Thank goodness I didn’t take up Fat Mac’s invitation to “drink loadsa beer and get completely trolleyed” with him last night. As a result, and with a clear head, I enjoyed a great cycle ride this morning, in the winter sun.
I cycled the backroads up the River Esk to the Breadline bakers for breakfast, then past Musselburgh Golf Course, back down through Pinkie and along part of the John Muir Way to Prestonpans, where I stopped to visit the battle site of 1745.
In 1744, the French, encouraged by some English Tories, had attempted one of many invasions during the period of England, but a storm destroyed the effort. In 1745, the Jacobites were hoping for further French support, but this was not forthcoming, and even a force of the Irish Brigade was forced back. Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in the Outer Hebrides with seven men in June 1745 and many Highlanders eventually joined his force. They met the Hanoverian army in Scotland at Prestonpans, and defeated them. There were many Macdonalds in the Jacobite ranks that day, and many raw recruits in the Hanoverian forces (the main army was in Flanders).
During 1745 and 1746 the Mackenzies were on the rampage in various parts of Scotland, but they didn’t fight at Culloden (they’d been busy feuding with the Munros and the Sutherlands and the Mackays). Some afterwards took the side of the British government. The Maclean chief had been in France for some time. When he returned to join the Rising, he was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Maclean of Drimmin lead the Macleans at Culloden, where he was killed. Some MacLeods (but not the chief, who stayed in his castle) fought on both sides during these years – I think that they just liked a good battle 🙂
One of the things that this perhaps shows is how confused things were in those days. On the one side, a significant but not uniform proportion of Highland clans supporting the absolutist Stuarts, aided by some English Tories and English Jacobites, often the French and sometimes the Spanish and some Irish, and on the other side the Hanoverians, the Whigs, most of England and many Lowland Scots with a smaller number of Highlanders.
As the Wikipedia points out: “Success at Prestonpans had not, as is often claimed, left the rebels in control of Scotland, for the great bulk of the population remained bitterly hostile to the absolutist Stuarts who, prior to their expulsion in a popular revolution, had presided over the notorious persecutions known as Scotland’s ‘Killing Times‘.”
Yes, things were confused, but not as confused as Fat Mac probably was this morning, waking up with an Erdinger and El Guia induced hangover.