army having ordered the successful attack at the Battle of Prestonpans on his own initiative.

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Battle of Prestonpans

 

Whilst he was certainly close to Prince Charles he did not always agree with the man. When the army moved into England George was against the plan but followed the Princes orders. In Carlisle George conducted the siege but after the town surrendered he resigned his command apparently claiming he felt his authority had been undermined by the Prince. His replacement, the Duke of Preth, was not well liked by the army and it was not long before George was reinstated and leading the army towards Derby.

Here George urged the Prince to retreat. He was concerned by the lack of both French and English support and felt it unwise to continue on towards London as the Prince wished. At a council of war the majority sided with Murray and a retreat was planned. Prince Charles had been out voted and was furious. He would never forgive George for turning against him.

During the retreat Murray commanded the rear guard as the Jacobites headed back north until they reached the fateful day of Culloden. Here Murray advised placing the army on the right bank of the river Nairn but Prince Charles ignored his advise at set the army on Culloden Moor to the left of the Nairn. The Jacobites were defeated, though George managed to escape the battle. He headed to Ruthven Barracks to try and piece together what was left of the Jacobite army and set about forming a resistance. It is said he managed to amass some 3,000 men however, whilst waiting he received word from Prince Charles that the cause was to be abandoned and the men were to disband.

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Ruthven Barracks

 

George managed to make his way to the continent where he was received well by Prince Charles’ father, James who granted him a pension. In 1747 he travelled to Paris to see Prince Charles but despite his fathers hospitality the Prince refused to meet with him. During the next decade George travelled through the continent living in numerous places before he eventually died in Holland in 1760 at the age of 66.

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into George Murray. As always please like, comment, reblog, tweet and feel free to suggest other figures you’d like to learn more about.

All the best, K & D

Who needs men…

A lot of Jacobite history can focus on the men involved and the actions they took, which is why it is always nice to find a good story about a woman taking a role in history. Granted we may be a little biased because we are both women, but nevertheless here are a few of our favourite tales of women in Jacobite history.

Firstly, Dame Alice Lisle. Alice is widely believed to have been the first victim of the Bloody Assizes and was the last woman to be publicly beheaded in England. She was placed on trial for harbouring fugitives after the defeat of the Monmouth Rebellion and, despite the fact that none of the men she harboured were convicted of treason, she was sentenced to be burned. As she was a lady this sentence was eventually substituted for beheading, apparently this was deemed more appropriate for her social rank. On 2nd September 1685 Alice, aged 71, was thus executed by axe in Winchester market place and today a plaque marks the spot of her execution.

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The plaque marking the place of execution of Alice Lisle

 

During the 1715 Rebellion there were a number of women of note; including Lady Lude who played her part in drumming up recruits for the Jacobites by apparently threatening to remove the tenants from their ‘means and effects’ if they refused to join. Our pick though is Lady Winifred Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale, who helped her husband escape execution.  After being captured at Preston Winifred’s husband was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. A personal appeal by Winifred to King George I was unsuccessful so she took more drastic action. The night before the execution Winifred met with her husband and dressed him in ladies clothing to be led out by one of her maids. Meanwhile Winifred carried on her ‘conversation’ with him in his cell, so no one would be suspicious, before she finally fled herself. Both Winifred and her husband eventually made their way to the continent and later joined the Stuarts exiled court in Rome.

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Lady Winifred Maxwell

 

Lady Lude returned in the ’45 Rebellion where she entertained Prince Charles at Blair Castle and defended it against Government forces. Once again though she was not the only one to stand up for a cause they believed in. Lady Jane Nimmo was at her home when a group of Jacobites came to raid her property collecting taxes. The party found 91 firearms on the premises but they were deemed old and useless so eventually left with nothing. They later found out that Jane had been deceitful and deliberately hidden weapons and horses from the Jacobite party. The Lieutenant in charge of the group demanded the weapons be sent on for the Jacobite cause but Jane refused and her perseverance won out; the Jacobites never received any weapons from her.

Finally, we look at Lady Margaret Ogilvy who escaped from Edinburgh Castle. Margaret was the wife of Lord Ogilvy who went to fight with Prince Charles. Refusing to leave him Margaret rode with him but was captured and held in Inverness Castle before being transported south to Edinburgh. In November 1746 she was visited by her friend Miss Katherine Hepburn of Keith, and her brother and sister Mr and Miss Johnstone of Westerhall. With the help of her friends Margaret escaped dressed as a laundress whilst Miss Johnstone told guards she was ill and in bed. The guards left, being too gentlemanly to disturb her, thereby allowing the escape to take place. Eventually Margaret managed to make it to the continent where she was reunited with her husband.

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Lady Margaret Ogilvy

 

Hopefully you enjoyed these tales; as always please like, comment, tweet and share with us any stories you know of the women of the Jacobites.

All the best, K & D