Sunday, 8 June 2014
A Letter To Mary Grant. Persons and Places.
Dear Mary, We hope that you are in rude health, and that the Inverness Courant continues to prosper. We hope that our reports are reaching you safely, as we are spending a pretty penny on sending them by courier. I'm sure that you will see us recompensed for the expensive express mail that is regularly delivered to you, and which makes the Courant the ' best informed newspaper in Great Britain'. Despite our rash promise at the outset, we had no idea that things could be so expensive on Tir Mor (Gael. mainland). Here are a few items for your delectation which you might print as they stand, or incorporate in some existing articles. 1. JEANIE( JENNY )CAMERON. This lady was born in Glendessary in Knoydart in 1695 and sent to school in Edinburgh. At the age of 16 she was caught up in a sexual scandal and sent to France for a convent education but the nuns found her difficult to handle. She returned to Glendessary on her father's death. She was a fervent Jacobite and raised 250 local men for Charles Stuart's cause. She was present at the raising of the Royal Standard at Glenfinnan, and was described at the time (she was aged 50) as a buxom, middle-aged lady and widely rumoured to be the Prince's mistress. She followed the Jacobite army in her horse-drawn carriage, and once carried with her the Prince (disguised as a women) at Kendal during the army's retreat. 2. CALLENDAR HOUSE. This house, just outside Falkirk, was the seat of Lord Kilmarnock, who commanded one of the Prince's troop of cavalry, and whose attractive wife, the Countess, was an ardent Jacobite herself. It was her misfortune that in the days before and during the Battle of Falkirk, she was compelled to entertain the enemy general, General Hawley, and surprisingly she did so with reasonably good grace. Hawley rode out to review his troops and do a reconnaissance of a possible battle site, when a young officer of the Glasgow Militia told the General that he had heard tnat some officers had seen the enemy moving on the Torwood. The Glasgow officer said that "although, I saw nothing, neither did Mr. Hawley." Convinced that he had done a recce of the area, Hawley was happy to return to Callendar House, convinced that an attack was unlikely. He would take tea with the lovely Countess. Later that morning, Hawley's troops saw some movement of the Prince's army which later withdrew again to Plean. Hawley's army stood down and went in search of their mid-day meal, which was not easy to find. About one o'clock, two officers of the Old Buffs climbed a tree, and using a telescope could clearly see that the main Highland army were moving rapidly to the south of the Torwood. Colonel Howard, commanding the Old Buffs, galloped off to Callendar House to relay this disturbing news to Hawley, who was still unwilling to believe an attack was in the offing. Nothing would disturb him from partaking of the lavish repast now being offered by the charming Lady Kilmarnock. The only thing he told Colonel Howard was that his troops " should put on their equipment, without however standing to arms." Meanwhile he was left alone to enjoy his meal in his charming hostess's company. It was only after a desperate message to Hawley, did the General leave the Countess and Callendar House to return to the fray. He arrived on the scene at a gallop with no hat and " the appearance of one who had left an agreeable table." Lady Kilmarnock had used all her womanly wiles in an attept to delay the English General. 3. BANNOCKBURN HOUSE. Before he embarked on the siege of Stirling, Charles marched on 3 January 1746 to Bannockburn, about three miles from Stirling where his 9,000 strong army was assembling. The Prince stayed three days at Bannockburn House, the guest of Sir Hugh Paterson, a loyal Jacobite, where he met Sir Hugh's niece, Clementina Walkinshaw a handsome girl of twenty-three, named after the Prince's own mother. On the 19 January, when the clan regiments moved to Falkirk, the Prince once again took up residence at Bannockburn House in the pleasing company of the handsome Clementina. It was she who ministered to the Prince, who was told to stay in bed with 'a feverish cold'. The Prince was sufficiently taken with her to neglect his immediate military duties, and, feeling a little guilty, made some lame excuse to the upright Lord George Murray on the 23 January. Lord Elcho asserted that the star struck couple were indeed lovers. So, here we had two Commanders-in-Chief of opposing armies, General Hawley and HRH Prince Charles, only six miles apart, being cosseted and comforted by two fine ladies. One can appreciate their reluctance to rejoin the fray. 4. The final story is told by the Chevalier James de Johnstone in his own words. It is a cautionary tale of greed and despair. During the rout of the English cavalry at Falkirk, "The English in their flight made a prisoner in a very singular way. A Mr. Macdonald, a major of the Glengarry Regiment, having killed and pulled an English officer from his horse, took possession of this beautiful animal, and immediately mounted it. When the English cavalry took flight, the horse ran off with the unfortunate Macdonald, in spite of all his efforts to restrain him, and he never stopped till he was at the head of the regiment, of which, to all appearances, his master had been the commandant. One can imagine the miserable and laughable figure the poor Macdonald made, seeing himself thus the victim of his ambition for a fine horse. This cost him his his life on one of Hawley's scaffolds." One can not be sure of the sympathy or otherwise of the Chevalier for Major Macdonald. 5. COLONEL ANNE. In Inverness-shire, the Macintoshes were mostly Jacobite in sympathy, but strangely they lacked a leader, because their chief Angus had 'signed up with the other side' before Charles Stuart arrived in Scotland. Angus had decided to accept a commission in the government regiment, the Black Watch at 'half a guinea a day and half a guinea the morn'. Into the breach stepped Angus's handsome and lively young wife, Anne, herself a fervent Jacobite. Her dress was of Macintosh tartan trimmed with lace and with a blue bonnet on her head and a pair of pistols at her saddle-bow. 'Colonel Anne' rode far and wide recruiting people for the Prince, enough to make up a battalion, which joined with the force of of Lord Lewis Gordon as they marched south to Perth at the end of December 1745. Lady Anne won herself lasting fame in the annals of the Jacobite Rising.