William Cleland’s sword
This is the basket hilt broadsword used by William Cleland at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge.
William Cleland had fought for the Covenanters at both Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge. When the Earl of Angus’ Regiment was raised at Douglas on May 14th 1689, Cleland was appointed its first Commanding Officer.
The name ‘Andria Farara’ is marked on the blade of the sword. This name appears in different spellings on many swords from this period, particularly on swords found in Scotland. It is thought to refer to a famous sword maker called Andreas Ferrara. It is not known if Andreas Ferrara was the maker of all the swords marked with his name, or if his name was used by other sword makers, in order to trade on the high reputation of his swords.
Although we do now know who actually made this sword, the fact that it belonged to William Cleland has been well recorded in history. After the failure of the Covenanters at Bothwell Bridge, Cleland fled to Holland to avoid capture. He gave his sword, and the flag known as the Bluidy Banner, to his friend and fellow Covenanter, Henry Hall. The sword and banner were passed onto Hall’s son, Samuel, and, from him, to his daughter.
In 1946, both William Cleland’s sword and the Bluidy Banner were presented to The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), together with information about its history.
William Cleland was killed while commanding the Earl of Angus’ Regiment on August 21st 1689 at the Battle of Dunkeld. He is buried in the nave of Dunkeld Cathedral. It is an interesting twist of fate that Leslie Dow, the last Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), was baptised at Dunkeld Cathedral, the resting place of the first Commanding Officer of the Regiment.