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Annals of Auchterarder and Memorials of Srathearn
The Burning of Crieff


SIR,—In compliance with your desire, I give you the melancholy story of the burning of our town. Upon the 26th of January, 1715-16, came to Crieff hundred and fifty of die Clans, mostly M'Donalds and Camerons (haveing their orders of billetting signed by William Drummond, son to Lodovick Drummond of Westerfedells and factor to the Lord Drummond). The said Willie m Drummond was a Brigadeer ("as is given out) of Mar's Highlanders. These Rebels (I say), under the command of Clanranald, Captain Alexander M'Donald of Lundie (commandant when our town was burnt; a man void of all sense and humanity, every way shapen for executing any kind of villany), Archibald M'Donald, son to Ronald Roy M'Donald, brother to Cappuch; M'Donald of Kylachonnell, M'Donald of Ardnadbie, M'Donald, younger of Tulloch; M'Clean of Ardgour, Allan Stuart, son to the tutor of Apin; Ewan Dow Cameron, brother-in-law to Glenlyon; Allan Cameron, lieutenant, Allan Cameron, ensign, and severall others who bore command, whose names I cannot yet come by. Upon their arrivall the honest inhabitants were in a consternation, fearing the same fate their honest neighbours of Auchterarder and Blackfoord had met with, bethought themselves the best for relief and for preventing the impending danger. So it's resolved upon, as the best expedient, that the honest gentlemen of the neighbourhood, particularly Anthony Murray of Dullary, Lochlard, and Callendar, shall be bespoke to plead with the officers of the Rebells, that at least were there any evill determined, the inhabitants might have previous advertisement to carry off their effects. Upon the importunity of the people the said gentlemen came to town, and used all means to know if they had any designs of burning. The above-named Rebells (with whom also Lodovick Drummond above designed was in company), who (as by the sequel of the story, you may readily conjecture, was privy to all their hellish plots) solemnly swore that they had no orders fur burning of Crieff; and, sayes Lodovick Drummond—yea, swore by all that's sacred, were there any such thing in design he would certainly give premonition. Good God! what a deplorable state must we have been in, had such wicked men compassed their designs, of settleing a Popish pretender upon the throne; men, I say, whom the most solemn oaths and sacred tyes cannot bind. But to the story. Upon such solemn promises the honest gentlemen were satisfied, and the people amused into such security as that they carryed nothing out of the way; but had we not been infatuated, we might have taken warning, for the said Lodovick Drummond, upon parting the company, was heard by several honest men to have said to the commandant, "See, you cause your men execute orders punctually", and again says to one, Mrs Baillie, a Papist, "I think, dame, you had best go and see my wife this night." And the said Baillie, as she's crossing the bridge of Earn, says to some of her acquaintances, "The people of Crieff have been complaining of scarceity of fireing, but they shall have enough of it once this night"; but of this we did not hear till afterwards. Moreover, Lodovick Drummond said in the hearing of severals, upon seeing Crieff in flames, "O! but these Clans be dainty fellowes, and clever :in executing their orders."

It is reported, sir, that my Lord Drummond, upon his knees importuned his pretending king to give orders for burning of Crieff, alleadgeing there needed be no scruple about it, it being his property; whereas it's notour that his whole rent payable to him by the town of Crieff does not exceed five pounds Scotts per ann. (8 shillings and 4 pence English). What in all the world could have tempted him to this, I cannot well comprehend, for Crieff lay six miles out of the Army's road. But when I reflect I'm satisfied it has been malice at the bottom, and that because of the loyalty of the inhabitants, who, notwithstanding many solicitations and threats, there were not four in the whole town joyned in the Rebellion. However, if it be so that my I.ord Drummond was in earnest about it, I'm positive Lodovick Drummond never execute his Lord's will more faithfully and with better inclination than in this. I had almost forgott to tell you, sir, that the Rebells, to render the people more secure, ordered peatts, straw, and candle be brought from the countrey, as if they had been to garrison here for some time (as, indeed, they gave out), which they made use of for the more speedy executing their cruell purposes: and further, it's convirceing that it was pure malice, and not any view that could be had in doing service to the Rebells, was the occasion of our calamity. Please to take notice, besides, that the family of Drummond had no good likeing to the town in generall, and that on account of our loyaltie. So, in particular, some belonging to that family—namely, Lodovick Drummond, entertained ane irreconcileable hatred against the Caws (a very honest people), upon what grounds I know not; for about some two years ago Lodovick openly, in a publick house, said, "He hoped to gett a fitt season for Glencoing the Caws of Crieff."

They began the tragedy at one Thomas Caw, his house, in the west end of the town, thus: the said Thomas and his unkind guest, Captain Cameron, discourseing together upon matters of in lifferency, Cameron all of a sudden goes to the door, immediately returns, sayes to his men lodged in the same house with him, "Up! to your arms! fire the house!" and that moment Cameron with his own hands kendled the house. Thus they surprizeingly fired all the houses in town; only seme particular houses, where they expected goods of any value, they delayed till the best things were taken out, which they immediately carried off, which the people perceiving, gave themselves no further trouble of takeing out any more for the Rebells, but committed all to the flames. It seems very probable their cruelty had gone further, were they not affraid of Collonell Campbell's men, who garrison'd at Foruie, about three miles distant; for the said Thomas Caw, understanding that his father (who lodged in the next house) was in bed, made towards the door (where two of the Rebells stood with drawn swords) to carry out his father, a man upwards of eighty years. Say they to him, "Stand aff, else you're a dead man." "For God's sake," sayes the other, "allow me to take out my father that he perish not in the flames." "No," say they, "lett all burn together." They put fire also to one Andrew Allan, his house; to one John Bryson's, their children being in bed, and severall others; and some (particularly ane old woman called Mary Clow) was awakened by the flames, and with much adoe escaped. To show you further the bad designs they had, they were importunatt with sevcealls I could name, and that with all the airs of kindness, to go to bed, and that but a few minutes before they fired their houses. As for our effects, you may readily guess, sir, we were in little concern about them when our lives were in so much hazard. Those who made any feints to withstand carrying off their goods were unmercifully beaten. In short, they brought eighteen horses from Gask and thereabouts, which they carryed of all loaden (besides all the horses in Crieff that made for their purpose) with the spoil of our town, and least the townspeople should have carryed in of their effects to either kirk or meeting-house, which were not to be burnt, they kept the keys of both, and not half a penny worth would they allow to be carried out of town. Our honest neighbours of Dunning and Auchterarder, &c., sure rnett with very harsh treatment; yet they had seme little time to save their effects ; particularly the people of Dunning not only had time to save some of their most valuable effects, but, yea, even to take out the fluoring of their lofts.

Sir, from thir few instances of the many severities we mett with, it's easie for you to conjecture what must have been the sad and fatall consequences of such inhumane, barbarous, Popish-like, and hellish cruelty. When I do reflect upon the maletreatment we mett with, it does at once refresh my memory of all the instances of Popish cruelty I ever read of in history. The poor women (horresco referens) exposed to the open fields with their sucking infants, and scarce a ragg left to cover them from ane extremity of cold. Likeways several! vigorous men and women (I might name) were struck with such terror that they survived the burneing but a very few dayes. These are a few of the many unavoidable consequents of such barbarities. Many have dyed since, and no doubt their deaths occasioned by cold contracted in barns, stables, and old hutts where they were oblidged to lodge, and that in a very rigorous season as has been of many years, having no cloaths save what honest, charitable neighbours were pleased of their goodness to bestow. To say no more (this being too mellancholly a subject to insist further upon), I presume were there a particular account geven (by some sufficient hand) of the bad usage the people of this Stevvartry of Strathearn mett with from the Rebells, it could not miss to produce ane utter abhorrence of a Popish pretender in the heart of any thinking man, who countenanced, yea, even ordered the execution of such cruelties. I shall say no more, save that I am, sir, your &c.


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