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Duncan Ban MacIntyre
Lord Glenorchy


To explain certain references in this and other poems, some notes on the first three earls of Breadalbane may be conveniently given here.

John Campbell, younger of Glenorchy, born in 1635, was known in the Highlands as Iain Glas. As a youth of 22 years, this masterful man descended on London, and against all opposition married the beautiful and wealthy daughter of the Earl of Holland. In 1669 we find him in command of an expedition sent by the Privy Council to punish William Sinclair of Dunbeath for his forays into Sutherland. In addition to his own clansmen, Campbell had some Government troops and the assistance of George, sixth Earl of Caithness. He seems to have carried out his task to the satisfaction of the Council.

This Earl of Caithness was heavily in debt, and, having received large sums from lain Glas from time to time, he ultimately conveyed to him, in settlement, not only his estates but his titles. Both were duly claimed on the death of the Earl in 1676, and next year Campbell actually became Earl of Caithness, Viscount of Breadalbane, Lord St Clair of Berridale and Glenorchy. But the rightful heir, George Sinclair of Keiss, had no difficulty in establishing his claim to the title, and the patent granted in error to lain Glas was annulled. As compensation he received a new patent in 1681, whereby he was created Earl of Breadalbane and Holland, Viscount of Tay and Paintland, Lord Glenorchy, Benderaloch, Ormelie and Weick. An unusual provision was inserted at his request, giving him power to nominate any one of his sons as his successor.

To enforce his claim to the Caithness estates, lain Glas marched north with 700 men and defeated the Sinclairs at Allt nam Mèirileach, having previously arranged that a quantity of whisky should be captured by the enemy. In the version of the story given by Pennant, a ship laden with whisky was deliberately stranded on the coast of Caithness (Tour, p. 183).

Only one other incident in the Caithness drama need be recorded here. lain Glas married the widow of the Earl of Caithness in 1678, his first wife having died in 1666. Of this marriage there was one son, Colin, styled of Ardmadie, who died unmarried in 1708, reputed to be the father of John Campbell "of the Bank," the subject of the next poem.

There were two sons of the first marriage, viz. Duncan, styled Lord Ormelie, born about 1660, and John, Lord Glenorchy, born in 1662. The former was excluded from the succession because he was alleged to be, on his own confession, simpleminded and easily imposed upon; but there was a persistent tradition in the Highlands that the real reason was the Earl’s fear that his estates would be confiscated if he were to designate Duncan, a strong Jacobite, as his successor. The latter with his two sons, Patrick and John, fought valiantly at Sheriffmuir and afterwards lived at Achinnischalain at the head of Glen Orchy. On the strength of this tradition Donald Campbell, Fort William, grandson of Patrick, unsuccessfully claimed the Breadalbane estates and titles in 1863.

It should be noted that lain Glas evidently thought it desirable in 1681 that he should not be succeeded by his eldest son, and it would thus appear that his reasons were personal rather than political. Further, when the Earl was confined in Edinburgh Castle for alleged treason in 1695 it was not Lord Ormelie but Lord Glenorchy who journeyed to London and thence to Flanders to plead for his father. He saw King William at Namur, and soon afterwards the Earl was released. Lastly, it was Lord Glenorchy who was imprisoned in 1716 because of the part played by the Earl in the "Fifteen" rebellion, while the Earl himself was allowed, by reason of his age, to remain at Balloch.

The first Earl of Breadalbane died in 1717 and was duly succeeded by his second son. The second Earl was elected a Scottish representative peer in 1721, though not without protests by some of his fellow peers, who averred that he had no right to the Breadalbane title while his elder brother was still alive. He had a family of one son and two daughters. The son, John, Lord Glenorchy, born in 1695, succeeded his father in 1752.

This Lord Glenorchy had a noteworthy career. He entered Christ’s College, Oxford, in 1710 and had a distinguished record; he was a friend of Walpole, and in 1718 he was appointed Master of the Horse to the Princess Royal. In 1720 he was British Minister in Copenhagen and in 1731 Ambassador to the Russian Court; from 1727 to 1741 he was Member of Parliament for Saltash and a Lord of the Admiralty in 1741.

After the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 Lord Glenorchy came north to Taymouth to take over the management of the estates, as his father was now too infirm to supervise his extensive territories. By his great influence and ability he succeeded in restricting the area of the rebellion.

Lord Glenorchy married in 1718 Amabel Gray, daughter of the Duke of Kent, with issue one son, who died at the age of 6 years, and one daughter. Lady Glenorchy died in 1727, and in 1730 Lord Glenorchy married Arabella, daughter of Sir John Pershall. There were two sons of this marriage, George and John; the former died in 1744, and the latter, born in 1738, was styled Lord Glenorchy. He married in 1761 and bought the property of Barnton, near Edinburgh, where he was well known as a young man about town. Contemporary references to him are not flattering. He died without issue in 1771, and the first Earl’s line failed. (See Famed Breadalbane, pp. 157—89; F, pp. 489—9 r.)

The subject of this poem is either the Lord Glenorchy who became the third Earl of Breadalbane or his son. Dr Calder (F, p. 486) says it was the latter, and attributes an error to the poet in the third stanza, where he describes the first Earl as Glenorchy’s grandfather. It is most improbable that Macintyre could have made such a mistake; nor can the poem, which describes a man of great charm and ability, who had played an important part in affairs and was already settled in Taymouth, be said to suit the younger man. In particular, lines 473—83 and 557—63 are quite inappropriate. It must, therefore, be concluded that the subject of this panegyric was the third Earl, and that the poem was written between 1746 and 1752, while he was still Lord Glenorchy, heir to the Breadalbane peerage and in residence at Taymouth. His record of achievement and public service made him a worthy subject of bardic praises.

An account I rejoice to recite
of the spirited, splendid scion,
gallant, blithesome, beloved,
kind, modest, urbane—
who had made every royalist move
with justice and honesty,
from the start of this strife that hath come,
from the start, etc.

In many a place thou art famous
outwith the domain of thy clansmen;
thou hast stood, bold and fearless,
without weakness or yielding,
with unflinching devotion,
in thy chosen position,
where from the first thou pledgedst thy friendship,
where from the first, etc

In time of disturbance or conflict,
thou wast intrepid and manly—
a trait thou didst derive from thy grandsire,
who won the victory in Caithness,
at the time he acquired the estate;
the men of the north gave up the ghost,
after being routed and cut up in the battle,
after being routed, etc.

They were able, dauntless warriors,
who greatly availed in the conflict,
and would not surrender in panic;
they secured accord by destruction,
and ‘twas no unjust course they pursued:
thou hast much need to be competent,
for thou holdest the post of heroes,
for thou holdest, etc.

Thou art a prince of clan captains,
an excellent master of henchmen;
in the forefront of strife or contending
thou art the dauntless commander
who wilt make no request for parley;
with thy keen, pointed blades,
loss and rout would be suffered by foemen,
loss and rout, etc.

Thine own great clan will be with thee,
in every peril thou incurrest;
men of bloodshed they are, and efficient
in dealing of blows and trouncings;
there’s many a warrior in his armour,
who would be ready to rise
when thou wouldst proclaim a fiery cross,
when thou wouldst, etc.

There’s many a friend round thee
between Taymouth and Cruachan,
who would wish thee to triumph
by power of fire and of bullet,
and of thin, sharp, hard blades,
and would go with thee to wield them,
when thou wouldst raise ensign aloft,
when thou wouldst, etc.

And when, over men in the field,
thy banner would be unfurled,
against a slender, straight, dressed pole,
then the clanking of riders was heard,
all in the gayest commotion—
the chieftains and the doughty men,
by whose onset the day would be gained,
by whose onset, etc.

Puissant, haughty, high-minded,
manly, masterful, clever,
thou art a proud rider of tall steeds,
of mighty snort and good training;
Lowland style thou dost amply display:
on clustering locks, the prettiest in Gaeldom,
a hat of gold-braided brim suiteth thee well,
a hat of gold-braided, etc.

With a countenance meek and kindly,
serene and tender as maiden’s,
thou art bold, imperious like a soldier;
thy heart is transparent and guileless,
in a bosom purer than diamond;
thy whole spirit is radiant,
like a kind sun gleaming over horizon,
like a kind sun, etc.

Thou art affable, courteous, manly,
with a full, blue, charming eye,
and slender, delicate eyebrow,
a ruddy and pretty cheek,
demure and fine-lipped mouth,
skin soft-white, like mountain down:
there is none hath surpassed thee in beauty,
there is none, etc.

In every affair thou hast won distinction,
for thou wast fit to sustain it;
what time the Court held a session,
at which numerous dukes were present,
thine was the magnificent office
of placing the crown on the king,
who had right of inheritance there,
who had right, etc.

True courtier of comely presence
who wast famous in every sphere,
who hast acquired in England
a knowledge of matters of pleading;
‘tis thy intellect was discerning;
the country is full of rejoicing
since thou hast come home amid greetings,
since thou hast, etc.

Hard drinker of wine thou art,
thou wouldst quaff and settle the score;
thou wast taught the lore of each kingdom,
thine the fingers that write the fairest;
a hunter of game wast thou,
with thy slim, straight gun, when thou
didst chance to be in the forest of high peaks,
didst chance, etc.

What time thou didst make an excursion
to the ben on which there is hunting,
thou didst love the jovial party;
the tinkle of measure on horn,
the fusil, gun of thy choice,
the baying cry of the deerhound,
as he went a-chasing the antlered one
as he went, etc.

When thou didst set fire to the powder,
with the gun that never misfired,
then would the dark-blue bullets,
driven by fire in their course,
bear on the hind of the crag top,
and maimed her quarters would be;
and thy lads from the moor would carry her,
and thy lads, etc.

When the descent to thy homestead
was made at nightfall with clatter,
there was revelry in the hall—
that festive Tower of Taymouth;
thou wast bent on great entertainment,
expert would be minstrels’ performance
as they sang all thy favourite melodies,
as they sang, etc.

As the sun was declining,
when the skies became dusky,
cheer and joy would be found
in the bright house of bounty,
and diverse music, the sweetest to list to,
each in tune with the other—
the fiddle, the ‘strings,’ and the harp,
the fiddle, etc.

On rising of a bright morning,
one received a similar favour;
the pipe is on view being goaded,
bare chanters in process of tuning,
brown drones playing bass for them—
exquisite music most rhythmic,
ever speeding the feast in thy mansion,
ever speeding, etc.

‘Tis the trumpet and organ
had the clear undertones and rumble;
when each taper finger was bared,
and its touch on the key was not heavy,
note-perfect the murmurous music,
so tuneful and stately,
in his lordship’s household at pastime,
in his lordship’s, etc.

A princely, palatial hall
in which there was bounty with good-will:
guests would be found there a-thronging,
drawn from the elite of the kingdom;
consumption of wine in progress,
whisky in silver goblets,
while they constantly gulp down the toasts,
while they, etc.

On this wise thou didst love to see it:
to be lavish, as was thy practice,
worthy, loveable, stintless;
gentility, splendour and style;
gold in profusion being scattered;
strenuous gaming proceeding,
at dice, at cards and backgammon,
at dice, etc.

‘Twas a custom not strange to thy household
to be mirthful and festive,
with music and gaiety nightly,
and chamber blazing with candles;
thou art styled ‘of Glenorchy,’
and thou art the heir to Taymouth:
joyous be thy tenure thereof,
joyous be, etc.


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