Aliases and codewords
Continuing on the theme of the difficulties encountered by Scots Catholics during the Penal Times, communications with Rome, other places in Europe and even within Scotland itself, were fraught with difficulty since letters were routinely examined by government agents. This gave rise to all kinds of subterfuge. In writing letters, Latin and Italian were often employed but, when English was used, code words became common parlance: Rome was “Old Town” or “Hamburg”; a priest was a “labourer”, Scalan was “the shop” and its students were “prentices”. Aliases were also used. Bishop Hugh MacDonald was “Mr Marolle” after a French benefice which gave the Scottish Mission financial support; Bishop Geddes was “Mr Maroch” because he was titular bishop of Morocco. The painting below is of Bishop Geddes (1735-99).