The letters between Lord George Murray and his wife Amelia were often laced with pseudonyms, with numerical codes used to refer to members of their family, which was split over the Jacobite cause, to avoid detection of the lieutenant commander’s whereabouts.
Lord George, a long-trusted military strategist whose relationship with Bonnie Prince Charlie ultimately disintegrated, vanished to the Netherlands following an eight-month period on the run after Culloden, with his wife remaining at the family seat of Blair Castle, Perthshire.
Keren Guthrie, archivist at Blair Castle said: “Writing from exile in the Netherlands, the letters illustrate the depth of love between the two in terrible circumstances. It is a long distance love affair against the backdrop of conflict not only between countries, but also within the immediate family.”
In one letter, Lord George wrote: “I am always exceedingly obliged to you, & have not confessions so strong, as can paint the overflowings of my heart, when I consider the innumerable marks I receive of your affections.”
In another, he said: “May everything that is good constantly attend you and yours; and believe that no person upon earth values, esteems or loves you better.”
The letters, which were delivered using a network of friends, were initially “very formal in tone”, with pseudonyms such as Harry Dow and Mr Fogo appearing in the correspondence.
Ms Guthrie said: “In 1747 Lord George wrote to Lady Strowan of Arnhall. This letter, as with many others, was intended for his wife by him, but written under a pseudonym. He refers to his wife of her as Miss Gordon and himself as her friend of her. ”
Lord George wrote: “Madam, I had the good fortune to see Miss Gordon’s Friend at this place both in his going & coming. He is in good health & he tells me he is going for France.”
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The Murrays shared news on health, living conditions and sometimes mundane matters in the correspondence.
“But the words of devotion are nonetheless prominent throughout, illustrating the strength of feeling,” Ms Guthrie said.
Ms Guthrie said the couple – and their children – did manage to meet on occasion. Once the political situation calmed down, Lady Amelia took a house in Medmblik in The Netherlands to be near her husband de ella as he was dying.
It was from here she wrote to her son, saying: “God only knows my sad and afflicted heart, and disconsolate situation in the loss I have made of so kind, affectionate, and inestimable friend and husband.”
Lord George Murray and Bonnie Prince Charlie turned on each other in the latter stages of the 1745 rising. He resigned his command following the siege of Carlisle in November 1745, although he stayed on to fight on the ground.
When he went into exile in the Netherlands, it was the third time he had sought safety on the Continent, having fought for the Jacobites in 1715 and 1719.
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