Annual Gathering 2011

Thursday September 1st to Sunday September 4th


Twenty-nine members attended the 2011 Annual gathering which was centered in Blair Atholl at the Atholl Arms Hotel




Atholl Arms Hotel Blair Castle Piper Blair Castle

On Friday morning we visited Blair Castle which is one of the most important houses of the region today as it was in 1745/6. We toured the castle and were privileged to visit the library where a number of documents from the time were on display for us to examine. We also visited St Bride's Kirk in Old Blair where John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee is buried.




St Bride's Kirk Old Blair Memorial Viscount Dundee Document in Blair Castle archive

In 1745/6 the incumbent Murray family  were divided as to their support for the Jacobite cause. William Murray the 2nd (Jacobite) Duke of Atholl had escaped to France after his involvement in the rising of 1719 and returned to Scotland in 1745 with Prince Charles as one of The Seven Men of Moidart. In his absence his brother James assumed the title as the second (Whig) Duke. Another brother, Lord George Murray, is the third who figures greatly in this story.

After outwitting General Sir John Cope Prince Charles arrived, on his way to Edinburgh, at Blair Castle and returned to the area in February 1746 during the Jacobite withdrawal. The Duke of Cumberland believing that the rising was all but over had concentrated his forces in the Aberdeen area leaving Atholl poorly garrisoned. In March 1746 the Jacobite High Command concluded that they were in danger of being trapped between the British Army advancing from Aberdeen and a combined Campbell and Hessian force moving up from the south-west. An action against the Campbell outposts was decided upon and under the command of Lt General Lord George Murray a group of 300 MacPhersons and 400 Athollmen were positioned in order to eliminate Campbell outposts across a thirty-mile front.

On the night of 16/17 March 1746 Jacobite forces put out of action enemy posts at Invercomrie and Bunrannoch at opposite ends of Loch Rannoch. At the same time a force marched south along the line of General Wade's road through Dalnaspidal and Dalnacardoch. Major James Robertson took back his own house at Blairfettie and Charles Stewart of Bohally took the house at Kynachan. The Campbell garrisons at Glengoulandie and Coshieville did not wait for the Jacobites to arrive but fled to Castle Menzies where the garrison under the command of Captain Webster was not inclined to venture out and confront its attackers.




Map: The Atholl Raid 16/17 March 1746 





Wade's Road, Old Blair Murray's cannon position, Old Blair McGlashern's Inn, Old Blair

A third column was led by Lord George along Wade's eastern road to Blair Atholl Castle which was defended by Lt Col. Sir Andrew Agnew. On the approach of the Jacobite soldiers all those outside the castle promptly ran inside and slammed shut the door. Lord George determined to attempt to take the castle by siege and bombardment.  When it was suggested that a message should be sent to the castle outlining Jacobite terms for surrender no-one was prepared to deliver it. A messenger was found in the shape of Molly McGlashern who was the daughter of the landlord of the tavern in what is now named Old Blair. Hanoverian officers were in the habit of spending their evenings in the tavern and they were well known to Molly. She duly delivered the message but it was immediately rejected by Agnew. Lord George's cannon consisted only of two four-pounders and these were too light to make much impression even when the shot were heated red hot in an attempt to set fire to the roof. The siege had more chance of success as the defenders of the castle were short of food, water and fuel. Every day Lord George rode off in the direction of Dunkeld as it was expected that a Hessian relief force would approach though that town. Prince Friedrich, the Hessian commander had hesitated to advance when he had heard of the fall of the various outposts in Atholl. The Duke of Cumberland was not pleased and ordered Friedrich to advance. In the face of this the Jacobites evacuated their bases at both Dunkeld and Pitlochry falling back, by 30 March, to the pass at Killicrankie.

The siege having not been so far successful Lord George was summoned by Prince Charles to proceed to the Inverness area. Murray complied and took his Athollmen north leaving the MacPhersons to guard the passes in Badenoch.

BLAIR, 24th March 1746.

I hope you will excuse my not writing to you since we came here, for as 
you would hear of every thing I wrote to Sir Thomas Murray, and 
indeed I have not had one spare moment; our Duty here is constant and 
fatiguing, but we grudge nothing that is for H R H: service and the good of 
the Cause. Coll: Mercer, with 150 men, is at Dunkeld, and secured the boats, 
but I have ordered him to retyre to the Pass if a Body of the Enemy should
come near to that place, which they can do by passing the river at Perth. All 
here desire to make you their compliments, and I always am,

Your most affectionate Brother
and humble Servant,
The people in the Castle have not set out their heads since we came, and 
are living on bisket and water. If we get the Castle, I hope you will excuse 
our demolishing it. Adieu

Since, contrary to the rules of right reason, you was pleased to tell me a 
sham story about the expedition to Blair, without further ceremony for me, 
you may now do what the Gentlemen of the Country think fit with the Castle; 
I am in no concern about it. Our great-great-grandfather, grandfather, and 
fatherís pictures, will be an irreparable loss on blowing up the house; but 
there is no comparison to be made with these faint images of our forefathers 
and the more necessary Publick Service, which requires we should sacrifice 
every thing can valuably contribute towards the Countryís safety, as well as 
materially advancing the Royal Cause. Pray give my kind service to all 
valuable friends, to which I can add nothing, but that in all events you may be 
allured I shall ever be found, with just regard,
Your most aff. Brother,
and Humble Servant.

INVERNESS, 26 March 1746.
At the upper end from the door of the old stable, there was formerly a gate 
which had a Portcullis into the Castle: it is half built up and boarded over 
from the stable side, with a hollow large enough to hold a horse at hack and 
manger. People that know the place imagine it may be much easier dug 
through than any other part of the wall, so as to make a convenient passage
into the vaulted room, which is called the Servantís Hall.

The letters above are from 


The book may be read here and is available through the work of 1745 Association member Dave Waddell

After lunch we travelled to Castle Menzies by way of Struan, Trinafour, Tummel Bridge and Coshieville thus covering many of the outposts overrun by Lord George Murray on the night of 16 March 1746.

 Castle Menzies is a sixteenth century castle that was the seat of the Chiefs of Clan Menzies for more than 400 years. It was acquired by the Menzies  Clan Society and  in 1972 restoration began.

Prince Charles Edward spent the nights of 4 and 5 February 1746 in the castle and four days later it was occupied by the forces of the Duke of Cumberland under the command of Captain Webster. The room in which Prince Charles slept was available for us to view. There are a number of other Jacobite artefacts in the castle including the death mask of Prince Charles.

We left Caste Menzies and drove to Aberfeldy to take a look at the magnificent bridge over the River Tay.

Lt. General Wade's bridge at Aberfeldy was first opened to traffic at the end of October 1733 - over 250 years ago. Wade regarded it the greatest of his considerable achievements in road-making. In 9 years he had personally supervised the construction of over 250 miles of military roads in the Highlands - the first engineered roads in Britain since Roman times. For many years, Wade's bridge was the only one spanning the Tay (Scotland's longest river) and therefore the only sure access into the east and central Highlands. Elsewhere the numerous ferries and fording places were very dependent on the state of the river. The bridge was therefore a vital link in an important thoroughfare - forming a focal point for the growth of the present-day town of Aberfeldy.  lt is now the only one of Wade's 35 major bridges to remain in use as a public highway. Built for 18th century wheeled carriages, it survives to the brink of the 21st century as a great memorial to a great roadbuilding engineer.  (Courtesy Scottish Towns)





Wade's Bridge Aberfeldy


Death Mask Pr. Charles Edward Stuart

Prince Charlie's Bedroom , Menzies Castle

GIIR plaque in middle of central span

The AGM was held in the hotel on Friday evening and a major decision was taken to hold the 2012 Annual Gathering in Derby. This is a departure from our usual venues which have been almost all in Scotland. Officers and Council members were elected in the usual fashion and we are pleased to announce that The Very Reverend Dr Alexander Emsley Nimmo was confirmed as our new chairman. We thank our outgoing chairman Mr F. Peter Lole for all his hard work over the past year (including organising this Gathering) and we are pleased to note that he will continue for the next year at least as Editor of "The Jacobite". Peter expressed his wish to relinquish this post at some time in the not too far distant future so if there any who fancy a "Fleet St" function within the association perhaps they might step forward.

A further significant event was the presentation to the Association, by Malcolm White and Maureen Lipscombe, of a silver "President's Quaich" and a similar "Piper's Quaich". This generous gift was much appreciated by all attending. 

Saturday 5 Sept

Our first visit was to Dunkeld, the site of the Battle that followed that at Killicrankie in 1689. Kiliecrankie is generally regarded as a Jacobite victory but their leader John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee was killed in the fighting. Command of the Jacobite forces passed to Col. Alexander Cannon. Commanding the Wiliamite forces was Lt Col. William Cleland of the newly formed Cameronian regiment. This regiment was formed in Lanarkshire from the ranks of Covenanters who were prepared to fight for the right to follow their Presbyterian faith. The name comes from one of their number Richard Cameron. 

The Jacobites outnumbered the Cameronians three or four to one and as Dunkeld was not protected by a town wall Cleland ordered his men to take up defensive positions both inside the cathedral and in the vicinity of Dunkeld House, the Duke of Atholl's new mansion. The Jacobite Highlanders' usual battle tactic was an advance followed by a discharge of muskets and then a screaming fast- paced Highland charge that often panicked opponents into rapid retreat. However, the narrow streets of Dunkeld were not suitable for such tactics and the Cameronian defenders drove back their enemy. House to house fighting ensued and the Cameronians burned the Jacobites out of the houses in which they were positioned by setting fire to the thatched roofs. Almost every house in the town was burned out.

Battle of Dunkeld

The fighting lasted until about 11 o'clock at night after which the Jacobite force fled to the hills effectively putting paid to the Jacobite rising and helping to secure the future of Presbyterianism in Scotland. 

Colonel Cleland was killed in the battle and is buried in the Cathedral.

The very last gasp of this particular Jacobite Rising was on April 30 1690 at Cromdale on Speyside where the Jacobite force under Major-General Buchan was defeated (despite the sentiments of the popular song "The Haughs of Cromdale") by Sir Thomas Livingstone.

Another grave of interest in Dunkeld Cathedral is that of General Charles Edward Stuart, Count Rohenstart. This particular Charles Edward was the illegitimate son of Charlotte, Duchess of Albany and Prince Ferdinand of Rohan who was also Archbishop of Bordeaux. Charlotte was the illegitimate daughter of Prince Charles Edward Stuart and Clementina Walkinshaw. General Rohenstart spent many years as a soldier in Austrian service but came to Scotland in 1854 where he was killed in a carriage accident. There is a lot more to this tale and I think I can do no better than to start you off by reference to


Not a very good photo of Rohenstart's grave. Anyone got a better?

Dunkeld Cathedral Jacobite musket ball marks on E, wall Grave Col. Wm Cleland

After lunch we visited Stobhall, the home of Viscount Strathallan. 

William Drummond,  4th Viscount Strallallan was born in 1690 and joined the Jacobite Rising of 1715 during which he was captured at Sheriffmuir. After the arrival in Scotland of Prince Charles Edward Strathallan joined the Jacobite army on 3 Sept 1745 commanding the Perthshire horse. He was also a member of the Prince's Privy Council. At the Battle of Prestonpans he commanded the only Jacobite cavalry unit on the field. The Perthshire Horse played little part in the Battle of Falkirk but at Culloden Strathallan resolved to die in the field rather than await a later execution. It is said he was given  a last sacrament of oatmeal and whisky.

William Drummond  4th Viscount Strathallan

Next we progressed to Ardblair, the home of Laurence Blair Oliphant. What a great welcome we received. We were piped into the house and piped out again. In between we saw one of the best collections of Jacobite artefacts all in one place that I have ever seen. We were conducted around the house in two groups one party by Laurence himself and the other by his daughter Amelia. Both were fascinating to listen to and hugely enthusiastic about the Jacobite cause and the place of their family in it.

The Oliphants of Gask were amongst the staunchest supporters of Prince Charles. Laurence 6th Laird of Gask joined the Prince at Blair Atholl and the Laird's twenty-year old son (also called Laurence) became aide-de-Camp to Charles Edward. Prince Charles had breakfast with the Oliphants at Gask on his way south to Edinburgh.. The Oliphants were at both Prestonpans and Falkirk and withdrew with the prince to Inverness to await the Spring and better fortune. At Culloden both father and son fought and the defeat brought ruination for the family. Both father and son were attainted and the house at Gask plundered.

After six months hiding in the Highlands both men escaped from Arbroath to Gothenburg from where they journeyed to France to remain in exile for seventeen years. In 1753 the Oliphant lands were purchased back from the Exchequer by the 6th Laird's wife with the help of family and friends and the exiles were allowed to return home in 1763.

Carolina Olipant (b. 1766) was the daughter of the 7th Laird of Gask and Margaret Robertson. She began to write poems and songs sympathetic to the Jacobite cause but kept her identity secret as it was not considered seemly for a woman to engage in such literary activity. For reasons best known to herself she published her work under the pen-name of Mrs Bogan of Bogan. At the age of 41 she married her second cousin William Murray Nairne from whom she also kept her writing secret. The work was eventually published under the name Carolina Oliphant after Lady Nairne's death in 1845 and amongst Carolina's most famous pieces are "Will Ye No Come Back Again" and "Charlie Is My Darling".



Stobhall Ardblair Castle Laurence Blair Oliphant


Further information Clan Oliphant -Gask   and Clan Oliphant Jacobite History

On our journey between Stobhall and Ardblair we passed the Great Beech Hedge of Meikleour that was planted in 1745. Legend tell us that after the death of her husband Robert Murray Nairne at Culloden, Jean Mercer of Meikleour allowed the hedge to grow towards the heavens in a tribute to his memory. 

Our Annual Dinner was held in the Atholl Arms Hotel on Saturday evening where the usual display of Highland and other formal dress was evident. We were piped into dinner and later heard a piping recital by Pipe-Major Sharon Kelly of the Pitlochry Pipe Band. Dr Emsley Nimmo said a Grace in Gaelic, Scots and English. The text is available here

President Brigadier John MacFarlane proposed the toast "To the Sovereign" as well as to "The Royal House of Stuart". John also spoke to us on the subject of "Gaelic Jacobite Music". The text of John's speech is in the link.

Miss Christian Aikman proposed the toast to "Absent friends".

I received an interesting article from Mr Brian Whiting who attended his first Gathering this year. You may read it here. Thanks Brian. see you in Derby

Annual Dinner President's and Piper's Quaichs Picture of the Gathering!

Members dispersed on Sunday morning and we all look forward to next year's Gathering in Derby.


There will be more on the Derby Gathering shortly. If you have not been to a Gathering before and you find Derby easier to travel to than venues in Scotland perhaps you would consider attending next year.


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