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BILL McALLISTER: Memories of a pistol packing Highland heroine Anne Mackintosh

By Bill McAllister

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THIS year marks the 245th anniversary of the death of Lady Anne Mackintosh, who was only 22 when, carrying money and pistols, she roamed the Highlands enlisting her clansmen to the Jacobite cause.

This remarkable woman was the daughter of John Farquharson, chief of the Clan Farquharson, who was still a teenager in 1742 when she married Aeneas MacGillivray, chief of the Clan Mackintosh, and went to live at Moy Hall, 12 miles from Inverness.

He was 20 years older than her but they enjoyed a loving relationship for 30 years – despite the fact they took opposing sides as the Battle of Culloden loomed.

MacGillivray, a captain in Lord Loudon’s Black Watch, had swithered before declaring for the Hanoverians.

His wife, however, was from a Jacobite family, and promptly saddled up to spend two weeks riding round the clan lands from Inverness to Badenoch, cajoling or bribing Mackintoshes, MacGillivrays and MacBeans to rally round Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Anne gathered more than 300 men on this expedition, earning herself the nickname “Colonel Anne”. She asked her husband’s cousin, Alexander MacGillivray, who had wanted to marry her before Aeneas did, to lead her troops. Thus the Mackintosh clansmen joined the Jacobite army in January, 1746, taking part in the Battle of Falkirk Muir – and would lead the charge at Culloden.

Her recruiting drive was frowned upon by Hanoverian figures, who spread rumours that she was the mistress of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who she had not yet met.

Weeks later, the prince and a guard of 50 men stopped at Moy Hall but the enemy gained word of his presence. Lord Loudon’s 1500-strong force – including Anne’s husband and his company – was stationed in Inverness and a night raid was devised to capture the man with a £30,000 price on his head.

To keep his plan secret, Loudon sealed off Inverness, his troops on every exit. But he reckoned without the Dowager Lady Mackintosh, Anne’s mother-in-law, who lived in the burgh.

Learning of the plot she sent teenager Lachlan Mackintosh, from Moy but living in Inverness, to raise the alarm. The dowager knew a Hanoverian soldier with Jacobite sympathies and this mounted man, his cloak concealing young Lachlan, was able to give the right password, leave Inverness and gallop to Moy.

Lady Anne was roused from bed for Lachlan’s news. She alerted Prince Charles who, with his troops, rushed off in the opposite direction.

Blacksmith Donald Fraser was summoned by Lady Anne to discuss how to delay Loudon’s men. Fraser and four other men, each with a pistol, hid in woods along the route. Fraser fired the first shot when the Hanoverians neared and each of the five fired, calling on different clans to advance.

As Fraser’s men ran about the woods shouting, Loudon’s troops, fearing they were facing the main Jacobite army, rushed back to Inverness – and then evacuated it in anticipation of attack!

As a result, Stuart and his men were able to march into Inverness unhindered the next day, where he was the guest of the dowager lady! The incident became known as “The Rout of Moy”.

Lady Anne’s husband, was captured by Jacobites days later. The prince, mindful of her help, released him into his wife’s custody. “Your servant, captain”, she greeted her husband, who replied: “Your servant, colonel.”

After the Culloden conflict, Anne was arrested and taken under guard to Inverness. After a few days’ imprisonment, however, the Duke of Cumberland released her into the care of her mother-in-law.

Within days, Lady Anne intervened to stop local woman Anne Mackay being whipped through Inverness’s streets for helping a Jacobite officer to escape.

Lady Anne and her husband lived at Moy Hall until he died in 1770 after which she moved to Edinburgh. “La Belle Rebelle”, as Prince Charles called her, died in 1787 and is buried in North Leith churchyard, her gravestone inscribed with a white Jacobite rose.

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