A Jacobite in Exile, Clemency for Pitcalnie’s son

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Two letters between Colquhoun Grant (pictured) and Lady Pitcalnie, which were written in 1757, concerning the possibility of raising a Company of soldiers in return for a pardon for the exiled Jacobite Malcolm Ross.

15th January 1757,
Anent a Company for Mr Ross Pitcalnie son.
With a scroll of my answer enclosed.


Dear Madam,


Since the late promotion in the army of the Master of Lovat & several others, who had been unfortunately engaged on the losing side in the 1745s; it has occurred to me that some motion might be made for Pitcalny’s unfortunate son at this time. If a proper person could be found to present a memorial for him to his Grace the Duke of Argyle and to represent matters truly as they were, I do think he might get a pardon & a Company to go on his Majesty’s Service to America. If you & Pitcalny approve of it, do you write a letter to Sir Alex Grant, and I will endeavour to get a proper memorial down here to be presented by him to the Duke of Argyll, in case it shall be judged proper and advisable by Pitcalnie’s friends here, with whom I intend to mention it very seriously. Do you think this young Gentleman would hesitate to go if the way was clear? I think he would raise his Company as soon as any of them. This would be a thorn in Lockhart & Pitkery’s side I do assure you. There is no time to be lost in the affair. You see Col. Lockhart’s Does is making a sputter about our authority to present the Bill of Suspension for the tenants. I think this is vain & can answer no purpose. If anybody is any in you must stand at the Barr. What Lord or Lawyer will challenge you. To avoid all disputes, the tenants may employ Mr Gair to write me that subject.


I ever am Dr. Madam
Yours most faithfully
Colquhoun Grant                                                                                                                                               Edinburgh 15th Jan. 1757


Naomi’s Reply
Clemency for Pitcalnie’s son

Dear Sir,

The proposal made in yours on the 15th would give me real joy if it was possible to bring it about. You know Mr Fraser Governor declared that the Master engaged in that affair to please his father against his own inclination. Now this can’t be said for our friend who was an officer in the King’s Service a most unlucky circumstance and what I fear won’t be easily got over but if our friends and you think that notwithstanding the difference betwixt the Master of Lovat’s case & his there is a probability of success without any danger thou it should ?? there simply be no time lost in trying it. There is rather too much lost already as we hear all the officers are named for the new Regiments and what should be a little grating to the Ross’s & them the difference betwixt even the days of Dave Bodindonish & the present times, that only the Rosses are overlooked thou they have made as good as an appearance formerly as most of their neighbours.

As you know perfectly how our poor and unthinking youth I may say rather a boy was ??? from his duty it is necessary to treat that subject only to wish it may be so represented as to move the compassion of the great and sure it will be a meritorious thing and an action worthy the Duke of Argyle to bring it about and sure I am if my worthy and most excellent friend Sir Alex Grant can do any service in this great affair he will most favourably do it, to my certain knowledge he delights to do good and where can a more interesting subject be found than the raising of an ancient family out of the dust by restoring a Young Gentleman to his family & friends who by his conducts and misbehaviours will I am persuaded show that the principle thing was not imposed upon by those worthy who will solicit his Majesties Clemency on behalf of Mr Ross who knows adversity which should teach him to make a right use of Prosperity. If I could leave the District then I would go to London to solicit for the son thou I am a stepmother and has a promising son of my own I would value a good action more than the Estate of Balnagown and the Earldom of Ross into the bargain but I have not time to moralise and you have less time to read long letters, therefore, I shall only add- (Scroll ends here)