Memoirs of the Jacobites of 1715 and 1745 - Volume II.
by Mrs. Thomson
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Little is known of this unfortunate nobleman, except what is honourable, consistent, and amiable. He had almost ceased to be Scotch, except in his attachments, and could scarcely write his own language. He seems to have been generally respected; and he bore his reverses of fortune with calmness and fortitude. In his last moments he is said to have declared, that although he had been as much attached to the cause of James Stuart as any of his adherents, if he might now advise his countrymen, it should be never more to enter into rebellious measures, for, having failed in the last attempt, every future one would be hopeless.[68]

The Marquis died in the fifty-eighth year of his age, and was buried in the chapel in the Tower, which has received few more honest men, or public characters more true to the principles which they have professed.

The following letter, written in March, 1746, during the siege of Blair Castle, when it was commanded by a garrison under Sir Andrew Agnew, and addressed to Lord George Murray, shows the strong sense which the Marquis entertained of what was due to his country and his cause.

"Brother George,

"Since, contrary to the rules of right reason, you was pleased to tell me a sham story about the expedition to Blair, without further ceremony for me, you may now do what the gentlemen of the country think fit with the castle: I am in no concern about it. Our great-great-grandfather, grandfather, and father's pictures will be an irreparable loss on blowing up the house; but there is no comparison to be made with these faint images of our forefathers and the more necessary publick service, which requires we should sacrifice everything that can valuably contribute towards the country's safety, as well as materially advancing the royal cause. Pray give my kind service to all valuable friends, to which I can add nothing but that, in all events, you may be assured I shall ever be found with just regard, dear brother, your most affectionate brother and humble servant."

"Inverness, "March 26, 1746."

"PS. At the upper end of the door of the old stable, there was formerly a gate which had a portcullis into the castle; it is half built up and boarded over on the stable side, large enough to hold a horse at hack and manger. People that don't know the place imagine it may be much easier dug through than any other part of the wall, so as to make a convenient passage into the vaulted room, which is called the servants' hall."

Of the fate of this princely territory, and upon the fortunes of the family of which the Marquis of Tullibardine was so respectable a member, much remains to be related; but it appertains more properly to the life of the warlike and ambitious brother of the Marquis, the celebrated Lord George Murray.


[44] Lord Lovat's Memoirs, p. 39.

[45] Wood's Peerage.

[46] Reay, p. 78.

[47] Wood's Peerage.

[48] See Brown's History of the Highlands. But Home, in his History of the Rebellion, speaks of Lords Tullibardine and Seaforth as coming from a different quarter. "Most of these persons," he says, "came privately from France."

[49] Athol Correspondence. Printed for the Abbotsford Club. App. 229.

[50] Home's History of the Rebellion, p. 19.

[51] Home, pp. 22, 23.

[52] Jacobite Memoirs.

[53] Glenfinnin is in the shire of Inverness, and the parish of Glenelg. It is situated at the head of Loch Shiel.

[54] Jacobite Memoirs, p. 23.

[55] Introductory Notice, Athol Correspondence, p. ix.

[56] Pennant's Scotland, vol. i. p. 118.

[57] It has lately been proved, beyond doubt, that the parr is a young salmon, not a distinct fish.

[58] Pennant, p. 119.

[59] Jacobite Memoirs, pp. 26, 27.

[60] Henry Benedict, afterwards Cardinal York.

[61] Jacobite Memoirs, p. 31.

[62] See Forbes's Jacobite Memoirs, p. 51.

[63] This casket was never more seen. It was supposed to contain family jewels.

[64] Mrs. Grant's MS. For which I am indebted for the whole of this account.

[65] Mrs. Grant's MS.

[66] Note in Forbes's Jacobite Memoirs, p. 3.

[67] Wood's Peerage.

[68] Athole Correspondence. Introductory Notice.


The name Maclean, abbreviated from Mac Gillean, is derived from the founder of the clan, "Gillean n'a Tuaidh," Gillean of the Battle-axe, so called from his carrying with him as his ordinary weapon, a battle-axe. From this hero are descended the three principal families who compose the clan Maclean, who was also designated Gillean of Duart.

It is related of Gillean that, being one day engaged in a stag-hunt on the mountain of Bein't Sheala, and having wandered away from the rest of his party, the mountain became suddenly enveloped in a deep mist, and that he lost his track. For three days he wandered about; and, at length exhausted, threw himself under the shelter of a cranberry bush, previously fixing the handle of his battle-axe in the earth. He was discovered by his party, who had been vainly endeavouring to find him, insensible on the ground, with his arm round the handle of the battle-axe, whilst the head of the weapon rose above the bush. Hence, probably, the origin of the crest used by the clan Maclean, the battle-axe surrounded by a laurel-branch.[69]

To Gillean of the Battle-axe various origins have been ascribed; truly is it observed, that "there is little wisdom in attempting to thread the mazes of fanciful and traditionary genealogies."[70] Like other families of importance, in feudal times, the Macleans had their seneachie, or historian; and, by the last of these, Dr. John Beaton, the descent, in regular order, from Aonaglius Turmi Teanebrach, a powerful monarch of Ireland, to Fergus the First, of Scotland, is traced.

A tradition had indeed prevailed, that the founder, of the house of Maclean was a son of Fitzgerald, an Earl of Kildare,—a supposition which is contemptuously rejected by the historian of this ancient race. "In fact," he remarks, "from various sources, Gillean can be proved to have been in his grave, long before such a title as Earl of Kildare was known, and nearly two hundred years before the name of Fitzgerald existed."[71] It appears, indeed, undoubted, from ancient records and well-authenticated sources, that the origin of Gillean was derived from the source which has been stated.

When the lordship of the Isles was forfeited, the clan Maclean was divided into four branches, each of which held of the Lords of the Isles; these branches were the Macleans of Duart, the Macleans of Lochbuy, the Macleans of Coll, and the Macleans of Ardgour. Of these, the most important branch was the family of Duart, founded by Lachlan Maclean, surnamed Lubanich. This powerful chief obtained such an ascendant at the court of the Lord of the Isles, as to provoke the enmity of the Chief of Mackinnon, who, on the occasion of a stag-hunt, formed a plot to cut off Lachlan and his brother, Hector Maclean. But the conspiracy was discovered by its objects; Mackinnon suffered death at the hands of the two brothers for his design; and the Lord of the Isles, sailing in his galley towards his Castle of Ardtorinsh in Morven, was captured, and carried to Icolumb-kill, where he was obliged, sitting on the famous black rock of Iona, held sacred in those days, to swear that he would bestow in marriage upon Lachlan Lubanich his daughter Margaret, granddaughter, by her mother's side, of Robert the Second, King of Scotland: and with her, as a dowry, to give to the Lord of Duart, Eriska, with all its isles. The dowry demanded consisted of a towering rock, commanding an extensive view of the islands by which it is surrounded, and occupying a central situation among those tributaries.[72] From the bold and aspiring chief was Sir John Maclean of Duart descended. The marriage of Lachlan Lubanich with Margaret of the Isles took place in the year 1366.[73]

Between the time of Lachlan Lubanich and the birth of Sir John Maclean, the house of Duart encountered various reverses of fortune. It has been shown how the chief added the rock of Eriska to his possessions; in the course of the following century, a great part of the Isles of Mull and Tirey, with detached lands in Isla, Jura, Scarba, and in the districts of Morven, Lochaber, and Knapdale, were included in the estates of the chiefs of Duart, who rose, in the time of James the Sixth, to be among the most powerful of the families of the Hebrides. The principal seats of the chiefs of the Macleans were Duart and Aros Castles in Mull, Castle Gillean in Kerrara, on the coast of Lorn, and Ardtornish Castle in Morven. In 1632, on occasion of the visit of one of the chiefs, Lachlan, to the Court of Charles the First, he was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia, by the title of Sir Lachlan Maclean of Morven. But various circumstances, and more especially the enmity of the Argyle family, and the adherence of Maclean to the Stuarts, had contributed to the decline of their pre-eminence before the young chief, whose destiny it was to make his name known and feared at the court of England, had seen the light.

The family of Maclean in all its numerous and complicated branches, had been distinguished for loyalty and independence during the intervening centuries between the career of Gillean and the birth of that chieftain whose devotion to the Jacobite cause proved eventually the ruin of the house of Duart. Throughout the period of the Great Rebellion, and of the Protectorate, the chief of the Macleans had made immense sacrifices to support the interests of the King, and to bring his clan into the field. In the disgraceful transactions, by which it was agreed that Scotland should withdraw her troops from England upon the payment of four hundred thousand pounds, in full of all demands, the faithful Highland clans of the north and west, the Grahams, Macleans, Camerons, and many others, had no participation. One main actor in that bargain, by which a monarch was bought and sold, was the Marquis of Argyle, the enemy and terror of his Highland neighbours, the Macleans of Duart. Upon the suppression of the royal authority, domestic feuds were ripened into hostilities during the general anarchy; and few of the oppressed and harassed clans suffered more severely, or more permanently than the Macleans of Duart.

Archibald, the first Marquis of Argyle, fixed an indelible stain upon his memory by acts of unbridled licence and aggression, in relation to his Highland neighbours; the unfortunate Macleans of Duart especially experienced the effects of his wrath, and suffered from his manoeuvres.[74]

In the time of Cromwell, Argyle having procured from the Lords of the Treasury, a grant of the tithes of Argyleshire, with a commission to collect several arrears of the feu-duty, cesses, taxation, and supply, and some new contributions laid on the subject by Parliament, under the names of ammunition and contribution money, the power which such an authority bestowed, in days when the standard of right was measured by the amount of force, may readily be conceived. On the part of Argyle, long-cherished views on the territories of his neighbour, Maclean of Duart, were now brought into co-operation with the most remorseless abuse of authority.

Sir Lachlan Maclean of Duart, the great-grandfather of Sir John Maclean, was then chief of the clan. The Marquis of Argyle directed that application should be made to this unfortunate man for his quota of these arrears, and also for some small sums for which he had himself been security for the chief. Sir Lachlan was in no condition to comply with this demand; for he had suffered more deeply in the royal cause than any of his predecessors. During the rule of Argyle and Leslie in Scotland, a rule which might aptly be denominated a reign of terror, the possessions of the chief in Mull had been ravaged by the parliamentary troops, without any resistance from the harmless inhabitants, who had been instructed by their lord to offer no retaliation that could furnish a plea for future oppression. The castle of Duart had been besieged, and surrendered to Argyle and Leslie, upon condition that the defenceless garrison, and eight Irish gentlemen, inmates of the hospitable Highlander's home, should be spared. Still more, the infant son of Sir Lachlan had been kidnapped from his school at Dumbarton by Argyle, and was paraded by the side of the Marquis to intimidate the chief, who was made to understand that any resistance from him would be fatal to his child,—"an instrument," observes the seneachie, "which the coward well knew might be used with greater effect upon the noble father of his captive, than all the Campbell swords the craven lord could muster." Under these circumstances, Sir Lachlan Maclean was neither in the temper nor the condition to comply with the exactions of those whom he also regarded as having usurped the sovereign authority. He refused; and his refusal was exactly what his enemy desired.

The next step which Argyle took was to claim the amount due to him from the chief, which, by buying up all the debts, public and private, of Maclean, he swelled to thirty thousand pounds, before a court of law. Such was the state of Scottish judicial proceedings in those days, that the process was ended before Sir Lachlan had even heard of its commencement. He hastened, when informed of it, to Edinburgh, in order to make known his case before the "Committee of Estates," then acting with sovereign authority in Scotland. But he was intercepted at Inverary, cast into prison upon a writ of attachment, issued and signed by Argyle himself, and immured in Argyle's castle of Carrick, for a debt due to Archibald, Marquis of Argyle. It was there required of him that he should grant a bond for fourteen thousand pounds Scots, and sign a doqueted account for sixteen thousand pounds more, bearing interest.

For a time the unhappy chief refused to sign the bond thus demanded; for a year he resisted the oppression of his enemy, and bore his imprisonment, with the aggravation of declining health. At last his friends, alarmed at his sinking condition, entreated him, as the only means of release, to comply with the demand of Argyle. Sir Lachlan signed the document, was set free, and returned to Duart, where he expired in April, 1649. To his family he bequeathed a legacy of contention and misfortune.

His successor, Sir Hector Maclean, the young hostage who had been kidnapped from Dumbarton, was a youth of a warlike and determined spirit, who resisted the depredations of the plundering clan of Campbells in Lorn and Ardnamuchan, and, on one occasion, hung up two of the invaders at his castle of Dunnin Morvern. Such, in spite of this summary mode of proceeding, were Sir Hector's ideas of honour, that, notwithstanding his doubts of the validity of the bond obtained from his father, he conceived that the superscription of his father's name to it rendered it his duty to comply with its conditions as he could. He is declared by one authority to have paid ten thousand pounds of the demand; by another that fact is doubted, since, when Sir John Maclean's guardians investigated it, no receipts for sums alleged to have been paid on account were to be found.[75] But this is again accounted for by the seneachie or family historian.

Sir Hector Maclean fell in the battle of Inverkeithing, where, out of eight hundred of his clan who fought against General Lambert, only forty escaped. He was succeeded by his brother Allan, a child, subject to the management of guardians. By their good care, a great portion of the debt to Argyle was paid, but there still remained sufficient to afford the insatiable enemy of his house a fair pretext of aggression. The case was again brought before the Scottish Council; it was even referred to Charles the Second; but, by the representations of the Duke of Lauderdale, the Argyle influence prevailed. The famous Marquis of Argyle was, indeed, no longer in existence; he had perished on the scaffold: but his son still grasped at the possessions of his neighbour; and, although King Charles desired that Lauderdale "should see that Maclean had justice," the Duke, who was then Scottish Lord Commissioner, on his return to Scotland, decided that the rents of the estates should be made payable to Argyle on account of the bond, a certain portion of them being reserved for the maintenance of the chief.

Sir Allan died a little more than a year after this decision had been made, ignorant of the decree; and left, to bear the buffeting of the storm, his son, Sir John Maclean, a child only four years of age, who succeeded his father in 1677.[76] His estates had been placed under the care of two of his nearest kinsmen, Lachlan Maclean of Brolas, and Lachlan Maclean of Torloisk, men of profound judgment and of firm character, from whose guardianship much was expected by the clan. But the minor possessed a friend as true as any kinsman could be, and one of undoubted influence and sagacity, in the celebrated Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel. Against his interest, in despite of Argyle, that brave and noble man espoused the cause of the weak and of the fatherless, notwithstanding that he was himself a debtor to Argyle, of whose power and will to injure he had shortly a proof. Finding that Lochiel was resolved to protect and assist the young Maclean, the Earl of Argyle[77] sent to demand from Sir Ewan the payment of the debt he owed, assuring him that it was his intention to follow out the law with the greatest rigour. Sir Ewan answered that he had not the money to pay, neither would he act against his friends. This threat, however, obliged Sir Ewan to continue in arms, contrary to proclamation, and also to obtain a protection from the Privy Council in Edinburgh, against the vengeance of Argyle.

But that which occasioned the greatest vexation to Sir Ewan, was an opportunity which he conceived that the tutors or guardians of the young Maclean had lost the power of emancipating their ward from the clutches of Argyle's power. This, he thought, might have been effected upon the forfeiture of the Marquis of Argyle to the Crown, when he considered that an opportunity might have been afforded to Maclean's guardians to release their ward from Argyle's hands, by a transaction with certain creditors of that nobleman, to whom the sum claimed by Argyle from Maclean had been promised, but never paid. Thus, by an unaccountable oversight, the power of the Argyle family over the fortunes of the Macleans was continued.

Under these adverse circumstances, Sir John Maclean succeeded to his inheritance. His principal guardian, although bearing a high reputation among the clan, was esteemed by Sir Ewan as "a person who seems to have been absolutely unfitt for manageing his affairs att such a juncture;"[78] and soon proved to be far too easy and credulous to contest with the crafty Campbells. Full of compassion for the helpless infant chief, Sir Ewan now resolved never to abandon the Macleans until matters were adjusted between them. He passed the winter of the year in Edinburgh, where he was, at one time, so much incensed against the Earl of Argyle for his cruelty to the Macleans, and so indignant at his conduct to himself, that the valiant chief of the Camerons was with difficulty restrained by his servant from shooting Argyle as he stepped into his coach to attend the council.[79]

Whilst the counsels of Sir Ewan Cameron prevailed with the guardians, the Macleans remained merely on the defensive; but when the insinuations of Lord Macdonald, who had much influence with one of the young heir's guardians, were listened to, the Macleans were incited to reprisals and plunder, to which it was at all times no difficult matter to stimulate Highlanders.

At length the powerful and mortal foe succeeded to his heart's content in his scheme of oppression. Argyle, in his capacity of Hereditary Justiciary of the Isles, summoned the clan Maclean to appear and stand their trials for treasonable convocations, garrisoning their houses and castles, &c.; the unfortunate clansmen, knowing their enemy to be both judge and evidence, did not obey. Immediately they were declared rebels and outlaws, and a commission of fire and sword was issued against them. All communication between them and the Privy Council, who might have redressed their wrongs, was cut off: those who happened to fall into the hands of the Campbells, were cruelly treated; and those who styled themselves Maclean were blockaded in the Islands, and almost starved for want of provisions. Reduced in strength by the battle of Inverkeithing, the clan was but ill-prepared to resist so formidable a foe as Argyle, whose men, therefore, landed without opposition, the people flying to their mountains as the enemy approached. The young chief was sent, for protection, first to the fortified island of Thernburg, and afterwards to Kintail, under the care of the Earl of Seaforth, who had, not long previously, acted as a sort of arbitrator in the affairs of the family.[80]

While Sir John Maclean was thus, probably, unconscious of his wrongs and dangers, secured from personal injury, the strong old Castle of Duart was taken possession of by Argyle, who, finding it garrisoned, was obliged to publish an indemnity, which he had obtained on purpose, remitting all crimes committed by the Macleans since the eighteenth of September, 1674, on condition that the castle should be delivered to him,—a demand with which the islanders were forced to comply. But in vain did Argyle endeavour to prevail upon the honest and simple clansmen to renounce their allegiance to their chief, and to become his vassals.[81] Every species of indignity and of plunder was inflicted upon these hapless, but faithful Highlanders in vain; a "monster," as he is termed, "bearing the stamp of human appearance, named Sir Neill Campbell," in vain chased the poor inhabitants to the hills, and there exhibited acts of cruelty too shocking to be related. A promise, however, of payment of rents was at last obtained by Argyle, and he left the island, after garrisoning the castles. But this tribute was never paid. The Macleans could neither bear to see the halls of Duart and of Aros Castle tenanted by their foes, nor would they submit to pay to them their rents. A league of defence was again formed; letters of fire and sword were, in consequence, issued; but Argyle was baffled by a hurricane in his second invasion of Duart. Nature conspired with the injured in their protection; and, after some time, the guardians of Sir John Maclean, accompanied by Lord Macdonald, proceeded to London in order to appeal to the Privy Council. The appeal thus made was prolonged until the year 1680, when it was at last settled by the Scottish Council; and the island of Tyrie was given to the Earl of Argyle, in full payment of his claim upon the estates of Sir John Maclean.

The character of the young chief was, meantime, formed under the influence of these events, of which, when he grew up, whilst yet the storm raged, he could not be ignorant. One principle he inherited from his ancestors—a determined fidelity to the Stuart cause. When he was fifteen years of age, the death of his guardians threw the management of his affairs into his own hands; this was in the years 1686 and 1687, one of the most critical periods in English history. Having appointed certain gentlemen his agents, or factors, the young chief went, according to the fashion of his times, to travel. He first repaired to the Court of England, at that time under the sway of James the Second; he then crossed to France, and returned not to the British dominions until he accompanied James into Ireland.

The character of Sir John Maclean, as he attained manhood, and entered into the active business of life, has been drawn with great felicity by the author of "The Memoirs of Lochiel."[82]

"He was," says this writer, "of a person and disposition more turned for the court and the camp, than for the business of a private life. There was a natural vivacity and politeness in his manner, which he afterwards much improved by a courtly education; and, as his person was well-made and gracefull, so he took care to sett it off by all the ornaments and luxury of dress. He was of a sweet temper, and good-natured. His witt lively and sparkeling, and his humour pleasant and facetious. He loved books, and acquired the languages with great facility, whereby he cultivated and enriched his understanding with all manner of learning, but especially the belles lettres; add to this, a natural elegancy of expression, and ane inexhaustible fancy, which, on all occasions, furnished him with such a copious variety of matter, as rendered his conversation allways new and entertaining. But with all these shining qualitys, the natural indolence of his temper, and ane immoderate love of pleasure, made him unsuiteable to the circumstances of his family. No persons talked of affairs, private or publick, with a better grace, or more to the purpose, but he could not prevail with himself to be att the least trouble in the execution. He seemed to know everything, and from the smallest hint so penetrated into the circumstances of other people's buisiness, that he often did great services by his excellent advice; and he was of a temper so kind and obligeing, that he was fond of every occasion or doeing good to his friends, while he neglected many inviteing opportunities of serveing himself."

The first hostilities between France and England, after the Revolution, broke out in Ireland, whence it was the design of James the Second to incite his English and Scottish subjects to his cause. And there was, apparently, ample grounds for hope; England was rent with factions, Lord Dundee was raising a civil war in Scotland, and half Europe was in contention with the other, whether the late King of England should be supported.

"I will recover my own dominions with my own subjects," was the boast of James, "or perish in the attempt." Unhappily, like his son, his magnanimity ended in expressions.

Sir John Maclean accompanied James when he landed, on the twelfth of March, 1689, in Ireland; after the siege of Derry, the chief returned to Scotland, accompanied by Sir Alexander Maclean of Otter, and there very soon showed his determination in favour of the insurrection raised by Dundee.

Sir John Maclean's first step was to send Maclean of Lochbuy as his lieutenant with three hundred men to join Dundee. His party encountered a major of General Mackay's army at Knockbreak in Badenoch; a conflict ensued, and Mackay's men were put to flight. This was the first blood that was shed for James the Second in Scotland.

Sir John Maclean soon afterwards joined Dundee in person, leaving his castle of Duart well defended. This fort, which had witnessed so many invasions, was besieged during the absence of the chief by Sir George Rooke, who cannonaded it several days without effect. Its owner, meantime, had joined Dundee, and was appointed to the command of the right wing of the army.

At the battle of Killicrankie, Sir John Maclean distinguished himself, as became the descendant of a brave and loyal race, at the head of his clan; he probably witnessed the death of Dundee. Few events in Scottish history could have affected those who followed a General to the field so severely. Lord Dundee had been foremost on foot during the action; he was foremost on horseback, when the enemy retreated, in the pursuit. He pressed on to the mouth of the Pass of Killicrankie to cut off the escape. In a short time he perceived that he had overrun his men: he stopped short: he waved his arm in the air to make them hasten their speed. Conspicuous in his person he was observed; a musket-ball was aimed at that extended arm; it struck him, and found entrance through an opening in his armour. The brave General was wounded in the arm-pit. He rode off the field, desiring that the mischance might not be disclosed, and fainting, dropped from his horse. As soon as he was revived, he desired to be raised, and looking towards the field of battle asked how things went. "Well," was the reply. "Then," he said, "I am well," and expired.

William the Third understood the merits of his brave opponent. An express was sent to Edinburgh with an account of the action. "Dundee," said the King (and the soldier spoke), "must be dead, or he would have been at Edinburgh before the express." When urged to send troops to Scotland, "It is needless," he answered; "the war ended with Dundee's life." And the observation was just: a peace was soon afterwards concluded.[83]

Sir John Maclean, nevertheless, continued in arms under the command of Colonel Cannon, and lost several brave officers by the incapacity of this commander. After the peace was signed, he returned to live upon his estates, until Argyle, having procured a commission from William to reduce the Macleans by fire or sword, invaded the island of Mull with two thousand five hundred men. Sir John being unprepared to resist him, after advising his vassals to accept protection from Argyle, again retired to the island of Thernburg, whence he captured several of King William's vessels which were going to supply the army in Ireland.[84]

The massacre of Glencoe operated in some respects favourably, after the tragedy had been completed, upon the circumstances of the Jacobites. Terrified at the odium incurred, a more lenient spirit was henceforth shown to them by Government. Many persons were exempted from taking the oaths, and were allowed to remain in their houses. Early in the year 1792, Sir John Maclean took advantage of this favourable turn of affairs, and, after obtaining permission through the influence of Argyle, and placing the castle of Duart under that nobleman's control, he went to England.

He soon became a favourite at the Court of one who, if we except the massacre of Glencoe, evinced few dispositions of cruelty to the Scottish Jacobites. King William is said, nevertheless, to have had a real antipathy to the Highlanders; and Queen Mary, whose heart turned to the adherents of her forefathers, was obliged to conceal her partiality for her Northern subjects. It had appeared, however, on several occasions, during the absence of her consort, and was now evinced in her good offices to the chief of the clan Maclean. That the chief was of a deportment to confirm the kind sentiments thus shown towards him, the character which has been given of him amply proves.

Sir John Maclean was, as the author of Sir Ewan Cameron's life relates, "the only person of his party that went to Court, which no doubt contributed much to his being so particularly observed by the Queen, who received him most graciously, honoured him frequently with her conversation, and said many kind and obliging things to him. Sir John on his part acquitted himself with so much politeness and address, that her Majesty soon began to esteem him. He took the proper occasions to inform her of the misfortunes of his family, and artfully insinuated that he and his predecessors had drawn them all upon themselves by the services they had rendered to her grandfather, father, and uncle. She answered, that the antiquity and merit of his family were no strangers to her ears; and that, though she had taken a resolution never to interpose betwixt her father's friends and the King her husband, yet, she would distinguish him so far as to recommend his services to his Majesty by a letter under her own hand; and that she doubted not but that it would have some influence, since it was the first favour of that nature which she had ever demanded."

Sir John is, however, declared by another authority to have declined the commission thus offered to him. Although he had received King James's permission to reconcile himself with the Government, he did not, it appears, choose to bear arms in its defence. Such is the statement of one historian.[86] By another it is said that "Sir John was much caressed while he continued in the army,"[87]—a sentence which certainly seems to imply that he had assented to King William's offer. At all events, he managed to engage the confidence of the King so far, that William "not only honoured him with his countenance, but told Argyle that he must part with Sir John's estate, and that he himself would be the purchaser."

The nobleman to whom William addressed this injunction was of a very different temper from his father and grandfather, who had both died on the scaffold. Archibald, afterwards created by William Duke of Argyle, had in 1685 become the head of that powerful family; he was of a frank, noble, and generous disposition. "He loved," says the same writer, "his pleasures, affected magnificence, and valued money no further than as it contributed to support the expence which the gallantry of his temper daily put him to. He several times offered very easy terms to Sir John; and particularly he made one overture of quitting all his pretentions to that estate, on condition of submitting to be the Earl's vassall for the greatest part of it, and paying him two thousand pounds sterling, which he had then by him in ready money; but the expensive gayety of Sir John's temper made him unwilling to part with the money, and the name of a vassall suited as ill with his vanity, which occasioned that and several other proposals to be refused. However, as the generous Earl was noways uneasy to part with the estate, so he, with his usewall frankness, answered King William that his Majesty might always command him and his fortunes; and that he submitted his claim upon Sir John's estate, as he did everything else, to his royal pleasure."

A tradition exists in the family, that when Argyle sent messengers with his proposals to the Castle of Duart, Sir John pushed away the boat, as it neared the shore, with his own hands. This was worthy the pride of a Highland chieftain.

To such a height, in short, did William's favour amount, and so far did he in this instance carry his usual policy of conciliating his enemies by courtesy and aid, that he ordered Maclean to go as a volunteer in his service, assuring him that he would see that no harm was done to his property in his absence. Sir John, previous to his intended departure from England, went to Scotland to put his affairs in order. On his return he was told by Queen Mary that there were reports to his prejudice; he denied them, and satisfied the Queen that all suspicions of his fidelity were unfounded. Upon the strength of this assurance the Queen wrote in Maclean's favour to the King, in Holland, whither Sir John then proceeded to join his Majesty. But this profession of fidelity to one monarch soon proved to be hollow. Maclean was truly one of the politicians of the day, swayed by every turn of fortune, and cherishing a deep regard for his own interest in his heart. To inspire dislike and distrust wherever he desired to secure allegiance was the lot of William, of whom it has been bitterly said, that in return for having delivered three kingdoms from popery and slavery, he was, before having been a year on the throne, repaid "with faction in one of them, with rebellion in the other, and with both in the third." How expressive was the exclamation wrung from him, "that he wished he had never been King of Scotland." Sir John Maclean was one of those who added another proof to the King's conviction, "that the flame of party once raised, it was in vain to expect that truth, justice, or public interest could extinguish it."[88]

On arriving at Bruges, Maclean heard of the battle of Landau, in which the French army had proved victorious against the Confederates; and at the same time a report prevailed that a counter revolution had taken place in England, and that William was already dethroned. Sir John changed his course upon this intelligence, and hastened to St. Germains, where he was, as might be expected, coldly received. He remained there until the death of William, and then he married the daughter of Sir Enaeas Macpherson of Skye.

Upon the accession of Anne, Sir John took advantage of the general indemnity offered to those who had gone abroad with James the Second, and resolved to avail himself of this opportunity of returning home; but, unluckily, he was detained until a day after the act had specified, by the confinement of his wife, who was taken ill at Paris, and there, in November 1703, gave birth to a son, who afterwards succeeded to the baronetcy. Although there was some risk in proceeding, yet Sir John, trusting to the Queen's favourable disposition to the Jacobites, embarked, and with his wife and child reached London. There he was immediately committed to the Tower, but his imprisonment had a deeper source than the mere delay of a few weeks. The Queensbury plot at that time agitated the public, and produced considerable embarrassment in the counsels of state.[89]

It appears that Sir John Maclean had taken no part in this obscure transaction which could affect his honour, or impair his chance of favour from Queen Anne; for, so soon as he was liberated, she bestowed upon him a pension of five hundred pounds a-year, which he enjoyed during the remainder of his life.

For some years Sir John Maclean continued to divide his time between London and the Highlands, where he frequently visited his firm friend Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel, at his Castle of Achnacarry. His estates had not been materially benefited by the brief sunshine of King William's favour. Upon finding that Maclean had gone to St. Germains, that monarch had confirmed to the Duke of Argyle the former grant of the island of Tyrie, which the successors of the Duke have since uninterruptedly enjoyed until the present day. Its value was, at the time of its passing into the hands of the Campbells, about three hundred pounds sterling per annum.[90] The chief of the clan Maclean was certain never to escape the suspicions of the Government, after the death of Anne, during whose reign the Highlanders experienced an unwonted degree of tranquillity. Upon her demise the whole state of affairs was changed; and none experienced greater inconveniences from the vigilance of Government than Sir Ewan Cameron and his friend Maclean. Lochiel, as his biographer observes, "drank deeply of this bitter cup."[91]

It was during one of Maclean's visits to Achnacarry, when in company with his now venerable friend, that the Governor of Fort William attempted to take him and Sir Ewan prisoners, but they made their escape. During the night of their flight, however, Sir Maclean caught a severe cold, which ended afterwards fatally.

When the Earl of Mar raised the standard of the Chevalier in Scotland, Sir John joined him at Achterarder, some days before the battle of Sherriff Muir. In that engagement the clan Maclean distinguished themselves, and some of their brave chieftains were killed in the battle. After the day was over, Sir John retired to Keith, where he parted from his followers, never to rejoin them. A consumption, incurred from the cold caught in his escape, was then far advanced. He declined an offer made to receive him on board the Chevalier's ship, bound for France, and went to Gordon Castle, where, on the twelfth of March, 1716, he expired.

Thus ended a life characterized by no ordinary share of vicissitude and misfortune. If the fate of Sir John Maclean be less tragical than that of other distinguished Jacobites, it was, it must be acknowledged, one replete with anxiety and disappointment. He may be said to have been peculiarly "born to trouble." To our modern notions of honour and consistency, his conduct in becoming a courtier of William the Third, appears to betray that unsoundness and hollowness of political principle which, more or less, was the prevalent moral disease of the period, and which was attributable to some of the most celebrated men of the day. It undoubtedly forms an unfavourable contrast to the stern independence of Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel, and of other Highland chieftains, and too greatly resembles the code of politics adopted by the Earl of Mar. But those who knew Sir John Maclean intimately, considered him a man of straightforward integrity; they deemed him above dissimulation, and have placed his name among those who despised every worldly advantage for the sake of principle, and who loved the cause which he had espoused for its own sake. The broken towers of Duart and of Aros, the ruins of those once proud lords of the soil, attest the sacrifices which they made, and form a melancholy commentary upon their history.

The castle of Aros, in the Island of Mull, "is interesting," says Macculloch,[92] "from the picturesque object which it affords to the artist; the more so, as the country is so devoid of scenes on which his pencil can be exerted. Still more striking, from its greater magnitude and more elevated position, is Duart Castle, once the stronghold of the Macleans, and till lately garrisoned by a detachment from Fort William. It is fast falling into ruin since it was abandoned as a barrack. When a few years shall have passed, the almost roofless tenant will surrender his spacious apartments to the bat and the owl, and seek shelter, like his neighbours, in the thatched hovel which rises near him. But the walls, of formidable thickness, may long bid defiance even to the storms of this region; remaining to mark to future times the barbarous splendour of the ancient Highland chieftains, and, with the opposite fortress of Ardtornish, serving to throw a gleam of historical interest over the passage of the Sound of Mull."

Hitherto Iona had received the last remains of the Lords of Duart; but Sir John Maclean was not carried to the resting-place of his forefathers. He was buried in the church of Raffin in Bamffshire, in the family vault of the Gordons of Buckie. In Iona, that former "light of the western world," are the tombs of the brave and unfortunate Macleans. Their bones are interred in the vaults of the cathedral, which, after coasting the barren rocks of Mull, buffeted by the waves, the traveller beholds rising out of the sea, "giving," as it is finely expressed, "to this desolate region an air of civilization, and recalling the consciousness of that human society which, presenting elsewhere no visible traces, seems to have abandoned these rocky shores to the cormorant and the gull." On the tombs of the Highland warriors who repose within St. Mary's Church in Iona, are sculptured ships, swords, armorial bearings, appropriate memorials to the island lords, or, as the Chevalier not inaptly called them, "little kings;" and, undistinguishable from the graves of the chiefs, are the funereal allotments of the Kings of Scotland, Iceland, and Norway.[93]

Sir John Maclean left one son and six daughters. His son Hector was born in France, but brought to Scotland at the age of four, and placed under the care of his kinsman, Maclean of Coll, where he remained until he was eighteen years of age; when he repaired to Edinburgh, and in the college made considerable progress in the usual course of studies in that institution. After various journeys abroad, chiefly to Paris, Sir Hector Maclean returned in 1745 to Edinburgh, intending again to lead his clansmen to the standard of Prince Charles; but a temporary imprisonment, occasioned by the treachery of a man in whose house he lodged, prevented his appearance in the field. He was detained in confinement until released as a subject of the King of France. He died at Rome in the year 1758, in the forty-seventh year of his age. At his death the title of Baronet devolved upon Allan of Brolas, great-grandson of Donald, first Maclean of Brolas, and younger brother of the first baronet.

Although the chief was thus prevented from following Prince Charles to the field of Culloden, many of his clan distinguished themselves there; Charles Maclean of Drimnin appeared at the head of five hundred of the clan, and his regiment, which was under the command of the Duke of Perth, was among those that broke forward with drawn swords from the lines, and routed the left wing of the Duke of Cumberland's army. The whole of the front line of this gallant regiment was swept away as they presented themselves before their foes. They were afterwards overpowered by numbers, and obliged to retire. Their leader, as he retreated, inquired for one of his sons, who was missing. "I fear," said an attendant to whom the inquiry was addressed, "that he has fallen." The fate of the father is well told in these few words,[94] "If he has, it shall not be for naught," was his reply; and he rushed forward to avenge him.

Many of the clan fell in the massacre after the battle of Culloden Muir. Hundreds of the Highlanders who escaped the inhumanity of their conquerors, died of their wounds or of hunger, in the hills, at twelve or fourteen miles' distance from the field of battle. "Their misery," says a contemporary writer, "was inexpressible." While the cannon was sounding, and bells were pealing in the capital cities of England and Ireland, for the united events of the Duke of Cumberland's birth and the battle of Culloden Moor, fires were seen blazing in Morvern, in which numerous villages were burned by order of the victorious Cumberland. The Macleans who came from Mull, seem generally to have escaped; they made off in one of the long boats for their island, the night after the engagement, and were fortunate enough to carry with them a cargo of brandy and some money.[95]

A calmer, though less interesting career has, since 1745, been the fate of the chiefs of the clan Maclean.[96] Sir Allan, respected and beloved, became a colonel in the British army. He retired eventually to the sacred Isle of Inch Kenneth, in Mull, where he exercised the hospitality characteristic, in ancient times, of the Lords of Duart. Dr. Johnson has handed down the memory of the venerable chief, not only in a few descriptive pages of a Tour to the Hebrides, but in a Latin poem, translated by Sir Daniel Sandford.[97] In the lines he refers to Sir Allan in these terms.

"O'er glassy tides I thither flew, The wonders of the spot to view; In lowly cottage great Maclean Held there his high ancestral reign."[98]

Sir Allan Maclean died in 1783: he was succeeded by his nearest male relation, Sir Hector Maclean, of the family of Brolas. The brother of Sir Hector, Sir Fitzroy Grafton Maclean, a distinguished officer, and formerly Governor of the island of St. Thomas, is now chief of the clan Maclean. Two sons continue the line. Of these, the eldest, Colonel Charles Fitzroy Maclean, has chosen, like his father, the profession of arms. He commands the eighty-first foot: and has, by his marriage with a daughter of the Hon. and Rev. Dr. Marsham, an heir to the ancestral honours of the house. The youngest son of Sir Fitzroy Maclean is Donald Maclean, of Witton Castle, Durham, the member for Oxford, married to Harriet, daughter of General Frederick Maitland, a descendant of the Duke of Lauderdale, whose former injustice to the clan Maclean has been noticed in this work. It is remarkable, that the same fidelity, the same loyalty, that sacrificed every possession to the cause of James Stuart, has been, since the extinction of that cause, worthily employed, with distinguished talent and success, in the service of Government. Such instances are not uncommon in the history of the Jacobites.


[69] Historical and Genealogical Account of the Clan Maclean, by a Seneachie.

[70] Brown's Highlands.

[71] Historical Account of the Clan Maclean, p. 4.

[72] "Eriska is interesting as having been the first place where Charles Edward landed in Scotland. It is the boundary of Ottervore toward the north, and is separated from South Uist by a narrow rocky sound. Upon a detached and high rock at its southern end are to be seen the remains of a square tower, the abode of some ancient chieftain."—Macculloch, vol. i. p. 87.

[73] Hist. Account.

[74] Memoirs of Lochiel, p. 193. This account is preferable to that given by the historian of the house of Maclean, as it is of course a more dispassionate statement, although the facts stated are nearly the same. See Hist. and Gen. Acct. pp. 140, 141.

[75] Memoir of Lochiel, p. 194.

[76] According to the Memoirs of Lochiel, it appears that Sir Allan must have died in 1673 or 1674; since the author speaks, in 1674, of the "late Sir Allan."

[77] Archibald, ninth Earl, was only restored to the Earldom.

[78] Memoirs of Lochiel, p. 196.

[79] Id. p. 198.

[80] Mem. of Lochiel, p. 195. Hist. Acct. of the Clan, p. 174.

[81] Memoirs of Lochiel.

[82] Supposed to be John Drummond of Balhaldy.

[83] Dalrymple's Memorials, p. 358.

[84] Hist. Acct. p. 198.

[85] Memoirs of Lochiel, p. 326.

[86] Hist. Account of the Maclean Family, p. 198.

[87] Memoirs of Lochiel, p. 326.

[88] Dalrymple, p. 383.

[89] Dalrymple's Memorials. See Collection of Original Papers, p. 31. Sir John Maclean's Discovery, Part II. p. 4.

[90] Mem. of Locheil, p. 352.

[91] Id. p. 204.

[92] Macculloch's Western Islands of Scotland, vol. i. p. 535.

[93] Macculloch, vol. i. p. 13.

[94] Hist. Notices of the Macleans, p. 206.

[95] Hist. of the Rebellion, p. 199. From the Scots' Magazine. Aberdeen, 1745.

[96] An accomplished descendant of the Macleans of Lochbuy, Miss Moss, of Edinburgh, has left a beautiful tribute to the valour of her clan in a ballad of the forty-five. The following passage occurs in Dr. Brown's History of the Highlands, vol. iv. part II. p. 493, relative to the Macleans of Lochbuy, Coll, and Ardgour:—"Their estates being afterwards restored, they listened to the persuasions of Professor Forbes, and remained quiet until the subsequent insurrection of 1745, when a general rising of the clans would most probably have placed the crown upon the head of the descendant of their ancient line of kings." This reproach rests only on the three houses just mentioned, and not on the Macleans of Brolas, nor of Mull, who were at the battle of Culloden.

For a portion of the materials of the foregoing narrative I am greatly indebted to the Historical and Genealogical Account of the Clan Maclean, by a Seneachie. The work is compiled chiefly from the Duart Manuscripts.

[97] Hist. Notices, p. 209.

[98] See History of Iona by Lachlan Maclean, Esq., Glasgow.


"The Clan Gregiour," according to an anonymous writer of the seventeenth century, "is a race of men so utterly infamous for thieving, depredation, and murder, that after many Acts of the Council of Scotland against them, at length in the reign of King Charles the First, the Parliament made a strict Act suppressing the very name." Upon the Restoration, when, as the same writer declares, "the reins were given to all licentiousness, and loyalty, as it was called, was thought sufficient to compound for all wickedness, the Act was rescinded. But, upon the late happy Revolution, when the nation began to recover her senses, some horrid barbarities having been committed by that execrable crew, under the leading of one Robert Roy Macgregiour, yet living, the Parliament under King William and Queen Mary annulled the said Act rescissory, and revived the former penal statute against them."[99]

Such is the summary account of one who is evidently adverse to the political creed, no less than to the daring violence, of the clan Macgregor. Little can, it is true, be offered in palliation for the extraordinary career of spoliation and outrage which the history of this race of Highlanders presents; and which terminated only with the existence of the clan itself.

The clan Gregor, anciently known by the name of clan Albin, dated their origin from the ninth century, and assumed to be the descendants of King Alpin, who flourished in the year 787: so great is its antiquity, that an old chronicle asserts, speaking of the clan Macarthur, "that none are older than that clan, except the hills, the rivers, and the clan Albin."

Among the conflicts which for centuries rendered the Highlands the theatre of perpetual strife, the clan Albin, or, as in process of time it was called, the clan Gregor, was marked as the most turbulent members of the state. It was never safe to dispute with them, and was deemed idle to inquire whether the lands which they occupied were theirs by legal titles, or by the right of the sword. Situate on the confines of Scotland, and protected by the inaccessible mountains which surrounded them, they could defy even their most powerful neighbours, who were always desirous of conciliating allies so dangerous in times of peace, so prompt in war. The boundaries which they occupied stretched along the wilds of the Trosaehs and Balquhidder, to the northern and western heights of Mannach and Glenurely, comprehending portions of the counties of Argyle, Perth, Dumbarton, and Stirling, which regions obtained the name of the country of the Mac Gregors. A part of these domains being held by the coir a glaive, or right of the sword, exposed the clan Gregor to the enmity of their formidable neighbours, the Earls of Argyle and Breadalbane, who, obtaining royal grants of such lands, lost no opportunity of annoying and despoiling their neighbours, under legal pretexts. Hence many of the contests which procured for the Macgregors a character of ferocity, and brought upon them 'letters of fire and sword.' A commission was granted first in the reign of Queen Mary, in 1563, to the most powerful clansmen and nobles, to pursue, and exterminate the clan Gregor, and prohibiting, at the same time, that her Majesty's liege subjects should receive or assist any of the clan, or give them meat, drink, or clothes. The effect which such an edict was likely to produce upon a bold, determined, desperate people may readily be conceived. Hitherto the clan Gregor had been a loyal clan. From the house of Alpin had descended the royal family of Stewart, with whom the Macgregors claimed kindred, bearing upon their shields, in Gaelic, the words, 'My tribe is royal.' They had been also in favour with the early Scottish monarchs, one of whom had ennobled the Macgregors of Glenurely, who could cope with the most elevated families in Scotland, in possessions and importance. But, after the edict of Mary, a palpable decline in the fortunes of the clan Gregor was manifest, until it was for ever extinguished in modern days. Henceforth the Macgregors exhibited a contempt for those laws which had never afforded them protection. They became, in consequence of the cruel proclamation against them, dependent for subsistence upon their system of predatory warfare. They grew accustomed to bloodshed, and could easily be 'hounded out,' as Sir Walter Scott expresses it, to commit deeds of violence. Hence they were incessantly engaged in desperate feuds, in which the vengeance of an injured and persecuted people was poured out mercilessly upon the defenceless. Hence they became objects of hatred to the community, until the famous contest of Glenfruin, between the Macgregors and the Colquhouns of Luss, brought once more the royal displeasure upon them in the reign of James the Sixth.

The sequestered valley, which obtained, from the memorable and tragical events of the combat, the name of the Glen of Sorrow, is situated about six miles from Loch Lomond, and is watered by the river Fruin which empties itself into that lake. In the spring of the year 1603, Alexander of Glenstrae, chief of the Macgregors, went from the country of Lennox to Balquhidder, for the express purpose of conciliating the feuds which subsisted between his brother and Sir Humphrey Colquhoun of Luss. After a conference, apparently pacific, but well understood by the Macgregors to augur no friendly intentions, the assembled members of that clan prepared to return to their homes. They were followed by the Laird of Luss, who was resolved to surprise them on their route. But his treachery was secretly known by those whom he pursued.

The right bank of Loch Lomond is so steep and woody that before the formation of roads, the Highlanders found it impossible to pass that way. The way to Argyleshire, therefore, ran along the vale of Fruin in a circuitous direction to the head of Loch Long, and again turned eastward towards Loch Lomond. In the middle of the glen the Macgregors, who were peacefully returning home, were attacked by the Colquhouns. The assailants were four to one; but the valour of the Macgregors prevailed, and two hundred Colquhouns were left dead on the field. The very name of Colquhoun was nearly annihilated. The account of the battle was transmitted by the Laird of Luss to James the Sixth, at Edinburgh; and the message was accompanied by two hundred and twenty shirts, stained with blood, which were presented to the King by sixty women, widows of those slain in the Glen of Sorrow. These ladies rode on white poneys, and carried in their hands long poles, on which were extended the stained garments. But the shirts, it is said, were soiled by the way, and the widows were hireling mourners, who comforted themselves with the loved beverages of their country on their return, and were in many instances obliged to be carried to their homes.[100]

The indignation of James the Sixth, unmitigated by any friendly representations on behalf of the Macgregors, burst forth fatally for the clan. The Macgregors were formally outlawed by Act of Parliament; they were pursued with blood-hounds, and when seized, were put to death without trial. Their chief, the unfortunate Alexander of Glenstrae surrendered to his enemy the Earl of Argyle, with eighteen of his followers, on condition that he might be taken safely out of Scotland. But the severity of Government stopped not here. The very name of Gregor was blotted out, by an order in Council, from the names of Scotland. Those who had hitherto borne it were commanded to change it under pain of death, and were forbidden to retain the appellations which they had been accustomed from their infancy to cherish. Those who had been at Glenfruin were also deprived of their weapons, excepting a pointless knife to cut their victuals. They were never to assemble in any number exceeding four; and by an Act of Parliament passed in 1617, these laws were extended to the rising generation, lest as the children of the proscribed parents grew up, the strength of the clan should be restored.

For these severe acts, the only apology that can be offered is the unbridled fury and cruelty of the Macgregors, when irritated; of which it is necessary to mention one instance, as an example of the many left on record, of which the clan were convicted.

In the battle of Glenfruin, which James had visited so rigorously upon the Macgregors, the greater part of those who bore the name of Colquhoun were exterminated. Yet a still more savage act was perpetrated after the day was won.

The town of Dumbarton contained, at that time, a seminary famous for learning, where many of the Colquhouns, as well as the sons of the neighbouring gentry, were sent for education. Upon hearing of the encounter at Glenfruin, eighty of these high-spirited boys set off to join their relatives; but the Colquhouns, anxious for the safety of their young kinsfolk, would not permit them to join in the fight, but locked them up in a barn for safety. Here they remained, until the event of the day left the Macgregors masters of what might well be called "the Glen of Sorrow." The boys, growing impatient for their release, became noisy; when the Macgregors, discovering their hiding-place, and thirsting for vengeance, set fire to the barn, and the young inmates were consumed. According to another account, they were all put to the sword by one of the guard, a Macgregor, whose distinctive appellation was Ciar Mohr, "the mouse-coloured man." When the chief of the Macgregor's clan repaired to the barn, and, knowing that the boys were the sons of gentlemen, was desirous of ensuring their safety, he asked their guards where they were. When told of what had occurred, Macgregor broke out into the exclamation, that "his clan was ruined." The sad event was commemorated, until the year 1757, by an annual procession of the Dumbarton youths, to a field at some distance from their school, where they enacted the melancholy ceremonial of a mock funeral, over which they set up a loud lamentation. The site of the farm where this scene was enacted is still pointed out; and near it runs a rivulet, the Gaelic name of which signifies "the burn of the young ghosts:" so deep was the memory of this horrible deed.[101]

A fearful retribution followed the clan for years. They had no friend at Court to plead their cause; and the most cruel hardships became the lot of the innocent, as well as the guilty, of their clan. The country was filled with troops ready to destroy them, so that all who were able, were forced to fly to rocks, caverns, and to hide themselves among the woods. Few of the Macgregors, at this period of the Scottish history, were permitted to die a natural death.

As an inducement to the murder of these wretched people, a reward was offered for every head of a Macgregor that was conveyed to the Privy Council at Edinburgh. Those who died a natural death were buried in silence and secrecy by their kinsfolk, for the graves of the persecuted clan were not respected; the bodies of the dead being exhumed, and the heads cut off, to be sent to the Council. Never has there been, in the history of mankind, a more signal instance of national odium than that which pursued this brave, though violent race. The spirit in which they were denounced has in it little of the character of justice, and reminds us of the vengeance of the Jewish people upon the different hostile tribes to whom they were opposed.

In process of time, the last remnant of the lands pertaining to the Macgregors was bestowed upon Archibald, seventh Earl of Argyle, whose family had profited largely by the destruction of the clan: for every Macgregor whom they had destroyed, they had received a reward. In 1611, the Earl was commanded to root out this thievish and barbarous race; a commission which he executed remorselessly, dragging the parents to death, and leaving their offspring to misery and to revenge; for the deep consciousness of their wrongs grew up with the young, and prepared them for deeds of violence and vengeance.

Notwithstanding the severities of the Stuarts towards the Macgregors, the loyalty of the clan continued unimpeachable. It was appreciated by one who is not celebrated for remembering benefits. Charles the Second had, in 1663, the grace to remove the proscription from the Macgregors, by an Act which was passed in the first Scottish Parliament after his Restoration. He permitted them the use of their family name, and other privileges of his liege subjects, assigning as a reason for this act of favour, that the loyalty and affection of those who were once called Macgregors, during the late troubles, might justly wipe off all former reproach from their clan. This act of grace, according to the anonymous writer quoted in the commencement of this memoir, was to be accounted for by the prevalent licentiousness of that monarch's reign. It gave, indeed, but little satisfaction to the nonconforming Presbyterians, who saw with resentment that the penalties unjustly imposed upon themselves were relaxed in favour of the Macgregors. But this dissatisfaction was of short duration. After the Revolution, "an influence," says Sir Walter Scott, "inimical to this unfortunate clan, said to be the same with that which afterwards dictated the massacre of Glencoe, occasioned the reaction of the penal statutes against the Macgregors."[102] It is, however, consolatory to find that the proscription was not acted upon during the reign of William. The name of Macgregor was again heard in public halls, in parliament, and courts of justice. Still, however, whilst the statutes remained, it could not legally be borne. Attempts were made to restore the appellation of clan Alb, but nothing was decided; when, at length, all necessity for such an alteration was done away by an Act of Parliament abolishing forever the penal statutes against the clan.

Whilst the Macgregors were still a proscribed race, Robert Macgregor Campbell, or Robert Roy, so called among his kindred, in the adoption of a Celtic phrase, expressive of his ruddy complexion and red hair, appeared as their champion. At the time of his birth, to bear the name of Macgregor was felony; and the descendant of King Alpin adopted the maiden name of his mother, a daughter of Campbell of Fanieagle, in order to escape the penalty of disobedience. His father, Donald Macgregor of Glengyle, was a lieutenant-colonel in the King's service: his ancestry was deduced from Ciar Mohr, "the mouse-coloured man," who had slain the young students at the battle of Glenfruin.

After the death of Allaster Macgregor of Glenstrae, the last chieftain, the office of chief had ceased to be held by any representative of the scattered remnant of this hunted tribe. Various families had ranged themselves under the guidance of chieftains, which, among Highlanders, signifies the head of a branch of a tribe, in contradistinction to that of chief, who is the leader of the whole name.[103] The chieftain of Glengyle lived in the mountainous region between Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine; his right to his territories there might or might not be legal; it was far more convenient to his neighbours to waive the question with any member of this fierce race, than to inquire too rigidly into the tenure by which the lands were held.

Rob Roy, though he deduced his origin from a younger son of the Laird of Macgregor, was one of a family who had, within the preceding century, been of humble fortunes. His great-grandfather had been a cotter; from his grandfather he inherited the generous temper and the daring spirit which, more or less, characterized the clan. Callum, or Malcolm, had been outlawed for an attempt to carry off an heiress, but obtained his pardon for saving the life of his enemy, the Duke of Argyle. The date of Rob Roy's birth is uncertain, but is supposed to have taken place about the middle of the seventeenth century; consequently, after the period when his clan had endured every variety of fortune, from the cruel edicts of James the Sixth to the consolatory acts of Charles the Second.

The education of this extraordinary man was limited; and he is said not to have exhibited in his youth any striking traits of the intrepidity which distinguished him in after life. But he was endowed with a vigorous intellect, and with an enthusiasm which had been deepened by the peculiar circumstances of his clan and kinsfolk. It is impossible to comprehend the character of Rob Roy, unless we look into the history of his race, as we have briefly done, and consider how strong must have been the impressions which hereditary feuds, and wrongs visited upon father and child, had made upon a mind of no common order.

His youth was occupied in acquiring the rude accomplishments of the age. In the management of the broadsword the ardent and daring boy soon acquired proficiency; his frame was robust and muscular, and his arm of unusual length. At an early age he is said by tradition to have tried his powers in a predatory excursion, of which he was the leader. This was in the year 1691, and it was called the herdship, or devastation of Kippen, in the Lennox. No lives were sacrificed, but the marauding system was carried to its extent.

The young Macgregor was educated in the Presbyterian faith. "He was not," says his biographer,[104] "free from those superstitious notions so prevalent in his country; and, although few men possessed more strength of mind in resisting the operation of false and gloomy tenets, he was sometimes led away from the principles he had adopted, to a belief in supernatural appearances." Nor was it likely that it should be otherwise; for the wildest dreams of fancy were cherished in the seclusion of the region, then inconceivably retired and remote, in which Rob Roy is said to have passed days in silent admiration of Nature in her grandest aspects; for the man who afterwards appeared so stern and rugged to his enemies, was accessible to the tenderest feelings, and to the most generous sympathies.[105]

Although his father had succeeded in military life, Rob Roy was destined to a far more humble occupation. The discrepancy between the Scottish pride of ancestry and the lowly tracks which are occasionally chalked out for persons of the loftiest pretensions to origin, is manifest in the destination of Rob Roy. He became a dealer in cattle. It was, it is true, the custom for landed proprietors, as well as their tenantry, to deal in the trade of grazing and selling cattle. In those days, no Lowlanders, nor any English drovers, had the audacity to enter the Highlands.

"The cattle," says Sir Walter Scott, "which were the staple commodity of the mountains, were escorted down to fairs, on the borders of the Lowlands, by a party of Highlanders, with their arms rattling round them; and who dealt, however, in all faith and honour with their southern customers." After describing the nature of the affrays which were the result of such collision, Sir Walter remarks, "A slash or two, or a broken head, was easily accommodated, and as the trade was of benefit to both parties, trifling skirmishes were not allowed to interrupt its harmony."

For some time, the speculations in which Rob Roy engaged were profitable; he took a tract of land in Balquhidder for the purpose of grazing, and his success soon raised him in the estimation of the county. But his cattle were often carried away by hordes of big robbers from Inverness, Ross, and Sutherland, and he was obliged, in defence, to maintain a party of men to repel these incursions. Hence the warlike tastes which were afterwards more fully displayed.

The death of his father placed Rob Roy in an important situation in his county; he became, moreover, guardian to his nephew, Gregor of Macgregor of Glengyle,—a position which gave him great influence with the clan. He had now become the proprietor of Craig Royston; but his ordinary dwelling was at Inversnaid, from which place he took his appellation, Macgregor of Inversnaid. These estates were of considerable extent, but of small value: they extended from the head of Loch Lomond twelve miles along its eastern border, and stretched into the interior of the country, partly around the base of Ben Lomond. From these estates Rob Roy assumed sometimes the title of Craig Royston, sometimes that of Baron of Inversnaid,—a term long applied in Scotland to puisne lairds.[106]

The influence of an energetic and powerful mind was now plainly exhibited in the celebrity which Rob Roy soon acquired in the neighbouring counties. The Macgregors had a peculiar constitution in their clanship, which rendered them compact and formidable as a body. In all the forays so common at that period, Rob Roy took little or no part; yet the terror of his name caused him to receive all the credit of much that occurred in the vicinity.

Three great noblemen, bitter enemies, sought his alliance; of these one was James the first Duke of Montrose, and Archibald tenth Earl of Argyle, who were opposed to each other not only in political opinions, but from personal dislike. Montrose deemed it essential to conciliate Rob Roy as a matter of speculation, and entered into a sort of partnership with the far-famed drover in the buying and selling of cattle, of which Rob Roy was considered an excellent judge. Argyle, on the other hand, was conscious of the injuries which his ancestors had inflicted on the Macgregors, and was inclined to befriend Rob Roy from compassion, and a sense of justice. The Earl was also flattered by the Laird's having assumed the name of Campbell, which he regarded as a compliment to himself. But the overtures of Argyle were at first spurned by Rob Roy, whose alliance with the Marquis of Montrose increased his hatred of Argyle. He was afterwards won over to more moderate sentiments, and a lasting friendship was eventually formed between him and Argyle.

The friendship and patronage of Montrose were secure until money transactions, the usual source of alienations and bickerings, produced distrust on the one hand, and bitterness on the other. Montrose had advanced Rob Roy certain sums to carry on his speculations: they were successful until the defalcation of a third and inferior partner prevented Rob Roy from repaying the Marquis the money due to him. He was required to give up his lands to satisfy the demands upon him. For a time he refused, but ultimately he was compelled by a law-suit to mortgage his estates to Montrose with an understanding that they were to be restored to him whenever he could pay the money. Some time afterwards he made an attempt to recover his estate by the payment of his debts; but he was at first amused by excuses, and afterwards deprived of his property. Such is the simple statement of his partial biographer; but Sir Walter Scott gives the story a darker colouring. In his preface to Rob Roy he mentions that Rob Roy absconded, taking with him the sum of one thousand pounds which he had obtained from different gentlemen in Scotland for the purpose of buying cattle. In 1712 an advertisement to that effect was put into the daily papers repeatedly; but the active Highlander was beyond the reach of law. To this period we must assign a total change in the habits and characteristics of Rob Roy, who now began a lawless and marauding course of life. He went up into the Highlands where he was followed by one whose character has been variously represented—Mary Macgregor of Comar, his wife. According to one account, she was by no means the masculine and cruel being whom Scott has so powerfully described; yet, from several traits, it is obvious that she was one of the most determined of her sex, and that her natural boldness of spirit was exaggerated by an insult which was never forgiven, either by herself or by her husband. This was the forcible expulsion of herself and her family from their home at Inversnaid by Graham of Killearn, one of Montrose's agents; and the cruel act was accompanied by circumstances which nothing but death could blot from the memory of the outraged and injured Macgregor. The loss of property was nothing when compared with that one galling recollection.

The kind and once honourable Rob Roy was now driven to desperation. His natural capacity for warlike affairs had been improved in the collection of the black mail, or protection fees; a service of danger, in which many a bloody conflict with freebooters had shown the Macgregors of what materials their leader was composed. The black mail was a private contribution, often compulsatory, for the maintenance of the famous black watch, an independent corps of provincial militia, and so called from the colour of their dress, in contradistinction to the red soldiers, or leidar dearag. "From the time they were first embodied," writes General Stewart, "till they were regimented, the Highlanders continued to wear the dress of their country. This, as it consisted so much of the black, green, and blue tartan, gave them a dark and sombre appearance in comparison with the bright uniform of the regulars, who, at that time, had coats waistcoats, and breeches of scarlet cloth. Hence the term dhu, or black, as applied to this corps."[107]

In collecting both the imposts laid on for the maintenance of this corps, and in enforcing the black mail, Rob Roy had already gained the confidence of the better classes, whilst, by his exploits, he had taught the freebooter to tremble at his name. His journeys to England had not, either, been unprofitable to him in gaining friends. By a strict regard to his word, a true Highland quality, he had gained confidence; whilst his open and engaging demeanour had procured him friends.

Soon after his expulsion from his property, Rob Roy travelled into England to collect a sum of money which was due to him. On returning through Moffat, his generous indignation was aroused by seeing the penalty of the law inflicted upon a young girl for fanaticism: two of her kinsmen had already suffered. As a party of soldiers were preparing to carry the girl, bound hand and foot, to a river, Rob Roy interposed; and, receiving an insolent reply, he sprang upon the soldiers and in an instant released the young woman, by plunging eight of her guards into the water. He then drew his claymore, and cut the cords which bound the intended victim. A short skirmish left him master of the field.

Rob Roy now prepared to remove from his dwelling at Inversnaid, into one more remote, and protected by its natural position. This was Craig Royston, or, as it is sometimes spelt, Craigrostan, whither Rob Roy removed his furniture and other effects. A tract, entitled "The Highland Rogue," published during the lifetime of Rob Roy, contains a striking description of this almost inaccessible retreat. It is situated on the borders of Loch Lomond, and is surrounded with stupendous rocks and mountains. The passages along these heights are so narrow, that two men cannot walk abreast; "It is a place," adds the same writer, "of such strength and safety, that one person well acquainted with it, and supplied with ammunition, might easily destroy a considerable army if they came to attack him, and he, at the same time, need not so much as be seen by them." For this romantic scene, Rob Roy quitted Inversnaid; henceforth his occupation as a grazier and drover, and his character as a country gentleman, were lost in that of a freebooter. Many anecdotes have been related of his feats in the dangerous course which he henceforth adopted: but of these, some are so extraordinary, as to be incredible; others are perfectly consistent with the daring spirit of a man who had vowed to avenge his wrongs.

The Duke of Montrose was the first object of his wrath; accordingly, hearing that the tenantry of the Duke had notice to pay their rents, he mustered his men, and visiting these gentlemen, compelled them to pay him the money, giving them, nevertheless receipts, which discharged them of any future call from Montrose. This practice he carried on with impunity for several years, until a more flagrant outrage drew down the anger of his enemy.

This was no less than the abduction of the Duke's factor, Killearn, who had formerly expelled the family of Rob Roy from Inversnaid. Killearn had gone to Chapellaroch in Stirlingshire, for the purpose of collecting rents; he anticipated, on this occasion, no interruption to his office, because Rob Roy had caused it to be given out, by proclamation, some days before, that he had gone to Ireland. Towards evening, nevertheless, he made his appearance before the inn at Chapellaroch, his piper playing before him; his followers were stationed in a neighbouring wood. The rents had just been collected, when the sound of the bagpipes announced to Killearn the approach of his enemy. The factor sprang up, and threw the bags, full of money, into a loft. Rob Roy entered, with the usual salutations, laid down his sword, and sat down to partake of the entertainment. No sooner was the repast ended, than he desired his piper to strike up a tune. In a few minutes, by this signal, six armed men entered the room; when Rob Roy, taking hold of his sword, asked the factor, "How he had prospered in his collection of the rents?" "I have got nothing yet," replied the trembling Killearn; "I have not begun to collect." "No, no, Chamberlain," cried Rob Roy, "falsehood will not do for me. I demand your book." The book was produced, the money was found and delivered to Rob Roy, who gave his usual receipt. After this, the unfortunate factor was carried off to an island near the east of Loch Katrine, where he was confined a considerable time; and when he was released, was warned not to collect the rents of the country in future, as Rob Roy intended to do so himself,—the more especially as the lands had originally belonged to the Macgregors, and he was, therefore, only reclaiming his own.[108]

This predatory war against the Duke of Montrose was carried on for a considerable time. It was favoured by the nature of the country over which the freebooter ruled triumphant, and by the secret good wishes of the Highlanders who resided in the neighbourhood. No roads were at that time formed in this region of singular beauty. Narrow valleys, thinly inhabited, and surrounded by forests and wilds, and guarded by rocks, passes, and other features of natural strength, afforded to Rob Roy all those advantages which he, who knew every defence which Nature gave to marauders in those retired haunts, could well appreciate.

The habits of the Highlanders were also, at this time, essentially warlike. "The use of arms," to borrow a description from an anonymous writer, "formed their common occupation, and the affairs of war their ordinary pursuit. They appeared on all public occasions, at market, and even at church, with their broadswords and their dirks; and, more recently, when the use of fire-arms became general, they seldom travelled without a musket and pistol." The clan Macgregor possessed these military tastes in an inordinate degree; and the wars of the foregoing century had accustomed them to a degree of union and discipline not, at that period, common among the Highlanders, who were considered, in those respects, as superior to their Lowland brethren.[109] The vicinity of the rich districts of the Lowlands gave a rich stimulus to the appetite for plunder natural to a martial and impoverished people. Above all, their energies were inspired by an undying sense of ancient and present injuries, and the remembrance of their sufferings was never erased from their minds. At this time, the most disturbed districts in Scotland were those nearest to the Lowlands; the bitterness of political feelings was added to the sense of injustice, and the loss of lands. Rob Roy knew well how to avail himself of this additional incentive to violence; he avowed his determination to molest all who were not of Jacobite principles; and he put that resolution into active practice.

The character of the individual who exercised so singular a control over his followers, and over the district in which he lived, had changed since his early, dreamy days, or since the period of his honest exertions as a drover. Rob Roy had become in repute with Robin Hood of the Lowlands. His personal appearance added greatly to the impression of his singular qualities. The author of "the Highland Rogue" describes him as a man of prodigious strength, and of such uncommon stature as to approach almost to a gigantic size. He wore a beard above a foot long, and his face as well as his body was covered with dark red hair, from which his nick-name originated. The description given by Sir Walter Scott does not entirely correspond with this portraiture. "His stature," says that writer, "was not of the tallest, but his person was uncommonly strong and compact." The great peculiarity of his frame was the great length of his arms, owing to which he could, without stooping, tie the garters of his Highland hose, which are placed two inches below the knee. His countenance was sternly expressive in the hour of peril; but, at calmer moments, it wore that frank and kindly aspect which wins upon the affections of our species. His frame was so muscular, that his knee was described as resembling that of a Highland bull, evincing strength similar to that animal. His exercise of the broadsword was, even in those days, superlative; and his intimate knowledge of the wild country over which he may be said to have ruled, gave him as great an advantage as his personal prowess. To these qualifications may be added another, perhaps more important still,—that quick perception of character, and that penetration into human motives, without which no mind can obtain a mastery over another.

To these characteristics were added a fearless and generous spirit, a hatred of oppression, and compassion for the oppressed. Although descended from the dark murderer of the young students, Rob Roy had none of the ferocity of his race in his composition. He was never the cause of unnecessary bloodshed, nor the contriver of any act of cruel revenge. "Like Robin Hood," says Scott, "he was a kind and gentle robber, and while he took from the rich, he was liberal to the poor. This might in part be policy, but the universal tradition of the country speaks it to have arisen from a better motive. All whom I have conversed with, and I have in my youth seen some who knew Rob Roy personally, gave him the character of a benevolent, humane man, in his way."

That "way" was certainly not followed out on the most approved principles of morality, and he is well described as resembling in his code of morals an "Arab chief." But if ever man may be excused for a predatory course of life, the chieftain, as he was now called, of the Macgregors may be pardoned for actions which, in those who had suffered less from wrong and oppression, would be deemed unpardonable.

The revival of that latent affection for the Stuarts which ever existed in the Highlands, greatly favoured the success of Rob Roy in his unsettled and exciting career. Many of the chieftains were now arraying their people to follow them to the field upon a summons from their rightful Prince; and even the Duke of Argyle, who had at first attached himself to the Prince of Orange, was wavering in his resolutions, never having been restored to his property and jurisdiction since the attainder and death of his father. Under these circumstances the assistance of Rob Roy became of infinite importance to Argyle. The most deadly feuds raged between him and Montrose, who, upon hearing that Roy was on friendly terms with Argyle, had sent to offer to the freebooter not only that he would withdraw his claims on his estate, but also that he would give him a sum of money if he would go to Edinburgh and give information against Argyle for treasonable practices. But this base overture was indignantly rejected by Rob Roy, who deigned not even to reply to the letter, but contented himself with forwarding it to Argyle. Hence the bitter enmity of Montrose towards the Macgregors, during the whole course of his future life.[110]

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