Touch Pieces and the ‘Royal Touch’

Our recent visit to the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh was a fantastic trip and the collections of objects on show was brilliant. Amongst the artefacts were some unique touch pieces that were used during the Jacobites Risings.

Touch pieces were typically a coin or a medal that was believed to cure diseases or bring good luck. During the Jacobites Risings the Stuarts were believed to have the ‘royal touch’ and they were able to help cure people simply by touching them.

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An example of a touch piece

 

Most Jacobite touch pieces were used to help cure people of scrofula, a form of tuberculosis. The disease was also known as the ‘King’s or Queen’s Evil’ and many people “found” themselves cured after being touched by a monarch. This was seen to be proof that the monarch had the divine right to rule directly from God. However, scrofula was not generally fatal and could cure itself but that didn’t stop the idea of the ‘royal touch’ from growing.

When James VII & II was deposed and William and Mary took the throne they refused to participate in the ‘royal touch’. This furthered the idea for some Jacobites that Mary and William were not the rightful heirs to the thrones. When Mary’s sister, Anne took the throne she apparently shared William and Mary’s views and did not wish to touch people but her advisers convinced her to restart the practice.

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart

 

All the Jacobite Stuarts, including Charles Edward Stuart and his brother Henry Benedict Stuart, were known to have carried out the ceremony to help cure their followers. There are lots of records of Jacobite touch pieces being made, it is believed the majority were made from silver, although there were gold versions produced.

The Stuart royal family were one of the last main users of touch pieces in British history as the practice eventually stopped, many believe this is because it was seen as too Catholic.

We hope you enjoyed finding out a wee bit more about touch pieces as always please like, tweet, comment, share and be sure to check out the Jacobite exhibition at the NMS in Edinburgh for yourselves.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

 

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Jacobite Jaunt

This week was time for our annual Jacobite Jaunt, where we head off with our volunteers to explore more sites that tackle Jacobite history. This year there was really only one choice for our destination and that was the National Museum of Scotland, which is running a special Jacobite exhibition, from 23rd June to 12th November, this year.

The National Museum of Scotland (NMS), which can be found in Edinburgh, is a beautiful building and worth a visit any time you head to the capital, but this year it is extra special as it hosts one of the largest exhibitions of Jacobite history for at least 70 years.

Following on from their very successful exhibition around Mary, Queen of Scots the NMS have now formed a fantastic display of artefacts including weapons, letters, portraits and unique trinkets that take the visitor on a dramatic journey through the whole of Jacobite history.

When we arrived at the museum we were lucky enough to have a short talk with one of the curators before being shown around by one of their excellent volunteer guides. Needless to say we were all very keen and excited to be visiting and we were not disappointed.

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Ticket for the exhibtion

 

The exhibition covers the whole of the Stuart dynasty breaking down the action into sections so that the highly complex story is taken in nice manageable stages. The objects on display are fascinating and we all spent hours in the exhibit trying to take in every bit of detail. The collection is comprised of pieces from the NMS as well as many other collections throughout Britain and Europe.

One of our highlights was seeing our own sword, known as the ‘Brodie Sword’ on display in the exhibition. It was lovely to see it on display in the capital and taking part in such an iconic exhibition alongside other incredible displays. Also on display are stunning letters and articles that, if you have the time, are wonderful to read. There are some great portraits and images that carry through subtle messages of power and monarchy. We also spotted a beautiful pin cushion embroidered with the names of men who fell at Culloden which was a lovely personal and sentimental item to see.  The exhibition covers the history very well and it was great to follow the journey right from 1688 all the way through to Culloden and beyond.

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The Brodie Sword in the exhibtion

 

If you are in Edinburgh we strongly recommend visiting the exhibition. We were all very reluctant to leave and it would have been easy to spend a day in the beautiful museum. The NMS has done a fantastic job and it is a great spot to begin your introduction to Jacobites before you head north to see us!

As always please like, share, comment, tweet and let us know if you have been to the exhibition.

All the best,

K & D

 

 

 

The Incredible Rout of Moy

The Rout of Moy is a fantastic story in the Jacobite Rising of ’45 and one that we had to share with you.

In the early months of 1746 Prince Charles Edward Stuart was making his way north on his long retreat from Derby. The Jacobite army had split into two parties who were to regroup in the neighbourhood of Inverness. Lord George Murray led one faction along the coast road whilst Prince Charles heading straight through the mountains up the centre of the country.

By 16th February 1746 Prince Charles had reached the town of Moy where he and a few of his men were entertained at Moy Hall. The seat of the chief of the MacKintosh clan he was entertained by none other than Lady Anne MacKintosh who had helped raise the clan for the Jacobite army. Meanwhile in Inverness Lord Loudon, one of the Government leaders, had caught wind that Prince Charles was in Moy and planned a surprise attack to capture the Prince.

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Lady Anne MacKintosh

 

As evening came in Lord Loudon set off with 1,500 men to enact his plan for capture. As they left though it is believed that the daughter of an innkeeper heard of the plan and set off to reach Moy Hall before the Government troops. She managed to reach the Hall and warn the Prince but the Government were not far behind and unprepared for an attack he had very few men with him to provide assistance. The Prince fled into the countryside whilst the dozen or so men that had been found set about forming their own counter attack.

As Lord Loudon and his men approached the Jacobite men positioned themselves around the road and began to make a great noise, shouting out to fictional regiments, banging their targes and running about to make it appear there was  an entire army waiting. Their are suggestions that when they fired on the Government men they did so one at a time to help create the illusion of more men. As Loudons men approached they feared the worst and believing the lie that their were many men waiting retreated in panic. Thus, 1,500 soldiers were defeated by just a dozen men. (Some say it was even less with suggestions it was as few as just four men who saw the Government off)

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Illustration of the Rout of Moy (Victorian Web)

 

The next day a Government council of war decided the Lord Loudon should retreat away from Inverness and  move north over the Black Isle. This meant that Prince Charles was able to formally enter Inverness on 18th February where he regrouped with Lord Murray and the rest of his men two days later.

We hope you enjoyed this incredible story and as always please share, comment, like, tweet and keep coming back for more.

All the best, K & D

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 Basket Hilted Broadsword

Unsurprisingly one of the highlights of visitors time here at Culloden is attending the workshops that volunteers come and run in the exhibition looking at weapons of the ’45 Rising. The chance to see and touch replicas of the real items on display in the cases helps bring the story to life.

In particular people are interested about the swords that we have on display. It is not unusual for guests to enquire about the famous large Scottish two handed sword of ‘Braveheart’ fame but during Culloden and the ’45 weaponry had moved on to the sleeker and more refined basket hilted broadsword.

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Example of the broadswords with targes

 

For those who get to feel the weight of the sword it is often lighter than they expect and is easily wielded by one hand leaving the other free for the targe and dirk. The Scottish version of the sword was typically broader than other swords around at the time. It’s Gaelic name would have been claidheamh-mór which translates as ‘great sword’ in reference to this larger size.

Despite us referring to its special Scottish nature most swords were originally made in Europe with German steel often creating the main blade of the sword. There were also basket hilted swords in England as early as the 1500’s so Scotland was not exactly the pioneers of this new style of weapon.

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Basket hilted sword possibly belonging to Prince Charles Edward Stuart

 

Eventually though there were Scottish sword makers and the hilts made in Scotland began to form their own style with wider coverings around the hand than the thin bars of English hilts. Some hilt makers, or ‘hammermen’, became quite renowned in Scotland producing intricate works. We are lucky enough to have on display the ‘Brodie Sword’ which is believed to have belonged to Prince Charles Edward Stuart. It is a decorative piece rather than a fighting weapon and its hilt is elaborately decorated with the head of medusa with her snakes curling around the hilt and is a great example of 18th Century workmanship.

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Basket Hilted Broadsword

 

The style of the sword was not just for decoration. The hilt itself helped form a protective guard around the soldiers hand and a weight at the base of the hilt would be used to pommel enemies in close quarter combat. Those that were well made would form a perfect balance with the sword blade which would help make the soldiers slicing actions smooth but powerful. Combined with the targe and dirk in the other hand, basket hilted broadswords made the Jacobites a formidable opponent even against the Governments muskets and bayonets during the ’45 Rising.

We hope you enjoyed this short insight into the broadsword. As always please like, share, comment, tweet and if you want to know feel free to come along and see the broadswords on display for yourself.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

Who was General Wolfe?

Major General James Wolfe is quite well known for his time in Canada when he led British forces to victory over the French in Quebec. This victory then contributed to the end of French rule in North America.

However, before his time in Canada, Wolfe played a part in the Jacobite Risings and indeed fought in the Battle of Culloden. Many visitors are surprised to his name amongst the information on display in our exhibition and indeed ask whether he is the same man who ended up in Canada. Therefore, he seems an appropriate figure to explore a little bit further.

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James Wolfe

 

James Wolfe was born in England, in Kent, in 1727 to Edward Wolfe, a soldier, and Henrietta Thompson. By most accounts his upbringing was fairly humble but from a young age his destiny was always the army. At age thirteen he joined his fathers regiment as a volunteer and the following year he was given his first commission as a second lieutenant in the 1st Marines regiment. He moved through the ranks in the British Army, being promoted to Lieutenant and took part in the Battle of Dettingen in 1743 as part of the War of Austrian succession.

Wolfes actions at Dettingen caught the attention of the Duke of Cumberland and in 1745 Wolfe and his regiment were called home to help Cumberland to help cope with the Jacobite threat. At the beginning of 1746 Wolfe was present at the Battle of Falkirk and, although this was a Government loss,  shortly after he was made aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Hawley. Later, at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746, he fought again on the Government lines and there is a famous tale that Wolfe refused to shoot a wounded Jacobite soldier. Some say it was Cumberland who ordered Wolfe to shoot, whilst others believe it may have been Hawley. Either way Wolfe apparently refused stating he would rather resign his post than take the shot.

For a while after Culloden Wolfe returned to the continent but came back to Britain in 1748 where he was posted in Scotland. For many years he worked hard to become a better leader and soldier and also found time to study Latin and Mathematics. By 1754 Britain and France’s relationship had fallen apart and fighting soon broke out in North America. In 1758 he joined an expedition to Louisburg as one of three brigade commanders. Here he distinguished himself as a capable soldier and was ultimately put in charge of an expedition to take Quebec.

On 13th September 1759 Wolfe launched his long awaited plan to take Quebec. He used boats to transport his men along the St Lawrence River to attack the city from the south-west. Here he and his men surprised the French drawing them out of the city itself and into a waiting battle. Wolfe was victorious but he paid for his victory dearly. Fatally wounded early in the battle Wolfe lived just long enough to hear his plan was a success.

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The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West

When news of his death reach Britain it seized the publics imagination. Wolfe was a young leader who had been an inspirational leader. His image was celebrated in paintings, prints and he became one of the greatest military heroes of the eighteenth century. Today he is remembered mostly for his triumph over the French in Quebec but it is interesting to know his past and how it seemed he was always destined to be the great leader that he is considered today.

 

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into Wolfe’s life. We couldn’t possibly cover everything about him in this short space so there is plenty more to discover if you wish. As always please like, comment, tweet, share and if you want to learn more you can always visit Quebec House , Wolfe’s childhood home, which is now run by our counterparts the National Trust.

All he best, K & D

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