The Heroic Pretender for The Young Pretender

Cover photo, by Hew Morrison, Getty Images, BBC – “A digital facial depiction of Bonnie Prince Charlie created using a death mask made of the prince after he died in 1788 aged 67.” (To read more about Hew Morrison’s fascinating work, including a digital depiction of Ava, a woman who died in the Scottish Highlands more than 4,250 years ago – see source article below).

This story caught my interest today, shared by Inverness Outlanders on their Facebook page yesterday, from Scotland’s Stories

“Stop! Don’t keep driving! Look a little closer at that cairn on the left side of the road and you’re in for a pretty incredible story.

In 1746, not long after the battle of Culloden, the leader of the government army “Butcher Cumberland” triumphantly sent the head of Bonnie Prince Charlie down to London and called off the hunt for the Young Pretender. Although it wasn’t actually his head.
It was Roderick Mackenzie, the son of an Edinburgh tradesman. He looked so similar to Charles that he became his bodyguard/body double and the Prince’s close friend. Like most Jacobites, he was on the run after the battle of Culloden, hiding in remote locations while the government army relentlessly hunted them.
He was finally caught out in Glen Moriston, just north of Loch Ness, along with the Prince and a small group of supporters. From their vantage point, they could see the redcoats searching the glen down below but were trapped in their cave with no way out. Then Roderick had an idea.
With the soldiers closing in, the young man put on the Prince’s clothes and marched down the hillside, allowing himself to be spotted before scrambling off in the other direction. Whether he intended it or not, Roderick was eventually caught, but still continued to play his role.
Unfortunately, Charles was wanted dead or alive and as the doppelgänger was shot down, his final words were “You have murdered your prince!” The delighted soldiers left the cumbersome body where it lay, taking only the head to Fort Augustus to claim the reward.
None of the Jacobite prisoners would confirm the identity, but Cumberland was so convinced that he followed it down to London and called off the manhunt. By the time the ruse had been discovered, the Prince had slipped through the net and escaped to the Hebrides.
Roderick’s sacrifice was crucial to the story of the 1745 rising, but is still largely unknown apart from by those curious enough to stop beside this road and inspect his cairn! You can find it on the A887, the road leading away from Loch Ness at Invermoriston, on the left not far from where it joins the A87.”

It’s amazing to think of such selfless heroism and patriotism. Does this still exist today? I wonder.


Here is another post about Roderick MacKenzie if you’d like to read more.

Have a wonderful Thursday

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Source:  Scotland’s Stories
Source: The Sons of Scotland
Source: BBC

13 comments on “The Heroic Pretender for The Young Pretender

  1. I never heard this story before. It was heroic of R.M. to do what he did and die for it. Don’t think we will ever see something like that today.

  2. That is a wonderful account, and heroic act by Roderick MacKenzie! Now….if someone would only clean the stone! There is a wonderful young man in, I believe it is NY, who goes around to old cemeteries and monuments and cleans and restores them. This would benefit from someone like that…and actually ALL stones and monuments should be kept up! It helps to keep the memories alive.

  3. What a great story if the Bonnie prince! Too bad it wasn’t in the Outlander series! The hardships those poor people suffered and some were running till their end, hard to imagine going through that!

  4. What an amazing story. It’s simply incredible what some individuals will do for their leaders! Thanks for posting this!

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