A large and rare Prestonpans pottery bowl that once belonged to the Jacobite supporter the 3rd Earl of Cromartie was offered in our Scottish Applied Arts auction on 12 August 2015. The sale of Scottish Decorative Arts included a large collection of the Scottish pottery Wemyss Ware, Scottish silver, furniture and a large collection of Mauchline Ware.
This large punch bowl, lot 1 in the auction sold for £4,000, is believed to have come from Dollerie House in 1829, when Anthony Murray 10th of Dollerie married Georgina Murray of Ochtertyre. John Mackie Director of Lyon & Turnbull said “It is thought that Georgina brought a dowry and possessions upon her betrothal, including this piece. She was the great-granddaughter of George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie, whose family crest is depicted to the well of this punch bowl.”
Mackenzie was known for joining the Jacobite rebellion in 1745, with whom he served until April 1746 when he was arrested and taken prisoner following his prominent role in the Battle of Littleferry. Although he received a pardon and was not sentenced to death, he forfeited his peerage, estates and wealth which reduced him to extreme poverty, before his death in 1766. Mackenzie's youngest daughter, Lady Augusta married into the Murray family of Ochtertyre in 1770, and it is believed that this bowl passed to the Murray family through this connection.
The words 'Caper Fey' are inscribed in the bowl, they are a corruption of 'Cabar Feidh', which refers to the stag's head (or more correctly 'the deer's antlers') of the arms of the Mackenzie of Kintail and later the Earls of Seaforth. It was the 'by-name' of the Chiefs of Mackenzie.
Mackie continued “At the period this bowl was made in 1776 there were three potteries in Prestonpans, one making coarse redwares and two whiteware potteries which also produced redwares. Given its size and quality, we can be fairly sure that this bowl which is in a more refined redware was thrown either at the 'Old Kirk Pottery' owned by William Cadell or the 'Bankfoot Pottery' owned by his nephew, also a William Cadell.” That such an important bowl was produced in a local clay is not surprising as it would have been almost impossible to fire a vessel of this large size either in creamware or white salt glazed stoneware.