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The Lairds of Glenlyon: Historical Sketches
Chapter 4


ARCHIBALD, the eldest son of Donnachadh RuadJi, married, in 1631, Jean, the daughter of Robert Campbell of Glenfalloch, who, on the death of his elder brother, Sir Colin, became Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy. He was the second son of Black Duncan, and the grandfather of the first Earl of Breadalbane, called by the country people, "Jain Glas"—that is, "Pale John." Archibald's eldest son, Robert, the commander at Glencoc, was born in 1632. The family estate, much burdened by the imprudent extravagance of Duncan, was relieved of almost all the claims upon it, in a few years, by the fostering care of Archibald, to whom the father had given up the entire management in his own lifetime. But Archibald was not destined to reap the benefit of his wisdom, or realise his plans of ambition and family aggrandisement. He died suddenly about 1640, a few years before his father. The aged Duncan reappeared upon the stage, and his first act was characteristic of the man: it was granting a bond for ioco merks to Patrick Campbell of Murlaganbeg, who married his daughter Grace or Girsell.

Between 1640 and 1654, when Robert Campbell attained his majority, Glenlyon was under a tutor and a minor. The Lady Glenlyon, as she was called, sedulously kept free from taking any part in the civil war of that troubled epoch. Her tenants, however, following their own inclination, and the known sentiments of their dead chieftain, joined the standard of Montrose under Patrick Roy M'Gregor, the chief of his clan, and the Lady of Glenlyon's second husband. Montrose showed his gratitude to the Glenlyon men, by sparing their lands and houses, when, on his march to Argyle, he mercilessly laid waste Breadalbane and other possessions of Campbell of Glenorchy. In 1655, when Robert was 23 years of age, Cromwell had Scotland prostrated by the victories of Dunbar and Worcester; Ireland paralysed by the butcheries of Tredah and Wexford—her very pulse of life repressed by the inflexible severity of Ireton, and the pushing energy of Ludlow ; England beginning to enjoy the sweets of peace, and content to let her magnanimous Protector dissolve the phantom Parliament, and sternly inculcate lessons of toleration on jarring sects. Her naval strength broken, Holland now sued for peace; Blake scoured the Mediterranean, threatened the Pope, humbled the Duke of Tuscany, and made his name a terror to the dusky warriors of Tunis and Algiers. The daring usurper, secure at home, admired abroad, could at the same time, and with equal ease, exact the obsequiousnss of Mazarin, browbeat the court of France, execute the brother of the Portuguese ambassador on Towerhill, hold out the hand of friendship to Protestant Sweden, and aim a death-blow at the haughtiness of Spain. The hapless heir of loyalty, an outcast from his country, his services refused by the Dutch, disowned and banished by the court of France, lavishing on sensual and degrading debaucheries the sums doled out to the princely beggar by royal hands, seemed by his very vices to have taken a bond of fate, for shutting him out for ever from succeeding to the British throne. Still, through his exile and follies, the national eye of Scotland followed with fond desire the heir of her hundred kings. The Covenanters and Highlanders met at last on common ground : these hoping, on the exaltation of Charles, to expiate the affront offered to the whole Celtic race by the expulsion of the Stuarts ; those hoping, under a Prince who had signed the Covenant, to recover their lost theological supremacy and independence— both trusting to retrieve the honour of their country, and recover the martial wreath lost at Worcester and Dunbar. During Cromwell's domination, the spirit of loyalty among the Campbells themselves attained such strength as to quench personal feuds and enmities of long standing. The first thing in which we find the name of Robert Campbell is a precept of Clare Constat, from Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy to Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, dated 20th July, 1655. The son of Black Duncan with the Cowland the grandson of M'Cailein became fast friends in their eagerness to serve their Prince. Monk, who appears to have been well aware of the intrigues among the clans, prudently provided against any opportunity of an outbreak, and with such success as to be able, whenever he pleased, down to the end of the Protectorate, to date his despatches from the Castle of Fin-larig; but as he passively connived at loyal movements, if he not actually fostered them, it seems highly probable he wished the spirit to spread, and the knowledge that such materials for a royal army existed in Scotland certainly influenced his conduct on the death of Oliver.

Perhaps it was unfortunate for the laird of Glenlyon that war did not break out; as it was, young and comparatively rich, he plunged headlong into the pleasures of the Restoration, and soon reduced himself to difficulties from which an age of repentance could not extricate him. Before the establishment of banks, almost all monetary exchange was carried on through heritable and personal bonds. A wanted money; he applied to B, who lent him a bond upon D sufficient to pay the debt, for which A granted to B his own bond, redeemable at a certain date, and burdened with a penalty in case of failure. In this case, say that B represents the bank, and the bond upon D bank-notes, which are in effect bonds payable on demand. Now, as there is considerable risk, A's bond must not only cover the sum advanced, with the usual adrent and penalty, but also a further sum to indemnify B for the risk he runs in surrendering to A the bond upon D, or his bank-notes, in exchange for A's bond. A is a landed proprietor; he grants in course of time to B, and others, several similar bonds. B quarrels with A, and buys up all the bonds granted by the latter to others; the amount of these, and of those he himself holds, he claims from A. A is well aware that his lands are worth ten times the sum, but as he cannot realise the money, and letters of horning and caption are out against him at B's instance, he is obliged to wadset his lands to the latter, reserving the power of redemption for a certain number of years. At the end of that time, A cannot pay, and B becomes the permanent lord of the manor. The extreme facility in granting, and the always increasing difficulties in reclaiming, ruined probably more of the British nobility and gentry in the reign of Charles II. than the whole number the sword had cut off of their class in England during the bloody war of the Roses.

Robert, about 1670, married Helen Lindsay, and put the copestone on his imprudent extravagance by commencing extensive alterations and repairs on his castle of Meggernie, originally built by his great-grandfather, Cailean Gorach. The repairs were finished in 1673, and at the same time his credit was exhausted. His unreclaimed bonds were many, and the holders clamorous for payment. The machinery of the law was set in motion against him, and we find in that year "Our Sovereign Lord " ordaining a letter to be made under his Majesty's privy seal of a signature of the estate and liferent of Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, in favour of Patrick Stewart of Ballaguhine. A compromise was, however, entered into. The splendid fir forests of Glenlyon were sold to a company of merchants, at the head of which was a certain Captain John Crawford. This relieved Robert of the more pressing claims. Yet it was with grief and indignation he saw his woods, the relics of the great Caledonian forest, destroyed by the stranger; and he was glad when Crawford had trespassed on the jointure lands of his mother, to have a chance to stop him in name of the law, as follows:—"At Milton of Glenlyon, the twenty-eight day of Jully, jm.vic. and seventy-seven years—which day, in presence of me, notary public, and witnesses underwritten, compeared personally Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, as factor for Jean Campbell, Lady Glenlyon elder, his mother, and having in his hands ane factory made and granted by her to him for acting and doing for her in everything, &c.; and anent her hurts and prejudices done to her by Captain John Crawford, by cutting and destroying the ground, cornes, and grass pertaining to her, as part of her jointure out of the lands of Glenlyon, and damming and stopping the water of Lyon, and the fishing thereof, and also in sending down by the

said water the timber of two thousand of great fir planks in one bulk, which dammed the whole water in several places thereof, and hindered the whole fishing of the said river for the space of last year. Wherefore the said Robert Campbell, day and date thereof, said place where the said Captain John Crawford and said workmen are now working at said work, made civil interruption, and desired them- and the rest of their company to desist and cease: * * * And in like manner protested against the said Captain John Crawford, for cutting of the said woods and laying the same in great heaps, and keeping a great fire thereat, and burning of the same in manifest contempt and prejudice, &c. And in like manner forbad these things now done on Druim-an-lochane, in Milton of Eonan in Glenlyon, between three and four hours in the afternoon. * * * " The mention of the great fires kept in the woods will explain to the Glenlyon men why the stocks of fir, which they disentomb from the moss for their winter light, are mostly all charred, and, as the date is known, it affords an excellent mark for determining the growth of the moss itself. The "civil interruption" of the legal instrument was not quick enough in its operation to please the Glenlyon people. The dam was broken, and the sawmill set on fire one fine summer evening, and I have heard in boyhood a song in which it was commemorated:—"Mar loisg iad na daimh chrochdach air bord a mhuilinn shabhaidh"—i.e., "How they burned the wide-horned oxen on the boards of Crawford's sawmill;" it being oxen that he used, instead of horses, for dragging the wood. Crawford had made himself extremely unpopular. His sawmill was erected at first on the same stream with Eonan's mill; and, as the water was not sufficient to keep the two going together, many an unlucky wight had long to wait Crawford's high behest before his corn could be ground. It happened once that an honest man had so wasted the whole day, and still there was no appearance of the sawmill being stopped. Meantime, two or three of the neighbours dropped in to have a crack ; the mill, the smithy, and the kirk being then, as afterwards, the places for the exchange of news. As they entered into conversation, the man who wanted his corn ground, addressing one of the new-comers—who was believed to have the gift of the evil eye—said: "Well, Callum, I'll give you something, if you go up to Crawford's mill and praise it." Callum did go, and, looking at the saw, praised it very much. Crawford, well pleased, was at pains to show him how the wheels worked. Unhappy man ! under the blasting influence of the evil eye, the machinery got entangled, the saw-wheel broke, and a splinter, striking a workman in the face, deprived him of an eye! It is needless to add, Crawford's mill came to a dead stand, and the countryman got his meal made—thanks to the potent influence of the Beum-sul.

I have mentioned above how the families of Glenorchy and Glenlyon were reconciled.' The good old Sir Robert appears to have purchased his grandson's goodwill partly by granting him a leasehold tack of some of his lands in Lome. We find Sir Robert's successor, Sir John, in 1662, recovering these lands on payment of a certain sum of money to Glenlyon, whose expenses were already exceeding his income. We have shown how a man could be ruined by the bond system of exchange. Now, it is evident in the case of a mian of tact, cunning, and prudence, the converse was just as easy and certain. Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy, inheriting the talents and intriguing spirit of his ancestor, Sir Duncan, rather than the quiet, friendly disposition of his father and grandfather—and having, as described by Mackay, "the gravity of a Spaniard, the cunning of a fox, the wisdom of a serpent, and the slipperiness of an eel"— was for the last 40 years of his life perhaps the most important character of the north. Courted for his influence and ability, he cheated James and William in turns, executed his own projects under the mask of their authority, and veiled treachery and treason with such cleverness as always to evade punishment, often suspicion; he was the Fouche of the Highlands. Buying up a great many bonds granted by George Sinclair, 6th Earl of Caithness, whose widow he afterwards married as his second wife, he served himself that nobleman's chief creditor, and obtained a disposition from him of his whole estate and earldom, with the hereditary jurisdiction and titles. When the Earl died in 1676, Sir John's claim was acknowledged by Government, and he was created—by patent, dated 28th June, 1677—Earl of Caithness. The next heir male of the house of Caithness—George Sinclair of Keiss—contested his claim, and the Caithness men refused to pay rent to Sir John, or acknowledge him as Earl. In 1677 or 1678, Sir John, now Earl of Caithness, granted to Robert Campbell a bond for 5000 pounds (Scots of course); and in the year 1680, Glenlyon, at the head of the Breadalbane and Glenlyon men, entered Caithness in hostile array to reduce the refractory Sinclairs to obedience. The raid is named Ruaig Ghallu —the rout of Caithness. Gallu is still the name given by the Highlanders to Caithness, on account of its having been possessed by the Scandinavians, a remarkable instance of the use that could be made of the names of places in the study of ethnology. The Sinclairs, it appears, expected the invasion, and were fully prepared to meet it. In such force did they muster, that Glenlyon and his friends did not deem an immediate trial of strength advisable. The Campbells began a sham retreat, the Caithness men following in full pursuit, till the foe retired from their bounds. The Sinclairs then halted at a village on the confines of the earldom, and made a happy night of it, drinking generous mountain dew to excess in honour of their success, and to the confusion o enemies—the very thing the wily Campbell wanted. In the early morning, he surprised the disorderly mob, killed a great number, utterly routed the remainder, pushed on without intermission, and drove off the unguarded creach without further let or hindrance. The women and children—the only persons left at home—were fearfully roused from their morning slumbers by the exulting strains of Glenlyon's piper, who, to give greater eclat to the affair, improvised for the occasion the pibroch called "Bodaich nam Briogan"i.e., Carles in Trousers; the latter being the lower habiliments of the Caithness men, in contradistinction to the kilts of the Gael. In the following version of some of the Glenlyon words to this pibroch, I have attempted nothing like a literal translation, but I trust something of the spirit is preserved, so as to give the reader ignorant of Gaelic some idea of the jubilant strain of triumph in the original:—

BODAICH NAM BRIOGAN, OR BREADALBANE'S MARCH.

Women of the lonely glen,
Are ye sleeping, sleeping then?
When Glenlyon's hostile lance
Routs in hundreds all at once.
Bodaich nam Briogan, early?
And broken host and dastard flight,
The field, where grim Death sits bedight,
Confess to our prowess fairly?

Dream'st yet of safety, sleeping dame?
Hear, then, to my pibroch's echoing swell:
It tells the sgeul, and tells it well,
Of slaughtered men And forayed glen,
The victor's joy and your country's shame:
Who is first in the chase will find the game.
Rise, widowed dame! The breezes fan
The Campbells' broad banners early!

The victors quartered themselves for some time among the vanquished. They brought home the spoils without mishap; and in addition to the cattle, as the Highlanders express it, they brought "Or Ghalln git bord Bhealaich" —"the gold of Caithness to the table of Balloch" (or Taymouth). In 1681, the king put an end to the feud, by making Sinclair Earl of Caithness, and granting Sir John a new patent of nobility, dated 13th August, 1681, creating him Earl of Breadalbane and Holland, with the precedency of the former patent.


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