Dundee and the Jacobite Uprising 1745 - 1746.

Dundee and the Jacobite Uprisin 1745-1746 (by Iain D. McIntosh)


Philetus’s account (one of two letters addressed to the Editor of the 'Dundee Magazine and Journal of theTimes; for 1799) of Dundee at the time gives us an insight into the period.

The Town had a population of about 6000, and like the rest of Scotland was politically torn and divided, but unlike the surrounding country areas was more pro Hanoverian, pro government. Dundee had suffered under previous uprisings on behalf of the Stuart dynasty and was very wary of this one. 1745 Dundee

Philetus comments on the lamentable state of distraction and idleness, manufactures at a standstill, men in a high fever of political delirium, property was not safe. The population went to bed by the sound of the bagpipes and the toll of the curfew bell, the dead were carried to their graves by the tinkling of a hand bell. 

The extent of the town was – to the West, not so far as Tay Street, except for a brewery and a malt loft in the Nethergate, a house or two in the Overgate, and no building so far as Blackness. To the North the boundary was at the Howff. Further on a bit was Dudhope Castle. There was the barony of the Hilltown or Rottenrow, with its own Baillies, Chapelshade was unenclosed and planted with corn.
To the east the town ended at Craigie and the lands of Wallace Craigie, Blacks Croft was also unenclosed and planted with corn, and was let at an annual rent of 50/- sterling.

The Tay lapped all the way up to the fish Market and just south of the Seagate houses.
Buildings were generally made of wood with about 6 houses built of stone in the High Street. There were large vacant, puddle filled areas in the central parts of the town, particularly in Thorter Row and Burial Wynd. The council minutes mention that people could be excused payment of the cess for 19 years if they renovated or rebuilt properties. For weary travellers, there were two dirty houses called inns, which were situated in two narrow and dreary lanes.

Shipping was limited, regularly unrigged and laid up for the winter and no voyages after October, the annual port revenue £1200 sterling. Small vessels were built close to the west gable of the Sailors Hall.

Vegetables were scarce, onions, leeks, carrots, kail and cabbage, only to be had fresh on a Friday, and then only during Summer and Autumn. Potatoes did not become available until 1753, these introduced by Lord Grey of Castle Huntly.
Beef - 1½d per pound, a hen 4d, eggs 1½ per dozen, a goose 1/-, a decent roast pig 8d, a scotch pint of Claret 4 or 5/-.

There were 2 established churches, the third the Cross Church was used as a store for hay and also by the Jacobite troops to stable their horses. There was the new, still uncompleted Town House costing £4630 sterling. The council were having lead pipes laid by an Edinburgh Plumber, to provide water from the Ladywell to other fountains in the Town. To fund this they asked for subscriptions from the citizens.

There were no turnpike roads as yet and those that were in existence were bad, narrow and unshapely. Two narrow lanes, Tindal’s Wynd and St Clements Lane, joining with the Vault connected the centre of the town with the harbour, the lanes were coarsely paved with rounded sea stones. The pavements worse, stairs jutted out onto the pavements and open cellar stairs provided traps for people to fall into. There were no lamps not even the shadow of light except when the moon was out.
There were no banks in the town, traders and dealers had to get their cash and notes from Edinburgh the best way they could. Women and children kept their money in ‘kist neuks’ or ‘pirly pigs’. A mix of currencies existed, Scots and English pounds, and merks.

The post came by carrier via Kinghorn and Cupar and arrived in a very irregular and awkward manner.
The horse market and shambles was in the centre of the town, a horse market twice a year. The horses neighed, galloped, trotted and kicked. From the butchers slaughtering booths, wounded animals would escape so this was a dangerous time for the vulnerable, for the old, the women and the children who got in their way and a rich harvest for surgeons, undertakers and gravediggers.

On Sundays, women went to church with a bible under one arm and a stool under the other, the baillies, burgesses and guildry members rented their seats, Ministers preached long sermons using sand glasses, boys were not allowed to infest the streets and wynds, nor play at marbles, penny stone, football or any other games, seizers roamed the streets for any that did, all in the name of ‘decorum in a Christian Society’.

Knavery abounded, school masters whipped boys, apprentices dipped into the tills of their masters, young rogues were hanged, and great criminals escaped. The rich lorded over the middle classes and they in turn domineered the lower classes. Such was Dundee in that age.  

The Jacobite Occupation

Charles Jobson’s record of the occupation of Dundee is short and to the point.
He says that the rebels entered the town on the 8th Sept 1745 and they held it for about twenty weeks until between the 9th and 14th January when he says ‘which day the rebels departed, never to appear here’.

July 7 1745 Sabbath
Rebellion Commenced
Sept 8   Sabbath
Rebels entered Dundee yesterday
Sept 22   Sabbath
Preston fought yesterday
Nov 4   Monday
A fast
Nov 24   Sabbath
About 600 rebels came to town
Dec 18   Wednesday
A king’s fast stopt by the rebels
From Dec 18-20   Collected from house to house, worship being stopt by the rebels (one of the churches being made a stable
£23 3s 3d (Scots)
Dec 26 to Jan 2 1745/46 Collected
£28 5s 5d (Scots)
Jan 9 –14 1746  
£28 6s 9d (Scots)
From Jan 9 – 14   Which day the rebels departed never to appear here
£23 19s 5d (Scots)
Jan 17   Falkirk, shamefully
Jan 19   Sabbath – after the departure of the rebels
£50 14s 2d (Scots)
    The rebels run from Falkirk the 1st current
April 17   Thursday – yesterday, the 16th current, was fought ye famous battle of Culloden when rebellion died.
      Signed Chas Jobson


A small party of Macdonalds arrived on the 8th Sept and conveyed a Dundee ship up to Perth.

Dundee was divided regarding this uprising, in the council minutes after the Jacobites left they referred to it as a ‘Rebellion’, and there was a sizeable majority on the council supporting the government. However Dundee was surrounded by a strongly, Episcopalian countryside where the local gentry like the Wedderburns, Ogilvys and Grahams actively supported the Stuarts, and had a big influence within Dundee.

Ogilvy’s Regiment (Jacobite)

Angus, Arbroath, Montrose, Brechin and Dundee were the recruiting areas for Ogilvy’s Regiment, David Lord Ogilvie was the son and heir to the Earl of Airlie, the Earl himself being too old, so he left it to his son to raise men from the local lands and all across Angus. Ogilvy along with the 1st Battalion of the regiment went with Prince Charle sduring the invasion of England.

On the 24th Sept, 1745,  Lt Col Sir James Kinloch of Kinloch, and approx 600 men of the 2nd Battalion of Ogilvy’s Regiment arrived in Dundee, Whilst here he managed to recruit maybe another 200 - 300+ from Dundee itself, the numbers are a bit varied and uncertain.

On taking possession of Dundee on behalf of Prince Charles, Kinloch published the Stuart declaration, manifesto and commission of Regency given to Charles by his father the exiled James III (VIII of Scotland). Kinloch also appointed one David Fotheringham, merchant in Dundee as the Governor.
The Provost of Dundee at that time was Alexander Duncan of Lundie, father of the future Admiral Adam Duncan. According to the council minute book, Duncan signs the minutes of 1st Oct 1745, he is then missing from 5 other council meetings, which stop on the 11th November and do not resume until the 8th Feb 1746, just after Ogilvy’s troops had left to join up with the rest of the Jacobite army fighting at the Battle of Falkirk.

Baillie Alexander Watson of Craigie is also mentioned in the muster roll of the Jacobite forces as being the Depute Governor.

From Mackie’s History of Dundee there is a mention of an old royal residence in St. Margaret’s Close: -

(Re Jacobite occupation)

“Royal residence within St Margaret’s Close at the High Street near which was the mint.St Margarets Close

The palace or at least part of it was in ruins and put in a state of repair a few years before 1745 by Baillie Watson, a partisan of the House of Stuart, and it is said commanded a body of troops – The rebel troops under Sir James Kinloch took possession of, and held the town for a few weeks for the Jacobites, were partly formed of the corps of this civic leader, who at an entertainment given by him to his brother officers at the head of the court before the palace, handed chairs to them for their accommodation, out of the windows. In that part of the building used as a residence by Watson”.

Another History of Dundee mentions that Mr Watson escaped from Culloden back to Dundee, where for a considerable time, he avoided his pursuers by secreting himself within a recess in the wall of one of the apartments. The apartment was discovered in the 19th century and was found to contain a decayed pair of old-fashioned trooper’s boots and a rusty broadsword.

It is said that the Jacobites searched the town for horses, arms, and ammunition and levied the public for money for which receipts were given.

In Dundee the ministers of the established church preached and as usual, prayed for the reigning royal family (George II) ‘and earnestly exhorted their respective congregations to remain firm in their loyalty, and steadfast in their duty to their country and their King’.

The report says that some of the occupying troops went to church, where they conducted themselves with ‘becoming propriety’, and did not interrupt ‘the quiet and decorum of the congregations, or to molest the preachers’. The reports go on to say that those who went to church on the first Sunday of the occupation, continued to attend succeeding Sundays. The commentator goes on to say that this was most likely from  ‘mere excitement and curiosity’, some would argue, but no interruption to public divine service was given by the rebels, well, not to start with.

But according to Jobson’s report, by 18th Dec, this changed when the ‘King’s fast was stoppet, as was also church worship and collections for the poor, normally taken at the church door, these had to be done by door to door collections round the parish.

The ruined north part of the City Churches, the Cross church, was used as stables by the troops.

The occupiers ordered the illuminations of windows (by candles) to celebrate the arrival of some aid from France. Those who did not do this, ‘particularly those of the established clergy’ had their windows smashed. One report says that a shot was fired and stones thrown into the windows of one of the ministers, that the soldiers and crowd attempted to enter the house by force and that the family had to escape by the back door, the minister himself, being old and infirm, could not do this and was only saved by one of the rebel officers, of whom he had a ‘slight acquaintance’.

Some important Dundee Jacobites

Sir John Wedderburn, Bart of Blackness

James Graham of Duntrune – he assumed the title of 4th Viscount Dundee, was an officer in Balmerino’s and Elcho’s Lifeguards, for his support of the Stuart line, he was attainted for treason, however he had no property to be seized. In 1735 he had sold Duntrune to his Uncle, Alexander Graham. He escaped to Sweden

Henry Patullo, merchant – Muster Master, escaped to France via Sweden.
Hon Dr George Colville – Surgeon in the Atholl Regiment.
Thomas Blair of Glasclune, merchant – Lt Col in Ogilvy’s regiment, escaped to Norway.
David Auchinleck, Vintner – Lifeguards. Discharged
William Rait, Surgeon – Lifeguards.

Escaped from Dundee

James Graham of Duntrune, Viscount Dundee;
David, Lord Ogilvy,
Fletcher of Balinshoe;
Hunter of Burnside;
David and Alexander Graham, merchants;
Thomas Blair, merchant;
Alexander Blair, writer from Edinburgh
and David Fotheringham the former governor.

They seized a ship lying of Monifieth, belonging to James Weymss of Broughty Ferry and the party escaped to Bergen in Norway, where they were taken prisoner by the Danish Government, but eventually made their way to France.

Iain D. McIntosh

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