52 Ancestors, Week 16: Should Be a Movie

I’m a little later in the week than usual in writing my Week 16 post for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project. The challenge was created by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow, who provides a different prompt each week for exploring our families. This week’s prompt: Should Be a Movie.

I usually post on the weekend, but this week, I kept changing my mind about which story I want to tell.

So far, my 52 Ancestors posts have been about my own family. This time, I’ve settled on an ancestor of my husband’s. I admit that I have not done a lot of research on yet on this remarkable woman, and I don’t know her exact relationship to my husband, but I do know she is his kinswoman by definition: they belong to the same Scottish clan, the Farquharsons. I suspect she may be a direct ancestor, but have a lot more research to do before I can confidently make that claim.

Lady Anne Farquharson Mackintosh (1723-1784), also known as Colonel Anne, was a Jacobite, part of the movement to restore to the British throne the senior line of the House of Stuart — specifically, King James VII of Scotland and II of England. In fact, she was not just a supporter; like all the Farquharsons, she was fiercely loyal to the Jacobite cause, loyal enough to risk her life for it.

In hanging onto her own convictions, Colonel Anne was a rebel not just within the empire, but within her own household. Anne’s husband, Angus Mackintosh, was a Captain in the Black Watch, the English government force raised from loyal clans to police the Highlands — in other words, to police people like Anne and the rest of her clan. Unlike many women of her time, Anne refused to abandon her own beliefs in favor of her husband’s. Somehow, they made the marriage work.

In fact, Anne did more than just believe in the Jacobite cause; she led an army for it. Anne Farquharson Mackintosh was the first woman in Scotland to hold the rank of Colonel, and the only woman commander in the Jacobite forces. She personally raised a force of 350 Farquharson and Mackintosh fighters, despite being all of 22 years old at the time. As a woman, she was not allowed to actually lead her forces on the battlefield. But she recruited and organized her army and personally came up with the battle plans. She is credited with saving the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie by planning a daring attack to make the English-led forces believe they were up against the entire Jacobite army instead of a force of only five of her men.

At the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745, a victory for the Highlanders, Captain Angus Mackintosh was captured. When he was later paroled into the custody of his wife, who outranked him, Anne greeted him with the words, “Your servant, Captain” to which he replied, “your servant, Colonel.” After that, she was known as “Colonel Anne.”

When the Jacobites were finally defeated at Culloden the following year, many of her soldiers were killed, and Anne was captured and held at Inverness. After six weeks, she was paroled into her husband’s custody. Despite their political differences, they appear to have lived together happily until his death in 1770.

Now wouldn’t her story make a terrific movie?

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