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Kinship, Landholding & Crime - Clan Gregor 1583 - 1611

By Peter Lawrie, ©2002

Note - individuals have been given reference numbers in this study. Consult me for more information and genealogies.

Kinship and Clanship - what was a Highland Clan. This chapter describes an origin and genealogy for Clan Gregor to 1603.

Possession of Land by Clan Gregor. Up Until 1603, Clan Gregor had grown into a powerful landholding kindred in Perthshire. This chapter describes the extent of their holdings.

The Crimes of Clan Gregor. The growth of the power of the Scottish State under James VI and the expansion of the Campbells of GlenOrchy and Argyll, created an intolerable situation for Clan Gregor. Their violent reaction led to many mentions of the Clan in the records of the State and their neighbours.

Conclusion. What can we learn of Highland Clanship and its collision with the increasing power of the Scottish State in the late 16th century from this account of Clan Gregor.

Bibliography.

 

This paper is based on a dissertation submitted for the degree of MPhil from the University of Dundee in 2002. In view of the length, it has been divided into four chapters. Please click on the link at the end of each section to continue. Footnotes are given for each section but the Bibliography is only supplied at the end of the final section.


Chapter 3 - The crimes of Clan Gregor

Brown cited the MacGregors as an example of a criminal network that, in return for protection, carried out the dirty work of lords such as the Earl of Argyll. [167] Was Clan Gregor’s reputation for criminal behaviour justified?

Amelia MacGregor has been used as the source for ‘criminal activities’ recorded between 1558 and 1624 in the Sheriff Court books of Perth, the Justiciary records and the Privy Council records. The local baron courts dealt with most local crime but these records rarely survive. Single events have been counted for as many participants as were involved. Many of these crimes were cited as evidence against members of the clan at trials in 1603/4 or 1611/12, although some events occurred many years earlier.

There are many instances of fines for shooting deer and fowl or wearing guns, most of them in 1618-22. As early as 1581, several of the principals of Clan Gregor had been prosecuted by ‘Ewir Campbell of Strachur Forrester of Glenfernate’

Gregour McIllichallum McCoule in Glengyle (2211112), Ewin McCondoquhy Glas McColchallum queyelecht (342123), & Duncan McGregour in Glen (2111115), Allester Gall McGregour (2111114) his brother to compeir and underlye the law for slaughter of deir, hiarirt, (grey hen) Hynd, da, ra, and other wild fowls, with culveringis pistollettis, handbowes. [168]

This private prosecution may be a dispute over the reservation of hunting rights to lordship.  Later, there were state-sponsored attempts to control the ownership of firearms.   Fined in September 1612: ‘For wearing hagbutts &a … William Buchanan in Glengyle’, probably a member of Clandoulcheire and ‘Gregour McGregour McCoulle’. [169] A number of non-MacGregors are also cited, demonstrating widespread defiance of the royal ordnances against unlicensed firearms.

Former MacGregors that had taken service with the Drummonds were not immune to the forest laws. In November 1612: ‘Patrick Drummond in Darmaglen (2312112) and Duncane Drummond McAllaster (2311121) in Dundurne are fined each in Ł5 for shooting with guns and killing Roebucks’. [170]

In June 1618, among a number fined for wearing of ‘hagbuttis and pistolettis and the slaughter of wildfowls, and venisoune’, occurred the names of 20 persons believed to be MacGregors ‘all under pretext and colour of thair recreatioun’ A further ten were accused in July. [171] Again in 1619, a further 20 were fined for the same crime. [172] Further fines for slaughter of wildfowl were handed down in March 1622. [173]

Clan Gregor, as a whole, was outlawed in 1562-70, 1586, 1590-92, 1603-4 and 1611-12. During these periods many attempts were made to force clansmen to ‘underlie the law’, while the clan took private revenge on their persecutors. Forgiveness and even rewards might be handed out to those who killed MacGregors or destroyed their property, while corresponding acts by the clan were treated as capital crimes, particularly in the trials of 1603/4 and 1611/12. Seventy-five instances of such crimes are recorded. During the 1590 horning, Glenorchy complained specifically about one of Glenstrae’s brothers, two of Ardlarich , one of Roro and two of the Rannoch Roros.

It has been argued that most of the leadership were substantial farmers rather than bandits. However, opportunities for expansion had largely ended by 1550 and the numerous sons of the clan appearing in the records in the later 16th century faced reduced opportunities. As well as new locations such as Strathspey in 1602, the displacement of members of the clan from farming to banditry may be illustrated by ‘John McGregour (21111122) brother to the said Laird of Glenstra with his men’ who appears in the 1602 list followed by nine, mostly unidentified names.

Five MacGregors are indicted for the burning of Glenlochie and Achallader in 1604. Eight are specified for the burning of Aberuchill in 1612. It is very likely that many more were involved in these and similar events, while the provocations and atrocities on the side of Glenorchy and his followers are glossed over and usually forgiven.

The single trial of ten MacGregors in 1612 is detailed here, as an illustration. ‘Gregor beg McGregour son to umquhile Gregor Mceane (2223114), Gregor McAllaster galt (21111145), Johne Dow McInleith (?), and John Dow Mcgille phadrick Vcrobert (2211241)’, were accused of

art and part of the treasonable raising of fire, burning and destroying of the haill houses and biggings of Glenlochie and Achallater, and for the slaughter of  … McColeane bowman to the Laird of Glenurquhie with divers uyeris persons to the number of eight persons, burning of three young bairns, daughters to Johnn McKishock and for stealing of six score cows and oxen furth of Glenlyoun in April 1604.

‘Allaster Mcallaster Vccoule (?), Patrick McGregor Craiginsche (2231141), Duncane McCoulecheir (2211115), Patrick roy McGregor (342121141), and Gregor Mceane Vccoulecheir (22111131)’

indicted for art and part of the burning and destroying of the haill houses and biggings upon the forty merk land of Aberuchill pertaining to Colene Campbell and for the slaughter of Duncane Webst, John Seatoune, Patrick Stabache, John McGillievorich, burning of the three daughters of John McKishack, stealing and away taking of eighteen score of cows, six score piece of horse, eight score sheep and goats, pertaining to the said Colene and likewise for burning of the mill of Bolquhaster with the haill houses and biggings upon the grounds and, lands of Carne Doune and Dillater pertaining to Robert Campbell of Glenfalloche and of his haill houses and biggings upon his lands of Airdcane, Knochane … in the month of June 1611.

Gregor McGregour beg (2223114), for ‘the slaughter of umquhile Solomon Lany alias Buchanane committed at the Kirk of Kilmaheug twenty years ago, or thereby’. This killing probably occurred during the outlawry of 1590/91 and may have been retaliatory or during pursuit.

Johnne Dow Mcgillephadrick  (2211241)

for the stealing and away taking furth of Glenfynles of a great heirschip of cows and oxen pertaining to the Laird of Luss and his tenants, and slaughter of umquhile John Reid webster and Patrick Lang servant to the Laird of Luss committed upon the said lands of Glenfinles in the month of December 1602

Johnne Dow moir McGregor in Rora (31211113)

for stealing and away taking of a great number of goods pertaining to mylord Ogilvie furth of Glenylay And sicklike for taking and keeping of the Island varnach against his Majesty’s commissioner and hiring and oppressing of the whole tenants and inhabitants of the country about, taking and inbringing of the haill guids and be all to the number of eight score cows and oxen, eighteen score sheep and goats which were eaten by them within the said island.

Finally as a catch-all,

the haill forenamed persons indicted and accused for common theft, common reset of theft, common sorning, and oppressing of his Majesty’s peaceable subjects and for intercommuning with the rest of the surname of McGregours fugitives and at the horn and furnishing of them with meat, drink, and money and keeping of trysts, councils, and gatherings with them contrary to the tenour of his Majesty’s proclamations. [174]

While an efficient use of the court’s time, this trial dealt with very different crimes. The burning of Glenlochie and Achallater were in revenge for the vigorous persecution of the clan by Raibart, eldest son of Donnchadh dubh after Glen Fruin. Similarly, the burning of Aberuchill in 1611 was a revenge attack against Colin Campbell, another son of Donnchadh dubh. The clan may have viewed these as just retaliation during the course of a feud, rather than an act of defiance against crown authority. In addition to this, however, ‘Gregour McGregour beg’ alone, was accused of a murder while outlawed in 1590. ‘Johnne Dow Mcgillephadrick’ was charged with taking part in the herschip of Glenfinlas in 1602, during which two of Luss’s men were killed. ‘Johnne Dow moir McGregor in Rora’ is charged with a undated Highland spreidh on Lord Ogilvie’s lands.

The partial nature of the justice being dispensed is demonstrated by the Privy Seal entry for July 28, 1612 giving remission to a MacGregor who had submitted:

On account of the broken state of the Highlands to Duncan McRobert McGregour (2211511) now called Grahame for the treasonable raising of fire and burning of the barn of Blair-vadden lying within the Dukedom of Lennox in Feb. 1603, also for the treasonable raising of fire and burning of the places and house of Aberughill belonging to Colin Campbell of Aberughill and for all other crimes. [175]

Remission was given in June 1612 to

Patrick, Alexander and Duncan formerly called MacGregors, now Levingstounes, sons of the late Patrick Aldoch McGregour (2221112) in Chorychorumbie for art and part in the burning of the houses and outsteads of the lands of Glenlochie belonging to Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy and for all other crimes, [176]  

The burning of Glenlochie took place in April 1604, only a few months after Padraig aldoch had been executed by the verdict of a jury including Colin Campbell, younger of Glenurquhy. [177]

Violence against Clan Gregor was as much a crime as any other, but forgiveness was usually forthcoming.  On March 31, 1600, remission was granted to ‘Malcolm and Duncan MacGregors (2311131/2) brothers, servants of Patrick Lord Drummond for the slaughter of Duncan McCleriche’ (4111162). [178] Pardon was issued in 1614 to the Earl of Perth’s men, including MacGregors taking the name of Drummond, who engaged a body of MacGregors at Tomzarloch in March 1612, when five were captured and six killed. The killed included John Dow MacGregor (2223111?), Donald Gramich MacGregor VcCulchere (22111125), John McPhatrik Nadidin MacGregor VcCulchere (221111271), Gregor McEan VcEanan MacGregor (2223114), Elensisens MacGregor (?). [179]

‘Malcolm McCoullchere in Innerlochlarig’(2211114) was accused in 1604 of being

airt and pairt, and being on the grundis at the crewall Slauchter of vmqle Hew Stewart serveand to my Lord of Athole ; committit threttie yeir syne. Item for Airt and pairt of the slauchter of umqle Patrik McGregour in Glenbokie (222114); committit in the moneth of Sep. 1576. [180]

The killing of Padraig dubh was an instance of MacGregor on MacGregor killings. ‘Duncan Mcfadrik VcCoullcheir’ (2211131) was accused at the same trial of ‘the slauchter of Patrik McGregour’. Patrick Dow McGregor McDuncan Lawdossyt was slain in Bofudyr by Clandowilchayr on October 4 1574’. [181] This had been in revenge for a killing in September 1572 when

Allaster McAllestyr slain and his son ane yonge barne of sewin yer ald callyt Gregor, and Duncan brodyr tyl Allestyr al slain in Stronfarna be Patrik Dow McGregor VcCondoquhy Lawdossyt with his complesis, and be the drath of Allestyr Gald VcGregor. [182]

This cycle of violence demonstrated fault lines within the kindred. Alasdair galt (2111114) was a natural brother of Griogair ruadh the chief executed in 1570.  The killing of Alasdair MacAlasdair (32141) is suggested to have been his plan, but Padraig dubh (222114), surviving son of Donnchadh ladasach, was chosen to commit the murder of one of the leaders of the Roro-Fearnan kindred. The revenge murder would not be committed by kinsmen in Fearnan but by the Clandoulcheire. This private justice was brought up at their public trial 28 years later. Among the accused at the same trial was Niall MacUilleam VicNiall, (3211211) one of the surviving relatives of the deceased Alasdair MacAlasdair, though not accused of the revenge killing.

The same 1604 trial has the only recorded acquittal of a member of the clan: ‘Johnne McCoull Cheire to be clene, innocent and acquit’ .. ‘ffor airt and pairt of the crewall Murthour and Burning of auchtene houshalderis of the Clanlawren, their wyves and bairnis ; committit fourtie sax yeir syne or thairby’. [183] Did he inform on his kinsmen? This trial raises questions of who supplied the evidence and what it may indicate about the stresses within the clan, in the 1570s as well as in 1604.  This murder of 18 MacLarens in 1558 [184] raises further questions, since the MacLarens were in the service of Argyll and shortly after signed bonds of manrent with Glenorchy. Did the MacGregors raid of their own accord, or was the raid ordered or at least condoned by either Argyll or Glenorchy?

In July 1581 orders were given to

to tak souertie of Ewin McGregour tutoure of Glenschra (2111113), Allester McGregour VcDonichy VcAllester (3141122), Johne Dow his brother (3141121), Patrick Moirwell (?), Allester Pudreauch McGregour (2111117), Malcum MacWolchallum VcWill (341112), Dougall Denesoune (41112), David and Johne Dow brother, and Duncane. That they should underlie the law for airt and pairt of ye slaughter of ye said umqule Duncan Stewart committed in Nov. last bypast. [185]

In this accusation, Eoghan was cited as tutor of Glenstrae and acting head of the kindred. Eoghan was also cited in 1584/5, as acting head of the clan and with other lairds in 1585 ‘to compeir before his Majesty and Lords of his Privy Council at Haliruidhous’. [186] Of the others, Alasdair pudrach was a natural brother of Eoghan, while the others are members of Roro-2 and Roro-5/Rannoch lineages. ‘Dougal Denesone’, Chancellor of Lismore, was of the Fortingal lineage. He occurred in the lists of 1586 and 1590 but this was the only crime ascribed to him.

In another 1603 trial, ‘Duncane McAllaster Vrek in Farne’ (3211312), was accused ‘ffor airt and pairt of the thiftious steilling furth of the Laird of Strowane’s crandoche of his haill insicht’. Also for ‘the airt and pairt of the slauchter of vmqle Donald Dereiff’ and ‘for the airt and pairt of the thiftious steilling furth of the landis of Downance in Menteith, of fourtie ky, tuelf horsis, committit 1588. ‘Allaster Mcewin Vccondochie in Couldar’  (3421231), in Rannoch, was also accused of ‘the heirschip of the Downance in Menteith; and of the slauchteris then committit ; and speciallie the slauchter of vmqle Andro Grahame. [187] At the same trial ‘Gregour McNeill alias Cownache’ (?) and ‘Johnne McKean VcGregour, in Glenogill vnder Tawie barne’ (?) were both accused of ‘crewall murthour and slachter of umqle the ffidler Mckillope’, and his wife in 1602, ‘being in company with vmqle Patrik Aulach’ (2221112). [188]

In November 1590, along with Eoin dubh nan lurag (21111122), ‘brother german to Glenstrae’, ‘Johnne Dow McEwin VcGregour (21111132) and Donald Dow McAllester (211214) with their accomplices stole from Graham of Fintrie, yet Allaster Roy McGregour and his Cautioners refuse to apprehend them.’ [189] Eoin dubh mac Eoghan was a son of the tutor and first cousin to the chief. At his trial in February 1604, along with four counts of theft in 1603, he was charged with being ‘airt and pairt of the slauchter of vmqle Johnne Drummond in Drony of Cowgask committit in Aug. last’, [190] and was included in the accusations against Eoin dubh nan lurag in 1596.

Aside from the documented killings, a number of members of the clan were accused of theft. Of the Glenstrae lineage, the clan chief was accused as head of the kindred in 1586 of different acts of theft, but in 1603 he led the raid on the Luss lands following Glenfruin and was accused ‘of having killed about 140 of Sir Alexander’s men; of having carried off 80 horses, 600 cows, and 800 sheep; and of burning houses, cornyards, &c’. [191] The Chief’s brother, Eoin dubh nan lurag (21111122), was one of two Macgregors killed at Glen Fruin, but he had been previously accused of the theft of 16 horses from Stewart of Dalguise, theft from Graham of Fintrie, [192] and the heirschip of Tulliebodie, [193] all in 1596; as well as being horned with seven others for theft and oppression by Lindsay of Edzell. [194]   Eoin dubh appears to have been a focus of criminal activity although he held lands in Balquhidder from Tullibardine. Eoin dubh mac Alasdair galt (21111142), another member of the chief’s lineage, was accused in 1600 of the theft of 14 cattle from William Pitalloch in Maidlinis in February 1594/5 [195] and took part in the raid on Lindsay of Edzell. His cousin Seumas (21111153), son of Donnchadh na ghlinne participated in the heirschip of Tulliebodie. [196] ‘Donald Dow McAllester’ (211214) of Ardlarich is mentioned once, above, for theft from Graham of Fintrie. [197]  

MacRob: In 1583, Alasdair’s brother ‘Duncane Bayne McRobb alias McGregoure in Craigrostane’ (221121), had been put to the horne, at the instance of Lord Doune from whom he had stolen ‘a quhyt meir and ane foill and ane mirkgrey meir.’ [198] Alasdair MacRaibart moir MacGregor (221122) and his sons in Strathyre, alias Buchanan from 1604, [199] horned some of their Clandoulcheire neighbours in September 1605, including ‘Allaster McCondoche vic Fatrik in Strathyre (22111311), Duncan and John McKirrist vic Condochie his sonis, Patrik cowle McGregour, for molestation and oppression’. [200] The son of Donnchadh bain, ‘John Dow McCondochie vayne’ (2211213) was executed in June 1613 ‘for art and part of the stealing of certain cows and horses pertaining to Walter Stirling of Ballaghan furth of the parochine of Campsie’. [201]

Ladasach: Alasdair scorach (2221113), brother of Donnchadh abrach was decerned to flit from Ardchoille in 1599. [202]   In July 1596. ‘Alexander Maister of Elphinstoun’ charged the earl of Argyll to produce a number of Campbell and MacGregors ‘Mentenents and seruands to ye said Archibald Erll of Ergyll to underlie the law for certain heirschipis committit aganis the compleinaris foirsaidis’. [203]   As well as three members of the laird’s near kin, mentioned above, these included Patrick McGregour (2221142) sone to Patrick Dow McGregour, as well as ‘Archibald and Duncan Campbells sones to Alexander Scorach’ (2221113). Padraig  (2221142) was a cousin of Donnchadh abrach, leader of the Ladasach lineage and the ‘scorachs’ were his nephews. All are stated as having been in the service of Argyll.

Brackley: Alasdair cass (22231112) was either a son or grandson of Eoin dubh in Dowletter, Glen Strae, and if so was the only member of the Brackley lineage accused of murder or theft. He was executed in June 1613 ‘for the cruel slauchter of umqle Neill McWeyane’.

Glenlednock: In February 1603 Donald Menteith of Carquhine called ‘Gregour Ammonach (2312133) in Glenlednoch to answer for stealing 3 cows and 2 oxen, aucht zeir syne’. [204] In 1611 ‘ane hundreth merkis’ was paid ‘for the heid of Gregour Ammonach’. [205] His brother Padraig (2312134) was hanged in 1604. Also in 1604 ‘Johne Ammonache McGregour in Kingart’ (2312132), was hanged ‘ffor airt and pairt of the thiftious steiiling if sax scheip furth of Schandballie ; committit aucht yeir syne or thairby’. [206] This family account for all the crimes and executions attributed to the Glenlednock lineage. The Ammonachs had been subjected to removal actions by Colin Campbell of Ardbeyth since 1591. [207] They appear to have remained although most of their kin had settled on Drummond lands.

Roro-2/Glenlyon: In 1582, action was raised against ‘Gregour McGillichallum in Glenlyoun (3131111) and Neill McGregour McGillechallum his sone (31311111) tuching the spoiliatioun of sindrie gudis and geir’. [208] The same ‘Gregour Makolchallum in Inverbar in Glenlyoun’ [209] signed a bond of manrent with Donnchadh dubh in 1586. This family may possibly be the descendants of Eoin Maol (313) in Balloch in 1492, from Maol-coluim dispossessed from Balloch by Cailean liath in 1552. ‘Johne McCondochie VcAnedowie McGregour in Rannoche’ (31211121), ‘John dow McEwin McGregour boch’ (3141121) of the Roro lineage and ‘Allester McGregour (3211213) in Fernane servitor to Robertson of Strowane’ were included in the 1598/9 horning by Lindsay of Edzell. [210]

In 1584, ‘James Menzies of that Ilk’ pursued ‘Duncan McGregour (312321) eldest sone to umqule Johne cam Mccondoquhie tuching the violent profeittis of the fourtie schilling land of Rorow’. [211] Donnchadh, tutor of Roro during the minority of Griogair (3121111), may have been in dispute over the inheritance of the lands of Roro. The same ‘Duncane Mceane cam in Forthergill tutor’ was denounced rebel by Menzies in 1602. [212] He was executed in 1604, being accused of ‘thiftuous steilling fra Eduard Reidoche of fyve horse and meiris’ in 1594 and ‘thiftuous steilling fra Allaster Mccondochie Vic James Robiesone, in Callewin, of ten horsis and meiris’. [213] After the same trial ‘Allaster Mcewin Vccondochie, in Couldar’ (3151131), was executed ‘ffor airt and pairt of the heirschip of the Downance in Menteith’.

Roro-3/Fearnan: ‘Duncan McAllaster Vrek in Farna’ (3211312) also mentioned above for two instances of theft as early as 1588, was a member of the Roro-Fearnan family. ‘Allaster McAllaster wreck’ is probably Duncan’s brother (3211313). He is mentioned by the Earl of Argyll in June 1613 as one of only two remaining ‘notable limmers and chieftains’, [214] and died after apprehension by the Laird of Grant in September 1613. [215] He had been charged in 1595 to flit from Strowan’s lands of Fearnan. Although his brother is mentioned earlier, Alasdair is first recorded in the August 1602 ‘Complaint of Andrew Ramsay at Mill of Innerqueich, theft of Cattle by Alaster McAlaster and John Dow McEwen McGregor (21111132) and others from the lands of Corb and Drycurie in the forest of Alyth’. [216] Again in August 1604, ‘Andro Ramsay at the milne of Innerqueich against Argyle to present Allaster McAllaster McGregor and Johne McEwin McGregor for theft.’ [217]

Roro-4/Ardeonaig: In 1586, ‘William Redheugh of Meigour’ pursued ‘Johne Comrie of that Ilk, . . . and Patrik McVallycht alias McGregour in Comrie (3311611), tuching the allegit wrangous spoliation be thame, of .. guidis and geir, furth of his dwelling-house of Garterlume’. ‘John McNeill corroche’ (3314111) was accused at his trial in 1613 of being ‘at the burning of Aberurckle and slaughter’ and for ‘art and part of the stealing of five cows from James Chisholme in Dundrwne’. [218] These two are the only ones of the Ardeonaig lineage accused of crimes.

‘John McEwin in Kilbryde’ (?) was accused in 1611 of small thefts between 1566 and 1610. [219] It is not certain that he was a MacGregor, and only five of the eight at the assize were definitely MacGregors. ‘William McEwin VcGilleecheliche in Rannoche’ (?) was horned in 1599. [220] The McGilleheliches in Rannoch are mentioned with the clan in 1553 and for carrying weapons in 1618. Their relationship is unclear. ‘Ewin crowbache McGregor’ (?) was accused in 1613 of four distinct but undated thefts. [221]

Finally, as instances of the pressures leading, inexorably, to fragmentation: Donnchadh MacEoghan (21111133) in Moirinch, acting leader of the clan in August 1610, accompanied by ‘6 or 7 score of his name’ boisterously threatened Donnchadh dubh unless renewed bonds of manrent were agreed. Donnchadh dubh agreed, but he subsequently met with other landlords, ‘in hopes of making a division among the Clangregoure’. [222] Such divisions were soon apparent. A contract by Donnchadh dubh in August 1611 identified the brothers ‘Duncan, Patrick and Gregor’ MacPhadraig aulach (2221112n), John dow McEan VcEan and Dougal McOndoquhie oig as being with Locheyll ‘in his majesty’s service against the Clangregoure’ [223] In a Gaelic poem, ‘Griogar odhar ard’ (21111151) had been a hero of Ruadhaig Beinn Todhaig in 1604, but his attempts to mediate on behalf of the clan with Glenorchy and Argyll led to his murder by the Clann Dubhghaill chčir. [224]

In the Act of January 1611, any MacGregor that slew another of the same rank ‘shall have free pardon and remissioun’, while the slayer of one of six specified leaders, including  ‘Duncane Mcewne McGregour now callit the Laird’ (21111133, Donnchadh MacEoghan in Moirinch) should have a thousand pounds reward. [225]   In 1603 the brother of Donnchadh, Eoin dubh MacEoghan (21111132) received remission and 500 merks for betrayal of kinsmen [226] but the remission was short-lived as Eoin dubh would be tried and executed in 1604. [227]

The king granted to Argyll in November 1611

three or four of thair lyves and a remissioun: Duncane Makewin alias Duncane the Tutour to be one, in regaird that he wes chief of thame and breker of the societie: providing alwise that thay find sufficient caution and suretie to the Counsell. For the rest, if ony of thame haif killed a McGregour als good as himselff (or) two thrie or four of thame which in comparisone may be equal unto him, and assuredlie knowne to be deid, his Majestie is pleasit he haif a remissioun, with the uther thrie or four whiche his Majestie hes grantit to the Erll of Argyll.  And for such as ar come in and done no service by killing of the McGregouris nor cannot find sufficient suretie that then the law to haif his dew course, and no favour at all to be shown. … And for Robert Abroche who is now Chief of thame that ar presently out that he be not pardoned unless he bring at least halff a dusone of thair headis. [228]

Surely this represents the ultimate victory of lordship over kinship. If the essence of clan society was the bond of kinship, then the purchase of individual forgiveness by the betrayal to death of one or more of one’s kin strikes at the very heart of such a social order. We are not told who Duncan betrayed, nor the extent of the service, or betrayal, by Raibart abrach who received remission in January 1613. [229]

This listing of crimes may give the impression of a violent clan out of control and as it is largely based on the evidence presented at the trial of those who were captured, it undoubtedly understated the actual crimes committed by these and others of the clan. However, they occurred over a period of more than 30 years. Apart from the periods of outlawry when the clan quite naturally responded to the violence offered to them, criminal activity appears to be confined to the junior members of the kindred without land and those who had been dispossessed. In particular, some of the ringleaders were among the uncles and cousins of Alasdair ruadh, and especially his brother Eoin dubh nan lurag.

The intervention of the crown against them made the survival of Clan Gregor as an entity impossible. The king’s ‘Justice’ offered erstwhile MacGregors a stark choice: hang or take service with a lord.  It is apparent that lineages such as Glenlednock and Ardeonaig which took service with Lord Drummond escaped much of the persecution. The Fortingal lineage in Strath Tay almost disappeared from the record as MacGregors, taking almost no part with the rest of the clan.  Other lords, such as Robertson of Strowan, Menzies of Weem and Murray of Tullibardine all employed MacGregors as servants. The greatest employer of MacGregors may well have been the Earl of Argyll in the lead up to Glen Fruin, a period in which his lieutenandry gave him great power over the clan.



[167] K.M. Brown, 20

[168] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,171, Record of Justiciary

[169] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 402-3, Record of Council

[170] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,404, Justices of the Peace in Perthshire

[171] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,439, Secret Council

[172] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,440-441, Secret Council

[173] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,447, Secret Council

[174] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 401-402, Court of Justiciary

[175] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 402, Court of Justiciary

[176] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 399-400, Privy Seal, 81-84.

[177] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,400

[178] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 261, Secret Council

[179] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 398, Mag Sig

[180] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,326, Record of Justiciary

[181] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,66, Chronicle of Fortingal

[182] ibid

[183] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,327

[184] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,128, note.

[185] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,172, Record of Justiciary

[186] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,175, Privy Council

[187] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,324, Record of Justiciary

[188] ibid

[189] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,248, Register of Hornings Perth

[190] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,323, Record of Justiciary

[191] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,315, Record of Justiciary

[192] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,248, Register of Hornings Perth

[193] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,246, Record of Justiciary

[194] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,251, Register of Hornings Perth

[195] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,260, Privy Council

[196] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,246, Record of Justiciary

[197] ibid

[198] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,174, Black Book of Taymouth

[199] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,339,

[200] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,346, Register of Hornings Perth

[201] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,414, Record of Justiciary

[202] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 253-254, Sheriff books of Perth

[203] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 246, Record of Justiciary

[204] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,300, Protection

[205] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,373, Privy Council

[206] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,324, Justiciary

[207] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,328

[208] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,174, Sheriff books of Perth

[209] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,176

[210] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,251, Register of Hornings Perth

[211] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 174, Black Book of Taymouth

[212] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 275, Privy Council

[213] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 323, Justiciary

[214] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,415, letter to Council

[215] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 423,

[216] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,276, Complaint to King at Falkland

[217] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,340, Register of Hornings Perth

[218] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,414, Justiciary

[219] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,377, Justiciary

[220] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,251, Register of Hornings Perth

[221] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,414, Justiciary

[222] N.A.S. G.D.112/1/393a

[223] N.A.S. G.D.112/1/2/6

[224] N.A.S. G.D.50/65

[225] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 369, Record of Council Acta

[226] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 303, Secret Council

[227] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,323, Record of Justiciary

[228] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i,390, Royal letter dated November 1611

[229] A.G.M. MacGregor, History of Clan Gregor, vol i, 406, Record of Secret Council