Friday, 28 March 2014
Given that Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland in a very remote place, where historically Jacobite sympathies were strong, the government's "intelligence services" in Scotland were at that time woefully inadequate. When there were strong reports of Charles' arrival in Scotland, there were many in high places who refused to accept the reports as true. Even as Charles was preparing to sail to Scotland, intelligence was reaching the Hanoverians of his every move. I think that even then the English had little concern for the "Young Pretender" in a hired boat. But that boat did reach the Isle of Eriskay on the 23 July, albeit with a handful of supporters, no money and no weapons. The main players within the Scottish government at this time were 1.The Marquess of Tweeddale, Secretary of State for Scotland. Top position in Hanoverian Scotland. 2.Andrew Fletcher, Lord Milton, The Lord Justice-Clerk. 3.Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord Presidentof the Court of Session. 4.William Grant, the Lord Advocate. Between Eriskay on 23 July and Glenfinnan on 19 August we have records of letters involving the four lumenaries mentioned above. 30 July. Letter from the Marquess of Tweeddale to Lord Milton, the Lord Justice-Clerk dismissing reports that Prince Charles had left the port of Nantes on July 15th ".... it was said that he was actually landed in Scotland , which last part I can hardly believe ...." 4 August. Letter from Lord Milton to the Marquess of Tweeddale. " I do not yet hear any surmise of the Pretender's son having landed. My colleague the Lord Advocate (William Grant) likewise discounts the rumours. 10 August. Letter from Lord Milton to the Marquess of Tweeddale. " Regarding the Pretender's eldest son having landed in Uist, I have heard nothing further worth your Lordship's knowing." For the rest of August conflicting reports of Prince Charles' whereabouts, went back and forth, with little or no action taken by the government or the army. On the 7 August a 'credible' report was received from the Reverend Lauchlin Campbell, Church of Scotland Minister in Ardnamurchan(A Whig and a Protestant) to say that the Prince was now living in his parish, and that "all my Jacobite members were in high spirits." What Lord Milton wrote to Tweeddale in late August left no doubt that Prince Charles had landed and was raising an army of Highlanders. Lord Milton had received an eye-witness report from James Mor Macgregor about the raising of the Jacobite Standard at Glenfinnan. This man, the son of Rob Roy Macgregor, was a government informant who travelled easily through the Highlands,and was generally well received by most Highlanders. His reports were always reliable, for which he was probably well paid. In addition a government soldier who had been taken prisoner and witnessed the Rising at Glenfinnan, passed this information on to the relevant authority. As if to rub a little salt in Old Tweeddale's wound, and clinch matters, Lord Nimmo was bold enough to mention that Charles Stuart "was dressed in a white coat and a brocade vest and that he had the Star and George, and a broad-brimmed hat with a white feather, and other small ornaments unworthy of mention here." In Scotland, where immediate action was required, the man responsible "for the defence of the realm" was General Sir John Cope, recently appointed Commander-in-Chief, Scotland. He had less than 3000 men under his command, with dragoon squadrons untried in battle and scattered across the country, and their horses out at grass. He had three infantry regiments under strength and a few weak companies of the newly raised Highland Regiments (Hanoverian) under Lord Loudoun. The Government and the army in Scotland were ill-informed and ill-prepared for any rebellion by a sizeable force, Jacobite or otherwise. Things had been quiet for many years and the army and its horses were literally put out to grass. And before Eriskay, who could have blamed Tweeddale for ignoring this "fly in the ointment" to continue his pleasant, carefree existence in his comfortable quarters in Edinburgh.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
Locheil was ushered into a large room looking out over the Sound of Arisaig, and there at a window stood His Royal Highness, Prince Charles Edward Stuart. He was wearing a grey brown coat, scarlet-laced waistcoat and breeches and a fair round wig. The door to the room was closed leaving them alone. It must be appreciated that if Prince Charles had any hope of starting a rebellion, he had to persuade Locheil and his Cameron men to come onside. Locheil suggested in earnest that the Prince return to France, but the Prince reminded him that he and other clan chiefs had given solemn undertakings to rise in his support, while the Prince was languishing in France. He then told Locheil that if he wished he could stay at home, and read in the newspapers about his Prince's fate. That was enough for Young Locheil who there and then pledged every Cameron man under his command. Nevertheless as he returned to Achnacarry, it was with a sore heart he saw how the future lay. On Sunday 18th August, Charles left Kinlochmoidart heading for Loch Shiel with a large guard of Clanranald's men. They camped there overnight, and next morning they travelled by birlinn up the loch to Glenfinnan, where the clans were to gather. The next day (19th August) the Prince and a coterie of his followers foregathered on a hill above Glenfinnan awaiting the arrival of the clans. With him were the chosen few, among them the seven who travelled with him from France. Alongside the Prince stood Locheil, Macdonald of Keppoch, a man called Murray of Broughton, the old Gordon of Glenbucket and Father Colin Campbell, a priest from the Scots College in Paris. Finally,as "a witness from the opposition", looking rather forlorn, was the English Captain Swetenham who had been taken prisoner in a earlier skirmish with some Highlanders. They had to wait well into the afternoon before the sound of bagpipes announced the arrival of some clansmen. Over the piece. 700-800 Camerons arrived, along with 300 Macdonalds of Young Clanranald, another 300 Macdonalds of Keppoch,a further 150 Macdonalds of Glencoe. Stuart of Ardshiel arrived with 250 Stuarts of Appin. In all, around 1700 or 1800 came to fight for Charlie. All of the leaders and other 'dignitaries' had to sign a paper swearing their allegiance to the Cause, for as long as the Prince remained in Great Britain. The Royal Standard of 'white, blue and red silk' was blessed by Bishop Hugh Macdonald , and then Duke William of Atholl, aged and gout-ridden, supported on either side by two attendants stepped forward to unfurl the flag. The Prince was overjoyed at the rapturous cheers of the clansmen, and at the sight of their bonnets flung high in the air. Finally we had Atholl proclaiming Charles as Regent in place of his father King James, and declaring war on the House of Hanover. Most of the clansmen could not understand the English of Charles' short speech which promised success for the Stuart Cause. In the circumstances it was as well. There were large clans who did not support the Cause, mostly along religious lines. Macleod of Macleod was at this very time raising a body of men for the Government side. The Mackenzies had bitter memories of their outing for the Jacobites in 1715. They would not support the Stuart Cause this time. The Macdonalds of Sleat in Skye would maintain their allegiance to the Hanoverians. The northern clans, the Munros and Mackays were solidly opposed to the Stuarts, and, as for the Lovat Frasers, no one knew where they stood, but Lovat was actually recruiting other chiefs for the government side, or failing that, dissuading them from joining the Prince. I think we all know that the Campbells were big supporters of successive British governments, and had been handsomely rewarded for their sterling service, Neil and Donald sent this their third report to Miss Grant at the Inverness Courant via a hired express horseman, who carried the sealed papers in a leather satchel. She could only be delighted with what the Dalmore boys were sending to her. The major papers in Britain struggled to understand how this small journal, the Courant,was able to report events in the Jacobite camp as they happened.
Thursday, 20 March 2014
Donald and Neil had been invited to join Young Locheil for dinner at Fessiefern, the home of his younger brother, John Cameron. John's older brother, Donald Cameron, commonly referred to as Young Locheil or the Gentle Locheil was acting Chief of Clan Cameron, one of the largest Highland clans, famed for its loyalty to the Stuart cause. Locheil made a striking figure as he dismounted from his horse, accompanied by eight clansmen, mounted and fully armed. He wore a beautiful dark green satin jacket, edged in broderie anglaise, tartan trousers supported by a wide leather belt and a silver buckle. Like other young Highland chiefs, he favoured the French fashion. Many of the Highland 'aristocracy' were educated on the European mainland, in the universities of Rome, Paris and Heidleberg, as Catholic students were barred from British colleges. Young Locheil was educated at the University of Paris, where he received the finest education, and in doing so accrued a wide circle of friends from all over Europe. He was described as cultured, and a 'well rounded man.' The table talk was lively, but in the middle of this the Dalmore lads managed to address Young Locheil about their journalistic ambitions. "You are both welcome to accompany me to Borrodale," said Locheil, " and I will arrange introductions for you to various personages gathering at Moidart, for what some are calling a 'wappenschaw'." The next morning on the 10th August, the entire company of Young Locheil, his eight Cameron men and the Dalmore 'press corps' of two, made their way west towards Lochailort and further on to Borrodale. They stayed off road, riding a parallel route through known forest tracks. They wanted to push on, without having to deal with any Redcoat details. The Prince was staying at Borrodale House near Arisaig or on board the Du Teilley, the French ship he arrived on, which was now at anchor in Loch nan Uamh (Gael. Loch of the Caves). Neil and Donald, when properly introduced, found people able to give honest views on this great adventure. Many persons were amazed at how little money and arms (some said none at all) the Prince arrived with, and he intent on a Great Rising ! The people who accompanied him on board the Du Teilley, and absurdly named "The Seven Men Of Moidart" were a motley lot, hardly able to further the Prince's cause. A young Macdonald officer had this to say. " It might tell you something if we take a look at the 'Seven Men.' 1.William Murray, elderly and unwell, was formerly the 2nd Duke of Atholl, who lost his title after the 1715 Rebellion and was in exile in France these 30 years. He now bore the title of the Marquess of Tullibardine. 2.Colonel Francis Strickland, the only Englishman in the group, from a loyal Westmorland family 3.Aeneas Macdonald who was a banker in Paris, now banker to the Jacobite cause. 4.Sir Thomas Sheridan, an Irishman over 70 years of age, who fought on the losing side at the Battle of the Boyne. 5. An Irishman, Reverend George Kelly, an Episcopal Minister 6. Sir John McDonnell Irish and elderly, had served in the French cavalry in Spain. 7. Colonel John William O'Sullivan, an Irishman who served in the French army. "This is a group of the old and infirm, and an unusual number of Irish," he continued. "God alone knows why the Prince and his Seven Men came to these shores to win back the crowns, for the Stuart cause. Of course, the West Highlands and Islands are strongly Catholic, and have a long history of supporting the Jacobite cause, and whose people made great sacrifices to that end. Even the most ardent of the clan chiefs have great reservations of Prince Charles' mission, and will tell him so. They know that Britain as a whole is prospering in the peace that has been enjoyed these last 30 years. Whatever we might think, Britain would not entertain the return of the Stuarts. Personally I think that this is a lost cause, which can only rip the Highlands asunder. It does not bode well, and if you are quoting me, please have me down as 'a Highland Gentleman' We may speak together again." While Donald and Neil travelled to Kinlochmoidart to join the large group of adherents, Young Locheil was summoned to Borrodale to meet with Prince Charles Eduard Stuart. Note: At this point in time, the Prince was 25 years old, while Young Locheil 'was not so young' at 45.
Tuesday, 11 March 2014
With their magificent horses, Donald and Neil made good progress travelling south from Inverness along the eastern side of Loch Ness. They passed through the hamlets of Boleskine and Foyers and at the far end of Loch Ness, they rested their horses, and had themselves the cold mutton they had packed in their paniers. This was a strategic location for an English fort, built as the result of previous Jacobite insurrections, the last major one being in 1715. The fort bore the name Augustus, after one of King George's sons, a habit which endured in naming other new forts. At Fort Augustus they rested a while, which gave them time to look again at some things and make changes where necessary. The red coats and white breeches of the young British soldiers on guard duty across the road, reminded them of colours which they absolutely could not wear as they advanced towards Moidart. The British "Redcoat" was feared and loathed in equal measure. On the other hand, the lads disavowed the wearing of any tartan, and for fairly obvious reasons, the carrying of broadsword or targe would be difficult to explain to a couple of Highland-hating cockney lads, even if they were only 'innocent' trophies. For that matter, it might be misunderstood by some 'Angus of the Glens.' They had already discussed the apparel which would identify them as the unbiased and neutral reporters they purported to be. They wore naturally brown deerskin trews which blended with the chestnut of their horses and high calf leather boots of the latest Italian fashion. Their coats(ie, jackets) were of a tweed woven in Harris, and waistcoats of sheepskin. With their trademark long black capes and grey tricorn hats, this singled them out as gentlemen, surely, but not Hanoverian nor Jacobite gentlemen. Looking neutral was as important as being neutral. They each were equipped with pistols, short stabbing swords and sharp knives for cutlery. They checked their paperwork, the important one at this time being the document relating to their employment as reporter/journalists with the Inverness Courant. Hopefully this would be viewed as a statement of their neutrality by both armies, and which might gain them access to persons in their high command. They felt as prepared as they could be as they mounted their horses once more. Travelling south from Fort Augustus by the side of Loch Lochy, they decided to give their horses a rest beside the gentle waters of the River Gloy. Donald and Neil, as they looked west towards the magificent country of mountain, river and forest, would have been unaware that these were the ancient lands of Clan Cameron, one of the largest and most loyal Jacobite clans in all the Highlands. After the failure of the 1715 Rising, Old Cameron of Locheil was forced into exile in France, and it was his son, Donald Cameron, Young Locheil, who now resided at Achnacarry House,and who could raise an army of at least 800 fighting men, should the need arise. The lads could see another fort in the near distance which had been named Fort William, after William of Orange (William III) who had defeated the forces of the Catholic King James, at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland. This was a large fort, commodious and of extreme strategic importance. As they passed the fort, Neil and Donald could sense the order and readiness of the troops within, and the ferment of general activity . Before the fort was built,the village was known as Inverlochy. Having travelled south for many miles along what was known as the Great Glen, the lads headed due west where the Jacobite clans were said to be gathering behind the Stuart cause. A little way along Loch Eil, the lads stopped at a small tavern, which didn't have a name. After seeing to their horses, they entered this building no more than a hovel, thick with peat smoke and smelling of urine. Only hunger and thirst would have anyone order meat, bread and whisky in a place like this, but the beautiful young lass who served them made the place a little more tolerable . Her name was Catriona Cameron, and at their invitation, she joined them in their humble lunch on the shores of Loch Eil. Miss Cameron listened to Neil and Donald as the recounted their story, and how as reporters of an important newspaper, the "vox populi of the Highlands", their immediate mission was to find the Jacobite army and interview some of their leaders. They couldn't believe it when young Catriona said that she could most certainly help them. Later that day, all three travelled a few miles further west until, partially hidden by tall pine trees, this magnificent house came into view. Catriona said that this was Fassiefern, owned by John Cameron, the younger brother of Donald Cameron of Locheil, chief of Clan Cameron. Fassiefern was at home, and after Catriona made the introductions, they all repaired to a large airy room overlooking Loch Eil. As they drank superb wine, John Cameron (Fassiefern) explained that he only stayed here a few months per year. Normally his business was in Glasgow, of which he was a burgess. He was in "the West India Trade" which Donald and Neil knew to be a lucrative business, depending totally on slavery. It would not be in their interest to dwell on Fassiefern's West India business. When John Cameron invited them to stay for dinner, and for the second time in a day, they were astonished that his brother Locheil would be a fellow guest at tonight's dinner. He was, John said, on his way fom Achnacarry to Borrodale for a gathering of "like minds." At this Fassiefern smiled and raised his eyes to the ceiling. " I'm sure Locheil will be sympathetic to your mission, and will represent you at the highest levels." "T0night," said Neil," We will meet a real Jacobite, and that's for sure."
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Neil and Donald found the "presses" of the Inverness Courant very easily on asking just a few people. Being the first newspaper in these parts, it had been well received by those who valued it for its forthright opinions and its no-nonsense written style. Just off the Wellgate, through the Bull Close, they happened on a long one storey white house which could only be where the Courant was published. A young lady came over to meet them and introduced herself as Mary Grant. NEIL: " I am Neil Macleod and this is my brother Donald. We are genuinely happy to meet you Miss Grant, and in doing so, be assured that we have come a long way to make you acquaintance. We are from the Isle of Lewis, and have come here with a certain proposition in mind." Mary Grant told the boys that her people own farms near Elgin in Morayshire and this has allowed her to travel around Scotland. She spent two years in Edinburgh, and it was here she took an interest in printing. She spent most of her time in the printing works of Mr. Creuch on the High Street. This was not an apprenticeship as such, but she learned a great deal under the watchful eye of Old Creuch. She believed he was amused that a young woman might be interested in the printing trade, and he would tease her when her hands and face were covered in printer's ink. She then invited the lads to tell her about their proposition. DONALD: " Miss Grant, There are few around who have not heard the rumour that Charles Edward Stuart has landed on the Scottish mainland to regain the three crowns for his father, King James III, known in Hanovarian circles as "The Old Pretender". Alerts at some garrisons and the sight of troop movements throughout the west suggest that Charles Stuart is indeed here and seriously contemplating rebellion. He has landed in Moidart, as this region of the West Highlands is staunchly Catholic, an area seemingly untouched by the Reformation two hundred years ago." NEIL: " Assuming Charles can rouse the Jacobites to his cause, it has been our desire to follow in his army's wake to report on the state of the army, their hopes and ambitions, and hopefully conduct interviews with the main protagonists of this Jacobite army. Mary, we thought that since your paper was one of the few north of Edinburgh or Glasgow, it would be ideal to carry these stories of rebellion. The Courant would gain a wide circulation, well beyond Inverness. We would meet our own expenses, and the only thing I ask is that our names appear in all the reports we send you." MARY: "If you are willing to go through with this, and meet your own expenses, then I will publish all the reports you send me. I might be persuaded to publish what you send in special supplements. Life with the Jacobite army could be onerous and at times dangerous, so I would ask that you take care of yourself, as best you can. Do not place yourselves in life threatening situations. If needs must, you have two fine horses which will get you out of any immediate danger. Being fluent in Gaelic should help you get close to the Highlanders, who will be the greater part of the Jacobite army. Donald and Neil, take care and God Bless."
Saturday, 1 March 2014
Having left Gairloch, Donald and Neil found themselves travelling alongside the most beautiful of lochs. It was Loch Maree. "There is nowhere in Lewis as splendid as this," said Donald. " Look at the mountains and the tall trees as far as you can see. Truly wonderful, Neil?" They had a mileage reckoner which gave the distances between towns throughout all of Britain. The distance from Gairloch to Inverness was about 70 miles. There was no way that the lads would push themselves and their horses to reach Inverness that night. They rode through Glen Docherty to the small hamlet of Achnasheen, and then headed down the long river course called Strath Bran, towards the end of which they determined to rest up for the night at a small place called Achanalt, ( Gael. "field by the stream" ) - perfect for their horses ! Neil and Donald got lodgings that night with a family of Mackenzies. Over a dram or two, Old Mackenzie eventually broached the subject that was on everyone's mind, the arrival in Scotland of Charles Edward Stuart. " I cannot see Scotland and England coming to his aid," said Mackenzie. " Some of the Highland clans may be persuaded to join him, but only from those areas which remained Catholic after the Reformation. The Clan Mackenzie who hold these lands here and the Isle of Lewis are firmly in the Government camp, and they are Protestant, of course. What about you lads ?" Donald replied that they were from Lewis, were not Catholic and hadn't thought much about Charles Stuart landing on our shores. "You don't believe, Maighstir Mhic Choinnich, that they are capable of fomenting rebellion," said Neil " We are here only to attend some markets to see what price our Highland black cattle can fetch, if we ship them over from Lewis. There is nothing for any of us to fear, I believe. Rebellion ? I don't think so ! Let's have one more dram before we sleep." Passing onwards through Garve and Beauly they arrived in Inverness mid afternoon. Donald and Neil spent some time on horseback taking in the "sights of Inverness." The majority of the houses, laid out in streets, were low, stone built and with thatched roofs and cold clay floors. They were the same as the 'black houses' to be found all over Lewis. There were a few 'white houses' of which the most beautiful example was the mansion called Balmain House, built by a rich Invernesian, which would not have been out of place in fashionable London. The foundations of a garrison called the Citadel were still extant. This had been built by Oliver Cromwell in the mid 1600s, and which could hold 1000 soldiers (for another pacification programme beloved of Cromwell.) It only stood for seven years before being pulled down and its stones used by General George Wade to build Inverness Castle. Inverness in 1745 was a busy port and market town where the recently built Citadel Quay fostered the export trade. Wool was the main foreign export along with locally woven textiles. Brewing now flourished in the town, whose taverns could now offer a thirst quenching cask conditioned ale. As they watered and rested their horses by the River Ness, one could surmise that this town was to their liking. Yet, they had business here in Inverness, which if successful, could alter the course of their life. You will recall the two men from Inverness that Neil and Donald met in that tavern in Stornoway, with whom they shared their ambition of reporting on outcome of the growing Jacobite activity in the West Highlands and where the ambitions of Charles Edward Stuart might take them. Neil and Donald were told that a new journal, "The Inverness Courant" had just been launched, and unusually the owner was a young lady of some means. They decided they would seek a meeting with this lady who might set the Dalmore boys on a new career path.