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Amelia Volume 1 Chapter 17

The General Band and the Reel of Tulloch

[page 184}
AT this time the troubles in the Highlands, and also on the Borders, were becoming a source of disturbance to the nation and a constant anxiety to the Government, very stringent enactments were made, and, as they bore heavily on the future misfortunes of the Clan, it is desirable to quote them in full.

“Acts of Scottish Parliament King James VI Julij 1587.
(Known as The General Band)

Caution suld be found for Land-lords and utheris.

“THAT ALL landis-lordis and Baillies of the landes, on the Bordours and in the Hie-landes, quhair broken men hes dwelt, or presently dwellis, contained in ane Roll, ratified in the end of this present Act of Parliament, sall be charged to finde sufficient Caution on sovertie (surety) Landed-men in the In-country, to the contentment of our Soveraine Lord, and his privy Councill Betwixt. . . . and the day of October, nixt to cum; Or within fifteen days after the charge, upon conditiouns following, under the paine of rebellion; And gif they failzie, the said day being by-past, to put them to the Horne; that is to say, gif ony of their men, tennentes, servandes, and indwellers upon their landes, rowmes, steadinges and possessiones, or within their Baillieries, committis ony maisterful reife thieft, or receipt of thieft, depredationes, open and avowed fire-raising, upon deadly feeds (feuds) protected and maintained by their Maisters; That the Landis-lordes, and Baillies, upon quhais Landes an in quhais jurisdiction they dwell sall bring and present the persons compleined upon before Our Soveraine Lordis Justice, or his deputes to abide tryall, and underlye the law for the same, upon fifteen dayes warning, to be maid them lauchfully; and failzeing therof, that the saidis Landis-lordes and Baillies be debt-bound, to satisfie the party skaithed, and to refound, content and pay to them their heirschippes and skaithes of their awin proper guddes and landes, according to the availl and quantity tane fra the [page 185} compleiners, quhilk sall be modified be aith of the parties hurt, ather before the Lordes of Councell and Session, or the Justice, and his deputes, quhair upon execution sall passe, baith against the principalles and soverties, in forme as effeiris. Providing alwaies, that the landis-lordes. quha hes ther landes lyand in far Hie-landes or Bordours, they making residence themselves in the Inlands, and their tennentes, and inhabitants of their landes, being of Clannes, or dependars on Chieftaines, and Captaines of the Clannes, quhom the landis-lordis ar na waies able to command, but only gettes their mailles of them, and na uther service nor obedience sall na wayes be subject to this Act, but in the manner following, viz They sall be halden to direct their precepts of warning, obtenine decretes against their Tennentis, and immediately after their denunciation, that the saides Landes-lordes, raise letters, be deliverance of the secreit Councell, and charge the Chieftaines and captaines of the Clannes, on quhom their tennentis dependis and obeyes, to take and apprehend the disobedient tennentis, and present them to the Justice, under pain of rebellion; &a.

“ITEM. Although sum of the Lordes of the ground never uses to make residence in the partes, throw the quhilikis thieves resorts, in the their passing to steal and reive, and return therefra; zit sall they be bounden to their Baillies and tenentes, to make their arreistmentes, and stay and make publication of the same; gif it be in their power, or cummis to their Knawledge; or utherwaies, to be halden and oblished for redress, as gif they dwelt upon the landes themselves. And that the cheifs of the Clanes in the boundes quhair broken men dwellis, throw the quhilkis limmers and broken men repairis in their passing to steall and reive or returning therefra, sall be bound to make the like stay, arreistment, and publication, as the Landes-lordes, or Baillies, and be subject to the like redres and action criminall and civill, in case of their failzie or negligence. And because sindrie immediat tennentes to Our Soveraine Lord, hes disponed their landes to uthers, halden of themselves; In that case, it sall be sufficient for the Over-Lord, to enter and present his tenant and vassall, for answering or his sub-tennent; and the Landis-lord, to have his releife upon his tennents there-anent, as accordis.”

[page 186}
“King James VI. July 11. and 29. 1587.
“(97). The Chiefe of all Clannes sall find pledges.

“It is alsua statute and ordained, that the Captaines, Chieffes and Chieftaines of all Clannes, alsweill on the Heiland as on the Bordoures, and the principallis of the Branches of the saides Clannes, to be specially noted in ane Roll ratified and insert in this present parliament; Quilkes Clannes dwellis upon the landes of diverse Landes- lordes and dependis upon the directions of the saidis Captaines, chiefs, and Chieftanes (be pretence of bloud or place of their dwelling) althought against the will oftimes of the Lord of their ground, be charged in like manner, and answer the paine abone written; to enter sik persones pleges, as sall be nominate be the Kings Majesties letters to be direct to them, upon fifteen daies before his Hieness and his secreit councell, at the dayes to be appointed, to be placed as his Hienes sall think convenient, for keeping of gude rule in time cuming according to the conditions abone written, quhair unto the Landes-lordis and Baillies, are subject; under the pain of execution of the saidis pleges to the death in case of transgressions and nocht redresse maid be the persones offending for quhom the saidis pleges lyes. And that the saidis pleges sall be relieved quarterly with utheris of the same Clan or branche, to be specially named, as may be after the beginning of this ordeur. Also one and all Clannes, Chieftaines, and Branches of Clannes, refusand to enter their pleges at the day; and maner contained in the charge, to be directed to that effect; to be esteemed publick enemies to God, the King, and all his trewe and faithful subjectes, and to be persewed with fire and sword, quhair ever they be apprehended, without crime, paine or danger, to be incurred be the doers there-throw. And tha compt (count) be tane anis in the zeir, at the first day of November, quhat persons pleged for, ar dead, and quhat zoung men sprung up in their race and Clanne, able to offend. And quhair complaint is maid upon ony person pleged for the principal of the Clanne or branche, to be charged to present the offenders before the King or his Councell, or before the Justice and his deputes, to under-lie the law for the same.”

[page 187}
“King James VI. 29. July 1587.

“(96) All men borne in the Hielandes and Bordoures to return to the places quhair they were borne.

“Item. That all sik notorious theives, as were born in Liddisdaill Eskdaill, Annandale and the landis sum-time called debaitable, or in the landis of the Hie-landis that has long continued in-obedient, sall be removed out of the In-land, where they ar planted, and presentlie dwellin or haunts, to the parts quhair they were borne; Except their Land-lordes quhair they presently dwell, will become soverty for them, to make them answerable to the Law, as Low-land and obedient men, under the paines contained in the Acts of Parliament.

“(97). Anent the register of pleges and uthers.

“Item. It is statute and ordained for furtherance of, and quietting of the in-obedient Bordours and Hie-landes; That a buik be maid containing the names of the pleges entered, and to be entered, for gude rule and of the haill persones for quhom they lye and be quhom the pleges suld be relieved; As alsua that a register be maid of the haill Parochiners of the landes inhabitants be theives and disobedient persones, in the Hie-landes and Bordours The names of the Landis-lordis and townes in every Parochin and of the haill men, inhabitants therof past the age of sexteene zeirs; quha ar Landis-lordes or Baillies of every land or town; or of quhat Clanne or branch the saidis inhabitants ar. And that the name of ony person that hes entered on the broken landes, after the removing of ony uther inobedient person therefra, be sent to the keeper of the said register within twelve days nixt after his first entry.

“(100). Divers sureties being maid sall be vailzieable, and the ane stoppis not the uther.

“Item. It is declared statute and ordained that the surety maid be the Landis-lordis and Baillies sall not be prejudicial nor stop the suretie maid be the Chieftaines, and principalles of Clannes. Nor be the contrair the surety maid be them to the Landis-lordes and Baillies.”

[page 188}
The following Rolls were appended to the Act of Parliament :-
“The Roll of landislordis and Baillies of landis in the Hielandis and Isles, quhair brokin men hes duelt and presentlie duellis, 1587.


The Duke of Lennox.
The Laird of Buchanane.
The Laird of McFarlane of the Arroquhar.
The Laird of Luss. (Colquhoun.)
The Laird McCawla of Ardincaple.
The Laird of Marchinstoun (Napier of Merchistoun and Edinbellie holding lands in Menteith and Lennox inherited from his ancestress a coheiress of Patrick de Menteith of Rusky.)
The Laird of Glennegyis. (Haldane of Gleneagles descended from the other coheiress of Menteith of Rusky.)
The Erle of Glencarne. (Highland possessions unknown.)
The Laird of Drumquhassill. (Cunningham held the Islands of Loch Lomond.)
The Laird of Kilcreuch. (In the Lennox, Galbraith.)
The Tutour of Menteith. (George Graham).
The Laird of Knockhill. (Shaw of do. in Menteith.)
Hary Schaw of Cambusmoir.
The Laird of Kippanross. (Stirling.)
The Laird of Burley. (Balfour, superior, of not proprietor of the lands of Mochaster in Menteith.)
The Laird of Keir. (Stirling.)
The Master of Livingstoun. ( Family possessed lands of Callander and Corriehrombie in Menteith.)
The Lord of Down. (Father of the “Bonny Earl of Moray.”)
The Lord Drummond.
The Laird of Tullibardin. (Sir John Murray, who possessed lands in Balquidder.)
The Laird of Glenorquhy. (Sir Duncan Campbell.)
The Laird of Laweris. (Sir John Campbell.)
The Laird of Weyme. (James Menzies of that Ilk.)
The Abbot of Inchaffrey. ( James Drummond, Commendator of Inchaffrey and Laird of Innerpeffry, created 1609 Lord Maderty.)
[page 189}
Coline Campbell of Ardbeich. ( Brother of Glenurchy, on Lochearn.)
The Laird of Glenlyoun. ( Campbell.)
The Erle of Athoill. ( 5th, of the Stewart of Innermeath line.)
The Laird of Grantullie. ( Sir Thomas Stewart lands in Strathtay.)
The Laird of Strowane-Robertsone. ( In Atholl.)
The Laird of Strowane-Murray. ( In Strathearn. The daughter of the the proprietor John Murray married Eoin dubh MacGregor brother to Allester of Glenstray.)
The Laird of Wester Wemyss. ( Said to have had the superiority of Kinnaird selling the property to Stewart of Rosyth.)
The Laird of Abbotishall. ( Supposed Scott, a family in Fife.)
The Laird of Teling. ( Sir David Maxwell, Forfarshire.)
The Laird of Inchmartine. ( Ogilvie.)
The Laird of Purie-Fothringhame. ( A proprietor in the Brae of Angus.)
The Laird of Moncreiffe. ( William Moncreiffe of that Ilk proprietor for several centuries of Culdares and Tenaiffis in Breadalbane which he sold to Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy.)
The Laird of Balleachane. ( Stewart of Ballechin in Atholl, formerly styled of Stuiks.)
The Barroun of Fandowie. ( In Atholl. James Macduff, alias Ferguson.)
The Erle of Erroll. ( Possessed Logyalmond.)
The Erle of Gowrie. ( James Ruthven, possessed lands in Strathardill and Strathbrane.)
The Laird of Cultibragane. ( Alex. Ridheuch, Lands in Glenleidnoch in Strathearn.)
The Lord Ogilvy (of Airly.)
The Laird of Clovay. ( Ogilvy of Clova, in the brae of Angus.)
The Laird of Fintray. ( Sir David Graham Knight in Forfarshire.)
The Laird of Edyell. ( Sir David Lindsay of Glenesk in Forfarshire.)
The Erle of Mar. ( Proprietor of Braemar, &a.)
The Master of Elphingstoun. ( The family appear to have possessed Corgarff in Banffshire, Kildrummy, &a.)
The Erle of Huntlie. ( Lord of Badenoch and Lochaber.)
The Master of Forbes. ( Highland estates on the Don, Aberdeeshire.)
The Laird of Grant.
Makintosche (of Dunauchton, Captain of the Clanchattan.)
The Lord and Tutour of Lovat. ( Simon 8th Lord and Thomas Fraser of Knockie and Strichen, his uncle and guardian.)
Cheisholme of Cummer (or Comer.)
[page 190}
The Larde of Glengarry. ( Proprietor also in right of his Grandmother of half the lands of Lochalsh, Lochcarron, and Lochbroom.)
Makanyie. ( Mackenzie of Kintail possessing the other half of the above lands.)
The Laird of Fowlis. ( Munro.)
The Laird of Balnagown. ( Ross.)
The Tutour of Cromartie. ( Urquhart of Craigfintray, guardian to Sir Thomas Urquhart.)
The Erle of Suthirland.
The Laird of Duffus. ( Sutherland.)
James Innes of Touchis.
The Erle of Caithnes.
The Erle of Merschall.
The Lord Oliphant. ( Possessed Berrydale in Caithness.)
The Laird of Boquhowy. ( Mowat of Boquhally, Caithness-shire.)
The Laird of Dunnibeyth. ( Sinclair of Dunbeath in Caithness.)
Macky of Far. ( Father of first Lord Reay.)
Torquill McCloyd of Cogoych. ( Son of Macleod of Lewis.)
The Laird of Garloch. ( Mackenzie.)
Makgillichallum of Raarsay. ( Malcolm Macleod.)
McCloid of the Harrich. ( Harris.)
McKynnoun of Strathodell. ( Mackinnon of Strathwardill in Skye.)
McCleud of the Lewes.
McNeill of the Barray.
McKane of Ardnamurchan. ( Maciain of the family of the isles.)
Allane McKane of Ilandterum.
The Laird of Knoydert. ( Alexander McRanald.)
McClane of Dowart. ( McLean.)
The Lard of Ardgowir. (McLean of Ardgour.)
Johnne Stewart of the Appin.
McCoull of Lorne. ( Dougal Macdougal of Dunolly.)
McCoull of Roray. ( Allan Macdougal of Roray.)
The Laird of Lochynnell. ( Campbell of Lochnell.)
The Laird of Caddell. ( Campbell of Calder, often called thus.)
The Laird of Skermourlie for Rauchry. ( Montgomerie of Skelmorlie appears to have had the small island of Rachry, coast of Antrim.)
[page 191}
McCondoquhy of Innerraw. ( Dougal McConachy Campbell of Inveraw.)
Angus McConeill of Dunyveg and Glennis(?).
The Laird of Lowlip. ( Alex Macallaster of Loupe in Kintyre.)
The Schiref of Bute. ( John Stewart.)
The Laird of Camys. ( Hector Bannatyne of Kames.)
Erle of Ergile.
Laird of Auchinbrek. ( Campbell.)
The Laird of Ardkinglass. ( Campbell.)
McNauchtane. ( Malcolm Macnaughtane of Dunderaw.)
McLauchlane. ( Arch. Maclauchlane of Stralauchlan or of that Ilk.)
The Laird of Lawmont. (of Inveryne or of that Ilk.)
The Laird of Perbrak. ( Campbell of Barbrek )
The Laird of Duntrune. ( Campbell.)
Constable of Dundy. Laird of Glastry. ( Sir James Scrymgeour of Dudope and of Glasry, in Ayrshire.)
The Laird of Elanegreg. ( Campbell.)
The Laird of Otter. ( Campbell.)
The Laird of Coll. ( Maclean.)
MakClayne of Lochbuy.
McFee of Collowsay. ( Murdoch Macfee of Colonsay.)
The Lord Hamiltoun. ( For the Isle of Arran.)”

[page 192}
“The Roll of the Clannis (in the Hielandis and Isles) that hes Capitanes, Chieffis, and Chiftanes quhome on thay depend, oft tymes aganis the willis of thair Landislordis: and of sum speciale personis of branchis of the saidis Clannes. 1587.

McFerlanis. Arroquhar.
Grahames of Menteth.
Stewartis of Buchquidder.
Campbellis of Lochnell.
Campbell of Innerraw.
Clandowill of Lorne.
Stewartis of Lorne, or of Appin.
Clane McKane of Avricht. ( The Clan Eoin or Macdonalds of Glencoe, whose chief was patronomycally styled MacEoin Abrach.)
Stewartis of Athoill and pairties adjacent.
Menyessis, in Athoill and Apnadull.
Clan McThomas in Glensche.
Makintoscheis, in Athoill.
Clanrannald, in Lochquhaber. ( Macdonalds of Keppoch.)
Clanrannald of Knoydert, Modert, and Glengaray.
Clanlewid of the Lewis.
Clanlewyd of Harray.
Clan Ieane. ( The Clan Eoin of Ardnamurchan.)
Clankanye. ( Kenzie.)
Clanandreis. ( The Rosses.)
Murrayis, in Suthirland.”


[page 193}
Both these Rolls have, for convenience, been taken from “ The Transactions of the Iona Club, 1839, and the notes condensed from those of the editor, Donald Gregory, Esq. It may be remarked that in the latter half of the sixteenth century, of which we are now treating, scarcely a Clan was at peace. The Earls of Sutherland, Caithness, and Huntly: the Murrays, MacKenzies, Gunns, Clan Chattan, and Gordons in the North and East were perpetually at war-bloodshed, fire, and even poison figure in their history. The MacDonalds, MacLeans, MacLeods, and MacNeills kept the West in fierce conflict. Such was the normal state of the country, and on the Southern Border matters were not much better. Some remedy was absolutely necessary. The scheme of the Government was very ingeniously contrived, though perhaps too fussy and minute to be easily workable. By it theft was made treasonable, a strong measure, as loyalty to the Sovereign had never been questioned in the Highlands. Frequent reference is made in subsequent years to this Act, known as the “General Band.” It did not work a speedy pacification, but in the instance of the ClanGregor, more especially, actual existence was made impossible, except by fighting for it, as few could dare to shelter them under such precarious conditions.

Although other Clans were equally turbulent, none suffered eventually as severly. Mr. Donald Gregory believed the chief cause of this to have been the circumstance that, unlike the Clan Chattan for instance, the ClanGregor had no extensive possessions under the Crown which could render them independent of the great families around. It may be added that of their neighbours, Campbell of Glenurchy was ever ready to profit by their misfortunes, and Campbell of Argyle to make a cats paw of them for his own purposes. Nothing but the brave and elastic spirit inherited from our ancestors, and the power of endurance learnt in the school of adversity, could have saved us from entire annihilation, such as some of our neighbours desired for us.

Two characteristic MacGregor songs from the “Killin Collection” seem to belong to about this period, and may therefore fitly follow here:-

[page 194}

“The following incident occurred in the latter part of the sixteenth or early part of the seventeenth century. A John MacGrigor, usually known as Iain Dubh Gearr of the Ruaru branch of that Clan, was at Killin attending St. Fillans market (“Feill Fhaolain”), which is held there in January. He was set upon in Streethouse [1]   by eight men; but being very powerful and a splendid swordsman, he either killed or seriously wounded the whole of them. Upon this he fled to Strathspey, where he married a young lady named Isobel Anderson. Twelve men and a superior in command were sent after to take him either dead or alive. He was slumbering in a barn when intelligence was privately brought him that they had arrived and were near at hand. His first impulse was to fly, but being strongly persuaded by Isobel, he resolved on fighting it out. They had a gun and a pistol, with plenty of ammunition, and as John fired at his pursuers through crevices in the wall, Isobel, who stood behind him, loaded. The result was that in a very short time the whole thirteen were severely wounded, whereupon John sallied forth and cut off their heads. Isobel gave him a draught of beer which he quaffed; and seizing her round the waist they improvised and danced those reel-steps which have ever since been so popular. [2]  

The words were also improvised and sung as a mouth-tune, but the music must have been old.

“John, it is said, afterwards became a peaceable and prosperous man; and it has been satisfactorily shown that the celebrated Doctors Gregory who did so much to establish the fame of the Edinburgh Medical School were descendants of his. Before setting down, however, there is reason to believe that he raised some successful “creachs” in Breadalbane. There can be no doubt about his period, as his name appears in the Record of the Privy Seal, of date 15th May 1586.”

[page 195}

“ Bu Ghriogaireach darireadh
A Ruadh-shruth ‘an Gleann-liomhunn
A rinn an ceòl ‘tha riomlach,
Ris canar leinn Thulaichean.

Chorus- O Thulaichean gu Bhealaichean,
‘S ‘o Bhealaichean;
‘S mur faigh sinn leann ‘s na Thulaichean,
Gu ‘n ol sinn uisg e Bhealaichen.

B’ ann an Tigh-na-sràide
Athug iad ionnsuidh bhàis air ;
‘S mur bitheadh e ro làidir,
Bha ochdnar nàmh ro mhurrach air,
O Thulaichean, &a.

Ach labhair Ian-Dubh-Geàrr riubh ;
‘Bha mi ann ‘s a’ cheàrdaich,
‘S cha chrom mi sios mo cheann duibh,
Ged thionndadh sibh uile rium.’
O Thulaichean, &a.

‘N sin bhuail iad uil’ air comhladh ;
‘S ged ‘bha Ian Dubh na onar ;
Cha b’ ann da m’ buannachd tòiseach,‘
Bha fuil mu shròin na h-uille fir,
O Thulaichean, &a.

‘S ‘n uair thaisg e suas a gheur-lann,
‘S a dh’ ioc e mheud ‘s a dh’ eigh e,
Gu ‘n tug e ‘n sin Strath Spé air,
‘S bha té ann a chuir furan air.
O Thulaichan &a.

Chuir iad cuideachd làidir,
Ann déigh Iain Duibh Mhic Phàdruic;
‘S ‘n uair shaoil leo e ‘bhi ‘n sàs ac’
‘S e bas bh’ air a chumadh dhoíbh.
O Thulaichean &a.

Oir thàinig fios an uaighneas,
Do ‘n t-shabhal ‘s na shuain ann.
‘Tog ort Iain Duibh, ‘s bidh gluassadh,
‘S thoir as cho luath ‘s a ‘s urra dhuit.’
O Thulaichean, &a.

‘S e thuirt a leannan ceutach ;
‘A ghaoil, cuir ort,’ ‘s bidh treunmhor ;
Is dhuit bi thidh mise feumail,
Oir bidh mi gu d’, chuideachadh.
O Thulaichean, &a.

‘Thoir uidhean dhomh gu sùrdail,
Is lionaidh mi gu dlùth dhuit,
‘N sin cumsa ghraidh, do chùl rium,
‘S do shuil air na h-uile fear.’
O Thulaichean, &a.

Sheall e cia lion bh’ ann diu,
Mu ‘n rachadh e gu ‘n ionnsuidh ;
Bha dà-fhear-dheug ‘us ceannard,
Co teann air ‘s a b’ urra iad.
O Thulaichean, &a.

Chum e riu a bhòtach,
‘S bha Isabail ‘g a chònadh ;
Cha do thar iad gus an eòlas,
‘S ann leòn e gu h-ullamh iad.
O Thulaichean &a.

Ghearr e leum gu h-eatrom,
Gu ‘n ionnsuidh, agus fraoch air,
Cha d’ ag e ceann air h-aon diu,
Thoirt sgeul air an turas ud.
O Thulaichean, &a.

‘Mo bheannachd air an t-sheal gair ;
Ann ad chuirinn earbsa ;
‘S tu rinn an gniomh neo-chearbach,
‘S tu dhearbh a bhi urramach.’
O Thulaichean, &a.

Thuirt Iain Dubh ‘s tionndadh :
O n rinn mi ‘n gniomh bha shannt orm ;
Ghaoil grad thoir deochdo ‘n leann domh,
S gu ‘n danns mi na Thulaichean.’
O Thulaichean, &a.

‘B’ e ‘n t’ aighear ‘us an t-aoibhneas,
‘N am cruinneach re cheile,
‘N uair chluinneadhmid na teudan,
Ga ‘n gleusadh do na Thulaichean.
O Thulaichean, &a.

‘N a’ mrbithinn mar bu ghnàth leam,
‘S MacAilpein a bhi làimh rium,
Bu bhinn leam bhi ga eisdeachd
‘N uair thaireadh air na Thulaichean.’
O Thulaichean, &a.”

“From Ruara in Glenlyon
A true MacGrigor scion,
Made music which we own the chief
And which we call the Tullechin

Chorus- From Tullechin to Ballechin
From Ballechin to Tullechin ;
If beer we don’t in Tullechin
We’ll water get in Ballechin

In Streethouse at Feill Fhaolan
On him they made an onset dead
And were he not most manly brave,
Eight sturdy men had mastered him.
From Tullechin, &a.

Then Black John spake up hurriedly ;
‘I’m just come from the armoury
And will down my head coward-bend
Though all of you should grapple me’
From Tullechin, &a.

On this they all fell of him ;
And though alone he stoutly faced ;
Twas not advantage that they won
Down their cheeks poured bloody drops.
From Tullechin, &a.

Then having sheathed his good broadsword
On shewing what his manhood could,
He to Strathspey his steps betook
And there a maiden welcomed him.
From Tullechin, &a.

Against Black John MacPhatrick
Was sent a stout and goodly band,
But when they thought him they’d caught
‘Twas death that shaped their destiny.
From Tullechin, &a.

To Black John ‘midst his slumberings,
A message came in urgent haste :
‘Be up Black John bestir you quick,
And take you off right speedily.’
From Tullechin, &a.

Then said his darling Isabel
‘Be up and quit you valiantly
A helpmate true I’ll make you
In your sore straits to succour you.’
From Tullechin, &a.

‘Your ammunition hand me quick
I’ll load for him I fondly like,
As you with back straight turned on me
Your eye keep towards the enemy.’
From Tullechin, &a.

Ere Black John raised his battle shout
His eye he o’er the foe keen glanced,
Twelve men with one to lead them on
He found were closing fast on him.
From Tullechin, &a.

His musket then he aimed at them
Whilst Is’bel pressed each charge fast down ;
And ere their fears to danger woke
Sore wounded was each one of them.
From Tullechin, &a.

Then out he leaped with nimble bound
And with fierce wrath kindling him,
No head he left on body then
To tell of their sad tragedy.
From Tullechin, &a.

‘My blessings on my sportsman good ;
To him I will entrust my life ;
You there in strife a hero stood
And did a deed of mightihood.’
From Tullechin, &a.

Says Black John turing towards his bride :
‘Since I did what I meant to do ;
Give me a drink of beer to quaff,
And we will dance the Tullechin.’
From Tullechin, &a.

‘In meets for joy and happiness,
What mirth and gladness fills our hearts
Whene’er we hear the strings attuned
For giving us the Tullechin.
From Tullechin, &a.

‘Were I where my desire is set
MacAlpin sitting by my side
With what delight I’d hear him play
The King of tunes the Tullechin.’
From Tullechin, &a.

[page 199}

“This song was composed by a MacGregor woman who was married in Glenorchy. It dates back probably to the early part of the 17th century when the persecution against this unhappy clan raged so fiercely. It points to a time when guns were not unknown, but when bows and arrows were still in use. The circumstances which called it forth arose out of these troubles. A party of them flying from their foes having taken shelter in her husband’s house were suddenly informed that their pursuers were close at hand and in full view of the front of the house. The housewife with great presence of mind instantly rushed out and sitting herself on the roadside commenced singing this song. The other party stopped to listen and thus allowed time for the MacGregors to escape by the back of the house.

“The language is highly metaphorical; but not so much so as to prevent our unraveling the meaning. A party of MacGrigors called Dark-blue Stags were startled by their enemies at the riverside and chased to the Glen of Mists. One of their number a kinsman of the songstress, by whom he is designated the ‘Graceful Bird’ was murdered by them. The arrow wound she speaks of having received is evidently not a physical wound at all, but the pain of mind she experienced in consequence. Reciting this to the murderers, she could not possibly even with all the protection which her womanhood gave her use plainer language.”

[page 200}

Mi am shuidhe ‘n so ‘m ònar,
Air còmhnard an rathaid ;
Dh’fheuch am faic mi fear fuadain
‘Tigh’n Chruchan a’ cheathaich.

‘Bheir dhomh sgeul air Clann Ghriogair
No fios cionn a ghabh iad,
‘S iad bu chuideachd a dhomhsa
Didomhnuich so chaidh.

Cha d’fhuair mi d’an sgeul,
Ach iad bhi’n dé air na straithibh,
Thall ‘s a bhos mu Loch-fine,
Ma ‘s fior mo luchd-bratha

Ann an Clachan-an-Diseart
‘G òl f’ìon air na maithibh,
Bha Griogair mór, ruadh ann
Lamh chruaidh air chul claidhimh

Agus Griogair mór, meadhrach,
Ceann-feadhn ar luchd-tighe,
Mhic an fhir á Strath-Arduil,
Bhiodh na bàird ort a tathaich.

Bheireadh greis air a chlarsaich
‘S air an tailseag gu aighear,
‘S a sheinneadh an fhidheal
‘Chuireadh fiughair fo mhnathan

S ann a rinn sibh ‘n t-sithionn anmoch
Anns a’ ghleann am bi’n ceathach,
Dh’fhag sibh an t-Eion boidhaech
Air a’ mhointich ‘na laidhe.

Na stairsnich air feithe,
‘N déigh a reubadh le claidheamh,
‘S ann a thog sibh greigh dhù-ghorm
Bho luban na h-abhann.

Ann am bothan na dige,
Ghabh sibh dion air an rathad,
far an d’fhag sibh mo bhiodag
Agus criosd mo bhuilg-shaighead.

Gur i saighead na h-araich
So tharmaich am leathar,
Chaidh saighead am shliasaid
Crann fiar air dhroch shnai theadh.

Gu’n seachnadh Righ nan Dul sibh
Bho fhudar caol neimhe
Bho shradagan teine
Bho pheileir ‘s bho shaighead.

Bho sgian na roinn’ caoile
‘S bho fhaobhar caol claidhimh,
‘S ann bha bhuidheann gun còmhradh
Di-domhnuich ‘m braigh bhaile.

‘S cha dean mi gair eibhinn
‘N am éiridh no laidhe,
‘S beag an t-iognadh dhomh fein sud
‘S mi an deigh mo luchd-tighe.

‘S beag an t-iognadh dhmomh fein sud
‘S mi an deigh mo luchd-tighe,
‘S mi’m shuidhe’s so ‘m onar
Air comhnard an rathaid.


All alone I am seated
By the side of the highway
Watching for some coming wanderer
From Ben Cruachan the misty.

My hope is he can give me
Some sure news of ClanGrigor
With whom I spent last Sunday
In kinship and greeting.

No news has since reached me
Of how they are faring,
Save, yestreen, that they wandered
Up and down through the Strath-glades.

At Lochfyne they were heard of
If true be my story ;
At Clachan Diseart they were drinking
Goodly wine with the Chieftains.

There was ‘mongst them red Grigor
Truest hand behind broadsword
And big Gregor the light-hearted,
Of our horsemen the leader.

Son of him of Strathardle
On whom bards would be calling
For a lilt on harp tuneful,
Then awhile at backgammon.

He could play a strain cheerysome
On the violin so sweetly
As would fill the fair maidens
With joy and with gladness.

Late at even you were hinting
In the glen where the mist weathes.
There on top of the moss-bog,
A grand bird you left lying.

Stretched out on the soft bog,
There he lay as you sped him,
With Claymore cruelly tearing
His comliest person.

From the loop where the stream bends,
You the dark-blue stags startled ;
In the bothy by the dyke’s side
You took shelter I passing.

There left you my true dirk,
With the belt of my quiver ;
‘Twas the arrow of slaughter
That pierced my body.

through my thigh went that arrow,
And wounded me sorely ;
Whose shaft was but ill-trimmed,
Both crooked and tearing.

May the God of all Nature
Thou preserve from grained powder
From the sharp flashes flaming,
From bullet and arrows.

O’er my face then shall henceforth
No laugh flit in dimples
Nor smile of heart gladness
At morn or night-fall.

[1] The local name for Killin Hotel.

[2] Probably few who gaily dance this merry reel known anything of the grim tale of its origin. Iain Dubh Gearr’s name does not appear in the list of 1586. Although it may read strange, yet after the intense strain of defending himself and his wife against such overpowering odds, that the excitement and reaction should culminate in violent exercise is not improbable.