Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Memoirs of the Jacobites
Sir John MacLean


The name Maclean, abbreviated from Mac Gillean, is derived from the founder of the clan, "Gillean n'a Tuaidh," Gillean of the Rattle-axe, so called from his carrying with him as his ordinary weapon, a battle-axe. From this hero are descended the three principal families who compose the clan Maclean, who was also designated Gillean of Duart.

It is related of Gillean that, being one day engaged in a standing on the mountain of Bein't Sheala, and having wandered away from the rest of his party, the mountain became suddenly enveloped in a deep mist, and that he lost his track. For three days he wandered about; and, at length exhausted, threw himself under the shelter of a cranberry bush, previously fixing the handle of his battle-axe in the earth. He was discovered by his party, who had been vainly endeavouring to find him, insensible on the ground, with his arm round the handle of the battle-axe, whilst the head of the weapon rose above the bush. Hence, probably, the origin of the crest used by the clan Maclean, the battle-axe surrounded by a laurel-branch.

To Gillean of the Battle-axe various origins have been ascribed; truly is it observed, that "there is little wisdom in attempting to thread the mazes of fanciful and traditionary genealogies.'45' Like other families of importance, in feudal times, the Macleans had their seneachie, or historian; and, by the last of these, Dr. John Beaton, the descent, in regular order, from Aonaglius Turmi Teanebrach, a powerful monarch of Ireland, to Fergus the First, of Scotland, is traced.

A tradition had indeed prevailed, that the founder of the house of Maclean was a son of Fitzgerald, an Earl of Kildare,—a supposition which is contemptuously rejected by the historian of this ancient race. "In fact," he remarks, "from various sources, Gillean can be proved to have been in his grave, long before such a title as Earl of Kildare was known, and nearly two hundred years before the name of Fitzgerald existed." It appears, indeed, undoubted, from ancient records and well-authenticated sources, that the origin of Gillean was derived from the source which has been stated.

When the lordship of the Isles was forfeited, the clan Maclean was divided into four branches, each of which held of the Lords of the Isles; these branches were the Macleans of Duart, the Macleans of Loch-bay, the Macleans of Coll, and the Macleans of Ardgour. Of these, the most important branch was the family of Duart, founded by Lachlan Maclean, surnamed Lubanich. This powerful chief obtained such an ascendant at the court of the Lord of the Isles, as to provoke the enmity of the Chief of Mackinnon, who, on the occasion of a stag-hunt, formed a plot to cut off Lachlan and his brother, Hector Maclean. But the conspiracy was discovered by its objects; Mackinnon suffered death at the hands of the two brothers for his design ; and the Lord of the Isles, sailing in bis galley towards his Castle of Ardtorinsh in Morven, was captured, and carried to Icoluinbkill, where he was obliged, sitting on the famous black rock of lona, held sacred in those days, to swear that he would bestow in marriage upon Lachlan Lubanich his daughter Margaret, granddaughter, by her mother's side, of Robert the Second, King of Scotland : and with her, as a dowry, to give to the Lord of Duart, Eriska, with all its isles. The dowry demanded consisted of a towering rock, commanding an extensive view of the islands by which it is surrounded, and occupying a central situation among those tributaries. From the bold and aspiring chief was Sir John Maclean of Duart descended. The marriage of Lachlan Lubanich with Margaret of the Isles took place in the year 1366.

Between the time of Lachlan Lubanich and the birth of Sir John Maclean, the house of Duart encountered various reverses of fortune. It has been shown how the chief added the rook of Eriska to his possessions; in the course of the following century, a great part of the Isles of Mull and Tircv, with detached lands in Isla, Jura, Scarba, and in the districts of Morven, Lochaber, and Knapdale, were included in the estates of the chiefs of Duart, who rose, in the time of James the Sixth, to be among the most powerful of the families of the Hebrides. The principal scats of the chiefs of the Macleans were Duart and Aros Castles in Mull, Castle Gillean in Kerrara, on the coast of Lorn, and Ardtornish Castle in Morven. In 1(532, on occasion of the visit of one of the chiefs, Lachlan, to the Court of Charles the First, he was created a Baronet of Xova Scotia, by the title of Sir Lachlan Maclean of Morven. But various circumstances, and more especially the enmity of the Argyle family, and the adherence of Maclean to the Stuarts, had contributed to the decline of their pre-eminence before the young chief, whose destiny it was to make Ins name known and feared at the court of England, had seen the light.

The family of Maclean in all its numerous and complicated branches, had been distinguished for loyalty and independence during the intervening centuries between the career of Gillean and the birth of that chieftain whoso devotion to the Jacobite cause proved eventually the ruin of the house of Duart. Throughout the period of the Great Rebellion, and of the Protectorate, the chief of the Macleans had made fin-mense sacrifices to support the interests of the King, and to bring his clan into the field. In the disgraceful transactions, by which it was agreed that Scotland should withdraw her troops from England upon the payment of four hundred thousand pounds, in full of all demands, the faithful Highland clans of the north and west, the Grahams, Macleans, Camerons, and many others, had no participation. One main actor in that bargain, by which a monarch was bought and sold, was the Marquis of Argyle, the enemy and terror of his Highland neighbours, the Macleans of Duart. Upon the suppression of the royal authority, domestic feuds were ripened into hostilities during the general anarchy; and few of the oppressed and harassed clans suffered more severely, or more permanently than the Macleans of Duart.

Archibald, the first Marquis of Argyle, fixed an indelible stain upon his memory by acts of unbridled licence and aggression, in relation to his Highland neighbours; the unfortunate Macleans of Duart especially experienced the effects of his wrath, and suffered from his manoeuvres."*

In the time of Cromwell, Argyle having procured from the Lords of the Treasury, a grant of the tithes of Argyleshire, with a commission to collect several arrears of the feu-duty, cesses, taxation, and supply, and some new contributions laid on the subject by Parliament, under the names of ammunition and contribution money, the power which such an authority bestowed, in days when the standard of right was measured by the amount of force, may readily be conceived. On the part of Argyle, long-cherished views on the territories of his neighbour, Maclean of Duart, were now brought into co-operation with the most remorseless abuse of authority,

Sir Lachlan Maclean of Duart, the great-grandfather of Sir John Maclean, was then chief of the clan. The Marquis of Argyle directed that application should be made to this unfortunate man for his quota of these arrears, and also for some small sums for which he had himself been security for the chief. Sir Lachlan was in no condition to comply with this demand ; for he had suffered more deeply in the royal cause than any of his predecessors. During the rule of Argyle and Leslie in Scotland, a rule which might aptly be denominated a reign of terror, the possessions of the chief in Mull had been ravaged by the parliamentary troops, without any resistance from the harmless inhabitants, who had been instructed by their lord to oiler no retaliation that could furnish a plea for future oppression. The castle of Duart had been besieged, and surrendered to Argyle and Leslie, upon condition that the defenceless garrison, and eight Irish gentlemen, inmates of the hospitable Highlander's home, should be shared. Still more, the infant son of Sir Lachlan had been kidnapped from his school at Dumbarton by Argyle, and was paraded by the side of VOL. n. K the Marquis to intimidate the chief, who was made to understand that any resistance from him would be fatal to his child,—"an instrument," observes the sencachie, "which the coward well knew might be used with greater effect upon the noble father of his captive, than all the Campbell swords the craven lord could muster." Under these circumstances, Sir Lachlan Maclean was neither in the temper nor the condition to comply with the exactions of those whom he also regarded as having usurped the sovereign authority. He refused; and his refusal was exactly what his enemy desired.

The next step which Argyle took was to claim the amount due to him from the chief, which, by buying up all the debts, public and private, of Maclean, he swelled to thirty thousand pounds, before a court of law. Such was the state of Scottish judicial proceedings in those days, that the process was ended before Sir Lachlan had even heard of its commencement. He hastened, when informed of it, to Edinburgh, in order to make known his case before the "Committee of Estates," then acting with sovereign authority in Scotland. But lie was intercepted at Inverary, cast into prison upon a writ of attachment, issued and signed by Argyle himself, and immured in Argyle's castle of Car rick, for a debt due to Archibald, Marquis of Argyle. It was there required of him that he should grant a bond for fourteen thousand pounds Scots, and sign a doqueted account for sixteen thousand pounds more, bearing interest.

For a time the unhappy chief refused to sign the bond thus demanded; for a year he resisted the oppression of his enemy, and bore his imprisonment, with the aggravation of declining health. At last his friends, alarmed at his sinking condition, entreated him, as the only means of release, to comply with the demand of Argyle. Sir Lachlan signed the document, was set free, and returned to Duart. where he expired in April, 1649. To his family he bequeathed a legacy of contention and misfortune.

His successor, Sir Hector Maclean, the young hostage who had been kidnapped from Dumbarton, was a youth of a warlike and determined spirit, who resisted the depredations of the plundering clan of Campbells in Lorn and Ardnamuchan, and, on one occasion, hung up two of the invaders at his castle of Dunnin Morvern. Such, in spite of this summary mode of proceeding, were Sir Hector's ideas of honour, that, notwithstanding his doubts of the validity of the bond obtained from his father, he conceived that the su perscription of his father's name to it rendered it his duty to comply with its conditions as he could. He is declared by one authority to have paid ten thousand pounds of the demand ; by another that fact is doubted, since, when Sir .John Maclean's guardians investigated it, no receipts for sum» alleged to have been paid on account were to be found* But this is again accounted for by the sencachie or family historian.

Sir Hector Maclean fell in the battle of Inverkeithing, where, out of eight hundred of his men who fought against General Lambert, only forty escaped. He was succeeded by his brother Allan, a child, subject to the management of guardians. By their good care, a great portion of the debt to Argyle was paid, but there still remained sufficient to afford the insatiable enemy of his house a fair pretext of aggression. The case was again brought before the Scottish Council; it was even referred to Charles the Second ; but, by the representations of the Duke of Lauderdale, the Argyle influence prevailed. The famous Marquis of Argyle was, indeed, no longer in existence; he had perished on the scaffold : but his son still grasped at the possessions of his neighbour; and, although King Charles desired that Lauderdale "should see that Maclean had justice," the Duke, who was then Scottish Lord Commissioner, on his return to Scotland, decided that the rents of the estates should be made payable to Argyle on account of the bond, a certain portion of them being reserved for the maintenance of the chief.

Sir Allan died a little more than a year after this decision had been made, ignorant of the decree ; and left, to bear the buffeting of the storm, his son, Sir John Maclean, a child only four years of age, who succeeded his father in 1677. [According to the Memoirs of Lochiel, it appears that Sir Allan must have died in 1673 or 1674; since the author speaks, in 1074, of the "late Sir Allan." of his nearest kinsmen. Lachlan Maclean of Brolas, and Lachlan Maclean of Torloisk, men of profound judgment and of firm character, from whose guardianship much was expected by the clan. But the minor possessed a friend as true as any kinsman could he, and one of undoubted influence and sagacity, in the celebrated Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel. Against his interest, in despite of Argyle, that brave and noble man espoused the cause of the weak and of the fatherless, notwithstanding that he was himself a debtor to Argyle, of whose power and will to injure he had shortly a proof. Finding that Lochiel was resolved to protect and assist the young Maclean, the Earl of Argyle sent to demand from Sir Ewan the payment of the debt he owed, assuring him that it was his intention to follow only the law with the greatest rigour. Sir Ewan answered that he had not the money to pay, neither would he act against his friends. This threat, however, obliged Sir Ewan to continue in arms, contrary to proclamation, and also to obtain a protection from the Privy Council in Edinburgh, against the vengeance of Argyle.

But that which occasioned the greatest vexation to Sir Ewan, was an opportunity which he conceived that the tutors or guardians of the young Maclean had lost the power of emancipating their ward from the clutches of Argyle's power. This, he thought, might have been effected upon the forfeiture of the Marquis of Argyle to the Crown, when lie considered that an opportunity might have been afforded to Maclean's guardians to release their ward from Argyle's hands, by a transaction with certain creditors of that nobleman, to whom the sum claimed by Argyle from Maclean had been promised, but never paid. Thus, by an unaccountable oversight, the power of the Argyle family over the fortunes of the Macleans was continued.

Under these adverse circumstances, Sir John Maclean succeeded to his inheritance. His principal guardian, although bearing a high a reputation among the clan, was esteemed by Sir Ewan as a person who seems to have been absolutely unfit for manageing his affairs att such a juncture; and soon proved to be far too easy and credulous to contest with the crafty Campbells. Full of compassion for the helpless infant chief, Sir Ewan now resolved never to abandon the Macleans until matters were adjusted between them. He passed the winter of the year in Edinburgh, where he was, at one time, so much incensed against the Earl of Argyle for his cruelty to the Macleans, and so indignant at his conduct to himself, that the valiant chief of the Camerons was with difficulty restrained by his servant from shooting Argyle as he stepped into his coach to attend the councils.

Whilst the counsels of Sir Ewan Cameron prevailed with the guardians, the Macleans remained merely on the defensive; but when the insinuations of Lord Macdonald, who had much influence with one of the young heir's guardians, were listened to, the Macleans were acted to reprisals and plunder, to which it was at all times no difficult matter to stimulate Highlanders.

At length the powerful and mortal foe succeeded to his heart's content .11 his scheme of oppression. Argyle, in his capacity of Hereditary Justiciary of the Isles, summoned the clan Maclean to appear and stand their trials for treasonable convocations, garrisoning their houses and castles, &c.; the unfortunate clansmen, knowing their enemy to be both judge and evidence, did not obey. Immediately they were declared rebels and outlaws, and a commission of fire and sword was issued against them. All communication between them and the Privy Council, who might have redressed their wrongs, was cut off': those who happened to fall into the hands of the Campbells, were cruelly treated ; and those who styled themselves Maclean were blockaded in the Islands, and almost starved for want of provisions. Reduced in strength by the battle of Inverkeithing, the clan was but ill-prepared to resist so formidable a foe as Argyle, whose men, therefore, landed without opposition, the people flying to their mountains as the enemy approached. The young chief was sent, for protection, first to the fortified island of Thernburg, and afterwards to Kin-tail, under the care of the Earl of Seaforth, who had, not long previously, acted as a sort of arbitrator in the affairs of the family.

While Sir John Maclean was thus, probably, unconscious of his wrongs and dangers, secured from personal injury, the strong old Castle of Duart was taken possession of by Argyle, who, finding it garrisoned, was obliged to publish an indemnity, which he had obtained on purpose, remitting all crimes committed by the Macleans since the eighteenth of September, 1674, on condition that the castle should be delivered to him,—a demand with which the islanders were forced to comply. But in vain did Argyle endeavour to prevail upon the honest and simple clansmen to renounce their allegiance to their chief, and to become his vassals.* Every species of indignity and of plunder was inflicted upon these hapless, but faithful Highlanders in vain ; a " monster," as he is termed, " bearing the stamp of human appearance, named Sir Neill Campbell," in vain chased the poor inhabitants to the hills, and there exhibited acts of cruelty too shocking to be related. A promise, however, of payment of rents was at last obtained by Argyle, and he left the island, after garrisoning the castles. But this tribute was never paid. The Macleans could neither bear to see the halls of Duart and of Aros Castle tenanted by their foes, nor would they submit to pay to them their rents. A league of defence was again formed; letters of fire and sword were, in consequence, issued; but Argyle was bathed by a hurricane in his second invasion of Duart. Nature conspired with the injured \n their protection; and, after some time, the guardians of Sir John .Maclean, accompanied by Lord Macdonald, proceeded to London in order to appeal to the Privy Council. The appeal thus made was prolonged until the year 1680, when it was at last settled by the Scottish Council ; and the island of Tyrie was given to the Earl of Argyle, in full payment of his claim upon the estates of Sir John Maclean.

The character of the young chief was, meantime, formed under the influence of these events, of which, when he grew up, whilst yet the storm raged, he could not be ignorant. One principle he inherited from his ancestors—a determined fidelity to the Stuart cause. When he was fifteen years of age, the death of his guardians threw the management of his affairs into his own hands; this was in the years 1686 and 1687, one of the most critical periods in English history. Having appointed certain gentlemen his agents, or factors, the young chief went, according to the fashion of his times, to travel. He first repaired to the Court of England, at that time under the sway of James the Second; he then crossed to France, and returned not to the British dominions until he accompanied James into Ireland.

The character of Sir John Maclean, as he attained manhood, and entered into the active business of life, has been drawn with great felicity by the author of "The Memoirs of Lochiel."

"He was," says this writer, "of a person and disposition more turned for the court and the camp, than for the business of a private life. There was a natural vivacity and politeness in his manner, which he afterwards much improved by a courtly education; and, as his person was well-made and gracefull, so he took care to sett it off by all the ornaments and luxury of dress. He was of a sweet temper, and good-natured. His with lively and sparkeling, and his humour pleasant and facetious. He loved books, and acquired the languages with great facility, whereby he cultivated and enriched his understanding with all manner of learning, but especially the belles let-tres; add to this, a natural elegancy of expression, and ane inexhaustible fancy, which, on all occasions, furnished him with such a copious variety of matter, as rendered his conversation allways new and entertaining. But with all these shining quality*, the natural indolence of his temper, and ane immoderate love of pleasure, made him unsuiteable to the circumstances of his family. No persons talked of affairs, private or publick, with a better grace, or more to the purpose, but he could not prevail with himself to be att the least trouble in the execution. He seemed to know everything, and from the smallest hint so penetrated into the circumstances of other people's buisiness, that he often did great services by his excellent advice ; and he was of a temper so kind and obligeing, that he was fond of every occasion of doeing good to his friends, while he neglected many inviteing opportunities of serveing himself."

The first hostilities between France and England, after the Revolution, broke out in Ireland, whence it was the design of James the Second to incite his English and Scottish subjects to his cause. And there was, apparently, ample grounds for hope ; England was rent with factions, Lord Dundee was raising a civil war in Scotland, and half Europe was in contention with the other, whether the late King of England should be supported.

"I will recover my own dominions with my own subjects," was the boast of James, "or perish in the attempt." Unhappily, like his son, his magnanimity ended in expressions.

Sir John Maclean accompanied James when he landed, on the twelfth of March, 1689, in Ireland; after the siege of Derry, the chief returned to Scotland, accompanied by Sir Alexander Maclean of Otter, and there very soon showed his determination in favour of the insurrection raised by Dundee.

Sir John Maclean's first step was to send Maclean of Lochbuy as his lieutenant with three hundred men to join Dundee. His party encountered a major of General Mackay's army at Knockbreak in Badenoch; a conflict ensued, and Mackay's men were put to flight. This was the first blood that was shed for James the Second in Scotland.

Sir John Maclean soon afterwards joined Dundee in person, leaving his castle of Duart well defended. This fort, which had witnessed so many invasions, was besieged during the absence of the chief by Sir George

Rooke cannonaded it several days without effect. Its owner, meantime, had joined Dundee, and was appointed to the command of the right wing of the army.

At the battle of Killicrankie, Sir John Maclean distinguished himself, as became the descendant of a brave and loyal race, at the head of his clan; he probably witnessed the death of Dundee. Few events in Scottish history could have affected those who followed a General to the field so severely. Lord Dundee had been foremost on foot during the action; he was foremost on horseback, when the enemy retreated, in the pursuit. He pressed on to the mouth of the Pass of Killicrankie to cut off the escape. In a short time he perceived that he had overrun his men : he stopped short : he waved his arm in the air to make them hasten their speed. Conspicuous in his person he was observed; a musket-ball was aimed at that extended arm; it struck him, and found entrance through an opening in his armour. The brave General was wounded in the arm-pit. He rode off the field, desiring that the mischance might not be disclosed, ami fainting, dropped from his horse. As soon as he was revived, lie desired to be raised, and looking towards the field of battle asked how things went. "Well," was the reply. "Then," he said, "I am well," and expired.

William the Third understood the merits of his bravo opponent. An express was sent to Edinburgh with an account of the action. "Dundee," said the King (and the soldier spoke), "must be dead, or lie would have been at Edinburgh before the express." When urged to send troops to Scotland, "It is needless," he answered; "the war ended with Dundee's life." And the observation was just: a peace was soon afterwards concluded.*

Sir John Maclean, nevertheless, continued in arms under the command of Colonel Cannon, and lost several brave officers by the incapacity of this commander. After the peace was signed, he returned to live upon his estates, until Argyle, having procured a commission from William to reduce the Macleans by fin5 or sword, invaded the island of Mull with two thousand five hundred men. Sir John being unprepared to resist him, after advising his vassals to accept protection from Argyle, again retired to the island of Thernburg, whence he captured several of King William's vessels which were going to supply the army in Ireland.

The massacre of Glencoe operated in some respects favourably, after the tragedy had been completed, upon the circumstances of the Jacobites. Terrified at the odium incurred, a more lenient spirit was henceforth shown to them by Government. Many persons were exempted from taking the oaths, and were allowed to remain in their houses. Early in the year 1792, Sir John Maclean took advantage of this favourable turn of affairs, and, after obtaining permission through the influence of Argyle, and placing the castle of Duart under that nobleman's control, he went to England.

He soon became a favourite at the Court of one who, if we except the massacre of Glencoe, evinced few dispositions of cruelty to the Scottish Jacobites. King William is said, nevertheless, to have had a real antipathy to the Highlanders ; and Queen Mary, whose heart turned to the adherents of her forefathers, was obliged to conceal her partiality for her Northern subjects. It had appeared, however, on several occasions, during the absence of her consort, and was now evinced in her good offices to the chief of the clan Maclean. That the chief was of a deportment to confirm the kind sentiments thus shown towards him. the character which has been given of him amply proves.

Sir John Maclean was, as the author of Sir Ewan Cameron's life relates, "the only person of his party that went to Court, which no doubt contributed much to his being so particularly observed by the Queen, who received him most graciously, honoured him frequently with her conversation, and said many kind and obliging things to him. Sir John on his part acquitted himself with so much politeness and address, that her Majesty soon began to esteem him. He took the proper occasions to inform her of the misfortunes of his family, and artfully insinuated that he and his predecessors had drawn them all upon themselves by the sendees they had rendered to her grandfather, father, and uncle. She answered, that the antiquity and merit of his family were no strangers to her ears; and that, though she had taken a resolution never to interpose betwixt her father's friends and the King her husband, yet, she would distinguish him so far as to recommend his services to his Majesty by a letter under her own hand; and that she doubted not but that it would have some influence, since it was the first favour of that nature which she had ever demanded."

Sir John is, however, declared by another authority to have declined the commission thus offered to him. Although he had received King James's permission to reconcile himself with the Government, he did not, it appears, choose to bear arms in its defence. Such is the statement of one historian. By another it is said that "Sir John was much caressed while he continued in the army,"—a sentence which certainly seems to imply that he had assented to King William's offer. At all events, lie managed to engage the confidence of the King so far, that William - not only honoured him with his countenance, but told Argyle that he must part with Sir John's estate, and that he himself would be the purchaser."

The nobleman to whom William addressed this injunction was of a very different temper from his father and grandfather, who had both died on the scaffold. Archibald, afterwards created by William Duke of Argyle, had in 1685 become the head of that powerful family; he was of a frank, noble, and generous disposition. "He loved," says the same writer, "his pleasures, affected magnificence, and valued money no further than as it contributed to support the expence which the gallantry of his temper daily put him to. He several times offered very easy terms to Sir John$ and particularly he made one overture of quitting all his pretentions to that estate, on condition of submitting to be the Earl's vassall for the greatest part of it, and paying him two thousand pounds sterling, which he had then by him in ready money ; but the expensive gayety of Sir John's temper made him unwilling to part with the money, and the name of a vassall suited as ill with his vanity, which occasioned that and several other proposals to be refused. However, as the generous Earl was noways uneasy to part with the estate, so he, with his usual frankness, answered King William that hi« Majesty might always command Lim and his fortunes ; and that he submitted his claim upon Sir John's estate, as he did everything else, to his royal pleasure."

A tradition exists in the family, that when Argyle sent messengers with his proposals to the Castle of Duart, Sir John pushed away the boat, as it neared the shore, with his own hands. This was worthy the pride of a Highland chieftain.

To such a height, in short, did William's favour amount, and so far did he in this instance carry his usual policy of conciliating lib* enemies by courtesy and aid, that he ordered Maclean to go as a volunteer in his service, assuring him that he would see that 110 harm was done to his property in his absence. Sir

John, previous to his intended departure from England, went to Scotland to put his affairs in order. On his return ho was told by Queen Mary that there were reports to his prejudice; he denied them, and satisfied the Queen that all suspicions of his fidelity were unfounded. Upon the strength of this assurance the Queen wrote in Maclean's favour to the King, in Holland, whither Sir John then proceeded to join his Majesty. But this profession of fidelity to one monarch soon proved to be hollow. Maclean was truly one of the politicians of the day, swayed by every turn of fortune, and cherishing a deep regard for his own interest in his heart. To inspire dislike and distrust wherever he desired to secure allegiance was the lot of William, of whom it has been bitterly said, that in return for having delivered three kingdoms from popery and slavery, he was, before having been a year on the throne, repaid " with faction in one of them, with rebellion in the other, and with both in the third." How expressive was the exclamation wrung from him, "that he wished he had never been King of Scotland." Sir John Maclean was one of those who added another proof to the King's conviction. "that the flame of party once raised, it was in vain to expect that truth, justice, or public interest could extinguish it.''

On arriving at Bruges, Maclean heard of the battle of Landau, in which the French army had proved victorious against the Confederates; and at the same time a report prevailed that a counter revolution had taken place in England, and that William was already dethroned. Sir John changed his course upon this intelligence, and hastened to St. Germains, where he was, as might lie expected, coldly received. He remained there until the death of William and then he married the daughter of Sir En teas Macpherson of Skye.

Upon the accession of Anne, Sir John took advantage of the general indemnity offered to those who had gone abroad with James the Second, and resolved to avail himself of this opportunity of returning home; but, unluckily, he was detained until a day after the act had specified, by the confinement of his wife, who was taken in at Paris, and there, in November 1703, gave birth to a son, who afterwards succeeded to the baronetcy. Although there was some risk in proceeding, yet Sir John, trusting to the Queen's favourable disposition to the Jacobites, embarked, and with hi* wife and child reached London, There lie was Immediately committed to the Tower, but his imprisonment had a deeper source than the mere delay of a few weeks. The Queensbury plot at that time agitated the public, and produced considerable embarrassment in the counsels of state.

It appears that Sir John Maclean had taken no part in this obscure transaction which could affect his honour, or impair his chance of favour from Queen Anne; for, so soon as he was liberated, she bestowed upon him a pension of five hundred pounds a-year, which he enjoyed during the remainder of his life.

For some years(Sir John Maclean continued to divide his time between London and the Highlands, where he frequently visited his firm friend Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel, at his Castle of Achnacarry. His estates had not been materially benefited by the brief sunshine of King William's favour Upon finding that Maclean had gone to St. Germains, that monarch had confirmed to the Duke of Argyle the former grant of the island of Tyrie, which the successors of the Duke have since uninterruptedly enjoyed until the present day. Its value was, at the time of its passing into the. hands of the Campbells, about three hundred pounds sterling per annum.* The chief of the clan Maclean was certain never to escape the suspicions of the Government, after the death of Anne, during whose reign the Highlanders experienced an unwonted degree of tranquillity. Upon her demise the whole state of affairs was changed ; and none experienced greater inconveniences from the vigilance of Government than Sir Ewan Cameron and hie friend Maclean. Lochiel, as his biographer observes, "drank deeply of this bitter cup."

It was during one of Maclean's visits to Achnacarry, when in company with his now venerable friend, that the Governor of Fort William attempted to take him and Sir Ewan prisoners, but they made their escape. During the night of their flight, however, Sir John Maclean caught a severe cold, which ended afterwards fatally.

When the Earl of Mar raised the standard of the Chevalier in Scotland, Sir John joined him at Achterarder, some days before the battle of Sherriff Muir. In that engagement the clan Maclean distinguished themselves, and some of their brave chieftains were killed .u the battle. After the day was over, Sir John retired to Keith, where he parted from his followers, never to rejoin them. A consumption, incurred from the cold caught in his escape, was then far advanced. He declined an offer made to receive him on board the Chevalier's ship, bound for France, and went to Gordon Castle, where, on the twelfth of March, 171G, he expired.

Thus ended a life characterized by no ordinary share of vicissitude and misfortune. If the fate of Sir John Maclean be less tragical than that of other distinguished Jacobites, it was, it must be acknowledged, one replete with anxiety and disappointment. He may be said to have been peculiarly " born to trouble." To our modern notions of honour and consistency, his conduct in becoming a courtier of William the Third, appears to betray that unsoundness and hollowness of political principle which, more or less, was the prevalent moral disease of the period, and which was attributable to some of the most celebrated men of the day. It undoubtedly forms an unfavourable contrast to the stern independence of Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel, and of other Highland chieftains, and too greatly resembles the code of politics adopted by the Earl of Mar. But those who knew Sir John Maclean intimately, considered him a man of straightforward integrity ; they deemed him above dissimulation, and have placed his name among those who despised every worldly advantage for the sake of principle, and who loved the cause which he had espoused for its own sake. The broken towers of Duart and of Aros, the ruins of those once proud lords of the soil, attest the sacrifices which they made, and form a melancholy commentary upon their history.

The castle of Aros, in the Island of Mull, "is interesting," says Macculloch, "from the picturesque object which it affords to the artist ; the more so, as the country is so devoid of scenes on which his pencil can be exerted. Still more striking, from its greater magnitude and more elevated position, is Duart Castle, once the stronghold of the Macleans, and till lately garrisoned by a detachment from Fort William. It is fast falling into ruin since it was abandoned as a barrack. When a few years shall have passed, the almost roofless tenant will surrender his spacious apartments to the bat and the owl, and seek shelter, like his neighbours, in the thatched hovel which rises near him. But the walls, of formidable thickness, may long bid defiance even to the storms of this region ; remaining to mark to future times the barbarous splendour of the ancient Highland chieftains, and, with the opposite fortress of Ardtornish, serving to throw a gleain of historical interest over the passage of the Sound of Mull."

Hitherto Iona had received the last remains of the Lords of Duart; but Sir John Maclean was not carried to the resting-place of his forefathers. He was buried in the church of E attic in Bamffshire, in the family vault of the Gordons of Buckie. In Iona, that former " light of the western world," are the tombs of the brave and unfortunate Macleans Their bones are interred in the vaults of the cathedral, which, after coasting the barren rocks of Mull, buffeted by the waves, the traveller beholds rising out of the sea, "giving," as it is finely expressed, " to this desolate region an air of civilization, and recalling the consciousness of that human society which, presenting elsewhere no visible traces, seems to have abandoned those rocky shores to the cormorant and the gull." On the tombs of the Highland warriors who repose within St. Mary's Church in Iona, are sculptured ships, swords, armorial bearings, appropriate memorials to the island lords, or. as the Chevalier not inaptly called them, "little kings;" and, undistinguishable from the graves of the chiefs, are the funereal allotments of the Kings of Scotland, Iceland, and Norway.

Sir John Maclean left one son and six daughters. His son Hector was born in France, but brought to Scotland at the age ol' four, ami placed under the care of bis kinsman, Maclean of Coll, where he remained until he was eighteen years of age; when he repaired to Edinburgh, and in the college made considerable progress in the usual course of studies .n that institution. After various journeys abroad, chiefly to Paris, Sir Hector Maclean returned in 1745 to Edinburgh, intending again to lead his clansmen to the, standard of Prince Charles; but a temporary imprisonment, occasioned by the treachery of a man in whose house he lodged, prevented his appearance in the field. He was detained in confinement until released as a subject of the King of Prance. He died at Rome in the year 1758, in the forty-seventh year of his age. At his death the title of Baronet devolved upon Allan of Brolas, great-grandson of Donald, first Mac lean of Brolas, and younger brother of the first baronet.

Although the chief was thus prevented from following Prince Charles to the field of Culloden, many of his clan distinguished themselves there ; Charles Maclean of Drimnin appeared at the head of five hundred of the clan, and his regiment, which was under the command of the Duke of Perth, was among those that broke forward with drawn swords from the lines, and routed the left wing of the Duke of Cumberland's army. The whole of the front line of this gallant regiment was swept away as they presented themselves before their foes. Thej- were afterwards overpowered by numbers, and obliged to retire. Their leader, as he retreated, inquired for one of his sons, who was missing. "I fear," said an attendant, to whom the inquiry was addressed, "that he has fallen." The fate of the father is well told in these few words, "If he has, it shall not he for naught," was his reply; and he rushed forward to avenge him.

Many of the clan fell in the massacre after the battle of Culloden Muir. Hundreds of the Highlanders who escaped the inhumanity of their conquerors, died of their wounds or of hunger, in the hills, at twelve or fourteen miles' distance from the field of battle. "Their misery," says a contemporary writer, "was inexpressible." While the cannon was sounding, and bells were pealing in the capital cities of England and Ireland, for the united events of the Duke of Cumberland's birth and the battle of Culloden Moor, fires were seen blazing in Morvern, in which numerous villages were burned by order of the victorious Cumberland! The Macleans who came from Mull, seem generally to have escaped ; they made off in one of the long boats for their island, the night after the engagement, and were fortunate enough to carry with them a cargo of brandy and some money,

A calmer, though less interesting career has, since 1745, been the fate of the chiefs of the clan Maclean.

Sir Allan, respected and beloved, became a colonel in the British army. He retired eventually to the sacred Isle of Inch Kenneth, in Mull, where he exercised the hospitality characteristic, in ancient times, of the Lords of Duart. Dr. Johnson has handed down the memory of the venerable chief, not only in a few descriptive pages of a Tour to the Hebrides, but in a Latin poem, translated by Sir Daniel Sandford. In the lines be refers to Sir Allan in these terms.

"O'er glassy tides I thither flew,
The wonders of the spot to view;
In lowly cottage great Maclean
Held there his high ancestral reign."

Sir Allan Maclean died in 1783 : he was succeeded by his nearest male relation, Sir Hector Maclean, of the family of Brolas. The brother of Sir Hector, Sir Fitzroy Grafton Maclean, a distinguished officer, and formerly Governor of the island of St. Thomas, is now chief of the clan Maclean. Two sons continue the line. Of these, the eldest, Colonel Charles Fitzroy Maclean, has chosen, like his father, the profession of arms and commands the eighty-first foot; and has, by his marriage with a daughter of the Hon. and Rev. Dr. Marsham, an heir to the ancestral honours of the house. The youngest son of Sir Fitzroy Maclean is Donald Maclean, of Witton Castle, Durham, the member for Oxford, married to Harriet, daughter of General Frederick Maitland, a descendant of the Duke of Lauderdale, whose former injustice to the clan Maclean has been noticed in this work. It is remarkable, that the same fidelity, the same loyalty, that sacrificed every possession to the cause of James Stuart, has been, since the extinction of that cause, worthily employed, with distinguished talent and success, in the service of Government. Such instances are not uncommon in the history of the Jacobites.


Return to the Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast