The History of Leith

November 1, 2007

Document of the Month November 2004

This is a notebook kept by George Gerard of Cragiebrae in Aberdeenshire to record personal notes, many of them religious in nature (GD1/768/9). However, he sometimes recorded details of contemporary Scottish affairs in the mid 18th century.

These include a threat of invasion by France and, on the pages here, the progress of Prince Charles Edward Stewart, the Young Pretender. Gerard indicates in these pages that he does not support the Jacobite rebellion and laments the defeat of General John Cope and the Hanoverian army at ‘The bloddy Battle of Gladsmure’.

The battle of Gladsmure is now better known as the Battle of Prestonpans (21 September 1745). On a later page he mentions the reverses encountered by the Prince and reports that Cumberland fought the ‘Rebels’ at ‘Culoden near Invernss and routed them quite.’

Parts of Gerard’s diary are difficult to read, particularly the lower section of the first page reproduced here. Despite the occasional difficulties in deciphering handwriting, such diaries, journals and notebooks such as George Gerard’s are an excellent source of historical material.

Although the information contained within may be speculation or be coloured by the prejudices of the diarist, they reveal the reactions of people living through historic events in a way that factual and objective information cannot.

George Gerard of Cragiebrae’s notebook came to the National Archives of Scotland as part of a varied collection donated by the executors of Mrs MacQueen-Ferguson, catalogued as GD1/768.

As well as this book the collection includes seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century material, some of which deals with international trade and other business matters.

Transcript of part of GD1/768/9

August 23rd 1745 years: G.G. [George Gerard]

What man is he that liveth heare and Death shall never see. Or from the powr of the Grave what man his soul can free. What time my soul is overwhelmed and in perplexity lead me on Lord unto the rock that Higher is than I Remember to dying

September 12th 1745 then apeared prince Charles on his way from Pearth and on the 17th stormd and Entered Edinburgh and on the 21st on Saturday happened the bloddy battle of Gladsmuire near Seatoun here wherein we lost all our Baggag and 400 men killed 1400 taken prisoner a sad and Deplorable day for us which was all thought to be oweing to the misconduct of Gl. Cope….

December 20th 1745 …campbells armie went through this Countrie and the Rebels fled after Gathering above �60 sterling of Sess (tax)

December 24th 1745 at Inverourie happened that unhappies skirmish betwixt Lord Lown [Lowdoun?] and the McLeuds and Monroe in which the last was defeated and lost their baggage…

About 20th Jary. An engagement happened at Falkirk hauch in which the Prince lost 1,000 and 100 prisoners Feby they lost at Stirling Castle 4000 they came all north to Banff.

On the first of January 1746 prince Charles cam Back from England and Greatly opressed the South of Scotland and fought at Faulkirk this same month and lost 400 men and siged Stirling instantly after and lost 5 or 600 and all their cannon and Baggag and came all North to Banff and went yt [that] day to Speysside caring [carrying] a great deal of men allong with them and camped there. In February following the Duke of Cumberland cam to Abdn [Aberdeen] and in April marcht after the Rebels to the West and fought them at Culoden near Invernss and Routed them quite upon the 16th of aprile 1746 To the Great Relife of all who wish well to the present Goverment and the protestan Religion and Liberty …

Lord teach us so to number our days that we may aply our hearts unto wisdom George Gerard…

Source Scottish Parliament

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