Who was the Jacobite Peter Grant?

In 1824 the last known survivor of the 1745 Jacobite rising died, aged 110. This man was Peter Grant, also known as Auld Dubrach.

Born in 1714, Peter Grant was the son of a crofter and grew up on his family’s croft at Dubrach near Braemar. When he was old enough, and had received a basic education, Peter became an apprentice to a weaver and tailor in the small village of Acuhindryne. From this, he would later become a tailor in his own right. Peter would only have been a baby during the 1715 Jacobite Rising but at the age of thirty one he was certainly ready for the start of the ’45 Rising when Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised the Jacobites again.

Peter soon enlisted with the Jacobite army joining Monaltries regiment. As part of the Jacobite army he most certainly saw various action but it was at Prestonpans that Peter was recognised for his bravery and he was raised to the rank of Sergeant-Major. At Culloden, Peter survived the battle but was captured by the Government and was taken prisoner. Initially, he was held in Inverness, before being transported south to Carlisle, where he awaited sentencing.

It would not have looked good for Peter; many Jacobites were being sentenced to death, deported or dying from the poor conditions of the prison. It seems that Peter, though, had other ideas and he found a way to escape the prison. It is possible he managed to find a route over the walls but it is not certain. Nevertheless, he made his escape and seemingly made his way north back into Scotland, where he was forced to remain hidden as a known Jacobite.

During his years in hiding, Peter was never recaptured, despite there being a price on his head. Finally, after many years, he was able to return to a relatively normal life and he was able to come out of hiding. Eventually he married a local woman, Mary Cummings, who was seemingly much younger than himself. Some say it was Peter himself who had made her christening gown.

Later, Peter and his wife moved into a small cottage on his son’s farm in Angus, and it is here he sadly lost his wife in 1811 when she was 65. Little is known about Peter for many years and it is not until a decade later that his story re-emerges with an intriguing turn. Already well past one hundred years old, two walkers met Peter and were fascinated by his tales of the Jacobites. The walkers began a petition which was given to King George IV when they visited Edinburgh in 1822.

There is a story that says Peter was then presented to the King. When they met, the King supposedly said

“Ah, Grant, you are my oldest friend”

to which Peter replied

“Na, na, your majesty, I’m your auldest enemy’”

The story is certainly a great tale but whether it is true or not is up for debate. There are no clear records of Peter having met King George IV and it seems more likely that just the petition was delivered. Regardless of whether Peter met King George IV or not, what is true is that King George IV awarded Peter with a generous pension.

Two years later, on 11th February 1824, Peter passed away, aged 110, at his son’s home. His funeral was one of the largest the village had ever seen and was attended by some 300 people. It is said that roughly four gallons of whisky was consumed before the coffin was laid down to rest in the cemetery at Invercauld, beside Braemar Castle. A stone tablet was erected at his grave site which was inscribed with the words ‘The old, loyal Jacobite was at peace. He had kept faith with those whom he thought were his rightful Monarchs all his life, a ‘hero and a man of honour to the last.’