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October 26th 1845

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Mrs Bogan's musical secret

There were many Jacobite families in Scotland, but after the collapse of the 45’ rebellion, and more particularly after the death of Prince Charles, most families came to terms with reality and accepted the new order. Those that still clung to the old beliefs did so with a romantic tenacity that owed little to reason and with surely no real hope of an eventual Stewart restoration.

One such family were the Oliphants of Gask. The family home was cluttered with relics of the Stewarts, a lock of Prince Charles’ hair, his bonnet, his crucifix and other similar artefacts. Laurence Oliphant’s devotion to the cause was so extreme, so honest and so open as to be rather touching, but there is no doubt that he imbued his family with his own staunch Jacobite principles.

He had a family of six, the third child being Caroline (named, of course, after Prince Charles.) She was born in 1766 and grew up to be a tall handsome young woman with dark eyes and hair. In her youth she was known as the Flower of Strathearn. She became engaged to her cousin Charles Nairne, but Charles, who was in the army, had little prospects of promotion and the engagement seemed destined to proceed no further.

Then, at the age of fifty, Charles was promoted to the rank of major and marriage became possible. Caroline was by this time already forty and her early beauty had faded somewhat. They went to live in Edinburgh, a poor, aristocratic and intensely proud couple. She began to visit a Mr Purdie, a music seller of Edinburgh. When she went to visit him she did so in the guise of an old lady, calling herself Mrs Bogan of Bogan. She had already corresponded with him and sent him a number of songs.

In due course there appeared in print such well known Jacobite songs as ‘Charlie is my Darling’, ‘Will you no’ come back again?’ and the occasional humorous song such as ‘The Laird of Cockpen’; ‘The Auld House’ based on her childhood memories of Gask and probably her finest song ‘Land o’ the Leal.’ Throughout all this time the songs were published under the name of Mrs Bogan of Bogan. Even her husband was not let into the secret and she hid her manuscripts under a newspaper if he should enter the room.

In 1824, Charles was restored to his hereditary designation of Lord Nairne, a title which had been forfeited after the 45’ rebellion. He died soon after, and Lady Nairne, as she became, returned to Gask to live with her nephew the new laird. She had always been religious and in her later years she became engulfed in the new wave of evangelicalism.

'Mrs Bogan' died in 1845.

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