Flora MacDonald

Born 1722, died 4 March 1790

Flora MacDonald was born in Milton, South Uist, the daughter of Marion MacDonald, a minister’s daughter, and Ranald MacDonald of Milton, a tacksman. The family had high social standing and lived in finely furnished homes. Her father died around 1724 and her mother remarried four years later.

Her stepfather, Hugh MacDonald, became a government officer following the ’45 Rising. Some modern historians speculate that he and Flora’s brother were Jacobite sympathisers and that, by visiting her brother in June 1746, Flora MacDonald had been manoeuvred into having a valid reason for crossing from South Uist to Skye. Her stepfather provided her passport to cross the Minch with Charles Edward Stewart disguised as her maid. Despite a £30,000 price on his head, the Prince gained freedom, but Flora MacDonald was captured on 12 July 1746 and taken by prison ship to Leith then onwards to London where she was held in a messenger’s house.

Supporters raised £1,500 for her and an amnesty secured her release after a year’s imprisonment. She spent time in Edinburgh and London but returned to Skye to marry Allan MacDonald of Kingsburgh in 1750. They had five sons and two daughters. She emigrated with her husband to North Carolina in 1774 but sailed home in 1779, eventually moving to Skye where she lived for a time at Dunvegan Castle. Her husband returned in 1785, and they moved to Penduin in 1788. Flora MacDonald died there in March 1790.

The images below come from the Great Tapestry of Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry respectively.

Detail from the Great Tapestry of Scotland
Detail from the Great Tapestry of Scotland
The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Based on an entry by Evelyn Laidlaw