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The Jacobites

The word Jacobite comes from Jacobus, the latin form of James, so literally meant a supporter of the line of James. James VI of Scotland, from the House of Stewart (or Stuart, the French spelling) was crowned King of England in 1603 and the Stuarts reigned over both Scotland and England until the death of Queen Anne in 1714.

James VII (and II) was forced to abdicate in favour of his daughter, Mary, and her husband William of Orange. James' son was still a minor when Anne succeeded and, at her death, he was passed over for the Protestant George I of Hanover. Two Jacobite risings on behalf of James and his son, Charles Edward Stuart - popularly known as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' - failed to overthrow the next Hanoverian George II.

By the time of the death of Bonnie Prince Charlie's brother, Henry, Cardinal Duke of York, support for the Jacobite cause had waned and few regarded anyone but George III as the natural successor.

The West Highland Museum has an outstanding collection of objects relating to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Cause. Have a look at our featured objects and enjoy their stories.

We are finding that fans of the Outlander books and TV series are making our Museum a 'must see' destination to learn more about the Jacobites and we can give them an excellent insight. As a guide we have produced this Outlander leaflet.

Now you see me ...

After the the Battle of Culloden in 1746, it was treasonable to support the Stuart claim to the throne. When the ladies and servants had left the room after dinner, the loyal friends of Prince Charles would place the tray on the table and raise their glasses in a toast to his likeness reflected in the cylinder (or in a goblet of claret). If there was a danger of interruption and discovery, the device could quickly be dismantled and the tray would appear as a meaningless blur, or be replaced by a similar decoy tray.

The artist is unknown and there is no record of the portrait's owners. It was discovered by chance in a London shop by the founders of the Museum and is one of our best known exhibits.

Secret portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie

Click on the image above for a larger version. A head and shoulders portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie can be seen reflected at the bottom of the reflective cylinder.