The land at Tornaveen was bought in 1670 and has been in the same family ever since. An influential family in Aberdeenshire, their strong roots to the Jacobite cause were through the Clans of Fraser and Farquharson. In addition, the family also have longstanding connections with the MacDonalds of Uist and their daughter Flora Macdonald, whose association with Bonnie Prince Charlie is renowned.
These connections have created a family tree with an assortment of interesting branches; from John Henderson of Caskieben (1743-1825) and his first wife, a Farquharson who died in 1788 and their son Alexander Farquharson Henderson, who bequeathed a substantial amount to Marischal college in Aberdeen. The initial line of succession ended with Alexander, however with John Henderson’s second marriage to Alexia MacDonald the line continued through their son, Captain John Henderson-MacDonald of Caskieben (1819- 1894) who served with the 78th Highlanders (latterly known as the Seaforth Highlanders). He placed great deal of importance on his Jacobite heritage, hence the addition of his mother’s maiden name, Macdonald – his mother herself a descendant of Flora MacDonald. The vast array of correspondence exploring these familial connections with the MacDonald’s of Uist only further illustrates the Captain’s interest in this lineage which he held in such high regard.
For an ardent Jacobite to find such a lineage to Flora MacDonald who, at only 24, became the heroine of the Jacobite cause was no doubt a thrilling discovery. As is often discussed, she met Bonnie Prince Charlie when he arrived on the island of South Uist, evading Government troops after his defeat at the battle of Culloden. Coming from a family with split Jacobite / Hanoverian allegiances to some she seemed an unlikely ally. Against many of our families wishes, she helped the Prince escape into exile and the travelled from Uist alongside two servants and a crew of six boatmen; the Prince famously disguised as Betty Burke, an Irish spinning maid. They set sail in a small boat from Benbecula in 1746, to Skye. After hiding overnight in a cottage, the Prince was able to get a boat to the island of Raasay from Portree and, from there, safe passage back to France. They were never to meet again, however before they parted ways Charles is said to have presented Flora with a locket containing his portrait.
Captain Henderson-MacDonald’s commitment to preserving the legacy of the Jacobite’s and his family lineage is further illustrated when he bequeathed 1,000 for the building of a statue in Inverness, commemorating Flora Macdonald and her part in the ’45. Newspaper reports in 1899 record the unveiling by his daughter Alexia Beatrice Mary de dombal Flora Fraser (nee Macdonald 1859-1938). She married Francis Fraser, bringing another great Jacobite name to the family. Alexia Beatrice and her husband continued to preserve the collection and it is perhaps through the Fraser connection that the Lord Lovat mirror, lot 290, another fascinating item, found its way to Tornaveen. Alexia and Francis’s family continued this tradition to current vendor, their Great Granddaughter.
The lots that featured in our 2021 auction were in the family collection since the 18th century and by direct descent had been in situ at Tornaveen House.
Held once a year, every August, our specialist auction that showcases the cross section of the arts of the Jacobite period that played such an important role within the movement; from the traditional portraits, miniatures, fine silver, antique arms and rare manuscripts to the romantic and provoking relics of the rebellion and people within.