It was an act of justice, just six years after the Battle of Culloden Moor, in Scotland, when the dream of Jacobite rising was brutally over. On 14 May 1752, Colin Campbell of Glenure, the royal agent collecting rents from the clan of Stewarts, was murdered. As Alan Breck Stewart, who fought for the rebel forces of Charles Edward Stuart “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, had previously publicly threatened Glenure and had enquired about his schedule for the day in question, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
There is no record of what happened to Stewart after the trial. One common story, derived from Sir Walter Scott, is that he returned to military service for the French crown and served against the British in North America during the French and Indian War. Another tale, passed down through the Stewart family, is that he fled to Ireland and set up a farm. There are now many Stewart descendants living in Ireland.
However, he evaded capture, and so was tried in absentia and sentenced to death. His foster father, James, was convicted as an accessory to the murder and hanged. In the murder of Glenure, the British government saw the potential danger of Jacobite assassinations of their agents in the Highlands, on the one hand, and also a potential renewal of a Campbell/Stewart feud, on the other. The execution of James of the Glen increased the Stewarts’ discontent.
Later investigations suggest that the murderer could not have been Stewart at all. For example, in the novel of Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson, “Kidnapped and Catriona”, the killer was Alan Breck so to avoid the death of James, he surrended to the British justice nd hanged. The film of 1971, with Michael Caine like Alan Breck, reflected the same story. Caine is one of my favourite actors.
In real life, we do not know what happened with Alan Breck after his trial. One common story, derived from Sir Walter Scott, is that he returned to military service for the French crown and served against the British in North America during the French and Indian War. Another tale, passed down through the Stewart family, is that he fled to Ireland and set up a farm. In th presente, there are now many Stewart descendants living in Ireland.
In this video, one of the final scenes of the film, we can see that romantic figure, suffering with a nostalgic vision of old times with epic wars and rebellions against British forces and feeling the end of this era.
Never again, Scottish fought militarily against England. Thirty years later, they chose Adam Smith and the “Scottish Enlightment” advices and abandoned the blood linkage of the Highlands clans. They prefered commerce´s exchange and the progress of the Lowlands. Once again, honor and passion were surrended to peace and money. Those were the costs of an open society and the market economy.