Who was Colonel Anne? Campaign to recognise Jacobite heroine buried in Leith as play about her life comes to Fringe

New Fringe play celebrates heroine buried in North Leith churchyard on 300 anniversary of her birth.
Colonel Anne, Jacobite heroine buried in Leith
Allan Ramsay portraitColonel Anne, Jacobite heroine buried in Leith
Allan Ramsay portrait
Colonel Anne, Jacobite heroine buried in Leith Allan Ramsay portrait

She was a truly fierce Scottish heroine who fought off thousands of soldiers with just a handful of servants, saved a prince from British raiders and is said to have changed the fate of the ‘45 Jacobite rising.

Lady Anne Farquharson-MacKintosh gained her nickname Colonel Anne during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion as she rallied 350 troops to fight as part of the Jacobite cause in the Clan Chattan Regiment. While her husband Angus MacKintosh, Chief of Clan MacKintosh, a captain of the Black Watch Regiment was fighting against the Jacobites.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Lady Anne risked her life for a cause she truly believed in. But Colonel Anne, doesn’t even have a proper gravestone.

Now a fresh bid to recognise the heroine who was buried in Leith is gaining fresh momentum. It comes as a play bringing her story to life comes to the Fringe festival on the 300 anniversary of her birth, written by a distant kin of the heroine.

The play tells the true story of Colonel Anne’s life during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, the turbulent relationship with her husband and her secret love triangle. Playwright David Shirreff and family archivist James hope the play ‘Colonel Anne: Jacobite heroine’ will help raise awareness for the campaign to see the heroine properly recognised. The pair are descended from Anne’s husband Angus Mackintosh’s younger brother Alexander, making her their 5th great Aunt.

Lady Anne was the courageous daughter of John Farquharson, Chief of Clan Farquharson who defied her husband Angus, a captain in King George II’s army, by mustering clansmen for the Jacobite cause. During the Jacobite Rebellion the government forces were losing and as a result her husband Angus was captured and became a prisoner of Lady Anne.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But after the government officially defeated the Jacobites the tables turned and Lady Anne was arrested and almost executed for High Treason. She then became a prisoner of her husband Angus. Their love survived and they spent twenty-five more years together.

The play follows their tempestuous story as Bonnie Prince Charlie strives to put a Stuart king on the throne of England. Was Alasdair Macgillivray, who leads Anne’s troops into battle, her secret lover?

In the Rout of Moy, she drove away two thousand approaching soldiers from Moy Hall, where she was sheltering Prince Charles. It is said she sent a small group of servants out to make as much noise as possible and fire at the approaching British soldiers to give the impression the house was defended by a huge army. Historians believe if she hadn’t done this the war would have been lost.

It’s also claimed she spent at least one memorable night with Charlie, when she saved him from the British raiding party.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Lady Anne and her husband lived at Moy Hall until he died in 1770 after which she moved to Edinburgh. “La Belle Rebelle”, as Prince Charles called her, died in 1787 and is buried in North Leith churchyard.

After a campaign in 2019 to better recognise her there’s now a push by the local community to grant Lady Macintosh her own memorial plaque in North Leith Burial Ground. Although she was buried in the churchyard there is no longer a gravestone, only a small plaque under a rosebush.

It’s also hoped a display on Colonel Anne can be set up at planned Leith History and Heritage Centre.