Thursday, 20 March 2014

In the Bosom of the Jacobites

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.

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