fp-1.7 The Jacobites


Researched by Findlay Pirie

Bonnie Prince Charlie

The Jacobite Risings were a series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars in Great Britain and Ireland occurring between 1688 and 1746. The uprisings were aimed at returning James VII of Scotland and II of England, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne after he was deposed by Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The series of conflicts takes its name from Jacobus, the Latin form of James.

The major Jacobite Risings were called the Jacobite Rebellions by the ruling governments. The “First Jacobite Rebellion” and “Second Jacobite Rebellion” were known respectively as “The Fifteen” and “The Forty-Five”, after the years in which they occurred (1715 and 1745).

Although each Jacobite Rising had unique features, they were part of a larger series of military campaigns by Jacobites attempting to restore the Stuart kings to the thrones of Scotland and England (and after 1707, Great Britain). James was deposed in 1688 and the thrones were claimed by his daughter Mary II jointly with her husband, the Dutch-born William of Orange.

After the House of Hanover succeeded to the British throne in 1714, the risings continued, and intensified. They continued until the last Jacobite Rebellion (“the Forty-Five”), led by Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender), who was soundly defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. This ended any realistic hope of a Stuart restoration.

The stories in this collection tell of how Portsoy people were involved.

THE 1715 REBELLION and James Ogilvie, 9th of Boyne

James Ogilvie, eldest son of Sir Patrick, was 9th. in descent from Sir Walter Ogilvie, 1st. of Boyne, and his wife, Margaret Edmonstone. He was born in 1667, and in February 1688 , married Anna, daughter of Major George Arnot of Grange in Fife. Lord Findlater’s son, James, writes to his father from Edinburgh, 20th February 1688, referring to the wedding, “I beg pardon for detaining your footman so long, but the true reason for it was that I was at Boyne’s marriage, for five days altogether”. For the purpose of the wedding contract, Sir Patrick Ogilvie resigned the Estate of Boyne and made it over to James Ogilvie and his wife, and in January 1689 there was a Sasine of Buchragie, the dower-house of Boyne, to Anna Arnot.

In 1702 James Ogilvie was returned as one of two members of the county and remained in the Scottish Parliament till it was finally abolished and continued his opposition to the Union up to the very last.

In 1705 the Boyne family had got into financial difficulties and projects were already on foot for giving them some relief, as is shown by a letter written by James Ogilvie, from Boyne in 1705, to Lord Findlater, which hints at the ultimate disposal of the family estates. In October 1706 a Warrant was granted (on petition) to Sir Patrick and James Ogilvie, elder and younger of Boyne, to cite their creditors, in order to obtain protection, whilst in May 1707 this protection was granted (on petition) to Sir Patrick and James Ogilvie, elder and younger of Boyne, to cite their creditors, in order to obtain protection, whilst in May this protection was granted.

From 1707 James Ogilvie entered keenly into Jacobite intrigue and as time went on became more and more involved, and was in consequence outlawed and escaped to France, where he worked energetically and took part in the French descent on Scotland. Early in 1708 the fleet, under Comte Claude de Forbin having the Old Chevalier on board, was ready to set out from France. James Ogilvie preceded it and landed at Gamrie in Banffshire.

On 9th. March, Lady Findlater and Seafield wrote from Cullen House to her husband in London: – We are mightily alarmed hier with the invitation from France. I send you a leter to Castilfild….. It is sead the the Leard of Boyn is a Colnell. I wish you wold yet midell no mor in his affears.”

The letter to which Lady Seafield alluded was one addressed to Nicholas Dunbar of Castlefield, Sheriff Depute of Banffshire, by Alexander Garden of Troup.

“This present commission which is suddenly in all appearance to fall in by a Frence descent make peopl they know not how to order ther business. No doubt ye hav heard of the gentleman has set a shor heer from France and who is gone to Boynd and thence to the Hichlands and thorrow ye kingdom. If you hav not heard of it, then I can assur you the truth of it. He was all night, the 29 Feby, in William Hard’s at Nethermiln, and went away the first of March before the sun two hours; he landed about 6 hours art even. He passed for a Edr. merchant. The ship was about 16 or 20 guns, 70 to 90 men. Giv not me for your author.”

The French naval descent on the Firth of Forth was frustrated by Admiral Sir George Byng on 13th. March, and the expedition (one of the strongest ever fitted out from France in the Jacobite interest) did not even attempt a landing, but after suffering some casualties, returned to Dunkirk. In a French account of the expedition, it is stated that the French Admiral, after retreating from the Firth of Forth, attempted to run northward, and the Chevalier begged earnestly to be landed near Slains where he knew Lord Erroll to be friendly. The weather was very rough and the Laird of Boyne, who (by this account) was on board the French flagship, was sent out in a small frigate to obtain a pilot from Peterhead, but was unsuccessful, and the expedition sailed away, foiled in its purpose.

A proclamation for the arrest of James Ogilvie was issued by the Government on 22nd. March 1708. But he escaped safely to France.

The family estates were sold in 1709, so from this time the Ogilvies of Boyne ceased to hold any lands in Banffshire. There is in the Cullen House Charter Room a Disposition, November 1709, by James Ogilvie younger of Boyne, in favour of Lord Findlater and Seafield, narrating his title to the Estate of Boyne, which was his Contract of Marriage with Anna Arnot in the year 1688, and submitting that, “out of Goodwill and Pleasure,” the Earl had advanced the said James Ogilvie, a certain sum of money, with which he was content. Therefore he approved the said Decreet of Sale, and ratified the same in all points, and in corroboration thereof sold and disposed to the Earl the whole Estate contained in the decreet of sale.

In 1710 James Ogilvie was living at Versailles, as is shown by a letter he wrote from that place to Lord Middleton, concerning the situation of affairs in Scotland. Ogilvie says:-

“ I thought it my duty to give your Lordship this account, which if your Lordship thinks fit, may be made known to the Queen, and if her Majesty has any commands for me, I hope your Lordship will do me the honour to acquaint me.”

There is also a letter from the Old Chevalier, dated Arras, 4th. July 1710 to Lord Middleton:-

“I have just seen Ogilvie, who sent me word yesterday he had more to say to me than was in his paper which you have. This more was no great matter though much more than I believe; he pretends to have seen Lord Atholl, Breadalbin, etc., and they say that if the King of France cannot be brought to help them, they will do my business themselves, provided I come to them. But then he brings no other security of what he says, but his own word, and an ample credential from Lord Drummond, whom he affirms to be sent by the rest. How improbable all this is, you may easily see. However not to seem to suspect the man, I was ve

Nothing more is heard of James Ogilvie till 1715 when he took a prominent part in the Jacobite Rising of that year. In the early autumn he landed at Aberdeen in disguise from France, bringing the Earl of Mar’s commission as Commander-in-Chief with him. The Marquis of Huntly was in Aberdeen when he landed and was heard to say he was surprised “to find such an appearance for his Master.” Shortly after his landing in Aberdeen Ogilvie proceeded to Banffshire and visited his late property, as from Boyne on 24th. September 1715 he addressed the following letter to William Lorimer, Chamberlain to Lord Findlater :-

Sir, I wrote to you this day but mist you, so I leave this to let you know that I have orders from the Marquis of Huntly to rendezvous all the men from the Forrest of Boyn, and chuse such as are fit to go to serve the King. Therefore I desire you may intimat tomorrow to all the men, gentlemen and others, that belonge to the Earl of Findlater in the forrest lands, to attend me at new Milnes of Boyne on Monday next by twelve acloak with ther best cloaths and arms and horses, there to be rendevoused by me conform to order, where I expect you will be present, that I may doe by your advice what is most convenient for the Earl of Findlater’s intrest, so far as consists with my orders. This I expect you will be punctuall in, or the people most be at their perrol, as my order leads me.”

What reply, if any, was made to the above letter is not known, but it is certain that Lord Findlater strongly opposed the Rising, though many men from Banffshire went “out” on the Jacobite side.

After the assembling of Mar’s army, James Ogilvie proceeded south with it and was present at the battle of Sheriffmuir where he is described as “Brigadier Ogilvie.” He led the attack on the right of the line. After the battle he, with others, proposed a capitulation. For some time there was a period of hesitancy and inaction, and after the Old Chevalier and the Earl of Mar left the Army and departed for France, there seemed no reason to prolong the struggle, and the disheartened Jacobites began their weary retreat northwards, ably led by General Gordon. Aberdeen was reached and early in February1716 the army, marching from Strathbogie, had got as far as Keith. Thence the clansmen retreated by Mortlach, Glenrinnes and Glenlivet to Badenoch, where they remained for three or four days and then dispersed.

Records of the County of Banff 1660 – 1760 by James Grant

By the Honourable Alexander Grant of Grant Brigadier General of his Majesty’s Forces and Lord Lieutenant of the County of Banff.

These are orders that require you forthwith to raise out twenty-five well armed men of the militia of the Shire of Banff, in the parishes of Banff, Boyndie, Cullen, Fordyce and Deskford and garrison the house of the Boyne, and there to secure all our horses and ammunition for his Majesties use, and to tack that no person nor persons enter the said house except those that belong to the said garrison till my further orders, or orders from the commander in chief in Scotland; and also you are to order from the neighbouring county to furnish the said garrison with firing and bedding, and that the said garrison does no harm to the said house or anything belonging thereto. n at Aberdeen this 15th of February 1716 by me, and sealed. – A. Grant.

To the Deputy Lieutenants of the Shire of Banff, being Alexander Garden of Troup, elder and younger, and Alexander Abercromby of Glassaugh.

James Ogilvie endeavoured to rouse Banffshire afresh and in February 1716 issued a formal proclamation to this effect.

“All nobleman, barons, heretors, fewers, wadsetters, tennants, burgesses, all others the fencible men within the said town and parish of Bamff to meet and conveen att the Gallowhill of Bamff upon Thursday next the ninth day of February current, bringing with them their best horses, arms, and accoutrements against the hour of eleaven a cloack the said day, and that all noblemen, barrons , heretors, fewers and wadsetters doe make up effectuall lists of all ther tennants and fencible men within the said town and parish of Bamff to be given to us the said day before the rendewoses to the effect punctuall obedience may be given to His Majesty’s commands. In the terms of and conforme to our said commission.”

This grandiloquent proclamation is signed by James Ogilvie and James Gordon and concludes “Given at Whythills the fourth day of February 1716, and of his Majesty’s reign the fifteenth year.”

After this outburst of patriotic zeal on behalf of the Old Chevalier, to which there seems to have been no response, James Ogilvie disappears from the scene. It may be gathered that his wife, Anna Arnot, had been in residence at Boyne Castle, since on 12th. June there was “a Decreet of Removing before the Lords of Session at the instance of James, Earl of Findlater and Seafield, against James Ogilvie, Anna Arnot his wife, James Ogilvie Jnr of Boyne, their son, and others, decerning them to remove ther servants, and Cottars forth and from the Mansion House of Boyne, office houses and yards.” This was followed by Letters of Ejection, dated 24th. July 1716.

An Escape Abroad.

After the suppression of the Rising, James Ogilvie remained in hiding in the north until he found an opportunity of escaping abroad. The safe arrival of the party at Roscoff caused Lord Mar to write from Avignon on 21st to Ogilvie, this letter of congratulation:-

“As soon as we heard of your arrival in France I was ordered to write to Gen. Gordon to let you all know, who were coming over, his Majesty’s satisfaction at your being safe. I was very glad to know from your own hands by Glenderule that you were well, and by what I heard lately from Mr. Arbuthnot, I hope your pension from the French Court will be continued. I have by the King’s orders written the enclosed to Gen. Dillon to do all he possibly can to help you in it. The King leaves you how to dispose of yourself as you find most convenient.”

By September 1716 James Ogilvie had reached Paris, as on the 9th. of that month he wrote to Mar explaining his circumstances.

“I have been so very ill ever since I came here that I could not till now return my grateful acknowledgements for your letter and that to Gen. Dillon, which was delivered by Gen. Gordon at St. Germains, where Dillon has been till last Sunday. By the account I gave him of my pension, he judges it in a fair way, but does not think fit to press it, till there be funds made for the pensions. General Gordon parted from this last Saturday for Avignon where he will give you a full and true account of all that has passed in the Highlands and of the fair prospects we had of a second campaign and the particular reasons that hindered it. I have got about £20 sterling left, which subsists for the present my son and me, which when done, I have no other source but your protection, which I beg will continue. If you judge me in any way capable of being useful for the King’s service, either at Avignon or in these parts, I shall do whatever you order me.”

To this piteous appeal Lord Mar replied from Avignon on 27th. September, in a not very encouraging manner,

“I acquainted the King with yours of the 9th. and General Gordon has done you justice as to your service in Scotland. Your coming here would be a great charge to you, and there are too many of us idle here already, of which many are so sensible that some are gone and others going to Bordeaux and elsewhere in that country to reside, where they will be more in the way when the time comes of doing something, and here they would be necessity left behind, besides many other inconveniences so many of us being here occasions. Therefore I cannot advise you or your son to come, but to live at Rouen or thereabouts, when you have no more occasion at Paris.”

Ogilvie took the advice offered and went to Rouen, for his next letter to Lord Mar is dated from there on 17th. December 1716.

“I saw Lord Southesk here for a few days, he assured me of the King’s perfect recovery. I judge his indisposition has been the reason I had not your commands in reply to what I wrote before I left Paris. My pension from the Court of France not being ordered as yet, nor like to be paid for a few months, I hope you will be mindful of me and my son, having no other way now left to subsist but his Majesty’s bounty and your protection. The Queen ordered me some money, which brought us here.”

On the back of this letter is the following note :- “He (James Ogilvie) had money from the Queen. His son is put on the list for 50 livres a month.”

So at last James Ogilvie and his son were granted an allowance to support them, but, the latter, also called James, did not live long to enjoy it, for General Alexander Gordon writing from Rouen on 20th October 1717 to John Paterson says, “I doubt not you have heard that Boyn the younger is dead at Rouen.” In the accounts of William Dicconson, there appears the item: – “The King’s Account. Debtor. 19th. September 1717. For young Boyn’s funeral – 100 livres,” which shows that young James Ogilvie died in September of that year. He seems to have fallen into the same financial straits as his father and had granted Bonds for considerable sums of money to various people in the north of Scotland in the years 1713-1715.

Troubles fell fast upon James Ogilvie about this time, for in February 1718 his wife, Anna Arnot, died. William Gordon wrote from Paris to John Paterson on 18th. February that “Boyn desired me to enquire if a letter he wrote some time ago was come to the Duke’s hands. Last post brought him an account of his lady’s death, which is heavy on him, for, although she was endeavouring to sell her jointure, I fancy nothing was done and now all hopes are cut off.” It would appear from this that Anna Arnot was still in Scotland and had not joined her husband in France.

The next letter from James Ogilvie to the Duke of Mar is from Paris on 7th. October 1718. In it he says:- “I hope I shall not want your recommendation to his Majesty, if you judge me capable of serving him either in his family or elsewhere.” After this date we do not know how James Ogilvie spent his life.

There is an interesting letter in the “Chiefs of Grant” which goes to show he was in London in 1721. It is from Captain, afterwards Colonel Lewis Grant dated “London. April 19th. 1721” and contains the following:- “Your cousin Boyn is come here about some business with the Earl of Findlater. I saw him yesterday and he asked very kindly about you.”

Whether James Ogilvie took great risks in visiting England or whether he was protected by the List of Indemnity is not clear, but he probably came to settle up finally with Lord Findlater and Seafield all outstanding points in connection with the estate of Boyne and – possibly – to collect any money which the Earl was prepared to give him. After this nothing is heard of James Ogilvie – even the exact date and place of his death are uncertain, though he must have been dead by 1728, as in that year James Hay wrote from Edinburgh to William Duff of Braco afterwards Lord Fife :- “you are decerned executor qua creditor to Boyne.”

By his first wife, Anna Arnot, he had the son James; he married secondly, a Frenchwoman of the name of Busilis, by whom he had one son John Lewis, who lived until1768, also married a Frenchwoman, and left two daughters.

This ended, at the age of sixty-one the life of James Ogilvie, the last twenty-five years of whose existence were entirely -and perhaps one might add, fruitlessly – spent – in the Jacobite cause, and with him ended the connection of the Ogilvie family with the estate of Boyne, which had begun in 1485.

Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, October 4th. 1938: -

Further Information Regarding James Ogilvie.

Of James Ogilvie of Boyne, my brother and I some years ago gave you a good deal of history, and of how he was mixed up in both the Jacobite expedition to Scotland in 1708 and in that of 1715. We gave in the paper on the Ogilvies a brief account of his sufferings in the cause, as far as we had been able to trace them in the printed Stuart papers down to 1719. Since the delivery of that lecture we have found among the MSS at Windsor quite a number of letters from, to, and about him, which add greatly to our knowledge of his daily life in France. In the first of these it is seen how great were his financial straits from the beginning, and in the others how he did little to remedy this situation by taking to himself a penniless second wife. She lived for only five years and left him (as he says) with four infant children, of whom apparently only one son, Louis, lived to grow up. She was of French extraction of the name of Busilie, pitifully young, but seems to have made him happy during their brief married life.

The first notice of his marriage occurs in a letter to Rome announcing that Old Boyn has married a young wife and that they are expecting a child. “Is this not brave of the old fellow ?.” Brave perhaps, but a trifle foolhardy!

The Duke of Mar to John Hay – Paris. Jan 26, 1722

“Boyn who is my door-neighbour and often with me askt me the other day if I had ever acquainted the King of his being married and I told him I should do it by the first post. It is about 5 months ago that he did this trick of youth and a youthfull trick you’ll think of it. I believe when I tel you that the lady is about 17 and he is 60. She is a verie good gentlewoman, I hear, of Normandie, but I fear she has not much, not very handsome, tho well enough and seems very fond of him. We went to sup with them t’other night, where Ramsay was and we were very merry. She is big with child. Boyn is a very good kind of man and if the King would be at the trouble of writeing him a line upon this occasion it would do them all a great pleasure.”

The King did so. Six weeks later James Ogilvie writes to John Hay, Lord Inverness, in Rome, from Paris, March 9,1722:-

“Sir, His Grace the Duke of Mar, was pleased to read to me yesterday that pairt of your letter which concerns me, and I am infinitely obliedged to his Grace and you for having done me the Honour to mention me to Our Most Gracious King.

I did once design to give you the trouble of a letter about my marriage but I judged it was the same when I did my self the honour to acquaint His Grace the Duke of Mar and beged he would mention it to His Majesty which way he judged proper.

I shall now Most Humbly entreat ye will be pleased to Lay me befor His Majesty and assure Him that noe state of Life shall ever hinder me from acting in His Service with fervent zeall, duty, and sincere attachment that I have most heartily testified on all occasions and I shall be always most readie to doe the same whenever it shall pleas His Majesty to Honour me with his commands and that I long extremely for ane opportunity to give more evident proofs of my duty and willingness than by words of writing.”

And to Mar on March 30, 1722, begging for help in getting his pension:-

“May it please your Grace, If His Majesty be pleased to write by the French agent in Rome and that it may be known here that it is by his recommendation either to the Cardinall de Bois or Cardinall De Rohan or whom His Majesty judges proper, I doubt not but they will prove verry effectuall for the payment of my pension, of which I have very great necessity, since of seven years past I have only gott four, in Bank bills, when they were of little value and they owe me three years at the end of this, and I make no doubt but General Dillon will give his assistance in this affairs at the Court.”

Three years later he writes again to Lord Inverness:-

“Paris. 24th. December 1725

My Lord, My lamentable and unhappie condition at present will I hope draw compassion from God Almighty and all good men. I have lost my dear wife after a cruell sickness of almost ten weeks. She was brought to bed safely of a son, but was taken with a feaver some days after, which continued, till God Almighty was pleased to take her out of this miserable world. Since she lived most christianly and virtuously and dyed with entire sentiments of piety and with patience and a sincere submission to God Almighty’s pleasures, I may with all human reason hope that she may be now eternally happy. She has left me a most disconsolate man with four little children, the eldest not being 4 years old, and nothing almost in prospect to maintain them, and as great misfortunes seldom come alone, my small pension was reduced the day after my greatest loss, by taking away the fourth part and reducing the fifth instead of the tenth I payed formerly.

My Lord I leave it to your consideration to judge of my unhappie circumstances, having contracted a considerable debt for the subsistence of my poor family these two years that I have gott nothing, and that on the faith and promises of my credit, so that I now have no resources left me, under Heaven but the King’s bounty, which His Majesty was always so gracious as to show me in my necessities. Therefore I must heartily entreat the honour of your Lordship’s friendship and concurrence to represent my miserable condition, as in this letter to his most gracious Majesty, who I doubt not will lett me partake of his bounty as my present lamentable circumstances require.

I can say with truth and the most integrity that I abandoned my all and ventured my life frequently for his service and will be readie on all occasions to doe the same. This makes me hope, and almost assured, that his Most Gracious Majesty will not abandon me in my outmost necessity.”

On 20th. August 1726 (nine months later), poor Boyn writes again to Lord Inverness from Paris:-

“My Lord, Nothing but the continuation of my unhappie circumstances could oblige me to give your Lordship any further trouble about them. They are still the same, and rather worse than when you were pleased to do me the honour to represent them to the King. Your Lordship was pleased by your last of the 25th. January to putt me in hopes of some relief, which makes me the bolder to trouble you again and to entreat you may still do me the honour to represent my unfortunate situation to His Majesty. I have a great familie of small children and noe whereof to give them, nor credit which is now at an end.”

Further protestations of loyalty follow. The letter is docketed by Hay “Nothing possible” and poor Boyne died in 1727, the state of his finances at his death being briefly summed up in the notice sent from Edinburgh to William Duff of Braco, in 1728 saying – “Your are decerned executor qua creditor to Boyne” (showing that the poor man had left nothing but debts.)

Alexander Ogilvie, his brother, had a certificate of Noblesse eleven years later in 1737 -

“We undersubscribers testifie and declare that Mr. Alexander Ogilvie. now living in Burgundy, is a gentleman of Scotch extraction, descended of the Branche of the Boyne, of the ancient family of Airly, his grandfather having served till his death in Dumbarton’s regiment with honour, as we were told by old officers of said regiment. His father, Patrick Ogilvie, had the caracter of Lovetenant in the List of Officers sent before La Hogue by the Late King to Dunkerk, and was payed as such by Mr. Arbuthnot by the late King’s orders, and served afterwards in the Duke iof Berwicks troop of Horse Guards. Alexander Ogilvie went afterwards to Scotland, with Mr. Ogilvie of Boyne about the King’s affairs and was sent back by Mr. Ogilvie of Boyne from London with Mr. Abuthnot, and was always esteemed a very honest man. Given under our hands at Paris the 11th. July 1727

Maclean Rob. Arbuthnot.

From the Leopard Magazine, January 1995, “Portsoy Marble” by Fiona Cameron:-

James Ogilvie, son of Patrick Ogilvie, Laird of Boyne.

Travelling as a “Mr. Lawson” James acted for many years as a Jacobite spy for the exiled court. He took part in the unsuccessful invasion attempt of 1708, was stranded as a fugitive in Scotland for many months thereafter, but was back again in 1715, trying to raise support in the North East. Once more he escaped, a circumstance presumably not unconnected with the fact that his wife, Anna Arnot, hung doggedly on at Boyne until forcibly evicted in 1716. James was not always in high favour at the Court of St. Germain, since the Old Pretender suspected him, unfairly it would seem, of double dealing. He eked out the last of his days in Paris, on a miserable pension grudgingly granted by his King, and never saw his wife again.

The town house of the Ogilvies (near the Old Harbour, Portsoy, and known locally as the “Ritchies”) has long since been pulled down – the house to which proud Anna Arnot was carried on the armchair from which she refused to rise when evicted from Boyne Castle.

The Ogilvie Town House

Other Known Jacobites of the 1715 Rebellion

From the book “Jacobites of 1715″ by Frances McDonnell

Alexander Clark, Shipmaster, Portsoy.

Sir James Dunbar, of Durn. Eldest son of Sir William Dunbar, 1st. Baronet of Durn, and his wife Janet, daughter of John Brodie, Dean of Auldearn. Baptized on 9th. January 1665, he married in 1692, Mary (or Margaret) daughter of James Baird, younger of Auchmedden, and by her had two sons, William who succeeded him and James of Kincorth. Died in November 1737, his wife having predeceased him in 1734.

James Ogilvie, younger, of Boyne. Son of James Ogilvie of Boyne and his first wife Anna Arnot. Lived mostly with his father in France, returning for the Rising. He never married, and died at Rouen in 1717.


From the book “Jacobites of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire in the Forty-five” by A & H Tayler, Published in 1928 – The dates of the more important events are here given in table form :-

The second Jacobite Rising

Skirmish at Inverurie – Early on Monday 23rd. December 1745, the Jacobite, Lord Lewis marched out from Aberdeen full of confidence. He had with him 900 men, some of the newly arrived French picquets and an experienced officer, Lancelot Cuthbertson. A second column under Gordon of Avochie, marched on the right bank of the River Don, which it did not cross until within sight of Inverurie.

McLeod the superior officer of the Government forces in Inverurie, waited until attacked by both parties, but unfortunately his army was routed, and driven out of Inverurie, leaving a number of prisoners in the Jacobites’ hands, including McCrinnon, McLeod’s own piper.

French Troopship arrives in Portsoy – Early in February, 1746, five vessels with troops and ammunition set sail from France for the East Coast of Scotland, under the Comte de Fitzjames (brother of the Duke of Berwick and first cousin to Prince Charles). Fitzjames himself and two of the vessels, “La Bourbon” and “La Charite,” with 359 men, were taken on 24th. February; two vessels came into Aberdeen, and one, with a picquet of Berwick’s regiment, landed safely at Portsoy. These men were among the French prisoners of war who surrendered after Culloden.

George Hay, Shipmaster, Portsoy

Papers in the Record Office give his brief history, thus:- George Hay was a Shipmaster at Portsoy in Scotland, but in February 1746 he was reported to have a Lieut. Commission from Lord John Drummond, by virtue of which he raised several recruits in and about Portsoy for the Rebels. Marched about the Town with them with the white cockade in their hats. On the 26th. February went off to some vessels which appeared off Portsoy, mistaking them for French, when he was taken by the Shark, a sloop of war.

He was carried to London by Captain Dive on board HMS Winchester, but escaped on landing, He next appears among “the officers committed to the New Goal, Southwark, 17th. June 1746. George Hay, 25, escaped.”

In the report of Captain Eyre, Commandant of Tilbury and of the ships moored near Woolwich, to Lord Harrington, it is stated that “Hay escaped the day Captain Dive brought him on shore, though Commodore Smith had given particular orders about having him secured in irons.

This Jacobite never left home until “taken” and was thus never “in the field” nor was he ever actually “in prison” though his experience in coming from the Moray Firth to Tilbury on board ship was probably unpleasant enough. Of his subsequent career nothing is known, save that he escaped to France, and on 23rd. April 1747 his name appears in a list of pensioners as “George Hay, capitaine d’un navire, 100 francs.” Not a very lordly sum compared to the 4000 granted to Glenbucket, but neither his services to the cause nor his personal losses had been great.

Skirmish at Keith – On the night of the 20th. March 1746 Major Nicholas Glascoe with a Jacobite force about 500 strong surprised Government forces at Keith under the command of a Captain Campbell. The Government troops were forced to surrender and some 80 of their men were posted killed or missing.

Letter from the Duke of Cumberland to the Duke of Newcastle from Aberdeen dated 9th. March 1746 :-

” The day before the Pretender’s arrival at Elgin, some person unknown to us was shipped off in a little fishing vessel at Portsoy, and as that little harbour is still in their possession, the young man (Prince Charles) may attempt his escape there, finding the bad state of his affair.

From the book:- “1745 – A Military History of the Last Jacobite Rising” by Stuart Reid 1996:-

Plan to put French troops ashore at Portsoy – A number of small ships still attempted to break the blockade and in mid-March “Le Prince Charles” (formerly “HMS Hazard”) sailed for Scotland with £12,000 in gold, the usual miscellaneous collection of officers in both the French and Spanish service, and a picquet of the Regiment Berwick.

Knowing that Aberdeen was in Government hands, the plan was to put them ashore at Portsoy in Banffshire, but instead on the 24th. March she was intercepted by four naval vessels and chased northwards to the Pentland Firth. Realising that escape was impossible, her Irish commander Captain Richard Talbot tried to take refuge in the Kyle of Tongue, but although he had provided himself with two involuntary pilots snatched up from a fishing boat, he still managed to run her aground. Nothing daunted, Captain Lucious O’Brien brought his “HMS Sheerness” into the mouth of the Kyle and in a three-hour battle he battered the crew of the “Prince Charles” into submission.

The Old Harbour showing Brebner's Pier

From the book “Jacobites of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire in the Forty-five” by A & H Taylor, Published in 1928: -

Edinburgh Evening Courant, Monday , 31st. March 1746:-

Jacobites brought aboard Ship in Portsoy Harbour – The “Vulture” looked into Portsoy Harbour on Tuesday last and hoisted French colours, on which two boats with 16 men (Jacobites) on board came from the town. They were all taken and put aboard the Aldborough, man-of-war. Among these was George Hay.

Party of Jacobites from Portsoy at Cullen House – Jean Dalrymple, housekeeper to Lord Findlater, stated that on 9th. April 1746 a party from Portsoy after pillaging meal from a granary belonging to Lord Findlater, went through Cullen House likewise the same day, and as they had little to take, carried off several books from the remains of the library.

April 8th. 1746. From “The Annals of Banff” pages 124/125.

DUKE OF CUMBERLAND AT PORTSOY – The Duke of Cumberland left Aberdeen with the last Division of his Army on 8th. April 1746. At that time six battalions with Kingston’s Horse and Cobham’s Dragoons, under Major General Bland, were stationed at Strathbogie, and three battalions at Oldmeldrum under Brigadier Mordaunt. These joined him at Portsoy.

James Ray a volunteer under the Duke of Cumberland writes:- ” I had just come up with the Army (before reaching Portsoy) and taken my station at the head of Kingston’s Horse, which composed the vanguard, when they saw a great fire burning vehemently about a mile and a half distant on our left. The officers not knowing what it was, I proposed to go and see. When I came there I found it to be a non-juring meeting house set on fire by a party of Kingston’s that were reconnoitring the hills”

(Notes :- It is commonly believed that the Duke of Cumberland’s in travelling from Banff to Portsoy would have traversed the direct route into Portsoy via Langie’s Brae but this might not be so for the following reasons : -

1. The bridge over the Portsoy Burn at the entrance to Roseacre was known as Cumberland’s Bridge in bygone days.

2. A report in Grant’s Book indicates that the “Langie’s Brae” route was regarded as very dangerous in the 1600’s and that the alternative route via the “Cistern Brae” could have been brought into use in time for 1745 rebellion viz :

From the book “Records of the County of Banff 1660 -1760″ – Grant: -


Report from a meeting of the Commissioners of Supply of the County of Banff: – “It being presented in the name of Lord Findlater to the Justices that the public road after passing the Bridge of Durn in the King’s Highway betwixt Banff and Cullen is becoming quite impassable by the brae on the side of the road giving way and falling down, and that it is absolutely necessary to alter the said road and carry it through the head of the town of Portsoy or thereby.”)

From the book “Ordnance Gazeteer. Scotland” published around 1900:-

BURNING OF CHURCH – Of an ancient church dedicated to St. Columba, which stood at the Aird, ‘hard by the toune where now (1724) is a large meeting house lately buildit,’ no trace now remains, though the Aird still exists; and even where the meeting-house was is not exactly known, though it is supposed to have been the Episcopal Church which was destroyed by Cumberland’s soldiers in 1746, and seems to have stood between Durn House and Durn Mill.

The Episcopalian Chapel was situated near the Mill of Durn.


St John the Baptist Church. The congregation was formed after the Revolution of 1689 but was scattered after the burning of their Chapel of New Durn in 1746 by the Duke of Cumberland’s army following the Jacobite defeat at Culloden

With relaxation of the Penal Laws the nucleus of the Congregation began to meet in a house between the old harbour and the Seatown. In 1797-98 they moved to South High Street to a Church which was converted to a Rectory when the present Church of St. John the Baptist was built in 1841.

The congregation was linked with Banff in 1957 but a re-organisation brought a linking with Buckie in 1977.

(From the book “The Registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths 1799 -1911″ by A. Strath Maxwell 1989)

From the book “Jacobites of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire in the Forty-five”by A & A Taylor:

Cumberland’s Forces pass through Portsoy. Cumberland’s forces, consisting of 7,200 men besides 200 militia, set out from Banff on the morning of 11th. April 1746 and marched by Boyndie and the Boyne to Portsoy, where General Bland from Strathbogie with his men, and three battalions under Brigadier Mordaunt from Old Meldrum joined them. James Ray (a volunteer with Cumberland’s army) described the march thus:- ” After leaving Banff we travel along the sea coast and have fine views of the rising mountains near the Firth of Cromartie. We journeyed those 6 miles when we came to Port Soya (Portsoy) a pretty enough village, the sea coming full into the town and a beautiful spring mount close to the mouth of the harbour, which after we had ascended with some difficulty, were rewarded for our labour, by a most beautiful and extensive prospect, both over the sea and the adjacent country. From Port Soya is three miles to Cullen.”

Supporters on the two sides at Culloden

From “Jacobites of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire in the Forty-five” by A & H. Taylor :-


The following list includes all the other Jacobites from Portsoy and district of whom it has been possible to find the names and abodes:-

  • Robert Henry, servant to Sir William Dunbar, Durn.
  • James Chapman, Gardener, Durn. – Transported 22nd. April 1747 from Liverpool to Virginia in “Johnson,” arrived Port Oxford, Maryland 5th. August 1747
  • Andrew Gibb, Tenant in Durn.
  • Robert Kennedy, Durn.
  • George Paterson, Householder, New Durn.
  • James Bowman, Householder, Portsoy.
  • Donald Fraser, Householder, Portsoy.
  • James Joyner, Householder, Portsoy.
  • William McDonald, Piper, Portsoy.
  • William Petrie, Portsoy.
  • James Bowman, Householder, Portsoy
  • James Taylor, Shoemaker, Newmills of Boyne.
  • John Sinclair, Fiddler, Newmills of Boyne.

Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, August 30th. 1932 :-

Walter Ogilvie of Badenspink.

In their monumental work on the Jacobites of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire in the Forty-five Mr. Alistair and Miss Henrietta Taylor describe the circumstances in connection with the trial of Walter Ogilvie in 1746 as one of the most tragic incidents of the rebel trials. He was the son of Walter Ogilvie of Badenspink, near Tillynaught, one of the Commissioners of Supply of Banffshire.

Walter Ogilvie, says the narrative, is described in Lord Roseberry’s List as a “Writer of Banff.” He obtained a lieutenancy in Lord Lewis Gordon’s regiment and was with the Highland Army on its march into England. On its return he was one of the 18 Scots officers left in the garrison at Carlisle, and was there taken prisoner on 10th. December 1745. They were all conveyed to London and tried at the Court of St. Margaret’s Hill, Southwark In the list of those taken at Carlisle, Ogilvie is put down as a lieutenant in Lord Lewis Gordon’s regiment, but in depositions at his trial three witnesses speak of him as an ensign in the Duke of Perth’s regiment, and one attests that he carried the colours of that regiment into Carlisle. An eye-witness describes him as being in the Castle of Carlisle “armed with broadsword and dirk, blue bonnet and white cockade.”

At his trial it was stated that he was 28 years of age, being born of “creditable” parents, that his father was still alive, that he was educated as a Protestant and taught the principles of loyalty in the existing monarchy but “having kept company with some of the rebels when they entered Banff, he imbibed their principles and joined the Jacobite Army under Lord Lewis Gordon, who of regard for his family and his natural vivacity, gave him a Lieutenant’s commission. When his father saw what he contemplated, he used every argument to dissuade him from it ; but Walter replied that he was so thoroughly convinced of the righteousness of the cause in which he had resolved to engage that he thought himself bound, both by the laws of God and man, to assist with all his power Prince Charles in recovering his just rights.

He was brought to trial at St. Margaret’s Hill, Southwark, on 23rd. June 1746. He then asked for witnesses from his native country to prove the force exerted to cause him to join the Jacobite Army. They were John Thompson of Baronsmill and Alexander Thompson of the same place, also George Cay and Robert Gray, but he apparently neglected to put in an affidavit that the last two were material, and that “he could not safely go to trial without them.”

A Pathetic Petition.

His second trial took place on 2nd. August, the latter two witnesses not having arrived; he was therefore condemned to be executed, and the following pathetic petition, which he presented a few days afterwards had no effect. It is one of the most tragic incidents of the rebel trials :-

To the King’s Most excellent Majesty.

The Humble petition of Walter Ogilvy, now under sentence of death for High Treason, showeth That on Saturday last, your petitioner’s trial came on at St. Margaret’s Hill where your petitioner’s evidences were then on the road to London, and daily expected, and therefore prayed that his trial might be postponed for a few days, but in regard that your petitioner had omitted to mention in an affidavit first made by him that his new witnesses were material for his defence in his trial, they therefore refused to postpone his said trial whereupon your petitioner being thus defenceless, withdrew his plea of not guilty and pleaded guilty. That your petitioner’s witnesses George Cay and Robert Gray came to town the day following the said trial. as appears by the next affidavit, whereby also the invincible force put upon him by the rebels and your petitioner’s great reluctance in going with them, and the constant attitude of the petitioner and his family to your Majesty’s person and government will, it is humbly hoped, plainly appear to your Majesty. Your petitioner therefore humbly throws himself at your feet imploring your Majesty’s great mercy and clemency to spare your petitioner’s life by granting him your Majesty’s most gracious pardon.

Banff to London on Foot.

George Cay, near Banff in the shire of Banff, labourer, and Robert Gray of the same, labourer, each speaking for himself severally, maketh oath and say that they are well acquainted with the said Walter Ogilvy, who these deponents are informed is convicted of high treason and have respectively known the said Walter Ogilvy from the time of his birth and said that the said Walter Ogilvy is about 19 years of age, and that these deponents live the one within 2 miles and the other ½ mile of the dwelling house of the said Ogilvy’s father, and that his parents and the said Walter regularly attended the parish church of Boindie, they being of the communion of the Church of Scotland and these deponents further say that from the general character of the said Walter Ogilvy and his family and as these deponents verily believe they are all very good and loyal subjects to his present Majesty and that the said Walter Ogilvy would not have marched with the rebel party but through fear of his life and they further say, said Walter Ogilvy’s elder brother is now in His Majesty’s service on board one of His Majesty’s ships of war, and the deponents further say that the said Walter’s father is now steward to Col Abercromby M.P. for the County of Banff and his principles are well known not only to the said Colonel but also to the Right. Hon. the Earl of Findlater and these deponents further say that they were present in that month of September last after Sir John Cope had left Banff and saw a party of Glenbucket’s highlanders come to the said Ogilvy’s father’s house in quest of the said Ogilvy, who they seized and holding a pistol to his breast and with their swords drawn, the rebels forced him away from his said father’s house notwithstanding the said Ogilvy with tears in his eyes earnestly begged and prayed they would let him alone, and not force him along with them, which they refused to do, and these deponents followed them at a little distance, during which time they saw the said Ogilvy in the greatest grief and unwillingness to go and that they were informed and believed the reason the said Ogilvie was expecting that the men upon his father’s lands would be induced to follow him, and that the said rebels said to these deponents they would force out the gentlemen of the country and then they would get the meaner people, such as these deponents, when they had a mind, and these deponents further say that the said rebels did afterwards set fire to the said Walter Ogilvy’s father’s house because he and his tenants and servants had left their houses to avoid being forced away in the said manner Ogilvy was, and that these deponents were so apprehensive of the said rebels forcing them in like manner that they left their houses in the night and hid themselves in the rocks, and these deponents further say they were served with subpoenas upon the 15th day of July last at the Miln of Alva in the shire of Banff, aforesaid, being 120 miles north of Edinburgh, and having two large ferries, one 7 miles broad, and the other 2 miles on their way to London and that they set out upon the 16th. day of July being the day after they were served aforesaid and got to London upon Sunday last the 3rd. instant and not sooner, and that they travelled all the way on foot, not having any money to provide themselves with horses, and that in order to be upon the 25th. of July last, for which time they were summoned, these deponents did some days walk 36 and other days 40 measured miles, and that they only rested one day (which was a Sunday) during the whole journey) during the whole journey.

George Cay and Robert Gray. Sworn the 9th. of August 1746 before M. Foster.

The Execution.

The execution, however, proceeded as ordered. During the interval that proceeded it, Ogilvie sometimes asserted that “he was deceived by the Duke of Perth and the gentleman that styled himself the French Ambassador, who also assured him that all Prince Charles’ party were entitled to the benefit of the Cartel settled at Frankfort, if they should happen to be made prisoners, which assurance made him in the council of war propose to surrender Carlisle ; and that he desired life only that he might go against the French King, who by his emissaries, had seduced him and many of his neighbours into the rebellion.”

On 19th. August the warrant of execution arrived and the prisoners were removed to Newgate to the county goal. Previous to this they had lived “in a thoughtless jovial manner,” but finding themselves under sentence of death, “they began to be more serious tho’ they continued steadfast in the principles which ruined them.”

Early in the morning of 22nd August, having been “unchained from the floor, they were brought into the foreyard of the gaol, where their irons were knocked off.” They were then “all three drawn on one sledge,” McDonald and Nicholson in Highland, Ogilvie in Lowland dress, to the place of execution on Kennington Common, where they spent nearly an hour at their devotions. Ogilvie read, from Kettlewell, “a prayer for a person who is condemned for the testimony of God’s truth and righteousness.” He also delivered a paper to the officer of the guards. None of them spoke to the crowd. After the halters were fixed to the gallows, the prisoners again prayed for a few minutes before they were executed. “Ogilvie died very hard, being a robust young man.” After having hung for 15 minutes (although the order ran, “to be hanged by the neck – but not till they be dead – for they must be cut down alive”) they were all three taken down and laid on the stage, their bodies cut open and their hearts and their bowels taken out and “burnt, before their faces” in a fire, then their heads were cut off. Their heads and bodies having being taken back in the sledge to the New gaol, were delivered to their friends two days later, and on the evening of the 26th. August were conveyed in three hearses attended by mourning coaches, and were interred in one grave in what was then called “Bloomsbury New Burying Ground.”

George Hay, Shipmaster, Portsoy.

Papers in the Record Office give his brief history thus:- George Hay was a shipmaster at Portsoy in Scotland, but in February 1746 he was reported to have a Lieutenant Commission from Lord John Drummond, by virtue of which he raised several recruits in and about Portsoy for the rebels. Marched about the town with them with the white cockade in their hats. On the 26th. February went off to some vessels which appeared of Portsoy, mistaking them for French, when he was taken by the Shark, a sloop of war.

He was carried to London by Captain Dive on board HMS Winchester, but escaped on landing. He next appears among ”the officers committed to the New Goal, Southwark, 17th June 1746. George Hay, 25, escaped.”

In the report of Capt. Eyre, Commandant of Tilbury and of the ships moored near Woolwich, to Lord Harrington, it is stated that “Hay escaped the day Captain Dive brought him on shore, though Commodore Smith had given particular orders about having him secured in irons.”

This Jacobite never left home until “taken” and was thus never “in the field” nor was he ever actually “in prison” though his experience in coming from the Moray Firth to Tilbury on board ship was probably unpleasant enough. Of his subsequent career nothing is known, save that he escaped to France, and on 23rd. April 1747 his name appears in a list of pensioners as “George Hay, capitaine d’un navire, 100 francs.” Not a very lordly sum compared to the 4000 granted to Glenbucket, but neither his services to the cause nor his personal losses had been great.

RS 17/7 f. 416

7th June 1754 – James Robertson merchant in Portsoy in whose favour a heritable bond was made appeared as did Thomas Grant, merchant in Portsoy as baillie. The heritable bond dated 3 April had been made in James Robertson’s favour by George Hay, shipmaster in Portsoy, son of the deceased George Hay, shipmaster in Portsoy and Janet Findlay his spouse, only daughter and heir of the deceased James Findlay, shipmaster in Portsoy to and him and his heirs. They were bound to infeft him in a yearly annual rent of £3/6/- Sterling corresponding to a principal sum of £66 Sterling to be uplifted at 2 terms, Whitsunday and Martinmas out of tenement of land and houses in Portsoy which had belonged to the deceased James Findlay shipmaster and now to his only child Janet Findlay.

The property was bounded on the south side by a tenement belonging to Patrick Lorimer ; the tenement or feu which belonged to Walter Taylor on the North ; the common street leading to the Shore of Portsoy on the West and the water run of the Malt Miln of Portsoy on the east.

The annual rent was also to be paid furth 3 small tenements or houses lying on the east end of the foresaid tenement which originally were a part thereof and was disjoined by James Findlay to the said deceased George Hay and which George Hay his son succeeded to. Witness to the giving of actual and corporal possession, 23rd. April 1754 were Thomas Grant and John Lorimer, both merchants in Portsoy.

(It would appear that George Hay, the Jacobite, was dead by 3rd. April 1754)

Charles Edward Stuart 1720-1788

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Flora MacDonald

Flora McDonald (1722-1790)

Charles Edward Stuart, called the Young Pretender and the Young Chevalier, claimant to the British throne who led the Scottish Highland Army in the Forty-five Rebellion.

The son of James Francis Edward Stuart and grandson of James II of England, Charles Edward was born December 31, 1720 in Rome. In 1744, after his father had obtained the support of the French Government on a projected invasion of England, Charles Edward went to France to assume command of the French expeditionary forces. Unfavourable weather and the mobilisation of a powerful English fleet to oppose the invasion led to cancellation of the plan by the French Government. Charles Edward persisted in his determination to drive George II from the British throne, however, and in 1745 he arrived in Scotland, where a number of Highland clans came to his assistance. He took Edinburgh, defeated a British force at Prestonpans, and advanced as far south as Derby, England, before being forced to retreat.

In April 1946, however, his forces were utterly routed at Culloden Moor. He was hunted as a fugitive for more than five months, but the Highlanders never betrayed him, and he eventually escaped to France with the help of Flora McDonald in September 1746.

Two years later he was expelled from that country in accordance with one of the provisions of the second treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) which stipulated that all members of the house of Stuart were to be driven from France. For a number of years Charles Edward wandered about Europe. Secretly visiting London in 1750 and in 1754, he attempted without success on both occasions to win support for his cause. In 1766, on his father’s death, Charles Edward returned to Italy, where he spent his last years. He died in Rome on January 31, 1788.

William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland 1721- 1765

The Butcher

Cumberland was born on 15 April 1721 in London. He was the third son of George II and Caroline of Ansbach. He was created Duke of Cumberland in 1726. A soldier by profession, he fought in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), becoming commander of the allied forces in 1745. He was severely defeated by France’s Marshal Maurice de Saxe at the Battle of Fontenoy on 11 May 1745.

Later in 1745 Cumberland was recalled to oppose the invasion of England by the Jacobite forces under Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, grandson of the deposed King James II. Cumberland’s army defeated the Scots at the Battle of Culloden Moor in Inverness on 16 April 1746, at which about 1,000 Scots died. After the battle he was asked for orders and he wrote, “No Quarter” on the back of a playing card (the nine of diamonds – still known as the ‘Curse of Scotland’). As a result of this action he was given the epithet “Butcher” Cumberland. A flower was named after him to mark his success at Culloden. In England it is known as the Sweet William but in Scotland it is known as the “Stinking Billy.” He remained in Scotland for three months after the battle, rounding up some 3,500 men and executing about 120.

From the internet : – http://www.electricscotland.com/history/culloden/cl.html

The Battle of Culloden

Duke of Cumberland Prepares for March North

Having spent upwards of five weeks at Aberdeen, the Duke of Cumberland began to prepare for his march to the north. As it was his intention to proceed by the coast road, he had ordered a number of victualling ships to rendezvous at Aberdeen; and early in April, these vessels, escorted by several ships of war provided with artillery, ammunition, and other warlike stores, had arrived at their destination, for the purpose of following the army along the coast and affording the necessary supplies. About this time the weather had become favourable, and though still cold, the snow had disappeared, and a dry wind which had prevailed for some days had rendered the river Spey crossable, the passage of which was considered the most formidable obstacle to his march.

Accordingly, on the 8th of April the duke left Aberdeen with the last division of his army, consisting of six battalions of foot and a regiment of dragoons. The whole regular force under his command amounted to about 7,200 men, comprehending fifteen regiments of foot, two of dragoons, and Kingston’s horse. Besides these, there were the Argyleshire men and other militia, whose united numbers may be stated at 2,000. At the time of the duke’s departure, six battalions, with Kingston’s horse and Cobham’s dragoons, under Major general Bland, were stationed at Strathbogie, and three battalions at Old Meldrum, under Brigadier Mordaunt. The duke quartered the first night at Old Meldrum and the next at Banff, where two spies were seized and hanged. One of them was caught while in the act of notching upon a stick the number of the duke’s forces. On the 1lth the duke marched to Culloden, and at Portsoy he was joined by the remainder of his army, which had been stationed at Old Meldrum and Strathbogie. The army being too numerous to obtain quarters in the town, the foot encamped for the night on some ploughed fields in the neighbourhood, and the horse were quartered in Cullen and the adjacent villages. The Earl of Findlater, who, with his Countess, had accompanied the army on its march from Aberdeen, on arriving at his seat at Cullen, made a present of two hundred guineas to the troops.

Next day, being Saturday, the 12th of April, the duke put his army again in motion, and, after a short march, halted on the moor of Arrondel, about five or six miles from the river Spey. He then formed his army into three divisions, each about half a mile distant from the other, and in this order they advanced towards the Spey. The left division, which was the largest, crossed the river by a ford near Gormach, the centre by another close by Gordon castle, and the division on the right by a ford near the church of Belly. In their passage, the men were up to their waists in the water, but, with the exception of the loss of one dragoon and four women, who were carried away by the stream, no accident occurred.


Writing his diary on Wednesday night, 26th March 1746 the Reverend Murdo MacDonald., minister of Durness, made the following entry referring to the previous day:- ‘Yesternight we heard in the evening throng cannonading to the eastward. Some thought the noise too loud to be far off, and too low to be near; but this afternoon we are told it was an engagement between a French ship and one of our men of war which happened about Tongue, where the French vessel was driven ashore below Melness. Out of her landed some hundreds of men, who were met by our Flying Company on the frontiers of this parish, and some killed and the rest taken prisoners and delivered to the man of war. There may be several different accounts of this matter hereafter, but as it is critical, perhaps the Divine Providence may be seen in it conspicuously yet.”

What were the events leading up to this entry, and what happened subsequently?

The vessel flying the French flag and sailing under the name of “Le Prince Charles Stuart” was in fact the British sloop “Hazard” which had been captured in November 1745 by Angus Jacobites in Montrose Harbour. She had then been sailed with a French crew to Dunkirk where she was renamed. Le Prince Charles Stuart was a sloop of 270 tonnes with an armament of twelve six pounders. Her complement would have been some 20 officers and 120 soldiers and sailors,

With Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his Jacobite followers running short of arms, stores and money Le Prince Charles Stuart was sent from Dunkirk by King Louis XV of France in the middle of March 1746. She was to sail under the command of George Talbot, Capitaine de fregate of the French navy, to deliver over £13,000 in English gold coin and louis d’or, and supplies for the Prince in Inverness. Unfortunately soon after leaving Dunkirk she was attacked by two English privateers and driven ashore at Ostend where she was thought to be severely damaged. However her damage could not have been serious for she was repaired and later left Ostend pursued by six or seven English ships from which she managed to escape.

Since the escape of the Doutelle., the French brig from Nantes which eventually landed Prince Charles at Loch nan Uamh in 1745, a Western Squadron of the English fleet had been stationed, under the command of Admiral Vernon, in the Channel. For this reason Le Prince Charles Stuart sailed northwards but well clear of the English coast. The intention was to sail into the small harbour at Portsoy in Banffshire under cover of darkness, and if the port was still in friendly hands volunteer officers and soldiers of the Irish regiments on board would be landed with the gold coin to be escorted to the Prince in Inverness.

By Monday 24th March Le Prince Charles Stuart was as far north as Aberdeenshire and by evening Captain Talbot altered course to westwards to take her along the Banffshire coast. As darkness was falling he spotted four English ships of Commodore Smith’s squadron at anchor off Troup Head. They were the forty gun Eltham, the twenty four gun Sheerness together with the two sloops Hawk and Hound.

Immediately Captain Talbot swung his ship to starboard to set a northerly course with full speed, and the Sheerness, under the command of Captain Lucius O’Brien, was detached from the squadron to give chase.

The frigate Sheerness had superiority over Le Prince Charles Stuart. She was a vessel of some 450 500 tonnes and armed with 24 guns including 22 nine-pounders. Her complement included some 160 men.

During the night by the light of the moon Captain Talbot could see his pursuer coming closer, and to make matters worse the wind had fallen. In order to effect an escape he put his crew to the oars and after the moon became obscured by cloud he managed to evade the enemy vessel. The respite had been short lived for as the dawn broke on Tuesday 25th March., and with Le Prince Charles Stuart nearing the eastern approach to the Pentland Firth., the Sheerness was again in view astern. What was worse, Talbot had little detailed knowledge of the north coast so he took on board two local fishermen to act as pilots.

With the superior speed of the Sheerness it was obvious that Le Prince Charles Stuart was going to be overhauled before she reached the Minch. Some drastic action was therefore necessary if she was going to escape. After consultation Captain Talbot was advised that if he could make the Kyle of Tongue the shallower draught of his vessel might enable him to sail further into the Kyle and hence evade the guns of the Sheerness. By this means he would be able to land his cargo ashore well ahead of his pursuer.

By late afternoon, and on an ebbing tide, Le Prince Charles Stuart sailed through Caol Raineach past the Rabbit Islands and into Tongue Bay. With mudbanks on each side the channel into the Kyle is tortuous and not easy to navigate by those unfamiliar with its course. Consequently below Melness Captain Talbot had the misfortune to run his ship aground on the western sandbank. He dropped anchor and managed to manoeuvre his ship so that it was broadside on to the approaching Sheerness who despite her greater draught skilfully sailed to within firing range of her guns.

For Captain Talbot and his crew the situation was now desperate. His vessel was aground with little immediate hope of getting his valuable cargo ashore, and he was a sitting target for the Sheerness with her overwhelming armament.

The events of the next few hours were inevitable as each ship bombarded the other with broadsides, but the superior fire power of the Sheerness began to cause serious damage to Le Prince Charles. The morale of her crew was low and on the return of the flood tide she began making water. Most of her gunners had been killed or seriously wounded in the running battle which had continued for nearly five hours. Once there was sufficient water in the Kyle again Talbot cut the anchor cable and allowed his ship to drift and finally ground again on the sand of the western shore near to Ard Skinid. Although by this time darkness had fallen the Sheerness still kept up her fire and with discipline becoming harder to maintain Talbot gave the order for the soldiers under the command of their senior officer Colonel Ignatius Brown to transfer the money and stores ashore.

Once on land, from the top of Ard Skinid, they observed the Sheerness putting a party ashore to the north. Fearing an attack now from the shore, and with his vessel out of commission Talbot gave the order for the remaining crew to abandon ship.

The plan now, under cover of darkness, was for the soldiers and remaining crew to commence a march overland to Inverness more than a hundred miles away carrying the gold and stores with them. After burying some of their dead the long march began. They had not travelled far when they came across Melness House where they discovered the laird William Mackay had Jacobite sympathies. Although the chief of clan Mackay Lord Reay, whose residence was at Tongue House on the other side of the Kyle, was strongly against the Jacobite causes, William Mackay and his family had always been Stuart supporters. He therefore gave useful advice about the route to Inverness, sold two of his horses to the marchers to help carry the gold, and also sent his son as a guide.

Towards the head of the Kyle the march continued. Meanwhile, once it became daylight on the Wednesday of 26th March Captain O’Brien despatched some of his crew by boat in an attempt to refloat the stranded Le Prince Charles Stuart. was then that he discovered that the vessel was in fact the Hazard of whose earlier capture from Montrose he was aware. At the same time he also despatched a second boat party across the Kyle to Tongue House to seek assistance.

Lord Reay’s militia and about a hundred men of Lord Loudon’s regiment including Captain Alexander Mackay, Sir Henry Munro, Macleod and Lord Charles Gordon; two subalterns, and the surgeon, were at this time in the vicinity of Tongue. On learning of the situation Lord Reay summoned as many men as possible and about fifty of his own men together with another fifty of Lord Loudon’s marched from Tongue and within two hours intercepted the Jacobites.

On being attacked the Jacobites returned fire and Lord Reay’s men, after discharging their firelocks., attacked sword in hands. The Jacobites then with five or six men killed and as many wounded, seeing further reinforcements arriving under Captain George Mackay, surrendered.

A second relevant entry in the diary of the Reverend Murdo MacDonald made on Sunday evening 30th March 1746 reads:

“The ship from France of which mention was made already, in which was 150 or 160 men., who with their treasure, consisting of, as we hear, £13,000 sterling, were taken with no loss to our men. This ship is like to prove a bone of contention between some of our stranger Dons, in a sort of exile with us at present, and our own great folks, who dispute the prize with them, and are like to cast out about the division thereof. And this on account of the absence of our native officers. who, being on a post of defence in the skirts of the parish, could not be got time enough to the little skirmish in which the French were taken at Druim na Cub., about three miles to the south of Tongue, which made the strangers appear at the head of the few scattered men that could first be apprized in the neighbourhood. Such is the account we have of this matter, which threatens,, among other things, the enemy’s coming upon us and snatching away the contenders with their prey, while they are differing among themselves about it.”

After the surrender the prisoners were marched to Tongue and the same night put aboard the Sheerness. The Hazard received temporary repairs and, after being taken to Leith., subsequently rejoined the Hanoverian navy.

Of the officers taken captive the following are named: Colonel Ignatius Brown of Berwick’s regiment; Captains Macmahon and Rogers; Lieutenants Edward Barnavals,, William Barnavals, Nugent and Maurice of Hainault; Captain Macmahon of Clare’s; Lieutenants O’Brian, Brimingham and Osborne of the Royal Scots in France; Lieutenants Barnaval and Weyard of the French Gens d’Armes; Monsieur Shabillard; and the following in the Spanish service: Captains Macpherson,, Sinclair and Hay; Monsieur Faro, a Spanish engineer; and Monsieur Salbold, captain of the Hazard. After custody in Aberdeen the prisoners were moved to Berwick Castle. Later, after Cumberland’s victory at Culloden they were repatriated as prisoners of war.

Of the money, most appears to have been recovered although there are varying accounts of some having been buried en route around the Kyle, and of some being thrown into Lochan Hakel near the head of the Kyle. It is recorded that a single Spanish gold coin was found at the south end of this lochan in 1840. There are also traditional stories of a few local people becoming surprisingly wealthy after the events which took place.

Less than three weeks later on 16th April 1746 the Jacobite cause was lost at the battlefield of Culloden.

References :-

  • History of the House of Clan Mackay
  • Pococke, R. Tours in Scotland Edinburgh 1887
  • Taylor A. & H. 1745 and after London – 1938.
  • Taylor H. (ed.) Jacobite miscellany Oxford

Note : – This article first appeared in the Caithness Field Club Bulletin April 1983

WILLIAM MACDONALD – Jacobite and Piper at Portsoy

Extracts from a biography of George MacDonald, Writer, Poet and Preacher, by his son, Greville MacDonald, M.D. The book “ George MacDonald and his Wife” was published in 1924 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

George MacDonald’s grandfather, named Charles Edward after the Young Pretender, was, as has already been said, born three months before Culloden, and his mother died on the day of its disaster when the news of the battle reached her. Charles Edward MacDonald’s father, William, was one of the few who escaped Cumberland’s ruthless stalking of every fugitive.

Tradition tells how when he and his eldest son were passing through Nairn in their flight from Culloden, they were pursued by the townspeople, the blacksmith flourishing a redhot iron, and how their long legs carried them to safety. They hid and were secretly fed for months among the caves of Portsoy in spite of the proximity of these to his narrowly watched home, until, perhaps because the loss of his eyesight was considered sufficient penalty, he was forgotten. It was at Portsoy that William’s father, after his escape with his father from Glencoe, had settled and started business as quarryman and polisher of Portsoy marble.

Before the final overthrow of the clan system in 1746, the family had farmed their own land, as I understood from my father; but it was of course then confiscated. It was probably near Portsoy; in Robert Falconer, which in details treats so largely of actual circumstances, it is mentioned as a few houses only, a kailyard or two, ” wi’ a bit fairmy (farm) on the tap o’ a cauld hill near the seashore.” The story of the Highlander’s escape is elaborated into fiction in Malcolm; but the Duncan McPhail of the novel, with his implacable hatred of the Campbells for their treachery at Glencoe, their massacre in Strathbogie in 1639 when they left the country, it was said, ” manless and moneyless, horseless and armless,” and their successful ruse at Culloden, where the Clan Ranald, to which sept our family belongs, fought to the death though drawn from a well known character, was no portrait of the author’s ancestor.

Though most of the Portsoy men who fought for Prince Charlie followed Sir William Dunbar of Durn, this grandfather of George MacDonald senior, being Town’s Piper of Portsoy, joined the Frasers, who were Catholics to a man, and contributed a large contingent to the insurrectionary forces. The piper’s office, it should be noted, was still one of high rank, and had been often hereditary. Even when no quarter was given, his life would be spared by any Highland victors, and if taken prisoner, would be treated with the utmost consideration and honour. The Hanoverian Lowland troops would have shown him no such respect, and our ancestor was too proud to yield to any Campbell. So he fled, and was spared for the honour of being great grandfather to the greatest of all the MacDonald bards.

The grandfather of this piper, as doubtless the documents in the family chanter chest, destroyed by George MacDonald’s grandmother would have proved, was one of the few of his clan who escaped massacre at Glencoe…


From the book “George MacDonald” by Joseph Johnson. Published by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd., in 1906 : -

The Highlanders had been Jacobites, but an indemnity was offered to all who should take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary before the last day of 1691. All the heads of the clan complied except William McIan of Glencoe, the chief of the MacDonalds, who held out until December 31st. On that day he went to Fort Augustus to take the oath, but to his surprise there was no one there to administer it. He was directed to Inverary, but owing to the deep snow he did not arrive till January 6th, 1692. Here Sir Colin Campbell, the Sheriff of Argyle, consented to receive the oath; but Sir John Dalrymple, Secretary for Scotland, who bore a deadly hatred against the MacDonalds, concealed from the King McIan’s tardy submission, and procured a warrant for the military execution of him and his tribe.

On February 1st a body of one hundred and twenty soldiers appeared in the Glen; they were commanded by Campbell of Glenlyon, uncle to Mclan’s wife, and were therefore heartily welcomed, and for a fortnight enjoyed free and hospitable entertainment.

On the evening of February 13th a party of soldiers was admitted as friends, but came as assassins. William McIan was murdered, also sixty men, women and children, and as many more perished from cold and hunger in the mountains. About one hundred and fifty men made good their escape, and with them the family from which George Mac Donald sprang.

In the second Jacobite rebellion in favour of Charles Edward, son of the Pretender, two ancestors of George MacDonald fought in the battle of Culloden Moor, the last stand the Stuarts made, and where they were completely defeated by the Earl of Cumberland, 1745. One of these MacDonalds lost his sight in the battle. He was a famous piper, and went to live at the little town of Portsoy in Banffshire, where he brought up many children. This ancestor possibly suggested the character of Duncan MacPhail the piper, whose magnificent hatred against the Campbells of Glenlyon is one of the most remarkable touches in the story of Malcolm, where also are given vivid pictures of Banffshire coast scenery and accounts of Portlossie and Seaton.

The family left Portsoy and moved to Huntly

(Book 1/The Jacobites

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