Monday 13 June 2011

John Sobieski Stuart’s Headstone Inscription

John Sobieski Stuart
While on a visit to Eskadale Church in Strathglass, near Eilean Aigas on the River Beauly in Inverness-shire, Alexander Carmichael took the opportunity to write down the inscription on John Sobieski Stuart’s headstone. John, and his brother Charles, were both rather eccentric gentlemen who claimed to be direct descendants of the Stuart monarchy. Both brothers had been born in Wales under the respective names of John Carter Allen and Charles Manning Allen and are chiefly remembered today for their role in Scottish cultural history. Perhaps their lasting if dubious legacy was their sumptuously published limited edition book on Scottish tartans and Highland dress, the Vestiarium Scoticum (1842). John Telfer Dunbar, in his seminal work History of Highland Dress referred to it as “probably the most controversial costume book ever written.” An obituary notice appeared in The Inverness Courier on 22 February 1872: ‘The Chevalier John Stuart Sobieski: the papers announce the death, at the age of 73 or 74, of one of the brothers, reputed descendants of Prince Charles Edward, who were known in the North thirty years since ... The gentlemen dress in Highland costume, which they wore in an attractive, picturesque manner, and had long flowing black hair... Their assumption of royalty was believed by some, though it was well known to readers of history and geneology that Charles Edward (the Young Pretender) left no progeny, but one daughter, by his mistress, Jane Walkinshaw.’ Being as he was an inveterate wearer of the kilt and also having rather a romantic trait in his persona it is little wonder that Carmichael not only took time to visit the spot but also that he took the trouble to write down the inscription carved upon the headstone.

In the holy name of
Pray for the soul of
John Sobieski Stuart
Count D’ Albanie
Who died 13 February 1872
Aged 74 years
Eternal Rest Give Unto Him
O Lord
R[equiescat] I[n] P[ace]

Eskadale Church

CW117, f. 9r.
John Sobieski Stuart and Eskadale Church.

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [©]