No period of Scottish
history stands out more clear than that which owes its character to the
indomitable resolution of those men of the West Country who were
determined that neither concession nor repression should turn them aside
from their allegiance to Presbyterianism. The dramatic incidents in
their long struggle with the forces of Episcopacy—Loudon Hill, the
murder of Sharp, Drumclog, Bothwell Bridge—are confined to the period,
1669-1679, during which Lauderdale was at the head of the administration
of the country. His rule was marked by a long series of measures of
coercion adopted against the religious recusants of the West, but no
incident in that history of maladministration produced such bitterness
of feeling and stern determination to resist the government as the
bringing down of the clans to live at free quarter upon the Covenanting
The descent of the
Highland Host marks the turning point in the struggle. Lauderdale had
now asserted that the situation was one demanding armed intervention if
uniformity of worship in Scotland were to be secured. This culminating
act of oppression, on the other hand, so changed the temper of the Whigs
that they determined no longer to resist merely passively. The real
effect of the Highland Host, therefore, was to render subsequent events
The materials for this
account of the Host and its conduct in the West have been found in the
University Library, Aberdeen; the Register House and Advocates'
Library, Edinburgh; and the Record Office, London. I had completed my
work upon the original manuscripts dealing with the Host in the Register
House, before the publication of the volume of the Register of the Privy
Council in which they are contained, but have given in reference to the
various facts, the printed page of the Register, as being more
I take this opportunity
of thanking all who have helped me, particularly Mr. P. J. Anderson and
his assistants in the University Library, Aberdeen; Mr. W. V. Dickson, LL.D., of the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh; and the officials in the
Register House and the Record Office. I would also acknowledge my
indebtedness to those gentlemen who answered queries on my behalf sent
them by the late Mr. F. MacPherson, Schoolmaster, Tarbolton, who proved
an enthusiastic and willing worker.
To Professor Terry,
Aberdeen University, my deepest thanks are due. It was he who, at the
outset, suggested the subject to me as a suitable one for research. With
rare generosity, he placed his great knowledge of authorities at my
disposal and throughout helped me in every possible way.
Finally, I express my
obligation to the Carnegie Trustees, whose generous grant has rendered
possible the publication of this book.
JOHN R. ELDER.
ABERDEEN, December, 1913.