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Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland


W, Page 122. Disinterested Attachment, and Liberal Pecuniary Support afforded to Chiefs and Landlords when in Distress

The tenants of Lochiel and Ardsheal supplied these gentlemen with money, after the year 1745, when their estates were forfeited, and they themselves in exile in France. When the Earl of Seaforth was in similar circumstances, after his attainder in 1716, he experienced the same generous and disinterested fidelity;

[When the rents were collected, for the purpose of being sent to Lord Seaforth in France, 400 of his old followers and tenants escorted the money to Edinburgh to see it safely lodged in the bank. Their first appearance there on this errand caused no small surprise, and strong animadversions on Government for allowing such proceedings. The same people, so generous to their chief in his adversity, preserved such control over him when in full power and prosperity, that they interfered and prevented his pulling down his Castle of Brahan, the destruction of which they considered derogatory to the respectability of the family and clan. In the year 1737, the tenants sent Lord Seaforth L. 800 in one sum, equal to L.8000 in the present day, calculating the rents, and the value of the estate.]

and Macpherson of Clunie, though an outlaw, and compelled to live for nine years in caves and woods, was in no want of money or any thing that could be contributed by his people, who, after his death, continued the same assistance to his widow and family. But it is needless to multiply examples of this attachment, which existed till a late period, without the least prospect of reward or remuneration, all being the free gift of men poor in substance, but of warm affections and liberal minds. Moreover, this generous disposition was not indulged without risk; for while they paid the full rents demanded by Government after the forfeitures, they were threatened with higher rents, and persecuted by the agents for sending the money out of the country. The disputes between the people and the Crown factors, on this subject, ran very high. A respectable gentleman, Mr Campbell of Glenure, factoron the estate of Ardsheal, was shot from behind a rock when riding on the high road. This happened in 1752, and was the second instance of a murder in these troublesome times. The first was that of Captain Munro of Culcairn in 1746, noticed in the Annals of the 42d regiment. He was shot in the same manner as Glenure, while riding at the head of a party of men marching through Lochaber. But this blow was intended for an officer whose party had, some time previously, burned the assassin's house, turned his family out in a storm of snow, and taken away his cattle ; while his son, who had resisted, was killed. Considering the state of men's minds, and the disturbed condition of the country for so many years, it may be considered remarkable, that these were the only two instances of premeditated murder. The man who shot Culcairn was known; but, through some unexplained cause, he was not apprehended. It has never been fully ascertained who shot Mr Campbell. Suspicion fell upon a man of the name of Allan Stewart or Allain Breach, (as he was called, from the marks of the small-pox), who had been a sergeant in the French service, had come over in the year of the Rebellion, and lived afterwards as an outlaw. He was never seen after the murder, and was supposed to have gone to France. A gentleman of the name of Stewart, a relation of the family of Ardsheal, was taken up, indicted, and tried at Inveraray, on suspicion of being art and part, (as the Scotch law terms it), or in the foreknowledge of the murder. The Duke of Argyll, then Justice-General, sat on the bench, and the Lord Advocate attended as prosecutor, the only instance of this officer presiding on any criminal trial, or of the Lord Advocate prosecuting at an assize. Mr Stewart was found guilty, and executed near the spot where the murder was committed, and his body hung in chains. The whole transaction caused a great sensation, and the justice of the verdict and execution was much canvassed. It is now believed that the result would have been different had the trial taken place at a later period. But whether or not Mr Stewart deserved his fate, it were well that all executions made such an impression on the minds of the people as this did, and still continues to make to this day. The talents and respectable character of the person executed, the public exhibition of his body, a thing hitherto unknown in that country, and the doubtful circumstance of his guilt, are still matters of deep reflection among the people. On Sundays, and at times when they pass in more than ordinary numbers, they assemble on or near the spot where the gibbet stood, and talk with solemn and impressive awe of the whole circumstances.

Turbulent and accustomed to blood as the Highlanders were supposed to be, the terror and awe inspired by public executions is very remarkable. This awe is not confined within the mountains. I have seen soldiers, fearless of death when before an enemy, for days previous to an execution become grave, thoughtful, and seemingly powerfully impressed with a kind of dread, which they could not shake off.

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