brothers, lies and tartan revival

Here he lies, the alleged grandson of a king and not just any king, the famous, romantic, tragic so called Pretender – Charles Edward Stuart. This is the grave of John Sobieski Stuart also known as “The Chevalier”, both names weren’t real, you could indeed call them his stage names because he went into the limelight to be what every Scottish romantic craved to see – a lost descendant of the last and tragic Jacobite. He was a fraudster and so was his brother.

John Sobieski Stuart's grave St Marys Chapel Eskadale 2 (40)

John Carter Allen (1795–1872) and Charles Manning Allen (1802–1880) one day decided to re-establish themselves as the grandsons of Bonnie Prince Charlie, claiming the prince had fathered a secret son with his wife Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern in Italy. Him being 51 and she 19 at the time. Then the child and Jacobite heir had been taken on their grandfather’s ship, they claimed. The grandfather then adopted that royal refugee and brought the boy up as his own. Being their father’s sons, the two brothers claimed to be lost grandsons of Charles Edward Stuart.

St Marys Chapel Eskadale 2 (36)

This was a complete fabrication of course but the brothers lived their role. Tartan clad they roamed the Highlands, turned Catholic and lived under the protections of Jacobite clans such as the Frasers. The 14th Lord Lovat even built a hunting cabin on an island in the river Beauly for the two frauds and offered them a final resting place in the kirkyard of St Mary’s in Eskadale. If he believed them? Who knows but he certainly indulged them.

Those who claimed to be the grandsons of the Pretender pretended to the very end to be what they were not – of royal blood.

They had a certain impact on their time of course. The defeat of Culloden and the suppression of the Highlanders in its aftermath were bloody scars in the hearts of every Scottish clansmen. The brothers had simply impersonated a yearning that it was not over yet. That there was still hope. That one day, there would be a Stuart on the throne of Scotland and as far as the two “Stuarts” were concerned on the English one, as well.

St Marys Chapel Eskadale 2 (42)

Both brothers died in the late 19th century and were buried in Eskadale. They had sparked a tartan revival with their romantic stories of the past and the fact that suddenly border clans prided themselves with their own tartan which they hitherto had never owned, was down to their influence and the the Vestiarium Scoticum (1842), the basis for many of the clan tartans recognised today.

If you liked the story, thet’s more here.

Scotland For Quiet Moments is available @Amazon.

sources and further reading:


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