“THE UNWELCOME PRESENCE OF BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE AND HIS TROOPS IN HAMILTON 1745.”
PRINCE CHARLIE AND THE REBELS, THE HIGHLANDERS IN HAMILTON IN 1745. AN INTERESTING ACCOUNT OF THEIR DOINGS.
The article below was taken from a local Hamilton Newspaper and transcribed by Wilma Bolton. The article re, the unwelcome presence of Prince Charlie and his troops in Hamilton. The letter clearly describes the feelings of the inhabitants of the town. I love where the paper could not bring itself to say what I think was “naked” whores and used the letter “W” instead.
By the kindness of a friend of this paper we are enabled to publish the following interesting letter, dated 6th January, 1745, written by a Hamiltonian to a friend, concerning the doings of the Highlanders and Prince Charlie in 1745, on their way through Hamilton from Douglas, Lesmahagow, etc:—
We have at last got a visit from your formerly troublesome neighbours, which we neither expected, desired, nor wanted. However, their stay was but short, but, at the same time, very troublesome. Upon Tuesday, the 24th December, there came in here 1900 horse and foot, though they gave themselves out at 2500. They were commanded, if may call it so, by the Lords George Murray, Nairn, Elcho, Ogilvy, and Glenbucket and others.
Upon the Wednesday morning part of them went off to Glasgow; their Prince, the Duke of Perth, their French Ambassadors, Lochiel and others, with part of their clans came in both these nights; the people of the town, though greatly thronged, were in greater peace than on the Thursday night, when the Camerons, MacPhersons and MacDonalds, of Clan Ranald’s party, came up (after having burned some houses in Lesmahagow and rifled one of the ministers’ houses. And had it not been for two of Lochmoidart’s brothers they would have laid the whole town in ashes and plundered the country about); and then, indeed, we felt the effects of an undisciplined, ungoverned army of Highland robbers, who took no more notice of their nominal Prince, or Commander, than a pack of ill-bred hounds.
The provisions, ale and spirits, beginning to run short in the town, they threatened the people with death or the burning of their houses, unless such victuals and drink were got as they called for, which victuals were not of the coarse sort , herrings, onions, and butter, and a cheese, which we looked upon as their best food, such as they would not taste. The people of England have taught them such a bad custom that they would scarcely taste good salt beef and greens, the meanest of them calling for roast or fried fresh victuals, if such were not got they treated the people very ill.
My lodgers were so luxurious that they would not taste boiled pork a little pickled, unless we could dress it in a frying pan with fresh butter. Amongst this set of ruffians there were some civil people, some of whom my aunt had the good fortune to get for lodgers. I had no less than 33 of them the last night, besides horses and naked w——.
Our subscribers, volunteers and militia were obliged to leave the place, amongst whom were your good brother and myself, so I had not the least trouble of them , though their three nights lodgings with what they stole from me, cost me about 6s sterling.
They have rifled several houses in this neighbourhood, and broke and destroyed what they could not carry off, particularly Captain Crawford’s, Thomas Hutton’s at Smiddy Croft, and Woodside.
The Prince went a hunting upon Thursday in the Duke’s park; he shot two pheasants, two woodcocks, two hares, and a young buck, all which were carried in triumph. He dined at Chatelroy where I saw him, but could not find out this angel—Prince among the whole rabble till he was pointed out to me. While here they stript the people of their shoes upon the street, and took what they thought proper from them, refusing to be hindered by any of their officers.
There was not any of this rabble but what were possessed of plenty of gold, even the smallest boys. We were freed from these troublesome neighbours upon Friday morning the 27th, who left us nothing but an innumerable multitude of vermin; (a sentence follows which is unsuitable for publication). Our town smells of them yet; but the people’s spirits are getting up, for while they were here they looked like dead corps.
They stopp’d us from a merry Christmas but, God be thanked, we were blessed with a merry New Year’s Day. I wish you a happy New Year and peace, which we now begin to value. All friends having being here assembled, join in good wishes and services to you,— I am etc.
After his defeat at Culloden, Charles Edward Stuart escaped to Europe where he made few friends due to his drinking and short temper. In less that four years he indicated to his remaining Jacobite supporters that he accepted the impossibility of his recovering the English and Scots crowns while he remained a Roman Catholic and he was willing to commit himself to reigning as a Protestant. Accordingly, he visited London incognito in 1750 and conformed to the Protestant faith by receiving Anglican communion. However he seemingly returned to his Roman Catholic faith by the time of his marriage in 1772. He died in Rome of a stroke on 31 January 1788 aged 67 years.
The above document was transcribed exactly as it was written. Wilma S. Bolton.
One landmark in Hamilton that links Prince Charlie to today still exists. Bonnie Prince Charlie marched his troops across the Old Avon Bridge that is in the picture below.