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

Memoirs of the Jacobites
Rob Roy MacGregor Campbell


"The Clan Gregiour," according to an anonymous writer of the seventeenth century, "is a race of men so utterly infamous for thieving, depredation, and murder, that after many Acts of the Council of Scotland against them, at length in the reign of King Charles the First, the Parliament made a strict Act suppressing the very name." Upon the Restoration, when, as the same writer declares, the reins were given to all licentiousness, and loyalty, as it was called, was thought sufficient to compound for all wickedness, the Act was rescinded. But, upon the late happy Revolution, when the nation began to recover her senses, some horrid barbarities having been committed by that execrable crew, under the leading of one Robert Roy Macgregiour, yet living, the Parliament under King William and Queen Alary annulled the said Act rescissory, and revived the former penal statute against them."

Such is the summary account of one who is evidently adverse to the political creed, no less than to the daring violence, of the clan Maegregor. Little can, it is true, be offered in palliation for the extra ordinary career of spoliation and outrage which the history of this race of Highlanders presents; and which terminated only with the existence of the clan itself.

The clan Gregor, anciently known by the name of clan Albin, dated their origin from the ninth century, and assumed to be the descendants of King Alpin, who flourished in the year 787: so great is its antiquity, that an old chronicle asserts, speaking of the clan Macarthur, "that none are older than that clan, except the hills, the rivers, and the clan Albin."

Among the conflicts which for centuries rendered the Highlands the theatre of perpetual strife, the clan Albin, or, as in process of time it was called, the clan Gregor, was marked as the most turbulent members of the state. It was never safe to dispute with them, and was deemed idle to inquire whether the lands which they occupied were theirs by legal titles, or by the right of the sword. Situate on the confines of Scotland, and protected by the inaccessible mountains which surrounded them, they could defy even their most powerful neighbours, who were always desirous of conciliating allies so dangerous in times of peace, so prompt in war. The boundaries which they occupied stretched along the wilds of the Trosachs and Balquhidder, to the northern and western heights of Rannach and Glenurely, comprehending portions of the counties of Argyle, Perth, Dumbarton, and Stirling, which regions obtained the name of the country of the MacGregors. A part of these domains being held by the coir a glaive, or right of the sword, exposed the clan Gregor to the enmity of their formidable neighbours, the Earls of Argyle and Breadalbane, who, obtaining royal grants of such lands, lost no opportunity of annoying and despoiling their neighbouis, under legal pretexts. Hence many of the contests which procured for the Macgregors a character of ferocity, and brought upon them 'letters of fire and sword.' A commission was granted first in the reign of Queen Mary, in 1563, to the most powerful clansmen and nobles, to pursue, and exterminate the clan Gregor, and prohibiting, at the same time, that her Majesty's liege subjects should receive or assist any of the clan, or give them meat, drink, or clothes. The effect which such an edict was likely to produce upon a bold, determined, desperate people may readily be conceived. Hitherto the clan Gregor had been a loyal clan. From the house of Alpin had descended the royal family of Stewart, with whom the Macgregors claimed kindred, bearing upon their shields, in Gaelic, the words, 'My tribe is royal.' They had been also in favour with the early Scottish monarchs, one of whom had ennobled the Macgregors of Glenurely, who could cope with the most elevated families in Scotland, in possessions and importance. But, after the edict of Mary, a palpable decline in the fortunes of the clan Gregor was manifest, until it was for ever extinguished in modern days. Henceforth the Macgregors exhibited a contempt for those laws which had never afforded them protection. They became, in consequence of the cruel proclamation against them, dependent for subsistence upon their system of predatory warfare. They grew accustomed to bloodshed, and could easily be 'hounded out' as Sir Walter Scott expresses it, to commit deeds of violence. hence they were incessantly engaged in desperate feuds, in which the vengeance of an injured and persecuted people was poured out mercilessly upon the defenceless. Hence they became objects of hatred to the community, until the famous contest of Glenfrnin, between the Macgregors and the Colquhouns of Luss, brought once more the royal displeasure upon them in the reign of James the Sixth.

The sequestered valley, which obtained, from the memorable and tragical events of the combat, the name of the Glen of Sorrow, is situated about six miles from Loch Lomond, and is watered by the river Fruin which empties itself into that lake. In the spring of the year 1608, Alexander of Glenstrae, chief of the Macgregors, went from the country of Lennox to Balquhidder, for the express purpose of conciliating the feuds which subsisted between his brother and Sir Humphrey Colquhoun of Luss. After a conference, apparently pacific, but well understood by the Macgregors to augur no friendly intentions, the assembled members of that clan prepared to return to their homes. They were followed by the Laird of Luss, who was resolved to surprise them on their route. But his treachery was secretly known by those whom he pursued.

The right bank of Loch Lomond is so steep and woody that before the formation of roads, the Highlanders found it impossible to pass that way. The way to Argyleshire, therefore, ran along the vale of Fruin, in a circuitous direction to the head of Loch Long, and again turned eastward towards Loch Lomond. In the middle of the glen the Macgregors, who were peacefully returning home, were attacked by the Colquhouns. The assailants were four to one; but the valour of the Macgregors prevailed, and two hundred Colquhouns were left dead on the field. The very name of Colquhoun was nearly annihilated. The account of the battle was transmitted by the Laird of Luss to James the Sixth, at Edinburgh; and the message was accompanied by two hundred and twenty shirts, stained with blood, which were presented to the King by sixty women, widows of those slain in the Glen of Sorrow. These ladies rode on white poneys, and carried in their hands long poles, on which were extended the stained garments. But the shirts, it is said, were soiled by the way, and the widows were hireling mourners, who comforted themselves with the loved beverages of their country on their return, and were in many instances obliged to be carried to their homes.

The indignation of James the Sixth, unmitigated by any friendly representations on behalf of the Macgregors, burst forth fatally for the clan. The Macgregors were formally outlawed by Act of Parliament; they were pursued with blood-hounds, and when seized, were put to death without trial. Their chief, the unfortunate Alexander of Glenstrae surrendered to his enemy the Earl of Argyle, with eighteen of his followers, on condition that he might be taken safely out of Scotland. But the severity of Government stopped not here. The very name of Gregor was blotted out, by an order Li Council, from the names of Scotland. Those who had hitherto borne it were commanded to change it under pain of death, and were forbidden to retain the appellations which they had been accustomed from their infancy to cherish. Those who had been at Glenfruin were also deprived of their weapons, excepting a pointless knife to cut. their victuals. They were never to assemble in any number exceeding four; and by an Act of Parliament passed in 1617, these laws were extended to the rising generation, lest as the children of the proscribed parents grew up, the strength of the clan should be restored.

For these severe acts, the only apology that can be offered is the unbridled fury and cruelty of the Macgregors, when irritated; of which it is necessary to mention one instance, as an example of the many left on record, of which the clan were convicted.

In the battle of Glenfruin, which James had visited so rigorously upon tho Macgregors, the greater part of those who bore the name of Colquhoun were exterminated. Yet a still more savage act was perpetrated after the day was won.

The town of Dumbarton contained, at that time, a seminary famous for learning, where many of the Colquhouns, as well as the sons of the neighbouring gentry, were sent for education. Upon hearing of the encounter at Glenfruin, eighty of these high-spirited boys set off to join their relatives; but the Colquhouns, anxious for the safety of their young kinsfolk, would not permit them to join in the fight, but locked them up in a barn for safety. Here they remained, until the event of the day left the Macgregors masters of what might well be called "the Glen of Sorrow." The boys, growing impatient for their release, became noisy; when the Macgregors, discovering tlieii hiding-place, and thirsting for vengeance, set fire to the barn, and the young inmates were consumed. According to another account, they were all put to the sword by one of the guard, a Macgregor, whose distinctive appellation was Ciar Mohr, "the mouse-coloured man." When the chief of the Macgregor's clan repaired to the barn, and, knowing that the boys were the sons of gentlemen, was desirous of ensuring their safety, he asked their guards where they were. When told of what had occurred, Macgregor broke out into the exclamation, that "his clan was ruined." The sad event was commemorated, until the year 1757, by an annual procession of the Dumbarton youths, to a field at some distance from their school, where they enacted the melancholy ceremonial of a mock funeral, over which they set up a loud lamentation. The site of the farm where this scene was enacted is still pointed out; and near it runs a rivulet, the Gaelic name of which signifies "the hum of the young ghosts:" so deep was the memory of this horrible deed.

A fearful retribution followed the clan for years. They had no friend at Court to plead their cause; and the most cruel hardships became the lot of the innocent, as well as the guilty, of their clan. The country was filled with troops ready to destroy them, so that all who were able, were forced to fly to rocks, caverns, and to hide themselves among the woods. Few of the Macgregors, at this period of the Scottish history, were permitted to die a natural death.

As an inducement to the murder of these wretched people, a reward was offered for every head of a Macgregor that was conveyed to the Privy Council at Edinburgh. Those who died a natural death were buried in silence and secrecy by their kinsfolk. for the graves of the persecuted clan were not respected; the bodies of the dead being exhumed, and the heads cut off, to be sent to the Council. Never has there been, in the history of mankind, a more signal instance of national odium than that which pursued this brave, though violent race. The spirit in which they were denounced has in it little of the character of justice, and reminds us of the vengeance of the Jewish people upon the different hostile tribes to whom they were opposed.

In process of time, the last remnant of the lands pertaining to the Macgregors was bestowed upon Archibald, seventh Earl of Argyle, whose family had profited largely by the destruction of the clan: for every Macgregor whom they had destroyed, they had received a reward. In 1611, the Earl was commanded to root out this thievish and barbarous race; a commission which he executed remorselessly, dragging the parents to death, and leaving their offspring to misery and to revenge; for the deep consciousness of their wrongs grew up with the young, and prepared them for deeds of violence and vengeance.

Notwithstanding the severities of the Stuarts towards the Macgregors, the loyalty of the clan continued unimpeachable. It was appreciated by one who is not celebrated for remembering benefits. Charles the Second had, in 1663, the grace to remove the proscription from the Macgregors, by an Act which was passed in the first Scottish Parliament after his Restoration. He permitted them the use of their family name, and other privileges of his liege subjects, assigning as a reason for this act of favour, that the loyalty and affection of those who were once called Macgregors, during the late troubles, might justly wipe off all former reproach from their clan. This act of grace, according to the anonymous writer quoted in the commencement of this memoir, was to be accounted for by the prevalent licentiousness of that monarch's reign. It gave, indeed, hut little satisfaction to the nonconforming Presbyterians, who saw with resentment that the penalties unjustly imposed upon themselves was relaxed in favour of the Macgregors. But this dissatisfaction was of short duration. After the Revolution, "an influence," says Sir Walter Scott, "inimical to this unfortunate clan, said to be the same with that which afterwards dictated the massacre of Glencoe, occasioned the reaction of the penal statutes against the Macgregors.'' It is, however, consolatory to find that the proscription was not acted upon during the reign of William. The name of Macgregor was again heard in public halls, in parliament, and courts of justice. Still, however, whilst the statutes remained, it could not legally be borne. Attempts were made to restore the appellation of clan Albin, but nothing was decided; when, at length, all necessity for such an alteration was done away by an Act of Parliament abolishing for ever the penal statutes against the clan.

Whilst the Macgregors were still a proscribed race, Robert Macgrcgor Campbell, or Robert Roy, so called among his kindred, in the adoption of a Celtic phrase, expressive of his ruddy complexion and red hair, appeared as their champion. At the time of his birth, to bear the name of Macgregor was felony; and the descendant of King Alpin adopted the maiden name of his mother, a daughter of Campbell of Fanieagle, in order to escape the penalty of disobedience. His father, Donald Macgregor of Glengyle, was a lieutenant-colonel in the King's service: his ancestry was deduced from Ciar Mohr, "the mouse-coloured man," who had slain the young students at the battle of Glenfruin.

After the death of Allaster Macgregor of Glenstrae, the last chieftain, the office of chief had ceased to be held by any representative of the scattered remnant of this hunted tribe. Various families had ranged themselves under the guidance of chieftains, which, among Highlanders, signifies the head of a branch of a tribe, in contradistinction to that of chief, who is the leader of the whole name. The chieftain of Glengyle lived in the mountainous region between Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine; his right to his territories there might or might not be legal; it was far more convenient to his neighbours to waive the question with any member of this fierce race, than to inquire too rigidly into the tenure by which the lands were held.

Rob Roy, though he deduced his origin from a younger son of the Laird of Macgregor, was one of a family who had, within the preceding century, been of humble fortunes. His great-grandfather had been a cotter; from his grandfather he inherited the generous temper and the daring spirit which, more or less, characterized the clan. Galium, or Malcolm, had been outlawed for an attempt to carry off an heiress, but obtained his pardon for saving the life of his enemy, the Duke of Argyle. The date of Rob Roy's birth is uncertain, but is supposed to have taken place about the middle of the seventeenth century; consequently, after the period when his clan had endured every variety of fortune, from the cruel edicts of James the Sixth to the consolatory acts of Charles the Second.

The education of this extraordinary man was limited; and he is said not to have exhibited in his youth any striking traits of the intrepidity which distinguished him in after life. But he was endowed with a vigorous intellect, and with an enthusiasm which had been deepened by the peculiar circumstances of his clan and kinsfolk It is impossible to comprehend the character of Rob Roy, unless we look into the history of his race, as we have briefly done, and consider how strong must have been the impressions which hereditary feuds, and wrongs visited upon father and child, had made upon a mind of no common order.

His youth was occupied in acquiring the rude accomplishments of the age. In the management of the broadsword the ardent and daring boy soon acquired proficiency; his frame was robust and muscular, and his arm of unusual length. At an early age he is said by tradition to have tried his powers in a predatory excursion, of which he was the leader. This was in the year 1691, and it was called the herdship, or devastation of Kippen, in the Lennox. No lives were sacrificed, but the marauding system was carried to its extent.

The young Macgregor was educated in the Presbyterian faith. "He was not," says his biographer, "free from those superstitious notions so prevalent in his country; and, although forty men possessed more strength of mind in resisting the operation of false and gloomy tenets, he was sometimes led away from the principles he had adopted, to a belief in supernatural appearances." Nor was it likely that it should be otherwise; for the wildest dreams of fancy were cherished in the seclusion of the region, then inconceivably retired and remote, in which Rob Roy is said to have passed days in silent admiration of Nature in her grandest aspects; for the man who afterwards appeared so stern and rugged to hi- enemies, was accessible to the tenderest feelings, and to the most generous sympathies.

Although his father had succeeded in military life, Rob Roy was destined to a far more humble occupation. The discrepancy between the Scottish pride of ancestry and the lowly tracks which are occasionally chalked out for persons of the loftiest pretensions to origin, is manifest in the destination of Rob Roy. He became a dealer in cattle. It was, it is true, the custom for landed proprietors, as well as their tenantry, to deal in the trade of grazing and selling cattle. In those days, no Lowlanders, nor any English drovers, had the audacity to enter the Highlands.

"The cattle," says Sir Walter Scott, "which were the staple commodity of the mountains, were escorted down to fairs, on the borders of the Lowlands, by a party of Highlanders, with their arms rattling round them; and who dealt, however, in all faith and honour with their southern customers." After describing the nature of the affrays which were the result of such collision, Sir Walter remarks, "A slash or two, or a broken head, was easily accommodated, and as the trade was of benefit to both parties, trifling skirmishes were not allowed to interrupt its harmony."

For some time, the speculations in which Rob Roy engaged were profitable; he took a tract of land in Balquhidder for the purpose of grazing, and his success soon raised him in the. estimation of the county. But his cattle were often carried away by hordes of big robbers from Inverness, Ross, and Sutherland, and he was obliged, in defence, to maintain a party of men to repel these incursions. Hence the warlike tastes which were afterwards more fully displayed.

The death of his father placed Rob Roy in an important situation in his county; he became, moreover, guardian to his nephew, Gregor of Macgregor of Glengyle,—a position which gave him great influence with the clan. He had now become the proprietor of Craig Royston; but his ordinary dwelling was at Inversnaid, from which place he took his appellation, Macgregor of Inversnaid. These estates were of considerable extent, but of small value: they extended from the head of Loch Lomond twelve miles along its eastern border, and stretched into the interior of the country, partly around the base of Ben Lomond.

From these estates Rob Roy assumed sometimes the title of Craig Royston, sometimes that of Baron of Inversnaid, — a term long applied in Scotland to puisne lairds.

The influence of an energetic and powerful mind was now plainly exhibited in the celebrity which Rob Roy soon acquired in the neighbouring counties. The Macgregors had a peculiar constitution in their clanship, which rendered them compact and formidable as a body. In all the forays so common at that period, Rob Roy took little or no part; yet the terror of his name caused him to receive all the credit of much that occurred in the vicinity.

Three great noblemen, bitter enemies, sought his alliance; of these one was James the first Duke of Montrose, and Archibald tenth Earl of Argyle, who were opposed to each other not only in political opinions, but from personal dislike. Montrose deemed it essential to conciliate Rob Roy as a matter of speculation, and entered into a sort of partnership with the far-famed drover in the buying and selling of cattle, of which Rob Roy was considered an excellent judge. Argyle, on the other hand, was conscious of the injuries which his ancestors had inflicted on the Macgregors, and was inclined to befriend Rob Roy from compassion, and a sense of justice. The Earl was also flattered by the Laird's having assumed the name of Campbell, which he regarded as a compliment to himself. But the overtures of Argyle were at first spurned bv Rob Roy, whose alliance with the Marquis of Montrose increased his hatred of Argyle. He was afterwards won over to more moderate sentiments, and a lasting friendship was eventually formed between him and Argyle.

The friendship and patronage of Montrose were secure until money transactions, the usual source of alienations and bickerings, produced distrust on the one hand, and bitterness on the other. Montrose had advanced Rob Roy certain sums to carry on his speculations: they were successful until the defalcation of a third and inferior partner prevented Rob Roy from repaying the Marquis the money due to him. He was required to give up his lands to satisfy the demands upon him. For a time he refused, but ultimately he was compelled by a law-suit to mortgage his estates to Montrose with an understanding that they were to be restored to him whenever he could pay the money. Some time afterwards he made an attempt to recover his estate by the payment of his debts; but he was at first amused by excuses, and afterwards deprived of his property. Such is the simple statement of his partial biographer; but Sir Walter Scott gives the story a darker colouring. In his preface to Rob Roy he mentions that Rob Roy absconded, taking with him the sum of one thousand pounds which he had obtained from different gentlemen in Scotland for the purpose of buying cattle. In 1712 an advertisement to that effect was put into the daily papers repeatedly; but the active Highlander was beyond the reach of law. To this period we must assign a total change in the habits and characteristics of Rob Roy, who now began a lawless and marauding course of life. He went up into the Highlands, where he was followed by one whose character has been variously represented—Mary Macgregor of Comar, his wife. According to one account, she was by no means the masculine and cruel being whom Scott has so powerfully described; yet, from several traits, it is obvious that she was one of the most determined of her sex, and that her natural boldness of spirit was exaggerated by an insult which was never forgiven, either by herself or by her husband. This was the forcible expulsion of herself and her family from their home at Inversnaid by Graham of Killearn, one of Montrose's agents; and the cruel act was accompanied by circumstances which nothing but death could blot from the memory of the outraged and injured Macgregor. The loss of property was nothing when compared with that one galling recollection.

The kind and once honourable Rob Roy was now driven to desperation. His natural capacity for warlike affairs had been improved in the collection of the black mail, or protection fees; a service of danger, in which many a bloody conflict with freebooters had shown the Macgregors of what materials their leader was composed. The black mail was a private contribution, often compulsatory, for the maintenance of the famous black watch, an independent corps of provincial militia, and so called from the colour of their dress, in contradistinction to the red soldiers, or leidar dearng. "From the time they were first embodied," writes General Stewart, "till they were regimented, the Highlanders continued to wear the dress of their country. This, as it consisted so much of the black, green, and blue tartan, gave them a dark and sombre appearance in comparison with the bright uniform of the regulars, who, at that time, had coats, waistcoats, and breeches of scarlet cloth. Hence the term dhu, or black, as applied to this corps."

In collecting both the imposts laid on for the maintenance of this corps, and in enforcing the black mail, Rob Roy had already gained the confidence of the better classes, whilst, by his exploits, lie had taught the freebooter to tremble at his name. His journeys to England had not, either, been unprofitable to him in ginning friends. By a strict regard to his word, a true Highland quality, he had gained confidence; whilst his open and engaging demeanour had procured him friends.

Soon after his expulsion from his property, Roll Roy travelled into England to collect a sum of money which was due to him. On returning through Moffat, his generous indignation was aroused by seeing the penalty of the law inflicted upon a young girl for fanaticism: two of her kinsmen had already suffered. As a party of soldiers were preparing to carry the girl, bound hand and foot, to a river, Rob Roy interposed; and, receiving an insolent reply, he sprang upon the soldiers, and in an instant, released the young woman, by plunging eight of her guards into the water. He then drew his claymore, and cut the cords which bound the intended victim. A short skirmish left him master of the field.

Rob Roy now prepared to remove from his dwelling at Inversnaid, into one more remote, and protected by its natural position. This was Craig Royston, or, as it is sometimes spelt, Craigrostan, whither Rob Roy removed his furniture and other effects. A tract, entitled "The Highland Rogue," published during the lifetime of Rob Roy, contains a striking description of this almost inaccessible retreat. It is situated on the borders of Loch Lomond, and is surrounded with stupendous rocks and mountains. The passages along these heights are so narrow, that two men cannot walk abreast; "It is a place," adds the same writer, "of such strength and safety, that one person well acquainted with it, and supplied with ammunition, might easily destroy a considerable army if they carne to attack him, and he, at the same time, need not so much as be seen by them." For this romantic scene, Rob Roy quitted Inversnaid; henceforth his occupation as a grazier and drover, and his character as a country gentleman, were lost in that of a freebooter. Many anecdotes have been related of his feats in the dangerous course which he henceforth adopted: but of these, some are so extraordinary, as to be incredible; others are perfectly consistent with the daring spirit of a man who had vowed to avenge his wrongs.

The Duke of Montrose was the first object of his wrath; accordingly, hearing that the tenantry of the Duke had notice to pay their rents, he mustered his men, and visiting these gentlemen, compelled them to pay him the money, giving them, nevertheless, receipts, which discharged them of any future call from Montrose. This practice he carried on with impunity for several years, until a more flagrant outrage drew down the anger of his enemy.

This was he less than the abduction of the Duke's factor, Killearn, who had formerly expelled the family of Rob Roy from Inversnaid. Killearn had gone to Chapellaroch in Stirlingshire, for the purpose of collecting rents; he anticipated, on this occasion, no interruption to his office, because Rob Roy had caused it to be given out, by proclamation, some days before, that he had gone to Ireland. Towards evening, nevertheless, he made his appearance before the inn at Chapellaroch, his piper playing before him; his followers were stationed in a neighbouring wood. The rents had just been collected, when the sound of the bagpipes announced to Killearn the approach of his enemy. The factor sprang up, and threw the bags, full of money, into a loft. Rob Roy entered, with the usual salutations, laid down his sword, and sat down to partake of the entertainment. No sooner was the repast ended, than he desired his piper to strike up a tune. In a few minutes by this signal, six armed men entered the room; when Rob Roy, taking hold of his sword, asked the factor, "How he had prospered in his collection of the rents?" "I have got nothing yet," replied the trembling Killearn; "I have not begun to collect." "No, no, Chamberlain," cried Rob Roy, "falsehood will not do for me. I demand your book." The book was produced, the money was found and delivered to Rob Roy, who gave his usual receipt. After this, the unfortunate factor was carried off to an island near the east of Loch Katrine, where he was confined a considerable time; and when he was released, was warned not to collect the rents of the, country in future, as Rob Roy intended to do so himself,—the more especially as the lands had originally belonged to the Macgregors, and ho was, therefore, only reclaiming his own.

This predatory war against the Duke of Montrose was carried on for a considerable time. It was favoured by the nature of the country over which the freebooter ruled triumphant, and by the secret good wishes of the Highlanders who resided in the neighbourhood. No roads were at that time formed in this region of singular beauty. Narrow valleys, thinly inhabited, and surrounded by forests and wilds, and guarded by rocks, passes, and other features of natural strength, afforded to Rob Roy all those advantages which he, who knew every defence which Nature gave to marauders in those retired haunts, could well appreciate.

The habits of the Highlanders were also, at this time, essentially warlike. "The use of arms," to borrow a description from an anonymous writer, "formed their common occupation, and the affairs of war their ordinary pursuit. They appeared on all public occasions, at market, and even at church, with their broadswords and their dirks; and, more recently, when the use of fire-arms became general, they seldom travelled without a musket and pistol." The clan Macgregor possessed these military tastes in an inordinate degree; and the wars of the foregoing century had accustomed them to a degree of union and discipline not, at that period, common among the Highlanders, who were considered, in those respects, as superior to their Lowland brethren. The vicinity of the rich districts of the Lowlands gave a rich stimulus to the appetite for plunder natural to a martial and impoverished people. Above all, their energies were inspired by an undying sense of ancient and present injuries, and the remembrance of their sufferings was never erased from their minds. At this time, the most disturbed districts in Scotland were those nearest to the Lowlands; the bitterness of political feelings was added to the sense of injustice, and the loss of lands. Rob Roy knew well how to avail himself of this additional incentive to violence; he avowed his determination to molest all who were not of Jacobite principles; and he put that resolution into active practice.

The character of the individual who exercised so singular a control over his followers, and over the district in which he lived, had changed since his early, dreamy days, or since the period of his honest exertions as a drover. Rob Roy had become in repute with Robin Hood of the Lowlands. His personal appearance added greatly to the impression of his singular qualities. The author of "the Highland Rogue" describes him as a man of prodigious strength, and of such uncommon stature as to approach almost to a gigantic size. He wore a beard above a foot long, and his face as well as his body was covered with dark red hair, from which his nick-name originated. The description given by Sir Walter Scott does not entirely correspond with this portraiture. "His stature," says that writer, "was not of the tallest, but his person was uncommonly strong and compact." The great peculiarity of his frame was the great length of his arms, owing to which he could, without stooping, tie the garters of his Highland hose, which are placed two inches below the knee. His countenance was sternly expressive in the hour of peril; but, at calmer moments, it wore that frank and kindly aspect which wins upon the afflictions of our species. His frame was so muscular, that his knee was described as resembling that of a Highland bull, evincing strength similar to that animal. His exercise of the broadsword was, even im those days, superlative; and his intimate knowledge of the wild country over which lie may be said to have ruled, gave him as great an advantage as his personal prowess. To these qualifications may be added another, perhaps more important still,—that quick perception of character, and that penetration into human motives, without which no mind can obtain a mastery over another.

To these characteristics were added a fearless and generous spirit, a hatred of oppression, and compassion for the oppressed. Although descended from the dark murderer of the young students, Rob Hoy had none of the ferocity of his race in his composition, lie was never the cause of unnecessary bloodshed, nor the contriver of any act of cruel revenge. "Like Robin Hood," says Scott, "he was a kind and gentle robber, and while he took from the rich, he was liberal to the poor. This might in part be policy, but the universal tradition of the country speaks it to have arisen from a better motive. All whom I have conversed with, and I have in my youth seen some who knew Rob Roy personally, gave him the character of a benevolent, humane man, in his way."

That "way" was certainly not followed out on the most approved principles of morality, and he is well described as resembling in his code of morals an "Arab chief." Rut if ever man may be excused for a predatory course of life, the chieftain, as he was now called, of the Macgregors may be pardoned for actions which, in those who had suffered less from wrong and oppression, would be deemed unpardonable.

The revival of that latent affection for the Stuarts which ever existed in the Highlands, greatly favoured the success of Rob Roy in his unsettled and exciting career. Many of the chieftains were now arraying their people to follow them to the field upon a summons from their rightful Prince; and even the Duke of Argyle, who had at first attached himself to the Prince of Orange, was wavering in his resolutions, never having been restored to his property and jurisdiction since the attainder and death of his father. Under these circumstances the assistance of Rob Roy became of infinite importance to Argyle. The most deadly feuds raged between him and Montrose, who, upon hearing that Roy was on friendly terms with Argyle, had sent to offer to the freebooter not only that he would withdraw his claims on his estate, but also that he would give him a sum of money if he would go to Edinburgh and give information against Argyle for treasonable practices. But this base overture, was indignantly rejected by Rob Roy, who deigned not even to reply to the letter, but contented himself with forwarding it to Argyle. Hence the bitter enmity of Montrose towards the Macgregors, during the whole course of his future life.

From this time Rob Roy kept no measures with his enemies, and his incursions were so frequent and so dreaded, that in 1713 a garrison was established at Inversnaid to check the irruptions of his party. But Rob Roy was too subtle and too powerful for his enemies. He bribed an old woman of his clan, who lived within the garrison, to distribute whiskey to the soldiers. Whilst they were in a state of intoxication, he set fire to the fort. He was suspected of this outrage, but still it passed with impunity, for no one dared to attack him; the affair was passed over in silence, and the Government re-established the fort of Inversnaid.

Numbers of the desperate and vagrant part of his clansmen now crowded around Rob Roy at Craig Royston, and swore obedience to him as their chieftain. The country was kept in continual awe by these marauders, who broke into houses and carried off the inmates to Craig Royston, there to remain until heavy ransoms were paid. Their chieftain, meantime, laughed at justice, and defied even the great Montrose. He had spies in every direction, who brought him intelligence of all that was going on. No person could travel near the abode of this mountain bandit without risk of being captured and carried to Craig Royston. In many instances the treatment of the prisoners is said to have been harsh; in some it was tempered by the relentings of Rob Roy. On one occasion, having seized upon a gentleman whose, means had been reduced by great losses, he not only set him at liberty, but gave him money to pay his travelling expenses, and sent him in one of his own boats as far as he could travel by water.

The incursions of this Scottish Robin Hood were contrived with the utmost caution and secrecy, and executed with almost incredible rapidity. No one knew when he would appear, nor in what direction he would turn his dreaded attention. He is even said to have threatened the Duke of Montrose in his own residence at Buchanan. His enterprises were, however, not always contrived for a serious end, but sometimes partook of the love of a practical joke, which is a feature, in the Scottish character.

"The Highland Rogue" gives the following account of one of his exploits:—

"Rob Roy's creditors now grew almost past hopes of recovering their money. They offered a large reward to any that should attempt it successfully; but not an officer could be found who was willing to run such a hazard of his life; till at length a bailiff, who had no small opinion of his own courage and conduct, undertook the affair.

"Having provided a good horse and equipped himself for the journey, he set out without any attendance, and in a few hours arrived at Craigroiston, where, meeting with some, of Rob Roy's men, he told them he had business of great importance to deliver to their master in private. Rob Roy having notice of it, ordered them to give him admittance. As soon as he came in, the Captain demanded his business. 'Sir,' (says the other) 'tho' you have had misfortunes in the world, yet knowing you to be in your nature an honourable gentleman, I made bold to visit you upon account of a small debt, which I don't doubt but you will discharge if it lies in your power.' 'Honest friend,' (says M'Gregor) ' I am sorry that at present I cannot answer your demand; but if your affairs will permit you to lodge at my house to-night, I hope by to-morrow I shall be better provided.' The bailiff complied, and was overjoyed at the success he had met with. He was entertained with abundance of civility, and went to bed at a seasonable time.

"Rob Roy then ordered an old suit of clothes to be stuffed full of straw, not wholly unlike one of the Taffies that the mob dress up and expose upon the 1st of March, in ridicule of the "Welshmen; only, instead of a hat with a leek in it, they bound his head with a napkin. The ghastly figure being completely formed, they hung it upon the arm of a tree directly opposite to the window where the officer lay: he rising in the morning and finding his door locked, steps back to the window and opens the casement, in expectation of finding some of the servants, when, to his great astonishment, he cast his eye upon the dreary object before him: he knew not what to make of it; he began to curse his enterprise, and wished himself safe in his own house again. In the midst of his consternation, he spied one of the servants, and calling to him, desired him to open the door. The fellow seemed surprised at finding it locked, begged his pardon, and protested it was done by mistake. As soon as the bailiff got out, 'Prithee friend,' (says he) 'what is it that hangs upon yonder tree?' 'O sir,' (says the other) ''tis a bailiff, a cursed rogue that has the impudence to come hither to my master, and dun him for an old debt; and therefore he ordered him to be hanged there for a warning to all his fraternity. I think the impudent dog deserved it, and in troth, we have been commended by all his neighbours for so doing.' The catchpole was strangely terrified at this account, but hoping that the servant did not know him to be one of the same profession, he walked away with a seeming carelessness, till he thought himself out of sight, and then looking round and finding the way clear, he threw off his coat and ran for his life, not resting, nor so much as looking behind him, till he came to a village about three or four miles off; where, when he had recovered breath, he told the story of his danger and escape, just as he apprehended it to be. Rob Roy was so pleased with the success of his frolic, that the next day he sent home the bailiff's coat and horse, and withal let his neighbours know that it was only a contrivance to frighten him away; by which means the poor rogue became the common subject of the people's diversion.''

This adventure was immediately recounted to the Governor of Stirling Castle by the messenger, who hastened to that fortress. A party of soldiers was ordered out to seize Rob Roy; but the chieftain gained intelligence of their approach, and Rob Roy retreated to the hills; whilst the country of the Macgregors was roused, and put into a state of defence. The soldiers, meantime, worn out with their search among the hills, took possession of an empty house and filled it with heath for beds. The Macgregors, always active and watchful, set fire to the house, and drove their enemies from their post. Thus Bob Roy escaped the pursuit of justice, the troopers being obliged to return to Stirling Castle. He was not always so fortunate as to avoid imminent danger; yet he had a faithful friend who watched over his safety, and who would have willingly sacrificed his life for that of Macgregor. This was the chieftain's lieutenant, Fletcher, or Mac-analeister, "the Little John of his band,'' and an excellent marksman. "It happened," writes Sir W. Scott, "that Mac Gregor and his party had been surprised and dispersed by a superior force of horse and foot, and the word was given to ' split and squander. Jack shifted for himself; but a bold dragoon attached himself to pursuit of Rob Roy, and overtaking him, struck at him with his broadsword. A plate of iron in his bonnet saved Mac Gregor from being cut down to the teeth; but the blow was heavy enough to bear him to the ground, crying as he fell, o0 Macanaleister, there is naething in her,' (i. e. in the gun:) the trooper at the same time exclaiming, ' D—n ye, your mother never brought your nightcap;' had his arm raised for a second blow, when Macanaleister fired, and the ball pierced the dragoon."

His feats had, however, in most instances, the character of an unwarrantable oppression, notwithstanding that they were sometimes accompanied by traits of a generous and chivalric spirit. Very few of those who lived in his neighbourhood could depend upon an hour's security, without paying the tax of black mail, which he audaciously demanded; and the licentiousness of his reckless troop was the theme of just reprobation, and the cause of terror to many innocent and peaceable inhabitants in the west of Perth and Stirlingshire. On one occasion Campbell, of Abernchile, who had found it convenient to submit to the assessment of the black mail, neglected the regular payment of the tax. Rob Roy, angry at his disobedience, rode up to his house, knocked at the door, and demanded admittance. A party of friends was at dinner with the host, and the door was closed against Macgregor. Rob Roy sounded his horne instantly his followers appeared in view. Rob Roy ordered them to drive off the cattle from the estate: Abernchile was forced to make an humble apology in order to avert his wrath, and to pay the exaction.

Another enterprise of Rob Roy's was directed to the welfare of his ward and relative, Macgregor of Glengyle. The estates of Glengyle were pledged, or, as it-is called in Scotland, "under a contract of wadset." The creditor was a man of influence and fortune; but, like most other Scottish proprietors who were enabled to take advantage of the wadset rights, he was grasping and merciless. It was not uncommon, in those times, for men to whom estates had been pledged, to take the most unfair advantages of small and needy proprietors; and from the great superiority which a superior claimed over his vassals, it became almost impossible for his inferiors to resist his rapacity, or to defeat his cunning.

Some months before the period of redemption had expired, Rob Roy, aware of the danger to which his ward was exposed, raised a sum of money in order to redeem the pledge. It was pretended by the creditor, that the bond securing the power of redemption was lost; and since a few months only of the. period remained, a plan was formed by him for protracting the settlement of the affair, Rob Roy, unhappily, was elsewhere occupied: the period expired; the young Macgregor ceased, therefore, to be the proprietor of his estate; he was ordered to leave it, and to remove his attendants, cattle, and tenants within eight days. "But law," as Dr. Johnson observes, "is nothing without power." Before those eight days had elapsed, Rob Roy had assembled his gillies, had followed his creditor into Argyleshire, had met him, nevertheless, m Strathtillan, and had carried him prisoner to an inn. There the unjust creditor was desired to give up the bond, and told to send for it from his castle. The affrighted man promised all that could be required of him; Rob Roy would not trust him, but sent two of his followers for the bond, which was brought at the end of two days. When it was delivered to Macgregor, he refused to pay the sum of redemption, telling the creditor that the money was too small a fine for the wrong which he had indicted; and that he might be thankful to escape as well as he might.

Against all acts of oppression, except those which he thought proper to commit himself, Rob Roy waged war. He was the avenger of the injured, and the protector of the humble; and lest his own resources should prove insufficient for these purposes, a contract was entered into with several neighbouring proprietors to combine, for the purposes of defence, and protection to others.

The Duke of Montrose and his agent, Graham of Killearn, were still the especial objects of Macgregor's hatred. When a widow was persecuted by the merciless factor, and distrained for rent, Rob Roy intercepted the officers who went out against her, and gave them a severe chastisement; and a similar excursion was made in favour of any poor man who was obliged to pay a sum of money for rent. The collectors of the rent were disarmed, and obliged to refund what they had received. Upon the same principle of might against right, Rob Roy supported his family and retainers upon the contents of a meal-store which Montrose kept at a place called Moulin; and when any poor family in the neighbourhood were in want of meat, Rob Roy went to the store-keeper, ordered the quantity which he wanted, and directed the tenants to carry it away. There was no power either of resistance or complaint. If the parks of Montrose were cleared of their cattle, the Duke was obliged to bear the loss in silence. At length, harassed by constant depredations, Montrose applied to the Privy Council for redress, and obtained the power of pursuing and repressing robbers, and of recovering the goods stolen by them. But, in this act, such was the dread of Rob Roy's power, that his name was intentionally omitted in the order in Council.

The retreat into which Rob Roy retired, in times of danger, was a cave at the base of Ben Lomond, and on the borders of the Loch. The entrance to this celebrated recess is extremely difficult from the precipitous heights which surround it. Mighty fragments of rock, partially overgrown with brushwood and heather, guard the approach. Here Robert de Bruce sheltered himself from his enemies; and here Rob Roy, who had an enthusiastic veneration for that monarch, believed that he was securing to himself an appropriate retirement. It was, indeed, inaccessible to all but those who knew the rugged entrance; and here, had it not been for the projects which brought the Chevalier St. George to England, Rob Roy might have defied, during his whole lifetime, the vengeance of Montrose. From this spot Macgregor could almost command the whole country around Loch Lomond; a passionate affection to the spot became the feeling, not only of his mind, but of that of his wife, who, upon being compelled to quit the banks of Loch Lomond, gave way to her grief in a strain which obtained the name of "Rob Roy's Lament."

Of the exquisite beauty, and of the grandeur and interest of the scene of Rob Roy's seclusion, thousands can now form an estimate. Dr. Johnson was no enthusiast when he thus coldly and briefly adverted to the characteristics of Loch Lomond. "Had Loch Lomond been in a happier climate, it would have been the boast of wealth and vanity to own one of the little spots which it incloses, and to have employed upon it all the arts of embellishment. But as it is, the islets which court the gazer at a distance, disgust him at his approach, when he finds instead of soft lawns and shady thickets, nothing more than uncultivated ruggedness."

From this retreat Rob Roy frequently emerged upon some mission of destruction, or some errand of redress. His name was a terror to all who had ever incurred his wrath; his depredations were soon extended to the Lowlands. One night a report prevailed in Dumbarton, that Rob Roy intended to surprise the militia and to foe the town. It was resolved to anticipate this attack, and accordingly the militia made their way to Craig Royston; and having secured the boats on Loch Lomond, which belonged to the Macgregors, they proceeded to seek for Rob Roy. But the chieftain had collected his followers, and, retreating into his cave, he laughed at his enemies, who were forced to retire without encountering him, the object of their search.

It is indeed remarkable, that outrages so audacious, and a power so imperative as that of Rob Roy, should have defied all control within forty miles of the city of Glasgow, an important and commercial city. "Thus," as Sir Walter Scott observes, a character like his, blending the wild virtues, the subtle policy, and unconstrained licence of an American Indian, was flourishing in Scotland during the Augustan age of Queen Anne and George the First. Addison, it is probable, and Pope, would have been considerably surprised if they had known that there existed, in the same island with them, a personage of Rob Roy's peculiar habits and profession.''

To the various other traits in the character of Rob Roy, there was added that tenacity of purpose, that obstinate and indefatigable hatred, which were common to the Highlanders. Their feuds were, it is true, hereditary, and were implanted in their minds before the reason could calm the passions. The fierce, implacable temper of the Macgregors had been aggravated by long-standing injuries and insults; among those who might be considered the chief foes of their race were the heads of the house of Athole. An uncontrolled, vehement spirit of revenge against that family burned in the breast of Rob Roy Macgregor; nor would he lose any opportunity of proving the. sincerity of his professions of hatred.

Hitherto the wild feats of the marauder had met with continual success; no reverse had lessened his control over his followers, nor lowered his individual pride. Put at length his enemy, the Earl of Athole, had a brief, but signal triumph over the dreaded chief. The circumstances under which it occurred are the following:—

Emboldened by his continued success, Rob Roy had descended into the plains, and headed an enterprise which was attended with the direst consequences: so desolating were its effects, that it is known by the name of the "Herriship of Kilrane." The outrage was severely taken up by Government, and a reward was offered for the head of the freebooter. It was even resolved to explore his cave. One day, when on the banks of Lochearn, attended by two of his followers, Rob Roy encountered seven men, who required him to surrender; but the freebooter darted from their view, and climbed a neighbouring hill, whence he shot three of the troopers, and dispersed the rest. This occurrence drove him, for some time, from his stronghold on Loch Lomond.

The Earl of Athole had deeply felt the insults of Rob Roy, and he now took advantage of this temporary change of fortune to ensnare him. On a former occasion he had made an ineffectual attempt to overcome Macgregor. The scene had taken place on the day of the funeral of Rob Roy's mother. This was at Balquhidder: when Rob Roy had beheld the party of the Earl's friends approaching, he grasped his sword, yet met the Earl with a smile, and affected to thank him for the honour of his company. The Earl replied, that his was not a visit of compliment: and that Rob Roy must accompany him to Perth. Remonstrance was vain, and Rob Roy pretended compliance; but, whilst his friends looked on indignant and amazed, Macgregor drew his sword; the Earl instantly discharged a pistol at him: it missed its mark, and, during a momentary pause, the sister of Rob Roy, and the wife of Glenfalloch, grasped Athole by the throat and brought him to the ground. The clan meantime assembled in numbers, and the Earl was thankful to be released from the fierce amazon who held him, and to retire from the country of the Macgregors.

The Earl of Athole now judged force to be unavailing, and he resolved to try stratagem. After wandering, in consequence of the proclamation of Government, from place to place, Rob Roy was greeted by a friendly message from the Earl of Athole, inviting him to Blair Athole. Macgregor had not forgotten the day of his mother's funeral. He acted, on this occasion, with the frankness of an honest and unsuspecting nature. He doubted the Earl's sincerity; and he wrote to him, freely stating that he did so. He was answered hyT the most solemn assurances of protection, notwithstanding that all this time Athole was employed by Government to bring Hob Roy to justice. Macgregor was, however, deceived: he rode to Blair, attended only by one servant, and was received with the utmost professions of regard, but was requested to lay aside his dirk and sword, as the Countess of Athole would not suffer any armed man to enter the castle. Rob Roy complied with Lord Athole's entreaty. What was his surprise when the first remark made by Lady Athole was her surprise at his appearing unarmed; Hob Hoy then felt that he was betrayed. Angry words, followed by a scuffle, ensued: the freebooter was overpowered; for sixty men, armed, entered before he could strike a blow.

Rob Roy was carried towards Edinburgh. He had proceeded as far as Logierait, under a strong guard, when he contrived, with his usual address and good luck, to make his escape. But the dangers which attended his eventful career were not at an end. He was surprised as he retired to the farm of Portnellan, near the head of Loch Katrine, by his old enemy, the factor of Montrose, with a party of men, who surrounded the house in which Rob Roy slept before he was out of bed; yet, the moment that he appeared, sword in hand, they fled in dismay. These, and many other incidents, rest so much upon tradition, and are so little supported by authority, that they belong rather to romance than to history. It is with the part which Rob Roy took in the actual concerns of his country that his biographer has most concern.

This brave but reckless individual was exactly the man to adopt a dangerous cause, and to play a desperate game. Proscribed, hunted, surrounded by enemies, burning under the consciousness of wrong, and unable to retrace his path to a peaceable mode of life, Rob Roy was a ready partisan of the Jacobite cause.

In 1713, he had transactions with two emissaries of the house of Stuart, and was called to account for that negotiation before the commander-in-chief in Edinburgh. He escaped punishment; and prepared, in 1715, to lead his clans to the field, headed by Macgregor of Glengyle, his nephew. Upon Michaelmas day, having made themselves masters of the boats in Loch Lomond, seventy of the Macgregors possessed themselves of Tnchmumiin, a large island on the lake. About midnight they went ashore at Bonhill, about three miles above Dumbarton. Meantime the alarm was spread over the country; bells were rung, and cannon fired from Dumbarton Castle. The Macgregors, therefore, thought fit to scamper away to their boats, and to return to the island. Here they indulged themselves in their usual marauding practices, "carrying off deer, slaughtering cows, and other depredations." Soon afterwards they all hurried away to the Earl of Mar's encampment at Perth; here they did not long remain, but returned to Loch Lomond on the tenth of October. [This account of what is called in history the " Lnch Lomond Expedition," is taker, from the Wodrow MSS. in the Advocate's Library in Edinburgh. Extiacts from these MSS. have been printed by James Denmstoun, Esq., to whose work I am indebted for this narrative of Rob Roy's martial career.]

They now mustered their forces. Such was the terror of their name, that both parties appear to have been afraid of the Macgregors, and to think "it would be their wisdom to part peaceably with them, because, if they should make any resistance, and shed the blood of so much as one Macgregiour, they would set no bounds to their fury, but burn and slay without mercy. This was the opinion held by some; by others resistance was thought the more discreet as well as the more honourable part. A body of  volunteers was brought from Paisley, and it was resolved, if possible, to retake the boats captured by the Macgregors, who could now make a descent wherever they pleased. A singular spectacle was beheld on the bosom of Loch Lorn and: four pinnacles and seven boats, which had been drawn by the strength of horses up the river Levin, which, next to the Spey, is the most rapid stream in Scotland, were beheld, their sails spread, cleaving the dark waters which reflected in their mirror a sight of armed men, who were marching along the side of the loch, in order to scour the coast. Never had anything been seen of the kind on Loch Lomond before. " The men on the shore," writes an eyewitness, marched with the greatest ardour and alacrity. The pinnaces on the water discharging their patararoes, and the men their small arms, made so very dreadful a noise thro' the multiply'd rebounding echoes of the vast mountains on both sides the loch, that perhaps there never was a more lively resemblance of thunder." This little fleet was joined in the evening by the enemy of the Macgregors, Sir Humphrey Colquhoun of Luss, followed by "fourty or fifty stately fellows, in their short hose and belted plaids, armed each of 'em with a well-fixed gun on his shoulder." At Luss a report prevailed that the Macgregors were reinforced by Macdonald of Glengarry, and had amounted to fifteen hundred strong: but this proved to be an idle rumour; their numbers were only four hundred.

This falsehood did not dishearten the men of Paisley. "They knew," says the chronicler of their feats, "that the Macgregiours and the devil are to be dealt with after the same way; and that if they be resisted, they will flee."

On the following morning the party from Paisley went on their expedition, and arrived at Inversnaid. Here, in order to "arouse those thieves and rebels from their dens," they fired a gun through the roof of a house on the declivity of a mountain; upon which an old woman or two came crawling out, and scrambled up the hill; but no other persons appeared. "Whereupon," adds the narrator, "the Paisley men, under the command of Captain Finlason, assisted by Captain Scot, a half-pay officer, of late a lieutenant of Colonel Kerr's regiment of dragoons, who is indeed an officer, wise, stout, and honest; the Dumbarton men, under the command of David Colquhoun and James Duncanson, of Garshark, magistrates of the burgh, with several of the other companies, to the number of an hundred men in all, with the greatest intrepidity leapt on shore, got up to the top of the mountain, and drew up in order, and. stood about an hour, their drums beating all the while: but no enemie appearing, they thereupon went in quest of the boats which the rebels had seized; and having casually lighted on some ropes, anchors, and oars hid among the shrubs, at length they found the boats drawn up a good way on the land, which they hurled down to the loch. Such of them as were not damaged, they carried off with them; and such as were, they sunk or hewed in pieces. And that same night they return'd to Luss, and thence next day, without the loss or hurt of so much as one man, to Dumbarton, whence they had first set out altogether, bringing along with them the whole boats they found in their way on either side the loch, and in creeks of the isles, and moored them under the cannon of the castle. And thus in a short time, and with little expense, the M'Greigours were towed, and a way pointed how the Government might easily keep them in awe."

The historian remarks, as a good augury, that a violent storm had raged for three days before. In the morning, notwithstanding this much magnified triumph on the part of his enemies, neither Rob Roy nor his followers were in the least daunted, but went about "proclaiming the Pretender," and carrying off plunder. "Yesternight, about seven," writes the same historian, "we had ane account from one of our townsmen, who had been five miles in the country, in the paroch of Baldernook, that three or four hundred of the clans, forerunners of the body coming, had at Drummen, near Dunkeld, proclaimed the Pretender; but no account to us from these places, nor from Sterling. Our magistrates sent fifty men at eight yesternight for information, and can hardly return till afternoon, if they have access to the three garrisons, of which they are I hear ordered to goe to to-day. I hear by report, without sufficient authority, that it's the M'Grigors come with a party, proclaimed the Pretender, tore the exciseman's book, and went away. H. E."

In a letter from Leslie, dated the twentieth of January, 1716, it is stated that the country did not oppose the incursions of Rob Roy, being mostly in his interest, or indifferent. Emboldened by this passive conduct, Rob Roy marched to Falkland on the fourth of January, 1716, and took possession of the palace for a garrison, he afterwards joined the Earl of Mar's forces at Perth, yet, whether from indolence, or caution, took but little share in the signal events of the day. He hovered sometimes in the Lowlands, uncertain whether to proclaim peace, or to embark with his Macgregors in the war: some said he declined fighting under Lord Mar, from the fear of offending the Duke of Argyle; at all events he had the wiliness to make the belligerent powers each conceive him as of their respective parties.

At the battle of Sherriff Muir, Macgregor had the address to make both the Jacobites and Hanoverians conceive, that, had he joined them, the glory of the day would have been secured.

The inhabitants of Leslie, who had heard, with dismay, the news of the burning of Auchterarder and Blackford, were now affrighed by a rumour that Rob Roy had a commission to burn Leslie, and all between that place and Perth. But, whilst the burgesses of Leslie were daily looking for this dreaded event, Rob Roy was forced to retreat to Dundee, by the approach of the King's troops. He left behind him a character of reckless rapacity, and of a determined will, notwithstanding some generous and humane actions. He was, nevertheless, esteemed to be among the fairest and discreetest of the party to whom he was attached, notwithstanding his favourite speech, "that he desired no better breakfast than to see a Whig's house burning." The people could not, indeed, trust any man's assurances after the recent and cruel devastation at Auchterarder.

When the fortune of the battle was decided, he was heard to say, in answer to demands that he should send his forces to the attack, "If they cannot do it without me, they cannot do it with me," and he immediately left the field. Such is the popular account of his conduct on that occasion.

The partisans of Rob Roy have, however, given a very different version of his conduct. The Duke of Argyle was the patron and friend of Macgregor; and he could neither, therefore, openly adopt a course which the Duke disapproved, nor would he altogether retire from a cause to which he was disposed to be favourable. With the true Gaelic caution Rob Roy waited to see which side prevailed, and then hastened to avail himself of an opportunity of that which had become the darling pursuit of his existence—plunder.

He retired from Sherriff Muir to Falkland, carrying terror wherever he passed.

The following letter, descriptive of his progress, affords a curious picture of the state of that harassed and wretched country:—

"D. B.

"I received yours this evening, but I find you have been quitemistaken about our condition. You datt our freedom and libertic from the rebels long befor its commencement, and for profe take the folowing accompt of what past heir these last ten days. Upon the fourth instant Rob Eoey, with one hundred and fifty men, com to Falkland, and took possession of the place for a garrison, from which they came through the countrey side and robs and plunder, taking cloaths and victuals, and every thing that maks for them, nor to oposs them till this day eight days. The sixth instant there corns thirty-two Highland men (I had almost said devils) to Leslie; we saw them at Formand Hills and resolved to resist, and so man, wife, and child drew out.

"The men went to the east end of the town, and met them in the green with drawn swords in the hands, and we askt them what they were for; they said they wanted cloaths and money; we answeared they should get neither of them heir, at which they stormed and swore terribly, and we told them if they were come for mischcif they should have thee till of it; at which ther were some blows. But they seeing us so bold, they began to feear that we should fall upon them, and so they askt libertie to march through the town, which we granted, but withall told them if they went upon the least house in the town, ther should never a man go back to Fackland to tell the news, though we should die on the spot, and so they marslit through the town and got not so much as the rise of a cap. And they were so afraid that they did not return, but went down over the Hank Ilill, and east to the minister's land; and their they faced about and fired twenty shots in upon the peple that were looking at them, but, glory to God, without doing the least hurt. And so they went olf to the Formand HiTs, and pluudred all the could carry or drive, and threatned dreadfully they should be avenged on Leslie and burn it."

The pursuit of plunder was considered by Rob Roy as a far more venial offence than if he had fought against Lord Mar, or offended Argyle, with whom he continued on such convenient terms, that he did not leave Perth until after the arrival of that General. He then retired with the spoils he had acquired, and continued for some years in the practice of the same marauding incursions which had already proved so troublesome and distressing to his neighbours.

In the subsequent indemnity, or free pardon, the tribe of Macgregor was specially excepted; and their loader, Robert Campbell, alias Macgregor, commonly called Robert Roy, was attainted.

The severities which followed the Rebellion of 1715, drove Rob Roy to a remote retreat in the Highlands, where he lived in a solitary hut, half covered with copsewood, and seated under the brow of a barren mountain. Here he resided in poverty, and, what was worse to his restless spirit, in idleness. Here he was in frequent dread of pursuit from the agents of the law; and several anecdotes arc told, with what veracity it is difficult to judge, of his dexterity in evading justice. Attainted, disappointed, aged, and poor, he had one grievous addition to his sorrows, which it required a cheerful and energetic mind to sustain,—that of a family devoid of principle.

Among the live sons of Macgregor, Coll, James, Robert, Duncan, and Ronald, four were known to be but too worthy of the name given by the enemies of the Macgregors to the individuals of that tribe —i "devils." Of Coll, the eldest, little is ascertained. Robert, or Robbiq, or the younger, as the Gaelic word signifies, inherited all the fierceness, without the generosity, of hi« race. At sixteen years of age, he deliberately shot at a man of the name of Maclaren, and wounded him so severely that he died. His brothers were implicated in this murder. On their trials, they were charged with being not only murderers, but notorious thieves and receivers of stolen goods. Robert was proved to have boasted of having drawn the first blood of the Maclarens; and the brothers were all accused of having followed this murder by houghing and killing forty head of young cattle belonging to a kinsman of the deceased.

Robert Roy, the principal party in the crime, did not appear before the High Court of Justiciary, to which he was summoned: he was therefore outlawed. The other brothers were tried, and the prosecution was conducted by the celebrated Duncan Forbes, of Culloden. The prisoners were acquitted of being accessory to the murder of Maclaren; but the jury were unanimous in thinking that the charge of being reputed thieves was made out, and they were ordered to find caution for their good behaviour.

Robert Roy was advised to retire to France: his brother James remained in Scotland, and took an active part in the Rebellion of 1745; when, with the assistance of his cousin Glengyle, he surprised the fort of Inversnaid; he afterwards led to the battle of Preston Pans six companies of his clan. His thighbone was broken in that battle; yet he appeared again at Culloden, and was subsequently attainted.

The life of James Macgregor was spared only to present a tissue of guilty schemes, and to end in infamy and exile. That of Rob Roy was dyed yet deeper in crimes, of which a second trial and an ignominious death were the dreadful result. He was hung in the Grass Market in Edinburgh, in the year 1754. James, his brother, being reduced to the most humiliating condition, died in France, after exhibiting in his conduct, whilst in Scotland, if possible, almost a deeper shade of depravity than that displayed by his brother.

Their father was, however, released from his existence before these desperate men had sullied the name which he transmitted to them by their transgressions.

As he declined in strength, Rob Roy became more peaceable in disposition; and his nephew, the head of the clan, renounced the enmity which had subsisted between the Macgregors and the Duke of Montrose. The time of this celebrated freebooter's death is uncertain, but is generally supposed to have occurred after the year 1738. "When he found himself approaching his final change," says Sir Waiter Scott, "he expressed some contrition for particular parts of his life. His wife laughed at these scruples of conscience, and exhorted him to die like a man, as he had lived. In reply, he rebuked her for her violent passions and the counsels she had given him. "You have put strife," he said, "betwixt me and the best men of my country, and now you would place enmity between me and my God."

Although he had been educated in the Protestant faith, Rob Roy had become a Catholic long before his death. "It was a convenient religion," he used to say, "which for a little money could put asleep the conscience, and clear the soul from sin." The time and causes of his conversion are only surmised; but when he had resolved on this important step, the freebooter left his lovely residence in the Highlands, and repairing to Drummond Castle, in Perthshire, sought an old Catholic priest, by name Alexander Drummond. His confessions were stated by himself to have been received by groans from the aged man to whom he unburthened his heart, and who frequently crossed himself whilst listening to the recital.

Even after this manifestation of penitence, Rob Roy returned to his old practices, and accompanying his nephew to the Northern Highlands, he is stated to have so greatly enriched himself, that he returned to the Braes of Balquhidder, and began farming.

He is said in the decline of life to have visited London, and to have been pointed out to George the Second by the Duke of Argyle, whilst walking in the front of St. James's Palace. He still had an imposing and youthful appearance, and the King is said to have declared that he had never seen a handsomer man in the Highland garb. But this, and other anecdotes, rest on no better authority than tradition. His strength, always prodigious, continued until a very late period; but at last it was extinguished even before the spirit which had stimulated it had died away. He is acknowledged, even by his partial biographer, to have declined one duel, and to have been worsted in another; but impaired eyesight, and decayed faculties are pleaded in defence of a weakness which cast dishonour on Macgregor.

His deathbed was in character with his life: when confined to bed, a person with whom he was at enmity proposed to visit him. "Raise me up," said Rob Roy to his attendants, "dress me in my best clothes, tie on my arms, place me in my chair. It shall never be said that Rob Roy Macgregor was seen defenceless and unarmed by an enemy." His wishes were executed; and he received his guest with haughty courtesy. When he had departed, the dying chief exclaimed: "It is all over now—put me to bed — call in the piper; let him play 'IIa til mi tulidli' (we return no more) as long as I breathe." He was obeyed,—he died, it is said, before the dirge was finished. His tempestuous life was closed at the farm of Inverlochlarigbeg, (the scene, afterwards, of his son's frightful crimes,) in the Braes of Balquhidder. He died in 1735, and his remains repose in the parish churchyard, beneath a stone upon which some admirer of this extraordinary man has carved a sword. His funeral is said to have been attended by all ranks of people, and a deep regret was expressed for one whose character had much to recommend it to the regard of Highlanders.

He left behind him the memory of a character by nature singularly noble, humane, and honourable, but corrupted by the indulgence of predatory habits. That he had ever very deep religious impressions is doubted; and his conversion to popery has been conjectured to have succeeded a wavering and unsettled faith. When dying, he showed that he entertained a sense of the practical part of Christianity, very consistent with his Highland notions. He was exhorted by the clergyman who attended him to forgive his enemies; and that clause in the Lord's prayer which enjoins such a state of mind was quoted. Rob Roy replied: "Ay, now ye hae gien me baith law and gospel for it. It's a hard law, but I ken it's gospel." "Rob," he said, turning to his son, "my sword and dirk lie there: Never draw them without reason, nor put them up without honour. I forgive my enemies; but see you to them,—or may"— the words died away, and he expired.

Reason may disapprove of such a character as that of Rob Roy, but the imagination and the feelings are carried away by so much generosity, such dauntless exertion in behalf of the friendless, as were displayed by the outlawed and attainted freebooter. He was true to his word, faithful to his friends, and honourable in the fulfilment of his pecuniary obligations. How many are there, who abide in the sunshine of the world's good opinion, who have little claim to similar virtues!


Return to the Book Index Page



Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page




© Copyright 2014 electricscotland.com.