Bonnie Prince Charles Edward

Bonnie Prince Charles Edward

Were my Scottish ancestors Jacobites? Since the trail of my Angus ancestors of Banffshire becomes murky for times before the 1790s, I had often puzzled as to whether they were mixed up in any of that Jacobite Rising nonsense. On the one hand, it seemed rather unlikely to me, since my grandfather was about as protestant and dour a Scot as ever lived. Since the Jacobite cause supported the restoration of a Catholic king with a “divine right of kings” policy, that didn’t line up with the grandfather’s dour protestantism in my mind. Of course, there could have been other reasons that a young Scot would have joined up with Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 besides, and perhaps in spite of, his religion. Maybe one would just have been thoroughly at odds with the English government. It was only 30 years after the second Jacobite Rising was lost in 1746, that the American Revolution was in full sway; and that was mainly English folk (granted, in the colonies) rebelling against English government.

Anyway, where to look to find information about this? I had looked to see if there were anyone with the surname “Angus” at the Battle of Culloden; and I had drawn a blank on that. However, my father had had me watch Peter Watkin’s film version of the battle when I was just a young lad. By that time, it was over 200 years gone; but he was still angry. After watching the film so was I; and maybe I still am. I wonder what that means? In sober and well-educated historical hindsight, I cannot credit the cause of the Jacobite and their “divine” kings, nor can I credit Bonnie Prince Charlie as a military tactician. Having said that, my grandfather’s name was Edward and I had an Uncle Charles and my own first son is Charles Edward Angus. There was no plan on my part to name him after the good old prince, I was just sticking with family names. But still… where to look for answers?

Well, I recently came across several volumes by Frances McDonnell that contain lists of convicted Jacobites from various parts of Scotland, Ireland, England, France and Spain. These volumes can be found through booksellers like Amazon, and also on Google Books. These books include Highland Jacobites, 1745; Jacobites of North East Scotland, 1715 and 1745; Jacobites of Perthshire, 1745; and Jacobites of Lowland Scotland, England, Ireland, France and Spain (1745). These are not historical accounts of the events; rather, they are simply lists of the names of individual men and women who were in some way associated with the Risings.

Here is an example from the volume on Jacobites of North East Scotland, the one I was most interested in:

Page on "Angus"

Page on “Angus”

Interestingly enough, there are three “Angus” names on this page, though none of them are convincingly related to my Banffshire folks. However, there’s another curious feature to the list of names. My family tree includes the surnames, Day, Watson, Henry/Hendry, Dickie, Christie, and Milne. Each of these names occurs in this volume in the lists for 1745, including folk from Banffshire, except for “Day”. This name is in the 1715 list.

So, what I note about this list of names is that all my ancestors’ surnames are included here as Jacobites. Does this give absolute proof that any direct ancestor of mine was involved in the Rising of ’45? I don’t think I’d go that far. However, it does seem natural that generations of “rebels” would stick together after the events of ’45. It might take only an “Angus” brother speaking out in an alehouse in favor of another’s actions in the Rising for the stigma to be applied to the name. The same for any of these others in my list.

Admittedly, this isn’t incredibly convincing; however, it does provide a method of search. In other words, from the lists provided by McDonnell, now I have several names that I can attempt to draw my tree back to. You might try this yourself.

One Comment

  1. The Day was Dey – a usual Banffshire surname.

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