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Royal Deeside : Aboyne and the '45


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Aboyne Battalion of Lord Lewis Gordon’s Regiment
1745/46.

Several articles on the history of Aboyne which are contained within this website were written by Jim Cheyne. In the article below, written for the Aboyne Highland Games programme, Jim looks at the role of Aboyne troops in the Jacobite uprising of 1745 - 1746.

 

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Aboyne History Introduction Bonty Formaston Stone Aboyne Regiment 1745
Aboyne Gazebo Wartime Poetry War Records James Thomson  

Aboyne Castle
Aboyne Castle is owned by the Marquis of Huntly and was a Gordon stronghold


Although we are not in the Highlands, Aboyne and Aberdeenshire were staunchly Episcopalian/Jacobite in the first half of the eighteenth century and people such as Charles Gordon of Blelack, David Lumsden of Auchlossan and Patrick Duguid of Auchinhove were all for the restoration of the Jacobites. Patrick Duguid got himself into serious debt kitting out the men he raised. They would have been preparing for such a day by laying in supplies of weapons and goods that would be required by a Jacobite army.

Aboyne was a central point for recruiting in this part of Aberdeenshire with the Muir of Bountie[1] , which is now called Aboyne Green, being an ideal place for men to camp and drill and to send out recruiting parties to the surrounding areas. It is believed this was the last time the “Firey Cross” was used to raise men. Sometime in September of 1745 the call went out for recruits for the battalion and volunteers were looked for but recruiting “Pressed Men” was a ready method to fill the ranks. (The Royal Navy, at this time, would not have been able to fulfil its duties without pressed men and the army also used this method of recruiting.)

The training would have followed British army methods as there were many men who had served in the British army.However, there was also some influence of the French for when they landed they undertook some of the training. This was no rabble army that was going into the field; this was an army that made the then Royal Family seriously consider fleeing London for the continent.

The battalion could have taken its name from the hamlet of Charlestown of Aboyne. Our battalion was a low-land battalion and would not have been dressed in the tartan but there was an expectation that some of the men would have weapons left over from previous wars.


Inverurie 23rd December 1745
On the 13th December the men were ordered to Aberdeen:

“Lord Lewis Gordon ordered his troops to fall back on Aberdeen where he assembled a number of men raised in Forfarshire and Kincardineshire, and some of Lord Drummond’s French troops lately landed at Montrose, and 300 Farquharsons and others under the command of the Laird of Monaltrie, and the Aboyne battalion, and the Aberdeen battalion under James Moir of Stoneywood” [2].

These troops then advanced on Inverurie on 23rd December 1745 where they fought and beat the MacLeods and forced them to retire across the Spey leaving Lord Lewis Gordon in control of the country from Aberdeen to the Spey. It was on the 14th December 1745 that Charles Gordon, (Blelack), wrote from Mill of Gellan, “I have minded your commissions as to your plaids and tartan, which shall be sent you in the beginning of the week”.[3] This would have been the start of the Aberdeenshire battalions being made highlanders.

Here are three verses of a poem of the battle by “Mussel-Mou’d Charlie" who witnessed that battle:

Lord Lewis for the Royal cause,
He fought wi’ courage keen, man,
His clan behaved as in the Raids,
On Tuesday aifterneen, man.

Blelack, wi his trusty blade,
A heart as stout as steel, man
He lion-like about him laid,
An’ gart the rebels reel, man

Brave Avochie the water wade,
While Crighton pap’d them down, man
Monaltrie and Stoneywood
Drove them quite through the town, man .[4]

Accounts of the Skirmish can be found in certain books about the ’45.

Falkirk 17th January 1746
The next we hear of the Aboyne battalion is on 13th January 1746 when,

“Lord Lewis Gordon writes from Bannockburn to Moir of Stoneywood and Farquharson of Monaltrie, commanding officers of the Aberdeen and Aboyne battalions, at Gargunnock, Stirling, ordering them to join the main body of the army forthwith." [5]

This order included John Gordon (Abachie or Abochie) who had a battalion in Lord Lewis Gordon’s regiment. Stirling Castle was under siege by the Jacobites at this time. The battle of Falkirk took place on 17th January 1746. The Lowland regiments under Gordon, along with the Atholl Brigade of Ogilvy were in the second line of the Jacobite right wing, with the Clan Donald regiments in the first line. Clan Donald with the Lowlanders broke the regiments of dragoons and the day was won.

“Pronie, who had been despatched from the front with orders for their advance, came galloping up, shouting at the top of his voice-and he had a voice that could be heard amid the roar of battle- “Forward, men! The day’s our ain! The day’s our ain!” [6]

That was the last time the Aboyne battalion appears in orders of the “March of the Highland Army”.

From Stirling the Farquharson battalion along with Abachy’s battalion set off north on the 1st of February 1746, the siege of Stirling castle having been lifted. They pass through the Spittal of Glenmuick on 12th February and are in Tarland on 15th February. The Reverend John Bisset, in his Diary reports that, “The 200 men with Abachie and 300 with Lord Ogilvie, Blelack, and Monaltrie, marched from Tarland the way of Kildrummie.” [7] The Aboyne battalion must have been in amongst these battalions. The regiments were engaged in security duties around Fochabers, Cullen and Huntly Castle until at last they marched to Culloden Moor.

Accounts of the battle can be had in the many books on the ’45.

Culloden Moor 16th April 1746
Our Aboyne men were on the right of the Jacobite line along with Lord Ogilvy and Abachie. The New Statistical Account of Scotland, Aboyne and Glentanner footnote page 1063 by the Rev. Robert Milne Miller, Minister –

“In 1745-6, a battalion, named by Lord Lewis Gordon “the Aboyne battalion,” and commanded by Farquharson of Monaltree, beat the Macleods at Inverury; and, in the fierce onslaught at Culloden, cut through “Burrell’s Blue.” (Barrell’s 4th Regiment). The survivors who returned from that eventful field are all now beyond the din of war. The writer remembers seven or eight of them, and has often heard from them an account of their disastrous adventure.”

The last mention of our battalion is in the dedication of a poem to “Francis Farquharson, Rebel 1745, known for his long golden curly locks as the Baron Ban, handsomest and most generous officer in the Rebel Army, who commanded the Aboyne Battalion of 300 men, most of whom perished at Culloden” .
[8]

Francis Farquharson of Monaltire, the 'Baron Ban'

Footnotes

Recommended reading - “The Myth of the Jacobite Clans” by Murray Pittock, “Culloden” by Tony Pollard and “No Quarter Given” bt Alastair Livingstone, Christian W.H. Aikman and Betty Stuart Hart.

[1] GD52/557 Copy of petition to the Privy Council by William, Lord Forbes, to restrain Charles, Earl of Aboyne, from holding a fair on the Muir of Bountie, alias Charlestoune [Charlestown], to the prejudice of the Bartholomew Fair at Kincairne of Neill [Knicardine O'Neil], pending decision of the Court of Session. 1678

[2] Historical records of the family of Leslie, from 1067 to 1868-9 p.179

[3] The miscellany of the Spalding club, Letters to the Laird of Stonywood XXV.

[4] History of Logie-Coldstone by Rev. John G Michie 1896 p135

[5] Misc. Of the Spalding Club, Letters to the Laird of Stoneywood p331.

[6] Ibid.

[7] The miscellany of the Spalding club, Diary of the Reverend John Bisset.

[8] Susan Carnegie 1744-1821 Her Life of Service p.209.


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