A rare Jacobite drinking glass owned by Bruce of Cowden sold in our August Scottish Silver & Applied Arts auction for an impressive £25,000 (inc buyer's premium). The glass, engraved with ‘God Blis King James the Eight’, was part of a large collection of Jacobite glassware that sold for over two and a half times the original estimate in our Edinburgh saleroom.
A Tale of Two Parts
The Bruce of Cowden glass not only connects the story of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Jacobites and the art they left behind, but crosses into the lives of ordinary supporters who would in the end pay the ultimate price for their support of the Jacobite Cause.
This feature piece allows us the rare opportunity to say who was involved in the making of such an object, unusual in many forms of Jacobite art, other than portraiture. While the maker of the glass still remains anonymous in this case, perhaps more interestingly and importantly, the man tasked with preserving such an important object is known: Patrick Murray, Goldsmith in Stirling.
AN IMPORTANT SILVER MOUNTED JACOBITE WINE GLASS
MOUNTS BY PATRICK MURRAY OF STIRLING CIRCA 1745
SOLD FOR £25,000 (inc buyer’s premium)
PROVENANCE: Bruce of Cowden family collection; By direct descent to Hon. Bruce Ogilvy; Sotheby's 1924, where sold as The Bruce of Cowden 'Amen Glass'; Private Collection; Mr. T Waugh Collection (sold Sotheby's)
The Royal Toast
Firstly, we must consider the need for the repair to a relatively simple plain glass. Family history suggests that the glass was broken by the Bruce family after it had been drunk from and the toast given to 'The King Over the Water' by Prince Charles Edward Stuart himself. Charles is recorded in the area during the '45 and was likely gathering support and men to continue the uprising. It is considered likely he met with Bruce of Cowdens, an important member of the local community, to garner such support and dined with them, using this glass.
Showing such an obvious toast to the Stuart King without symbolism and hidden intent shows the confidence its owners felt.
The tradition of breaking glasses after the toast so that no lesser toast could be given from the glass is regularly discussed and indeed a glass with such tradition, and a later wooden foot, from the Thriepland of Fingask collection was sold within these rooms on 13th May 2015, lot 5.
The repair in itself is not only interesting but confirms the true Jacobite nature of the glass, otherwise just a simple plain 18th century drinking glass. The engraving, GOD BLIS KING JAMES THE EIGHT, is a regularly recorded Jacobite toast and, undoubtedly, the toast which the glass gave. It is also very similar in wording to the Jacobite national anthem immortalised on the fabled 'Amen Glasses'.
A Careful Choice
Patrick Murray of Stirling has been a goldsmith little considered and almost totally overlooked until recently when a pair of Hanoverian pattern tablespoons by his hand were sold (within these rooms 13th August 2014, lot 341). Currently recorded are only one other pair of spoons (from the same original set), the foot to this glass, and a pair of sugar tongs (in Jersey Museum) are all that is known by his hand. The maker's mark (no town or other marks are recorded with his work) to the foot of this glass is by far the best preserved striking of his mark.
Little is recorded about Murray other than to say he was working in Stirling as early as 1732. No record of his training or apprenticeship is known. During this time he appears to have been the only working goldsmith in the Burgh and it is surprising not more work by him is known considering the wealth of the area.
Murray, whilst an obvious choice to repair the glass due to his geographical proximity to the family, was also chosen on a more important level as he too was a Jacobite. Indeed, giving this work to a goldsmith and not knowing his leanings could have resulted in the owner's imprisonment for treason.
Murray is among a small handful of true Jacobite craftsmen not only working for Jacobite sympathisers but taking to the cause himself. Prince Charles' rally in Stirling must have inspired Murray as he signed and served in Lord George Murray's Brigade. Murray's career as a solider was short lived, and less successful than that as a goldsmith, as he was taken prisoner as a Jacobite in November 1745 (possibly under the Surrender Act invoked by Field Marshal George Wade which offered clemency to those who surrendered and became loyal to the Government.)
Whether or not they in fact surrendered under this Act is unknown but Murray would be imprisoned from November 1745 until November 1746, in Airdrie, Perth, Edinburgh Castle and Carlisle, where on 14th November 1746 Patrick Murray was executed for his part in the rebellion.
While other goldsmiths (perhaps most notably Ebenezer Oliphant) are considered Jacobites, it is only Patrick Murray whose name and work paid the greatest price for his convictions.
Further Jacobite Interest
Other items in the sale of Jacobite interest included a rare Boscobel Oak engraved Jacobite wine glass sold for £10,620 (inc buyer's premium) and an 18th Century portrait miniature of Bonnie Prince Charlie sold for £8,750 (inc buyer's premium).
A piece of fabric from a dress given to Bonnie Prince Charlie when he evaded capture after the Battle of Culloden disguised as a woman, fetched £5,250 (inc buyer's premium). A handwritten note with the fragment says it was “given to Prince Charlie for his disguise as Bettie Burke, many years later he gave it to Lady Mary Stewart, wife of Lord Fortrose.” Charles is said to have worn the dress – printed with foliage sprigs – while on the run following the Jacobite’s’ defeat at Culloden in 1746. Charles was helped by Flora MacDonald to escape to the Isle of Skye, disguised as an Irish maid, in a small boat.
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Colin Fraser | 0131 557 8844 | email@example.com