Your Lordship’s zeal and attachment to his Majesty, his family and Government are so cordial and well known that the Lords Justices fully rely upon your vigorous exertion of it on the present occasion … It is a very fortunate circumstance that, in my Lord Breadalbane’s weak state, you are on the spot to make use of the powerful influence which you have in that country on the side of the Government, which cannot fail to give a right direction to your numerous clan which, you know, took a wrong turn on a former occasion … Your Lordship has now, in my apprehension, an opportunity of doing great service to his Majesty and your country and of acquiring great merit to yourself.
Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, Lord Chancellor, to John Campbell, Lord Glenorchy, 15 August 1745.
The money is spent, the Highlands are quiet, and this is the only way of accounting between friends.
John Campbell, Earl of Breadalbane and Holland, Viscount of Tay and Paintland, and Lord Glenorchy, Benderloch, Ormelie and Wick, when called by the Scottish Parliament to account for a large sum of money entrusted to him by the Government to secure the peace of the Jacobite clans after the Battle of Killiecrankie (which went undistributed, submission having instead been secured by threats and promises, and was assumed to have been retained by the Earl), 1691.
John Campbell’s diary recounts how the Jacobite army took control of Edinburgh on 17 September 1745. On 1 October, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s secretary informed John Campbell that he had £857 of Royal Bank banknotes and wanted payment for them in gold. Upon failure to comply, the Jacobites would seize property from the Bank and its directors to the value of the notes.
It was not immediately easy for the Bank to comply, because all the Bank’s valuables, including its reserves of gold, had been moved to Edinburgh Castle for safekeeping during this time of turmoil. At first, it had been possible to get access to the Castle when necessary, but by this time the Castle – still in government hands – was locked down, while the rest of the city was under Jacobite control. Just a few days earlier, Campbell and some colleagues had been refused access to the castle, despite waiting at the gates for an hour.
Campbell sought and obtained a special pass from the Jacobite authorities permitting him to pass through the streets safely on his way to the castle. He also wrote ahead to the castle warning its commander that he would be asking for access. The commander implied he would be allowed in, but refused to put anything in writing.
Campbell, accompanied by colleagues and directors from the Bank, made his expedition to the castle on 3 October 1745. He successfully gained access, withdrew the gold to meet the Prince’s demands (which by now had risen to over £3,000), and more to meet any imminent further demands. He also destroyed a large quantity of unissued notes to remove the risk of them entering circulation and becoming an additional liability. While he worked, shooting went on between government forces in the Castle and Jacobites outside.
He paid the money to the Prince’s secretary at his office later that evening. The Jacobite army left Edinburgh on 1 November, marching on into England in a bid to claim the British throne. The army’s progress into England was funded in no small part by the gold it had received from The Royal Bank of Scotland.