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Amelia Volume 2 chapter 23

Rob Roy-And Events, 1716 to 1719

[page 314]
After the dispersion of the Highland Army in the spring of 1716, [1]   General Cadogan was employed in chasing some hostile bands of the Clans in the remoter parts of the Highlands. Professor Miller relates that Rob Roy at this time led his men from place to place in the north Lowlands and greatly harassed the Whig Lairds of Fife and Stirlingshire. The Hanoverians having captured Finlarig Castle, belonging to the Earl of Breadalbane, garrisoned it, and Rob Roy went to Balquhidder to watch events. It appears that Rob Roy's wife at the time occupied the house of Auchinchallan in Glen Dochart. Hearing that Cadogan had ordered a party to burn the house of Auchinchallan, Rob Roy sent his wife to Glengyle, and posted himself with some followers in ambush near Auchin¬challan, whilst he sent for his principal Lieutenant, Alastair Roy, to bring more men from Craigroistan. But in the meantime a party of Swiss mercenaries led by a guide reduced the house to ashes. Although in a hopeless minority, Rob Roy at last could not resist firing, and his men joined in the combat, but they were obliged to yield, and Rob Roy was made to feel such indignation as he had often inflicted on others. Professor Miller appends a letter on this transaction.

“Letter from Graham of Killearn to Mungo Groeme of Gorthie-
"Killern 11 April 1716.
Sir-I was enquiring about Rob Roy's story, which is, as it comes from his own freinds, that on Wednesday last he was informed that a partie was to be sent from Finlarig to his house, he sent of ane express immediatelie to his people in Craigiostan to come as quicklie to his assistance as they could and thought fitt to absent himself when the party came because he found he had not force to resist.
[page 315]
The party caryed off his whole plenishing and goods, except a few wild beasts that ran away with the fyring and burnt all his houses save one little barn. But Robert was not able to bear all this without attempting some revenge. Therefor with a few of these he could gett readiest, his Craigroistan folks not having tyme to come up, he fyred from some rocks and passes upon the partie and killed two or three, and has wounded ten or twelve, ther's lykwise one of his killed and severall wounded, but all the booty was carryed off. This is the most distinct account of the matter that I have yet gott. Now its certain this partye has not been commanded by P. Robieson, for they returned to Finlarig: if it had been Robison he would have marched to Glenguyle, soe that you see that concert failed, wherfor its most necessar you consider hou to make a new application to the Generall to take a course with these villains whose insolence is not to be born any longer. They have just now stolen a good deall of sheep of the Muir of Blane above Duntreth, and daylie threatens more mischief to all the country."

The house of Monacaltuarach, which Rob Roy occupied in Balquhidder, was on the property of the Duke of Atholl and not on that of the Duke of Montrose as Professor Millar apparently supposed. Also the Duke of Atholl was the feudal Lord of Balquhidder, and most of its inhabitants were loyal to him, which makes various stories of encounters with him in Balquhidder difficult to understand, and rather takes the point out of them.

By Lt. Coll. Russell Commanding at Finlarig Castle. [2]  
“I doe hearby Certifie that John Oge Campbell has bought and payd for all the Cattle which was brought or taken from the House of Rob Roy by the party sent thither from Finlarg Castle, and if any of the said Cattle strayed from the party as they came along which severall of them did, the said John Oge Campbell is intitled to them as his owne proper goods soe may take ym up as such.
"Given at Finlarig Castle. this 5th of Aprill 1716.
(Signed) Chris. Russell.
"I doe likewise oblige myselfe yt the said John Oge Campbell shall not have ye said Cattle taken from him by any who shall pretend a writ by Law, or otherways as mony due to ym by the said Rob Roy any manner of way. Chris. Russell."

Outside this original paper is an old doquet as follows
"Lyes inclosed - Rob Roy's Discharge to me for my possession of Corriecherich & Innervonchall."
In Dr McLeay’s Memoir of Rob Roy, of which a reprint was brought out in 1881, many feats are related, the accuracy of which cannot be traced, [page 316] such as a conflict between Drummonds and Murrays, at Drummond Castle, which certainly did not take place in Rob Roy's time or in the cir¬cumstances narrated. The Memoir also relates in much exaggerated form, the surrender of Rob Roy to John 1st Duke of Atholl from whose custody he skilfully escaped. The History by A. H. Millar, F.S.A. Scot, has reproduced McLeay’s Memoir and adds to the capture of Rob Roy, sundry picturesque details, the source of which is not specified, but both writers have evidently taken as their text the scarce and curious Tract entitled "The Highland Rogue," published in London during the lifetime of Rob Roy himself and mostly favourable to him, it is now considered to have been the work of Defoe. [3]   The later author of the “Trials of Rob Roy's three sons”, published in 1818, characterises some of the tales in this tract as "whimsical exaggeration," "if not entire fiction," and it pertains to the literature of romance. From various passages in Mr Millar's Book he appears to have been unaware that the Duke of Atholl, who he supposes to have vacillated, was a consistent "Whig" throughout, and was from youth opposed to the Stuart interests, partly, doubtless, because his wife Lady Katharine Hamilton was a very strong presbyterian. [4]   Several of his sons however, as also his brothers, were loyal to the Jacobite cause. A graphic account, taken with embellishments, from "the Highland Rogue " - describes Rob Roy's arrival at Blair Castle where he was taken to the "Library", a room which did not exist at Blair at the time, but that is a matter of trivial detail. It is very doubtful if on this occasion Rob Roy went to Blair Castle, for on the 3rd June the Duke had gone from Dunkeld to Huntingtower where he left the Duchess, his second wife, who therefore could not have been present at the interview. The Duke wrote about the capture of Rob Roy on the following day, June 4th, and the following letters are here given from the Atholl papers by permission of the present Duke
Extract of a letter from John 1st Duke of Atholl to Lt.Genl Carpenter. [5]  
"Logyraite, June 4th, 1717.

"Yesterday Robert Campbell, commonly called Rob Roy, surrendered himself to me, [page 317] who I sent prisoner to this place, where he is keep't in custody. He says he has not lain three nights together in a house these twelve months. I have wrote to Court that he is now my prisoner."

Letter from Lord Justice Clerk to Duke of Atholl. "Edinr'., 5th June 1717.

"My Lord - I Cannot express the joye I was in upon Receipt of your Grace's, and hopes it shall be most luckie that this man has fallen in your Gr/s hands. I dispatcht your Grace's letters by a flying pacquet within less yn ane hour after they came to my hand, and I'm confident it will be most agreeable news at Court.
Yr Gr/ will escuse me to plead that Rob Roy may be brougbt over hither to the Castle; the prison of Logerait is at too great a distance from the troops, & I have procured a order from Mr Carpenter to the comanding officer at Perth to send a strong detachment to bring him over. The officer is ordered to concert with your Gr/ the time your Gr/ shall cause delyver the person of Rob Roy to him. He's to use him civilly, meantime to keep a good guard upon him.
I most be allowed to say 'tis fitt Rob Roy be in good keeping for he's in no smale danger if his old friends cane possibly be masters of him, and I'm perswaded they will lay all irons in the fire to Rescue him, yrfore I hope ye will be no difficulty proposed agt his coming hither, & he shall be putt in the Castle which is the best prison the King has Ad: Cockburne."

Mr Douglas, the Duke's Edinburgh agent, wrote privately to explain that the Lord Justice Clerk had received certain information of an intention to relieve "Rob Roy" out of the Duke's custody, particularly by some of Argyll's folks and that it was simply for the Duke's good that he had ordered a detachment of troops to conduct the prisoner to Edinburgh and not out of any disrespect or mistrust.

Duke of Atholl to General Carpenter.
"Huntingtower June 6, 1717.
"Sir, As I was coming from Dunkeld to this place, about two hours since, I mette Captain Lloyd with a party, who showed me his orders from you, but had no letter to me, In which orders he is appointed to receive Robert Campbell alias "Roy," who is my prisoner att Logerate. Butt since I have wrote to the Duke of Rox¬burgh principall Secretary of State, to acquaint his maj: that 'Rob Roy' had surrendered himself to me, and that I expected his maj:’s commands about him, I hope you will excuse my not delivering him untill I have a return with his Maj:’s pleasure about him which I doubt not will be in a few days, since I desired my Lord Justice Clerk to 'send my letter by a flying pacquett to Court.
I am &c. Atholl."

[page 318]
"The Duke of Roxburgh wrote from London saying that he had that night received his Grace's letter which he had delivered to the King who was 'mighty well pleased with his Grace's care and diligence on this occasion' and that his Majesty commanded him to say that he would have written to his Grace himself to thank him for so good a service if it had not been so late."

Duke of Atholl to General Carpenter. -
"Huntingtower, June 7th 1717.
"Sir,-About an hour after I writ to you yesterday I had the misfortunate accompt that 'Rob Roy' had made his escape from the prison he was in at Logyraite yesterday, betwixt ten and eleven in the forenoon, which was two hours after I met Captain Loyd with his party, so that they could have been of no use, tho' they had marched on, for no doubt he has had intelligence of their march whenever they came out of Perth, which I understand was about five o clock in the morn¬ing, and it was betwixt 12 and one o Clock befor the party reached the boat at Dun¬keld where I mett them. I cannot express how vexed I am for this unlucky affaire, but I assure you I shall leave no method untryed that can be done to catch him, & I have already given orders to sixty of my Highlanders to follow him wherever he can be found, and those that command them, have undertaken to me, to bring him in if he keeps to Scotland. I have sent for all the arms I had of my own in my houses to (torn) among my men, but they do not serve them. If you can order Fifty fusils & as maney swords or bagonets for me, I shall oblidge me to restore them on demand. I send you a copy of the orders I left for guarding him at Logyraite, which I did think was sufficient for one that had surrendered, for I think there can hardly be an instance of any that had done so that made his escape immediatly after. I have made the Jailor prisoner, but nothing can retrive this misfortune butt apprehending him, which I am very hopefull may be done, and then I shal acquaint the garrisone of Perth to receive him.
"I am &" Atholl"

General Carpenter to the Duke, Edenr., June 9th, 1717.
"My Lord, I have rec'd yr Gr/s of the 7th and am extremely concern'd at the ill fortune of Robroy's escape. Yesterday I Sent an order for Captn Loyd to come hither, that if he has been to blame he may have his just reward. I have look't over the coppy of my order for the party to march from Perth and find it very exact, with a paragraph to lett none know where or on what occasion the Party march't. 't was also sent hence with secrecy and all the dispatch possible.
“Ld Justice Clerk writt by the express to yr Grace which indeed I did nott, because I had nott then rec'd yr Gr/s letter, which came to my hand after the express was gone.
[page 319]
“I shall be mighty glad yr Gr/ could gett Robroy taken & am &c.
"Geo: Carpenter.
"Enclos'd is an order for the armes yr Gr/ desires to have."

The story of how Rob Roy contrived to escape from the prison at Logierait may be taken from the following narrative. From the letters, quoted above, Rob's captivity can only have lasted from the 4th, or possibly 3d, to the 6th June.

"His grace left Rob at Logyrait under a strong guard till yt party should be ready to receive him. This space of time Rob had imployed in taking the other dram heartily with wt the Guard & qn all were pretty hearty Rob is deliver¬ing a letter for his wife to a servant to whom he most needs deliver some private instructions at the door, for his wife, where he is attended wt on the Guard. When serious in this privat conversatione he is taking some few steps carelessly from the door about the house till he comes closs by his horse which he soon mounted and made off." - Extract from a letter 2d July 1767 from Revd M. Murray of Comrie to Revd. Colin Campbell, Ardchattan, among the Papers of John Gregorson of Ardtornish, part of the said lettcr having been published by Sir Walter Scott in the Appendix to his Introduction to "Rob Roy," 1829

"Extract of letter from Lord James Murray of Garth to his Father the Duke of Atholl. [6]  
"London 11th June 1717.
"Mr Murray has likewise told me that 'Rob Roy' has surrendered to yr Gr. I wish it may not be fatal to him for by what I can understand he has little reason to expect any mercy."

Letter from the Duke to his Son Lord James.
"Dunkeld June 18. 1717.
"Dear Son I am so fatigued that I have scarce time to writ to you. I had not heard from you since I wrot an account of 'Rob Roy's' surrender but also I acquainted you with his unlucky escape & that I had taken all means to get him again. I have to that end employed ye person you recommended to me in Glen Tillt and hope his diligence in the affair will give me a handle to do for him, but he is to go about it in ye most private manner & not to be known that he is gone from me, not even to his own family since this stratagem perhaps do better than ye others. …. I’m more and more convinced that if ye troops had not been sent before I had been some time acquainted with itt to have kept ye knowledge of itt from Rob Roy all had done well enough, but ye surprise of itt so soon made him goe off, [page 320] as I am informed there was intelligence sent him from Perth that morning tho' ye officer did it secretly yet they were all suspecting it even before that march,"

"On June 19th Mr John Douglas wrote telling the Duke that he had got infor-mation that on the 12th two of his Grace's men had sent intelligence to Rob Roy, otherwise Donald Stewart would have seized him the next morning, also that he heard that Rob was lying ill of a rose in his thigh swelled so big that he is unable to walk, but where he was he knew not."

"Declaration Rob Roy to all true Lovers of Honour and honesty.
"Honour and Conscience urge me to detest the Assassins of our Country, and Countrymen whose unbounded Malice prest me to be the Instrument of matchless villainy by endeavouring to make use of false Evidence against a Person of distinction whose greatest Crime known to me was that he broke the party I was unfortunately of. [7]   This worthy proposal was handed to me first by Graham of Killerne from his master the Duke of Montrose with the valuable offer of Life and fortune, which I could not entertain but with the utmost horror. Lord Ormistone who trysted me at the Bridge of Cramond was not less solicitous upon the same subject, which I immediately shifted till once I got Out of his Cluches fearing his Justice would be no Check upon his Tyranny.

"To make up the Triumvirate in this bloody conspiracy the Duke of Atholl resolved to outstrip the other two if possible, who after having coyducked me in his conversation, immediately committed me to prison, which was contrary to the Parole of Honour given to me by my Lord Edward in the Duke's name and his own who was privy to all that passed betwixt us. The reason why the promise was broke was because I boldly refused to bear false witness against the Duke of Argyle. It must be owned if just Providence had not helped me to escape the barbarity of these monstrous Purposes my fate had certainly been most deplorable for I would undoubtedly be committed to some stinking dungeon where I must choose either to rott, dye or be damned. But since I cannot purchace the sweet offer of Life and Liberty and Treasure at their high price I advise the Triumvirate to send out one of their own kidney who I'll engage will be a fit tool for any cruel or cowardly enterprise. "To narrate all the particular steps made towards this foul Plott and the persecution I suffered by the Duke of Montrose's means before and after I sub¬mitted to the Government would take up too much time. Were the Duke of Montrose and I to be alone to debate our own private quarrel which in my opinion might be done. I would show to the world how little he would signify to serve either King or Government.
[page 321]
"And I hereby solemnly Declare what I have said in this is positive truth and that these were the only persons deterr'd me many times since my first submission to throw myself over again in the King's mercy."
"Rob Roy MacGregor.
At Balquhidder 25th June 1717." [8]  

Notwithstanding many good qualities which Rob Roy is said to have possessed, it is impossible to believe this Declaration, and Rob Roy was not the kind of man whose word could be implicitly trusted. There are excuses for him smarting under his hardships and, like many another, unable to see how much he had brought them on himself.
Before the subsidence of the Jacobite Campaign in Febr 1716, the prisoners who had been taken at Preston the previous Novr. and who were all members of good families were tried, and were shot in December, most of them having been officers in the service of the Government. Lord Charles Murray received a pardon through the interest of his friends. Other noblemen were impeachcd for high treason in the spring and were thereafter executed, George I. proving most implacable. Some of the Western Clans, after cruising about amongst the islands, disbanded, their leaders escaping to France. In 1717 an Act of Pardon was passed, with certain exceptions, for those who had passed beyond the seas and who attempted to return without a licence. "All persons of the name and Clan of MacGregor mentioned in the act of the first parliament of Charles I. were also excepted."

A war with Spain broke out in August 1718, which revived the hope of the Jacobites. The Duke of Ormond repaired to Madrid and concerted an invasion of Great Britain. The Chevalier, quitting Urbino where he had been residing, proceeded to Madrid where he was cordially received and treated as King of Great Britain. On the 10th of March 1719 a fleet, with some 5000 men on board, started to make a descent upon England and Ireland under command of the Duke of Ormond, the King of Spain sending declarations that, for many good reasons, he had sent forces into England and Scotland to act as auxiliaries to King James. The expedition never reached its destination, the fleet having been dispersed [page 322] and disabled off Cape Finisterre by a violent storm of twelve days' duration. Only two ships reached the coast of Scotland, and had on board the Earls Marischal and Seaforth, the Marquis of Tullibardine, some field officers and arms for 2000 men. This small force landed in the West Highlands, and was joined by some Highlanders, chiefly Seaforth's men.

Very few details of the expedition of 1719 are to be found. A letter, without address, from the Marquis of Tullibardine, dated on board the "Fidele" in Garloch, April 6th 1719, stated that they arrived in those parts on the 25th March. [9]   On the 23rd April McPhersone of Killyhuntly wrote to the Duke of Atholl the following letter.
“…………..For ought I can understand those whom yr Gr/ writes of are landed at Pollow in Kintail, and most part of these went abroad. Their favourites give out that the number of forces along with them is 5000. I have had ane other account, somewhat more particular, reckoning them 1500, and they expect their whole Fleet's landing in the West of Scotland. All the boats on the water of Ness and Murray Firth are brought to Inverness, in order to hinder their passage, and it is said the town are hovering to brake down ane arch of the Bridge."

Captain Campbell of Fonab wrote to the Duke from Edinample a letter undated "I doe not hear that the landing in the north has occasion the least dis-turbance in the West Highlands; 'tis easie judging yt them landed in the north cannot be numerous by ther not attacking Inverness upon ther first landing. I doe not hear yt 'Rob Roy' who went north some days agoe is returned yit." [10]  

The middle of May two men of war battered the Castle at Eilean Donan where there was a Spanish Captain and forty-four men - the soldiers mutinied and delivered up themselves and their Captain to the men of war when the Jacobite forces left their camp and burnt their stores. On June 10th the Battle of Glenshiel was fought which ended in the defeat of the Jacobite Forces.

A full account of the expedition in 1719 in Lord Mar's handwriting, but believed to have been communicated by Lord Tullibardine, was forwarded at the time to Lord Nairne, brother of the Duke of Atholl, and is now preserved at Gask, a co-temporary copy of it, is printed in [page 323] the appendix to the “Jacobite Lairds of Gask." It contains a memorandum of every occurrence and the following abstract is taken from it:-

The Marquis of Tullibardine held a commission as Lt. General which occasioned some friction with Lord Marischal. They sailed from Honfleur on the 20th March 1719 and landed in the "Louis" (Lewes), 2nd April. April 4th, they sailed to the Mainland but could only fetch Garloch. On the 13th they anchored off Eilandonnan but could not get the arms on shore before the 28th. On May 4th a messenger brought news of the disaster to the fleet and advice from Edinburgh to re-embark their men and get off as quietly as possible. But most of the ships having gone, there was no retreating and they had to wait for the arrival of Locheil and Clan Ronald, to whom Campbell of Glenderuell had been sent, and to consult with them what was best to be done for the King's service. The chief stores of ammunition were put into the vaults of Eilean¬donnan under a small guard. On the 10th three English ships fired on the Castle and the Spaniards surrendered to the ships' boats, but although some ammunition at the Crow of Kintail was blown up a good deal was saved.

On the 8th June, having been joined by several of the Clans, Lord Tullibardine marched from the Crow to Little Glensheal, to defend it against the Government troops who, under General Wightman, were march¬ing down from Inverness. On the evening of the 10th the Battle of Glen¬sheal took place and resulted in some loss to the Jacobites, who were driven from one hill to another till night fall. The following morning it was proposed that the Highlanders should keep in a body with the Spaniards, and march through the country till another opportunity pre¬sented itself, but owing to the difficulty of obtaining provisions, &c., the men resolved to capitulate. Most of the officers retired to the western islands and afterwards escaped to the Continent.

The document from which the above account is taken mentions "40 of Rob Roy's men in the Pass," and says, "they with the volunteers, Mac¬kinnons and others were sent for to assist the Mackenzies but before they could arrive Lord Seaforth was wounded and most of his people gone off"
[page 324]
Early on the 11th "Rob Roy" went and blew up the magazine so that nothing fell into the enemy's hands.

Professor Miller's account of this affair is carefully given, and he appends a plan of the Battle of Glenshiel drawn on the spot by Lt John Bastide and published in Miller's book with the permission of the Duke of Marlborough. Mr Miller states that the plot for the expedition in 1719 was communicated to Rob Roy by Lord Tullibardine and Campbell of Glenderuell. He remarks that at this time Ld. Tullibardine engaged his younger brother Lord George Murray in the Jacobite cause, but does not allude to Lord George having been already "out" in the ‘15. Miller remarks that Lord George by his brother's direction met Rob Roy and arranged that he was to bring "as many MacGregors as he could muster" to Kintail. The contemporary document only mentions forty of them as present at Glenshiel, and it is remarkable that no MacGregors are mentioned in a return of "The names and numbers of those who were in the Rebellion and engagement of Glenshiel the 10th of June 1719," sent to Lord Carpenter by "Mr Wightman," July 1719.




[2] Edinchip Papers, John Oig must have been John MacGregor or Murray of Glencarnock.

[3] See Appendix M. volume 2 Appendix

[4] Her life is given in the "Ladies of the Covenant,"

[5] Atholl and Tullibardine Chronicles.

[6] Atholl and Tullibardine Chronicles.

[7] Duke of Argyle

[8] Copy in Edinchip Papers

[9] The original is among the Gask Papers and is printed in the Appendix to "the Jacobite Lairds of Gask,” 1871.

[10] Atholl and Tullibardine Chronicles