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Allan Cameron of Clunes .. did he die in Tranent Churchyard September 20th 1745?

From New Zealand, an enquiry ...

Just as the Trustees of the 1745 Battle Trust in Prestonpans started exploring the possibility of linking up with Clans assembling at King's Park for the July 2009 Homecoming, an enquiry arrived from New Zealand. It came from Denis Cameron, President and Commissioner since 2005 in those parts for Clan Cameron, and naturally planning to be here in July 2009 along with some 26 'Anzacs'. He wrote:

".... I live at Tauranga and one of my gt gt gt gt grandfathers, namely Allan Cameron Younger of Clunes, was killed at Prestonpans in 1745. From what we have been told he was killed when a cannon ball landed in a group of soldiers who were sheltering in the grounds of a churchyard.

Allan was born in 1714 so he was 31 when he died at Prestonpans leaving his 30 year old wife Janet Grant of Sheuglie with three children - from one of which I am descended.

In 2009 we will be in Edinburgh over July while visiting the 'Welcome Home the Clans' ceremony at Edinburgh and was wondering if you can tell me more about the disaster of Allan being killed at Prestonpans and whether the church is still there please. Anything to do with the Scots versus Cope would be just wonderful - but I am hoping you will have something about those who were killed at Prestonpans especially Allan Cameron of Clunes".

Sounds like a challenge we can meet!

The tale Denis had heard through the generations seems to fit well together with known facts, except for the notion that Allan was killed when cannon fire into Tranent Church yard on September 20th greatly distressed the Camerons sent there by O'Sullivan. The Camerons certainly took injuries but no deaths were reported until the following day, in the battle itself. The Trustees responded:

"Yes, the incident at Tranent Churchyard is well documented. Whilst not aware of the names of those Highlanders involved there, no doubt the Muster Roll of the '45 will in due course yield what you need to know.

Mr Grosset, a Commissioner for Customs, scouting for Cope spotted that a detachment of the Camerons had been sent by Colonel O'Sullivan [one of The Prince's commanders], to occupy the ravine below Tranent Churchyard, and they opened fire on him. He returned and reported to Cope who instructed one of his officers, Colonel Whiteford, at 4pm on the afternoon of September 20th, to advance two of the galloper guns [1.5 pounders] and to open fire at 830 yards thereby disabling the Camerons. Lord George Murray [the senior commander for The Prince] then ordered their immediate withdrawal at the request of Cameron of Lochiel, and had an animated altercation with O'Sullivan in the middle of Tranent village shortly afterwards. Lochiel is remembered for remarking that 'nothing could so dishearten men than to be placed in an open exposed part where they could not advance'. One suspects your ancestor would be one of those in the 'disablement'.

A Church stands to this day but not the original. There are two images of what it was like, the one shown below noticeably with a spire and the other without. Both however include the same fine view across to Preston, Preston Pans and the field of battle.

click on picture to enlarge

It was re-built in the early 19th century leaving the scene of the skirmish intact to this day. And in September 2009 we are actually going to re-enact the cameo of the Tranent church yard with two galloper cannons .... and Camerons!

However, July 2009 will be a good time here so be sure to make sure you are with us in The Pans. Your Clan Chief is, by the way, a member of our Committee of High Patronage and the Camerons went on under Lochiel's leadership on September 21st 1745 to capture all twelve Redcoat cannons and mortars.

Tranent Church is perhaps even better known for the fact that Colonel Gardiner, the senior redcoat officer from Bankton House in Preston, took refuge there in The Manse and died on September 22nd in an upstairs bedroom nursed by a visiting [from Athelstaneford, famous for the Saltire] Minister's two daughters. He is also buruied there although the location of his actual grave was lost at the time of rebulding".

Anyone who knows more or is a kinsman of Denis or of any Kiwi Camerons is welcome to be in touch directly with Denis of course.

His email address is:

... as for the Trustees, we have issued an open invitation to the Anzac Camerons, and all others clansmen whose ancestors came to The Pans in 1745, to visit with us in July 2009. We can guarantee them an excellent time and the opportunity to learn a great deal about what went on 264 years ago hereabouts and what its significance was then and remains to his day.

Published Date: August 21st 2008

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