The Second Child and the Deal
|| || Having failed to have Simon indicted for crimes against the Crown, Tullibardine now instigated private proceedings with a charge of ‘rapt’ and ‘hamesucken’, which in combination could lead to the death penalty. Tullibardine left nothing the chance, having been outwitted by the vile Beaufort on too many occasions, but ensured that the Court was fully committed in his favour. He subpoenaed his sister, Lady Amelia, to appear, but sensibly not planning to present her for cross examination.
Argyll persuaded Simon that it was more than his life was worth to present himself to such a Court, and recommended that he travel again to London and seek a royal pardon.
The Court dutifully pronounced Simon guilty in absentia and without representation, and he was a fugitive once more.
Lady Amelia had sat stonily through the court case, watching the well rehearsed antics of the plaintiff’s legal team, and had been singularly unimpressed. When she had returned to Inverness the news came that a marriage had been agreed between her eldest daughter, Amelia, and Alexander Mackenzie, the son of Sir Roderick Mackenzie. Sir Roderick and his brother Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat, both lawyers, had been Tullibardine’s staunch allies through the whole legal process to put Beaufort in his place. Lady Amelia, despite being the mother of the bride, had no say in the matter.
She was puzzled by this turn of events, as she had understood that the whole purpose of her original marriage contract with Hugh had been to allow the Murrays the possibility of acquiring ownership of Lovat. Her thought was that the original intent had degenerated into a personal feud between her brother and her second husband, Simon. The act of gifting Lovat to a Mackenzie meant that her brother was no longer overly interested in Murray ownership, having an important career in London and Edinburgh to pursue. She thought about ways that this new insight might be turned to help her in her quest to protect her Clan. Mackenzie was now the threat, not Murray, which was easier for her as there were no divided loyalties.
She decided that the only course of action left to her was to somehow bring her brother on to her side. She would need a tool of persuasion and so set about to write an affidavit of the events of her second marriage, leading to the miscarriage and her estrangement from the family.
Her forced appearance in court, combined with the continuing criticism from her family, decided her that she had to leave Atholl and return to her Clan, despite being effectively a prisoner. She was insistent and persistent and finally managed to escape to Inverness, with only a maidservant, and found lodgings with a supportive member of the Fraser Clan. She was exhilarated to be free and to have a task ahead; to save her Clan from the Mackenzies.
As it happened, Simon had secretly come to the Highlands to explore Jacobite possibilities, and was hiding in Inverness at that time, borrowing money to raise an action in the House of Lords to challenge the legality of his newest indictment.
It is often the case that servants know more than their mistresses, so it was Amelia’s maid that heard rumours of Simon’s presence in Inverness. Amelia was able to find where Simon was staying and set out to meet him to discuss her plans to protect the Clan. Being aware that he was a fugitive from justice, she disguised herself with a cape, even though it was not raining at the time, and took a circuitous route, checking that she was not being followed. She found herself enjoying the sense of adventure, and arrived at Simon’s meagre outhouse a little flushed and breathless.
Simon was amazed to see her, but could not but ask her inside, checking the street in case she had been followed, and apologising for the poor condition of his lodgings. She started by apologising for the court case, saying that she was an unwilling participant and that she still considered that they were legally married. He was lonely and depressed and found that he welcomed her company, offering a beaker of wine. They had not seen each other for more than five years.
Simon looked at her with a smile and said the obvious,
‘Seeing as we are still man and wife, could we share a bed this night?’
Then, seeing that she was flushed and excited, added,
‘Or perhaps we should go to it straight away?’
She answered with a coquettish look,
‘Yes please.’ and then, with the expression of a young girl up to mischief, ‘yes please - to both.’
After the passion, she started to discuss her plans for rescuing the Clan from the Mackenzies. When she mentioned the miscarriage Simon became very upset. He had heard rumours about the beating and its aftermath, but now the confirmation was devastating.
‘I will take Tullibardine down if it is the last thing that I do. He drove my father to die in exile; he deprived me of my heritage; he destroyed our marriage; and now he has killed my child.’
Amelia tried to explain that the miscarriage was an accident from a fit of temper, not an intentional act of murder, but Simon would not listen. When she tried to explain her plan to bring her brother on the her side against the Mackenzies, Simon would have none of it,
‘I will never make truce with such a man. The thought of subjecting the memory of my father to such a dishonour is too horrible to contemplate.’
Simon was adamant that he could outmanoeuvre Tullibardine yet again, with Argyll and King William on his side. Amelia had reservations, but held her tongue. Their second love-making was much more subdued, with a sense that this was perhaps goodbye.
Before Simon left Inverness King William died from the result of a riding accident, with Queen Anne being the successor. Tullibardine had previously invested in gaining the favours of Queen Anne, so the chances of Simon’s success in the House of Lords had all but vanished. Simon went to London anyway to see if he could salvage anything, and failed. He could then see no possibility other than to enlist with the Jacobites and assist in the return of King James III and VIII to the throne of England and Scotland, with his reward to be the return of his title and estate. So he set off for France.
Queen Anne was an elder sister by twenty-three years of the exiled Jacobite, James, both being the children of James II who had been removed from the English throne in the year of James’s birth, and became an exile in France. He was replaced by William III and Mary II, with Mary being the eldest surviving child of James II. Both Mary and Anne had been raised as Anglicans, whilst James was raised in France as a Catholic. Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch, was past childbearing age with no surviving children, so her brother James could be her successor, as her father had just died. So it was important that her administration keep on cordial terms with the exile. Tullibardine had cousins in France and so had a ready excuse to travel to Paris, where he maintained a small residence, and could quietly pay cordial respects to James, and then relay news back to his Queen.
Lady Amelia found that she was pregnant again. She hid her condition from all but a few close women friends, dressing in a manner that provided disguise, and thought long and hard for a way to turn this to the advantage of the Clan. If it was a girl there would be no advantage, and, if a boy possibly an heir to Lovat, but only with the acceptance of Tullibardine, either by legal action or persuasion. She bided her time and continued to prepare her affidavit. She thought about finding a trustworthy lawyer to hold the document and present it to the Court if this course became necessary, but, not having a high opinion of lawyers in general, decided to leave copies with her close friends and rely on bluff if necessary.
She knew that Simon was in France, and decided that the appropriate course of action was to join him there. The journey from Scotland to France was hazardous as England and France were at war, so had to be through the neutral territory of the Netherlands. She was accompanied by two clansmen and a clanswoman and successfully made the journey.
She made her way to Tullibardine’s Paris residence, where she managed to persuade the house staff that she was a sister who had come to France to find her husband, for reasons that were by then obvious. Enquiries were made and it was found that Simon was staying with Sir John Maclean and his wife in a rundown apartment in the Palace of St Germains.
He was astounded at her state of pregnancy, and could see no advantage from it, as, even if it were a boy, the legal issues in Scotland would still need to be resolved, and he could not see how he could overcome Tullibardine on his own ground. He was making useful inroads in the Jacobite court and in persuading the French administration that there was a real possibility of spear-heading an invasion of England from Scotland. A pregnant wife from a disputed marriage was a complication he did not need.
Simon had set up a small apartment in Paris so that he could be readily available for conferences with the French administration, and he had appointments to keep, so he left Lady Amelia with the Macleans. Sir John wrote to him first to tell him that Lady Amelia was upset and longing for his return, then a second letter saying that she had left to return to her former lodging with ‘fire and sword’.
St Germains was a hotbed of gossip, and Lady Amelia heard that her brother was in Paris, and so decided that an approach might produce a useful result, helped by being away from Scotland, on more neutral ground. She very much caught Tullibardine off balance. When her arrival was announced he was having a very enjoyable petit dejeuner with a sophisticated Parisian lady. With effusive apologies he escorted her out and asked the servant to send in his sister. As she walked in, she smiled and commented,
‘What a delightful perfume. Very expensive. Heavy with musk.’
He did not have a ready answer to this, and gestured for her to sit down, asking,
‘What on earth are you doing in Paris?’
‘I have come to discuss the future of my child with my husband, who is at St Germains.’
She let her cloak fall open to show her advanced pregnancy. Tullibardine was momentarily speechless, and then shouted at her,
‘What is it that Beaufort does to you to turn you against your family? Why do you let him control you? What is the fascination? He is but a scheming impertinent wretch!’
She looked at him calmly,
‘I am doing the best that I can to protect my Clan.’
‘What do you mean - protect your clan? All you have done is to bring disgrace to Murray.’
‘I was born a Murray, but now I am a Fraser. Once the wife of the Chief, then his widow, and now the wife of the next Chief.’
He felt his jaw drop open. He could not stop it. A memory surfaced of meeting his maternal grandmother, Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby, when he was introduced to her at four years of age. She was sixty-five and in poor health, near death, but sitting upright in her chair with her hands quietly and neatly in her lap, impressing her grandson as being totally indomitable. She smiled at him kindly and told him that it was a great pleasure to meet him, and that she was sure that he would do great things in his life. Now his sister was sitting opposite him, firmly upright, hands quietly folded in her lap, expressionless and looking equally indomitable.
‘I first agreed to my daughter being betrothed to Simon in the interests of the Clan. When you made that impossible, I agreed to marry Simon myself, with a forced marriage, in the hope that my father would put his affection for me ahead of his desire to acquire Lovat, and give his consent. When this did not work, and I found myself pregnant, I sought to see him again, hoping that the promise of a grandchild would persuade him.’
She paused, and her face changed from expressionless to bleak,
‘And then you killed my child.’
He felt a wave of guilt and regret,
‘I am sorry. I have never forgiven myself for losing control in that manner, and causing such a dreadful thing to happen. I had always prided myself in that I had never killed a human being, and now, in my heart, I know that it is an empty boast.’
‘I have lost three sons, one that you killed, and two that wasted away as infants.’
‘I had nothing to do with that.’
‘What was it that you had nothing to do with?’
‘I spoke wrongly, I meant to say that your first two sons dying was an act of God.’
There had always been those that were sceptical of the death of her first two sons, and she remembered the medicine that had been provided for them by the doctor from Inverness, and the label on the bottle, in Latin, “Tonic for Boys. Not Suitable for Girls.” She had long accepted that there was no possibility of knowing the truth one way or the other, particularly with the potential profit from an heiress in absence of a male heir. She could not believe that her father would do such a thing to his grandsons, but was less sure of the Mackenzies. Sir George of Tarbat was an eminent man and known for his good works. His brother, Sir Roderick, was more of an opportunist, but a distinguished lawyer. It all seemed unlikely, but she was puzzled that pressure had been brought onto her father to allow the marriage of her daughter to the son of Sir Roderick, rather than into the Murray family, presumably as originally intended.
She looked at him and sensed that he had some uncertainty as well, and saw that although he was willing to bend the rules to his advantage and browbeat those under him, he would not have under any circumstances countenanced the idea of infanticide. Despite their childhood of conflict, she saw good in him, and smiled kindly. Being a high noble, he was not used to being smiled at kindly, and the memory of his grandmother momentarily resurfaced. She asked gently,
‘I would ask you to give your consent for my marriage with Simon, so that this child may have a father in the eyes of all.’
He took a deep breath, and brought his thoughts back to the present,
‘That would be very difficult and would require that you, in turn, acknowledge and accept the terms of your marriage contract, and that your daughter, Amelia, is the heiress and that Alexander, her husband, is now the holder of the Lovat title and estates.’
She still smiled kindly, but with some steel underneath,
‘I did not expect that this would be easy, so I have prepared an affidavit describing the truth of the alleged abduction of young Amelia by Simon, and the truth of my marriage to Simon not being by any means a rape, and the death of my unborn child at your hands. I would rather not use this, but I will if I must.’
He felt the anger rising, and suppressed it as best he could,
‘I would drive you out of Scotland before letting you present such evidence.’
She sat up a little straighter, refolded her hands in her lap, and removed all expression from her face,
‘I had anticipated that you might threaten me, and have made arrangements that the document will be made public should anything happen to me preventing me from achieving my intention.’
He felt that he was loosing control, and needed to get away and compose himself, and well as think through what had been said. He looked at his fob watch and made a regretful face,
‘I am sorry, but we will need to continue this another time. I have a meeting with the Secretary of the French Minister of Finance, and I must leave you now. If you wish I will arrange a room for you here?’
She nodded her agreement, and Lord John said that he would send for her belongings from St Germains.
They met again the next day, and Lord John was very composed and businesslike,
‘I have two questions before we discuss what can be done. The first is, do you and Simon have a passionate marriage with a sense of life-long commitment?’
Lady Amelia was puzzled and could not see where this was going, but decided that candour and honesty was for the best,
‘I like Simon well enough and think that he would be an excellent chief. He likes me well enough to have made me pregnant twice, possibly more from a sense of duty than from a great attraction. But we married for the purpose of saving the Clan, not from a grand passion.’
‘And for my second question, if you had a choice between saving your marriage or saving your Clan, which would you choose?’
She was again puzzled, as the only way that she could see to save her Clan from the Mackenzies was to establish her marriage to Simon.
‘I am not sure that there is that choice. But, hypothetically, I would have to say that we married to save the Clan so the Clan is more important. But now that I am with child from the marriage, I would find that choice more difficult.’
He saw her puzzlement and found that he was starting to warm to his sister, with a glimmering of understanding that their childhood enmity was in good part because she was strong-minded and intelligent. He leant forward, elbows on knees, and explained,
‘If we were to consent to your marriage, this would create many problems. I could live with the embarrassment of backing down and being again outwitted by Beaufort, but not without some pain and loss of face and influence. But from the point of view of your Clan, little would change, as Alexander, the husband of your daughter, is now in legal possession, and it would take a legal challenge to change that, regardless of the wishes of the lairds of the Clan. The chance of such a challenge succeeding is not great, because Alexander’s father, Sir Roderick Mackenzie, is very high up in legal circles. It may be that a bid to overturn your marriage contract could succeed, but the chances are slim even with my help, and almost none without. It would also probably take some years to resolve.’
‘To add to this uncertainty, your child may be a girl and then not a potential heir to Lovat. And you are of an age where having further children may not be possible. Further, if a boy, your husband is a wanted man in Scotland, and it would not be possible for him to challenge the marriage contract without first clearing himself of the outstanding offences. This would be difficult, even with my help. For his part, he has decided that his only chance is to ride on a Jacobite rebellion, which may be years away, if ever, and not of guaranteed success.’
She could see the logic of his argument, but,
‘I know that it will be difficult and uncertain, but it is the best that I can do. I cannot just do nothing because it will not be easy. Sometimes determination and perserverance can give luck a chance.’
He sat back and looked at her, appreciative of her determination and commitment, then leant forward again,
‘I have made a decision to be your ally. This is partly in recognition of your support for your Clan, and partly so that I may make some amends for having been a part in your difficulties. Causing your miscarriage was unforgivable. My opposition to Beaufort I now see was a mistake and become more a personal feud than sensible politics. This personal animosity blinded me so that I thought that I was protecting you from him. I owe you a deep apology.’
Things were going too fast for her. She had started the dialogue with the determination to force her brother to meet her demands, and now he was offering his support. She looked at him hard, initially with some misgiving that this might be trickery, but became convinced of his sincerity, seeing that although he was a pragmatist little influenced by the niceties of honesty and morality, his depravity had limits, and warmth and loyalty for family and children was also in his nature. She bowed her head slightly in acknowledgement and acceptance of his apology,
‘Thank you. At this moment the Clan is most threatened by Mackenzies taking over. I would do whatever is necessary to stop them getting away with it.’
This was not directly referring to the death of her first two boys, but the nuance was there, mirrored by his own uncertainty. He took a deep breath,
‘Well then, lets look at practicalities. Sir Roderick’s ambition is to start a dynasty and he is working every trick he can to make Lovat over to Mackenzie. He will gradually succeed unless stopped. Beaufort’s idea of being a Jacobite leader will not happen in the short term, if at all, so we need to stall Sir Roderick as much as possible, and then see what can be worked out. Regardless of any legal ploys, nothing will work for him unless he either can persuade the lairds to his side, or bring in enforcers.
‘If you were to be ensconced as dowager, you could help the lairds maintain a quiet but insistent resistance, while I could act in the background to prevent the use of force, this being a civil matter not a criminal one. I could put an argument to Sir Roderick that you are entitled to a dower house and income, being the widow of the previous chief. He will not like the idea, but I can make it more attractive than the alternative.
‘This will give us time, and then we wait and see what happens. It may be that Alexander will become acceptable to the lairds as a chief, particularly when encouraged to be a Fraser by two strong women, your daughter and yourself. It is more probable that there is a son who is raised as a Fraser, and that he is of sufficient character to become accepted. Or it may be that they do not have a surviving male heir, and then the rights return to Beaufort as heir male. Or it may even be that Beaufort is successful in his Jacobite enterprise, and is granted Lovat as a reward. Our job is to help in holding the Clan together in the meantime.’
She came to realise that her brother’s success in the political world came not just from force of personality and a strong sense of entitlement, but also from a well-developed ability to think strategically. She saw the sense in his argument, then asked,
‘And what of my child?’
He saw that she was grappling with the terrible choice between her child or her Clan. She could maintain her claim to her marriage and stay with Simon in France, essentially penniless, and with only an uncertain chance of achieving the goal of again being the wife of the Chief, or deny the marriage so that she could return to her Clan, and assist in its survival. Either way her child would be deprived of a proper upbringing. Suddenly she was overwhelmed by the weight of being a noblewoman, with a duty to put dynasty before personal feelings, and found herself weeping. Her brother came and crouched at her side putting an arm around her to give some comfort. When she had recovered some composure, he continued,
‘If you choose to be dowager, we will look after your child as a ‘love child’. You will give birth here, discretely, and I will arrange a mid-wife and a wet-nurse. Then we will find a family to raise the child and give financial support so that he or she will be provided for, and hopefully given the chance of a reasonable life.’
And so it was. Lord John then had to return to England, as he was in France on a very discrete mission for Queen Anne, communicating with her half-brother James. Queen Anne had been estranged from her father, once King James ll, all of her life, but was now the last of the Stuart Monarchs, and had no surviving children. James was then the heir to the Stuart dynasty, even though exiled in France and a Catholic. She commissioned Lord John, Earl of Tullibardine to travel discretely to France and carry news and report back on the character and situation of her brother, then fourteen. Lord John had spent some enjoyable time with the young prince, finding that he still considered himself as the rightful heir to the throne, supported by his advisors at the court of St Germains. A portrait was commissioned and Lord John took this back to his Queen, and gave her his personal description of the young brother.
Queen Anne then requested that Lord John return to France with some tokens of affection and regard, so he was back within a few weeks. A few months later he was rewarded for his able handling of this delicate mission by being elevated as the 1st Duke of Atholl.
In that time Lady Amelia had given birth to a healthy son. This was a difficult time for her, putting her heritage of nobility and fierceness of purpose ahead of caring for her child. With sadness, she left her son with the wet-nurse and travelled back to England with her brother. During that time they became friends. As they stood at the rail of the ketch carrying them across the North Sea from Holland, on an unusually fine day for late February, she asked,
‘Had I managed to see Father when I was pregnant the last time, do you think that he might have acknowledged my marriage with Simon?’
Lord John considered for a long moment, forever remorseful over the miscarriage,
‘It is hard to know, he has not been well for a long time and has much pain in his belly. This makes him irascible and unpredictable, but it is very possible that his affection for you would have prevailed. On the way to Inverness, you will have to visit him in Dunkeld. He has often asked for you.’
When they reached Dunkeld, Lord John went directly on to Inverness to organise for the dower house, with Lady Amelia to wait until the arrangements were made. She went to visit her father, finding him very ill and weak, heavily dosed with laudanum. He recognised her immediately and was delighted to see her,
‘Amelia, it is so good to see you. It has been so long. I have missed you. Is everything sorted out now?’
She took a deep breath,
‘Yes Father, everything is now under control, and it is wonderful to see you. I am sorry that I have been away so long, but things were very difficult.’
‘Isn’t wonderful that your daughter is married to young James. It is so good to have a Murray at the head of Lovat.’
She realised that he was confused, and did not realise that young Amelia had married Alexander Mackenzie, but thought that she had married the son of her cousin. So she smiled and talked of other things, such as the good management of the Atholl estates, and what lovely times she had with him as a child, with memories of favourite walks, Christmases and other things. He tired after a short while, so she squeezed his thin cold hand, kissed him on the forehead and left quietly.
The next day she visited again, and again he was delighted to see her,
‘Amelia, it is so good to see you. It has been so long. I have missed you. Is everything sorted out now?’
She smiled warmly at him and talked again about the good times that they had together when she was a child, and how she appreciated being the wife of Lord Lovat, as he had arranged. Again he tired quickly, and she quietly left. The next day he was alternating between delirium and coma, and died a few days later.
Lord John, now 2nd Marquis of Atholl, returned for the funeral and to formally take over the Atholl estates. In truth, he had been in charge for several years due to his father’s long illness, so it was very much just a formality.
Lady Amelia moved to her dower house, now officially the Dowager Lady Lovat, and discretely exercised her determination and intelligence to minimise the incursions of the Mackenzies. She enjoyed having a purpose, and being among those that she considered to be her friends and kindred, with some sadness over her infant son in France. With some help from Lord John, and continued determined support from the Lairds, the Fraser Lovat clan managed to stay more or less intact for the next twelve years.
Alexander Mackenzie, now Fraser, was a nice enough young man and tried very hard to be accepted as Chief, but with only limited success, as the Clan generally did not consider him to be one of theirs. They were more ambivalent about his son, Hugh, who was, after all, the grandson of Hugh, 9th Lord Lovat, even though not the heir male.
While there were many highlanders who were staunch Jacobites, and determined that James should return as their King, most were of the philosophy of family first, kin second, clan third, everything else as background. Background being things beyond an individual’s power to change, simply requiring adjustment as best one could.
The death of Queen Anne triggered the end of the Stuart dynasty, with Parliament determining George I of Hanover as her successor. This created anger and determination for action amongst the Jacobite supporters in Scotland, leading to the 1715 rebellion. Alexander thought to enhance his standing as Chief and, with some Frasers, assisted in the capture of Inverness for the Jacobites. Unfortunately this rebellion was unsuccessful, and Alexander’s title and estates were forfeit in the aftermath.