Edinburgh and the Jacobites

Culloden Battlefield, located a few miles outside of Inverness, the “capital of the Highlands”, is probably the place that people associate most with Charles Edward Stuart and the Jacobites. Before the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Jacobites had been attempting to get their rightful king (James VII & II and when he died in 1701, his son, James Francis Edward Stuart) on the thrones of Scotland, England and Ireland for more than fifty years. There are several cities and locations that hold special significance when learning about the Jacobites and their journey; today, we will start with a post about Scotland’s capital.

James VII of Scotland and II of England and Ireland succeeded his brother in 1685, before being deposed three years later during the Glorious Revolution. Not long after becoming King, James had appointed the Duke of Gordon, a fellow Catholic, Constable of Edinburgh Castle. In March 1689, the Castle was besieged by 7,000 Government soldiers, who were there to claim it on behalf of William and Mary.

Viscount Dundee, who went on to fight and die at the Battle of Killiecrankie a few months later, climbed up the Castle in order to urge the Duke of Gordon (whose resolve was shaky) not to surrender. The siege ended up lasting for three months. During that time, serious developments were happening in Parliament; William and Mary had already been proclaimed King and Queen of England and Ireland in February, and on the 11th of April, the Parliament of Scotland, its meeting place being at Parliament Hall, Edinburgh, declared that James was no longer King of Scotland, and that William and Mary were to be the joint sovereigns. They were proclaimed King and Queen of Scotland in Edinburgh the following day.

Meanwhile in Edinburgh Castle, supplies were dwindling and the Government troops were standing strong outside. In addition to these problems, there were instances of sickness and religious discordance among the 160 within the Castle. By the middle of June, the number inside had dropped to 90, and the Duke of Gordon surrendered the Castle. Under the 1707 Acts of Union, Edinburgh was one of four castles, alongside Stirling, Blackness and Dumbarton, to be permanently garrisoned by the Government troops.

There were further attempts by the Jacobites to reclaim the Castle. During the Jacobite Rising of 1715, Lord James Drummond led around 100 Jacobites in an attack. They tried to scale the Castle walls at night, but ladders dropped for them were too short. The Government troops were alerted, and the Jacobites were forced to abandon their siege. Those who had attempted to help them from within the Castle were either whipped or hanged.

Thirty years later, in September 1745, Charles Edward Stuart, campaigning on behalf of his father, James Francis Edward Stuart, arrived in Edinburgh. Thousands of spectators lined the streets as he made his way through the city, and the courtyard fountain at Linlithgow Palace was said to have flowed with red wine in celebration. People cheered as he made his way to Holyrood Palace, where he stayed and held court for the following six weeks.

However, the Government soldiers who garrisoned Edinburgh Castle, led by General George Preston, held out against Charles Edward Stuart and the Jacobites. On the 21st of September, the Jacobites defeated a Government army, headed by Sir John Cope, at Prestonpans, a small fishing town on the east side of Edinburgh but the castle held strong. The Jacobites had no heavy guns with which to combat the shots coming from the Castle, and ended up withdrawing after several lives had been lost and damage had been done to the city.

Finally, in November, Charles Edward Stuart and his army left Edinburgh and marched to England with the expectation that they would find more recruits there and the hope that they would be able to overthrow the Hanoverians. However, it wouldn’t be long before they made their long retreat back north and stood at Culloden for their final battle.

We hope you enjoyed this foray into the Jacobites and Edinburgh. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, The Culloden Team

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Lion vs Elisabeth

Prince Charles Edward Stuart set sail from Nantes at the end of June 1745 on board the frigate Du Teillay. This ship met up with the larger Elisabeth at Belle-Ile before heading to Scotland with some 700 men, 20 cannon, 11,000 arm and 2,000 broadswords. However, the journey to Scotland would not be plain sailing.

As the ships rounded the south-west coast of England they spotted the royal navy warship HMS Lion. The Lion quickly steered towards Prince Charles’ group and pulled up alongside the Elisabeth. As they came within range both ships opened fire. The Lion was designed for combat with 64 guns whereas the Elisabeth was likely heavier and less well equipped. Nevertheless both ships bombarded each other with shot after shot.

The Du Teillay with Prince Charles aboard apparently tried to fire at the Lion on a couple of occasions but was fairly easily pushed back. The smaller ship had little choice but to hand back out of range and watch as the action between the two ships continued.

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Action between HMS Lion and Elizabeth and the Du Teillay, 9 July 1745 Serres, Dominic
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© National Maritime Museum Collections

 

It is said the ships fought for several hours. The Elisabeth could not outrun the Lion but it managed to cause substantial damage. After hours of relentless fire the Lions masts were badly damaged, at least 45 men were killed and many more were injured. The Captain of the Lion, Captain Percy Brett was wounded along with most, if not all, of his lieutenants. The Elisabeth though was no better. The British sailors of the Lion had displayed their impressive skill and the Elizabeth was also badly damaged. On board the Captain was killed along with many others. The ships had no choice but to give up and return to their respective ports. The HMS Lion headed back towards Plymouth whilst the Elizabeth would head back to Brest.

This however, left the Jacobite party in a bit of a quandary. The Elisabeth held much of the essential arms and men that the Jacobites needed to kick-start the ’45 Rising with a show of strength, to lose it would be a big loss. With the damage it had incurred the Elisabeth was said to be listing quite badly in the water, so any attempt to try to move supplies across to the Du Teillay would have been too dangerous. Some aboard the Du Teillay suggested they should head back alongside the Elisabeth and regroup to try again another day. However, Prince Charles was seemingly against this as he feared people would see it as another failure and he would face ridicule. Thus the Elisabeth slowly struggled back to Brest whilst the Du Teillay continued on heading for the Western Isles of Scotland.

We hope you enjoyed this little bit of history. As always please like, tweet, share and comment as much as you like.

All the best, The Culloden Team

Jacobite Women

We love uncovering stories about the women who played a role in the Jacobite Risings and we’ve found some good ones we wanted to share with you.

Firstly, we look at Jenny Cameron who was described by one man as ‘a genteel well-look’d handsome woman with a pair of pretty eyes and hair as black as ink.’ When Prince Charles Edward Stuart first come over to Scotland, and attempted to raise supporters at Glenfinnan, Jenny Cameron was one of the first people there along with 200 clansmen and a herd of cattle.

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Glenfinnan Monument

 

Throughout the 1745 Rising Cameron travelled with the Jacobite army, being present at both Prestonpans and Falkirk. Clearly not content to stay at home, there are reports of her wearing a tartan doublet and carrying a sword as she travelled with the army. In February 1746, before the Battle of Culloden, Jenny was captured at Stirling and was sent to Edinburgh Castle as a prisoner. She was later released but was never fully trusted as there were government agents said to be watching her as late as 1753.

Another feisty women was Lady Margaret Ogilvy. Her husband, Lord David Ogilvy, joined the Jacobite cause and Lady Ogilvy, as with Jenny, refused to stay at home. She joined the army on their campaign in Glasgow and was even said to have used her husbands spare horse to ride with them. After Culloden she too was taken prisoner and also placed in Edinburgh Castle. Not one to give up though Lady Ogilvy managed to escape.

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Lady Ogilvy

 

Lady Ogilvy convinced the old lady who did her laundry to swap clothes with her and by apparently mimicking the old woman’s walk she was able to walk past the guards and exit the castle freely without being spotted. After her escape she planned to reunite with her husband and made her way south to Hull. Here, she would set sail for France where Lord Ogilvy waited. However, before she could make it aboard a ship there was a worrying moment when she was mistaken for none other the Prince Charles Edward Stuart himself. Luckily she managed to convince the Government accuser that she was not Prince Charles, and was in fact a woman, and she was able to make her escape to the continent.

It would be fair to think her story ends here but whilst in France, and finally reunited with her husband, she fell pregnant. Refusing to have the child born outside of Scotland she daringly managed to return undetected and gave birth to a child in Angus. Eventually both herself and her husband were pardoned and were able to return permanently to Scotland unrestricted.

We hope you enjoyed these stories which are just two of many great tales that surround the Jacobite ’45. As always please like, tweet, share, comment and let us know who else you would like to hear about.

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

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