Patrick Fea II of Airy, having gone over to Thurso in the last week of March 1746 reported back to Sir James Stewart of Burray with the latest news on the Jacobites and warning him of the need to safeguard the weapons and ammunition of the Providence, which was at Tongue, should it sail to Orkney.
In regard that their is just now a man of war in Strathnaver, thats thought will be in Orkney, it is thought necessary that Capt. Sinclairs ship should be out of her way or at least what arms, powder & ra is on board should be secur'd for the Prince's behoof, all of it being much needed in the Army for wch purpose the bearer Mr Francis Sinclair wt two or three of his sailors are sent in order to Carrie the Ship to this place if their can be no oyr method fallen upon to preserve her. At the same time he is to walk according to the advice you give him in yt affair, as there is no time to lose its hoped yr will be no delay made.
The Lord M'kleod commands 300 men that are in this Country, 150 of wch are to be in this town tomorrow. I have not as yet had the opportunity of waiting upon him, but I expect once this day to know his resolutions wt respect to Orkney. Its certain that there will be such a number in Orkney that they will be straitned for boats to cross for wch I wish you wold Send over Burwiks big boat, & oyr belonging to your Tennants & the Swanay boats & they, wt these can have, will carrie over what men they are to send, the number Ime, as yet, uncertain of but by what I can learn their will be above 100 men sent.
All the Gentlemen in this Country are to meet tomorrow in order to concert anent raseing the Country. As their will be severall of their leading men absent its thought oyrs will be deficulted how to proceed. Could your affairs admit I could be glad to see you here, not doubting that you might have Influence upon some to espouse the Cause more heartaly yn oyr ways Ime afraid they'le doe.
I doubt not but what forces are to come your way will be ready to cross a Tuesday so that the boats wold need be ready att Duncansby Mundays might, as for writing you any news I need only refer to Mr Sinclair, who came back last week from Muray, only this I can assure you of - That by a letter from ye E. of Cromartie their is to be 6,000 French Landed either in Orkney or Caithness, some of the Transports are already on the coast, the same likeways informs That the Duke (i.e. Henry Stewart, the Jacobite Duke of York) was Imbarqued wt 14,000 men moe to be landed in England. I have no further att present only that I am
Your most obedt Huml Servt
Patrick Fea Thurso 30th March 1746
P.S. Since writing Mr Sinclair it seems has declin'd goeing to Orkney for wch reason I have forwarded this by your boatsman that came here wt A.Finley. The news here yt you may rely upon is that Lord George Murray wt 4,000 of ye Clans have taken in Atholl 800 of ye Dukes men (i.e. The Duke of Cumberland's men) yt were sent to that Country in order to destroy these Gentleman's Estate yt were wt ye Prince. All ye Prisonsers were sent to Inverness and Fort Augustus Munday last; Fort William is now in Possession of Lockhaill, on Col _ Glasgoe, a French Offr, wt 200 of ye Princes men went to Keith ye 20th Instant and their surprised 120 of ye reed coats yt were sent in order to discover ye Disposition of Princes Army, 30 of ym were killed upon the place & 90 taken Prisoners, one half whereof were horsemen. Not one man made their eschape, and by this time its thought Lord George will be up wt ye Hessians who are still att Perth. The Duke (of Cumberland) still lyes att Aberdain. Teusday last the Hazard sloop was put onshoar in Strathnaver by a man of war. Its said that there was onboard of her 120 men, 20 Officers included, 14,000 pounds in money wt a good quantity of arms and amunition & all Seiz'd by the Lord Reays men, 7 of the Officers killed & wt many wounded. But at Barraasdeal (i.e. Coll Macdonald of Barisdale) is sent to that Country wt 600 men its expected he will even wt his Lordship ere this time. I beg youll send an express wt ye inclose to Claistran."
Royal Archives, Windsor, Cumberland Papers, Box 13/315
From "Orkney Feuds and the '45" (1980), R P Fereday, p 71-72