Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flora MacDonald

"Flora MacDonald will almost invariably feature in any discussion on Skye's history. A South Uist girl, she moved to Skye on her mother's remarriage and seems to have been taken under the wing of Lady Margaret MacDonald who arranged for Flora to complete her schooling in Edinburgh. In 1746, during a visit to South Uist, she learned that the fugitive Charles Edward Stuart, otherwise known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender, was in hiding on the island and wanted to get over to Skye. So, as everyone now knows, Flora took him over in a small boat, the Prince being disguised (in flowered calico gown, quilted petticoat, cap, hood, mantle and gloves) as Betty Burke, an Irish maid. Flora's part in the Prince's escape became known and she was duly arrested and even imprisoned for a short time in the Tower of London, but she was released in 1747, subsequently emigrating to America with her husband. Even then, Flora's travels were not over; the call of the Hebrides proved too strong and in 1779 she returned, eventually dying peacefully in Skye in 1790. As a reward for her troubles Charles gave Flora a locket containing his portrait, but he never tried to communicate with her again, an apparent ingratitude that did not go down well on the island."



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