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Amelia Volume 1 Chapter 29

Proclamations against Transporting the ClanGregor over Lochs

[page 360}
FROM the “Chartulary :- “1610. August. Item to William Cuningham Messenger passing from Edinburgh with letters to charge Patrik Home of Argate and Thomas Grahame of Bowtoun cautioners for John Dow McGregor VcEane VcGregor John Buchannane of that ilk, cautioner for Alex. McGregor in Strathyre Robert McColl; John, Malcolm and Patrik McGregour his sons To exhibit them before the Council the penult day of August instant And to charge the said McGregours by open proclamation at the market Crosses of Stirling and Dunbarton To compeir the said day and underlie such order as shall be taken with them for their obedience £6.

“Item to Robert Elder messenger passing from Edinburgh with letters to charge James Earl of Athole, son of Earl of Tullibardin, James Lord Maddertie, Alex. Meinzies of Weyme, James Campbell of Lawers, Mr. William Murray of Auchtertyre, John Grahame of Balgowne, John Stewart of Foss cautioners for the surname of McGregours to exhibit them before the Council the penult day of August to underlie &a conforme to their acts of cautionerie made thereanent &a.

“Item to a boy passing from Edinburgh with a close letter to the Laird of Buchannane.

“Item to do with letters and commissions concerning the McGregors To the Earls of Montrois, Perth, Tullibardin, The Sherif of Perth, the Laird of Glenurquhy, Grantully, Balleachan, Weyme, Glenlyoun, Lawers, Sir William Stewart, and Donald Farquharson, &a.

“Item to a boy passing from Edinburgh with close letters and commissions concerning the McGregours, To the Earls of Murray, Monteith, Linlythgow, Lord St. Colme, The Lairds of Lundie, Keir, Auchinbrek, Ardinglas, and Muschet, £8.

“Item to a boy passing from Edinburgh with close letters and commissions concerning the McGregours To the Lord of Blantyre, the Lairds of Luss, Buchannane, Foulwede, John Mcfarlane, fear of Arroquhair, £4, 4s.

“Item to a boy passing from Edinburgh with close letters to the Lords Forbes and Elphingstoun, [page 361} the Laird of Aberzeldie, Pitsligo, Dunn, Lessmoir, Grant, Caddell and Angus Williamson, and with a proclamation to be published at the market Cross of Innerness, concerning the McGregors, &c. - Lord High Treasurer’s Books.”

Next follow two proclamations on the subject of forbidding the transport of any of the Clan across the numerous Lochs which intersected their country, and to which allusion has been made in an extract from the “Chiefs of Colquhoun.” If, turning from the dry record of legal entries, the Highland country scene with living figures can be pictured, the hasty arrival on the shore, of the fugitives whether armed men or aged decrepit “bodachs,” anxious women and young children, all eager to be ferried across to escape from cruel enemies, rowed over by the strong arms of trusty friends, and hastening to find a brief shelter on the opposite shore till driven forth again, deep must be the sympathy of their descendants. Thus runs the proclamation to stop these means of temporary respite :-

“1610. Sep. 6. at Edinburgh. Proclamation that nane transport the Clangregor over Loichlung and other Lochs.
“Forasmuch as the King’s Majesty having given order and direction for pursuit of the rebellious and barbarous thieves and lymmers called the Clangregor by whom the peaceable subjects of the in-country are heavily oppressed, troubled, and wracked and the execution of the service being now in hands and some good and happy success expected in that errand, it is very likely that the said thieves according to their wonted manner when as formerly they were pursued, shall have their recourse to the Lochs of Lochlung, Lochegyll and Loich Lowmound, and thir having the commodity to be transported to and from the said Lochs they will frustrate and disappoint the intended service against them, Therefore the Lords of Secret Council ordain Letters to be directed to command, charge, and inhibit all and sundry his Majesty’s lieges and subjects, owners of the boats, and scoutts, upon the said lochs that none of them presume, nor take upon hand, to transport any of the ClanGregor, their wives, children, servants or goods, over the said Lochs upon whatsoever colour, or pretence, under pane to be repute, holden, and esteemed as favourers, assisters, art and part takers with the said ClanGregor in all their thievish and wicked deeds, and to be pursued and punished therefor with all rigour in example to others, and farther to command and charge the masters and owners of the said boats and scouts, To find [page 362} caution and surety acted in the books of Secret Council That they shall not transport any of the ClanGregor their wives, children servants or goods over the said Lochs each of them under the pain of 500 merks and that they find the said surety in manner foresaid within six days next, after they be charged thereto which six days being bypast and the said surety not being found In that case the said Lords give power and commission to his Majesty’s commissioners within the bounds of the Sherrifdom of Dumbarton, To intromitt with the said boats and scouts and to remove them off the said Lochs and to keep in off the same so long as the service against the ClanGregor is in hands.

“Proclamation for concurring with the commissioners against the ClanGregor.
“Forasmuch as the King’s Majesty and Lords of Secret Council having past and expede certain commissions to some special barons and gentlemen in the Lennox for the pursuit of the wicked and rebellious thieves and lymmers called the ClanGregor, by whom the peaceable and good subjects within the Lennox are heavily oppressed troubled, and wrakit, and proclamations being past and lawfully executed for charging of the inhabitants within the Sherrifdome of Dumbarton, to concur with his Majesty’s commissioners in the execution of his Majesty’s service, against the said lymmers, The said inhabitants do notwithstanding refuse all concurrence and assistance with his Majesty’s commissioners so that the execution of his Majesty’s service is like to be frustrated and disappointed unless remedy be provided, Therefore the Lords of Secret Council have declared and by these presents declare and ordain that the escheits of all and sundry persons within the bounds of the sherrifdome of Dumbartane who shall refuse to give their concurrence and assistance to his Majesty’s commissioners foresaid in the execution of his Majesty’s service against the ClanGregor shall be gifted and disponed to the said commissioners and they shall have warrand, commission, and authority from the said Lords to meddle and intromit therewith and to dispone thereupon at their pleasure and ordain letters of publication to be directed there upon whairthro none pretend ignorance of the same - Record of Secret Council Acta.”

On the 24th August the same year, a commission, worded very much the same as those of the 14th of August, was given to John, Earl of Atholl, and John, Earl of Tullibardine, to pursue the ClanGregor with fire and sword.

1610. Item to the Laird of Lawers for undertaking of service against the MacGregors. His acquitance upon the receipt thereof bears £1200. - Lord High Treasurer’s Books.

1610. Sep. 24. Charge anent the Houses of Garth, Glenlyoun and Balquhidder.
“Forasmuch as for the better furtherance of the King’s Majesty’s service against the [page 363} ClanGregour necessary it is the houses of Garth, Glenlyoun and Balquhidder, be made patent and ready to Allan Cameroune of Lochyell and Alexander McRannald of Gargavach two of his Majestys commissioners specially directed and employed in that service, for the resett of them, their viuers, and servants at all such times as they shall have occasion to repair to the said houses during the time that the service foresaid is in hands Therefore ordain letters to be directed charging Johnne Erll of Tullibardin . . . . . . Campbell of Glenlyoun, Sir William Stewart Knt. and all others havears, keepers, and detainers of said houses To make the same houses patent and ready for receiving of the said commissioners, their servants, and vivers, at all such times as they shall have occasion to be resett within the same, during the time of that service, as the persons foresaid, keepers of the said houses, will answer to his Majesty and his Council at their highest peril and under the pain to be repute holden and esteemed as favourers, assisters, and partakers, with the said ClanGregour in all their evil deeds and to be pursued and punished for the same with all rigour and extremity, in example of others. - Record of Council Acta.”

The task of hunting down the MacGregors, had, it appears, been entrusted to Cameron of Locheil and Clanranald. The traditions on which the narrative in the “Baronage” was based, agree with this fact now proved by the “Records,” and the “Baronage” adds that the two war-like Clans who accepted the commission in a short time “penetrated into the interested designs of their enemies and again befriended the ClanGregor.” Two points may here be remarked. In the preceding century different noblemen or chiefs took out “Letters” of fire and sword, for which privilege they were willing to pay a contribution into the State exchequer, but in the reign of King James VI. commissions were given by the government to certain noblemen and others, and large sums were paid to them as a reward for services which formerly were considered in the light of an agreeable foray; the second point is that Clans from a distance were chosen for the duty, and although the heads of the great Campbell houses were the constant and mortal enemies of the ClanGregor and the chief inheritors of any spoils that could be got from them, yet the Campbell clansmen were seldom, if ever, brought into conflict with the MacGregors, as their battles appear to have been fought by other Clans.

“1610. Sep. 24. Charge against Highlandmen.
“Forasmuch as Allane Cameroun of Lochyell and Allaster McRannald of [page 364} Gargavaich being employed and directed in his Majesty’s service against the ClanGregor, and they having desired the persons underwritten, They are to say &a who are their own friends, servants and dependers To join, concurr assist and pass forward with them in that service The said persons most undutifully have refused their concurrence and assistance, in his Majesty’s service foresaid, testifying thereby that they are favourers of the said ClanGregor and doing what in them lies to frustrate and disappoint the course intended against them for reducing of them to his Majesty’s obedience, to the offence and contempt of our Sovereign Lord and misregard of his Majesty’s authority, and Laws. Therefore the Lords of Secret Council ordain letters to be directed charging persons above written to compeir personally before the said Lords upon . . . . day of . . . . . To answer to the premises and to underlye such punishment as shall be enjoined to them for the same, under the pain of rebellion, &a with certification. - Record of Council Acta.

“1610. Sep. 24. Charge against the resetters of the ClanGregor.
“Forasmuch as the King’s Majesty in his just wrath and indignation against the unhappy race of the ClanGregor having given order and direction for the pursuit of them with all kind of hostility and reducing of them to his Majesty’s obedience, and for the better furtherance and execution of this service, having by public proclamation prohibited and discharged all his Majesty’s subjects in any ways to resett, supply, and assist the ClanGregour or to resett, hoard and conceal their goods, Notwithstanding it is of truth that the persons underwritten they are to say, &a have at divers and sundry times since the publishing of this proclamation resett certain of the ClanGregor, their wives, bairns, and goods, have supplied them with victuals, armour, and other necessaries comfortable to them, and thereby have encouraged them to continue in their rebellion in contempt of our Sovereign Lord and misregard of his Majesty’s authority. Therefore letters to be directed charging the persons particularly above written to compeir personally before the said Lords &a. - Record of Secret Council Acta.

“1610. Oct. 4 : At Edinburgh.
“Proclamation for concurring with the Commissioners against the ClanGregor.
“Forasmuch as the Lords of Secret Council having past and expede certain commissions to Walter Lord Blantyre, Alexander Colhoun of Luss, Buchannane of that Ilk, Sir James Edmestoune of Duntreithe . . . . . Sempill of Foulwode and Johne Mcfarlane of Arroquhair, making them conjunctly and severally his Majesty’s justices and commissioners within the Sherrifdome of Dumbartane for the pursuit of the barborous thieves and lymmars called the ClanGregour. Necessary it is for the better execution of the said commission and furtherence of his Majesty’s service, that the said commissioners have the concurrence and assistance of the inhabitants within the parishes of Inchecalloch, Drummen, Killearn, Balfrone, Fintry, Strablane, Campsie, and Baddernoch, for which purpose ordain letters &a.

[page 365}
“1610. Oct. Item to the Laird of McRonald, for himself and Allane McIldowie, And to McColl clapen, [1]   appointed by his Majesty’s direction to attend Upon them for putting in execution his grace service in the Highlands as his Majesty’s warrant bears £3566. - Lord High Treasurer’s Books.

“In Nov. 1610. several close letters were sent from Court to Allan McIldowie the Laird of McRonald and to various Lairds in Athole and elsewhere. “Letter from the Chancellor to the Laird of Arintully 1611.”

From the introduction to Vol. ix. of “The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland,” edited by David Masson, LL.D., some appropriate passages may now be quoted. “All the while that the Hebrides, and the fringe of Mainland coast most immediately connected with them, were being managed in the manner described, a dreadful business had been separately going on in that nearer and more inland portion of the main Highlands which stretches from the northern shores of Loch Long and Loch Lomond over the wild junctions of Stirlingshire and Dumbartonshire with Perthshire and Argyleshire. This was the continued or renewed Persecution of the ClanGregor. It is a sickening story, forming the matter of a larger series of entries in this volume than any other single subject. For many years already, as many previous volumes have shown, this Clan of the Macgregors had been the object of the most vehement hatred of the central Government, and the one doomed and unpardonable Clan in all the Highlands. ‘The wicked and unhapie race of the Clangregour, quha sa lang hes continewit in bluid, thif reif, and oppressioun’ is a recurring phrase against them in proclamations and other publick documents of the years when James was King of Scotland only. The culmination of vengeance against them however, had been in April 1603, the very month of the King’s departure from Scotland into England. It was in that month that, in consequence of a new and crowning offence of the Macgregors in the preceding February, in that Battle of Glenfruin fought by them against the Colquhouns of Luss, the Buchanans, and others, which figures in the criminal records as the Massacre of Glenfruin, there was passed the tremendous Act of the Scottish Council proscribing the Clan utterly, and decreeing under pain of death, the disuse of the very name of Macgregor by all persons of the Clan. Of this Act, describable from it’s date as literally James’s parting gift to Scotland, and the chief agent in the execution of which was the Earl of Argyle, the effects may be traced in various incidents of the immediately subsequent years, one of them being the hanging and quartering at the Market Cross of Edinburgh, on the 20 Jan. 1604, of Alexander MacGregor of Glenstrae, the Chief of the Clan, and eleven of his principal kinsmen and retainers. Naturally, however, it was impossible to carry out such an Act thoroughly and from 1609. onwards there had been a comparative lull in the proceedings against the Macgregors. A lull only, for now the King having set himself [page 366} in earnest to the enterprise of the complete subjugation of the Highlands and Islands, the Macgregors were again remembered. One would have thought that, by tolerably wise management, such as Bishop Knox had applied to the Western Islands, it might have been easy by this time to bring within terms of judicious mercy the few scores of families that constituted the remains of the broken and nameless Clan. This was not the course that suited the policy of those days, or the interests of those concerned. The course actually adopted was one with which Bishop Knox, if one judges him rightly, would have refused to have anything to do. There was to be a war of absolute extermination against the Macgregors root and branch. The campaign was opened in August 1610. From that date to the end of our volume the horrible business may be chronologised as follows :-

“A Series of Proclamations.

“Proclamation of August 1610. [2]   (Comment) In other words they were to be put beyond the pale of society and hunted down as mere vermin.

“Sep. and Oct. Evidence that the Commission is having some effect, the Macgregor hunting having begun, and the clan being in flight hither and thither, but especially towards their old haunts of Loch Long, Loch Goil and Loch Lomond. Orders for preventing them having the use of the boats or ferries on these Lochs. Some captive MacGregors in the hands of the authorities in Edinburgh. Evidence at the same time that the lieges in some parts of the Macgregor-infested region are in sympathy with the fugitives or at least very backward in assisting in the pursuit of them.

“Nov. 1610 - Jan. 1611. Macgregor-hunting apparently over for the season.

“Jan. and Feb. 1611. Great signs of renewed activity against the Macgregors, who have now turned at bay and are showing fight. In the course of January, if not before, they had shut themselves up in the island of Loch Katrine ‘quhilk thay haif fortifeit with men, victuall, poulder, bullett, and uther weirlyke furnitour, intending to keepe the same as ane place of weare and defence.’ Accordingly on the 31st of that month, the Council having gone to Stirling to concert the necessary measures, there is a cluster of resolutions. A number of the Commissioners, who are personally present, are instructed and undertake, ‘to go to the feildis and to enter in actioun and bloode’ within the next fourteen days, the service to be at their own charges for a month from that date; after which they are to be assisted, if needful, with 100 men at his Majesty’s charges. The hope being that ‘thir woulfhis and theives’ may now be destroyed at one effort ‘in thair awne den and hoill’ there is order for all the lieges between sixteen and sixty years of age, within certain specified bounds to be at the head of Lochlomond well armed on the 12. of Feb. thence to carry all required boats to Loch Katrine for use in the intended siege, - two pieces of ordnance one afterwards finds, to be sent from Stirling Castle for the same purpose. By way of precaution in case the siege [page 367} should fail and the Macgregors escape, letters were sent to nobles and lairds within whose bounds the fugitives were likely to pass. Accompanying these aggressive measures however there were proofs that the Council knew that the extreme severities against the Macgregors were becoming more and more unpopular. Not only had there to be warning to ‘a grite many of the baronis and gentlemen’ not to continue their favour to the clan; but there was a redefinition or modification of his Majesty’s policy against the clan to meet squeamish objections. His Majesty ‘in his accustomat dispositioun to clemencie and mercye’ would distinguish between the poorer wretches of the clan and their chiefs or ringleaders. Six of these chiefs and ringleaders were therefore named, viz.
Duncan McEwan Macgregor called the Laird or Tutor.
[3]   Robert Abroch Macgregor
John Dow McAllaster Macgregor,
Callum Macgregor of Coull,
Delchay Macgregor (Dougald Cheir) and his brother
McRobert Macgregor.

with a promise of a reward of £1000 to anyone that should slay anyone of these, and of a reward of at least 100 merks for the head of any inferior Macgregor; while anyone of the clan that desired to separate from the rest and come to his Majesty’s peace might earn his pardon by bringing in the head of any other Macgregor of the same rank as himself. So matters stood on the 31 Jan. and, with the exception that on the 12 Feb. one wretched Highlander of another clan delivered ‘ane McGregoris heid’ to the Council in Edinburgh and got 100 merks for it, we have to pass to the end of Feb. for further information, Then it appears that the projected expedition to Loch Katrine had entirely collapsed, and that the Macgregors had got clear away from their island fastness on that loch, without ‘so muche as any mynt or show of persute.’ Eight of the commissioners with the Earl of Tullibardine at their head were consequently under rebuke.

“March 1611. No special entry in the Macgregor business.”

The other entries and notices do not differ materially from those elsewhere recorded.

Jan 14. 1614. After alluding to the submission of Robert Abroch, Dr. Masson remarks -
“That even after this desertion of the Macgregors by their latest captain there was some unsubdued remnant of them wandering about somewhere or at least that the dangerous Macgregor spirit was not regarded as extinct among the broken and dispersed fragments of the clan is proved by the Act of Council, 26 Jan. 1613.

[page 368} “The persecution of the Macgregors it will be seen was not yet over. It was to continue for years to come. No need to anticipate what the ‘Records’ of these years may have to tell, but even at this point one cannot avoid remarking how intimately this persecution of the Macgregors, like so many other Highland transactions, is inwound with the history and traditions of the great house of Argyle. Five and twenty years hence when Charles I. was on the throne that Archibald Campbell 7th Earl of Argyle who was now so active against the Macgregors was to be living in London as a mild old Roman Catholick gentleman who had been for a while in the Spanish service abroad, and had been sequestrated from his Scottish estate and honours on account of his change of religion; and one wonders whether in those later and more pensive days of his life, spectres of the butchered Macgregors of 1610 - 1613 and their wives with the key-mark branded on their faces, ever came to his bedside.

“1611. Jan 31. At Stirling.
“Act against the ClanGregor.
“The which day in presence of the Lords of Secret Council compeired personally Johnne Earl of Tullibardin, William Lord Murray his son, Hary Lord Sanctcolme, Sir Duncane Campbell of Glenurquhy, Knt. Alexander Colhoun of Luss, Sir George Buquhannane of that Ilk, James Campbell of Laweris, and Andro Mcfarlane of Arroquhair and undertook the service against the ClanGregor, and promised to go the field, and to enter in actioun and blood with them, betwix. . . . . . . and, the 13. day of Feb. next and to prosecute the service for a month thereafter upon their own charges, and after that the King’s Majesty’s to bear the charges of one hundred men to assist them and they to bear the charges and expenses of another hundred men till the service be ended, and that they shall do some notable service against the ClanGregour before his Majesty be burdened with any charges in this service.

“For the better furtherance of the which service Alexander Earl of Linlithgow and James Earl Perth, promised either of them to furnish fifteen men well armed at their own charges which shall join in action at the first with his Majesty’s said commissioners, and assist them for the space of the said first month, and thereafter his Majesty bear the one half of their charges, and the said two Earls the other half of their charges.

“The which day compeired personally . . . . . . . . . . . Campbell of Lundy [4]   for the country of Argyle, and Alexander Menyeis of Weyme, Sir James Stewart of Balleachane and John Stewart Neilson for the country of Athoill and promised to guard the said countrys, and to keep the MacGregours furth thereof.

“The Lords ordain a missive to be written to the Marquis of Huntly to set out watches and people to guard Badyenauch that the MacGregors have no resett there, [page 369} and that another letter be written to the Laird of Grant to keep his bounds free of them.

“The Lords ordain a missive to be written to Duncane Campbell Captain of Carrick to remove the whole boats out of Lochlung and Lochgoyll to the effect the ClanGregour have no passage by these Lochs.

“Forasmuch as this rebellion and proud contempt of his Majesty’s royall authority professed and avowed by the rebellious thieves and lymmars called the ClanGregour, who so long have continued in committing of blood, theft, reiff and oppression upon the King’s Majesty’s peaceable and good subjects, having most justly procured his Majesty’s heavy wrath and indignation, and the force and severity of his royall power to be executed against them which his Majesty has resolved to prosecute till they be reduced to obedience, yet his Majesty in his accustomed disposition to clemency and mercy being well willing to show favour to such of them who by some notable service shall give proof and testimony of the hatred and detestation which they have of the wicked doings of that unhappy race, and aill be content to live hereafter under the obedience of his Majesty’s laws, his Majesty knowing perfectly that a great many of them who are now imbarked in that rebellious society and fellowship have rather been induced thereunto by the cruelty of the Chieftains and ringleaders of the same society than by any disposition and inclination of their own Therefore the Lords of Secret Council have promised and by these presents promise That whatsoever person or persons of the name of MacGregor, who shall slay any person or persons of the same name being of as good rank and quality as himself and shall prove the same slaughter before the said Lords - That every such person slayer of a MacGregor of the rank and quality foresaid shall have a free pardon and remission for all his bygone faults, he finding surety to be answerable and obedient to the laws in time coming And suchlike that whatsomever other person or persons will slay any of the particular persons underwritten They are to say.
“Duncane Mcewne McGregour now callit the Laird [5]   (he was Tutor of Gregor the eldest son of John McGregor nan Luarag.)
Robert Abroch McGregor
Johne Dow McAllester [6]  
Callum McGregor of Coull (a clerical error for VcCoull viz Malcolm McGregor in Glengyle.)
Duelchay McGregor (Dougal ciar) and
McRobert his brother ( ? )
or any others of the rest of that race, that every such person slayer of any of the persons presently above written or any other of that race shall have a reward in money presently paid and delivered unto them according to the quality of the person to be slain, and the least sum shall be a hundred merks and for the Chieftains and [page 370} ringleaders of these McGregors a thousand pounds apiece and that letters be directed to make publication by open proclamation at the market crosses of Dumbartane, Striveling, Doune in Menteith, Glasgu. and Auchterardour.

“Forasmuch as one of the chief and principal causes which has procured the proud and avowed rebellion and disobedience of the wicked thieves and lymmars of the ClanGregour against his Majesty and his authority, now at this time when as the haill corners of his Majesty’s dominions by the power and force of his Majesty’s royal authority are reduced to obedience has proceeded and doth proceed from the unworthy behaviour of a great many of the barons and gentlemen of the country, who not only grant them free passage through their bounds and countrys in their thievish deeds, but reset, supply, protect, and maintain them as if they were lawful subjects highly to his Majesty’s offence and to the shame and discredit of the same resetters and seeing there is some course now taken whereby these infamous lymmers may be reduced to the acknowledging of their iniquities, and to the conformity, and obedience of his Majesty’s laws wherein some good success is constantly expected, if the reset and protection of them be refused and forborne his Majesty in his just wrath having resolved to punish the said protectors and resetters without all favour and mercy. Therefore the Lords of Secret Council ordain letters to be directed charging officers of arms to pass to the market crosses of Stirling, Dumbarton, Glasgu, Perth, Auchtirardour, Downe in Menteith and other places needful and there by open proclamation to command, charge, and inhibit all and sundry his Majesty’s lieges, and subjects of what estate quality or degree soever they may be that none of them presume or take upon hand to resett supply or intercomoun with the said ClanGregour, their wives or bairns nor to keep conventions, trysts nor meetings with them nor to reset or hold their goods, or geir or to make blokes or bargains with them there anent, under the pain to be repute, holden and esteemed as part-takers with them in all their wicked deeds and certifying them that fail and do the contrary that not only shall they be pursued and punished therefor in their persons with all rigour and extremity but they their persons, lands, and goods shall be proclaimed free to his Majesty’s commissioners who are employed in service against the ClanGregour to be pursued by them with fire and sword as if they were of the race of the MacGregours themselves.

“Forasmuch as the wicked and rebellious thieves and lymmars called the ClanGregor who so long have continued in committing all kind of iniquity and barbarity upon his Majesty’s peaceable and good subjects in all parts where they may be masters and commanders being now despairing and out of all hope to receive our favour or mercy seeing their own guilty consciences bear them testimony and record that their detestable and barbarous conversation has so far exceeded the limits of grace and favour that nothing can be expected, but his Majesty’s just wrath to be prosecuted against them with all severity. They have now amassed themselves together in the [page 371} Islae of Lochkitterine [7]   which they have fortified with men, victual, poulder, bullet and other warlike furniture intending to keep the same as a place of war and defence for withstanding and resisting of his Majesty’s forces appointed to pursue them and seeing there is now some solid and substantious course and order set down how these wolves and thieves may be pursued within their own den and hole by the force and power of some of his Majesty’s faithful and well affected subjects, who freely have undertaken the service, and will prosecute the same without any private respect, or consideration, in so far as the execution of this service, that the haill boats and birlings being upon Loch Lowmond be transported from the said loch to the loch foresaid of Lochkitterine, whereby the forces appointed for the pursuit of the said wolves, and thieves may be transported in to the said Isle which can not goodly be done but by the presence and assistance of a great number of people Therefore ordain letters to be direct to command and charge all and sundry his Majesty’s lieges, and subjects, betwix sixty and sixteen years within the bounds of the Sherrifdom of Dumbarton, Stewartry of Menteith and six parishes of the Lennox within the Sherrifdom of Stirling by open proclamation at the market crosses of Dumbarton, Stirling, and Downe in Menteith, That they and every one of thae, weele bodin in feir of weir for their own defence, and surety convene, and meet at the head of Lochlowmond upon the 13. day of Feb. now approaching and to transport and carry from the said loch the haill boats and birlings being upon the same, to the said Loch of Lochketterine whereby his Majesty’s forces appointed for pursuit and hunting of the said wolves, and thieves may be transported in to the Isle within the said Loch under the pain (tinsel) of lose of life, lands and goods. - Record of Council Acta.”

The difficulty of transporting all the boats from Loch Lomomd must have been great. The route was probably from Inversnaid by Stronaclachadh and the end of Loch Arklet; and, as there could only be a rough drove road, the portage of the boats must have been effected with much labour.

“1611. Jan. 31. The quhilk day Johne Erll of Tullibardin band and oblist himselff to mak furthe comeand and ansuerable to his Majesties laws, all and whatsomever persons that presently ar duelling, or herefter shall duell vpoun his landis, and to enter them before the Council when required. - Record of Secret Council Acta.

[page 372}
“1611. Feb. 9. From the Council to the commissioners aganis the ClanGregour.
“After oure verie hairtlie commendations. It is not unknowen to you how that the Kingis Maiestie our awne moist gratious Souerane hes had a speciall cair and regaird this diuerss yeiris bigane That this proud and avowed rebellioun and dissobedience of the infamous thievis and lymmairis of the Clangregour may be suppressit and thay reducit to obedience, And althocht his Maiestie amangis vtheris his Maiesties imploymentis layed a pairt of the burddyne of this service vpoun his Maiesteis trustie counsallour the Erll of Dumbar whome it hes pleased God now to call to his mercie frome this mortall lyff, zet the deceis of that nobleman hes not maid his Maiestie forgetfull of this seruice, bot sensyne his Maiestie hes speciallie recommendit this same seruice vnto ws that the same may be prosequited and followed oute with all suche diligence and possibiliteis as goodlie may be, with assurance that whatever be worde or write hes bene promeist vnto you that same salbe performit and satisfeit. And thairfore these ar to requeist and desyre you and euerie one of you to go fordwart with your haill pouir and forceis in the prosequition of this seruice and let not the deceis of this man mak ony impressioun in your hairtis That his Maiestie will outher be forgetfull or cairles of this seruice bot that his Maiestie will not onlie hald hand to sie the seruice go fordwart bot will verie narrowlie examine the particular chairge and behaviour of everie man in this seruice, and accordinglie will remember theme And so recommending the matter to your consideratiouns, as that which most neirlie tuitces his Majesty in honour, and estate we commit you to God. From Edinburgh your verie good freindis Alexander Cancellarius, Mar, Glencairn, Perth, Lothiane, Blantyre. - Record of Secret Council; Royal and other Letters.

“1611. Feb. 9. Warrant to Buquhannane.
“Quhairas Sir George Buquhannane of that Ilk hes vndertane some service aganis the wicked and rebellious thievis and lymmaris of the ClanGregour in the executioun of the which seruice it being verie necessarie that the said Sir George be assistit with his hail kin and friendis whairever and vpoun whose landis and possessiounis they do duell Thairfoir the Lords of Secreit Counsall gevis and grantis libertie and licence to the said Sir George to convocat and assemble his haill kin and friendis for thair assistance and furtherance to be gevin to him in the executioun of the said seruice commanding likewayis his saidis kin and friendis to rise, concur, fortifie and assist the said Sir George with thair haill power and forceis in the executioun of his Majesteis said seruice aganis the ClanGregour for the which they sall incur no skaithe nor danger in thair personis, nor goodis Exeroning and releving thane of all pane and cryme that may be imputt to thane thairthrew for euer.

“1611. Feb. 5. The whilk day a warrand wes subscryvit to Sir Johnne Arnott to mak payment to the Erll of Perth of the soume of fyve hundreth merkis advanceit be him to [page 373} Allane McEanduy [8]   for the furtherance of his Majesteis service aganis the ClanGregour and ane uther warrand wes subscryvit for delyverie of ane hundreth merkis to the Laird of Lundy [9]   for the heid of Gregour Ammonach.

“1611. Feb. 19. at Edinburgh. Charge against the Undertakers of the service against the ClanGregour.
“Forasmuch as Johnne Earl of Tullibardin, William Lord Murray his son, Harie Sancolme, Sir Duncane Campbell of Glenurquhy, Alexander Colhoun of Luss, Sir George Buquhannane of that Ilk James Campbell of Lundy and Mcfarlane of Arroquhar, compeiring personally before the Lords of Privy Council upon the last day of Jan. now bygone They undertook his Majesty’s service against the ClanGregor and promised to go to the field and to have entered in action and blood, with them betwix the 13 day of this instant Feb. and to have prosecuted that service thereafter with their whole power and forces in manner specified in the acts made thereanent and although the said 13. day be now bygone Nevertheless there is no thing as yet done in that service but the same is altogether frustrated and the ClanGregor who were enclosed within an Isle an great hope had and promises made that they should not have got forth therof until the service had begun, against them in the Isle, are now escaped and got out and not so much as ane mynt or show of pursuit intended against them, but the undertakers, every one in their several discourses doing what in them lies, to vindicate themselves from all imputation of sloth, negligence, or neglect of duty in that point highly to his Majesty’s offence and fostering of the lymmers in their rebellion and wicked deeds. Therefore letters to be directed charging the said undertakers to compeir before the said Lords upon the last day of Feb. instant To answer to the premisses and to give account to the said Lords of the form and manner of their proceeding in the said service and upon what occasion the same service is frustrated and disappointed under the pain of rebellion and putting of them to the horn with certification to them should they fail that Letters shall be directed simpliciter to put them thereto. - Record of Council.”

The following revolting entry refers evidently to the campaign of the previous autumn under Clan Ranald :-

“1611. Feb. Item by warrant and direction of his Highness Council to Allane McIldowie’s servant who brought three heads of the MacGregors and presenting the same before the Council. As the same warrant produced upon compt bears £66, 13s. 4d.

“Amongst other warrants for service done . . .

“Item by warrant and direction of his Majesty’s Council to James Campbell of Lawers for the slaughter of Gregor Amononche McGregor. As the same warrant with the said James acquittance produced upon compt bears £66, 13s. 4d.

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“Also in Feb. of this year sums to messengers passing with the letters and proclamations lately given.

“1611. Feb. the last at Edinburgh. “Glenurquhyis promise anent the entry of Gregor McEane and Duncane Mcincaird.
“The which day Sir Duncane Campbell of Glenurquhy Knt. compeiring personally before the Lords of Secret Council he took upon him and promised to enter Gregor McGregor Mceane and Duncane Mcincaid before the said Lords upon the 14. day of March next to come As he will answer the contrary at his peril.

“Anent the Comissioners against the ClanGregor.

“(The first is almost an exact recapitulation of the former charge on Feb. 19. but continues.)
“And all the said persons compeiring personally and the excuses and defences propounded by them wherefore the said service took not effect being at length heard and considered by the Lords of Secret Council and they ripely advised therewith. The Lords of Secret Council find and declare that the persons particularly abovewritten and every one of them have failed in the execution of the charge, and service foresaid undertaken by them against the ClanGregour and that they have not fulfilled the same conform to their promises made thereanent and the said Lords Reserve the farther deliberation of what shall be enjoined unto them for their said failure to another occasion, ordaining them in the mean time, to address themselves home and to keep their own bounds so that the ClanGregor have no resett, protection, comfort nor maintenance within the same. - Record of Secret Council.”

The “Black Book of Taymouth” gives a fuller account of what took place on Loch Katerine :-
“The King his Maiestie hering of the great rebellioun and oppressioun praxtisit be the Clangregour of new againe in anno 1610 sent from England the Erle of Dounbar for taking order with theme and for settling of peace in thee helandis as he hade done in the Southe borderis of befoir. And amangis otheris noble and gentle men the said Sir Duncane was burdenit to pursue the said Clangregour for ruitting out of thair posteritie and name. Thairefter the Earle of Dounbar reterit himselff back to the Kingis Maiestie And in the month of Februar anno 1611. the Clangregour being straitlie pursued, they tuke thame sells to the Ile callit Ilanvernak in Menteith. Quhairupon the Secret Consell imployed the said Sir Duncane and otheris gentlemen in the countreis about, to besiege them Quhilk being begun, the seige wes haistelie dissolvit throch ane vehement storme of snow. The said Sir Duncane his folkis [page 375} reteiring thairfra, Robert Campbell his secund sone, hering of sum oppressioun done be a number of thame in the said Sir Duncane his landis, tuke thre of thair principallis, and in the taking ane wes slaine the other twa wer sent to Edinburghe. About this tyme the Erll of Dounbar departit this lyffe, upon the occasioun of whois deith the King his Maiestie chargit be severll commissions the Erle of Argyle and the said Sir Duncane and thair freindis to pursue the Clangregour. Quhairupon the Counsell appointed ane meeting to be in Edinburgh of all thair landlordis, quhair the said Sir Duncane being amangis the rest directit out of Edinburgh for attending on the countrie, his sone Robert and Johne Campbell sone to the Laird of Lawiris, quha slew the maist speciall man and proud lymmer of thame, callit Johne Dow McAllester in Stronferna, [10]   and with him Allester McGorrie. Immediatlie thairefter, the said Sir Duncane abyding in Edinburgh with the rest of his sones and friendis, attending on the Secret Consell, the Clangregour burnt the hundreth markland of Glenurquhay, the twentie pund land of Glenfalloch, the ten lib land of Mochaster in Monteith, the twentie pund land of Abirriquhill perteining to Colene Campbell of Laweris brother, the eighteen marklandis of Cowldaris and Finnaves; and in the Cosche of Glenurquhay they slew fourtie great mearis and thair followaris, with ane fair cursour sent to the said Duncane from the Prince out of Londoun. And fra that furth the Clangregour held thame selff togidder to the number of VI. or VII, scoir men, till the said Sir Duncane eftir his returning from Edinburgh directit furth his sone Robert accompaneit with Colene Campbell of Abirruquhil to persue thame, quho followit thame straitlie throch Balquhidder, Monteith, and Lennox, and drave thame to the forrest of Beinbuidh in Ergyle, quhair they slew Patrik McGregour sone to Duncane in Glen, and tuke Neill McGregour bastard to Gregor McEane, with otheris fyve, quhom they hangit at the Cosche quhair they slew the mearis, and from that chaissit thame straitlie to the month that lyis betuix Rannoch and Badenoch, that from that tyme furth thay wer so scattered that thay newir mett agane abone the number off ten or tuelff. And from the month of Maii in the said zeir, the service wes followit furth be the said Erle of Ergyle and Sir Duncane and thair friendis, induring the quhilk tyme thrie wes tane and slane be the said Sir Duncane his sones and servandis to the number of sixtene of the said ClanGregour.”

A tradition relates that one of the besiegers was lighting a fire on the shore, when Callum Oig McGregor VcCoull shot him dead with a long barrel, and called out so as to be heard across the water “Thugadh thall a chrom na geredh” - “take care you dirty crook.” As the Gaelic crom signifying crook literally is used for shoemaker, of which trade the defunct was, Callum was supposed by the daunted besiegers to be a [page 376} This tradition was reported by Donald MacGregor, a native of Strathfillan, schoolmaster in the parish of Luss, and learned in Gaelic tradition. He knew nothing when he told the story, of either the “Record of Council” or the “Book of Taymouth.”

Some modern verses appear on the margin of the “Chartulary” relating to this tradition and to the epitaphs given to the Clan in the proclamations.

From the “Chartulary,” referring to the siege of the MacGregors in Ilanvernoch, Feb. 1611.

“In fair Loch Ketrin’s farther Isle
Y clep’d by Council ‘den and hole’
The Wolves kept holiday awhile,
Devouring what ‘twas said they stole.
To snare them here vast schemes were tried ;
Each stratagem the horde defied,
And hunters kept at bay.
Some say a kindly fall of snow
Bade these the hopeless sport forego,
And give the brutes the play.
But others that the Second Sight
Had given them such a panic fright
No longer tarry here they might,
But ere tomorrow’s peeping light,
Should homeward hie away.

“1611. Feb. John Campbell brother to the Laird of Lawers, slew, this month, John Dhu McAllaster MacGregor of Stronferna for whose head as for those of several others, the Council had 31. Jan. offered £1000. It was not till the 24. May following that he forwarded his head to the Council. He claimed as reward not that above alluded to, but in terms of an act of council 19. April 1605. a 19 year lease of his lands, or compensation at sight of the Council. This tribunal after formally consulting his Majesty and being told (3. June) [11]   that he left them to their direction in regard to the execution of laws which they themselves had framed and of the interpretation of which they were the best judges, ordered 19. Dec. 1611 the superior of the lands of Stronferna, viz. Robertson of Strowan, to pay Campbell a compensation, and that the wife, children, servants and tenants of the late John Dhu MacGregor of Stronferna be instantly ejected.” [12]  

[1] Clephane.

[2] See page 355, &c. volume 1 chapter 28

[3] 3rd son of Ewin, the uncle and tutor of Alastair of Glenstray. This Duncan is also called Douglas of Moirinche and is sometimes mentioned as the Laird of MacGregor.

[4] Lawers?

[6] John Dow McAllaster breac, nephew of Gregor MacGregor of Roro.

[7] “Ilanvernock, as it is elsewhere in the Records denominated, being a small island opposite to Portnellan, near the northern shore and wester extremity of the lake.” - Mr. MacGregor Stirling in “Chartulary.” messrs Johnston, geographers, in reply to inquiries, Feruary 1897, state that no trace of the position of Ilanvarnoch, or “Eilean varnoch,” can now be found, and the same does not appear on any map. Possibly it may have been identical with the Ellen’s Isle of Sir Walter Scott, as it is larger than the other islands and better suited for defence. - Ed.

[8] Locheil.

[9] Clerical error for “Lawers.”.

[10] John Dow McAllaster breac, nephew of Gregor MacGregor of Roro.