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Watercolour by James Drummond
Flora MacDonald
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Find out more about Flora MacDonald .

Pre-clearances - Culloden Aftermath

After Culloden Cumberland's army marched on to Inverness to carry on the fight. Raiding homes looking for Jacobites, all were swiftly put either to the end of a musket - bayonet - hangman's rope or burnt alive in their homes. Women, children, old and young, the orders were "No Quarter Given" - and none was.

Prince Charles escaped from the battlefield at Culloden, losing almost all his personal possessions.

During the months that followed he was hunted by government forces throughout the Western Highlands and Isles.

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He was helped by many loyal followers and this period gave rise to some of the most enduring myths of the rising. He was sheltered, smuggled from hiding place to hiding place, and given clothes and other items by Gaels who risked their own safety to help him.

He came close to capture a number of times and probably would not have escaped without the help of Flora MacDonald. He was disguised as her maid and they travelled by boat to Skye from where he was able to return to France. Many of his followers were captured and some executed. Others were forced into exile and had their lands forfeited.

The government was determined to eliminate the Jacobite challenge once and for all. The Highlands were disarmed and even Highland dress was prohibited for a time. The breakdown of the clan system accelerated. Improved roads and forts brought more effective government control of remoter areas. Prince Charles did not return and by his death in 1788 the threat of an armed Jacobite insurrection was unthinkable. The cause soon became the subject of romantic nostalgia, expressed through poetry and song as well as objects and relics

The slaughter did not end there on that day, for months his army moved around the Highlands clearing out any threat once and for all that Highlander should ever pick up a Broadsword against England. It can be quoted from English parliament in reply to Cumberlands reports that they sent a message saying:

"It will be no great mischief if all should fall".

Their culture was demolished, their native language - Gaelic - was banned and marked as a hanging offence if spoken, the wearing of tartan was also made a hanging offence and even the Bible was not allowed to be learnt in their own language, never mind written.

This was the final nail in the coffin of the clan system and way of life. This approach, coupled with the broken spirit of the people, was so successful in Scotland that by the end of the 18th century three-fifths of Hebridean landlords were already absentees, preferring the soft life in London society to looking after their own people in the wild and barren Highland glens and rain swept islands.