Mys­tery of his­tor­i­cally pre­cious gold box that van­ished

The Oban Times - - News -

The Heather Grave on Camp­bell Is­land – A Stu­art Leg­end by Iain Gor­don, pub­lished on April 15, 1939 IN THE wa­ters of the south­ern Pa­cific, about 150 miles south­east of the Auck­land Is­lands, lies a lonely isle, un­in­hab­ited save for a few sheep that roam wild. It is a des­o­late place, for­saken and al­most for­got­ten, but to those who ven­ture there, near the Antarc­tic wa­ters, it is known as Camp­bell Is­land. Few peo­ple know the story con­nected with it for few could guess that on this re­mote lit­tle is­land is a heather- cov­ered grave which holds a hid­den se­cret.

The story be­gins with Prince Charles Ed­ward Stu­art of the ’45. While the High­land army lay be­fore Stir­ling in 1746, his head­quar­ters were at the house of Sir Hugh Pater­son of Ban­nock­burn. Lady Pater­son’s niece, Cle­mentina Walkin­shaw, was vis­it­ing her aunt and un­cle at the time.

Charles con­tracted a chill while at Ban­nock­burn House and Cle­mentina is said to have nursed him back to health. An at­tach­ment sprang up be­tween the two and they made a pact to meet again. Af­ter the dis­as­ters in Scot­land, Prince Charles went to France and later to Flan­ders where the young lady sought him out, telling her fam­ily that she wished to visit a con­vent in Bel­gium. Then be­gan an as­so­ci­a­tion that lasted for five years in the town of Liege, where the cou­ple were known as Count and Count­ess John­son, and their daugh­ter as Char­lotte John­son.

Hounded by en­e­mies who were bent upon keep­ing her and her child from putting forth any claim to the throne, a sep­a­ra­tion was ef­fected be­tween Cle­mentina and Charles, and mother and child went to Friburg in Switzer­land where they lived for 20 years.

Fright­ened by threats of be­ing de­prived of her child, Cle­mentina even­tu­ally signed, un­der duress, a doc­u­ment to the ef­fect that she had not been mar­ried to Charles. The daugh­ter, Char­lotte, was le­git­imised by the French Par­lia­ment as the Duchess of Albany. ‘The Bon­nie Lass of Albany’, as she was called in a poem writ­ten about her by Robert Burns, mar­ried the Swedish Baron Roe­hen­start, with whom she had two chil­dren, John and Marie Stu­art Ro­hen­start. These chil­dren were se­cretly adopted by a fam­ily in Poland, friends of the House of Stu­art.

Fall­ing from her horse, Char­lotte de­vel­oped an ab­scess from which she ul­ti­mately died, although ru­mour had it she was poi­soned. She is buried in Rome, as if un­mar­ried.

Her mother died at Friburg, Switzer­land, in 1802, leav­ing a tiny sum of money and a locked gold box, from which she would never part, de­spite her poverty and tribu­la­tion. In her will she re­quested that this gold box con­tain­ing a minia­ture of the Prince and her pa­pers be trans­mit­ted through Mr Thomas Coutts, the banker, to her friends in Scot­land to whom she had pre­vi­ously in- ti­mated she would con­vey, upon her death, doc­u­ments which would ‘vin­di­cate the in­no­cence of her cru­elly as­persed char­ac­ter’.

Among the pa­pers was the cer­tifi­cate of her mar­riage to Prince Charles. But nei­ther this ev­i­dence nor any of the other equally im­por­tant pa­pers by which it was ac­com­pa­nied reached Scot­land at that time, but in­stead found their way to Cle­mentina’s grand­daugh­ter in War­saw.

The grand­daugh­ter, Marie Stu­art Roe­hen­start, mar­ried James So­bieski, a cadet of the House of So­bieski. In or­der to prove the au­then­tic­ity and le­git­i­macy of the de­scent, John Stu­art Roe­hen­start wrote to his sis­ter in War­saw ask­ing her to send him the pa­pers which were in her keep­ing. Not wish­ing to trust the valu­able doc­u­ments in the gold box to any­one, she brought them her­self to Scot­land.

She met a Cap­tain Dughall Stu­art, a Dundee whaler and sealer, who of­fered to take her in his ship to a port in the Baltic whence she would make her way to War­saw to be with her daugh­ter, Carolina So­bieski. She ac­cepted the at­trac­tive of­fer and boarded the ves­sel only to find her­self upon the high seas, a pris­oner aboard an en­emy ship. The lady’s beauty and po­si­tion availed her noth­ing; the gold box and its con­tents were taken from her and she was put ashore and left on Camp­bell Is­land in a hut built for her by the whaler’s crew.

Some of the men from this whaler later joined an­other which vis­ited the is­land and found there a skele­ton which they buried. The next time they left Dundee, they brought with them some heather which they kept moist below decks so suc­cess­fully that they planted on top of the lonely grave they had dug and it still grows there.

This is the leg­end of the se­cret of the heather grave. Ab­so­lute proof of the gold box is in ex­is­tence, but the box and its con­tents have dis­ap­peared. Con­sid­er­ing the in­es­timable value of this box his­tor­i­cally, it is re­mark­able that it has never been put up for sale. It is now so long since the crime was com­mit­ted that pun­ish­ment is out of the ques­tion. Were it still ex­tant, it would bring a goodly sum, but as it has not been forth­com­ing it, with its con­tents, have ev­i­dently been de­stroyed, thus end­ing for­ever all fear of an­other Ja­co­bite Ris­ing.

The 1979 gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign be­gan early for ev­ery man and his dog, The Oban Times re­ports on March 23, 1978, as Prime Min­is­ter Jim Cal­la­han ‘shares a lucky mas­cot with Ar­gyll prospec­tive can­di­date Mr Mal­colm Mac­gre­gor af­ter ar­riv­ing in Dunoon on Satur­day to ad­dress the Labour Party’s Scot­tish an­nual con­fer­ence’. In the end, Mr Mac­gre­gor came third be­hind the SNP’s Iain MacCormick, who lost his Ar­gyll­shire seat to the Con­ser­va­tives’ John MacKay.

Stron­tian school’s young mu­sic mak­ers re­ceived great ap­plause and praise when they took the high­est- ever marks at the fourth Lochaber Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in Fort Wil­liam, re­ports The Oban Times on March 23, 1978.

A view of the ‘pic­turesque lit­tle vil­lage of Toboronochy on the Is­land of Lu­ing’, pub­lished in The Oban Times on April 4, 1959. Toboronochy, from the Gaelic To­bar Dhon­n­chaidh or ‘Dun­can’s Well’, was once a slate quar­ry­ing com­mu­nity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.