The sailing vessel La Du Teillay made land fall on the island of Eriskay on the 23 July 1745. On board was Charles Edward Stuart, known to his fans as Bonnie Prince Charlie and to the Hanoverians as the Young Pretender. Charles’ father, the so-called Old Pretender was James Stuart, to some the rightful king of England and only surviving son of King James II whilst to others he was the baby in the bedpan – a changeling placed by James’ send wife Mary of Modena to ensure a catholic succession. For more about James and Mary as well as the baby in the bed pan click here to open a new window: https://thehistoryjar.com/2016/12/09/mary-of-modena/
James II was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1689. From there he had fled to France where his family lived in exile. Jacobites from that time forward giving their toast to the king passed their glasses and goblets over a jug or bowl of water to signify their loyalty lay with the ‘king over the water.’ The failed rebellion of 1715 had dashed many Jacobite hopes but now some thirty years later the bonnie prince arrived in the name of his father and immediately set about striking heroic poses.
On that day in 1745 the inhabitants of Eriskay weren’t wildly enthusiastic to greet their Stuart monarch. MacDonald of Boisdale told Charlie to take himself home where upon, with commendable speed, the prince announced that he was home. It didn’t look good from the outset. He didn’t bring any French support with him and he’d been told that at most he could probably count on the loyalty of 4,000 Highlanders. There actually had been a planned invasion by the French the previous year but bad weather had prevented the enterprise.
On the 25 July the prince and his followers sailed for and arrived in mainland Scotland. The Cameron Clan were persuaded to declare their loyalty and the vessel which had carried Charlie to Scotland was dispatched back to France with a letter to the Old Pretender stating that the prince was prepared to die amongst the Highlanders. It would be the 19th August before the royal standard of the Stuarts was raised drawing the Camerons, Macleods and Keppoch Macdonalds to its colours in the first instance. There were about 1,200 men. The rebellion had officially begun.
Meanwhile in Edinburgh a wanted poster was drawn up with a price of £30,000 on Charles Edward Stuart’s head. The rebellion, for Bonnie Prince Charlie, would last slightly more than a year and it would see his army march beyond Derby spawning a plethora of blue plaques commemorating locations were he stayed or declared his father to be king as well as providing Sir Walter Scott with heady tales of love, honour and betrayal for the novels he wrote that made historical fiction a best seller.