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Amelia Volume 2 chapter 27

Events Immediately Preceding the '45

[page 355]
Historical Sketch.

AFTER the failure of the attempt of 1719 certain commissioners were appointed to transact any business of the Chevalier in Scotland. In 1721 a defensive alliance was entered into by Great Britain, France and Spain, which was very detrimental to the Jacobite interest, yet in 1722 there appears to have been a conspiracy which caused the Hanoverian government to try Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, and get him banished from the kingdom.

In 1725, Duncan Forbes of Culloden brought in a bill for disarming the Highlanders, with a clause prohibiting the wearing of the Highland Garb. This and some other clauses were dropped. But an Act in the first year of the reign of George I., entitled "for the more effectual secur¬ing the peace of the Highlands" had rendered it unlawful for any person or persons except certain carefully described "to have in custody, or to use, or bear, broad sword or target, poniard, whinger or durk, side pistol or side pistols, or gun or any other warlike weapon in the Fields or in the way coming to or going from, or at, any church, market, fair, burial, hunt¬ings, meetings or any occasion within the bounds of the countries enume¬rated, or to come into the low countries, armed as aforesaid." These provisions were again recited in 1725 with additional directions as to causing such arms to be delivered up, preventing their concealment, giving legal notice, and empowering search and seizure. After consulta¬tion and application to the Chevalier and his emissaries, the Highlanders resolved to offer no opposition to this severe measure, only those of the west took good care to conceal the most valuable arms.

[page 356]
The Chevalier had in 1725 married Princess Clementina, granddaughter of John Sobieski, King of Poland, and by her he had two sons, Prince Charles Edward and Prince Henry Benedict, afterwards known as Cardinal York. In 1725 Princess Clementina, displeased at certain of her consort's courtiers, especially Colonel Hay and his wife, retired to a convent leaving the Chevalier to bring up his two sons as best he could. Mr James Murray, created by James VIII. Lord Dunbar, had been appointed tutor to the young Princes, and he also was obnoxious to their mother.

George I. died 27th June 1727, his son quietly succeeded as George II. The Chevalier was anxious to take advantage of any possible reaction in his own favour but was dissuaded from coming over to Scotland.

Various measures soon after George II.'s accession were unpopular, and there were also rumours of another war with Spain. Early in 1740 a small meeting of Jacobite leaders was held in Edinburgh from whence they dispatched "Drummond of Balhaldy, nephew to Lochiel," to Rome, there to deliver to the Chevalier a Band of Association with a list of the Chiefs favourable to the cause. From thence Balhaldie was sent to Cardinal Fleury at Paris, requesting the Court of France for assistance. A general assurance of conditional support was all that could be obtained. 1742 Balhaldy arrived privately in Edinburgh to sound certain Jacobites as to the prospects of a fresh invasion. Various negotiations ensued, the Chevalier considered Balhaldy "an honest and sensible man but by most of the Jacobites he was not thought to be of sufficient standing for the trust reposed in him. Eventually it was settled that the expedition should take place with the assistance of France and that as James VIII. did not Incline to accompany it in person, his son Prince Charles Edward Stuart then in his twenty-third year should go in his stead.

Accordingly on the 9th January 1744, Prinee Charlcs set out from Rome for Paris in disguise. From thence after a private interview with the French King and an interview with Marshall Saxe and other officers appointed to the expedition, the Prince set out incognito for the coast of Picardy, but at Antibes he had been recognised, the English Government realising their danger made a remonstrance to the French Ministry, [page 357] to which however no direct answer was given. The Hanoverians becoming aware of the preparations that were in progress on the French coast adopted every means of defence and protection. Roquefeuille the Com¬mander of the French Fleet arrived off Dungeness. Sir John Norris the British Admiral came up, hoping to engage them, but the tide failing had to anchor two miles off. Mr de Roquefeuille after sunset, wishing to decline battle, retired to Brest, hastened by a violent gale which also wrecked the transports which were just leaving Dunkirk. After this dis¬comfiture the French Court abandoned the enterprise and resolved to postpone the expedition. Prince Charles, himself sanguine of success, failed to persuade Marshal Saxe to re-embark his troops, and thereafter retired to Gravelines where he lived privately for some months under the assumed name of the Chevalier Douglas, as the French Court as anxious that he should not remain under his own name.

War was declared between Great liritain and France, March 1744.

William MacGregor or Drummond of Balhaldies must have succeeded his father before the end of 1743 as appears from the date of the following Commission from King James VIII. which does not style him "Younger." He had early in 1740 carried to Rome an Instrument signed by his Cousin German Donald Cameron of Locheil and six other persons of distinction solemnly binding themselves to endeavour in Arms the Restoration of the exiled House of Stuart.

Commission of Colonel to William MacGregor of Balhaldies.
"James By the Grace of God King of Great Britain and Ireland Defender of the Faith &c To our Trusty and well beloved William MacGregor of Balhaldies Esqr Greeting. We reposing especial Trust and confidence in your loyalty Courage and Good Conduct Do hereby constitute and appoint you to be a Colonel in our service, and to take your Rank in our Army as such from the date hereof. You are therefore carefully & diligently to discharge the duty and trust of Colonel aforesaid by doing and performing everything belonging thereunto And we hereby require all and sundry our Forces to respect and obey you as such & yourself to observe and follow all such orders directions and commands as you shall from time to time receive from us the Commander in Chief of Our Forces or any other Superior Officer, according to the Rules and discipline of War In pursuance of the power and trust hereby [page 358] reposed in you Given at our Court at Rome the 23d day of Dec. 1743, In the 43d year of our Reign. J.R.”

The following Memoir by William MacGregor of Balhaldies gives a narrative of his actions relative to the last effort to restore the House of Stuart to the Throne of Great Britain

"Balh: came to Paris Decemb: 1739 from thence he arrived at Rome the beginning of Feb: 40, where he had been expected by the King of Brittain his master, as one intimately known to the state and inclination of his Ma: friends in Scotland, and fully instructed in what they were willing and able to doe for his restoration, particularly the chiefs of Scots highlanders, of which the Sieur de MacGregor is one, who had united themselves in concert with some of prinl Nobility of the low countrey, to increase and direct his Ma.'s interests in the low countrey, untill it should be known, if the small assistance they wanted, to put them in a condition soon to make an end of the long rebellion in their own countrey; and then assisting powerfully to reduce the rebels of England, if that were wanted, could be obtained of H M C M (his most christian Majesty) of whom they had ever expected or even wished for their deliverance from the usurpations, oppressions and tyranny of ane usurper and his parliments. Le Roy son Master was soon satisfied in the certainty of what he informed him and the unexceptional manner of proving it to the Court of France. H M C M therefore returned the sd Sieur de MacGregor to Paris with a letter to Lord Sempil to introduce him to the Cardinal Fleury the Chief minr, which he accordingly did the beginning of May, 40.
The Cardinal being informed of all the Sieur had to say, and having laid it before the King, returned for answer that he could not but applaud the zeal of the Scots, and that H M was ready to grant the small assistance the Scots desired so soon as he was satisfied that the English Royalists would take arms in the manner they informed they were ready to doe. About this time the English Royalists had sent many to solicit the assistance of the French Court, one after another, such as the Duchess of Buckingham, Collonell Brett and several others, and now the Earl of Barrymore was frequently with the Card: Fleury on that subject, who at last proposed that the King should send some one who he confided in, to be an eyewitness of the zeal and readyness of the people to take arms, to turn off the usurper, which was the general bent of the kingdom. This was agreed to, and the Cardinal could think of none so proper for it as the Marechal De Clermont Tonners, by reason of his speaking English and his intrigue with Madam Knight who was then in England which gave a cover to his joumey without any suspicion. The Mareshall was accordingly soon after sent to England, where he diverted himself for a month or two, and after brought for answer that there were indeed some discontented Jacobites in England [page 359] but there was neither number or disposition to found anything upon.
Neither King nor Cardinal were satisfied with this answer knowing well that this was through the timorousness of the English and want of a due confidence hindered its being clear in an authentic manner. The Sieur de Mac became uneasy to have been so long detained by this message of the Marshall's. His most C.M. thought it then necessary to send out the fleet under Mr D'Antin's command to the west Indies to cover the better the design upon England and the Sieur de MacGregor was dispatched for Scotland to inform the concert there of the disappointment by Marschal Clermont notwithstanding which his M. was ready to grant them more than they desired, to wit 6ooo men instead of 1500 with money, arms and ammunition if they inclined to act alone. When I arrrived at Edr and had got my friends of the Concert mett, To … I let them know that had passed since my parting with them, particularly H M C M's offer, His Majesty's goodness to the remains of his Ancient allys so inflamed their hearts, that they immediately agreed to write to the Cardinal under their hands and seals, binding themselves to make good all I had engaged for, in their names; accepting the offer made them, if it was thought desirable by the King and expressing their regret. All above is made good by the several memorials and letters of the sd concert to Card: Fleury in the Bureau des Affaires Etrangeres, Besides H M C M will remember the most of it. The Duchess of Buckingham came a second time over the summer 1740 to sollicit the invasion of England, but to no purpose, she not having it in her power, or perhaps will, to prove what she asserted. However this detained me till winter that I was sent over to converse Some of our Scots friends, and if advisable some of the leading English Jacobites, I soon after got myself introduced to some of them as a highland chief who managed for the Scots Court, such as the Earls of Orrery and Barrymore, The Chevalier Watkin Williams, and the Chevalier Hyndcotton, who opened themselves to me with great freedom, admiring the loyalty and zeal of the Scots as well as their union.
I answered that there was no difficulty in uniting them in the same manner and them with us, so as to act in concert one kingdom with the other. They could not see the possibility of doing that safely, nor could I venture to explain the maner of the Scots union, only observed to them to begin, there was a necessity of ten or twelve of the leading men of the kingdom who had a just confidence in one another, to consent together and that they would soon fall on means to influence and lead all the rest to make a state of the nation, by which they would see themselves what they could do with safety and consequently satisfy any they inclined should know it. Some time after I returned to France, spring forty two, and Lord Sempil and I by a memorial informed his M C M of the growing zeal of the Scots to go to arms, and the disposition of the English which I made no question could be improved to a great height and his Maj: made certain of the real state of it.
[page 360]
The beginning or winter forty two, finding that nothing had been done as to England nor executed I offered myself to Mr Amelot to goe over and to endeavour to sett their affairs on a right footing, providing H M C M would send a person of confidence to see and vouch the truth of what I should advance when I should inform that things were ready for him which was agreed to. I immediately after Dec. 1742, went to London where I found the English Jacobites in great spirits and in more confidence with one another than formerly and that they had united themselves into a body of ten or twelve leaders in whom all the others had ane entire confidence. I then asked them if they thought it advisable that I should draw up a state of the kingdom beginning at the City of London, which they should have to reject or approve of; as they judged best and amend or cancel what they thought fit. They agreed I should, and seemed much obliged by the offer I had made, promising to examine with care what I should write and be particularly carefull that nothing should pass but was literally true, which they would all vouch. This became a tedious labour of six months to finish, beginning with the City of London, after the Peers that were engaged by them, and then the state of each particular province with the names of those that led them. When this enquiry was over and fully examin'd I then wrote to Lord Sempil begging that he would apply to his M C M to send over some Frenchmen of honour and distinction who I engag'd should be fully satisfied. Lord Sempil made answer that Mr Butler the Ecuyer was soon to be with me under cover of buying horses.
I begged of him to renew his instances with the King that a Frenchman of distinction should be sent because Mr Butler might be suspected of partiality. The King answered that he was certain Mr Butler would not deceive him, and that he could be sent with so good a cover. Mr Butler arrived soon after to whom I gave the different states I had prepared and showed him in what maner he could with absolute security examine the truth of them assuring him that we had no use for the least indulgence. H M C M was not deceived in him, for he went about his affair with so much diligence and discretion and covered that activity with so much appear-ing attention and seemingly continued application to buy right horses for hunting, that we were soon ready for the horseraces where we mett with severals of the English concert who were in our secret and they soon satisfied us of the superiority of the Royalists at least ten to one, and their zeal to take arms when the occasion should offer. After passing sometime in this manner we returned to London about the latter end of Sep. 1743. On my arrival I was asked if my friends had concern in the Caraccas. I answered that I then knew not, but the next day I should be able to tell him. And then asked for what reason he demanded the question. "Why" says he in great confidence "concern for the success of your affairs, I assure you that it is determined by the Regency in Council to attack and destroy the Caraccas. [page 361]
Commodore Knowles is to command the expedition and has orders to prepare everything for it, ane affair will be executed because we are well known to be at present almost defenceless and without so much as any tolerable provis of warlike stores. I learnt that night that France had a concern for many millions in it particularly the people about Bordeaux, Bayonne, Rochelle and Nantes for which reason I wrote immediately to Lord Sempil to advise Mr Amelot at that time minister of Foreign affairs of what I wrote, and if he thought it proper the P of Campo Florida then Ambassador of Spain, that measures might be taken to disappoint the expedition, there being full time for it.
Mr Butler and I returned to Court in Oct. well satisfied with our success, and there gave to Mr Amelot a long memorial of the whole transaction for ten moneth with all the papers relating to it, to wit, the state of the City of London, a list of the people of England in our interest well vouched by the English Concert, as likeways a state of the provinces equally vouched by the same, all which left no exception against what was informed for them. On which His Most Christian Majesty took a resolution to grant what was demanded for England, and for that end fixed the invading of that Kingdom for the 15th of Jan. 1744. His Mother thought it necessary that the P of Wales should come to head the expedition in the greatest possible incognito and for that end marked out a route for his journey by the Valteline from that to Coire the chief town of the Grisons and so on to where a chaise and guide would be waiting him to bring him in the same incog: to Paris, by which, whenever his having left Rome should be known it could not be guessed where he had gone. And I was directed to goe immediately to Rome with a gentleman to trace out the route for him along with me who should be able to guide him in his journey through Switzerland, all which I did and arrived at Rome about the 19th Dec. 1743.
The King my master at last consented to the Prince setting out the later end of Jan. And I took post the 25th of Decr and arrived in Paris the 3d of Jan 1744. H M C M was satisfied with my success and dispatch I had made but I was soon after mortified enough by our Eng: friends refusing the expedition at that season of the year, in time of parliament while absolutely in the Governments hands to lay them up in different prisons, and thus disappoint them. This put a necessity on me to goe over which I did the 11 Jan: 1744, and after sometime reasoning on the affair they agreed that the invasion should take place the middle of Feb. and that they, at least as many of them as was possible, should put them¬selvee aboard of the French Fleet and the rest either save themselves by going to the country or concealing in London till the P. and troops were landed. I returned to Versailes the 7 or 8 of Feb; to beg the King to send out the fleet immediately to take or destroy three or four ships that were in Portsmouth Bay and two or three in the Downes, which would render it impracticable for the Government to make any movement even to hinder or in the least obstruct the landing of the P. and troops. [page 362]
But alas the fleet was ordered out to dance in the Bay of Biscay where they were beating the waves for some time in very bad weather, in so much that the Curvels that were sent out with orders to the Admiral were obliged by stress of weather to return to their Ports and this to the 23 Feb.

“In the meantime I had orders to conduct the Prince to Graveline, there and all along, in the strictest incognito, till such time as the troops should be aboard and ready to sail. At which time H H was to own his character and goe aboard. His Highness was likeways ordered by the King his father to obey literally H M C M’s directions We arrived at Graveline the 18th Feb. where and all along H H was as careful and anxious to keep the incognito and to obey the K's orders as I was. I went next day to Dunkirk and conversed with Mr Segent the commis¬sary for the expedition, who not bring able to inform what was become of the French Fleet told me plainly that none of the carvels sent to find it out had, as yet done it by reason of the roughness of the weather, and they were at a loss how to proceed. At last a corvette fell upon the fleet with their orders the 23 or 24th Feb. who when he was endeavouring to execute his orders and had sent off to Dunkirk some frigates who were to conduct the transports, the storm came upon them and handled them so roughly, as necessitated their making their ports to refitt, and the transports were so best by the storm, one of them stranded, that nothing could be further done. H R H the Prince of Wiles however stayed at Graveline with the same eagerness to keep the Incognito until at last the beginning of May that he was desired by the King to return to Paris in the same incognito till such time as another expedition could be formed for him. This he strictly continued to doe and seemed inclined to have continued. But the arrival of Mr Sheridan his under Governour and Mr Kelly soon changed his conduct first by allowing them to introduce all the Irish Priests and others of that Countrey to him and then going openly to public spectacles and after visiting some of his acquaintances such as Cardinal Tencin who told him 'qu'il etoit assez malheureux sans etre en obligation de se cacher comme un Larron.' Lord Sempil and I made him many remonstrances which only served to embitter Mr Sheridan and Kelly so as to conceal from us everything they were about, for which end we were ordered no more to goe to Court to sollicit the King our Master's affairs. This continued untill a new letter of Credit reestablished our Credit at Court. The Prince in the meantime was desired to goe to Fitz James in the Countrey where Kelly formed …….”

This paper, which breaks off abruptly, was copied from an Autograph MS. of William MacGregor of Balhaldies by the Rev. Will. MacGregor Stirling, in 1816, the MS. having been lent to Sir John MacGregor Murray for his information by a member of the Balhaldy family.
[page 363]
It is unnecessary to follow in detail the disputes which were carried on among the Stewart Courtiers. The above narrative shows Balhaldies to have been a man of ability and an active organiser devoted, as there is every reason to believe, to the service of James VIII, and to that of the prince, his son; but jealousy and personal ambition were inevitable amongst the various members of the party, giving rise to many bickerings and disputes, a source of great regret and anxiety to James VIII. In the Appendix to Vol. II. of the "Highlands and Highland Clans" the details and letters on the subject are given, but mention of Balhaldies is only incidental, and his own narrative, it is believed, has not hitherto been published.