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Flora Macdonald


Flora Macdonald
(1725—1789)

Jacobite heroine

Flora Macdonald gained lasting fame by helping the fugitive Bonnie Prince Charlie evade capture. She took him from Benbecula to Skye, although she was unhappy that he was disguised as a woman. As a gift Charles gave Flora a gold locket with his portrait. Flora was later arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London until the Jacobite amnesty of 1747. She later entertained and favourably impressed Dr Johnson on his Hebridean tour. She returned home after a few years in America. Her shroud was the sheet Prince Charles and Dr Johnson had slept in.

More About Flora Macdonald. Fiona  MacDonald was a genuine heroine of Scottish history. While Bonnie Prince Charlie was there for the throne, she was there only to do what she could, without hope of reward. Flora, unusually tall tor her time, was orphaned at the age of two and adopted by Lady Clanranald, the wife of the clan chieftain. She was handy when the '45 rebellion failed. She took Charlie under her wing, dressed him in female clothes and called him Betty Bourk. The prince was even taller than Flora and the disguise was fairly crazy, but they got away with it and escaped together to Skye.

There was nothing romantic in their relationship, Charlie wasn't greatly drawn to the female sex. And Flora wasn't even a Jacobite, but she grew to like the prince and didn't let him down. The prince did escape and it was largely thanks to her. She was sentenced to imprisonment, first in a ship in the Leiths Roads and then in London, but she was let out after a year. During all that time she was a national heroine, which must have been some comfort.

Five years after the '45 rebellion, she married MacDonald of Kingsburgh, the son of a clan chief. Her adventures were not over. Her husband emigrated to North Carolina and became a brigadier general in the American War of Independence. He was captured and thrown in jail and Flora came back to Scotland on her own in 1779. A couple of years later he rejoined her, and they made a home at Kingsburgh.

Flora was a fine adventurous lady who was good with people. She lived to the ripe old age of 68 and she earns her place in history because she was very handy when she was desperately needed.