I'll sell my rock, I'll sell my reel,
My rippling-kame and spinning wheel,
To buy my lad a tartan plaid,
A braidsword, dirk, and white cockade.
By Robert BurnsIn 1689 the Dutch prince William and his wife Mary took up the offer of the British Crown without consulting the Scots. As if to conveniently forget the Union of the Crowns when James VI of Scotland became Monarch of Scotland, Ireland and England. King James gave a statement at the time, part of which pronounced, ‘ What God hath conjoined let no man separate. I am the husband and the whole isle is my lawful wife.’
From the onset King William III was more interested in Flanders than this Northern rebellious land. The clans of the Highlands favoured the deposed James II as their Stuart King and hastily raised an army under Bonny Dundee. General Mackay and the larger force of government troops made their way north towards the pass of Killiecrankie.
The Battle of Killiecrankie was Broadsword against Musket ending in a Jacobite victory over MacKay’s men. This is well noted in folk lore and song. Unfortunately the brilliant victory was squandered by the Jacobites at Dunkeld against the Covenanting Cameronians.
William frustrated in having to keep soldiers in Scotland was forced to issue pardons to Jacobite sympathisers giving a deadline of the 1st of January 1692. An oath of alliance had to be signed, but signatures were removed and witnesses bribed by the servants of conniving William.
The government aided the murder of the Glencoe Macdonald’s by their Campbell’s guests which proved to be a complete blunder in the Kings case.
From the outside it seemed as if the government approach towards captured Jacobites had softened. But this was not so. The Earl of Perth suffering from bad health , was released from prison for the princely sum of five thousand pounds.
In Edinburgh William Livingstone who had been imprisoned in the Tollbooth was allowed freedom under the watchful eye of a sentry for one year. He was later confined to the Edinburgh Castle dungeons then released to stay in Parliamentary Close. Not before long poor Livingstone found himself back in the torments of the Tollbooth Prison. . Rumours of the unjust punishment and indignitaries swept through the country reminding the population of a foreign King thrust upon them.
When a minister of Leith was charged for saying, “ That God would bless our King and Queen, and William and Mary, and the rest of the Royal Family.” It reminded the people of the King across the water.
Some Jacobite sympathisers were sent to Flanders to fight the Kings battles. Others preferred desertion and arranged for the making of false passes to take them to safety. One was not so lucky and endured a whipping through the streets of Edinburgh before banishment to the plantations of America.
1707 brought Parliamentary Union with England and the abolishment of the Scottish Privy Council. The wealth of Edinburgh had relied a great deal on the Parliamentarians living and drinking habits. This was now taken to London leaving behind a Town Council described as omnipotent, corrupt, impenetrable they might as well have been sitting in Venice. Drinking was an important earner and as there were few public buildings meeting were held in taverns. The lawyers and judiciary were often far from sober, Sir John Clerk thought, no man looked so poor as so contemptible and detestable as a drunken judge.
The Malt Tax was extended to Scotland in 1713 which was considered by some as an infringement of the Articles of the Union.
Needless to say it was a very unpopular Tax leading to an outbreak of smuggling and disturbances such as the Porteous Riots.
In 1714 Hanoverian George came to the British throne, a man who did not like his subjects and in return was not much liked.
James Edward Stuart son of the disposed James II ( James VII ) carried on the attempts of his father, the Old Pretender, to regain the throne.
The 1715 Jacobite Rebellion was set in motion by the gathering of the clans by the Earl of Marr and ended on the field of Sherriffmuir.
Marr had originally been the Secretary of state and a Union man, but had changed alliances. Not being a great military leader allowed an inferior Hanoverian force to claim a victory. While the Jacobite army did the same.
Some say that they wan,
Some say that nane wan at a', man;
But one thing I'm sure,
That at Sheriffmuir
A battle there was, which I saw, man;
And we ran, and they ran, and they ran, and we ran,
And we ran and they ran awa', man.
Another attempt with Spanish help in 1719 was ruined by a storm and the highlanders were forced to melt away.
Fearing further rebellion, General Wade built linking roads and fortifications from the lowland to the highland. The government raised the Black Watch to keep an eye on the clans.
But this did not deter Charles Edward Stuart in 1745 who pawned his mother’s jewellery and sailed to Scotland with the intention of recovering the Crown for his father.
“I am come home,” were the words of Charles in answer to Macdonald of Biosdale’s request for him to go back home to Italy. Cameron of Locheil considered the enterprise a romantic folly before being as convinced as the other clans.
On the 19th August Charles raised his standard at Loch Sheil head, the same day Sir John Cope commander in Chief of the Government forces marched to confront Bonny Prince Charlie in the highlands.
Cope was a seasoned soldier who had been decorated on the battlefield of Dettingen in 1743 some times known as King Georges War, where the British, Hanoverians and Austrians fought and defeated the French.
The idea was to confront the enemy before he had time to arm properly.
For two weeks there was no news of the advancing government forces till on the 31st August when it was reported General Cope had refused battle with the Highlanders. Actually, he was on the way to Inverness.
To the towns folk of Edinburgh this news was something of a shock. John Hope shockingly expressed, ‘till then the insurrection looked like a riot that would be easily put down by the government troops. Now the affair looked serious.’
Charlie annoyed at missing Cope set of to capture Perth before moving on to Edinburgh. Ironically he used the new roads built to move troops quickly to avoid the spread of insurrection.
John Cope hoping to steal the march on Charlie’s Edinburgh ambitions sped to Aberdeen to ship his two thousand troops to Edinburgh.
The Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh fearing rummaging mobs moved its money to the Castle. Daniel Defoe thought the town had been built to resist an attack, while, Charlie’s Secretary John Murray thought this was a Don Quixote fancy.
People looked at the weather cocks to see the direction of the wind hoping it would be favourable to John Cope.
Meanwhile the militia that had not presented itself for action for over forty six years was in a kafuffle. On the Sunday 15th September reports arrived Charlie’s army was in Linlithgow. As a result confusion and disorganisation reigned with no one wanting to take responsibility.
The following day six hundred Dragoons camped at Coltbridge ran at the first sight of the advanced guard of the Highlanders.
The defensive spirit began to drain away quickly to be replaced with doubt. Magdalen Pringle wrote, everyone was in terror for friends in the volunteers imagining the town would resist.
Deacon Orrock received a letter informing him Prince Charles Edward Stuart was ready to enter the town. It warned any opposition would have serious consequences.
In an act of disillusion and buffoonery the Edinburgh Volunteers marched up to the castle and piled their arms and marched off home.
John Cope was now reported to be off the coast of Dunbar, but his ships were held up by an unhelpful wind.
The Jacobite army easily entered Edinburgh and made way to Hollyrood. Charlie received word of General Cope who had now landed at Dunbar.
Large sections of the Edinburgh population rushed to see the handsome Prince. Some kissed his hand while others just wanted to touch his coat.
Charlie read out his proclamation promising religious tolerance and a free parliament to a silent crowd.
Gathering his army, he marched to camp at Duddingstone. The following morning he stood in front of his men, drew his sword and said, ‘Gentlemen I have flung away the scabbard with Gods assistance I don’t doubt of making you a free and happy people.’ Mr Cope will not escape us as he did in the highlands.
General Cope had four thousand men east of the village of Preston in an idea defensive position. It was surrounded by ditches, walls, bogs and the sea that provided an obstacle to the enemy and a barred enclosure for himself.
Charlie’s men first appeared on high ground to the south west and could not resist taunting and insulting Copes men.
General John Cope rallied his men for a prebattle speech.
‘Gentlemen, you are about to fight with a parcel of rabble, a small number of highlanders, a parcel of brutes. You can expect no booty from such a despicable pack. But I have authority to declare that you shall have eight full hours of plunder and pillage of Edinburgh, Leith and suburbs.
Charlie was awakened the night before the battle by Hepburn of Keith, reporting a Robert Anderson knew of a way across the bog lands. Lord George Murray also knew the area well and led his troops to the left flank of the enemy.
Charlie’s force of 2,400 silently negotiated the pathway in the pitch dark night unheard by the government army fast asleep.
On the morning of the 21st September 1745 Johnny Cope formed his Battle lines. Artillery and mortars to the right with Dragoons at either end.
Out of the morning mist from an unexpected direction the highlanders approached firing their muskets before charging. They screaming their battle cries for blood. The first to run from the Government army were the Artillery gunners leaving behind only two officers to fire guns and mortars.
The dragoons followed galloping off at a high rate deserting the foot soldiers. Only Lieutenant Peter Halkett and a few men stayed behind to fight.
With broadsword and bill hooks the highlanders cut into the ranks of the Infantry without mercy, in many cases slaughtering those who begged for mercy.
A Jacobite officer thought the battle lasted only three minutes. This was the shortest of battles, left 500 Hanoverians killed and approximately 1,400 prisoners of which 900 were wounded. Only about 40 Jacobites were killed and 75 wounded.
Charlie spent the night at Pinkie House where his thoughts turned to the conquest of England. He returned to Edinburgh Castle to find the Castle had not yet surrendered and its cannons still firing from the half-moon Battery. With all the money and weaponry he could lay his hands on Charlie set off to re-establish the Stuart line in England.
The Highland army managed without difficulty to reach as far as Swarkestone Bridge in Derby. Prince Charlie was persuaded to following the advice of Lord George Murray and return to Scotland. They did not know the King was in the act of packing his belongings to leave for Holland. On the morning of the 6th December the long march back to Scotland began for the unhappy highlanders.
Instead of burning Glasgow to the ground, the Jacobites decided to march to Falkirk Moor and face a superior Hanoverian Army.
Lieutenant General Hendy Hawley commanded 7,000 troops against 5,000 of the Jacobite army.
On July 17th 1746 on a particularly wet day the Hanoverian force achieved an indecisive victory. Wet ground had made the movement of heavy guns to bring into play. 450 Hanoverians were killed compared to 50 Jacobites.
The result made Hawley a rich man as he could claim a wager by John Cope of £10,000 that Prince Charles’s Highlanders would win the next battle.
Charles Edward Stuart pursued by British and Hanoverian troops staggered to Culloden Moor. Where the inept Secretary O’Sullivan chose the place of battle on open ground. Sullivan had left most of the guns captured at Prestonpans behind the march north. Charlie’s officers saw the exposed moor as ideal for Cumberland’s artillery to play havoc.
Things began to go wrong from the night of 15th April when a force of highlanders unsuccessful attempted a night attack. The ground was wet and boggy and the night was particularly dark so many a highlander got lost
Wet, tried and hungry highlanders went off to find food and a dry place to sleep. Some of then drifted off home. Bitter arguments broke out. McDonalds were given the left flank instead of the right flank and this they considered an insult. Later they refused to charge with the rest.
The next morning of the 16th April Cumberland’s Army moved on to the moor in columns of four. The arrived on the Moor at mid day after a ten mile march and formed into three battle lines. Their artillery began the battle by hammering the highlanders who were only three hundred yard away.
There they stood for thirty minutes with cannon ball and grapeshot piercing their ranks while Prince Charlie hesitated. He had expected Cumberland to attack first.
The untrained and ill equipped highlanders fell to the trained and disciplined Royal Army.
Charlie ran from the field he had promised to die in and spent five months hiding in the Western highlands. A £30,00 price on his head could not tempt the Scots. Help for Charlie came from the brave Flora Macdonald to help him escape to Europe.
Bonny Prince Charlie settled in Rome as the Duke of Albany. He was married to a princess for ten years, before they separated. Charlie became an impoverished drunk and died in 1788. He left behind a Scotland that produced some of the greatest intellects and industrialist the world would witness.
Flora Mcdonald was arrested for her part in the Princes escape and imprisoned in the Tower of London. She married Allan MacDonald and later emigrated to South Carolina. Allan joined the British during the American War of Independence and was captured by the American Colonists. Flora returned to Scotland and was later followed by Allan.
Flora died in 1790 and was apparently buried in Charlie’s bed sheet.
Poor John Cope achieved the singular fame as the first General in History to bring news of his own defeat.
When Johnnie Cope to Dunbar came
They speer’d at (asked) him, ‘Where’s a’ your men?’
‘The deil confounded me gin I ken
For I left them a’ this morning.’