Stories from the Jacobite Court in Exile: Sir David Nairne and his daughter, Lady Ramsay

Jacques Rigaud, Vue du Vieux Chateau de St Germain en Laye, engraving, 1725, and letter from Marie Ramsay to James Edgar

│By Edward Corp, retired Professor of British History at the Université de Toulouse│

A couple of years ago I published a biography of Sir David Nairne.1 He worked in the political secretariat of the Stuart court in exile for thirty years (1689-1728), and the Stuart Papers contain a great many letters written by him or to him during that period. I read and used those letters, and also consulted a private diary that he kept during the first half of that period. Unfortunately the diary comes to an end in 1708, and there was one thing that I was never able to discover. It might seem unimportant in itself, but it is significant in the context of a biography.

Read moreStories from the Jacobite Court in Exile: Sir David Nairne and his daughter, Lady Ramsay

‘Who knows to suffer, Conquer, and to Save’ – Scottish Romanticism and the Jacobites

A king without a throne, a dashing young prince, and an army of exiles. These basic components of Jacobitism – with some misty lochs, rugged Highlanders, scheming Catholics and royal courts thrown in – lend themselves perfectly to high Romance and adventure. It is no surprise then, that the Stuarts and their Jacobite supporters provided inspiration for early Scottish Romanticism, evident in the works of authors such as Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, the poetry of Robert Burns, and popular tunes like The Skye Boat Song. With a core narrative of brave young men fighting a doomed cause against an oppressive regime, (particularly embodied in the merciless Duke of Cumberland), the stories surrounding the two Jacobite risings remain popular today, as the recent success of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series of historical novels has shown.

Read more‘Who knows to suffer, Conquer, and to Save’ – Scottish Romanticism and the Jacobites

Bonnie Prince Charlie and ‘the ‘45’

In August 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Highland army embarked on its journey across Scotland, marking the onset of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Determined to restore the Stuart monarchy to the throne, and severe the Union of 1707 which bound Scotland to Britain, the Prince led his Jacobite followers into battles across Scotland and the North of England. Replete with themes of individual heroism, and of the struggle of the few against the tyranny of the establishment, it is little wonder that the story of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ has come to acquire mythical status. 270 years on from what was effectively the beginning of the end of the Jacobite cause, I couldn’t resist delving into some of the original documents from our State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century resource, which gives us some clues as to why the rising – and the figure at its head – has become so romanticised.

Read moreBonnie Prince Charlie and ‘the ‘45’