1747: 20 die at traitor’s execution – Lord Lovat was rebellious to the end

 

Simon ‘The Fox’, 11th Lord Lovat and chief of Clan Fraser, was the Jacobite rogue everyone loved to hate. From his teenage years until his death by execution aged 80, he had been involved in every imaginable intrigue, both personally and politically.

He changed sides between King James and King William so often that it’s not certainly known whose side he was really on – if anyone’s. He wrote two autobiographies in his own lifetime which serve simply to muddy the waters further.

He was outlawed twice for acts of treason and spent much of his days pursued and accused of the rape and forced marriage of the previous Fraser chief’s widow to cement his own claim to the title. But despite a great deal of legal action over the case, she refused to testify against him. It’s one of the few crimes he regularly denied having committed.

The Fox had a different side: among poor Scots he was known and loved for constant acts of charity, he demonstrated an active concern for the wellbeing of his family and clan, and loved quoting Latin and
Greek literature in any situation.

His execution, the last beheading in Britain, was a suitably dramatic affair.

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