Information, Suggestions, and Guidelines for Jacobite
Living History Participants


Non-combatants on Battlefield and in Ranks


Many characters are portrayed at a living history event. Roles for women are as varied as those for men; they are often just not as well known. Please remember however this is mid 18th Century Scotland and women, like men, need to stifle their 21st Century rhetoric. Army following women were plucky, determined, self sufficient and adroit; but not out of their “place” in society. Class consciousness was a part of everyday life.

There were few women traveling with the Army of King James, and few of those had children with them. The military standard of the period for enlisted men and NCOs was a ratio of roughly ten men to one woman in garrison, and much, much greater on the march. Records show that the Jacobite Army ratio may have been fifty to one or more.

Officer’s wives, Ladies, and female “guests” of the officers, were in classes separate from common Highland women. They were there to “observe,” to be with their men, or to visit the Prince. They did not do traditional work, nor did they regularly associate with lower classes of women.

Many different jobs were commonly filled by camp women: cooking, nursing, gathering supplies and firewood, working the baggage train, laundress, seamstress, and what came to be known as “button money” women. Button Money women were often seamstresses by day and prostitutes by night. The term “loose woman” comes from these ladies “working” with their stays only loosely tied (thus easily slipped out of.) This differs from “straight laced” women who were not loose, and kept their stays covered and tight. Prostitution was a common (and not necessarily evil) profession. It’s well presented in camp each year, but should be accurately portrayed by a very limited number of women.



No women, nor girls or boys under the age of fourteen, are to be on the battlefields at any time. There is no reliable record of women disguised as men in the battles of the ‘45. There is historical precedent for only a couple of Highland women on the battlefield soon after the battle, and they were there the following day. All exceptions should be discussed with the Research Historian beforehand.

Women and children should not be in the Highland Army’s ranks while they are in formation, being reviewed, addressed, or on the march to battle. For those scenarios where the entire army is anabasis or moving from one camp to another (like coming from the Prince’s landing or going into Edinburgh,) women and children should be with the rear guard. Please remind children that during speeches, presentations, and other activities where large groups of people need to hear what is going on, they may need to move their fun and games to other areas.

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Copyright 2001 MacFarlanes Company. Revised 3/2003.
Information on this page may be used by non-profit organizations for research and education purposes only, for all other use contact Elliot MacFarlane.
Last updated: 4/17/03
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