Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Charles leaves Benbecula and lands in the Isle of Glass

The storm which drove Charles with such rapidity upon the distant shores of Benbecula continued for fourteen hours after he had landed. Accommodating himself to the new situation in which he was placed, he manifested no symptoms of dejection at his reverse of fortune, partook cheerfully along with his companions of the homely fare before him, and with an old sail for a bed, reposed upon the floor of his lowly dwelling. In Benbecula the prince was visited by old Clanranald, to whom the island belonged; and having afterwards had an interview in South Uist with Boisdale, Clanranald's brother, Charles was advised by him to proceed to Stornaway, the principal seaport in the island of Lewis, and there give out that he and his company were the crew of a merchant ship belonging to the Orkneys, which had been wrecked on the isle of Tiree, and under the pretence of returning home, hire a vessel for that purpose, and escape to France. Accordingly, after passing two days in Benbecula, Charles and his party set sail for Stornaway on the 29th of April; but in consequence of a strong gale of wind from the south-west, they were obliged to put in next morning at the small isle of Scalpa or Glass, near Harris, about half way between Benbecula and Stornaway. They landed about two hours before day break, and were conducted by Donald Macleod to the house of Donald Campbell, a farmer, know to Macleod, to whom they were introduced as merchants shipwrecked on their voyage to the Orkneys. The prince and O'Sullivan took the name of Sinclair, and the latter passed off as Charles' father. The whole party was hospitably entertained by Campbell, who lent Macleod a boat with which he proceeded next day, the 1st of May, to Stornaway to hire a vessel, leaving Charles and his friends behind.

Having succeeded in hiring a small vessel of forty tons, Macleod sent an express to Charles announcing his success, and requesting him to proceed to Stornaway. This message was received on the 3d of May, and the prince left the isle of Glass next day; but the wind proving contrary, he was obliged to land in Loch Seaforth, in the island of Lewis, a considerable distance from Stornaway. Here Allan Macdonald took his leave. Accompanied by O'Sullivan, O'Neil, and his guide, Charles set out on foot for Stornaway, over a wild and trackless waste, in a very dark and rainy night. The guide lost his way, and the party did not reach the neighbourhood of Stornaway till next day at noon. This mistake, on the part of the conductor, was a fortunate circumstance, as the advanced hour of the day prevented Charles from entering the town, where he might have been seized by the inhabitants, who having received information from the Presbyterian minister of South Uist, that the prince had landed in Lewis with 500 men, with a design of burning their town, carrying off their cattle, and forcing a vessel to carry him to France, afterwards rose in arms to oppose him. Charles stopped at the Point of Arynish, about half a mile from Stornaway, and sent in the guide to acquaint Macleod of his arrival, and to bring out some refreshment, as he and his fellow travellers had been eighteen hours without food. Donald immediately repaired to the spot with some brandy, bread and cheese, and found Charles and his two companions standing on a moor extremely fatigued and all wet to the skin. Donald then took them to the house of Mrs Mackenzie of Kildun, at Arynish, where the prince went to bed. Returning to Stornaway, Macleod was quite amazed to find the town in commotion, and above 200 men under arms. Unable to comprehend the meaning of this sudden rising, Donald went directly into the room where the gentlemen who had taken upon them the rank of officers had assembled, and inquired the cause of such a strange proceeding. He was instantly assailed with abuse by every person present: they informed him of Charles's landing, and of his alleged intentions, and they accused Macleod as the cause of the calamity with which they were threatened. Unable to deny the fact of Charles's arrival in Lewis, Macleod at once admitted it, and to allay their fears he informed them, that so far from having a body of 500 men along with him, as represented, he was attended by two companions only; "and yet", said Donald, with an air of defiance, "let me tell you farther, gentlemen, if Seaforth himself were here, by G-- he durst not put a hand to the prince's breast!". The gentlemen present then declared that they had no intention to do the prince the least harm, and the only thing they required of him was to leave the island. Donald offered instantly to comply, and requested them to give him a pilot, but they refused; and although he offered the most liberal payment he could not obtain one. Alarmed for the consequences of being privy to the prince's escape, the master of the vessel which had been hired, either suspecting the object, or let, as is supposed, into the secret by Macleod, refused to implement his bargain.

Returning to the prince, Macleod informed him of these disagreeable occurrences. A proposal was made to fly to the moors; but Charles, thinking that such a step would encourage his enemies to pursue, he resolved to pass the night at Kildun. Here the party killed a cow, for which the lady refused payment, but being pressed by Macleod she at last took the money. Edward Burke performed the duties of cook; but the prince, on the present occasion, superintended the culinary department, and with his own hands prepared a cake of oatmeal, mixed with the brains of the cow, and baked it upon a stone before the fire. At daybreak next morning the party left the island, carrying along with them a small stock of beef, two pecks of meal, and abundance of brandy and sugar. At this time the prince, O'Sullivan, and O'Neil had only six shirts amongst them, and being often drenched with rain, they were frequently obliged to take off the wet ones before the others were half dray. Conceiving that he would be more secure on the mainland than among the islands, Charles resolved to return thither, and ordered the boatmen to carry him to Bollein in Kintail; but they refused on account of the length of the voyage, which they considered dangerous in an open boat. They, therefore, proceeded southwards along the coast; but they had not proceeded far when they observed two large vessels at a distance sailing northwards, and making towards them. To avoid these ships they put into the small isle called Eurin or Iffurt, near Harris, a little to the northward of the island of Glass. On landing, the prince and his attendants went to the summit of a little hill to observe the ships. Charles thought they were French, but his companions considered them English. He was desirous to ascertain the fact, but the boatmen could not be prevailed upon to go out and reconnoitre them. It is probable that these were the two frigates from Nantz, which arrived in Lochnanuagh the day after Charles's departure from that place, and having landed the money, arms, and ammunition they had brought over for his service, were returning to France.

Next | Index | Previous


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