A Spider and a Shellycoat – more Scottish Folk Tales

One thing that has always been a big part of Scottish culture, and that continues to intrigue both visitors and natives alike, is the myriad of utterly unique legends and stories that Scotland has to offer. Some of these legends, such as the Loch Ness Monster, are famous all around the world, whereas others remain known to just a few; some were originally told as moral lessons, to warn, frighten or, as with the case of Robert the Bruce and the perseverant spider, to serve as inspiration, whereas others were told solely to entertain. Below is a small selection of the various tales and legends born and bred on Scottish soil:

King Robert the Bruce and the Spider

Mentioned above, this tale in particular tends to strike a chord with many of those who hear it, due to it serving as a metaphor for carrying on through the struggles of life, which is something with which everybody can identify. It is also of note because there is absolutely nothing to stop it from being true; parts of it, such as the number of attempts made by the spider and the precise location of Bruce vary from source to source, conjectured to fill in the gaps that being passed down through the centuries can sometimes bring, but the gist of the tale being historical rather than mythological remains a strong possibility.

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The most famous version of the story goes that in the early 14th century King Robert the Bruce, who was fighting the English for Scottish independence, was on the run, and found himself seeking shelter in a cave. As he sat in the cave he despaired over what was the best thing to do for his people and for the future of Scotland. Should he give up? Should he continue to fight King Edward I? He was there, dejected, when a spider suddenly caught his attention. It was attempting to climb up its web, and Bruce watched as it repeatedly tried and failed to get to the top. Six times it tried, and six times it failed, but it persevered, and on the seventh attempt it finally succeeded. This gave Bruce a much-needed morale boost; he carried on with his mission, and the Scottish went on to defeat Edward I’s son Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Robert the Bruce’s image, along with a little spider, is on many Scottish bank notes today, serving as a reminder to everyone that, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’.

 

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The Shellycoat

A mischievous rather than evil figure in Scottish folklore, albeit with quite a cruel sense of humour, the Shellycoat can be found in creeks, lochs and streams, looking for innocent people to trick. It is an ugly monster with a coat of large rattling shells, which it shakes in an effort to distract passing strangers. It gets a great deal of amusement out of confusing people, wasting their time and seeing their faces as they fail to find out what is making the noise. This is harmless enough, but it is claimed that the Shellycoat also creates the sound of someone drowning and laughs at the commotion it causes. Despite this unpleasant side to the Shellycoat, it never physically harms anyone, and so it is not warned against in the same way that other monsters, such as the Blue Men of Minch, are.

 

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The Redcaps

Redcaps (also known as Dunters or Powries) are some of the most evil creatures in Scottish folklore. According to legend, they dwell in ruined castles near the border, particularly those with an especially dark history, and murder strangers who happen to stumble into their home. Redcaps are grotesque-looking stooped little monsters, with red eyes, pointed teeth and long sharp claws. In spite of their heavy iron boots and large pikes, they are remarkably quick, and it is thought to be impossible to outrun a Redcap once it has set its sight on someone! Sometimes they roll boulders on top of unsuspecting strangers’ heads from high up in a tower; other times they bite and scratch their victims to death. It is then that they drink some of the blood, before dipping their caps into it, an important step, for if the cap dries up, the Redcap immediately dies.

We hope you enjoyed these tales, this week brought to you by Jodie, who is currently gaining experience with the Learning Team here at Culloden. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and keep on coming back for more.

All the best, K & D

Clifton Moor – last battle on English soil?

On 18th December 1745 the Jacobites and the Hanoverians met at Clifton Moor. The Jacobites had begun their retreat from Derby with the British forces following closely behind. At Clifton the Jacobites chose to make a stand and face the men chasing them. They once again proved the effectiveness of the Highland Charge and were able to defeat the Hanoverians and continue on their trek north.

However, the big question for today is, was this the last battle on English soil? It sounds a fairly simple question but the answer is not so straightforward.

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The main problem here is, how do you class something as a battle? Culloden we are happy to call a battle but Clifton Moor is not so easy and is considered by many to be a skirmish. The difficulty lies in definitions generally a battle is larger than a skirmish and is usually a pitched event with large numbers and the main body of the army coming together to support their cause. A skirmish on the other hand is considered to be smaller without the main body of the army and with limited combat.

Since Clifton Moor involved mainly just the rear guard of the Jacobites with roughly 1,000 men it is typically given the title of skirmish. So, if we discount Clifton Moor we have to look back to the next closest contender with would be the Battle of Preston in 1715, another Jacobite action. Here Jacobites barricaded the main streets of Preston as six regiments of Government men arrived to stop the Jacobite advance. The main battle lasted from 12th November to the 14th November when a surrender was finally agreed and almost 1,500 Jacobites were taken prisoner.

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But again, was this a battle? Here the debate is that Preston was actually a siege. A siege is considered to occur when an assault is made on a place that has been blocked and sealed by forces within. Thus the town,city etc. is surrounded, supplies are cut off and the hope is that the forces inside ultimately surrender and/or are captured.  This sounds like it matches the description of the Battle of Preston so once again some choose to discount this battle and look even further back.

Finally we come to 1685 and the Battle of Sedgemoor. Fought on 6th July 1685 this battle was the last battle of the Monmouth Rebellion. The rebellion was fought between the duke of Monmouth and King James II & VII. James had taken the throne following the death of his brother Charles II but the Duke of Monmouth believed he should be king as Charles II’s illegitimate son. the battle saw 4,000 of Monmouth’s men face 3,000 royalist troops. The superior training of the royalists quickly outflanked Monmouth’s men and the battle was a decisive win for James II.

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Battle of Sedgemoor Memorial

 

The Battle of Sedgemoor seems to meet all the criteria for a battle. It saw the main force of Monmouth’s army all coming together to fight for one cause and saw a pivotal moment in the rebellion as it effectively ended Monmouth’s attempt on the throne. It was certainly not a siege and the men and gravity of the fighting make it too large for a skirmish. Therefore, most people at least agree that this was a battle so this could be classed as the last battle on English soil.

Before we finish also worth a mention is the Battle of Graveney March. This took place on 27th September 1940. Here a German plane was forced to crash land and when the British forces arrived the German crew had armed themselves with weapons. After a heated exchange of gunfire the German crew were eventually captured. The action allowed the British to take hold of the German aircraft and gain useful information and intelligence from the craft. Once again though the classification of a battle is debated and with the German crew consisting of just four men many class the action as a skirmish.

So, when was the last battle on English soil? To be honest we still don’t know for sure. It all depends on how you feel these actions should be classified. but, then again, should the classifications really matter. Each of the battles/skirmished/sieges above are important in their own right and each show acts of bravery, pain, success and losses. who can say which is the most important? Regardless of which one was ‘the last battle’ they are all important and all deserve to be remembered.

We hope you enjoyed this post. As always please like, comment, follow, tweet and be sure to give us your views on battles and sieges and skirmishes and conflicts and any other actions that are important.

All the best, K & D

Dr Archibald Cameron

Archibald Cameron of Lochiel was the third surviving son of John Cameron, the 18th Lochiel and played an important part during the ’45 Jacobite Rising as both a doctor and leader.

 

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Dr Archibald Cameron

Born in 1707 Archibald initially attended Glasgow University to study law before he moved over to Edinburgh University and became a doctor of medicine. His father, the 18th Lochiel had raised men for the 1715 Jacobite Rising and as result was an exile, living on the continent. Thus when 1745 arrived it was Archibalds older brother, Donald, who was acting as clan chief.

When Prince Charles arrived in Scotland eager to gather support for his cause Donald sent Archibald out to see him and try to persuade the Prince that his efforts were futile and that he should return to France and give up the idea of a Rebellion.

However, Prince Charles spoke with Archibald and managed to persuade him that a Rising was worthwhile and soon had the Camerons joining with him and his growing Jacobite army.

Throughout the Jacobite campaign Archibald used his skills as a doctor wisely and fairly. He gained a reputation for his kind treatment towards not just the Jacobites but also any Government prisoners that were placed under his care. At Culloden his brother, Donald, was shot through both ankles by grapeshot but with Archibalds help he managed to survive.

After the battle Archibald, as with many Jacobites was forced into hiding to escape  Government hands. As a well known and prominent man  there was little doubt that if he was caught he could be severely punished for his actions. It is believed that Archibald managed to meet up with Prince Charles and stayed with him for a while in the legendary Cluny’s Cage. Eventually he travelled west with the Prince together with a few other men managed to elude the Government and sail to France.

In exile Archibald remained at Prince Charles’ service and was also made a commander of the second battalion of a new Scottish regiment within the French Army, with his brother to be in overall command. By all accounts he appeared to live reasonably well on the continent and accompanied Prince Charles on a trip to Madrid in 1748. However, all was not to last.

In 1753 Archibald travelled back to Scotland. Here he was destined to take part in an assassination plot against King George II and other members of the royal family. Unfortunately Archibald was betrayed. Some say it was Pickle the spy who informed the Government of his whereabouts whilst others suggest it was members of his own clan who were incensed by his continued loyalty to Prince Charles and the Jacobites. Either way Archibald was captured and imprisoned in Edinburg Castle for high treason.

Eventually he was moved to London and held in the Tower of London. He was denied a fair trial with the Government worried that the identity of their spies would be revealed and was sentenced to death. Whilst in prison, despite not being allowed writing material, he managed to write down some of his last thoughts where he still remained resolutely faithful to the Jacobite cause. Among them was also a letter to his young son in France in which he wrote. ‘I thank God I was always easier ashamed than frightened.’

On 7th June 1753 Archibald was executed. He was drawn on a sledge and hanged for 20 minutes, before being cut down and beheaded. His body was secretly buried in the Savoy Chapel in Westminster.  Today a brass plaque marks his grave after two earlier memorials had been destroyed by fire and war.

Archibald Cameron was the last Jacobite to receive the death penalty and it was a move that shocked many after all his work to save lives, not just those on his side but also of the Government.

We hope you enjoyed this short bio on Dr Archibald Cameron, as always please like, share, tweet, comment and keep joining us for more important facts about the Jacobites.

All the best, K & D

 

James VII & II

On 16th September 1701 James VII & II died of a stroke in exile, at the Chateau of St Germain-en-Laye in France. Aged 67 when he died James led a complicated life and within it lie some of the roots of Jacobitism.

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James II & VII by Sir Godfrey Kneller

 

James ruled England and Ireland as James II and Scotland as James VII from 1685 until 1688 when he was deposed. When he first took the throne, following his brother, Charles II’s, death there was little in the way of opposition to his coronation and he was generally welcomed warmly to the throne. However, only a month after his coronation there was a rebellion in England led by the Duke of Monmouth; as well as one in Scotland led by the Earl of Argyll. The Duke of Monmouth was James’ nephew and believed he was the rightful heir to the throne as he was the son of Charles II. He insisted his mother was married to Charles but there was no evidence of this and therefore he was illegitimate and did not qualify as a suitable heir. Fortunately the rebellion was not to last long and in the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6th July Monmouth was defeated and executed for treason just nine days later.

James was not to prove to be very lucky though and this rebellion would prove to be just the start of his trouble. After the rebellion ended he decided to ensure he was protected by forming a large army which alarmed many people. Then, James began to anger the parliament with his views on Catholicism. James was brought up a Protestant but later converted to the Catholic faith. In 1687 he issued a Declaration of Indulgence which allowed people to worship out with the Church of England and removed the need for people to take religious oaths before they could advance in civil or military roles. James ordered public clergy to read the Declaration in their churches but when seven bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, attempted to petition against this they were arrested.

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James Francis Edward Stuart, son of James II & VII

 

Finally things reached the boiling point when, in 1688, James and his second wife gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward Stuart on 10th June. Now there was a new successor to the throne and he was a Catholic. When it had just been James’ Protestant daughters, from his first marriage, things weren’t so serious, but now, the threat of a Catholic succession had people scared. On 30th June a group of seven prominent men invited William of Orange, husband to James’ daughter Mary, to come over to England with the intention he would bring an army to fight for the throne.

William arrived in November 1688 and many key Protestants began to defect from James’ army and join Williams. James’ other daughter Anne also joined William and Mary in contesting the throne. James had the larger army on his side but for whatever reason decided not to fight the invasion. A month after William arrived James attempted to flee to France and even allegedly threw the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames on his way. Unfortunately he was caught but William allowed him to go free and he was received in France by his cousin, Louis XIV.

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William of Orange by Sir Godfrey Kneller

 

Following James’ departure the English parliament decided he had abdicated and therefore the throne was vacant. William and Mary were quickly offered the throne and declared joint sovereigns. Meanwhile in Scotland the parliament took a little longer but eventually decided the James had indeed forfeited the throne and they too offered it to William and Mary who accepted in May 1689.

Thus, the crown stayed with the Protestants and after William and Mary it moved on to their sister Anne. During their reigns they saw the Act of Union in 1707 and also the Act of Settlement in 1701 which removed Catholics from the line of succession. Therefore, when Anne passed away without any heirs the crown moved over to the Hanoverian line and King George I and not with James II & VII’s son, James Francis Edward Stuart. Unsurprisingly the Stuarts were not pleased and in 1715 we saw the first Jacobite Rising to try and take the throne from George I with the 1719 and 1745 Risings completing the Jacobite Rebellions.

James II & VII may only have been king for a short four years but it cannot be denied that he started a fight that lasted for much longer. Without him we would not have the Jacobite Risings and all the history they contain and who knows who would be ruling now.

We hope you enjoyed this little foray into James II & VII. As always please like, share, comment, tweet and check out more of our posts for tales of the Jacobites.

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

Maria Clementina Sobieska

We have all heard, and know at least a little, of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’) but today we take a look at his mother Maria Clementina Sobieska.

Born in 1702, and granddaughter of Polish king John III Sobieska, Maria was one of Europes wealthiest heiresses. She had connections with courts across Catholic Europe, as well as her sizable dowry.

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Portrait of Maria Sobieska

Upon her betrothal to James VIII & III, King George I of Great Britain was said to be rather concerned and greatly opposed the idea. He immediately feared the union would result in children who could then challenge the claim to his throne. In order to reassure George I, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI arrested Maria as she made her way to Italy to marry James. She was confined in Innsbruck Castle but eventually was able to make her escape by deceiving her guards and headed to Bolgna in Italy. Here, on 9th May 1719, she was married by proxy to James who was, at the time, in Spain.

Fours months later the couple finally formalised their marriage in a ceremony in the cathedral of Santa Margherita in Montefiascone, Italy on 3rd September. The couple were recognised as the Catholic monarchs of Britain by Pope Clement XI and accepted his invitation to reside in Rome on a Papal allowance of 12,000 crowns a year. The Pope provided them with a papal guard of troops, gave them accommodation in Rome, plus a country villa at Albano.

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Santa Margherita in Montefiascone

The marriage is said to have been a turbulent and unhappy affair. Whilst James was fond of Maria’s beauty and elegance it appears Maria was not so taken with James’ less than stunning appearance. Despite this the couple had two sons; Prince Charles was born in December 1720 and was followed by Prince Henry in 1725.

After the birth of Henry though things turned even more sour. James fired the sons governess, a Mrs Shelton, against Maria’s wishes. Shelton had been Maria’s confidante and after her dismissal Maria decided to leave James and went to live in the convent of St Cecilia in Rome. Maria claimed her husband had been unfaithful and, in order to gain support, she also said he had planned to give his sons a protestant education. These claims ensured that the Pope, the Kingdom of Spain and the general public took Maria’s side in the affairs but it would be three years before the couple finally reconciled in 1728.

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Charles and Henry Stuart

In practice however, the couple spent their lives living apart. Maria stayed in Rome whilst James tended to stay at the country house in Albano. Maria’s life was one filled with spates of depression and her commitment to her Catholic religion meant she spent a lot of time in prayer and led to long periods of fasting. Her relationship with James consisted only of formal engagements and they rarely connected on a private level. Her relationships with her sons was also interesting. Her youngest, Henry, was his fathers son and therefore the relationship was poor, but with Charles, the eldest, Maria had a much stronger bond. Indeed, when Charles fell ill in 1732, Maria tended to him despite the fact that he was in Albano at the time and she would have to see James to visit him.

Sadly Maria’s life was cut short when she died aged just 32. On 18th January 1735 her trying lifestyle had caught up with her and she passed away at the Apostolic palace in Rome. She was interred with full royal honours in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Pope Clement XII ordered she have a state burial. Today there is a monument to her in St Peter’s Basilica. She is one of three women honoured with monuments in the basilica and hers sees her looking down to those of her husband and sons.

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Maria Sobieska’s monument at St Peter’s

We hope you enjoyed this brief insight into Maria Sobieska and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and if you get the chance go and see her monument at St Peter’s.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

 

What was the Act of Settlement?

In 1701 the English Parliament passed the Act of Settlement, but what was this act and why was it put into place?

Basically, the Act of Settlement was passed in 1701 to decide who would take the English and Irish crowns following Queen Anne. The issue arose because Queen Anne, and also her sister Queen Mary, failed to produce any surviving children to take the throne. The most logical heir would be James VIII & III, son of the deposed King James VII & II, but as a Catholic this was not an avenue the government wished to go down.

Instead, the Act of Settlement was passed. The act disqualified anyone who became a Roman Catholic, or who married one, from inheriting the throne and this removed a lot lines who were closely related to Queen Anne and the Stuart line. The Act also helped strengthen Parliament position by restricting the monarchs power. They are not allowed to leave the country without Parliaments approval, nor are they able to throw the country into war without Parliaments agreement. Eventually it was decided that Electress Sophia of Hanover, a granddaughter of James VI & I, would be next in line to the throne.

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Sophia of Hanover

 

With the Act in place everything was sorted, but then, unfortunately Sophia died just a couple of months before Queen Anne in 1714. So, the throne eventually passed to her son King George I, who was Queen Anne’s second cousin, and he became the first Hanoverian ruler of Britain.

The Act of Settlement was, in many ways, also a major cause of the Act of Union in 1707, which formed the Kingdom of Great Britain. Unhappy with the Act of Settlement Scotland passed the Act of Security in 1704, which gave them the right to choose their own successor to Queen Anne. England retaliated with the 1705 Alien Act which stated that if Scotland did not accept the Hanoverian succession, or begin proceedings on a union of parliaments, then Scottish imports to England would be banned and Scots living in England would be treated as aliens. Finally, in 1707 the Act of Union was agreed and Scotland and England joined to become Great Britain with Queen Anne as its monarch to be followed by the Hanoverian line.

Reporduktion des "Act of Settlement" im Leibniz-Saal des Niedersächsischen Landtages.
Act of Settlement

The Act of Settlement ran relative unaltered in its main parts until 2013. Here the Succession to the Crown Act altered some of the laws within the Act of Settlement. The 2103 act instigated absolute primogeniture for those born in the line of succession after 28th October 2011. This meant that the eldest child would be heir to the throne regardless of gender, whereas previously males were given preference. The act also ended the disqualification of a person who married a Roman Catholic. The act was brought into force on 26th March 2015. Interestingly though the provision of the Act of Settlement requiring the monarch to be a Protestant still remains.

Following the implementation of the Succession to the Crown Act we saw George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews restored to the line of succession after he married a Catholic in 1988 and he now sits in 34th place to the throne.

Hopefully this has helped explain the Act of Settlement for you all. As always if you enjoyed the post please like, comment, share and tweet.

All the best, K & D