Thursday, 1 March 2012

Skipper Scott and Prince Jamie

Peacock Close - c.1900

Most folk in Aberdeen have heard the name Peacock Court, either because of a local art studio or the city’s first dancing master, Francis Peacock after whom the lane is named.  The next one off Castlegate is Peacock Close, its old name, however, was Skipper Scott’s Close.

‘Skipper’ Alexander Scott was a Jacobite, a supporter of the exiled Catholic dynasty of Britain.  It would be he who gave hospitality to the ‘highest Stuart o them aa’ on a dank, foggy night two days before Christmas 1715.  Scott was a ship owner and lived in the large tenement which stretched all the way back to what was then a great expanse called the King’s Meadow; now East North Street.  He and fellow Jacobites including George Keith, the 10th Earl Marischal, were delighted and honoured to receive ‘The Old Pretender’ aka Prince James Edward Stuart, to the city.

However, by November of that year, the Prince’s army, led by his deputy, John Erskine, the Earl of Mar, had been defeated at Sheriffmuir.  It seemed James’ cause was lost before he even arrived.  Neighbours of Skipper Scott reported seeing three men on horseback, dressed in French naval officers’ uniforms arrive outside the close late on the 23rd of December.  The skipper was seen to bow to one of his guests as they dismounted.  Jacobites all knew this was their future king, who at the time was suffering from a cold and had only arrived in Scotland the previous night.  Alexander probably gave the prince a king-sized feed and sent him to rest with a wee dram.  Of course, the 1715 Rebellion failed miserably and James Stuart left in February 1716 from Montrose, never to return.

Door lintel showing Alexander Scott and Janet Kinear's initials

Very recently, I took a wander up Peacock Close and discovered a very interesting sight:  On the left wall halfway down the close, you will find a lintel stone with two sets of initials: AS, IK and the date 1710.  Parish records reveal the marriage of Alexander Scott and Janet Kinear in 1696.  Could the ‘I’ be a ‘J’ which was not uncommon in late medieval script?  If so, then the couple moved in five years before Prince Jamie came to call, and perhaps it was Mrs Janet Scott who brought the ‘uisge beatha’ for His Royal Highness to drink almost three centuries ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment