Rob Roy, Complete, Illustrated
Sir Walter Scott

Part 1 out of 10

Produced by David Widger




[Illustration: Frontispiece]

[Illustration: Titlepage]

For why? Because the good old rule
Sufficeth them; the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can.

_Rob Roy's Grave_--Wordsworth


When the Editor of the following volumes published, about two years
since, the work called the "Antiquary," he announced that he was, for the
last time, intruding upon the public in his present capacity. He might
shelter himself under the plea that every anonymous writer is, like the
celebrated Junius, only a phantom, and that therefore, although an
apparition, of a more benign, as well as much meaner description, he
cannot be bound to plead to a charge of inconsistency. A better apology
may be found in the imitating the confession of honest Benedict, that,
when he said he would die a bachelor, he did not think he should live to
be married. The best of all would be, if, as has eminently happened in
the case of some distinguished contemporaries, the merit of the work
should, in the reader's estimation, form an excuse for the Author's
breach of promise. Without presuming to hope that this may prove the
case, it is only further necessary to mention, that his resolution, like
that of Benedict, fell a sacrifice, to temptation at least, if not to

It is now about six months since the Author, through the medium of his
respectable Publishers, received a parcel of Papers, containing the
Outlines of this narrative, with a permission, or rather with a request,
couched in highly flattering terms, that they might be given to the
Public, with such alterations as should be found suitable.*

* As it maybe necessary, in the present Edition(1829), to speak upon the
square, the Author thinks it proper to own, that the communication
alluded to is entirely imaginary.

These were of course so numerous, that, besides the suppression of names,
and of incidents approaching too much to reality, the work may in a great
measure be, said to be new written. Several anachronisms have probably
crept in during the course of these changes; and the mottoes for the
Chapters have been selected without any reference to the supposed date of
the incidents. For these, of course, the Editor is responsible. Some
others occurred in the original materials, but they are of little
consequence. In point of minute accuracy, it may be stated, that the
bridge over the Forth, or rather the Avondhu (or Black River), near the
hamlet of Aberfoil, had not an existence thirty years ago. It does not,
however, become the Editor to be the first to point out these errors; and
he takes this public opportunity to thank the unknown and nameless
correspondent, to whom the reader will owe the principal share of any
amusement which he may derive from the following pages.

1st December 1817.


When the author projected this further encroachment on the patience of an
indulgent public, he was at some loss for a title; a good name being very
nearly of as much consequence in literature as in life. The title of _Rob
Roy_ was suggested by the late Mr. Constable, whose sagacity and
experience foresaw the germ of popularity which it included.

No introduction can be more appropriate to the work than some account of
the singular character whose name is given to the title-page, and who,
through good report and bad report, has maintained a wonderful degree of
importance in popular recollection. This cannot be ascribed to the
distinction of his birth, which, though that of a gentleman, had in it
nothing of high destination, and gave him little right to command in his
clan. Neither, though he lived a busy, restless, and enterprising life,
were his feats equal to those of other freebooters, who have been less
distinguished. He owed his fame in a great measure to his residing on the
very verge of the Highlands, and playing such pranks in the beginning of
the 18th century, as are usually ascribed to Robin Hood in the middle
ages,--and that within forty miles of Glasgow, a great commercial city,
the seat of a learned university. Thus a character like his, blending the
wild virtues, the subtle policy, and unrestrained license of an American
Indian, was flourishing in Scotland during the Augustan age of Queen Anne
and George I. Addison, it is probable, or Pope, would have been
considerably surprised if they had known that there, existed in the same
island with them a personage of Rob Roy's peculiar habits and profession.
It is this strong contrast betwixt the civilised and cultivated mode of
life on the one side of the Highland line, and the wild and lawless
adventures which were habitually undertaken and achieved by one who dwelt
on the opposite side of that ideal boundary, which creates the interest
attached to his name. Hence it is that even yet,

Far and near, through vale and hill,
Are faces that attest the same,
And kindle like a fire new stirr'd,
At sound of Rob Roy's name.

There were several advantages which Rob Roy enjoyed for sustaining to
advantage the character which he assumed.

The most prominent of these was his descent from, and connection with,
the clan MacGregor, so famous for their misfortunes, and the indomitable
spirit with which they maintained themselves as a clan, linked and banded
together in spite of the most severe laws, executed with unheard-of
rigour against those who bore this forbidden surname. Their history was
that of several others of the original Highland clans, who were
suppressed by more powerful neighbours, and either extirpated, or forced
to secure themselves by renouncing their own family appellation, and
assuming that of the conquerors. The peculiarity in the story of the
MacGregors, is their retaining, with such tenacity, their separate
existence and union as a clan under circumstances of the utmost urgency.
The history of the tribe is briefly as follows--But we must premise that
the tale depends in some degree on tradition; therefore, excepting when
written documents are, quoted, it must be considered as in some degree

The sept of MacGregor claimed a descent from Gregor, or Gregorius, third
son, it is said, of Alpin King of Scots, who flourished about 787. Hence
their original patronymic is MacAlpine, and they are usually termed the
Clan Alpine. An individual tribe of them retains the same name. They are
accounted one of the most ancient clans in the Highlands, and it is
certain they were a people of original Celtic descent, and occupied at
one period very extensive possessions in Perthshire and Argyleshire,
which they imprudently continued to hold by the _coir a glaive,_ that is,
the right of the sword. Their neighbours, the Earls of Argyle and
Breadalbane, in the meanwhile, managed to leave the lands occupied by the
MacGregors engrossed in those charters which they easily obtained from
the Crown; and thus constituted a legal right in their own favour,
without much regard to its justice. As opportunity occurred of annoying
or extirpating their neighbours, they gradually extended their own
domains, by usurping, under the pretext of such royal grants, those of
their more uncivilised neighbours. A Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochow, known
in the Highlands by the name of _Donacha Dhu nan Churraichd,_ that is,
Black Duncan with the Cowl, it being his pleasure to wear such a
head-gear, is said to have been peculiarly successful in those acts of
spoliation upon the clan MacGregor.

The devoted sept, ever finding themselves iniquitously driven from their
possessions, defended themselves by force, and occasionally gained
advantages, which they used cruelly enough. This conduct, though natural,
considering the country and time, was studiously represented at the
capital as arising from an untameable and innate ferocity, which nothing,
it was said, could remedy, save cutting off the tribe of MacGregor root
and branch.

In an act of Privy Council at Stirling, 22d September 1563, in the reign
of Queen Mary, commission is granted to the most powerful nobles, and
chiefs of the clans, to pursue the clan Gregor with fire and sword. A
similar warrant in 1563, not only grants the like powers to Sir John
Campbell of Glenorchy, the descendant of Duncan with the Cowl, but
discharges the lieges to receive or assist any of the clan Gregor, or
afford them, under any colour whatever, meat, drink, or clothes.

An atrocity which the clan Gregor committed in 1589, by the murder of
John Drummond of Drummond-ernoch, a forester of the royal forest of
Glenartney, is elsewhere given, with all its horrid circumstances. The
clan swore upon the severed head of the murdered man, that they would
make common cause in avowing the deed. This led to an act of the Privy
Council, directing another crusade against the "wicked clan Gregor, so
long continuing in blood, slaughter, theft, and robbery," in which
letters of fire and sword are denounced against them for the space of
three years. The reader will find this particular fact illustrated in the
Introduction to the Legend of Montrose in the present edition of these

Other occasions frequently occurred, in which the MacGregors testified
contempt for the laws, from which they had often experienced severity,
but never protection. Though they were gradually deprived of their
possessions, and of all ordinary means of procuring subsistence, they
could not, nevertheless, be supposed likely to starve for famine, while
they had the means of taking from strangers what they considered as
rightfully their own. Hence they became versed in predatory forays, and
accustomed to bloodshed. Their passions were eager, and, with a little
management on the part of some of their most powerful neighbours, they
could easily be _hounded out,_ to use an expressive Scottish phrase, to
commit violence, of which the wily instigators took the advantage, and
left the ignorant MacGregors an undivided portion of blame and
punishment. This policy of pushing on the fierce clans of the Highlands
and Borders to break the peace of the country, is accounted by the
historian one of the most dangerous practices of his own period, in which
the MacGregors were considered as ready agents.

Notwithstanding these severe denunciations,---which were acted upon in
the same spirit in which they were conceived, some of the clan still
possessed property, and the chief of the name in 1592 is designed
Allaster MacGregor of Glenstrae. He is said to have been a brave and
active man; but, from the tenor of his confession at his death, appears
to have been engaged in many and desperate feuds, one of which finally
proved fatal to himself and many of his followers. This was the
celebrated conflict at Glenfruin, near the southwestern extremity of Loch
Lomond, in the vicinity of which the MacGregors continued to exercise
much authority by the _coir a glaive,_ or right of the strongest, which
we have already mentioned.

There had been a long and bloody feud betwixt the MacGregors and the
Laird of Luss, head of the family of Colquhoun, a powerful race on the
lower part of Loch Lomond. The MacGregors' tradition affirms that the
quarrel began on a very trifling subject. Two of the MacGregors being
benighted, asked shelter in a house belonging to a dependant of the
Colquhouns, and were refused. They then retreated to an out-house, took a
wedder from the fold, killed it, and supped off the carcass, for which
(it is said) they offered payment to the proprietor. The Laird of Luss
seized on the offenders, and, by the summary process which feudal barons
had at their command, had them both condemned and executed. The
MacGregors verify this account of the feud by appealing to a proverb
current amongst them, execrating the hour _(Mult dhu an Carbail ghil)_
that the black wedder with the white tail was ever lambed. To avenge this
quarrel, the Laird of MacGregor assembled his clan, to the number of
three or four hundred men, and marched towards Luss from the banks of
Loch Long, by a pass called _Raid na Gael,_ or the Highlandman's Pass.

Sir Humphrey Colquhoun received early notice of this incursion, and
collected a strong force, more than twice the number of that of the
invaders. He had with him the gentlemen of the name of Buchanan, with the
Grahams, and other gentry of the Lennox, and a party of the citizens of
Dumbarton, under command of Tobias Smollett, a magistrate, or bailie, of
that town, and ancestor of the celebrated author.

The parties met in the valley of Glenfruin, which signifies the Glen of
Sorrow---a name that seemed to anticipate the event of the day, which,
fatal to the conquered party, was at least equally so to the victors, the
"babe unborn" of Clan Alpine having reason to repent it. The MacGregors,
somewhat discouraged by the appearance of a force much superior to their
own, were cheered on to the attack by a Seer, or second-sighted person,
who professed that he saw the shrouds of the dead wrapt around their
principal opponents. The clan charged with great fury on the front of the
enemy, while John MacGregor, with a strong party, made an unexpected
attack on the flank. A great part of the Colquhouns' force consisted in
cavalry, which could not act in the boggy ground. They were said to have
disputed the field manfully, but were at length completely routed, and a
merciless slaughter was exercised on the fugitives, of whom betwixt two
and three hundred fell on the field and in the pursuit. If the MacGregors
lost, as is averred, only two men slain in the action, they had slight
provocation for an indiscriminate massacre. It is said that their fury
extended itself to a party of students for clerical orders, who had
imprudently come to see the battle. Some doubt is thrown on this fact,
from the indictment against the chief of the clan Gregor being silent on
the subject, as is the historian Johnston, and a Professor Ross, who
wrote an account of the battle twenty-nine years after it was fought. It
is, however, constantly averred by the tradition of the country, and a
stone where the deed was done is called _Leck-a-Mhinisteir,_ the Minister
or Clerk's Flagstone. The MacGregors, by a tradition which is now found
to be inaccurate, impute this cruel action to the ferocity of a single
man of their tribe, renowned for size and strength, called Dugald, _Ciar
Mhor,_ or the great Mouse-coloured Man. He was MacGregor's
foster-brother, and the chief committed the youths to his charge, with
directions to keep them safely till the affray was over. Whether fearful
of their escape, or incensed by some sarcasms which they threw on his
tribe, or whether out of mere thirst of blood, this savage, while the
other MacGregors were engaged in the pursuit, poniarded his helpless and
defenceless prisoners. When the chieftain, on his return, demanded where
the youths were, the _Ciar_ (pronounced Kiar) _Mhor_ drew out his bloody
dirk, saying in Gaelic, "Ask that, and God save me!" The latter words
allude to the exclamation which his victims used when he was murdering
them. It would seem, therefore, that this horrible part of the story is
founded on fact, though the number of the youths so slain is probably
exaggerated in the Lowland accounts. The common people say that the blood
of the Ciar Mhor's victims can never be washed off the stone. When
MacGregor learnt their fate, he expressed the utmost horror at the deed,
and upbraided his foster-brother with having done that which would
occasion the destruction of him and his clan. This supposed homicide was
the ancestor of Rob Roy, and the tribe from which he was descended. He
lies buried at the church of Fortingal, where his sepulchre, covered with
a large stone,* is still shown, and where his great strength and courage
are the theme of many traditions.*

* Note A. The Grey Stone of MacGregor.

** Note B. Dugald Ciar Mhor.

MacGregor's brother was one of the very few of the tribe who was slain.
He was buried near the field of battle, and the place is marked by a rude
stone, called the Grey Stone of MacGregor.

Sir Humphrey Colquhoun, being well mounted, escaped for the time to the
castle of Banochar, or Benechra. It proved no sure defence, however, for
he was shortly after murdered in a vault of the castle,---the family
annals say by the MacGregors, though other accounts charge the deed upon
the MacFarlanes.

This battle of Glenfruin, and the severity which the victors exercised in
the pursuit, was reported to King James VI. in a manner the most
unfavourable to the clan Gregor, whose general character, being that of
lawless though brave men, could not much avail them in such a case. That
James might fully understand the extent of the slaughter, the widows of
the slain, to the number of eleven score, in deep mourning, riding upon
white palfreys, and each bearing her husband's bloody shirt on a spear,
appeared at Stirling, in presence of a monarch peculiarly accessible to
such sights of fear and sorrow, to demand vengeance for the death of
their husbands, upon those by whom they had been made desolate.

The remedy resorted to was at least as severe as the cruelties which it
was designed to punish. By an Act of the Privy Council, dated 3d April
1603, the name of MacGregor was expressly abolished, and those who had
hitherto borne it were commanded to change it for other surnames, the
pain of death being denounced against those who should call themselves
Gregor or MacGregor, the names of their fathers. Under the same penalty,
all who had been at the conflict of Glenfruin, or accessory to other
marauding parties charged in the act, were prohibited from carrying
weapons, except a pointless knife to eat their victuals. By a subsequent
act of Council, 24th June 1613, death was denounced against any persons
of the tribe formerly called MacGregor, who should presume to assemble in
greater numbers than four. Again, by an Act of Parliament, 1617, chap.
26, these laws were continued, and extended to the rising generation, in
respect that great numbers of the children of those against whom the acts
of Privy Council had been directed, were stated to be then approaching to
maturity, who, if permitted to resume the name of their parents, would
render the clan as strong as it was before.

The execution of those severe acts was chiefly intrusted in the west to
the Earl of Argyle and the powerful clan of Campbell, and to the Earl of
Athole and his followers in the more eastern Highlands of Perthshire. The
MacGregors failed not to resist with the most determined courage; and
many a valley in the West and North Highlands retains memory of the
severe conflicts, in which the proscribed clan sometimes obtained
transient advantages, and always sold their lives dearly. At length the
pride of Allaster MacGregor, the chief of the clan, was so much lowered
by the sufferings of his people, that he resolved to surrender himself to
the Earl of Argyle, with his principal followers, on condition that they
should be sent out of Scotland. If the unfortunate chief's own account be
true, he had more reasons than one for expecting some favour from the
Earl, who had in secret advised and encouraged him to many of the
desperate actions for which he was now called to so severe a reckoning.
But Argyle, as old Birrell expresses himself, kept a Highlandman's
promise with them, fulfilling it to the ear, and breaking it to the
sense. MacGregor was sent under a strong guard to the frontier of
England, and being thus, in the literal sense, sent out of Scotland,
Argyle was judged to have kept faith with him, though the same party
which took him there brought him back to Edinburgh in custody.

MacGregor of Glenstrae was tried before the Court of Justiciary, 20th
January 1604, and found guilty. He appears to have been instantly
conveyed from the bar to the gallows; for Birrell, of the same date,
reports that he was hanged at the Cross, and, for distinction sake, was
suspended higher by his own height than two of his kindred and friends.

On the 18th of February following, more men of the MacGregors were
executed, after a long imprisonment, and several others in the beginning
of March.

The Earl of Argyle's service, in conducting to the surrender of the
insolent and wicked race and name of MacGregor, notorious common
malefactors, and in the in-bringing of MacGregor, with a great many of
the leading men of the clan, worthily executed to death for their
offences, is thankfully acknowledged by an Act of Parliament, 1607, chap.
16, and rewarded with a grant of twenty chalders of victual out of the
lands of Kintire.

The MacGregors, notwithstanding the letters of fire and sword, and orders
for military execution repeatedly directed against them by the Scottish
legislature, who apparently lost all the calmness of conscious dignity
and security, and could not even name the outlawed clan without
vituperation, showed no inclination to be blotted out of the roll of
clanship. They submitted to the law, indeed, so far as to take the names
of the neighbouring families amongst whom they happened to live,
nominally becoming, as the case might render it most convenient,
Drummonds, Campbells, Grahams, Buchanans, Stewarts, and the like; but to
all intents and purposes of combination and mutual attachment, they
remained the clan Gregor, united together for right or wrong, and
menacing with the general vengeance of their race, all who committed
aggressions against any individual of their number.

They continued to take and give offence with as little hesitation as
before the legislative dispersion which had been attempted, as appears
from the preamble to statute 1633, chapter 30, setting forth, that the
clan Gregor, which had been suppressed and reduced to quietness by the
great care of the late King James of eternal memory, had nevertheless
broken out again, in the counties of Perth, Stirling, Clackmannan,
Monteith, Lennox, Angus, and Mearns; for which reason the statute
re-establishes the disabilities attached to the clan, and, grants a new
commission for enforcing the laws against that wicked and rebellious

Notwithstanding the extreme severities of King James I. and Charles I.
against this unfortunate people, who were rendered furious by
proscription, and then punished for yielding to the passions which had
been wilfully irritated, the MacGregors to a man attached themselves
during the civil war to the cause of the latter monarch. Their bards have
ascribed this to the native respect of the MacGregors for the crown of
Scotland, which their ancestors once wore, and have appealed to their
armorial bearings, which display a pine-tree crossed saltire wise with a
naked sword, the point of which supports a royal crown. But, without
denying that such motives may have had their weight, we are disposed to
think, that a war which opened the low country to the raids of the clan
Gregor would have more charms for them than any inducement to espouse the
cause of the Covenanters, which would have brought them into contact with
Highlanders as fierce as themselves, and having as little to lose.
Patrick MacGregor, their leader, was the son of a distinguished chief,
named Duncan Abbarach, to whom Montrose wrote letters as to his trusty
and special friend, expressing his reliance on his devoted loyalty, with
an assurance, that when once his Majesty's affairs were placed upon a
permanent footing, the grievances of the clan MacGregor should be

At a subsequent period of these melancholy times, we find the clan Gregor
claiming the immunities of other tribes, when summoned by the Scottish
Parliament to resist the invasion of the Commonwealth's army, in 1651. On
the last day of March in that year, a supplication to the King and
Parliament, from Calum MacCondachie Vich Euen, and Euen MacCondachie
Euen, in their own name, and that of the whole name of MacGregor, set
forth, that while, in obedience to the orders of Parliament, enjoining
all clans to come out in the present service under their chieftains, for
the defence of religion, king, and kingdoms, the petitioners were drawing
their men to guard the passes at the head of the river Forth, they were
interfered with by the Earl of Athole and the Laird of Buchanan, who had
required the attendance of many of the clan Gregor upon their arrays.
This interference was, doubtless, owing to the change of name, which
seems to have given rise to the claim of the Earl of Athole and the Laird
of Buchanan to muster the MacGregors under their banners, as Murrays or
Buchanans. It does not appear that the petition of the MacGregors, to be
permitted to come out in a body, as other clans, received any answer. But
upon the Restoration, King Charles, in the first Scottish Parliament of
his reign (statute 1661, chap. 195), annulled the various acts against
the clan Gregor, and restored them to the full use of their family name,
and the other privileges of liege subjects, setting forth, as a reason
for this lenity, that those who were formerly designed MacGregors had,
during the late troubles, conducted themselves with such loyalty and
affection to his Majesty, as might justly wipe off all memory of former
miscarriages, and take away all marks of reproach for the same.

It is singular enough, that it seems to have aggravated the feelings of
the non-conforming Presbyterians, when the penalties which were most
unjustly imposed upon themselves were relaxed towards the poor
MacGregors;--so little are the best men, any more than the worst, able to
judge with impartiality of the same measures, as applied to themselves,
or to others. Upon the Restoration, an influence inimical to this
unfortunate clan, said to be the same with that which afterwards dictated
the massacre of Glencoe, occasioned the re-enaction of the penal statutes
against the MacGregors. There are no reasons given why these highly penal
acts should have been renewed; nor is it alleged that the clan had been
guilty of late irregularities. Indeed, there is some reason to think that
the clause was formed of set purpose, in a shape which should elude
observation; for, though containing conclusions fatal to the rights of so
many Scottish subjects, it is neither mentioned in the title nor the
rubric of the Act of Parliament in which it occurs, and is thrown briefly
in at the close of the statute 1693, chap. 61, entitled, an Act for the
Justiciary in the Highlands.

It does not, however, appear that after the Revolution the acts against
the clan were severely enforced; and in the latter half of the eighteenth
century, they were not enforced at all. Commissioners of supply were
named in Parliament by the proscribed title of MacGregor, and decrees of
courts of justice were pronounced, and legal deeds entered into, under
the same appellative. The MacGregors, however, while the laws continued
in the statute-book, still suffered under the deprivation of the name
which was their birthright, and some attempts were made for the purpose
of adopting another, MacAlpine or Grant being proposed as the title of
the whole clan in future. No agreement, however, could be entered into;
and the evil was submitted to as a matter of necessity, until full
redress was obtained from the British Parliament, by an act abolishing
for ever the penal statutes which had been so long imposed upon this
ancient race. This statute, well merited by the services of many a
gentleman of the clan in behalf of their King and country, was passed,
and the clan proceeded to act upon it with the same spirit of ancient
times, which had made them suffer severely under a deprivation that would
have been deemed of little consequence by a great part of their

They entered into a deed recognising John Murray of Lanrick, Esq.
(afterwards Sir John MacGregor, Baronet), representative of the family of
Glencarnock, as lawfully descended from the ancient stock and blood of
the Lairds and Lords of MacGregor, and therefore acknowledged him as
their chief on all lawful occasions and causes whatsoever. The deed was
subscribed by eight hundred and twenty-six persons of the name of
MacGregor, capable of bearing arms. A great many of the clan during the
last war formed themselves into what was called the Clan Alpine Regiment,
raised in 1799, under the command of their Chief and his brother Colonel

Having briefly noticed the history of this clan, which presents a rare
and interesting example of the indelible character of the patriarchal
system, the author must now offer some notices of the individual who
gives name to these volumes.

In giving an account of a Highlander, his pedigree is first to be
considered. That of Rob Roy was deduced from Ciar Mhor, the great
mouse-coloured man, who is accused by tradition of having slain the young
students at the battle of Glenfruin.

Without puzzling ourselves and our readers with the intricacies of
Highland genealogy, it is enough to say, that after the death of Allaster
MacGregor of Glenstrae, the clan, discouraged by the unremitting
persecution of their enemies, seem not to have had the means of placing
themselves under the command of a single chief. According to their places
of residence and immediate descent, the several families were led and
directed by _Chieftains,_ which, in the Highland acceptation, signifies
the head of a particular branch of a tribe, in opposition to _Chief,_ who
is the leader and commander of the whole name.

The family and descendants of Dugald Ciar Mhor lived chiefly in the
mountains between Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine, and occupied a good deal
of property there--whether by sufferance, by the right of the sword,
which it was never safe to dispute with them, or by legal titles of
various kinds, it would be useless to inquire and unnecessary to detail.
Enough;--there they certainly were--a people whom their most powerful
neighbours were desirous to conciliate, their friendship in peace being
very necessary to the quiet of the vicinage, and their assistance in war
equally prompt and effectual.

Rob Roy MacGregor Campbell, which last name he bore in consequence of the
Acts of Parliament abolishing his own, was the younger son of Donald
MacGregor of Glengyle, said to have been a Lieutenant-Colonel (probably
in the service of James II.), by his wife, a daughter of Campbell of
Glenfalloch. Rob's own designation was of Inversnaid; but he appears to
have acquired a right of some kind or other to the property or possession
of Craig Royston, a domain of rock and forest, lying on the east side of
Loch Lomond, where that beautiful lake stretches into the dusky mountains
of Glenfalloch.

The time of his birth is uncertain. But he is said to have been active in
the scenes of war and plunder which succeeded the Revolution; and
tradition affirms him to have been the leader in a predatory incursion
into the parish of Kippen, in the Lennox, which took place in the year
1691. It was of almost a bloodless character, only one person losing his
life; but from the extent of the depredation, it was long distinguished
by the name of the Her'-ship, or devastation, of Kippen.* The time of his
death is also uncertain, but as he is said to have survived the year
1733, and died an aged man, it is probable he may have been twenty-five
about the time of the Her'-ship of Kippen, which would assign his birth
to the middle of the 17th century.

* See _Statistcal Account of Scotland,_ 1st edition, vol. xviii. p. 332.
Parish of * Kippen.

In the more quiet times which succeeded the Revolution, Rob Roy, or Red
Robert, seems to have exerted his active talents, which were of no mean
order, as a drover, or trader in cattle, to a great extent. It may well
be supposed that in those days no Lowland, much less English drovers,
ventured to enter the Highlands. The cattle, which were the staple
commodity of the mountains, were escorted down to fairs, on the borders
of the Lowlands, by a party of Highlanders, with their arms rattling
around them; and who dealt, however, in all honour and good faith with
their Southern customers. A fray, indeed, would sometimes arise, when the
Lowlandmen, chiefly Borderers, who had to supply the English market, used
to dip their bonnets in the next brook, and wrapping them round their
hands, oppose their cudgels to the naked broadswords, which had not
always the superiority. I have heard from aged persons who had been
engaged in such affrays, that the Highlanders used remarkably fair play,
never using the point of the sword, far less their pistols or daggers; so

With many a stiff thwack and many a bang,
Hard crabtree and cold iron rang.

A slash or two, or a broken head, was easily accommodated, and as the
trade was of benefit to both parties, trifling skirmishes were not
allowed to interrupt its harmony. Indeed it was of vital interest to the
Highlanders, whose income, so far as derived from their estates, depended
entirely on the sale of black cattle; and a sagacious and experienced
dealer benefited not only himself, but his friends and neighbours, by his
speculations. Those of Rob Roy were for several years so successful as to
inspire general confidence, and raise him in the estimation of the
country in which he resided.

His importance was increased by the death of his father, in consequence
of which he succeeded to the management of his nephew Gregor MacGregor of
Glengyle's property, and, as his tutor, to such influence with the clan
and following as was due to the representative of Dugald Ciar. Such
influence was the more uncontrolled, that this family of the MacGregors
seemed to have refused adherence to MacGregor of Glencarnock, the
ancestor of the present Sir Ewan MacGregor, and asserted a kind of

It was at this time that Rob Roy acquired an interest by purchase,
wadset, or otherwise, to the property of Craig Royston already mentioned.
He was in particular favour, during this prosperous period of his life,
with his nearest and most powerful neighbour, James, first Duke of
Montrose, from whom he received many marks of regard. His Grace consented
to give his nephew and himself a right of property on the estates of
Glengyle and Inversnaid, which they had till then only held as kindly
tenants. The Duke also, with a view to the interest of the country and
his own estate, supported our adventurer by loans of money to a
considerable amount, to enable him to carry on his speculations in the
cattle trade.

Unfortunately that species of commerce was and is liable to sudden
fluctuations; and Rob Roy was, by a sudden depression of markets, and, as
a friendly tradition adds, by the bad faith of a partner named MacDonald,
whom he had imprudently received into his confidence, and intrusted with
a considerable sum of money, rendered totally insolvent. He absconded, of
course--not empty-handed, if it be true, as stated in an advertisement
for his apprehension, that he had in his possession sums to the amount of
L1000 sterling, obtained from several noblemen and gentlemen under
pretence of purchasing cows for them in the Highlands. This advertisement
appeared in June 1712, and was several times repeated. It fixes the
period when Rob Roy exchanged his commercial adventures for speculations
of a very different complexion.*

* See Appendix, No. I.

He appears at this period first to have removed from his ordinary
dwelling at Inversnaid, ten or twelve Scots miles (which is double the
number of English) farther into the Highlands, and commenced the lawless
sort of life which he afterwards followed. The Duke of Montrose, who
conceived himself deceived and cheated by MacGregor's conduct, employed
legal means to recover the money lent to him. Rob Roy's landed property
was attached by the regular form of legal procedure, and his stock and
furniture made the subject of arrest and sale.

It is said that this diligence of the law, as it is called in Scotland,
which the English more bluntly term distress, was used in this case with
uncommon severity, and that the legal satellites, not usually the
gentlest persons in the world, had insulted MacGregor's wife, in a manner
which would have aroused a milder man than he to thoughts of unbounded
vengeance. She was a woman of fierce and haughty temper, and is not
unlikely to have disturbed the officers in the execution of their duty,
and thus to have incurred ill treatment, though, for the sake of
humanity, it is to be hoped that the story sometimes told is a popular
exaggeration. It is certain that she felt extreme anguish at being
expelled from the banks of Loch Lomond, and gave vent to her feelings in
a fine piece of pipe-music, still well known to amateurs by the name of
"Rob Roy's Lament."

The fugitive is thought to have found his first place of refuge in Glen
Dochart, under the Earl of Breadalbane's protection; for, though that
family had been active agents in the destruction of the MacGregors in
former times, they had of late years sheltered a great many of the name
in their old possessions. The Duke of Argyle was also one of Rob Roy's
protectors, so far as to afford him, according to the Highland phrase,
wood and water--the shelter, namely, that is afforded by the forests and
lakes of an inaccessible country.

The great men of the Highlands in that time, besides being anxiously
ambitious to keep up what was called their Following, or military
retainers, were also desirous to have at their disposal men of resolute
character, to whom the world and the world's law were no friends, and who
might at times ravage the lands or destroy the tenants of a feudal enemy,
without bringing responsibility on their patrons. The strife between the
names of Campbell and Graham, during the civil wars of the seventeenth
century, had been stamped with mutual loss and inveterate enmity. The
death of the great Marquis of Montrose on the one side, the defeat at
Inverlochy, and cruel plundering of Lorn, on the other, were reciprocal
injuries not likely to be forgotten. Rob Roy was, therefore, sure of
refuge in the country of the Campbells, both as having assumed their
name, as connected by his mother with the family of Glenfalloch, and as
an enemy to the rival house of Montrose. The extent of Argyle's
possessions, and the power of retreating thither in any emergency, gave
great encouragement to the bold schemes of revenge which he had adopted.

This was nothing short of the maintenance of a predatory war against the
Duke of Montrose, whom he considered as the author of his exclusion from
civil society, and of the outlawry to which he had been sentenced by
letters of horning and caption (legal writs so called), as well as the
seizure of his goods, and adjudication of his landed property. Against
his Grace, therefore, his tenants, friends, allies, and relatives, he
disposed himself to employ every means of annoyance in his power; and
though this was a circle sufficiently extensive for active depredation,
Rob, who professed himself a Jacobite, took the liberty of extending his
sphere of operations against all whom he chose to consider as friendly to
the revolutionary government, or to that most obnoxious of measures--the
Union of the Kingdoms. Under one or other of these pretexts, all his
neighbours of the Lowlands who had anything to lose, or were unwilling to
compound for security by paying him an annual sum for protection or
forbearance, were exposed to his ravages.

The country in which this private warfare, or system of depredation, was
to be carried on, was, until opened up by roads, in the highest degree
favourable for his purpose. It was broken up into narrow valleys, the
habitable part of which bore no proportion to the huge wildernesses of
forest, rocks, and precipices by which they were encircled, and which
was, moreover, full of inextricable passes, morasses, and natural
strengths, unknown to any but the inhabitants themselves, where a few men
acquainted with the ground were capable, with ordinary address, of
baffling the pursuit of numbers.

The opinions and habits of the nearest neighbours to the Highland line
were also highly favourable to Rob Roy's purpose. A large proportion of
them were of his own clan of MacGregor, who claimed the property of
Balquhidder, and other Highland districts, as having been part of the
ancient possessions of their tribe; though the harsh laws, under the
severity of which they had suffered so deeply, had assigned the ownership
to other families. The civil wars of the seventeenth century had
accustomed these men to the use of arms, and they were peculiarly brave
and fierce from remembrance of their sufferings. The vicinity of a
comparatively rich Lowland district gave also great temptations to
incursion. Many belonging to other clans, habituated to contempt of
industry, and to the use of arms, drew towards an unprotected frontier
which promised facility of plunder; and the state of the country, now so
peaceable and quiet, verified at that time the opinion which Dr. Johnson
heard with doubt and suspicion, that the most disorderly and lawless
districts of the Highlands were those which lay nearest to the Lowland
line. There was, therefore, no difficulty in Rob Roy, descended of a
tribe which was widely dispersed in the country we have described,
collecting any number of followers whom he might be able to keep in
action, and to maintain by his proposed operations.

He himself appears to have been singularly adapted for the profession
which he proposed to exercise. His stature was not of the tallest, but
his person was uncommonly strong and compact. The greatest peculiarities
of his frame were the breadth of his shoulders, and the great and almost
disproportionate length of his arms; so remarkable, indeed, that it was
said he could, without stooping, tie the garters of his Highland hose,
which are placed two inches below the knee. His countenance was open,
manly, stern at periods of danger, but frank and cheerful in his hours of
festivity. His hair was dark red, thick, and frizzled, and curled short
around the face. His fashion of dress showed, of course, the knees and
upper part of the leg, which was described to me, as resembling that of a
Highland bull, hirsute, with red hair, and evincing muscular strength
similar to that animal. To these personal qualifications must be added a
masterly use of the Highland sword, in which his length of arm gave him
great advantage--and a perfect and intimate knowledge of all the recesses
of the wild country in which he harboured, and the character of the
various individuals, whether friendly or hostile, with whom he might come
in contact.

His mental qualities seem to have been no less adapted to the
circumstances in which he was placed. Though the descendant of the
blood-thirsty Ciar Mhor, he inherited none of his ancestor's ferocity. On
the contrary, Rob Roy avoided every appearance of cruelty, and it is not
averred that he was ever the means of unnecessary bloodshed, or the actor
in any deed which could lead the way to it. His schemes of plunder were
contrived and executed with equal boldness and sagacity, and were almost
universally successful, from the skill with which they were laid, and the
secrecy and rapidity with which they were executed. Like Robin Hood of
England, he was a kind and gentle robber,--and, while he took from the
rich, was liberal in relieving the poor. This might in part be policy;
but the universal tradition of the country speaks it to have arisen from
a better motive. All whom I have conversed with, and I have in my youth
seen some who knew Rob Roy personally, give him the character of a
benevolent and humane man "in his way."

His ideas of morality were those of an Arab chief, being such as
naturally arose out of his wild education. Supposing Rob Roy to have
argued on the tendency of the life which he pursued, whether from choice
or from necessity, he would doubtless have assumed to himself the
character of a brave man, who, deprived of his natural rights by the
partiality of laws, endeavoured to assert them by the strong hand of
natural power; and he is most felicitously described as reasoning thus,
in the high-toned poetry of my gifted friend Wordsworth:

Say, then, that he was wise as brave,
As wise in thought as bold in deed;
For in the principles of things
_He_ sought his moral creed.

Said generous Rob, "What need of Books?
Burn all the statutes and their shelves!
They stir us up against our kind,
And worse, against ourselves.

"We have a passion, make a law,
Too false to guide us or control;
And for the law itself we fight
In bitterness of soul.

"And puzzled, blinded, then we lose
Distinctions that are plain and few;
These find I graven on my heart,
That tells me what to do.

"The creatures see of flood and field,
And those that travel on the wind
With them no strife can last; they live
In peace, and peace of mind.

"For why? Because the good old rule
Sufficeth them; the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can.

"A lesson which is quickly learn'd,
A signal through which all can see;
Thus, nothing here provokes the strong
To wanton cruelty.

"And freakishness of mind is check'd,
He tamed who foolishly aspires,
While to the measure of his might
Each fashions his desires.

"All kinds and creatures stand and fall
By strength of prowess or of wit;
'Tis God's appointment who must sway,
And who is to submit.

"Since then," said Robin, "right is plain,
And longest life is but a day,
To have my ends, maintain my rights,
I'll take the shortest way."

And thus among these rocks he lived,
Through summer's heat and winter's snow

The eagle, he was lord above,
And Rob was lord below.

We are not, however, to suppose the character of this distinguished
outlaw to be that of an actual hero, acting uniformly and consistently on
such moral principles as the illustrious bard who, standing by his grave,
has vindicated his fame. On the contrary, as is common with barbarous
chiefs, Rob Roy appears to have mixed his professions of principle with a
large alloy of craft and dissimulation, of which his conduct during the
civil war is sufficient proof. It is also said, and truly, that although
his courtesy was one of his strongest characteristics, yet sometimes he
assumed an arrogance of manner which was not easily endured by the
high-spirited men to whom it was addressed, and drew the daring outlaw
into frequent disputes, from which he did not always come off with
credit. From this it has been inferred, that Rob Roy w as more of a bully
than a hero, or at least that he had, according to the common phrase, his
fighting days. Some aged men who knew him well, have described him also
as better at a _taich-tulzie,_ or scuffle within doors, than in mortal
combat. The tenor of his life may be quoted to repel this charge; while,
at the same time, it must be allowed, that the situation in which he was
placed rendered him prudently averse to maintaining quarrels, where
nothing was to be had save blows, and where success would have raised up
against him new and powerful enemies, in a country where revenge was
still considered as a duty rather than a crime. The power of commanding
his passions on such occasions, far from being inconsistent with the part
which MacGregor had to perform, was essentially necessary, at the period
when he lived, to prevent his career from being cut short.

I may here mention one or two occasions on which Rob Roy appears to have
given way in the manner alluded to. My late venerable friend, John Ramsay
of Ochtertyre, alike eminent as a classical scholar and as an authentic
register of the ancient history and manners of Scotland, informed me,
that on occasion of a public meeting at a bonfire in the town of Doune,
Rob Roy gave some offence to James Edmondstone of Newton, the same
gentleman who was unfortunately concerned in the slaughter of Lord Rollo
(see Maclaurin's Criminal Trials, No. IX.), when Edmondstone compelled
MacGregor to quit the town on pain of being thrown by him into the
bonfire. "I broke one off your ribs on a former occasion," said he, "and
now, Rob, if you provoke me farther, I will break your neck." But it must
be remembered that Edmondstone was a man of consequence in the Jacobite
party, as he carried the royal standard of James VII. at the battle of
Sheriffmuir, and also, that he was near the door of his own
mansion-house, and probably surrounded by his friends and adherents. Rob
Roy, however, suffered in reputation for retiring under such a threat.

Another well-vouched case is that of Cunningham of Boquhan.

Henry Cunningham, Esq. of Boquhan, was a gentleman of Stirlingshire, who,
like many _exquisites_ of our own time, united a natural high spirit and
daring character with an affectation of delicacy of address and manners
amounting to foppery.*

* His courage and affectation of foppery were united, which is less
frequently the case, with a spirit of innate modesty. He is thus
described in Lord Binning's satirical verses, entitled "Argyle's Levee:"

"Six times had Harry bowed unseen,
Before he dared advance;
The Duke then, turning round well pleased,
Said, 'Sure you've been in France!
A more polite and jaunty man
I never saw before:'
Then Harry bowed, and blushed, and bowed,
And strutted to the door."

See a Collection of original Poems, by Scotch Gentlemen, vol. ii. p. 125.

He chanced to be in company with Rob Roy, who, either in contempt of
Boquhan's supposed effeminacy, or because he thought him a safe person to
fix a quarrel on (a point which Rob's enemies alleged he was wont to
consider), insulted him so grossly that a challenge passed between them.
The goodwife of the clachan had hidden Cunningham's sword, and while he
rummaged the house in quest of his own or some other, Rob Roy went to the
Shieling Hill, the appointed place of combat, and paraded there with
great majesty, waiting for his antagonist. In the meantime, Cunningham
had rummaged out an old sword, and, entering the ground of contest in all
haste, rushed on the outlaw with such unexpected fury that he fairly
drove him off the field, nor did he show himself in the village again for
some time. Mr. MacGregor Stirling has a softened account of this anecdote
in his new edition of Nimmo's Stirlingshire; still he records Rob Roy's

Occasionally Rob Roy suffered disasters, and incurred great personal
danger. On one remarkable occasion he was saved by the coolness of his
lieutenant, Macanaleister or Fletcher, the _Little John_ of his band--a
fine active fellow, of course, and celebrated as a marksman. It happened
that MacGregor and his party had been surprised and dispersed by a
superior force of horse and foot, and the word was given to "split and
squander." Each shifted for himself, but a bold dragoon attached himself
to pursuit of Rob, and overtaking him, struck at him with his broadsword.
A plate of iron in his bonnet saved the MacGregor from being cut down to
the teeth; but the blow was heavy enough to bear him to the ground,
crying as he fell, "Oh, Macanaleister, is there naething in her?" (_i.e._
in the gun). The trooper, at the same time, exclaiming, "D--n ye, your
mother never wrought your night-cap!" had his arm raised for a second
blow, when Macanaleister fired, and the ball pierced the dragoon's heart.

Such as he was, Rob Roy's progress in his occupation is thus described by
a gentleman of sense and talent, who resided within the circle of his
predatory wars, had probably felt their effects, and speaks of them, as
might be expected, with little of the forbearance with which, from their
peculiar and romantic character, they are now regarded.

"This man (Rob Roy MacGregor) was a person of sagacity, and neither
wanted stratagem nor address; and having abandoned himself to all
licentiousness, set himself at the head of all the loose, vagrant, and
desperate people of that clan, in the west end of Perth and Stirling
shires, and infested those whole countries with thefts, robberies, and
depredations. Very few who lived within his reach (that is, within the
distance of a nocturnal expedition) could promise to themselves security,
either for their persons or effects, without subjecting themselves to pay
him a heavy and shameful tax of _black-mail._ He at last proceeded to
such a degree of audaciousness that he committed robberies, raised
contributions, and resented quarrels, at the head of a very considerable
body of armed men, in open day, and in the face of the government."*

* Mr. Grahame of Gartmore's Causes of the Disturbances in the Highlands.
See Jamieson's edition of Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland,
Appendix, vol. ii. p. 348.

The extent and success of these depredations cannot be surprising, when
we consider that the scene of them was laid in a country where the
general law was neither enforced nor respected.

Having recorded that the general habit of cattle-stealing had blinded
even those of the better classes to the infamy of the practice, and that
as men's property consisted entirely in herds, it was rendered in the
highest degree precarious, Mr. Grahame adds--

"On these accounts there is no culture of ground, no improvement of
pastures, and from the same reasons, no manufactures, no trade; in short,
no industry. The people are extremely prolific, and therefore so
numerous, that there is not business in that country, according to its
present order and economy, for the one-half of them. Every place is full
of idle people, accustomed to arms, and lazy in everything but rapines
and depredations. As _buddel_ or _aquavitae_ houses are to be found
everywhere through the country, so in these they saunter away their time,
and frequently consume there the returns of their illegal purchases. Here
the laws have never been executed, nor the authority of the magistrate
ever established. Here the officer of the law neither dare nor can
execute his duty, and several places are about thirty miles from lawful
persons. In short, here is no order, no authority, no government."

The period of the rebellion, 1715, approached soon after Rob Roy had
attained celebrity. His Jacobite partialities were now placed in
opposition to his sense of the obligations which he owed to the indirect
protection of the Duke of Argyle. But the desire of "drowning his
sounding steps amid the din of general war" induced him to join the
forces of the Earl of Mar, although his patron the Duke of Argyle was at
the head of the army opposed to the Highland insurgents.

The MacGregors, a large sept of them at least, that of Ciar Mhor, on this
occasion were not commanded by Rob Roy, but by his nephew already
mentioned, Gregor MacGregor, otherwise called James Grahame of Glengyle,
and still better remembered by the Gaelic epithet of _Ghlune Dhu, i.e._
Black Knee, from a black spot on one of his knees, which his Highland
garb rendered visible. There can be no question, however, that being then
very young, Glengyle must have acted on most occasions by the advice and
direction of so experienced a leader as his uncle.

The MacGregors assembled in numbers at that period, and began even to
threaten the Lowlands towards the lower extremity of Loch Lomond. They
suddenly seized all the boats which were upon the lake, and, probably
with a view to some enterprise of their own, drew them overland to
Inversnaid, in order to intercept the progress of a large body of
west-country whigs who were in arms for the government, and moving in
that direction.

The whigs made an excursion for the recovery of the boats. Their forces
consisted of volunteers from Paisley, Kilpatrick, and elsewhere, who,
with the assistance of a body of seamen, were towed up the river Leven in
long-boats belonging to the ships of war then lying in the Clyde. At Luss
they were joined by the forces of Sir Humphrey Colquhoun, and James
Grant, his son-in-law, with their followers, attired in the Highland
dress of the period, which is picturesquely described.* The whole party
crossed to Craig-Royston, but the MacGregors did not offer combat.

* "At night they arrived at Luss, where they were joined by Sir Humphrey
Colquhoun of Luss, and James Grant of Plascander, his son-in-law,
followed by forty or fifty stately fellows in their short hose and belted
plaids, armed each of them with a well-fixed gun on his shoulder, a
strong handsome target, with a sharp-pointed steel of above half an ell
in length screwed into the navel of it, on his left arm, a sturdy
claymore by his side, and a pistol or two, with a dirk and knife, in his
belt."--_Rae's History of the Rebellion,_ 4to, p. 287.

If we are to believe the account of the expedition given by the historian
Rae, they leapt on shore at Craig-Royston with the utmost intrepidity, no
enemy appearing to oppose them, and by the noise of their drums, which
they beat incessantly, and the discharge of their artillery and small
arms, terrified the MacGregors, whom they appear never to have seen, out
of their fastnesses, and caused them to fly in a panic to the general
camp of the Highlanders at Strath-Fillan.* The low-country men succeeded
in getting possession of the boats at a great expenditure of noise and
courage, and little risk of danger.

* Note C. The Loch Lomond Expedition.

After this temporary removal from his old haunts, Rob Roy was sent by the
Earl of Mar to Aberdeen, to raise, it is believed, a part of the clan
Gregor, which is settled in that country. These men were of his own
family (the race of the Ciar Mhor). They were the descendants of about
three hundred MacGregors whom the Earl of Murray, about the year 1624,
transported from his estates in Menteith to oppose against his enemies
the MacIntoshes, a race as hardy and restless as they were themselves.

But while in the city of Aberdeen, Rob Roy met a relation of a very
different class and character from those whom he was sent to summon to
arms. This was Dr. James Gregory (by descent a MacGregor), the patriarch
of a dynasty of professors distinguished for literary and scientific
talent, and the grandfather of the late eminent physician and
accomplished scholar, Professor Gregory of Edinburgh. This gentleman was
at the time Professor of Medicine in King's College, Aberdeen, and son of
Dr. James Gregory, distinguished in science as the inventor of the
reflecting telescope. With such a family it may seem our friend Rob could
have had little communion. But civil war is a species of misery which
introduces men to strange bed-fellows. Dr. Gregory thought it a point of
prudence to claim kindred, at so critical a period, with a man so
formidable and influential. He invited Rob Roy to his house, and treated
him with so much kindness, that he produced in his generous bosom a
degree of gratitude which seemed likely to occasion very inconvenient

The Professor had a son about eight or nine years old,--a lively, stout
boy of his age,--with whose appearance our Highland Robin Hood was much
taken. On the day before his departure from the house of his learned
relative, Rob Roy, who had pondered deeply how he might requite his
cousin's kindness, took Dr. Gregory aside, and addressed him to this
purport:--"My dear kinsman, I have been thinking what I could do to show
my sense of your hospitality. Now, here you have a fine spirited boy of a
son, whom you are ruining by cramming him with your useless
book-learning, and I am determined, by way of manifesting my great
good-will to you and yours, to take him with me and make a man of him."
The learned Professor was utterly overwhelmed when his warlike kinsman
announced his kind purpose in language which implied no doubt of its
being a proposal which, would be, and ought to be, accepted with the
utmost gratitude. The task of apology or explanation was of a most
delicate description; and there might have been considerable danger in
suffering Rob Roy to perceive that the promotion with which he threatened
the son was, in the father's eyes, the ready road to the gallows. Indeed,
every excuse which he could at first think of--such as regret for putting
his friend to trouble with a youth who had been educated in the Lowlands,
and so on--only strengthened the chieftain's inclination to patronise his
young kinsman, as he supposed they arose entirely from the modesty of the
father. He would for a long time take no apology, and even spoke of
carrying off the youth by a certain degree of kindly violence, whether
his father consented, or not. At length the perplexed Professor pleaded
that his son was very young, and in an infirm state of health, and not
yet able to endure the hardships of a mountain life; but that in another
year or two he hoped his health would be firmly established, and he would
be in a fitting condition to attend on his brave kinsman, and follow out
the splendid destinies to which he opened the way. This agreement being
made, the cousins parted,--Rob Roy pledging his honour to carry his young
relation to the hills with him on his next return to Aberdeenshire, and
Dr. Gregory, doubtless, praying in his secret soul that he might never
see Rob's Highland face again.

James Gregory, who thus escaped being his kinsman's recruit, and in all
probability his henchman, was afterwards Professor of Medicine in the
College, and, like most of his family, distinguished by his scientific
acquirements. He was rather of an irritable and pertinacious disposition;
and his friends were wont to remark, when he showed any symptom of these
foibles, "Ah! this comes of not having been educated by Rob Roy."

The connection between Rob Roy and his classical kinsman did not end with
the period of Rob's transient power. At a period considerably subsequent
to the year 1715, he was walking in the Castle Street of Aberdeen, arm in
arm with his host, Dr. James Gregory, when the drums in the barracks
suddenly beat to arms, and soldiers were seen issuing from the barracks.
"If these lads are turning out," said Rob, taking leave of his cousin
with great composure, "it is time for me to look after my safety." So
saying, he dived down a close, and, as John Bunyan says, "went upon his
way and was seen no more."*

* The first of these anecdotes, which brings the highest pitch of
civilisation so closely in contact with the half-savage state of
society, I have heard told by the late distinguished Dr. Gregory; and the
members of his family have had the kindness to collate the story with
their recollections and family documents, and furnish the authentic
particulars. The second rests on the recollection of an old man, who was
present when Rob took French leave of his literary cousin on hearing the
drums beat, and communicated the circumstance to Mr. Alexander Forbes, a
connection of Dr. Gregory by marriage, who is still alive.

We have already stated that Rob Roy's conduct during the insurrection of
1715 was very equivocal. His person and followers were in the Highland
army, but his heart seems to have been with the Duke of Argyle's. Yet the
insurgents were constrained to trust to him as their only guide, when
they marched from Perth towards Dunblane, with the view of crossing the
Forth at what are called the Fords of Frew, and when they themselves said
he could not be relied upon.

This movement to the westward, on the part of the insurgents, brought on
the battle of Sheriffmuir--indecisive, indeed, in its immediate results,
but of which the Duke of Argyle reaped the whole advantage. In this
action, it will be recollected that the right wing of the Highlanders
broke and cut to pieces Argyle's left wing, while the clans on the left
of Mar's army, though consisting of Stewarts, Mackenzies, and Camerons,
were completely routed. During this medley of flight and pursuit, Rob Roy
retained his station on a hill in the centre of the Highland position;
and though it is said his attack might have decided the day, he could not
be prevailed upon to charge. This was the more unfortunate for the
insurgents, as the leading of a party of the Macphersons had been
committed to MacGregor. This, it is said, was owing to the age and
infirmity of the chief of that name, who, unable to lead his clan in
person, objected to his heir-apparent, Macpherson of Nord, discharging
his duty on that occasion; so that the tribe, or a part of them, were
brigaded with their allies the MacGregors. While the favourable moment
for action was gliding away unemployed, Mar's positive orders reached Rob
Roy that he should presently attack. To which he coolly replied, "No, no!
if they cannot do it without me, they cannot do it with me." One of the
Macphersons, named Alexander, one of Rob's original profession,
_videlicet,_ a drover, but a man of great strength and spirit, was so
incensed at the inactivity of this temporary leader, that he threw off
his plaid, drew his sword, and called out to his clansmen, "Let us endure
this no longer! if he will not lead you I will." Rob Roy replied, with
great coolness, "Were the question about driving Highland stots or
kyloes, Sandie, I would yield to your superior skill; but as it respects
the leading of men, I must be allowed to be the better judge."--"Did the
matter respect driving Glen-Eigas stots," answered the Macpherson, "the
question with Rob would not be, which was to be last, but which was to be
foremost." Incensed at this sarcasm, MacGregor drew his sword, and they
would have fought upon the spot if their friends on both sides had not
interfered. But the moment of attack was completely lost. Rob did not,
however, neglect his own private interest on the occasion. In the
confusion of an undecided field of battle, he enriched his followers by
plundering the baggage and the dead on both sides.

The fine old satirical ballad on the battle of Sheriffmuir does not
forget to stigmatise our hero's conduct on this memorable occasion--

Rob Roy he stood watch
On a hill for to catch
The booty for aught that I saw, man;
For he ne'er advanced
From the place where he stanced,
Till nae mair was to do there at a', man.

Notwithstanding the sort of neutrality which Rob Roy had continued to
observe during the progress of the Rebellion, he did not escape some of
its penalties. He was included in the act of attainder, and the house in
Breadalbane, which was his place of retreat, was burned by General Lord
Cadogan, when, after the conclusion of the insurrection, he marched
through the Highlands to disarm and punish the offending clans. But upon
going to Inverary with about forty or fifty of his followers, Rob
obtained favour, by an apparent surrender of their arms to Colonel
Patrick Campbell of Finnah, who furnished them and their leader with
protections under his hand. Being thus in a great measure secured from
the resentment of government, Rob Roy established his residence at
Craig-Royston, near Loch Lomond, in the midst of his own kinsmen, and
lost no time in resuming his private quarrel with the Duke of Montrose.
For this purpose he soon got on foot as many men, and well armed too, as
he had yet commanded. He never stirred without a body-guard of ten or
twelve picked followers, and without much effort could increase them to
fifty or sixty.

The Duke was not wanting in efforts to destroy this troublesome
adversary. His Grace applied to General Carpenter, commanding the forces
in Scotland, and by his orders three parties of soldiers were directed
from the three different points of Glasgow, Stirling, and Finlarig near
Killin. Mr. Graham of Killearn, the Duke of Montrose's relation and
factor, Sheriff-depute also of Dumbartonshire, accompanied the troops,
that they might act under the civil authority, and have the assistance of
a trusty guide well acquainted with the hills. It was the object of these
several columns to arrive about the same time in the neighbourhood of Rob
Roy's residence, and surprise him and his followers. But heavy rains, the
difficulties of the country, and the good intelligence which the Outlaw
was always supplied with, disappointed their well-concerted combination.
The troops, finding the birds were flown, avenged themselves by
destroying the nest. They burned Rob Roy's house,--though not with
impunity; for the MacGregors, concealed among the thickets and cliffs,
fired on them, and killed a grenadier.

Rob Roy avenged himself for the loss which he sustained on this occasion
by an act of singular audacity. About the middle of November 1716, John
Graham of Killearn, already mentioned as factor of the Montrose family,
went to a place called Chapel Errock, where the tenants of the Duke were
summoned to appear with their termly rents. They appeared accordingly,
and the factor had received ready money to the amount of about L300, when
Rob Roy entered the room at the head of an armed party. The Steward
endeavoured to protect the Duke's property by throwing the books of
accounts and money into a garret, trusting they might escape notice. But
the experienced freebooter was not to be baffled where such a prize was
at stake. He recovered the books and cash, placed himself calmly in the
receipt of custom, examined the accounts, pocketed the money, and gave
receipts on the Duke's part, saying he would hold reckoning with the Duke
of Montrose out of the damages which he had sustained by his Grace's
means, in which he included the losses he had suffered, as well by the
burning of his house by General Cadogan, as by the later expedition
against Craig-Royston. He then requested Mr. Graham to attend him; nor
does it appear that he treated him with any personal violence, or even
rudeness, although he informed him he regarded him as a hostage, and
menaced rough usage in case he should be pursued, or in danger of being
overtaken. Few more audacious feats have been performed. After some rapid
changes of place (the fatigue attending which was the only annoyance that
Mr. Graham seems to have complained of), he carried his prisoner to an
island on Loch Katrine, and caused him to write to the Duke, to state
that his ransom was fixed at L3400 merks, being the balance which
MacGregor pretended remained due to him, after deducting all that he owed
to the Duke of Montrose.

However, after detaining Mr. Graham five or six days in custody on the
island, which is still called Rob Roy's Prison, and could be no
comfortable dwelling for November nights, the Outlaw seems to have
despaired of attaining further advantage from his bold attempt, and
suffered his prisoner to depart uninjured, with the account-books, and
bills granted by the tenants, taking especial care to retain the cash.*

* The reader will find two original letters of the Duke of Montrose, with
that which Mr. Graham of Killearn despatched from his prison-house by the
Outlaw's command, in the Appendix, No. II.

About 1717, our Chieftain had the dangerous adventure of falling into the
hands of the Duke of Athole, almost as much his enemy as the Duke of
Montrose himself; but his cunning and dexterity again freed him from
certain death. See a contemporary account of this curious affair in the
Appendix, No. V.

Other pranks are told of Rob, which argue the same boldness and sagacity
as the seizure of Killearn. The Duke of Montrose, weary of his insolence,
procured a quantity of arms, and distributed them among his tenantry, in
order that they might defend themselves against future violences. But
they fell into different hands from those they were intended for. The
MacGregors made separate attacks on the houses of the tenants, and
disarmed them all one after another, not, as was supposed, without the
consent of many of the persons so disarmed.

As a great part of the Duke's rents were payable in kind, there were
girnels (granaries) established for storing up the corn at Moulin, and
elsewhere on the Buchanan estate. To these storehouses Rob Roy used to
repair with a sufficient force, and of course when he was least expected,
and insist upon the delivery of quantities of grain--sometimes for his
own use, and sometimes for the assistance of the country people; always
giving regular receipts in his own name, and pretending to reckon with
the Duke for what sums he received.

In the meanwhile a garrison was established by Government, the ruins of
which may be still seen about half-way betwixt Loch Lomond and Loch
Katrine, upon Rob Roy's original property of Inversnaid. Even this
military establishment could not bridle the restless MacGregor. He
contrived to surprise the little fort, disarm the soldiers, and destroy
the fortification. It was afterwards re-established, and again taken by
the MacGregors under Rob Roy's nephew Ghlune Dhu, previous to the
insurrection of 1745-6. Finally, the fort of Inversnaid was a third time
repaired after the extinction of civil discord; and when we find the
celebrated General Wolfe commanding in it, the imagination is strongly
affected by the variety of time and events which the circumstance brings
simultaneously to recollection. It is now totally dismantled.*

* About 1792, when the author chanced to pass that way while on a tour
through the Highlands, a garrison, consisting of a single veteran, was
still maintained at Inversnaid. The venerable warder was reaping his
barley croft in all peace and tranquillity and when we asked admittance
to repose ourselves, he told us we would find the key of the Fort under
the door.

It was not, strictly speaking, as a professed depredator that Rob Roy now
conducted his operations, but as a sort of contractor for the police; in
Scottish phrase, a lifter of black-mail. The nature of this contract has
been described in the Novel of Waverley, and in the notes on that work.
Mr. Grahame of Gartmore's description of the character may be here

"The confusion and disorders of the country were so great, and the
Government go absolutely neglected it, that the sober people were obliged
to purchase some security to their effects by shameful and ignominious
contracts of _black-mail._ A person who had the greatest correspondence
with the thieves was agreed with to preserve the lands contracted for
from thefts, for certain sums to be paid yearly. Upon this fund he
employed one half of the thieves to recover stolen cattle, and the other
half of them to steal, in order to make this agreement and black-mail
contract necessary. The estates of those gentlemen who refused to
contract, or give countenance to that pernicious practice, are plundered
by the thieving part of the watch, in order to force them to purchase
their protection. Their leader calls himself the _Captain_ of the
_Watch,_ and his banditti go by that name. And as this gives them a kind
of authority to traverse the country, so it makes them capable of doing
any mischief. These corps through the Highlands make altogether a very
considerable body of men, inured from their infancy to the greatest
fatigues, and very capable, to act in a military way when occasion

"People who are ignorant and enthusiastic, who are in absolute dependence
upon their chief or landlord, who are directed in their consciences by
Roman Catholic priests, or nonjuring clergymen, and who are not masters
of any property, may easily be formed into any mould. They fear no
dangers, as they have nothing to lose, and so can with ease be induced to
attempt anything. Nothing can make their condition worse: confusions and
troubles do commonly indulge them in such licentiousness, that by these
they better it."*

* Letters from the North of Scotland, vol. ii. pp. 344, 345.

As the practice of contracting for black-mail was an obvious
encouragement to rapine, and a great obstacle to the course of justice,
it was, by the statute 1567, chap. 21, declared a capital crime both on
the part of him who levied and him who paid this sort of tax. But the
necessity of the case prevented the execution of this severe law, I
believe, in any one instance; and men went on submitting to a certain
unlawful imposition rather than run the risk of utter ruin--just as it is
now found difficult or impossible to prevent those who have lost a very
large sum of money by robbery, from compounding with the felons for
restoration of a part of their booty.

At what rate Rob Roy levied black-mail I never heard stated; but there is
a formal contract by which his nephew, in 1741, agreed with various
landholders of estates in the counties of Perth, Stirling, and Dumbarton,
to recover cattle stolen from them, or to pay the value within six months
of the loss being intimated, if such intimation were made to him with
sufficient despatch, in consideration of a payment of L5 on each L100 of
valued rent, which was not a very heavy insurance. Petty thefts were not
included in the contract; but the theft of one horse, or one head of
black cattle, or of sheep exceeding the number of six, fell under the

Rob Roy's profits upon such contracts brought him in a considerable
revenue in money or cattle, of which he made a popular use; for he was
publicly liberal as well as privately beneficent. The minister of the
parish of Balquhidder, whose name was Robertson, was at one time
threatening to pursue the parish for an augmentation of his stipend. Rob
Roy took an opportunity to assure him that he would do well to abstain
from this new exaction--a hint which the minister did not fail to
understand. But to make him some indemnification, MacGregor presented him
every year with a cow and a fat sheep; and no scruples as to the mode in
which the donor came by them are said to have affected the reverend
gentleman's conscience.

The following amount of the proceedings of Rob Roy, on an application to
him from one of his contractors, had in it something very interesting to
me, as told by an old countryman in the Lennox who was present on the
expedition. But as there is no point or marked incident in the story, and
as it must necessarily be without the half-frightened, half-bewildered
look with which the narrator accompanied his recollections, it may
possibly lose, its effect when transferred to paper.

My informant stated himself to have been a lad of fifteen, living with
his father on the estate of a gentleman in the Lennox, whose name I have
forgotten, in the capacity of herd. On a fine morning in the end of
October, the period when such calamities were almost always to be
apprehended, they found the Highland thieves had been down upon them, and
swept away ten or twelve head of cattle. Rob Roy was sent for, and came
with a party of seven or eight armed men. He heard with great gravity all
that could be told him of the circumstances of the _creagh,_ and
expressed his confidence that the _herd-widdiefows_* could not have
carried their booty far, and that he should be able to recover them.

* Mad herdsmen--a name given to cattle-stealers [properly one who
deserves to fill a _widdie,_ or halter].

He desired that two Lowlanders should be sent on the party, as it was not
to be expected that any of his gentlemen would take the trouble of
driving the cattle when he should recover possession of them. My
informant and his father were despatched on the expedition. They had no
good will to the journey; nevertheless, provided with a little food, and
with a dog to help them to manage the cattle, they set off with
MacGregor. They travelled a long day's journey in the direction of the
mountain Benvoirlich, and slept for the night in a ruinous hut or bothy.
The next morning they resumed their journey among the hills, Rob Roy
directing their course by signs and marks on the heath which my informant
did not understand.

About noon Rob commanded the armed party to halt, and to lie couched in
the heather where it was thickest. "Do you and your son," he said to the
oldest Lowlander, "go boldly over the hill;--you will see beneath you, in
a glen on the other side, your master's cattle, feeding, it may be, with
others; gather your own together, taking care to disturb no one else, and
drive them to this place. If any one speak to or threaten you, tell them
that I am here, at the head of twenty men."--"But what if they abuse us,
or kill us?" said the Lowland, peasant, by no means delighted at finding
the embassy imposed on him and his son. "If they do you any wrong," said
Rob, "I will never forgive them as long as I live." The Lowlander was by
no means content with this security, but did not think it safe to dispute
Rob's injunctions.

[Illustration: Cattle Lifting--000]

He and his son climbed the hill therefore, found a deep valley, where
there grazed, as Rob had predicted, a large herd of cattle. They
cautiously selected those which their master had lost, and took measures
to drive them over the hill. As soon as they began to remove them, they
were surprised by hearing cries and screams; and looking around in fear
and trembling they saw a woman seeming to have started out of the earth,
who _flyted_ at them, that is, scolded them, in Gaelic. When they
contrived, however, in the best Gaelic they could muster, to deliver the
message Rob Roy told them, she became silent, and disappeared without
offering them any further annoyance. The chief heard their story on their
return, and spoke with great complacency of the art which he possessed of
putting such things to rights without any unpleasant bustle. The party
were now on their road home, and the danger, though not the fatigue, of
the expedition was at an end.

They drove on the cattle with little repose until it was nearly dark,
when Rob proposed to halt for the night upon a wide moor, across which a
cold north-east wind, with frost on its wing, was whistling to the tune
of the Pipers of Strath-Dearn.*

* The winds which sweep a wild glen in Badenoch are so called.

The Highlanders, sheltered by their plaids, lay down on the heath
comfortably enough, but the Lowlanders had no protection whatever. Rob
Roy observing this, directed one of his followers to afford the old man a
portion of his plaid; "for the callant (boy), he may," said the
freebooter, "keep himself warm by walking about and watching the cattle."
My informant heard this sentence with no small distress; and as the frost
wind grew more and more cutting, it seemed to freeze the very blood in
his young veins. He had been exposed to weather all his life, he said,
but never could forget the cold of that night; insomuch that, in the
bitterness of his heart, he cursed the bright moon for giving no heat
with so much light. At length the sense of cold and weariness became so
intolerable that he resolved to desert his watch to seek some repose and
shelter. With that purpose he couched himself down behind one of the most
bulky of the Highlanders, who acted as lieutenant to the party. Not
satisfied with having secured the shelter of the man's large person, he
coveted a share of his plaid, and by imperceptible degrees drew a corner
of it round him. He was now comparatively in paradise, and slept sound
till daybreak, when he awoke, and was terribly afraid on observing that
his nocturnal operations had altogether uncovered the dhuiniewassell's
neck and shoulders, which, lacking the plaid which should have protected
them, were covered with _cranreuch_ (_i.e._ hoar frost). The lad rose in
great dread of a beating, at least, when it should be found how
luxuriously he had been accommodated at the expense of a principal person
of the party. Good Mr. Lieutenant, however, got up and shook himself,
rubbing off the hoar frost with his plaid, and muttering something of a
_cauld neight._ They then drove on the cattle, which were restored to
their owner without farther adventure--The above can hardly be termed a
tale, but yet it contains materials both for the poet and artist.

It was perhaps about the same time that, by a rapid march into the
Balquhidder hills at the head of a body of his own tenantry, the Duke of
Montrose actually surprised Rob Roy, and made him prisoner. He was
mounted behind one of the Duke's followers, named James Stewart, and made
fast to him by a horse-girth. The person who had him thus in charge was
grandfather of the intelligent man of the same name, now deceased, who
lately kept the inn in the vicinity of Loch Katrine, and acted as a guide
to visitors through that beautiful scenery. From him I learned the story
many years before he was either a publican, or a guide, except to
moorfowl shooters.--It was evening (to resume the story), and the Duke
was pressing on to lodge his prisoner, so long sought after in vain, in
some place of security, when, in crossing the Teith or Forth, I forget
which, MacGregor took an opportunity to conjure Stewart, by all the ties
of old acquaintance and good neighbourhood, to give him some chance of an
escape from an assured doom. Stewart was moved with compassion, perhaps
with fear. He slipt the girth-buckle, and Rob, dropping down from behind
the horse's croupe, dived, swam, and escaped, pretty much as described in
the Novel. When James Stewart came on shore, the Duke hastily demanded
where his prisoner was; and as no distinct answer was returned, instantly
suspected Stewart's connivance at the escape of the Outlaw; and, drawing
a steel pistol from his belt, struck him down with a blow on the head,
from the effects of which, his descendant said, he never completely

In the success of his repeated escapes from the pursuit of his powerful
enemy, Rob Roy at length became wanton and facetious. He wrote a mock
challenge to the Duke, which he circulated among his friends to amuse
them over a bottle. The reader will find this document in the Appendix.*
It is written in a good hand, and not particularly deficient in grammar
or spelling.

* Appendix, No. III.

Our Southern readers must be given to understand that it was a piece of
humour,--a _quiz,_ in short,--on the part of the Outlaw, who was too
sagacious to propose such a rencontre in reality. This letter was written
in the year 1719.

In the following year Rob Roy composed another epistle, very little to
his own reputation, as he therein confesses having played booty during
the civil war of 1715. It is addressed to General Wade, at that time
engaged in disarming the Highland clans, and making military roads
through the country. The letter is a singular composition. It sets out
the writer's real and unfeigned desire to have offered his service to
King George, but for his liability to be thrown into jail for a civil
debt, at the instance of the Duke of Montrose. Being thus debarred from
taking the right side, he acknowledged he embraced the wrong one, upon
Falstaff's principle, that since the King wanted men and the rebels
soldiers, it were worse shame to be idle in such a stirring world, than
to embrace the worst side, were it as black as rebellion could make it.
The impossibility of his being neutral in such a debate, Rob seems to lay
down as an undeniable proposition. At the same time, while he
acknowledges having been forced into an unnatural rebellion against King
George, he pleads that he not only avoided acting offensively against his
Majesty's forces on all occasions, but, on the contrary, sent to them
what intelligence he could collect from time to time; for the truth of
which he refers to his Grace the Duke of Argyle. What influence this plea
had on General Wade, we have no means of knowing.

Rob Roy appears to have continued to live very much as usual. His fame,
in the meanwhile, passed beyond the narrow limits of the country in which
he resided. A pretended history of him appeared in London during his
lifetime, under the title of the Highland Rogue. It is a catch-penny
publication, bearing in front the effigy of a species of ogre, with a
beard of a foot in length; and his actions are as much exaggerated as his
personal appearance. Some few of the best known adventures of the hero
are told, though with little accuracy; but the greater part of the
pamphlet is entirely fictitious. It is great pity so excellent a theme
for a narrative of the kind had not fallen into the hands of De Foe, who
was engaged at the time on subjects somewhat similar, though inferior in
dignity and interest.

As Rob Roy advanced in years, he became more peaceable in his habits, and
his nephew Ghlune Dhu, with most of his tribe, renounced those peculiar
quarrels with the Duke of Montrose, by which his uncle had been
distinguished. The policy of that great family had latterly been rather
to attach this wild tribe by kindness than to follow the mode of violence
which had been hitherto ineffectually resorted to. Leases at a low rent
were granted to many of the MacGregors, who had heretofore held
possessions in the Duke's Highland property merely by occupancy; and
Glengyle (or Black-knee), who continued to act as collector of
black-mail, managed his police, as a commander of the Highland watch
arrayed at the charge of Government. He is said to have strictly
abstained from the open and lawless depredations which his kinsman had

It was probably after this state of temporary quiet had been obtained,
that Rob Roy began to think of the concerns of his future state. He had
been bred, and long professed himself, a Protestant; but in his later
years he embraced the Roman Catholic faith,--perhaps on Mrs. Cole's
principle, that it was a comfortable religion for one of his calling. He
is said to have alleged as the cause of his conversion, a desire to
gratify the noble family of Perth, who were then strict Catholics.
Having, as he observed, assumed the name of the Duke of Argyle, his first
protector, he could pay no compliment worth the Earl of Perth's
acceptance save complying with his mode of religion. Rob did not pretend,
when pressed closely on the subject, to justify all the tenets of
Catholicism, and acknowledged that extreme unction always appeared to him
a great waste of _ulzie,_ or oil.*

* Such an admission is ascribed to the robber Donald Bean Lean in
Waverley, chap. lxii,

In the last years of Rob Roy's life, his clan was involved in a dispute
with one more powerful than themselves. Stewart of Appin, a chief of the
tribe so named, was proprietor of a hill-farm in the Braes of
Balquhidder, called Invernenty. The MacGregors of Rob Roy's tribe claimed
a right to it by ancient occupancy, and declared they would oppose to the
uttermost the settlement of any person upon the farm not being of their
own name. The Stewarts came down with two hundred men, well armed, to do
themselves justice by main force. The MacGregors took the field, but were
unable to muster an equal strength. Rob Roy, fending himself the weaker
party, asked a parley, in which he represented that both clans were
friends to the _King,_ and, that he was unwilling they should be weakened
by mutual conflict, and thus made a merit of surrendering to Appin the
disputed territory of Invernenty. Appin, accordingly, settled as tenants
there, at an easy quit-rent, the MacLarens, a family dependent on the
Stewarts, and from whose character for strength and bravery, it was
expected that they would make their right good if annoyed by the
MacGregors. When all this had been amicably adjusted, in presence of the
two clans drawn up in arms near the Kirk of Balquhidder, Rob Roy,
apparently fearing his tribe might be thought to have conceded too much
upon the occasion, stepped forward and said, that where so many gallant
men were met in arms, it would be shameful to part without it trial of
skill, and therefore he took the freedom to invite any gentleman of the
Stewarts present to exchange a few blows with him for the honour of their
respective clans. The brother-in-law of Appin, and second chieftain of
the clan, Alaster Stewart of Invernahyle, accepted the challenge, and
they encountered with broadsword and target before their respective

* Some accounts state that Appin himself was Rob Roy's antagonist on this
occasion. My recollection, from the account of Invernahyle himself, was
as stated in the text. But the period when I received the information is
now so distant, that it is possible I may be mistaken. Invernahyle was
rather of low stature, but very well made, athletic, and an excellent

The combat lasted till Rob received a slight wound in the arm, which was
the usual termination of such a combat when fought for honour only, and
not with a mortal purpose. Rob Roy dropped his point, and congratulated
his adversary on having been the first man who ever drew blood from him.
The victor generously acknowledged, that without the advantage of youth,
and the agility accompanying it, he probably could not have come off with

This was probably one of Rob Roy's last exploits in arms. The time of his
death is not known with certainty, but he is generally said to have
survived 1738, and to have died an aged man. When he found himself
approaching his final change, he expressed some contrition for particular
parts of his life. His wife laughed at these scruples of conscience, and
exhorted him to die like a man, as he had lived. In reply, he rebuked her
for her violent passions, and the counsels she had given him. "You have
put strife," he said, "betwixt me and the best men of the country, and
now you would place enmity between me and my God."

There is a tradition, no way inconsistent with the former, if the
character of Rob Roy be justly considered, that while on his deathbed, he
learned that a person with whom he was at enmity proposed to visit him.
"Raise me from my bed," said the invalid; "throw my plaid around me, and
bring me my claymore, dirk, and pistols--it shall never be said that a
foeman saw Rob Roy MacGregor defenceless and unarmed." His foeman,
conjectured to be one of the MacLarens before and after mentioned,
entered and paid his compliments, inquiring after the health of his
formidable neighbour. Rob Roy maintained a cold haughty civility during
their short conference, and so soon as he had left the house. "Now," he
said, "all is over--let the piper play, _Ha til mi tulidh_" (we return no
more); and he is said to have expired before the dirge was finished.

This singular man died in bed in his own house, in the parish of
Balquhidder. He was buried in the churchyard of the same parish, where
his tombstone is only distinguished by a rude attempt at the figure of a

The character of Rob Roy is, of course, a mixed one. His sagacity,
boldness, and prudence, qualities so highly necessary to success in war,
became in some degree vices, from the manner in which they were employed.
The circumstances of his education, however, must be admitted as some
extenuation of his habitual transgressions against the law; and for his
political tergiversations, he might in that distracted period plead the
example of men far more powerful, and less excusable in becoming the
sport of circumstances, than the poor and desperate outlaw. On the other
hand, he was in the constant exercise of virtues, the more meritorious as
they seem inconsistent with his general character. Pursuing the
occupation of a predatory chieftain,--in modern phrase a captain of
banditti,--Rob Roy was moderate in his revenge, and humane in his
successes. No charge of cruelty or bloodshed, unless in battle, is
brought against his memory. In like manner, the formidable outlaw was the
friend of the poor, and, to the utmost of his ability, the support of the
widow and the orphan--kept his word when pledged--and died lamented in
his own wild country, where there were hearts grateful for his
beneficence, though their minds were not sufficiently instructed to
appreciate his errors.

The author perhaps ought to stop here; but the fate of a part of Rob
Roy's family was so extraordinary, as to call for a continuation of this
somewhat prolix account, as affording an interesting chapter, not on
Highland manners alone, but on every stage of society in which the people
of a primitive and half-civilised tribe are brought into close contact
with a nation, in which civilisation and polity have attained a complete

Rob had five sons,--Coll, Ronald, James, Duncan, and Robert. Nothing
occurs worth notice concerning three of them; but James, who was a very
handsome man, seems to have had a good deal of his father's spirit, and
the mantle of Dougal Ciar Mhor had apparently descended on the shoulders
of Robin Oig, that is, young Robin. Shortly after Rob Roy's death, the
ill-will which the MacGregors entertained against the MacLarens again
broke out, at the instigation, it was said, of Rob's widow, who seems
thus far to have deserved the character given to her by her husband, as
an Ate' stirring up to blood and strife. Robin Oig, under her
instigation, swore that as soon as he could get back a certain gun which
had belonged to his father, and had been lately at Doune to be repaired,
he would shoot MacLaren, for having presumed to settle on his mother's

* This fatal piece was taken from Robin Oig, when he was seized many
years afterwards. It remained in possession of the magistrates before
whom he was brought for examination, and now makes part of a small
collection of arms belonging to the Author. It is a Spanish-barrelled
gun, marked with the letters R. M. C., for Robert MacGregor Campbell.

He was as good as his word, and shot MacLaren when between the stilts of
his plough, wounding him mortally.

The aid of a Highland leech was procured, who probed the wound with a
probe made out of a castock; _i.e._, the stalk of a colewort or cabbage.
This learned gentleman declared he would not venture to prescribe, not
knowing with what shot the patient had been wounded. MacLaren died, and
about the same time his cattle were houghed, and his live stock destroyed
in a barbarous manner.

Robin Oig, after this feat--which one of his biographers represents as
the unhappy discharge of a gun--retired to his mother's house, to boast
that he had drawn the first blood in the quarrel aforesaid. On the
approach of troops, and a body of the Stewarts, who were bound to take up
the cause of their tenant, Robin Oig absconded, and escaped all search.

The doctor already mentioned, by name Callam MacInleister, with James and
Ronald, brothers to the actual perpetrator of the murder, were brought to
trial. But as they contrived to represent the action as a rash deed
committed by "the daft callant Rob," to which they were not accessory,
the jury found their accession to the crime was Not Proven. The alleged
acts of spoil and violence on the MacLarens' cattle, were also found to
be unsupported by evidence. As it was proved, however, that the two
brothers, Ronald and James, were held and reputed thieves, they were
appointed to find caution to the extent of L200, for their good behaviour
for seven years.*

* Note D. Author's expedition against the MacLarens.

The spirit of clanship was at that time, so strong--to which must be
added the wish to secure the adherence of stout, able-bodied, and, as the
Scotch phrase then went, _pretty_ men--that the representative of the
noble family of Perth condescended to act openly as patron of the
MacGregors, and appeared as such upon their trial. So at least the author
was informed by the late Robert MacIntosh, Esq., advocate. The
circumstance may, however, have occurred later than 1736--the year in
which this first trial took place.

Robin Oig served for a time in the 42d regiment, and was present at the
battle of Fontenoy, where he was made prisoner and wounded. He was
exchanged, returned to Scotland, and obtained his discharge. He
afterwards appeared openly in the MacGregor's country; and,
notwithstanding his outlawry, married a daughter of Graham of Drunkie, a
gentleman of some property. His wife died a few years afterwards.

The insurrection of 1745 soon afterwards called the MacGregors to arms.
Robert MacGregor of Glencarnoch, generally regarded as the chief of the
whole name, and grandfather of Sir John, whom the clan received in that
character, raised a MacGregor regiment, with which he joined the standard
of the Chevalier. The race of Ciar Mhor, however, affecting independence,
and commanded by Glengyle and his cousin James Roy MacGregor, did not
join this kindred corps, but united themselves to the levies of the
titular Duke of Perth, until William MacGregor Drummond of Bolhaldie,
whom they regarded as head of their branch, of Clan Alpine, should come
over from France. To cement the union after the Highland fashion, James
laid down the name of Campbell, and assumed that of Drummond, in
compliment to Lord Perth. He was also called James Roy, after his father,
and James Mhor, or Big James, from his height. His corps, the relics of
his father Rob's band, behaved with great activity; with only twelve men
he succeeded in surprising and burning, for the second time, the fort at
Inversnaid, constructed for the express purpose of bridling the country
of the MacGregors.

What rank or command James MacGregor had, is uncertain. He calls himself
Major; and Chevalier Johnstone calls him Captain. He must have held rank
under Ghlune Dhu, his kinsman, but his active and audacious character
placed him above the rest of his brethren. Many of his followers were
unarmed; he supplied the want of guns and swords with scythe-blades set
straight upon their handles.

At the battle of Prestonpans, James Roy distinguished himself. "His
company," says Chevalier Johnstone, "did great execution with their
scythes." They cut the legs of the horses in two--the riders through the
middle of their bodies. MacGregor was brave and intrepid, but at the same
time, somewhat whimsical and singular. When advancing to the charge with
his company, he received five wounds, two of them from balls that pierced
his body through and through. Stretched on the ground, with his head
resting on his hand, he called out loudly to the Highlanders of his
company, "My lads, I am not dead. By G--, I shall see if any of you does
not do his duty." The victory, as is well known, was instantly obtained.

In some curious letters of James Roy,* it appears that his thigh-bone was
broken on this occasion, and that he, nevertheless, rejoined the army
with six companies, and was present at the battle of Culloden.

* Published in Blackwood's Magazine, vol. ii. p. 228.

After that defeat, the clan MacGregor kept together in a body, and did
not disperse till they had returned into their own country. They brought
James Roy with them in a litter; and, without being particularly
molested, he was permitted to reside in the MacGregor's country along
with his brothers.

James MacGregor Drummond was attainted for high treason with persons of
more importance. But it appears he had entered into some communication
with Government, as, in the letters quoted, he mentions having obtained a
pass from the Lord Justice-Clerk in 1747, which was a sufficient
protection to him from the military. The circumstance is obscurely stated
in one of the letters already quoted, but may perhaps, joined to
subsequent incidents, authorise the suspicion that James, like his
father, could look at both sides of the cards. As the confusion of the
country subsided, the MacGregors, like foxes which had baffled the
hounds, drew back to their old haunts, and lived unmolested. But an
atrocious outrage, in which the sons of Rob Roy were concerned, brought
at length on the family the full vengeance of the law.

James Roy was a married man, and had fourteen children. But his brother,
Robin Oig, was now a widower; and it was resolved, if possible, that he
should make his fortune by carrying off and marrying, by force if
necessary, some woman of fortune from the Lowlands.

The imagination of the half-civilised Highlanders was less shocked at the
idea of this particular species of violence, than might be expected from
their general kindness to the weaker sex when they make part of their own
families. But all their views were tinged with the idea that they lived
in a state of war; and in such a state, from the time of the siege of
Troy to "the moment when Previsa fell,"* the female captives are, to
uncivilised victors, the most valuable part of the booty--

* Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto II.

"The wealthy are slaughtered, the lovely are spared."

We need not refer to the rape of the Sabines, or to a similar instance in
the Book of Judges, for evidence that such deeds of violence have been
committed upon a large scale. Indeed, this sort of enterprise was so
common along the Highland line as to give rise to a variety of songs and

* See Appendix, No. VI.

The annals of Ireland, as well as those of Scotland, prove the crime to
have been common in the more lawless parts of both countries; and any
woman who happened to please a man of spirit who came of a good house,
and possessed a few chosen friends, and a retreat in the mountains, was
not permitted the alternative of saying him nay. What is more, it would
seem that the women themselves, most interested in the immunities of
their sex, were, among the lower classes, accustomed to regard such
marriages as that which is presently to be detailed as "pretty Fanny's
way," or rather, the way of Donald with pretty Fanny. It is not a great
many years since a respectable woman, above the lower rank of life,
expressed herself very warmly to the author on his taking the freedom to
censure the behaviour of the MacGregors on the occasion in question. She
said "that there was no use in giving a bride too much choice upon such
occasions; that the marriages were the happiest long syne which had been
done offhand." Finally, she averred that her "own mother had never seen
her father till the night he brought her up from the Lennox, with ten
head of black cattle, and there had not been a happier couple in the

James Drummond and his brethren having similar opinions with the author's
old acquaintance, and debating how they might raise the fallen fortunes
of their clan, formed a resolution to settle their brother's fortune by
striking up an advantageous marriage betwixt Robin Oig and one Jean Key,
or Wright, a young woman scarce twenty years old, and who had been left
about two months a widow by the death of her husband. Her property was
estimated at only from 16,000 to 18,000 merks, but it seems to have been
sufficient temptation to these men to join in the commission of a great

This poor young victim lived with her mother in her own house at
Edinbilly, in the parish of Balfron and shire of Stirling. At this place,
in the night of 3d December 1750, the sons of Rob Roy, and particularly
James Mhor and Robin Oig, rushed into the house where the object of their
attack was resident, presented guns, swords, and pistols to the males of
the family, and terrified the women by threatening to break open the
doors if Jean Key was not surrendered, as, said James Roy, "his brother
was a young fellow determined to make his fortune." Having, at length,
dragged the object of their lawless purpose from her place of
concealment, they tore her from her mother's arms, mounted her on a horse
before one of the gang, and carried her off in spite, of her screams and
cries, which were long heard after the terrified spectators of the
outrage could no longer see the party retreat through the darkness. In
her attempts to escape, the poor young woman threw herself from the horse
on which they had placed her, and in so doing wrenched her side. They
then laid her double over the pummel of the saddle, and transported her
through the mosses and moors till the pain of the injury she had suffered
in her side, augmented by the uneasiness of her posture, made her consent
to sit upright. In the execution of this crime they stopped at more
houses than one, but none of the inhabitants dared interrupt their
proceedings. Amongst others who saw them was that classical and
accomplished scholar the late Professor William Richardson of Glasgow,
who used to describe as a terrible dream their violent and noisy entrance
into the house where he was then residing. The Highlanders filled the
little kitchen, brandishing their arms, demanding what they pleased, and
receiving whatever they demanded. James Mhor, he said, was a tall, stern,
and soldier-like man. Robin Oig looked more gentle; dark, but yet ruddy
in complexion--a good-looking young savage. Their victim was so
dishevelled in her dress, and forlorn in her appearance and demeanour,
that he could hardly tell whether she was alive or dead.

The gang carried the unfortunate woman to Rowardennan, where they had a
priest unscrupulous enough to read the marriage service, while James Mhor
forcibly held the bride up before him; and the priest declared the couple
man and wife, even while she protested against the infamy of his conduct.
Under the same threats of violence, which had been all along used to
enforce their scheme, the poor victim was compelled to reside with the
pretended husband who was thus forced upon her. They even dared to carry
her to the public church of Balquhidder, where the officiating clergyman
(the same who had been Rob Roy's pensioner) only asked them if they were
married persons. Robert MacGregor answered in the affirmative; the
terrified female was silent.

The country was now too effectually subjected to the law for this vile
outrage to be followed by the advantages proposed by the actors, Military
parties were sent out in every direction to seize the MacGregors, who
were for two or three weeks compelled to shift from one place to another
in the mountains, bearing the unfortunate Jean Key along with them. In
the meanwhile, the Supreme Civil Court issued a warrant, sequestrating
the property of Jean Key, or Wright, which removed out of the reach of
the actors in the violence the prize which they expected. They had,
however, adopted a belief of the poor woman's spirit being so far broken
that she would prefer submitting to her condition, and adhering to Robin
Oig as her husband, rather than incur the disgrace, of appearing in such
a cause in an open court. It was, indeed, a delicate experiment; but
their kinsman Glengyle, chief of their immediate family, was of a temper
averse to lawless proceedings;* and the captive's friends having had
recourse to his advice, they feared that he would withdraw his protection
if they refused to place the prisoner at liberty.

* Such, at least, was his general character; for when James Mhor, while
perpetrating the violence at Edinbilly, called out, in order to overawe
opposition, that Glengyle was lying in the moor with a hundred men to
patronise his enterprise, Jean Key told him he lied, since she was
confident Glengyle would never countenance so scoundrelly a business.

The brethren resolved, therefore, to liberate the unhappy woman, but
previously had recourse to every measure which should oblige her, either
from fear or otherwise, to own her marriage with Robin Oig. The
cailliachs (old Highland hags) administered drugs, which were designed to
have the effect of philtres, but were probably deleterious. James Mhor at
one time threatened, that if she did not acquiesce in the match she would
find that there were enough of men in the Highlands to bring the heads of
two of her uncles who were pursuing the civil lawsuit. At another time he
fell down on his knees, and confessed he had been accessory to wronging
her, but begged she would not ruin his innocent wife and large family.
She was made to swear she would not prosecute the brethren for the
offence they had committed; and she was obliged by threats to subscribe
papers which were tendered to her, intimating that she was carried off in
consequence of her own previous request.

James Mhor Drummond accordingly brought his pretended sister-in-law to
Edinburgh, where, for some little time, she was carried about from one
house to another, watched by those with whom she was lodged, and never
permitted to go out alone, or even to approach the window. The Court of
Session, considering the peculiarity of the case, and regarding Jean Key
as being still under some forcible restraint, took her person under their
own special charge, and appointed her to reside in the family of Mr.
Wightman of Mauldsley, a gentleman of respectability, who was married to
one of her near relatives. Two sentinels kept guard on the house day and
night--a precaution not deemed superfluous when the MacGregors were in
question. She was allowed to go out whenever she chose, and to see
whomsoever she had a mind, as well as the men of law employed in the
civil suit on either side. When she first came to Mr. Wightman's house
she seemed broken down with affright and suffering, so changed in
features that her mother hardly knew her, and so shaken in mind that she
scarce could recognise her parent. It was long before she could be
assured that she was in perfect safely. But when she at length received
confidence in her situation, she made a judicial declaration, or
affidavit, telling the full history of her wrongs, imputing to fear her
former silence on the subject, and expressing her resolution not to
prosecute those who had injured her, in respect of the oath she had been
compelled to take. From the possible breach of such an oath, though a
compulsory one, she was relieved by the forms of Scottish jurisprudence,
in that respect more equitable than those of England, prosecutions for
crimes being always conducted at the expense and charge of the King,
without inconvenience or cost to the private party who has sustained the
wrong. But the unhappy sufferer did not live to be either accuser or
witness against those who had so deeply injured her.

James Mhor Drummond had left Edinburgh so soon as his half-dead prey had
been taken from his clutches. Mrs. Key, or Wright, was released from her
species of confinement there, and removed to Glasgow, under the escort of
Mr. Wightman. As they passed the Hill of Shotts, her escort chanced to
say, "this is a very wild spot; what if the MacGregors should come upon
us?"--"God forbid!" was her immediate answer, "the very sight of them
would kill me." She continued to reside at Glasgow, without venturing to
return to her own house at Edinbilly. Her pretended husband made some
attempts to obtain an interview with her, which she steadily rejected.
She died on the 4th October 1751. The information for the Crown hints
that her decease might be the consequence of the usage she received. But
there is a general report that she died of the small-pox. In the
meantime, James Mhor, or Drummond, fell into the hands of justice. He was
considered as the instigator of the whole affair. Nay, the deceased had
informed her friends that on the night of her being carried off, Robin
Oig, moved by her cries and tears, had partly consented to let her
return, when James came up with a pistol in his hand, and, asking whether
he was such a coward as to relinquish an enterprise in which he had
risked everything to procure him a fortune, in a manner compelled his
brother to persevere. James's trial took place on 13th July 1752, and was
conducted with the utmost fairness and impartiality. Several witnesses,
all of the MacGregor family, swore that the marriage was performed with
every appearance of acquiescence on the woman's part; and three or four
witnesses, one of them sheriff-substitute of the county, swore she might
have made her escape if she wished, and the magistrate stated that he
offered her assistance if she felt desirous to do so. But when asked why
he, in his official capacity, did not arrest the MacGregors, he could
only answer, that he had not force sufficient to make the attempt.

The judicial declarations of Jean Key, or Wright, stated the violent
manner in which she had been carried off, and they were confirmed by many
of her friends, from her private communications with them, which the
event of her death rendered good evidence. Indeed, the fact of her
abduction (to use a Scottish law term) was completely proved by impartial
witnesses. The unhappy woman admitted that she had pretended acquiescence
in her fate on several occasions, because she dared not trust such as
offered to assist her to escape, not even the sheriff-substitute.

The jury brought in a special verdict, finding that Jean Key, or Wright,
had been forcibly carried off from her house, as charged in the
indictment, and that the accused had failed to show that she was herself
privy and consenting to this act of outrage. But they found the forcible
marriage, and subsequent violence, was not proved; and also found, in
alleviation of the panel's guilt in the premises, that Jean Key did
afterwards acquiesce in her condition. Eleven of the jury, using the
names of other four who were absent, subscribed a letter to the Court,
stating it was their purpose and desire, by such special verdict, to take
the panel's case out of the class of capital crimes.

Learned informations (written arguments) on the import of the verdict,
which must be allowed a very mild one in the circumstances, were laid
before the High Court of Justiciary. This point is very learnedly debated
in these pleadings by Mr. Grant, Solicitor for the Crown, and the
celebrated Mr. Lockhart, on the part of the prisoner; but James Mhor did
not wait the event of the Court's decision.

He had been committed to the Castle of Edinburgh on some reports that an
escape would be attempted. Yet he contrived to achieve his liberty even
from that fortress. His daughter had the address to enter the prison,
disguised as a cobbler, bringing home work, as she pretended. In this
cobbler's dress her father quickly arrayed himself. The wife and daughter
of the prisoner were heard by the sentinels scolding the supposed cobbler
for having done his work ill, and the man came out with his hat slouched
over his eyes, and grumbling, as if at the manner in which they had
treated him. In this way the prisoner passed all the guards without
suspicion, and made his escape to France. He was afterwards outlawed by
the Court of Justiciary, which proceeded to the trial of Duncan
MacGregor, or Drummond, his brother, 15th January 1753. The accused had
unquestionably been with the party which carried off Jean Key; but no
evidence being brought which applied to him individually and directly,
the jury found him not guilty--and nothing more is known of his fate.


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