Wednesday, April 28, 2010
An Unsung Hero
There are many people in the Jacobite Uprising of '45 that do not get the credit they should. Far too many brave men and women go unremembered in history, and it's usually the normal people who bring their stories down through the ages.
Today, I am going to talk about a man named Roderick MacKenzie
Near Inverness, by the River Moriston there is a cairn with the inscription:
At this spot in 1746 died Roderick MacKenzie an officer in the army of Charles Edward Stuart. Of the same size and of similar resemblance to his Royal Prince when surrounded and overpowered by the troops of the Duke of Cumberland gallantly died in attempting to save his fugitive leader from further pursuit.
Roderick MacKenzie was a Jacobite and, as the plaque said, he resembled Bonnie Prince Charlie. One day when he was going down the road, he met up with an English patrol. Seeing his likeness to the Bonnie Prince, they overpowered him and killed him. As Roderick lay dying, he was reported to have said, "You have slain your prince," making them think they really had killed Charlie, and thus keeping the redcoats from their chase a little bit longer.
The redcoats cut off poor Roderick's head and brought it back to London for identification, hoping to collect the 30,000 pound reward for the head of Prince Charlie. It is a well known fact that, though there was a huge reward for Prince Charlie, no one ever betrayed him. Too many times before in history had Scotland betrayed it's heroes (like in the cases of Wallace and Montrose) and the people responsible for it had gone down in history as quislings and traitors and were not mentioned without being spat at. No one wanted to be the one to go down in history for being the person who betrayed the Bonnie Prince, so they helped Charlie hide and escape instead of betraying him for the huge reward offered by the crown. Roderick MacKenzie felt this way, and he gave his life for his prince.
Roderick's friends found his body and buried him close to where he fell by the Stream of the Merchant. (This was possibly named for Roderick, him being a merchant.) The grave oridinally had no headstone, but the Clan MacKenzie Society, who have a commemoration there every year to honor the hero, donated a plaque to tell about what happened to Roderick.
"Here in consecrated ground rest the mortal remains of Roderick MacKenzie, merchant of Fisherow and son of an Edinburgh Jeweller, slain by Cumberland's Redcoat troops late in July 1746, three months after the Battle of Culloden, because he selflessly encouraged them to mistake him for Prince Charles Edward Stuart, whom he closely resembled in age, stature and colouring and whom he served faithfully to the end."
Roderick's story is a wonderful example of true Scottish loyalty, and though not much is known about him, this little bit of a story, is, I think, a wonderful addition to the Jacobites' history.