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Surgeon General for The Prince gets his Statue first here in Scotland!

John Rattray, Physician to The Prince, gets a statue first!

The campaign by the 1745 Battle Trust in Prestonpans has always envisaged a statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie in its overall ambitions. There is after all one in Derby, the only one in the British Isles.

But so far no success in The Pans, but that's not held back the creation of a statue to the Prince's Physician, John Rattray, who was on the field at Prestonpans in 1745 as he tended the wounded . He has an altogether more fascinating life story to be told than 'simply' Physician to The Prince however.

A larger-than-life tribute to John Rattray, the man who signed the first ever Rules of Golf ** is to be installed on Leith Links where the first green of the five-hole course was situated, in 1744.

David Anderson has been working with the Committee of Leith Rules Golf Society to secure funds for installation and future maintenance. A limited production of smaller statues of Rattray – designed by Kilmany sculptor David Annand – have been produced and are being offered for sale to golf enthusiasts.

The R&A has contributed to the project and received the first 16-inch Rattray bronze in St Andrews, while Sir Nick Faldo also raised cash by auctioning one of his rare Pringle pullovers.

David Anderson said: “Despite the significance of this event to the development of the sport, very few golfers have ever heard of Rattray.

“As a surgeon, champion archer, golfer and personal physician to Bonnie Prince Charlie, he led a notable life.
Erection of his statue is long overdue and will be a lasting legacy to the history of this great sport.”


* On 19 August 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his standard at Glenfinnan marking the start of his attempt to claim the British throne. As prominent Episcopalians the Rattrays were likely supporters, but James Rattray, then the Clan Chief, opted rather to donate £50 than join the standard. John Rattray only joined the Jacobite's immediately after their victory at Prestonpans on 21 September, when the call went out to Edinburgh surgeons to care for the wounded. Rattray rode the five miles from his house at South Foulis Close near the foot of Edinburgh's High Street with his colleague John Lauder, Deacon, President of the Incorporation of Surgeons. Lauder later claimed that they had treated some 300 wounded and accommodated many of these at their own expense, but as this claim was made as part of a plea for his life, it may well have been exaggerated.

Rattray stayed with the Jacobite army as it advanced into England then retreated from Derby, eventually becoming Surgeon-General and Personal Surgeon to Prince Charles. After the battle of Culloden, Rattray surrendered to the Hanoverians and was imprisoned in Inverness, but he and Lauder were not allowed to treat the wounded among their fellow prisoners.

Robert Forbes, Bishop of Ross and Caithness, in his detailed contemporary account of events of the '45 rising, The Lyon in Mourning, describes how Rattray was taunted by a Hanoverian officer:

“We know well what you are Sir, the Pretender’s surgeon. If anyone hangs you shall.”

Rattray's golfing companion Duncan Forbes, Lord Culloden and a staunch Hanoverian, made a personal plea of intercession on behalf of Rattray to the Duke of Cumberland, which was successful, as was a subsequent plea for Lauder. They were freed but Cumberland then ordered that they be rearrested in Edinburgh and they were held in London until January 1747 when they were finally released having signed an oath of obedience to the King.

** On March 7 1744, the City of Edinburgh Council provided the Gentlemen Golfers at Leith (now the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield) with a Silver Club on condition they draw up regulations for their competition and rules ‘for the goff’.

The following month Rattray won the first competition for the Silver Club, was duly appointed ‘Captain of the Goff’ and became the sole signatory of the first known written ‘Rules of Golf’ that have proved to be the foundation of the sport.

“With the new Rules of Golf coming into force in 2019, it’s amazing to realise how crucial the events of 1744 were to today,” added David Anderson.

Published Date: October 8th 2018

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