Flora MacDonald

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Flora Macdonald
Portrait o Flora Macdonald bi the airtist Allan Ramsay
Flora Macdonald bi Allan Ramsay c. 1749–1750; the roses is a Jacobite symbol. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Born1722 (1722)
Milton, South Uist, Scotland
Dee'd5 Mairch 1790(1790-03-05) (aged 67–68)
Kingsburgh, Isle of Skye
Kent foraidin Charles Edward Stuart efter his defeat at the Battle o Culloden

Flora MacDonald (Gaelic: Fionnghal nic Dhòmhnaill); (1722 – 5 March 1790) wis a memmer o the Macdonalds o Sleat, that gied help tae Charles Edward Stuart tae evade govrenment sodgers efter the Battle o Culloden in Apryle 1746. Her faimily supportit the govrenment durin the 1745 Rising an Flora later claimt tae hiv assistit Charles oot o sympathy fur his seituation.

She wis arreistit an haudit in the Touer o Lunnon but let oot unner a general amnesty in Juin 1747. She later mairrit Allan MacDonald an the couple flittit tae North Carolina in 1773. Thair support fur the British govrenment durin the American War o Independence cost thaim thair American estates an thay returnt tae Scotland, whaur Flora deet in 1790.

Early life[eedit | eedit soorce]

Sunset on South Uist, where Flora was born in 1722

Flora MacDonald wis born in 1722 at Milton on the isle o Sooth Uist in the Ooter Hebrides, third an last bairn o Ranald MacDonald (d. 1723) an his seicont wife Marion. Her faither wis a memmer o the minor gentry, bein tacksman an leasehauder o Milton an Balivanich; she haed twa brithers, Angus, that later inheritit the Milton tack an Ronald, that deet as a bairn.[1]

Her faither deet suin efter her birth an in 1728, her mither remairrit Hugh MacDonald o Armadale, Skye. Flora wis brocht up bi her faither's cousin, Sir Alexander MacDonald o Sleat. Whiles some MacDonalds remaint Catholic, in pairticular in the Isles, her faimily wis part o the Presbyterian majority.[1]

The escape o Prince Charles Edward Stuart[eedit | eedit soorce]

Isles o Skye an Raasay, Portree mid-left

Flora wis visitin Benbecula in the Ooter Hebrides whan Prince Charles an a small group o aides teuk refuge there efter the Battle o Culloden in Juin 1746. Ane o his companions, Captain Conn O'Neill fae County Antrim, wis a distant relation tae Flora an speirt fur her help. MacDonald o Sleat hadnae jynt the Rebellion an Benbecula wis rin bi a pro-govrenment militia heidit bi Flora's step-faither, Hugh MacDonald. This connection alloued her tae obtain the needit permits but she wis apparent hesitant, feart o the consequences fur her faimily gif thay war caucht. She micht hiv been takin less o a risk nor it appears; witnesses later claimt Hugh advist the Prince whaur tae tak scouk fae his sairch pairties.[2]

Passes wis gien oot allouin vaiyage tae the mainland fur Flora, a boat's crew o sax men an twa personal servants, includin Charles disguised as an Irish maid cried Betty Burke. On 27 Juin, thay laundit near Sir Alexander's hoose at Monkstadt, near Kilbride, Skye. In his absence, his wife Lady Margaret arranged lodgin wi her stewart, MacDonald o Kingsburgh, that telt Charles tae remuive his disguise, as it jist makit him mair conspicuous. The neist day, Charles wis taen fae Portree tae the isle o Raasay; Flora steyed on Skye an thay niver met again.[2]

Twa week later, the boatmen wis detaint an confesst; Flora an Kingsburgh wis arreistit an taen tae the Touer o Lunnon. Efter Lady Margaret intervent on her behauf wi the chief Scots legal officer, Duncan Forbes o Culloden, she wis alloued tae bide ootwi the Touer unner the ee o a "King's Messenger" an releast efter the Juin 1747 Act of Indemnity.[2] Aristocratic sympathisers gaithert ower £1,500 fur her, ane o the conteributors bein Frederick, Prince o Wales, heir t the throne; Flora allegedly telt him she aidit Charles oot o chairity an wid hiv duin the selsame fur him.[3]

On 6 November 1750, at the age o 28, she mairrit Allen MacDonald, a captain in the British Airmy an Kingsburgh's auldest son.[4] The couple furst bidit at Flodigarry, Skye an inheritit the faimily estate efter Kingsburgh deet in 1772. The scriever an Jacobite sympathiser Samuel Johnson met her in 1773 durin his visit tae the isle, an later descrievit her as "a wumman o saft featurs, gentle manners, kind soul an elegant presence". He wis the author ofthe inscrievin on her memorial at Kilmuir: "a name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour".[5]

Emigration tae North Carolina[eedit | eedit soorce]

Allan MacDonald serrt in the 114th an 62nd Regiments of Foot durin the 1756–1763 Seiven Years' War but wis a puir businessman. Efter haein an argiment wi his clan chief ower rent, he an Flora emigratit tae Anson County, North Carolina in 1774 whaur they sattlit on an estate near Mountain Creek, cried 'Killegray'.[6] Whan the American War o Independence stairtit in 1775, Allan raisit the Anson Battalion o the Loyalist North Carolina Militia, a tot o aroond 1,000 men, includin his sons Alexander an James. En route tae the coast fur collection b British transports, thay war atteckit bi an American force at the Battle o Moore's Creek Brig on 28 Februar 1776 an Allan wis taen prisoner.[7]

In Apryle 1777, the North Carolina Provincial Congress confiscatit Loyalist-awnt property an Flora wis evickit fae Killegray, wi the loss o aw her possessions. Efter 18 month in captivity, Allan wis releast in September 1777; he wis postit tae Fort Edward, Nova Scotia as heistmast o the 84th Regiment of Foot whaur Flora jynt him in August 1778.[6]

Return tae Skye[eedit | eedit soorce]

Flora's grave in Kilmuir Cemetery, Skye

Efter a harsh winter in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in September 1779 Flora teuk vaiyag fur Lunnon in the Dunmore, a British privateer; durin the traivals, she brakit her airm an ill-heal delayed her return tae Scotland til spring 1780.[6] She spent the neist twathree year bidin wi sindry faimily memmers, includin Dunvegan, hame o her son-in-law Major General Alexander Macleod, the mucklemaist laundawner in Skye efter the MacDonalds.[8] The compensation received fur the loss o thair North Carolina estates wisna eneuch tae let thaim sattle in Nova Scotia an Allan returnt tae Scotland in 1784. As Kingsburgh wis noo hame tae Flora's hauf-sister an her husband, Flora an Allan sattlit on the near tack o Penduin.[6]

She deet in 1790 at the age o 68 an wis buirit in Kilmuir Cemetery, her husband deein in September 1792. Thay haed seeven livin bairns, twa dauchters an five sons; twa o thaim wur lost at sea in 1781 an 1782. A third son John makit his siller in Indie, giein his parents eneuch tae spend thair final years in some comfort.[1]

Legacy[eedit | eedit soorce]

1896 statue, Inverness Castle

Tradeitional portrayals o the escape focus on Charles, wi Flora playin a seicontar row. She anerly spake rare o the episode an her last contact wi Charles wis whan thay pairtit weys at Portree; it seems at least ane motive wis that his presence pit her faimily in danger.[2]

The Victorians makit a Scots cultural identity shawn throu tairtans, the late 19th-yeirhunner inventions o Burns Suppers an Heiland Gemms, an the co-option o romantic icons siclik Mary, Queen of Scots an Bonnie Prince Charlie.[9] In 1878, Flora teuk her place in this pantheon wi the furthsettin o an alleged 'Autobiography'; ghaist-scrievit b her granddauchter Flora Frances Wylde; it wis sae fu o mony errors that it cidnae hae been wrate bi Fora hersel.[1] Repeatit bi Charles Ewald in his 1886 buik The Life and Times of Prince Charles Edward, it remains the basis fur mony faur ben leuks on her life an motivations.[1]

In 1884, Sir Harold Boulton wrate an adaptation o an existin melody that he cried 'The Skye Boat Song'. This wis suin follaed b the first performance o the Scots Heilan Dance "Flora MacDonald's Fancy", whiles a bronze statue wis pit up at Inverness Castle in 1896.[10] The Flora MacDonald Academy, aat uised tae be Flora Macdonald College, in Red Springs, North Carolina is cried efter her an twa o her bairns ar buirit on the campus; til 2009, it wis the steid o the Flora Macdonald Heiland Gemms an aw.

Flora wis pentit mony times bi Scots portrait artist Allan Ramsay (1713–1784), the majority o that wis wrackit. The ane uised in this airticle wis duin efter her release fae the Touer in 1749–1750; in 2015, a foregaun unrecordit pentin, alleged bi Ramsay as weel, wis fand in Florida.[11]

Fictional portrayals include;

  • Inglis Fletcher, The Scotswoman (1954); a novel based on Flora MacDonald's life in North Carolina durin the American War o Independence;
  • Highlander: The Series; in the 3rd-season episode, "Take Back the Night", Ceirdwyn, an Immortal, is bidin unner the name "Flora MacDonald" whan Charles an his pairty stap on thair wey tae the coast, seekin ae boat tae France;
  • A Breath of Snow and Ashes; the 6t buik o Diana Gabaldon's The Outlander series, the episode featurs an accoont o Flora MacDonald's arrival in the American colonies.

In the 1948 film Bonnie Prince Charlie, Flora is played bi Margaret Leighton, wi David Niven as Charles.

References[eedit | eedit soorce]


  1. a b c d e Douglas 2004.
  2. a b c d Riding 2016.
  3. MacLoed 1985.
  4. MacInnes 2009.
  5. Bate 1955.
  6. a b c d Quyn 1963.
  7. McConnell, Brian. "A Highlander & Loyalist – Alan MacDonald" (PDF). UE.org. Mr McConnell's article provides third party references for the points included here. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  8. MacGregor 2009.
  9. Morris 1992.
  10. Historic Environment Scotland. "Inverness, Castle Wynd, Statue Of Flora Macdonald (13434)". Canmore. Retrieved 26 Januar 2015.
  11. "'Flora MacDonald portrait' found in Florida". BBC News. 31 Mairch 2015. Retrieved 22 Julie 2018.

Soorces[eedit | eedit soorce]

  • Bate, W Jackson (1955). The Achievement of Samuel Johnson. OUP. ISBN 978-0195004762.
  • Douglas, Hugh; Flora MacDonald: The Most Loyal Rebel; (Sutton Publishing, 1999);
  • Douglas, Hugh. "Flora MacDonald". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. Cite has empty unkent parameters: |HIDE_PARAMETER15=, |HIDE_PARAMETER13=, |HIDE_PARAMETER21=, |HIDE_PARAMETER30=, |HIDE_PARAMETER14=, |HIDE_PARAMETER17=, |HIDE_PARAMETER32=, |HIDE_PARAMETER16=, |HIDE_PARAMETER25=, |HIDE_PARAMETER33=, |HIDE_PARAMETER24=, |HIDE_PARAMETER9=, |HIDE_PARAMETER3=, |HIDE_PARAMETER1=, |HIDE_PARAMETER4=, |HIDE_PARAMETER28=, |HIDE_PARAMETER18=, |HIDE_PARAMETER20=, |HIDE_PARAMETER5=, |HIDE_PARAMETER19=, |HIDE_PARAMETER10=, |HIDE_PARAMETER38=, |HIDE_PARAMETER31=, |HIDE_PARAMETER29=, |HIDE_PARAMETER26=, |HIDE_PARAMETER6=, |HIDE_PARAMETER11=, |HIDE_PARAMETER8=, |HIDE_PARAMETER23=, |HIDE_PARAMETER27=, and |HIDE_PARAMETER12= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • McConnell, Brian. "A Highlander & Loyalist – Alan MacDonald" (PDF). UE.org.
  • MacInnes, John (December 2009). The Brave Sons of Skye; Containing the Military Records (compiled From Authentic Sources) of the Leading Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and private soldiers whom "Eilean a' Cheo" has produced.
  • MacLeod, Ruairidh (1985). Flora MacDonald: The Jacobite Heroine in Scotland and North America. Shepheard-Walwyn. ISBN 978-0856831478.
  • MacGregor, Alexander (December 2009). The life of Flora Macdonald, and her adventures with Prince Charles (Print On Demand ed.). Nabu Press.
  • Meyer, Duane (1963). The Highland Scots of North Carolina. Raleigh, N.C.: Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission.
  • Morris, RJ (1992). "Victorian Values in Scotland & England". Proceedings of the British Academy (78).
  • Quyn, Dorothy Mackay (Julie 1941). "Flora MacDonald in History". The North Carolina Historical Review. 18 (3).
  • Riding, Jacqueline (2016). Jacobites; A New History of the 45 Rebellion. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1408819128.

Fremmit airtins[eedit | eedit soorce]