Archibald Cameron of Locheil

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Dr Archibald Cameron of Lochiel

Dr Archibald Cameron of Lochiel (1707–1753) was a prominent leader in the Jacobite uprising of 1745 and the last Jacobite to be executed for high treason on 7 June 1753.

Before the uprising[edit]

Archibald was born in 1707, the sixth child of John Cameron of Lochiel, 18th chief of Clan Cameron, and Isabel Campbell.[1] His father had participated in the failed 1715 Jacobite Rebellion, and as a result had become an exile living first in Paris, then Boulogne, and not returning to Scotland until November of 1745. Archibald's elder brother (chief in the absence of their father) was Donald Cameron of Lochiel (known in Jacobite history as 'the Gentle Lochiel').

Sent to Glasgow University to study law, Archibald rather took to medicine. He entered the University of Edinburgh, and then completed his studies in Paris and Leiden in Holland. He subsequently returned to the Scottish Highlands, married, and settled in Lochaber, fathering seven children.[2]

The '45[edit]

When Charles Edward Stuart ('Bonnie Prince Charlie') first arrived in Scotland, Archibald was dispatched by his brother to Loch nan Uamh to communicate the futility of the enterprise and persuade the Prince to return to France.[3] However, it was Charles who did the persuading, and soon the Camerons joined him in armed revolt. In late August, Archibald first saw action, helping to lead a fairly futile attack on the Ruthven barracks.[4] In the campaign that followed, he seems to have served as Lieutenant Colonel in his brother's clan regiment.[5] Archibald was lightly wounded in January 1746 at the Battle of Falkirk,[6] but he then had to tend his brother more seriously wounded at the Battle of Culloden (with two broken ankles). Defeat in that battle ended the Jacobite hopes, and in its wake both brothers (and their father) became fugitives hiding from the British Redcoats.

After the burning of the family seat, Achnacarry House, the Camerons hid in Badenoch. However, despite the danger, the Prince was determined to meet with Lochiel, and so Archibald was sent to Loch Arkaig to convey the Prince to the family hiding place (3 September). The whole party then moved to Ben Alder, the refuge of Ewen MacPherson of Cluny, keeper of the Loch Arkaig treasure. Here, on 13 September, word came that French ships were waiting at Loch na Uamh, and on these the whole party escaped on 19 September.

Betrayal and execution[edit]

In exile, Archibald remained in Charles' service, travelling with him to Madrid in 1748. He returned to Scotland privately in 1749, and then, in 1753, he was sent back to Scotland again to obtain money from Loch Arkaig,[7] and to participate in a desperate plot to assassinate George II and the royal family. However, while staying secretly at Brenachyle by Loch Katrine, he was betrayed (by MacDonell of Glengarry the notorious 'Pickle the spy', and members of his own clan who were this time sickened by his Jacobitism[4]) and arrested. He was charged under the 1746 Act of Attainder for his part in the 1745 uprising. He was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle then taken to Tower Hill, London and sentenced to death.[8] On 7 June 1753 at Tyburn, he was drawn on a sledge, and hanged for 20 minutes before being cut down and beheaded. His remains were buried in the Savoy Chapel.[9] He was, in fact, the last Jacobite to be executed. In his final papers, written from prison, he still protested his loyalty to the Jacobite cause and his episcopalian principles.[10]

In 1753, John Cameron of Dochanassie wrote a song in Gaelic in commemoration of Archibald's life.[11]

Archibald Cameron is a leading character in D K Broster's 1927 novel, The Gleam in the North, the second in her Jacobite Trilogy.


  1. ^ Clan Cameron genealogies
  2. ^ The Newgate Calendar (1824) account of his execution
  3. ^ Kybert, Susan Maclean "Bonnie Prince Charlie: A biography" p122
  4. ^ a b Kybert, Susan Maclean "Bonnie Prince Charlie: A biography" p128
  5. ^ Clan Cameron archives account of the battle (Although, interestingly, the Newgate Calendar's hagiography presents him as a pacific man, refusing to offer more than his surgical skills in the cause - this is unlikely to be correct [1]
  6. ^ Account from the Clan Cameron Archive
  7. ^ Kybert, Susan Maclean "Bonnie Prince Charlie: A biography" p268
  8. ^
  9. ^ The history of Clan Cameron
  10. ^ Letters Written in the Tower of London 5-6 June 1753 from the Clan Cameron archives
  11. ^ A Song to Doctor Cameron from the Clan Cameron archives


  • Profile in Am Baile
  • Kybert, Susan Maclean "Bonnie Prince Charlie: A biography" Unwin 1988 ISBN
  • Mackenzie, B.W. (Lord Amulree), "Dr. Archibald Cameron" in Med Hist. 1971 July; 15(3): 230–240. [2]
  • Scott, Sir Walter "Redgauntlet" 1824 The pertinent excerpts can be found in the Clan Cameron Archive [3]