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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

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Christian Auer

II. Jacobitism

11. Letter from a Jacobite Prisoner, 1747

Texte intégral

1William Jack was taken prisoner some weeks after the battle of Culloden and was sent aboard a ship from Inverness to London. Also see introductions to texts 7 and 9. No changes have been made to the original letter.

2“Letter from a prisoner (William Jack)” in Robert Forbes, The Lyon in Mourning, or, A collection of Speeches, Letters, Journals etc. relative to the Affairs of Prince Charles Edward Stuart by the Rev. Robert Forbes A. Bishop of Ross and Caithness 1746-1775, vol. 3, Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, 1896, p. 64-67.

At Leith, Wednesday, August 29th, 1750, the Reverend Mr. George Innes at Forres was with me, Robert Forbes, and delivered into my hands the original letter of William Jack, an exact copy of which is as follows.

17 March 1747

Gentlemen, — This comes to acquant you that I was eight mounths and eight days on sea, of which time I was eight weeks upon half pound and 12 ounces oat meall and a botle of watter in the twenty four hours, which we was oblig’d to make meall and water in the botam of ane old botle. Ther was one hunder and twenty five put on board at Inverness one the James and Mary of Fyfe. In the letter end of Jun we was put board of a tranceport four hunder and fifty tuns called the Liberty and Property, which we containued the rest of the eight mounths upon twelve ounces of oat shilling as it came from the milln. There was thirty two prisoners more put a board of the said Liberty and Property, which makes on hundered and fifty seven, and when wee came a shore we was but forty nine in life; which would been no great surprise if there hade not been on, conform to our ousages. They would taken us from the hold in a rope and hysed us to the yeards arme and let us fall in the sea in order for ducking of us, and tying us to the mast and whiping us if we but made watter in the hold. This was done to us when wee was not able to stand. I will leave it to the readers to judge what condition they might been in themselves with the above treatment. We hade neather bede nor bed cloaths nor cloaths to keep us warm in the daytime. The shipes ballast was black earth and small stons, which wee was obliged digge hols to ly in too for to keep us warm till the first day of November that every man gote about three yards of gross harn filled with straw, but no bed cloaths. I will not trouble you ane more till I see you. There is none in life that went from Elgin with me but William Innes in Fochabers. James Brander Smith in Conloch dyed seven mounths agoe. Alexander Frigg dyed in Cromarty Road. Jo Kintrea that lived in Longebride dyed also.

During all this time I was but in a bade state of health. But blissed be God I’m in a pritty good steat of health at preasant in spyte of my enimes, those I mean who pretended some time ago to be my frinds supose they proved otherways. But its possable I’le make them a sutiball recompence sooner then they expect. But I know some of them will strive to scrine themselves with some shadow or other. But all there reatrick will not take place, for once they gote me apprehended and put one board they thought they hade the ball at there foot, expecting they should never see me more. Be so good as to acquant the clerke that I leaft playing at cairds that he will see his frind werie soon, and that his cautioner in his suspenchan will take his head out of the pock with great deficualty; and that Mr. James Falconer is in good health and remaines on board of a shipe called the James and Mary, lying off Tilbury Fort.

Be so good as to acquaint my father I received his letter in the first of February last, and will write him wery soon. Our newes gives ws account that the French since there war hase taken on thousand two hundred and upwards of our shipping. Pray be so good as give my complements to all my reall frinds, not forgetting any of you and your famielys. I ame, gentelmen, your most humble servant,

(Sic subscribitur) wm. jack.

Tilbury Fort, 17th March 1747.

P. S.—I keepe full as good heart as ever, and hase done during all my confinement, ye, ewen when I was in a very bade sutituation. If it hade not ben so, I should not been in life, for the fish of the sea should got my bones to gnaw, for they could not got nothing else. From such another sight, good Lord, deliver me! for its impossable to descrive the condition we was all unto, for you should thought we hade no interalls within us, and all our jointes of our bodie as perceptele as if we were cute out in wood or stone. William, be so good as give my service to your brother, wife, and daughter. God be with you all. Tell also my father I gote the bill from Mr. King.

N. B.—The original of the preceding letter is to be found among my papers, directed thus: To Mesurs. James Sutherland, Alexander Skeen, Alexander Alves, James Peterkin, and William Griger in Elgin, N. Britain.

robert forbes, a. m.

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