Two Colonial Women

Flora MacDonald

Flora Macdonald*oil on canvas*74 x 61 cm*signed verso: Ramsay pinxit anno 1749

In researching to write New Caledonia: A Song of America, I did a great deal of reading, visiting places through North Carolina and South Carolina, and consulting with experts, in order to write an authentic tale of what it was like to live in the French and Indian War-American Revolution period.  In this research, I encountered many stories about fascinating people who then became characters in my novel.  I would like to share some of the research I found on two very important women in our history and thus in my novel, Flora MacDonald and Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson.

Thus, I am going to tell you the story of two women. In many respects, their stories are very similar.  Both of them came to America: one because her husband was stationed in the Colonies; the other because she and her husband wanted religious freedom.  Both of them had sons named Robert.  Each of these sons was captured during the American Revolution and each was ultimately exchanged. But for all of these similarities, these women were different and ended up on different sides of the War and their outcomes diverged because of the side with whom they were aligned.

 

  1. Flora MacDonald

 

When we last left Flora MacDonald, she had just helped Neill McEachern to spirit Bonnie Prince Charles to France after the disastrous loss at the Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746.  (See my first novel in the Caledonia series, Caledonia; A Song of Scotland.) Now, we are going to tell you the rest of her story.

The loose talk of the boatmen, who had rowed Bonnie Prince Charles to the Isle of Skye when he posed as Flora MacDonald’s maid, brought suspicion on Flora MacDonald.   She was arrested and brought to London for aiding the Prince’s escape.  First, she languished in the Tower of London fearing that she would join Lord Lovat on the hangman’s gallows.  For another two years, she was held by her gaoler at his home in London.  Then she was shown mercy and released, after the Act of Indemnity was passed in 1747.

On 6 November 1750, at the age of 28, she married Allan MacDonald, a captain in the army and the eldest son of Alexander MacDonald VI. She subsequently was to bear parents to five sons and two daughters.  Upon the death of her father-in-law in 1772, the family moved into the MacDonald family estate at Kingsburgh on the Isle of Skye.

American Revolution

In 1774, her husband was stationed with his regiment, the 84th Regiment of Foot, also known as the Royal Highland Emigrants, in North Carolina.   Legend has it that Flora MacDonald exhorted the Loyalist force at Cross Creek, North Carolina (near present day Fayetteville) during its battle with the Whigs.  Later, in 1776, Captain MacDonald and his son Robert were captured when the British were defeated at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.

Thereafter, Flora and her family were ousted by Patriots from their planation near Cross Creek.   After they were taken prisoner, Flora remained in hiding while the American Patriots ravaged her family plantation and took all her possessions.  She and her children spent two years living outdoors in the vicinity of her planation.  Some Scots, in memory of her help to the Prince, brought her food and other goods to tide her through this terrible time.

After nearly two years, her husband, Captain Allan MacDonald, and her son, Robert, were exchanged. But unfortunately for Flora, her trials and tribulations did not end there, for her husband and her son were immediately transported to Fort Edward in Windsor, Nova Scotia.  There Captain MacDonald was given command of the 2nd Battalion of the 84th Regiment of Foot.

It was about another year before Flora could obtain passage for her family and her to Ft. Edwards. Unfortunately, by the time Flora arrived in Canada, her husband and her son had been transported back to England.

In 1779, Flora returned home to Scotland in a merchant ship. During the passage, the ship was attacked by an American Privateer. She refused to leave the deck during the attack and was wounded in the arm.

Flora resided at the homes of various family members, including Dunvegan castle, her daughter Anne having married Major General Alexander Macleod. After the war, in 1784, Allan also returned and the family regained possession of the estate in Kingsburgh.

She died at Kingsburgh on the Isle of Skye in 1790, at the age of 68. She is buried in the  Kilmuir Cemetery.

Next week, I will relate the tale of Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson.

 

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