Plaque commemorates Broughty sisters’ bravery

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LOCAL politicians Stewart Hosie and Shona Robison were on hand on Saturday to perform the unveiling of a plaque commemorating an historic incident of the 1745 Rising which occurred in Broughty Ferry.

The marble plaque, created by Monikie man David McGovern (38) to commemorate two local women, was unveiled at The Fisherman’s Tavern.

The two women, Mally and Jenny Burn who were 15 and 18, were the daughters of a local innkeeper and they helped to save the life of a high-ranking Jacobite officer, the Chevalier de Johnstone, in 1746.

Chevalier de Johnstone was aide-de-camp to the Jacobite commander Lord George Murray. He escaped Culloden and headed so uth hoping to reach Edinburgh, then the continent.

Reaching Duntrune, the seat of the Jacobite family of Grahame, he enquired where he could find assistance to cross over to Fife. He was advised there would be men at an alehouse in Broughty Ferry who could assist in rowing him over the Tay. However, when he reached the alehouse the menfolk were too scared, as there were Redcoat patrols in the area.

But the landlady Mrs Burn had a son in the Jacobite army and her daughters, Mally and Jenny, were ashamed by the behaviour of the men and offered to assist.

With their help the Chevalier escaped to Fife and eventually he reached France.

Broughty man Kevin Cordell, one of the organisers of the event, researched the incident and believed that it deserved wider recognition. He said: “In later life the Chevalier wrote a memoir of events of the ‘45s and expressed his gratitude thus:

“‘If it should be my lot to return to my native country, I shall certainly be at Broughty expressly to see them.’

“Sadly he died in exile but the deeds of Broughty Ferry’s own Flora MacDonalds live on thanks to his memoirs. Mally and Jenny Burn proved that loyalty, courage and compassion were alive in Broughty Ferry and we know of their deeds because the Chevalier remembered them.

“Now because of the plaque we hope more people will know of these events.

“The plaque itself came into being when myself and an old school friend, David McGovern, discussed the incident, which is not widely known, and we both felt that it should be commemorated somehow.

“David is the creative drive behind an engraving business called Monikie Rock Art and he designed and created the plaque. The Fisherman’s Tavern was approached with this story and Tracey Cooper and Tarig Brady, manageress and bar manager respectively, embraced the project wholeheartedly.”

Speaking at the event, Shona Robison explained: “At the heart of this incident are two courageous young women from Broughty Ferry aged 15 and 18 - Jenny and Mally Burn – daughters of a local Innkeeper, who had learned that the men of Broughty were not willing to take the risk to convey the Chevalier across the Tay.

“They took it upon themselves to do so and rowed him across to Fife from where he escaped to France. Later, he recounted the incident in his memoirs and said that if he could return to his native Scotland, he would visit Broughty expressly to see them.

“This did not happen however and he died in exile although the incident usefully reminds us that women too were involved in those stirring times and this plaque is a fitting memorial to the courage of these young Broughty sisters.

“It is hoped that this plaque and the story behind it will help to engender interest in local history and encourage tourism in Broughty Ferry.”