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General History of the Highlands
1649 - 1650


WHILE the dominant party in England were contemplating the erection of a commonwealth upon the ruins of the monarchy they had just overthrown, the faction in Scotland, with Argyle at its head, which had usurped the reins of government in that country, in obedience to the known wish of the nation, resolved to recognise the principle of legitimacy by acknowledging the Prince of Wales as successor to the crown of Scotland. No sooner, therefore, had the intelligence of the execution of the king reached Edinburgh, than the usual preparations were made for proclaiming Charles II., a ceremony which was performed at the market-cross of Edinburgh, on the 5th of February, with the usual formalities.

This proceeding was contrary to the policy of Argyle, whose intentions were in exact accordance with those of the English Independents; but, as the melancholy fate of the king had excited a feeling of indignation in the Scottish nation, he was afraid to imitate the example of his English friends, and dissembling his views, adopted other measures without changing his object. At the instigation of Argyle it was agreed in parliament to propose certain conditions to the prince as the terms on which alone he should be entitled to sway the sceptre of his father. These were, in substance, 1st, that he should sign the Covenants, and endeavour to establish them by his authority in all his dominions; 2d, that he should ratify and confirm all the acts of the Estates, approving of the two Covenants, the directory, confession of faith, and the catechism, that he should renounce episcopacy and adopt the presbyterian form of worship; 3d, that in all civil matters he should submit to the parliament, and in things ecclesiastical to the authority of the general assembly; and, lastly, that he should remove from his person and court the Marquis of Montrose, "a person excommunicated by the church, and forfaulted by the parliament of Scotland, being a man most justly, if ever any, cast out of the church of God."

These conditions, so flattering to popular prejudice and the prevailing ideas of the times, appear to have been proposed only because Argyle thought they would be rejected by the youthful monarch, surrounded as he then was by counsellors to whom these terms would be particularly obnoxious. To carry these propositions to Charles II., then at the Hague, seven commissioners from the parliament and kirk were appointed, who set sail from Kirkcaldy roads on the 17th of March, arriving at the Hague on the 26th. His court, which at first consisted of the few persons whom his father had placed about him, had been lately increased by the arrival of the Earl of Lanark, now become, by the death of his brother, Duke of Hamilton, the Earls of Lauderdale and Callander, the heads of the Engagers; and by the subsequent addition of Montrose, Kinnoul, and Seaforth. The following graphic sketch is given by Dr. Wishart of the appearance and reception of the commissioners:—" When these commissioners, or deputies from the Estates were admitted to their first audience of the king, their solemn gait, their grave dress, and dejected countenances, had all the appearance imaginable of humility; and many who were not acquainted with the temper and practices of the men, from thence concluded that they were about to implore of his majesty a general oblivion and pardon for what was past, and to promise a perfect obedience and submission in time coming; and that they were ready to yield every thing that was just and reasonable, and would be sincere in all their proposals of peace and accommodation. They acted in a double capacity, and had instructions both from the Estates and from the commission of the kirk, in both of which the Earl of Cassilis was the chief person, not only in what they were charged with from the Estates, as being a nobleman, but also from the commission of the kirk, of which he was a ruling elder.

Their address to the king was introduced with abundance of deep sighs and heavy groans, as if they had been labouring, as Virgil says of the Sibyl, to shake the ponderous load from off their breasts, after which they at last exhibited their papers, containing the ordinances of the Estates, and acts of the commission of the kirk, and pretended that the terms demanded in them were moderate, just, and reasonable, and absolutely necessary for settling the present confusions, and restoring the king; with which, if he complied, he would be immediately settled upon his father’s throne by the unanimous consent of the people."

The king, after vainly endeavouring to induce the commissioners to modify the conditions to which his acceptance was required, and to declare publicly their opinions of the murder of his father, to which they had made no allusion, declined to agree to the terms proposed. He at the same time stated, that as he had been already proclaimed king of Scotland by the Committee of Estates, it was their duty to obey him, and that he should expect the Committee of Estates, the assembly of the kirk, and the nation at large, to perform their duty to him, humbly obeying, maintaining, and defending him as their lawful sovereign. The commissioners having got their answer on the 19th of May, returned to Scotland, and Charles went to St. Germain in France, to visit Queen Henrietta Maria, his mother, before going to Ireland, whither he had been invited by the Marquis of Ormond to join the royalist army.

During the captivity of Charles I., Montrose used every exertion at the court of France to raise money and men to enable him to make a descent upon the coast of England or Scotland, to rescue his sovereign from confinement; but his endeavours proving ineffectual, he entered into the service of the Emperor of Germany, who honoured him with especial marks of his esteem. He had been lately residing at Brussels engaged in the affairs of the emperor, where he received letters from the Prince of Wales, then at the Hague, requiring his attendance to consult on the state of his father’s affairs; but before he set out for the Hague, he received the news of the death of Charles I. He was so overwhelmed with grief at this intelligence, that according to Bishop Wishart, who was an eye-witness, he fainted and fell down in the midst of his attendants, and appeared for some time as if quite dead. When he had sufficiently recovered to give full vent to his feelings, he expressed a desire to die with his sovereign, as he could no longer enjoy, as he said, a life which had now become a grievous and heavy burden. But on Wishart remonstrating with him upon the impropriety of entertaining such a sentiment, and informing him that he should be rather more desirous of life that he might avenge the death of his royal master, and place his son and lawful successor upon the throne of his ancestors, Montrose replied with composure, that in that view he should be satisfied to live; "but," continued he, "I swear before God, angels, and men, that I will dedicate the remainder of my life to the avenging the death of the royal martyr, and re-establishing his son upon his father’s throne."

On arriving at the Hague, Montrose was received by Charles II. with marked distinction. After some consultation, a descent upon Scotland was resolved upon, and Montrose, thereupon, received a commission, appointing him Lieutenant-governor of Scotland, and commander-in-chief of all the forces there both by sea and land. The king also appointed him his ambassador to the emperor, the princes of Germany, the King of Denmark, and other friendly sovereigns, to solicit supplies of money and warlike stores, to enable him to commence the war. Thus, before the commissioners had arrived, the king had made up his mind as to the course he should pursue, and being backed by the opinion of a man of such an ardent temperament as Montrose, the result of the communing between the king and the commissioners was as might have been expected.

Connected probably with Montrose’s plan of a descent, a rising took place in the north under Thomas Mackenzie of Pluscardine, brother of the Earl of Seaforth, Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, Colonel John Munro of Lumlair, and Colonel Hugh Fraser, who, at the head of a number of their friends and followers, entered the town of Inverness, on the 22d of February, expelled the troops from the garrison, and demolished and razed the walls and fortifications of the town. The pretext put forward by Mackenzie and his friends was, that the parliament had sent private commissioners to apprehend them; but the fact appears to be, that this insurrection had taken place at the instigation of the king, between whom and Pluscardine a correspondence had been previously opened. General David Leslie was sent to the north with a force to suppress the insurgents, who, on his approach, fled to the mountains of Ross; but he was soon obliged to retrace his steps, in consequence of a rising in Athole under the direction of Lord Ogilvie, General Middleton, and others, in favour of the king. Leslie had previously made terms with Urquhart, Munro, and Fraser, but as Mackenzie would not listen to any accommodation, he left behind him a garrison in the castle of Chanonry, and also three troops of horse in Moray under the charge of Colonel Gilbert Ker, and Lieutenant-colonels Hacket and Strachan, to watch Pluscardine’s motions. But this force was quite insufficient to resist Pluscardine, who, on the departure of Leslie, descended from the mountains and attacked the castle of Chanonry, which he re-took. He was thereupon joined by his nephew, Lord Reay, at the head of 300 well-armed able-bodied men, which increased his force to between 800 and 900.

Having suppressed the rising in Athole, Leslie was again sent north by the parliament, accompanied by the Earl of Sutherland; but he had not proceeded far, when he ascertained that Mackenzie had been induced by Lord Ogilvie and General Middleton, who had lately joined him, to advance southward into Badenoch, with the view of raising the people in that and the neighbouring districts, and that they had been there joined by the young Marquis of Huntly, formerly Lord Lewis Gordon, and had taken the castle of Ruthven. Leslie thereupon divided his army, with one part of which he himself entered Badenoch, while he despatched the Earl of Sutherland to the north to collect forces in Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, with another part, consisting of five troops of horse, under the command of Ker, Hacket, and Strachan. To hinder the royalists from retiring into Athole, Leslie marched southward towards Glenesk, by which movement he compelled them to leave Badenoch and to march down Spey-side towards Balveny. On arriving at Balveny, they resolved to enter into a negotiation with Leslie, and accordingly Pluscardine and Middleton left Balveny with a troop of horse to meet Leslie, leaving Huntly, Reay, and Ogilvie, in charge of the forces, the former of whom sent his brother Lord Charles Gordon to the Enzie, to raise some horse.

While waiting for the return of Pluscardine and Middleton, the party at Balveny had not the slightest idea that they might be taken by surprise; but on the 8th of May at day-break, they were most unexpectedly attacked by the horse which had been sent north with the Earl of Sutherland, and which, returning from Ross, had speedily crossed the Spey. Seizing the royalist sentinels, they surprised Lord Reay at the castle of Balveny, where he and about 900 foot were taken prisoners and about 80 killed. Huntly and Ogilvie, who had their quarters at the church of Mortlach, about a mile from Balveny castle, escaped. Colonel Ker at once dismissed all the prisoners to their own homes on giving their oaths not to take up arms against the parliament in time coming. He sent Lord Reay along with some of his kinsmen and friends and Mackenzie of Redcastle and other prisoners of his surname to Edinburgh; all of whom were imprisoned. Huntly, Ogilvie, Pluscardine, and Middleton, on giving security to keep the peace, were forgiven by Leslie and returned to their homes. Colonel Ker afterwards returned to Ross, took Red-castle, which he demolished, and hanged the persons who had defended it. Thus ended this premature insurrection which, had it been delayed till the arrival of Montrose, might have been attended with a very different result.

The projected descent by Montrose upon Scotland, was considered by many persons as a desperate measure, which none but those quite reckless of consequences would attempt; but there were others, chiefly among the ultra-royalists, who viewed the affair in a different light, and who, although they considered the enterprise as one not without considerable risk, anticipated its success. Such, at least, were the sentiments of some of the king’s friends before the insurrection under Mackenzie of Pluscardine had been crushed; but it is very probable that these were greatly altered after its suppression. The failure of Pluscardine’s ill-timed attempt was indeed considered by Montrose as a great misfortune, but a misfortune far from irreparable, and as he had invitations from the royalist nobility of Scotland, requesting him to enter upon his enterprise, and promising him every assistance in their power, and as he was assured that the great body of the Scottish nation was ready to second his views, he entered upon the task assigned him by his royal master, with an alacrity and willingness which indicated a confidence on his part of ultimate success.

In terms of the powers he had received from the king, Montrose visited the north of Europe, and obtained promises of assistance of’ men, money, and ammunition, from some of the northern princes; but few of them fulfilled their engagements in consequence of the intrigues of the king’s enemies with the courtiers, who thwarted with all their influence the measures of Montrose. By the most indefatigable industry and perseverance, however, he collected a force of 1,200 men at Gottenburg, about 800 of whom had been raised in Holstein and Hamburg, and having received from the Queen of Sweden 1,500 complete stands of arms, for arming such persons as might join his standard on landing in Scotland, he resolved, without loss of time, to send off this armament to the Orkneys, where, in consequence of a previous arrangement with the Earl of Morton, who was favourable to the king, it was agreed that a descent should be made. Accordingly, the first division of the expedition, which consisted of three parts, was despatched early in September; but it never reached its destination, the vessels having foundered at sea in a storm. The second division was more fortunate, and arrived at Kirkwall, about the end of the month. It consisted of 200 common soldiers and 80 officers, under the command of the Earl of Kinnoul, who on landing was joined by his uncle the Earl of Morton and by many of the Orkney gentlemen. Kinnoul immediately laid siege to the castle of Birsay, which was soon surrendered to him; and he proceeded to raise levies among the Orcadians, but was checked in his progress in consequence of a difference with Morton, who claimed the privilege, as superior of Orkney, of commanding his own vassals, a claim which Kinnoul would not allow. Morton felt the repulse keenly, and died soon thereafter of a broken heart, as is believed. His nephew, perhaps hurt at the treatment he had given his uncle, speedily followed him to the grave.

The news of Kinnoul’s landing reached Edinburgh about the 14th of October, when General David Leslie was despatched to the north with seven or eight troops of horse to watch him if he attempted to cross the Pentland Frith; but seeing no appearance of an enemy, and hearing of intended commotions among the royalists in Angus and the Mearns, he returned to the south after an absence of fifteen days, having previously placed strong garrisons in some of the northern strengths.

Montrose himself, with the remainder of the expedition, still tarried at Gottenburg, in the expectation of obtaining additional reinforcements or of procuring supplies of arms and money. It appears from a letter which he addressed to the Earl of Seaforth, of the date of 15th December, that he intended to sail for Scotland the following day; but owing to various causes he did not leave Gottenburg till about the end of February 1650. He landed in Orkney in the beginning of March, with a force of 500 men, accompanied by Lord Frendraught, Major General Hurry, and other gentlemen who had attached themselves to his service and fortunes.

To prepare the minds of the people of Scotland for the enterprise he was about to undertake, Montrose, about the close of the year, had circulated a "Declaration" in Scotland, as "lieutenant-governor and Captain-general for his Majesty of the Kingdom of Scotland," in which, after detailing the proceedings of those whom he termed "an horrid and infamous faction of rebels within the kingdom of Scotland," towards his late majesty, he declared that his present majesty was not only willing to pardon every one, with the exception of those who upon clear evidence should be found guilty "of that most danmable fact of murder of his father," provided that immediately or upon the first convenient occasion, they abandoned the rebels and joined him, and therefore, he expected all persons who had "any duty left them to God, their king, country, friends, homes, wives, children, or would change now at last the tyranny, violence, and oppression of those rebels, with the mild and innocent government of their just prince, or revenge the horrid and execrable murdering of their sacred king, redeem their nation from infamy, restore the present and oblige the ages to come, would join themselves with him in the service he was about to engage."

This declaration which, by order of the Committee of Estates, was publicly burnt at the market cross of Edinburgh, by the hands of the common hangman, was answered on the 2d of January, by a "declaration and warning of the commission of the General Assembly," addressed to "all the members of the kirk and kingdom," which was followed on the 24th of the same month, by another "declaration" from the Committee of Estates of the parliament of Scotland, in vindication of their proceedings from "the aspersions of a scandalous pamphlet, published by that excommunicate traitor, James Graham, under the title of a ‘Declaration of James, Marquis of Montrose.’" The last of these documents vindicates at great length, and apparently with great success, those whom Montrose had designated the "infamous faction of rebels," not because the committee thought "it worth the while to answer the slanders and groundless reproaches of that viperous brood of Satan, James Graham, whom the Estates of parliament had long since declared traitor, the church delivered into the hands of the devil, and the nation doth generally detest and abhor ;" but because "their silence might be subject to misconstruction, and some of the weaker sort might be inveigled by the bold assertions and railing accusations of this impudent braggard, presenting himself to the view of the world clothed with his majesty’s authority, as lieutenant-governor and captain-general of this kingdom." These declarations of the kirk and Estates, backed as they were by fulminations from all the pulpits of the kingdom against Montrose, made a deep impression on men’s minds, highly unfavourable to him; and as the Committee of Estates discharged all persons from aiding or assisting him under the pain of high treason, and as every action and word of those considered friendly to him were strictly watched, they did not attempt, and had they attempted, would have found it impossible, to make any preparations to receive him on his arrival.

Such was the situation of matters when Montrose landed in Orkney, where, in consequence of the death of Morton and Kinnoul, little progress had been made in raising troops. He remained several weeks in Orkney, without exciting much notice, and having collected about 800 of the natives, which, with the addition of the 200 troops carried over by Kinnoul, made his whole force amount to about 1,500 men, he crossed the Pentland Frith in a number of boats collected among the islands, and landed without opposition at the northern extremity of Caithness, in the immediate vicinity of John o’Groat’s house. On landing, he displayed three banners, one of which was made of black taffeta, in the centre of which was exhibited a representation of the bleeding head of the late king, as struck off from the body, surrounded by two inscriptions, "Judge and avenge my cause, O Lord," and "Deo et victricibus armis." Another standard had this motto, "Quos pietas virtus et honor fecit amicus." These two banners were those of the king. The third, which was Montrose’s own, bore the words, "Nil medium," a motto strongly significant of the uncompromising character of the man. Montrose immediately compelled the inhabitants of Caithness to swear obedience to him as the king’s lieutenant-governor. All the ministers, with the exception of one named William Smith, took the oath, and to punish Smith for his disobedience, he was sent in irons on board a vessel. A number of the inhabitants, however, alarmed at the arrival of foreign troops, with whose presence they considered carnage and murder to be associated, were seized with a panic and fled, nor did some of them stop till they reached Edinburgh, where they carried the alarming intelligence of Montrose’s advance to the parliament which was then sitting.

As soon as the Earl of Sutherland heard of Montrose’s arrival in Caithness, he assembled all his countrymen to oppose his advance into Sutherland. He sent, at the same time, for two troops of horse stationed in Ross, to assist him, but their officers being in Edinburgh, they refused to obey, as they had received no orders. Being apprized of the earl’s movements, and anticipating that he might secure the important pass of the Ord, and thus prevent him from entering Sutherland, Montrose despatched a body of 500 men to the south, who obtained possession of the pass. The next step Montrose took, was against the castle of Dunbeath, belonging to Sir John Sinclair, who, on Montrose’s arrival, had fled and left the place in charge of his lady. The castle was strong and well supplied with provisions, and the possession of it was considered very important by Montrose, in case he should be obliged to retreat into Orkney. The castle, which was defended by Sir John’s lady and a few servants, surrendered to General Hurry, after a short resistance, on condition that persons and property should be respected. Hurry put a strong garrison in the castle, under the command of Major Whiteford.

Having secured this important strength, Montrose marched into Sutherland, leaving Henry Graham, his natural brother, behind him with a party to raise men for the service. While in Caithness, the only persons that proffered their services to Montrose, were Houcheon Mackay of Skoury, Hugh Mackay of Dirlet, and Alexander Sinclair of Brims, whom he despatched to Strathnaver, to collect forces, but they appear to have neglected the matter. On the approach of Montrose, the Earl of Sutherland, not conceiving himself in a condition to resist, retired with his men, and putting strong garrisons into Dunrobin, Skelbo, Skibo, and Dornoch, and sending off a party with cattle and effects to the hills to be out of the reach of the enemy, he went himself into Ross with 300 of his men. Montrose continued to advance, and encamped the first night at Garty and Helmsdale, the second at Kintredwell, and the third night at Rhives. In passing by Dunrobin, a part of his men went between the castle and the sea, some of whom were killed, and others taken prisoners, in a sortie from the garrison. On the following day, Montrose demanded the prisoners from William Gordon the commander of Dunrobin, but his request was refused. Montrose encamped at Rian in Strathfleet the fourth night, at Gruidy on the fifth, and at Strathoikel on the sixth. He then marched to Carbisdale, on the borders of Ross-shire, where he halted a few days in expectation of being joined by the Mackenzies. While reposing here in fancied security and calculating on complete success, he sent a notification to the Earl of Sutherland to the effect, that though he had spared his lands for the present, yet the time was at hand when he would make his own neighbours undo him. Little did Montrose then imagine that his own fate was so near at hand.

As soon as intelligence of Montrose’s descent was received in Edinburgh, the most active preparations were made to send north troops to meet him. David Leslie, the commander-in-chief, appointed Brechin as the place of rendezvous for the troops; but as a considerable time would necessarily elapse before they could be all collected, and as apprehensions were entertained that Montrose might speedily penetrate into the heart of the Highlands, where he could not fail to find auxiliaries, Lieutenant-Colonel Strachan, an officer who had been particularly active in suppressing Pluscardine’s insurrection, was despatched, in the meantime, to the north with a few troops of horse, for the purpose of keeping Montrose in check, and enabling the Earl of Sutherland, and the other presbyterian leaders in the north to raise their levies. These troops, which were those of Ker, Hacket, Montgomery, and Strachan, and an Irish troop commanded by one Collace, were joined by a body of about 500 foot under the Earl of Sutherland, Ross of Balinagown, and Munro of Lumlair, all of whom were assembled at Tam when Montrose encamped at Strathoikel. This movement brought the hostile parties within twenty miles of each other, but Montrose was not aware that his enemy was so near at hand. Strachan, who had early intelligence brought him of Montrose’s advance, immediately called a council of war to deliberate, at which it was resolved that the Earl of Sutherland should, by a circuitous movement, throw himself into Montrose’s rear, in order to prevent a junction between him and Henry Graham, and such of the Strathnaver and Caithness men as should attempt to join him. It was resolved that, at the same time, Strachan with his five troops of horse, and the Munroes, and Rosses, under Balnagown, and Lumlair, should march directly forward and attack Montrose in the level country before he should, as was contemplated, retire to the hills on the approach of Leslie, who was hastening rapidly north with a force of 4,000 horse and foot, at the rate of thirty miles a-day.

It was Saturday the 27th of April, when Strachan’s officers were deliberating whether they should move immediately forward or wait till Monday, "and so decline the hazard of engaging upon the Lord’s day," when notice being brought that Montrose had advanced from Strathoikel to Carbisdale, a movement which brought him six miles nearer to them, they made arrangements for attacking him without delay. Strachan advanced without observation as far as Fearn, within a mile and a half or two miles of Montrose, where he concealed his men on a moor covered with broom, whence he sent out a party of scouts under Captain Andrew Munro, son of Munro of Lumlair, to reconnoitre Montrose. Munro soon returned and reported that Montrose had sent out a body of 40 horse to ascertain their movements. In order to deceive this body, Strachan ordered one troop of horse out of the broom, which being the only force observed by Montrose’s scouts, they returned and reported to Montrose what they had seen. This intelligence threw Montrose completely off his guard, who, conceiving that the whole strength of the enemy consisted of a single troop of horse, made no preparations for defending himself.

In the meantime, Strachan formed his men into four divisions. The first, which consisted of about 100 horsemen, he commanded himself; the second, amounting to upwards of 80, was given in charge to Racket; and the third, also horse, to the number of about 40, was led by Captain Hutcheson. The fourth division, which was composed of a body of musketeers belonging to Lawer’s regiment, was commanded by one Quarter-master Shaw.

The deception which had been so well practised upon Montrose by Strachan, in concealing the real amount of his force, might not have been attended with any serious effect to Montrose, but for another stratagem which Strachan had in reserve, and which proved Montrose’s ruin. Strachan’s scheme was first to advance with his own division to make it appear as if his whole strength consisted of only 100 horse, and while Montrose was impressed with this false idea, to bring up the other three divisions in rapid succession, and thus create a panic among Montrose's men as if a large army were about to attack them. This contrivance was crowned with the most complete success. Montrose little suspecting the trick, was thrown quite off his guard, and alarmed at the sudden appearance of successive bodies of cavalry, he immediately gave orders for a retreat to a wood and craggy hill at a short distance in his rear; but before Montrose’s men could reach their intended place of retreat, they were overtaken when almost breathless, by Strachan’s troopers, who charged them violently. The foreign troops received the charge with firmness, and, after discharging a volley upon the horse, flew into the wood; but most of the Orcadians threw down their arms in terror and begged for quarter. The Munroes and Rosses followed the Danish troops into the wood and killed many of them. 200 of the fugitives in attempting to cross the adjoining river were drowned.

Montrose for some time made an unavailing effort to rally some of his men, and fought with his accustomed bravery; but having his horse shot under him, and seeing it utterly impossible longer to resist the enemy, he mounted the horse of Lord Frendraught, which that young and generous nobleman proffered him, and galloped off the field; and as soon as he got out of the reach of the enemy, he dismounted, and throwing away his cloak, which was decorated with the star of the garter, and his sword, sought his safety on foot.

The slaughter of Montrose’s men continued about two hours, or until sunset, during which time ten of his best officers and 386 common soldiers were killed. The most conspicuous among the former for bravery was Menzies younger of Pitfoddles, the bearer of the black standard, who repeatedly refused to receive quarter. Upwards of 400 prisoners were taken, including 31 officers, among whom were Sir John Hurry and Lord Frendraught the latter of whom was severely wounded. Among the prisoners taken were two ministers. This victory was achieved almost without bloodshed on the part of the victors, who had only two men wounded, and one trooper drowned. After the slaughter, the conquerors returned thanks to God on the open field for the victory they had obtained, and returned to Tam, carrying the prisoners along with them. For several days the people of Ross and Sutherland continued to pursue some unfortunate stragglers, whom they despatched. The result was most calamitous to Orkney, as appears from a petition and memorandum by the gentlemen of Orkney to Lord Morton in 1662, in which it is stated, that there was scarcely a gentleman’s house in that country "but lost either a son or a brother."

Montrose, accompanied by the Earl of Kinnoul, who had lately succeeded to the title on the death of his brother, and six or seven companions, having, as before stated, dismounted from his horse and thrown away his cloak and sword, and having, by the advice of his friends, to avoid detection, exchanged his clothes for the more homely attire of a common Highlander, wandered all night and the two following days among bleak and solitary regions, without knowing where to proceed, and ready to perish under the accumulated distresses of hunger, fatigue, and anxiety of mind. The Earl of Kinnoul, unable, from exhaustion, to follow Montrose any farther, was left among the mountains, where it is supposed he perished. When upon the point of starvation, Montrose was fortunate to light upon a small cottage, where he obtained a supply of milk and bread, on receiving which he continued his lonely and dangerous course among the mountains of Sutherland, at the risk of being seized every hour, and dragged as a felon before the very man whom, only a few days before, he had threatened with his vengeance.

In the meantime, active search was made after Montrose. As it was conjectured that he might attempt to reach Caithness, where his natural brother, Henry Graham, still remained with some troops in possession of the castle of Punbeath, and as it appeared probable, from the direction Montrose was supposed to have taken, that he meant to go through Assynt, Captain Andrew Munro sent instructions to Neil Macleod, the laird of Assynt, his brother-in-law, to apprehend every stranger that might enter his bounds, in the hope of catching Montrose, for whose apprehension a splendid reward was offered. In consequence of these instructions, Macleod sent out various parties in quest of Montrose, but they could not fall in with him. "At last," says Bishop Wishart, "the laird of Assynt being abroad in arms with some of his tenants in search of him, lighted on him in a place where he had continued three or four days without meat or drink, and only one man in his company." The bishop then states, that "Assynt had formerly been one of Montrose’s own followers; who immediately knowing him, and believing to find friendship at his hands, willingly discovered himself; but Assynt not daring to conceal him, and being greedy of the reward which was promised to the person who should apprehend him by the Council of the Estates, immediately seized and disarmed him." This account differs a little from that of the author of the continuation of Sir Robert Gordon’s history, who, however, it must be remembered, represents the Earl of Sutherland and his friends in as favourable a light as possible. Gordon says, that it was one of Macleod’s parties that apprehended Montrose, and is altogether silent as to Assynt’s having been his follower; but both writers inform us that Montrose offered Macleod a large sum of money for his liberty, which he refused to grant. Macleod kept Montrose and his cornpanion, Major Sinclair, an Orkney gentleman, prisoners in the castle of Ardvraick, his principal residence. By order of Leslie, Montrose was thence removed to Skibo castle, where he was kept two nights, thereafter to the castle of Braan, and thence again to Edinburgh.

In his progress to the capital, Montrose had to endure all those indignities which vulgar minds, instigated by malevolence and fanaticism, could suggest; but he bore every insult with perfect composure. At a short interview which he had with two of his children at the house of the Earl of South Esk, his father-in-law, on his way to Edinburgh, he exhibited the same composure, for "neither at meeting nor parting could any change of his former countenance be discerned, or the least expression heard which was not suitable to the greatness of his spirit, and the fame of his former actions. His behaviour was, during the whole journey, such as became a great man; his countenance was serene and cheerful, as one who was superior to all those reproaches which they had prepared the people to pour out upon him in all the places through which he was to pass."

At Dundee, which had particularly suffered from his army, a very different feeling was shown by the inhabitants, who displayed a generosity of feeling and a sympathy for fallen greatness, which did them immortal honour. Instead of insulting the fallen hero in his distress, they commiserated his misfortunes, and prevailed upon his guards to permit him to exchange the rustic and mean apparel in which he had been apprehended, and which, to excite the derision of the mob, they had compelled him to wear, for a more becoming dress which had been provided for him by the people of Dundee. The sensibilities of the inhabitants had probably been awakened by a bold and ineffectual attempt to rescue Montrose, made by the lady of the laird of Grange, at whose house, in the neighbourhood of Dundee, he had passed the previous night. The author of the Memoirs of the Somervilles gives the following characteristic account of this affair:-

"It was at this ladye’s house that that party of the Covenanters their standing armie, that gairded in the Marques of Montrose, efter his forces was beat and himself betrayed in the north, lodged him, whom this excellent lady designed to sett at libertie, by procureing his escape from her house; in order to this, soe soon as ther quarters was settled, and that she had observed the way and manner of the placeing of the guairds, and what officers commanded them, she not only ordered her butlers to let the souldiers want for noe drink, but she herself, out of respect and kyndnesse, as she pretended, plyed hard the officers and souldiers of the main-guaird, (which was keeped in her owne hail) with the strongest ale and acquavite, that before midnight, all of them, (being for the most part Highlandmen of Lawer’s regiment) became starke drunke. If her stewarts and other servants had obeyed her directions in giving out what drinke the out-gairds should have called for, undoubtedly the business had been effectuat; but unhappily, when the marques had passed the first and second centinells that was sleeping upon their musquets, and likewayes through the main-gaird, that was lying in the hall lyke swyne on a midding, he was challenged a little without the outmost guaird by a wretched trouper of Strachan’s troupe, that had been present at his taking. This fellow was none of the guaird that night, but being quartered hard by, was come ramniching in for his bellieful of drinke, when he made this unluckie discovery, which being done, the marques was presently seized upon, and with much rudenesse (being in the ladye’s cloaths which he had put on for a disguize) turned back to his prisone chamber. The lady, her old husband, with the wholl servants of the house, were made prisoners for that night, and the morrow efter, when they came to be challenged before these that had the command of this party, and some members of that wretched Committee of Estates, that satt allways at Edinbrough (for mischief to the royall interest,) which they had sent for the more security, to be still with this party, fearing the great friends and weill-wishers this noble heroe had upon the way he was to come, should either by force or stratageme, be taken from them. The ladie, as she had been the only contryver of Montrose’s escape, soe did she avow the same before them all; testifying she was heartily sorry it had not taken effect according to her wished desyre. This confidence of hers, as it bred some admiratione in her accusors, soe it freed her husband and the servants from being farder challenged; only they took security of the laird for his ladye’s appearing before the Committie of Estates when called, which she never was. Ther worships gott something else to thinke upon, then to conveen soe excellent a lady before them upon such ane account, as tended greatly to her honour and ther oune shame."

The parliament, which had been adjourned till the 15th of May, met on the appointed day, and named a committee to devise the mode of his reception into the capital and the manner of his death. In terms of the committee’s report an act was passed on the 17th of May, ordaining "James Graham" to be conveyed bareheaded from the Water Gate (the eastern extremity of the city) on a cart, to which he was to be tied with a rope, and drawn by the hangman in his livery, with his hat on, to the jail of Edinburgh, and thence to be brought to the parliament house, and there on his knees to receive sentence of death. It was resolved that he should be hanged on a gibbet at the cross of Edinburgh, with the book which contained the history of his wars and the declaration which he had issued, tied to his neck, and after hanging for the space of three hours, that his body should be cut down by the hangman, his head severed from his body, fixed on an iron spike, and placed on the pinnacle on the west end of the prison; that his hands and legs should also be cut off, the former to be placed over the gates of Perth and Stirling, and the latter over those of Aberdeen and Glasgow; that if at his death he showed any signs of repentance, and should in consequence be relieved from the sentence of excommunication which the kirk had pronounced against him, that the trunk of his body should be interred by " pioneers" in the Gray Friars’ churchyard; but otherwise, that it should be buried by the hangman’s assistants, under the scaffold on the Boroughmuir, the usual place of execution.

The minds of the populace had, at this time, been wrought up to the highest pitch of hatred at Montrose by the ministers, who, during a fast which had lately been held in thanksgiving for his apprehension, had launched the most dreadful and bloody invectives against him, and to this circumstance perhaps is to be attributed the ignominious plan devised for his reception.

On the day following the passing of the act, Montrose was brought up from Leith, mounted on an outworn horse, to the Water Gate, along with 23 of his officers, his fellow-prisoners, where he was met about four o’clock, P.M., by the magistrates of the city in their robes, followed by the "town guard," and the common executioner. Having been delivered by his guards to the civic authorities, whose duty it now was to take charge of his person, Montrose was, for the first time, made acquainted with the fate which awaited him, by one of the magistrates putting a copy of the sentence into his hands. He perused the paper with composure, and after he had read it he informed the magistrates that he was ready to submit to his fate, and only regretted, "that through him the king’s majesty, whose person he represented, should be so much dishonoured."

Before mounting the vehicle brought for his reception, Montrose was ordered by the hangman to uncover his head; but as the mandate was not immediately attended to, that abhorred instrument of the law enforced his command with his own hands. He thereupon made Montrose go into the cart, and placing him on a high chair fixed upon a small platform raised at the end of the cart, he pinioned his arms close to his sides by means of cords, which being passed across his breast, and fastened behind the vehicle, kept him so firmly fixed as to render his body immoveable. The other prisoners, who were tied together in pairs, having been marshalled in front of the cart in walking order and uncovered, the hangman, clothed in his official attire, mounted one of the horses attached to the cart, and the procession thereupon moved off at a slow pace up the Canongate, in presence of thousands of spectators, who lined the long street, and filled the windows of the adjoining houses. Among the crowd which thronged the street to view the mournful spectacle was a great number of the inferior classes of the community, chiefly females, who had come with the determined intention of venting abuse upon the fallen hero, and pelting him, as he proceeded along the street, with dirt, stones, and other missiles, incited thereto by the harangues of the ministers on occasion of the late fast; but they were so overawed by the dignity of his demeanour, and the undaunted courage of soul which he displayed, that their feelings were at once overcome, and instead of covering him with reproaches, they dissolved into tears of pity at the sight of fallen greatness, and invoked the blessings of heaven upon the head of the illustrious captive. A result so totally unlooked-for, could not be but exceedingly displeasing to the enemies of Montrose, and particularly to the ministers, who, on the following day (Sunday), denounced the conduct of the people from the pulpits of the city, and threatened them with the wrath of heaven.

But displeasing as the humane reception of Montrose was to the clergy, it must have been much more mortifying to Argyle, his mortal enemy, who, contrary to modern notions of decency and good feeling, surrounded by his family and the marriage party of his newly-wedded son, Lord Loin, appeared publicly on a balcony in front of the Earl of Moray’s house in the Canongate, from which he beheld undaunted the great Montrose, powerless now to do him personal harm. To add to the insult, either accidentally or on purpose, the vehicle which carried Montrose was stopped for some time beneath the place where Argyle and his party stood, so that they were able to take a leisurely view of the object of their hate and fear, and it would appear that they took advantage of their fallen foe’s position to indulge in unseemly demonstrations of triumph and insult. For the sake of humanity and the honour of tender-hearted woman, we would fain disbelieve the statement that the Marchioness of Argyle had the effrontery to vent her hatred toward the fallen enemy of her house by spitting upon him. Whatever were the inward workings of Montrose’s soul, he betrayed no symptoms of inquietude, but preserved, during this trying scene, a dignified demeanour which is said to have considerably discomposed his triumphant rival and his friends.

Although the distance from the Water Gate to the prison was only about half a mile, yet so slow had the procession moved, that it was almost seven o’clock in the evening before it reached the prison. When released from the cart Montrose gave the hangman some money for his services in having driven so well his "triumphal chariot," as he jocularly termed the cart. On being lodged in jail, he was immediately visited by a small committee appointed by the parliament, which had held an extraordinary meeting at six o’clock in the evening. Balfour says, that the object of the committee, which consisted of three members and two ministers, was to ask "James Grahame if he had any thing to say, and to show him that he was to repair to the house to receive his sentence." The house remained sitting till the return of the deputation, who reported that Montrose had refused to answer any of the questions put to him till he was informed upon what terms they stood with the king, and whether they had concluded any agreement with him. In consequence of this information, the parliament delayed passing sentence till Monday the 20th of May; and, in the meantime, appointed seven of their members to wait upon the marquis and examine him on some points respecting "Duke Hamilton and others;" and to induce him to answer, the deputation was instructed to inform him, that an agreement had been concluded between the commissioners on the part of the estates and his majesty, who was coming to Scotland. Montrose, however, excused himself from annoyance by stating, that as his journey had been long, and as "the ceremony and compliment they had paid him that day had been somewhat wearisome and tedious," he required repose; in consequence of which the deputation left him.

Montrose meant to have spent the whole of the following day, being Sunday, in devotional exercises suitable to his trying situation; but he was denied this consolation by the incessant intrusions of the ministers and members of parliament, who annoyed him by asking a variety of ensnaring questions, which he having refused to answer, they gave vent to the foulest reproaches against him. These insults, however, had no effect on him, nor did he show the least symptoms of impatience, but carried himself throughout with a firmness which no menaces could shake. When he broke silence at last, he said that "they were much mistaken if they imagined that they had affronted him by carrying him in a vile cart the day before; for he esteemed it the most honourable and cheerful journey he had ever performed in his life; his most merciful God and Redeemer having all the while manifested his presence to him in a most comfortable and inexpressible manner, and supplied him by his divine grace, with resolution and constancy to overlook the reproaches of men, and to behold him alone for whose cause he suffered."

Agreeably to the order of parliament, Montrose was brought up by the magistrates of Edinburgh on Monday at ten o’clock forenoon to receive sentence. As if to give dignity and importance to the cause for which he was about to suffer, and to show how indifferent he was to his own fate, Montrose appeared at the bar of the parliament in a superb dress which he had provided for the purpose, after his arrival in Edinburgh. His smiall clothes consisted of a rich suit of black silk, covered with costly silver lace, over which he wore a scarlet rochet which reached to his knee, and which was trimmed with silver galloons, and lined with crimson taffeta. He also wore silk stockings of a carnation colour, with garters, roses and corresponding ornaments, and a beaver hat having a very rich silver band.

Having ascended "the place of delinquents," a platform on which criminals received sentence, Montrose surveyed the scene before him with his wonted composure, and though his countenance was rather pale, and exhibited other symptoms of care, his firmness never for a moment forsook him. Twice indeed was he observed to heave a sigh and to roll his eyes along the house, during the virulent invectives which the lord-chancellor (London) poured out upon him, but these emotions were only the indications of the warmth of his feelings while suffering under reproaches which he could not resent.

The lord-chancellor, in rising to address Montrose, entered into a long detail of his "rebellions," as he designated the warlike actions of Montrose, who, he said, had invaded his native country with hostile arms, and had called in Irish rebels and foreigners to his assistance. He then reproached Montrose with having broken not only the national covenant, which he had bound himself to support, but also the solemn league and covenant, to which the whole nation had sworn; and he concluded by informing Montrose, that for the many murders, treasons, and impieties of which he had been guilty, God had now brought him to suffer condign punishment. After the chancellor had concluded his harangue, Montrose requested permission to say a few words in his own vindication, which being granted, though not without some difficulty, he proceeded to vindicate his conduct, showing that it was the result of sincere patriotism and devoted loyalty.

"He had," he said, "not spilt any blood, not even that of his most inveterate enemies, but in the field of battle; and that even in the greatest heat of action he had preserved the lives of many thousands; and that as he had first taken up arms at the command of the king, he had laid them down upon his orders, without any regard to his own interest, and had retired beyond the seas.

"With regard to his late invasion, he said, he had undertaken it at the command and by the express orders of the present king, (to whom they all owed duty and allegiance, and for whose long and happy reign he offered his sincere and earnest prayers,) in order to accelerate the treaty which was then begun betwixt him and them—that it was his intention, as soon as the treaty had been concluded, to lay down arms and retire at the call of his majesty; and such being his authority and determination, he might justly affirm, that no subject ever acted upon more honourable grounds, nor by a more lawful power and authority than he had done in the late expedition.

"In conclusion, he called upon the assemblage to lay aside all prejudice, private animosity, and desire of revenge, and to consider him, in relation to the justice of his cause, as a man and a Christian, and an obedient subject, in relation to the commands of his sovereign, which he had faithfully executed. He then put them in mind of the great obligations which many of them were under to him, for having preserved their lives and fortunes at a time when he had the power and authority, had he inclined, of destroying both, and entreated them not to judge him rashly, but according to the laws of God, the laws of nature and nations, and particularly by the laws of the land—that if they should refuse to do so, he would appeal to the just Judge of the world, who would at last judge them all, and pronounce a righteous sentence."

This speech was delivered without affectation or embarrassment, and with such firmness and clearness of intonation, that, according to a cavalier historian, many persons present were afterwards heard to declare, that he looked and spoke as he had been accustomed when at the head of his army. The chancellor replied to Montrose, in a strain of the most furious invective, "punctually proving him," says Balfour, "by his acts of hostility, to be a person most infamous, perjured, treacherous, and of all that this land ever brought forth, the most creuell and inhumane butcher and murtherer of his natione, a sworne enimy to the Covenant and peace of his countrey, and one quhosse boundlesse pryde and ambition had lost the father, and by his wicked counsells done quhat in him lay to distroy the sone lykwayes."

Montrose attempted to address the court a second time, but was rudely interrupted by the chancellor, who ordered him to keep silence, and to kneel down and receive his sentence. The prisoner at once obeyed, but remarked, that on falling on his knees, he meant only to honour the king his master, and not the parliament. While Sir Archibald Johnston, the clerk-register, was reading the sentence, Montrose kept his conntenance erect and displayed his usual firmness. "He behaved all this time in the house with a great deal of courage and modesty, unmoved and undaunted." The execution was fixed for three o’clock the following day.

The feelings of humanity and the voice of religion, now demanded that the unfortunate prisoner should be allowed to spend the short time he had to live, in those solemn preparations for death, enjoined by religion, in privacy and without molestation; but it was his fate to be in the hands of men in whose breasts such feelings were stifled, and whose religion was deeply imbued with a stern and gloomy fanaticism, to which charity was an entire stranger. However, it would be unfair and uncharitable to look upon the conduct of these men as if they had been surrounded with all the advantages of the present enlightened age. We ought to bear in mind their recent escape from the most intolerant of all religions, of whose persecuting principles they had not yet got rid; the hard treatment to which they had been subjected by the late king and his father; and the fact that they really believed they were doing their duty to God and serving the best interests of true religion. It is indeed difficult to be charitable to the uncharitable, tolerant to persecutors.

No sooner had Montrose returned to prison, than he was again assailed by the ministers, who endeavoured to induce him to submit to the kirk, no doubt considering the conversion of such an extraordinary malignant as Montrose, as a theological achievement of the first importance. To subdue his obstinacy, they magnified the power of the keys, which they said had been committed to them, and informed him that unless he reconciled himself to the kirk and obtained a release from the sentence of excommunication which had been pronounced against him, he would be eternally damned. But Montrose, regardless of their threats and denunciations, remained inflexible. Besides the ministers, he was frequently waited upon by the magistrates of the city, with whom he entered into conversation. He told them that he was much indebted to the parliament for the great honour they had decreed him,— that he was prouder to have his head fixed upon the top of the prison, than if they had decreed a golden statue to be erected to him in the market-place, or ordered his portrait to be placed in the king’s bed-chamber,—that so far from grieving for the mutilation which his body was about to undergo, he was happy that the parliament had taken such an effectual method of preserving the memory of his loyalty, by transmitting such proofs of them to the four principal cities of the kingdom, and he only wished that he had flesh enough to have sent a piece to every city in Christendom, as a testimony of his unshaken love and fidelity to his king and country. But annoying as the visits of the ministers and magistrates undoubtedly were, Montrose was still farther doomed to undergo the humiliation of being placed under the more immediate charge of Major Weir, who afterwards obtained an infamous notoriety in the annals of criminal jurisprudence. This incestuous wretch, who laid claim to superior godliness, and who pretended to be gifted with the spirit of prayer, of which he gave proofs by many extemporary effusions, gave Montrose great uneasiness by smoking tobacco, to the smell of which he had, like Charles I., a particular aversion.

During the night, when free from the intrusion of the ministers, Montrose occupied himself in devotional exercises, and even found leisure to gratify his poetic taste, by composing the following lines which he wrote upon the window of the chamber in which he was confined.

Let them bestow on every airth a limb,
Then open all my veins, that I may swim
To thee, my Maker, in that crimson lake,
Then place my parboiled head upon a stake;
Scatter my ashes, strow them in the air.
Lord, since thou knowest where all these atoms are,
I’m hopeful thou’lt recover once my dust,
And confident thou’lt raise me with the just."

On the morning of the 21st of May, 1650, the city of Edinburgh was put into a state of commotion by the noise of drums and trumpets, which was heard in every quarter of the city. The sound attracted the notice of Montrose, who inquired at the captain of the guard the cause of it. The officer told him that the parliament, dreading that an attempt might be made by the mob, under the influence of the malignants, to rescue him, had given orders to call out the soldiers and citizens to arms. "Do I," said the marquis, "who was such a terror to these good men when alive, continue still so formidable to them, now that I am about to die? But let them look to themselves; for even after I am dead, I will be continually present to their wicked consciences, and become more formidable to them than while I was alive."

After partaking of a hearty breakfast, Montrose entered upon the business of the toilet, to which he paid particular attention. While in the act of combing his hair, he was visited by Sir Archibald Johnston, the clerk-register, one of his most inveterate foes, who made some remarks on the impropriety, as he thought, of a person in the dreadful situation of the marquis, occupying some of the precious moments he had yet to live in frivolous attentions to his person. The marquis, who knew well the character of this morose man, thus addressed him with a smile of contempt, "While my head is my own, I will dress and adorn it; but tomorrow, when it becomes yours, you may treat it as you please."

About an hour before the time fixed for his execution, Montrose was waited upon by the magistrates of the city, who saw him conveyed to the scaffold on the same vehicle on which he had been carried into the city. In addition to the dress which he wore on that occasion, he was now habited in a superb scarlet cloak, ornamented with gold and silver lace, which his friends had provided him with. Long before his removal from prison, an immense assemblage of persons had congregated around the place of execution in the High-street, all of whom were deeply affected on Montrose’s appearance. As he proceeded along, he had, says Wishart, "such a grand air, and so much beauty, majesty, and gravity appeared in his countenance, as shocked the whole city at the cruelty that was designed him; and extorted even from his enemies this unwilling confession, that he was a man of the most lofty and elevated soul, and of the most unshaken constancy and resolution that the age had produced."

It had always been the uniform practice in Scotland to permit all persons about to suffer the last penalty of the law to address the assembled spectators, and on mounting the scaffold Montrose was proceeding to avail himself of this privilege; but the magistrates, who probably had received their instructions from the parliament, refused to allow him to harangue the multitude. His friends, however, anticipating this, had hired a young man, skilled in stenography, who, having stationed himself near the scaffold, was enabled to take down the substance of some observations which Montrose was permitted to make in answer to questions put by some persons who surrounded him.

He began by remarking that he would consider it extremely hard indeed if the mode of his death should be esteemed any reflection upon him, or prove offensive to any good Christian, seeing that such occurrences often happened to the good at the hands of the wicked, and often to the wicked at the hands of the good— and that just men sometimes perish in their righteousness, while wicked men prosper in their villanies. That he, therefore, expected that those who knew him well would not esteem him the less for his present sufferings, especially as many greater and more deserving men than he had undergone the same untimely and disgraceful fate. Yet, that he could not but acknowledge that all the judgments of God were just, and that the punishment he was about to suffer was very deservedly inflicted upon him for the many private sins he had committed, and he therefore willingly submitted to it ;—that he freely pardoned his enemies, whom he reckoned but the instruments of the Divine will, and prayed to God to forgive them, although they had oppressed the poor, and perverted judgment and justice.

That he had done nothing contrary to the laws of the kingdom, and that he had undertaken nothing but in obedience to the just commands of his sovereign, when reduced to the greatest difficulties by his rebellious subjects, who had risen up in arms against him— that his principal study had always been to fear God and honour the king, in a manner agreeable to the law of God, the laws of nature, and those of his own country; and that, in neither of these respects, had he transgressed against men, but against God alone, with whom he expected to find abundant mercy, and in the confidence of which, he was ready to aproach the eternal throne without terror—that he could not pretend to foretell what might happen, or to pry into the secrets of Divine Providence; but he prayed to God that the indignities and cruelties which he was that day to suffer might not be a prelude of still greater miseries which would befall his afflicted country, which was fast hastening to ruin.

That with regard to the grievous censure of the church, which he was sorry some good people thought it a crime in him to die under, he observed, that he did not incur it from any fault of his own, but in the performance of his duty to his lawful prince, for the security of religion, and the preservation of his sacred person and royal authority—that the sentence of excommunication, so rashly laid upon him by the clergy, gave him much concern, and that he earnestly desired to be released from it, so far as that could be done, agreeably to the laws of God, and without hurting his conscience or allegiance, which, if they refused, he appealed to God, the righteous judge of the world, who, ere long, was to be his impartial judge and gracious redeemer.

In answer to the reproaches of some persons who had endeavoured to destroy the marquis’s character and reputation by spreading a report that he had laid the whole blame of what he had done upon the king and his royal father, he observed that such a thought had never once entered into his breast—that the late king had lived a saint and died a martyr, and he prayed to God, that as his own fate was not unlike his, so his death might be attended with the same degree of piety and resignation; for if he could wish his soul in another man’s stead, or to be conjoined with it in the same condition after this life, it would be his alone.

He then requested that the people would judge charitably of him and his actions, without prejudice and without passion. He desired the prayers of all good men for his soul; for his part, he said he prayed earnestly for them all; and with the greatest seriousness, submission and humility, deprecated the vengeance of Almighty God, which had been so long awakened, and which was still impending over his afflicted country—that his enemies were at liberty to exult and triumph over the perishing remains of his body, but the utmost indignities they could inflict should never prevail on him, now at his death, to swerve from that duty and reverence to God, and obedience and respect to the king, which he had manifested all his life long. "I can say no more," concluded the marquis, "but remit myself to your charity, and I desire your prayers. You that are scandalized at me, give me your charity; I shall pray for you all. I leave my soul to God, my service to my prince, my goodwill to my friends, and my name in charity to you all. I might say more, but I have exonered my conscience; the rest I leave to God’s mercy."

A party of ministers who occupied the lower end of the scaffold now attempted, partly by persuasion and partly by threats, to induce Montrose to yield to the kirk by acknowledging his own criminality; but he denied that he had acted contrary to religion and the laws of the land, and, of course, refused to accept of a reconciliation upon such terms. Finding him inflexible, they refused to pray for him as he desired, observing, that no prayers could be of any avail to a man who was an outcast from the church of God. Being desired to pray by himself apart, he told them that if they would not permit the people to join with him, his prayers alone and separately before so large an assembly would perhaps be offensive both to them and him—that he had already poured out his soul before God, who knew his heart, and to whom he had committed his spirit. He then shut his eyes, and holding his hat before his face with his left hand, he raised his right in the attitude of prayer, in which posture he continued about a quarter of an hour in silent and fervent prayer.

As the fatal hour was fast approaching when this unfortunate nobleman was to bid a last adieu to sublunary things, he desired the executioner to hasten his preparations. This gloomy functionary, accordingly, brought the book of Montrose’s wars, and his late declaration, which, by the sentence, were ordered to be tied round his neck with a cord. Montrose himself assisted in carrying this part of his sentence into execution, and while the operation was performing, good-humouredly remarked, that he considered himself as much honoured then by having such tokens of his loyalty attached to his person as he had been when his majesty had invested him with the order of the garter.

Hitherto, Montrose had remained uncovered; but, before ascending the ladder that conducted to the top of the gibbet, which rose to the height of thirty feet from the centre of the scaffold, he requested permission to put on his hat. This request was, however, refused. He then asked leave to keep on his cloak; but this favour was also denied him. Irritated, probably at these refusals, he appears for a moment to have lost his usual equanimity of temper, and when orders were given to pinion his arms, he told the magistrates that if they could invent any further marks of ignominy, he was ready to endure them all for the sake of the cause for which he suffered.

On arriving at the top of the ladder, which he ascended with astonishing firmness, Montrose asked the executioner how long his body was to be suspended to the gibbet. "Three hours," was the answer. He then presented the executioner with three or four pieces of gold, told him he freely forgave him for the part he acted, and instructed him to throw him off as soon as he observed him uplifting his hands. The executioner watched the fatal signal, and on the noble victim raising his hands, obeyed the mandate, and, it is said, burst into tears. A feeling of horror seized the assembled multitude, who expressed their disapprobation by a general groan. Among the spectators were many persons who had indulged during the day in bitter invectives against Montrose, but whose feelings were so overpowered by the sad spectacle of his death that they could not refrain from tears. Even the relentless Argyle, who had good feeling enough to absent himself from the execution, is said to have shed tears on hearing of Montrose’s death, but if a cavalier writer is to be believed, his son, Lord Lorne, disgraced himself by the most unfeeling barbarity.

Thus died, at the early age of thirty-eight, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, who had acquired during a short career of military glory greater reputation than perhaps ever fell to the lot of any commander within the same compass of time. That partisans may have exaggerated his actions, and extolled his character too highly, may be fairly admitted; hut it cannot be denied that Montrose was really a great commander, and that there were noble and generous traits about him which indicated a high and cultivated mind, in many respects far superior to the age in which he lived. But however much the military exploits of Montrose may be admired, it must never be forgotten that his sword was drawn against his own countrymen in their struggles against arbitrary power, and that although there was much to condemn in the conduct of the Covenanters, subsequent events, in the reign of the second Charles and James, showed that they were not mistaken in the dread which they entertained of the extinction of their religious liberties, had Charles I. succeeded in his designs.

[The dismembered portions of Montrose’s body were disposed of in terms of the sentence. Lady Napier, the wife of Montrose’s esteemed friend and relation, being desirous of procuring his heart, employed some adventurous persons to obtain it for her. They accomplished this object on the second day after the execution, and were handsomely rewarded by her ladyship. The heart was embalmed by a surgeon, and after being enshrined in a rich gold urn, was sent by her to the eldest son of the marquis, then in Flanders. The family of Napier possess a portrait of Lady Napier, in which there is a representation of the urn.—Kirkton’s historyof the Church of Scotland, note, p. 125; edited by the late C. K Sharpe, Esq.

After the restoration, the trunk was disinterred, and the other remains collected, and on 11th May, 1661, were deposited with great solemnity by order of Charles II., in the family aisle in St. Giles’ church. The remains of Sir Francis Hay of Dalgetty were honoured with a similar mark of respect on the same day. For an account of the ceremonial, see Nos. 27 and 28 of the Appendix to Wishart’s Memoirs.]

Among Montrose’s officers five of the most distinguished were selected for execution, all of whom perished under ‘the Maiden,’ a species of guillotine, introduced into Scotland by the Regent Norton, to which he himself became the first victim. The officers who suffered were Sir John Hurry, Captain Spottiswood, younger of Dairsie, Sir Francis Hay of Dalgetty, Colonel William Sibbald, and Captain Charters, a cadet of the ancient family of Amisfield. All these met death with extraordinary fortitude. Sir Francis Hay, who was a Catholic, "and therefore," as a cavalier historian quaintly observes, "not coming within the compass of the ministers’ prayers," displayed in particular an intrepidity worthy of his name and family. After a witty metaphorical allusion to "the Maiden," he kissed the fatal instrument, and kneeling down, laid his head upon the block. Colonel Sibbald exhibited a surprising gaiety, and, "with an undaunted behaviour, marched up to the block, as if he had been to act the part of a gallant in a play." An instance of the unfeeling levity with which such melancholy scenes were witnessed, even by those who considered themselves the ministers of the gospel, occurred on the present as on former occasions. Captain Spottiswood, grandson of the archbishop of that name, having on his knees said the following prayer :—" O Lord, who hath been graciously pleased to bring me through the wilderness of this world, I trust at this time you will waft me over this sea of blood to my heavenly Canaan ;" was rebuked by a minister who was near him in the following words "Take tent (heed), take tent, sir, that you drown not by the gate !" (way). Spottiswood replied with great modesty that "he hoped he was no Egyptian," an answer which forced the base intruder to retire among the crowd to conceal his shame.

The execution of Captain Charteris (the last who suffered) was a source of melancholy regret to his friends, and of triumph to the ministers. He was a man of determined mind; but his health being much impaired by wounds which he had received, he had not firmness to resist the importunities of his friends, who, as a means of saving his life, as they thought, prevailed upon him to agree to make a public declaration of his errors. This unhappy man, accordingly, when on the scaffold, read a long speech, which had been prepared for him by the ministers, penned in a peculiarly mournful strain, in which he lamented his apostacy from the Covenant, and acknowledged "other things which he had vented to them (the ministers) in auricular confearinn." Yet, notwithstanding the expectations which he and his friends were led to entertain that his life would be spared, he had no sooner finished his speech than he was despatched.


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