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Amelia Volume 2 chapter 4

Troubles in Moray, 1624-1634

[page 36}
IN 1624 one of the numerous disputes among rival clans and between Nobles and their neighbours, occasioned great trouble in the north. In Browne's "History of the Highlands" [1]   the origin is thus explained:

"The troubles in Sutherland and Caithness had been scarcely allayed, when a formidable insurrection broke out on the part of the Clan-Chattan against the Earl of Moray, which occasioned considerable uproar and confusion in the Highlands. The Clan-Chattan [2]   had for a very long period been the faithful friends and followers of the earls of Moray, who, in consequence, had allotted them many valuable lands and possessions in recompense for their services in Pettie and Strathern. The clan, in particular had been very active in revenging the death of James Earl of Moray, who was killed at Dunibristle, upon the Marquis of Huntly; but his son and successor being reconciled to the family of Huntly, and needing no longer, as he thought, the aid of the Clan, he dispossessed them of the lands which his predecessors had bestowed upon them. This harsh proceeding occasioned great irritation, and, upon the death of Sir Lauchlan, their chief, who died a short time before Whitsunday sixteen hundred and twenty-four, they resolved either to recover the possessions of which they had been deprived, or to lay them waste. While Sir Lauchlan lived the Clan were awed by his authority and prevented from such an attempt, but no such impediment now standing in their way, and as their chief, who was a mere child, could run no risk by the enterprise, they considered the present a favourable opportunity for carrying their plan into execution.

"Accordingly a gathering of the Clan to the number of about two hundred gentlemen and three hundred servants took place about Whitsunday, 1624. This party was commanded by three uncles of the late chief."

The Earl of Moray engaged a number of Perthshire Highlanders at this time to serve under his banner, and it is understood that they were of the Clan Gregor.

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The following quaint contemporary account by J. Spalding [3]   is interesting:-
"1624. The Erll of Morray, michtellie grievit at the Clan Chattan to brak out in sic disordour, himself being duelling in Moray, sendis schortlie, and bringis out of Menteithe and Balquhidder, about thrie hundreth Hilandmen, armit efter thair awin custome. Thir people with the Erll himself, cum throw Morray to Inuemiss in battell rank. Thay stayit thair that nicht, and the Eril wes with hes good brother the Erll of Engyie [4]   in the Castell weill intertaynde. Thir people stayit awhile in the Countrie vpone the Erllis gryte expenss, without seeing or seiking the Clan Chattan, quherfoir the Erll sent thame all back agane the get thay cam."

A note is added from Shaw's "Memoirs of the Family of Kilravock"
"Provoked by this usage, the Earl; not trusting to his vassals and tenants in the Low Countries, against those desperate men, brought three hundred Highlanders from Monteith and Balquhidder, in the year 1623, and marched them into Pettie, but Highlanders are too fond of 'duchus' [5]   to fight against those whose only crime is to maintain it, and the MacIntoshes had withdrawn into other countries. Wherefore after these southern Highlanders had put the Earl to great charges, and done him no service, he dismissed them."

Eventually the Clan Chattan submitted to the Earl of Moray, who had been appointed the King's Lieutenant, on condition that they should inform against such persons as had given them protection after the publication of his letters of interdiction. On the subject of these transactions, Mr Browne in his "History of the Highlanders" makes the following remarks:-
"Some idea of the iniquity of the administration of the laws at this time may be formed, when it is considered that the enormous fines imposed in the present instance, went into the pockets of the chief judge, the Earl of Moray himself, as similar mulcts had previously gone into those of the Earl of Argyle in his crusade against the unfortunate Clan Gregor! This legal robbery, however, does not appear to have enriched the houses of Argyle and Moray for Sir Robert Gordon observes, that 'these fynes did not much advantage either of these two Earles."'

From the "Chartulary"
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1630. Regarding the ClanGregor in this year, Sir Robert Gordon remarks in his "History of the Earldom of Sutherland" "that notwithstanding the severities to which they were exposed they were now almost as strong as ever."

"1630. May 21. Gregour MacGregour of that ilk [6]   called Laird of MacGregour, Margaret Sinclair his spouse, and several others, mostly if not all McGregors, had made an inroad into Crichton of Frendraught's lands, and plundered them. Frendraught was then at feud with the relatives of the deceased William Gordon of Rothiemay, whom he or his party had mortally wounded on the 1st January, and for whose slaughter, though armed with fire and sword, he was by the award of the Marquis of Huntly, Arbitrator in the affair, obliged to pay to the widow 50,000 merks compensation. The Gordons repeatedly pillaged Frendraught's estates, and obliged him to seek personal safety in Edinburgh, where he resided some time. Numbers of ClanCameron, ClanGregor, and others had taken part with Gordon of Park and others, friends of the late Rothiemay. The Gordons now afforded settlements to some of the ClanGregor whose descendants are still in that quarter. Glenstray had as appears, obtained lands in Strathavon, Frendraught had taken out lawburrows [7]   against him before as Principal 21st Sep. 1631. when Gregor McGregour of that Ilk presently dwelling in Dalnabo and Mr John Murray, Tutor of Strowane, probably his Cousin-german, as his surety gave a bond of 'Lawborries' to Frendraught."

1632. The Clan of the Grants had been for some years troubled by a deadly feud amongst themselves. James Grant of the Carron family con¬nected with the Grants of Glenmorriston had slain one of the Grants of Ballindalloch, who had attacked his brother. Ballindalloch having refused any submission short of the life of James Grant, the latter became a kind of free lance and associated to himself a number of desperate men. Eventually in 1630 he was captured and imprisoned in Edinburgh, but on the 15th of October 1632 he effected his escape from the Castle and fled to Ireland, soon returning to the North, where he kept in hiding, till becoming bolder he appeared openly in Strathdon and on Speyside. The account of his farther career may be given by again quoting from Spalding.

"His wyf, James Grant's, being greyte with child took in ane littil hous in the toun of Carroun, perteining to the aire of hir husbandis lait slane brother sone, mynding thair to remane quhill scho war deliuar, and to whome hir husband wold [page 39} vsuallie cum and go without ony feir. Bot being espyit by his enemeis thay avait upon him, to wit sum of the forbidden name of McGrigour; brocht in the countrie by young Ballindallache aganis the said James Grant; and wes about 14 lymmaris in company with ane cruell bloodie tyirant to thair Capitane callit Patrik Ger or McGrigour. Thir people waitis on whill thay saw him with his bastard sone, and ane man onlie cum quyetlie to his wyfis houss, and seeing him so few in company, thay follouit haistelly, being under cloud and silens of nicht, lap about the houss, and tryit to fir the samen. James Grant, heiring the noyss and seeing him so ombeset that he wes nother abill to keip that litle houss, nor yit to wyn away, resoluit to keip the dur the other tua alss long as thay micht, and shot out arrowis at tua wyndois, that few did venter to cum neir the dur except thair capitane cam feirslie forduard to persew the dur, quhilk the said James Grant perceiving and knowing him weill, quiklie bendis ane hagbut, and schootis him throw both thies, and to the ground fallis he. His men leavis the persute and loupis about to lift him wp agane. Bot as thay ar at this work, the said James Grant with the other tua loupis fra the houss and fleis, leaving his wyf behind him. Bot he is sharplie follouit and many arrowis wes schot at him, yit he wan away saiflie to ane Bog neir hand by with his tua men. This Patrik Ger deit of this schot within a schort whyll, a nottabill theif, robber and briganner, oppressing the countrie people quhair ever they cam, and thairfor thay rejoisit at his death, to be quyte of sic ane lymmar and praisit the said James Grant for cutting him of."

In the traditional account of the Family of Roro, in the Collections of the late Lieutenant Alexander MacGregor, Innerhaddon, this occurrence is thus noted:-
In the year 1633 Roro, sent Patrick, two-named Para Gearr, Captain of a party to assist John Grant, younger of Ballindalloch against James Grant of Carron, where a skirmish took place, in which Para Gearr received a wound in both his thighs, of which he died, and James Grant made his escape."

Innerhaddon's MS. referring to this incursion of the ClanGregor and others to assist the friends of the late Gordon of Rothiemay, continues
"In consequence of this friendly service rendered to the Gordons, they pre-vailed on two of the sons of Roro, and other leaders of the ClanGregor to settle on their Estate. The descendants of these gentlemen are still in that part of the country, of whom are Sir James MacGregor, Director-General of the Medical Department in London, Colonel George MacGregor 59th Regt., the MacGregors of Dalvorair, and Peter MacGregor, Esq., surgeon to his Majesty King George IV., whose forefathers had considerable property in Inverness-shire, and whose names are given in succession from the Lyon Office, Edinburgh."

Fuller details will be given later, with the pedigree of the late Rev. Sir Charles MacGregor, [page 40} 3rd Baronet, grandson of the above Peter MacGregor, surgeon, of Raigmore, Inverness-shire, descended from Gregor the second son of Gregor MacGregor of Roro (apparently VII. in the Roro pedigree), by his second wife, Janet, daughter of Cameron of Letterfinlay, the said Gregor, or George, first of this branch died in 1642.

From the "Chartulary"-

“1633. June 28. Abstract of the Act of Parliament anent ClanGregour. [8]   The preamble complains of the ClanGregor as having "of late broken forth again to the oppression of his Majesty's good subjects who dwell in the parts to which the Clan resorts, and especially in the Sheriffdoms of Perth, Stirling and Clakmannan, Menteith, Lennox, Angus and Mearns. Therefore for the timeous preventing of the disorder and oppression that may fall out by the said name and Clan of MacGregor and their followers, and for further suppressing them, the Parliament ratifies and approves all Acts of Council and Acts of Parliament made and granted heretofore against the said wicked and rebellious Clan of MacGregor and further his Majesty and Estates of Parliament statute and ordain that the said name of ClanGregour and every one of them as they come to the age of sixteen years, shall thereafter yearly give their compeirance before the Lords of Privy Council upon the 24 day of July or the next lawful Council day and find security for their good behaviour and obedience in all time coming, and take to them some other name conformably to the Act of Council already made thereanent." This they are enjoined to do under the same penalty as the Council were in the habit of inflicting, of which one was death. "No minister or preacher within the borders of the Highlands or next bordering counties thereto, Bannf, Innerness or Regality of Spynie or Elgin or Forres shall at any time hereafter baptise, or christen any male child with the name of Gregor or MacGregor under pain of deprivation. …. All and whatsoever of the ClanGregor that shall happen to be within the Kingdom on the 15. March next shall appear before the Lords of Council whereever it shall happen to be, or the next Council day thereafter, to the effect that such of them as have already found sureties, but whose sureties are dead, may find new surety for their good behaviour in time coming; and that of them as have never found surety and shall afterwards he found masterless, having neither possessions nor calling whereupon to live, nor will take themselves to service, they shall be apprehended &a. Whereever his Majesties good subjects shall happen to apprehend any of the said rebels sorning, committing theft, or slaughter and shall present them to the Lords of Council, Justice Genera1, Commissioners above specified, the doer of that service shall have for his reward the moveable goods of the offender so taken and presented.' " -Parliamentary Record.

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"July 23. The which day in presence of the Lords of Secret Council compeired personally Johne Murrey sometime called Laird of MacGregour, Patrik Morrey alias McGregour his brother, and Allaster Cameroun of Glenneveis and became acted and obliged conjunctly and severally as cautioners and sureties for Angus Camroun Tutour of Glenneveis and Allaster Stewart alias McGregour prisoners within the tolbooth of Perth upon occasion of a slaughter committed in Lochaber; that they shall observe our Sovereign Lord's peace and appear before the Council when charged." -Record of Secret Council, Acta.

"September 21. Proclamation against broken Highlandmen. King's missive anent the same.

"Nov.26, Another proclamation against the same.

"1634. Item to James Douglas maisser passend to the croce of Edinburgh with lettres and thair, efter sound of trumpet, chairgit the haul name of ClanGregour to compeir befoir the Councaill 22. July to find cautioun for their good behaviour and to renunce thair names with certificatioun to onie of his Majesties subjectis to apprehend thame and present thame to ye Judges To the intent he may present thame to the Counsaill xxiiij. 'Said lettres to be proclamit at the mercat croces of Stirling, Dumbarton and Perth."'

1633. In the appendix to Spalding's History, relating an argument by Sir Thomas Hope, Lord Advocate, as to the burning of Frendraught and the efficacy of torture on witnesses, mention is incidentally made of Patrick Aldoch MacGregor, as follows:-
1634. "In the matter aganis John Maxwell of Garrarie, Patrick Aldoch McGrigor and George Sprote, in the quilkis caissis and ewerie ane of them, all the probationis and presumptionis war usit againis the pirties accusit befoir the tortour, and constantlie and absolutlie denyit in the tortour, and in the tortour reiteral yit put to the knawledge of ane assyse and convict, and eftir convictioun constant in denyall, till they war brocht to the scaffold and place of executioun and then confest by some of thame."

From "Spalding":-
"1634. In the moneth of Januar thir lawless lymmaris of the forbidden name of McGrigour, cam to the Laird of Frendrachtis boundis, and took or stoll away 200 wedderis as wes reportit."
"Eftir the killing of Patrik Ger, …..thair brak out a number of Hieland lounis and heiryit the brayis of Morray.
A note on the same page is added in the Spalding Club edition, quoted from Records of Justiciary "The oppressions of the broken men of the Clan Gregour, [page 42} Clan Ranald, Clan Lachlane, and other broken Clans, dwelling under the Laird of McGregour, the Laird of Glengarrie, &c.”

Spalding :- " Schortlie thairefter, thair cam in to the countrie about 600 Hielanders of the Clangrigour, Clan Chamaron, and utheris all footmen, and opinlie declairit thay had takin pairt with Adam Gordon of Park, Johnne Gordone of Innermarkie and vthers the friendis of the lait brynt laird of Rothiemay, and wold sie the samen revengit."

The allusion to the "lait brynt laird of Rothiemay" refers to the sad tragedy of the burning of the old tower of Frendraught on which occasion William Gordon of Rothiemay and John Viscount of Aboyne, the Earl of Huntly's eldest son, perished in the flames, and as there had been a very serious feud with James Crichton of Frendraught, he, the owner of the Tower, was suspected of having been the author of the fire, and for many years constant disputes continued, in consequence of this fatal event.

From the "Chartulary."
"1634. April 19. The Council issued a proclamation complaining that few or none of the ClanGregour had appeared before them on 15. March as ordered by the parliament and 'loath to take that advantage of the said Clan which their disobedience and contempt deserves' prorogued the term of appearance to 20. July declaring that the said Act shall stand in force against offenders.

"May 26. His Majesty wrote to the Privy Council that 'whereas in our late parliament halden at Edinburgh there was a complaint of divers Insolencies and oppressions made in the hielandes It is our will and pleasure that we cause put in execution the Acts of Parliament 1587.' as lykwayis the Act of our late Parliaments made anent the ClanGregor. "June 11. Complaint Alexander Dunbar of Grange against Shaws, &c. John Roy McGregor in Abernethy is mentioned." -Record of Justiciary.

"June 19. Proclamation against the ClanGregour. Forasmuch as in the Parlia-ment held at Edinburgh upon the 28. day of June last bypast It was statute and ordained by our Sovereign Lord with advice of his Estates of Parliament that all and whatsoever persons of the ClanGregor who should happen to be within this Kingdom upon the 15. day of March last bypast should give thier compeirance that day before the Lords of Privy Council and failing thereof the next Council day thereafter following; To the intent that such of them as have already found caution and whose cautioners are dead might find new caution for their good behaviour in time coming and renounce their names and that such of them as have not found caution might find caution with certification &c. And although it was expected that these of the ClanGregour should have embraced his Majesty's favour shown unto them and should [page 43} have given their compeirance before his Majesty's Council to the effect foresaid yet few or none of them have compeired But have neglected their duty and obedience in that point and so have justly and worthily incurred the pain contained in the certification of the said Act of Parliament against the said ClanGregour And the Lords of Secret Council being loath to take that advantage of the said Clan which their contempt and disobedi¬ence deserves They have therefore thought meet to prorogate and by the tenour of present act Prorogate the term foresaid appointed by the Parliament to the said ClanGregour for their compeirance before his Majesty's Council until the 20. day of July next to come, with this special declaration that the said Act of Parliament shall stand in full force according to the tenour thereof against all such persons of the said Clan as shall be apprehended in the Act of any lawless deed- &c."-Record of Secret Council, Acta.

"June. Note of another payment to the Macer Douglas to charge the Clan Gregour to compeir before the Privy Council at the new date fixed.

August 1. Act in favour of certain Stewarts. That whereas they having raised lettres of lawborris aganis Angus M'Donald Vceane dowie vcalaster in Glenco, John Gaer Mcallaster Roy there and aganis a number of otheris dissorderit and brokin lymmars, some of the ClanGregours and some other Clanns all for the most part duelling in Glenco, they can get no officer that will or daire repaire to the place where thir people duellis to charge thame."-Record of Secret Council, Decreta.

"September 17. Charges against the Chieftains of some broken Clans. Forasmuch as it is understood to the Lords of Privy Council that great numbers of sorners and broken men of the Clan Gregour, Clanlachlane, Clanrannald and other broken Clans dwelling under the Laird of McGregour, Patrik his brother, the Laird of Glengarrie, Allane Mceaneduy and …. his sons and the Captain of ClanRannald have lately very heavily infested and spoiled his Majesty's peaceable and good subjects dwelling in the Country of Murrey by committing divers herships and depredations upon them.

"September 18. Royal Commission against Gregour McGregour of that Ilk called the Laird of McGregour:
Margaret Sinclair his spouse
Callum Bayne McGregour in Strathdoun
Allaster McGregour McConnell there
James Moir McGregour, all in Duthil
John Bayne there
Angus Bayne in Rothiemurchus
Patrik McGregour in Dalnabo, the Laird's brother
Callum Bayne McGregour in Ballibeg
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Gregour Mcinduy householdman to the Laird of McGregour
Callurn McAllaster and
Callum Bayne both Vagabonds
… McGregour in Brae of Murray
Patrik McGregour in Rait in Badzenoch
John McGregour in Campell
Callum oig Servitor and householdman to the said Laird of MacGregour
Duncan McLaurie,
Gregour Mceanduy his man
Donald McGregour in Ballibeg
Patrik McGregour dwelling under the Laird of McGregour in Strathawin
Callum McGregour father brother son to Callum Oig,
for making an inroad into Frendraught's lands and taking away his goods 21 and 25. May 1631."




[1] "History of The Highlands and of the Highland Clans," by James Browne, Esq., LL.D., Advocate, Glasgow, 1843.

[2] The clan Chattan, descended from Gillichattan mor, votary of St kattan, comprised the Macphersons Macintoshes, and Davidsons or Clann-Dhai.

[3] From ‘Memorialls of the Trubles in Scotland and in England, A.D. 1624," written by John Spalding, in. 1645, 2 vols., Aberdeen, printed for the Spalding Club, 1850.

[4] Eldest son of George, first Marquis of Huntly.

[5] Usually spelt "Duchas" from the Gaelic "Duthchas," native country.

[7] Letters of protection to person or property under the Signet.