The Jacobite

The soil you see is not ordinary soil, its Scottish soil, it is the dust of the blood, the flesh and the bones of my ancestors. You will have to dig a long way down to find natures Earth, for the upper portion is Scot, my blood and my dead.


The Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and part of a religious civil war in Britain. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

James Gordon Esq of Cobairdy (1724 – 1773) is my 7x great-grandfather he fought at the battle alongside 7000 Highlander’s under the command of Bonnie Prince Charlie. There was no victory for the Highlanders.

The casualties of the Highland army are unknown but are believed to have been around 1,000.

Culloden marked the end of the military phase of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745/6. The battle was followed by a lengthy period of suppression in the Highlands marked by massacre and despoiling. Of the officers and chiefs who escaped the battle, those who could fled to Europe and served in foreign armies. Some were in due course permitted to return. Many of the Jacobite rank and file fled to the American colonies. The prisoners were tried at Berwick, York and London and around 80 were executed, the last in 1754.

James Gordon Esquire of Cobairdy departed for the Continent sometime between 1747 – 1752 It is presumed that he took shipping from the east coast of Scotland and landed in Holland, for more than ten years he remained in exhile. He lived for many years with other Jacobite exiles amongst whom were George Gordon of Hallhead, Arthur Gordon of Carnousie, George Hay of Mountblairy, William Hamilton of Bangour, the poet, and Sir James and Lady Fanny Steuart of Goodtrees. He moved about Western Europe, like so many other Scotsmen, in the course of his exile and visited the following places, Paris, Vernon, Moulin, Lille,Brussels, Senli, Liège, Flushing, Rotterdam, Antwerp.

James Gordon of Cobairdy came to Paris in 1753 for his wife’s confinement. There is evidence to suggest that at least a few of his children were born in Paris, the parish records of Forgue, Aberdeenshire (where all of his children are baptised), shows signs that at least one of his children’s baptisms were written into the records after the event took place.

Gordon was one of those specially excepted from the Act of Indemnity of 1747. He was half-brother to Sir William Gordon of Park. Born in 1724, he married Mary, daughter of James, 16th Lord Forbes, who was a Jacobite in 1715; she is described as “a very sweet-tempered woman but not very handsome”. A curious position arose from this marriage, as the 16th Lord Forbes married, secondly, in 1741, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Gordon of Park, sister to James Gordon of Cobairdy. Thus the latter was both son-in-law and brother-in-law to Lord Forbes! James Gordon joined Prince Charles
at Holyrood, in company with several other lairds from Banffshire, in October 1745, and his action was described as “a great surprise”, for “he had no manner of tincture that way, but being a rambling young lad, was determined mostly by comradeship and something too by the high regard he had for Lord Pitsligo”. He was present at Culloden and escaped to France where Louis XV gave him a company in the French service and a pension. He returned to Scotland in 1762 and died in Aberdeen eleven years later.


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