John Matheson of Bennetsfield followed the Earl of Cromarty in 1745, in support of Prince Charles, and fought on that side, with some of his brothers, on the fatal field of Culloden. He, however, managed to effect his escape. It would appear that after the defeat of the Highlanders, he found means to secret himself in a pigstye, which, in the eagerness of pursuit, the Royalist Dragoons had overlooked. Towards evening he recovered his boat, where he lay hid till darkness, which favoured his re-crossing to his own shore in Munlochy Bay.
Long after his death an original portrait of Charles Edward was exhumed from beneath a heap of peats, where it had been concealed, in a lumber garret in the House of Bennetsfield; and in 1838 a label, which marked the small of the butt-end of his musket, was accidently dug up by a labourer on the field of Culloden: “John Matheson of Bennetsfield, 10th April 1746.” This makes it appear that the musket had been
made for the purpose, and accommodated to the Highlander’s mode of fighting, who generally flung away his fire-arms after the first discharge, and rushed on with sword and targe.
From this period John’s life was passed almost exclusively in the social enjoyment of his neighbours, or in the cultivation of a natural genius for sculpture, painting, and mechanics, with which he amused himself by turning it to the most eccentric uses. One feature
of it was that of carving likenesses on walking sticks in caricature.
Another faculty he possessed, connected with a beautiful style of penmanship, was that of affixing or annexing in correspondence a dash, a portrait, or perhaps a representation of an animal, or something burlesque which left no room for misinterpreting how the individual addressed or referred to stood in the opinion of the writer.
John died at Bennetsfield House, on the 21st of February 1768, and was buried in the family burying-ground at Suddy. His tombstone is inscribed with this reference to both his death and that of his oldest son:
‘HERE. Lies the young and friendly/And.The.Just/Who. Were both quickly. Hurried/Into.Dust.’