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Old faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) online

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" There's some say that we wan,
Some say that they wan,
Some say that nane wan at a', man :

But one thing I'm sure,

That at Sheriffmuir
A battle there was which I saw, man :
And we ran, and they ran, and they ran, and we ran,
And we ran, and they ran awa', man."


An Incident of Sheriffmuir.

In 1852, Mr Alexander Wilson, shoemaker, Stirling, wrote
as follows: "My grandfather, William Wilson, was born in
the farmhouse of Drumbrae, on the estate of Airthrey, at no
great distance from the field of Sheriffmuir. At the rebellion
of 1715, he was a lad of fifteen years of age, and learning that
the rebels under the Earl of Mar had met with the Royal
forces under the Duke of Argyle in the neighbourhood, on the
morning of Sunday, the 12th November, whilst it was still
dusk, he went to the top of a neighbouring hill, named Glentye,
from which the whole of the moor was discernible, and on
which a number of country people were stationed, attracted to
the spot, like himself, by curiosity. Being at no great distance
from both armies, he could see them distinctly. The High-
landers, who observed no regular order, he compared to a
large, dark, formless cloud, forming a striking contrast to the
regular lines and disciplined appearance of the Royal army.
After observing them for some space of time, an orderly
dragoon, sent by the Duke of Argyle, rode to the spot where
the spectators stood, warning them to remove from the posi-
tion, in which they were in as great danger as the combatants
themselves. My grandfather accordingly returned home,
listening with awe to the sharp report of musketry, intermixed
with the booming of cannon, which now informed him that the
battle had commenced. He had not been long in the house
when a dismounted dragoon made his appearance, requesting
to have his left wrist bandaged, so as to stop the blood. The
hand had been cut off, and his horse killed under him, and he
was on his way t'o Stirling to seek surgical aid. While his
wishes were being complied with, he occupied himself in taking
some refreshments, till one of the farm servants came in and
warned him that four armed Highlanders were coming down
the hill in the direction of the house. The soldier, who had no
doubt been taught in the Marlborough school, and served
perhaps at Ramilies and Blenheim, immediately went out to
the front of the house, which concealed him from his enemies.


Presently he heard by the footsteps that one was near, when he
instantly presented himself at the gable, and shot the foremost
Highlander with his carbine, then seeing that the others came
on in Indian file, with short distances between, he advanced to
meet them, dropping the second with a bullet from his pistol,
and cut down the third with his sword. The fourth, seeing the
fate of his comrades, took to flight. After this wholesale exe-
cution, the dragoon, with perfect coolness, returned to the
house, finished his repast tranquilly, said his thanks and adieus,
and went off in the direction of Stirling. The next morning
the country people were summoned to bury the dead. The
ground was thickly covered with cranreuch, and life still re-
mained in numbers of both armies, who begged earnestly for
water. But what struck my grandfather particularly, was
that the heads and bodies of a great many of the slain Royalists
were horribly mutilated by the claymores of the Highlanders ;
while on those of the Highlanders themselves nothing was
observed but the wound which caused their death.

The False Testimony.

James Stirling, of Keir, great-great-grandfather of the pre-
sent laird, married the eldest daughter of the fifth Lord
Blantyre. He was a Jacobite, compromised in the rising of
1715, yet, though said to have taken an active part in that
enterprise, when brought to trial it happened that the indict-
ment against him was limited to one point only, his appearance
at a certain treasonable meeting, which was, however, suffi-
cient to entail 011 him, if convicted, the full penalty for treason,
consequently his life and fortune depended upon one fact. If
he could prove an alibi, he was safe ; but, otherwise, he was
sure to be condemned, with little hope of mercy. The princi-
pal evidence was that of an old and attached servant, who had
attended his master to the gathering, and who was an
extremely reluctant witness. Keir well knew that this man's
evidence would be conclusive against him, and so resigned
himself to his fate. But to his great surprise only equalled
by the disappointment of the Judge-Advocate the old servant,


on being put on oath, solemnly swore that his master was not
at the Jacobite meeting, but was at the time in a place so far
distant that his presence there was quite impossible on the
day set forth in the indictment. The witness, questioned and
cross-questioned, maintained his statement with the most
unblushing effrontery, and told his story with such wonderful
consistency that nothing more could be said. Keir was
acquitted, and permitted to depart in peace for Perthshire.
When fairly on the road, with his faithful servant riding
behind him, he reined in his steed, and the following dialogue
took place between master and man :

KEIR "I, no doubt, owe my life to your testimony, John;
but, Lord preserve me, how could you tell such an awful lie ?
How could you forswear yourself in that barefaced manner?
You knew very well I was at that meeting, for you were riding
behind me, as you are doing this day."

JOHN " Weel do I ken that your honour was at the meeting,
and frankly do I confess that I did forswear myself ; but, then,
I thought it far safer for me to trust my soul to the mercy of
God than your honour's life in the hands of your enemies."

The Rising in '45.

Charlie is my darling,
My darling, my darling ;
Charlie is my darling,
The young Chevalier.

The Jacobite party had remained in a quiescent state previ-
ous to 1739, seeing no hope of their scheme being carried out,
but on the breaking out of war with Spain, a fitting oppor-
tunity was believed to have come for again striking a blow for
him they considered the rightful heir to the throne, thinking,
without doubt, France and Spain would lend their assistance.

By 1740 the partisans of the Stuarts had formed associations,
engaged to rise whenever assistance was sent from abroad, and
such having been agreed to by France in 1743, in February,
1744, a fleet, with an army of 15,000 men on board, was ready


to sail. The British shores being comparatively unprotected,
the people were, in consequence, thrown into great alarm, but
a storm having arisen, which dispersed the fleet, all chance of
harm was avoided. Charles had, however, so great faith that
his appearance in Britain would at once rouse the enthusiasm
of the inhabitants, that he was with difficulty restrained from
setting sail in a fishing boat for Scotland.

Early in 1745 he made great exertions to induce the French
to espouse his cause, but without success ; and after many
repulses, a Mr Waters, a banker in Paris, advanced him 120,000
livres for the purpose of buying fusees, broadswords, gun-
powder, and other articles. A Nantes merchant also agreed
to take him to the coast of Scotland in a brig of 18 guns, which
he had fitted out to cruise against British trade. On the 22nd
of June (old style) the Prince embarked at St. Nazaire, at the
mouth of the Loire, on board the Doutelle, attended by seven
friends. The expedition sailed on the 2nd July, and, after
many adventures, cast anchor in Lochnanaugh on the 19th.
On the 25th he landed from the Doutelle at Borodale, belong-
ing to Clanranald, on the south side of the loch. From
Borodale he sent messengers to all the chiefs from whom he
expected assistance, Donald Cameron, younger of Lochiel, being
the first who came to him. He had been agent in the north of
Scotland for the exiled family, for which office he was well
qualified on account of his talents and the veneration in which
he was held by his countrymen. On the llth August Charles
removed to the mansion-house of Kinlochmoidart, where he
was joined by a few of the other chiefs ; from thence, on the
18th, he went to Glenaladale, and afterwards, with twenty-five
persons, to Loch Shiel, near which he intended to raise his
standard. The Marquis of Tullibardine had the honour of
flinging to the breeze the standard, a large banner of red silk
with a white space in the centre. The Marquis then read a
couple of manifestos in the name of James VIII., and a com-
mission, in which James appointed his son Charles to be

By this time Government had issued a proclamation, offering
30,000 for Prince Charles, who, on learning this, offered a
like sum for the person of the Elector of Hanover.


Sir John Cope, who had been appointed commander of the
Royal army, had, by the advice of the civil officers of the
Crown in Scotland, advanced to Stirling, where he rendez-
voused his raw troops, and from whence, after having received
permission at Edinburgh, he set out (on the very day Charles
raised his standard) for Stirling, to place himself at the head
of the troops. Leaving Stirling, he advanced by Crieff and
Amulree to Dalnacardoch, which he reached on the 2oth, where
the difficulties of his campaign became more and more apparent
to him. His intention was to make for Fort Augustus, but he
found himself and his army intercepted by the insurgents, who
were marching to take possession of Corriearroch. Cope had
advanced to Dalwhinnie, about 20 miles distant from the
mountain, when he received intelligence of this, and on the
morning of the 27th August held a council of war, when it was
decided to turn aside and proceed to Inverness.

Charles, having thus got quit of the Royal army, made all
speed for the Lowlands, and on Friday, 13th September,
passed Doune on his way to the Ford of Frew, eight miles from
Stirling. An incident occurred near Doune which shewed
that he was, at least, elected sovereign of the ladies of

" Preein' " His Royal Highness' MoiT.

At the house of Mr Edmonstone of Cambuswallace, the
gentlewomen of the district of Menteith had assembled to see
him pass ; and he was invited to stop and partake of some
refreshment. He drew up before the house, and, without
alighting from his horse, drank a glass of wine to the health of
all the ladies present. The Misses Edmonstone, daughters of
the host, acted on this occasion as servitresses, glad to find an
opportunity of approaching a person for whom they enter-
tained so much reverence ; and when Charles had drunk his
wine and restored his glass to the plate which they held for
him, they begged, in respectful terms, the honour of kissing
his royal highness' hand. This honour he granted with his
usual grace, but Miss Clementina Edmonstone, cousin of the


other young ladies, and then on a visit to Doune, thought she
might obtain a much more satisfactory taste of royalty, and
made bold to ask permission to " pree " his royal highness'
mou'. Charles did not at first understand the homely Scottish
phrase in which this request was made, but it was no sooner
explained to him than he took her in his arms and gave her a
hearty kiss, to the no small vexation, it is added, of the other
ladies, who had contented themselves with so much less liberal
a share of princely grace.

The Prince at Leckie House.

Aware that his progress would be opposed at the Bridge of
Stirling, Charles made his way to the Bridge of Frew, but,
before crossing, he sent intimation to the Laird of Leckie that
he expected to be with him next day. Leckie could have
dispensed with the royal patronage, but his loyalty keeping
him from refusing his hospitality, he despatched a note to the
Prince in the most fervid language of loyalty. The messenger
having been captured by some of Colonel Gardner's dragoons,
and the note read, George Moir, the Laird, was seized in the
middle of the night, conveyed to Stirling, and detained a
prisoner for two years.

The Prince having on Friday, 13th September, crossed at
"The Frew," arrived at Leckie House, where "Lady Betty,"
the Laird's sister, apprised him of what had happened. The
best cheer the circumstances could command was, however,
provided, and dinner was partaken of. While engaged at the
hospitable board, a widow made her appearance in frantic des-
pair, appealing to Lady Betty concerning the gross injustice
and inhumanity done her by the stealing of some of her sheep.
She was a Widow Forrester, mother of six children, and tenant
in Beild, but was more familiarly known in the locality as
" Katie Paterson," that being her maiden name. The case was
a hard one, and Lady Betty laid it before the pseudo Regent.
Proverbial for his gallantry and his affability for much of
which he was indebted to his continental education he pro-
mised recompense afterwards.


Young Lochiel, Chief of the Camerons, and Glencairnaig, of
the M'Gregors, hearing of the affair, the latter remarked,
"It'll be the Camerons."

" God forbid," said Lochiel ; "it's the M'Gregors."
"I'll wager one hundred guineas it's not the M'Gregors,"
retorted Glencairnaig.

Upon this they left to ascertain, and as they ascended the
hill, loaded their pistols, vowing if they were Camerons,
Lochiel would shoot them ; if M'Gregors, Glencairnaig would.
As they passed onward they espied a Cameron with a woolly
burden on his shoulders. Lochiel fired, and shot him iu the
left lung. He then addressed his retainers on the outrageous
proceeding of stealing from known friends, and gave warning
for the future. The wounded man was conducted as far as
Touch, when, getting faint from loss of blood, he was left, and
died the following day.

Mr Seton, the Laird of Touch, was then in a foreign clime,
though it was shrewdly guessed his feelings were more Jacobite
than otherwise ; still, as it was known he had made no com-
munication to his dependants, he was freed from the suspicion
of having taken hand in the rising. The wright, or house-
joiner, on the estate was an austere anti-Jacobite, and refused
to make the coffin for the dead 'man ; another joiner in the
neighbourhood, of the name of Mellis, whose principles were as
stern, but whose sympathy was more manly and humane, made
it, and superintended the interment. The body was deposited
near the bridge of Mill Burn, a little to the west of the mansion
house, and is still pointed out as " The Highlander's Grave."
When Mr Seton came home, among other things of review in
his absence, this circumstance was narrated to him ; he paid
off the unfeeling, demonstrative joiner, and inducted the more
compassionate man, whose descendants have now long been
associated with the district.

After leaving Leckie House the Highland army moved east-
wards, fetching a compass to avoid the guns of Stirling Castle,
and after passing over the field of Bannockburn, Charles spent
the night at Bannockburn House, the seat of Sir Hugh Pater-
son, a gentleman most enthusiastic in his cause.


Stirling and the '45.

At the commencement of the rebellion the authorities of
Stirling were considerably exercised over the events which
were transpiring, the proclamation and arrival of King George,
and the alarm occasioned by the reports concerning the move-
ments of the Pretender. The Extracts from the " Burgh
Records " contain numerous entries which serve to prove that
Stirling was thoroughly loyal. At the time of the '45, how-
ever, doubt appears to have been pretty freely expressed
concerning the loyalty of the authorities, who surrendered the
town to the rebels, " the treachery of the Provost, and the
pusillanimity, disaffection, and cowardice of a few of the
inhabitants " being spoken of as the cause of the capitulation,
although the Magistrates and Town Council, immediately after
the publication of the report, adopted very elaborate measures
for fully explaining their position and actions. The
following is

Prince Charles' Summons for the
Surrender of the Town.

Charles, Prince of Wales, &c., Regent of Scotland, England,
France, and Ireland, and the Dominions thereunto

"To the Provost, Magistrates, and Council of the town of

" Intending to take possession of our town of Stirling, we
hereby require and command you to give our forces peaceable
entry into and possession of the said town, and to receive us
as the representative of our Royal father, James the Eighth,
by the Grace of God King of Scotland, England, France, and
Ireland, and the Dominions thereunto belonging ; and as we
have a list of all the persons now in arms in the said town,
you are expressly required to deliver up to us all their arms,


and likewise all cannon, arms, and military stores presently in
the said town ; assuring you hereby that if you refuse or delay
to receive us, or to deliver up the arms and military stores
aforesaid, and thereby oblige us to use that force which Pro-
vidence has put in our hands, after our discharging one cannon
against the said town, no articles of capitulation or protection
shall be given to any of the inhabitants for their persons,
goods, and effects ; and as the town is now blockaded on all
sides, if any person therein now in arms shall be apprehended
without the walls of the town, they shall be carried to
immediate execution. An answer to this is to be returned to
our quarters here by 2 o'clock afternoon this day.

" Given at Bannockburn, this sixth day of January, 1746.


This summons was received at 1 o'clock, and immediately
the Council and many of the inhabitants met, when it was
unanimously agreed to send two commissioners to ask time to
deliberate till next day at 10 o'clock, and this crave was acceded
to. " By far the greatest part of those present, and who are
known to be as zealously affected to his Majesty King George
as any in Brittain, gave it as their judgment that to continue
the defence of the place would be a dangerous and fruitless
attempt. . . . After long reasoning from the above
topicks the councill inclosed and aggreed to return the follow-
ing answer, that as the message received was a summonds
of surrendry at discretion, the toun councill could not aggree
to any such surrendry, but that they would offer the following
terms : that there should be no demand made on the revenue
of the town, absolute safety to the inhabitants in their persons
and effects, particularly to those of them who had been in
arms, and that all arms, &c., in the town should be delivered
into the castle." This answer gave great displeasure, and
before the return of the deputies, at 8 o'clock at night, " the
rebells made 27 discharges of cannon from their battery on the
town. Next day the arms were conveyed into the castle by
nine in the morning, and the rebells entered the town about
three in the afternoon." General Blakeney, who held the


Castle, on hearing what had been decided on, is said to have
sent to the Council the following message : " Gentlemen, as
your Provost and Bailies think the town not worth their notice
to take care of, neither can I. I will take care of the castle."
General Blakeney being well provided with men and pro-
visions, the Castle was besieged. " By the 12th (January) the
rebels, having got all their cannon over the Forth, had broken
ground between the church at Stirling and a large house called
Mar's work, for erecting a battery there against the castle.
. they discharged several platoons on the 26th, but
without doing any harm. But on the 27th they had two
batteries erected ; one at Gowan-hill, within forty yards of the

castle, and one at Lady's hill The battery at the

Gowan-hill was erected under cover of wool-packs. By the
fire from it the upper part of the walls of the castle was a little

damaged Upon the 1st of February the rebels

[after blowing up their powder magazine in St. Ninians church]
retreated precipitately from Stirling on the approach of the

King's army They forded the Forth at Frew, and

proceeded to Crieff The van of the King's army

entered Stirling on the 1st of February, as did the duke the
next day."

The advent of the rebels into the town occasioned not a little
trouble and annoyance to the inhabitants, by reason of plunder-
ing and other depredations, and the minutes and accounts for
the period bear evidence of considerable expense having been
caused. On 3rd May " The council having heard a petition
of Thomas Campbell craving reparation for some losses sus-
tained by him occassioned by the rebells being here, they allow
him thirty pound Scots on that account. Appoint their
treasurer to pay to John Hall, coalman, nine pound Scots for
his trouble and losses while the rebells were here." On 13th
September a claim for carts taken by the rebels was made, and
30 was agreed to be given towards satisfying the losses; and
on 2nd May, 1747, Andrew Johnstone, merchant and inn-
keeper, craved " allowance for the losses he sustained and
inconveniences he was put to," and " the council therefore
allow him thirty-six pound Scots on that account."


St. Ninians and the Rebels.

The following has been taken from the minute-books of the
Parish of St. Ninians :


It. Jan. 19 No sermon, the Highlandmen being here.
It. Jan. 26 No sermon, the Highlandmeu being here.

St. Ninians, 13 February, 1746.

After prayer. Sedernt. Min. and Elders.

Which day the Beddal was interrogate what of the Utensils
were left after the late burning of the church (which happn'd on
the first of the month of February, by the blowing up of the
Powder Magazine that was lodged in the church, belonging
to the rebel army, and by which the death of a considerable
number of the inhabitants and others was occasioned). Tho
Beddal replied, The Trams of the Litter were safe, as also th-e
mortcloths, saddle cloths and cloath of the Litter. They
ordered the Litter immediately to be repaired and a new Tent
to be made. The Beddal further represented that the
Highlandmen had earned off one of the mortcloths and the
pulpit cloth.

June 5th The minister having gotten an order from the
Lord Justice Clerk to take up a List of all men within the
parish above sixteen who had not born arms in this unnatural
rebellion. The sessions appoint the Elders in their respective
quarters to bring in the Lists that the same may be transcribed
and transmitted to the Justice Clerk, and this to be done with
all expedition.

June 8 An act of the Assembly was read enjoining a day of
solemn thanksgiving to be observed on the last Thursday of
June instant, being the 26th of that month, for the happy
deliverance from the late unnatural Rebellion.

It. June 26 Collected by Henry Pow and James Aikman
being a thanksgiving day applied by the assembly for the
victory obtained over the Rebells at Culloden. 0006.07.00


Blowing Up of St. Ninians Church.

The following extract is from the account-book of Prince
Charles :

18 Jan., 1746 Saturday The Prince at Falkirk, whether he
ordered the corpses of Sir Robert Munro, of Colonel Whitney,
and some other officers belonging to Hawley's army, to be
brought and buried in the churchyard.

Jan. 22 Wednesday at Bannockburn

Paid for veal, 12

To hens, 34 at 8d., 128

To egges, 030

To a stone of common candles... 080

23 To Mr Don for wine, 17

To 39 gall, ale, 360

To a boll of meal, 12

Feb. 1 Saturday The Prince and his army began their
retreat from Stirling, Bannockburn, &c. By an accident the
church of St. Ninians was blown up, there being a quantity of
powder lodged in it. Some country people and some High-
landers were killed by the blowing up of the church.

A Tradition of the '45.

Among the few tradesmen of Stirling who favoured the
Pretender was one John M'Ewen, more familiarly styled
" Jock," a shoemaker in Broad Street. So devoted was he that
he left his " lingles and his ellshins " to help his favourite,
and joined the Jacobites. As they journeyed southwards
" Jock " got tired of the campaign, and fearing that the cause
was not to be so very fortunate as he at one time imagined,
bade his " Pretendership " and followers good-bye on reaching


Carlisle, and quietly pursued his way homewards, betaking
himself with " a calm sough " to his usual avocations. " Jock "
described some of the scenes he had witnessed to a few cronies
who gathered to listen to the scintillations of this son of St.

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