In the mid-18th century, Scotland was still a very rural, agricultural economy, poverty-stricken and with a low life expectancy of the lower, serving class. James VI of Scotland, from the House of Stewart, had been crowned King of England in 1603 and the Stuarts reigned over both Scotland and England until the death of Queen Anne 1714.
King James VII was forced to abdicate in favour of his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange, after he had turned to Roman Catholicism, which had sparked an outrage amongst the Protestants. James fled to France seeking support, and Prince William took the throne, something that a group of resistance fighters and devoted followers of James and his son Charles Edward Stuart (‘Bonnie Prince Charles’) would never forgive and accept.
These followers became known as the Jacobites (James reads Jacobus in Latin), and their uprisings between 1688-1746 are equally admirable as they were unsuccessful. Although many Jacobites came from the Western Highlands, it was a mix of highlanders and lowlanders, French and Irish, who supported the rebellions, before finally being defeated in the Battle of Culloden in 1745.
It became treason to openly support the Stuart claim to the throne after the battle, so supporters and loyal friends of Bonnie Prince Charles produced a secret ritual involving a secret portrait of the Prince, which only strengthened the romantic, secretive notion of the rebellion. They would raise their glasses in a toast, once servants and ladies had withdrawn from the dinner table, to a tray holding a silver goblet with the portrait of Bonnie Prince Charles elegantly painted on its lower middle part; if there was danger of interruption, the setup could easily be dismantled and hidden away.
The goblet can be found in a small museum in the Western Highlands, along the route of the Jacobite train, named in honour of West Highlanders supporting the Stuart claim. The small town itself is named after William of Orange, and was famously besieged for two weeks by Jacobites, who had taken the other two forts nearby, but failed to conquer Fort William.
As seen in The Great Railway Journeys of Europe