Many people have asked us over the years just what exactly is the Circle of Gentlemen all about. And if we’re being perfectly honest, that’s a really difficult question to answer with any degree of simplicity. So a very brief description – with the emphasis on ’very’ - would be we are a group of men who adhere to the Jacobite cause and celebrate it both socially and culturally with likeminded individuals.
The origin of our Circle is similarly something that cannot be explained away in a single sentence. Our history is one of evolution , this evolution followed two distinctly separate lines, which finally converged in 1995 and emerged a passionate, structured society. It is perhaps best to follow each line individually in order to glean a clearer picture of the Circle you see before you today.
The months following Culloden in 1746 saw the systematic destruction of the clan system in the Highlands and with the suppression and murder of all those not favourable to the Elector of Hanover’s lineage, the Jacobite cause was forced underground.
Many pro-Hanoverian writers of the age claimed that the Auld Cause had died along with the men on Culloden Moor, but this was entirely false as loyal toasts to the “King o’er the water” were still whispered in private rooms and secret societies across Scotland. One such society was The Circle of Gentlemen, which existed in Edinburgh until the late 18th century, after when it seemed to vanish from our history. Given the secretive nature of the society, little is known of its activities during this time, with its only documented reference being as an organisation “loyal to the rightful King James and his decedents”. Some 260 years later we would like to think the original Gentlemen would tip their tricorns our way in approval.
Period highland garb has become the accepted uniform for such gatherings, as it was those in the Prince’s army of 1745, Highlander or not.
As to the nature of the Circle, it would be fair to say it too celebrates the lifestyles of our Jacobite forefathers. “The Circle” today embraces the cultural significance and influence the ways of the gael has had on the entire world . The migration of Scots in the years following Culloden has ensured that there is now a tartan plaid that envelops much the world, as the Scots have settled in many countries and have influenced much of world culture.
The earliest documented minutes of “The Circle” in the 20th century recalls “there was much frivolity, gestures and toasts with copious amounts of alcohol consumed”. The climax has always being the blood stirring “Lament for Culloden”.
The only ancient society of any comparison would be the well documented and infamous “Hellfire Club” which has an undoubted connection with “The Circle Of Gentlemen”
In these days of multicultural society, it has become ever more important to hold onto old values and traditions and embrace them.
We have decided that there is no more need for moving within the shadows as, over time, the ambitions of the circle have changed.
As far as we are concerned there is now no direct descendent of the Stuart line to follow (although many scholars may contest this) with some dubious lineage claims from many self-appointed champions.
Some also may say that ours is a secret society and as such should be viewed with caution. One only has to scratch the surface “The Circle,” to find that it holds many learned individuals and men of influence. There is no place for bigotry nor extremist views within our ranks, something that we are extremely proud and steadfast over.
Anyone with a basic grasp of geometry will know that circles can be of any size – but each and every one must have a centre regardless. Our Circle has many, many friends but one centre, and it continues to grow year by year, with an extensive and far reaching network.
We also attend events held by our friends in other likeminded organisations, such as Na Fir Dileas’ excellent Sheriffmuir commemoration, so in a way ours is like the Olympic Rings – circles interwoven.
The Circle of Gentlemen is hard to define as it is constantly changing, but at least now you may have some idea of who we are.
We are your most humble servants.