Flora MacDonald was the Scottish heroine who famously helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Scotland after his defeat in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745-46. One of the most romantic characters in Scottish history, she was born at Milton on the isle of South Uist in 1722. After the death of her father and the abduction of her mother, she was taken into the care of the MacDonald family of Clanranald.
With a price of £30,000 on his head, Bonnie Prince Charlie was on the run and ended up Benbecula in April of 1746. With the Uists becoming increasingly dangerous for the Prince, a plan was devised to help him escape. Flora disguised the prince as her female servant, ‘Betty Burke’, and helped him travel to Skye. The Prince eventually made it to France and never returned to Great Britain.
Shortly after leaving the Prince, Flora was arrested and transferred to London as a Jacobite Rebel. She was held in the Tower of London, where she said that she had acted from charity. Her heroic action gained her much sympathy and lasting fame. She was described as a woman of soft features, gentle manners, kind soul and elegant presence.
After her release in 1747 she married Alan MacDonald of Kingsburgh on Skye and in 1774 they emigrated to North Carolina. In 1779 they returned to South Uist and in 1784 they moved back to Skye, where she died in 1790. On her tomb are the words “A name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, be mentioned with honour.”
A commemorative cairn stands on the site of the house at Milton, in South Uist, which is believed to be the birthplace of Flora MacDonald.
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- The Outer Hebrides Guide Book Third Edition by Charles Tait