A Jacobite ancestor in fiction and reality, including his clothes and books when he died

I’ve blogged before about my ancestor James Veitch of Glen and Bowhill (1700?-1761), in particular about some of the strange Jacobite-related names he gave his children.

But I’ve just found some great references to him in fiction, in James Grant’s The White Cockade (1867), which is an account of the events surrounding the Jacobite rising of 1745.

To quote from there:

Their costume was generally somewhat dilapidated and they criticised each other’s appearance freely, even at the risk of measuring swords, for most of them were out of pocket, and all ripe and ready for anything that would further the good old cause. Sir John Mitchel’s faded green frock was ridiculed by the Laird of Bowhill, who appeared in blue velvet with tarnished silver; and Dalquharn’s queued hair was quizzed by the Lord Dunkeld, who could boast of a court peruke, and a somewhat out-at-elbow green and gold suit


On those occasions the Prince always appeared with the insignia of the Garter, and the broad blue ribband which he wore was long afterwards preserved by Veitch of Bowhill (a gentleman who rode in Dalquharn’s troop), and since whose death it has been placed among the Jacobite relics of the Scottish antiquarians

Now these are fictional versions of people and events, but I know that my James Veitch of Bowhill was a Jacobite, apparently at Culloden, supposedly one of the Prince’s guards. I’ve also read before about him having an item of the Prince’s, so that part of the novel may have been based on true events.

But in real proven historical evidence James Veitch left a wonderfully detailed inventory of his possessions after he died in 1761. It’s a room by room listing of what he had in his home in Musselburgh. Masses of detail, far far too much to cover here. But some highlights for me include his six maps of Peeblesshire (his home county), a Stuart family tree (great for a Jacobite!), his fiddle, and “a backgammon table dice box and men”.

His clothing alone is entertaining:

Three pairs of breeches three shillings Item a coloured coat and vest six shillings Item a blue  upper coat ten shills and sixpence Item a hat & old wig one shilling item a blue coat and old rag of a black coat and vest four shillings Item five shirts very old and tore four shillings Item nine pair of stockings old three shillings Item four pocket napkins ten shillings and sixpence Item four shirts five shillings.

And for me as a book historian perhaps the biggest highlight of all is the record of his wonderful book collection:

Follows the defunct’s books viz Folio’s Natural History of Four Footed Beasts Imp., History of Appian in Alexandria Land: 1679, Quarto Baskets Bible Edinr 1726, Boyers French Dictionary 1727, Steuart’s History of the Steuart Family Edr. 1729, a clean paper book, Octavo’s Infra Scots Acts of Parliat vol: 1 & 2d Edr. 1682 & 1683, Colden’s History of the five Indian nations Lond: 1750, Townsend’s History of Mexico 2 vols Dub[lin] 1727, Life of Q[ueen] Anne 2 vol: Lond: 1721, Adventures of Richard Falconer Lond. 1728, Milson’s companion Lond. 1722, Baillies Dictionary Lond. 1723, Turkish History Epitomised, Gardners Almanack Lond., Paschoud’s Geogrphy 2 vol Lond. 1722, Moral Reflections 4 vols Lond. 1734, Tale & Brady’s Balms Lond. 1728, Vol: of pamphlets … of Britain London 1751, Traders Companion London 1734, McKenzies Institutions Edr 1730, Baynes note Lond. 1731, Baynes criminal law Insd Lond. 1730, Marlboroughs Life Lond. 1741, Serious Amusements Hague 1719, Justin Lat. & Eng., Husbandry Edinr. 1724, Memoirs of Donzie Lord Holles Lond. 1699, Mortimer’s Husbandry 2 vols London 1721, Book of Common Prayer Ox, 1712, Gerard’s meditations Edr 1720, Arabian nights Entertainment Glas. 1751, History of Tanzai & Neadaine vol 1 & 2d Lond 1735, Abridgement of the Acts of Parliat 1685, Index of the British Acts Edinr 1726, Fields bible small 2 vols Lond. 1658, Manual of Spiritual Exercises 1752, Thomas a ??? and which books were valued at two pounds fifteen shillings by Gideon Crawfurd Bookseller in Edinburgh conform to his signed estimation thereof dated the twenty seventh day of April said year seventeen hundred and sixty one.


I’d like to know more detail about James’s history, beyond the family history I’ve pieced together. There are more papers I can follow up sometime, for example concerning his sale of Bowhill to the Duke of Buccleuch. But, for now, the inventory will keep me amused.

About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
This entry was posted in books, inventories, wills and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Jacobite ancestor in fiction and reality, including his clothes and books when he died

  1. Alison says:

    Fantastic stuff Viv – absolutely fascinating and useful for me too. Take it he’s on Dodds side?

  2. Angus Dodds Lowrie says:

    Hi Viv, that’s very interesting. Did James Veitch own Bowhill House and sell it to the Duke of Buccleuch?

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