Speed Bonnie Boat

On March 2, 1316, Marjorie Bruce, King Robert’s daughter, in late pregnancy, fell from her horse and went into labor. She had married Walter Stewart ,6th High Steward of Scotland in 1315. She died in childbirth at Paisley Abbey, after having a son, Robert who would later become the first Stuart king of Scotland. Robert the Bruce’s son, David would die without a legitimate heir, making way for the new king.

The Stuarts kept close ties with France and maintained the fight for Scottish independence. James IV attempted to make peace with England by marrying Margaret Tudor but later went to war against England when Henry VIII invaded France, Scotland’s ally. He was killed and defeated at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1542. In that same year his son James V, died leaving the throne to his daughter Mary Queen of Scots.

During the Scottish Reformation, Mary who was Catholic, was forced to give up her throne to her son James VI. When she fled to England, Elizabeth I had her imprisoned and eventually executed. When Elizabeth died, James, raised as a Protestant, took the throne and the Presbyterian church became Scotland’s national church. He ruled Scotland as James VI and England as James I, both countries unified under one king. James established Scottish colonies in America and Ireland and set about reorganizing the Presbyterian church.

James’s son Charles I, continued with church reform but met with resistance in 1638 when the National Covenant was drawn up. The Covenant was basically a pledge to keep the church as it was, with God as its head only and no interference from royalty. In 1642, civil war broke out between Charles and Parliament, many of whom were Puritans. The Parliamentarians under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell were supported by the Scottish Covenanters. In 1646, Charles was overthrown. Later, in 1649, parliament had him beheaded.

Although the Scots persuaded Charles’s son to agree to the National Covenant, Cromwell defeated them at the Battle of Dunbar in 1651. By 1654, he had forced the Scots to unite with England. When finally, in 1660, Charles II became king, he dissolved this union and like his forebears ruled the two countries separately, allowing Scotland her own beliefs. After his death though, the two countries realized that to preserve peace, they had to unite. Along with Wales, they formed the Kingdom of Great Britain under the Act of Union which took place in 1707. The Scots dissolved their own parliament and instead sent representatives to the British Parliament. They retained their own laws and religion.

The last Stuart monarch was Queen Anne. When she died in 1714, the  German House of Hanover came to the throne under George the I. Many people in the Scottish Highlands remained loyal to the Stuarts and supported James Stuart (known as the Old Pretender), as the rightful heir to the throne. They became known as “Jacobites”, “Jacobus” being the Latin word for “James”.  James lead a rebellion against the crown in 1715 but was crushed and fled to France.

In 1745, the Jacobites rose again in an attempt to plant James’s son, Charles Edward Stuart (known as the Young Pretender) on the throne. He was a handsome lad, hence called “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. The English were easily defeated by the Jacobites in Scotland but when they marched into England they were forced into the Battle of Culloden Moor where they were routed and then mercilessly pursued by the infamous Duke of Cumberland.The story of Charles’s escape through the glens and moors of Scotland until he was rescued and put aboard a frigate to France is one of Scotland’s favorite legends. Below, Charles as painted by John Pettie in 1898.

Bonnie Prince Charlie by John Pettie

Bonnie Prince Charlie by John Pettie

His flight is also remembered in “The Skye Boat Song”

After the revolt in 1746, many clan chiefs were executed and all signs of Highland culture were banned. Kilts and bagpipes were outlawed and the men were disarmed. The restrictions were not removed until 1782 when it was thought the threat of more rebellions had passed.

What does all this mean to me? As I stated previously, Gartshore, Smith and Reid families were living in Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire when Charles Stuart passed through on his retreat from Culloden. These on my maternal grandmothers side. Unfortunately, my maternal grandfather’s name, Phillips, is on the list of Cromwellian Adventurers for Land who were granted land in Ireland during the Cromwellian plantation. To do this he forced Irish landowners off their land.

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