“Whence the broach of burning gold
That clasps the Chieftain’s mantle-fold,
Wrought and chased with rare device,
Studded fair with gems of price …”
Second canto of The Lord of Isles, a poem by Sir Walter Scott (1815)
Ossian was the so-called author of a cycle of epic poems discovered in manuscript form and translated from the Gaelic and published in 1765 by the Scottish poet James Macpherson in a collected edition, The Works of Ossian.
Set in south-west Scotland, this collection was immediately popular internationally and highly influential in the creation of a Gaelic revival after the Jacobite disaster of ‘45’. The authenticity of the poems was widely contested at the time of first publication, particularly by Samuel Johnson, and conventional wisdom now places the Ossian poems as one of the greatest literary forgeries in history. Despite this, Macpherson’s work is historically important as an imaginative portrayal of Scottish folklore and history. Macpherson is now considered to be the author of the poetic cycle and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Ingres, Le Songe d’Ossian, 1813, repainted in 1835. Collection Musée Ingres, Montauban, France
The Works of Ossian caused a sensation when first published. Napoleon was a great admirer, and Goethe translated parts. In art, one of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ most romantic and atmospheric paintings, Le Songe d’Ossian [The Dream of Ossian], was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte who spread the mania for Ossian in France. The poet Népomucène Lemercier reported that by 1800 Bonaparte had adopted Ossian as his special poet, just as Homer and Virgil had been taken up by Alexander the Great and the Emperor Augustus. In 1800, a medallion portrait of Ossian was affixed to the wall of the library at Malmaison and in the following year Ossianic paintings were commissioned from artists François Gérard and Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson for the Salon Doré at Malmaison. In 1803 Jean-François Le Sueur composed an opera, Ossian ou les Bardes, dedicated to the Premier Consul. Napoleon and Josephine attended the première the following year. Napoleon’s love of Ossian lasted to the end of his life. Captain (later Rear-Admiral Sir) Frederick Lewis Maitland RN, KCB spotted Macpherson’s book amongst those with the former Emperor on HMS Bellerophon, the ship that took him into exile on St Helena.
The plaid with its ‘brooch of burning gold’, worn correctly by Ossian in Ingres’ painting
In 1811, Ingres was commissioned to paint Le Songe d’Ossian for Napoleon’s bedroom at the Palais du Quirinal in Rome, then being fitted out as a palace for the future King of Rome. Ingres’ composition is loosely based on Gérard’s painting Ossian Evoque les Fantômes (1801-2). The blind bard Ossian is in the foreground leaning on his harp, dreaming and backlit, the light coming from a group of ethereal creatures occupying the upper two-thirds of the immense canvas. Ossian’s son, Oscar, who carries a targe, stands to the right facing his mother, Evirallina. She is seated, holding a bow in one hand and reaching out towards her husband with the other. Behind her Ossian’s father, Fingal, leads a crowd of warriors, some of whom are entwined with their naked lovers. In the centre, the long-haired figure of Starnos, the cruel Snow King, is seated behind four harpists evoking scenes from Le Sueur’s opera. This evocation of the 1804 staging has led to conjecture that Ingres was present at a performance of the work. The painting was removed from the palace on the fall of the Empire, the Pope having no place for pagan art in his city residence and twenty years later Ingres bought back the painting from a Roman art dealer. Faced with its poor state, Ingres restored and modified the composition.
Detail from an original drawing by Ingres now in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. Both the painting and the drawing clearly delineate and emphasise a plaid and the target plaid brooch, by backlighting in the centre of the painting. The viewer is immediately drawn to the brooch.
This drawing is considered as later than the painting and is certainly less accurate in the delineation of the plaid and Celtic brooch. This detail occurs in no other Ossian painting and begs the question as to how did a French artist working in Rome correctly paint a Scottish gold plaid brooch for an artwork destined for the Emperor’s bedroom? The answer may lie with the Scots College in Rome and its first secular rector, the Scottish priest Paul McPherson. Ingres’ painting was immediately famous amongst the cognoscenti then living in Rome and may have inspired Sir Walter Scott to write the words: Whence the broach of burning gold / That clasps the Chieftain’s mantle-fold …
Another classic historical recreation survives in the form of three memento mori death’s head or skull watches, supposedly associated with Mary, Queen of Scots and her Maid-of-Honour, Mary Seaton. Mary, the daughter of James V of Scotland, was beheaded on the order of Elizabeth I of England who considered Mary’s Catholic faith to be a threat to her Protestant kingdom
The earliest traceable reference to such a watch comes from the records of the Society of Antiquaries at Burlington House, Piccadilly, 14 November 1822, when the Society acquired three drawings, still in their collection, of the engraved scenes on a skull watch, including the inscription, ‘EX DONO FR,R.FR AD MARIAM KEG SCOTORVM ET FR’.
The next readily traceable reference to a similar skull watch is in a book published posthumously in 1840, Historical and Literary Curiosities …by Charles John Smith, a Fellow of the Society of the Society of Antiquaries who died in 1838. This watch bears no ownership inscription, but it is stated by the author to have been ‘A memento-mori watch presented by Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, to her Maid of Honour Mary Seaton’ Comparison with the three drawings shows that we are dealing with two different watches. The Smith silver gilt watch, with no inscription, belonged to the Scottish antiquary and collector Dick Lauder and is now in the Clockmakers Company Museum at the Science Museum, London.
A third watch, illustrated above, sold by me to a private collector in 1985, has a different inscription to the first and is silver gilt, with the inscription ‘EX DONO FRS R FR AD MARIA ST de SCOTORIUM FR. REGINA. It may be considered a facsimile of the Dick Lauder watch. This watch is illustrated in F.J. Britten’s Former Clock and Watchmakers and their Work, first published in 1894, with subsequent editions up to the seventh in 1932 by which time the watch had achieved iconic status. When sold from the Webster collection in 1954, Sotheby’s omitted an illustration and when sold from the Bellin collection in 1979 the compiler of the catalogue noted: The style of construction and engraving would seem to indicate a date between 1790 and 1830 and it is probable that this watch was made as a romantic manifestation of an earlier legend.
Mary, Queen of Scots could not have owned three such watches and nothing else of this form with a royal provenance is known to exist. For over hundred years these three superb recreations were accepted as correct, but they were made much later than claimed to fill an historical void in the market and are now accepted as ‘wrong’.
Three Reliquary Target Brooches
With this background, we come to a seemingly unique series of three rock crystal reliquaries: the Lorne, Lochbuie and Ugadale target brooches, All three are filigree set, this being a particular skill of Italian jewellers in the eighteenth century and therefore with the possibility of being commissioned by or gifted to Highland families through their Jacobite connections in Italy. Each of the reliquaries has a reputed history involving the Scottish King, Robert I, popularly known as Robert the Bruce, King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329, who led Scotland against England during the First War of Scottish Independence.
These three brooches are clearly not fourteenth century, but of various dates that coincide with periods of Jacobite unrest in Scotland between 1650 and 1745, or perhaps later.
Like the watches, they appear to have no precursors in either Rome or Scotland, yet they too fill an historical void and may have been made to give strength and continuity to the Jacobite supporters of James II of England and Ireland and James VII of Scotland, the King in exile from 1688 after the so-called Glorious Revolution. If Parliament could decide that James II had forfeited his throne, then monarchs derived their legitimacy from Parliament, not from God, thereby ending the principle of the Divine Right of Kings. The English Parliament argued that James II had abandoned the throne of England and as a result they offered it to his elder Protestant daughter who became Queen Mary II and her Dutch husband, William III of Orange.
Jacobites were not always Catholic, but they supported divine right as defined by King James I and hence supported the restoration of the Scottish Stuarts to the throne of Britain. The execution of Charles I and the restoration of the exiled Stuarts from France to the British throne under Charles II was seen reconfirmation of the divine right of a king to rule. The forced departure for France of Charles’ brother who succeeded him, the Catholic King James II in 1688, caused considerable Jacobite unrest and uprisings amongst the clans in the west of Scotland.
I believe these clan brooches were talismans made for the wives and female members of Royalist-supporting Jacobite clan families. The bones of ‘The Great Montrose’ may even have been contained within their reliquaries. The brooches’ possible creation in Italy with their potentially subversive messages was further disguised by the invention of fictitious histories linking them to Robert the Bruce.
I also suggest that expatriate Scottish families for whom these bespoke brooches were made were connected through the recently established Masonic Lodges in Paris and Rome. After the overthrow of James II many high-ranking Jacobites fled first to France, then following the failure of the uprising of 1715 moved on to Rome with the Stuart court under the protection of the Pope. These Jacobite Freemasons used local Roman silversmiths skilled in the art of filigree to create their reliquary brooches.
There were links between the three families who at one time owned the brooches − Mackay of Ugadale, MacDougall of Lorne and Maclaine of Lochbuie − through the proximity of their traditional lands in Ossian country on the west coast of Scotland, relationships through marriage, a loyalty to Royalist and later Jacobite causes, and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and not least, disputes over their land with the Earls (later Dukes) of Argyll.
The creation of a fourth brooch, this time a real ‘Broach of Burning Gold’ commissioned by Prince Albert as a gift to Queen Victoria, becomes symbolic and historic within this context, even if the true import of the gift was not fully understood at the time.
A gold ten-turreted Target Brooch copying the Lochbuie brooch given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria in 1842.
This essay aims to provide a brief history for each of the three eighteenth-century reliquary brooches and also to explain how the fourth, a gold filigree lady’s plaid brooch, came to be gifted by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria on 21 November 1842 as a commemoration of the second birthday of their first child, Victoria, the Princess Royal.
The Prince’s gift had its genesis when the Queen was shown the then celebrated Brooch of Lorne, a large silver eight-turreted target plaid brooch on 10 September 1842 at Loch Tay during her visit with Prince Albert to the Earl of Breadalbane at Taymouth Castle, Perthshire. The Prince noticed her interest but said nothing.
The Queen wrote in her journal: Cap. McDougal [sic]… showed us the real brooch of Lorne, which was taken by his ancestor from Robert Bruce, in a battle. The word ‘real’ is of note, as if there were doubt in her mind, possibly caused by the copies then available from Messrs Lyon & Co., jewellers of George Street, Edinburgh.
The Scotsman, Edinburgh, Saturday, 18 January 1840
Her diary entry may be interpreted as a positive expression of acceptance which resulted in her husband commissioning as a surprise present a similar but smaller brooch as an amulet and love token for his wife to be presented on the birthday of their eldest child. The Prince then arranged a copy to be made of the Lochbuie brooch, either by accident or design, with its ten turrets, and not the Lorne brooch which the Queen had been shown at Loch Tay which is of the same form but of a slightly different design with only eight turrets − a true Jacobite ‘broach’ for James VIII of Scotland.
By 1842 the Lochbuie brooch was probably in the collection of Ralph Bernal. In 1855 it was purchased by the British Museum for seventy-one pounds at the dispersal sale conducted by Christie’s after Bernal’s death. Ralph Bernal was a longstanding politician and omnivorous collector. In 1852 the Daily News commented that he was: so intelligent, so courteous, so accessible, so ready with information on all matters of detail, so constant in his attendance and so business-like while presiding over committees of the whole House … Mr. Bernal was a fine specimen of thorough liberality of political opinions and complete independence of mere cliquerie, accompanied by cultural understanding, good taste and courteous manner.
On 28 March 1825, as a connoisseur of art, Bernal spoke in Parliament in favour of the establishment of a National Gallery and became president of the British Archaeological Society in 1853. He died in August 1854. His large and distinguished collections of paintings, furniture, books, porcelain and objets de vertu were sold at three auctions in 1824, 1855 and 1889.
The Lochbuie brooch was one of the highlights of the Christie’s 1855 dispersal sale, where it was illustrated in the catalogue and described in considerable detail. It is possible that Bernal and Prince Albert, who had similar collecting interests, were acquainted and that Bernal arranged for his brooch to be copied for the Prince when he expressed a wish to make a present to the Queen.
Christie’s 1855 catalogue entry for the Lochbuie brooch as listed in the sale of the collection of the late Ralph Bernal
Alternatively, the Prince may have supplied his London jeweller with the only available published illustration of a Highland brooch of this target form: the Lochbuie brooch, as illustrated by Thomas Pennant in the third edition of his A Tour in Scotland, 1769, published in 1774. The third edition was rewritten to include the addition of an account of the second tour of 1772, which was also issued in two volumes entitled A Tour in Scotland, and Voyage to the Hebrides 1772 (1774 and 1776). The illustrations of the Lochbuie brooch appear for the first time in the third edition, and then in the 1776 volume. The Queen’s passion for Scotland and the Scots developed into a lifelong love affair after her joint purchase with Prince Albert of the Balmoral Estate, having been initially inspired by the writings of Pennant and Scott.
The accounts given in Fordun’s Chronicle (circa 1380), Dean Monro’s Description of the Western Isles (1549), Martin Martin’s A Description of the Western Islands (1703), Thomas Pennant’s A Tour in Scotland, 1769 (1771 and following editions) and A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides, 1772 (1774-76), and John MacCulloch’s Description of the Western Islands of Scotland (1819) which, with the writings of Sir Walter Scott, form a consecutive series of detailed accounts of life in Scotland over the ages.
Scott’s statement in 1815 that the broach of burning gold was worn by a chieftain is strictly speaking incorrect for despite their size, these target brooches are plaid brooches traditionally part of the dress of female Highlanders and recorded as such by Martin in 1703:
The ancient dress wore [sic] by the women, and which is yet wore by some of the vulgar, called arisad, is a white plaid, having a few small stripes of black, blue and red; it reached from the neck to the heels, and was tied before on the breast with a buckle of silver or brass, according to the quality of the person. I have seen some of the former of an hundred marks value; it was broad as any ordinary pewter plate, the whole curiously engraven with various animals etc. There was a lesser buckle which was wore in the middle of the larger, and above two ounces weight; it had in the centre a large piece of crystal, or some finer stone, and this was set all around with several finer stones of a lesser size. The plaid being pleated all round, was tied with a belt below the breast; the belt was of leather, and several pieces of silver intermixed with the leather like a chain. The lower end of the belt has a piece of plate about eight inches long, and three in breadth, curiously engraven; the end of which was adorned with fine stones, or pieces of red coral. They wore sleeves of scarlet cloth, closed at the end as men’s vests, with gold lace round them, having plate buttons with fine stones. The head dress was a fine kerchief of linen strait (tight) about the head, hanging down the back taper-wise; a large lock of hair hangs down their cheeks above their breast, the lower end tied with a knot of ribbands.(Martin Martin, A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland. London, 1703)
“The Hen Wife” by Richard Waitt (1706). The head covering, called a ‘kertch’ or ‘breid’ as worn by Scottish married women in the 1600s and 1700s on top of a close-fitting coif of some kind, held on with a brass pin at the crown of the head. She is holding a snuff horn and snuff spoon and wearing clothing as in the early to middle part of the previous century. She appears to be wearing a red gown, with a green wool doublet or close-fitting vest with ‘wings’ at the shoulders, and what might be a matching green wool apron. Her neck-covering dates from the previous century. Importantly it is fastened with a brass ring Glenlyon type brooch.
The Glenlyon and Lochbuie Brooches in the British Museum, photographs in H. Clifford Smith’s book published in 1908
An earlier gold and gem set plaid brooch, The Glenlyon, is recorded by Pennant in the first edition of his account A Tour in Scotland, 1769. The Glenlyon brooch and the Lochbuie reliquary brooch in the British Museum were both described and illustrated by H. Clifford Smith in his important 1908 book, Jewellery. He writes:
In many cases the open space in the middle of the ring, as in modern brooches, was filled up, and in the early examples was sometimes occupied by a turret-like ornamentation set with a crystal, while obelisks rising from the ring of the brooch were set with polished stones such as cairngorms (still popular on Scottish jewellery), or with Scottish pearls.
The Loch Buy brooch, of more elaborate workmanship, is likewise surmounted by a cabochon crystal on a raised dais. On the ring, within a low border, are ten tall turrets, each surmounted with a Scottish pearl. This famous brooch, long in the possession of the Macleans of Loch Buy in the Isle of Mull, came later into the collection of Ralph Bernal, one of the first and most eminent of latter-day connoisseurs, at whose sale in 1855 it was purchased by the British Museum.
There are two related families of that name on Mull: the MacLeans of Duart and the Maclaines of Moy. The Macleans of Duart are the senior branch. Both families were ardent Jacobites.
The Campbell of Glenlyon Brooch
Thomas Pennant set out on his first tour of Scotland in June 1769 with the artist Moses Griffiths as his illustrator. Pennant’s papers are now held as the Pennant Collection in the National Museum of Wales. The first edition of Pennant’s A Tour in Scotland, 1769 was published in 1771. It illustrates and describes the Glenlyon plaid brooch which is the earliest of the known gem set plaid brooches, but not a reliquary brooch.
Now in the British Museum, this brooch exhibits a lower, flatter, earlier form of turret decoration around the rim and is dated by the Museum to the sixteenth century. These turrets reappear in a grander form in the three reliquary brooches suggesting a knowledge of and a connection with the design of this older brooch then owned by the Campbells of Glenlyon.
Robert Campbell, 5th Laird of Glenlyon (1630-1696), is best known as the senior officer present at the infamous massacre of the MacDonald’s at Glencoe in 1692. His heavy drinking, gambling and a string of unwise investments pushed him to the brink of bankruptcy. In a final effort to support his wife and family, Robert Campbell, at the age of fifty-nine, joined the Earl of Argyll’s Regiment of Foot and thus played a leading role in the massacre at Glencoe. He died in poverty in Bruges on 2 August 1696.
His son, John Campbell, 6th Laird of Glenlyon, changed sides and became a prominent Jacobite who played a conspicuous part in the uprising of 1715 before escaping to France. For some years he remained in the Bordeaux region, where he lived under the name of ‘John Smith’. The Duke of Argyll and the Earl of Breadalbane, the two senior Campbell Clan leaders, used all their powers to obtain a free pardon and his return to Scotland.
John, the 7th Laird, had no sympathy with his father’s Jacobite views, believing that ‘the curse of Glencoe’ lay upon himself and the family. He obtained a commission in the Black Watch. An able soldier, he redeemed his father’s debts but during the rebellion of 1745 he severed their association entirely. His father was too old for active service in 1745 and when the rebellion collapsed, old Glenlyon deemed it prudent to go into hiding.
Despite their feud, Colonel John Campbell, described by the aging and infirm Jacobite as ‘no son of his’, again enlisted protection for his father through Argyll and Breadalbane. The 6th Laird died soon after returning to his family in 1746. Most leading Jacobites were still in hiding or out of the country but local people gathered from far and near to pay their respects to a man who had always been popular.
John, the 6th Laird, had been in possession of the Glenlyon Brooch after his escape to France following the 1715 uprising. This brooch was even then of considerable age and may have been the inspiration for the design of the three later reliquary brooches: that is, the Lochbuie and the Lorne, probably sometime between 1715 and 1735; and the Ugadale, probably in the nineteenth century. The 7th Laird, Colonel John Campbell, who died unmarried and without children in 1784, showed the Glenlyon Brooch to Thomas Pennant in 1769, he describes: a very antient brotche, which the Highlanders use like the fibula of the Romans to fasten their vest; it is made of silver, is round, with a bar cross the middle, from whence are two tongues to fasten the folds of the garments; one side is studded with pearl or coarse gems in a very rude manner; on the other the names of the three kings of Cologne, Gaspar, Melchior, Balthazar, with the word Consummatum. It was probably a consecrated brotche, and worn, not only for use, but as an amulet. Keysler’s account of the virtues attributed to their names confirms my opinion. He says that they were written on slips of paper in this form, worn as preservatives against the falling sickness:”Gaspar fert Myrrham, Thus Melchior, Balthazar Aurum, Solvitur a morbo Christipietate caduco.” That is to say: “Gaspar brings myrrh, Melchior incense, Balthazar gold …
The Maclaine of Lochbuie Brooch
This reliquary brooch now bears a partly fictitious later inscription:
‘The Silver Oar [ore] of this Broch was found on the Estate of Lochbuy in Mull and made by a Tinker on that Estate about the year 1500. It was handed down by the Ladies of that family to one another until Anna Campbell lady to Murdock McLean who had no Male Issue, gave it to Isabella McLean, their daughter, spouse to John Scrogie [sic], Esq, to whom she presented it the day after their Marriage’.
This inscription is not apparent in the Pennant illustration, nor is it mentioned by Pennant. It refers to the marriage of Murdock Maclaine, 13th of Lochbuie on 27 November 1705 to Anne Campbell daughter of Sir Hugh Campbell, 5th of Cawdor and his wife, Henrietta Stewart. Murdock’s father was Lieutenant-Colonel Hector Maclaine, 12th of Lochbuie who married Margaret Campbell, the daughter of Colin Campbell, 5th of Lochnell on 12 November 1669. Their descendants are reputed to have returned this brooch to the Maclaine family in the 1820s.
The Maclaine of Lochbuie Brooch, from Thomas Pennant’s A Tour in Scotland, 1769, 3rd edition (1774).
The stone circle at Moy Castle
Diagram of the Moy Castle stone circle
Moy Castle, the seat of the Maclaines of Mull
A single tower-like stone at Moy
In the mid-seventeenth century the Maclaines became promoters of conventicles opposed to King Charles II‘s repudiation of the Solemn League and Covenant and thus supporters of acts of civil disobedience. Though personally opposed to persecution of such people, Archibald Campbell, the Earl of Argyll, was specifically ordered by the Scottish Privy Council to suppress conventicles within his lands. The atmosphere of hostility soon spread to Mull, where opponents of the conventicles now felt emboldened, leading to outbreaks of violence between the two religious factions.
Hector Maclaine (c. 1649-1717) supported the Catholic King James II and fought with Protestant Covenanters as an Episcopalian under Viscount Dundee at the Battle of Killecrankie in 1689 where the Jacobites were substantially defeated. As a result, the Maclaines lost their Moy Castle estate to Archibald, 9th Earl of Argyll, the hereditary chief of Clan Campbell.
The 13th Maclaine of Lochbuie, who died after 1729, had no son; his third daughter, Isabella married John Scroyne [not Scrogie] after 1730. The words in the inscription, ‘to whom she presented it’ suggest evidence of female ownership and usage until that time. It has been impossible to find the date of the marriage which becomes important if the brooch was acquired from Rome, possibly as a wedding gift from the exiled MacLean of Duart.
The mis-spelling of names perhaps suggests the inscription was engraved long after the creation of the brooch by the Scroyne family who were perhaps not conversant with the minutiae of Maclaine family history, or more probably that the brooch was engraved in the nineteenth century to enhance its appeal to a collector such as Ralph Bernal.
There were close connections between the families of Maclaine of Lochbuie and the MacDougalls of Dunollie and Lorne. John Maclaine died after 1743 on the death of his brother he became 14th of Lochbuie having married Isobel MacDougall daughter of Duncan MacDougall, 20th of Dunollie and Lorne in 1707. In the next generation Lachlan Maclaine, 15th of Lochbuie married Catherine MacDougall daughter of John MacDougall, 22nd of Dunollie and Lorne. Their only son, Hector Maclaine died unmarried in 1749.
I suggest that after the Battle of Sherriffmuir in 1715 and before 1745 a second Jacobite brooch now known as the Brooch of Lorne, of the same general form but with eight turrets symbolising James VIII of Scotland in exile, was made for Isobel or Catherine MacDougall of Lorne on her marriage into the Maclaine family.
The source of the gift may have been through the senior line of the Maclean family on Mull, that of Duart, this family providing the Clan chief, Sir Hector Maclean, who was then the leading Freemason in France and a most important player in the Jacobite uprising in ‘45’.
The crest of the Macleans of Duart is a turret, a small tower on top of a larger tower, reflected in the turrets surrounding the Maclaine brooches.
Sir Hector Maclean, 5th Baronet of Morvern, 17th of Duart, 1st Lord Maclean, succeeded his father as the 21st Chief of the Clan Maclean in March of 1716 when he was only thirteen. Sir Hector was the first Maclean Chief to be born in exile after the failed attempt to restore the Stuart Monarchy. In 1678, Campbell was specifically instructed to seize Mull, and suppress the conventicles. It took him until 1680 to gain possession of the whole island when he took Duart Castle and ejected the Macleans from Mull. It was only after the Campbells sold the island and a century had passed under other owners, that the Macleans of Duart were able to recover Moy castle by purchase.
Sir Hector Maclean was born on 6 November 1703 in Calais, the only son of Sir John Maclean and Mary, daughter of Sir Eneas Macpherson. Sir John had to flee Scotland in 1680, losing his lands as retribution for his support of the Jacobites. He spoke five languages, could read six, and apparently had a sharp memory and clear judgement.. His son was instrumental in the early development and growth of Freemasonry in France. As Lord Harnouester, Sir Hector was initiated into the first Masonic Lodge in Paris, at the time a ‘Gaelic’ Lodge. He was tacitly recognised as the leading Freemason among the first Masonic Lodges in Paris when he called a General Assembly of all the Masonic Lodges in Paris on 27 December 1735 for the purpose of establishing the Grand Lodge of France. Sir Hector served as acting chairman during the proceedings and through to the first election a year later. Sir Hector was elected the second Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of France in 1736, after Lord Derwentwater, the first Grand Master, returned to Great Britain. In 1737 Sir Hector announced that he would step down and in June 1738 the Duke of Antin was elected. He returned to Scotland to raise the Clan Maclean to join the Jacobite Army. Before leaving France, Lord John Drummond commissioned Sir Hector as major in the French Royal Scots (Royal Regiment of Foot). He died in 1750 in Rome.
The Macleans remained ardent Jacobites and when rumours surfaced that the Bonnie Prince was already on the Island of Mull, the Duke of Argyll took this seriously and sent 100 men to search the island. On the Island of Barra Argyll also destroyed every boat that could have been used to carry Maclean Jacobites to the mainland.
Prince Charles sent Sir Hector Maclean to Scotland in May of 1744 to notify John Murray of Broughton, James Drummond, the Duke of Perth, and other Jacobite leaders that he would soon be with them. On 5 June 1745, only six days after arriving in Edinburgh, Sir Hector and his servants were arrested on the charge of being in the French service and of enlisting men. At the time he was carrying letters to Murray and other Jacobite leaders but fortunately the use of code names prevented the authorities from understanding their actual meaning. Murray, Drummond and Maclean were sent to the Tower of London for further questioning.
With Sir Hector in prison and Argyll’s destruction of the boats on Barra, plans for Charles’ arrival in Scotland had to change but the Jacobite leaders were now uncertain about the next steps. Fearful that the plan to land on Mull had been discovered, the Jacobites
decided it was best to land instead on the Island of Eriskay which belonged to Ranald MacDonald, 18th Chieftain of the Macdonalds of Clanranald, who was a fervent Catholic and a Jacobite. Murray commented on Sir Hector’s arrest with true Scottish understatement: I can safely say it was one of the greatest misfortunes that could have befallen the Prince at that time. In Sir Hector’s absence, Charles Maclean of Drimnin led the Clan at the Battle of Culloden where 500 of the Maclean’s turned out to fight for Prince Charles. Sir Hector never married and thus he is the last direct descendant of the Duart line. He is the most likely person to have ordered a second brooch through his Scottish and masonic connections in Rome − the Brooch of Lorne − as a wedding present to a MacDougall on her marriage into the Maclaine family.
The Lord of the Isles throughout this period was (later Field Marshal) John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, 1st Duke of Greenwich, KG, KT (1680-1743), hereditary chief of the Clan Campbell who succeeded his father in 1703. It was John Campbell who sequestered the Maclaine estates of Lochbuie and Duart, having led the British Army against the Jacobites at Sherriffmuir in 1715. John Campbell, later 4th Duke of Argyll and Chief of the Clan Campbell, raised the Campbell of Argyll Militia from his clan lands in Argyll to oppose the Jacobite rising of 1745 by Royal Warrant. Twelve companies of the Campbell of Argyll Militia fought against the Jacobites at the Battle of Falkirk Muir but were defeated. However, fighting for the British Government at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Argyll Militia were instrumental in the defeat of the Jacobites. During the battle, the Argyll Militia delivered devastating musket fire on the right flank of the Jacobite army. Only one member of the Argyll militia was returned as a casualty during the battle − Captain John Campbell of Achnaba − who was mortally wounded. After the Jacobite rising of 1745 was over, both the 4th and 5th Dukes of Argyll used the Campbell of Argyll Militia to hunt down the Jacobites with raids on Lochaber and Shiramore between May and August 1746.
A design by Sir John Vanbrugh survives for the new Clan Campbell castle at Inverary commissioned by the 2nd Duke during Vanbrugh’s lifetime. The building was commenced on his death by his brother, the 3rd Duke, who rarely visited. The round turreted towers which are such a feature of Inverary owe their inspiration to Vanbrugh’s incarceration as a political prisoner of the French in the Bastille in Paris and provide a further possible link to the design of a brooch in that the castle and its towers would have been the talking point amongst many families in the west of Scotland who opposed the Campbells.
Two visitors to Mull in 1773 almost three decades after the ‘45’ rebellion were Dr Samuel Johnson and his travelling companion and biographer, James Boswell. Johnson and Boswell took Martin Martin’s book of 1703 with them on their journey. Johnson felt that Martin’s account failed to describe many of the interesting aspects of life in the west of Scotland and that Martin had not recorded the distinct differences in the social structures of the Western Isles compared with the then ‘modern world’. Johnson would also have read Thomas Pennant’s book in the first edition, but this makes no mention of the Lochbuie brooch and the matter was never raised by John Maclaine, suggesting that the brooch was no longer in the ownership of the direct line of the family at the time of Johnson’s and Boswell’s visit.
Following the Jacobite insurrection of 1745, the Heritable Jurisdictions Act of 1746 resulted in the abolition of comital authority in Mull and therefore the Campbells’ control of the Argyll sheriffdom, The Campbells could now assert influence only as landlords. Moy Castle had not been maintained under the Campbells and had fallen into disrepair, but the cadet branch of Maclaines remained on the island, living in a more comfortable home built nearby which was visited by Boswell and Johnson.
Johnson met ‘Maclean’ [sic, that is Maclaine of Lochbuie] noting that he was a ‘true Highland Laird’, although ‘rough, tenacious and haughty of his dignity’. A moment of potential embarrassment arose when the Laird asked Johnson whether he was a Johnstone of Glencoe or a Johnstone of Ardnamurchan. It was left to Boswell to explain that he was ‘not a Johnstone but Johnson, and that he was an Englishman’. When the two travellers stayed at Lochbuie, the Maclaine family had only recently moved out of Moy Castle and into the more modern ‘mansion’ nearby. Johnson made no mention of the Lochbuie stone circle which along with the Maclean family crest − a turret may have been the inspiration for the symbolic decorations of this, the first and earliest of the three silver reliquary brooches.
Thomas Pennant made his second visit to Scotland in 1772 and published an account of this journey in two volumes, the first in 1774 and the second volume in 1776. Entitled A Tour in Scotland, and Voyage to the Hebrides, it includes an engraving of both sides of the Maclaine of Lochbuie brooch, with no inscription apparent. The brooch was also illustrated in the revised third edition of Pennant’s first tour of Scotland, published in 1774. This edition also included accounts of his second tour. Pennant gives a history of the supposed association of the Brooch of Lorne with Robert the Bruce, based on a document which was apparently destroyed by fire. This information was possibly obtained on Mull, or more probably from the then owner of the Lochbuie brooch, the Reverend Mr Lort. A footnote states that the Lochbuie Brooch was loaned to Pennant for engraving by the antiquary the Reverend Mr Lort FRS, Regius Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge. The Rev. Michael Lort was, like Pennant, a Welshman. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1755 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766 and was at one time Librarian to the collector Dr Richard Mead FRS whose portrait was painted by Allan Ramsay. Both Pennant and Lort were Freemasons.
So here we have by 1776 the existence of both the Lochbuie and Lorne brooches recorded for the first time. That the Lochbuie brooch was no longer owned by the Maclaines of Lochbuie is self-evident and there is no mention or indication on the detailed engraving of the reverse of the brooch that it was inscribed at this time. It seems likely that Lort, having read the first edition of Pennant’s Tour in Scotland which describes and illustrates the Glenlyon Brooch, loaned Pennant the Lochbuie Brooch for engraving and inclusion in the accounts of the second tour of 1772, giving him a verbal history of its origins.
The question remains as to when did the brooch leave the possession of the Maclaines of Lochbuie and why? The answer probably lies with the mysterious John Scroyne, a non-lineal descendant who sold it to Lort or another, probably after the Act of 1746 which banned the wearing of the Tartan and when exhibiting such a brooch in Scotland, even as part of a woman’s dress, was also probably illegal.
The Macdougall of Lorne Brooch
In 1715 Dunollie, near Oban was defended by Mary MacDonald, the wife of John (Iain) Macdougall, 22nd of Dunollie and of Lorne, while his men were doing battle with Lord Lorne at Sheriffmuir. This resulted in the estate being forfeited and the Clan chief forced into exile. He was pardoned in 1727.
Alexander ‘Dubh’ Macdougall, 23rd of Dunollie and of Lorne, son of the 22nd Chief, did not take part in the Jacobite rising of 1745, but his brother and some of the clansmen fought as Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The fighting force of the clan at this time was given as approximately 200.
The following description of the Lorne brooch is taken from Sir Thomas Dick Lauder’s Royal Progress in Scotland in 1842, an account which Queen Victoria commissioned him to write:
It is of silver, of very curious form and ancient workmanship, and consists of a circular plate about 4 inches in diameter, with a tongue like that of a common buckle on the underside. The upper side has a rim rising from it cut in the edge at certain distance brasures in an embattled wall. Within this rim eight very delicately-rising cones start up at regular intervals…
Barbour, the historian, is the first I have seen giving an account of the Brooch of Lorne. There is a tradition in the family of the Macdougalls of Lome that their chieftain engaged in personal battle with Bruce himself while the latter was employed in pro-tecting the retreat of his men : that Macdougall was struck down by the King, whose strength of body was equal to his vigour of mind, and would have been slain on the spot had not two of Lorne’s vassals, a father and a son, whom tradition terms MacKeoch, rescued him by seizing the mantle of the monarch and dragging him from above his adversary. Bruce rid himself of these foes by two blows of his re- doubted battle-axe, but was so closely pressed by the other followers of Lorne that he was forced to abandon the mantle and the brooch which fastened it, clasped in the dying grasp of the MacKeochs.
The brooch was long preserved at Dunollv Castle, the seat of the Lords of Lome, but disappeared in the 17th century, when the castle was burned by the MacNeills, assisted by the Campbells of Bar- Gleason. It was believed in the countrv to have been carried off by the latter while the former was either seeking or ransacking the charter chest. The Bar-Gleason family, however, overawed bv the neighbourhood of their powerful enemies, never displayed the brooch or breathed of its possession, but having lately fallen into decay, they are reported to have sold it no longer ago than the year 1822, soon after, it is said, to have been observed by General Campbell of Lochnell in the window of a jeweller in London. The General, a near neighbour of Macdougall, recognising, if not the Brooch of Lorne, which he never saw, a very curious and ancient Highland relic, entered the shop [possibly the premises of Rundell & Bridge, which would correspond with the leather box in which it is kept] and inquired its history, when he was told it was the lost Brooch of Lorne, and, with very generous feeling, immediately purchased the valuable relic, and presented it to its hereditary owner.
Another account says this relic continued in the Macdougall family till the year 1674, when the Castle of Golen, in the Island of Kinrara. having been taken, sacked, and burnt by General Leslie’s troops, Campbell of Inverawe possessed himself of the Brooch of Lorne ; in that family it remained until it passed into the hands of a cadet of that house, who, fully aware of its value, appointed it by testament to be sold, and the proceeds to be divided among his younger children. It was accordingly sent to Messrs. Rundell & Bridge. London, to be exposed for sale at the price of 1000 pounds. It is said that the late George IV., then Prince Regent, offered £500 for it; this sum was refused and the brooch withdrawn. Ultimately, in 1825. General Campbell of Lochnell, being anxious to bestow some mark of grateful regard on his esteemed friend and neighbour, Macdougall, purchased the brooch, and presented it to him through his chief, the Duke of Argyle, at a social meeting of the landholders of the county, The said Brooch of Lorne was borne by Captain Macdougall, R.N., of Lorne, in full Highland garb, who commanded and steered the Royal barge in which the Queen and Prince Albert sailed up Loch Tay during the time they were the guests of the Marquis of Breadalbane at Taymouth Castle on their visit to Scotland in 1842. Lord Breadalbane presented the wearer to the Queen, mentioning his profession, and that he bore the celebrated Brooch of Lorne which belonged to Robert the Bruce. The Queen took the brooch in her hand and examined it minutely, asking about the centre stone.
The reference used by Dick Lauder is in an article in the Gentleman’s Magazine, volume 136 which notes the presence of the brooch in the shop window of London jewellers and goldsmiths Rundell & Bridge. This information was derived from Chambers Edinburgh Journal volume 8 (1840) where it is recorded that the brooch was shown at a meeting of the Antiquarian Society of Scotland then painted in oils. This presumably resulted in its copying soon afterwards for sale by Mr Lyon in Edinburgh.
Scottish Notes and Queries, Second Series, volume VI (July 1904 − June 1905), page 78, gives a reference and answers to a query from Iain MacDougall regarding the Brooch of Lorne:
The Brooch of Lorne. – Can any of your readers give me any information on the following points regarding the Brooch of Lorne When is the Brooch first mentioned in history? The first reference to it, so far as I can find, is in “Pennant’s Tour.”
What is the probable age of the Brooch, and is it of Celtic workmanship? What is the nature of the gems and stones adorning it? What is its bibliography? The Brooch was restored to the Dunollie family at a County Meeting, held at Inverary in October 1824. I should like to see a report of this meeting, but I can find no trace of it in the Scotsman of that period. I shall be glad to hear from anyone who can supply me with any information, either through your columns or direct to me here. Iain MacDougall. 114 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh.
The first reply appeared on page 95 of the Notes and Queries and basically repeated the information given by Dick Lauder in his book with the addition that:
The present proprietor had it examined by Messrs. Rundell & Bridge, of London, but they could form no judgment regarding it without its being polished, which, of course, he had too much antiquarian feeling to allow. There is a fac-simile of the Brooch of Lorne in existence. This brooch has a melancholy interest attached to it, being a wedding present to the late Duke of Clarence from the Highland Society of London but returned after his untimely death. [The Duke of Clarence was the eldest child of the Prince and Princess of Wales. He was engaged to be married to Princess Mary of Teck but died of influenza before the wedding on 14 January 1892; Princess Mary then married his brother, later George V. The brooch was a suggested wedding present to the pair in 1892.]
Morning Post, London, 4 December 1824
The advertisement placed by Messrs Lyon & Co. in The Scotsman in January 1840 (see page 5) shows that the Brooch of Lorne was sufficiently well known to be copied and advertised for sale in Edinburgh, the first time that an early so-called Celtic brooch had achieved this status. On the right is a letter to the Morning Post from Hugh Campbell, the illustrator of Ossian’s Poems, querying the history and authenticity of the ‘Brooch of Lorn’ some sixteen years earlier. The Brooch of Lorne and its discovery had apparently already aroused some concern and doubt in 1824.
A later copy of the Lorne brooch, possibly in gold and gem set with Scottish stones, is illustrated in Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria: A Mirror to the World, by Charlotte Gere (2010), plate 455, being worn by Lord Lorne, eldest son of the Duke of Argyll.
The Mackay of Ugadale Brooch
This is a third brooch of the reliquary form, in this case silver gilt, with an oval rock crystal container. It is probably a nineteenth-century creation.
The National Museums of Scotland Elkington electrotype copy of the Ugadale Brooch
The best reference to the history of the Ugadale Brooch was written by ‘Cuthbert Bede’ (the pseudonym of author Edward Bradley) in his Argyll’s Highlands, or, MacCailein Mor and the Lords of Lorne … (1902). The brooch is illustrated and described as ‘centred by a cairngorm and surrounded by Scotch pebbles’ with further information as follows:
A Cantire [ that is, Kintyre] correspondent, to whom kinship to Bruce’s Mackay has afforded peculiar means of information, has given me a version of the story in which some new and interesting particulars will be found. He says, that when Bruce had entered Mackay’s house, the farmer offered him a seat at the supper-table. Bruce refused it; whereupon Mackay, bent upon hospitality, said that he must be seated, when Bruce replied, “Must is a word for kings to use to their subjects.” On which Mackay said, “Every man is a king in his own house.” When, on the morrow, Mackay had escorted his guest on his way”, Bruce presented his entertainer with the massive and curious silver brooch which is now in the possession of the Laird of Ugadale,” and asked him as to his possession and prospects, and what would be the greatest boon that could be conferred upon him. Mackay’s reply was, “To be possessor of the land that I now farm as tenant.” According to this version of the story, Bruce did not disclose him-self to Mackay at this interview; but, when he “enjoyed his ain again,” sent for the farmer to court, and there desired him to be seated. On Mackay’s hesitating to do this, Bruce said, ” Every man is a king in his own house;” whereupon Mackay recollected the occasion on which he himself had used the words, and then recognised the stranger whom he had befriended in the person of his King, who then presented him with the two farms of Ugadale and Arnicle in perpetuity.
The original grant is still preserved. It is a piece of sheep-skin, three inches square, bearing the words, “I, Robert the First, give the lands of Ugadale and Arnicle to Mackay and his heirs for ever.” On this grant the family held the lands till the reign of James IV., when it was formally confirmed by a crown -charter. The spot at Arnicle where Bruce and Mackay parted, is marked by a cairn, on which was an inscription, which, according to tradition, recorded the history of the event, but it is now illegible. The glen still bears the name of Mackay’s Glen. Ugadale is still a farm-house, as the Macneals reside at Lossit Park, near Campbelton. The late Laird of Ugadale was prevented from claiming his right to entertain his Sovereign, when the Queen visited Cantire, Sept. 17th, 1847, as she did not leave her yacht, which was moored for the night in Campbelton harbour. The Mackays retained possession of Ugadale and Arnicle till the end of the seventeenth century, when the estate passed into the hands of the Macneals, of Tirfergus and Lossit, by the marriage of Torquil, a younger son of Lauchlan MacNeill Buy, of Tirfergus, with Barbara Mackay’, heiress of Ugadale, from whom the present Laird and possessor of Bruce’s Brooch, Captain Hector Macneal, is lineally descended. The grave of Mackay, to whom Bruce gave the brooch and lands, is pointed out among the many interesting grave-stones that crowd the old burial-ground of Saddell Monastery, Cantire, where lie the bodies of “the mighty Somerled,” and of his descendant Angus Og Macdonald — the “Ronald” of “The Lord of the Isles” − who, with his ” men of Argile and Kintyr,” as Barbour says in his poem of “The Brus,” gave his king such important aid in the fight at Bannockburn, and who had also entertained him in his wanderings at his castle at Saddell. (Edited by John Mackay for The Celtic Magazine, volume I (1893), p. 46-48.)
An account written by Colonel Hector Macneal gives another version of the history of the discovery of the brooch: The Kintyre Antiquarian & Natural History Society, 7 July 1997, The History of the Brotche of Ugadale, by Col Hector Macneal.
A very ancient and beautiful brooch has been preserved in the family of the Mackays, now Macneals, of Ugadale, and it is said by tradition to have been given to an ancestor of that house by Robert the Bruce …
For many years after the year 1745, the Brooch had disappeared in the family, and was supposed to have been lost, but when the old house of Lossit was pulled down in 1824 for the purpose of rebuilding the present residence, as the workmen were employed in taking off the wainscoat in one of the upper rooms, a heavy object fell from behind a panel among the rubbish. The wright, supposing it to be a piece of stone or mortar, continued his work without notice; but when he left work, observing some object glitter on the floor, he discovered the Brooch, which being richly gilt, was little tarnished by time and damp. It is supposed that it had been concealed behind the wainscoat during the troublesome times of 1745. It was always known to the members of the family to be concealed somewhere, but the hiding place had been forgotten.
The Mackays retained possession of Ugadale and Arnicle till the end of the seventeenth century, when the estate passed into the hands of the Macneals of Lossit, by ther marriage of Catherine Mackay, only child of Daniel Mackay of Arnicle and Ugadale, with Torquil Macneal of Lossit, and brought the properties of Ugadale and Arnicle, along with the Brooch, into the family of Macneal of Lossit. The estate of Ugadale was sold in 1975.
This interesting relic is of silver, and very like the Brooch of Lorne. The centre stone is of crystal, surrounded with Scottish pebbles also set in silver. On its inner part the letters F.M’K have been rudely cut, being the initials of Farquar Mackay to whom it was given by the King. Her late Majesty, Queen Victoria, on seeing the Brooch, became so fascinated with it that she desired a copy to retain. Two copies were accordingly made, one of which was in the possession of the Queen, while the other lies on exhibition in the Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh.
The present holder of the Brooch is Colonel Hector Macneal of Lossit, who has kindly given us this account.
In 1825 George Macneale of Ugadale became a member of the Highland Society of Scotland, a Society formed in 1785 to promote the regeneration of rural Scotland and to promote Gaelic culture and the preservation of the language poetry and music of the Highlands.
The Ugadale brooch is of the same general form as the Lorne and Lochbuie brooches, yet the families of Mackay or Macneal have seemingly no Jacobite connections. It has only a nineteenth-century provenance, is silver gilt with a known electrotype copy by Elkington, all ,I suggest pointers as with the three watches above to a nineteenth-century historical re-creation.
The Wearing of the Tartan and the Plaid Brooch in the Nineteenth Century: Royalty and Others
The splendid portrait of John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore by Sir Joshua Reynolds, now in the National Galleries Scotland collection, was painted in 1765 in London where the Heritable Jurisdictions Act of 1746 did not apply. This suggests that for clan chiefs out of Scotland the wearing of ‘Highland Garb’ was still considered acceptable.
After Culloden the British continued to hunt down Jacobite survivors under the command of the Duke of Cumberland. The cruel and unconstitutional method of punishing the Highland rebels was stopped in August 1746 when the Civil Courts successfully asserted their supremacy over military licence and coercion. Parliament set itself to devise and adopt such measures as it thought would be calculated to assimilate the Highlands with the rest of the kingdom and deprive the Highlanders of the power to combine successfully in future against the established government.
To this effect Parliament, in 1746 and 1747, passed various Acts, by which it was ordained that the Highlanders should be disarmed, their peculiar dress laid aside, and their heritable jurisdictions and wardholdings abolished:
That from and after the first day of August, One thousand, seven hundred and forty-six, no man or boy within that part of Britain called Scotland, other than such as shall be employed as Officers and Soldiers in His Majesty’s Forces, shall, on any pretext whatever, wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland clothes (that is to say) the Plaid, Philabeg, or little Kilt, Trowse, Shoulder-belts, or any part whatever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland Garb; and that no tartan or party-coloured plaid of stuff shall be used for Great Coats or upper coats, and if any such person shall presume after the said first day of August, to wear or put on the aforesaid garment or any part of them, every such person so offending … For the first offence, shall be liable to be imprisoned for 6 months, and on the second offence, to be transported to any of His Majesty’s plantations beyond the seas, there to remain for the space of seven years. Abolition and Proscription of the Highland Dress 19 George II, Chap. 39, Sec. 17, 1746:
This Act was abolished on 1 July 1782 when royal assent was given to a proclamation issued in Gaelic and English that announced:
Listen Men. This is bringing before all the Sons of the Gael, the King and Parliament of Britain have forever abolished the act against the Highland Dress; which came down to the Clans from the beginning of the world to the year 1746. This must bring great joy to every Highland Heart. You are no longer bound down to the unmanly dress of the Lowlander. This is declaring to every Man, young and old, simple and gentle, that they may after this put on and wear the Truis [that is, trews], the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Striped Hose, as also the Belted Plaid, without fear of the Law of the Realm or the spite of the enemies. Repeal of the Act Proscribing the Wearing of Highland Dress 22 George III, Chap. 63, 1782
I am uncertain if this Act applied to both sexes or if women were exempt for the intervening thirty-six years. If the wearing of Highland dress was illegal for both sexes in Scotland, then the brooches of Lorne, Lochbuie and Ugadale (if it existed at this time) would have remained unworn and hidden away for nearly two generations.
The exact date of the design of the Inverness Tartan for Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, sixth son and ninth child of King George III and Queen Charlotte, and is unknown but it was probably created between 1810 and 1815 in order that that he could have his own ‘Highland Outfit’ created to re-enforce his Scottish title as Earl of Inverness at the outset of the Highland Revival which had resulted from Sir Walter Scott’s novels. Of the four known portraits of the Duke wearing the full tartan outfit, two originals and a copy remain, along with an additional engraving.
The Fishmongers’ Company database gives details of the history of this life-size portrait of the Duke of Sussex without a plaid brooch that hangs in Fishmongers’ Hall, London Bridge. Peter Eslea MacDonald’s Inverness: a Royal Tartan (online publication, 2014, rev. 2017) refers to this example of the dressing of a ‘Prince of the Blood’, the Duke of Sussex in full Highland regalia with the specially designed tartan. The slow but sure introduction of the plaid brooch into the male order of dress was achieved by the middle of the nineteenth century when worn by Prince Albert, Consort of Queen Victoria. The highest echelon of British fashionable society was the Royal Family. Portraits by Sir David Wilkie of the Duke of Sussex and George IV in full Scottish regalia created with the advice of Sir Walter Scott show them not to be wearing a plaid brooch before 1825.
The Duke of Sussex (1825), by Sir David Wilkie. The Prince is wearing a plaid brooch for the first time.
Wilkie’s portrait of George IV (1829) with the three eagle feathers in his Tam o’ Shanter bonnet, wearing the Royal Stewart tartan with full chieftain’s regalia, but no plaid brooch. The accounts for its manufacture survive in the Royal.
The greatest incentive for change came in 1822 when George IV visited Edinburgh; the first British monarch to do so since the Parliamentary Union of 1707, this with many disaffected Scots still unreconciled to the Hanover dynasty which had ousted the native Stuarts, and with English-Scottish relations still raw from the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. Walter Scott, already famous as a poet and antiquary and widely suspected to be the author of the Waverley novels, masterminded the occasion as a great reconciliation ritual between England and Scotland, with Scottish Highland culture prominently and proudly displayed as a distinctive feature of Scottish nationality. A pamphlet, published anonymously, but written by Walter Scott, makes various notes on how to dress in front of the sovereign:
Gentlemen may appear in any uniform to which they have a right; and for those who present themselves as Highlanders, the ancient costume of their country is always sufficient dress. Those who wear the Highland dress must, however, be careful to be armed in the proper Highland fashion, —steel-wrought pistols, broadsword, and dirk. It is understood that Glengarry, Breadalbane, Huntly, and several other Chieftains, mean to attend the levee with their tail on, i.e. with a considerable attendance of their gentlemen followers. And, without doubt, this will add very greatly to the variety, gracefulness, and appropriate splendour of the scene.
The proper object of the drawing-room is the presentation of ladies. Ladies are introduced to the King either by ladies who have already been at Court, or by the Lord in Waiting. The lady drops her train (about four yards in length) when she enters the circle of the King. It is held up by the Lord in Waiting till she is close to his Majesty. She curtsies. The King raises her up and salutes her on the cheek. She then retires, always facing the Sovereign till she is beyond the circle. A considerable difficulty is presented to the inexperienced by the necessity of retiring (without assistance) backwards. The ladies must exert their skill to move their trains quietly and neatly from behind them as they retire; and those who have never worn such dresses should lose no time in beginning to practise this. Most painful must the situation be of a young female who is so unfortunate as to make a faux pas on such an occasion. It was by no means so difficult when hoops were in fashion; but now that these have been discarded, there is nothing to assist in keeping the train off the ground. The ladies cannot require to be informed that they must all appear in Court plumes and fans. At least nine feathers must be in each head-dress. It is reported, that many Highland Ladies are to appear in tartan trains, according to their several clans. It is, however, by no means certain that this will have a graceful look. A scarf of tartan may do very well, but four or five yards of tartan satin sweeping the ground must produce an effect, to say the least, of rather a novel character. The ladies should undoubtedly keep their tartans for another occasion, viz.
The Highland Ball This, if we may believe report, is to be a great ball given by the nobility attending the Court, to his Majesty, in the Assembly Rooms. On this occasion, it is reported, that no Gentleman is to be allowed to appear in anything but the ancient Highland costume, with the exception of those in uniform. Mr Hunter is preparing a most magnificent dress of the royal tartan for his Majesty; and everyone who has ever seen the King, must be anxious to contemplate, his fine person in this noblest of all British costumes, ” the Garb of Old Gaul.”
Highlanders were said to be suspicious of money and preferred to carry what wealth they had in the form of jewellery and embellishments to their weapons. Solid silver buttons were one of their favourites and these would often be passed down from father to son. If the Highlander died away from home, it was important to him that he had enough valuables with him to pay for a good funeral and a headstone.
Cairngorm brooches, named after the stone at their centre obtained from the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland is derived from a rock crystal often erroneously called ‘smoky topaz’. Plaid brooches of circular form are derivative of the Viking turtle brooches originally found in pairs with a link to fasten the plaid as worn by women. This evolved into the large plate-sized brooch also worn by women as described by Martin in 1703 and illustrated by Pennant in 1774. The majority found today are late-nineteenth century, of a more feminine size, and rarely hallmarked.
Prince Albert in the Stewart Tartan with a plaid brooch see invoice. Painted by John Phillip, c. 1858. The Royal Collection
Clan chieftainess with feathered cockade in her Glengarry bonnet, plaid and brooch, circa 1875
The clan badge is the final development of the plaid brooch derived from clan chiefs which identified their clansmen with a metal plate bearing the clan crest which could be worn as a sign of allegiance. The usual method of fastening it to their clothing was with a leather belt and buckle and when it wasn’t being worn, the belt was coiled around it. That gave rise to the modern convention the belt and buckle clan badge worn by clan members the world over − the belt and buckle displaying their allegiance as either a smaller cap badge or a plaid brooch.
For clanswomen, the plaid is worn over the right shoulder across the breast and secured by a pin or small brooch on the shoulder. A chieftainess, the wife of a clan chief, or the wife of a colonel of a Scottish Regiment, would wear a slightly wider plaid over the left shoulder and secured with a brooch.
From 1840 shawls became more and more elaborate in design. The long shawl grew in size to cover the fashionable crinoline and became known as a plaid. Queen Victoria purchased several shawls in 1842. She preferred long shawls to square ones, and so set a fashion which endured until plaids in their turn went out of favour. It is the productions of this later period (1840-70) which are the typical Paisley shawl. Their appearance is too well known to need description. It will suffice to say that designs became more elaborate, tending at last to a stiffness never found in the Indian originals. At the same time the white-centred long shawl with its delicately coloured borders of simple pines, which came to be known as the ‘pale-end’ plaid, maintained its popularity and in its cashmere version formed part of the trousseau of every well-to-do bride. It was worn to church after the honeymoon and at christenings, and so was sometimes called a ‘kirking shawl’.
Pennanular brooches or cloak pins are said to have been worn by men and have an ancient history, going to Celtic and Viking times. The classic two are the Scottish medieval Hunterston brooch and the Irish Brooch of Tara which are stylistically associated.
The pin was stabbed through the folds of a cloak and then one end of the ring was pushed under the sharp end of the pin where it came out of the cloth. The ring was then turned until the pin tip lay securely locked in place beyond the raised bump of the decorated terminal.
In terms of historic Celtic revival , Prince Albert’s gold Brooch of Lochbuie is the earliest with a known history from 1842. The Royal Collection has two Celtic brooches that Prince Albert bought for Queen Victoria from West & Son of Dublin on their visit in 1849 (For one, see invoice) which were already being made in editions. Albert presented them to the Queen in November and at Christmas of that year: … such beautiful souvenirs, both made after those very curious old Irish ornaments we saw in the College in Dublin, one a silver shawl brooch, in smaller size than the original … was her reaction to the November gift. A later gift from Albert included a setting of a cairngorm he had picked up when walking in the Scottish Highlands, a more authentic type of gem than the brightly coloured foreign stones used in much Celtic Revival jewellery. (See invoice)
The Waterhouse Tara Brooch discovered in 1850
The discovery of the Tara Brooch in 1850 could therefore not have been better timed in terms of attracting public interest. The brooch was immediately recognised as the culminating masterpiece of the Irish development of large and superbly worked ornate brooches, a status it has retained ever since. The brooch was acquired by George Waterhouse, who used it as the centrepiece for displays of his replicas and imitations of Celtic brooches in his Dublin shop, also exhibiting it at The Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1855, as well as the Great Industrial Exhibition in Dublin which the Queen visited in 1853. (Victoria had already seen the brooch when it had been specially sent to Windsor Castle for her inspection).
Waterhouse invented the brooch’s name; in fact, it has nothing to do with the Hill of Tara, but the true circumstances of its find still remain unclear (essentially to avoid a claim by the landowner), and Waterhouse chose to link it to the site associated with the High Kings of Ireland, ‘fully aware that this would feed the Irish middle-class fantasy of being descended from them’. By the time the brooch passed to what is now the National Museum of Ireland in the 1870s, the term ‘Tara brooch’ had become a generic designation for Celtic Revival brooches, some of which were now being made by Indian workshops for export to Europe.
Replicas are very rarely fully accurate, and imitations of Celtic brooches have continued to be made to the present day, at varying levels of quality.
John Hawkins was born and educated in England. He has lived in Tasmania for 16 years. He is the author of “Australian Silver 1800–1900” and “Thomas Cole and Victorian Clockmaking” and “The Hawkins Zoomorphic Collection” as well as “The Al Tajir Collection of Silver and Gold” and over 100 articles on British and Australian Decorative Arts. He is a Past President and Life Member of The Australian Art & Antique Dealers Association. John has lived in Australia for 50 years and is 76 this year. In two of the world’s longest endurance marathons and in the only teams to ever complete these two events, he drove his four-in-hand team from Melbourne to Sydney in 1985 and from Sydney to Brisbane in 1988.