Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army cross into England via the Solway Firth at a similar location to the point that Edward I crossed into Scotland more than four hundred years previously. Carlisle prepared for attack. It was still a walled city and even if the Carlisle Militia weren’t keen on a confrontation there was always an Autumn fog to keep the Scots at bay. The prince headed off to find a comfortable bed in Brampton to the east of Carlisle and on the 10th November the Jacobites advanced. The following day the Prince sent a letter to the mayor saying that if the town surrendered that no harm would befall anyone. It’s only fair to point out that by this time the prince had visited Warwick Hall and Blackwell Hall providing future local landowners with colourful tales and plenty of blue plaques.
The attack when it came was on the 14th of November lasting until the citizens of Carlisle surrendered on the 15th. The castle remained defiant for a further 24 hours but ultimately Joseph Backhouse, the Mayor of Carlisle went to Brampton to hand the keys of the city over to the prince who duly had his father declared King James III at the market cross. On Monday 18th Bonnie Prince Charlie paraded into the town on his white horse. The Scots remained in Carlisle until the 22nd restocking their provisions and acquiring transport. Every horse in the area had to be taken to the castle and their owners were required to prove ownership or else the Scots took them as being militia horse and fair game.
So where does the baby and the bishop fit into the story? Joseph Dacre of Kirklinton Hall was in Carlisle as these events unfolded but his heavily pregnant wife, who happened to be the daughter of a former Bishop of Carlisle had gone to Rose Castle – which was the bishop’s residence. Rose Castle is only six miles south of Carlisle and it wasn’t long before the Jacobites arrived looking for the treasure that rumour said was kept in the castle. MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart (Clanranold) was just about to make a rather forceful entry when a servant appeared and pleaded for a bit of peace and quiet as Mrs Dacre had just given birth and the baby was so poorly that she was just about to be baptised. There are several versions of the story but MacDonald gave the child the white cockade that he wore to signify that he was a Jacobite. He ordered that there should be no robbery and that the little family should be left in peace and that furthermore the cockade would be guarantee that no other Jacobites would attempt to harm the castle whilst the infant was there.
Rosemary Dacre kept her white cockade even when she became Lady Rosemary Clark. The story is told in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (volume 1) – see the link here which will open at the letter said to be from Lady Rosemary. She is also said to have shown the white cockade to George IV when he visited Edinburgh in 1822 – the first Hanoverian monarch to do so and at a point where all things Scottish became popular thanks to the king and thus opened up the way for Sir Walter Scott at a slightly later date to play on the romanticism that Victorians liked – making it difficult sometimes to identify actual chivalric attitudes from fictional flourishes.
As for MacDonald – he was A.D.C.to Prince Charles. He was taken prisoner and sent to Edinburgh in the aftermath of Culloden before being sent to Carlisle along with other notable Jacobite prisoners. His house at Kinlochmoidart was destroyed by Cumberland’s men. The prince had stayed there from the 11-17 August 1745 before he raised his standard and no doubt the Scot was proud of his home as he had only had it remodelled during the previous few years. The whole estate was forfeit when MacDonald was executed on the 18th October 1746. It was ultimately repurchased by his grandson.
Once again song gets in on the act although as is often the case with folk history forms historians are uncertain as to who composed it although there is a definite link to the Jaobites – the Lament for MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart tells of his clan’s grief at the death of their lord.
The sea is silent, it ends its roar.
The streams are crying; winds are sighing,
Our Moidart hero returns no more.