Flora MacDonald, Jacobite heroine, was the daughter of Ranald MacDonald of Milton on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, and his wife Marion, the daughter of Angus MacDonald.

Born: 1722, South Uist

Died: March 4, 1790, Isle of Skye

She as a child when her father died and her mother was abducted and married by Hugh MacDonald of Armadale,

Skye. Flora was brought up under the care of the chief of her clan, the MacDonalds of Clanranald, and was partly

educated in Edinburgh. Throughout her life she was a practising Presbyterian.

Flora was born at Milton on South Uist where her father was a tenant farmer. She was schooled in

Edinburgh and was visiting her brother in South Uist in 1746 when she was asked to assist Bonnie Prince

Charlie, on the run after the defeat of the Jacobite Uprising at the Battle of Culloden. The plan was that he was to be isguised and dressed

in a frock as "Betty Burke" an Irish maidservant. She thought the scheme "fantastical" but was

persuaded to go ahead, maybe by the Prince himself. They sailed from Benbecula on 27 June 1746 to Skye. They hid

overnight in a cottage and then travelled, over the next few days, overland to Portree, at one point avoiding

some redcoat government troops. When he left to travel to the island of Raasay and a ship to take

him back to France, the Prince gave Flora a locket with his portrait, saying "I hope, madam, that we may

meet in St James's yet" but she never saw him again.

"lora was arrested and imprisoned in Dunstaffnage Castle and then spent some time in the Tower of London but was

released in 1747 under a general amnesty. She married Allan Macdonald of Kingsburgh, a kinsman, in 1750.

Block House She then emigrated to North Carolina with her husband. While initially successful farmers, Flora's

husband joined a regiment of Royal Highland Emigrants supporting the Hanoverians at the start of the

American War of Independence. He was captured at the battle of Moore's Creek and, after a spell in

captivity, was expelled to Nova Scotia. They lived for a time in 1779 in a block house there - it is now the

last remaining building of this type in the province (see illustration). She then returned to Skye with

her husband.

She later met Samuel Johnson, the English essayist during his tour of Scotland with James Boswell. Johnson

described her as "a woman of middle stature, soft features, elegant manners and gentle presence." He also

said of her: "Her name will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with


Flora and her husband took up residence in Skye and Flora died at Kingsburgh on Skye in 1790, in the same bed in

which Bonnie Prince Charlie (and Samuel Johnson) had slept. [2]

She grew up hearing many stories about Scotland’s past, including the story of King James II, a Catholic king of

England and Scotland, who was removed from the throne and exiled in 1688 by Protestants who feared the

influence of a Catholic king. Many Scots remained hopeful that someday King James’s son would return to lead

Scotland. This son, James Francis Edward Stuart (called the Old Pretender), tried to regain the throne but

failed. The burden then fell to the Old Pretender’s son, Charles Edward Stuart, called Bonnie Prince


The Scots who wished for the return of a Scottish king called themselves Jacobites, in honor of King James. They

talked about the day when Bonnie Prince Charlie would return to Scotland and regain the throne. You can

imagine the stories and songs that young Flora MacDonald heard as some of her clanspeople looked forward to

the day of young Prince Charlie’s arrival!

In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie did arrive in Scotland and quietly organized supporters. Some clans participated,

and others waited to see what would happen. After a few successful battles, Prince Charles and the Jacobites

suffered a horrible defeat in a bloody battle at Culloden. Following the battle, King George II of

England issued orders to torture and punish those who had helped the prince. And Prince Charlie needed to

get out of Scotland quickly before he was killed!

Flora’s family encouraged her to help get the prince to safety. This was a dangerous but brave act. According to

legend, she and several other clanswomen secretly created a woman’s costume for the prince. Then, Flora

traveled with Prince Charlie, whom she disguised as her maid, Betty Burke, through the Highland country and

across the sea to the Isle of Skye.

(Charles had been on the run for two months before he met Flora. Both her fiance Allan MacDonald and her foster-

father, Captain Hugh MacDonald of Sleat, were 'Red-Coats' (members of King George's forces) and

apparently Flora was unwilling to help until she was told the escape plan had actually been made by her step

father and agreed to help.

The Prince was disguised as Flora's 'Irish Maid' - 'Betty Burke' and they made the famous journey by rowing boat

to Skye evading capture on the way and eventually landing between Uig and Mogstad in Kilmuir, at what is

now called Rudha Phrionnsa (Prince's Point). Flora then aided the Prince in his escape to Portree where

they parted company never to meet again. From here on Stuart was able to obtain passage to Frnce and

successfully escaped.

Flora was arrested for her part in the escape, and imprisoned at Dunstaffnage Castle, Oban and briefly in the

tower of London, she was released in 1747.)


The English king’s men followed them closely and gave them no rest. The trip was dangerous, and they spent many

days tired, hungry, and soaking wet from the Scottish rains. Flora could have left the prince and

returned home, but she refused. After several weeks, the prince continued on his own and found a ship that

took him to France. Flora returned home to her clan.

Once home, Flora was arrested by the English and taken on a long sea journey to London, where she awaited trial.

Conditions on the ship were horrible, and Flora must have been very frightened and homesick. On board,

however, she charmed the crew, and the captain of the ship wrote a letter requesting that Flora be

kept out of jail, since she was such a nice and charming girl. The letter worked, and Flora was kept in a private

home with several other clanspeople, rather than in a jail. [3]

Flora MacDonald died on 4th March 1790, her death was deeply mourned by the people of Skye and following a large

funeral she was buried at Kilmuir in a sheet in which Bonnie Prince Charlie had slept as her shroud.

The cottage Flora and her family lived in for several years is situated in the grounds of Flodigarry Hotel. The

hotel itself was built as a private house in 1895 by Alexander Livingstone MacDonald adjacent to the

cottage where his legendary ancestor had once lived.

Flora Macdonald's cottage, which has remained occupied over the centuries, has been completely renovated in

recent years and provides comfortable accomodation in a unique setting - a popular choice for Flodigarry

Hotel's guests."[4]

[1] www.google.com.au

[2] http://www.rampantscotland.com/famous/blfamflora.htm

[3] http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/workshops/womenshistory/flora.html

[4] http://www.flodigarry.co.uk/flora_history.asp