Bannockburn House and the 45’

12 June 2018

The word Jacobite derives from the Latin Jacobus (follower of James). The Jacobites were supporters of the Stuarts who had been overthrown during the Glorious Revolution of 1688/89. The Catholic King James VII had been deposed by William of Orange & his wife Mary, the daughter of James VII.

Jacobite Risings

The main aim of the Jacobites was to have their Stuart king returned to the throne and subsequently four Jacobite risings were to follow. The first rising began in 1708 (Louis XIV’s and the Old Pretender, James Francis Edward Stuart, son of James VII’s attempted invasion of England), this was followed in 1715 (Sheriffmuir), again in 1719 (Glenshiel), and by the final rising of 1745/46 (Prestonpans, Culloden etc). All four of these risings ended in failure.

Bannockburn House Link

Hugh Paterson III (c.1686 – 1777), 2nd Baronet of Bannockburn, and owner of Bannockburn House, was closely allied to the prominent Jacobite, John Erskine, the 6th Earl of Mar, and had contact with the exiled Jacobite Court of the Old Pretender in France. It is believed that Paterson followed the Earl of Mar into the 1715 Jacobite rising and as a result forfeited his estate; his wife retained her joint ownership in the estate and presumably continued to reside at Bannockburn.


On the failure of the rebellion, Paterson fled abroad, and spent the next few years in the Netherlands as a Jacobite agent. He had very little money, and was paid a small pension by James, the Old Pretender. In 1720, his brother-in-law, Lord Grange, purchased Paterson’s Bannockburn estate, to financially rescue the family. (Grange performed the same service to other Jacobite families). As a result, he secured Bannockburn for Sir Hugh’s son. Paterson did not return to Bannockburn for several years; a pardon was granted for his role in the 1715 Rising in the late 1720s, but he did not return to his estate immediately, and may have returned as later as the mid-1730s. He seems to have played little or no further part as an active Jacobite until the Forty-Five’.

bonnie prince charlie jacobite

Bonnie Prince Charlie (Oil on canvas – 1744)
by Alexander Cosmos (1724 – 1777)
(reproduced with kind permission of The Smith Art Gallery & Museum, Stirling)

Summer of 1745

In the summer of 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, much better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, arrived in Scotland to raise an army and march towards England to reclaim the throne. On his way south, Charles spent the night of the 14th of September at Bannockburn House. He reached Edinburgh the next day and took the city by the 17th. It seems likely that there was a specific reason that Charles stayed at Bannockburn; perhaps the army command or the Prince himself was aware of the support of Paterson to the cause, and possibly he had met him in exile in the years after the 1715 rising. It is also possible that the selection of Bannockburn was solely for its practical location, near the road to Edinburgh.

Siege of Stirling

In early January 1746, Charles came back to Bannockburn House. Located so close to Stirling, this mansion, made for ideal headquarters for the prince and his staff to prepare for the siege of Stirling.

The Provost and magistrates of Stirling feared that the burgh would be sacked during this siege and that there would be a great loss of life and property, and despite opposition from the people and being rebuked as cowards, the Provost surrendered the keys – Stirling was still a walled town with ports or entry gates at this time – and the Jacobite army entered Stirling, without opposition, and then prepared to lay siege to Stirling Castle. However, the castle was well supplied with men and arms under the command of General Blakeney, who sent the following message to the burgh council: ‘Gentlemen, as your Provost and Bailies think the town not worth their notice to take care of, neither can I. I will take care of the castle’.

Battle of Falkirk

On 17thJanuary 1746, the Jacobite army won the battle of Falkirk, about eight miles from Bannockburn House. Prince Charles then had a printing press brought to Bannockburn and accounts of the battle were printed, probably in the house itself. Victoria Gaul, after visiting Bannockburn House, wrote in her article in Scottish Field, in October 1950, that the purpose of the printing press was that ‘a true account of the battle might be printed to silence the critics … A quarto Sheet, the Bannockburn Journal, was printed by the Jacobite printer, James Grant.’Charles then left the house by the end of the month to pursue his fight. There are at least two surviving letters from Prince Charles Edward Stuart that were written from Bannockburn House.


The town surrendered on January 8th, but the attempts of the Jacobite army to take Stirling Castle were unsuccessful and Charles became ill, forcing him to stay at Bannockburn. During his illness, Charles was nursed by Clementine Walkinshaw, the niece of Hugh Paterson III (Clementine’s mother, Katharine, was the sister of Hugh, formerly 2nd baronet of Bannockburn). In many sources, Clementine is referred to as Clementina, and it is thought that she was named after Clementina Sobieska, the mother of Prince Charles, possibly creating the confusion about her name. She became the mistress of the Prince, then joined him in Ghent and the pair lived together under various aliases. This was a situation that scandalised Jacobite supporters who further suspected Clementine of being a Hanoverian spy. Charles refused to leave Clementine and they had a daughter out of wedlock, Charlotte, born in 1753. Sadly, their relationship collapsed. Charles’s drinking led to beatings, and Clementine left him in 1760, taking their young daughter with her.


Clementina Maria Sophia Walkinshaw (1720 – 1802)
Mistress of Prince Charles Edward Stuart by Unknown Artist
Oil on canvas
(Scottish National Portrait Gallery)

Bonnie Prince Charlie’s bedroom

In Bannockburn House, the large bedroom situated on the first floor of the west wing is commonly referred to as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’s bedroom’ and this is thought to be the bedroom that the prince occupied during his month-long stay in January 1746. This was also the room that Clementine nursed the Prince back to health during his illness. It has been said that within this room, a bullet hole remains in the wall at the head of the bed in which Charlie slept – tradition has it that it was caused by the bullet of an assassin fired through the bedroom window – unfortunately, no evidence of this bullet hole has yet been found.

key to stirling

The key from Stirling’s Port Gate – surrendered to Bonnie Prince Charlie on 6thJanuary 1746
(The Smith Museum and Art Gallery)

The key

In 1902, a key was found hidden in a recess in the wall of the bedroom. The key is said to be the key from Stirling Port Gate, given to Prince Charles after the surrender of Stirling on 6thJanuary 1746. This key is currently on display in the Smith Museum and Art Gallery in Stirling. The key was sold at Annie Mitchell’s auction on 5thOctober 1960 (lot 107) to Captain Charles A. Hepburn, the owner of Red Hackle Whisky, who returned it to the Provost of Stirling in 1961. The Smith also has in its collection, a punch bowl from which Bonnie Prince Charlie drank when he stayed at Bannockburn House.


Blog written by Alan Clater, History Team Volunteer