NEIL MACEACHAIN'S NARRATIVE

OF THE WANDERINGS OF PRINCE

CHARLES IN THE HEBRIDES


THE WANDERINGS OF PRINCE CHARLES IN THE HEBRIDES

T

HE unfortunate battle of Culloden being fought upon the 16th of April, 1746, his royal highness seeing that the day was irrecoverably lost, concluded that his only business was to endeavour the saving of himself out of the hands of his enemies: whereupon, having retired to a neighbouring eminence, hard by the place of action, accompanied by a few of Fitz-James's horse, there, having made a little stop, not knowing whither to direct his course when luckily one Ned Bourke, the servant of one Alexander MacLeod, son of Mr. John MacLeod, of Muiravine Side, rode accidentally by them, thinking to find his master among them, whom he had not seen since the beginning of the battles. His master (who happened to be there present with the prince), knowing him to be very well acquaint with all the different roads of the highlands, ordered him to lead them the safest and surest road to Glengarry. Whereupon the prince, accompanied by Master O'Sullivan, Mr. Allan MacDonald priest, and the said Alexander MacLeod, marched westward, and arrived that night about eight o'clock to Gortuleg’s house, a gentleman of the name of Thomas Fraser, in Stratherrick, where he met, as it was said, with my Lord Lovat, and supped with him there that night.

After supper the prince reckoning it dangerous to stay so very near the enemy, the first night, we resolved to continue his journey towards Glengarry; about break of day, finding himself quite fatigued and worn out for want of rest, he consulted with his fellow-travellers, whither he might repair with most safety to take some hours repose. They all concluded that the Castle of Invergarry was the surest and safest place for that purpose, and a great conveniency of concealment, and (that he) might repose himself without any fear (there) till such time as he and his party should take further resolutions. Being then prevailed upon by these reasons, he immediately repaired thither, where he was received by Glengarry with the greatest pleasure. When he sufficiently refreshed himself he took a resolution to proceed still further, fearing to stay long in one place. He departed that same day from Glengarry, being the 17th, in the evening, and continued his route towards Lochaber, and came that night to Donald Cameron[1], of Glenspean’s house[2], where he passed the remaining part of the night.

Next day being the 18th, he set out for the Braes of Morar, and arrived in the evening at Angus MacEachan's[3] house, son to Alexander MacEachan, of Druimindarroch. He was so much fatigued that night that he could neither eat nor drink, and required the help of a man to support him to his bed. The next day, being the 19th, he ventured to pass the whole day in a wood near the house, in order to recruit more strength for a night walk; and accordingly when it was late, he set out for Arisaig, where he arrived about six in the morning, and went straight to Angus MacDonald's house in Borrodale, where he quartered, after his landing, till he marched out of the country. At his arrival here, he found a great many MacDonalds assembled together, who had lately escaped out of the battle of Culloden gentlemen of both Glengarry's and Clanranald's families. During the eight days he stayed in that country, he had daily conferences with young Clanranald, Colonel MacDonald of Barrisdale, and several others of both families, treating which was the safest place, and surest method for his concealment. After they had satisfied him as to that, they protested, and assured him he should have nothing to fear, that they would stand by him if he only would stay among them to the last man. With this he seemed to be very much satisfied, till Mr. O'Neil and O'Sullivan, by the advice of Mr. Allan MacDonald, and one Donald MacLeod, of Gualtergil, persuaded him in a private council, to quit that country for good, and all; and as there was no appearance of succeeding further, and that they lost all hopes of gaining the point they once undertook, it was better to run for the Lewis, where Donald promised to procure a ship for them as far as the Orkneys, and there, he assured them to find a ship to transport them to France. The prince being prevailed upon by these convincing reasons, ordered a ten-oar boat belonging to Angus MacDonald of Borrodale, to be seized upon, and without any further consultation, he put to sea about six o'clock at night, accompanied only by these persons who were the authors of the new scheme, without acquainting anybody of any such design, till they were seen fairly under sail off the coast.

This night's voyage was like to cost them dire; for they were not long at sea when there came on such a terrible roaring of thunder, preceded by such dreadful flashes of lightning, accompanied with a prodigious pouring of rain, so that the whole elements seemed to rebel against them, and threatened to send them every moment to eternity; the wind, which continued to blow fair the whole night, coming about to the north, quite contrary to their course, about twelve o'clock at night, made them despair of continuing their intended voyage any further, and so they prepared for death, as being sure to be shattered upon the rocks of the nearest shore. Amidst all these dangers he appeared intrepid, and offered his service to Donald MacDonald and Donald MacLeod, seeing they were the only two that was of any service in the boat, whilst all the rest was obliged to give it up, stiffened and benumbed with cold. They continued in that agony the whole night, 'till about break of day, when Rory MacDonald, who stood at the helm all the time, discerning Benbecula where he knew to be one of the best harbours on that coast, and the wind blowing astern of them, he piloted them into the harbour of Rossinish, within five long miles of Clanranald's house, which being Sunday, and the 27th of April.

They were no sooner landed but they were seen by a herd of Clanranald's who stayed in the place always to take care of his master's cattle, and seeing a number of men finely clad, and fully armed, supposing them to be an enemy, he immediately made off, with a nimble pair of heels, and carried the news of what he had seen to his master, as he was at dinner with Mr. John Macaulay, Neil MacDonald, and several other gentlemen. Clanranald, moved by this unexpected surprise, before he resolved upon anything, sent Donald MacDonald to know the certainty of what the herd had told him. Master MacAulay, who was parish minister in the country, to satisfy his own curiosity sent one of his auditors to learn what they were, from whence they came, and where they were bound for. This fellow, pretending to have been sent thither by Clanranald, upon a report of a boat's being landed there, and to examine what they were, learned it was the prince who designed to make for the Lewis in order to make his escape, who came back and told the minister the same. The minister judging that he could not meet with a better opportunity to show his zeal and affection for the government, dispatched a courier that same day away to the Harris, with a letter to his father, who was minister there, charging him to write immediately upon receipt of his letter, to Mr. Colin MacKenzie, established minister at Stornoway, informing him of the same, and ordering him to settle all measures with Seaforth's factor there to apprehend the prince at his first landing.

Donald MacDonald, who was sent by Clanranald to learn the strength of the enemy, as it was believed, having returned, acquainted him of the matter of fact, assuring, he spoke to Mr. Allan MacDonald, who ordered him to tell Clanranald to come and see him, as he designed to go off that night. Whereupon Clan and Neil MacDonald went privately out of the town, and took their way straight to Rossinish, where they found the prince, in the house with Mr. O'Sullivan, O'Neil, Mr. Allan MacDonald, and Donald MacLeod. The prince received him very kindly, after having communicated to him his design he took leave of him, and put to sea again that night, with the same persons that accompanied him thither. The heavens proved more favourable to them that night than the former, having met with no danger or opposition, and at daybreak they came in to Loch Maddy, in North Uist, where they skulked the whole day, being the 29th, seeing they durst not venture to sea in the daytime, for fear to be discovered by the several men of war that guarded the coast at that time. They set out from Lochmaddy about six o'clock, which was the ordinary hour they always departed, and landed in Scalpay, in the Harris, early next morning, being the 30th of April.

Before they came near a house they took borrowed names and employments. Master O'Sullivan took that of Captain Sinclair, the prince called himself William Sinclair, the captain's son, O'Neil changed his name into Neilson, and mate Master Allan named himself Dalrumple, and Rosman, and Donald MacLeod, master of the boat that brought them thither, and swore the crew to attest the same.

After this ceremony was over, they came to Donald Campbell's house, who was the most responsible gentleman in that part of the country, but an enemy by his name, and a downright hypocrite in his heart; and being asked by their landlord what they were, they told him they were sea-faring men from the Orkneys, who being homeward bound from Ireland, lost their ship near the Mull of Kintyre, and most of their crew, and were thereupon forced to freight their present boat and crew from Mull, as far as the Lewis, where they hoped to find a vessel to transport them safe home to their own country. The next day, being the 2nd of May, they sent Donald MacLeod away to Stornoway before them to have a ship ready freighted, and to get intelligence how the people stood affected, and to send them word accordingly; which project would have had the intended success, were it not for the imprudence of Donald, and MacAulay's malicious letter. As soon as he was arrived at Stornoway he set about putting his commission in execution, and discharged himself so well of that duty, that he got a ship freighted that same evening, and wrote back to the prince, who remained still at Scalpay, to repair thither as soon as possible, but unwarily having gone to drink a bottle with the captain of the ship, reposing too much trust in him, he disclosed to him all the secret, whereupon the captain told him, if he should load the ship with gold he would not employ her for that purpose: Having said this, he went and published in all the streets of the town that the pretender (as he called him) was to come to town privately next night, and if Mr. MacLeod had not escaped out of the town he had certainly been apprehended that night. The prince, who knew nothing of what was passing before him, he set out upon the 3rd of May for Stornoway afoot, leaving orders with his crew to return home to the mainland and restore the boat to the owner. That day he suffered a vast deal of cold and fatigue, the day being so extreme bad; Donald MacLeod met him about a quarter of a mile without the town, and told him it was dangerous for him to venture into it by reason they all got notice of his approach, and were in an uproar all under arms, and that all this was the effect of Mr. MacAulay's letter.

The prince, raging with anger and fear, retired that night to my Lady Kildun's house, which lay about half a mile of without the town, and there he passed the remaining part of the night, notwithstanding that a great many of the mob made a dreadful noise about the house a great part of the night. Having held a consultation with the lady what was properest to be done, she told him that his only safety consisted in returning to Benbecula again, under Clanranald’s protection, since his project in coming thither misgave. In order thereunto, she procured them a boat to cross Loch Stornoway, which was a nearer cut to return to Scalpay; where he left his boat and crew, having taken leave of the worthy lady, he set out about four o'clock in the morning, crossed the Loch, and arrived back at Donald Campbell's house, that night, which was the 4th of May[4]. He was no sooner arrived but he found all the crew was gone except two, upon account the country people threatened to apprehend them.

The prince fearing to make a stay in any man's house, who found out what he really was, and reckoning it impracticable to find as many men as would manage his own boat so soon as he would require them, especially in the heart of an enemy's country, he bought a small boat from Donald Campbell, whom it was said he bribed by giving him a sum of money for to hold his tongue, and disown that he knew what he was. It seemed very difficult for them now to get safe into Benbecula, by reason the channel was pestered with the English navy, sent there on purpose to hinder the prince or any of his party to make their escape. He set out upon the 5th from Scalpay, and rowed along the coast the whole night; as they passed the mouth of the Finnasvay bay, they observed a ship in the harbour which they believed to be the Baltimore sloop of war, Thomas Howe Captain, a brother to my Lord Howe in Ireland, and being seen from aboard the Baltimore she immediately sent off one of her long boats in pursuit of them, and chased them the whole night; about 5 o’clock in the morning she came up pretty close to them, the prince terrified at the approach of the enemy begged of the rowers to pull away strongly for fear to fall a sacrifice in the hands of these ravenous wolves, whereupon they ran in upon a ridge of rocks they observed betwixt them and the land, and there skulked close by one of the rocks to observe what course the Baltimore was to take next, while all of a sudden they saw her change her course, not able to find them out. Despairing of success she returned to her harbour.

The prince and his party, taking fresh courage, being free from danger that day, they determined as it was near day to draw nearer the land, and skulk there, 'till it was late, that the men might refresh themselves, for the fatigue of the ensuing night; they approached to the shore, and found it to be a deserted island, about two leagues from the continent of the Harris, where they found no living creature. They were turned of provisions so short that a lippie of gradan oatmeal[5] was all that remained to them to satiate their hungry appetites, which some of the men took, put some water about it with a little salt, and fell a eating of it. The prince seeing them eat it as hearty as if it had been better cheer, asked them whither it tasted better than it looked, they answered if he would only try it, he would be as well pleased with it as what they were, whereupon, calling for a little of it, he eat it as contentedly as the most delicate dish that ever was served upon his table, saying at the same time that it tasted pretty well, considering the ugly appearance it made. It was not long after, when Providence cast more plenty in their way, for one of the crew, who was more curious than the rest, having gone to take a view of the island, found in the farther end of it abundance of cod and ling, half a barrel of salt and a pot. Although they were starving the whole day for hunger, yet they durst not make a fire, by reason they thought it dangerous to raise a smock upon the island, lest being seen from the continent it might discover them. When it grew dark the prince ordered the crew to carry some of the fish to the boat, when not a man, either simple or gentle obeyed him, he himself went in a passion, and carried half a dozen of them in his arms, and threw them in the boat, saying since they were all so gentle and scrupulous, that he would take the sin upon himself, and show them the example; the whole crew dashed and confused, would have loaded the boat if he permitted them. Now being about six o'clock, they put to sea, and landed in Benbecula the next day, a little after sunrise, in the very same harbour which they left some days before the 6th of May.

He set his foot no sooner ashore[6] a but he sent an express for Clanranald, who came next night, having taken none with him but Neil MacDonald, who was there with him before. Upon Clanranald's arrival, he seemed quite easy and told him that Providence had sent him under his protection, where he hoped to be sheltered, and that he was to throw himself in his hands to dispose of him as he thought fit. Clanranald assured him he had nothing to fear, and that he would find a place for his concealment, where none should have the least opportunity to see him, but such as he should employ to carry to him whatever he wanted.

After he had sufficiently refreshed himself for some days, it was thought dangerous to make any longer stay at Rossinish, because being a place much frequented by boats from the neighbouring country, they would be soon discovered; for this reason, he was conducted from thence to Bareness, about three miles from Rossinish, where he had the conveniency of a little hut of a house that was in the place, the entry of which was so very narrow, that he was forced to fall upon his knees, and creep in upon his belly, as often as he entered. This habitation not pleasing him, he begged of Clanranald to send him into some Christian place wherein he could have more room, and use more freedom and ease, for in that monstrous hole he could never have satisfaction, which he said the devil had left because he had not room enough in it.

The next day being the 10th of May, it was determined to send him to Corodale, a little pleasant glen in South Uist, belonging to Neil MacDonald, where there were two country houses, and conveniency enough for his concealment. Neil was appointed for to conduct him thither, whom he desired to remain still with him. About eleven o’clock at night, they set out with Neil, who was their faithful guide, towards Corodale, where they arrived next day about six in the afternoon; when they came near the house, Neil left him under a rock while he went in to see if there were no strangers there; and finding none but Ranald, his brother, who had come thither the day before by Neil's own orders, he presently returned where he left the prince, and conducted him to the house. He seemed extraordinary well pleased with the house, which he swore looked like a palace in comparison with the abominable hole they had lately left. He sat upon a seat of green turf that was made up for him that same evening, and after taking a refreshment of gradan, bread and cheese, and goats milk, upon which he fed very hearty, he desired his feet to be washed, being extremely dirty, and very much galled by his night walk; after which he smoked a pipe of tobacco and went to bed, which being heather and green rushes, he slept soundly 'till twelve the next day.

During this stay at Corodale, which was five weeks[7], his ordinary conversation was talking of the army, and of the battle of Culloden, and the highland chieftains whose lamentable case he deplored very much. One day as he was taking a walk in the morning with Neil MacDonald only, the subject of their discourse was describing to Neil the battle of Culloden, wherein he said his horse was shot under him; for (says he) as I was riding up to the right wing, my horse began to kick, at which I was much surprised, being very quiet, and peaceable formerly, and looking narrowly to him to see what was the matter with him, I observed the blood gushing out of his side. Oh ! oh ! says I (speaking of the horse), if this be the story with you, you have no less than reason to be uneasy, whereupon I was obliged to dismount and take another. Then the conversation rolled upon the order of the battle, and  how he was forced to condescend to give the right hand to the Atholl-men and others, which he knew to be the MacDonald's right, merely by the persuasion of my Lord George Murray, and several others, but however he did a great deal of justice and honour to the MacDonalds, by assuring Neil they were the last that abandoned the field; and, moreover, that they would have had certainly been cut all to pieces, had not the pickets come to their relief, to whom he said, they owe an eternal obligation.

He blamed always my Lord George as being the only instrument in losing the battle, and although that he, the morning before the action, used all his rhetoric, and eloquence against fighting, yet my Lord George out reasoned him, 'till at last he yielded for fear to raise a dissension among the army, all which he attributed to his infidelity, roguery, and treachery. He always flattered himself that the highlanders were still upon foot to hinder the enemy from harassing their country, and conceived great hopes that they would be able to stand it out, 'till they got a relief from France. He was so fond to know what was passing among them, that he sent his boat twice to Moidart for intelligence, and hearing of a skirmish betwixt Cluny MacPherson and a party of the elector's troops in Badenoch, of which Cluny had the better, it gave him no small joy: he had notice given him likewise that Barrisdale, upon whose courage and conduct he lay a great stress, was at the head of about three thousand men in Glen Quoich. All these, and many such like stories kept him still in top spirits, together with the expectation of a French landing in England, where he persuaded himself the Duke of York was landed at the head of ten thousand French, and assured those who durst not contradict him of the same. It gave him a great deal of pleasure to look to the ships that passed in the channel every day, which he flattered himself to be French, though they were really some of the English fleet sent thither to guard the coast, and hinder any of the Highlanders to escape, and would have Neil to go and pilot to some harbour that they might not be lost. It was wonderful how he preserved his health all the time, notwithstanding all the fatigue and troubles he underwent and the bad usage he met with very often; for I have not seen him one hour sick all the time I have had the honour to accompany him, save only eight days he was troubled with a flux, which kept him very busy while it lasted; he had always a good appetite, and could eat any meat that came in his way, as well as those who was accustomed to it from their infancy. He took care to warm his stomach every morning with a hearty bumper of brandy, of which he always drank a vast deal; for he was seen to drink a whole bottle of a day without being in the least concerned.

He took a vast delight, when it was a good day, to sit up a stone that was before the door of the house, with his face turned towards the sun; and when he was desired to move from thence fearing to get a headache, he ordered them to pack about their business, that he knew himself what was good for him, better than they could describe, that the sun did him all the good in the world. Notwithstanding his melancholy fits, yet at other times he was so hearty and merry, that he danced for a whole hour together, having no other music but some highland reel which he whistled away as he tripped along. It happened one day as he was walking along the coast with Neil and the rest of the gentlemen, being an excessive hot day, they spied a number of young whales approaching pretty near the shore, and observing them to make straight for the rock whereon they sat down, he sent immediately for his fusee, and as they came within his reach he fired at them; and being informed some time before that Neil was an incomparable good swimmer, he ordered him to strip and haul ashore the whale, which he swore he had shot dead. Neil, in obedience to his orders and to humour him, began to strip very slowly till he saw the whale which had received no hurt out of sight.

During his stay at Corodale, Clanranald paid him several visits, as also all the gentlemen of the country, who sent him presents of all they possessed. As he now despaired of any assistance from abroad, and wishing to be out of the Highlands, he thought of setting about getting a ship to transport himself out of the kingdom. In order thereunto, he sent off Mr. O'Neil and Captain Donald MacDonald, Clanranald's son, who joined him at his return from the Lewis, in order to go to France, thinking to get passage from the Lewis privately, to either Sweden or Denmark, from whence they were to pass into France.

Having received fifty guineas each to defray their charges, they set out for the Harris, where they were no sooner arrived but O'Neil, who was there with the prince before, was immediately known, and if he had not made his escape back to Benbecula, he had been apprehended without going any further, whereupon he returned to the prince, who did not care much for him ever after. Captain MacDonald, who pursued his journey towards the Lewis, met with the same fate at Stornoway, there, having found his uncle, Alexander MacLeod, he carried him with him to his own house, where he lay concealed for a long time after, and returned to the prince no more.

The enemy, who was not idle all this time to inform themselves about him, got sufficient intelligence that he was in Uist, disposed of themselves so that it seemed impracticable for him to escape. That he might lose no time, he sent Neil as minister plenipotentiary to Boisdale, to treat with him to procure a boat for him, and sufficient hands for to manage it, in case of accidents for now he was to attempt to gain the mainland, seeing there was no safety for him in Uist. Boisdale, who did not go near him all the time for fear of suspicion, sent him back word with Neil, that he himself would come in person and consult with him what was properest to be done.

Boisdale came next day, and was received by the prince with open arms, and found some of the gentlemen of the country who came to see him the day before, of whose number was Hugh Macdonald, of Baleshare, from North Uist, who was ready to sacrifice his life and fortune for the prince's safety (I say), Boisdale at his arrival found all these lying in their bed, very much disordered by the foregoing night's carouse, while his royal highness was the only one who was able to take care of the rest, in heaping them with plaids, and at the same time merrily sung the De Profundis for the rest of their souls.

Neil, who was straggling every day about the neighbouring towns for intelligence, and who never missed to come in seasonable time with what news he gathered among the people, arrived, as the prince, Boisdale, and the other gentlemen were very busy and very hearty taking their bottle. It was always the prince’s custom whenever Neil returned from any expedition, to learn from him privately what news he brought before it was made public. Neil told him that two hundred of the Skye militia, headed by Hugh Macdonald, of Armadale, and Alexander MacLeod of Ullinish, was landed at Barra, who was sent thither by my Lord Lowdian. Campbell, and MacLeod, having had information that the prince was skulking in that country, and that these gentlemen's orders were, after a diligent search made in Barra, to pass into South Uist, and to stay there guarding the coasts and fords in the country 'till they were reinforced by a greater number, and, moreover, that Captain Ferguson was ordered to the Lewis for the same purpose, Captain MacKenzie to the Harris, and the Baltimore to cruise upon the coast of Uist, so that it seemed next to a miracle to have been able to escape. The prince, who always appeared very gay and cheerful, notwithstanding his crosses and misfortunes, was very much dejected at this news; which Boisdale observing, begged of him to be in no ways uneasy, that the danger was not so great as what he apprehended, and that he, despite of all the search of the enemy, would procure a place for him where he would not be exposed to the least danger till such time as a more favourable opportunity offered for making his escape; and fearing least the enemy might surprise them, being now three days in the country, Boisdale took leave of him in order to prevent their coming so suddenly till he got time to fit into some other place.

Neil fearing the fickleness and the inconstancy of the common people, who might perhaps be perverted from their fidelity to discover him to his enemies, in hopes of a great reward, did not think proper to stay there any longer; whereupon, having got into their boat, which they always had nigh them, they set out about eleven o'clock at night, without acquainting anybody of their design, except those who were partakers of it, and took the retreat towards Benbecula, and landed about break of day in Wiay, a deserted island, about three miles from Rossinish, where they skulked for eight days.

During their stay in this solitude, he kept a private correspondence with Boisdale about leaving the country, as it appeared impossible for him to conceal himself any longer from those cursed villains who left not a stone unturned to find him out. Boisdale, who used all endeavours to effect his design to get him safely conveyed to the mainland, lost no time to provide whatever necessaries their voyage required; when unluckily he himself was taken prisoner and carried away on board the Baltimore, so that that design perished, and came to nothing.

Upon the news of Boisdale's being made prisoner he expressed a great deal of regret for him, saying it was a great pity he should fall into the hands of such ruffians, who would have no regard for his merit, for really he was the honestest man (said he) I met with since my stay in the isles. While he stayed upon the island he went about the shore once or twice a day, to see if he could find out which was the most commodious hole or cave for hiding him in case some of the men of war that kept the channel still came to land any men. There he had occasion to see the Lady Clanranald, who came from Rossinish to have the honour of seeing him before he left the country, and carried along with her to him some of what necessaries he wanted: he received her very kindly, made much of her, and thanked her for her generosity, telling her next day at parting that he would not forget soon what kindness he met with in the country. They had plenty of bread and other meats during their retreat in that Patmos, but before the eight days was expired they were obliged to leave the hole to another party of the MacLeods who landed upon the island from Skye.

After being chased from thence they had no other resource but to return towards the south end of the country, upon hearing that the Skye militia had departed from Boisdale's house two days before, and were upon their march towards Benbecula, where they flattered themselves infallibly sure to find him. About eight o'clock at night, upon the 12th of July, they put to sea from Lochaskivay, and rowed the whole night along the coast, and as the day began to dawn Neil advised them to land in Lochskipport, and to stay there 'till it was late; but the prince, who was eager to be as far on that day as possibly he could, would not condescend, and so continued their voyage the whole day. About five in the afternoon they landed at Corodale, where they refreshed themselves 'till it was ten, and arrived next morning at sunrise at the mouth of Loch Eynort, in South-Uist; they had not so much as one mouthful to eat that night of any kind, and having made up a tent of the oars and sail of the boat, he laid himself down upon a kind of a heather bed that was made for him, while Neil stood sentry upon the rock before the tent door the whole night, after he had placed two of the crew whom he could trust most to about a mile off as an advanced guard.

When it was near day he asked Neil whether it was possible to find any meat, who told him it was impracticable, by reason the nearest town lay five miles off, whereupon he roused up the rest, and got into the boat and rowed to Stialay, a small island near the entry of Loch Boisdale, within three long miles of Boisdale's house, being the 14th of July in the evening. They were no sooner landed and the tent made, than Neil posted off immediately to Boisdale's house for provisions; when he arrived, he found all the family in bed, and having knocked them up, he acquainted Boisdale's daughter who came first to the door with the prince being upon the Island of Stialay, where he had but very ill accommodation. She ran into the room where her stepmother was in bed, bringing Neil along with her, who told the lady the miserable condition his royal highness was in, she got up in the greatest hurry, and sent off what was readiest to relieve them in the mean time, 'till such time she could get more prepared against the next night. Neil returned, charging the lady at parting, to learn what was passing among the enemy, and to inform them accordingly.

At his arrival he found the boat ashore waiting him, and having passed to the island, the prince met him at his landing, and asked of him if he got any meat. Neil told him that he brought some fresh butter and cheese and a few bottles of brandy. “Come, come,” said he, “give me one of the bottles and a piece of the bread, for I was never so hungry since I was born.”; which being given him, he took two or three hearty pulls of it before he came near the rest, which gave him so good an appetite, that he eat that night more than ever he was seen to eat at three ordinary meals, and all the rest did proportionately. After supper he called for the brandy bottles, and drank the king's and the duke's health; which done, he wrapped himself in his plaid, laid down, and slept away the remaining part of the night very soundly.

Next morning there was a consultation held concerning the course they were to take from thence. Some were of opinion that they should venture to run for the continent in the small boat they had, of which the prince himself approved very much, saying he would rather drown than fall into the hands of those profligate fellows who were in pursuit of him. Others were of opinion that the safest step they could take was, to make for some one of the Southern Isles of Barra, and the rather because the first party who came after him to the country landed first in that island, and it seemed very probable that they would not return there again. They all agreed to this last proposal, and that no time might be lost, they prepared everything to set off next day, if the weather favoured them. This project came to nothing as well as the former, for the Lady Boisdale sent an express that same afternoon, that one Captain Scott was landed at Barra from Fort William, with a detachment of regular troops, in order to join the Skye militia in South-Uist, and that they intended, according as she was informed, to be at her house by ten o'clock next day, which she would inform him of, if possible, whatever happened.

This news put them in a greater consternation than ever, which obliged them to cross over to the other side of Loch Boisdale that night for the more security. Next day about break of day, the prince sent off Rory MacDonald to learn whither Scott was arrived, and to bring back word what was passing among them. Rory returned at eight o'clock, and told the prince that the lady, her daughter, and all the servants, were tied neck and heel in one house, in order to extort a confession from them of the prince's being in the country; while her seller and all her most valuable effects were left to the mercy of the ungenerous soldiers, who were busy in carrying the plunder to their boats. The news of the ladies ill treatment struck such a terror into the minds of the timorous crew, that they immediately sunk the boat, and abandoned the prince and the few gentlemen who accompanied him. In this desperate condition there was no remedy to be thought upon, but to dismiss the few gentlemen that accompanied till then, and retire to the mountains; whereupon having left everybody to shift for himself (of whose number was O'Sullivan, who was left under a rock with the best part of the prince's baggage), the prince, with Neil and O'Neil, made for the top of the nearest hill, that from thence they might have a better view of their enemy’s motion, and take further resolution how they were to dispose of themselves next.

I forgot to tell that when Captain Scott landed in South Uist, Hugh MacDonald, who lay in Benbecula then with his party, sent one of the country gentlemen in whom he could repose a great deal of trust, to tell the prince privately that, as it seemed now impossible for him to conceal himself any longer in the country, if he would venture to be advised by him, though an enemy in appearance yet a sure friend in his heart, he would fall upon a scheme to convey him to the Isle of Skye, where he was sure to be protected by Lady Margaret MacDonald. The scheme was this: to send his stepdaughter, Miss Florence MacDonald, to Sleet, to live with her mother 'till the enemy was out of Uist. The prince at the same time was ordered to dress in woman's clothes, that he might pass for her servant-maid, and Neil was appointed to take care of both. The scheme pleased the prince mightily, and he seemed very impatient to see it put in execution.

But to return to the top of the hill, the prince with Neil and Mr. O'Neil remained there the whole day. About sunset the prince told Neil that he entrusted himself in his hands, and that his life and safety depended upon him, Neil answered that the charge was more than what his life was worth; but yet, with God's assistance that he would find means to preserve him from all danger till everything was got ready to leave the country. After this they took a refreshment of bread and cheese, and set out towards the north end of the country, everybody carrying his own share of the baggage, the prince carried his own few shirts, O'Neill carried his own linen, and Neil carried the provision, his own gun and sword, and the prince's fusee and one of his holsters, while the other hung upon his own belt. As they were going on, the prince clapped Neil's shoulder, often telling him if ever it was their good fortune to get free of their present troubles, he would make him live easy all his days for the fatigue of that night. Neil was informed some days before, that Miss Flora lived with her brother in a glen near Locheynort, where they had all their cattle a grazing at that time, and which happened to be very near the road they were to pass that night.

When the prince was informed of it, he would needs go to see her, and tell her of the message he had from her stepfather. When they were near the little house where she was asleep, for her brother was not at home, Neil left the prince and O'Neil at a distance off, 'till he went in and wakened her; she got scarcely on the half of her clothes, when the prince, with his baggage upon his back, was at the door, and saluted her very kindly; after which she brought to him a part of the best cheer she had, among the rest was a large bowl full of cream, of which he took two or three hearty go-downs, and his fellow-travellers swallowed the rest.

He discovered to her stepfather's proposal, and asked whether she was willing to run the risk. She joyfully accepted of the offer without the least hesitation, and that no time might be lost, she was ordered immediately away to Benbecula to consult with her stepfather and the Lady Clanranald, to get everything in readiness as soon as possible, and to send them word back again next day how all was going on with them. Having taken leave of Miss Flora, they pursued their journey, and about sunrise they arrived upon the side of a hill three miles from Corodale, where they sat down under a rock in order to take some rest. The prince, as he took no victuals the night before, complained of hunger, and asked of Neil if he had anything to eat; Neil gave him a piece of bread and cheese that Miss MacDonald had given him the night before. After he eat of it very heartily, he laid himself down and slept, while Neil stood sentry upon him all the time; when he and O'Neil was sufficiently rested, he ordered Neil to take some rest, and sent O'Neil to mount guard in his turn.

When it was drawn late, the prince asked Neil if there was any possibility of getting any supper; Neil told him he would find enough, and leaving the prince and O'Neil under the same rock, he went and bought abundance of such cheer as the neighbourhood could afford. The prince was prodigious impatient the whole afternoon for Miss Flora's answer, and despairing to hear a word from her that night, he sent off Neil, at eight o'clock at night, to Benbecula, with strict orders to be back next day at four in the afternoon, under pain of gaining his displeasure forever. Neil, notwithstanding the fatigue and the length of the journey (which was thirty miles backward and forward), willingly condescended.

When he arrived at the fords which separate Benbecula from South Uist, he found them all guarded by the Skye militia, who had placed sentries within a gun shot of each other from east to west; their consign was to let pass no person whatsoever until he was examined first by the captain of the guard; by this means Neil was stopped, and was kept prisoner there till next morning, when it was low water Neil was sent away to the captain of the guard on the other side, who happened to be Hugh MacDonald; when Neil went in he found Miss MacDonald, who was stopped in the same manner by another party of the MacLeods, who had the guard two nights before, with some other gentlemen at breakfast with Mr. MacDonald. Neil called miss aside, and asked if everything was ready, she told him as it was put out of her power to go on the length of the Lady Clanranald, that nothing was as yet done, but that she was going off within half an hour after to consult with the lady, and designed to go to Rossinish, both of them, that same afternoon, and carry along with them whatever clothes or provisions was requisite for the voyage, and she begged of Neil to make all the haste possible to return to the prince, and, without losing one moment of time, to make the best of his way to Rossinish, where he would be sure to find them without fail.

Neil posted off immediately, and arrived at, the prince at the hour he had appointed, and found him under the same rock where he had left him; he no sooner saw Neil come in sight than he ran to meet him, and took him by the hand asking what news he had from Miss Flora; Neil told him what orders he had from the lady (as he called Miss Flora), after which they set out for Rossinish. The greatest difficulty for this journey was to find a boat to go by sea, as it was impossible to venture by land, because, as I have already told, all the fords were guarded by the MacLeods; but God, who always provided whatever he had occasion for, removed this difficulty also, for when they arrived at the side of Lochskipport, there they found four country people who had come there some days before to fish, with a small yawl.

Neil knew them immediately, and agreed with them for to ferry him and two other gentlemen that were with him over to Fouay, where they expected to meet with Ranald MacDonald (called Walpole); but when they landed upon the island they found no living soul of either man or beast upon it; being, at this time, clear daylight, they could not bring the boat no further, for fear to be seen from the land, wherefore they ordered the boat men to land them on the nearest rock of Benbecula, that from thence they might go afoot to Rossinish, which done, Neil paid the boatmen and sent them away home.

The prince sat down upon the rock where they had landed, and, being quite overcome for want of rest, he fell asleep, and so did O'Neil; during the time they slept Neil thought proper to take a walk round about for fear that anybody should come upon them at any unawares; but he had not gone ten yards from them, when he observed an arm of the sea come in betwixt him and the rest of the land, which formed an island; he returned immediately and informed the prince, who started up like a mad man and walked to the end of the island at such a rate as if he had a mind to fly over to the other side, but his career was soon stopped; whereupon he fell a scolding Neil as if it had been his fault, and the curse rascals (meaning the boatmen) who landed them upon that deserted island designedly that he might starve with hunger and cold, in short, there was no pacifying him till, at last, Neil told him to comfort himself, that he would swim over to the other side and would bring a boat in half an hour's time, from that moment he never gave Neil one minute's rest, till, to please him, he began to strip, notwithstanding that it rained most prodigiously, when luckily Neil observed a rock appearing in the middle of the sound, and begged of the prince to allow him a little more time, that it seemed very probable at low water they could pass over with dry feet without being obliged to hazard his life by swimming, which was to be the ultimate resource, which happened accordingly, for in less than three quarters of an hour's time, they passed over without wetting the soles of their shoes.

The prince seemed as well pleased when he got out of that labyrinth as if he was landed in France; he was so cold (for the rain pierced to his very skin) that he trembled, the moor being so plain that there was not the least bush, eminence, or hill to cover him from the weather, and he was so hungry that he was not able to walk, having eaten not a mouthful of any kind since the evening before. In this deplorable condition it was hard to determine how to behave, but as there was no time to be lost, despite of rain and weather, he continued his journey for Rossinish, where he expected to find the ladies before him that night. When they had walked about a quarter of a mile, they lighted accidentally upon two sheelings, where two of Clanranald's tenants stayed, who, seeing them coming, came to meet them. Neil, to prevent their coming too nigh, stepped on and met them; they enquired what were these other two that came along with him.

Neil satisfied their curiosity by telling them they were poor Irish gentlemen, who made their escape from Culloden, and run to the country for shelter, and that it was an act of charity if they had any kind of eatables to give them some refreshment, for that they had not tasted meat for eight-and-forty hours before, whereupon the honest fellows ordered them to go in; the door of the hut was so low and narrow, that the prince was obliged to creep upon his belly. There they feasted splendidly upon such cheer as there was to be had, which was mostly milk kind; being thus sufficiently refreshed they went off, and as Neil was not thoroughly acquainted in that road, he brought one of the fellows with him for a guide to whom he gave half a guinea for his pains. When they were within three miles of Rossinish, being at that time five in the afternoon, they laid down in a loch side among high heather, which was all the shelter they had from the rain.

There they past the remaining part of the day, the prince shivering with cold all the time. When it was late, they set out for Rossinish, the night turned so dark that they could not see three yards before them, and the rain was so vehement, with the wind blowing directly in their teeth, that they could scarcely look where to set their foot; besides the road was so very bad, that the prince, despite of what care Neil and O'Neil could take of him, fell at almost every step in some ditch or mire, where, very often, he lost his shoes, which gave Neil a vast deal of trouble and pains before he could fish them up again, being sometimes obliged to put his hand to the very shoulder in the puddle for them.

After having surmounted all these troubles and difficulties, they at last arrived in the long wished for harbour. When they came near the house, Neil left the prince and O'Neil about a cannon-shot off, while he himself went in to see whether the ladies were come; but finding none but the man who took care of the house in bed with his wife, who told him that twenty of the Skye militia who landed there two days before, were in a tent about a quarter of a mile of the house, he returned to the prince with that dismal news, which so enraged him, that he was like to tear his clothes in pieces, not knowing where to run for safety, the enemy being everywhere.

The guide, though he did not understand the language they spoke, yet understood the confusion they were in, told them there was one of Clanranald's boomen[8] not far off, into whose house they might go with safety till they came to a further resolution. They immediately betook themselves thither, and I leave the reader to judge what a bonny figure they made when they came to examine themselves before light, all bespattered with dirt and mud, after the foregoing night's walk. There he resolved to return Neil to Nunton to inform Miss MacDonald that he was arrived, and to hasten her to come without any longer delay.

Neil, who foresaw clearly the danger he would be exposed to, if he was left with a man who knew not one step of the country, or where to retire to in case of necessity, absolutely denied to part with the prince upon any account, and so Mr. O'Neil was obliged to go upon that expedition; who was mighty well pleased to be entrusted with that embassy, not so much to further the prince's affairs, as to be in company with Miss Flora, for whom he professed a great deal of kindness at that time. About break of day, the booman's wife told Neil that it was dangerous for them to stay in the house any longer because the militia were wont to come every morning to buy milk, whereupon Neil and his pupil went and lodged under a rock pretty near the shore, where the booman sent one of his dairymaids to give them notice from time to time, what was passing among their neighbour enemies.

It is almost inexpressible what torment the prince suffered under that unhappy rock which had neither height nor breadth to cover him from the rain which poured down upon him so thick as if all the windows of heaven had broke open, and, to complete his tortures, there lay such a swarm of midges upon his face and hands as would have made any other but himself fall into despair, which, notwithstanding his incomparable patience, made him utter such hideous cries and complaints as would have rent the rocks with compassion.

Neil, who stood all this time aside him, could be of no more service to him than to let run to the ground the rain which stagnated in the lurks of the plaid wherein he lay wrapped. In this miserable condition he continued for about three hours, till their faithful scout came for the last time, and told them they might return to the house, for that the militia was gone; Neil helped him to his feet, and they marched away to the house, where the good dairymaid took care to make a rousing fire for their coming. He was no sooner entered but Neil stripped him of all his clothes from top to toe, and hung ropes round the house to dry them on; he sat down in his shirt at the fireside as merry and hearty as if he was in the best room at Whitehall.

After he had warmed himself, he desired Neil to ask the wife if she had any eatables. She said that she had nothing except a chapin of milk she kept for her bairns, which Neil desired her to warm in a pot, and when it was hot to froth it up with the machine made for that purpose. When all was ready, the wife placed the pot before the prince and Neil, and gave them two horn spoons as coarse as ever was made use of, the prince asked Neil what it was, who told it was fresh cream, he not doubting but it was really so, and at the same time believing it to be solid, pushed his hand to the very wrist in the scalded milk, which made him draw back his hand in the greatest hurry, all full of wrath, and dropped his spoon in the pot. Neil had all the difficulty imaginable to keep his gravity, to hear him curse the wife and her pot a hundred times, calling her a vile witch for (says he) she contrived it a purpose that we might burn ourselves. Neil, seeing him altogether out of humour, in order to pacify him, told he would take a stick and labour her to an inch of her life with it, and immediately ran to an oar of the boat that was lying before him to knock out her brains. The prince, believing him to be serious, begged of him not to touch her, for, if he came to do her any hurt, she would certainly run off and bring a party upon them.

After this repast, the prince inclined to sleep a little, as he rested none the night before; but to get a bed for him was the question in short, there was no better shift than to take the leaf of the door, and lay it down upon the floor, and spread an old ragged sail over it, which Neil found in the house; there he slept some hours wrapped in his wet plaid. The guide, who went with O'Neil the night before to Clanranald's house, returned towards evening, who brought along with him a roasted fowl, and a couples of bottles of wine, and a letter from O'Neil to the prince, the contents of which I could not find out, though it's very probable he excused himself for not returning, under pretence to hasten all matters for leaving the country. The prince supped very heartily upon what the lady had sent him, and afterwards slept soundly upon a heather bed, which Neil made for him.

Next morning the prince wrote a letter to O'Neil by the same post that brought the former, desiring him to come to him that night; but O'Neil contented himself to return him an answer by the same bearer, telling him he could not come by reason that he waited Miss McDonald and the Lady Clanranald, who was to come next day without fail.

The prince waited that day in the house of Rossinish. Next morning Neil carried him to a hill half way betwixt Rossinish and Nunton; there they lay till the evening, when they returned to their former quarters.

The prince seemed very uneasy that night that neither O'Neil nor the ladies did not come according to promise; but the truth is, they could not really come sooner, as they were busy night and day to get his dress made for the prince, and whatever other things he might have occasion for. The next day Rory McDonald, and one John McDonald, who were to be two of our crew, arrived in the morning, and told that both boat and crew were ready whenever he pleased.

Whereupon Neil carried the prince to the same hill where they had skulked the day before, and leaving him in the hands of the two MacDonalds before mentioned, posted off himself to hurry the ladies from Nunton, and sent off O'Neil directly to the place where he left the prince when himself went with the Lady Clan, Miss Flora McDonald, Clanranald's daughter, and Mr. McDonald of Milltown, Miss Flora's brother, about another road, where they were to have the conveniency of a boat to Rossinish.

The prince, who arrived first, welcomed them ashore, and handed the Lady Clanranald to the house, while O'Neil took care of Miss Flora. There they passed some hours very hearty and merry till supper was served, which was scarce began, when one of Clanranald's herds came with the news that General Campbell was landing his men within three miles of them. The supper thus ended, which was hardly begun all run to their boat in the greatest confusion, every one carrying with him whatever part of the baggage came first to his hand, without either regard to sex or quality, they crossed Loch Uskavagh, and, about five in the morning, landed on the other side, where they ended the supper.

About eight a servant came to the Lady Clanranald to acquaint her that General Campbell, with a party of his men, were at her house, and wanted that she should be there before twelve of the clock otherwise that her house should suffer for all. Here the lady and her daughter took leave of the prince and went off. Great was the debate betwixt Miss Flora and O'Neil upon this occasion, who insisted strongly to leave the country with the prince; but Miss McDonald would never condescend, because he being a stranger, and consequently did not speak the language of the country, would readily be taken notice of by the common sort, and so took leave of the prince and Miss, made the best of his way to South Uist along with Milltown.

The company being gone, the prince, stripped of his own clothes, was dressed by Miss Flora in his new attire, but could not keep his hands from adjusting his head dress, which he cursed a thousand times. There they lay till the evening, waiting impatiently for the night to set off. Here they were alarmed by five wherries the same, as they supposed, that landed the Campbells the night before in Benbecula, supposing, by taking this precaution, to keep the prince from making his escape. But their fears were soon over; for the wherries sailed by to the southward without ever stopping. After sunset they got into their boat, which was managed by the following persons - Rory McDonald, John McDonald, John McMurich, Duncan Campbell, and Rory McDonald of Glengarry family; the prince passed for Miss McDonald's maid, and Neil McDonald in the quality of a servant.

The weather proving calm in the beginning of the night, they rowed away at a good rate. The prince, who, all this time, was not in the least discouraged, encouraged them to row still better, saying that he would relieve him that was most fatigued. The poor men, almost ready to breathe out their last, at length made the point of Waternish[9] on the north corner of the Isle of Skye, where, having got into a cliff in a rock, they rested themselves for an hour, and at the same time revived their drooping spirits with a plentiful repast of bread and butter, while the water that fell from the top of the rock furnished them drink.

This gave them fresh vigour for to undertake the remaining part of their labour they landed in Kilbride in Troternish within a cannon shot of Sir Alexander MacDonald's house, twelve miles from the place where we saw the enemy.

In the neighbourhood of this place was another party of the Skye militia, who was posted there to examine all boats that came from the isles, as they were pretty well assured that the prince was there at that time. Miss and Neil having kept the prince in the boat as well as they could, went to the house, leaving strict orders with the boatmen not to stir from it till they came back, or some word from them, and in case their curiosity led anybody thither, who might perhaps take the liberty to ask who was the person kept in the boat, to answer Miss McDonald's maid, and to curse her for a lazy jade, what was she good for, since she did not attend her Mrs.

About an hour before sunset they set off for Kingsburgh, where they were to be that night. Miss Flora, who stayed for dinner at Monkstadt, that she might not be suspected by Lieut. MacLeod, followed a horseback at some distance, and was mightily diverted to hear several of the country people with whom she fell in upon the road, as they returned from the meeting house at Monkstadt, it being Sunday, make their remarks upon the behaviour of Betty Burk, her maid, which name the prince borrowed when he left the Isle of Uist.

Neil, who walked a little behind the prince, and Kingsburgh, hearing the subject the fellows were upon, went slower 'till they came up and joined him, but they, notwithstanding, continued to speak with the same freedom as before, of the impudence and assurance of Miss Burk, who was not ashamed to walk and keep company with Kingsburgh, and was no less vexed than surprised how he took so much notice of her, when he never minded her mistress, who was so near at hand. Betty, very easy of what would be said of her, went on always at such a rate, that she very often got a piece before her fellow travellers, which gave occasion to some of the fellows to cry out, “Curse the wretch do you observe, sir (meaning Neil), what terrible steps she takes, how manly she walks, how carelessly she carries her dress”, and a hundred such like expressions, which they repeated over and over again.

But what they most took notice of all was, when Kingsburgh and his companion was come to a rivulet about knee deep, which crossed the high road, to see Burk take up her petticoats so high when she entered the water. The poor fellows were quite confounded at this last sight, which made them rail out against Burk, calling her all the names in the world, and asked of Neil if he was acquainted with her. Neil told them that he knew nothing about her further than to hear she was an Irish girl who met with Miss MacDonald in Uist, and upon a report of her being a famous spinner of lint, engaged her for her mother's use.

The honest people soon after departed with Neil and Miss Flora, and made for their different homes full of astonish –

[Manuscript ends abruptly.]



[1] XIX Chief, Donald "The Gentle Lochiel" Cameron

[2] Set fire to by 320 men of Bligh's Regiment, under the command of Lt. Colonel Edward Cornwallis and a “body” of Munro's, under the command of Munro of Culcairn on May 28, 1746.

[3] Neil, who at this period is writing from hearsay, is quite wrong here. Glengarry was not at home and the house was ' without meat, drink, fire or candle, except some firr-sticks ! Had Ned Bourke not netted a couple of salmon, there would have been nothing to eat.’ (L. in M, i i. 89, 191.)

[4] Neil MacEachain is all wrong here in the sequence of events and in his dates. He was writing from hearsay only. The true sequence will be found with authorities for the same in the Itinerary pp. 48-50.

[5] A quarter of a peck of oatmeal not threshed, but burnt out of the ear.

[6] Prince Charles landed in Benbecula, Clanranald's island, on 6th May, and from this time onward Neil writes from knowledge, not hearsay.

[7] The actual stay at Corodale was from 14th May to 5th June, although the prince was in South Uist until 24th June. For details, see the Itinerary.

[8] A tenant who takes stock from the landlord and shares with him in the increase.

[9] In the narrative it says Watersay so it could also have been Waterstein