This elaborate set of travelling cutlery and two wine beakers was made by the Edinburgh goldsmith Ebenezer Oliphant in 1740-41, and may have been a 21st birthday gift for Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Silver travelling canteen fact file

Date: c.1740-1749
Made in: Edinburgh, Scotland
Made by: Ebenezer Oliphant
Made from: Silver
Dimensions: Height 165mm, width 85mm, depth 105mm
Museum reference: H.MEQ 1584.1
On display: Scotland Transformed, Level 3, National Museum of Scotland
Did you know? The canteen contains several pieces, including a wine-taster, a cruet, a teaspoon and marrow scoop, a corkscrew, a nutmeg grater and a knife and fork.

Bonnie Prince Charlie's silver travelling canteen

Above: The silver travelling canteen.

Who was Bonnie Prince Charlie?

Charles Edward Stewart, or Bonnie Prince Charlie as he became known, was born in Rome in 1720. He was the grandson of the deposed Catholic King James VII and II who had fled to France from the Protestant William of Orange's invading army in 1688, and soon became the focus of the Jacobite cause to reclaim the throne. Personable and energetic, he was initially an ideal figurehead. To the British government, however, he was the Young Pretender, a rebel insurgent.

Prince Charles Edward Stewart

Above: Prince Charles Edward Stewart. Image from the National Library of Scotland's digital archive of Jacobite prints and broadsides.

In 1745, Charles sailed from France to Scotland and travelled to the Highlands to raise the Scottish clans in rebellion against the British monarch George II. His plan was to make his father, James Stewart, the Old Pretender, king.

How does the travelling canteen represent the Jacobite cause?

The outer case of the travelling canteen is decorated with the three-feathered badge of the Prince of Wales, while the lid is chased with bands of linked thistles and a figure of St Andrew surrounded by the motto ‘Nemo Me Impune Lacesset’, all representing the collar and badge of the Most Nobel Order of the Thistle. In Jacobite eyes, Prince Charles was created Prince of Wales on his birth in 1720, and was made a Knight of the Thistle shortly after.

Silver travelling canteen

Above: The travelling canteen, engraved with the three feathers of the Prince of Wales.

Who was Ebenezer Oliphant?

Ebenezer Oliphant was a member of the staunchly Jacobite family of the Oliphants of Gask, in Perthshire, and his father and brother (both called Laurence) were ‘out’ with Prince Charles’s army during the 1745-6 Rebellion.

The base of the travelling canteen

Above: The base of the travelling canteen, showing the intials of its maker, Ebenezer Oliphant.

When did the canteen arrive in Scotland?

Charles brought the canteen with him to Scotland in 1745. At first his campaign went well. Having gathered support from the Highland clansmen, Charles marched south, defeating the British government’s army at Prestonpans, in East Lothian, then crossing the border to England and successfully laying siege to Carlisle. Charles and his army reached as far south as Derby, causing panic in London, before reluctantly retreating to Scotland on the advice of his commanders. After defeating government forces again at Falkirk, the Jacobite army headed north.

When the Rebellion came to an end in April 1746, with the defeat of the Jacobite army at Culloden, Charles had the canteen with him in his baggage.

How did the canteen come into the museum collection?

The victorious government commander, William, Duke of Cumberland, captured the canteen and gave it to one of his aides, George Kepple, later the Earl of Albemarle, and it remained in his family until 1963. The canteen was finally acquired by the Museum in 1984, after a successful public fundraising campaign to prevent it being sold abroad.

Next: Culloden: Regimental colours >