Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|September 4, 2021|6 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Billionaire Tomorrow

A soldier’s tale -In despair and defeat shoot for the moon.

Ok, let’s take a detour through history for a tale of shooting for the moon from the depths of humiliation and defeat; surely, an inspiration for every entrepreneur. This story of blood and the restoration of pride may sound like a fairy tale – but it is true.

It surrounds the fate of a young, adventurous,Scotsman, with long flowing locks, by the name of John McBean, from Strathdearn just south of Inverness.

At the age of 18, MacBeanwore proudly his clan tartan as he joined the colours in a 16,000-strong army fighting to put exiled 21-year-old King Charles II back on the British throne.

Oliver Cromwell had been the head of state after beheading Charles’s father King Charles I in the heat of the bitter English Civil War that pitted Parliamentarians against Royalists; brother-against-brother.

MacBean marched south to the English Midlands and the fortified city of Worcester with the young Charles who was preparing to make his stand, in a bid to rally the Royalists around the cause of restoring the crown.

On September 3 1651 – exactly 370 years ago -MacBean fought hard against 28,000 Parliamentary troops in a bloody battle that ended in abject defeat.

More than 3,000 soldiers in the Scottish army died in one afternoon – that was British soldiers than died on D-Day in Normandy nearly 300 years later. The streets of Worcester were piled high with the bodies of soldiers and their horses. Charles escaped the carnage by the skin of his teeth, leaving MacBean and thousands of other Scottish soldiers at the mercy of an angry invading army that set about looting the city.

The victors herded thousands of prisoners into the city’s huge Norman Cathedral while Cromwell decided what to do with them. The decision was to march them to London.


So Parliamentary troops drove MacBean and his defeated comrades in chains hundreds of kilometres through the nip of the autumn night. They were a pitiful sight; many were wounded or sick, a number died on the forced march; they were naked and starving. As they moved through the fields they grabbed handfuls of peas and straw to force into their hungry mouths.

At night, MacBean as the rest bedded down in the fields like animals.

I like to think that on this hellish journey MacBean – the young Scottish romantic – looked up at the full moon and wondered what it was like up there. Certainly, he must have thought, it would be more peaceful  walking on the moon than this hell-on-earth. I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was a little instinctive twitch in the back of MacBean’s neck as he lay, in his tartan,gazing back up at the moon beams shining down from the starlit sky.

It took days for soldiers to drive their prisoners south to London. In the capital, crowds gathered on the streets to watch the sad and hungry prisoners march through. The authorities had painted the Scots as invaders and expected the crowds to jeer them; but they looked so pitiful, the crowds threw bread and money. There were months spent in dingy prisons in the capital before the authorities decided to sell the Scots as slaves.

MacBean and 271 other prisoners were loaded into a creaking ship and transported to the United States where they were to be sold as slaves. On the voyage a ship’s clerk cut the Mac off Bean’s name to anglicize it.

Bean, as he was now known, stepped off the ship in Exeter, New Hampshire, where he was sold to a sawmill owner. Servitude didn’t last long, Bean soon married swiftly the sawmill owner’s daughter and ended up running the business as well as fathering 12 children and living to the age of 85. The Beans prospered and seven generations later descendent Alan Bean became an astronaut.

In 1969, just over 300 years after his ancestor crossed the Atlantic in chains, Alan Bean took off for the moon with Apollo 12 and walked on the surface in mankind’s second lunar landing.

On this trip to the moon, Bean carried with him a piece of MacBean tartan that he brought back down to earth with him. He also carried the spirit of his indomitable seventh great-grandfather John MacBean who had once looked up to the moon for inspiration from the depth of defeat in chains.

Surely, he also carried the spirit of every entrepreneur in Africa and around the world who has suffered despair and refused to give up.

Focus your mind and shoot for the moon. A soldier’s tale -In despair and defeat shoot for the moon.