This edited article about Scotland first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 521 published on 8 January 1972.
The great tract of moorland known as Culloden Moor was silent now. The guns that had belched fire and destruction stood abandoned and a thousand Scottish dead lay among the litter of a battle that had ended in the defeat of 7,000 Highlanders at the hands of the British.
It was the day of April 16, 1746, and Edward Charles, the Young Pretender, had just seen the dream of occupying the throne of his fathers vanish in the smoke of battle.
Fleeing for his life, the Young Pretender had little time to think back on those glorious preceding months when he had captured Perth, Edinburgh. All he was conscious of now was that he was a fugitive with a price of £25,000 on his head, and that somehow he must get back to France, from where he had sailed so full of high hopes, less than a year ago.
As he fled into the mists, he was sure only of one thing. Whatever happened, the clansmen would support and hide him when necessary.
The news of the disaster at Culloden spread swiftly, and eventually it reached the Hebridean island of Benbecula, where a young Highland girl, Flora Macdonald, was staying with relatives. Soon afterwards, by one of those strange twists of fate which sometimes change the whole course of history, the Young Pretender arrived on the island with a companion, a Captain O’Neil.
Hearing that Flora was there, and knowing that she was a Jacobite sympathizer, that is, one of the people who wanted the Stuart royal family back on the throne, in place of the German House of Hanover, he went along to see her. Their conversation was short and very much to the point.
“You say, Captain O’Neil, that you wish me to help the Prince to escape to Skye. But how is that possible? No one is allowed to leave Benbecula without special permission.”
“It is proposed that the Prince should disguise himself in woman’s dress. Your step-father is in charge of the militia here. Perhaps it is possible for you to obtain a passport for yourself and an Irish spinning maid, Betty Burke, who will, of course, be the Prince.”
Read the rest of this article »