Lochiel Memorial Visit, Bergues, October 23-26, 2008


A Message From Brigadier John Macfarlane, Chairman of the 1745 Association

       I write in appreciation of all the good work carried out by John Graham of our Council and by Julian Hutchings of Alliance France-Ecosse to organise the unveiling of a cairn and plaque in Bergues, France near the burial place of the Gentle Lochiel. The operation came to fruition at Bergues last week at the very moving ceremony of remembrance held there.  The presence of Clan Cameron  was a particular delight as was that of Donald Andrew, Younger of Lochiel, representing Lochiel. It was also heartening to receive support from the Royal Stuart Society and the First Marquis of Montrose Society.

       With a venue in France, the difficulties of liaison between the Chairman in Scotland, John in Germany and the ever-mobile Julian in France obviously contributed to a high level of stress in the run-up to the event but its success was a tribute to all concerned, particularly John  who was so much the author of the idea that the 1745 Association should play an active part in the project and who made such a contribution to the logistics and  Julian, whose initiative the whole idea was and whose irrepressible flair for PR made it all so instructive and enjoyable!

     We all now have memories that will last a lifetime. Each will also cherish a warm feeling for the extraordinarily open and helpful way in which the French authorities cooperated. As I said to Didier Schreiner the mayor-depute, "Today we have drawn more closely the links of friendship which bind France and Scotland together   and have honoured a loyal companion-in-arms to Prince Charles Edward Stuart and  to the cause which he represented."  

      It was fitting that when we laid a wreath at the cairn on Sunday prior to our departure, a Gaelic prayer was offered which commended the soul of The Gentle Lochiel into the hands of God:

     “Is beannaichte na mairbh a gheibh bàs anns an Tighearna so a mach…. “


“From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: even so saith the Spirit: for they rest from their labours.”


Plaque in Bergues Cemetery

It is not necessary for this article to chronicle in detail the events which led to the arrival of Donald Cameron of Lochiel (the nineteenth chief of Clan Cameron) in France in October 1746. Very briefly, Lochiel was wounded in both legs at the Battle of Culloden and escaped with Prince Charles Edward. The French King, Louis XV authorised payments to all the Scottish officers who disembarked with Prince Charles and Lochiel headed the list with a sum of 24,000 livres. To begin with Lochiel lived in Paris with his cousin Drummond of Balhaldie having initially rejected the possibility of the command of a French regiment. By early 1747 it was becoming clear that thoughts of a further rising would come to naught and Lochiel resigned himself to exile and accepted the command of the Régiment d'Albanie, the third Scottish regiment in the army of France.

1748 brought better relations between France and Britain and it became likely that the French would renounce Stuart claims to the British throne. Charles Edward made it quite clear that he would fight any attempt to expel him from France and the leading Parisian Jacobites held meetings suggesting that Lochiel should counsel the Prince to remain on good terms with Louis if at all possible. The counselling never took place. On 04 November 1748 Balhaldie wrote to King James in Rome:

"it becomes cruel in me now to be obliged to begin to inform you of the loss you(r) Majesty has of the most faithful and zealously devoted subject ever served any Prince, in the person of Donald Cameron of Lochiel. He died the 26th of last month of an inflammation within his head at Borgue (Bergues, not as previously thought Bourges), where he had been for some time with his regiment. ------- He had all the temptations laid in his way that the government could... the Duke of Cumberland caused information that, if he would apply in the simplest manner to him, he would never quit his father's knees until he had obtained his pardon and favour: this he disdained, or rather had a horror at it. I need say no more; his own services, and the voice of your Majesty's enemies, speak loudly the loss." (source The Gentle Lochiel: John S. Gibson p.87)

Lochiel, an Episcopalian, died in the military hospital in Bergues and as France was intolerant of Protestant burials was interred outside the city walls in what was then the Protestant burial ground.


Our visit to commemorate the death of Lochiel began with the gathering of interested parties at the Hôtel du Lac www.hoteldulacdk.com in the village of Armbouts-Cappel, close to Bergues and about ten miles south of Dunkirk. 

The following morning we visited Bergues and despite the poor weather spent our free time getting to know this pleasant walled town with its belfry with a carillon of fifty bells. 


The belfry in Bergues (2004)

Walls of Bergues

The belfry has a carillon of 50 bells.

From the top of the belfry

Bergues Town Hall (mairie)

Restaurant Bruegel

Plaque on wall of Gaz de France (GdF) offices on  the site of  the military hospital where Lochiel died
Place du Marché aux Fromages, Bergues
The mairie was rebuilt in 1871. Its façade carries the arms of Philip IV of Spain.


In the afternoon we visited Gravelines and enjoyed a conducted tour of the town and its remarkable fortified walls. This was followed by a trip to see the Exhibition in the “Espace Tourville” where a first rank vessel of Louis XIV’s royal navy, “Le Jean Bart”, is being re-constructed. In 1692 a French fleet was assembled under Admiral Tourville at the request of Louis XIV to bring James II and VII (his cousin) to Britain, accompanied by English, Irish and Scottish troops to reclaim the British thrones for the Stuarts from William of Orange. The fleet was destroyed off St Vaast-la-Hougue in Normandy. Background information can be obtained from Royal Stuart Paper LX, pp 6 and 7 in particular.

In a diving expedition in 1985, Christian Cardin of the Association Tourville found some six wrecks from this battle. On the basis of information gained on the construction of two of the vessels recovered, Christian Cardin founded the Association Tourville and initiated a project to reconstruct an exact replica of one of these seventeenth-century vessels. 

Jean Bart was a French privateer (1650 – 1702) born in Dunkirk. He has the same status in France as Sir Walter Raleigh in Britain. He was knighted by Louis XIV in 1694 and features on many postcards in the north of France. There is even a street named after him in Bergues. 

The project to construct the ship is huge. The ship will measure 57metres in length and will weigh 1400 tonnes. It will also be "armed" with 84 cannons. The cost of the venture will be more than 15m euro and will take about 15 years to complete.

The keel and prow of the Jean Bart Model of Jean Bart showing construction method Eighteenth century military barracks in Gravelines

The Gods were with us on Saturday for the day dawned bright and remained so all day. We returned to the town square of Bergues where we were joined by Donald Andrew Cameron, Younger of Lochiel representing his father and Clan Cameron. Some unexpected additional support  was forthcoming for this part of the programme in the form of several members of Crann Tara who were glad  to attend while on a visit in the region. Everyone listened to the director of the tourist office in Bergues, Jacques Martell playing "March of the Cameron Men" on the belfry carillon followed by a piper playing the same tune from the top of the bell tower. We then proceeded to the cemetery where the unveiling of a plaque to Lochiel of the '45 was to take place. Everyone who took part must surely have been impressed both by the plaque itself and the generosity of the town of Bergues in allowing the monument to take such a prominent place in the cemetery grounds. 1745 Association members Ross MacKenzie, Jutta Nordone and David Lumsden of Cushnie all strongly supported this project but did not live long enough to see it to fruition: they were in our thoughts on the day the memorial was at last unveiled.

The Cameron Standard was marched into the cemetery by Donald Andrew Cameron accompanied by Alan Cameron the President of the Clan Cameron Association who also acted as standard bearer on behalf of Lochiel Yr.  

Several floral tributes were placed by the plaque including a selection of nine different varieties of heather bearing a ribbon inscribed from "AFE  1745  RSS  1st Marquis  CCA." As John Graham said at the time we all thought it appropriate that The Gentle Lochiel's floral tribute should be Scotland's national flower, the heather, a touch of home. The plaque is complemented by a flag pole which will permanently and proudly fly the Saltire.   

On Saturday evening we had dinner in Le Bruegel, a Flemish restaurant with lots of character and some very good food. Julian Hutchings provided us with three  different whiskies to taste in conjunction with the local specialities and a great time was had by all.


Our Piper Jean-Luc Saint Lochiel Yr & Alan Cameron The Town Band of Bergues
Donald Cameron Yr & Didier Schreiner unveil the plaque A Suitable Memorial Position of Monument in the Cemetery
Click the picture for a readable version

View Jacobite Rebellion 1745-6 in a larger map

This article appeared on Friday 31 October in a local newspaper "La Voix du Nord" (Translation into English) I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that the whole event was well organised and very enjoyable. We all met old friends and made new ones as well.





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