French Swords in Scotland - 1745-46
I have a great interest in the Jacobite rebellion period and I'd like to pick your brains about swords. No, not basket hilts. French brass hilts. I know Prince Charles brought over several hundred swords on the Elizabeth; however, these couldn't have been basket hilts. I believe they were French regulation infantry swords with cast brass or wire-wrapped hilts. There are some contemporary references to the Scots troops (especially Lowland levies and regiments)complaining about their swords which makes sense if I'm correct in my assumptions. So two questions: (1) Do you think I'm right and (2) What do you say about the style and appropriate (authentic) reproductions? What I mean by authentic is weight and heft. Many repros look right but feel like a crowbar! I am imagining these swords were old ones from arsenal storage so first quarter 18th century French?

Your opinions and any references would be deeply appreciated!
The cast brass hilt swords, aside from some epee d soldat were later in the century. Scroll down in this file for a tree of evolution. The shorter straight hangers with heart or half heart shape may have been the culprit.

My half heart was of the first half of the century and much the same as the whole hearted version.
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Compared to the broader bladed British infantry sabre hangers, the French swords may have seemed lacking.

David at The Royal Sword has a lot invested in getting better quality reproduction early 18th century French military swords.
If you compare his brass gripped epee vs what you see on eBay, the difference is apparent. He does though deal with some of the same sources as gggodwin but David really prides himself on overseeing the overall production of the French swords

Thanks, GC. Always nice to hear from you. I posted my query on another forum and received a nice reply from Paul MacDonald in Edinburgh. He stated that there are several brass-hilted swords in Scottish private collections with supposed ties to the Rebellion. He did not have any pictures but when I shared the article you kindly provided, he said the ones he has examined were of the 1730 -style half-lobate and bilobate types. So the one you graciously pictured seems to be exactly what was brought over and distributed to the (basically) Lowland levies.

From looking at your sword, it looks as if there is a wooden grip covered with plain black leather. Is there any sign that the grip was once wire-covered? I don't believe this was the case, but if there is any residual wire impression it would be good to know.

BTW, I have been trying for several days to reach David at Royal Sword. Left a message and sent an email with no reply. Do you know if that's normal?
I don't know how frequently David checks his mail. I did note he had a sale for the holidays, so must be around somewhere.

I have little doubt that my sword had been re-covered at some point and wouldn't doubt that it once might have had wire. David had shared pictures of an example he has and should be found in the 17th century thread here from several years ago. I have so many archived images that I often don't recall which are which but first, here is my hilt.

Actually. I think this one might be David's :D He had listed these as Sabre Troupe Marine when replying in that thread (at least that is my note in my archive) and lists the double edged blade on the site as "soldiers of the French troupes de terre from the mid-1740s until 1763"

There is a similarity to a couple of swords shown in Gilkerson's Boarders Away

More coming

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Last edited by Glen A Cleeton on Thu 07 Feb, 2019 4:39 pm; edited 3 times in total
Let's see if these will load. These were later shots of my hilt (note the different peen button). Dang too big, resizing some of them.

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Another from eBay, images archived a few years ago

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Interestingly, the Rose NCO swords from almost a century later somewhat mimic these. Then also the Starr NCO artillery/infantry swords also 24"- 26" bladed backswords.

While the three pictured are considered scarce, I wouldn't exactly list them as rare.

I can see the Scots not liking them much, with other sorts around in their day. I think the French had in mind a basic sticker that would soon be found as/in bayonets.

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French swords in the 1745 Rebellion
Thanks for all the great pictures. When I started doing this research and looking at French infantry sword “models”, my initial assumption was that the epee de terre, resembling a small sword, would be the model discovered to have probably been used. This concept was reinforced with some of the popular illustrations of lowland levies in recent publications. However, correspondence with Paul McDonald in Edinburgh revealed there are actually specimens of French infantry swords in private Scottish collections with probable Rebellion period pedigrees. I asked Paul if he had photos. He did not but when I sent him some illustrations from an article shared with me from the Gazette des Armes, he identified the model 1730-1734 as being the sword. This is the sword shown in the responses above. Apparently, this model came in two varieties, a bilobate guard and a single lobe guard. I also discovered The Royal Sword makes a reproduction of this sword, so I spoke with David Ledroyan and ordered a sword. The sword was reasonably priced and David shipped it right out. I would highly recommend this sword to anyone wanting to do a correct lowland Scot impression and would also recommend doing business with David.

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