History is a funny thing. I have been an active student for more than fifty years. Thru the standard text books, the TV Dramatisation of “Culloden”, (which led me to read the book by John Prebble) adventure stories like Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped”, songs like “The Skye Boat Song”, I became fascinated by Jacobite History…that period between 1688 and 1746 and the massacre at Culloden Moor.
I have been to Glencoe, where the Government Campbells massacred the MacDonalds.
I have been to Carlisle Castle, visited the dungeons where Jacobite prisoners were held and I have seen the “licking stones” where these unfortunates, deprived of water to drink were grateful for the rain water, which trickled down.
I have been to Clifton in Cumbria, the last battle (actually a skirmish) fought on English soil.
I have been to several towns in Lancashire associated with the Jacobites. Burnley, Preston, Lancaster and Wigan. And of course Manchester, where the Jacobite army invading England, picked up their only English recruits. I have followed the road where they marched lut of Manchester.
I have been in the square in Derby, where there is a statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie, said to be the best likeness of him. This is the furthest point south the Jacobites came. Fear of being outflanked and French assistance not arriving and an English population which was indifferent or hostile, caused the Highland Chiefs to vote to go back to Scotland. A sullen Bonnie Prince Charlie barely spoke to them again.
Arguably London was in panic and the Jacobites MIGHT have been rewarded had they pressed on. It is one of the great unknowns.
I have been to Falkirk, Nairn and to Inverness, where the victorious Government troops went on an orgy of plunder, murder and rape, after their bloody victory at Culloden.
Of course, I have stood on Culloden Moor, at the spot where fourteen troopers of a Franco-Irish cavalry regiment, called Fitzjames Horse provided the personal escort to Charlie, who cracked up at the battle and had to be escorted off the field.
Catch me on a good day and I will tell you the Jacobite Order of Battle, where each Clan stood and where the “French” regiments (actually Irish and Scots) stood, providing the covering fire that allowed a lot of Highlanders to escape …rebels could expect no quarter …but to the “French” it was just the fortunes of war. They surrendered and were later repatriated back “home” to France.
And I have been close to Ruthven Barracks, the place where the defeated Highlanders were supposed to rendezvous with Charlie.
Of course, Charlie had already begun his escape thru the heather…his followers only got a message to “look to their own safety”.
Some would end up dead or transported or pressed into service in “British” Highland Regiments.
Meanwhile, back in European palaces, serial drunk and serial abuser of women, Bonnie Prince Charlie would forever curse and blame his followers for his defeat.
Never in human history did brave men and women follow such a dastardly “leader”.
Of course I could bring you to the place in London where the officers of the Manchester Regiment were hang, drawn and quartered and I could bring you to Essex Street in the Strand where Charlie visited (incognito) four years after defeat at Culloden. He got himself baptised as an Anglican in a pathetic attempt to get new followers.
I could bring you to the spot near Marble Arch, which was once Tyburn…the gallows where people, often for political or religious crimes were publicly executed.
The last execution of a Jacobite leader took place there in 1753. He had foolishly made a trip to Scotland and was betrayed.
His name…Dr Archie CAMERON.
History is indeed strange.
A tragic story.
Chances are, a visit to the empty Highlands and Islands of Scotland will have you meeting those from the London area who have money to buy a house and run a business.
And the Highlanders of 1745 family in 2014, well if not in Canada or Oz they stuck in a Glasgow housing estate.
And just like their Irish cousins next door, have no idea where their family names come from.
Did you realise that Kidnapped was based on a true Irish story which did not end up with the nephew getting the estate – the Earldom of Angelsea I think it was. So notorious was the title thereafter it was voted out of existence by the English at Westminster
Kidnapped is based on a true story. But I think the Irish link is not to the killing.
Alan Breck Stewart was real.
The Campbell Fox was killed. And James Stewart of the Glens was charged and hanged. His body was left in chains for years to the exyent that his piper, McPhee (I think) went bad.
The real assasins were known to be Stewart cousins …all of whom escaped to France.
For years the real identity of the assasins were known only to the Stewart family and passed along the line until a few years ago when there was a bit of a fuss about it being revealed after the death of someone.
When the real truth was revealed, it turned out that the man who pulled the trigger was Alan Breck Stewart, which was what everybody thought anyway.