John Erskine, Earl of Mar
IN completing two volumes
of a work which has been for some years in contemplation, it may be
remarked that it is the only collective Biography of the Jacobites that
has yet been given to the Public. Meagre accounts, scattered anecdotes,
and fragments of memoir, have hitherto rather tantalized than satisfied
those who have been interested in the events of 1715 and 1745. The works
of Home, of Mr. Chambers, and the collections of Bishop Forbes, all
excellent, are necessarily too much mingled up with the current of
public affairs to comprise any considerable portion of biographical
detail. Certain lives of some of the sufferers in the cause of the
Stuarts, printed soon after the contests in behalf of those Princes, are
little more than narratives of their trials and executions ; they were
intended merely as ephemeral productions to gratify a curious public,
and merit no long existence. It would have been, indeed, for many years,
scarcely prudent, and certainly not expedient, to proffer any
information concerning the objects of royal indignation, except that
which the newspapers afforded: nor was it perfectly safe, for a
considerable time after the turbulent times in which the sufferers
lived, to palliate their offences, or to express any deep concern for
their fate. That there was much to be admired in those whose memories
were thus, in some measure, consigned to oblivion, except in the hearts
of their descendants; much which deserved to be explained in their
motives; much which claimed to be upheld in their self sacrifices, the
following pages will show. Whatever leaning the Author may have had to
the unfortunate cause of the Stuarts, it has not, however, been her
intention only to pourtray the bright ornaments of the party. She has
endeavoured to show that it was composed, as well as most other
political combinations, of materials differing in value some pure, some
base, some noble, some mean and vacillating.
As far as human weakness
and prejudice can permit, the Author has aimed at a strict scrutiny of
conduct and motives. In the colouring given to these, she has
conscientiously sought to be impartial: for the facts stated, she has
given the authorities.
It now remains for the Author publicly to
acknowledge the resources from which she has derived some materials
which have never before been given to the Public, and for which she has
to thank, in several instances, not only the kindness of friends, but
the liberality of strangers.
A very interesting
collection of letters, many of them written in the Earl of Mar's own
hand, and others dictated by him, is interwoven with the biography of
that nobleman. These letters were written, in fact, for the information
of the whole body of Jacobites, to whom they were transmitted through
the agent of that party, Captain Henry Straiton, residing in Edinburgh.
They form almost a diary of Lord Mar's proceedings at Perth. They are
continued up to within a few hours of the evacuation of that city by the
Jacobite army. For these curious and characteristic letters, pourtraying
as they do, in lively colours, the difficulties of the General in his
council and his camp, she is indebted to the friendship and mediation of
the Honourable Lord Cockburn, and to the liberality of James Gibson
To the Right Honourable
the Earl of Newburgh, the descendant and representative of the Radcliffe
family, her sincere and respectful acknowledgments are due for his
Lordship's readily imparting to her several interesting particulars of
the Earl of Derwentwater and his family. She owes a similar debt of
gratitude to the Viscount Strathallan, for his Lordship's communication
to her respecting the House of Drummond. To the Honourable Mrs. Bellamy,
the descendant of Viscount Kenmure, she has also to offer similar
acknowledgments, for information respecting her unfortunate ancestor;
and for an original letter of his Lordship; and she must also beg to
express her obligations to William Constable Maxwell, Esq., and to Mrs.
Constable Maxwell, of Terregies, the descendants of the Earl of
Nithisdale, for their courteous and prompt assistance. To James Craik,
Esq., of Arbigland, Dumfriesshire, she is indebted for a correspondence
which continues, as it were, an account of that family during the later
part of the year 1745. To Sir Fitzroy Grafton Maclean, Bart., she owes
the account of his clan and family, which has been printed for private
circulation. She is also grateful to a descendant of the family of
Lochiel, Miss Mary Anne Cameron, for some interesting particulars of the
burning of Achnacarry, the seat of her ancestors.
In some of these
instances the information derived has not been considerable, owing to
the total wreck of fortune, the destruction of houses, and the loss of
papers, which followed the ruthless steps of the conquering army of the
Duke of Cumberland. Most of the hereditary memorials of those Highland
families who engaged in both rebellions, perished; and their
representatives are strangely destitute of letters, papers, and
memorials of every kind. The practice of burying family archives and
deeds which prevailed during the troubles, was adopted but with partial
advantage, by those who anticipated the worst result of the contest.
In recalling with
pleasure the number of those to whom the Author owes sincere gratitude
for kindness and aid in her undertaking, the name of Charles Kirkpatrick
Sharpe, Esq. renews the remembrance of that store of antiquarian
information from which others, far more worthy to enjoy it than herself,
have owed obligations. The Author has also most gratefully to
acknowledge the very kind and valuable assistance of Archibald
Macdonald, Esq., of the Register Office, Edinburgh, to whom she is
indebted for several original letters; and of Robert Chambers, Esq., to
whose liberality she is indebted for several of her manuscript sources,
as well as some valuable advice on the subject of her work. To Dr.
Irvine, Librarian of the Advocate's Library, Edinburgh, the Author
offers, with the most lively pleasure, her sincere acknowledgments for a
ready and persevering assistance in aid of her undertaking. Again, she
begs to repeat her sense of deep obligation to Mr. Keats, of the British
Museum, the literary pilot of many years' historical research.
October 27, 1845.
Countess of Nithisdale
IN completing this work, I have to repeat my
acknowledgments to those friends and correspondents to whom I expressed
my obligations in the Preface to the first volume; and I have the
additional pleasure of recording similar obligations from other
I beg to testify my gratitude to Sir William Maxwell,
Bart., of Montreith, for some information regarding the Nithsdale
family; which, I hope, at some future time, to interweave with my
biography of the Earl of Nithsdale; and also to Miss Charlotte Maxwell,
the sister of Sir William Maxwell, whose enthusiasm for the subject of
the Jacobites is proved by the interesting collection of Jacobite airs
which she is forming, and which will be very acceptable to all who can
appreciate poetry and song.
To Sir John Maxwell,
Bart., of Pollock, and to Lady Matilda Maxwell, I
offer my best thanks for their prompt and valued
suggestions on the same subject.
I owe much to the courtesy and
great intelligence of Mrs. Howison Craufurd, of
Craufurdland Castle, Ayrshire: I have derived considerable assistance
from that lady in the life of the Earl of Kilmarnock, and have, through
her aid, been enabled to give to the public several letters never before
published. For original information regarding the Derwentwater family,
and for a degree of zeal, combined with accurate
knowledge, I must here express my cordial thanks
to the Hon. Mrs. Douglass, to whose assistance
much of the interest which will be found in the life of Charles
Radcliffe is justly due.
I have also to acknowledge the kindness of Mons.
Amede'e Pichot, from whose interesting work I have
derived great pleasure and profit; and to Madame Colmache, for her
inquiries in the Biblotheque du Roi, for original
papers relating to the subject. To W. E. Aytoun,
Esq., of Edinburgh, I beg also to express my acknowledgments for his aid
in supplying me with some curious information regarding the
Duke of Perth. The kindness
with which my researches, in every direction, have been met, has added
to my task a degree of gratification, which now
causes its close to be regarded with something almost like regret.
One advantage to be gained by the late
publication of this third volume, is the criticism of friends on the two
former ones. Amid many errors, I have been admonished, by my kind
adviser and critic, Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq., of having erred in
accepting the common authorities in regard to the celebrated and
unfortunate Lady Grange. Whatever were the sorrows
of that lady, her faults and the provocation she gave to her irritated
husband, were, it appears, fully equal to her misfortunes. Since the
story of Lady Grange is not strictly connected
with my subject, I have only referred to it incidentally.
At some future time, the singular narrative of her fate may
afford me a subject of further investigation.
I beg to correct a mistake into which I had fallen,
in the first volume, respecting those letters relating to the Earl of
Mar, for which I am indebted, to Alexander Macdonald, Esq. These, a
distinct collection from that with which I was favoured by James Gibson
Craig, Esq., were copied about twelve years ago, from the papers then in
the possession of Lady Frances Erskine.
They have since passed into the possession of the
present Earl of Mar.
An interesting letter in the Appendix
of this work, will be found relative to the social state of the
Chevalier St. George, at Rome. For permission to
publish this I am indebted to the valued friendship of my
brother-in-law, Samuel Coltman, Esq., in whose possession it is, having
been bequeathed, with other MSS. to his mother,
by the well-known Joseph Spence, author of the
"Anecdotes," and of other works.
28th March, 1846.
Many years ago we published the 6 volume "General History of the
Highlands" in which there was a very detailed account of the...
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