Select Patterson Miscellany

Here are some Patterson stories and accounts over the years:

The Patersons and Bonnie Prince Charlie

A celebrated episode of the Paterson family was during the Jacobite rising of 1745 when Sir Hugh Paterson, the 2nd Baronet of Bannockburn entertained Bonnie Prince Charlie in early 1746.  His niece Clementina Walkinshaw became Prince Charlie's mistress.  She followed him to France in 1751 and bore him a daughter Charlotte, styled the Duchess of Albany. 

Bannockburn House still stands today as it was when Bonnie Prince Charlie visited it

The Patersons of Castle Huntly and the Paterson Ghost

George Paterson, who was born in Dundee and trained in Scotland as a doctor, went out to India in the 1750’s to act as a secretary for the East India Company.  There he made his fortune.  He returned to Scotland a rich man.  He purchased in 1777 for £40,000 Castle Huntly in Perthshire, which was to stay with the Paterson family until 1946. 

Within the grounds of Castle Huntly was the famous Wallace Cottage and the green stone where William Wallace was said to have rested while fleeing from Dundee during the wars for Scottish independence. 

The castle left the family after the death of Colonel Adrian Gordon Paterson when his widow sold the castle to the Government.  The Government also apparently acquired a ghost.   This ghost was a young boy dressed in a double-breasted sailing jacket. It was thought to have been the son of Colonel Adrian Gordon Paterson. The Colonel's only son Richard had drowned in 1939 in a yachting accident on the Tay river.

William Patterson from Kinnettles

William Patterson, born in 1755, was a gardener’s son but one who had the good fortune to receive the patronage of Lady Alary Lyon of Glamis, by whom he was educated.  He retained an interest in plants which encouraged him to go overseas and, while abroad, he would frequently send plant specimens to that eminent botanist Sir Joseph Banks. 

He joined the NSW Corp in Australia in 1791 and rose to be Colonel of the 102nd Regiment and subsequently Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales.  

Unfortunately the latter period of his life was characterized by alcoholism and ill-health.  In 1810 he attempted to return to Scotland, but died on the Dromedary as it was rounding Cape Horn.  A cenotaph, with a suitable inscription containing an account of his services and abilities, was afterwards erected in Kinnettles churchyard

Pattersons along the UK East Coast

The table below shows the line of Patterson numbers in the 1881 census along the east coast – running from Angus in Scotland to Yorkshire in England.

Scotland (000's)

England (000's)




Francis Patterson in County Tyrone

Francis Patterson of county Tyrone had like other Scots Presbyterians been attracted to the radical politics of the Society of the United Irishmen.  He was thus  united with his fellow ‘Irishmen’ in the Rising of 1798 – a bloody but failed revolt which attempted to found an Irish republic but which was ruthlessly crushed after three uncoordinated outbreaks in Leinster Ulster and Connacht in the summer of that year.

While not captured, Francis Patterson obviously was known to be a participant and had a price on his head.  What to do?   He had to get out of Ireland before the sheriff arrived, which is exactly what hes did  He took with him his wife Ann  and their son Robert, later to become a famous US general.

The Irish network looked after him well in America and he was able to find a home in Pennsylvania and engage in the cotton brokerage business.

George Patterson and His Sorrow

By the time William Patterson died in 1835, George had already taken over at Springfield and would run the huge plantation, dependent on the labor of some 40 slaves, for some 35 years. A letter published years later describes his plantation as “one of the finest in the state of some twenty-six hundred acres.”  

A born farmer, he was described as one of the first agriculturists in the country.  But he had never been an outwardly friendly man and in his later years he was even less so, walking his vast estate with two large dogs and seldom speaking with anyone.  “Of strict probity, he was yet brusque in speech, dictatorial in manner, and cared not a whit for the pomp of rank.”  

George married just after his father died.  He was over 40 at the time and Prudence Brown was not his first choice.   Prudence was 21 years younger than the man she married and a member of a prominent local family.

Their son George was born in 1844.  He was the pride and joy of his father, “the companion of his father from the time he could speak and walk.”  But he only lived five years, three months, and 12 days, before dying of a long unidentified illness four days short of Christmas,1849.  

George the father never got over his grief.  Patterson lived another twenty years with his wife, his daughter, and the memory of his son, and died in November 1869.

Johnny Patterson, Singer and Entertainer

Johnny Patterson worked with a number of circuses in Ireland before crossing to England. where he performed with Pablo Fanque, the black English circus proprietor, who saw his real talent.  John Nee, an Irish actor who portrayed Patterson in a 2010 stage production about his life, said: 

“His talent for singing, clowning, and engaging with an audience was immense.  He was talent-spotted by Pablo Fanque who the Beatles sing about in 'Mr Kite.'  He was a famous black Yorkshire showman.  He saw Johnny in Cork, loved him, and brought him to England.” 

In Liverpool he met and married a circus bareback rider, Selena Hickey.  Around this time he composed the song The Garden Where the Praties Grow.  His fame grew until he was offered a contract in America in 1876. In the United States he became one of most famous and highest paid entertainers at the time.  

His political opinions expressed in a song (he wanted Protestants and Catholics to live together peacefully) caused a fight at one performance.  Patterson was hit on the head by an iron bar and was kicked.  He died from his injuries at Tralee in county Kerry in 1889.  He was 49.  

In 1985 the Irish Circus Fans Association paid for a memorial to be placed in Tralee graveyard to commemorate his interment there.

Banjo Paterson

The man who wrote Australia’s most popular song, Waltzing Matilda, Banjo Paterson grew up on his family’s property beyond Yass, NSW and drew a lifelong inspiration from the Australian bush and its characters.  In 1895 his collection of ballads, The Man from Snowy River, was published.  It became an immediate hit. Waltzing Matilda appeared soon afterwards.

Banjo served as a war correspondent during the Boer War in South Africa and later in China.  He came to Europe on the outbreak of war in 1914 and drove ambulances for the Australian Voluntary Hospital. Experienced with horses, he later commanded the Australian Remount Squadron in the Middle East.

He eventually returned to Australia and to journalism and writing there.  He was a national celebrity until his death in 1941. Throughout his life he was a living part of the legend of the Australian horseman, bushman, and soldier of whom he wrote so fondly.

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