The Lockhart Candlesticks: Silver Artefacts as Historical Documents

An edited version of this article was published in History Scotland Magazine, Volume 9, Number 1, in the January/February 2009 issue (ISSN 1475-5270).

By Kevin Brown

Today money takes the form of paper and plastic, and increasingly it has become electronic, pulses of energy on the World Wide Web. Capital, meanwhile, defined as money in aggregate, is now recorded on bank statements or else embedded in financial instruments of various kinds, paper or virtual: stocks and bonds, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) or asset backed commercial paper (ABCP), for example.

What a difference a couple of centuries have made! In the eighteenth century money was usually specie, defined as gold or silver currency; and capital – surplus wealth – was often kept as silver plate in the home. Capital stored in this form usually bore marks of ownership, heraldic crests or inscriptions, which are of great interest to collectors of antique silver. In rare instances, as in the case of the Lockhart candlesticks, these badges of ownership can also be historically important. They can tell us things about the past that we otherwise wouldn’t know, serving as ‘primary sources’ of historical information.i

The case of the Lockhart candlesticks shows just how important engraved crests on silver can be, and how far reaching the stories are they sometimes tell.

Fig.1. The Lockhart candlesticks are neo classical in style. The columns are heavy cast in .944 fine silver, and the bases are fabricated of silver sheet over a wooden base. ‘Loaded’, the columns have a core of plaster or pitch to add weight, and the drip pans are detachable. (Photograph by Ilja Hargas)

In 2002 I bought a pair of loaded, hallmarked candlesticks at auction (figure 1). They were catalogued as eighteenth century and probably from the Low Countries; and they bore an interesting crest (figure 2).

I started investigating my buy, first by searching the Internet for the motto blazoned on the crest: ‘Corda Serrata Pando’. I discovered that the Lockharts of Lee and Carnwath, a Scottish family from Lanarkshire, still use this motto, which translates from the Latin as ‘I open locked hearts’. The device on the crest – a boar’s head erased – is also correct for this family. Case closed?

Not quite. The crest is surmounted by a five-pointed coronet, appropriate to a nobleman of the rank of an English Earl or a European Count; and yet the Lockharts, while property owners, had not as a rule been a titled family, except for some baronetcies held in the 17th century.ii Also, I ascertained that the sticks were hallmarked for Brussels, in the then Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium) for the year 1778.iii Why would a set of Brussels candlesticks bear a Scottish crest? And which Lockhart was given a title of nobility, and when, why and by whom?

My investigation revealed quite an interesting story.

I found that these candlesticks are themselves part of an historical trail of evidence, in itself remarkable. They help tell the story of a Scottish military man with an amazing career spanning much of the 18th century. Also they speak eloquently of the Scottish Enlightenment, a time when even the second sons of Scotland were off doing great things in the world.

Moreover, these candlesticks and two other artefacts, an enameled gold snuffbox and a medieval charm stone known as the Lee Penny, are all related to each other; all once belonged to James Lockhart, a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. Considered as a group, these objects cast light upon some important aspects of the history of Scotland, ranging from the legends and folklore of medieval times to the lost cause of Jacobitism. One of them even helped to inspire Sir Walter Scott’s famous novel, The Talisman.

Fig.2. Crest with motto, ‘Corda Serrata Pando’, and five-pointed coronet. (Ilja Hargas).


According to The General Armory, ‘In the centre, two flags parted per fess argent and gulles flotant to the dexter and sinister, placed behind a boar’s head erased proper’ is the crest of James Lockhart of Lee and Carnwath, Count Lockhart-Wischeart of the Holy Roman Empire, (1727 – 1790).iv

Born James Lockhart in Lanarkshire, Lockhart was the second son of a prominent Jacobite family, the Lockharts of Carnwath. His grandfather, George Lockhart, was the Scottish agent of James Francis Edward Stuart, the ‘old pretender’, and the author of the posthumously published Lockhart Papers. These documents, including letters and George Lockhart’s journal, comprise probably the most important primary source of information on the Jacobite rebellion of 1715.v

Lockhart’s elder brother, also named George, was the personal aide de camp to Charles Edward Stuart, the ‘young pretender’, during the Jacobite rising of 1745. George Lockhart accompanied Prince Charles into exile in Paris after the defeat of the rebellion at Culloden. James Lockhart, then 18 years old, was a scion of a known Jacobite family and also a second son at a time when primogeniture was the norm. Since his prospects in Scotland were poor, he left to make his way in the world as a soldier of fortune.

Lockhart first served as a common soldier in the army of Nadir Shah, the Shah of Persia.vi At 18 years old, he traveled half way around the globe, to Persia, and took service in a Muslim army – in 1746!

Scotland shone brightly then on the European stage, in science, letters and all things to do with the intellect. It was entering that brilliant period known as the Scottish Enlightenment, a time when Edinburgh was sometimes styled the ‘Athens of the North’. In other areas as well – politics and the military arts are prime examples – Scotland punched far above its weight. As a consequence Lockhart, who later became a distinguished general and administrator in the service of a foreign empire, rates only a footnote in the history of 18th century Scotland.

In A Memoir of the ‘Forty-Five’, (Chevalier de Johnstone, 1958), a Lockhart is mentioned who is probably James vii:

‘We were scarcely a musket-shot from the shore, when the captain pointed out to me one of the midshipmen in the boat, of the name of Lockhart, asking me if I knew his family in Scotland. I answered in the negative, telling him that I had never been in any other service than that of Mrs. Gray. I was uneasy lest Mr. Lockhart should have recognized me for, as I had been a schoolfellow of his elder brother and frequently in the house of his father, Mr. Lockhart of Carnwath, he might very possibly have known me. He was about eighteen years of age and had been four years in the navy. His eldest brother, the heir to a considerable estate, had been foolish enough, like so many others, to join the standard of Prince Charles.’

The Chevalier, a Jacobite, was escaping from England after the disaster at Culloden. While he does not give the Christian name of this midshipman Lockhart, James was in fact eighteen years old then. A career at sea also helps to account for his presence afterwards in the dominions of Nadir Shah, as the journey overland from Scotland to Persia was difficult in 1746.

After Lockhart’s service in Persia, he roamed Europe enlisting in various armies and learning the military arts. Towards the end of the War of the Austrian Succession he joined the Austrian service to fight in the armies of the Empress Maria Theresa. In 1752 he was commissioned a captain of the Grenadier Company of the 33rd Regiment, the ‘Waldeck’.

Lockhart fought in a series of battles against the Prussians during the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), including the battle of Prague in 1757. At the battle of Kunersdorf, in 1759, he was instrumental in turning the tide of the battle and securing an Austrian victory. He was promoted on the battlefield by his commanding officer, field marshal Freiherr von Laudon.viii

Did Lockhart’s Scottish background play some role in his rising fortunes? Maybe.

Baron Ernst Gideon von Laudon, the officer who promoted Lockhart at Kunersdorf, was one of the most successful military commanders of his age.  It is said that the legendary Russian general Suvorov credited von Laudon with teaching him the military arts. And von Laudon was himself descended from a Scottish family that had settled in present day Estonia two centuries before.ix  One wonders if there wasn’t some flash of recognition between the two – as from one Scot to another – that day on the battlefield?

Lockhart was again cited for bravery at the battle of Landshut in 1761. From then on he rose rapidly through the ranks of the Austrian army, and ended up a general in the Austrian service.

Scottish involvement in the Jacobite cause, including the various rebellions – the ’15, the ’19 and the ’45 – were a driving force in Scottish affairs, and often a determining factor in the lives of Scottish people in the 18th century. Lockhart’s legal and extra legal maneuvers in aid of keeping the Carnwath estates in his family make this crystal clear.

In 1761 Lockhart resigned his commission in the Austrian service and returned to Scotland to secure title to the family estates. His father was ailing, and the Carnwath lands and property were entailed upon his brother George, still living in exile in Paris. George, however, was attainted with treason for his role in the ’45, and the patrimony would therefore revert to the Crown upon the death of the elder George Lockhart.

Staging the death of George the younger fixed the problem. At George’s ‘funeral’ in Paris a casket of stones served as his mortal remains. And so the Carnwath estates were passed to James Lockhart upon the death of his father.x

The Empress Maria Theresa ennobled James in 1782, after a campaign in Lombardy in the service of her grandson, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. As Count Lockhart-Wischeart of the Holy Roman Empire he remained in the Austrian service under Maria Theresa’s successor, the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II. Joseph later stood as godfather to Lockhart’s son.

Count Lockhart was a Knight of the Order of Maria Theresa and a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the Emperor Joseph II. He is said to have served in the last war the Austrians ever waged against the Turks.xi

Artefacts as historical documents

According to Simon Lockhart, the Count served in his later years on the staff of the Duke of Lorraine, Imperial Viceroy to the Austrian Netherlands. xii And Johnstone (1878) wrote that Lockhart himself became the ‘Viceroy of the Netherlands’.xiii Neither of these claims is documented; and so they cannot stand without further proofs. Such an exalted office would have been quite an accomplishment for a threadbare Scottish second son and a deserter from the Royal Navy – if it could be proven.

The Lockhart candlesticks are a piece of physical proof that Lockhart was present in Belgium then. They place him squarely in the Austrian Netherlands at the correct time, and so provide some support to these statements about his imperial career. They are therefore an historical document, on a par with the records of births, deaths or baptisms in an archive.

Fig.3. Hallmarks. The crowned lion rampant denotes the standard of fineness, “78” signifies 1778, the year of manufacture, and the third mark, the ‘Michael’s Head’, denotes the city of Brussels as the place of manufacture. (Ilja Hargas).

Fig.4.  Maker’s mark. This mark, of a swan, represents the Brussels silversmith Michel Paul Joseph Dewez (1742 – 1804).  From 1773 until 1780 Dewez, a silversmith, medalist and bronze caster, was the court silversmith to Prince Charles of Lorraine, Imperial Viceroy to the Austrian Netherlands.  (Ilja Hargas).


As the heir of the Lockharts, Count Lockhart was an owner of the ‘Lee Penny’, a family heirloom of great distinction, the most famous of the Scottish charm stones (figure 4). It consists of a small, dark-red stone set in the reverse of a groat coin of the reign of Edward IV (ruled 1461 – 1483). According to tradition, Sir Simon Lockhart of Lee acquired the stone as part ransom for a prisoner he captured at the battle of Teba (1330).

Fig.5. The Lee Penny (Photograph by Bill Lockhart).

Sir Simon and a group of Scottish knights were traveling to the Holy Land to bury the heart of Robert the Bruce there when they clashed with the Moors at Teba, in Spain. The Bruce’s heart, encased in ‘ane cas of silver fyn, enamilit throu subtilite’ never did finish its journey to Jerusalem – but that is another story.xiv

Sir Simon brought the Lee Penny back to Scotland, and it became famous as a healing charm against the bite of mad dogs and diseases of cattle. When used for healing the amulet was drawn once round a vessel filled with water and then dipped three times. The charmed water then served as an infallible cure, for example against cases of the ‘routing ewil’ in cattle.

It is said ‘in one of the epidemics of the plague which attacked Newcastle in the reign of Charles I, the inhabitants of that town obtained the loan of the Lee-Penny by granting a bond of £6000 for its safe return. Such, it is averred, was their belief in its virtues, and the good that it effected, that they offered to forfeit the money and keep the charm-stone.’xv

The Empress Maria Theresa presented Count Lockhart with a gold and enamel snuffbox (figure 5) in which Count Lockhart kept the Lee Penny afterwards. It remains there today, in the keeping of Angus Lockhart, current Laird of the Lockharts.

Fig.6.  Count Lockhart’s gold snuffbox, presented to him by the Empress Maria Theresa. (Bill Lockhart).


Sir Walter Scott based his novel The Talisman (published 1825) in part upon the story of the Lee Penny. In the introduction to this work he described the amulet, and recounted its history and curative properties. He wrote in part:

‘The most remarkable part of its history, perhaps, was that it so especially escaped condemnation when the Church of Scotland chose to impeach many other cures which savoured of the miraculous, as occasioned by sorcery, and censured the appeal to them, “excepting only that to the amulet, called the Lee-penny, to which it had pleased God to annex certain healing virtues which the Church did not presume to condemn.’xvi

The Talisman, set in the time of King Richard I, ‘Lion Heart’ (ruled 1189 – 1199), chronicles the adventures of a Scottish knight during Richard’s crusade to recover the Holy Land for Christendom.

Fig 7. Portrait of James Lockhart by Johann Ernst Heinsius (1740 – 1812).

The Romance of Antique Silver

Madame D’Oberkirch was once a governess to Catherine the Great. In 1782, in Utrecht, she paid a visit to Lockhart and his wife accompanied by the Grand Duke Paul, later the Tsar of Russia. xvii

The Lockhart candlesticks, six and a half inches tall, are desk candlesticks, not the kind of tall table candlesticks then used at grand dinners. Perhaps they sat on the Count’s escritoire. Maybe Lockhart delighted his important guests by taking the Lee Penny from his writing bureau, showing it to them, and telling the tale of Sir Simon Lockhart, the battle of Teba, and of the heart of Robert the Bruce and its journey.

If he did, the talisman must have sparkled in the candlelight.

* * *

Kevin Brown is a freelance writer and production designer living near Vancouver, British Columbia.

His Email is:  heartoftheworld99@gmail.com


I am grateful to Jenny Pitman, Vice President of the silver department at Christie’s (New York) for her encouragement and support during the early days of this project; and to Annelies Krekel-Aalberse for ferreting out the meaning of the hallmarks.

* * *


1. Macdonald Lockhart, Simon (1977) Seven Centuries: The History of the Lockharts of Lee and Carnwath, SFM Lockhart, ISBN 0-9505711-0-5
2. Szechi, Daniel (2002) George Lockhart of Carnwath 1689 -1727, A Study in Jacobitism, Tuckwell Press Ltd, ISBN 1-86232-132-9
3. Johnstone, C.L (1878) The Historical Families of Dunfriesshire and the Border Wars. Available online from: http://www.electricscotland.com/history/dumfries/index.htm
4. Johnstone, Chevalier de (1958) (Edited with an Introduction by Brian Rawson) A Memoir of the ‘Forty-Five, Folio Society, London
5. Vanwittenbergh, Jacques, Orfevrerie au Poincon de Bruxelles. Exhibition catalogue: (1979) Bruxelles, Société Générale de Banque

Further reading list:

1. Macdonald Lockhart, Simon (1977) Seven Centuries: The History of the Lockharts of Lee and Carnwath, SFM Lockhart, ISBN 0-9505711-0-5
2. Szechi, Daniel (2002) George Lockhart of Carnwath 1689 -1727, A Study in Jacobitism, Tuckwell Press Ltd, ISBN 1-86232-132-9
3. Buchan, James (2003) Capital of the Mind: How Edinburgh Changed the World, John Murray Publishers, ISBN 0-7195-5446-2
4. Johnstone, Chevalier de (1958) (Edited with an Introduction by Brian Rawson) A Memoir of the ‘Forty-Five, Folio Society, London


1. Johnstone, C.L (1878) The Historical Families of Dunfriesshire and the Border Wars. Available Online: www.electricscotland.com
2. John William Lockhart, Isabelle S. Lockhart and John Barson Lockhart, www.lockharts.com


i Academic historians distinguish between primary and secondary research sources. Primary sources are unpublished materials (archival documents, minutes, birth and death records etc.); and secondary sources published histories.

ii Macdonald Lockhart, Simon (1977) Seven Centuries: The History ofthe Lockharts ofLee and Carnwath. Three 17th century Lockharts of this lineage were baronets. Pages 50 – 69.

iii Vanwittenbergh, Jacques, Orfevrerie au Poincon de Bruxelles, page 235.

iv The General Armory, page 617

v Szechi, Daniel (2002) George Lockhart of Carnwath 1689 -1727, A Study in Jacobitism, Tuckwell Press Ltd.

vi MacDonald Lockhart op cit. page 256.

vii Johnstone, Chevalier de (1958) (Edited with an Introduction by Brian Rawson) A Memoir ofthe ‘Forty- Five, Folio Society, London. Page 244.

viii MacDonald Lockhart op cit. page 258.

ix Available Online at Economic Expert.com, this link: http://www.economicexpert.com/a/Ernst:Gideon:Freiherr:von:Laudon.htm

x MacDonald Lockhart op cit. page 259.

xi Johnstone, C.L (1878) The Historical Families ofDunfriesshire and the Border Wars. Online at: http://www.electricscotland.com/history/dumfries/index.htm

xii MacDonald Lockhart op cit. page 261.

xiii Johnstone, C.L. (1878) op cit

xiv The full story of the journey of Robert the Bruce’s heart is recounted by: Lockhart, Isabellle S., The Heart, available Online: http://www.lockharts.com/the heart/index.html. This work also includes much information about the Lee Penny and Count Lockhart’s snuffbox, presented to him by Maria Theresa.

xv Scottish Charms and Amulets: the Lee-Penny, available Online: http://www.electricscotland.com/history/articles/charms13.htm

xvi Scott, Sir Walter, The Talisman, The Literature Network, available Online: http://www.online- literature.com/walter_scott/talisman/0/

xvii Johnstone, C.L. (1878) op cit.

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