Peter Grant – The Last Surviving Jacobite

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In 1824 the last known survivor of the ’45 Jacobite rising died aged one hundred and ten. This man was Peter Grant, also known as Auld Dubrach, and today we’re taking a little look at the life of this interesting man.

Born in 1714, Peter Grant was the son of a crofter and grew up in his families croft at Dubrach near Braemar. When he was old enough, and had received a basic education, he became an apprentice to a weaver and tailor in the small village of Acuhindryne. From this he would later become a tailor in his own right.

Peter would only have been a baby during the 1715 Jacobite Rising but at the age of thirty one he was certainly ready for the start of the ’45 Rising when Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised the Jacobites again. Peter soon enlisted with the Jacobite army joining Monaltries regiment. As part of the Jacobite army he most certainly saw various action but it was at Prestonpans that Peter was recognised for his bravery and he was raised to the rank of Sergeant-Major.

At Culloden Peter survived the battle but was captured by the Government and was taken prisoner. Initially he was held in Inverness before being transported south to Carlisle. Here he awaited sentencing. It would not have looked good for Peter; many Jacobites were being sentenced to death, deported or dying from the poor conditions of the prison. It seems that Peter though had other ideas and he found a way to escape the prison. It is possible he managed to find a route over the walls but it is not certain. However he did it though he made his escape and seemingly made his way north back into Scotland, where he was forced to remain hidden as a known Jacobite.

During his years in hiding Peter was never recaptured, despite there being a price on his head. Finally, after many years he was able to return to a relatively normal life and he was able to come out of hiding. He returned home and took up his trade as a tailor once again. Eventually he married a local woman, Mary Cummings, who was seemingly much younger than himself, some say it was Peter himself who had made her christening gown. He returned to Dubrach and had six children, three boys and three girls.

Later Peter and his wife moved into a small cottage on his sons farm in Angus and it is here he sadly lost his wife in 1811 when she was 65. Little is known about Peter for many years and it is not until a decade later that his story reemerges with an intriguing turn. Already well past a hundred years old two walkers met Peter and were fascinated by his tales of the Jacobites. The walkers began a petition which was given to King George IV when he visited Edinburgh in 1822.

There is a story that says Peter was then presented to the King. When they met the King supposedly said ‘Ah, Grant, you are my oldest friend’ to which Peter replied ‘Na,na, your majesty, I’m your auldest enemy’. The story is certainly a great tale but whether it is true or not is under debate. There are no clear records of Peter having met King George IV and it seems more likely that just the petition was delivered. Regardless of whether Peter met King George IV or not what is true is that King George IV awarded Peter with a generous pension.

Two years later on 11th February 1824 Peter passed away, aged 110, at his sons home. His funeral was one of the largest the village had ever seen and was attended by some 300 people. It is said that roughly four gallons of whisky was consumed before the coffin was laid down to rest in the cemetery at Invercauld beside Braemar Castle. A stone tablet was erected at his grave site which was inscribed with the words ‘The old, loyal Jacobite was at peace. he had kept faith with those whom he thought were his rightful Monarchs all of his life, a hero and a man of honour to the last.’

We hope you enjoyed this insight into the ‘last Jacobite’ and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and we will do our best to keep finding more interesting stories for you to enjoy.

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

Prince Charles’ Daughter

Prince Charles Edward Stuart is a name we mention, a lot, but how many of us know about his daughter, Charlotte? The answer is usually, not many. Today we take a look at this child who was Prince Charles’s only child to survive infancy.

Firstly, the reason you may not have heard of Charlotte is she was an illegitimate child. She was born on 29th October 1753 at Liege to Charles and his mistress Clementina Wilkinshaw. We know she was baptised as Roman Catholic in the Church of Sainte Marie-des-Fonts.

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Charlotte, Duchess of Albany

 

By the time she was seven the relationship between her parents was a mess. Charles was said to be abusive and violent towards Clementina and so her mother turned to Charles’ father to help her and Charlotte leave Charles. James offered her a annuity of 10,000 livres and apparently helped her make her way to Paris. Here she entered the convent of the Nuns of the Visitation. Charles was said to be furious and refused to pay anything towards his daughter. For the next decade Charlotte lived with her mother in various convents with the support of James, her grandfather and later Charles’ brother, Henry.

Charlotte began to write to her father, even more so after his marriage to Princess Louis of Stolberg-Gedern. She wanted him to bring her to Rome and legitimise her. Eventually Charles accepted on the condition that she leave her mother behind. However, Charlotte refused and Charles broke of all contact, despite the continued letters and pleas from Charlotte. Without any legitimacy or permission Charlotte could not marry. In the end she became the mistress to a Ferdinand de Rohan who was in the same postion and could not marry himself. She had three children: two daughters, Marie Victoire and Charlotte, and finally a son, Charles Edward. Her children were kept secret, and remained largely unknown until the 20th century, certainly not by Prince Charles.

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Portrait of Clementina, Charlottes mother

 

It wasn’t until 1783 that Charles finally began to take an interest in his daughter. His marriage to Princess Louise was over and he had fallen seriously ill. Finally he signed an act of legitimisation and made Charlotte his heir. The following year he invited Charlotte to his home in Florence and Charlotte travelled over from France to see him, leaving her children in her mothers care. She enlisted the help of Henry to return Charles to Rome in 1785 and stayed with him as his companion and carer until he died in 1788.

Sadly Charlotte was not healthy herself and suffered from problems with her liver. She died on 17th November 1789 aged just 36 of liver cancer. Her children remained with her mother raised in anonymity and it was years before their esxistence was known. Once her story came to light though it certainly caught peoples imagination. Rumours of a Stuart heir (even if they were illegitimate) could not be ignored and Robert Burns even wrote a lament to Charlotte entitled ‘ The Bonnie Lass of Albanie’

We hope you enjoyed this insight into Charlotte. As always please share, like, tweet and join us as we explore more of the Stuart family.

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

The Old Pretender

James Francis Edward Stuart was nicknamed ‘the Old Pretender’ after his father was deposed and the throne of Scotland and England was passed to William and Mary. Here we take a look at his life.

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James VIII & III

 

James was born on 10th June 1688 at St James’s Palace in London and his birth was controversial to say the least. James was the son of existing king James VII & II and his second wife, Mary of Modena. James would be a Catholic heir to the throne of Scotland and England and this was not something that was favourably look upon. Almost as soon as he was born rumours began to spread that James was an impostor. It was believed that the true child had been a stillborn and James was smuggled in in a warming pan to replace the sadly deceased baby. James’ father was forced to publish several eyewitness testimonies to put a stop to these rumours and assure everyone that James was indeed their son and heir.

Less than a year after James’ birth the Glorious Revolution began with William of Orange arriving from Holland to contest the throne. On 9th December 1688 James’ mother Mary, supposedly disguised as a laundress, escaped Britain taking James over to the relative safety of France. It was here that he was brought up with the French court regarding him and his family as the true monarchs.

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The Old Pretender

 

When James’ father died in 1701 King Louis XIV of France along with Spain and the Papal States recognised James as James VII of Scotland and III of England. However, as a result of accepting this title he was attainted for treason in London and all his English estates were forfeited. The next twenty years would see James make various attempts to retake the throne which he felt was rightfully his.

In 1708 his first attack was launched. Initially delayed because James had contracted measles he set out from France with almost 30 ships carrying some 5,000 men to reach Scotland. This would be the largest ever French expedition to come within striking distance of Britain in support for James. Unfortunately, as the fleet approached the Royal Navy were ready. James’ measles may have given them the time needed to prepare for James’ attack. The French ships were forced to flee under the strength of the Royal Navy and took flight along the north coast of Scotland, with many ships being destroyed along the rocky coastline. After this James joined the French army for a while before he was asked to leave France in 1713 as part of the conditions of Frances peace agreement with Britain.

In 1715, James tried again. This time he reached mainland and most people suggest that this was the uprising that should have worked. See our blog on 1715 for more info. Unfortunately, once again James was denied. Despite winning at the Battle of Sheriffmuir, and in Preston, James ultimately gave up the fight when he heard Government reinforcements were on the way. He fled Scotland and returned to the continent but his apparent abandonment of his men left a poor impression on many and his welcome back was not great.

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James VIII & III

 

After the failed 1715 invasion he eventually took up residence in Rome where the pope recognised him as the rightful king and gave him the Palazzo Muti to have as his home. James made one finally attempt on the British throne in 1719 with some Spanish support but this ultimately came to nothing. Then in May 1719 James married Maria Sobieska by proxy and later, in September, they renewed their vows in person. The following year they gave birth to their first son Charles Edward Stuart. This was followed five years later by another son Henry Benedict Stuart.

By 1745 it was Charles who was looking to take the British throne and it is said that James and Charles clashed many times over Charles plans to attempt his own rising. As we know the rising did not succeed and Charles returned to the continent. The relationship was further damaged when James helped his son Henry in his goal of becoming a cardinal. AS such Henry would have no legitimate children to carry on the Stuart line and Charles was said to be angry that the decision had been made without him being consulted.

James lived in Rome for the rest of his life where he was well treated. He died on 1st January 1766 in his home at the Palazzo Muti. Later he was buried in St Peters basilica in Vatican city and his tomb is marked by a monument to the Stuarts. After James’ death the Pope refused to recognise Charles as the rightful king and finally accepted the Hanoverian succession to the throne.

Interestingly James ‘reign’ had it been recognised would have lasted for 64 years, 3 months and 16 days longer than any other monarch until Queen Elizabeth passed this total in May this year.

We hope you enjoyed this brief insight into the life of James and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and keep coming back for more.

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

 

No Quarter Given

The phrase ‘no quarter given’ is well known to us here at Culloden and the story that lies behind it is an important one to tell.

To give ‘no quarter’ meant that no prisoners would be taken. Any men on the battlefield would have no mercy shown to them and surrender would not be accepted.

On the eve of the Battle of Culloden the Duke of Cumberland was determined to end the Jacobite Rising and prevent the Jacobites from ever being capable of challenging the throne again. After losing to the Jacobites at every turn, up to this point, he would not let them win again. To motivate his men he informed them that Lord George Murray had ordered ‘no quarter’ to be given to the Government men on the field. This meant the men would be shown no mercy by the Jacobites . However, this claim was not true. No such order had been given.

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Duke of Cumberland

 

From copies of Lord Murray’s orders there was no mention of ‘no quarter’ anywhere. But, in Cumberland’s papers there was a copy in which the words ‘and to give no quarters to the electors troops on any account whatsoever’ had been inserted. Whilst Cumberland may not have been responsible for doctoring the order he certainly did not shy away from the words written and retaliated in kind.

After the battle Cumberland ordered his men to search out any surviving rebels who were to be treated as traitors, outside the conventions of international combat. Those with the Royal Ecossais or the Irish Piquet’s would be regarded as prisoners of war but everyone else was to be considered traitors. Whilst some men in the government army refused to kill, and tried to turn a blind eye, there were some who committed terrible acts. As well as wounded soldiers, civilians, women and children were all killed in the horrible aftermath of Culloden.

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Lord George Murray

 

The act of no quarter at Culloden was undoubtedly a terrible occasion but the fact that it was built upon a lie makes it even worse. The period that followed Culloden, with Cumberland’s pacification of the highlands, was an awful time and led to Cumberland being called ‘the Butcher’ in later life.

As always we hope you enjoyed this post and please like, comment, tweet, share and keep coming back to learn more.

All the best, K&D