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General History of the Highlands
1739 - 1745


WAR having been declared against Spain in the year 1739, the Chevalier de St. George despatched Lord Marischal to Madrid to induce the court of Spain to adopt measures for his restoration. But however willing Spain might be to assist him, he was desirous that no attempt should be made without the concurrence of France. About the same time, that is, in the beginning of the year 1740, some of the more zealous and leading Jacobites, in anticipation of a war with France, held a meeting at Edinburgh, and formed themselves into an association, by which they engaged themselves to take arms and venture their lives and fortunes to restore the family of Stuart, provided the King of France would send over a body of troops to their assistance. The association, like that which brought over King William to England, consisted of seven persons, viz., Lord Lovat, James Drummond, commonly called Duke of Perth, the Earl of Traquair, Sir James Campbell of Auchinbreck, Cameron of Lochiel, John Stuart, brother to Lord Traquair, and Lord John Drummond, uncle to the Duke of Perth. [Letters to the Duke of Ormond and Lord Marischal, 27th January, 1740, among the Stuart Papers. Minding to his expectations of assistance from France, the Chevalier, in a letter (of which a copy is also in the same collection,) written to Marischal on the 11th January, 1740, while the latter was on his way to Madrid, says, "I am betwixt hopes and fears, though I think there is snore room for the first than the last, as you will have perceived by what Lord Sempil (so an active agent of James was called,) has I suppose writ to you. I conclude I shall sometime next month see clearer into these great affairs."] The conspirators despatched Drummond of Bochaldy, or Balhady, (nephew to Lochiel,) to Rome with the bond of association, and a list of those chiefs and chieftains who were considered by the associates to be favourable to the cause. Drummond was instructed to deliver these papers into the hands of the Chevalier de St. George, and to entreat him to procure assistance from France in furtherance of their design. The project was well received by 3ames, who, after perusing the papers, forwarded them immediately by the same messenger to Cardinal Floury at Paris, with a request that the court of France would grant the required assistance. But the cardinal, with that caution which distinguished him, would come under no engagement, but contented himself at first by a general assurance of conditional support.

The negotiation was, however, persevered in, but the death of the Emperor Charles VI., which happened on the 20th of October, drew off the cardinal’s attention to matters which appeared to him of greater importance. The emperor was succeeded in his hereditary dominions by his eldest daughter, Maria Theresa, married to the Grand-duke of Tuscany, formerly Duke of Lorraine. Though this princess succeeded under the title of the pragmatic sanction, which had been guaranteed by England, France, Spain, Prussia, Russia, Holland, and the whole of the Germanic body, with the exception of the elector-palatine, and the electors of Bavaria and Saxony, a powerful confederacy was formed against her by almost all these powers, to strip her of her dominions.

Alarmed at the formidable confederacy formed against her, the Queen of Hungary applied to Great Britain for succour; but Sir Robert Walpole evaded the demand, and recommended an immediate peace with Prussia. The parliament, as well as the nation, however, had different views; and as the minister saw that he would be compelled to fulfil his engagements to the house of Austria, parliament was called upon to support the Queen of Hungary, and maintain the liberties of Europe. The commons cheerfully voted a sum of 300,000 to enable George II. to fulfil his engagements, which sum was remitted to the Queen of Hungary, and the contingent of 12,000 Danish and Hessian troops, which Great Britain had engaged to furnish, was got in readiness.

While the flames of war were thus spreading over Europe, the situation of the British ministry was every day becoming more critical from the clamours of the Tories and the discontented Whigs. Walpole had triumphed in both houses on motions for an address to the king to dismiss him from his presence and councils; but his triumph was short, and the approach of an election redoubled the efforts of his enemies. Though the Jacobites required no incentive to induce them to assist in displacing a minister who had been the chief obstacle to the restoration of the exiled family; yet to make perfectly sure of their aid, Lord Chesterfield went to France, and by means of the Duke of Ormond, obtained, it is said, a circular letter from the Chevalier do St. George to his friends, urging them to do every thing in their power to ruin Walpole. To encourage the popular clamour against the minister, reports, the most absurd and incredible respecting him, were circulated among the people and believed; and while the general discontent was at its height, the election commenced. The contests between the two parties were extremely violent; but the country party, backed by the adherents of the Prince of Wales, who had formed a party against the minister, prevailed. So powerful was the influence of the Duke of Argyle, who had lately joined the opposition, that out of the forty-five members returned for Scotland, the friends of the ministry could not secure above six. The new parliament met on the 4th of December, 1741; and Walpole, no longer able to contend with the forces arrayed against him, retired from office within a few weeks thereafter.

Encouraged by appearances, and imagining that some of the old discontented Whigs who deprecated the system which had been pursued since the accession of the house of Hanover, of maintaining the foreign dominions of the sovereign at the expense, as they thought, of the honour and interests of the nation, Drummond of Bochaldy proposed to the Chevalier to visit England, and make overtures in his name to the " old Whigs." This plan was highly approved of by James, who wrote him a letter in his own hand, which was intended to be exhibited to such persons as might seem inclined to favour his restoration. This letter was inclosed in a private letter containing instructions for the regulation of his conduct in the proposed negotiation, which it was intended should be kept an entire secret from the Jacobites, both in England and Scotland. Erskine of Grange, who enjoyed the confidence of some of the discontented Whigs, and who privately favoured the designs of the exiled family, was pitched upon as a fit person to make advances to the old Whigs.

In pursuance of his instructions, Drummond departed for England about the beginning of the year 1742, but it does not appear that at this time he entered upon the subject of his mission. He came privately to Edinburgh in the month of February, and there met some of the persons who had entered into the association, and several others, who, in conjunction with the original conspirators, had formed themselves into a society, denominated by them "the Concert of Gentlemen for managing the King’s affairs in Scotland." To these, among whom was Murray of Broughton, Drummond represented that, on his return from Rome, he had been extremely well received by Cardinal Fleury, to whom he had delivered the papers which he had carried from Edinburgh,—that the cardinal expreased great satisfaction with the contents of these papers, had the Pretender’s interest so much at heart, and was so sanguine of his success, that provided he had sufficient assurances from the friends of the exiled family in England, that they would assist in the restoration of the Stuarts, he would send over an army of from 13,000 to 15,000 men, the number required. One division of this force, consisting of 1,500 men, was to be landed on the east coast of Scotland, at or near Inverness; another of a similar amount in the west Highlands of Scotland; and the main body, which was to consist of 10,000 or 12,000 men, was to be landed as near London as possible. He added, that, provided assistance could be obtained in England, the projected invasion might be put in execution the following autumn. Before leaving Edinburgh, Drummond had an interview with Cameron of Lochiel, who came to town at his desire, and to whom he communicated the result of his mission to Rome and Paris.

After a short stay at Edinburgh, Drummond returned to Paris, where, according to his own account, as communicated in letters to Lord Traquair and Lochiel, he had an audience of the cardinal, to whom he represented matters in such a favourable light that he promised to carry his design of invasion into effect in a very short time. The French minister, however, though he appears to have seriously contemplated such a step, was not yet in a condition to come to an open rupture with England; and to postpone the enterprise, he proposed to Drummond that an application should be made to Sweden for a body of troops to invade Scotland, and that a person from Scotland, along with another person from France whom the cardinal would appoint, should be sent thither to urge the application at the Swedish court. The cardinal gave as his reason for thus deviating from his original plan, that the Swedes being Protestants, would be more agreeable to the people of Scotland than French or Irish troops. In accordance with this proposal, Lord Traquair suggested that Murray of Broughton should be sent to Sweden on the proposed mission, but he declined.

From the turn which the affair of the invasion had now taken, and the time when it was expected to take place being allowed to elapse without any preparations on the part of France, a suspicion began to be entertained by the members of the Concert, that the cardinal never had any intention to invade Scotland, and that the whole was a scheme of Drummond’s to keep alive the spirit of party in Scotland, and to make himself pass for useful in the eyes of his employers. To ascertain the real state of the case, Murray of Broughton, at the suggestion of Lord Traquair, was sent to Paris in the month of January, 1743. He took London on his way, but before he reached the capital, he heard of the death of Cardinal Fleury. After staying a short time in London, Murray went privately to Paris, where he met Drummond and Sempil, who managed the Chevalier’s affairs in France. They stated to him, that in all probability the scheme of invasion would have been carried into effect, had not the army of Marshal Maillebois been sent towards Hanover instead of the coast of Flanders, as at first intended; and that from the interest taken by the cardinal in the affairs of the Stuarts, he had put all the papers relating to them into the hands of Monsieur Amelot, the secretary for foreign affairs.

At an audience which Murray afterwards had with Monsieur Amelot at Versailles, the foreign secretary told him that, on being made acquainted by Sempil with the cause of Murray’s journey, he had informed the King of France of it, and that his majesty had authorised him to assure Mr. Murray that he had the interest of the Stuart family as much at heart as any of the gentlemen who had signed the memorial of association, and that as soon as he had an opportunity he would put the scheme into execution.

Shortly after this interview, Murray left Paris for London, accompanied by Drummond, who came over to obtain the assurances required by the French court from the English Tories and Jacobites. After remaining a few days in London, Murray returned to Edinburgh, to report to his friends the result of his mission. Drummond stopped at London, where he met Mr. Erskine of Grange, but although overtures were then, it is believed, made to Lord Barrymore, Sir John Hynde Cotton, and Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, they declined to give any assurance or promise of support in writing. By desire of Drummond, Lord Traquair met him in London shortly after his arrival to assist him in his negotiations.

At first view it may appear singular, and the circumstances must convey a very sorry idea of the councils of the Chevalier do St. George, that a person of so little weight and influence as Drummond, who was utterly unknown to the English Tories and Jacobites, should have been sent on such an important mission; but when it is considered that some of the leading Jacobites were proscribed and in exile, and that those at home were strictly watched by the government, and were therefore afraid to commit themselves by any overt act, it cannot excite surprise that the Chevalier availed himself of the services of one whom he considered "an honest and sensible man." Drummond was, however, considered, even by his original employers, as a person unfit to execute the trust reposed in him, and Lord John Drummond, one of the seven who had signed the association, was quite indignant when he found him engaged in the mission to England. Nor was Sempil, between whom and Drummond a close intimacy subsisted, more acceptable to the Scottish Jacobites, some of whom he offended by his forwardness.

During the earlier part of the year 1743, the French ministry were too much occupied with the war in Germany to pay much attention to the affairs of the Stuarts; but towards the close of that year they began to meditate an invasion of Great Britain. The British parliament met in the beginning of December, when a motion was made in the house of peers by the Earl of Sandwich, for an address to the crown to discontinue the Hanoverian troops in British pay, in order to remove the national discontent, which was represented to be so violent, that nothing but their dismission could appease it. The motion was negatived, but renewed in another shape on the army estimates being brought forward, when it shared the same fate. The attention of the French ministry being drawn to these and similar discussions, and to the general dissatisfaction which seemed to pervade the people of Great Britain, by the agents and partizans of the exiled family, backed by the influence of Cardinal Tencin, entered upon the project of an invasion in good earnest. The cardinal, who now had great influence in the councils of France, had, while a resident at Rome, been particularly noticed by the Chevalier de St. George, by whose influence he had been raised to the cardinalate, and he was moved as much by gratitude to his patron as by ambition to bring about the restoration of the Stuarts. The court of Versailles, indeed, required little inducement to engage in an enterprise which, whether it succeeded or not, would at all events operate as a diversion in favour of France in her contest with the house of Austria, whose chief support was Great Britain; but it is not improbable that they at this time contemplated a more serious attempt. In intimating, however, his resolution to undertake the expedition, the King of France notified to the Chevalier de St. George that it was to be kept a profound secret, and that neither the Duke of Ormond nor Lord Marischal should be told, till the enterprise was ready to be put into execution.

The command of the troops designed for this expedition, amounting to 15,000 men, was given to the celebrated Marshal Saxe; and the naval part, consisting of thirteen ships of the line, besides transports, collected at Dunkirk, Calais, and Boulogne, was intrusted to Monsieur de Roquefeuille, an officer of considerable experience and capacity. This force was destined for the coast of Kent, and a smaller force was to be landed in Scotland under the command of Lord Marischal.

While the preparations for the expedition were going on, Cardinal Tencin kept up an active correspondence with the Chevalier de St. George. As James felt rather disinclined to accompany the expedition himself, he proposed that his eldest son, Charles, then in his twenty-third year, should go in his stead; but as it was doubtful whether the prince would arrive in time to join the expedition, the Chevalier sent an express to the Duke of Ormond requesting him to accompany the expedition, and to act as regent, by virtue of a commission of regency formerly granted him, until the prince should arrive. On arriving in England, the duke was directed to advise with the principal friends of the family, among whom he particularly enumerated the Duke of Beaufort, the Earls of Barrymore, Westmoreland, and Orrery, Lord Cobham, and Sirs Watkin Williams Wynne, John Hynde Cotton, and Robert Abdy. Having obtained the consent of the French court to this arrangement, the cardinal, upon the completion of the preparations for the expedition, despatched a messenger to Rome to request the attendance of the young prince at Paris. Accordingly, on the morning of the 9th of January, 1744, Prince Charles, accompanied by his brother Henry and two or three attendants, left Rome before break of day, but they had not proceeded far when they parted, the prince on his route to France and the duke to Cisterna. The former was disguised as a Spanish courier, and took only one servant along with him on his journey. To account for the departure of the two brothers, it was given out at Rome that they had gone to a boar hunt, and so well was the secret of the prince’s real destination kept, that nearly a fortnight elapsed before it was discovered.

Provided with passports furnished by Cardinal Aquaviva, the prince travelled through Tuscany and arrived at Genoa. From Genoa he proceeded to Savona, where he embarked in a felucca, and passing by Monaco arrived at Antibes. From the latter place he proceeded to Paris, where he met Marshal Saxe and other officers belonging to the expedition, and after a private audience of the French king, he set out incognito for the coast of Picardy. The route by Genoa and Antibes was selected as the safest, and, from the season of the year, the most expeditious; but so unfavourable was the weather, that the prince had to stop some days at different places, and when he reached Antibes he was recognised, and information of his arrival there and of his departure for Paris was sent to the British government by persons in its interest. Hitherto the British ministry do not appear to have had any suspicion that the armaments at Brest, Boulogne, and other French ports, were destined for the shores of Britain, but the appearance of the eldest Son of the Chevalier de St. George in France opened their eyes to the dangers which now menaced them. At this time the military force in England did not exceed 6,000 men, so that if the threatened invasion had taken place, the result might have been disastrous to the reigning family.

Meanwhile, the French fleet, consisting of 15 ships of the line and 5 frigates, under M. de Roquefeuille, sailed from Brest, and for several days displayed itself in the channel. Knowing the object for which these ships had put to sea, the government was greatly alarmed, and not without cause; for, besides the paucity of troops in the island, they had only six ships of the line at home ready for sea, the grand fleet being then in the Mediterranean. The activity and preparations of the government corresponded with the magnitude of the danger with which it was threatened. Orders were instantly sent to fit out and man all the ships of war in the different ports of the channel. These orders were so promptly obeyed, that in a few days an English fleet of three ships of 100 guns, four of 90, six of 70, and six of 50, was collected at Spithead under the command of Sir John Norris. Several regiments were immediately marched to the southern coast of England; all governors and commanders were ordered to repair forthwith to their respective posts; the forts at the mouth of the Thames and Medway were put in a posture of defence; and the militia of Kent were directed to assemble to defend the coast in case of an invasion.

On the 15th of February, the arrival of Prince Charles in France, the preparations along the French coast, and the appearance of the French fleet in the English channel, were announced to parliament in a message from the king. Both houses joined in an address, in which they declared their indignation at the design formed in favour of "a popish pretender," and assured his majesty they would take measures to frustrate so desperate and insolent an attempt. The city of London, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the principal towns in Great Britain, almost all the corporations and communities of the kingdom, the clergy of the establishment, the dissenting ministers, and the Quakers, or Society of Friends, presented similar addresses. Ademand was made from the States-general of the 6,000 auxiliaries which by treaty they had engaged to furnish on such occasions; and this force was immediately granted. Forgetful of the wrongs which he had suffered at the hands of the government, the Earl of Stair tendered his services, and was reappointed commander-in-chief of the forces in Great Britain. Several noblemen of the first rank followed his example, among whom was the Duke of Montague, who was permitted to raise a regiment of horse. Orders were sent to bring over the 6,000 British troops from Flanders; and both houses of parliament, in a second address, exhorted the king to augment his forces by sea and land, in such manner as he should think necessary at this dangerous juncture of affairs. The habeas corpus act was suspended for six months; several suspected persons were taken into custody; the usual proclamation was issued for putting the laws in execution against the unfortunate Catholics and nonjurors, who were ordered to retire ten miles from London; and every other precaution, deemed necessary for the preservation of the public tranquillity, was adopted.

Meanwhile the preparations for invasion were proceeding rapidly at Boulogne and Dunkirk, under the eye of Prince Charles. Roquefeuille had in his excursion in the channel come in sight of Spithead; and, as he could perceive no ships there, he imagined that the English ships had retired within their harbours. Judging the opportunity favourable, he detached M. de Barriel with five ships of war to hasten the embarkation at Dunkirk, and to order the transports thereupon to put to sea. Roquefeuille then sailed up the channel with the remainder of his fleet as far as Dungeness, a promontory on the coast of Kent, off which he anchored to await the arrival of the transports. Having received intelligence of Roquefeuille’s arrival from an English frigate which came into the Downs, Sir John Norris left Spithead with the British fleet, and doubling the South Foreland from the Downs, on the 23d of February discovered the French fleet at anchor. Though the wind was against him, Sir John endeavoured, by availing himself of the tide, to come up and engage the French squadron; but the tide failing, he was obliged to anchor when about two leagues from the enemy. He intended to attack them next morning, but M. de Roquefeuille, not judging it advisable to risk an engagement, weighed anchor after sunset, and favoured by a hard gale of wind from the north-east which blew during the night, ran down the channel and got into Brest harbour. So violent was the gale, that all the English fleet (two ships only excepted,) parted with their cables and were driven out to sea, and before they could have returned to their station, the transports, under convoy of the five ships of war despatched by Roquefeuille, might have disembarked the army under Marshal Saxe had the storm not reached the French coast; but the tempest, which merely forced the English ships to quit their moorings, was destructive to the expedition, and utterly disconcerted the design of invading England.

On the very day on which the two fleets discovered each other, Marshal Saxe, accompanied by Charles Edward, arrived at Dunkirk, and proceeded to get his troops embarked as fast as possible; 7,000 men were actually shipped, and proceeded to sea that day with a fair wind, but in the evening the wind changed to the east, and blew a hurricane. The embarkation ceased, several of the transports which had put to sea were wrecked, many soldiers and seamen perished, and a considerable quantity of warlike stores was lost. The remainder of the transports were damaged to such an extent that they could not be speedily repaired.

Such was the result of an expedition planned with great judgment and conducted with such secrecy as to have escaped the vigilance of the government till on the very eve of its being carried into execution. After the discomfiture it had met with from the elements, and the formidable attitude which England, aroused to a sense of the imminent danger she was in, had now assumed, the French court must have instantly abandoned, as it is believed it did abandon, any idea of renewing the enterprise; but Charles Edward, sanguine of success, and in no shape discouraged by the catastrophe which had happened, daily importuned Marshal Saxe to re-embark his troops and proceed to England; but the marshal excused himself, by urging the necessity of fresh instructions from court and the previous repair of the damaged transports. The French ministry, however, finally resolved to postpone the expedition.

Although war may be said to have virtually commenced between Great Britain and France by the battle of Dettingen, which was fought between the allies and the French in the month of June, 1743, no formal declaration of war was issued by either power till the month of March following, after the expedition against England had been given up.

After the failure and abandonment, of the enterprise, Prince Charles retired to Gravolincs, where he lived several months in private, under the assumed name of the Chevalier Douglas. Ever since his arrival in France he had been forced by the French court to preserve an incognito, which, though highly approved of by Drummond and Sempil, his father’s agents, was productive of great uneasiness to the Chevalier de St. George, who could not understand the reason for affecting to conceal a fact which was notorious to all the world.

The preparations for invasion had raised, not without foundation, great hopes of a restoration in the minds of the Scottish Jacobites; but when they ascertained that the expedition was relinquished, they felt all that bitterness of disappointment which the miscarriage of any cherished scheme is sure to engender. They did not however despair of effecting their object ultimately, and, in the meantime, the leading members of the Concert despatched a messenger to the prince to assure him of their attachment to his cause, and inform him of the state of the country and the dispositions of the people. About the same time Murray of Broughton went to Paris, by advice of the Earl of Traquair, to ascertain the exact situation of affairs. Here he was introduced to the prince by Drummond and Sempil. At a private interview which he had with Charles the following day, Murray stated, that from the absurd and contradictory nature of the communications made by the prince’s agent at Paris, they had, as it appeared to him, a design to impose upon him with the intention of serving themselves. Charles alluded to the association which had been formed at Edinburgh, said that he did not doubt that the King of France intended to invade Britain in the ensuing spring,—that he was already preparing for it, and intended to execute it as soon as the campaign in Flanders was over; but that whether the King of France undertook the expedition or not, he himself was determined to go to Scotland. Murray, thereupon, endeavoured to show him that such an attempt would be desperate, as he could not at the utmost expect to be joined by more than 4,000 or 5,000 men; but notwithstanding Murray’s representations, Charles repeated his determination of going to Scotland. Murray says that he was so much against the undertaking, that he spoke to Sir Thomas Sheridan —an Irish gentleman who enjoyed the prince’s confidence — to endeavour to persuade him against it, and that Sir Thomas told him, on his arrival in Scotland, that he had done so, but to no purpose. On returning to Scotland Murray reported to the members of the association all that had passed at the conference with the prince; and all of them, except the Duke of Perth, declared themselves opposed to the prince’s resolution of coming to Scotland without troops. Murray then wrote a letter to Charles, stating the opinion of his friends, and representing the ruinous consequences which might ensue from such a rash undertaking. This letter was committed to the care of a gentleman who went to London in the month of January, 1745; but he neglected to forward it, and it was returned to Murray in the month of April. Murray made several attempts afterwards to forward the letter to France, and at last succeeded; but it never came to the hands of the prince, who departed for Scotland before the letter reached its destination.

During the spring of 1745, the agents of the Chevalier de St. George renewed their solicitations at the French court for another expedition; but Louis and his ministers were too much occupied with preparations for the campaign in Flanders to pay much attention to such applications. They however continued to amuse the Jacobite negotiators with assurances of conditional support; but James began to perceive that little or no reliance could be placed upon such promises. To relieve himself from the ennui occasioned by the failure of the expedition, and the state of seclusion in which he was kept by the French government, and to obtain some knowledge of military tactics, Charles applied for permission to make a campaign with the French army in Flanders; but although he was warmly backed in his application by his father, Louis refused to accede to his wish. Though frustrated in his expectations of any immediate aid from France, and denied the trifling gratification of making a campaign, Charles manifested little of the restlessness and hauteur which he afterwards displayed on his return, from Scotland. Though he had much reason, as he observed, "to be out of humour," he resolved, notwithstanding, to bear with patience the disappointment which he had experienced.

To ease his mind from the anxieties which pressed upon it, the Duke of Fitzjames and other friends of his family, invited the prince to pass the spring at their country-seats in the neighbourhood of Paris, where, amid the society of his friends and rural recreations, he seemed, for a time, to forget the object for which he had come to France.


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