Today we have a Scottish heroine to look at. Flora MacDonald was born in 1722 and died in 1790. Flora’s father died when she was a young child and her mother was abducted and then forced to marry Hugh MacDonald from Armadaleon on the Isle of Skye. Abductions of this kind were quite common in Scotland at the time.
In 1746 the Jacobite uprising was raging throughout the land. Flora was 24 years old at the time. “The uprisings had the aim of returning James VII of Scotland and II of England, the last Catholic British monarch, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne of Great Britain after they had been deposed by Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The series of conflicts takes its name from Jacobitism, from Jacobus, the Latin form of James.”
Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated at the Battle of Culloden and fled to Benbecula, in the Outer Hebrides where Flora was living. Captain Conn O’Neill of The Feeva, County Antrim, Prince Charlie’s closest friend and confidant, asked Flora to help the Prince escape from capture. The MacDonald clan agreed to help the prince and it is said that the beautiful Flora and the dashing Bonnie Prince Charlie fell in love.
Saving Bonnie Prince Charlie
Flora’s stepfather, the commander of the local militia arranged to have Flora and her traveling companions secure a pass to the mainland. Among her entourage was an Irish spinning maid, Betty Burke, who Bonnie Prince Charlie in disguise. They went to Kilbride on the Isle of Skye.
Bonnie Prince Charles hid in the rocks and Flora went to get help from people in the neighborhood. It wasn’t cut and dry because her boatman blabbed about having the the Prince with them. Fortunately, she did get him to Glam on the island of Raasay but was arrested for helping the prince. She was taken to London and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Later she was allowed to live outside of the Tower of London but she was still under the watch of the guards. When the Act of Indemnity was passed in 1747 she was released.”
The marriage of Flora MacDonald and the American War of Independence
Flora married Allan MacDonald on 6 November 1750 and had seven children. After his father died, Allan MacDonald took the family to North Carolina where he served for the British in American War of Independence.
According to Wikipedia, “Her bravery and loyalty had gained her general sympathy, increased by her good manners and gentle character. Dr Johnson, who met her in 1773, the year before she moved to America, described her as “a woman of soft features, gentle manners, kind soul and elegant presence.” He also paid the tribute that is engraved on her memorial at Kilmuir:
“…a name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour.”
Flora supported her husband’s regiment but found out that the regiment was defeated at Battle of Moore’s Creek. Her husband was taken prisoner. Flora tried to be as inconspicuous as she could but, American soldiers still ravaged her home and took whatever they wanted. Her husband was finally released two years later and sent to Fort Edward in Windsor, Nova Scotia as the commander of the 84th Regiment of Foot (Royal Highland Emigrants), Second Battalion. Flora and the children moved there as well.
Flora MacDonald’s bravery and courage
Flora MacDonald was courageous as well as gentile as evidenced when she booked a trip to Scotland. The ship was attacked; instead of going to cabins below for safety she stayed on the deck to fight. Fortunately she was only wounded in the shoulder and made her way to stay with relatives.
Her husband returned to Scotland years later. They moved to the family home in Kingsburgh. Flora MacDonald died at the age of 78 and was buried in Kilmuir Cemetery on the Isle of Skye. “It is greatly rumored that she asked to be buried wrapped in Bonnie Prince Charlie’s bed sheet.
Flora MacDonald was the most famous Scots women in her times and is still revered by Scottish people worldwide. Her bravery was insurmountable. She is seen in history as the woman who saved Bonnie Prince Charlie. Legend or fact nothing will take away from this great lady.