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Funding the Invasion of England: September/ November 1745

Always a Problem!

It must always be a problem finding sufficient funds for the invasion of another country. The soon-to-be-King may be full of manana-style promises but in the meantime supporters need to attend lavish parties and soldiers need to be fed. The option of inviting the soldiery to loot and pillage is only open if you are passing through a foreign land and not caring for local support.

Bonnie Prince Charlie, like all other invaders, faced just this problem. What he needed as he passed into England was not Scottish banknotes or cheques but gold or silver specie which had currency south of the border. The French promised some gold in support and indeed delivered on occasion, but they were wholly unreliable.

The Prince had been fortunate that at Cockenzie House on September 21st he had captured 5,000 in General Sir John Cope's baggage train.

But considerably more was required and his Secretary John Murray of Broughton hatched a fine wee plan. He notified the directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland that unless they obliged he would plunder their personal estates. He was not seeking a gift in support, just gold and silver specie for cheques and notes already in his possession.

John Campbell was expected to resolve the matter

At the time John Campbell, whose clan was not in support of the Prince, was the Chief Cashier of the Royal Bank. Even if he was willing to assist there was a snag. When it had been learnt that the Prince was headed for Edinburgh all banks had lodged their specie in the Castle - which remained in Hanoverian hands throughout the Prince's occupation of the city. To get such specie out of the Castle in the sum of some 10,000 + required that Campbell either had to fool or connive with the Governors thereof. Whichever it was, the outcome was satisfactory for both The Prince and the directors. He got the specie and the directors' estates went unscathed.

In fact it also surely suited Generals Guest and Preston at the Castle. Once he had the specie the Prince was ready to leave Edinburgh never to return.

Royal Bank came clean in 1995

In 1995 the Royal Bank took the relevant records and papers from their archives and with assistance from John Gibson produced the transcript of their archive shown below [ISBN 0 9504676 3 4]

click on images to enlarge

The Trustees of the Battle of Prestonpans 1745 Heritage Trust have perhaps wisely resolved to bank with The Royal - they can never quite know when they might need assistance.

Published Date: December 27th 2007

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