Sunday, 5 December 2010

Lady Grange on St Kilda

Rachel Chiesley, who is also known as Lady Grange, died in 1745 after spending 13 years in enforced exile on remote islands off the Scottish west coast. In 1732, she separated from her husband, James Erskine, Lord Grange and Lord Advocate. She accused him of having Jacobite leanings, something that caused her to be declared insane. Lady Grange was declared dead, but whilst her funeral was in progress, she was being shipped off to the Scottish west coast.

The first two years of her exile were spent in the Monach Isles, six miles west of North Uist. In 1734, she was transferred to St Kilda, where she apparently lived in miserable circumstances - in a cleit. After being spirited off the island in a hurry in 1740, she was taken to various other locations, but finally ended her days in Skye, where she died in 1745.

I wonder whether the account of her story was an inspiration to Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, which is set at around the same time. An extensive account can be read on Wikipedia.

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