The MacBean Collection of 3,500 books, 1,000 pamphlets plus sermons, broadsides, official reports and satirical verse is one of the largest Jacobite collections in Great Britain.
It was gifted to Aberdeen University in 1918 by accountant, businessman and property developer William MacBean, who emigrated from his native Nairn to earn his fortune in New York in the latter part of the 19th Century.
Now held at the university library, a number of items from the MacBean Collection will go on display for a special one-off event next month.
Highlights include a ticket for the trial of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, a notorious double dealer who was found guilty of high treason at Westminster Hall in March 1747 given his support for the Jacobites in the run up to Culloden.
Richly etched and complete with a red wax seal, the ticket allowed the holder to sit in a box to watch proceedings, with Lord Lovat later beheaded following the guilty verdict.
Also to go on show is a recruitment slip circulated by Bonnie Prince Charlie in Edinburgh to raise volunteers willing to fight for his cause.
A letter written by the Prince while in exiled in Paris is also included.
Jane Pirie, of Museums and Special Collections at Aberdeen University, said: “MacBean was quite knowledgeable about the Jacobites but he was very much a collector rather than a researcher.
“He had agents working for him in the States to track these items down.
“As a collection, it is very important. It is really the totality of it. It tells the Jacobite story from both sides and you can really compare and contrast items at the same time.”
MacBean donated his collection to the university after hearing former principal Reverend George Adam Smith on a speaking tour of the United States.
The collection has been expanded over time as the university makes further acquisitions of the Jacobite era.
The recruitment slip sent out by Bonnie Prince Charlie after he and his supporters took up residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse is a small, plain document that is loaded with history.
It was written in September 1745 appealing for volunteer fighters - just days after the Jacobite victory at Prestonpans.
The Prince requested that anyone willing to fight should visit the Palace to register at 2pm on September 26, 1745.
The slip of paper said: “All those who are willing to take Arms for Our Service as Volunteers, and to Concur under Our Command, whether on Foot or Horseback, to the Deliverance of their County, and hereby ordered to repair this Day at Two in the Afternoon to the Great Hall of this Our Palace of Holyrood House, there to have their names enrolled.”
Also to go on display is a letter written by Bonnie Prince Charlie on April 20 `1748. Composed in Paris, it requests that the recipient takes 12,000 livres from a ‘little strong box’ to buy a new carriage.
Books on the key figures of the Rising feature in the MacBean collection as do several titles written anonymously to avoid accusations of treason.
Such books include The Female Rebels, published in London and Dublin in 1747, which details the activities of women such as the Duchess of Perth, Lady Ogilvie and Flora Macdonald.
Another is a tiny pocket book of Jacobite songs, presented under the title ‘Chevalier’s Favourite’.
A book on Jenny Cameron will also be feature. Cameron’s identity is now an amalgamation of women who supported the Stuart Cause.
Some accounts claim she was a mistress of Charles Edward Stuart while others believe she was an active supporter of the rising but never with the Prince apart from in public.
The book, Memoirs of the Remarkable Life and Surprising Adventures of Miss Jenny Cameron, was written by a Highland minister, Reverend Archibald Arbuthnot, and printed in London in 1748.
The display will also include some items from the university’s Bernard C Lloyd Walter Scott Collection to illustrate how the Jacobite story became romanticised in novels, comics and film over time.
- Renegades: the rebel lives of the Jacobites will go on show at the Special Collections Centre, The Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen, on Tuesday November 20 from 12 noon to 2pm.
Tickets are free but visitors must register at www.eventbrite.co.uk