Flora MacDonald (Gaelic: Fionnghal NicDhòmhnaill) (1722 – March 4, 1790), Jacobite heroine, was the daughter of Ranald MacDonald of Milton on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, and his wife Marion, the daughter of Angus MacDonald.
Her father died when she was a child, and her mother was abducted and married by Hugh MacDonald of Armadale, Skye. She was brought up a under the care of the chief of her clan, the MacDonalds of Clanranald, and was partly educated in Edinburgh. Throughout her life she was a practising Presbyterian.
In June 1746, at the age of 24, she was living on the island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides when Bonnie Prince Charlie took refuge there after the Battle of Culloden. The prince's companion, a Captain O'Neill, sought her assistance to help the prince escape capture. The island was controlled by the Hanoverian government using a local militia, but the MacDonalds were secretly sympathetic with the Jacobite cause.
After some hesitation, Flora promised to help the prince escape the island. At a later period she told the Duke of Cumberland, son of George II and commander-in-chief in Scotland, that she acted from charity and would have helped him also if he had been defeated and in distress.
The commander of the local militia was her stepfather, Hugh MacDonald. The commander gave her a pass to the mainland for herself, a manservant, an Irish spinning maid, Betty Burke, and a boat's crew of six men. The prince was disguised as Betty Burke. He had left Benbecula on June 27.
After a first repulse at Waternish, Skye, the party landed at Kilbride, Skye, within easy access of Monkstadt, the seat of Sir Alexander MacDonald. The prince was hidden in rocks while Flora MacDonald found help for him in the neighbourhood. It was arranged that he be taken to Portree, Skye and from there taken to Glam on the island of Raasay.
The talk of the boatmen brought suspicion on Flora MacDonald, and she was arrested and brought to London for aiding the prince's escape. After a short imprisonment in the Tower of London, she was allowed to live outside of it, under the guard of a "messenger" or gaoler. When the Act of Indemnity was passed in 1747 she was released.
Her bravery and loyalty had gained her general sympathy, increased by her good manners and gentle character. Dr Johnson, who met her in 1773, describes her as "a woman of soft features, gentle manners, kind soul and elegant presence." He also paid the tribute that is engraved on her memorial at Kilmuir:
In 1750, at the age of 28, she married Captain Alan MacDonald of Kingsburgh, and in 1773 together they emigrated to North Carolina. During the American War of Independence he served the British government and was taken prisoner.
Legend has it that she exhorted the Loyalist force at Cross Creek, North Carolina (present-day Fayetteville) that included her husband, Alan, as it headed off to its eventual defeat at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge in February, 1776. In 1779 Flora returned home to Scotland in a merchant ship. During the passage, the ship was attacked by a privateer. She refused to leave the deck during the attack and was wounded in the arm.
Flora MacDonald had a large family of sons, who mostly entered the army or navy, and two daughters. She died at Kingsburgh on the Isle of Skye in 1790, at the age of 68. There is a statue to her memory in Inverness, Scotland.
Flora Macdonald has descendants in many families, including the Shields family into the Harrell Family, in which is currently her youngest reported descendant.