The Skirmish of Tongue

In March 1746, less than a month before the Battle of Culloden, a number of those belonging to the two conflicting sides met at Tongue, a coastal village in the Highlands; there, those loyal to the Jacobite cause were captured, and their ship, Le Prince Charles Stuart, was plundered.

The ship in question had been the British HMS Hazard, but had been stolen by some Jacobites a few months earlier in Montrose, before being sailed to Dunkirk and given its new name. Louis XV of France sent it back up to Scotland, filled with around 160 French, Spanish, Irish and Scottish men. Up until this point, the Jacobites had been disappointed in King Louis’ underwhelming acts of assistance. However, along with some supplies, Louis sent £13,000 in gold, which translates to a little over £1.5 million in today’s money.

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King Louis XV of France

The sailing over to Scotland was not simple though as it experienced trouble not long after leaving Dunkirk and was forced ashore by a couple of English privateers on the coast of Belgium. It suffered some damage, but not enough to stop Captain Talbot from wanting to continue the voyage to Scotland. The intention had been to disembark at Portsoy, a harbour town located about 50 miles from Aberdeen, but soon it became clear to Talbot that Le Prince Charles Stuart was being chased.

Four Government ships pursued Le Prince. Talbot, desperate and acknowledging his lack of knowledge of the area, took aboard two local fishermen to help him escape the enemy. Eventually on ship, the 24-gunned HMS Sheerness, broke off from the other Government ships and tailed Talbot, getting closer and closer. Talbot sailed into the Kyle of Tongue, where he hoped that the larger Sheerness would not be able to fully enter, but he ended up beaching his ship on a sandbank, trapping it as the Sheerness was still close enough to shoot.

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Kyle of Tongue

After several hours of continual shots being fired between the two ships, Talbot gave the orders to unload the goods. The plan was now for the crew to carry the gold and supplies to Prince Charles’ base in Inverness. As daylight broke the men began their trek to Inverness but the captain of the Sheerness had by this point realised that Le Prince was what had been known as HMS Hazard, and sent out a group to look for Government supporters to help to capture the Jacobite soldiers.

Before long the Jacobites were surrounded by Government men, and after several deaths and the arrival of further opposition headed by Captain George Mackay, the Jacobites surrendered, but not before reportedly throwing the gold into the water.

The surviving Le Prince men were captured and imprisoned aboard the Sheerness which prevented them from being able to fight at the Battle of Culloden. Le Prince became known as HMS Hazard again, and after some repairs, it was put back into the Government navy. As for the gold, it was largely recovered and shared among the Government leaders and their men as a reward for taking it from the Jacobites.

It makes for an interesting what if? The Bellona and the Mars arrived once the Battle of Culloden had been lost, but if the gold and soldiers of Le Prince had got to Charles in time, it is difficult to say how much of an impact it would have had, how much it could have changed things for the Jacobites. Not only would Charles have had money to properly feed, equip and pay the troops he already had, as well as hire new ones, but it would also have been a morale boost for the Jacobites to feel that they had such support and that the confidence of the leader they had been following was not unfounded.

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

All the best, The Culloden Team

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The Failed French Invasion of 1708

In 1701, James Francis Edward Stuart, at the age of thirteen, inherited the Jacobite claim; seven years later, with the help of the French, he attempted to invade Scotland and rule it and England as James VIII and III.

James Francis had spent most of his life in France, his family having been given shelter by King Louis XIV from 1688 onwards. Spain, Modena and the Papal States all supported James Francis, but in London the claim continued to be ignored, and when William of Orange died in 1702, James Francis’s half-sister Anne became Queen of Scotland, England and Ireland.

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Louis XIV

Louis XIV was a first cousin of James Francis’s father, and he believed wholeheartedly in the divine right of kings. The fact that James VII and II’s Catholicism had led to his deposition caused Louis, himself a Catholic, to offer support and a home in France for James and his family.

After nearly ten years of James VII & II living in France, Louis offered him the Crown of Poland. James refused it, feeling that his focus should be on the countries that he felt were his by hereditary right. Then, in 1697 Louis signed the Treaty of Ryswick, formally acknowledging William of Orange as King and agreeing not to offer James any military assistance. James still had his home at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and he lived his last few years quietly, though always making it clear to his young son that he saw him as the future King of Scotland, England and Ireland.

In early 1708, James Francis, being nineteen, felt that the time had come to do something. By this point, Louis XIV was back to being actively pro-Jacobite, having acknowledged James Francis as King. After the Acts of Union in 1707, it was believed to be an opportune time to rely on the Scottish people to fight for the Jacobite cause, as many had been angry about merging with England under Queen Anne. It was also believed that there would be few trained soldiers in Scotland to resist James’s landing, as many were away fighting in continental Europe. Louis sent someone to Scotland to judge the atmosphere, and it was reported back that the people of Scotland were eager to rise up for their true King.

 

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James Francis Edward Stuart

In February preparations were made for the journey. Six French regiments and the Irish Brigade gathered at Dunkirk. Louis XIV appointed Le Comte de Forbin Admiral of the fleet, with the instruction that, whatever happened, James Francis could not die. Almost 6,000 men filled the five warships and twenty frigates. Weapons enough for 13,000 men were taken aboard in anticipation of the large crowds that were expected to be there waiting for them.

James Francis contracted measles, so the departure was delayed until March. The journey was dangerous, as a result of the stormy weather, but de Forbin commented that James Francis faced it ‘with a courage and coolness beyond his years’. The plan had been to land close to Edinburgh, but the bad weather interfered with their navigation and they travelled too far north. A few members of the fleet were sent out in Fife, but only a small number of supporters had gathered to see James Francis.

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Le Comte de Forbin

Admiral George Byng arrived with a fleet of British warships, and proceeded to chase the French northwards. James Francis had asked to get off in Fife, but de Forbin had refused. Byng turned back, believing that he had missed the other fleet, but the French, with the belief that they were still being chased, continued to go north. They travelled across the north coast, around Cape Wrath and back to Dunkirk. Several ships were lost on the rocks.

The attempt was a failure and James Francis returned to France and joined the French army. His next attempt at taking the throne would come in the form of the 1715 Uprising.

We hope you enjoyed this short glimpse into history. As always please like, share, tweet and follow.

All the best, The Culloden Team

Louisa Stuart: The Princess over the Water

Louisa Maria Stuart was born in France in 1692, almost four years after her father was deposed as King of Scotland, England and Ireland. To the Jacobites, however, as her father was still seen as King James VII and II, Louisa was known as the “Princess over the Water”.

She was born the second living child of James and his second wife, Mary of Modena. Her brother, also James, was four years older than her. As there had been rumours of babies being swapped at their son’s birth, James and Mary of Modena invited several Protestants to witness the birth of Louisa, including her half-sister Queen Mary. Louisa was born at Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the residence that had been gifted to her parents in their exile by King Louis XIV of France; she was named after Louis, who served as her godfather. Of her arrival, her father said, ‘See what God has given us to be our consolation in exile’; as she grew up, her parents continued to think of her in this way, nicknaming her ‘La Consolatrice’.

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Portrait of Louisa Stuart

 

Her father died when she was nine, and her brother was recognised as King James VIII of Scotland and III of England and Ireland in France, Spain, the Papal States and Modena. For accepting the claims, in London he was declared a traitor.

Louisa was taught religion, Latin and history, among other things, and as a teenager she enjoyed spending time at the French Court, where she was well-liked. Potential future bridegrooms were discussed for her, including one of King Louis’ grandsons and the King of Sweden, but nothing ever materialised. Her uncertain position acted as an obstacle, and it was believed that she was reluctant to leave her mother. Out of her personal funds, Louisa paid for some Jacobite daughters to be educated.

In 1712 James fell ill with smallpox, and after a while it was discovered that Louisa had it too. It soon became apparent that Louisa’s condition was worse than James’s. She was bled, which weakened her, and she slipped into a coma and eventually died. She was buried in Paris alongside her father. James was not told of his sister’s death until after the funeral, as it had been feared that his own health would have suffered if he had been told earlier. Luckily James managed to recover from the disease.

The year following Louisa’s death, things changed again for James Francis Edward Stuart. France had been a home to him for many years, but under the conditions of the Treaty of Utrecht, Louis XIV had agreed to offer him no more support. After Louis’ death in 1715, the French Government told James that he was no longer welcome. His 1715 Uprising failed, and he spent most of the rest of his life at the Palazzo Muti in Rome.

We hope you enjoyed this little post on Louisa Stuart. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, The Culloden Team