Alexander Robertson, 13th of Struan, 1670-1749, was a poet and the most fanatical of Jacobites. He wrote not only in English and Gaelic but also versified in Italian, Latin, and French. Long periods of his life were spent in exile with the Jacobites in St Germains. King James VIII called him the first gentleman of his court. He lost his estates in 1690 after he scurried home from St Andrews University and let his clan to fight for Bonnie Dundee.
He was late for Killiecrankie but found some enemy troops near Perth and lost his battle. He then went abroad for a decade to the exiled Stuart Court. His sister Margaret collected the rents and petitioned the authorities to allow her brother home. He rewarded her by having her forcibly removed to a remote Hebridean island to avoid paying her annuity. She escaped in time to save his skin after the 1715 Rising and he spent another ten years in exile before she won a pardon for him.
By the time of the ’45 Struan was an old man but still led his clan down to the Battle of Prestonpans. After the victory he appropriated the gold chain, the wolf fur cloak, the brandy, and the carriage belonging to the defeated commander, Sir John Cope. His clansmen escorted him back home. For the last few miles after a wheel had broken, they carried the coach on their shoulders. Amongst Cope’s coach was some chocolate. This was viewed with deep suspicion and discarded.
The chief’s portrait depicts him holding a glass and toasting the spectator, an appropriate pose since it is recorded that the Duke of Perth was hours de combat when Bonnie Prince Charlie sent his summons in 1745. The duke had been staying with Struan and it took him several weeks to recover from the drink he had consumed. Struan died iin 1749 and 2,0000 men marched 14 miles behind his coffin from Rannoch to his grave at Struan Kirk. He left his estates forfeit and saddled by debts. The clan never recovered from its adherence to the Stuarts. It refused to betray its honour for expediency.