JOHANNESBURG’S LINK WITH THE JACOBITE RISING OF 1745

Published in The Star Newspaper South Africa January 1932.

“From the lone shieling of the Misty Isles
Mountains divide us and a waste of seas
But the blood is strong and the heart is Highland
As we in dreams behold the Hebrides”

from the Canadian Boat Song

Saturday’s ceremony of “Trooping the Colour” brings to mind that four months ago the trooping of the Appin banner and its dedication to Scotland’s National Naval and Military Museum links the traditions of the Transvaal Scottish with the romantic incidents of the Jacobite Rising 1745.

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It is the Atholl tartan which the Transvaal regiment wears by the favour of the Duke of Atholl and by virtue of descent through the Scottish Horse from the hereditary regiment His Grace is privileged to maintain. The Duke through his ancestor James Lord High Steward of Scotland is also the head of the once powerful Stewart clan of Perthshire and from the common origin is a cousin to the famous Scottish West Coast clan of the Stewarts of Appin.

When the hopes of the exiled Royal House of Stewart was smashed forever by the soldiers of the Hanover monarch and the great Clan Campbell both the clans of the Highland Stewarts were conspicuous for the ferocity of their charges against the English regiments.

culloden

The Stewarts of Appin lost a hundred and fifty-seven men storming their way into what it is now the King’s Own Regiment then commanded by Colonel Barrel. Ten clansman in succession died carrying the banner of their chief until when the redcoats and dripping bayonets of Barrel’s men swept victoriously over the shattered Highlanders an Appin man Donald Livingston an ancestor of the African Explorer Missionary tore the bloodstained rag from its staff wrapped it around his body and hacked his way through to open country.

For a hundred and eighty-five years the family of the Appin chiefs have cherished the heirloom but economic pressure, at last, caused the present Stewart of Appin to appeal to those of his name to take over the valuable and historic relic of their race.

The Stewart Society headed by the Earl of Galloway responded immediately and after purchase unanimously decided to obtain the Culloden Colours of Barrel’s regiment and in conjunction with the King’s Own Regiment lay the flags in honour in Edinburgh Castle.

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Randolph Stewart, 12th Earl of Galloway 

It is seldom nowadays that so picturesque a ceremony is seen as that of the dedication. Thousands flocked to the same viewpoints which nearly two centuries ago other thousands saw with mixed feelings the standard of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, son of a long descended kings carried by a common hangman and a dozen ancient clan banners born ignominiously by the Citys’ chimney sweeps to their burning at the Market Cross.

Time has changed the memory of bitter feud to the honoured remembrance of the sacrifices made by ancient foes to idealism. In 1745 Edinburgh citizens scowled or slunk in terror from the sight of Highland tartan. From the grey castle, cannon roared angrily at clusters of kilted soldiers gathering below the naked rock.

There was a Duke of Atholl with the Stewart Prince and a Duke of Atholl with the Hanoverian Monarch. Murrays and Stewarts, McDonalds and Camerons panted with bloodlust to get at the throats of Campbells, Rosses and Munroes. Scarce a year later and the bonnie Hielan’ heather was filled with hunted outlaws, the glens reddened with the blood of their sons, filled with the wailing of women and little children, the star of the Stewart race sinking in a chaos of blood and fire and terror.

after culloden

Not two centuries have passed. There is yet Highland folk whose great grandfathers fought at Culloden yet what is more honoured in the wide-flung British Empire than the Highland tartan?

Highland regiments from Fontenoy and the taking of Quebec to even beyond the ending of the great 1914 to 18 drama have played a foremost part in the upholding of the Royal Standard of the reigning British House. It is only fitting therefore that the memory of the valour displayed on a thousand battlefields should be marked by the ceremony of the 1st of August 1931.

Black_Watch_at_Fontenoy,_1745

Black Watch at Fontenoy, 1745

So in the presence of many thousand loyal citizens, the Atholl Regiment of Highland descendants of Prince Charlies’ soldiers paraded the historic square of Edinburgh Castle as a guard of honour to an ancient rebel banner and the colours of the English regiment which broke their ancestors.

To the salute of the Atholl pipers and the Present of the clan soldiers, men in the glittering dress of Highland chiefs entered the square to take positions of honour. Men whose names and titles a hundred and eighty five years ago were those of proclaimed traitors and outlaws whose very national dress was forbidden to their people, Stewart of Appin, Stewart of Achnacona, Stewart of Fasnacloich, Lord Elcho, with them the Duke of Atholl, descendant of Lord George Stewart Murray, Commander in Chief of the rebel army and of his brother who preferred loyalty to a ducal title honour rather than lands and riches.

Next to them gathered Lieutenant General Sir Percy Ratcliffe, General Officer commanding the Scottish Command. Major General Barrett, Colonel of the King’s Own Regiment, the Very Reverend the Dean of the Thistle Lieutenant Colonel Balfour Paul, Falkland pursuivant Major Alan MacGregor Whitten A.D.C.

To the stirring Jacobite tune of The White Cockade, the colours of the Atholl Highlanders were born onto parade by Lieutenant Neil Ramsay escorted by an armed guard. Rifles dropped to the Present – a halt – then as the guard came back to the slope the pipes wailed the saddest of laments Mo Dhachaidh and slowly the colours were carried to their position on the west side of the Castle Square.

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Through the following stillness broke the piercing battle scream of the old Highland warpipes “Gabhaidh sinn an rathad mor” to which the clan was piped into the Culloden charge filled and rolled about the stone grey castle walls, echoed in the ancient towers as Sandy Stewart the veteran hereditary piper to the Dukes of Atholl played in the guarded faded banner of his race. Torn by English bullets, stained with Stewart the colour looked proudly from its chaplet of the Stewart emblem of oak leaves resting on a bridal bed of pure white satin.

Music for 'Gabhaidh siun [sinn] an rathad mor'
This sheet music for the Clan MacIntyre march ‘Gabhaidh siun [sinn] an rathad mor’
(We will take the high road) is part of the Grant collection.

As the pibroch stilled the drums and fifes of the King’s Own Regiment rung from without the gates. In their guard of red-sashed Colour Sergeants two lieutenants of the 2nd battalion of the King’s advanced the ancient colours of their regiment followed by the present regimental colour strongly guarded.

A combined salute with Colours advanced to the War Memorial with its many Afrikaner names amongst the Scottish heroes. A dedication service by the Dean of the Thistle then again the parade was called to attention.

Moving across the Square came the battle flags of “Barrells Blues” wheeling before the saluting parade the colours halted then one after the other were handed by General Barrett to his Grace the Duke of Atholl. Borne by Major Lord James Stewart Murray brother of the Duke the Colour-party of the Appin banner moved out from the Atholl regiment wheeled and halted before Stewart of Fasnacloich at the Museum door.

Taking the banner in his right hand from Lord Stewart Murray Fasnacloich handed it to Achnacone who in turn gave it to the Clan Chief Stewart of Appin who presented the banner to the Duke.

Then forming a column of a route the feudal regiment of Atholl Highlanders with the regular soldiers of Britain marched from the old Castle drums beating present day colours flying bands playing.

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And in Edinburgh Castle repose in peace the emblems of two ancient and fierce antagonisms which, as the Dean of the Thistle in his stirring address pointed out, though once they distracted the Scottish nation were reconciled in that honour which generous hearts recognised was justly due to loyalty, self-sacrifice and duty.

From Boatsheds to Battlefields 48 Third Letter Home circa 1913

Dearest Dad,

Kotzee has been away nearly a fortnight with the waggon and I am feeling simply desperate. Without the donkeys and boys, I can do nothing except write, bathe and moon around. I walked ten miles over to a ranch but found nobody at home – got back utterly weary but couldn’t sleep. I’m so sick of boiled monkey nuts and beans. We’ve lived on them for weeks and haven’t had tea or sugar for a fortnight – meat I’m forgetting the taste of. Still, I’m not fed up with the life and its hardships only with the lack of anything to do.

I would like to go over more often to our nearest neighbours the two Englishmen but Kotzee hates them. Honestly, I’m beginning to think Kotzee is a bit mad. He keeps bragging about how he was a Boer spy in the Great War and was put in gaol as a rebel. Now if there’s one thing I can’t stand at any price its a beastly disloyal South African. One can understand Irish Catholics or any Irishman living in Ireland and being rebels – after all Ireland is a country inhabited by a Celtic race ruled by a foreign power in armed occupation of the land.

In South Africa, a mixed population of whites rule themselves under the protection of Britain and are themselves the Power in armed occupation of a land that really belongs to the Blacks. Kotzee, however, won’t agree only rave – I asked him what personal grievance he had – he has been born and bred under the Union Jack, has never been under its folds, his people are wealthy distinguished citizens of the Empire, his Uncle is a peer of Britain and the second citizen of Africa. Kruger I could understand being anti-British but he isn’t, though a Burgher of the Transvaal Republic he fought against Britain and was a prisoner of war at St Helena for nearly two years.

But Kotzee can only rant and rave absolute nonsense. He boasts of refusing to ride transport with an Englishman, and about a dozen other cases of cutting off one’s own nose to spite one’s face. It all makes me sick and honestly, he not only talks like a madman when on the subject but looks like one.

I’ve found all the Englishmen I’ve met to be splendid fellows and our two neighbours, in particular, have been awfully good to me. Their place has a rather gruesome history. It was owned by a pioneer one of a kind one reads of – father a judge in the Indian Civil Service, one brother a general in the British Army, another in the navy. He himself lived as a sort of unofficial king amongst the natives. One night two or three chaps including Kotzee were over there and Devereux seemed awfully depressed. He bucked up whilst playing poker and afterwards made tea or coffee for the lot.

The others slept in an outbuilding and during the night heard a shot. Nobody bothered as when dogs keep barking at night lots of fellows go out and fire a round or two to scare any intruders.

Next morning, however, when going into the dining room one of the guests found Devereaux at the head of the table with his head in his arms – thinking him asleep he went up to shake him when to his horror he found Devereux’s head in a pool of blood and a revolver grasped in his right hand. The poor chap was stone dead and had left a letter asking the others to bury him on the top of a high hill opposite the house.

He wanted his spirit to sit there and watch Wedza and the farm he had made. There’s a beautiful orchard around the house – guavas, oranges, loquats, lemons and other fruit – queerly enough looking down from Devereux’s grave the whole orchard is a huge Union Jack.

Nearly everybody about here seems queer – one chap, of good English family, has been all over the world and was blockade running during the Russo-Japanese war – now he lives all alone right away in the hills quarrelling with his only neighbour an old Highland ex-shepherd and ex-regular – Black Watch. The Highlander to is queer – he had sunstroke badly in India and gets all kinds of funny ideas.

Airth the manager of a ranch adjoining us is another Highlander – a jolly fine chap but gets awfully drunk on kaffir Beer – Hunter another Highlander is a very wealthy trader but also drinks heavily – sometimes they all get together and booze for a week.

It’s too dark to write and beastly cold.

Love to all,

Mick

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