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Charles Leslie ('Mussel Mou'd Charlie'), 1676 / 77- 1782. Jacobite ballad-singer

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Charles Leslie ('Mussel Mou'd Charlie'), 1676 / 77- 1782. Jacobite ballad-singer 1780

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
Known as ‘Mussel Mou'd Charlie’ from a mussel-shaped extension of his lip, Leslie was an Aberdeenshire ballad-singer who died in 1792, aged 105. A fervent Jacobite, he not only sang songs supporting the cause, but was supposed to have fought in the 1715 and 1745 uprisings. An account by a contemporary of Leslie’s accurately describes how the singer is portrayed in this painting: “He was a remarkable thin made man, about five feet ten inches high, small and fiery eyes, a long chin, reddish hair and since I ever knew him carried a long pike staff a good deal longer than himself, with a large harden bag slung over his shoulders before him, to hold his ballads, and a small pocket covered Bible with a long string at it.”

Glossary Open

1715 Rising

This was an attempt by the exiled Prince James Francis Edward Stuart to regain the throne of Great Britain and Ireland for the Stuart dynasty. It failed and in 1716 the prince sailed back to Europe.

1745 Rising

An attempt by followers of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (or 'Bonnie Prince Charlie') to reclaim the British throne for the Stuart dynasty. The Prince landed in the Outer Hebrides from France in July 1745. With the support of many Highland chiefs he gathered an army and marched south. The rebels had significant victories against the Hanoverian troops and reached as far as Derby. There they turned back, unsure of their ability to take London, and were pursued by government forces. The final battle was held at Culloden in 1746 where Bonnie Prince Charlie was decisively beaten and hopes of a Jacobite restoration were dashed.

1715 Rising, 1745 Rising


  • Acc. No. PG 2624
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 55.30 x 43.60 cm (framed: 60.30 x 48.20 x 2.30 cm)
  • Credit Transferred to the permanent collection 1984