Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

History of Aberdeen and Banff
Chapter XII


The Jacobite rebellions—The Earl of Mar as courtier and rebel leader —Aberdeenshire and the Union—Colonel Hooke's mission—Mar's "hunting party"—Fire-raising to compel his vassals and their tenants to rise—Proclamation of the Pretender—The Jacobites occupy Aberdeen and elect a town council—Landing of the Pretender at Peterhead: His court at Fetteresso — Flight of James and Mar, and collapse of the rebellion—The forfeited estates: The York Buildings Company's operations—The Earl Marischal's return — The political influence of the Church : Moderatism— Overhaul of the universities—Cattle-lifting and smuggling—The ' second Jacobite rising—Meagre part taken in it by Aberdeenshire —Lord Lewis Gordon and the other leaders—The Jacobites in Aberdeen—Its relief by Cumberland—The severities after Culloden—Final suppression of cattle-lifting—Abolition of hereditary jurisdictions:—Social and economic changes.

Before King George set foot on British soil he had received the Earl of Mar's effusive letter proffering service and loyalty, and as the king would have nothing to do with any of Queen Anne's ministers, Mar, who was an accomplished courtier, the brother-in-law of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and the friend of St John and Harley, as of Pope and Arbuthnot, tried to strengthen his position by a memorial tendering the fealty and duty of the MacDonalds, Camerons, Macphersons, Macintoshes, and other Highland clans. But his overtures were neglected. For nearly a year after his dismissal he hung about the Court, and then, in August 1715, started in disguise for Braemar and Kildrummy on his ill-starred mission. As Secretary of State he had with the Earl of Seafield, the Chancellor, taken part in promoting the Union, and it had been supported in the Scottish Parliament by a majority of the north-eastern representatives—the Earls of Kintore and Findlater, and Lords Forbes, Fraser, and Banff among the nobility, and of Commoners Sir Alexander Ogilvie of Forglen, Sir Thomas Burnett of Leys, Abercromby of Glassaugh, and William Seton, younger, of Pitmedden, the member for Aberdeenshire, who was one of its foremost advocates. Opposed to it were the Earl of Erroll and the Earl Marischal, who saw in it the loss of their hereditary offices of High Constable and great Marischal of Scotland; and Moir of Stoneywood, Gordon of Pitlurg, and James Ogilvie, younger, of Boyne. But the Union had not, in its early years, fulfilled the promises and expectations held out by its promoters. Its advantages were not yet fully apparent, and its drawbacks in connection with some of the fiscal laws bulked largely in the public view. By its settlement of the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover and the Presbyterian Church, it acted as a challenge to the Jacobites and Episcopalians, who were numerous in the north-east. Every element of discontent and disaffection lent itself to the purposes of Mar. On the other hand, the Union was accepted, on the whole, by the ruling class in the city of Aberdeen, which, included many merchant-burgesses engaged in the foreign trade, one of whom, Provost John Gordon, formerly a factor at Campvcre, was the first representative of the city, with its associated burghs, in the British Parliament, and had an allowance from his constituents to meet his expenses in London.

Before the Act had obtained the royal sanction Colonel Hooke, a Jacobite refugee in the French service, was on his way to Slains Castle to intrigue with the Jacobite and other malcontents, at the instance of Louis XIV., and incite them to play his game against England. The Earl of Errcll seems to have encouraged the French views, and the Duke of Gordon was interpreted as doing so, as were also Lord Saltoun, Lord Panmure, and some of the southern nobility; but on the whole there was a unanimity of prudent reserve among the Jacobite notables. In process of time Admiral Fourbin, with his fleet from Dunkirk, made his appearance off Montrose, turned south, and anchored at the Isle of May until the English fleet was descried, and then steered north again as far as Buchanness, and thence away finally to sea, leaving a ship that had gone up the Firth of Forth to fall into the hands of Admiral Byng.

In the latter part of Queen Anne's reign the Government was favourable to the Jacobites, but the discontent in Scotland continued, and there was friction between the Scotch and English representatives, over the opposition of the House of Lords to the Duke of Hamilton's English peerage as also over the malt-tax, which was alleged to violate the rights of Scotland under the Act of Union ; and it was during the tension caused by these questions that Lord Findlater, who had been one of the supporters of the Act of Union, brought forward a motion in the House of Lords for its repeal, which was defeated only by a majority of three.

When the news of the death of Queen Anne reached Aberdeen a number of youths paraded the streets at night, headed by two fiddlers playing Jacobite melodies. Coming to the well which then stood near the Cross, they "took water in their hats" and drank to the health of the Pretender. A report of the escapade, which was of a piece with proceedings of the same kind in other towns, reached London, and the Earl of Mar, as Secretary of State, wrote to the magistrates directing them to cause the persons guilty of such treasonable practices to be apprehended and prosecuted according to law. Inquiry was made, and the depositions of various persons were sent to the Government, the magistrates reporting that the inculpated individuals had absconded and were beyond the city jurisdiction, and giving the names of four who resided in the sheriffdoms of Moray and Aberdeenshire.1 Twelve months afterwards Mar himself was organising a rebellion in favour of the Pretender. A meeting of the merchant and trade burgesses, called by the provost in consequence of a report that the Highlanders were in motion and might attack the town, resolved to take defensive measures. This was on the 3rd of August 17x5, and as Mar attended the Levee in London on the 1st, it would appear that the movement among the Highlanders began before he arrived in the north.

On his way from Elie, where he landed from his voyage from England, Mar sought the adhesion of Jacobites in Fife and Forfar, and from his Castle of Kildrummy he issued invitations to a number of the nobility, ostensibly for a great hunting-party to be held at Braemar on the 26th of August. The hunting-party was a convenient pretext for such a gathering, and Braemar had the twofold advantage of being central for many of the nobles, lairds, and chiefs whose presence was desired, and remote from the observation of the Government. A large number of the great territorial families were represented at the gathering, including Mar's immediate neighbours, the Dukes of Gordon and Atholl (by their sons the Marquis of Huntly and the Earl of Tullibardine), the Earl of Breadalbane (by Campbell of Glenderule), Lords Southesk, Ogilvy, Stormont, and Drummond; the young Earl Marischal, whose strong-willed Drummond mother was a relative of Mar, represented the Lowlands of Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire, and with him was the Earl of Erroll; and of the other Jacobite nobility there are said to have been present the Earls of Carnwath, Linlithgow, Nithsdale, and Traquair, Viscounts Kenmure, Kilsyth, and Kingston, Lords Duffus, Nairn, Rollo, Seaforth, and Strath-allan, and the Chief of Glengarry. The lairds of Glen-bucket and Strowan cannot have been absent, and the company must have included Mar's Farquharson vassals and others whose names are not on record. Mar delivered an address, and the existence of a war-chest of ^100,000 was announced. Consultations took place elsewhere — we hear, for instance, of another "hunting-party" at Aboyne— and Scottish Jacobitism and discontent were everywhere on the alert. Great difficulty, however, was experienced, not only by Mar himself, whose position was chiefly that of a feudal superior having no direct relations with the mass of the people, but doubtless by the other prime movers in the rebellion, in getting their vassals and tenants to rise. A letter which the earl addressed to John Forbes of Jnverer-nan, his " bailie of Kildrummy," takes him severely to task for remissness and lack of zeal. " Jocke," so the letter begins, " ye were right not to come with the hundred men ye sent up to-night when I expected four times that number;" it was " a pretty thing" that only the Mar men should be refractory; " I have used gentle means too long, and shall be forced to put other means into execution." The vassals were to be treated as enemies unless they were forthcoming, and intimation was to be made to the tenants that if they did not attend a party would be sent to burn or take away all their possessions. The gentlemen were to appear in their best accoutrements on horseback, no excuse to be taken, and Forbes himself was to be at their head. Alar kept his word. One of his vassals was David Lumsden of Cush-nie, and in the cases of a dozen of Lumsden's tenants taken prisoners at Preston evidence was given which satisfied a court held at Alford that the threats and oppression used by Mar and his agents sufficiently accounted for their participation in th§ rebellion. The men fled from their houses for several days to escape the impressment, and at last their houses and cornyards were set on fire by the recruiting parties, the men being ultimately captured, marched as prisoners to Braemar, and sent off for service in the English expedition, where the chances of desertion were less than nearer home. Even in Braemar itself the Jacobite leader had his disappointments. Farquharson of Invercauld, in whose house he had been staying, and Gordon of Aber-geldie broke away from him, and risked the burning with which he threatened them rather than the graver perils of rebellion.

It was on the 6th of September that with religious solemnities Mar raised the standard of insurrection at Braemar, on a commanding spot now covered by the hotel where the modern village is entered from the east. A fortnight afterwards the Pretender was proclaimed by Earl Marischal at the cross of Aberdeen, and at Dundee by a new Graham of Claverhouse, at Montrose by the Earl of Southesk, at Brechin by Lord Panmure, and at various places by other adherents of the Jacobite party. The bells of Aberdeen were rung at night and the town was illuminated, the citizens who refused or neglected to illuminate being " rabbled " by the Jacobite mob. The town council and magistrates were of Hanoverian sympathies, but the Convener of the Trades, with the deacons and box-masters, were Jacobites, and entertained the Earl Marischal and his friends at a feast in the Trades Hall. When the council met next day the Jacobites presented themselves in powerful array, and demanded possession of the arms and ammunition belonging to the town and the keys of the blockhouse, which were either given over or seized; and Captain John Bannerman, who had been commissioned by Marischal to that end, took command of the .town. Popular sentiment was evidently in favour of the Pretender, though the merchant-burgesses and middle-class generally adhered to the cause of King George. On the eve of the annual election of town council and magistrates the Earl Marischal returned from Inverugie. The old council did not attempt to appoint their successors, alleging that as the Trades were in rebellion no valid election could be held. A head-court of the burgh was thereupon convened by the earl in the New or East Church of St Nicholas and a Jacobite council elected on his nomination, with Patrick Bannerman as provost, while Moir of Stoneywood, Moir of Scotston, and James Bisset, younger, of Lessendrum, country gentlemen who were also burgesses of the city, were appointed councillors. The old religious divisions came again into prominence, and after some opposition the New Church was left for the use of the Presbyterian ministers and people, while in the Old Church Dr George Garden, Mr Robert Blair, and Dr Burnet preached from Sunday to Sunday and prayed for .James VIII. The Marquis of Huntly arrived in the town on the 3rd of October with seventy horsemen on his way to join the insurgent army, and with Lord Pitsligo was entertained by the Jacobite magistrates at the Council House as well as by the Trades.

The inevitable requisitions for supplies soon reminded the citizens of the burdens that had so often been laid on the town. After the raising of the Jacobite standard at Braemar, but before the proclamation of the Pretender in Aberdeen, the Hanoverian town council had sanctioned the purchase of 200 stand of arms, and had given effect to an order from the Lord Justice-Clerk to seize all the gunpowder belonging to the merchants and send the greater part of it to Edinburgh for the use of the Government. Within a few weeks came demands from the Earl of Mar, as " commander-in-chief of his Majesty's forces in Scotland," for 300 Lochaber axes, for immediate payment of £200 sterling as "six months' cess, in full of all former cess," and for raising under the name of a loan a further sum of ^2000, a first instalment bf £500 to be transmitted immediately. Four cannon were to be forwarded by sea to the Marquis of Huntly, and later on a . head-court of the citizens agreed to furnish and defray the charges of a troop of thirty horse for the Earl Marischal's squadron. Another requisition was for the transportation to Perth of a printing-press and supply of type belonging to James Nicol, the town's printer.

The Pretender landed at Peterhead with six followers on the 22nd of December, and passed through Aberdeen incognito to the Earl Marischal's house of Fetteresso, where he assumed the status of king, received loyal addresses from the magistrates and Episcopal clergy of Aberdeen and the professors of the two universities, and conferred on Provost Bannerman the honour of knighthood. James made his way to Perth, and reigned for three weeks in Scone Palace. But the southern Jacobite army had been extinguished at Preston, Mar had failed at Sheriffmuir, and rumour came to Scone that Argyll was approaching. The gallant Gordon of Glen-bucket swore that the loyal clans would fight round their king 10,000 strong, but Mar had lost his appetite for fighting, and the Pretender, who had not nerve for such a situation, wished himself well out of Scotland.

So much of the Jacobite army as had not "melted away" into its Highland glens was led down the Carse of Gowrie and along the sea-coast until it reached Montrose, where the Pretender and his commander-in-chief slipped on board a French vessel, telling their anxious followers that they were bound for Aberdeen by sea. In point of fact they were escaping to France. The army thus cravenly deserted was in a woful plight. At Aberdeen the question of making a stand was considered, but it was concluded that there was no chance of successfully doing so. Most of the prominent men sailed from Aberdeen or some other north-eastern port for the Continent, and when Argyll reached the town he found it empty of Jacobites of note. The rising had commanded the sympathy of many persons of position in the north-east, and in the hands of a military leader of ability and resolution, in the state of opinion and feeling prevailing throughout Scotland, a much more protracted struggle would have taken place. But Mar's vanity was the ruin, as it had been the origin, of the insurrection. He had none of the qualities of a great leader.

In a short time the Earl Marischal and his brother are found at Cardinal Alberoni's conference at Madrid, which resulted, among other things, in the Spanish-Jacobite expedition to the West Highlands and the fiasco in Glenshiel. The sentence of death against Marischal was of none effect because he kept out of the way, but there was no escape from the forfeitures decreed in the special Acts of Attainder that were passed against him and against Mar, Panmure, who had recently acquired the Aberdeenshire estate of Belhelvie, Southesk, who held (as Panmure also did) an extensive territory on the southern borders of the county, and the other Jacobite leaders or partisans.

The forfeited estates were placed in the hands of commissioners "in order to raise money out of them severally for the use of the public," and in Aberdeenshire as elsewhere the commissioners found themselves beset by difficulties. Their English law was couched in exotic phraseology which the Scottish courts were not eager to interpret or apply, while Scottish creditors of the attainted noblemen hastened to the Court of Session with claims that left small margin for the public. Sequestrations of the estates were ordered, and Jacobite nominees of the creditors were appointed as " factors" to deal with the revenues and properties. Thus Thomas Arbuthnot, the Earl Marischal's agent in Peterhead, who had been with him in the rebellion, was appointed factor on the Marischal estates; and Thomas Lumsden, who had been Panmure's adviser on political matters as well as his agent in matters of business, was invested by the court with full powers of administration over the Panmure estates. Parliament, on being appealed to by the commissioners, empowered them to sell the estates, and, on a sale taking place, those of Marischal, Panmure, and Southesk in Aberdeenshire or on its borders were purchased by the York Buildings Company. In acquiring the properties the company fell heir to some of the difficulties of the commissioners, and it soon had others of its own. By the Jacobites it was disliked as Hanoverian, by the Marischal tenantry it was regarded as a usurping absentee corporation and a common enemy. After some experience of the stiffness of the tenants and the slowness of the law-courts, the company proceeded to lease the estates to "tacksmen," or middlemen, who were to pay a fixed rent and deal individually with the tenants. Provost Gordon and his son-in-law, Provost Robert Stewart — the latter of whom had been in office when the Pretender was proclaimed—became joint-lessees of Fetteresso; Belhelvie wras leased by Provost George Fordyce; and Sir Archibald Grant, the member of Parliament for Aberdeenshire, jointly with his brother-in-law Alexander Garden of Troup, obtained leases of the Marischal estates in Buchan and other large interests in the forfeited lands.

The company and its lessees addressed themselves with more zeal than wisdom to the task of developing their estates and establishing new industries. Mining for iron and other metals was revived in Glenesk, and iron mines were opened on the banks of the Conglass—a tributary of the Aven in Upper Banffshire; but as fuel, except peat, was scarce in that district, the ore had to be transported on packhorses across the hills to iron - works that were established at Culnakyle on the banks of the Spey, where the pine-woods of Abernethy furnished the raw material of charcoal, and where preparations were made for carrying on the industry on a grand scale. " Strathdoun pigs" were placed on the market; but after much capital had been laid out, it wras found—for General Wade's roads were still unmade—that the problem of transport alone would be fatal to a successful iron manufacture in such remote regions, and a crisis in the affairs of the company brought the experiment to an abrupt termination. Another of the company's operations was to float timber down the Spey in rafts for shipment to England—the raft and raftsman being a novelty in the north. One benefit which the company conferred at the remoter seats of its industrial enterprises was to familiarise the public wiith better methods of organising labour than had hitherto been known. Skilled workmen wTere brought from the south, whose ways of life as well as of work differed widely from those of the inhabitants; and by its roadmaking and sawmills in the Speyside forests, and its systematic prosecution of the timber trade, the York Buildings Company contributed in its degree to the development of northern industry. The middlemen-lessees of the agricultural estates had such advantageous bargains with the company as left an ample recompense for the difficult business of collecting rents, and the Aberdeenshire leases were renewed as they expired; but it does not appear that agricultural improvement made any notable progress under them.

After the two brothers Keith had risen to the highest positions in the service of Frederick the Great, and the younger, as Field - Marshal, had fallen in the battle of Hochkirchen, the elder—Earl Marischal—who kept himself clear of the second Jacobite rising, obtained a reversal of his attainder, and held the earldom of Kintore, to which he fell heir, for the last seventeen years of his life. He had a friend at Frederick's Court in the person of Sir Andrew Mitchell of Thainston, the British ambassador, and was on terms of the greatest friendship with Frederick himself. Marischal served his country by revealing to the elder Pitt the Bourbon family compact, the secret of which he had learned when Prussian ambassador at Madrid 3 and he received a grant of public money which enabled him to buy back his Buchan estates on easy terms, for none would bid against him. But Inverugie, in its ruins, had little charm for his childless old age, and Frederick easily persuaded him to return to the Court at Potsdam. The estates were resold—the greater part of them becoming the property of James Ferguson, the eminent Scottish judge known as Lord Pitfour.

A great change in public sentiment took place in the course of the thirty years between the first and second Jacobite rebellions. Most of the Aberdeenshire adherents of the Stuart cause were convinced by Mar's failure of the futility of armed resistance, if not of the soundness of Whig and Hanoverian principles. The influence of the Church was exerted on the side of the Government, and after 1716 there was little Jacobitism among the parish ministers. Differences there were among them; but it is noteworthy that the Presbyterian Secession of 1733 got little support in the north-east, and the Erskines did not draw a single recruit from the ranks of the ministers between the Dee and Spey.

One of the measures following the suppression of the rebellion of 1715 was another and final " purgation " of the two universities. A royal commission of visitation in 1 717 deprived King's College of its principal, its civilist, and two of its regents. At Marischal College the principalship became vacant by death, but the professors of mathematics and medicine and four regents were removed. The only professor left in office was Dr Thomas Blackwell, who held the chair of divinity, and who, as a staunch Presbyterian, had been sent by the General Assembly to London to oppose the passing of the Toleration and Patronage Acts. Blackwell was now promoted to the principalship; Colin Maclaurin, at the age of a modern undergraduate, was appointed professor of mathematics, to be succeeded, 011 his removal on the recommendation of Sir Isaac Newton to the corresponding chair at Edinburgh a few years later, by John Stewart, son of the provost, one of whose colleagues was to be the eloquent and accomplished David Fordyce, who, while still a young man, perished by shipwreck as he svas returning from Holland. Another was Thomas Black-well, the younger, who first was professor of Greek and afterwards principal. George Chalmers, minister of Kilwinnmg, was appointed Principal of King's College. Alexander Garden, younger of Troup, an advocate in Edinburgh, of the influential Whig connection and lessee of forfeited estates, became civilist in 1717, and sold the office for 4500 merks in 1724 to Alexander Fraser, sub-principal, for his son. John Ker and Daniel Bradfut, both undistinguished, came north with Chalmers to be regents under royal warrants issued at the instance of the Commission of Visitation. The first of four members of the family of Gregory who held the office of " mediciner" in King's College was appointed in 1725. Both colleges finally ceased at this "purgation" to be an influence on the side of Jacobitism or Episcopacy.

The turbulence of the Highlands, including the upland glens of these counties, had all along been largely due to economic causes; and the reports of General Wade, who was ordered to investigate the manners and customs of the Highlanders and " the state of the country in regard to the robberies and depredations said to be committed," disclose an organised system of cattle - stealing and blackmail, by means of which the Celtic clans subsisted on their Lowland neighbours. Some of the more daring banditti, as Gilderoy and John Dugar in the preceding century, not only stole cattle and horses but captured members of wealthy families and held them at ransom, as in the case of a relative of Dr John Forbes of Corse, for whom a great sum was demanded, but whose release by Dugar without payment was procured through the intervention of Huntly.2 Action was taken by the central authority from time to time with a view to the suppression of these "cattle-lifting" raids. Thus in 1672 Alexander Farquharson of Invercauld was ordered by the Privy Council to enter into a bond, under a penalty of 3000 merks, in addition to indemnification of persons wronged, for the good behaviour of his people, and to exact bonds of relief, of similar purport, from his vassals residing at a distance; and a general Act of 1686 provided that in all leases there should be a clause obliging tenants and their dependents to live peaceably and regularly. Yet in 1689-90 Lord Forbes's tenants were despoiled by raiders from Badenoch, Braemar, and Upper Banffshire—the country round the base of the Cairngorms—of 158 cattle, 18 horses, and 830 sheep. The chiefs tried to repudiate the responsibility which the Government threw upon them, and attributed the depredations to "broken men." In truth, however, they were part of an organised system, in the persistence of which we may see the natural and indeed necessary result of the overpopulation of high-lying mountain regions where the cereals do not ripen except in favourable years. To enforce the law against cattle - stealing was to compel the people to migrate or starve, for there was not subsistence for them in the produce of their own lands.

The heritors of the Presbyteries of Alford and Kincardine organised in 1700 a system of mutual insurance, and imposed on themselves a tax to secure the apprehension and prosecution of the chief robbers by whom their estates were harried. About the same time a sort of Highland police was formed, consisting of small companies of soldiers under some of the chiefs, for the purpose of repressing disorders. When General Wade was making his roads he organised half-a-dozen such companies—the Black Watch, as they were called—to patrol the Highlands and suppress blackmail and cattle-stealing. These companies were after a time transformed into a regiment of regular troops; and then we find Macpherson of Cluny, in the character of a patriotic blackmailer, organising in 1744 a "watch for the security of several counties in the north of Scotland from thefts and depredations," which was to act impartially against all depredators, whether their victims paid for his services or not.

The opening up of the central Highlands by General Wade's roads was the most effective of the measures of the Government after the suppression of the rebellion. Little had come of the Disarming Acts of 1716, except that obsolete weapons were imported from Holland and surrendered at a profit; but the new trunk roads and military stations had a significance and potentiality that were plain enough to the Highland chiefs and clans, who had been astonished at seeing Wade driving along in a coach and six horses. Wheeled vehicles were a novelty in the north. Sir Archibald Grant records that in. 1720 he could not get his wife conveyed by chariot from Aberdeen to Monymusk, and that in the early years after the Union there was no coach, chariot, or chaise, and but few carts, north of the Tay. General Wade opened up the Highlands not only to wheeled vehicles but to effective patrolling by troops, and the easy and rapid transport of artillery. But his roads did not extend to Aberdeenshire or Banffshire, and while raiding by caterans from distant parts was to a certain extent checked, there was a hungry population in the upper glens of the Dee, the Don, and the Banffshire streams, to which repression was starvation.

The opening up of the Highlands involved a serious detraction from the power and position of clan chiefs and landlords. At the same time many of the Lowland gentry, and even of the nobility, were miserably poor. Apart from Jacobitism the Government was unpopular, political and social discontent were rife, and hostility to the Union was stimulated by increased taxation. These discontents were not aggressively manifested in the north-east, where nothing occurred bearing any resemblance to the Shawfield and Porteous mobs; but the fiscal laws induced a development of smuggling, and all along the coasts of Buchan and Banffshire the local population was concerned in the contraband traffic, receiving large quantities of foreign spirits and wines on dark nights for concealment in recesses of the rocks or in the sand, to await opportunities of inland transport and sale. The revenue laws and the consequences of the Porteous mob affected Aberdeenshire indirectly, by giving strength to Jacobitism and sedition in other parts of Scotland.

The first harbinger of the outbreak was a missive from the Marquis of Tweeddale, as Secretary of State, with the king's message to Parliament on the subject of a projected invasion in the interests of a Pretender with the support of France. In reply to this missive a loyal address was sent back by the Town Council of Aberdeen, and on the announcement of an insurrection in the West Highlands in August 1745 it was resolved to arm the citizens in twelve companies.

Sir John Cope encamped on the high ground west of the Denburn on September 11, 1745, when returning from his futile expedition to Inverness, and insisted on taking with him in the transport ships in which his force was about to sail for the Forth the cannon at the blockhouse and the small arms belonging to the town. The town council at once agreed to give up the cannon as unserviceable for defence against landward attack, but only yielded up the small arms when threatened with the king's displeasure and on Cope's representation that they would inevitably fall into the hands of the rebels.

Though Aberdeen was occupied by the Jacobite insurgents for five months in 1745-46, neither the city nor either of the counties played any considerable part in the rising. Circumstances had greatly changed since 1715, when the rebellion had its origin and much of its strength in the north-east. Mar and Marischal were now unrepresented, and the second insurrection was organised elsewhere and had none of its prime movers in these counties. Prudential considerations, enforced by memories of Mar's rebellion, restrained many influential persons of Jacobite leanings from declaring themselves. Avowed Jacobites would have entered the field had the Prince's cause prospered. The Earl of Aberdeen, for instance, was on the point of being led by the early successes of the rebel cause to take part in the rising, when his somewhat sudden death saved him from final committal to so grave a step.

Lord Lewis Gordon, brother of the duke, and a youthful cavalier of the dashing and semi-quixotic type, after some apparent hesitation, took the side of the Prince, was appointed his Lord - Lieutenant for the two shires, and became the acknowledged leader of the north-eastern Jacobites, though he had no hand in the initiatory stages of the rebellion. The duke himself held aloof, though it was his chamberlain that proclaimed the Pretender in Aberdeen. The deputy-lieutenant, who was also governor of the city, was William Moir of Lonmay. The office had been offered to Erskine of * Pittordie, but he prudently held aloof, as he had done in 1715 when the call to action came from his kinsman the Earl of Mar. Nearly all the Forbeses were loyal, but the most considerable Aberdeenshire participant in the insurrection was Alexander Forbes, fourth Lord Pitsligo, who had fought for the Pretender at Sheriffmuir and was now a man of advanced years, a religious idealist, whose high personal character inspired confidence and brought a numerous response from his Buchan neighbours to his call to arms. Lord Pitsligo was a legitimist with an honest belief in the divine right of kings, and it is recorded that when he had marshalled his troop of cavalry in Aberdeen he took off his hat, looked upwards with a solemn appeal to heaven that the cause was just, and in the same breath gave the order to march. Gordon of Glenbucket, than whom there was no more thorough soldier, was again in the forefront. In Aberdeen itself the most active of the Jacobites was James Moir of Stoneywood, nephew of the governor; and of the old families in the neighbourhood Irvine of Drum, Menzies of Pitfodels, and Sir Alexander P>annerman, espoused the Jacobite cause. Francis Farquharson of Monaltry commanded the Aboyne battalion, consisting to a large extent of his own kinsmen and their retainers from Upper Deeside. Among the other gentlemen of Banffshire and Aberdeenshire who took part in the insurrection were Sir William Dunbar of Durn, Sir William Gordon of Park, the Gordons of Avochie, Blelack, Carnousie, Cobairdy, and Hallhead, Ogilvie of Auchiries, Byres of Tonley, Hay of Rannes, and Fullerton of Dudwick; but the representation of the two counties is significantly meagre, and confined for the most part to houses of minor importance.

And while there was a prevailing indisposition among the county families of the north-east to follow the lead of the Murrays and Drummonds, who were at the head of the rebellion, the attitude of the general body of the people was that of decided aversion to the appeal to arms. Cope had left the town ten days when John Hamilton, the Duke of Gordon's chamberlain, arrived in Aberdeen (September 25) with a company of twenty-five horse and seventy foot to proclaim the Pretender. Some of the more ardent Jacobites among the citizens at once joined him, and the keys of the Market Cross having been obtained, the provost, James Morison, younger, of Elswick, was sent for. The provost could not be found until a peremptory order was announced that unless he presented himself at once his house would be burned. He was then marched as a prisoner to the Town House, where some of the magistrates and council were already in compulsory attendance. The Jacobites ascended the cross, taking with them the provost and his colleagues, and thus appeared before the populace with the ostensible acquiescence and support of the civic authorities while the Pretender was proclaimed and the sheriff-substitute read his manifestoes.

In the town council records it is stated that the Jacobites endeavoured, even to the extent of using force, to get the provost to join them in drinking the health of the Pretender, "and several other treasonable and rebellious healths," and that on his refusal they "poured the wine down his breast, caused the bells to be rung and made public rejoicings, and, as a pretended jubilee, threw open the prison doors, whereby those that were committed for murder and other crimes, as well as for debts, made their escape." Provost Morison himself described the incident in a letter to Lord President Forbes, who replied, " The usage you met with at your Cross and your resolute behaviour I had formerly heard, nor need you doubt that it shall be properly represented in due time. The discontinuance of your election"—the annual election of town council and magistrates — "is what you could not help under the circumstances. The good people must at present live in the most neighbourly way they can, as none, I believe, would choose to act." But there was no heart in the rebellion in these parts, and Aberdeen, with its civic rulers, was substantially loyal.

The main problem before the Jacobites was that of recruiting. Lord Lewis Gordon's difficulties in procuring men were far greater than those of Mar had been. Lord Lewis, who was occasionally in Aberdeen, zealously seconded by Moir of Stoneywood who was constantly there, did his best to induce Aberdonians to enlist. " They come little speed," remarks John Bisset, the city minister, in his diary, which chronicles many facts and details showing that pubi c sentiment was to a large extent favourable to King George. Bisset notes with delight the cheering for King George by the boys in the streets, and their manifestations of d sapproval at the grammar-school on the masters' temporarily dropping the king's name out of the prayers. The Duke of Gordon having enjoined his people to keep clear of the insurrect'on, Lord Lewis found himself without personal followers from the family domains. In the early days of the rising he met the Jacobite gentlemen of Deeside at Aboyne Castle and at the house of Gordon of Blelack, but only to find out how reluctant the people were to commit themselves, and how baleful to Jacobitism was the influence of the Presbyterian ministers. Of the reluctance of the people of Aberdeenshire to rally to the standard of their "lawful prince" he writes to Stoneywood with much bitterness; and of Banffshire, with regard to raising the cess and levying men, he says, "We have been obliged to use great threatenings, although no real hardships have been used, and in the lazy way the country is in, together with the unnatural methods the ministers and other disaffected people make use of to restrain the people from doing their duty, there is no raising the quotas of men without seeming violence." Another of Stoneywood's correspondents reports having engaged nine "servant lads," who were "induced to draw back by the diabolical lies of their Presbyterian preacher."  The minister of Logie-Mar, regardless of the sentiments of his principal heritor, was praying one Sunday that the army of the rebels might be scattered and their counsels brought to nought, when an indignant lady parishioner burst out with the demand, " How dare ye say that an' my Charlie wi' them !"1 Charles Gordon of Blelack was a colonel in the prince's army, and the interrupter was his mother. The ingenuous excuses offered by Erskine of Pittodrie for holding aloof may be taken as marking the attitude of many others. His health was broken, he wrote to Moir of Stoneywood, and he could not bear the fatigue and exposure of campaigning. "As for raising men," he continued, " I see such a backwardness it will only be the greatest force that will bring them out; and as for myself, I am worse situated that way than any of my neighbours. I have more widow women that have tacks in my interest than there are in several parishes round me; and if I should force out the men that hold the ploughs the tack must lie unlaboured, and I fancy you will easily believe I cannot support my family without rent. But I shall be well pleased to scrimp myself to give money to raise my proportion of men volunteers — forced men will be of no use." Such were the considerations that restrained many a Jacobite at heart from openly declaring for the Prince. Lord Lewis issued orders that one fully equipped soldier should be furnished for every ^100 of valued rent, or sterling in lieu of each man, under pain of military execution. The need for money was as urgent as the need for men. Aberdeen was ordered to pay its year's cess to the governor, but on the town, through its head-court, making a representation on the subject, a compromise was arranged under which the payment of ^1000 into the needy rebel exchequer was accepted for the time as a full discharge.

There was no actual warfare in either county except the skirmish at Inverurie (December 23), in which Lord Lewis Gordon with his Aberdeenshire Lowlanders, including the Aberdeen men under Moir of Stoneywood, with the Aboyne battalion under Farquharson of Monaltry, surprised and defeated a body of Highlanders, consisting chiefly of the two loyal clans of Macleod and Munro, whom Lord Loudon had sent from Inverness to the relief of Aberdeen. A few of the loyalists were killed and forty-one taken prisoners. The warfare at this stage was not without its chivalrous features. Lord Lewis, in response to an appeal addressed to him by the laird of Macleod from Gordon Castle the day after the battle, undertook that all possible care should be taken of the wounded, and " every civility" shown to the prisoners, with the exception of " Regent Chalmers " of King's College, Forbes of Echt, and Maitland of Pittrichie, who, he said, had acted the infamous part of spies and informers, and the two last especially, who had "given a great deal of bad advice to a certain great man who shall be nameless"—no douot his own ducal brother. These he held it to be " consistent neither with honour nor inclination" to treat as prisoners of war.

The north-eastern regiments had their part in the battle of Prestonpans, in the expedition to England, at Falkirk, and at Culloden. There was no bolder, braver, or more inspiriting warrior in the field than " Old Glenbucket," as he was called; and the other officers—Lord Lewis Gordon, Lord Pitsligo, Monaltry, Stoneywood, Gordon of Avochie, and their subalterns—acquitted themselves with credit and with the zeal of men who had staked everything on the issue. The general direction of the campaign was not in their hands, and for its blunders they were not responsible. Some of the men who had been forced into the ranks were more eager to escape from them than to fight. On the Government side a company of local militia, lately enrolled in the Deeside Highlands as an auxiliary or reserve for the " Black Watch," which had been transformed into the forty-third regiment of regular troops,1 refused to embark with Cope at Aberdeen, and from another there were numerous desertions on the eve of the battle of Prestonpans. Similar desertions occurred on the Jacobite side, as in the case of a hundred of Stoneywood's men who were ordered to embark at Find-horn for a search expedition in Sutherlandshire ; and individual desertions appear to have been numerous. But there is no reason to doubt that on the whole the north-eastern regiments, consisting though they did almost entirely of inexperienced soldiers, fought resolutely and steadily in the Jacobite cause.

The relief of Aberdeen by the Duke of Cumberland at the end of February 1746 was no doubt welcomed by the citizens generally, tl lough it does not appear that avoidable hardships had been inflicted upon them by the Jacobites. The town council record speaks favourably of the Duke, who with his * army remained in the town for six weeks, and on his departure appointed six ex-provosts, and six other citizens, to be governors of the city till order should be restored. Less pleasing accounts of him appear in Bishop Robert Forbes's Jacobite Memoirs, where particulars are given of his violence and inconsiderateness as occupant, for the time, of the house in the Guestrow of Mr Alexander Thomson, advocate, an adherent of the Whig interest; though still more discreditable was the rapacious conduct of General Hawley in the adjacent house of Mrs Gordon of Hallhead, whose husband was with the Jacobite army. The testimony of Bisset may be cited in support of the view that the conduct of the Jacobite soldiers while in the city was better than that of the English army.

When Cumberland started from Aberdeen on the 8th of April on his northward march by Oldmeldrum, Turriff, and Banff, he left a garrison of 200 men in Robert Gordon's Hospital, which had lately been built, but was not yet open for its educational purposes. Eight days afterwards the tired and starving Jacobite forces met with their final overthrow on Drummossie Moor, and the process of severe repression set in. Farquharson of Monaltry, and a few other officers, were taken prisoners, with a number of their men, but most of the principal officers escaped. They lurked among the hills or in Lowland places of concealment, and many of them endured great privations, but betrayal was practically unknown. Lord Pitsligo lived in disguise on his estate in Buchan, or under the shelter of his neighbours. Lord Lewis Gordon wandered from Fochabers to Strathbogie, and thence to Aboyne and Birse, until he found his way to France, where under an assumed name, and with health broken by the hardships he had suffered, he survived only a few years. The fugitives, of whom there were many in Upper Deeside, were aided by their kinsmen and neighbours, whose fidelity to the vanquished was proof against all offers of reward for the detection and surrender of rebel refugees. Farquharson of Invercauld, whose conduct when rebellion was afoot was more correct than his sentiments, was helpful to his kinsmen when the soldiers were in search of them. His daughter, in the absence of her husband, /Eneas Mackintosh of Mackintosh (an officer in the Government service who contrived to be taken prisoner by his Jacobite friends), raised the Mackintoshes in the Stuart interest, and is said to have enlisted 300 Farquharsons from Deeside. " Colonel Anne," as she was called, is one of the heroines of northern tradition and romance, and was an involuntary prisoner after Culloden.

While the stern work of repression was in progress, a proclamation was published in the churches throughout Aberdeenshire giving notice that " wherever arms of any kind are found, the house, and all houses belonging to the proprietor, shall be immediately burnt to ashes "; and that if any arms were discovered underground, "the adjacent houses and fields shall be immediately laid waste and destroyed." In the Act of Attainder against the leaders of the rebellion, forty-two are included, but only five of the names are connected with these shires—Lord Pitsligo, Lord Lewis Gordon, Sir William Gordon of Park, Gordon of Glenbucket, and Farquharson of Monaltry; but the secondary list of exemptions from the Act of Indemnity includes many Aberdeenshire names.

One of the last incidents of the rebellion in Aberdeen was the issue of an order to the magistrates by the Earl of Ancrum, as military commander, for the bells to be rung and the houses to be illuminated on the anniversary of the accession of George I. (August 1). It was not customary to commemorate other accessions than that of the reigning monarch, and while the bells were rung, the demand for illumination was disregarded. Things were carried with a high hand by the soldiers, who went through the town at night smashing windows and committing other acts of outrage under colour of loyalty. Notwithstanding pleas that the town was under military rule, the magistrates arrested one of the officers concerned in the affair, and their remonstrances were followed by the early transference from Aberdeen of the commanding officer, while proceedings for the recovery of damages were ultimately compromised, on the intercession of the commander of the forces in Scotland and others, on payment of a sum sufficient to reimburse the poorer citizens.

The abolition of the hereditary jurisdictions, and the overthrow of the clan system, had less importance for Aberdeenshire, where the only organised clan was that of Farquharson, than for the Highlands ; but even here, as curtailing the power of the landlords over the people on their estates, it involved a social change of some importance. Compensation for the loss of offices and jurisdictions, under the Act of 1747, was awarded to the Duke of Gordon, the Earl of Erroll, the Earl of Seafield and Findlater, Lord Braco (who had acquired extensive interests in the counties, including some of the estates forfeited after 1715), Lord Saltoun, Sir Arthur Forbes of Craigievar, and Urquhart of Meldrum; while other claims were rejected, chiefly on a decision of the Court that lords of regalities could not split them on selling part of their lands.

Importance is also attributable to the military measures that followed Culloden, one of which was the stationing of small pickets of troops in the Highland districts of the two counties, finally to suppress the practice of cattle-lifting. The headquarters of this service were at first established at Tarland, with subordinate posts at Inchrory, the head of Glengairn, above the Linn of Dee, Glenclunie, Spital of Glenmuick, and Glenclova in Angus, commanding the various routes by which the caterans returned with their booty. While these posts were being established, forty-three head of cattle were intercepted from "the thieves of Rannoc'n." Overtures were made to the commanding officer at Tarland that he should "live and let live," by confining his attention exclusively to the shires of Aberdeen and Banff; and the Duke of Gordon's factor in Upper Banffshire sought, by a boycott, to starve out the picket at Inchrory.1 But the practice was completely suppressed, and after a year or two the several pickcts were concentrated as small garrisons in the castles of Braemar and Corgarff, a detachment attending the Tarland market, which long continued to be a scene and occasion of turbulence.

The problem of subsistence in the higher glens, where neither the habits of the people nor the conditions of soil and climate offered much prospect of relief through agriculture, was now graver than ever, and a time of great poverty and hardship set in shortly after the middle of the century, from which a certain amount of relief was found by the enlistment into the army of large numbers of the young men. The 43rd regiment or Black Watch, and also Keith's regiment and the Gordon Highlanders, both of which were raised in 1759, were largely recruited from West Aberdeenshire and the Highlands of Banffshire. In the development of another form of smuggling, namely, the illicit distillation of whisky and its transport to market in the large towns, the population of the remoter districts was generally implicated in the latter part of the eighteenth and the first quarter of the nineteenth century. By such means some money was obtained, and the perils and adventures of this demoralising traffic were in keeping with those of the cattle-lifting days. But by this time the old tenures were superseded, holdings were being consolidated and the arable land enclosed, sheep-farming had come into vogue as the best means of utilising the natural pasture of the hills, and " clearances," or compulsory removals of small occupiers from particular areas, were carried out from time to time. For the Highland tracts of the two counties, as for the Highlands generally, the last Jacobite insurrection was not so much a dynastic struggle as the expiring throes of the old social order ; and if the adjustment of the population to the new economy was to be a slow process and attended by hardships, its completion was to be one of the most beneficent changes recorded in social history. For the north-east of Scotland generally the last of our civil wars coincides with the beginning of the era of agricultural improvement and of a social and economic transformation greater than had been witnessed since it was colonised by the ancestors of its present inhabitants.


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast