“That Robert Campbell, commonly known by the name of Rob Roy MacGregor, being lately intrusted by several noblemen and gentlemen with considerable sums for buying cows for them in the Highlands, has treacherously gone off with the money, to the value of L1000 sterling, which he carries along with him. All Magistrates and Officers of his Majesty’s forces are intreated to seize upon the said Rob Roy, and the money which he carries with him, until the persons concerned in the money be heard against him; and that notice be given, when he is apprehended, to the keepers of the Exchange Coffee-house at Edinburgh, and the keeper of the Coffee-house at Glasgow, where the parties concerned will be advertised, and the seizers shall be very reasonably rewarded for their pains.”
It is unfortunate that this Hue and Cry, which is afterwards repeated in the same paper, contains no description of Rob Roy’s person, which, of course, we must suppose to have been pretty generally known. As it is directed against Rob Roy personally, it would seem to exclude the idea of the cattle being carried off by his partner, MacDonald, who would certainly have been mentioned in the advertisement, if the creditors concerned had supposed him to be in possession of the money.
The Duke of Montrose to — 28
“Glasgow, the 21st November, 1716.
“My Lord — I was surprised last night with the account of a very remarkable instance of the insolence of that very notorious rogue Rob Roy, whom your lordship has often heard named. The honour of his Majesty’s Government being concerned in it, I thought it my duty to acquaint your lordship of the particulars by an express.
“Mr. Grahame of Killearn (whom I have had occasion to mention frequently to you, for the good service he did last winter during the rebellion) having the charge of my Highland estate, went to Monteath, which is a part of it, on Monday last, to bring in my rents, it being usual for him to be there for two or three nights together at this time of the year, in a country house, for the conveniency of meeting the tenants, upon that account. The same night, about 9 of the clock, Rob Roy, with a party of those ruffians whom he has still kept about him since the late rebellion, surrounded the house where Mr. Grahame was with some of my tenants doing his business, ordered his men to present their guns in att the windows of the room where he was sitting, while he himself at the same time with others entered at the door, with cocked pistols, and made Mr. Grahame prisoner, carrying him away to the hills with the money he had got, his books and papers, and my tenants’ bonds for their fines, amounting to above a thousand pounds sterling, whereof the one-half had been paid last year, and the other was to have been paid now; and att the same time had the insolence to cause him to write a letter to me (the copy of which is enclosed) offering me terms of a treaty.
“That your Lordship may have the better view of this matter, it will be necessary that I should inform you, that this fellow has now, of a long time, put himself at the head of the Clan M’Gregor, a race of people who in all ages have distinguished themselves beyond others, by robberies, depredations, and murders, and have been the constant harbourers and entertainers of vagabonds and loose people. From the time of the Revolution he has taken every opportunity to appear against the Government, acting rather as a robber than doing any real service to those whom he pretended to appear for, and has really done more mischief to the countrie than all the other Highlanders have done.
“Some three or four years before the last rebellion broke out, being overburdened with debts, he quitted his ordinary residence, and removed some twelve or sixteen miles farther into the Highlands, putting himself under the protection of the Earl of Bredalbin. When my Lord Cadogan was in the Highlands, he ordered his house att this place to be burnt, which your Lordship sees he now places to my account.
“This obliges him to return to the same countrie he went from, being a most rugged inaccessible place, where he took up his residence anew amongst his own friends and relations; but well judging that it was possible to surprise him, he, with about forty-five of his followers, went to Inverary, and made a sham surrender of their arms to Coll. Campbell of Finab, Commander of one of the Independent Companies, and returned home with his men, each of them having the Coll.‘s protection. This happened in the beginning of summer last; yet not long after he appeared with his men twice in arms, in opposition to the King’s troops: and one of those times attackt them, rescued a prisoner from them, and all this while sent abroad his party through the countrie, plundering the countrie people, and amongst the rest some of my tenants.
“Being informed of these disorders after I came to Scotland, I applied to Lieut.-Genll. Carpenter, who ordered three parties from Glasgow, Stirling, and Finlarig, to march in the night by different routes, in order to surprise him and his men in their houses, which would have its effect certainly, if the great rains that happened to fall that verie night had not retarded the march of the troops, so as some of the parties came too late to the stations that they were ordered for. All that could be done upon the occasion was to burn a countrie house, where Rob Roy then resided, after some of his clan had, from the rocks, fired upon the king’s troops, by which a grenadier was killed.
“Mr. Grahame of Killearn, being my deputy-sheriff in that countrie, went along with the party that marched from Stirling; and doubtless will now meet with the worse treatment from that barbarous people on that account. Besides, that he is my relation, and that they know how active he has been in the service of the Government — all which, your Lordship may believe, puts me under very great concern for the gentleman, while, at the same time, I can foresee no manner of way how to relieve him, other than to leave him to chance and his own management.
“I had my thoughts before of proposing to Government the building of some barracks as the only expedient for suppressing these rebels, and securing the peace of the countrie; and in that view I spoke to Genll. Carpenter, who has now a scheme of it in his hands; and I am persuaded that will be the true method for restraining them effectually; but, in the meantime, it will be necessary to lodge some of the troops in those places, upon which I intend to write to the Generall.
“I am sensible I have troubled your Lordship with a very long letter, which I should be ashamed of, were I myself singly concerned; but where the honour of the King’s Government is touched, I need make no apologie, and I shall only beg leave to add, that I am, with great respect, and truth,
“My Lord, “yr. Lords. most humble and obedient servant, “MONTROSE”
28 It does not appear to whom this letter was addressed. Certainly, from its style and tenor, It was designed for some person high in rank and office — perhaps the King’s Advocate for the time.
“Chappellarroch, Nov. 19th, 1716.
“May it please your Grace — I am obliged to give your Grace the trouble of this, by Robert Roy’s commands, being so unfortunate at present as to be his prisoner. I refer the way and manner I was apprehended, to the bearer, and shall only, in short, acquaint your Grace with the demands, which are, that your Grace shall discharge him of all soumes he owes your Grace, and give him the soume of 3400 merks for his loss and damages sustained by him, both at Craigrostown and at his house, Auchinchisallen; and that your Grace shall give your word not to trouble or prosecute him afterwards; till which time he carries me, all the money I received this day, my books and bonds for entress, not yet paid, along with him, with assurance of hard usage, if any party are sent after him. The soume I received this day, conform to the nearest computation I can make before several of the gentlemen, is 3227L. 2sh. 8d. Scots, of which I gave them notes. I shall wait your Grace’s return, and ever am,
“Your Grace’s most obedient, faithful, “humble servant, Sic subscribitur, “John Grahame.”
THE DUKE OF MONTROSE TO——
28_th Nov. 1716 — Killearn’s Release.
“Glasgow, 28th Nov. 1716.
“Sir — Having acquainted you by my last, of the 21st instant, of what had happened to my friend, Mr. Grahame of Killearn, I’m very glad now to tell you, that last night I was very agreeably surprised with Mr. Grahame’s coming here himself, and giving me the first account I had had of him from the time of his being carried away. It seems Rob Roy, when he came to consider a little better of it, found that, he could not mend his matters by retaining Killearn his prisoner, which could only expose him still the more to the justice of the Government; and therefore thought fit to dismiss him on Sunday evening last, having kept him from the Monday night before, under a very uneasy kind of restraint, being obliged to change continually from place to place. He gave him back the books, papers, and bonds, but kept the money.
“I am, with great truth, Sir, “your most humble servant, “MONTROSE.”
[Some papers connected with Rob Roy Macgregor, signed “Ro. Campbell,” in 1711, were lately presented to the Society of Antiquaries. One of these is a kind of contract between the Duke of Montrose and Rob Roy, by which the latter undertakes to deliver within a given time “Sixtie good and sufficient Kintaill highland Cowes, betwixt the age of five and nine years, at fourtene pounds Scotts per peice, with ane bull to the bargane, and that at the head dykes of Buchanan upon the twenty-eight day of May next.”— Dated December 1711. — See Proceedings, vol. vii. p. 253.]
“Rob Roy to ain hie and mighty Prince, James Duke of Montrose.
“In charity to your Grace’s couradge and conduct, please know, the only way to retrive both is to treat Rob Roy like himself, in appointing tyme, place, and choice of arms, that at once you may extirpate your inveterate enemy, or put a period to your punny (puny?) life in falling gloriously by his hands. That impertinent criticks or flatterers may not brand me for challenging a man that’s repute of a poor dastardly soul, let such know that I admit of the two great supporters of his character and the captain of his bands to joyne with him in the combat. Then sure your Grace wont have the impudence to clamour att court for multitudes to hunt me like a fox, under pretence that I am not to be found above ground. This saves your Grace and the troops any further trouble of searching; that is, if your ambition of glory press you to embrace this unequald venture offerd of Rob’s head. But if your Grace’s piety, prudence, and cowardice, forbids hazarding this gentlemanly expedient, then let your desire of peace restore what you have robed from me by the tyranny of your present cituation, otherwise your overthrow as a man is determined; and advertise your friends never more to look for the frequent civility payed them, of sending them home without their arms only. Even their former cravings wont purchase that favour; so your Grace by this has peace in your offer, if the sound of wax be frightful, and chuse you whilk, your good friend or mortal enemy.”
This singular rhodomontade is enclosed in a letter to a friend of Rob Roy, probably a retainer of the Duke of Argyle in Isle, which is in these words:—
“Sir — Receive the enclosd paper, qn you are takeing yor Botle it will divert yorself and comrad’s. I gote noe news since I seed you, only qt wee had before about the Spainyard’s is like to continue. If I’ll get any further account about them I’ll be sure to let you know of it, and till then I will not write any more till I’ll have more sure account, and I am
“Sir, your most affectionate Cn [cousin], “and most humble servant, “Ro: Roy.”
“Apryle 16_th, 1719.
“To Mr. Patrick Anderson, at Hay — These.’
The seal, a stag — no bad emblem of a wild cateran.
It appears from the envelope that Rob Roy still continued to act as Intelligencer to the Duke of Argyle, and his agents. The war he alludes to is probably some vague report of invasion from Spain. Such rumours were likely enough to be afloat, in consequence of the disembarkation of the troops who were taken at Glensheal in the preceding year, 1718.
Sir — The great humanity with which you have constantly acted in the discharge of the trust reposed in you, and your ever having made use of the great powers with which you were vested as the means of doing good and charitable offices to such as ye found proper objects of compassion, will, I hope, excuse my importunity in endeavouring to approve myself not absolutely unworthy of that mercy and favour which your Excellency has so generously procured from his Majesty for others in my unfortunate circumstances. I am very sensible nothing can be alledged sufficient to excuse so great a crime as I have been guilty of it, that of Rebellion. But I humbly beg leave to lay before your Excellency some particulars in the circumstance of my guilt, which, I hope, will extenuate it in some measure. It was my misfortune, at the time the Rebellion broke out, to be liable to legal diligence and caption, at the Duke of Montrose’s instance, for debt alledged due to him. To avoid being flung into prison, as I must certainly have been, had I followed my real inclinations in joining the King’s troops at Stirling, I was forced to take party with the adherents of the Pretender; for the country being all in arms, it was neither safe nor indeed possible for me to stand neuter. I should not, however, plead my being forced into that unnatural rebellion against his Majesty, King George, if I could not at the same time assure your Excellency, that I not only avoided acting offensively against his Majesty’s forces upon all occasions, but on the contrary, sent his Grace the Duke of Argyle all the intelligence I could from time to time, of the strength and situation of the rebels; which I hope his Grace will do me the justice to acknowledge. As to the debt to the Duke of Montrose, I have discharged it to the utmost farthing. I beg your Excellency would be persuaded that, had it been in my power, as it was in my inclination, I should always have acted for the service of his Majesty King George, and that one reason of my begging the favour of your intercession with his Majesty for the pardon of my life, is the earnest desire I have to employ it in his service, whose goodness, justice, and humanity, are so conspicuous to all mankind. — I am, with all duty and respect, your Excellency’s most, &c.,
29 This curious epistle is copied from an authentic narrative of Marshal Wade’s proceedings in the Highlands, communicated by the late eminent antiquary, George Chalmers, Esq., to Mr. Robert Jamieson, of the Register House, Edinburgh, and published in the Appendix to an Edition of Burt’s Letters from the North of Scotland, 2 vols. 8vo, Edinburgh, 1818.
The following copy of a letter which passed from one clergyman of the Church of Scotland to another, was communicated to me by John Gregorson, Esq. of Ardtornish. The escape of Rob Roy is mentioned, like other interesting news of the time with which it is intermingled. The disagreement between the Dukes of Athole and Argyle seems to have animated the former against Rob Roy, as one of Argyle’s partisans.
“Rev. and dear Brother,
Yrs of the 28th Jun I had by the bearer. Im pleased yo have got back again yr Delinquent which may probably safe you of the trouble of her child. I’m sory I’ve yet very little of certain news to give you from Court tho’ I’ve seen all the last weekes prints, only I find in them a pasage which is all the account I can give you of the Indemnity yt when the estates of forfaulted Rebells Comes to be sold all Just debts Documented are to be preferred to Officers of the Court of enquiry. The Bill in favours of that Court against the Lords of Session in Scotland in past the house of Commons and Come before the Lords which is thought to be considerably more ample yn formerly wt respect to the Disposeing of estates Canvassing and paying of Debts. It’s said yt the examinations of Cadugans accounts is droped but it wants Confirmations here as yet. Oxford’s tryals should be entered upon Saturday last. We hear that the Duchess of Argyle is wt child. I doe not hear yt the Divisions at Court are any thing abated or of any appearance of the Dukes having any thing of his Maj: favour. I heartily wish the present humours at Court may not prove an encouragmt to watchfull and restles enemies.
My accounts of Rob Roy his escape are yt after severall Embassies between his Grace (who I hear did Correspond wt some at Court about it) and Rob he at length upon promise of protectione Came to waite upon the Duke & being presently secured his Grace sent post to Edr to acquent the Court of his being aprehended & call his friends at Edr and to desire a party from Gen Carpinter to receive and bring him to Edr which party came the length of Kenross in Fife, he was to be delivered to them by a party his Grace had demanded from the Governour at Perth, who when upon their march towards Dunkell to receive him, were mete wt and returned by his Grace having resolved to deliver him by a party of his own men and left Rob at Logierate 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 wt the Guard & qn all were pretty hearty, Rob is delivering 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’s attended wt on the Guard. When serious in this privat Conversations he is making some few steps carelessly from the Door about the house till he comes close by this horse which he soon mounted and made off. This is no small mortifican to the guard because of the delay it give to there hopes of a Considerable additionall charge agt John Roy.30 my wife was upon Thursday last delivered of a Son after sore travell of which she still continues very weak.
I give yl Lady hearty thanks for the Highland plaid. It’s good cloath but it does not answer the sett I sent some time agae wt McArthur & tho it had I told in my last yt my wife was obliged to provid herself to finish her bed before she was lighted but I know yt letr came not timely to yr hand — I’m sory I had not mony to send by the bearer having no thought of it & being exposed to some little expenses last week but I expect some sure occasion when order by a letter to receive it excuse this freedom from &c.
“Manse of Comrie, July 2_d, 1717. “I salute yr lady I wish my . . . . . . . . . . . . her Daughter much Joy.”
30 i.e. John the Red — John Duke of Argyle, so called from his complexion, more commonly styled “Red John the Warriour.”
There are many productions of the Scottish Ballad Poets upon the lion-like mode of wooing practised by the ancient Highlanders when they had a fancy for the person (or property) of a Lowland damsel. One example is found in Mr. Robert Jamieson’s Popular Scottish Songs:—
Bonny Babby Livingstone
Gaed out to see the kye,
And she has met with Glenlyon,
Who has stolen her away.
He took free her her sattin coat,
But an her silken gown,
Syne roud her in his tartan plaid,
And happd her round and roun’.
In another ballad we are told how —
Four-and-twenty Hieland men,
Came doun by Fiddoch Bide,
And they have sworn a deadly aith,
Jean Muir suld be a bride:
And they have sworn a deadly aith,
Ilke man upon his durke,
That she should wed with Duncan Ger,
Or they’d make bloody works.
This last we have from tradition, but there are many others in the collections of Scottish Ballads to the same purpose.
The achievement of Robert Oig, or young Rob Roy, as the Lowlanders called him, was celebrated in a ballad, of which there are twenty different and various editions. The tune is lively and wild, and we select the following words from memory:—
Rob Roy is frae the Hielands come,
Down to the Lowland border;
And he has stolen that lady away,
To haud his house in order.
He set her on a milk-white steed,
Of none he stood in awe;
Untill they reached the Hieland hills,
Aboon the Balmaha’!31
Saying, Be content, be content,
Be content with me, lady;
Where will ye find in Lennox land,
Sae braw a man as me, lady?
Rob Roy he was my father called,
MacGregor was his name, lady;
A’ the country, far and near,
Have heard MacGregor’s fame, lady.
He was a hedge about his friends,
A heckle to his foes, lady;
If any man did him gainsay,
He felt his deadly blows, lady.
I am as bold, I am as bold,
I am as bold and more, lady;
Any man that doubts my word,
May try my gude claymore, lady.
Then be content, be content.
Be content with me, lady;
For now you are my wedded wife,
Until the day you die, lady.
31 A pass on the eastern margin of Loch Lomond, and an entrance to the Highlands.
The following notices concerning this Chief fell under the Author’s eye while the sheets were in the act of going through the press. They occur in manuscript memoirs, written by a person intimately acquainted with the incidents of 1745.
This Chief had the important task intrusted to him of defending the Castle of Doune, in which the Chevalier placed a garrison to protect his communication with the Highlands, and to repel any sallies which might be made from Stirling Castle — Ghlune Dhu distinguished himself by his good conduct in this charge.
Ghlune Dhu is thus described:—“Glengyle is, in person, a tall handsome man, and has more of the mien of the ancient heroes than our modern fine gentlemen are possessed of. He is honest and disinterested to a proverb — extremely modest — brave and intrepid — and born one of the best partisans in Europe. In short, the whole people of that country declared that never did men live under so mild a government as Glengyle’s, not a man having so much as lost a chicken while he continued there.”
It would appear from this curious passage, that Glengyle — not Stewart of Balloch, as averred in a note on Waverley — commanded the garrison of Doune. Balloch might, no doubt, succeed MacGregor in the situation.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00