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Braemar Highlands
Part the Fourth - Chapter I


Great Hunt of 1715—Gathering of the Clans, etc.—Results of the Rising.

BOUT 1715, the Clann Fhearchairl i.e. Clan Farquharson, must have attained the zenith of their power (numerically considered at least) in Braemar. This will appear evident from the following list of Farquharsons holding estates in it.

First of all, as chief of the clan, is Peter Farquharson, son of the Black Colonel, holding the estates of Inverey. His younger brother, James Farquharson, held Balmoral; Lewis Farquharson held the estate of Anchendryne; Donald Farquharson, that of Col-drach in Glen Cluny. Allenquoich had been possessed by Farquharsons from the death of Lamont, as before stated. John Farquharson had Invercaidd. Monaltrie, Micras, Tiillich, etc. etc., were all held by Farquharsons; and not only within the boundaries of Braemar, but many other small estates or lairdships at no great distance from it: for instance, Brongdearg in Glenshee, Whitehouse in Cromar, Achrichan in Glen-livet, etc.

Of the causes of the rising of 1715 I can say nothing; but the details of it, so far as connected with Braemar, and still in traditional existence, form legitimate subject-matter for the present chapter.

Previous to the rising, the Earl of Mar, to find out how the clans and Jacobite families stood affected, appointed to meet the nobles and chiefs at a great hunting in Braemar on the 27th of August 1715. That grand hunt, which was the pretence for reunion, has been thus described by Taylor, the Water poet, who was present:

[John Taylor, commonly called ‘the Water Poet,’ after going to school at Gloucester—where, he says, he could get no further than his accidence, which ‘gravelled’ him—repaired to London, and was bound apprentice to a waterman. Notwithstanding the laboriousness of this employment, he wrote a number of poetical pieces, for which he took the appellation of the King’s Water Poet. An enthusiastic Royalist, he, upon the outbreak of the Revolution, went to Oxford, where he kept a tavern, which was much resorted to by the students. Taylor aided the Royal cause by his satires and songs. When Oxford surrendered he returned to London, and opened a public-house, setting up the sign of the ‘ Mourning Crown. ’ This, however, he was obliged to remove ; on which he hung up his own portrait, with the following verses :—

‘There’s many a king’s head hanged up for a sign,
And many a saint’s head too; then why not mine?’

He composed upwards of eighty pieces in prose and verse, which exhibit the workings of a vigorous but uneducated mind. These effusions contain many curious pictures of the time in which the author lived, etc.]

‘There did I find the truly noble and right honourable lords: John Erskine Earl of Mar, James Stewart Earl of Murray, George Gordon Earl of Engye, son and heir to the Marquis, of Huntly, James Erskine Earl of Buchan, and John Lord Erskine, son and heir to the Earl of Mar, and their Countesses, with my much honoured and my last assured and approved friend Sir William Murray, Knight, of Aber-carney, and hundreds of others; knights, esquires, and their followers ;—all and every man in general in one habit, as if Lycurgus had been there and made laws of equality.

'For once in the year, which is the whole month of August, and sometimes part of September, many of the nobility and gentry of the kingdom (for their pleasure) do come into these Highland countries to hunt, where they do conform themselves to the habit of the Highlandmen, who for the most part speak nothing but Irish, and in former times were those people which were called Redshanks.

‘Their habit is shoes, with but one sole a-piece; stockings (which they call short hose) made of a warm stuff of diverse colours, which they call tartan; as for breeches, many of them, nor their forefathers, never wore any, but a jerkin of the same stuff that their hose is made of; their garters being bands, or wreaths of hay or straw; with a plaid about their shoulders, which is a mantle of diverse colours, much finer and lighter than their hose; with blue flat caps on their heads; a handkerchief, knit with two knots, about their necks : and thus they are attired.

Now their weapons are long bows and forked arrows, swords and target, harquebusses, muskets, dirks, and Lochaber axes. With these arms I found many of them armed for the hunting. As for their attire, any man of what degree soever that comes amongst them must not disdain to wear it; for if they do, then they will disdain to hunt, or willingly to bring in their dogs ; but if men be kind unto them, and be in their habit, then they are conquered with kindness, and the sport will be plentiful. This was the reason I found so many noblemen and gentlemen in these shapes. But to proceed to the hunting.

My good Lord Mar having put me into that shape, I rode with him from his house, where I saw the ruins of an old castle, called the Castle of Kin-droghit. It was built by Malcolm Canmore (for a hunting-house), who reigned in Scotlandwhen Edward the Confessor, Harold, and Norman William reigned in England. I speak of it because it was the last house I saw in those parts ; for I was the space of twelve days after before I saw either house or corn-field, or habitation for any creature but deer, wild horses, wolves, and such like creatures, which made me doubt that I should ever see a house again.

Thus the first day we travelled eight miles, where there were small cottages built to lodge in, which they call lonquhards. I thank my good Lord Erskine he commanded that I should always be lodged in his lodgings ; the kitchen being always on the side of a bank; many kettles and pots boiling, and many spits turning and winding with great variety of cheer, as venison baked, sodden, roast, and stewed beef; mutton, goats, kids, hares, fresh salmon, pigeons, hens, capons, chickens, partridges, muircoots, heath-cocks, caperkellies, and termagants; good ale; sacke, white and claret; tent (or allegant), with most potent aqua vitcB.

All these, and more than these, we had continually in superfluous abundance, caught by falconers, fowlers, fishers, and brought by my Lord’s tenants and purveyors to victual our camps, which consisted of fourteen or fifteen hundred men and horses.

The manner of hunting is this: Five or six hundred men do rise early in the morning, and they do disperse themselves diverse ways, within seven, eight, or ten miles’ compass. They do bring or chase in the deer in many herds (two, three, or four hundred in a herd) to such and such a place as the noblemen shall appoint them. Then, when the day is come, the lords and gentlemen of their companies do ride or go to the said places, sometimes wading up to the ' middle through burns and rivers; and then they, being come to the place, do lie down on the ground till these aforesaid scouts, which are called the tink-hell, do bring down the deer. But as the proverb says of the bad cook, so these tinkhells do lick their own fingers ; for besides their bows and arrows, which they carry with them, we can hear now and then a harquebuss go off, which they do seldom discharge in vain.

Then after we have stayed there three hours, or thereabouts, we might perceive the deer appear on the hills round about us (their heads making a show like a wood), which being followed by the tinkhell, are chased down into the valley where we lay. Then all the valley on each side being waylaid with a hundred couple of strong Irish greyhounds, they are let loose, as occasion requires, upon the herd of deer, that with dogs, guns, arrows, dirks, and daggers, in the space of two hours fourscore fat deer were slain, which after are disposed of, some one way and some another, twenty and thirty miles, and more than enough left for us to make merry with at our rendezvous.’

Tradition adds another item to the above account. ‘ They went out by Glen Cluny, and hunted round the whole of Braemar, until they came down upon Glen Quoich. There a little jollification was held. The deep round hole at the Linn of Quoich was then entire, though now perforated. Some anchors of whisky, some gallons of boiling water, and some hundredweights of honey, were poured into it, and soon bumpered off, replenished and bumpered off, until the whole company felt comfortable.’ So from this circumstance the hole was, and is still, named the Earl of Mar's Punch-bowl; ‘and a proper good utensil it was, and capacious withal.’

[Hill Burton, in his Cairngorm Mountains, says: ‘The Quoich, which derives its convivial name from a peculiar cataract often visited by tourists from Braemar. Here the gneiss is hollowed into circular cavities, like those of the Caldron Linn; and in one of these the guides will have the audacity to tell you that a bacchanalian party once made grog by tossing in a few anchors of brandy, and that they consumed the whole on the premises.’

This story is not so very improbable after all, considering the number of the party—fourteen or fifteen hundred; but the punch or grog was more likely to have been made of Taylor spotent aqua vita than of brandy.]

Such, then, were the scenes amid which the rising originated. Mar, it seems, had no little trouble to get some of them to enter into his plans; at least a few of the legends say so : for example :

Mar was conducting Grant of Rothiemurchus up Glen Lui, when he broke the news of the intended rising to him. Grant objected to the design, among other things, saying,

‘Why, where are your men, my lord?’

‘Men!’ repeated the Earl; ‘I think you only need to look behind you to see a pretty fair sample in my present following.’

Rothiemurchus did look round. Some hundreds of Braemar and Strathdee men accompanied them.

While this discussion went on, the men stood aloof; and the followers of Rothiemurchus, tall, powerful fellows, were each in turn lifting an immense block of stone that lay on the burn-bank, nearly to their knees, to brag the Mar lads, while they, after the most determined efforts, were unable to free it from the ground.

‘Do you call these boys men, my lord?’ said Rothiemurchus, taking advantage of the incident; ‘why, not one of them can move that stone, that my lads can make a plaything of.’

The Earl looked exceedingly displeased. Inver-cauld, with others, was standing by; and observing this, he walked up to one of his men, a Finla Farquharson, and asked if he had tried it. He had not; so Invercauld asked him to go and try.

Mar, Rothiemurchus, and the rest of the company drew round, for all were now interested. Finla not only lifted the stone, but came forward with it in his arms, and asked what they wished done with it.

‘Throw it over my horse’s neck,’ said the Earl. Finla did so, and turned away as if nothing 'had happened.

‘What do you think of our Mar boys now?’ cried the Earl triumphantly. ‘Let us see if any of your Spey lads can play that again!’ The argument was unanswerable apparently, for Rothiemurchus and his men were with Mar on Sheriffmuir.

Another version of this story is given ; but the principal difference between them is in the name of the hero, which it states was Nathaniel Forbes of Daln-handy, who was afterwards a captain in the army raised by Mar.

A few days after, Mar raised the standard of rebellion in Glenlivet. An army of 3000 was soon collected, which marched to Strathdon, where it was joined by a few more. They next marched to Cor-garjf, where they encamped some days. There they not only were joined by a number of the inhabitants, but also obtained a large supply of ammunition, which they greatly needed. They next proceeded to Braemar, where the Earl erected his standard, to which multitudes flocked, of the natives and other clans, to the number of 10,000. Among them, according to the song, were :

The noble chiefs,
The Drummond and Glengarry;
Macgregor, Murray, Rollo, Keith,
Panmure and gallant Harry.
McDonald’s men,
Clan Ronald’s men,
M‘Kenzie’s men,
Macgillivray’s men,
Strathallan’s men,
The Lowlan’ men    .
Of Callander and Airly.’

A more particular account of the raising of the standard is given thus: On the 6th of September 1715, John Erskine, Earl of Mar, having marched from Glenlivet, where he had proclaimed the Chevalier de St. George under the title of James vm., erected his standard at Castleton of Braemar, amidst a great assemblage of his vassals.

The standard was made by the Countess of Mar (Frances, daughter of the Duke of Kingston), and was of a gorgeous, bright blue colour, having on one side the arms of Scotland richly embroidered in gold, and on the other the brave thistle of Scotland, with these words underneath, “No Union,” and on the top the ancient motto, “Nemo me impune laces sit”  The standard had also two pendants of white ribbon, on one of which was written, “For our king and oppressed country;” on the other, “For our lives and liberties.”

‘You may judge if there was not shouting, blowing of trumpets, etc., when this brave standard was up-reared, and its rich silken folds unfurled to the free winds. But even in that hour of triumph there occurred an incident which threw a visible gloom over the spirits of the superstitious Highlanders : the gilt ball which ornamented the top fell down to the ground,—an omen, as they thought, of evil bode to the cause they were that day engaged in.’—Deeside Guide.

This incident reminds one of another such which took place in England under similar circumstances: —‘In August 1642, Charles raised the standard of civil war at Nottingham. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” was the motto he chose; but little success at first attended his ill-advised challenge. During the first night the wind blew down his flag from the castle wall, where it had been fixed ; and when the herald attempted on the following day to find a place for it on the Castle-hill, rock presented itself everywhere, and a company of soldiers, two by two, had to hold the standard in its place.’

While this general gathering to the standard was taking place, the Mar men were not idle. Their chief, Peter Farquharson of Inverey, was chosen colonel, as his father, the celebrated Black Colonel, had been under Dundee. His brother, James of Balmoral’ was made aide-de-camp to Mar. Peter, on receiving his commission, at once hurried out the fiery cross ; and soon the hills and glens of Braemar resounded with the war-cry of the clan, as they hasted to obey the summons of their chief.

John of Invercauld is said to have seized his claymore, and at once set out, crying, Follow me, my merry men!’—the Farquharsons of Riverney and Loynmor joining him, as both were descended from Robert, who succeeded Finla Mor in Invercaidd.

Harry Farquharson of Whitehouse, with his three sons, Francis, Charles, and John ; with them all the men of Cromar.

Donald Farquharson of Micras, Lawrence Farquharson of Cobbleton of Tullich, with his brother Robert, all descended from Allenquoich; and with the three the following of that family.

Lewis of Auchendryne, with his sons and men. The following characteristic speech of Lewis shows the spirit in which they came: ‘I’m old now, and can be of little use; but what reck' said he, pointing to his sons, and showing a large pistol in his belt, (if my lads should not do their duty, can I no sheet them?’

[These warriors had come down from their fastnesses with a resolution to fight as their ancestors had fought at Kilsyth and Killiecrankie. They appeared before the lowlanders of Perthshire,who had not seen them since the days of Montrose, in the wild Irish shirt or plaid, which, only covering the body and haunches, leaves the arms and most of the limbs exposed in all their shaggy strength. Their enthusiasm may be guessed from a simple anecdote :—A lowland gentleman, observing among their bands a man of ninety, from the upper part of Aberdeenshire,had the curiosity to ask how so aged a creature as he, and one who seemed so extremely feeble, had thought of joining their enterprise. ‘ I have sons here,’ replied the man, ‘and I have grandsons; if they fail to do their duty, cannot I shoot them?’—laying his hand upon a pistol which he carried in his bosom. ‘Can I no sheet them?’ were the exact words.—History of the Rebellion.]

Donald Farquharson of Coldrach, with his son George, came with all their following. The Brough-dearg Farquharsons, William and Alexander, with Peter of Rochalzie, also assembled ; and with them all the men of Glenshee and Glen Isla.

Shaw Farquharson, and with him all the men of Strathavcn and Glenlivet; and finally, Rob Roy raised and brought all the men of Gairn.

There is another character also that I must not forget, i.e. Muckle Cattenach of the Bealachbuidh. A strong, brave man he was, proud of his physical force. His bearing, consequently, was not the most lowly, nor his manners the most conciliatory to his neighbours. Previous to the rising, some of them, by way of humbling him a little, reported him to the Earl of Mar as a ‘ reckless depredator on his moors and forests, and a great destroyer and hewer down of his noble trees.’

The Earl consequently wrote him a letter, reproaching him for his behaviour, and citing him to appear on his first visit to Braemar. Cattenach, poor man, could not read himself; but he kept most carefully this precious letter until he met in with some one who could read it for him. Some time after, having to cross the ferry at Carn-a-Chuimhni, he went into the boatman’s house—a sort of tavern. There he found a number of people, with Alexander Gordon, priest of Gairnside, whom they had taken prisoner.

This was an opportunity not to be lost; so, stepping up to the priest, he asked him to come along with him.

'The people won’t let me,’ replied the priest.

‘Rise, sir! and come away; and let me see the man that will hinder you.’ And as none of them cared to interfere with Cattenach, the priest was let go. Having taken him home, Cattenach produced the letter, which Mr. Gordon read. Its contents, as can be easily imagined, made the mighty man very angry; and suspecting that Invercauld was at ‘the bottom of it/ he resolved to be revenged.

An opportunity was not long of presenting itself. Farquharson had been at Aberdeen; and on the day he was to return home, Cattenach armed and went to the woods west of Inver, to wait his arrival. Fortunately Invercauld had learned what he had to expect, and so took the short cut through the'hills I by Philagie, to avoid the rencounter.

When his servant—who, to prevent suspicion, had proceeded by the usual route—reached the place where Cattenach lay concealed, he saw to his dismay a gun levelled at him; but with great presence of mind he raised himself in his stirrups, and turned round as if looking for some one. He was thus allowed to pass ; and beyond gunshot, he gave rein to his horse, and was quickly out of danger.

I do not know how long Cattenach lay waiting the I laird; but Invercauld for the future-took care not to I give him another such opportunity.

When Mar arrived, he was told how angry his | letter had made Cattenach, and how dangerous a man he was; so the Earl sent a messenger to him, to say that he needed not trouble himself attending to the summons, as the Earl did not wish to see him.

‘But I want to see the Earl/ replied Cattenach; and buckling on his sword, he set out, and forced his way into his lordship’s presence, as he sat in the castle with a number of the gentlemen of the country about him.

‘My Lord' began Cattenach, ‘it appears I have been accused of cutting down and wasting your wood ; and it is true that I have taken a tree now and then, like others of your tenants; but, my Lord, there are those sitting there with you who have bought lands with the profits made by cutting and selling your wood.’    ,

No one spoke; so Cattenach continued:

‘Perhaps you would find them far less ready to help you in a strait than Cattenach of the Bealach-buidh, on whom it is attempted to lay all the blame.’ The Earl was wise enough to make a friend of Cattenach. He made peace also between him and Invercauld; so of course Cattenach hastened to join the Earl at the rising, and, it is said, distinguished himself at Perth.

The effects of this rash and ill-advised rising were, as all know, disastrous to those engaged in it. I only notice particularly its consequences in Braemar. Many of the brave men who marched away so gallantly, never returned. John Farquharson was taken at Preston, and kept in prison a considerable time. Many other Farquharsons also taken at Preston were transported’ and most of them died in exile.

Those who were at Sheriffmuir fared little better. Harry of Whitehouse, after returning home, was with his two sons made prisoner, and confined in Aberdeen. Francis, his third son, had been taken at Preston.

Shaw of the Achreachan Farquharsons was killed. James of Balmoral suffered greatly until the general indemnity. Colonel Peter, his brother, fled to France, and remained there until the indemnity. He escaped having his estate forfeited, by being attainted under a wrong name.

But not only did the proprietors in Braemar suffer: the mass of the people also had to share in the common misery. A body of troops was sent into the country, which they completely wasted. It is said that not a single house was left standing in Braemar, except one belonging to an old woman at Corrymulzie. She did not, like her neighbours, fly to the hills when the soldiers approached, but kept beside them; and as fast as they set fire to the thatch of her hut, she set to work and extinguished it. Charmed with her patience and courage, they at length desisted, and left her dwelling not much injured.

Before the people fled, they had forethought sufficient to collect all the meal in the strath ; and having tied it up in sacks, it was hid in the deep chasm below the Falls of Corrymulzie. After the soldiers’ departure it was found to be little injured: the water had formed a sort of paste over all the surface, leaving the interior dry. Thus the creatures were saved from the additional horrors of famine.

Shortly after this general burning, Braemar Castle was rebuilt, and a garrison placed in it. A second garrison was placed in a house at the Dubrach, another in the castle of Abergeldie, and a fourth in the castle of Corgarff. The soldiers had also orders to disarm every fighting man in the district. These orders were not very easily put in execution, especially as respected such characters as Cattenach, etc. A particular account of his opposition is still in traditional existence.

He for a time put them all at defiance, and sometimes made very narrow escapes from the soldiers. On one of those occasions he killed an officer in command of the party, and fled to the woods. While lying asleep one day near his own house, a party of twelve stole upon him. One of the soldiers who was friendly to him made some noise as they approached. Despite this warning, they had their hands on his gun when he started up; but the whole of them could not wrench it from him. As more men were coming to their assistance, he snatched at his dirk, and came such a slash down the barrel of the gun as effectually rid him of all further trouble.

The head officer, finding force of no avail, resolved to try other measures. So he sought out Cattenach, and explained to him the orders he had received, and the necessity he was under to see them enforced.

‘Now you see, Cattenach, I have a capital gun here, of which I make a present to you; and you, as a man of honour, will return the compliment by coming down to-morrow to the Inver, and in public presenting me with yours.’

Taylor’s remark in regard to Highlanders is indeed true, that they are conquered with kindness.’ So it was with Cattenach: ‘This was a decent lad of an officer, he was sure, and not to blame for the harshness shown to the Highlanders.’ So Bealachbuidh, resolving not to bring him into disgrace, accepted the gun, and on the morrow, as agreed, handed in his own at the Inver.


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