The 1745 Watch theft

It’s important that the “old stories” and “anectodes” of old Blantyre are told over again. These tales and legends shouldn’t be lost in our busy, daily lives. The Annals of Blantyre book of 1883 gives an account of a story passed down from 1745. Printed in full as follows:

“Mr Moore of Greenhall has a quaint old gold watch, connected with which is the following curious story: – On his march into the South country, Prince Charles Edward (Bonnie Prince Charlie) with some of his followers, deviated from his course to visit General Stuart at Torrance Castle (pictured), which is situted in East Kilbride, on the borders of Blantyre Parish. (Now in what is Calderglen Park) . The Prince was desirous that his namesake should join him in his enterprise; but General Stuart declined to do so and declared his loyalty to the reigning house of Hanover. And further, he said that being an officer in the King’s Army, he could not personally entertain the Prince as a guest in his house. At the same time, he would not turn away the representative of the Royal House of Stuart from his door; so he requested the Prince, with his retinue, to abide at the castle for the night, and having given orders for their entertainment, he himself sought lodgings elsewhere.

In the morning Prince Charles left to join his Highlanders who were bivouacked in the neighbourhood of Hamiton. The general returned to the castle, and found that his watch, which he had inadvertently left on the dressing table in his bedroom, was gone. Search was made for it, but to no purpose; so the general was reluctantly forced to conclude that some one in the service of the Prince had stolen the watch. He accordingly sent a messenger to Hamilton, with a letter to Prince Charles telling him of his loss. Of course the chivalrous young Prince was greatly annoyed that any of his followers should have so abused the kindly hospitality they had received, by perpetrating such a mean act. He at once called together all who had been with him at Torrance, and promised the man who had committed the theft, a free pardon if he would deliver up the watch. The thief stepped forward, and handed it to the Prince. So the watch was sent back to General Stuart with many expressions of regret. Mr Moore has likewise in his possession the snuff-box which the gallant general put at the disposal of Prince Charles, and the table cloth used that night at dinner, it has got sewn upon it the initials of the unfortunate Prince.”

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