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Amelia Volume 1 Chapter 18


The death of Drummondernoch

[page 204}
WE now come to the darkest page in our history, the murder of John Drummond of Drummondernoch; a crime which we would fain believe to have been perpetrated by men of another name. Of this deed there are several different accounts which agree in attaching the blame to ClanGregor. The following is taken from the “Black Book of Taymouth” :-
“Bond to pursue the Clan McGregour for the murder of Johne Drummond of Drumnevenocht.

“Be it kend to all men. Us undirsubscryveris undirstaning be mony actis maidnocht onlie be the Kingis Maisties progenitouris bot alsa be his Maiesties self baith in Parliament and privie Counsel anent the daylie morthouris slauchteris herschipis and thiftis committit be clannis of hieland men upoun the inhabitantes of the laiche cuntreis speciallie be the clan of McGregouris : lyke as laitlie the said Clan of McGregour in the moneth of Sep. last bipast, maist creuallie slew and murtherit Johne Drummond of Drumnevenocht in Glenarkney being under thair doubil assurance, the ane grantit be my Lord Huntlie in thair name to my Lord of Montroiss assuring that he and al his and in special the said Johne Drummond suld be unharmit in body and geir ay and quhil the said assurance sud be upgiffin and dischargit on to my Lord of Montroiss be the said Erle of Huntlie, quhilk onavyss ves na done afoir the said slauchter nor yit sensyne; the uther assurance to my Lord of inchaffray and all his kin, friendis and surname upone the Monunday befoir the said slauchter; sua that nather of the foresaid assurances ves than outrun; the said Johne being directit be his Chief at his Maiesties commandment for getting of vennisoune to have send to Edinburght to his Maiesties marriage, the said Clan cuttit and oftuik his heid, and thairefter convenand the rest of that clan, and setting doun the heid befoir thame, thairby causing thame authoreiss the said creual murthour, lykas, thai have done, mening thairby to continew the lyke or greter gif thai be not preventit . . . . We undersubscryvand beand sua tender of bluid alliance and nychtbouris being sua [page 205} of thereft of our frinedis tennentis and seruandis slane, murtherit and herreit be the said clan of befoir. and of mind to revenge the said creuel murthour and bluid of the said Johne Drummond, hes bundin ilkane of us to tak trev and efald pairt togidder for perseuing of the said clan and committaris of the said murthour quhairevir thai may be apprehendit, and gif thai sall happin to frequent or invaid ony ane of us ve all sall repair and hald our forces to the partie invadit, and ve bind us upone our honour and lautie that nane of us sall appoint or aggre witht the said clan bot the advyss of the rest of the subscryveris. In vitness quhairof we have subscryirt this present with our handis at Mugdoge, Inispeffre and Drummen and Valloche the 20, 23, & 30 days of Oct. 1589. befoir thir vitness Robert Grahame of Auchinchlocht, William Drummond of Pitcairnis.”
“Drummond Johne Erle of Montroiss
“Duncane Campbell of Glenurquhay Inchaffray.”

“The Erle of Montroiss binds himself to raise 30 men, my Lord Drummond and his friends 40, and the Laird of Glenurquhay three score to perschew the said clan for the revenge of Johne Drummondis slawchter. 24. Dec. 1589.”

The record contained in the Register of the Privy Council is more detailed and gives a full list of those of the Clan who were proscribed, which is here copied for genealogical studies :-

“1589-90. Feb. 4. At Edinburgh
“The Lords of Secret Council being Creditably informed of the cruel and mischievous proceeding of the wicked Clangregor, so long continuing in blood, slaucghter, herships manifest reiffs, and stouths, committed upon his highness peaceable and good subjects, inhabiting the countries next the Braes of the highlands these many years bygone, but specially how after the creul murder of umqle John Drummond his Majesty’s proper Tenant and one of his Foresters of Glenartney committed upon the . . . . day of . . . . last by past, by certain of the said Clan, by the counsel and determination of the whole, avowing to defend the authors there of whoever would pursue for revenge of the same, when the said John was occupied in seeking of venison to his Highness at command of Patrick Lord Drummond, Stewart of Stratherne and principal Forester of Glenartney The Queen his Majesties dearest spouse being then looked for to arrive in this realm. Like as the murder committed the authors thereof cut off the said umqule John Drummond’s head and carried the same to the Laird of MacGregor who, and the whole surname of MacGregors purposely convened upon the next Sunday thereafter at the Church of Balquhidder where they caused the said umqule Johns head to be presented to them and there avowing the said murder to have been committed by their common counsel and determination laid their hands upon the pow, and in eithnick (heathenish) [page 206} and barbarous manner swore to defend the authors of the said murder, in most proud contempt of our sovereign Lord and his authority and in evil example to other wicked limmers to do the like if this shall be suffered to remain unpunished,, Therefore Ordain commissions to be made and expede under our Sovereign Lords Signet in due form making constituting and ordaining George Earl of Huntly, Lord Gordon and Badenoch, Colin earl of Argyle Lord Campbell and Lorne, John Earl of Athole Lord of Balveny, John Earl of Montrose Lord Graham, Patrick Lord Drummond, James Commendator of Inscheaffray, Archibald Campbell of Lochnell, Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy, John Campbell of Cadell (Calder) James Campbell of Ardkinglass, Lauchlan Macintosh of Dunnauchtan, Sir John Murray of Tullibardine Knight; George Buchanan of that Ilk and Andrew Macfarlane of Arrochar, our Sovereign Lord’s Justices in that part to the effect underwritten, Giving Granting and Committing to them conjunctly and severally full power special command and authority to pass, search for seek take and apprehend

1 Allaster MacGregor of Glenstra
2 John dhu MacGregor his brother (killed at Glenfruin)
3 Dulechay (i.e. Dougal chaich, or Dougal of the mist) [1]   MacGregor
4 Duncan Macgregor his brother,
5 John dhu macneill Macfarlane,
6 Ewin Macfarlane,
7 Patrick ower MacGregor (in Cadderline - paternal uncle (youngest) of Glenstray, No. 38 of 1586),
8 Duncan Glen MacGregor ( paternal uncle of Glenstra, 13 of 1586),
9 Alexander Pudrach MacGregor (from Balquhidder) under the Laird of Weyme (4 of 1586),
10 Alexander galt MacGregor ( paternal uncle of Glenstra, 3 of 1586),
11 Patrick Duncanson in Overzaldie (Innerzaldie, 9 of 1586),
12 Gregor ( his son)
13 Duncan his son in Port of Latherne (11 of 1586),
14 Donald dhu (his son) in Megor (12 of 1586),
15 Finla, his son
16 Patrick Johnstoun MacGregor in Dalm-kland (Dalmarglan),
17 Patrick Ammonach (of Glenalmond) his brother, ( died before 1598),
18 John,
19 Duncan,
20 and Gregor Macphatricks his sons,
21 John Johnstoun MacGregor, in Balenacoule,
22 Duncan Macallaster in Dundurne (15? - 1586),
[page 207}
23 John Macallaster his brother there (16? - 1586),
24 John MacAllaster his brother in Ballenacoule,
25 Gregor Macilchallum VcGregor in Comrie
26 Callum MacGregor his brother in Blairinroga,
27 Duncan Slaach MacGregor in Morell,
28 Gregor Cam MacGregor in Donnyra (Dunira),
29 Gregor Macconachy moir in Finglen,
30 William Maceane VcDonald in Clern,
31 William ower MacGregor in Tullichattill,
32 Allaster macconachy moir in Glen Torchan,
33 Allaster macneill in Tullibenacher,
34 Allaster macphatrick beg in Carraglen,
35 Thomas Macphatrick his brother there,
36 John dhu MacAllaster in Callander,
37 John dhu macconachy VcAllaster in Rannoch,
38 Donald dhu,
39 and Archibald dhu his brothers,
40 Gregor macean VcConnachy,
41 Neill MacGregor,
42 Allaster MacGregor,
43 Dougal Chaich MacGregor (mentioned previously),
44 Duncan dhu his brother (ditto),
45 Duncan ower MacGregor in Duncrosk,
46 Dougal his son,
47 Gregor beg MacGregor
48 Gregor macanroy there
49 Dougal maceanduy in Candkirk,
50 John macconachy Vceanduy in Rannoch,
51 Duncan macallaster in Fernay,
52 John dhu,
53 and Allaster his brother,
54 Neill macconachy,
55 William macneill (52 (?) - 1586),
56 Malcolm his brother,
57 Neill macneill his brother,
58 John bane MacGregor in Fernay,
59 Allaster MacGregor Cleroch there,
60 Duncan macewin in Creichgarrow, Grandson of Duncan VI. of Roro,
61 Gregor Machutecheson his son in Couldar.
62 Duncan Maceancham in Tullichmullen
63 Gregor macconachy in Rorow, ( Head of the tribe of Roro),
64 John dhu his brother,
[page 208}
65 Allaster macewin there, brother of Duncan (58),
66 Duncan Macconchy clerich there,
67 Gregor macilchallum in Glenlyon,
68 Duncan,
69 Neill,
70 and William his sons,
71 John Macgregor jameson in Apindull,
72 William,
73 Dougal his brothers,
74 Gregor Maceanmoyle (Maol, bald, tonsured) in Bofrak, (97 - 1586)
75 Gregor Macneill VcInvallich in Ardewnaig, (98 -1586),
76 Ewin Maceanvallich there (99 - 1586),
77 John Roy Maceanvallich there,
78 Duncan Macinvallich in Comrie,
79 Donald Maceanvallich his brother, ( the Mallochs),
80 Allaster Birrach Macewinmoir,
81 Malcolm Macdougalchere, in Balquhidder, ( ancestor of Innerardaren, 29 - 1586)
82 Dougal Maccoulchere in Glengyll,
83 Duncan macphatrick VcCoulchere,
84 John his brother,
85 Patrick,
86 and Gregor his brothers,
87 John Macgregor VcCoulchere,
88 Duncan bane macrob Vcearlach in Stukenroy ( 21 - 1586 ),
89 John Macrob MacGregor in Ruchoise, ( 22 - 1586 ),
90 Gregor macrob MacGregor in Comir (foot Benlomond, on NE 23-1586)
91 Callum McCallum moir MacGregor, kurkhelich (Knockheilt, 24 - 1586)
92 Callum dhu his brother, (25 - 1586)
93 Robert Roy his brother in Comrie, (26 - 1586)
94 John dhu Macrob their brother, (27 - 1586)
95 Allaster mccoul VcGregor in Dishoir, (north side of Loch Tay, 28-1586),
96 Malcolm MacGregor there, (29 - 1586),
97 Duncan ( 30 - 1586 ),
98 John MacGregor in Drumnauchite,
99 Finla Keir MacGregor in Colcarrach, ( Culgart, 35 1586 ),
100 Allaster MacGregor in Strathfillan, (36 - 1586 ),
101 John dhu Macilchallum VcGregor, (39 - 1586 ),
[page 209}
102 Patrick MacGregor Vcilchallum,
103 Duncan Clerach MacGregor, (39 - 1586),
104 Gregor Craiginslach MacGregor, ( 40 - 1586),
105 Donald ower macean clerach, (41 - 1586, McInleith ?),
106 Malcolm Glas MacGregor in Kinnadie, ( 48 - 1586 ),
107 Dougal Denestoun MacGregor, ( 93 - 1586 ),
108 Donald maccoule Vceandane,
109 Malcolm MacGregor VcNeilll in Rannoch,
110 Dougal his brother,
111 John beg clerach,
112 Duncan MacGregor in Tullicew, (Tullichewne 73 - 1586 ),
113 John dhu macwilliam VcIlchallum,
114 Duncan MacGregor McWilliam, ( 74 - 1586 ),
115 Callum McWilliam MacGregor in Rannoch, ( 77 - 1586 ),
116 Duncan McWilliam his brother, ( 75 - 1586 ),
117 Callum VcNeill VcEwn Vcgregor, ( 76 - 1586 ),
118 Malcom MacGregor VcWilliam (79 (?) 1586 ),
119 Allaster macinnes in Rannoch, (80 - 1586 ),
120 Gregor macneill VcGregor, Candochaach (Candrochitmirk, (81 - 1586 ),
121 John his son, Ardchalzie, (or Ardquhillerie ?), (82 - 1586),
122 Ewin MacGregor, ( 83 - 1586),
123 and Allaster MacGregor, his brothers (84 - 1586),
124 Allaster macrob in Strathyre, ( 85 - 1586 ),
125 Walter Macalpine in little Gaikie, (86 - 1586 ),
126 Robert Macalpine his son, (87 - 1586 ),
127 Murdoch Macalpine his brother, (88 - 1586 ),
128 John bane macilchallum glas in Rannoch, (89 - 1586 ),
129 Gregor Ger his brother, ( 90 - 1586 ),
130 John mcneill his brother also, ( 91 - 1586 ),
131 Gregor bane, [2]   their brother’s son, (92 - 1586, - ‘Cam’ instead of bane),
132 Patrick MacGregor in Cadderlie, ( 38 again ? - 1586 ),
133 Ewin erenoch MacGregor,
134 Patrick maceanroy MacGregor in Dundurn,
135 Neilll macdonachie VcNeill,
136 Gregor his brother,
137 Gregor Macgregor als Colbanach,
138 Malcolm macean Vcconachy son to umqle John Duncanson in Meltie,
139 Duncan,
140 and John dhu his brothers
141 Patrick MacGregor in Callendar

[page 210}
and all others of the said ClanGregor or their Assisters culpable of the said odious murder, or of theft, reset, or theft, herships, and sorning wherever they may be, apprehended, to put and hold them in ward, and to the knowledge of an assise, or assises for the said crimes, and, as they salbe found culpable, or innocent to minister justice upon them conform to the laws, and consuetude of this realm and for that effect to sett, affirm, hold, and continue Courts of Justiciary in whatever parts, or places, to cause suits be called, to fine those absent, and to punish tresspassers, to make create substitute, and ordain Deputes under them with clerks, servants, Dempsters, and all other officers and members of Court needful, for whom they shall be holden to answer, To summon warn chuse and cause to be sworne Assises one or more of the best and worthiest persons dwelling within Stratherne, Menteith, Atholl, Lennox, and four halfs about, least suspected and that best knows the verity of the said matter, each person under the pain of forty pounds ; To apply the escheits of the persons convicted, and to be justified to the dead, the one half to his Highness Treasurer or Treasurer Depute, and the other half of the same to the takers and apprehenders own use for their labour; and if any of the persons abovewritten or others assisting them refuse to be taken, and fly to strengths and houses to pursue and besiege them with fire and sword, raise fire, and use all force and warlike engines, for recovering thereof And if any of them shall be hurt, slain, or mutilated, or any destructions of houses and goods take place, decerning and declaring that the same shall be imputed for no crime or offence to the said commissioners, nor they nor none of them shall be called or accused criminally or civilly in any maner of way, in time coming Discharging and exonerating them of the same for ever by these presents, and that the said Commission be extended in the best form with all clauses needful and for the space of three years after the same to endure.” - Rec. Sec. Con. Vol., from 1587 to 1589.

The following complaint appears in the Register of Hornings, Perth :-
“1590. April 4. Complaint at the instance of Levingstoun with the bairnis and remanent friendis of Johne Drummond of Drummenerinoch upon Alester MacGregour of Glenstra, John Dow MacGregour his brother (here follows a recapitulation of the list of names which has been previously given) charging them with coming to the number of four hundred persons, setting upon the said John Drummond (being direct be Patrick Lord Drummond to our park and forestis, for slaying of weansone to have been sent to our plaice of halieruidhous for preparation to have been made for the quene our darrest spouse cuming to our realm than luikit for) and there schamefullie and cruellie and unmercifullie slew and murdered him, cuttit off his hand after the said murder and caried the same to the Laird of MacGregor quha [page 211} with the haill persons above written purposelie convened upon the next Sunday thereafter at the Kirk of Balquhidder where they causit the said Johne’s hand be presented to them and allowed that the said murder was done by their common consent and counsel, laid their hands upon the samye and swore to defend the authors thereof against all that would see the revenge thereof.”

In the above document it must be observed that the “hand” of the murdered man is mentioned instead of the “head,” an important difference in refutation of the Ardvorlich legend.

The Princess of Denmark sailed for Scotland in August 1589, when the ship was beaten back by storms. The King eventually embarked on the 22nd October to fetch his bride; the royal marriage took place on the 23rd November, the winter was spent in Denmark, and the royal pair landed at Leith on the 1st May 1590.

From the “Chartulary” :-
“1590. April 7. James Commendator of Inchaffray, [3]   brother of Lord Drummond was by the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh called to produce letter at the instance of the Kin and friends of the late John Drummond of Drummondernoch to be surety of a considerable number of the individuals of the ClanGregor who had been denounced nominatim by the Secret Council 4. Feb. preceding, viz Patrik Duncanson in Overzeldie, Gregor Duncan, Donald Dow, Finlay and Duncan his sones, Duncane McAllaster in Dundurne John McAllaster his brother yair, Gregour Cam McGregor in Doura, Gregour McCondoquhie Vayne in Finglene, William McEwin VcDonald in Clwnye (Cluny), William our MacGregour in Tulliechettill, Allaster McPatrik beig in Farne Glen, Thomas McPhatrick his brother, Dougall McCoullicheir in Glengyle, Malcum McDougallcheir in Balquhidder, Allester McRobb in Strathyre . . . . . . . . . . his sones, Gregour McGregour alias Cattanach, Malcum McEwin VcConquhill, sone to umquhille Johne Duncansoun in Mevie, Duncan his brother, John Dow his brother; that they sall compeir for the slaghter of the said umqle John Drummond.” - Record of Justiciary.

The foregoing papers give a very circumstantial account of the murder, although without any details, and lay it to the charge of some of the [page 212} ClanGregor. the tradition handed down in Balquhidder, however, is that the real perpetrators of the deed were the McIans of Ardnamurchan, and there does not appear to be any proof of the painful addition of the alleged brutality at Ardvorlich, which, even in those rough days, would have been surely looked upon with horror.

When “The Legend of Montrose” was first published with the ghastly tale related by Sir Walter Scott in the introduction, Sir John MacGregor Murray was much concerned at this accusation against the Clan, and took much trouble to collect evidence on the other side.

The following letter gives the Ardvorlich tradition in full :-
“Letter from William Stewart of Ardvorlich to Sir John MacGregor Murray, dated Ardvorlich 13. Dec : 1812.
“With regard to the story of the murder of Drummond of Drummondiarnach an account of which I sent to Mr. Scott I am sorry I did not retain a copy otherwise would have sent it to you, The story is briefly this so far as I have been told by my Father and several old men in this neighbourhood, Drummondiarnach was Steward Depute of the Stewartry of Strathearne under his cousin the then Lord Drummond. Some little time before the accession of James VI. to the Crown of England, he had been active in apprehending two or three McGregors of a tribe in the Braes of Balquhidder called ‘Clan Duie a cheadnich’ who had been committing depredations upon some part of the estate of Perth, and causing hem to be executed at Crieff; some time thereafter Drummondiarnach was surprised by a party of these McGregors in the forest of Glenartney and in revenge for the death of their kinsman they murdered him and carried off his head. After committing the deed they came down to this place; at that time Alexander Stewart of Ardvorlich one of my ancestors was married to Margaret Drummond a sister of Drummondiarnach’s, they came into the house, the mistress having set some cold meat before then upon her going out of the room, at her return she was surprised to see her brother’s head upon the table and they by way of diversion desiring him to eat, for many a hearty meal had been made upon that table. The poor woman in a state of distraction immediately left the room and it was said she never halted till she went to the spot where her brother was killed. Many legendary stories were told of her wildness and associating with the deer for several months, but the fact was she was secured by her husband and friends, and gradually recovered her reason and lived many years after. Immediately after this happened an express was sent to Drummond Castle; soon after letters of fire and sword were obtained against the MacGregors; Drummond of Invermay, a younger brother of Drummondiarnach was sent up with a strong party here, assisted by a party from the Earl of Montrose, [page 213} they were likewise joined by another party here; they went up the Braes of Balquhidder and upon the field below Invernenty it was said they killed thirtyseven of them. Some time thereafter the proprietor here seized twelve of them, carried them to the east end of Lochearn and hanged them upon an oak tree which grew upon a spot that has been pointed out to me. This I was told extirpated the whole race and I have repeatedly heard from several MacGregors in this country that these were the only McGregors implicated in that murder for which they suffered so severely. I see by a copy of the letters of fire and sword which are inserted in a late publication that this happened in 1589, and that Drummondiarnach was at the time employed in killing venison for the nuptials of King James VI. with Ann of Denmark.”

Sir John afterwards obtained depositions from old inhabitants of the district, which are here given, and followed by two letters from impartial correspondents, written at the period when the tradition was brought to light.

Depositions regarding the Tradition of the Slaughter of Drummond Earnach, Forrester of Glenartney in the reign of King James VI.

“Kirktown of Balquhidder 26. May 1815.
“Alexander Macnab Residing at Lochearnhead aged sixty-nine years, having been called to make oath with regard to the above slaughter, and being accordingly sworn and examined Depones That he was acquainted with one John Carmichael in Leaks of Breadalbane, who died about forty-four years ago, at the age of eighty. That several years before the death of the said John Carmichael, who was the Deponent’s father’s neighbor in the same Farm the Deponent heard him repeatedly give the following account of the above mentioned slaughter, viz That two young Lads of the MacIans or MacDonalds of Glencoe having gone to the Forest of Glenartney, of which the said Drummon Earnach was Forrester frightened the Deer from the Forest, and were met by the Forrester who, as a punishment cut a piece off their ears. That having gone home and complained of the injury done to them, it awoke the anger of their Clan, who in consequence assembled and sent a party of their number down to the said Forrest, where having met with the said Forrester and a servant, the servant ran away and the MacIans cut off the Forrester’s head. That having done so, they carried the head to the house of Ardvorlich, the Lady of which was sister to the Forrester so slaughtered. That she set meat before them on the table, and having occasion to go out of the room to get some drink to give them, they placed her brothers head on the table; and one of them was in the act of holding a Caiper [4]   to the head saying as she entered “ Eat that, you are welcome.” That she instantly lost her judgement, left the [page 214} house, and went to the hill, where according to the tradition she remained for some time amongst the Deer until her Husband found her one night in a hut and took her home next morning. That according to the same tradition a poor woman of Glencoe a Druidess, threw a spell over the Forrester which deprived him of the power of seeing an enemy : owing to which spell he would not believe his servant when he informed him that he saw the MacIans approaching and advised him to fly when he saw danger. That when Ardvorlich’s Lady was brought back she had a stone in her hand, which is called the Red Stone, but which the deponent who had seen it thought resembled a chrystal. and he knows that people from a distance are still in the practise of coming to Ardvorlich and taking away water in bottles for the cure of their cattle, after the same being stirred about with the stone to which there was a chain attached. And being interrogated whether he had not heard that the above slaughter was imputed to the MacGregors Depones that he heard so only lately having heard of old what he has already deponed to. And being asked what impression that late report made upon him ? Depones that he considers it to be a lie, never having heard any enmity between the Drummonds and the Macgregors but on the contrary that they were in friendship. That the Deponent also heard the foregoing tradition from other people, and particularly about thirty years ago from John MacGregor who resided at Meovey in the parish of Comrie, and who died about four years ago aged nearly 100. That he has heard of the McIans and some of the Glengarry MacDonalds headed by Glengarry’s Brother whose title was Achuanie, having plundered Breadalbane and of the MacEans having once plundered Glenlyon, which was the cause of the enmity between the Campbells and the Glencoe people. And being asked if ever he heard of the Forresters head having been brought to the Kirktown of Balquhidder and tossed about by the Macgregors, Depones that he never did and that it was impossible that he ever could have heard it as he had never heard the murder imputed to the MacGregors, excepting very lately as before mentioned, and if such a remarkable circumstance had happened he thinks the tradition could not have passed away. And being asked if he had ever heard of seventeen or any other number of Macgregors being hanged upon one tree in Balquhidder ? Depones that he never heard of such a report, and considers it highly increditable that is such a circumstance had happened, the tradition could have died away, and all this is truth as he shall answer to God.”
“signed Alex : McNab Jo, Coldstream J P.”

“Robert MacGregor in Middle Achtow one of the Elders of the Parish of Balquhidder aged seventy four, being solemnly sworn and examined on oath Depones that he is the sixth generation of Macgregors who have lived at Achtow. That his [page 215} father was born in 1701 and lived to the age of 77, That the invariable report from his infancy with regard to the slaughter of Drummond Earnach the Forrester of Glenartney, which the Deponent had from his father and many others was that it was committed by the MacIans or MacDonalds of Glencoe That it was in consequence of an injury done by the Forrester to some of the Clan Ian, a party of whom came down for the purpose of putting him to death. And being examined with regard to the other particulars in the preceding Deposition and afterwards having heard the same read over to him Depones and concurs with regard to the servant running off from the Forrester when the Macians approached : of his head being cut off and carried to Ardvorlich : of the Forrester’s sister the landlady entertaining them : of the caiper being put to the head in her sight; of her going to the hill distracted when she saw her brother’s head : of her being taken back by her husband, and of the spell or witchcraft which prevented the Forrester from seeing his enemies; Depones that the preceding tradition is more familiar to the Deponent from the circumstances that his great grandfather by his father’s side was a son of the daughter of the Lady Ardvorlich who was distracted and ran off to the hill as before mentioned, and who was sister to the Forrester so put to death. Depones That he never heard of the report of the murder being imputed to the Macgregors till questioned respecting this his deposition. And which report he believes to be false having always heard that the Drummonds and Macgregors lived in a friendly way. That he has often heard that the MacIans of Glenco were in the practice of coming down and subsisting themselves by plunder in this and the neighbouring parts of the country. And being asked if he ever heard of seventeen or any other number of Macgregors being hanged on one tree in Balquhidder Depones that he never heard of such report and he thinks it improbable from never having heard of it. And all this truth as I shall answer to God.”
“Robert MacGregor Jo. Coldsteam J.P.”

Traditional account of the murder of Drummond Earnach :-
“Balquhidder 16. Dec. 1813. “During the time that Drummond earnach was Forrester in Glenartna two young boys named Johnstons or Clan Eoin Glencoe having gone to that place for the purpose of hunting the Deers, Drummond Earnach upon seeing them took hold of them and clipped their ears desiring them to go home, when they reached home they told what had happened to them to their friends, who being so enraged that they swore they would be revenged upon him for treating them so roughly. They immediately dispatched an old wife who went under the name of a witch to bewitch Drummond Earnach. She goes to his sister who being Lady of Ardvorlich at that time and says to her, that if she would compliment well, she would give her a piece of cloth, which being sewed to her brother’s coat he would never see his enemy. The lady thinking [page 216} that the old wife meant that her brother never would have an enemy, gave her some thing and accordingly the piece of cloth was sewn to his coat, and shortly after this a band of clann Eoin’s friends when to Glenartna there to lay wait for Drummond earnach, and as soon as they saw him they ran towards him his servant seeing them coming warned his master, and made off himself, Drummond earnach not seeing any, would not follow his servant, he was seized and his head cut off.”

The ghastly tale of the head having been placed on the table at Ardvorlich as related by Sir Walter Scott is repeated, adding that the lady was for a week in the forests among the deer, but was found and brought home; her child as born directly afterwards, and became a Major in the army.

The deposition is thus certified :-
“We Alexander McNab, Lochearnhead and Robert MacGregor Auchtow Balquhidder do affirm that we heard the above circumstances told by the people after mentioned all of them to the same purpose, Alex; McNab heard it from one John Carmichael Glen Dochart who died about forty years ago - from John McGregor Meovie east end of Lochearn where he died above three years ago and was about 98 years of age also from Lieutenant Stewart Perthshire militia; Robert McGregor from his father Hugh McGregor.
“signed
“Alexr McNab.
“Robert MacGregor.”
“Manse of Balquhidder, 19 June 1817.
“Robert MacGregor an elder of the Parish of Balquhidder in which his Grandfather & Great grandfather were also elders in presence of the Rev. Alexander MacGregor Minister of the said Parish, states that since he emitted his affidavit relative to the murder of Drummond Earnach which had been unjustly ascribed to persons of the name of MacGregor he has been informed by several Natives of Lochaber that Allister MacDhuil, Paternal Brother of MacDonald of Keppoch, having conceived the design of seizing on Keppoch’s lands in the minority of his three sons, went to the house of Keppoch on the pretence of visiting his nephews, on their return from school, that Alister MacDhuil was accompanied by his six sons that the servants of the family were in the fields cutting down corn, and the Boys left in the house; that their uncle and his sons taking advantage of this circumstance put the boys to death that Ian Lom a celebrated Bard, and a friend of the young men had charge of the family, and was superintending the Shearers at harvest work; that having observed Alister MacDhuil and his sons going through the motion of taking leave of the boys at the door and sometime after the departure of these men, thinking it strange tha the boys did not come to see the people at work, Ian Lom went to look after them and was [page 217} horrorstruck at finding them murdered that Alister MacDuil and his sons immediately left their country under a consciousness of the criminality of this atrocious murder that they skulked seven years in different parts of the neighbouring countries, and haunted a considerable part of that time in Perthshire and particularly near the forest of Glenartney where they were in the habit of making free with the deer; that the present Mr. Stewart of Ardvorlich had informed the Declarant, tha these men had built a hut in Finglen the most eastern farm on his estate very near the forest where they principally resided for two years; that the Forrester Drummond Earnach having cropped the ears of these sons of Alister MacDhuil or some of that tribe as a punishment for their trespasses in the forest, his own murder was the consequence of their revenge as the Declarant verily believes; that Alister MacDhuil and his sons having afterwards returned to their own country were apprehended, and their heads thrown into a well not far from the house of Glengarry, called to this day Tobar nan ceann, or the Well of the heads, That the Declarant was credibly informed that there is a tribe of MacDonalds called Clann Dhuil; another styled Clan Fhionla and that several other tribes of MacDonalds have family patronymics; that the imputation of this murder falsely made against the MacGregors was founded on no better grounds than the circumstances of a tribe of that Clan being called Clan Duil; whereas there are many tribes in the Highlands of other surnames bearing the patronymic of Clann Duil.”
“Robert MacGregor.”
The above declaration emitted and signed in the presence of Alexander MacGregor Min. of Balquhidder.

Letter from Duncan Stewart of Glenbuckie to the Rev. Alexander MacGregor, minister of Balquhidder :-

“5. August 1829.
“rev. dear Sir,
“From having read the ‘Legend of Montrose,’ containing allusions to the Children of the Mist (McGregors) as being the perpetrators of the horrid deed mentioned therein, I am led to suppose that the author who often blends truth and fiction together, has had an erroneous account of an antient but true story handed down in the upper parts of Perth and Argyleshire from father to son, upon which he founded this part of his narrative. If my memory is correct, the story ran thus :- The MacIans of Glencoe being upon an excursion to the Lowlands, as then not uncommon, being disappointed on their expedition, of course much in want of food, in passing through the King’s forrest in Perthhsire killed a hart of deer, the keepers with the principal, Drummond ernach as leader, apprehended the MacIans and sent them home with bloody ears, having literally cropped them, such insult being more than death was not to be forgiven, The Clan of course rushed from their mountains [page 218} seized upon the unfortunate Drummond, cut off his head, came to his sister’s house who ignorant of the deed and by way of Peace offering entertained them and who upon her return to the guest chamber, observed her brother’s head upon the table with bread and cheese in the mouth. The consequence to the poor woman was distraction running wild with the animals of the forrest as hinted in the Legend. “All the share the children of the Mist or McGregors had in these horrid transactions was perhaps over stretched hospitality in screening the MacIans till they could make their escape to their own (for those days) impregnable mountains. Having heard of late a good deal of conversation of this affair I think it right that Sir John should be informed of what was currently said of it in my younger days, My sister who is much better versed in highland story than I am joins in regard with
“Dear Sir Your faithful & obd.
“Dun. Stewart.”

Letter from the Rev. Alexander Irvine, minister of Little Dunkeld, well known for his acquaintance with all Highland subjects, to Captain Donald MacGregor, 96th Reg. of Foot, Ayr, afterwards proprietor of Balnald Strathardle, Perthshire :-
“Dunkeld 12. July 1815.
“With regard to the murder of Drummond Erinach by a few MacGregors it is a made up story to answer the purpose intended, that is to deprive them of all their lands. He was murdered by the Johnsons or MacIans of Ardnamurchan, a sept of the MacDonalds who even as far down as the 1752. regularly laid the country under contribution. Being three years a minister in their country, I had every opportunity of knowing the history of this roving tribe. It is well known that they came to hunt in the forest of Sechallin, Ben Douran, Cruach, and others. Walter Scott took the story as he found it and unfortunately gave celebrity to a falsehood. I have written the history of the ClanGregor as part of my account of the Scotch Clans in which I have endeavoured to do justice to a long oppressed though noble and generous race. If a party of the MacGregors should have in a hunting match killed a rival it would surprise any one acquainted with the history of the age; such things happened every day, but it is enough for ClanGregor to bear their own burdens.”

The foregoing depositions are in themselves interesting, whatever weight they may be allowed to carry.

The Chief at the time of the transaction was Allaster Roy, son of the Gregor Roy who was so ruthlessly murdered by old Sir Colin Campbell, under colour of judicial execution in 1570. A sense of terrible injustice, [page 219} the knowledge that his Clan could do no right in the eyes of their cruel enemies and transducers, must have most deeply goaded him if (?) he took the desperate resolution of accepting for himself and his followers the full responsibility of the foul deed, by whomsoever it might have been done. With the following extract from a poem on the subject, this painful chapter may be fitly closed :-

QUOTATION FROM A POEM BY SIR ALEXANDER BOSWELL PRINTED IN 1811 BUT NOT PUBLISHED

“And pausing on the banner gazed :
then cried in scorn his finger raised,
‘This was the boon of Scotland’s King,’
And with a quick and angry fling,
Tossing the pageant screen away,
The dead man’s head before him lay,
Unmoved he scann’d the visage o’er
The clotted locks were dark with gore
The features with convulsion grim
the eyes contorted, sunk and dim,
But unappalled, in angry mood,
With lowering brow unmoved he stood,
Upon the head his bared right hand,
He laid the other grasped his brand :
Then kneeling, cried ‘To heaven I swear
This deed of death I own, and share ;
As truly, fully mine, as though
Come then on, our foemen, one come all ;
If to revenge this caitiff’s fall
One blade is bared, one bow is drawn,
Mine everlasting peace I pawn
To claim from them or claim from him,
In retribution, limb for limb.
In sudden fray, or open strife,
This steel shall render life for life.’

He ceased; and at his beckoning nod,
The clansmen to the alter trod ;
And not a whisper breathed around,
And nought was heard of mortal sound,
Save for the clanking arms they bore
That rattled on the marble floor.
And each as he approached in haste,
Upon the scalp his right hand placed ;
With livid lip and gathered brow
Each uttered in turn the vow
Fierce Malcolm watch’d the passing scene,
And searched them through with glances keen ;
Then dashed a teardrop from his eye ;
Unbid it came - he knew not why.
Exulting high, he towered stood ;
‘Kinsmen,’ he cried ‘of Alpin’s blood
And worthy of Clan Alpin’s name,
Unstained by cowardice or shame,
E’en do, spare nocht, in time of ill
Shall be Clan Alpin’s legend still.’”


[1] Of the Dougal Kier or Ciar tribe, the name sounding alike.

[2] Noted, it is said, for fleetness of foot

[3] On Aug. 31, 1590, the Commendator was “unlawit” fined in the pains contenit in Act of Parliament for nocht production thairof upon ilk ane of the persones abone written in the pane of fourtie pounds.

[4] Kebbuck-cheese