Memoirs of the Jacobites of 1715 and 1745. - Volume I.
by Mrs. Thomson
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Upon hearing of this injurious report, Sinclair sent a challenge to Ensign Schaw. It was dispatched through the medium of a brother officer, to whom the Ensign replied, at first, that he had just heard of his brother George's being wounded before Lisle, and that it was of far greater importance that he should go to him than accept the Master of Sinclair's challenge; besides, the young man added, that since his last misfortune, probably a fatal duel, he had pledged himself neither to receive nor to give a challenge. Should a rencontre happen, he would defend himself as he could; that, after all, he had said nothing but what he could prove. Upon these words being repeated to the Master of Sinclair, he fell into a violent passion, and swore that he would not give Schaw fair play; that his honour was concerned. The second whom he had employed then threatened to take the challenge to Colonel Preston; upon which the Master told him "he was a rascal if he did it."

On the following day, the Master met Ensign Schaw, and taking a stick from underneath his coat, struck the Ensign two blows over the head with it. They both drew, and fought with such fury that the Master's sword was broken, and that of the Ensign bent; upon which Sinclair retired behind a sentinel, desiring him "to keep off the Ensign, as his sword was broken." Schaw then said, "You know I am more of a gentleman than to pursue you when your sword is broken." But the young soldier Schaw had at this time received a mortal wound, of which he died; but not until after the verdict of the court-martial ultimately held on Sinclair.

In the course of three days a second fatal rencontre succeeded this deadly contest; and another brother, Captain Alexander Schaw, fell a victim to the vindictive and brutal notions at that period considered in the army to constitute a code of honour.

Captain Schaw was naturally indignant at the death of his brother; he expressed his anger openly, and said, that the Master of Sinclair had "paper in his breast," against which his brother's sword was bent; and that he had received the fatal wound after his sword had thus become useless. The Master of Sinclair having heard of these assertions, resolved to avenge himself for these imputations cast upon him. On the thirteenth of September, as Captain Schaw was riding at the head of Major How's regiment, the sound of his own name, repeated twice, announced the approach of the hated Sinclair. Captain Schaw turned, and inquired of the Master what he wanted. Sinclair replied, by asking him to go to the front, as he wanted to speak to him; to which Captain Schaw rejoined, that he might speak to him there. "Yes," returned Sinclair, "but if I fire at you here, I may shoot some other body." Captain Schaw answered, that he might fire at him if he pleased, he bore him no ill-will. "If you will not go to the front," returned Sinclair, "beg my pardon." This was refused, some words of further aggravation ensued; then the Master of Sinclair drew his pistol and fired at Schaw. The Captain was also preparing to fire; his hand was in the act of drawing his pistol when it was for ever checked, whether employed for good or evil; the aim of Sinclair was certain, and Schaw fell dead from his horse. Sinclair, without waiting to inquire how far mortal might be the wound he had inflicted, rode away.

Thus perished two young officers, described by their brother, Sir John Schaw, as "very gallant gentlemen." To complete the tragedy, a third, wounded at Lisle, was brought to the camp at Wynendale, and expired in the same room with his brother, Ensign Schaw, partly of his wounds, partly of grief for his brother's death; so that the offender, as the surviving brother remarked, "was not wholly innocent even of his blood:" yet both these rencontres, to adopt the mild term employed by Sir Walter Scott, were viewed in a very lenient manner by the officers of the court-martial which afterwards sat upon the case, and even by Marlborough himself. The Master of Sinclair speaks of them in his narrative in terms which imply that one, whose hands were so deeply dyed in crime, regarded himself as an injured man; there can scarcely be a better exemplification of the deceitfulness of the heart than such a representation.

On the seventeenth of October, 1708, a court-martial upon the Master of Sinclair was held at Ronsales by the command of the Duke of Marlborough. Upon the first charge, that of challenging Ensign Hugh Schaw (in breach of the twenty-eighth article of war), Sinclair was acquitted, the court being of opinion that the challenge was not proved.

Of the second accusation, that of killing Captain Alexander Schaw, the Master of Sinclair was found guilty, and sentenced to suffer death. He was, however, recommended to the mercy of the Duke of Marlborough, in consideration of the provocation which he had received,—the prisoner having declared that, not only on that occasion, but upon several, and in different regiments, Captain Schaw had defamed him; that he was forced to do what he did, and that he had done it with reluctance.

The case was, however, afterwards referred to the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, who gave it their opinion that Sinclair was guilty of murder; for had the trial taken place in England before a common jury, the judge must have directed the jury to find him guilty of murder, no provocation whatever being sufficient to excuse malice, or to make the offence of killing less than murder, when it is committed with premeditation. How far the provocation was to be considered as a ground of mercy, these legal functionaries declined to judge.

Upon the publication of this sentence, Sir John Schaw addressed a petition to Queen Anne, praying for justice on the murderer of his brothers, and appealing to his Sovereign against the extraordinary recommendation of the court to mercy. He also wrote urgent letters to the Earl of Stair and the Duke of Argyle, praying for their intercession with the Duke of Marlborough that the murderer of his brothers might be punished. He next wrote to the Duke of Marlborough himself. The following letters show the earnestness of the pleader, and prove the caution and subtlety of the General. Some deep political motive lay beneath the mercy shown to Sinclair, otherwise it seems impossible to account for the conduct of so great a disciplinarian as Marlborough in this affair.


"May it pleas your Grace,

"Amongst the misfortunes that attend the murthers of my two brothers, I thinck it's one to be constrain'd to appear importunate with your Grace. The case, by the depositions of the witnesses, being in the opinion of the learn'd lawyers of the most atrocius nature, and not pardonable by the law of the country whereof we are subjects, and such as indispensable requires my utmost applications for redress, I cannot forbear the repeating of my submissive prayers to your Grace for speedy justice. The blood of my brothers, the tyes of nature, and the sentiments of friendship, would render the least negligence on my part inexcusable with the world and with my own conscience.

"I should deliver my petition personally, rather than venture to give your Grace the trouble of letters, were I not sufficiently assured of your Grace's justice, and at the same time willing to gratifie my wellwisshers desires in staying here. Hoping your Grace wil, with a condescending compassion to my present circumstances, favourably admit the bearer, Capt. James Stuart, in Coll. M'Carty's regiment, who is my faithfull friend and near relation, to deliver this letter, and represent my case, that the whole matter may be sett in a true light for a finall decision, in the meantime, I remain, with a profound respect, my Lord, Your Grace's most humble, etc."

"To the Duke of Marlborough, London, the 29th November, 1708."



"Captain Stewart has delivered me your letter of the twenty-first of November; I had before, from the Secretary at Warr, the opinion of the Attorney and Sollicitor General upon the proceedings of the court-martiall, with the copie of the petition you had presented to the Queen, but no positive directions from hir Majesty, which I should have been very glad to have received, being without it under very great uneasiness, as Captain Steward will tell you; however, you may be sure I shall have all the regard you can desire for your just resentment against Mr. Sinclair, being truly, Sir,

"Your most humble servant, (Sic subscribitur) "MARLBOROUGH."

"Copie letter Duke of Marlborrough to Sir John Schaw, dated at the Camp at Melle, the 16th December, 1708."

After this correspondence, the unhappy brother of the two young officers had every reason to conclude that the delinquent would very soon be brought to justice. He wrote to Mr. Cardonnel, secretary to the Duke of Marlborough, in grateful terms for the kind intercession employed for him. What was afterwards his astonishment to find that Sinclair was allowed to serve in the British army in the sieges of Lisle and Ghent, and eventually received in the Prussian service! The evident favour of the Duke is fully shown in the following passage from the Master of Sinclair's narrative:

"I was obliged to quit [the army] for two misfortunes which happened in a very short time, one after the other, notwithstanding of the court-marshall's recommending me to the General, his Grace the Duke of Marlborough's mercy, which was always looked on as equal to a pardon, and which I can aver was never refused to any one but myself. Nor was his allowing me to serve at the sieges of Lisle and Ghent precedented on my giving my word of honour to return to arrest after these sieges were over, which I did and continued (prisoner) till his Grace the Duke of Marlborough sent his repeated orders to make my escape, which I disobeyed twice; but at last being encouraged by his promise to recommend me to any prince that I pleased, for these were his words, I went off, and procured his recommendation to the King of Prussia, from whose service, which I may say is of the strictest, I came back to serve in the Low Countries, where I continued until the end of the war, at which time her Majesty Queen Anne having, as it is said, turned Tory, vouchsafed me her pardon."

These marks of indulgence to Sinclair fell heavily upon the heart of him who still mourned two promising brothers, sent to an untimely grave by brutal revenge. The following letter from Sir John Schaw is beautifully and touchingly expressed.[227] What effect it produced upon the great but not faultless man to whom it was addressed, can only be known by the impunity with which Sinclair, his hands being imbued in the blood of his countrymen, continued in the Prussian army, and afterwards returned to Scotland.

"It is with very great regrate that I give your Grace any further trouble on account of the melancholy story of my two brothers, who had the misfortune to be murthered in the space of three dayes by Lieutenant Sinclair, then in the regiment of Prestoun, in the year 1708. Your Grace was at the paines to be informed of the whole case, and the murtherer, being a man of quality, had many to intercede for him; your justice did overcome all other considerations and indeed nothing could be more worthie of the great character your Grace has, and the glorious name you must leave to posterity, than the punishment of so cruel and bloodie a fact; but the criminal escaped, and the sentence of death pronounced by the court-martial, and confirmed by your Grace, was not executed; and I, having done all I could to bring the murtherer of my unfortunate brothers to condign punishment, was satisfied to pursue him no further, tho' the atrocity of the crime committed against the law of nations would have affoarded me ground to have prosecuted him in any country where he could have been found. But to my surprize and sorrow, I have of late been informed that Lieutenant Sinclair has added to the repeated murthers the impudence of returning, an officer in a Prussian regiment, to the army, where he was condemn'd, as it were to affront justice, and glory in what he has done. I am wel persuaded, that if his guilt had been known to the King of Prussia or his Generals, his Majesty would not have suffered so odious ane offender to be entertained in his service. Nor can the Generals or Ministers of Prussia have anything to plead, why a sentence pronounced by a British court-martial against one of hir Majesty's subjects, and confirmed by your excellency her Generall should not now be executed. I am confident your Grace will not sufferr publick justice to be insulted in that affair, and I doe in the most humble and earnest manner begg that your Grace would cause apprehend the murtherer, that justice may be done upon him for his barbarous and bloodie crimes. I had about two years ago four brothers, of whom I may without vanity say, they were very gallant gentlemen; two were murthered by Lieutenant Sinclair; the third died in the roome with one of these, partly of his wounds received before Lille, and pairtly out of griefe for his brothers' misfortunes, so that the offender is not innocent even of his blood; the fourth was killed at the battle of Mons. The blood of these that were barbarously slain, call for vengeance; the law of God and nature requires it. They had, and I in their name have a claime, in a particular manner, to your Grace's justice, they having been all four under your Grace's command; forgive it to my natural affection, if I use arguments with your Grace to do an act of justice when the whole world, and I in particular, have such proofs of the greatness of your minde and virtue, I shall only add my most sincere and humble acknowledgement of your Grace's justice and dispatch in the melancholie affair, of which I shall ever retain the most gratefull sense; and remain under the strictest tyes of dutie, with the most profound respect, my Lord, your Grace's most humble, most obedient, obliged, and faithful servant," &c.

With this letter, and some memorials of Sir John Schaw's public service, end all known appeals for justice on the murderer. But conscience avenged the crime. Many years afterwards, when living in opulence upon his patrimonial estate at Dysart in Fife, the Master received from an humble individual a bitter, though involuntary reproach. When preparing to cross the Frith, he stopped at an inn in order to engage a running footman to attend him. Detested by his neighbours, and ever in dread of the Schaws, Sinclair preserved a sort of incognito. A youth was presented for his approval. The Master inquired of the young candidate what proof he could give of his activity, on which this remarkable reply was given: "Sir, I ran beside the Master of Sinclair's horse when he rode post from the English camp to escape the death for which he was condemned for the murder of the two brothers." "The Master," adds Sir Walter Scott, "much shocked, was nearly taken ill on the spot."[228]

During the insurrection of 1715, the Master of Sinclair took at first an active part, and became the commander of a company of Jacobite gentlemen of Fife. He joined the Earl of Mar at Perth,[229] and was employed in an expedition which gained some credit to the Jacobites. Some arms having been brought out of Edinburgh for the use of the Earl of Sutherland, and being put on board a ship at Leith, the Earl of Mar resolved to intercept these supplies. The wind being contrary, the master of the vessel thus loaded had dropped into Brunt Island, and had gone into the town on that island to see his family. A party of four hundred horse and as many foot was meantime detached on the second of October, 1715, and arrived at the island about midnight. They pressed all the boats in the harbour, and boarded the vessel, carrying off three hundred and six complete stand of arms, together with a considerable number which they found in the town. This expedition was skilfully contrived and managed, the horse surrounding the town whilst the foot ransacked it; and the invasion was made so silently that the Duke of Argyle gained no tidings of it.[230]

After this exploit the Master of Sinclair returned to the camp at Perth, there to promote, if not actually to originate, divisions which were fatal to the cause which he had espoused. Lord Mar, in his letters, charges him, indeed, distinctly with being the very source of the dissensions which soon sprang up among the Jacobite chiefs.[231] The temper of Sinclair could ill brook submission to the Earl of Mar, whom, as a General, he soon ceased to respect; and for whose difficult situation he had no relenting feelings. "The Master," writes Sir Walter Scott, "who was a man of strong sense, acute observation, and some military experience, besides being of a haughty and passionate temper, averse to deference and subordination, soon placed himself in opposition to the general, whom he seems to have at once detested and despised."[232]

The unfortunate result of the siege of Preston, soon brought to light the discontents which the Master had nourished among the followers of Mar. Parties had, indeed, for some time agitated the camp. When the disasters in England gave them a fresh impulse, and Lord Mar feelingly, and perhaps not too severely, described the influence of Sinclair when he bitterly describes him as "a devil in the camp, known in his true colours when calamity had befallen those with whom he was in conjunction." It was henceforth in vain that Mar, to use his own expression, "endeavoured to keep people from breaking among themselves until the long-expected arrival of the Chevalier should, it was hoped, check the growing jealousies in the camp;" a party arose, headed by Lord Huntley, Lord Seaforth, and the Master of Sinclair, who soon obtained the name of the Grumbler's Club, and who rendered themselves odious to the sincere and zealous Jacobites.

Lord Huntley appears from Lord Mar's representations, "to have been completely under the influence of the Master." "Lord Huntley," writes Lord Mar, "is still very much out of humour, and nothing can make him yet believe that the King is coming. He intends to go north, under the pretext of reducing Lord Sutherland, and his leaving us at this time, I think, might have very bad effects, which makes me do all I can to keep him. The Master of Sinclair is a very bad instrument about him, and has been most to blame for all the differences amongst us. I am plagued out of my life with them, but must do the best I can."[233]

Lord Huntley, however, continued to manifest the greatest disgust and suspicion of Lord Mar, often refusing to see him, and, though still lingering at Perth, threatening continually to leave the camp and go northward.

Lord Sinclair, meantime, having heard of these factions, and being sincerely affected to the cause of the Stuarts, wrote to his son "a sharp letter about his behaviour," and a visit of explanation from the Master instantly followed. During his absence there was a revulsion of feeling among the Grumblers, and some contrition was expressed by them for the part that they had acted; but the fiend returned, and the malcontents quietly relapsed.[234]

The news of James's certain arrival silenced, for a time, all complaints; but again they revived. Lord Mar seems to have had some misgiving of this, when he wrote, "Those that made a pretext of the King's not being landed, are now left inexcusable, and if those kind of folks now sit still and look any more on, they ought to be worse treated than our worse enemies." Yet it appears by a subsequent letter, that the grievances of which the General complained so bitterly, were not cured even by the presence of the Chevalier; that those who had made a pretext of his absence to complain and despond, desponded still, and that, in fact, the malady was so deep-seated as to be incurable.

It may be urged, in vindication of the Master, who obviously aggravated the spirit of the Grumblers, that the event proved that his apprehensions were well founded. It was, indeed, natural for an experienced officer who had served under Marlborough, to view with dissatisfaction and suspicion the feeble and tardy movements of Lord Mar. Yet a hearty well-wisher to any cause would have abstained from infusing distrust into those counsels which, whether wise or foolish, were destined to guide the adherents of the party. A man of honour will enter, heart and soul, into what he undertakes, or not enter at all. The conduct of Sinclair was that of a mean, morose spirit; and it is but fair to conclude that his motives for adopting the name of Jacobite were either those of personal advancement, or arose out of an enforced compliance with the wishes of his father.

Whilst Sinclair was thus undermining the welfare of the party to which he nominally belonged, his determined enemy, Sir John Schaw, after assisting the Duke of Argyle in defending Inverness against the insurgent troops, was marching with Lord Isla to rejoin the Duke of Argyle in his march towards Perth. It so happened that Lord Isla and his friends reached Sherriff Muir at the very moment when the Government troops and the Jacobites were about to join in battle. "Sir John," says Sir Walter Scott, "though he had no command, engaged as a volunteer; and we may suppose his zeal for King George was heightened by the recollection that the slayer of his brothers fought under the opposite banners." He behaved himself with distinguished courage, receiving a wound on his arm, and another in his side.[235] He was, at this time, the only surviving brother out of four, his brother Thomas having been slain at the siege of Mons a year after the death of the others. A month before Sir John Schaw had joined the Duke, Lady Schaw, the daughter of Sir Hugh Dalrymple, and a woman of singular energy and spirit, assembled the Greenock companies in arms, and telling them that the Protestant religion, with their laws, liberties, and lives, and all that was dear to them as men and Christians, were in hazard by that unnatural rebellion, exhorted them to conduct themselves suitably to the occasion.

The conduct of Sinclair at the battle of Sherriff Muir was not inconsistent with his former life. He remained, in that engagement, stationary, with the Marquis of Huntley, at the head of the cavalry of Fife and Aberdeen; hence the lines in the old song on Sherriff Muir.

"Huntly and Sinclair They baith play'd the Tinkler, With consciences black as a craw, man."

Upon the return of the Jacobite army to Perth, where they waited, as Scott remarks in a tone of mournful reprobation of Mar, "until their own forces should disperse, those of their enemy advance, and the wintry storm so far subside as to permit the Duke of Argyle to advance against them," Sinclair was the chief promoter of a scheme formed by the Grumblers for a timely submission to Government. Instigated by their wishes, an attempt was made by Lord Mar to procure, through the Duke of Argyle's mediation, some terms with Government; but it failed, and those who had embarked in the cause were obliged to provide, as they best might, individually for their safety. The whole tenour of Sinclair's conduct was such as to draw down upon him the severest invectives of his party. In one of the poems of the day he is thus described:

"The master with the bully's face, And with the coward heart, Who never fail'd, to his disgrace, To act a coward's part, Did join Dunbogue, the greatest rogue, In all the shire of Fife, Who was the first the cause to leave, By counsel from his wife."

The Master quitted the insurgent party at Perth, and joined the Marquis of Huntley at Strathbogie; thence he proceeded as a fugitive through Caithness and Orkney, with a few friends, who, like himself, were hopeless of pardon. After wandering in these remote districts for some time, the Master and his friends seized upon a small vessel and fled to the Continent. The Marquis of Huntley, more fortunate than his political ally, obtained his full pardon in consideration of his having left the rebels in time.[236]

The Master of Sinclair married, afterwards, the widowed Countess of Southesk, whom he probably met when on the Continent, since it appears that the Countess, for some time subsequent to the death of her husband, lived at Brussels. In referring to this union, it may not be improper to give some account of the family into connection with which it brought the Master of Sinclair.

James Carnegie, Earl of Southesk, the first husband of the lady whom the Master of Sinclair married, was descended from David Carnegie, an eminent lawyer, who in 1616 was raised to the dignity of Lord Carnegie of Kinnaird, and in 1623 was created, by Charles the First, Earl of Southesk. Like most of those families who had been elevated by the Stuarts to the peerage, the house of Carnegie retained a strong sense of their duty of allegiance to the Crown; and the first Earl of Southesk suffered for his principles by imprisonment and the extortion of a fine of three thousand pounds from his estates in the time of Cromwell.

James, the fifth Earl of Southesk, although nearly allied by his mother's side to the Maitlands, Earls of Lauderdale, had retained as great an affection for the Stuarts as his ancestors had manifested. Of the personal qualities of this nobleman little is generally known, except that he has been designated, "Brave, generous Southesk!"—of his fate, and of the subsequent fortunes of his family, still less is to be ascertained. Some few particulars which are to be derived from the State Papers are discreditable to the memory of this nobleman. Like several other Jacobite noblemen who have been mentioned elsewhere, Lord Southesk did not hesitate to summon his tenants to follow him to the field in the most peremptory terms. His commands fell heavily, in one instance, upon a poor man who lived on the Earl's estate, and bore also the name of James Carnegie. This unlucky man was a natural son of Charles, the late Earl of Southesk, and was therefore a brother of the present Earl James. Like all dependants in those days, he seems to have entertained a deep sense of his obligation to serve and to obey the head of the family; and his obedience was probably ensured by the tie of blood, however unacknowledged as constituting a claim between him and the Earl of Southesk. James Carnegie exercised the profession of a surgeon in the neighbourhood of Kinnaird, then the territory of Lord Southesk, and was employed by the Earl, who appears to have entertained considerable opinion of his skill. When the Insurrection of 1715 broke out, it would have been consistent with the character of a "brave and generous man" to have left this humble practitioner free to follow his own wishes, and not to have embroiled him in the dangers of that disastrous undertaking. A further claim upon the Earl's forbearance was the personal defect of the poor surgeon, who was lame, and short in stature. He was nevertheless ordered to meet Lord Southesk, at a certain place of rendezvous, on a certain day. A compliance was expected as a matter of course, for James Carnegie was a yearly pensioner of his noble and powerful brother, and refusal was ruin.[237] Nevertheless, the surgeon ventured on this occasion to judge for himself. He had, it appears, from his subsequent declaration, been ever well affected to the reigning Government and attached to the Revolution interest and, by his disapprobation of the Insurrection of 1715, had given umbrage to his nearest relations. Upon the command of Lord Southesk being issued to follow him to the camp at Perth, Carnegie would have fled and hidden himself but for the illness of his wife; he afterwards took refuge in the house of Lord Northesk, but his seclusion was of no avail. The following letter from Lord Southesk, the original of which is in the State Paper Office, affords a curious insight into the despotism exercised by the little kings of the Highlands over their subjects:—


"After what I both wrote and spoke to you, I did not think you would have made any furder difficultys of going to Perth with me. I know very well your wife's circumstances are to be pityd; however, since you have a pension from me, and served me since you have had any business, there is nobody of your employment in this country that I can put any confidence in, whatever may happen to me. Therefore I desire you may make no furder excuses; and if you can't be ready to wait upon me from Kinnaird upon Monday, I desire you may follow me upon Teusday; if you do not, you will for ever disoblige


"Kinnaird, Sept. 17, 1715."

"I desire you may come and speak with me this night, or to-morrow, at furdest."

"The Case of James Carnegie," also in the State Paper Office, furnishes a supplement to this peremptory summons.

"The Case of James Carnegie showeth, that though he lived in a country and amongst men the most notoriously disaffected of any in Scotland, he had, ever since his appearance in the world, espoused the Revolution interest, and given proofs of his affection to it, as would appear more fully in a declaration from the Presbytery of Brichen, in whose bounds he resided, and from another from Mr. John Anderson, his parish minister. That upon the first suspision of the treasonable designs of the rebells, Mr. James Carnegy would have set off and gone south, had not his wife's dangerous state (thought to be dying) obliged him to remain. That after the rebellion broke out, he firmly withstood all solicitations to join it, his neighbours and friends there threatening to burn house and land. He being disappointed of going south, attempted to retire to Ethie, Lord Northesk's house in Forfarshire. He could not remain concealed, the rebells being possessed of all the passes in the country. Finding himself blocked up amongst his enemies, to avoid the execution of the threatenings against him, he was induced, to his shame and regret, to go to Perth, but permitted none of his dependants or tennents to accompany him, and went with no arms but what gentlemen were in the habit of wearing. In order to give no support to those traiterous designs, he feigned illness at Coupar of Angus, but they forced him to go."

The issue of this affair was mournful. At the battle of Sherriff Muir where the Earl of Southesk appeared with three hundred men, the unfortunate nobleman was supposed to be slain. His faithful, though reluctant attendant, James Carnegie, was taken prisoner as he was looking over the field of battle in order to find the body of his lord. He was carried into prison at Carlisle, whence considerable exertions were made for his release, not only by his own representations, but by the mediation of Sir James Stewart, the governor of the castle. What was the result, whether the blameless victim of the will of others was released, or whether he sank among the many who could not sustain the hardships of their fate, does not appear.[238]

The Earl of Southesk, although it was reported he had been killed, rallied his men, and retreated with the Marquis of Tullibardine, the Earl Marischal and several heads of clans to the mountains, to shelter themselves from the pursuit of the Government troops. Some of these chieftains afterwards made their escape to Skye, Lewis, and other of the north-western islands, till ships came to their relief and carried them abroad.[239] What was the fate of the Earl of Southesk afterwards is not known: neither what became of his descendant.[240] He had married the Lady Margaret Stewart, daughter of the Earl of Galloway, and by her, according to some accounts, he had two sons; according to a contemporary Scottish peerage, he had one child only. His widow also went on the Continent, and the mention of her name by her brother, the Earl of Galloway, in a letter written at Clery in France,[241] without that of her husband, in May 1730, appears to indicate that she was then a widow, and not married again.[242]

How long Lady Southesk lived, the wife of the Master of Sinclair, is dubious. He survived her, and married afterwards, Emilia the daughter of Lord George Murray, brother of the Duke of Atholl. This intimate connection with one of the principal leaders of the Rebellion of 1745, did not, however, induce the Master to enter a second time into a course towards which he had, perhaps in truth, no sincere good will.

Upon his flight to the Continent, the Master of Sinclair was outlawed, and attainted in blood for his share in the Insurrection of 1715. His father being still alive, and not having taken an active part, his estates escaped forfeiture, and Lord Sinclair endeavoured so to dispose of them as to prevent their becoming the property of the Crown. It was necessary, on this account, that Lord Sinclair should disinherit his eldest son; and "as it would," says Sir Walter Scott, "have been highly impolitic to have alleged his forfeiture for treason as a cause of the deed, the slaughter of the Schaws was given as a reason for his exheredation." The following is a clause of the deed by which the end was to be accomplished:

"This new diposition of the family estate is explained and qualified by the second deed, being a back bond running in the names of the said James and William Sinclairs, which set forth that their father had been induced to grant a disposition of his estate in their favour, and to pass over their elder brother, to prevent all inconvenience and hazard whatsoever which the rents of the said Lord Sinclair, his heritable estate, or his moveables, might be liable to, if they were settled in the said Master's person, 'on accompt of the said Master of Sinclair his present circumstances, by means of an unfortunate quarrel that some years ago fell out between the said Master and two sons of the deceased Sir John Schaw of Greenock; therefore," the deed proceeds to state, "it was reasonable that they, James and William Sinclair, should grant a back bond of settlement, binding themselves to manage the property, when they should respectively succeed to it by advice of friends, overseers, and managers,—viz. Sir John Erskine of Alva, Bart., Sir William Baird of New Baith, Bart., Mr. John Paterson, eldest lawful son to the deceased Archbishop of Glasgow, their brother-in-law—Sir John Cockburn of that Ilk, Bart., and Mr. Mathew Sinclair of Hermiston, their uncles. The said James and William Sinclair, as they should respectively succeed to the estate, were obliged to make certain necessary expenditure to the family for behoof of the Master; and the said James and William Sinclair became also bound, in case the Master, their brother, should become free of his present inconveniences, or should have a family of lawful children, then, and in that case to convey the estate to the said Master, or to his said children, at the sight of his trustees."[243]

In the year 1726, the Master of Sinclair received pardon, as far as his life was concerned, but the forfeiture of his estates was not taken off, nor certain other incapacities reversed. He then returned to the family estate of Dysart in Fife, of which he was, by his father's disposition of affairs, the actual proprietor; and although the rents of the property were levied in his brother's name, they were applied and received by the Master. General James Sinclair, the second brother of the Master, was then the nominal owner only of the estates. But although thus returning to his patrimonial inheritance, the Master never recovered the good will of his former friends, nor the blessings of security, and of a calm and honoured old age. He seldom visited Edinburgh, living in seclusion and never going from home without being well guarded and attended for fear of the Jacobites, or of his enemies the Schaws. Under these circumstances it seems to have been a relief to his bitter and mortified spirit to have vented itself, in like manner with Lord Lovat, in composing memoirs of his own life. "These memoirs," says Sir Walter Scott, who long had a copy of them in his possession, "are written[244] with talent, and peculiar satirical energy: so much so indeed, that they have been hitherto deemed unfit for publication. The circumstances attending the slaughter of the Schaws argue a fierce and vindictive temper, and the frame of mind which Sinclair displays as an author exhibits the same character. They are, however, very curious, and it is to be hoped will one day be made public, as a valuable addition to the catalogue of royal and noble authors. It is singular that the author seems to have written himself into a tolerably good style, for the language of the Memoirs, which at first is scarcely grammatical, becomes as he advances disengaged, correct, and spirited."[245]

On the whole, it must be acknowledged that qualities more repulsive and a career more culpable, have darkened no narrative connected with the Jacobites so unpleasantly as the biography of the Master of Sinclair. A disgrace to every party, he appears to have joined the adherents of the Stuarts, only in order to disturb their councils, and to vilify their memory with personal invective. He has extorted no compassion for the errors and crimes of his earlier years by the courage and magnanimity of a later period: his character stands forth, unredeemed by a single trait of heroism, in all the darkness of violence and revenge.

The Barony of Sinclair, lost to the family in consequence of the attainder of the Master of Sinclair, was not assumed either by him, after his pardon in 1726, nor by his brother General James Sinclair. At the death of General Sinclair in 1762, the title reverted to Charles Sinclair, Esq., of Herdmanstown, a cousin, and after him to his son Andrew, who also allowed his claim to the Barony to lie dormant. It was, however, revived at his death in 1776, by his only son Charles, who is the present Lord Sinclair.[246]


[226] See Proceedings of the Court Martial held upon John, Master of Sinclair, with Correspondence, p. 27. 1828. Printed by Ballantyne and Company. Presented to the Roxburgh Club by Sir Walter Scott.

[227] It is printed in the interesting little collection before referred to, p. 35.

[228] Life of the Master of Sinclair, p. ix.

[229] His name is not among those who were assembled on the hunting-field of Braemar.

[230] Reay, p. 234.

[231] See Lord Mar's Life and Letters.

[232] Life of the Master of Sinclair, page v.

[233] See Lord Mar's Life, from the Mar Papers.

[234] Mar Papers.

[235] Reay's History of the Rebellion, p. 218.

[236] Reay, p. 387.

[237] See the certificate of the Justices of Forfar, in the State Paper Office, respecting the case of James Carnegie. Dated, Montrose, the first of October, 1716.

[238] See Papers in the State Paper Office for 1715 and 1716.

[239] Reay, p. 372.

[240] The title has remained in abeyance ever since. A mystery hangs over the fate of this family.

[241] See Letter.

[242] The letter from Lord Garlies, in which Lady Southesk is mentioned, is to be seen in the Murray MS. in the Advocate's Library at Edinburgh. It is addressed to the eccentric and imprudent Sir Alexander Murray of Stanhope. These papers were found on a floor of a room in Herriot's Hospital, and were rescued from destruction by Dr. Irvine of the Advocate's Library. After some remarks of no moment, Lord Garlies, afterwards the Earl of Galloway, observes—

"But now I hope that yours and all honest men's misfortunes are to have a turn, and since my cheif has had the good fortune to gett a young prince, I pray God his and all honest men's misfortunes may be at an end; and I hope before my young cheif dies, he shall have the name of Charles the Third. I beg of you to let me hear from you, and when I may expect to have the happinesse of seeing you in this countrey, which is what I both long mightily for, and expect as soon as you can conveniently. Besides, it will be a mighty obligation added to the many you have already done me, who am, dear Sandy,

"yours entirely whylst "GARLIES."

"May 12, 1730."

"Sister Southesque and my spouse make their compliments to you."

[243] Life of Master of Sinclair, page viii.

[244] The manuscript from which the life of the Master of Sinclair was taken, was found by Sir Walter Scott among the papers of his mother, who was distantly related to the family of Greenock. The proceedings of the court-martial were attested by the subscription of John Cunningham, probably a clerk of the court.

[245] The MS. Memoirs of the Master of Sinclair are at present in the possession of the Countess of Rosslyn.

[246] Burke's Peerage.


The clan Cameron, from whom were descended the chieftains who took an active part in the Jacobite cause, had its seat in Lochaber, of which one of their ancestors had originally received a grant from Robert Bruce. They sprang, according to some accounts, from the same source as that of the clan Chattan: they became, nevertheless, in the course of the fourteenth century, an independent state. In a manuscript history of the clan Cameron, they have been traced so far back as to the year 404; and their origin in Scotland ascribed to the arrival of a younger son of the royal family of Denmark, their progenitors acquiring the name of Cameron from his crooked nose.

The clan consisted of three septs; but the family of Lochiel were acknowledged as the chief, and, according to the singular system of clanship, the Camerons freely gave up their wills to that of their head. The history of this family, whilst it shows by what decision of character and intrepidity of conduct this superiority was maintained, presents little else than a tissue of successive feuds between the clan and its neighbours, until, during the seventeenth century, the events of history brought forth qualities of still greater importance to distinguish the house of Lochiel. From henceforth the disputes with the clan Chattan, and the long-standing feuds with the Mackintoshes, merged into obscurity compared with the more stirring interests into which the chieftains were now, fatally for their prosperity, intermingled.

The celebrated Sir Ewan Dhu of Lochiel, one of the finest specimens of the Highland chieftains on record, had passed a long life in the service of the Stuart family, for whom, even as a boy, he had manifested a sort of intuitive affection. This cherished sentiment had repelled the efforts of his kinsman, the Marquis of Argyle, to mould his youthful mind to the precepts of the Puritans and Covenanters. Sir Ewan Dhu combined a commanding personal appearance with a suitable majesty of deportment, and with a shrewd, dauntless, honourable, generous mind. His very sirname had an influence upon the good will of his superstitious and devoted followers. It denoted that he was dark, both in hair and complexion; and so many brave achievements had been performed by chieftains of the clan Cameron, who were of this complexion, that it had been foretold by gifted seers, that never should a fair Lochiel prove fortunate. Endowed with this singular hold upon the confidence of his people, Ewan Dhu eclipsed all his predecessors in the virtues of his heart and the strength of his understanding. His vigilance, his energy, and firmness were the qualities which had distinguished him as a military leader when, in the close of his days, the hopes and designs of the modern Jacobites began to engage the attention of the Highland chiefs.

The career of Ewan Dhu Cameron had been one of singular prosperity. At the age of eighteen, he had broken loose from the trammels of Argyle's control, and joined the standard of the Marquis of Montrose. He had contrived to keep his estate clear, even after the event of that unsuccessful cause, from Cromwell's troops. He next repaired to the royal standard raised in the Highlands by the Earl of Glencairne, and won the applause of Charles the Second, then in exile at Chantilly, for his courage and success. The middle period of his life was consumed in efforts, not only to abet the cause of Charles the Second, but to restore peace to his impoverished and harassed country. Yet he long resisted persuasions to submit and swear allegiance to Cromwell, and at length boldly avowed, that rather than take the oath for an usurper, he would live as an outlaw. His generous and humane conduct to the English prisoners whom he had captured during the various skirmishes had, however, procured him friends in the English army. "No oath," wrote General Monk, "shall be required of Lochiel to Cromwell, but his word to live in peace." His word was given, and, until after the restoration, Lochiel and his followers, bearing their arms as before, remained in repose.

At Killicrankie, however, the warrior appeared again on the field, fighting, under the unfortunate Viscount Dundee, for James the Second. As the battle began, the enemy in General Mackay's regiment raised a shout. "Gentlemen," cried the shrewd Lochiel, addressing the Highlanders, "the day is our own. I am the oldest commander in the army, and I have always observed that so dull and heavy a noise as that which you have heard is an evil omen." The words ran throughout the Highlanders; elated by the prediction, they rushed on the foe, fighting like furies, and in half an hour the battle was ended.

Although Sir Ewan Dhu was thus engaged on the side of James, his second son was a captain in the Scottish fusileers, and served under Mackay in the ranks of Government. As General Mackay observed the Highland army drawn up on the face of a hill, west of the Pass, he turned to young Cameron and said, "There is your father and his wild savages; how would you like to be with him?" "It signifies little," replied the Cameron, "what I would like; but I would have you be prepared, or perhaps my father and his wild savages may be nearer to you before night than you may dream of." Upon the death of Dundee, Sir Ewan Dhu, disgusted by the deficiencies of the commander who succeeded him, retired to Lochaber, and left the command of his clansmen to his eldest son, John Cameron, who, with his son Donald, form the subjects of this memoir.

Sir Ewan Dhu lived until the year 1719, enjoying the security which his exploits had procured for him; and maintaining, by his own dignified deportment, the credit of a family long upheld by a previous succession of able and honourable chieftains. The state and liberality of the Camerons were not supported, nevertheless, by a lavish expenditure; their means were limited: "Yet," says Mrs. Grant of Laggan in her MS. account of the clan, "perhaps even our own frugal country did not afford an instance of a family, who lived in so respectable a manner, and showed such liberal and dignified hospitality upon so small an income," as that of Lochiel.

The part which Sir Ewan Dhu had taken in the action at Killicrankie would, it was naturally supposed, draw down upon him the vengeance of those who visited with massacre the neighbouring valley of Glencoe. The forbearance of Government can only be accounted for by the supposition that King William, with his usual penetration, decreed it safer to conciliate, than to attempt to crush a clan which was connected by marriage with the most powerful of the Highland chieftains.

No arts could, however, win the allegiance of the Camerons from those whom they considered as their rightful sovereigns. Towards the end of William's reign, the young chieftain John was sent privately to France, where his early notions of loyalty were confirmed, and his attachment to the court of James enhanced, by the influence of the Duke of Berwick, who formed with him a sincere and durable friendship.

The character of the chieftain was softened in the young Lochiel. He was intelligent, frank, and conciliating in his manners, and had associated more generally with the world than was usually the case with the chieftains of those days. Among the circles with whom the young Lochiel mingled, Barclay Urie, the well known apologist of the Quakers, was also accustomed to appear. An attachment was thenceforth formed between John Cameron and the daughter of Barclay, and a matrimonial alliance was soon afterwards decided upon between the daughter of that gentleman and the young chieftain.

The choice was considered a singular one on the part of the young man. It was the customary plan to intermarry with some of the neighbouring clans; nor was it permitted for the chieftain to make a choice without having first ascertained how far the clan were agreeable to his wishes. This usage proceeded, in part, from the notion of consanguinity between every member of a clan, even of the lowest degree, to his chieftain, and the affability and courtesy with which the head was in the habit of treating those over whom he ruled. The clans were even known to carry their interference with the affairs of their chief so far as to disapprove of the choice of their abodes, or to select a site for a new residence.[248]

The sway which Sir Ewan Dhu had acquired over his followers was such that he dispensed with the ordinary practice, and, without the consent of the clans, agreed to receive the young Quakeress as his daughter. The marriage was completed, and eventually received the full approbation of the whole clan Cameron.

Meantime, great efforts had been made on the part of the English Government to detach Sir Ewan Dhu from his faith to James the Second. But the monarch who could attempt so hopeless a task as the endeavour to cause a Highlander to break his oath of fidelity, very faintly comprehended the national character, then existing in all its strength and all its weakness,—in its horror of petty crimes and its co-operation of great outrages,—in its small meannesses and lofty generous traits,—in its abhorrence of a broken vow or of treachery to a leader. The temptation offered was indeed considerable. Sir Ewan Dhu was to have a pension of three hundred a-year, to be perpetuated to his son, whom the Government were particularly anxious to entice back to Scotland. The old chieftain was also to be appointed Governor of Fort William.[249] But the emissaries of William the Third could not have chosen a worse period than that in which to treat with the brave and wary Cameron. The massacre of Glencoe was fresh in the remembrance of the people, and the stratagem, the fiendish snares which had been prepared to betray the unsuspecting Macdonalds to their destruction, were also recalled with the deep curses of a wronged and slaughtered people. The game of cards, the night before the massacre, between the villain Campbell, and the two sons of Glencoe,—the proffered and accepted hospitality of the chieftain, whose hand was grasped in seeming friendliness by the man who had resolved to exterminate him and his family, were cherished recollections—cherished by the determined spirit of hate and revenge which contemplated future retribution.

Sir Ewan Dhu therefore rejected these dazzling offers; he neither recalled his son from France, nor accepted the command offered to him, but busied himself in schemes which eventually swayed the destinies of the Camerons.

Not many miles from Achnacarry, the seat of Lochiel, rose, on the border of Loch Oich, the castle of Alaster Dhu, or Dusk Alexander, of Glengarry. The territories of this chieftain were contiguous to those of Lochiel; and his character, which was of acknowledged valour, wisdom, and magnanimity, formed a still stronger bond of union than their relative position. Glengarry was the head of a very powerful clan, called Macdonnells, in contradistinction to the Macdonalds of the Isles, whose claim to superiority they always resisted; declaring, by the voice of their bards and family historians, that the house of Antrim, from whom the Macdonalds of the Isles were descended, owed its origin to the Macdonnells of Glengarry.

The clan Glengarry was now at its height of power under the heroic Alaster Dhu, its chieftain, whose immediate predecessor had risen to be a Lord of Session, at a time when that office brought no little power and influence to its possessors: he had gained both wealth and credit in his high seat; and, upon retiring, had visited Italy, had brought back a taste for architecture to his native country, and the castle of Invergarrie, part of the walls of which remain undemolished, rose as a memento of his architectural taste.

The Lord of Session had cherished sentiments of loyalty for the exiled family; these were transmitted to Alaster Dhu. The gallant Lochiel and the chief of Glengarry were therefore disposed to smother in their feelings of loyalty the feuds which too often raged between clans nearly approximate. They therefore formed a compact to promote, in every way, the interest of the royal exiles; and in this vain attempt at restoration which ensued, the fate of their clansmen was sealed.[250] That of the Camerons is yet to be told; a slight digression respecting their gallant allies may here be excused.

When the feudal system which subsisted between the Highland chieftains and their clansmen was dissolved, it became the plan of many of the landholders to rid themselves of their poor tenantry, and to substitute in their place labourers and farmers from the south of Scotland. The helpless population of the glens and hill-sides were thus sent to wander, poor and ignorant of anything but their own homes, and speaking no language but their mother tongue, and wholly unskilled in any practical wisdom. Some emigrated, but many were pressed into service on board the emigrant ships, although the commanders of those vessels could not, in some instances, prevail upon themselves to tear the Highlanders away from their wives and families.

To remedy this melancholy state of affairs, and to employ the banished mountaineers, it was proposed about the year 1794, to embody some of the sufferers, the Macdonnells of Glengarry in particular, into a Catholic corps, under their young chieftain, Alexander Macdonnell, and employ them in the service of the English Government. This scheme, after many difficulties, was accomplished. At first, it worked well for the relief of the destitute clan; but, in 1802, in spite of their acknowledged good conduct, the Glengarry regiment was disbanded.

The friend of the unfortunate, who had originally proposed the consolidation of the corps, was Dr. Macdonald, who had been afterwards appointed chaplain to the regiment. He now projected another scheme for the maintenance of the clan Glengarry; and, after some opposition, his plan was effected. It was to convey the whole of the Macdonnells, with their wives and families, to a district in Upper Canada, where the clan, at this moment, is permanently established. The place in which they live bears the name of their native glen, and the farms they possess are called by the loved appellations of their former tenements: and, when the American war tried the fidelity of the emigrants, the clan gave a proof of their loyalty by enrolling themselves into a corps, under the old name of the Glengarry Fencibles.[251]

In the battle of Killicrankie, Glengarry had led his forces to fight for James the Second; and after that engagement, in which Glengarry had had a brother killed, he had become very obnoxious to the Government, and had found it necessary to retire for some time, whilst his more favoured friend Lochiel tranquilly occupied his own house of Achnacarrie, a place wholly undefended. The retreat in which Glengarry hid himself was a small wooded island in Lochacaig; and in this seclusion a manoeuvre was planned, highly characteristic of the subtlety, and yet daring of the Highland chieftains who were engaged in it. It shows, also, the state of the national feeling towards the English Government, at a time when comparative quiet appeared to be established in the Highlands.

Attached to certain regiments which were then lying at Fort William, there were a number of young volunteers, men of good family, who had a soldier's pay, if they wished it, and were considered as pupils in the art of war, "at liberty to retire if they chose, and eligible, being often persons of family, to fill the vacancies which war or disease occasioned among the subalterns."[252] This regiment was now about to occupy the garrisons, and on their way to the Tyendrum or Black Mount, the officers engaged in conversation, little dreading an assault in a country inhabited only by a few herdsmen, and considered by them as wholly subdued. But they were deceived in their sense of safety. Among the heath and bushes in a narrow pass, circumscribed, on the one side, by a steep mountain, and on the other by a small lake, which skirted the path, for road there was not, lay in ambush two hundred well-armed and light-footed Highlanders. The youths, or volunteers, were in the rear of the regiment; as they marched fearlessly through the deep solitude of this wild district, the Highlanders sprang forwards from their ambuscade; and before the young soldiers could recover their surprise or have recourse to their arms, eight or ten young men of family were seized on and hurried away. With these were mingled others, among these volunteers of less importance, who were carried away in the confusion by mistake. A few shots were fired by the soldiery, but without any effect, for the Highlanders had disappeared. This sudden attack excited the utmost consternation among the officers of the regiment, nor could they discover the object of this aggression; nor did they know either how to pursue the assailants, or in what terms to report to Government so ignominious a loss. They marched, therefore, silently to Dumbarton without attempting to pursue an enemy whose aim it might be to lure them into some fastness, there to encounter a foe too powerful, from the nature of the country, to be resisted. On arriving at Dumbarton the mystery was explained. There the commander of the corps found a letter, stating that "certain chiefs of clans had no objection to King William's ruling in England, considering that nation as at liberty to choose its own rulers; but that they never could, consistently with what they had sworn on their arms, take an oath to any other sovereign while the family of St. Germains remained in existence. They were," the writers continued, "unwilling either to perjure themselves, or to hold their lands in daily fear, and subject to the petty instruments of power. They were willing to live peaceably under the present rule, but were resolved neither to violate the dictates of conscience, nor to have their possessions disturbed. In the meantime, to prevent encroachments upon their lands, and to prevent the necessity of rushing into hostilities with the Government, they had taken hostages to ensure their safety, and with these they would never part until Sir Ewan Dhu and Alaster Dhu had obtained assurances that they should never be disturbed for their principles whilst they lived peaceably on their estates."

This declaration was accompanied by a powerful remonstrance upon the folly and danger of exasperating clans powerful from their union, and from the inaccessibility of the country which they inhabited. The tenderness of conscience, the fidelity to an exiled monarch, were made, the writers urged, a plea for every species of oppression and petty tyranny. The late massacre of Glencoe justified, they said, the measures of precaution they were taking; and, finally they threatened, should their petition be refused to take refuge in France, carrying with them their young hostages, there to proclaim the impolicy and injustice of the English Government. This address was dispatched, not to the Privy Council, but to the relations and friends of the young prisoners, who were interested in procuring a favourable reception for its negotiation; and the chiefs who subscribed to this address reasonably expected that the fear of their power, exaggerated in the sister kingdom, where a total ignorance of the manners and character of the Scottish mountaineers existed, would prevail to lend force to their arguments. This negotiation was never made public; it proved, however, effectual, as far as the comfort of some of the parties engaged in it were concerned.

By the influence of the rising party, who, espousing the interests of the Princess Anne, were gaining ground in the country during the decline of William, Sir Ewan Dhu and Glengarry, who were jointly considered as the promoters of this affair, remained unpunished for a manoeuvre on which public opinion in England was not inclined to pass a very severe judgment, after the recent massacre of Glencoe.[253] Some secret negotiations placed everything on a secure footing; and, during the reign of Queen Anne; the two chieftains lived in tranquillity, their mutual regard continuing undiminished during their lives, and becoming the subject, after their deaths, of the lays composed in their honour by their native bards.

During his latter days, Sir Ewan Dhu had the consolation of seeing his son happy in the choice of a wife. Beautiful and good, the young Quakeress soon established herself in the good opinions of all those who were acquainted with her; and there seems every reason to conclude that she inherited the virtues, without the peculiarities of her father, Robert Barclay of Urey. That eminent man was descended from a Norman family which traced its ancestry to Thomas de Berkley, whose descendants established themselves in Scotland. By his mother's side, Barclay was allied to the house of Huntley; and by his connection with the heiress of the mother's family, a considerable estate in Aberdeenshire was added to the honours of antiquity. Unhappily for the lovers of the old Norman appellations, the name of de Berkley was changed, in the fifteenth century, into that of Barclay. One of Robert Barclay's sons, who became a mercer in Cheapside, had the rare fortune of entertaining three successive monarchs when they visited the City on the Lord Mayor's Day,—George the First, George the Second, and George the Third; whose heart, as it is well known, was touched by the beauty of one of the fair descendants of Robert Barclay.

Previously to the marriage between Lochiel and the young Quakeress, the family into which he entered had been impoverished, and the estate of Mathers, from which the Barclays derived their name, sold to defray debt.

The career of Robert Barclay was singular. He was first converted to Popery during his residence in Paris, when he was fifteen; and he changed that faith for the simple persuasion of the Quakers when he had attained his nineteenth year. He adopted the tenets of the Friends at a period when it required much courage to adhere to a sect who were vilified and ridiculed, not only in England but in Scotland. It was to refute these attacks against the Quakers that Barclay wrote the book entitled, "Truth cleared of Calumnies." His ability and sincerity have never been doubted; but some distrust of his reason may be forgiven, when we find the Quaker, a grave and happily married man, walking through the streets of Aberdeen, clothed in sackcloth and ashes, under the notion that he was commanded by the Lord to call the people unto repentance; he appealed to witnesses to prove the "agony of his spirit," and how he "had besought the Lord with tears, that this cup might pass away from him."

This singular act of humiliation was contrasted by frequent visits to the Court of Charles the Second, and to Elizabeth of Bohemia. To the house of Stuart, Barclay was ever fondly attached. His father had suffered in the civil wars; and the doctrines of non-resistance and passive obedience, avowed by the Quakers, were favourable to the Stuart dynasty. The last visit which Barclay paid to London was rendered memorable by the abdication of James the Second. As he was standing beside that monarch, near a window, the King looked out, and remarked that "the wind was fair for the Prince of Orange to come over." "It is hard," replied Barclay, "that no expedient can be found to satisfy the people." James answered, that "he would do anything becoming a gentleman, except parting with liberty of conscience, which he would never do while he lived." Barclay only survived that eventful period two years. His children, singular as it may seem, were all living fifty years after their father's death.

To the daughter of this inflexible and courageous man was Cameron of Lochiel united. During the first years of their marriage, even before the death of Sir Ewan Dhu, they lived peacefully in the home of their ancestors; and whilst Anne reigned, that happy tranquillity was undisturbed. The name of Anne was long cherished in the Highlands on account of the rare intervals of peace and plenty which her rule, and as it was thought, her pious prayers, afforded to a ravaged and oppressed country. Seven years' famine, during the reign of William, were charged upon the monarch's head: plenteous crops and peaceful abundance were ascribed to the merits of Queen Anne.[254] Meantime, the gentle and happy Lady of Lochiel won all hearts: she was distinguished, as tradition reports, for prudence, activity and affability. "One great defect," adds Mrs. Grant, "she had, however, which was more felt as such in the Highlands than it would have been in any other place. She did not, as a certain resolute countrywoman of hers was advised to do, 'bring forth men-children only;' on the contrary, daughters in succession, a thing scarce pardonable in one who was looked up to and valued in a great measure as being the supposed mother of a future chief. In old times women could only exist while they were defended by the warriour and supported by the hunter. When this dire necessity in some measure ceas'd, the mode of thinking to which it gave rise continued. And after the period of youth and beauty were past, woman was only consider'd as having given birth to man. John Locheil's mind was above this illiberal prejudice: he loudly welcomed his daughters and caress'd their mother on their appearrance as much as if every one of them had been a young hero in embryo. His friends and neighbours us'd on these occassions to ask in a sneering manner, "What has the lady got?" To which he invariably answered, "A lady indeed:" this answer had a more pointed significance there than with us. For in the Highlands no one is call'd a lady but a person named to the proprietors of an estate. All others, however rich or high-born, are only gentlewomen. How the prediction intentionally included in the chief's answer was fulfill'd, will hereafter appear.

"Besides the family title, every Highland chieftain has a patronymic deriv'd from the most eminent of their ancestors, probably the founder of the family, and certainly the first who confer'd distinction on it. Thus Argyle is the son of Colin, Breadalbane the son of Archibald, &c.; and the chief of the Camerons was always stil'd son of Donald Dhu, Black Donald, whatever his name or complexion may be, as well as the appellation deriv'd from it, because it would appear hereditary in the family, and at length it became a tradition or prophesy among the clan that a fair Lochiel should never prosper."

At length, after the birth of twelve daughters, a son and heir made his appearance. But the satisfaction of the clans was dashed by hearing that the ill-starred little laird was fair, like his sisters. The prophecy that a fair Lochiel should never prosper, was recalled with dismay; and, unhappily, the fears of superstition were too mournfully realized by fact. The young Cameron was named Donald: his birth was followed by the appearance of two other boys,—Archibald, afterwards the ill-fated Dr. Cameron, and John, who was called Fassefern, from an estate. "The proud prediction of their father," continues Mrs. Grant, "was soon amply fulfilled with regard to the daughters of this extraordinary family." "Their history," she adds, "unites the extravagance of romance with the sober reality of truth."

The twelve daughters of Lochiel were admirably educated, and the fame of their modest virtues soon extended through the Highlands. The great point in matrimonial alliances in those rude regions was to obtain a wife well born, and well allied; and little fortune was ever expected with the daughter of a chief. Ancestry was the great point with a Highlander, for he believed that defects of mind, as well as of person, were hereditary. All, therefore, sought the daughters of Lochiel, as coming of an untainted race. The elder ones were married early, and seemed, as Mrs. Grant expresses it, by the solicitude to obtain them, as ever to increase, like the Sibyl's leaves, in value, as they lessened in number. Of the daughters, one, the youngest and the fairest, was actually married to Cameron of Glendinning, in the twelfth year of her age. She became a widow, and afterwards married Maclean of Kingasleet, so that she was successively the wife of two heads of houses. Another, Jean Cameron, who was the least comely of her family, but possessed of a commanding figure and powerful understanding, was married to Clunie, the Chief of the Clan Macpherson. She is said to have been celebrated in the pathetic poem, entitled "Lochaber no More," the poet, who laments his departure from Lochaber, and his farewell to his Jean, having been an officer in one of the regiments stationed at Fort William.

By the marriage of his twelve daughters with the heads of houses, the political importance of Lochiel was considerably enhanced, and a confederacy, containing many noted families who were bound together by opinion and kindred, formed a strong opposition to the reigning Government. The sons-in-law of Lochiel were the following chiefs: Cameron of Dungallan, Barclay of Urie, Grant of Glenmoriston, Macpherson of Clunie, Campbell of Barcaldine, Campbell of Auchalader, Campbell of Auchlyne, Maclean of Lochbuy, Macgregor of Bohowdie, Wright of Loss, Maclean of Ardgour, and Cameron of Glendinning. All the daughters became the mothers of families; "and these numerous descendants, still," observes Mrs. Grant, "cherish the bonds of affinity, now so widely diffused, and still boast their descent from these female worthies."[255]

Among most of the influential chieftains who espoused the daughters of Lochiel, was the celebrated Macpherson of Clunie, who afterwards took a very important part in the Rebellions of 1715 and 1745. The career of Clunie affords a melancholy, but rare, instance of indecision, if not of double dealing, in the Jacobites. Before the battle of Culloden, anxious to retrieve his affairs and to ensure his safety, he took the oaths to the English Government, and was appointed to a company in Lord Loudon's Highlanders. His clan, nevertheless, were eager to join Charles Edward, and urged him to lead them to his standard. Clunie hesitated between the obligation to his oath, and his secret devotion to the Stuarts. His defection irritated the British Government: he became one of those whose life was forfeited to the laws. After the battle of Culloden he secreted himself, and lived for nine years in a cave, at a short distance from the site of his own house, which had been burned by the King's troops. The cave was in front of a woody precipice, the trees, &c., completely concealing the entrance. It was dug out by his own people, who worked at night, or when time had slackened the rigour of the search. Upwards of one hundred persons knew of this retreat, and one thousand pounds were offered as a reward to any who would discover it. Eighty men were stationed there to intimidate the tenantry into a disclosure, but it was all in vain; none could be found so base as to betray their chief.[256]

For two years Sir Hector Monro in vain remained in Badenoch, for the purpose of discovering Clunie's retreat. The Macphersons remained true to their chieftain. At times he emerged from his dark recess, to mingle for awhile in the hours of night with his friends, when he was protected by the vigilance and affection of his clansmen, unwearied in their work of duty. At last, broken-spirited, and despairing of that mercy which was accorded by the English Government to so few of the insurgents, Clunie escaped to France, and there died, ten years after the fatal events of 1745.[257] The estate of this unfortunate chieftain was restored to his family, who claim to be the ancient representatives of the clan Chattan; with what justice it would be dangerous to declare, since no risk could be more rashly encountered than that which is incurred in discussing Highland prerogative.

Surrounded by his powerful relatives and fair daughters, Lochiel hailed with no very sanguine spirit the coming troubles which quickly followed the accession of the house of Hanover. Already was the Jacobite association busily at work in the south of Scotland; and it was impossible, from the temper of the populace in both nations, not to augur, in a short time, some serious popular outbreak. In the minds of the Highland chieftains a hatred of English dominion, and a desire of independence, constituted even a more potent source of adherence of the Stuarts than any personal feeling towards that line. Most of these chiefs languished to see a king of their own nation reign over them. To such a ruler they would, as they considered, be viewed not as a secondary object. Their interests had been neglected in the Treaty of Darien,—a settlement which had inspired the landholders of the Low Country with aversion to William.

Expectations had also been raised, tending to the belief that Anne, secretly well affected to her brother, had made such provisions in her will as would ensure the descent of the Crown in the direct line; and nothing could exceed the disgust and amazement of the Highlanders when they beheld a foreigner seated on a throne, from which, they well knew, it would be impossible to dispossess him. "To restore," as Mrs. Grant observes, "their ancient race of monarchs to the separate Crown of Scotland, was their fondest wish. This visionary project was never adopted by the Jacobites at large, who were too well informed to suppose it either practicable or eligible. But it serv'd as an engine to excite the zeal of bards and sennachies, who were still numerous in the Highlands, and in whose poetry strong traces of this airy project may still be found."

Soon after the accession of George the First, certain of the Highland chieftains dispatched a letter to the Earl of Mar, desiring that nobleman to assure the Government of their loyalty and submission. Among the names subscribed are those of Lochiel, of his friend Glengarry, and of Clunie. The address is said to have been a stratagem of Mar's to gain time, and to give him an opportunity of ripening his schemes.[258] But it appears more probable that there was, at first, a spirit of moderation and a desire for peace in the chieftains, until they were afterwards stimulated by the intrigues of the disappointed and baffled Earl of Mar. Lochiel, as well as many others, had little to gain, but much to lose, in any change of dynasty or convulsion in the state. Prosperous, beloved, secure, his fidelity to that which he believed to be the right cause was honourable to the highest degree to his character. That he was not sanguine in his hopes, is more than probable. Before he went to the battle of Sherriff Muir, he arranged his affairs so as to be prepared for the worst result that might befal his family. The frequent occurrence of feuds and civil wars in Scotland had taught the higher classes the use of stratagem and manoeuvre in these domestic disturbances. It was not unusual for a son and a father often to affect to take opposite sides, in order that the estate, happen what might, should be preserved to the family; and this was considered as consulting the general good of the clan. Lochiel, although he did not pursue this plan, yet left his affairs so arranged that, in the most fatal results of the Rebellion of 1715, his estate might be protected. His sons-in-law, powerful and devoted to the same cause, were well qualified to aid and to protect those members of the family who were entrusted to their friendly guidance. John Cameron was still styled "Cameron the younger, of Lochiel," for the renowned Sir Ewan Dhu was living when Mar summoned the chieftains to the hunting-field of Braemar. The aged chieftain had, at this time, attained his eighty-seventh year; it had been his glory, in early life, to defend a pass near Braemar against Cromwell's troops, until the royal army had retired; and, in fact, to be the instrument of saving Glencairn's troops, keeping himself clear of those cabals which at that time fatally harassed the disorganized Royalists. It was now his fate to send forth, under the guidance of his son, his gallant Camerons, to the number of eight hundred, to espouse the cause of the Stuarts.[259] No jealousies disturbed the confidence reposed on the one side, nor alienated affection on the other. The affection of the Highlanders for their children was one of the softened features in the national character. It was usually repaid with a decree of reverence, of filial piety, which, however other qualities may have declined and died away in the Highland character, have remained, like verdant plants amid autumnal decay. The appalling spectacle of a parent forsaken, or even neglected, by a child, is a sight never known in the Highlands: nor is the sense of duty lessened by absence from the mountains where first the sentiment was felt. The Highland soldier, far from his country, is accompanied by this holy love, this inexhaustible stimulus to exertion, which induces him to save with what may be unjustly called a niggard hand his earnings, to support, in their old age, those who have given him birth. "I have been," says General Stewart, "a frequent witness of these offerings of filial bounty, and the channel through which they were communicated; and I have generally found that a threat of informing their parents of misconduct, has operated as a sufficient check on young soldiers, who always received the intimation with a sort of horror."[260]

Blessed, doubtless, with the approval of his father, Sir Ewan Dhu, Lochiel quitted his home. He left a wife whom he loved, a parent whom he reverenced, and whose span of life could not be long extended; he left a numerous and prosperous family, upon a sense of duty, a principle of loyalty, an adherence, so fixed and so sure among the Highlanders, to his engagements. The name of Cameron does not appear among the chieftains who were assembled at Braemar; but it appears probable that he attended the Earl of Mar's summons, since he was cited, by the authority of an act passed on the thirtieth of August, to appear at Edinburgh, as well as a number of other disaffected chieftains and noblemen, to give bail for his allegiance to the Government. The summons was not answered by a single individual, and the preparations for the fatal insurrection continued in unabated activity.

The details of the hopeless struggle contain no especial mention of John Cameron of Lochiel; but, from manuscript sources, we learn that, after the battle of Sherriff Muir, he continued with the Jacobite army, conducted by General Gordon, to whom James Stuart had entrusted the command of that remnant of his gallant and deserted adherents. The Jacobite army having marched to Aberdeen, were there informed by General Gordon of the flight of the Chevalier, of that of Lord Mar, and of the other principal leaders. A letter was then read to them from James, declaring that the disappointments which he had met with, especially from abroad, had obliged him to leave the country. He thanked his subjects for their services, and desired them to advise with General Gordon, and to consult their own safety, either by keeping in a body, or separating, and encouraged them to hear from him again in a very short time. A singular scene ensued. General Gordon and the chief officers of the army, are said to have pretended surprise at this disclosure, although they were previously in the secret; but the indignation of the soldiers was extreme.

"We are basely betrayed," they cried out; "we are all undone; we have neither King nor General left!"

Shortly after this crisis, the Jacobite army dispersed; two hundred of them, amongst whom were many chieftains, went towards Peterhead, intending to embark, in vessels which they knew were waiting for them, for France; but the main body of the army marched westward, to Strathspey and Strath-dore to the Hills of Badenoch, where they separated. The foot-soldiers dispersed into the mountains, near Lochy, and the horse went to Lochaber, agreeing to reassemble, such was their undaunted fidelity and courage, on receiving notice from the Chevalier.[261] But such a summons never came, to arouse those brave men from the repose of their glens and fortresses.

Lochiel had entrusted the guidance of his clan to his son, afterwards well known by the name of "gentle Lochiel," and the faithful promoter of Charles Edward's ill-starred enterprise. Persuaded that the safety and honour of his house were safe in the hands of this promising young man, who had been purposely kept in ignorance of the projected rising, and had taken no part in it, Lochiel resolved to consult his own safety, and to follow his royal master to France. After wandering for some time near Braemar, and in Badenoch, he escaped by means of one of the French frigates which were cruising near the coast of Scotland.[262]

In 1719 Sir Ewan Dhu expired, having witnessed the rise and fall of that attempt to restore the Stuarts, which was only succeeded by a more desperate and melancholy undertaking. He lived to see his son an exile, but he had the consolation of reflecting that the honour of his clan, the great desideratum with a chieftain, was yet unstained either by cowardice or disloyalty.

The Camerons do not appear to have had any participation in the abortive attempt in 1718 to revive the Stuart claim. Considered by the English Government as a proscribed rebel, and deemed of too much importance to be forgiven, Lochiel passed henceforth most of his days in the melancholy court of St. Germains, where he soon perceived how little faith there was to be placed in the energy and determination of James Stuart. At times his weary exile was relieved by secret visits to his own home at Achnacarry, where he found his son, dutiful and amiable, holding his possessions as in trust for his father. Lochiel was enabled by the power and alliance of his sons-in-law to remain in safety, as long as he pleased, during these visits; yet he professed to renounce Scotland until a change of Government should facilitate his return as a chieftain to his clansmen. In every district he found kindred ready to protect him, and he derived much importance from the influence he possessed through his children. His sons-in-law were mostly the heads of clans, and they all looked up to Lochiel with affectionate reverence. Had Lochiel been a remorseless partisan of James, instead of a true lover of his country, he might easily have stimulated his kindred, and set into motion the whole of that powerful connection of which he was the centre. But he perceived too plainly the risk of such a proceeding, and wisely declined involving the peaceful and the prosperous in the dangers of another contest. His moderate sentiments were confirmed by the early wisdom of his son,—one of those bright patterns of human excellence, gifted with every charm which attends a noble and gallant chieftain.

During the early part of the Rebellion of 1745, John of Lochiel remained in France; but, when the battles of Falkirk and of Preston Pans raised the hopes of his party, he came over to Scotland, and landed on the coasts of Lochaber, a short time before the fatal blow to the Stuart cause was given at Culloden. After taking a last look at his house, and visiting, with what feelings can well be conceived, the scenes of his childhood, the haunts of his ancestry,—the house of Achnacarry, which was soon, as he well might conjecture, to be the object of vengeance to a foe more ruthless and brutal than ever party spirit had infuriated in this country before,—Lochiel, embarking in the vessel which had brought him to Scotland, elate with hope, returned to France. His exile was cheered by the friendship of the Duke of Berwick, but his heart seems ever to have been in Scotland. A few years afterwards he came over again privately to Edinburgh, and there his eventful life was closed.[263] His estates were included, after the year 1745, in the numerous forfeitures which followed the Rebellion; but they were eventually restored, and they have remained in possession of the family. Intrepid and amiable as John of Lochiel appears to have been, and perilous as was his career, his character bears no comparison in interest with that of one who was one of the brightest ornaments of his party—his gallant unfortunate son.

Donald Cameron of Lochiel, had long exercised the authority of a chieftain, before the Rebellion of 1745 entailed upon him a participation in occupations still more arduous. He had, in short, arrived at middle age when he was called upon to support the claims of Charles Edward.

To the virtues and intentions of this chieftain, even his enemies have borne tribute. He was accomplished, refined, and courteous; yet brave, firm, and daring. The warlike tribes around him, unaccustomed to such a combination of qualities, idolized the gallant and the good Lochiel. His father, reposing on his honour and prudence, relied with security upon his son's management of the family estates, and this confidence was never disturbed by presumption on the one hand, nor by suspicion on the other.

Donald Cameron had imbibed the principles of his father; and there is little doubt but that, during the furtive visits of John Lochiel to Scotland, a tacit understanding had been formed between them to support the "good old cause," as they termed it, whenever circumstances should permit. But Donald Cameron, although "he loved his King well, loved his country better;" nor could he be persuaded to endanger the peace of that country by a rash enterprise, which could never, as he justly thought, prosper without foreign aid, and the hearty co-operation of the English Jacobites. His own clansmen were, he well knew, prepared for the contest, come when it might; for the conversation of the small gentry and of the retainers consisted, to borrow a description from a contemporary writer, entirely of disquisitions upon "martiall atchievements, deer huntings, and even valuing themselves upon their wicked expeditions and incursions upon their innocent low-country neighbours. They have gott," adds the same author,[264] "a notion and inviollable maxim handed down to them from their forefathers, that they, being the only ancient Scotsmen, that whole nation belongs to them in property, and look on all the low-country-men as a mixture of Danes, Saxons, Normans, and English, who have by violence robbed them of the best part of their country, while they themselves are penned up in the most mountainous and barren parts thereof to starve; therefore think it no injustice to commit dayly depredations upon them, making thereby conscience to interrupt their illegal possession (as they call it) in case it should prescribe into a right."[265]

It would not have been difficult to have blown such combustible materials into a flame; but Donald Cameron adopted a different policy, and endeavoured to allay the angry passions of the tribe over which he ruled: nevertheless, his own conduct was perfectly consistent with his principles; and such was the notion entertained of his integrity and moderation, that though he never took the oaths to the reigning family, he was indulged in that tenderness of conscience and permitted to remain in peace, even though residing in the immediate neighbourhood of a great military station.[266]

Donald Cameron had indeed a more valuable stake in the country than houses or lands. He was married in the year 1723 to the daughter of Sir James Campbell of Auchinbreck, a lady of whom it is high praise to say, that she was worthy of being the companion of such a man.

Thus situated, the nominal holder of an estate which, though long maintained in the family, is said never to have exceeded in value five hundred pounds a-year, and less prejudiced against the English and the ruling powers than his predecessors, Donald Cameron felt, it is asserted, little desire to promote a second invasion of the country by the Chevalier. The slightest intimation of his father's wish to revive that cause would have been sufficient to set the whole family confederacy into motion; but the wisdom of the younger Lochiel had been ripened by the cautious and critical part which he had had to perform in life; and that prudent disposition, enforced by his father's circumspection, prevented any precipitate measures.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse