Lord Lovat Revisited
Two weeks ago I blogged about a hero of D-Day, Simon Fraser, the fifteenth Lord Lovat. While researching for that post I came across another Lord Lovat, not quite so heroic. In fact, he was such a wily scoundrel, he was known as The Fox.
If you’re a fan of the television series, Outlander, you’ll remember Simon Fraser, the eleventh Lord Lovat, from a season two episode, The Fox’s Lair. Lovat is grandsire to the fictional Jamie Fraser, but the real Lovat was no fictional character. His life story epitomizes the political intrigues and brutality of the time as the Scottish clans battled each other and the English.
He lost titles and had titles restored, raised armies to push for his personal gain, and fought both on the ground and in the courts for the properties he thought should be his.
The rest of Simon’s life involved untangling the legal and financial problems he had inherited with the title, as well as fending off lawsuits from various claimants in the courts…
A Thorough Scoundrel
This Jacobite Broadside depicts Lord Lovat at the time he was arrested. Difficult to make out is the text below:
Among them there was a Politician with more Heads than a Beast in Vision And more Intrigues in every one Then all the Whore of Babylon Could turn his Word and Oath and Faith as many ways as in a Lathe”
I assume the “Whore of Babylon” refers to the Catholic Church. While at the French court, Lovat had converted to Catholicism for political reasons.
Lord Lovat is seated on a wall:
…many pictures on the wall portraying scenes from his life–all bad, his sporin hangs open with bottles of spirits visible, he’s also holding a piece of paper with 6 lines of verse on it. The Scenes are entitled: “The Lady Dowager of Lovat forced into Bed &c” and “When a Jesuit in France the Young Lady and her Maid” and “The Magnificent Monument erected to set forth ye Virtues of ye Family of Lovat” and “M___ Daughters and Maid poulled out of their Bed and Abus’d, for which three of he Gang were hanged” and “Mt___ Corn and Hay stacks were burnt to Ashes one night” and “A servant in the cave for asking his wages” and “A Hundred Head of Large Cattle belonging to Mr. ___ all Killed and Lamed in one Night”
Lord Lovat’s scandalous reputation provided excellent fodder for anti-Jacobite propaganda.
Lovat changed loyalties between the Stuarts and the English as needed, spent time in French prisons, and tried playing both sides in the rebellion of 1745. Ultimately, he was executed for treason in 1747.
While researching the post two weeks ago, the contrast between the eleventh and fifteenth Lords Lovat struck me. At the end of his life, the fifteenth Lord Lovat had serious financial difficulties. Perhaps if he’d lived in earlier times he might have raised an army and seized another clan’s property to cover his bills. But he didn’t. Instead he made the hard decision to sell his ancestral home.
Find out more
If you have a Netflix subscription, seasons one and two of Outlander are now available there. I confess I haven’t read the Outlander books, but I think the series does a good job of depicting the brutality and chaos of the era. What do you think?
Credits: the images and quotes are from Wikimedia commons and Wikipedia.