Edinburgh World Heritage - Learn more about the military adventures of John, Lord Macleod

 

Learn more about the military adventures of John, Lord Macleod

John, the future Count Cromarty, was born in 1727.  As a boy he was styled Lord Macleod.  This was a period of political tensions in Britain. King James VII of Scotland (James II of England) was deposed in 1688 and died in exile in 1701.  His son, although living in France, styled himself King James VIII of Scotland and III of England.  Those who supported him were known as Jacobites from the Latin for James, Jacobus.   In 1745 James’ son, Charles Edward Stuart, landed in Scotland intending to raise an army to reclaim his father’s thrones.  John Mackenzie, then aged 18, came out for Charles Edward.  He and his father raised a small regiment from their Mackenzie clansmen.  They were involved in some of the fighting that followed but not in the Battle of Culloden in 1746 which saw the final defeat of the Jacobites.

John and his father, like other leading Jacobites, were taken to London and tried for treason.  John’s father was condemned to death but determined lobbying by his wife got the sentence commuted.  However, the family’s estates were confiscated and John went into exile.  He went on to have a successful career as a soldier, fighting for both Prussia and Sweden.  He became an Aide-de-Camp to the Swedish King Adolf Frederick, was awarded the Order of the Sword of Sweden and made a Swedish count, taking the title Count of Cromarty.

But his heart was still in Scotland and he was able to return in 1777. Britain was now at war with its former colonies in North America and this was draining the resources of the army.  Trouble was also brewing in India so new regiments were needed for both theatres of war. Many former Jacobites hoped that raising new regiments and serving in the British Army would pave the way for the restoration of their lands and titles.

John followed this route very successfully.  His military reputation meant that he had no difficulty finding recruits: 840 Highlanders and 236 men from the Lowlands.  In 1778 George II recognised John’s Swedish title and the Count of Cromarty led his 71st Regiment to embark for India in January 1779.  By the time he retired from the Army in 1782 he was a Major General.  He then went into politics, becoming MP for Ross-shire.  In 1784 he finally regained the family estates.  He married in 1786 but died child-less three years later and was buried here.

Lord MacLeod’s gravestone describes him thus “the Right Hon John Lord Macleod Major General in the British Service, and Colonel of the 71st Regiment of Foot, Count Cromarty and Commandant of the Order of the Sword in the Kingdom of Sweden” who died in 1789, aged 62.  Behind this brief statement there is a complicated and interesting story.

John, the future Count Cromarty, was born in 1727.  As a boy he was styled Lord Macleod.  This was a period of political tensions in Britain. King James VII of Scotland (James II of England) was deposed in 1688 and died in exile in 1701.  His son, although living in France, styled himself King James VIII of Scotland and III of England.  Those who supported him were known as Jacobites from the Latin for James, Jacobus.   In 1745 James’ son, Charles Edward Stuart, landed in Scotland intending to raise an army to reclaim his father’s thrones.  John Mackenzie, then aged 18, came out for Charles Edward.  He and his father raised a small regiment from their Mackenzie clansmen.  They were involved in some of the fighting that followed but not in the Battle of Culloden in 1746 which saw the final defeat of the Jacobites.

John and his father, like other leading Jacobites, were taken to London and tried for treason.  John’s father was condemned to death but determined lobbying by his wife got the sentence commuted.  However, the family’s estates were confiscated and John went into exile.  He went on to have a successful career as a soldier, fighting for both Prussia and Sweden.  He became an Aide-de-Camp to the Swedish King Adolf Frederick, was awarded the Order of the Sword of Sweden and made a Swedish count, taking the title Count of Cromarty.

But his heart was still in Scotland and he was able to return in 1777. Britain was now at war with its former colonies in North America and this was draining the resources of the army.  Trouble was also brewing in India so new regiments were needed for both theatres of war. Many former Jacobites hoped that raising new regiments and serving in the British Army would pave the way for the restoration of their lands and titles.

John followed this route very successfully.  His military reputation meant that he had no difficulty finding recruits: 840 Highlanders and 236 men from the Lowlands.  In 1778 George II recognised John’s Swedish title and the Count of Cromarty led his 71st Regiment to embark for India in January 1779.  By the time he retired from the Army in 1782 he was a Major General.  He then went into politics, becoming MP for Ross-shire.  In 1784 he finally regained the family estates.  He married in 1786 but died child-less three years later and was buried here.

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