Disarming of the People—Contests with the
Soldiers—The last Rebel in Scotland, etc.
SOME of the new measures introduced were very obnoxious to the
Braemarians. One of them thus writes : ‘ Not only would the soldiers
put down the ’45 men, but they had orders to deprive the Highlanders
of their arms; their immemorial right to hunt and fish; ay, and even
of the liberty to wear their ancient costume. These tyrannical
measures the men of the Braes
of Mar resisted
most stoutly.’ That they really did so, will be made sufficiently
manifest by relating the traditions yet extant regarding the
The surviving leaders of the rebellion seem to have given little
trouble. With the plebeians it was different. Blellack, for
instance, practising a piece of ‘Scotch policy,’ rented a farm from
Lord Aboyne, who, being on the Government side, protected him from
the redcoats; and by having his letters addressed to ‘Charles Gordon,
farmer at Gellan,’
the Government could not discover that they were for the laird of Blellack.
After his return from Culloden he
took refuge at his farm ; while his henchman M‘Connach by some means
got to be keeper of the canteen in the Government castle of Corgarff.
Balmoral, after his wound at Falkirk, retired
with his lady to his estate of Auchlossan,
where he remained in hiding to his death; or, as others have it, in
the Abbey in Edinburgh.
Invercauld was no less accommodating to his relatives than Aboyne
had been to Gordon of Blellack. More
so, indeed, as he went the length of harbouring some of the returned
rebels in his own house: one of them at least—Farquaharson, laird of Broughdearg.
na Bruach, i.e. Man
of the Braes, as he was commonly termed, the laird of Broughdearg, was
one of Prince Charles’s surgeons. The legend giving some account of
his history, and how he acquired his professional qualifications,
beats all the others for extravagance :—
na Bruach was
sent by his parents to Italy to
study medicine. When he returned home, father and mother were both
dead, and his affairs entrusted to a tutor. After his return, the
famous Cagliostro, the celebrated physician under whom the young
laird had completed his studies, informed his pupil by letter, that
he could see from Italy a
white serpent going daily at noon to drink from a well at the bottom
or the Dubh
Corrie of Echoes, or the Black Corrie. He instructed Fear
na Brnach also
to catch this serpent, by laying out for it a repast of fresh cream,
and having caught it, to bring it forthwith to Italy.
The laird followed the physician’s directions, caught the white
serpent, and sailed away. After his arrival he was ordered by
Cagliostro to boil it in a caldron ; but, on pain of death, not to
touch the contents, or let them boil over. With care and dread Fear
na Bruach stirred
round the seething decoction; but despite all his endeavours, the
liquid came up, hissing and spurting even to the brim. The
temptation to taste was now too strong for Fear
and quick as thought he dipped in his finger, raised it to his
mouth, then fled amain.
Pursuit followed. It seems to have been unsuccessful, as bloodhounds
were brought into requisition; and in the despair which seized him,
when he heard their bay loud and close upon his track, he leaped
forward, and struck in his fall the side of a huge tree. To his
amazement it burst open, and he fell breathless into a great hollow
within the trunk. With great presence of mind he rose and
re-adjusted the door which had admitted him, then lay concealed
there for twenty-four hours. Finally he slipt on board a ship, which
was just ready to sail from a harbour near by, and returned home
‘The tasting he had permitted himself of the decoction rendered him
omniscient in medicine, so that no disease could baffle his skill,
neither could he ever fail in effecting a cure. Some will wonder
that he and his generation are not still in the land of the living;
.but old age is no malady. Death then is but the falling of ripened
After the wars, in which such a skilled physician must have been of
the greatest value, and while he harboured at Invercauld, Fear
na Bruach often
spoke of another well in Craig
the waters of which would render physicians unnecessary, by having
virtue to cure all diseases. This well also had a serpent, for in
the night-time he could see it, he said, from the dining-room
windows of Invercauld,
on the face of the hill near the well below a bush of rushes, lying
on a flat stone ; but neither he nor any one else has found it.’
Extravagant as this legend is, in former years its authenticity, by
some at least, was undoubted. In proof of this, I may state that
about sixty years ago, an elderly woman living in Braemarprevailed
on a young girl of fifteen, who is still living, to accompany her to Craig
search of the treasure.
The search was continued until they came upon a well quite answering
the description; for beside it were the rushes, flat stone, etc. In
consequence of a dream, the woman expected, in addition to the
serpent, to find a wallet full of gold below the slab.
So the two, having found the place, also succeeded in raising the
stone, when the digging for the gold. commenced in right earnest.
For hours and hours they dug, until the girl, quite exhausted,
struck work; but the woman, strong in the faith of the gold, dug on.
At length she also had to give in ; and, said the girl, now an old
woman, to me lately, ‘I dinna ken what shewas,
but I was
glad enough to get home.’ So vividly are the place and incidents of
the day stereotyped in the tablets of her memory, and so graphically
does she relate them, that her grandchildren, oftener than any
other, ask her to tell them the story of the Wallet
Of the rest of the leading men, Farquharson of Monaltrie,
or the Baron
was in prison; Patrick Fleming of
in concealment near Culloden; Charles
Farquharson of Cluny,
and some others, were in the hiding-place on the Craig. So
of course none of them made any resistance to the new measures
introduced. As before stated, it was not so with the plebeian
portion of the people. The Ephiteach in
particular, his cousin, and several others, gave an immense deal of
trouble to the soldiers. Racy accounts of their doings are still
given by the old people.
So very obnoxious had the two Donalds rendered themselves to the
soldiers in the castle, that many schemes had been resorted to for
their capture. One sergeant in particular distinguished himself by
his vexatious pursuit. The Ephiteach
who was a widow, lived in Auchindryne; and
this sergeant often broke in upon the lone woman, hoping, of course,
to catch her son, and on such occasions would boast of what he would
do to him if he could only get him alone.
One day the widow, instructed by her son, informed the sergeant that
in a certain part of Coire-nam-muc (a
hollow in the side of Morrone)
he would meet the Ephiteach,
provided he went alone, and without fire-arms. The sergeant at once
threw down his gun, and set off.
who had been perched on the top of his mother’s box-bed, quickly
descended from his hiding-place, and was in time to keep the soldier
from waiting. Both drew their swords in silence, and fell too with
all their might The Ephiteach was
the victor. He first disarmed the sergeant, then brought him to the
ground with a blow from the pommel of his sword ; and before he had
recovered his senses, had his hands tightly bound behind his back.
sergeant, suppose you had me as I have you, what would you do?’
would kill you.’
‘Well, as you have been so honest, I will spare your life; but you
shall remember the Ephiteach to
the longest day of it.’
Then he undid the sergeant’s clothes, fastened them in a bundle, and
hung them round his neck; and having cut a number of birch twigs,
greatly accelerated the sergeant’s return to the castle by their
aid. He never after shone in attempts at capturing Dubh
The soldiers had orders to prevent the Highlanders from fishing as
they did formerly. This was a great grievance ; and they persisted
in doing it, despite all the vigilance of the soldiers. One evening
the Ephiteach and
his cousin were fishing by torchlight at a deep place in the river,
near where the Established Church now stands. The soldiers had
observed them, and came stealthily down and fired upon them, as one
was holding the torch and the other using his spear. So narrowly did
the Ephiteach escape,
that a ball struck the pole of his spear as he was in the act of
using it, and snapt it in two between his hands. The Donalds were
obliged to run; and they did so, vowing that that shot would be a
dear one to the soldiers.
Next evening they fixed a torch on a pole, and stuck it into the
ground by the side of the river, near the place where they were the
previous evening. When the soldiers came down to catch the supposed
poachers, they found nothing but a pole ; but, by the light of the
torch on it, the two Donalds saw to take aim. They fired, and two of
the soldiers fell—one dead, and the other severely wounded. Another
version of this story is, that the Ephiteach had
several guns, and fired them quickly one after another, and that a number of
the soldiers fell; and that the rest, believing there was a large
party of the rebels, fled in disorder. The first version I was
assured was the true one ; but whichever way, the place was called,
by way of remembrance, the ‘Putan
One night, when the Ephiteach paid
a stolen visit to his mother, he found her in great distress : her
only cow had been taken away by the soldiers. No doubt they had left
money equal in value for the cow, but that did not make up her loss.
The soldiers took what they wanted from the people, but in return
always gave what they considered its value in money. As they who
have but one cow generally take good care of it, have plenty of
food, etc., so the soldiers, thinking the widow’s cow would be
especially good, helped themselves to it; and of course the
A short time after, he learned that Captain Millar, or 1 Muckle
Millar,’ one of the officers, intended to convey his wife to the
south through Glenshee
he hurried away to wait them on the Cairnwell. And
as Captain Millar, mounted on horseback, with his wife behind him,
was passing along, in a moment the Ephiteach,
with levelled gun, started up before them.
‘Swords, and fair play!’ cried Millar.
‘Such play' replied the Ephiteach, ‘as
you order your men to give me and my countrymen ; and that is, Shoot
them down, bayonet them, shoot them down!’ He fired. The captain was
only wounded ; so he reloaded, and shot him dead. The grave of
Captain Millar is still pointed out on passing the Caimwell.
M'Kenzie then seized the bridle-reins, and mounting into the vacant
place, conducted the lady on to the Spittal
of Glenshee; then
set off on foot for Glen-Lui,
and remained there in hiding until the soldiers found out his
whereabouts. He narrowly escaped being taken, as they came upon him
at midnight; but they were disappointed. He fled to the Dee,
cleared the Linn at
a leap, and retreated into the wilds of Upper
Both he and his cousin were at length taken, and brought in shackles
to Invercauld. As
the head officer happened to be in Aberdeen,
they could not be shot until his return ; so they were safely lodged
in the ‘donjon ’ until his return.
Invercauld was in no ways fond of seeing his countrymen treated in
this manner, though he might have been excused for bearing the Ephiteach a
grudge on account of the affair at Corrie
after having made his arrangements, he caused the two prisoners in
the donjon to be warned that, in the evening and throughout the
night, there would be revelry, feasting, dancing, and drinking, to
celebrate the king’s accession. .
‘They did keep it up in style; and Invercauld, who then, like other
lairds, had a still of his own, made the waters of life abound. The
sentinels carried on the waltz as well, and all was maudlin mirth
and madness. When matters were come to this pass, the two prisoners
split the donjon door and came out. On hearing the noise, the
commandant’s secretary—who, suspicious of treason, had avoided
joining in the debauch—rushed down stairs and seized a gun from one
of the sentinels, who, prostrate on the floor, was singing with all
his might :
“George is a merry boy,
Long may he reign,” etc. .
But as he made a charge down the corridor at the handcuffed heroes
to drive them back to their prison, Invercauld’s butler tripped him
(by mistake of course). The two jumped over him, and away to the
hills, or rather to the blacksmith at Auchmdryne,
who soon made them both free.
‘As they were receiving the congratulations of their friends, a
messenger in hot haste from Invercauld arrived to say that the
secretary had taken horse, and was gone to Aberdeen for
his commandant; and that Invercauld was afraid a serious charge
might be made out against him.
“Let us go after him, MacRobaidh; we’ll
surely catch him before he reaches Aberdeen.”
‘“Before he reaches Aboyne, you
mean/' replied he, striding away with a gun, brought by one of his
friends, and a dirk, of which he had taken the loan.
‘“Messenger,” said the Ephiteach,
“tell Invercauld, if he see a bonfire on the top of Craig
the coming night, he may be sure we have stopped the secretary.”
Then helping himself to a sword, he strode away after his cousin.
Away they ran through Philagie and Aberairdar, Crathie and Micras, and
on reaching the foot of Gairn they
saw the secretary just entering the Pass.
. . .
the Ephiteach could
hear the clatter of the horse’s hoofs as they rushed out of the pass
and bore forward on Tullich. When
they left Tullich behind,
the secretary, looking back from Tomnakiest, saw
in the grey light of the morning the two Highlanders hurrying after
him. He knew the sight boded him little good, so he hurried forward
at the utmost speed to Culblean.’
When the two Donalds came down the height behind Camus
O' May, the
secretary was only a gunshot ahead. Down went Robaidh
his knee, levelled his gun, and fired. The horse rolled on the road;
but the rider, disengaging himself from it, started on foot. Alas !
the race must be short now. The Ephiteach was
at last blown, but the terrible
MacRobaidh Mhoire flies
forward like the wind. In a few minutes he is on his victim.
‘Spare a defenceless man!’ cried the Ephiteach from
behind. The other heard, but heeded not, for he hewed the secretary
down with one blow. When reproached by M‘Kenzie, he only replied, ‘
Dead men tell no tales!’ That evening, according to promise, the two
lit a fire on Craig
which considerably eased the anxiety of Invercauld.
‘When the commander returned, the soldiers could give but a very
confused account of the escape of the prisoners. Invercauld could
not make the matter a whit plainer. The death of the secretary was,
naturally enough, laid to the hatred the country people entertained
for the soldiers. Still the officer had his suspicions, and from
quartering on Invercauld, went to the castle, now repaired and
fitted up to receive them. But he made frequent visits in force on
the laird, besides keeping him often little better than a prisoner
within the castle.
on hearing of these annoying proceedings, began to consider how he
could restore the laird to favour. At last the opportunity presented
itself. While Invercauld was undergoing one of the customary
detentions in the castle, the officers from Abergeldie, Corgarff,
Dubrach, and Glenshee were
invited to a feast there. At table the laird was known to sit always
at the same seat, behind which a window opened, looking towards Invercandlic. Before
the festal day, he was warned by Donald
he must, as if accidentally, get himself replaced there by one of
the guests from the other garrison, or let the place be empty.
‘The laird doubtless managed the matter well, and waited also
somewhat impatiently for what was to happen. While at dinner, the
company were startled by a loud report, and crash came a bullet
through the window where Invercauld used to sit. The bullet, after
carrying away part of a waiter’s thumb, lodged itself in the
‘The whole party ran to the windows. A tall dark form stood on the
opposite side of the river, who waved his gun triumphantly, and
called loud enough for them to hear:
"That’s for the traitor Saxon laird of Invercauld,
from me, Donald
Egyptian.” Then he turned up the way of Glen
generous purpose was fully accomplished. Seeing how narrowly the
laird had escaped death at Donald’s hands, it could not longer be
supposed that he had connived at his escape. He was again received
into favour with the Saxons, and remained from that time in good
repute. The Ephiteach was
never again taken, but died peaceably at a good old age.’
There were many other characters who were equally obstreperous with
the cousins, and of course numerous legends exist regarding them.
But what has been given will sufficiently illustrate the spirit of
the people, and the difficulties the soldiers had to encounter in
the enforcement of their order; so it is needless to multiply them.
A much more pleasing theme will be found in still later changes.
The last relic of the rebellion passed away in the person of Peter
Grant, who lived to the extreme age of no, and died in Braemar,
nth February 1824. For some years before his death, this solitary
rebel received fifty pounds annually from Government, yet he never
made his submission; nor could any one induce him to drink the
king’s health, though many for amusement and otherwise tried to do
so. Though thus liberally supported, he was proof against their
kindness, as much as of their harsher measures. Nothing would subdue
him : he died, as he had lived, a rebel.
He had been an extremely handsome man. Some of the old people still
retain a vivid recollection of his beautiful appearance even in
extreme old age. His hands, in particular, I have often heard
commented on for their whiteness, symmetry, and freedom from
wrinkles,—a peculiarity of his face also.
‘Oh, but he was a bonnie man, as ever I saw,’ said an old friend
from whom I have culled many of the foregoing legends; ‘and
when I was a youngster, I used to sit and hear him tell stories till
my hair would have been almost standing on end; and when I grew up a
bit, mony a time I treated him to a glass, just to set his tongue
a-going. He was fu’ o’ stories; and oh, I liked weel to hear them.’
Not a few of Peter Grants stories are found in the foregoing pages.