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Jacobite Banners (Scotland)

Last modified: 2021-08-07 by rob raeside
Keywords: scotland | culloden | jacobite |
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Jacobite Banners at Culloden

In response to a question from Jesús del Campo, "Do you know about the banners of the Jacobites at Culloden battle?":

Most of the flags of the Prince Charles' army that were captured at Culloden were burnt by the public hangman in Edinburgh. A list was made of those flags, but only contains brief descriptions:

  1. "a white silk colour with the Stewarts arms [and the motto] God Save the King" The arms are presumably those of the U.K., rather than just Scotland, since the whole Kingdom was being claimed. This may have been the colour of the Prince's Lifeguard of Foot.
  2. "a large plain white colour, said to be the standard" A completely plain flag as the Prince's standard?? Another account refers to the standard as being red with a central white square.
  3. "a white colour with a blue saltire" Just possibly, this may have been carried by the Second Battalion of Atholl's Brigade under James Spalding of Glenkirchie, but the Spalding arms are blue and yellow. The First Battalion of the same brigade under Archibald Menzies of Shian are known to have carried white colours with red saltires, from the colours of the Menzies arms.
  4. "a white silk colour St. Andrew's cross in the canton" Possibly carried by a contingent of the Bannerman family.
  5. "a white linen colour, motto Terrores Furio" Attributed to the Chisholm family at the time.
  6. "a blue silk colour with the Lovat arms [and the motto] Sine Sanguine Victor" These are not the colours or motto of Lord Fraser of Lovat; they may be those of his second-in-command, and the man who led the clan on the day, Charles Fraser of Inverallochie.
  7. "one of Lord Lovat's camp colours" No other description survives.
  8. "a blue colour [with the motto] Sursum Tendo" Possibly belonging to the 2nd battalion of Ogilvy's Regiment, commanded by Sir James Kinloch - the colours are same as the Kinloch arms and the motto is similar.
  9. "a blue colour [with the motto] Commit The Work To God" Unknown. the motto is that of the Sinclair family, but none are known to have been out with the Prince.
  10. "a white linen colour belonging to the Farquharsons" No other description survives; the family arms were red and yellow; the motto was Fide Et Fortitudine.
Other colours known from this period are:
  • Prince's Lifeguards of Horse carried a guidon taken from Gardiner's Dragoons at the battle of Falkirk. It may have been green; it certainly bore the motto Britons Strike Home.
  • Cameron of Lochiel's contingent: a red flag with a central green square which bore the full arms of the family, including crest and supporters
  • Gordon of Glenbucket's contingent: white with the arms of the Marques of Huntly in the centre (Glenbucket was Huntly's lieutenant colonel in the 1715 Rising).
  • Lord Ogilvy's regiment: blue with a white saltire that does not reach the corners of the sheet; in the top quadrant a white scroll with Nemo Me Impune Lacessit in black and gold letters, above a thistle in natural colours.
  • Stewart of Appin's regiment: blue with a yellow saltire, the colours coming from the family arms
A discussion about the list of burnt colours and other Jacobite flags appears in Military Illustrated number 38 (1991) pp.39-45

Ian Sumner, 15 March 2000

[Jacobite flag] located by Ivan Sache, 23 November 2006

Source: Highland News

Donald Wilson reports in the "Highland News", 23 November 2006, the finding of a flag that could have been used during the battle of Culloden (16 April 1746):
Researchers have confirmed the discovery of half of a 300-year-old flag belonging to the Frasers of Lovat. Initially, it was thought it may have been carried by the Frasers at Culloden. But historians now believe it may have been carried by clansmen who missed the battle. Clan Fraser Society this week confirmed its whereabouts is being kept a closely-guarded secret. Graeme Fraser, speaking on behalf of the Clan Fraser Society, said it’s now believed the flag pre-dates the famous battle which saw the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and brought to an end the Jacobite uprising. “The flag was inherited by a young family last year from a close relative,” said Mr Fraser. “We are keeping its whereabouts a closely-guarded secret, but I can tell you it’s in a bank vault in England. “The family who inherited it are of Scots descent and want to remain anonymous. Owners of the flag would love to find the missing half. “It is their wish at some time to share it with the nation and put it on temporary public display.”
Mr Fraser said on the day of the Battle of Culloden the Fraser Clan was led by Charles of Inverallochy. “There were reinforcements on the way led by the Master of Lovat who was the son of the 11th Lord Lovat. The history is a bit unclear, but it’s thought they never arrived in time for the battle. They may have been carrying this banner. “Most of the Jacobite flags were taken to Edinburgh and publicly burned by the hangman. Only one or two are believed to have survived, so this really is a unique part of Scotland’s and the Clan Fraser history. “We believe it’s a camp flag dating back to 1725, possibly the personal flag of the then Lord Lovat, as it bears his arms. In 1725 Lord Lovat persuaded the government at that time to raise the Black Watch regiment and this flag relates to the Independent Highland Companies, also known as the Black Watch. “As to the mystery of the other half and why it was cut in the first place, all we know was it was kept by an Inverness antiquarian, called Dr Macintosh. The other part has been missing since 1827. Dr Macintosh cut it in half.

located by Ivan Sache, 23 November 2006

Lord Ogilvy's regiment

[Ogilvy flag] image provided by Mark Webster, 1 April 2010

An amazing and fascinating piece of Angus's 18th Century history has just gone on display at the McManus Gallery in Dundee. The artefact in question is the flag raised at The Battle of Culloden in 1746, by the 2nd Battalion of Lord Ogilvy's Forfarshire Regiment. When the battle ended, the defeated regiment retreated south to Glen Clova, where it was disbanded. Oral history legend has it that Captain John Kinloch, who carried the flag at Culloden, then hid the banner at Logie House, near Kirriemuir. Given that all the Jacobite flags captured by the Hanoverian troops at Culloden were taken to Edinburgh and burnt, it's amazing that this banner has managed to survive.

Lord Ogilvy, the Earl of Airlie, had a long tradition of Jacobitism in his family, dating back to 1640, when the Ogilvy family supported Charles I during the time of the National Covenant and the English Civil War. Indeed, the burning of Airlie Castle (near Kirriemuir) in 1640, is immortalised in the Jacobite folk song, 'The Bonnie House of Airlie'.

The Latin words on the flag translate into the old Scottish motto: 'No one provokes me with impunity'. Interestingly, the emblem on the flag is the Scottish thistle, rather than a symbol or a coat of arms associated with the deposed Stewart dynasty. However, it transpires that the Scottish thistle was the crest used by Lord Ogilvy's Jacobite regiment.

Angus was (still is?) famous for being a Jacobite region, as highlighted by the 'King O'er the Water' political messages contained in the intricate plasterwork at the House of Dun, near Brechin (not to mention all the white roses in the garden - a white rose being the symbol of the Jacobite movement). Still further, Balnamoon's Cave in Glen Esk, is another famous Angus haunt for Jacobites, and is the location where Laird Balnamoon famously hid himself for several months following Culloden. In short, Angus's history in the 17th and 18th centuries is virtually a Jacobite Trail of derring-do, coded messages, folk songs and secret hideaways in the Glens.


I recommend Stuart Reid's book 1745: A Military History of the Last Jacobite Rising. It is a very informative and well balanced look at the whole episode revealed by a former professional solider who walked every battlefield.
Mark Webster, 1 April 2010

Anti-Jacobite banner repatriated

From 5 August 2003 Glasgow Herald:

Banner carried against the Jacobites unfurled in Scotland again
A Scottish banner raised by opponents of the Jacobites during the 1715 Rebellion, has been repatriated from Australia after almost a century.

The painted silk standard was carried by the Gordon family, of Earlston, near Kirkcudbright, as they fought to prevent Bonnie Prince Charlie's father, the Old Pretender, from regaining the throne for the Stuarts.

It remained in the area until the second decade of the twentieth century, when it was sent to a branch of the family which had settled in Australia and had inherited the baronetcy of Earlston and Afton.

From 1920, the Earlston Banner was a treasured exhibit in the Hall of Remembrance in the Scots Church in Sydney, but when the building was scheduled for demolition in 2001, Sir Robert Gordon, the flag's owner, and the church authorities sought a new home for it.

They contacted the Stewartry Museum in Kirkcudbright and a Heritage Lottery Grant was obtained to bring the banner home and have it conserved by the Scottish Museum Council's conservation unit in Edinburgh.

Yesterday, it was unveiled in its new home by Alex Fergusson, Conservative MSP for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, who congratulated the museum for co-ordinating the project that brought the banner back home "where it once boldly flew".

David Devereaux, Stewartry curator, said the banner would help to present and interpret a complicated period of history.

"The religious upheavals of the seventeenth century and subsequent Jacobite rebellions had a major impact on Kirkcudbrightshire," he added. "National events crashed in on local affairs."

Rob Raeside, 5 August 2003

Television Reconstruction of Culloden

I yesterday saw a TV programme which referred to the battle of Culloden, that famous 18th century battle which ended Scotland's attempt to regain independence from England. Very briefly shown was a shot of the battleground, on which two flags now stand, representing the starting positions of the English and Scottish forces. They show, respectively, a stylised white flower on red and a stylised black flower on yellow, but I didn't see enough of them to get any further details. Does anyone know anything more about these flags?
James Dignan, 19 April 2004

I would guess that these represent the Jacobite White Cockade and the Hanoverian Black Cockade, cockades being a distinguishing mark worn on the headdress. This was not a Scottish war for independence; it was a dynastic struggle between the Stuarts and the Hanoverians, the Scottish house of Stuart having inherited England in 1603, and having lost both thrones through the stupidity of James II in 1685-88 and lack of heirs in 1714. The Jacobite wars (named for the party owing allegiance to James II and his heirs) were Stuart attempts to regain the throne of Scotland AND England. Scots were fairly evenly divided in this struggle, and since clan tartans did not exist at the time, the cockade was the method of identifying friend and foe on the battlefield. The Jacobites especially had no other uniform.

The White Cockade Society sometimes carries a banner of a white cockade on a red field. I doubt this existed in 1745-46. The yellow background for the black cockade is probably just a good contrasting colour.
T.F. Mills, 20 April 2004

A websearch on "the White Cockade Society" did provide a beautiful picture at which shows two of the WCS's flags, plus the red and white flag that I originally referred to, at Culloden Moor (it is the one on the far right*). From other sites (such as it appears that the flag I was referring to is not that normally flown by the WCS.
James Dignan, 20 April 2004

* This flag which can be seen in the photo is in fact the banner flown at Culloden Battlefield by NTS to mark the Jacobite lines and is not being carried by the Society although it does look as though it is in the photo.
Janette Hannah, 20 July 2004

I've just been watching a video about the battle of Culloden Moor, which might have given a few more clues to the flags. The expert (from the British National War Museum, I think) referred at one point to the "black government army cockade and the Jacobite white cockade". At another point the comment is made "The government army were lined up where the yellow flags are [meanwhile, the Jacobite ranks] are marked by a row of red flags...". It seems to me that this does indicate the yellow flags have a black cockade, and the red flags have a white one.
James Dignan, 3 May 2004

The flags which fly at Culloden do in fact signify the redcoat lines and the Jacobite lines. The reason behind the colours, reflects the family colours of the two royal families concerned with the battle the red is the background for the house of Stewart royal standard, the yellow is the background for the royal house of Hanover.
For your information this was not a Scottish English war as we are led to believe, there were already 2500 Scottish troops in the regiments which fought at Culloden.
Ian Deveney, 11 December 2006

Banner of Bonnie Prince Charlie

The Wikipedia article on the Treaty of Limerick shows, at the bottom, the “Personal standard of Charles Edward Stuart,” without explanation (he was born almost thirty years later) or authority. The field is scarlet with a row of seven white roses at the hoist, with some of their anatomical parts in green and the center yellow. In the center of the remainder of the field is another such white rose, about half the height of the flag. Proportions look to be about five by seven.

The image appears to be based on one at
John Ayer, 29 July 2021

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