Grand River Branch

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada





Selected Reprints from the

Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches

"The Scottish Jacobite Heroine : Flora MacDonald U.E.L. (1722-1790)"

Angela E.M. Files, February 1992, Vol.4 No.1, Pages 10-12


Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing;

Onward, the sailors cry;

Carry the lad that's born to be King

Over the sea to Skye.

Skye Boat Song - Harold Edwin Boulton

1859 - 1935


  Flora MacDonald, Jacobite1  heroine and Loyalist, was the daughter of Ranald and Marion MacDonald of Milton, in the island of South Uist (Hebrides).  Her brother, Ranald, died young in an accident.

 Flora MacDonald : 1722 - 1790

 Another brother, Angus, on reaching his twenty-first birthday, inherited the tacks2 of Milton and Ballivanoch, following the death of their father in 1724.  Flora's mother later married Hugh MacDonald, tackman of Kingsburg and they had four children; Annabella, James and two younger sons.

  There were five branches of the great clan Donald who intermarried and bore the same Christian names.  Scots designated these individuals by their estates or tacks.  Flora's father was known as Milton and her stepfather as Kingsburg.

  In June 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, "the young Pretender" or "Bonnie Prince Charles", 1720 - 1788, grandson of James II of Great Britain and Ireland, took refuge after the battle of Culloden, April 16, 1746, in Benbecula in the Hebrides, where Flora was living, and his companion, Captain O'Neill, asked for her help.  Brave Flora obtained a pass to the mainland for herself, a man servant, an Irish spinning

 Charles Edward Stuart, 'Bonnie Prince Charles' : 1720 - 1788

maid, Betty Burke, and a crew of six men.  The "Bonnie Prince" was disguised as Betty Burke.  The party landed at Portree and escaped.  Afterwards, the boatmen's talk brought suspicion on Flora and she was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London.  By the Act of Indemnity (1747), Flora was freed from prison.

  On November 6, 1750, Flora MacDonald married Allan MacDonald, "a tall well-built handsome man, with black hair, high nose, and large widely spaced eyes"3, at Armadale.  Allan had done military service in the independent British company of the Duke of Cumberland.  During peace time, Allan and Flora lived on the tack of Flodigarry and Kingsburg, Scotland.

Children of Flora and Allan MacDonald

1. Charles, born 1751, Flodigarry, served in East India, returned to Skye, married Isabella MacDonald, daughter of MacDonald of Aird.
2. Anne, born 1754, Flodigarry, married 1770, Lieutenant Alexander MacLeod of Glendale, son of Chief Norman MacLeod.
3. Alexander, born 1755, Flodigarry, went to North Carolina with his parents.  He served in the light infantry and died at sea in 1779, from wounds sustained at the Battle of Moore's Creek.
4. Ranald, born 1756, Flodigarry, Lieutenant in the marines.  He died after the Battle of Saints, Guadeloupe and Dominica, on sunken ship Ville de Paris, April 12, 1781.
5. James, born 1757, Flodigarry, went to North Carolina, served as Lieutenant in the North Carolina Highlanders and later as a Captain in Tarleton's British Legion.
6. John, born 1759, Kingsburg, won a cadetship in the Bombay Infantry.  He was later transferred to the Bengal Engineers and was a surveyor.  John married a widow who died after the birth of their second child.  His second wife was the daughter of Sir Robert Chambers, a judge in India.  John retired on half pay as an officer in Exeter, England.  He had seven sons and two daughters.  John died on September 20, 1790.
7. Frances (Fanny), born 1766, Kingsburg, remained in Scotland, while her parents went to America.  She married Donald MacDonald, son of Annabella and Alexander MacDonald of Cuidreach.

  In 1774, Flora MacDonald and her husband, Allan, sailed from Campbelltown, Kintyre, Scotland, on the Bristol and arrived in the port of Brunswick, North Carolina in August and soon settled on a plantation in Anson County, North Carolina.

Across Cross Creek (now Fayette, N.C.) along the upper reaches of the Cape Fear River, there was a large colony of emigrants from the Scottish Highlanders, predisposed to support the King, who by the Act of Union 1707, was both monarch of England and Scotland.4

  From the start of the American Revolution, Governor Josiah Martin of North Carolina, recruited Loyalists to join with British troops in order to restore royal rule in the colony...

Martin's army included an impressive number of loyal Highland Scots as well as a body of Black Pioneers, free slaves and slaves recruited for service on British ships in North Carolina waters.5

  As a trusted Loyalist, Allan MacDonald was appointed to the rank of Brigadier-General by Governor Martin.  Flora MacDonald, who had assured George III that she would have helped him in distress, just as she had befriended Bonnie Prince Charles, rode about the countryside urging neighbours to fight for the British against the ungrateful Patriots.  Many of the Highlanders joined the Royal Highland Emigrants under Major Donald MacDonald.

  On February 27, 1776, Col. Caswell and Col. Alexander Lillington with 1.100 Minutemen faced MacDonald's 1,600 Highlanders at Widow Moore's Creek Bridge.

Under cover of darkness the Patriots removed the floor of the bridge, greased the runners with soft soap and tallow.  About an hour before sunrise the Highlanders attempted to cross the bridge but most of them fell into the creek.  Patriots opened fire and 32 Scots were killed and 850 were taken prisoner.6

  Flora MacDonald and her husband, Allan were captured at Moore's Creek.  Flora was paroled and took no further part in the Revolution.

  In 1778, Flora MacDonald sailed for Halifax to be near her husband's 84th Regiment (Royal Highland Emigrants) at Windsor, Nova Scotia.  By October 1779, she decided to sail on the Lord Dunmore for London and return to her homeland, the Isle of Skye.

  When the American revolution ended in 1783, the 84th Regiment was disbanded.  Allan MacDonald received a regimental grant of land, 3,000 acres on the Kennetcook River in Nova Scotia.  For his financial claim, he received only 440, which was not sufficient to care for his large tract and eight indentured servants.  He also returned to the Isle of Skye.

  Flora MacDonald died on March 5, 1790.  She is buried at Kingsburgh MacDonalds at Kilmuir on the coast of Loch Snizort, sixteen miles north of Kingsburgh.  Alan MacDonald died on September 20, 1792, a soldier, who in old age, lost the use of both legs due to his imprisonment during the American Revolution.

  At Kilmuir, a monument, on Iona Cross, was erected in honour of Flora MacDonald.  The cross bears the words of Dr. Samuel Johnson, the English lexicographer and essayist.

Her name will be mentioned in history,

and if courage and fidelity be virtues,

mentioned with honour.

1Jacobites were partisans of James II of England or of the Stuarts after the revolution of 1688.

2Tacks were large grants of land received from Highland chiefs, which were partly farmed and rented to smaller farmers.

3Elizabeth Gray Vining, Flora, A Biography, (New York, N.Y.:  J.B. Lippincott, 1966), 102.

4Christopher Hibbert, Redcoats and Rebels - War of America, 1770 -1781, (Glasgow: Grafton Books, 1990), 103.

5William S. Powell, North Carolina, A History, (Nashville, Tenn.: W.W. Morton, 1977), 62.

6Ibid., 63.

 Flora MacDonald's Monument at Kilmuir, Trotternish, Skye






  Lieutenant Colonel Cooper is married to the former Evelyn Yule of Perth, Ontario, and they have two sons and two daughters.  Recently the Coopers have become first time grandparents.


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