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The Lairds of Glenlyon: Historical Sketches
Chapter 29


THE Black Colonel, before his death, entailed the estate. He also by a deed, dated 4th April, 1781 appointed his brother and heir Dr. David Campbell, his nephew Hemy Balneaves of Edradour, his cousin David Smyth of Methven, John Campbell of Achalader, John Campbell, younger of Achalader, William Campbell of Duneaves, and John Campbell Writer to the Signet, son of "John Campbell of the Bank," whom the Highlanders distinguished from the father by calling him "Iain Oig a Bhainc"—his disposers in trust, for investing his money in the purchase of property, adjacent to or conveniently near his entailed estate. Old John Campbell of Achalader, for fifty years or more chamberlain of Breadalbane, died before himself; and soon after the colonel's death, William Campbell sold the estate of Duneaves, which had been in his family for four generations, to Mr. Alexander Menzies, one of the principal clerks of the court of Session, who afterwards bought the estate of Chesthill.

When Dr. David, whom the people of his native district called an Doctair Mor, or the Big Doctor, came home from Jamaica, he found his nephew, Captain Archibald Balneaves, acting as factor for the trustees; but he immediately took the local management of affairs into his own hands, and appointed Iain Oig a Bhainc his Edinburgh man of business. Mr. Archibald Campbell of Easdale continued, for many years, to uplift the interest on the captain's money, laid out on heritable security, in Argyleshire. Dr. David did not care so much as his two brothers had cared about recovering the " ancient inheritance," either in whole or in part. Instead of losing his Gaelic during his thirty years' residence in Jamaica, he came back a far better Gaelic scholar than he was when he left. All Gaelic books published in the interval had been sent out to him, as well as all the new medical works of the same period, and he had keenly studied both. But he did not believe, like his brothers, in Macpherson's Ossian, although he believed in Ossian. I am not sure whether or not the judicial sale of the Chesthill estate had taken place before his arrival: but it appears that in 1785, soon after his return, Mr. Alexander Menzies would have resold it to him, had he wished to purchase. In matters which had been fixed by the colonel's trust he allowed the dead hand to rule; but as far as he was left free he did not bother himself about purchasing land. He was almost as temperate—and it was a hard drinking age—as his brother the colonel, but he made up for that by being a great smoker, and a social, hospitable, old gentleman. True enough, he was rather a puzzle to the neighbouring lairds, for he was a keen student of natural . history and physical science—then in its infancy—and had resources of enjoyment within himself to which most of them were strangers. He became the unpaid doctor of the poor—and in cases of an exceptional difficulty, of the rich— over a large district. He was much interested in farming improvements and stock-breeding; but his farm manager and shepherd maintained that on these subjects he had more theories than true knowledge. He was not ambitious of playing a prominent part in parish or county business On the contrary, he declined, with thanks, the offer of the Duke of Athole to appoint him a Deputy-Lieutenant, until, in 1794, affairs grew so serious at home and abroad, that as a good patriot he could no longer refuse. "John of the Star," the old Earl of Breadalbane, was dead, before he came back from Jamaica ; and his own near relation, John of Carwhin, grandson of his aunt, Janet of Glenlyon, reigned at Taymouth. It was well for the young man that he had' close at hand, such a wise adviser and hearty friend as the Big Doctor. It was well also for the Breadalbane tenantry and they knew it too. Under the Big Doctor's tuition and moulding influence, John, the 4th Earl and first Marquis of Breadalbane, became the kindest and best beloved landlord his wide domains ever knew. His only error—and it was a well meaning and kindly one—was that he divided many farms—which were not large enough to bear sub-division without leading to overpopulation and pauperism—in order to give rooms to men who served in his Fencible Regiments.

The Big Doctor advocated emigration against the spirit of the time among men of his class; but he wanted also to keep the glens, dales, and straths at home as fully peopled as they could bear. He foresaw and rather dreaded the growth of towns. He was ready to argue on all questions, except party politics for which he had no liking. He came back from Jamaica in excellent health and spirits, and for many years enjoyed the Highland winters instead of suffering from them. It was one of his peculiarities that out of doors he always wore a cloak reaching nearly to his heels—a light one in summer, and a heavy "clo" or felted one in winter. Between gratis doctoring, reading books, botanising, carrying on a big correspondence with the Chief Justice of Jamaica—Mr. Grant of Kilgraston—as well as with other friends in that island, superintending his farm and estate, and discussing with the philosophers and politicians he met at Taymouth, time did not hang heavy on his hands. He was a most popular and beloved landlord; but all his tenants knew that while he let them have their holdings on easy terms, they must all punctually pay their rents in money, butter, straw, flax, eggs, and poultry, as agreed upon; or else be well reprimanded. It was considered a heinous crime to give the Big Doctor a real cause of offence, or to fail in duty towards him; although, as far as a bit of chaffing scolding from him was concerned, they rather courted than evaded that.

Dr. David had not made much money in Jamaica; for all he brought back with him of his own saving scarcely exceeded £2,000. Miss Kitty used to tease him about his want of success; but he encouraged his sisters to tease him as much as they liked. Soon after his return—his shepherd lad when an old man told me the story—a young M'Gregor who was about to emigrate to the West Indies, called on him to bid farewell, and receive some letters of introduction. m This emigrating young man was the son of Gregor the Handsome—Griogair Boidheach—a once celebrated soldier of the Black Watch. He was, therefore, either the uncle or father—I think the father—of Sir Gregor who married Bolivar's sister and, in George the Fourth's reign, figured in London as Prince of Poyais. "What makes you," asked Miss Kitty, of M'Gregor, "wish to leave your native land?" "I wish," he replied, "to go to make my fortune." "And do you think," said she, "that any one who goes to the West Indies can make a fortune if he tries his best?" "Yes, indeed," replied the confident fortune-seeker. The conversation was in Gaelic, and at this part of it Miss Kitty laughingly pointed to her brother and said: "Mo thruaighe 'n duine bochd so, mata. Bha e deich bliadhna fichead an Jamaica, s cha d'rinn e moran beartais."—"Pity this poor man here, then; for he was thirty years in Jamaica and made little profit of it." The unruffled Laird laughed back and said: "Mar d'rinn mi beartas an Jamaica, fhuair mi taigh Ian dar thainig mi dhachaigh. Agus is e comhnadh dhaoin eile, agus gu'm bu docha learn ceartas is onoir na beartas agus or, a chum cho bochd mi."—"If I made no wealth in Jamaica, I found a full house on coming home. And it was helping others, and that I preferred justice and honour to wealth and gold which kept me so poor."

The Black Colonel, by lending the minister of Fortingall ;£iio for his son's education, opened for Sir David Macara the door of his noble career. He aided others as well as his clachan favourite by money and influence. Dr. David followed the same plan of aiding those who had talent, once they got a start, for aiding themselves, and reflecting credit on their friends. Young men in search of their fortunes from his father's estate and native parish began to follow him to Jamaica soon after he established himself there. He became, in course of time, a sort of Gaelic chief surrounded by a following of his own in that island. He gave his help and advice to many more who emigrated to the West Indies after his return ; and in truth, a connection of rather a close kind between Jamaica and Fortingall continued fifty years after his death, and has scarcely terminated yet. Although not at all so much influenced by Highland sentiments as the colonel and captain were in their day, a good deal of clannishness stuck to the Big Doctor to the end. He looked upon the then landless William Campbell of Duneaves, and not upon his own sisters' son, as, after himself, the true representative of the Campbells of Glenlyon; and it was supposed that, had not the colonel's entail interfered, he would have preferred to leave the property to this Campbell male heir, so as to keep up the old name. Be that as it may, he helped with might and main the brothers Archibald and Duncan, sons of Captain Campbell, at one time factor for the commissioners for the forfeited estates on the Struan property in Rannoch, to get proper education and afterwards commissions in the army. The father of these lads was the son of Duncan Campbell, tenant of Milton Eonan, who was a younger son of John Campbell of Duneaves. Archibald, the elder of the two, •became a general in the army, the conqueror of Ava, and a baronet of the united kingdom. He bought the Garth estate from General Stewart's heirs, but he subsequently resold it. Duncan, who was paymaster of his regiment, retired with the rank of captain, and died unmarried at Perth. The trial of Meria and others at Edinburgh in 1793, for spreading the works of Tom Paine, and organising sedition, and the vapourings of the Convention of the Friends of the People, which was held in the Scottish capital that year, as well as the atrocities which were being perpetrated in France, and the ill success with which the allies carried on the war, produced so much alarm and anger, too, throughout these islands, that peaceful men like the Laird of Glenlyon left their avocations and seclusions to serve their country in one way or another. The Laird, in 1794, accepted the office of Deputy-Lieutenant, which he formerly declined. Here is one of his letters to the Duke of Athole reporting defensive progress:—

"My Lord,

Your Lordship will please receive, herewith, lists of the subscribers in the several districts of the parish of Kenmore, and detached parts of the parishes of Dull and Weem, being within the division allotted for me as one of your Grace's Deputy-Lieutenants ; amounting to 126 well-affected men. From these I have selected, as per separate list, 30 men, who, in my opinion, are proper men to be appointed as extraordinary peace-officers, and to have batons. Your Grace will, perhaps, think these too many. In that event the number may be reduced to 17 only. But considering the local situation of the districts, their extent and distances from each other, I think there can be no less than two extraordinary peace-officers in every district, except Roro. The districts in which three are stated are as large and populous as two of the others, and there are in each sufficient men to attend as assistants or ordinary constables, if it shall happen that they shall be called to attend on any occasion ; which, indeed, the establishment of such a system is calculated to render more improbable. From my own knowledge of the inhabitants, I have no doubt of their loyalty to the king and constitution. There are few families, over all the country, who have not either sons or grandsons in Lord Breadal-bane's Fencibles and other corps; and on that account, and otherwise, they are all well-affected to King and Government, and avowed enemies to the French. I have kept a list of the subscribers, and when your Grace will say and fix as to the number of extraordinary peace-officers, I shall name and appoint their assistants, and authorise the peace-officers to call them out, if necessary. But I am not, in the least, apprehensive of any trouble, as we have no seditious or disaffected people amongst us.

"There are held at the village of Killin six public fairs yearly, and as many in the village of Kenmore. These fairs are guarded, at Lord Breadalbane's expense, by twenty-four well-affected men, and an officer in each place, who, with halberts, patrol twice every fair day to keep peace and good order, &c. These we can call to our assistance if any riots or tumults should occur ; but I am not apprehensive of any such happening.

"Your Grace's further commands shall be duly attended to. And I am, with great respect and esteem,

"My Lord,

"Your Grace's Most Obedient and Most Humble Servant,

"DAVID CAMPBELL.

"Glenlyon House, 9th Oct., 1794."

Although the Highlanders of Perthshire were avowed enemies to the French, and loyal to the king and constitution, they intensely disliked military conscription, while ready enough to volunteer into army, militia, and fencibles to any extent. I am not very sure as to the year in which the Session Books Riot occurred at Fortingall; but I think it must have been in 1793, when the supplementary militia was first raised. If that was the date, the Doctair Mor had a special cause for emphatically testifying to the loyalty of the people of his district, and to vouch for it that there was no cause for fearing further riots. The Session Books Riot was almost exclusively a foolish ebullition of enraged alarm on the part of ignorant mothers who feared all their sons . would be taken from them, and thought they could save them by destroying the books in which their ages were recorded. Peter Macnaughton, better known as Para Muileir, was almost the only Glenlyon man who joined in the affair. He brought with him down to Fortingall a score of angry women. A dozen of old men came from Rannoch at the head of a large company of women; and a detachment of Bolfracks rioters, mostly women also, joined the other two bodies. The object was simply to go to Thomas Butter, the schoolmaster and session clerk, and take the books from him. The Fortingall people themselves had no hand in the affair. Mr. William Stewart, younger, of Garth, having received an hour's warning of what was coming, hastened to Fortingall, got the books from Butten and went off with them to Glenlyon House. The rioters were close on his heels. Butter told them he had given up the books to the magistrates, and that they were then at Glenlyon House. "And what right have the magistrates to the kirk books, and what right had you to give them up?" shouted the rioters. Then others cried out—"He must come with us and demand them back." That proposal was received with acclaim. Butter, who was lame, said he could not go unless he got a horse. Unfortunately for him, the rioters finding a cabar which suited their purpose, made him ride the stang, saying jeeringly, "What a good horse—what a prancing steed? Take care he does not throw you over Alt-Odhair Bridge." The poor man was nearly frightened to death, and keeping him still on his cabar, they made him, when they reached Glenlyon House, ask re-delivery of his books, and he did ask it for mercy's sake before they would kill him. The rioters would not listen to reason, and Mr. William of Garth# holding up the books in his hands, before them all, dared them to take them. A virago from Rannoch immediately threw a plaid over his head, and the books disappeared— the one to be found damaged by weather in a bush in the glebe some months afterwards, and the other never to be recovered. Of course the many women and few men who took part in this riot were thoroughly ashamed of themselves, as soon as they understood that militia lists could be made up without the parish registers.

Up to the end of 1800, the old Laird, thanks to his vigorous constitution and healthy habits, wonderfully resisted the ravages of time, and actively attended to his public and private duties. The hard winter of 1804 told upon him severely. It killed his sister, Miss Kitty, Miss Mary being dead long before. Miss Kitty, as long as she lived, never allowed her brother to mope from want of mental exercise and the use of his tongue. After her death his life and house were not so cheerful as they used to be. He gave up his active life by degrees, feeling stiff and weakened in body, but strong and clear in mind almost to the last.

He died in 1806, at the advanced age of 85.

As the old Laird outlived his Balneaves nephews, who left no legitimate issue, his grandnephew, Francis Garden, son of Peter Garden of Delgaty—afterwards of Troup— and of his niece, Catherine Balneaves, became his heir. Francis Garden, who, on succeeding his granduncle, assumed the additional surname and arms of Campbell, was succeeded by his son Francis, who died in 1826. This second Francis was succeeded by a son of the same name, who died in 1848. He was succeeded by his only son the fourth Francis Garden Campbell of Troup and Glenlyon, who sold his Glenlyon property to Sir Donald Currie in 1885.


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