A MacAlister Falsely Accused

By early 1746, Hanoverian forces led by the Duke of Cumberland had recaptured Carlisle Castle from its Jacobite garrison, and the tide appeared to be turning against Charles Edward Stuart and his followers. Eager to take advantage of the Bonnie Prince’s inexplicable retreat, and probably wishing to repay the Jacobite horde for having scared the wits out of London, Cumberland’s men set about rounding up as many of the Young Pretender’s adherents as they could find. At some time in February of that year, Archibald MacAlister of Glengarry was arrested near Perth on suspicion of being one of them. 

The reasons for suspecting MacAlister are not given, but his name and place of origin might have been part of the problem. Although the Tarbert chieftain at the time of the ’45 was a Hanoverian, the Macalisters on the whole had always been Jacobites, and most of those who actually turned out for the Rising of 1745-6 served in the regiment of Macdonell of Glengarry. A MacAlister from Glengarry might reasonably have been assumed to have Jacobite sympathies.

This particular MacAlister, however, protested his innocence. As evidence, he offered to obtain a letter from the Presbyterian minister in Glengarry attesting to his loyalty. (The denomination is significant: Although Presbyterians were certainly represented among those fighting for Prince Charles, the vast majority of the Jacobites were Episcopalians, with most of the rest professing Catholics.) In the end it seems that this letter was unnecessary. The authorities soon concluded that MacAlister was not involved with the rebels and he was released.[1]

 Copyright (c) Lynn McAlister, 2013

[1] ‘Declarations of rebel prisoners at Perth’, Reference: B59/30/72(1) 


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