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The Highland Host of 1678
By John Rawson Elder (1914)


No period of Scottish history stands out more clear than that which owes its character to the indomitable resolution of those men of the West Country who were determined that neither concession nor repression should turn them aside from their allegiance to Presbyterianism. The dramatic incidents in their long struggle with the forces of Episcopacy—Loudon Hill, the murder of Sharp, Drumclog, Bothwell Bridge—are confined to the period, 1669-1679, during which Lauderdale was at the head of the administration of the country. His rule was marked by a long series of measures of coercion adopted against the religious recusants of the West, but no incident in that history of maladministration produced such bitterness of feeling and stern determination to resist the government as the bringing down of the clans to live at free quarter upon the Covenanting malcontents.

The descent of the Highland Host marks the turning point in the struggle. Lauderdale had now asserted that the situation was one demanding armed intervention if uniformity of worship in Scotland were to be secured. This culminating act of oppression, on the other hand, so changed the temper of the Whigs that they determined no longer to resist merely passively. The real effect of the Highland Host, therefore, was to render subsequent events inevitable.

The materials for this account of the Host and its conduct in the West have been found in the University Library, Aberdeen; the Register House and Advocates' Library, Edinburgh; and the Record Office, London. I had completed my work upon the original manuscripts dealing with the Host in the Register House, before the publication of the volume of the Register of the Privy Council in which they are contained, but have given in reference to the various facts, the printed page of the Register, as being more accessible.

I take this opportunity of thanking all who have helped me, particularly Mr. P. J. Anderson and his assistants in the University Library, Aberdeen; Mr. W. V. Dickson, LL.D., of the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh; and the officials in the Register House and the Record Office. I would also acknowledge my indebtedness to those gentlemen who answered queries on my behalf sent them by the late Mr. F. MacPherson, Schoolmaster, Tarbolton, who proved an enthusiastic and willing worker.

To Professor Terry, Aberdeen University, my deepest thanks are due. It was he who, at the outset, suggested the subject to me as a suitable one for research. With rare generosity, he placed his great knowledge of authorities at my disposal and throughout helped me in every possible way.

Finally, I express my obligation to the Carnegie Trustees, whose generous grant has rendered possible the publication of this book.

ABERDEEN, December, 1913.


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