Jacobite poet honoured at Queens Arms event

The Battle of Culloden in Scotland on April 16, 1746. The battle resulted in a British victory over the Jacobites, who hoped to place Bonnie Prince Charlie on the throne. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The Battle of Culloden in Scotland on April 16, 1746. The battle resulted in a British victory over the Jacobites, who hoped to place Bonnie Prince Charlie on the throne. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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On THIS day nearly 300 years ago, Prince Charles Edward Stuart set foot on Scottish soil for the first time when he landed on Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides to begin rallying forces to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British throne.

The uprising ended in failure on April 16, 1746 with thousands of Jacobite soldiers slain on Culloden battlefield at the hands of the Hanovarian armed forces. The campaign may have been lost, but they have never been forgotten and will be memorialised tonight by historical organisation, the 1745 Association.

Founded in 1945 – 200 years after the uprising – the Edinburgh-based association commemorates Jacobite people and events that played a part in the doomed venture. Poet and army officer John Roy Stuart takes centre stage at the event held at the The Queens Arms on Frederick Street from 6pm to 7pm. An epic poem written by the “Bard of Culloden”, one of the prince’s most loyal supporters who fled to France with him after the crushing defeat at Culloden, will be read by Michael Nevin, chairman of the 1745 Association. Mr Nevin said: “John Roy Stuart was a Jacobite loyalist and also a fine poet.

“He didn’t accept defeat.”

Born in 1700 in Strathspey and descended from Robert the Bruce, the educated army officer’s poems have been largely forgotten because all but one were written in Gaelic. His 96-line poem, The Day of Culloden, will be read and guests will enjoy a quiz where people are invited to guess which of the sometimes fantastical sounding tales woven by Stuart were true.

John Roy Stuart led the Edinburgh Regiment on the frontline of the face-off with the government forces on that fated day in April 1746 where he was injured. His experience serving in King Louis’ French army and the British army’s Royal Scots Greys regiment meant he was trusted to drill the Jacobite army. As one of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s most trusted men, Stuart’s adventures as a Jacobite agent gathering intelligence in France and Scotland are thought to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped character Alan Breck Stewart.

The author of a 28-page monograph dedicated to John Roy Stuart, Mr Nevin’s interest in the Jacobites has led him on a quest to find out the facts of what really happened during the uprising. He said: “The Jacobites were courageous, but propaganda has always painted Bonnie Prince Charlie as weak and a coward who abandoned Scotland.

“The Highlanders wouldn’t have supported him and followed him to the battlefield if he was like that.”