About John Roy

Iain Ruadh Stiùbhart … John Roy Stuart

John Roy Stuart is one of the most important historical and cultural figures to originate in Strathspey. Born just a few miles from Aviemore, at Knock of Kincardine in Strathspey in the year 1700, John Roy became one of Strathspey’s best-known and best-loved heroes. In the Jacobite Rising of 1745-1746 he was made Colonel of the Edinburgh Regiment, in which he led men from Strathspey, as well as from Edinburgh. His loyalty and devotion to the Jacobite cause led him to become one of Prince Charles’ most trusted men.

John Roy's Cave

John Roy's Cave in the hills around Glenmore

He is generally considered one of the most colourful and charismatic characters of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, whose narrow escapes and adventures became legendary, so much so that they are widely believed to have provided Robert Louis Stevenson with the inspiration for the character of Alan Breck Stewart in the novels Kidnapped and Catriona (the real Alan Breck having quite a different character from that attributed to him in the celebrated novels).

John Roy’s military skill and aptitude, especially his swordmanship, were greatly admired as were his skills as a piper and poet. His Gaelic songs, some of which are still sung to this day, earned him lasting renown throughout the Highlands. For many years previous, and for some years after the 1745 Rising, John Roy operated as a Jacobite agent, making often hazardous trips between France and Scotland, in the hope that the people of Scotland would “rise again for Scotland’s own sake.”

Some of these trips he paid for out of his own pocket, which led him into serious debt. He died in France c.1752, his cause of death and place of burial unknown.

Every year, on the anniversary of the raising of the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan on 19th August, John Roy Stuart’s standard-bearer – James Maclntyre from Beglan in Glenmore (who carried the Green Banner of Kincardine at the Battle of Culloden and who saved it from falling into the clutches of the redcoat soldiers and certain destruction) – would walk to the summit of Cairngorm and unfurl the banner in memory of John Roy Stuart and the other men from Strathspey who fought for the Jacobite cause.

In 2000 the 1745 Association funded the building of a cairn near to his place of birth in Kincardine as a lasting memorial to John Roy Stuart. Until now this has been the only recognition that John Roy has ever received in his native land.  However, for the contribution he has made to the culture, folklore and history of Strathspey, we created this website and held a puclic event in 2007  to celebrate his life, his legend and his achievements.

Links to further information

Photo of John Roy Stuart’s targe, lost by him at Clifton, Cumberland, 1745
University of Aberdeen »

Pistol used by John Roy Stuart University of Aberdeen »

Information on John Roy from “In the Shadow of Cairngorm” »

Two poems by John Roy Stuart on The Gutenberg Project »
(Lament for Lady Macintosh & The Day of Culloden)

Biography – Oxford DNB (subscription reqd).