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.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Significant Scots
Simon Fraser


FRASER, SIMON, twelfth lord Lovat, a person too remarkable in history to be overlooked in this work, though his want of public or private virtue might otherwise have dictated his exclusion, and the second son of Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, by Sybilla Macleod, daughter of the laird of Macleod, and was born at Beaufort, near Inverness, in the year 1667. Of his early years we have no very distinct account. He has himself asserted that, at the age of thirteen, he was imprisoned for his exertions in the royal cause, though we do not well see how this could happen. That his elder brother however, was in the insurrection of the viscount Dundee, and himself, after the death of Dundee, in that under general Buchan, is certain. After all the pains his lordship has been at to set forth his extreme zeal for the Stuarts, nothing can be more evident than that, from his earliest days, the sole purpose of his life was to promote his own power by all feasible means, this end being the only object of his solicitude. Agreeably to this view of his character, we find him in the year 1694, while yet a student at the university of Aberdeen, accepting of a commission in the regiment of lord Murray, afterwards earl of Tullibardine. This commission had been procured for him by his cousin, Hugh lord Lovat, who was brother-in-law to lord Murray, with the express view of bringing him "forward most advantageously in the world;" and though he professed to have scruples in going against the interest of king James, these were all laid asleep by an assurance, on the part of lord Murray, that the regiment, though ostensibly raised, and in the meantime to take the oaths to, and receive the pay of king William, was really intended for king James, who would not fail to be in the country to lay claim to and revive his rights, in the course of the succeeding year. No sooner had young Beaufort received this assurance than he led into the regiment a complete company, almost entirely made up of the young gentlemen of his clan. In the course of the succeeding year, lord Murray was, by the favour of king William, appointed secretary of state for Scotland, and, in place of doing any thing for king James, inforced upon every officer in his regiment the oath of abjuration.

Being a young man, at liberty to follow out his education, and in the regular receipt of his pay, Beaufort, it might have been supposed, would have found his situation comfortable, and been, in some measure, content; but his spirit seems to have been naturally restless, and any thing like an under part in the drama of life did not square with his disposition. In the course of the year 1696, a company of lord Murray’s regiment, being stationed at the castle of Edinburgh, where the earl Marischal, lord Drummond, and other of the Jacobite lords were imprisoned, a visit from the Pretender being at the time expected, Simon, the subject of this narrative, entered into an engagement with the rebel lords, to seize upon the castle, and to hold it under the earl Marischal for the French and king James. In this project, which appears not to have been executed, only because the French were unable to make the premised demonstration, Beaufort was to have been assisted by another captain of the same regiment, who seems to have been equally faithless and equally servile with himself.

But while he was thus careful to watch the tides, and to take advantage of every wind that might ruffle the ocean of politics, his eye was steadily fixed upon the estate of Lovat, which, as his cousin Hugh lord Lovat had but one child, a daughter, he had already marked out as his own. For this end he seems to have embraced every opportunity of ingratiating himself with his cousin, who appears to have been a man of a facile and vacillating disposition, and to have been considerably under the influence of lord Murray, his brother-in-law. Of this influence, Simon of Beaufort was perfectly aware, and watched with the utmost assiduity an opportunity to destroy it. This opportunity lord Murray himself afforded him in the affair of the colonelcy of the regiment, which, upon his appointment to the office of secretary, it was expected he would have given up to his brother-in-law, lord Lovat. Nor is it at all unlikely that such was originally his lordship’s intention; for, in the year l696, he sent for him to London, apparently with the intention of doing so, after having presented him to the king. Lovat unfortunately carried along with him his cousin, Simon, whose character must, by this time, have been pretty well known to king William, and whose companionship, of course, could be no great recommendation to the royal favour. Lovat was, however, presented to the royal presence, most graciously received, and gratified with a promise of being provided for. As this was all that Lovat expected, he took leave of his majesty, along with lord Murray, leaving no room for William to suppose, for the present at least, that he either wished or had any occasion for a further interview. This his cousin Simon highly resented, telling him that it was a contrivance of lord Murray’s to deprive him of an opportunity of soliciting a regiment for himself, and he prevailed with him instantly to demand of lord Murray the reason for which he had brought them at this time to London, at such an enormous expense. Lord Murray frankly told him that it was his design to have resigned to him the command of his regiment, but that the king had positively enjoined him to keep it in his own hands till such time as the rumours of an invasion should subside, when he should certainly surrender it into his hands.

Had Lovat been left to himself, this answer would most probably have been altogether satisfactory; but it did not satisfy Simon nor his friends lord Tarbat and Alexander Mackenzie, son to the earl of Seaforth, both of whom were at that time in London, and were of service to Beaufort in persuading lord Lovat that lord Murray had been all along his mortal enemy. By the advice of all three, Lovat sent back to lord Murray two commissions, that of captain and lieutenant-colonel, which he held under him, expressing, at the same time, in strong language, his resentment of his treachery, and his fixed resolution never more to see him nor any individual of his family, excepting his own wife. At the same time that the poor old man was thus eager in casting off his old friends, he was equally warm in his attachment to the new. "Impressed with the tender affection of the laird of Beaufort, and the resolution he manifested never to leave him, he declared that he regarded him as his own son;" and as he had executed, at his marriage, some papers which might perhaps be prejudicial to the claims of this said adopted son, he obliged him to send for an attorney, and made a universal bequest to him of all his estates, in case he died without male issue. This affectionate conduct on the part of lord Lovat, deeply, according to his own account of the matter, affected our hero, who pretended "that he would for ever consider him as his father." In consequence of so much anxious business, so much chagrin and disappointment, with a pretty reasonable attendance on taverns, lord Lovat fell sick; but after convalescing a little, was brought on his way home as far as Edinburgh by his affectionate Simon, where he left him, proceeding by the way of Dunkeld to meet with his wife. He had not been many days at Dunkeld when he again fell sick, and retired to an inn at Perth, where he was again waited on by Simon of Beaufort, and, in a state of distraction, died in his arms the morning after his arrival.

Though, as we have seen, the subject of this memoir had got a deed executed by a London attorney under the direction of his cousin, the late lord Lovat, constituting him heir to the estate, it was judged by him the more prudent method to put forward his father, as the nearest male heir, to take possession of the estate, with the honours, contenting himself with the title of master of Lovat. No sooner, however, had he assumed this title than he was questioned on the subject by his colonel, now lord Tullibardine, who made him the offer of a regiment, with other preferments, which should be to him an ample provision for life, provided he would execute a formal surrender of his claim to that dignity. This produced a violent altercation between them, which ended in the master of Lovat throwing up his commission, which he bade his lordship, if he pleased, bestow upon his own footman. Through the friendship of Sir Thomas Livingston, however, he received another company in the regiment of Macgill, and his father having taken possession of the estate and the honours of Lovat, without much apparent opposition, he must have been, in some degree, satisfied with his good fortune. In order, however, to secure it, and to render his claims in every respect unexceptionable, he made love to the heiress of his cousin, the late lord Lovat, and had succeeded in persuading her to marry him, without the knowledge of her friends, when one of his agents betrayed trust, and she was carried out of his way by the marquis of Athol, after the day of the marriage had actually been appointed.

The marquis of Athol, late lord Tullibardine, probably aware that he had an adversary of no common activity to deal with, lost no time in concluding a match for the heiress with lord Salton, or Fraser, whom he also took measures for having declared head of the clan Fraser. The first part of his plan was not difficult to have been executed; but the latter part, for which the first was alone contemplated, was not of so easy a character, being opposed to the spirit of highland clanship. A considerable time, however, was spent in attempting to bring it to bear. A few Frasers only could be brought to engage in it; whose treachery no sooner came to the ears of the lord and the master of Lovat, than orders were issued to apprehend and punish them according to their deserts; and it was only by a timely and well-concerted flight that they escaped being hanged. A letter was, at the same time, sent to lord Salton, signed by the principal men of the clan, begging him not to attempt forcing himself upon them, and thus destroying their tranquillity, and endangering his own life. Salton returned a soft answer; but, confident in the power of the marquis of Athol, and, at any rate, in love with the consequence attached to the fair estate of Lovat, whether he was in love with the heiress or not, persevered in following out his plan, and with a considerable train of retainers came to Beaufort, at that time the residence of the dowager of Lovat, whose son-in-law he intended to be. Thomas, lord Lovat, happened to be at this time on the Stratherrick estate, a district which stretches along the south bank of Lochness, and was requested by his son Simon, to cross the lake by the nearest way to Lovat, which is only three miles from Beaufort, in order to meet with lord Salton, while he himself hastened to the same place by the way of Inverness. At Inverness the master learned that lord Salton, persevering in his original design, had fully matured his plans at the house of the dowager lady Lovat, whence he intended next day to return into his own country, calling at Athol, and marrying the heiress of Lovat by the way, without waiting to sue either the lord or the master of Lovat. Irritated, as well as alarmed by this intelligence, he wrote by a special messenger to lord Salton, calling upon him to adhere to his word "passed both to his father and himself, and to meet him next day at two o’clock in the afternoon, three miles from Beaufort, either like a friend, or with sword and pistols, as he pleased." This letter lord Salton received at six o’clock in the evening, and returned for answer that he would meet the master of Lovat at the time and place appointed, as his good friend and humble servant. In the meantime it was concluded by him and his followers to break up from their present quarters, and to pass the bridge of Inverness before the master of Lovat could have any suspicion of their being in motion, and thus escape a meeting with him for the present. The master, however, was too good a calculator of probabilities in this sort of intercourse to be thus taken in, especially as his messenger to lord Salton, from what he had observed at Beaufort, had strong suspicions of what was intended. He was, accordingly, at the road very early in the morning, attended by six gentlemen and two servants, all well mounted and armed, and meeting lord Salton, lord Mungo Murray, and their followers, to the number of forty, issuing from a defile in the wood of Bunchrive, about five miles from Inverness, disarmed and dismounted them; first lord Mungo Murray, then lord Salton, and the rest singly as they came forward, without stroke of sword or the firing of a single musket. Though the party of the master of Lovat was so inconsiderable at the outset, lord Salton and his party soon found themselves surrounded by some hundreds of enraged enemies, by whom under the direction of the master, they were carried prisoners to the castle of Fanellan, where they were closely shut up under a certification that they should be all hanged for their attempt to intrude themselves into the inheritance, and to deprive the owner of his lawful and hereditary rights. Nor had they any right to consider this as a mere bravado: the history of clan wars could easily furnish them with numerous examples of such barbarous atrocity, where there was not greater provocation.

Having thus completely marred the marriage of lord Salton, the master of Lovat immediately set about the celebration of his own. The heiress of Lovat was safe in the hands of her friends at Athol; but the dowager, her mother, was in the house of Beaufort, every avenue to which he beset with his followers, so that it was out of her power to inform her friends of any thing that was going on; then, entering the house with a parson, whether catholic or episcopal is unknown, he made the lady go through the form of marriage with himself, had her forcibly undressed and put to bed, whither he as forcibly followed her before witnesses, thus constituting it, as he supposed, a lawful marriage. This is one of the most atrocious of the many revolting actions in the life of this profligate nobleman, though one to which he has given a flat denial in the memoir which he has written of himself. The truth is, it was as foolish as it was wicked; and, after the purpose for which it was committed, viz, to remove the enmity of the Athol family, had utterly failed, he himself must have been heartily ashamed of it. There is, indeed, a total falsehood in one reason that he insists upon as proving its improbability. She was old enough, he says, to have been his mother. Now she was only four years older than himself, having died at Perth in the year 1743, in the eightieth year of her age. She had been either so frightened by him, or so cajoled, as to offer, if we may believe the duke of Argyle, writing to the Rev. Mr Carstairs, to give her oath before the court of justiciary that all that had passed between her and Lovat was voluntary, and as much her inclination as his; and she lived to hear him deny his being at all concerned with her, and to see him twice afterwards married.

But to return from this short digression. Having, as he supposed, put himself in a fair way for being acknowledged by the house of Athol, the master of Lovat abandoned the idea of hanging so many of the members and allies belonging to it, as he had in custody in his castle of Fanellan, contenting himself with extorting a bond from lord Salton for eight thousand pounds, with four low-country barons as his sureties, if he ever again interfered with the affairs of the estate of Lovat, or if ever he or the marquis of Athol prosecuted any one individual for any thing that had been transacted in this whole affair. This was only a little more of the same folly which had guided him through the whole business, and tended but to excite the wonder of his friends, and the hatred and contempt of his enemies, the latter of whom, on a representation to the privy council, had him intercommuned, and letters of fire, and sword issued out against him and all his clan. This, though perfectly in the natural order of human affairs, was altogether unexpected by the master of Lovat, and seems to have reduced him to great extremity. Besides the family of Athol, which was much more powerful than his own, troops were ready to pour in upon him from all quarters, and even those upon whom he depended for counsel and assistance seem at the time to have declared against him. To the laird of Culloden, we find him writing from Beaufort in the month of October, 1697. "Thir Lds. att Inverness, wt, ye rest of my implacable enemies, does so confound my wife, that she is uneasy till she see them. I am afraid they are so mad with this disappointment, that they will propose something to her that’s dangerous, her brother having such power with her; so that really till things be perfectly accommodate, I do not desire they should see her, and I know not how to manage her. So I hope you will send all the advice you can to your obliged, &c. &c. I hope you will excuse me for not going your length, since I have such a hard task at home." The advice given him by Culloden has not been preserved; but that it was not to his mind, we learn from a letter written by that gentleman from Inverlochy, about ten or twelve days after. "I am much concerned," says he, "that your neighbour Beaufort hath played not the fool but the madman. If, by your persuasion, he cannot be induced to deliver up the so much abused lady upon assurance of pardon, in all probability he will ruin both himself and his friends. ‘Tis not long since he was here, and promised me other things; but since he has run a quite contrary course, and stands neither to his own nor the proposals of any other, I have sent down two hundred men," &c. &c. This view of the matter is still further confirmed by another letter from Lovat to Culloden, a few days after the above, when he seems to have felt that he was pretty much in the power of his enemies. "I pray you receive the inclosed account of my business, and see if your own conscience, in the sight of God, do not convince you that it is literally true. I had sent to you upon Saturday last, but you were not at home; however, I sent it that day to the laird of Calder, who, I hope, will not sit down upon me, but transmit it to my best friends; and I beseech you, sir, for God’s sake, that you do the like. I know the chancellor is a just man, notwithstanding his friendship for Tullibardine. I forgive you for betraying of me; but neither you, nor I, nor I hope God himself, will not forgive them that deceived you, and caused you do it. I am very hopeful in my dear wife’s constancy, if they do not put her to death. Now, I add no more, but leaves myself to your discretion," &c. At the same time his father, lord Lovat, wrote to the duke of Argyle an explanatory letter upon the subject, signed by himself and all the principal Frasers. The great benefit of the marriage to the estate of Lovat is chiefly insisted on in this letter, and represented as the sole cause of the enmity of the Athol family; who, it states, wished to appropriate that fair domain to themselves. Argyle, on the receipt of this letter, wrote to Mr Carstairs, who was king William’s principal adviser in all that related to Scotland, and, after a considerable length of time, was gratified by receiving the pardon he had solicited for all the treasons with which his client had been charged, leaving the story of the rape for a subject of future investigation. For this also, had there been a little patience and prudence exercised, there cannot be a doubt but he would have obtained a full remission.

To be out of the way of this storm at its commencement, lord Lovat had taken shelter in the island of Skye, with his brother-in-law the laird of Macleod, where he died in the beginning of 1698. Simon, who had defended himself in the best manner he could, then assumed the title of lord Lovat, but to escape the rage and superior strength of his enemies, was also under the necessity of taking refuge in the isles, where he remained till the following year, When the duke of Argyle, with the promise of a pardon, brought him to London. Delays took place, however, in procuring his remission to pass the Scottish seals, till the king set out for the United Provinces, and Lovat took an excursion into France, for the purpose of lodging, at the court of St Germains, a complaint against the marquis of Athol, and soliciting James’s protection against the maliguity of his powerful family. Having obtained his request, and been enjoined by the exiled monarch to wait on and make his peace with king William, Lovat proceeded by the way of London to the court of that sovereign, at Loo, being favoured with a letter from the duke of Argyle to Mr Carstairs, through whom he received a remission, he himself says, of all crimes that could be imputed to him, but restricted by Seafield in passing the Scottish seals, as has been above stated. With this remission, such as it was, he ventured to make his appearance in public, had a citation served upon the marquis of Athol and his family for falsely accusing him, and for devastating his estates; and, making a progress through the north, returned to Edinburgh with a hundred gentlemen as honourable as himself, to support his charges, and bear witness to the innocence and integrity of his character; or rather to browbeat the authorities, and extort from fear a decision which he well knew could never be procured from the voice of truth and justice. Finding, however, that he had undertaken what would fail him in the issue, he once more set out for London, the day before the trial should have come on, and was nonsuited in his absence; and thus, by his imprudent temerity, lost the opportunity of being fairly instated in the estate and honours of Lovat, as he would certainly have been, through the interest of Argyle and his other friends, had he allowed them to do their own work in their own way.

The restoration of king James was now Lovat’s sheet anchor; and, lest the Murrays, whom he suspected of being warmer friends to James than he was himself should also be before him here, it was necessary for him to be peculiarly forward. Accordingly, on the death of king William in the early part of the year 1702, he procured a commission from several of the principal Scottish Jacobites to the court of St Germains, declaring their being ready to take up arms and hazard their lives and fortunes for the restoration of their lawful prince; as usual, paying all manner of respect to the court of Versailles, and requesting its assistance. With this, he proceeded, by the way of England and Holland, and reached the court of St Germains about the beginning of September, 1702; just in time to be particularly useful in inflaming the contentions that distracted the council of James VIII., for the direction of whose affairs there was a most violent struggle among his few followers. He had for his fellow-traveller his cousin-german, Sir John Maclean, well known in the history of the intrigues of that time, who, leaving him at Paris, was his precursor to the court of St Germains, whence in two days he returned to conduct him into the presence of the duke of Perth, from whom he received private instructions how to conduct himself towards the queen. The principal of these was to request of the queen that she should not make known any part of what he proposed to lord Middleton, who, at the time, was the rival of lord Perth for the supreme direction of their affairs, which might be said to lie chiefly in sending out spies, fabricating reports, and soliciting pensions. Nothing could be more agreeable to Lovat, the very elements of whose being seemed to be mystery, and with whom to intrigue was as natural as to breathe. To work he went, exacted the queen’s promise to keep every thing secret from Middleton; and by the aid of the marquis de Torcy, the marquis Callieres, and cardinal Gualterio, the pope’s nuncio, funded himself sole administrator of the affairs of Scotland. The queen herself was so much pleased with the opening scene, that she gladdened the heart of Lovat, by telling him she had sent her jewels to Paris to be sold, in order to raise the twenty thousand crowns he had told her were necessary for bringing forward his Highlanders in a properly effective manner. But she was not long true to her promise of secrecy; and Middleton at once depicted Lovat as "the greatest traitor in the three kingdoms:" nor did he treat his favourite highlanders with any more respect, representing them as mere banditti, excellent at plundering the Lowlanders, and carrying off their cattle, but incapable of being formed into a regular corps that would look a well appointed enemy in the face. From this day forward, Lovat seems to have fallen in the opinion of Mary d’Este, who was a woman of rather superior talents, though he seems to have gone on well with de Torcy, Callieres, and, Gualterio, who found in him, as they supposed, a very fit tool for their purpose of raising in Scotland a civil war, without much caring whether it really promoted the interests of James or not. After much intriguing with Perth and Middleton, as well as with the French ministry, Lovat obtained a commission to visit Scotland in 1703, but rather as an emissary of the French government, than as a credited agent for James. The object of the French government was to have an immediate diversion created in the Highlands, and they furnished his lordship with six thousand francs (250 pounds) to defray the expenses of his journey, and a commission to be a major-general, with power to raise troops and appoint officers, as he should find needful. At the same time, to be the witness of his behaviour, they joined with him John Murray of Abercairney, a gentleman who ought to have been ashamed of such a companion as Lovat, and had the address to send James Murray, brother to Murray of Stanhope, so as to be in Scotland at least a month before him, where he told it openly, that Lovat was on his way, as agent for the pope and the king of France, to raise a civil war in Scotland, contrary to the positive orders of the king and his mother the queen. Owing to this and the well known character of Lovat, many of the Jacobites were shy of communicating with him, though he certainly found a few willing to depend upon his promises, and to enter into his projects. His principal object, however, most probably was to see if there were yet any openings whereby he might reconcile himself with the government, and be allowed to take possession of the estate of Lovat, the first and the last grand object of his ambition. He accordingly threw himself in the way of Queensberry, to whom he betrayed all—perhaps more than he knew, respecting his old friend, lord Murray, now, by the death of his brother and the queen’s favour, duke of Athol, and his associate in politics, the duke of Hamilton; but his best friend the duke of Argyle dying at this time, he appears to have obtained nothing more than a free passport, and perhaps some promises in case of further discoveries; and with this he passed again into France. Having, while in London fallen in with, or rather been introduced to, a well known Jacobite, William Keith, and the well known framer of plots, Ferguson, who was shortly after taken up, the whole of his transaction took air before he had time to reach Paris. The companion of his travels, too, Sir John Maclean, coming to England about the same time, surrendered himself prisoner, and, in consideration of obtaining his liberty and a small pension, laid open the whole of Lovat’s proceedings from first to last, so that he was discovered to both courts at the same time. The reader, however, if he supposes that Lovat felt any pain at these discoveries, is in a great mistake. They were unquestionably the very events he wished, and from which he expected to rise in worldly estimation and in wealth, which is too often the chief pillar upon which that estimation is founded. There was at this period, among all parties, a thirst for emolument which was perfectly ravenous, and scrupled at no means by which it might attain its gratification. Of this fatal propensity, the present affair is a remarkable instance. Lovat had received from king James the present of his picture, which, with a commission for a regiment of infantry, he had inclosed in a box made for the purpose. This, on leaving Scotland, he committed to his friend, Campbell of Glendaruel, to keep for him, and his back was scarcely turned when Glendaruel went to the duke of Athol, and offered him the box, with its contents, provided he would give him a company in a regiment that was held by Campbell of Finab, and was worth about one hundred and seventy pounds a year, which he at once obtained, and the box with its contents was in a short time lodged in the hands of queen Anne. Lovat, in his memoirs, relates the transaction, and exclaims against its treachery, though it was wholly his own contrivance; the box being given for the express purpose of procuring a pension for his friend, and giving Anne and her ministers ocular demonstration of his own importance.

On his arrival in France; lord Lovat found the earl of Middleton and the exiled queen, as much opposed to him and his projects as ever, but he continued his assiduities with the French courtiers, who informed him, that he might expect very soon to be the first of the Scottish nobility, since he would be called on to head the insurrection not only as a general officer to king James, but as a general officer in the army of France; every thing necessary for the success of the expedition, land forces, a squadron of ships, arms, and ammunition, being already prepared, and nothing remaining to be done but the form of carrying it through the privy council, which a day or two would accomplish. In a day or two it was proposed in the council, when the king himself declared, that, though he had the highest opinion of the excellence of the proposed plan, the queen of England had positively refused to sign commissions for her subjects to engage in it, and therefore, for the present it was necessary to lay it aside. This was a sad blow to the hopes of Lovat; and being always fond of letter writing, he wrote a letter to the queen, in which he told her, that she had at one blow overturned a project which he had sacrificed his property and exposed his life to bring to perfection; and he affirmed, that, so long as her majesty followed implicitly the advice of the people who were at the head of the English parliament, Jesus Christ would come in the clouds before her son would be restored; and he concluded by saying, that, for his own part, he would never draw a sword for the royal cause, so long as the regency was in her majesty’s hands.

In consequence of this letter, lord Lovat was at the queen’s instance imprisoned thirty-two days in a dark dungeon, three years in the castle of Angouleme, and seven years in the city of Saumur. In the meantime the project was not abandoned. Colonel Hooke succeeded to the part that Lovat had played or attempted to play. A large armament, under admiral Forbin, was fitted out in the year 1708, and in which James himself embarked, and had a sight of the Scottish shore, when meeting with admiral Byng and afterwards encountering a violent storm, the whole was driven back upon the French coast, with great loss. In this expedition the friends of Lovat had requested James to employ him, and they had received the most determined refusal, which finally, with the failure of the expedition, cut off all his hopes from that quarter. What added greatly to the bitterness of his reflections, the heiress of Lovat was now married to Mr Alexander Mackenzie, (son of lord Prestonhall,) who had assumed the title of Fraserdale, with the estate of Lovat settled on him for life, with remainder to the heirs of the marriage, who were to bear the name of Fraser, and of which there were already more than one. Thus circumstanced, he confessed, that he "would not merely have inlisted himself in the party of the house of Hanover, which was called to the crown of Scotland, England, and Ireland, by all the states of the kingdom, but with any foreign prince in the universe, who would have assisted him in the attainment of his just and laudable design of re-establishing his family, and proclaiming to all Scotland the barbarous cruelty of the court of St Germains." In this state of mind he formed the resolution of escaping from Saumur, in company with some English prisoners, and throwing himself at the feet of the dukes of Marlborough and Argyle, entreating them to interpose in his favour with queen Anne. This design circumstances prevented him from executing; but he transmitted on various occasions, letters to the duke of Argyle and others of his friends, upon whom he supposed he could depend, stating the determination he had come to, and requesting their good offices to effect his reconciliation with the queen. Some of these letters were returned to the court of St Germains, shown to the court of France, and nearly occasioned his being shut up in the Bastile for life. He soon, however, engaged in forming another plan for the invasion of Scotland, in which he expected to be employed; but the terrible campaigns of 1710 and 1711, put it out of the power of the court of France to attend to any thing beyond domestic concerns; and the marquis de la Fuziliere, the principal friend he possessed at the French court, dying at the same time, rendered all his prospects in that country hopeless. The conclusion of peace and the appointment of the duke of Hamilton to represent queen Anne at the court of Versailles, filled him with still more gloomy apprehensions, from which he was not delivered till he read in the public papers the fatal duel that had been fought between that nobleman and lord Mohun, when he again took courage, and applied once more to the French court to be set at liberty. The person he employed, however, had no success; his character seemed to be losing rather than gaining at that court, and he was advised to make his escape. Others, certain that the king would be immediately restored by Anne and her ministers, and was even now on the point of setting out for Scotland to be at hand when wanted, assured him that to depart for Scotland without his permission was only to rush upon inevitable destruction. This seems to have filled him with great apprehension, and he laboured to be reconciled to the Pretender with the greatest but the most fruitless industry, till he was driven to utter despair by the death of queen Anne, and tidings that all the Jacobite clans in the north were arming in behalf of James, who had again and again declared, that, without the consent of the duke of Athol, he would never hear of his name. In this dilemma, one of the Frasers arrived to request his presence with the clan, and advising him to join the party of Argyle, who was their old friend, and the only one that was likely to be able to afford them protection. He had previously to this written to Argyle, but does not seem to have had any reply. He now despatched a trusty servant to consult with him and Ilay, Culloden, Grant, Kilravock, and other of his old friends, who stated that if he could make his way safely to London, the business was done. This at once determined him to set out for England, taking the best precautions he could to avoid being arrested. On the 1st of November, 1714, after an imprisonment of ten years, he arrived at Dover, where, on account of extreme fatigue, he rested for one night. He then, by a journey of two days, arrived safely in London.

Here his first care was to despatch his trusty friends, James and Alexander Fraser, for the earl of Ilay and brigadier-general Grant. The brigadier lost not a moment in waiting on him, expressed great joy to see him safe and assured him of every good office in his power. Ilay, on the contrary, expressed considerable regret at his having quitted the provision which, amid the severe treatment he met with, had been made for him in France, while in England he had not even the security of his life, but he engaged to bring his case before the king and the prince that very night, and to let him know the result next day. The circumstances in which Lovat had thus placed himself were by no means pleasant. In Scotland there was a sentence of death in full force against him, and a price set upon his head, while he had nothing to rely upon but a precarious promise from a few friends, who, after all, might neither have the will nor the power to protect him. He was, however, too deeply embarked to draw back, and he determined, regardless of consequences, to throw himself upon the protection of the duke of Argyle and the earl of Ilay, to take no step in his affairs but by their direction, and to live and die in their service. How happy had it been for his lordship had he never lost sight of this prudent determination. Next day Ilay informed him that he had spoken of his case both to the king and the prince, who were well disposed towards him; but without some security for his future loyalty, were not willing to grant him a free pardon. It would therefore be necessary for him to present an address to the king, signed by all his friends who were well affected towards the present government, and that, in this address, they should enter into an engagement for his loyalty in any sum the king pleased. Such an address as would be proper, Ilay promised to draw up, which he accordingly did two days after; and Lovat, by his trusty friend, James Fraser, immediately despatched it to the north, with the following letter to his old friend, John Forbes of Culloden, who was at the time canvassing for the county of Inverness:

"Much honoured and dear sir,—The real friendship that I know you have for my person and family makes me take the freedom to assure you of my kind service, and to entreat of you to join with my other friends betwixt Spey and Ness to sign the address the court requires in order to give me my remission. Your cousin James, who has generously exposed himself to bring me out of chains, will inform you of all the steps and circumstances of my affairs since he saw me. I wish, dear sir, you were here; I am confident you would speak to the duke of Argyle and to the earl of Ilay, to let them know their own interest and their reiterated promises to do for me. Perhaps they may have sooner than they expect a most serious occasion for my service. But it’s needless now to preach that doctrine to them, they think themselves in ane infallible security. I wish they may not be mistaken. However, I think it’s the interest of all those who love this government betwixt Spey and Ness to see me at the head of my clan, ready to join them, so that I believe none of them will refuse to sign ane address to make me a Scotchman. I am persuaded, dear sir, that you will be of good example to them on that head. But secrecy, above all, must be kept, without which all may go wrong. I hope you will be stirring for the parliament, for I will not be reconciled to you if you let Prestonhall outvote you. Brigadier Grant, to whom I am infinitely obliged, has written to Foyers to give you his vote, and he is an ingrate villain if he refuses him. If I was at home, the little pitiful barons of the Aird durst not refuse you. But I am hopeful that the news of my going to Britain will hinder Prestonhall to go north, for I may meet him when he least thinks of me. I am very impatient to see you, and to assure you most sincerely how much I am, with love and respect, right honourable," &c.

The above is a fair specimen of Lovat’s manner and address in complimenting those whom he had an interest in standing well with. He had indeed use for all his activity on this occasion. The secrecy which he recommends was also very necessary, for Fraserdale no sooner heard of his intention of coming down to Scotland, which was only a few days after this, than he applied to the lord justice clerk for an extract of the process and sentence against him, no doubt with the intention of putting it in execution, before his friends should be able to interpose any shield of legal authority in his defence. All his friends, however, especially Culloden, were particularly active. The address and bond of security to the king was speedily signed by all the whig gentlemen of consequence in the north, and remitted to lord Ilay, who carried it to London in the month of March, 1715. Culloden, in the meantime, had, through his brother Duncan Forbes, afterwards lord president, transmitted to be presented by lord Ilay, a most loyal address to the king, signed by the Frasers, with a tender of their clan to Argyle as their chief. This was intended to counterbalance the address of the Jacobites that had been transmitted to the earl of Marr, but which he durst not present, and to strengthen the interest of Argyle, which the other was calculated to weaken. Through the opposition of the duke of Montrose, however, who had been gained over by Prestonhall and the duke of Athol, Lovat’s business was protracted till the month of July, 1715; when the news of the preparations of the Pretender for an invasion of Great Britain, transmitted by the earl of Stair, then ambassador at Paris, and the general ferment that prevailed through the country, had aroused the fears of the government. Ilay availed himself of these circumstances for turning the attention of the English minister more particularly to that too long delayed affair. The addresses which had been obtained in his favour were then given in to his majesty, whose gracious pardon he obtained, and in October, making the best of his way for the north, he was arrested by a loyal party at Dumfries as a Jacobite. Referring for his character to the marquis of Annandale, who happened to be in the neighbourhood, and to whom he was known, he was immediately set at liberty. Here he volunteered his services to lead a party of the townsmen in attacking the rebels in their quarters at Lochmaben, but the attack after it had been resolved on was abandoned through the prudent advice of the marquis of Annandale, who was afraid of the consequences both to themselves and the good cause in which they were engaged.

Leaving Dumfries, his lordship found his way into the north, where the insurgents were nearly triumphant, being in possession of the whole country save the shires of Sutherland, Ross, and Caithness, with perhaps a detached castle or two in some of the neighbouring counties. Among these was the castle of Culloden. The Grants and the Munroes had also been able in some measure to preserve their own territories; but the rebels were every where around them in great force. The first of Lovat’s proceedings was to hold a counsel with his general, as he long after called him, Duncan Forbes, and his brother the laird of Culloden, who was, perhaps, the most trust-worthy man in the north; after which he went home, where he was waited upon by a considerable number of Frasers, with whom he marched for Stratherrick, one of his estates, and by the way compelled the clan Chattan to lay down their arms and disperse to their homes. Macdonald of Keppoch, too, who had three hundred men assembled on the braes of Abertarf, dismissed them the moment he was apprized of Lovat’s approach. At Stratherrick he was waited upon by Fraser of Foyers, and Fraser of Culduthill, with their retainers; and to prevent the Macdonalds from reaching the other side of Lochness, he himself crossed over at Bonat, and with two hundred picked men marched according, to agreement for Inverness, by Kinmayles. Colonel Grant, with a number of his own, Elcheiz’s and Knockandow’s men, captain Grant with three hundred Grants, and all the other gentlemen engaged in the enterprise, were at the same time approaching the northern capital in order to rescue it from the hands of the rebels. For this end, it was proposed that the gentlemen of Moray, in conjunction with lord Lovat and the Grants, should set upon it from the south, while the earl of Sutherland, lord Rae, the Munroes, and the Rosses, should attack it on the north. These latter gentlemen, however, having some, of them upwards of fifty miles to march, besides ferries to cross, it was not thought advisable to wait for them. Captain Arthur Rose, brother to Kilravock, was therefore ordered to enter the town, while those that were already come up proceeded to invest it in the best manner they could. Lord Lovat, with his detachment was stationed on the west end of the bridge, captain Grant on the south side, to enter by Castle Street, and the Moray lieutenants, Kilravock, Letham, Brodie, Sir Archibald Campbell, Dunphail, &c. were to attack the east part. The attack was led on with great spirit by captain Arthur Rove, who was unfortunately killed pressing on in the front of his men; and Sir John Mackenzie, the rebel governor, seeing himself about to be overpowered, abandoned the place, escaping with his men across the Frith in a number of boats, which but a few days before he had intended to destroy, in order to cut off all communication by the ferry. This was upon Saturday the 12th of November, the day before the battle of Sheriffmuir and the surrender of Preston. Thus the rebels were completely broken in the north, and it was a triumph obtained with very little loss. Much of the credit of the achievement was given to Lovat, much more indeed than was his due; but he was in want of something to elevate his character, and his friends were willing to give him all advantages. The immediate consequence of the honour he acquired on this day was the desertion of three hundred Frasers, who, under Fraserdale, were in Marr’s camp at Perth; but now denying his authority to lead them, put themselves under the charge of lord Lovat at Inverness, where they remained till the rebellion was finally put down by the earl of Argyle and general Cadogan. But there was another consequence not very remote and of far greater importance: it secured him at once in the estate and all the honours of Lovat, which it had been the great object of his whole life to compass, but which, without some such strange event, joined to the false step of his rival in joining the rebel standard, was most certainly for ever beyond his reach. Prestonhall had married the heiress of Lovat, in whose person, by a decree of the court of session, so far back as the year 1702, rested the honours and dignity of Lovat. He had assumed in consequence the name of Fraser and the title of Fraserdale, and had a numerous offspring to inherit as heirs of marriage the estate which he had so long possessed, and had he maintained his loyalty, nothing but a revolution, with singular folly on his own part, could have dispossessed him of the property. Most fortunately for Lovat, when he arrived in the north, Fraserdale was with the earl of Marr at Perth, and there was nothing to prevent him from executing his purpose, of taking immediate possession of his estates, which he did before proceeding to act vigorously in behalf of the government, every member of which knew that such was the reward he expected. The fortunate issue of this his first action too called forth all the natural arrogancy and presumption of his character. We find him in the ensuing March, only four short months after, writing to Duncan Forbes in the following style. "My dear general, I send you the enclosed letter from the name of Macleod, which I hope you will make good use of, for it’s most certain I keeped the Macleods at home, which was considerable service done the government." How had he kept the Macleods at home, when the rebellion was at its height before it was so much as known if ever he would be allowed to enter it? But he goes on to speak of his own achievements still more boastingly, and of the recalling of Argyle, which he says, has made him sick. "I hope my dear general you will take a start to London to serve his grace and do something for your poor old corporal, (meaning himself;) and if you suffer Glengarry, Fraserdale, or the Chisholm to be pardoned, I will never carry a musket any more under your command, though I should be obliged to go to Afric. However, you know how obedient I am to my general’s orders; you forgot to give the order signed by you and the other deputes to meddle with Fraserdale’s estate for the king’s service. I entreat you send it me, for — — is afraid to meddle without authority." How his lordship wished Fraserdale to find no mercy is obvious from what is above stated; but why should Glengarry and the Chisholm find none for the very same reason? Their estate lay contiguous to those of Fraserdale; and if they could be all escheated to the king, why might not Lovat for his own extraordinary services have got all the three as well as one? Fraserdale was escheated and Lovat had only to wait till the month of August, when a grant passed his majesty’s privy seal of Scotland "for the many brave and loyal services done and performed to his majesty by Simon lord Lovat, particularly for the zeal and activity he showed in suppressing the late unnatural rebellion in the north of Scotland, and for his known affection to his majesty’s person and government, giving, granting, and disposing the escheat of all goods, gear, debts and sums of money, jewels, gold, silver, coined or uncoined, utensils and domecills, horse, nolt, sheep, corns, cattle, bonds, obligations, contracts, decreets, sentences, compromitis, and all other goods and gear escheatable, which belonged to Alexander Mackenzie of Fraserdale, together with the said Alexander Mackenzie his life-rent escheat of all lands, heritages, tenements, annual rents, tacks, steadings, rooms, possessions, as also five hundred pounds of sterling money, fallen in the king’s hands by the said sentence, &c.

This was certainly an abundant reward, though Lovat had been a much better man, and his services more ample than they really were. It was nothing more, however, than he expected, and it excited no gratitude, nor did it yield any thing like content. Fraserdale’s plate he had attempted to secure, but it fell into the hands of general Wightman; who, it was at the time remarked, had a happy knack of keeping what he got. However, he engaged to return it, Lovat paying him the one half in money, the whole being only valued at L150, sterling. In the month of April, he was, on his own request allowed to come to London, to look after all those great affairs that were then going on and his mode of writing about them gives a curious view of a worldly man’s morality:—"I want," he says to his friend Duncan Forbes, "but a gift of the escheat to make me easy. But if it does not do, you must find some pretence or other that will give me a title to keep possession, either by the tailie my lord provost has, or by buying off some creditors; in short, you must make a man of it one way or other." He was also at this time on the eve of his marriage with Margaret Grant, daughter of Ludovick Grant, of Grant; and his moral feeling on this subject is equally interesting to that which regarded the estate of Lovat:—"I spake to the duke, and my lord Ilay, about my marriage, and told them, that one of my greatest motives to the design, was to secure the joint interest of the north. They are both fully for it, and Argyle is to speak of it, and propose it to the king. But Ilay desired me to write to you, to know if there would be any fear of a pursuit of adherence from the other person, (the dowager of Lovat) which is a chimerical business, and tender fear for me in my dear Ilay. But when I told him that the lady denied before the justice court, that I had any thing to do with her, and that the pretended marriage had been declared null, which Ilay says should be done by the commissaries only; yet when I told him, that the minister and witnesses were all dead, who had been at the pretended marriage, he was satisfied they could make nothing of it, though they would endeavour it. However, I entreat you, write to me or Mr Stewart a line on this head, to satisfy my lord Ilay’s scruple."—This puts an end to all doubt respecting the rape charged upon his lordship, of which he had often before, and did often again declare, that he was as innocent as the child unborn. All was now, however, forgiven; the duke of Argyle wrote in his favour to the Grants, recommending the match, and in the course of the next year he obtained the young lady for his bride.

Lovat might now have been, if worldly success could make any man so, a very happy man. He had been, for many years an exile and a prisoner, proscribed at home and abroad, and alike odious to both parties in the state, and both claimants of the crown. He had ventured home at the hazard of his life, had obtained the grace of the reigning prince, the countenance of all his friends, possession of the inheritance of his fathers, two honourable commissions among his countrymen, a young and beautiful wife, and a handsome pension yet he was the same as before, querulous and discontented.

In the beginning of the year 1717, we find him resuming the subject of the grant, and he requests Duncan Forbes to employ Sir Walter Pringle, and any one else he pleases, and consult together of some legal way for his keeping possession of his estate; "for," says he, "I must either keep violent possession, which will return me my old misfortunes, or I must abandon the kingdom and a young lady whom my friends have engaged me to marry. So, my dear general, I beg you may give me some prospect of not being again forced to leave the kingdom, or to fight against the king’s forces. The one or the other must be, if I do not find any legal pretence of possessing the estate but by this gift." And all this was because a Mr Murray or a lord Murray had made a motion in the house of commons, for a redeeming clause to be added in favour of Fraserdale’s lady, which occasioned a few hours’ debate, and was improved for making remarks on lord Lovat’s character and conduct, but at last came to nothing. Perhaps he was also a little disturbed by the movements of the Spanish court in favour of James, which were still more contemptible than any party motion that ever was made in the house of commons.

For a number of years after this, Lovat was fully occupied with the legal campaigns which he carried on under the direction of Duncan Forbes, for the final settlement of the Lovat estate, during all which time the affairs of the pretender gave him no trouble; nay, they seem to have been totally forgotten. After the lapse of a number of years, however, when he had got every thing secured in his own way, we then find him again treating with the pretender for a generalship and a dukedom, and all his old uneasinesses returning upon him. Having no more to expect from his "dear general" the lord president, he ceased to correspond with him; and on the breaking up of the black watch, one of the companies of which had belonged to him, he withdrew his affections entirely from the existing government, and became ready once more to act for the exiled family of Stuart.

The nation was now involved in war; and the friends of the pretender, stirred up by the emissaries of the court of France, which protected him for no other purpose but to make him a tool on such occasions—began to bestir themselves. Lovat, whose political views were very limited, never doubted but that France had at all times the power to restore the pretender, if she had but the will, and now that her promises were so magnificent, he fell at once into the snare, and was the first to sign, in the year 1740, that association which brought entire ruin upon the cause, and nearly all that had connected themselves with it. Still he acted upon the old principle: he stipulated that he was to have a patent creating him a duke, and a commission constituting him lieutenant of all the Highlands, and of course elevating him above even the great Argyle.

Though Lovat had now committed himself, and was fairly in the way of "having all his old troubles returned upon him," common sense, as in most cases, did not forsake him all once. He was employed in making preparations for the new scenes of grandeur that to his heated fancy lay before him, but he did not run the hazard of disappointment by any ridiculous parade, or any weak attempts prematurely to realize them. When prince Charles landed at Boradale, accompanied, not, as had been agreed upon with the association, at the head of which Lovat had unfortunately placed his name, by thirteen thousand men with all necessary equipments, but with seven persons and a few domestics; his friends were perfectly astonished, and none of them more so than Lovat. Accordingly, when he received Lochiel’s letter stating that Charles was come, and that he had brought the papers stipulated upon, viz, the patent for the dukedom, and the general’s commission, Lovat returned a cold and general answer, that he might rely upon what he had promised. Lochiel, however, being led to take part in the enterprise, drew in some of his neighbours, and when the gathering had begun, who could tell where it would end? It might be at last successful, and all who had been backward at the outset might expect no mercy in the end. Still Lovat was cautious. He only sent one of his distant relations, "mad Tom of Gortuleg," to meet Charles at Invergarry, and to advise him to come by Stratherrick to Inverness, and by the time he reached the latter place, Sir Alexander Macdonald and Macleod would have time to come up; besides, he might expect to be there joined by the Grants, the Mackenzies, and the Mackintoshes. These were all engaged to come forward, as well as Lovat, who was now, from a number of circumstances, doubtful of their constancy, and, while he preserved the character of a leader, wished to see them all committed before he began to play his part. All his finesse, however, was of no avail. Charles took other advice. Sir Alexander Macdonald, and his powerful neighbour, Macleod, stood entirely aloof; and to crown all, his "dear general," the lord president, to whom he owed all that he possessed in the world, and to whose acute powers of perception he was no stranger, became his next door neighbour, with the almost avowed purpose of watching his every action. All these circumstances reduced him to the necessity of acting with the utmost caution, and at the same time subjected him to the most tormenting anxiety. His preparations for joining the pretender he dared not entirely suspend, lest some inferior neighbour might rise to that pre-eminent place in the prince’s favour, that, in case he were successful, it was the dearest wish of his soul to occupy, and he knew not how to proceed, lest he might stand fairly committed, and be compelled to abide by the consequences. He did, however, what he could: he compelled his son to leave his studies with a view to make him the leader of his clan, and he employed, in an underhand way, his dependents to bring all matters connected with the expedition into a state of forwardness, while he himself wrote letters to the lord president, filled with lamentations for his unhappy country, and his more unhappy situation, as having to do with such mad people, and such an untoward and ungrateful son. After the brilliant affair at Gladsmuir, however, when he saw "that as sure as God was in the heavens, the mad young man would prevail," he took a little more courage, and sent to congratulate him on the victory, and to say, that being an old man, he could not come himself with five thousand men, as he had originally intended, but that he would send his son, which he hoped would be regarded the same as if he had come himself. As the course of events seemed to favour or frown upon the attempt, his lordship’s conduct continued to be more open, or more concealed, till lord Loudon found it to be his duty to take him into custody. Still, as he appeared undecided, and but few of his men had gone south, and it was hoped he might still countermand them, his confinement was only nominal. In an evil hour he made his escape from lord Loudon, and, when it was utterly useless, threw the whole weight of his influence into the rebellion. The master of Lovat had a share in the affair of Falkirk, but was only coming up with his reinforcements to join the army of Charles, when he met it, totally routed, a few miles from the fatal field of Culloden. On the evening of that fatal day, Lovat was petrified with the first and the last sight he ever had of Charles. This was at Gortuleg, where the unfortunate prince arrived about sunset, a miserable fugitive, accompanied by his Irish counsellors, Sheridan, Sullivan, O’Neil, and his secretary John Hay. Lovat, on being told of his approach in this forlorn condition, poured forth against him the bitterest execrations, as having brought utter ruin on the house of Lovat, and on the entry of his unexpected visitant, he is said to have run about the house in a state of distraction, calling upon his domestics to chop off his aged head. Charles, however, who possessed the art of flattery in great perfection, soothed him by the promise of another and better day with the elector, observing at the same time, that he had already had two, while the elector had but one. That one, however, unluckily for him and Lovat, was better than all the days either of them had seen, or were ever again to see. But the joke satisfied the old man; supper was hastily prepared, as hastily eaten, and at ten o’clock Charles changed his dress, and bade his entertainer an everlasting farewell.

Lovat had now abundance of leisure to reflect upon his folly in rejecting the sound advice of his friend the lord president; but as he could have little hope of being again pardoned, he studied to prolong his liberty and life in the best manner he could, first by proposing a mountain campaign, which, was found impracticable, and. then by betaking himself to the fastnesses of his country, with which he was well acquainted. From one of these retreats he had the misery of seeing his house of Castledownie laid in ashes, and his estates every where plundered, the cattle driven off, the sheilings set on fire, and the miserable inmates driven to the mountains. He had also the misfortune to see it given over by commission from the duke of Cumberland to James Fraser of Castle Cullen for the behoof of the government, which, considering what it had cost him, and the value he set upon it, must have been worse than many deaths. As he had been so long a conspicuous character, and one of the most active movers of this rebellion, the search after him was continued with the utmost patience and perseverance, and he was at last, found upon an island in Loch Morar, where he was living comfortably with Macdonald of Morar, the proprietor of the island, without any suspicion of being found out, having carried all the boats upon the loch into the island, and being at a considerable distance from the sea. Information, however, having been obtained, captain Ferguson, of his majesty’s ship Furnace, sailed round till directly opposite the island, when the men of war boats were carried over land and launched into the loch. Most of those that were upon the island fled by their boats and escaped; but Lovat being totally lame, was unable to escape in this manner, he was, however, carried upon his bed into the woods, and was not found till after a search of three days. Being in no condition to make any resistance, he surrendered himself at once, delivered up his arms and his strong box, was carried aboard captain Ferguson’s ship, and brought round to Fort William, where he wrote a letter to the duke of Cumberland, boasting of the extraordinary services he had performed for his family, of the great kindnesses he had then met with, and of the vast benefits he was still capable of bestowing, should he be made a participant of the royal mercy. Of this letter the duke took no notice, but he treated him with much kindness. A litter having been provided for him, he was brought to Fort Augustus on the 15th of June, 1746. On the fifteenth of July he was sent to Stirling castle, where he remained some days. From Stirling he was sent to Edinburgh, and thence by Berwick to London, the journey being divided into twenty stages, one only of which he was required to travel in a day. In this easy way he reached Barnet on the 14th of August, and on the 15th, the Friday before the execution of the lords Kilmarnock and Balmerino, he arrived in London. On his way to the Tower, he passed the scaffold that had been erected for the execution of those noblemen, which he looked at with some emotion, exclaiming "Ah! is it come to this!" When brought to the Tower, he was received by general Williamson and conducted to the apartment prepared for him, where, as his trial did not come on till the beginning of next year, he had abundance of leisure to contemplate the ruin he had brought upon himself and his house by indulging a most insatiable avarice and a ridiculous ambition. He, however, took possession of his dreary habitation with a degree of fortitude and an equanimity of mind worthy of a better man and a better cause.

On the 11th of December he was impeached of high treason by the house of commons, a committee of which was appointed to draw up the articles and prepare evidence. On the 11th, he was brought to the bar of the house of lords and the articles read to him. On this occasion his lordship made a long speech, in which he expressed the highest esteem for his majesty and all the royal family, enumerating at great length the many services he had performed for them during the rebellion in 1715, and singular favours bestowed upon him in return by the late king and his ministers. He then enlarged with great eloquence upon his age and infirmities, particularly his deafness, in consequence of which he said he had not heard one word of the charges preferred against him. They were of course read over to him again, when he presented a petition, praying that he might have a copy of them, and counsel and solicitors might be assigned him. He also acquainted their lordships that his estate had been taken forcible possession of, in consequence of which he had nothing either to support him or to bear the expenses of his trial. Their lordships gave orders that he should be allowed the income of the estate for his subsistence. He also petitioned for his strong box; but this was refused. On this day his lordship displayed great ability and excited considerable sympathy. On the 13th of January, 1747, his lordship was again placed at the bar and gave in an answer to the articles of impeachment, every one of which he denied. After making a very long speech, his trial was fixed for February the 23d. He was this day carried back to the Tower amid the hissings and execrations of a vast mob that attended him. In consequence of a petition from his lordship, his trial was put off till the 5th, and on a second petition till the 9th of March, on which day it commenced, and was continued till Thursday the 19th, when it was concluded, his lordship having been found guilty by an unanimous vote of his peers, by the lord chancellor pronouncing upon him the awful sentence of the law.

To give any particular account of this trial would be to give a history of the rebellion. Suffice it to say that on Wednesday, the sixth day occupied by his trial, his lordship read his defences, which were drawn up with all that sarcastic shrewdness for which he was remarkable, and displayed his talents to very great advantage. After being sentenced, the old man made a short speech, begging their lordships to recommend him to his majesty’s mercy. Turning to the commons at the same time, he said, that he hoped the worthy managers, as they were stout, would be merciful. Going from the bar, he added, "My lords and gentlemen, God Almighty bless you all. I wish you an everlasting farewell, for we shall never all meet again in one place."

Though he was sentenced on the 19th of March, there were no orders issued respecting his execution till the 3d of April, when it was fixed for the 9th of that month. He had been in the meantime to all appearance perfectly at his ease, and indifferent alike to life or death. Being importuned to petition his majesty for a pardon, he replied he was so old and infirm that his life was not worth asking. He presented, however, a petition for the life of his son, who was a prisoner in the castle of Edinburgh, and who had been drawn into the rebellion solely by his counsels. The notification of his death he received with perfect composure, drank a glass of wine to the health of the messenger who brought it, and entertained him for a considerable time with a most cheerful conversation, assuring him that he would not change situations with any prince in Europe. Next day he talked freely of his own affairs, and took praise to himself for having been concerned in all the schemes that had been formed in behalf of the Stuarts since he was fifteen years of age, and boasted that he never betrayed a private man nor a public cause in his life. He added, perhaps with more truth, that he never shed a drop of blood with his own hand, nor ever struck a man except one young nobleman (meaning we suppose, lord Fortrose in a public meeting at Inverness) whom he caned for his impertinence and impiety. On the Sabbath he talked of his family, and showed to his attendants a letter he had written to his son in a style affectionate and pious, breathing the resignation of a martyr. Being asked this day some question about his religion, he answered that he was a Roman catholic, and would die in that faith. Wednesday, the day before his execution, he awoke early and prayed for a considerable time with great fervency, but was very merry during the day, talking generally of public affairs, particularly of the bill that was in its progress through parliament for abolishing heritable jurisdictions, which he highly reprobated. Thursday, the day of his execution, he awoke about three in the morning, and prayed with great fervour. At five he rose, called as usual for a glass of wine and water, and being placed in his chair, sat and read till seven, when he called for another such refreshment. The barber shortly after brought him his wig, which he found fault with for not being powdered so deeply as usual, saying that he went to the block with pleasure, and if he had a suit of velvet would put it on for the occasion. He then ordered a purse to put money in for the executioner, which when brought, was not to his taste, "yet he thought no man could dislike it with ten guineas in it." At nine he called for a plate of minced veal, of which he ate heartily, and afterwards in wine and water drank the healths of several of his friends. In the meantime the crowd was collecting on Tower hill, where, about ten o’clock, the fall of a scaffold converted many idle spectators into real mourners, upwards of twenty persons being killed and a vast number maimed. Lovat, it is said, made the remark that "the more mischief the better sport." About eleven the sheriff came to demand the body, and he was conducted to a house near the scaffold, where he delivered to his lordship a paper saying he might give the word of command when he pleased and he would obey. He then said a short prayer, desired that his clothes might be given to his friends along with his body, took a little brandy and bitters, and was conducted to the scaffold, in going up to which he looked round him and exclaimed, "God save us, why should there be such a bustle about taking off an old grey head, that can’t get up three steps without two men to support it." Observing one of his friends very much dejected, his lordship clapped him on the shoulder, saying "Cheer up, man, I am not afraid: why should you?" On the scaffold, the first object of his attention was the executioner, to whom he gave his purse with ten guineas, bidding him do his work well. He then felt the edge of the axe, saying he believed it would do, looked at his coffin, on which was written "Simon Dominus Fraser de Lovat decollat. April 9, 1747, aetat. suae 80," and sitting down in a chair set for him, repeated from Horace

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori,"

and from Ovid,

"Nam genus et proavos et quae non fecimus ipsi
Vix ea nostra voco."

He then said a short prayer, called for his solicitor, William Fraser, to whom he gave his gold headed cane and his hat, and requested him to see that the executioner did not touch his clothes. Being undressed he kneeled to the block, gave the signal in half a minute, and the executioner at one blow severed his head from his body.

Thus died Simon lord Lovat, one of the most extraordinary characters recorded in Scottish history. He was possessed of good natural talents, which considering the age in which he lived, and the troubled life he led, had been considerably cultivated, but he was totally destitute of that which alone constitutes true dignity of character, moral worth. His private character, as may well be conceived, from what we have detailed of his public one, was vicious, his appetites coarse, and his pleasures low and unscrupulous. He had, however, seen much of the world, possessed great address, and when he had a purpose to serve, could make himself peculiarly agreeable. Few men have ever been so very fortunate, and as few have recklessly thrown their good fortune from them. "A protracted course of wickedness," one writer has remarked, "seems at last to have impaired his natural shrewdness; he digged a pit into which he himself fell, spread a snare with his own hands in which he was caught, and in the just judgment of God, his hoary hairs came to the grave with blood."

Besides his early affair with the dowager of Lovat his lordship was twice married, first to Margaret, daughter to the laird of Grant, and secondly to Primrose, daughter to John Campbell of Mamore. This latter marriage was singularly unfortunate, and after the most unheard of barbarities exercised upon the lady, his lordship was under the necessity of granting her a separate maintenance. By his first wife he had three children, two sons and one daughter, and by the second one son, who eventually succeeded to the estate of Lovat.


Return to our Significant Scots 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