Introduction to the rediscovery
of the supposedly original Journal, speculation about its
provenance and authorship and the comparison undertaken with
a version published in the Lockhart Papers in 1817
Large photographs of every page/pair
of pages (slow to load on a dial up line)
images of the Journal
A detailed transcript of the
original Journal, on the opposing page, with photographs.
Word-by-word comparison of the
Journal with Lockhart
Ronnie Black - Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair
and the Journal
Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair
The Journal is one of the documents held within the Drambuie Collection
and was on open display in 2005, where it came to the attention
of the Moidart Local History Group. Subsequently the Group has obtained
permission to copy the Journal in its original form and to display
it upon its web site, and we thank firstly Drambuie and secondly
Stuart Kendall, who took the photographs of the original.
The document which follows, comprises the Journal, a transcript
of the Journal and a word-for-word alterations/insertions/omissions
open edit from the type-set Lockhart version, which was published
in 1817. This permits close comparison.
As will be known, the Lockhart papers cover events surrounding
both the Old Pretender and Bonnie Prince Charlie thirty years later.
They were published by Anthony Aufrere, who was married to a direct
descendent of George Lockhart, about 70 years after the 1745 uprising.
They came into Aufere's possession in 1799, from his brother-in-law,
Charles Count Lockhart, who died in 1802 without issue. For information,
a copy is available at the National Library of Scotland. (The
Lockhart Papers, Vol 2, pp 479-510)
In summary, there are four questions addressed in this paper and
these and the conclusions reached are as follows:-
Is the manuscript genuine or a piece of Jacobite fakery? The answer
to this is "The Journal is quite likely to be genuine".
However, there is no proof positive.
Is the published version in the Lockhart papers directly derived
from the written manuscript of the Journal? Those reading the comparative
study which follows, will almost certainly reach the conclusion
that the answer is "yes".
Who is the author? From the many clues in the text and informed
guesses by others, the author is probably, Alexander Macdonald (Alastair
mac Mhgr Alastair), but this is not certain.
Who were the keepers of the Journal since it was written to the
present day? The answer to this is partly but not completely known.
1 Provenance of the Journal
The Journal occurs among a number of Jacobite items currently held
in the Drambuie Collection and was last displayed in London in 2005.
Permission was granted to Stuart Kendall to take a digital photograph
of each page. Subsequently, consent was obtained by the Moidart
History Group from him and from Drambuie to display these images,
subject to certain acknowledgments and caveats
The Moidart Local History Group have been advised by the curator
of the Drambuie Collection that the Journal was
by Drambuie as Lot 444 in a Christies sale of the contents of Fingask
Castle in 1993. The manuscript was amongst some uncatalogued material
containing quite a few later transcripts of accounts, along with
a lot of outstanding original material, some of which was later
sold to the Earl of Perth. It appears that most of the manuscript
material had been in the possession of the Threipland family for
It has been recorded that the Threiplands first came to Fingask
at the end of the 16th Century. Two centuries later, Dr Stuart Threipland
graduated from the faculty of Medicine, Edinburgh University in
1742. His father , Sir David Threipland of Fingask had previously
had his estate confiscated after the earlier 1715 Rising, for association
with the Jacobite cause, so it is not surprising that Dr Stuart
Threipland joined the Prince in 1745 as his medical adviser. He
travelled from Derby to Culloden with the Prince and then went into
hiding before escaping to France.
The estate was again confiscated by the Crown. However, Stuart
Threipland returned to Edinburgh after 1747 and rose rapidly in
his profession to become President of the Royal College of Physicians
there in 1766, an indication that he was well respected in both
his Profession and Society, despite his Jacobite sympathies.
The Fingask estate was once again repurchased by Sir Stuart Threipland
in 1783 following the release of forfeited estates. It remained
in the Threipland family until the early 1920s when it was sold
once more. However, the Castle returned to Threipland ownership
in 1968, where it remains to this day.
2 Comparison with Lockhart
The fact that the Journal manuscript contains numerous alterations,
deletions and marginalia would appear to support the contention
that it is an original. Lockhart is virtually identical with the
Journal, word for word, phrase for phrase.
Lockhart incorporates the marginal notes from the Journal in the
right places. In particular, Lockhart makes intelligent use of the
notes at pages 13, 22 and of the draft insert used within pages
34 and 35.
Where additions occur in Lockhart, these are two or three words
only and, even these are few and far between. Lockhart occasionally
tries to expand and clarify but does not distort the sense of what
has been already written, save for two dates. There are virtually
no omissions, other than a word here or there and a single sentence
omitted through oversight on page 22.
It is granted that the spelling of the Journal and of the published
copy is not identical. However this is quite reasonable in that
the differences would almost certainly have been caused by the Lockhart
version being dictated to a scribe.
The Journal is unsigned, save stating that the author is "A
Highland Officer in the Prince's Army". However, within the
text there is a deleted reference on the first page to "Aeneas
Macdonald of Dalelea my brother," subsequently reference to
the author's proficiency in Erse or Gaelic, the fact that he recruited
in Ardnamurchan and that the Prince made him his first officer in
Scotland. At the end there is a reference to "we of the clan
It has been concluded by a number of scholars that there are strong
arguments for supposing that Alexander Macdonald was the author.
He is sometimes better known as Alastair mac Mhgr Alastair, the
gaelic bard, second son of the Minister, born at Dalilea at the
turn of the Eighteenth Century. In "Moidart, or among the Clanranalds",
by Father Charles Macdonald, edited by John Watts" it states
that the brother of Aeneas Macdonald of Dalilea was Alexander (Alastair
being the Gaelic spelling), an officer called to the service of
It is said that Alexander went to Glasgow University, but never
completed his lectures owing to possible pecuniary embarrassment.
Later he opened a small school at Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan under
the auspices of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge
and became a tenant of a small farm at Corrie-mhullen. They also
posted him elsewhere in the area. However funds ran short and checked
his career once more, but not before he had completed a Gaelic/English
dictionary. This was published by the SPCK.
In Argyll in the Forty Five, Sir James Fergusson of Kilkerran reports
that the minister of Ardnamurchan in 1745 was Mr Laughlan Campbell.
Like every other minister in the Church of Scotland he was loyal
to the King. As reported in the Scottish Historical Review, Campbell
wrote later, that the Jacobites in his congregation were "in
high spirits" at the end of July and deduced correctly that
the Prince was on board the ship which had recently moored at Lochnanuagh.
He reported this information accordingly to the Duke of Argyll's
factor. It will be noted that Alexander MacDonald was made an officer
by the Prince, and, according to the Journal, recruited in Ardnamurchan.
Alexander Macdonald also later published some reckless and acclaimed
poems, breathing rebellion in every line. When the country became
more settled after "that disastrous business", Father
Charles writes in "Moidart, or among the Clanranalds"
that Alexander obtained a farm at Eignaig from Clanranald. Here
he continued unwisely to compose anti-Hanoverian poems and became
such a liability that he was deprived of his farm and had to move
to Knoydart. Eventually, in his old age he settled at Arisaig. He
is buried at Kilmory, Arisaig, near the Catholic Church.
Another cross-connection showing Alexander to have been active
as a scribe, was in 1749 in The Lyon in Mourning 1746-1775 Forbes
Volume II p 362-364. There is a letter of December that year containing
a copy reply from MacDonald of Glenaladale responding to some earlier
questions from Bishop Robert Forbes which says:-
"For my part it was merely to avoid disobliging a young lady
who desired the favour of me that I thought on setting pen to paper
to relate anything of the matter, and as I was not well att the
time, was obliged to make our freind honest Alister, Dallile's brother,
my clerk, and he kept a double of what he wrott"
In "Alexander Macdonald, Alasdair MacMaighstir Alasdair, Jacobite
Bard of Clanranald", published I 1982 by the 1745 Association,
Sheila Duffy says of the author of the account in 'the Lockhart
Papers': 'most people now agree that the writer was the Clanranald
bard himself ..' This assertion not only suggests a connection between
the journal and the supposed authorship, but between the journal
and the Lockhart papers.
There is little doubt therefore, that considerable circumstantial
evidence points towards Alexander Macdonald as being the author,
a view shared by a number of informed historians, including Compton
Mackenzie and Ronald Black.
It is interesting to note that the three principal players in the
creation and early history of the Journal, all knew each other.
Alexander Macdonald was an officer in the Prince's service. George
Lockhart, Younger of Carnforth was one of the Prince's Aides de
Camp and Dr Stuart Threipland was the Prince's medical adviser.
All three escaped after the uprising.
The provenance of the Journal while it was held within the Lockhart
papers is clear, as long as the account by Anthony Aufrere is accepted
and its final resting place within the Drambuie Collection of Jacobean
memorabilia is a known fact.
The questions which continue to intrigue are what happened at two
key dates. The first of these was when the journal passed from the
author to a third party. This may or may not have involved Alexander
Macdonald and George Lockhart. The second key date was from the
time when the Journal was known to be within the body of material
claimed by Anthony Aufrere to have been given to him by his Lockhart
brother in law in 1799 and its subsequent reappearance amongst papers
being disposed of by the Threipland family in 1993.
Although it is known that the Threiplands collected material concerning
the Stuart attempt to regain the Throne in 1745-46 and indeed the
subsequent dispersal of collections from Fingask bear witness to
the fact that they were successful in this ambition, the question
remains as to how and when they got hold of the Journal. The possibility
that the Journal freely circulated between Alexander Macdonald,
Threipland and Lockhart, appeals at one level, but is not entirely
satisfactory because there seems little doubt that Aufrere presents
himself as the owner at the time of its first publication, some
70 years later - so, how did it get back to the Threiplands afterwards?
The answer to this question may lie with the Perth & Kinross
In a conversation with Andrew Murray Threipland two years ago,
he said that he thought from memory that someone in his family had
acquired some Jacobite papers in Rome a number of years ago. Not
all of the Fingask collection was disposed of in the sale in 1993,
the remaining items being lodged with the Perth & Kinross Council.
So there is a possibility that the mystery could be solved by research
here. Is there anyone wishing to take up this challenge? (Reference
What appeals is that the rumoured acquisition was made in Rome,
which is where of course Bonny Prince Charlie spent all his life.
Further information would be welcomed by the Moidart Local History