On this day in history : 27th June 1746 – Flora MacDonald helps Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to the Isle of Skye, dressed as an Irish maid, following his defeat by the English at the Battle of Culloden….
Prince Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the grandson of King James II of England…. Charlie was to lead the Second Jacobite Uprising to overthrow King George II in 1745…. But 1746 saw the defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden Moor….and Charlie was forced to run or face certain death….
After two months he arrived at the outer Hebridean island of South Ulst – and it was here that he was to meet 24-year-old Flora MacDonald…. Even though the man she was due to marry and her stepfather were both loyal soldiers under King George she agreed to help the Prince – even if somewhat reluctantly to begin with….
Flora managed to persuade her stepfather, who was in charge of the local militia, to allow her to travel to the mainland accompanied by a couple of servants and half a dozen boatmen…. Only one of the ‘servants’ – an Irish spinning maid by the name of ‘Betty Burke’ – was actually Bonnie Prince Charlie in disguise…. And instead of travelling to the mainland the little boat made its way to Kilmuir (now known as Prince’s Point) on the Isle of Skye….
They spent the night hiding in a cottage and the following day made their way on foot to Portree…. From here Charlie was able to find a boat to take him to the island of Raasay – and then he was able to escape to France….
Flora however faced arrest and was imprisoned at Dunstaffnage Castle in Oban – before being moved for a short time to the Tower of London…. She was eventually released in 1747 and she returned to Scotland….
“Speed Bonny boat like a bird on a wing,
Onward the sailors cry,
Carry the lad that’s born to be King,
Over the sea to Skye”....