A Jacobite in Exile, The Last Letters

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The Pitcalnie Papers: the last two letters sent between Malcolm Ross and his stepmother Naomi Ross, Lady Pitcalnie. Malcolm's letter was sent from Dunkirk in France on January 26th, 1762 shortly before his death, Naomi's reply was likely never received by Malcolm.

Malcolm Ross of Pitcalnie, son of Alexander Chief of the Clan, had been living in exile in Europe since his involvement in the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 -1746. Callum Og, as he was commonly known, initially escaped to Rotterdam in 1747 where he changed his name to Dugall Grant. Letters suggest he was in Gothenburg in November of 1749 before coming back to Ross-shire briefly in April of 1750; he then fled back to Europe as there was little hope of a pardon. The possibility did arise a few years later but an offer by the Rosses in 1757 to raise a Company of men for "Majesty’s Service to America" in return for a pardon for Malcolm, was perhaps too late and ultimately failed.

In his last letter home, sent from Dunkirk in 1762, Malcolm asks for news of his friends and family whilst almost pleading to learn more about his half-brother Munro, who he has never met. He also describes the harrowing few years he has just endured, whilst frustratingly not revealing what he was doing. There is evidence to suggest that he had been in Germany and it seems likely that Malcolm had enlisted in one of the Scottish Regiments serving in the French army there during the 7 Years' War. 


Dear Madam,

It is long since I had the honour of writing you or receiving any of your letters, that I do not know what you think of me. Though you did know my reasons for not writing you would not offended, as my silence proceeded from fear of giving offence & hurting some of your interests, considering the parts I was in & distance I was at from my ordinary place of correspondence. I need not I think say more to make you conceive & conclude my reasons good. At present as these reasons cease I again take the liberty of writing you, though at a loss where to address my letters. I regard of me nothing has happened since I last wrote you, my situation still continues the same, some advantageous offers % occasions I was obliged to reject for want of the funds necessary to put me in a situation to accept of them, age and experience makes me put up with such disappointments & impatience begins now to lose its keenness with me.

As it is now three years past since the credit I had on Messrs Hall Barton & Co from Messrs Coutts was stopped so that consequently, the £50 bill & the 10£ one, making in all 60£ is fully paid at the rate of 20£ per an. I make no doubt but you will renew sd credit & settle that trifling affair to my satisfaction & the sooner the better as I really am in great necessity, a description of the wants & miseries I have undergone for two years by past would stick any human & well-disposed mind having been obliged to travel a foot exposed to the greatest heats of summer & severest of winter, above two thousand miles, and in want of every necessary proper to alleviate such excessive fatigue and often in want of food not having where with all to buy it, for the greatest part no place to lay in & no covering but my scabbard, in short I will not trouble you anymore but to give you in part an idea of my situation, since 8th of May last, till the 1st November following I never slept nor lay in a bed, I say I will not trouble you with what I have undergone. I hope, nay I know, your heart is not steeled enough against the sensations if humanity not to feel the pain for the suffering of one who ought not to be indifferent to you, in those thought my relief depends on you alone, I hope it will be speedy and effective.

I received the different articles you were so kind as to send to me to camp, but as they had remained in the box till about three weeks ago, that I came here they were mostly spoilt, even the suits were almost rotten & God knows how much I stood in need they should not. I beg to hear soon from you & I hope may deplore you’ll send me relief, as I am in very great necessities. I hope you are sensible by this time, that it is not my intention to be troublesome on this article; I wish I was in a situation never to ask a farthing, till that happens I must still hope & depend on your assistance & speedily it must be for my present relief.

I need not repeat to you how much intense satisfaction it would give me to know what has happened in your affairs since I last heard from you. I am totally ignorant what term they have taken; I wish from my soul it may be favourable. I once or twice begged of you to let me know the situation of my late friend left his affairs but you have not as yet gratified me in that article. I should at least be glad to know the names of the tutors; I should be glad to know in case any misfortune (which God prevent) should happen to you what is to become of me or to whom am I to apply and if there is no precaution taken, for something for me in some shape or other, this is an anxiety know your good sense will excuse. I should think common justice some such thing should have been thought of, but perhaps it has not, which will verify the friends proverb, he absent out  ???. 

If to this you would add the favour to let me know such of my relations as are still living I would be much obliged to you for I have no correspondence. Particularly the situation of Kindeace & Inverchasley & Calrossie’s families, my poor aunt Bell’s state of health, and my late friend’s only sister now left, if still in life. Alexander Ross of Kincardine commonly called Sandy More to whom I have had many obligations. I beg you would be full on this article. My brother’s state of health, Progress in his learning stature, his particular genius & turn of temper, as far as can be divested at present. I beg you would inform me fully & Pardon me if I beg you would divest yourself of a mother’s foolish fondness while writing this part of your letter as you’ll excuse me to be as anxious about him as about myself which is the reason I should be  ?? to get false information. This is a very long letter & you’ll be tired of reading it, I shall conclude therefore by wishing you and my Brother many happie returns of this season, may he never know but by hearsay my situation. 

I am with the greatest truth, Dear Madam

Your most affectionate & most obedient humble servant

Duggal Grant

Jan 26th 1762


Letter to Callum Og from Lady Pitcalnie, 13th March 1762.


Dear Sir,

I am favoured with your letter of the 26th Janry. some of your reasons for not writing are partly the same I would offer as the cause of your not hearing from me, tho I wrote you one long letter since I had the pleasure of any from you. However if anything agryable had happened in our Affairs I would not have omitted giving you that satisfaction. But while it is quite the reverse I was unwilling to add to your other troubles. And as I have not lost all hope I was waiting to see the best & worst of everything before I would communicate false fears or groundless hopes the Imponderable attendances of a state of suspense which has been my fate since the awakening of our great Process and will be until it be ended. Therefore I will at present refer to what your friend Mr. C. Grant writes who greatly deserves that epithet from his sincere attachment to your Interest and endeavours to serve you what they are and the nature of them I leave to himself to explain. For reasons that I am unwilling to trouble you with I am under necessity to delay renewing the Credit you want till Mr Grant hears from you in consequence of what he most wants and then I shall refer answering your letter except in as far as the concerns your relations.

If I rightly remember it was in my last that I gave an account of them which makes me think it has not come to hand. I told you that Kindeace was married in Aug. 1756 to Miss Jeanie Rose Kilravocks daughter who makes a good wife & already they have two sons & two daughters. Inverchassley and Family are well, the eldest son married some years ago the Heiress of Ravelrig, they have a son & daughter, James died 1756 at London Charles is Major in Lord Sutherlands Battalion. Miss Jeanie married to Glastullik summer 1758. They are our relations; I wish I could say they are our friends. 

Tom Ross, Calrosie after spending all the money of the family and involving the Estate got one of the Highland Companies that went to America where he was killed in some of the engagements there. Sandy is a Captain of one of the additional Company’s that is sent to Germany but is at Bath himself in a bad state of health. Jock is at home with the Mother whom your Aunt Bell stays. Your Aunt Katherine is still in life as also her husband both in misery in his place. She was with me this day. Lady Culcairn died a few days after the birth of her daughter spring 1757. She stays with the Grandmother, the three sons with the Father who still remains a Widower. Alex Ross of Glencarron is a widower has daughter Mrs Rosea widow. She & her two sons live with him who continues much in his ordinary. 

In the letter, I mentioned all I do at present. I gave you an account of the death of your Cousins' Lady Glastullick her son & her brother Culrain. All a heavy heart to poor Lady Newmore, who in them, saw her family extinct. 

I then advised you to A begin a correspondence with the Lady who had now none nearer than you to do for. Your brother is a fine healthy boy and since I wrote you last, has got the better of measles small nose & chin cough. I refer for further accounts of him to Mr Grant as what he writes may be more relyd upon than. What may fall from the pen of a fond mother I have him at the High School your old College Companion Gilchrist is his Master and seems to be pleased with his capacity as is his English Master with whom he will be done this quarter and then he is to put to the Writing School and how soon he can pen a letter his first epistle shall be to you in the meantime: you Shall hear from Mr Grant or me how he is going on. 

Till I hear from you I conclude this with my Blessing in which your brother joins being as I am dear Sir

Most affectionately yours