Friday, April 9, 2010

White Roses and Blue Bonnets

I've already told about where the Jacobites got their name from and all that. Today I am going to talk about the symbol they used. The popular symbol for the Jacobites, was a white rose (The White Rose of York) adopted from the heraldic symbol used in the War of the Roses. When worn it was made into a cockade of ribbon and usually worn in the bonnet with the clan badge and representative plant so that everyone could see that as well as being, say, a MacDonald, the wearer was also a Jacobite. Anyone not a Jacobite (usually the Lowlanders were Whigs) would wear a black cockade in their bonnets, saying that they were for England. Most of the time, if you look at English military uniforms from the 17 and 18 hundreds, you can see that they wear a black cockade in their hats. The white rose today is still used as a representative flower in Scotland, while the red rose is usually a symbol of England. There is a story that the white rose originated as the Jacobite symbol when Bonnie Prince Charlie picked a wild rose and stuck it in his hat. 

The Jacobites also made famous the blue bonnets. They wore these with the white cockades and these became known as the typical look for the Jacobite armies of 1745. I have not as yet been able to find where the blue bonnets originated, if anyone has any information on this, please share. I do know that in heraldry, the color blue represents loyalty, so that may have something to do with it since the Jacobites were loyal to the true king of Scots. 

Here's your song for the day. The White Cockade, sung by The Corries! Enjoy!

I'll be back next week with more posts as we approach the Battle of Culloden, have a good weekend!

Slainte, Hazel


  1. Most interesting post. As a student myself of Jacobite history (from an Irish perspective), I dont think that there is anything overtly "Jacobite" about the colour Blue. Indeed the Jacobite colour is "red" (and the Wild Geese Irish regiments in the French service (my field of alleged expertise) wore red uniforms. You will be aware that they fought at Falkirk and Culloden (both sites I have visited....the latter on about five occasions)
    Blue is identified as a "Scottish" colour> Certainly the term "bluebonnet" was a slang term for Scots from the early and mid 1600s which predates Jacobitism.
    Certainly the Covenanteers wore blue bonnets and so did Dundees Army.
    Look forward to reading more

    slán go foill.

  2. Thank you for the information. I know that Dundee's army wore them as well, hence the line in the song "and it's up wi' the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!" I always like to learn a wee bit more that I didn't know! Come back again soon!

  3. God save the King over the Water! Francis II King.

  4. 'Blue Bonnets Over The Border' comes from Scott's 'The Monastery', set at the time of the 16thC Scottish Reformation. It is introduced there as an 'ancient air', which brings the likes of Flodden to mind (yet it states that the Borderers are fighting for a Queen, not James IV, making it unclear whether it refers to any historical conflict). There is no direct connection with Jacobites, though Scott with his Jacobite sympathies would be well aware of the significance of the 'blue bonnet' as a symbol of Scotland's heritage.

  5. Thanks for the information, Kim! Blue Bonnets were worn for a long while before actual "Jacobites" were around and Scott with his poetic flair was not always incredibly accurate, though he meant well ;-)

  6. I will always think of a blue bonnet as Scottish, come what may.