We’re slowly uncovering a connection that Bonnie Prince Charlie had with Blantyre. This long forgotten piece of history was still well recorded in the Annals of Blantyre book of 1883 where some generations had been told stories and anecdotes when the fallen Prince had passed through this town. Whether lore or not, some facts are also well recorded in the Mitchell Library documenting that the prince did indeed call upon Blantyre on at least 2 different occasions with a bedraggled army in need of rest.
“Bonnie Prince Charlie” had arrived in Glasgow in September 1745 at the head of his victorious Jacobite army, on their way to invade England and to restore a Stuart king to the British throne. He returned in December, leading his army on the long retreat from Derby that was to culminate in disaster at the Battle of Culloden. Glasgow was predominantly Hanoverian in its sympathies, and the Prince and his followers were given a cold welcome. They responded by demanding vast quantities of clothing and other goods from the city, to clothe and re-equip the Jacobite army. Pictured is a painting from the Mitchell Library depicting Prince Charles Edward Stewart leading his men along Saltmarket in December 1745.
The Annals of Blantyre , 1883 quotes “The old folk in Blantyre still speak of the Rebellion in 1745 as being the “Heilandman’s” year, for it would seem that “Bonnie Prince Charlie” marched part of his army through the parish, on their way to Carlisle, and the Prince had given orders that none of his soldiers should molest any person or property in Blantyre , as the parish belonged to a “Stuart”, alluding to then then Lord Blantyre. A boy stood at his father’s door (in Barnhill) looking at the wild array as they filed past, and overcoming his fear, he laughed at their uncouth appearance. That was nearly his last laugh, for a young irascible Highlander plucked out his dagger and flung it, like a javelin, at the boy’s head. Luckily it missed him, but struck through a cupboard that stood behind him, and there to this day, is to be seen the hole it made in the smoke-blackened oak wood”
It would be amazing to find this spot in Barnhill. The old buildings still exist there to this day and the wood may be behind plasterboard modern walls. Who knows? That’s a mark in the wood that has a story to tell.