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.

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

A Jacobite Jaunt

This week we went on what has become affectionately known by those at Culloden as the ‘Jacobite Jaunt’. Every year as a thank you to our volunteers we try to organise a day out where we can explore new places of Jacobite interest and also have a bit of fun. So this Thursday a bunch of us headed out on the latest jaunt to see what we could find.

Expertly led by our fearless learning officer Jon we started off by heading into town to Inverness Museum. Here we were given a great tour of the site and taken back stage to see some of the artefacts in storage. This included a waistcoat supposedly worn by Prince Charles Edward Stuart which was gorgeous and letters and documents from the 18th Century. We also got the chance to feel the difference between older tartan compared to modern day. Thanks to the setting agents used now current day tartan is soft and pliable but back in the 18th Century it was much stiffer and harder to move. Not something you usually consider and great to be able to get a chance to understand the difference. It’s safe to say we were all rather pleased our costumes are softer than they were back in the day. We also saw a beautiful tartan wedding dress which is on display in the museum. The tartan would have been hidden away after the Battle of Culloden when tartan was banned and then once the Proscription Act was lifted it was remade into a gorgeous dress which is still worn for weddings by the family to this day.

Fraser Wedding Dress at Inverness Museum

Next it was off to Culloden House Hotel. I have to say we felt very posh sitting enjoying a cup of coffee in the drawing room and we were treated as we were shown the original wall of the building which was hidden behind the ‘door to nowhere’. Refreshed we then went out to the walled garden and we managed to see the bench which the ‘Ladies of Lallybroch’ donated on behalf of Diana Gabaldon. She has stayed at the hotel and her Outlander series of books has certainly brought many visitors to the area.

Culloden House Hotel

From here it was a bit of a drive through to Elgin. Here we had a look around Elgin Museum which again houses some Jacobite artefacts and took a walk to see Thunderton House which is said to have been used as a hiding place for Prince Charles before Culloden.

Unfortunately, then it was time to make our way back to Culloden but, we made sure to take the scenic route to catch a few more treasures. Driving through Nairn we paused to see the plaque commemorating the spot where the Duke of Cumberland stayed the night before the Battle of Culloden.  We also drove past the battlefields of Auldearn where the Covenanters fought in 1645. Today you can stop at Boath Doocot, once part of a twelfth century castle, which has views across the fields where the fighting took place.

Plaque in Nairn

Finally as we got nearer to Culloden we turned off and Jon took us on a rather narrow road to show us a ravine. At first it didn’t look that special but he explained that this was one of the spots where the Jacobite army had thought about fighting with the steep grassy slopes at the side ideal for slowly down the Government army. What if questions arose but who knows what would have happened had the Jacobite army fought there or over the River Nairn.

Overall it was a great day with chance for us all to unwind and do a bit of team bonding whilst getting a great opportunity to explore more Jacobite history so that we can pass it along to all of you when you visit.

As always we hope you enjoyed the post. Please like, share, tweet, follow, comment and let us know about your own ‘Jacobite Jaunts.’

All the best. K & D