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B.C. 55 A.D. 446. 

Highlands defined Ancient Scotland Roman Trans- 
actions Agricola Caledonians Contest at Loch Ore 
Galgacns Mons Grampias Battle Agricola super- 
seded Lollias Urbicns Antonine's Wall TJlpius 
Marcellus Severus Constantius Chlorns Picts 
Scots Attacots Attack Roman Provinces Romans 
abandon Britain Influence of Romans Roman Re- 
mains Roads Camps Ardoch. 

As it is generally acknowledged that the physi- 
cal character of a. country influences in a great 
degree the moral and physical character of its 
inhabitants, and thus to a certain extent deter- 
mines their history, it may not be deemed out 
of place to define here the application of the 
term Highlands, so far as Scotland is con- 
cerned, and briefly to describe the general 
physical aspect of that part of our native land. 
If it hold good at all that there subsists a re- 
lation between a people and the country which 
they have inhabited for centuries, the follow- 
ing history will show that this is peculiarly 
the case with the Scottish Highlanders. 

Most of those who have thought of the 
matter at all, have doubtless formed to them- 
selves a general notion of the northern half of 
Scotland as a 

" Land of brown heath and shaggy wood, 
Land of the mountain and the flood," 

and of its inhabitants as a brawny, rugged, in- 
domitable, impulsive race, steadfast in their 
friendship and loyalty, but relentless and 
fierce in their enmity. Although the popular 
and poetic notion of the country is on the whole 
correct, and although the above epithets may 

express the main features of the character of 
the people, still it requires a close acquaint- 
ance with this interesting race, both histori- 
cally and by personal intercourse, to form an 
adequate notion of their character in all its 

To speak roughly, nearly the whole of the 
country north of a line connecting the heads of 
the estuaries of the Clyde, Forth, and Tay, 
may be included under the designation of the 
Highlands, and, in fact, popularly is so. In- 
deed, at the time at which the northern half 
of Scotland the ancient and proper Caledonia 
emerges from its pristine gloom, and for the 
first time glimmers in the light of history, the 
line indicated by the forts of Agricola, and 
afterwards by the wall of Antonine, marked 
the southern boundary of the region which was 
then, and for centuries afterwards, regarded by 
the Romans, and also, probably, by the south- 
ern Britons, as occupying the same position in 
relation to the rest of the country as the High- 
lands proper did at a subsequent period. In 
course of time the events which fall to be re- 
corded in the following pages gradually altered 
this easily perceived boundary, so that for cen- 
turies before the present day, a much more in- 
tricate but atill distinct line has marked the 
limits of what is now strictly and correctly re- 
garded as the Highlands of Scotland. 

The definition of this territory which best 
suits the purposes of history, and in all re- 
spects most nearly accords with those of poli- 
tical and social geography, is one which makes 
it commensurate with the country or locations 
of the ancient Highland clans. This definition 
assigns to the Highlands all the continental 


territory north of the Moray frith, and all the 
territory, both insular and continental, west- 
ward of an easily traceable line from that frith 
to the frith of Clyde. The line commences at 
the mouth of the river Nairn : thence, with 
the exception of a slight north-eastward or out- 
ward curve, the central point of which is on the 
river Spey, it runs due south-east till it strikes 
the river Dee at Tullach, nearly on the third 
degree of longitude west of Greenwich ; it then 
runs generally south till it falls upon West- 
water, or the southern large head-water of the 
North Esk ; thence, over a long stretch, it runs 
almost due south-west, and with scarcely a de- 
viation, till it falls upon the Clyde at Ardmore 
in the parish of Cardross ; and now onward to 
the Atlantic ocean, it moves along the frith of 
Clyde, keeping near to the continent, and ex- 
cluding none of the Clyde islands except the 
comparatively unimportant Cumbraes. All 
the Scottish territory west and north-west of 
this line is properly the Highlands. Yet both 
for the convenience of topographical descrip- 
tion, and because, altogether down to the middle 
of the 13th century, and partially down to the 
middle of the 16th, the Highlands and the 
Western Islands were politically and histori- 
cally distinct regions, the latter are usually 
viewed apart under the name of the Hebrides. 
The mainland Highlands, or the Highlands 
after the Hebrides are deducted, extend in ex- 
treme length from Duncansby Head, or John 
o' Groat's on the north, to the Mull of Kintyre 
on the south, about 250 miles ; but over a dis- 
tance of 90 miles at the northern end, they have 
an average breadth of only about 45 miles, 
over a distance of 50 or 55 miles at the southern 
end, they consist mainly of the Clyde islands, 
and the very narrow peninsula of Kintyre, 
and even at their broadest part, from the 
eastern base of the Grampians to Ardna- 
murchan Point on the west, they do not ex- 
tend to more than 120 miles. The district 
comprehends the whole of the counties of 
Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, Cromarty, Inver- 
ness, and Argyle, large parts of Nairn, Perth, 
Dumbarton, and Bute, and considerable por- 
tions of Elgin, Banff, Aberdeen, Forfar, and 
Stirling. Considerable parts of this district, 
however, such as Caithness-ehirc, the island 
of Bute, and some large tracts of moor or valley 

or flanking plain, do not exhibit the physical 
features which are strictly Highland. 

A district so extensive can be but faintly 
pictured in a general and rapid description. 
Mountains, chiefly covered with heath or ling, 
but occasionally, on the one hand, displaying 
sides and summits of naked rock, and on the 
other, exhibiting a dress of verdure, everywhere 
rise, at short intervals, in chains, ridges, groups, 
and even solitary heights. Their forms are of 
every variety, from the precipitous and pinna- 
cled acclivity, to the broad-based and round- 
backed ascent; but, in general, are sharp in 
outline, and wild or savagely grand in feature. 
Both elongated ridges, and chains or series of 
short parallel ridges, have a prevailing direc- 
tion from north-east to south-west, and send 
up summits from 1,000 to upwards of 4,000 
feet above the level of the sea. Glens, valleys, 
and expanses of lowland stretch in all direc- 
tions among the mountains, and abound in 
voluminous streams, and large elongated lakes 
of picturesque appearance, nearly all the in- 
land lakes extending in stripes either north- 
eastward and south-westward, or eastward and 
westward. Along the whole west coast, at re- 
markably brief intervals, arms of the sea, long, 
narrow, and sometimes exceedingly rugged in 
outline, run north-eastward or south-eastward 
into the interior, and assist the inland fresh 
water lakes in cleaving it into sections. The 
rivers of the region are chiefly impetuous tor- 
rents, careering for a while along mountain- 
gorges, and afterwards either expanding them- 
selves into beautiful lakes and flowing athwart 
delightful meadows, or ploughing long narrow 
valleys, green and ornate with grasses, trefoils, 
daisies, ranunculi, and a profuse variety of 
other herbage and flowers. Native woods, 
principally of pine and birch, and occasionally 
clumps and expanses of plantation, climb the 
acclivities of the gentler heights, or crowd down 
upon the valley, and embosom the inland lakes. 
On the east side, along the coast to the Moray 
frith, and towards the frontier in the counties 
of Nairn, Elgin, and Perth, gentle slopes and 
broad belts of lowland, fertile in soil and fa- 
vourable in position, are carpeted with agricul- 
tural luxuriance, and thickly dotted with human 
dwellings, and successfully vie with the south 
of Scotland in towns and population, and ill 


the pursuit and display of wealth. But almost 
everywhere else, except in the fairyland of 
Loch Fyno, and the southern shore of Loch 
Etivo, the Highlands are sequestered, sinless 
of a town, a semi- wilderness, where a square 
mile is a more convenient unit of measurement 
than an acre. 

A district characterized by such features as 
we have named necessarily exhibits, within 
very circumscribed limits, varieties of scenery 
of the most opposite descriptions ; enabling the 
admirer of nature to pass abruptly from dwell- 
ing on the loveliness of an extensive marine 
or champaign landscape into the deep solitude 
of an ancient forest, or the dark craggy fast- 
nesses of an alpine ravine ; or from lingering 
amid the quiet grassy meadows of a pastoral 
strath or valley, watered by its softly-flowing 
stream, to the open heathy mountain-side, 
whence ' alps o'er alps arise,' whose summits 
are often shrouded with mists and almost per- 
ennial snows, and their overhanging precipices 
furrowed by foaming cataracts. Lakes and 
long arms of the sea, either fringed with woods 
or surrounded with rocky barren shores, now 
studded with islands, and anon extending their 
silvery arms into distant receding mountains, 
are mot in every district ; while the extreme 
steepness, ruggedness, and sterility of many of 
the mountain-chains impart to them as impos- 
ing and magnificent characters as are to be seen 
In the much higher and more inaccessible ele- 
vations of Switzerland. No wonder, then, that 
this 'land of mountain and of flood' should 
have given birth to the song of the bard, and 
afforded material for the theme of the sage, in 
all ages ; and that its inhabitants should be 
tinctured with deep romantic feelings, at once 
tender, melancholy, and wild ; and that the 
recollection of their own picturesque native 
dwellings should haunt them to their latest 
hours. Neither, amid such profusion and di- 
versity of all that is beautiful and sublime in 
nature, can the unqualified admiration of 
strangers, from every part of Europe, of the 
scenery of the Highlands fail of being easily 
accounted for ; nor can any hesitate in re- 
commending them to visit it, whether their 
object be the restoration of health, or the pur- 
suit of those sports for which the region is 

Such are the main features of the Highlands 
of Scotland at the present day, and, to a con- 
siderable extent, the description might have ap- 
plied to the country at the time of the Roman 
invasion. Still, in the graphic words of Stuart,* 
" To form an idea of the general aspect of Scot- 
land, as it was some eighteen hundred years 
ago, we must, in imagination, restore to its now 
varied surface the almost unbroken gloom of 
the primeval forest; her waving mantle of som- 
bre hue, within which the genius loci may bo 
supposed to have brooded over the seclusion and 
the poverty of ' ancient Caledon." In a bird's- 
eye view, if such a thought may be indulged, 
the greatest part of the country presented, in 
all probability, the appearance of one continu- 
ous wood ; a mass of cheerless verdure resting 
on hill and dale the sameness of its dark ex- 
tent, broken only where some lake or green- 
clad morass met the view, or where the higher 
mountains lifted their summits above the line 
of vegetation. In some districts, considerable 
tracks of open moorland might, doubtless, be 
seen clad in the indigenous heather of tho 
North ; while, in others, occasional spots of pas- 
ture-land would here and there appear ; but, 
on the whole, these must have formed a strik- 
ing contrast to the wide expanse of the pre- 
vailing forest." 

As the present work is concerned only with 
the Highlands of Scotland, it would of course 
be out of place to give any minute account of 
the transactions of the Romans in the other 
parts of the island. Suffice it to say that from 
the time, B.C. 55, when Julius Caesar first land- 
ed on the coast of South Britain, until A.D. 78, 
when, under the Emperor Vespasian, Cnseus 
Julius Agricola assumed the command in Great 
Britain, the greater part of midland and 
south England had been brought under tho 
sway of the Romans. This able commander 
set himself with vigour and earnestness to con- 
firm the conquests which had been already 
made, to reduce the rest of the country to sub- 
jection, to conciliate the Britons by mild mea- 
sures, and to attach them to the Roman power 
by introducing among them Roman manners, 
literature, luxuries, and dress. 

Agricola was appointed to tho command in 
Britain in tho year 78 A.D., but appears not 
* Caledonia Romana, f. 11. 


to have entered Scotland till his third cam- 
paign in the year 80. He employed himself 
in the years 80, 81, and 82, in subduing the 
country south of the friths of Forth and Clyde, 
the Bodotria and Glotta of Tacitus, erect- 
ing, in 81, a series of forts between those two 
estuaries. Having accomplished this, Agricola 
made preparations for his next campaign,which 
he was to open beyond the friths in the sum- 
mer of 83, he in the meantime having heard 
that the Caledonians as Tacitus calls the 
people north of the Forth had formed a con- 
federacy to resist the invader. 

These Caledonians appear to have been 
divided into a number of tribes or clans, 
having little or 110 political connection, and 
almost constantly at war among themselves. 
It was only when a foreign foe threatened their 
much-prized freedom that a sense of danger 
forced them to unite for a time under the com- 

mand of a military leader. Some writers, on 
the authority of Ptolemy of Alexandria, but 
chiefly on that of the pseudo-Eichard of Ciren- 
ceater, 3 give a list of the various tribes which, 
during the Boman period, inhabited North 
Britain, and define the locality which each 
occupied with as much exactness as they might 
do a modern English county. " There was 
one thing," says Tacitus, " which gave us an 
advantage over these powerful nations, that 
they never consulted together for the advantage 
of the whole. It was rare that even two or 
three of them united against the common 
enemy." Their whole means of subsistence 
consisted in the milk and flesh of their flocks 
and the produce of the chase. They lived in 
a state almost approaching to nudity; but 
whether from necessity or from choice cannot 
be satisfactorily determined. Dio represents 
the Caledonians as being naked, but Herodinn 

Fig. 1. Sculptured Stone in the Church of Meigle. Fig. 2. From a Sculptured Stone found at St. Andrews. 

speaks of them as wearing a partial covering. 
They appear, at all events, if the stone dug up 
at Blackness in the year 1868 (see p. 11), be 
taken as an authority, to have gone naked into 
battle. Their towns, which were few, consisted 
of huts covered with turf or skins, and for 
better security they were erected in the centre 
of some wood or morass. " What the Britons 
call a town, says Ctesar, "is a tract of 
woody country, surrounded by a vallum and 
ditch, for the security of themselves and cattle 
against the incursions of an enemy; for, when 

they have enclosed a very large circuit witli 
felled trees, they build within it houses for 

8 The De Silu Britannia: " professed to be a manu- 
script of the fourteenth century, written by a monk 
named Richard of Cirencester, made up by him from 
certain fragments left by a Roman General. The per- 
son who stepped forth as the lucky discoverer of so 
precious a relic was Charles Julius Bertram, English 
Professor in the Royal Marine Academy at Copen- 
hagen. His revelation was accepted without hesi- 
tation, and revolutionized the existing notions about 
the geography of Roman Britain. After all, the hoax 
was not absolutely useless; it stimulated inquiry, and, 
in itself, what it professed to lay down on authority, 
were the guesses and theories of a learned and acute 
man." Burton's History of Scotland, vol. i. p. 13. 


themselves, and hovels for their cattle." 4 Not- 
withstanding, perhaps owing to the scantiness 
of their covering, which left their bodies ex- 
posed to the rigour of a cold and variable cli- 
mate, the Caledonians were a remarkably hardy 
race, capable of enduring fatigue, cold, and 
hunger to an extent which their descendants 
of the present day could not encounter without 
risk of life. They were decidedly a warlike 
people, and are said, like the heroes of more 
ancient times, to have been addicted to rob- 
bery. The weapons of their warfare consisted 
of small spears, long broadswords, and hand 
daggers ; and they defended their bodies in 
combat by a small target or shield, all much 
of the same form and construction as those 
afterwards used by their posterity in more mo- 
dern times. It would appear from the stone 
above referred to that the shields of the 
Caledonians were oblong, with a boss in the 
centre, and their swords short and pointed, 
not long and blunt, as represented by Ta- 
citus. The use of cavalry appears not to 
have been so well understood among the Cale- 
donians as among the more southern tribes ; 
but in battle they often made use of cars, or 
chariots, which were drawn by small, swift, 
and spirited horses ; and it is conjectured 
that, like those used by the southern Britr 
ons, they had iron scythes projecting from 
the axle. It is impossible to say what form 
of government obtained among these warlike 
tribes. When history is silent, historians 
should either maintain a cautious reserve or 
bo sparing in their conjectures ; but analogy 
may supply materials for well-grounded specu- 
lations, and it may therefore be asserted, with- 
out any great stretch of imagination, that, like 
most of the other uncivilized tribes we read of 
in history, the Northern Britons or Caledonians 
were under the government of a leader or chief 
lo whom they yielded a certain degree of obedi- 
ence. Dio, indeed, insinuates that the govern- 
ments of these tribes were democratic ; but ho 
should have been aware that it is only when 
bodies of men assume, in an advanced state of 
civilization, a compact and united form that de- 
mocracy can prevail ; and the state of barbar- 
ism in which he says the inhabitants of North 

4 Dt Bella Oallico, ii. 17. 

Britain existed at the period in question seems 
to exclude such a supposition. We have no 
certain information from any contemporary, 
and conjecture is therefore groundless. Later 
fable-loving historians and chroniclers, indeed, 
give lists of Kings of Scotland or, rather, of 
Pictland extending back for centuries before 
the Christian era, but these by general consent 
are now banished to the realm of myths. It 
is probable, as we have already said, that the 
Caledonians were divided into a number of 
independent tribes, and that each tribe was 
presided over by a chief, but how he obtained 
his supremacy it is impossible to say. We have 
one instance, at least, of a number of 'tribes 
uniting under one leader, viz., at the battle of 
Mons Grampius, when the Caledonians were 
commanded by a chief or leader called by Ta- 
citus, Galgacus, " inter plures duces virtuto et 
genere preestans." 5 " The earliest bond of 
union may probably be traced to the time 
when they united under one common leader to 
resist or assail the Eoman legionaries ; and out 
of the Dux or Toshach elected for the occasion, 
like Galgacus, and exercising a paramount 
though temporary authority, arose the Ardrigh 
or supreme king, after some popular or ambi- 
tious chieftain had prolonged his power by suc- 
cessful wars, or procured his election to this 
prominent station for life." 6 

Whatever may have been the relation of the 
members of the different tribes, and the relation 
of the tribes to each other, it is certain, from the 
general tone of the works of Tacitus and other 
Roman historians in which those early inhabit- 
ants of the Scottish Highlands are mentioned, 
that they offered a far more formidable resist- 
ance to the Eoman arms than had hitherto been 
done by any other of the British tribes. 

In personal stature, the natives of Caledonia, 
like those of other parts of Britain, appear to 
have excelled their Eoman invaders, and from 
Tacitus wo learn that those with whom his 
fatlicr-in-law came into contact were distin- 
guished by ruddy locks and lusty limbs. It 
is also certain that for the sake of ornament, 
or for the purpose of making their appearance 
more terrible in war, they resorted to the bar- 

8 Tacitus, Agricola, 
6 E. W. Robertson's Scotland under her Early 
Kings, vol. i. p. 31. 



barons practice of tattooing their bodies. In- 
deed it may bo taken as a proof of their never 
having to any great extent come under the 
power and influence of Home and Roman cus- 
toms, that they retained this practice for long 
after the other Britons had abandoned it, and 
on tliis account, in all probability, afterwards 
acquired the name of Picts. 

The people whom Agricola encountered in 
Scotland cannot have been otherwise than 
tolerable proficients in the common branches 
of art; how else can we suppose them to have 
been supplied with all that materiel of war 
with which they are said to have appeared be- 
fore him 1 Indolent and uninformed as were 
the bulk of the people, they must have had 
among them artificers both in wood and in 
iron, not unskilled in their respective trades 
able to construct the body of a car to provide 

liritisk War-Chariot. 

for it axles of great strength above all, able 
to construct the wheels and arm them with 
those sharp-edged instruments that were des- 
tined to cut down whatever opposed their 
course. 7 

Agricola, in the summer of 83, after having 
obtained information as to the nature of the 
country and the aspect of its inhabitants from 
exploring parties and prisoners, transported his 
army across the Frith of Forth to the shores 
of Fife by means of his fleet, and marched 
along the coast eastwards, keeping the fleet in 
sight. It cannot with certainty be ascertained 
at what part of the Forth this transportation 
of the forces took place, although some bold 

7 Stuart's Caledonia Romana, pp. 35, 36. 

antiquarians assert that it must have been not 
far from Queensferry. The fleet, Tacitus tells 
us, 8 now acting, for the first time, in concert 
with the land-forces, proceeded in sight of the 
army, forming a magnificent spectacle, and 
adding terror to the war. It frequently hap- 
pened that in the same camp were seen the 
infantry and cavalry intermixed with the 
marines, all indulging their joy, full of their 
adventures, and magnifying the history of their 
exploits; the soldier describing, in the usual 
style of military ostentation, the forests which 
he had passed, the mountains which he climbed, 
and the barbarians whom he put to the rout; 
while the sailor had his storms and tempests, 
the wonders of the deep, and the spirit with 
which he conquered winds and waves. 

The offensive operations of the sixth cam- 
paign were commenced by the Caledonian 
Britons, who, from the higher country, made 
a furious attack upon the trans-Forthan forti- 
fications, which so alarmed some of Agri- 
cola's officers, who were afraid of being cut off 
from a retreat, that they advised their general 
to recross the Forth without delay; but Agri- 
cola resisted this advice, and made preparations 
for the attack which he expected would soon 
be made upon his army. As Agricola had 
received information that the enemy intended 
to fall upon him from various quarters, he 
divided his army into three bodies and con- 
tinued his march. Some antiquarians have 
attempted to trace the route taken by each 
division, founding their elaborate theories on 
the very slender remains of what they sup- 
pose to have been Roman fortifications and 
encampments. As it would serve no good 
purpose to encumber our pages with these an- 
tiquarian conjectures, detailed accounts of 
which will be found in Chalmers, Stuart, Roy, 
and others, we shall only say that, with con- 
siderable plausibility, it is supposed that the 
Ninth Legion encamped on the north side of 
Loch Ore, about two miles south of Loch Leven 
in Kinross-shire. Another legion, it is said, 
encamped near Dunearn Hill, about a mile 
distant from Burntisland, near which hill are 
still to be seen remains of a strength called 
Agricola's camp. At all events the divisions 

* Agricola XXT. 


do not seem to have been very far apart, as 
will bo seen from the following episode. 

The enemy having watched the proceedings 
of the Roman army made the necessary pre- 
parations for attack, and during the night 
made a furious assault on the Ninth Legion 
at Loch Ore. They had acted with such 
caution that they were actually at the very 
camp before Agricola was aware of their move- 
ments; but with great presence of mind he 
despatched a body of his lightest troops to 
turn their flank and attack the assailants in the 
rear. After an obstinate engagement, main- 
tained with varied success in the very gates of 
the camp, the Britons were at length repulsed 
by the superior skill of the Roman veterans. 
This battle was so far decisive, that Agricola 
did not find much difficulty afterwards in sub- 
duing the surrounding country, and, having 
finished his campaign, he passed the winter of 
83 in Fife; being supplied with provisions 
from his fleet in the Forth, and keeping up a 
constant correspondence with his garrisons on 
the southern side. 

By this victory, according to Tacitus, so 
complete and glorious, the Roman army was 
inspired with confidence to such a degree, that 
they now pronounced themselves invincible, 
and desired to penetrate to the extremity of 
the island. 

The Caledonians now began to perceive 
the danger of their situation from the prox- 
imity of such a powerful enemy, and a 
sense of this danger impelled them to lay 
aside the feuds and jealousies which had 
divided and distracted their tribes, to consult 
together for their mutual safety and protection, 
and to combine their scattered strength into a 
united and energetic mass. The proud spirit 
of independence which had hitherto kept the 
Caledonian tribes apart, now made them co- 
alesce in support of their liberties, which were 
threatened with utter annihilation. In tliis 
eventful crisis, they looked around them for a 
leader or chief under whom they might fight 
the battle of freedom, and save their country 
from the dangers which threatened it. A chief, 
named Galgacus by Tacitus, was pitched upon 
to act as generalissimo of the Caledonian army; 
and, from the praises bestowed upon him by 
that historian, this warrior appears to have 

well merited the distinction thus bestowed. 
Preparatory to the struggle they were about to 
engage in, they sent their wives and children 
into places of safety, and, in solemn assemblies 
in which public sacrifices were offered up, rati- 
fied the confederacy into which they had en- 
tered against their common enemy. 

Having strengthened his army with some 
British auxiliaries from the south, Agricola 
marched through Fife in the summer of 84, 
making for a spot called by Tacitus Mans 
Gramplus; sending at the same time his fleet 
round the eastern coast, to support him in his 
operations, and to distract the attention of the 
Caledonians. Various conjectures have been 
broached as to the exact line of Agricola's 
march and the exact position of the Mons 
Grampius. The most plausible of these is 
that of General Roy, 9 who supposes that 
the march of Agricola was regulated by the 
course of the Devon; that he turned to the 
right from Glendevon through the opening of 
the Ochil hills, along the course of the rivulet 
which runs along Gleneagles ; leaving the braes 
of Ogilvie on his left, and passing between 
Blackford and Auchterarder towards the Gram- 
pian hills, which he saw at a distance before 
him as he debouched from the Ochils. By an 
easy march he reached the moor of Ardoch, 
from which he descried the Caledonian army, 
to the number of 30,000 men, encamped 
on the declivity of the hill which begins 
to rise from the north-western border of the 
moor of Ardoch. Agricola took his station 
at the great camp which adjoins the fort 
of Ardoch on the northward. If the Roman 
camp at Ardoch does mark the spot where the 
disastrous engagement about to bo noticed took- 
place between these brave and determined 
Caledonians and the invincible Roman legions, 
it is highly probable that Agricola drew out 
his army on the neighbouring moor, having a 
large ditch or trench of considerable length in 
front, the Caledonian host under Galgacus 
being already disposed in battle array on the 
heights beyond. The Roman army is sup- 
posed to have numbered about 20,000 or 
30,000, the auxiliary infantry, in number 
about 8,000,* occupying the centre, the wings 

military AnMquitiei. 

Tac. Agritola xxiv. 



consisting of 3,000 horse. The legions were 
stationed in the rear, at the head of the en- 
trenchments, as a body of reserve to support 
the ranks, if necessary, hut otherwise to remain 
inactive, that a victory, obtained without the 
effusion of Roman blood, might be of higher 
value. Previous to the commencement of this 
interesting fight, according to " the fashion of 
historical literature at that time," a speech is 
put into the mouth of each general by the his- 
torian Tacitus. "How much more valuable 
would it have been to us had Tacitus deigned 
to tell us something about the tongue in which 
the leader of the barbarians spoke, or even his 
name, and the name of the place where he 
fought, as the natives uttered it ! Yet, for the 
great interests of its day, the speech of Gal- 
gacus was far removed from a mere feat of idle 
pedantry. It was a noble rebuke on the em- 
pire and the Roman people, who, false to the 
high destiny assigned to them by Virgil, of 
protecting the oppressed and striking down the 
oppressors, had become the common scourge 
of all mankind. The profligate ambition, the 
perfidy, the absorbing pride, the egotism, and 
the cruelty of the dominant people how 
could all be so aptly set forth as in the words 
of a barbarian chief, ruling over the free people 
who were to be the next victims." 2 

The narrative of the battle we give mainly 
in the words of the Roman commander's son-in- 
law, Tacitus, who no doubt had the story from 
Agricola's own mouth. 3 The battle began, 
and at first was maintained at a distance. 
The Britons wanted neither skill nor resolu- 
tion. With their long swords, and targets of 
small dimension, they had the address to elude 
the missive weapons of the Romans, and at 
the same time to discharge a thick volley of 
their own. To bring the conflict to a speedy 
decision, Agricola ordered three Batavian and 
two Tungrian cohorts to charge the enemy 
sword in hand. To this mode of attack those 
troops had been long accustomed, but to the 
Britons it was every way disadvantageous. 
Their small targets afforded no protection, and 
their unwieldy swords, not sharpened to a 
point, could do but little execution in a close 

* Burton's Tlist. of Scotland, vol. i. p. 9. 
1 Tac. Agricola xxxvi, &c. We adopt Murphy's 
translation in the main, here and elsewhere. 

engagement. The Batavians rushed to the 
attack with impetuous fury; they redoubled 
their blows, and with the bosses of their 
shields bruised the enemy in the face, and, 
having overpowered all resistance on the plain, 
began to force their way up the ascent of the 
hill in regular order of battle. Incited by 
their example, the other cohorts advanced with 
a spirit of emulation, and cut their way with 
terrible slaughter. Eager in pursuit of victory, 
they pressed forward with determined fury, 
leaving behind them numbers wounded, but 
not slain, and others not so much as hurt. 

The Roman cavalry, in the mean time, 
was forced to give ground. The Caledonians, 
in their armed chariots, rushed at full speed 
into the thick of the battle, where the infantry 
were engaged. Their first impression struck 
a general terror, but their career was soon 
checked by the inequalities of the ground, and 
the close embodied ranks of the Romans. 
Nothing could less resemble an engagement of 
the cavalry. Pent up in narrow places, the 
barbarians crowded upon each other, and were 
driven or dragged along by their own horses. 
A scene of confusion followed. Chariots with- 
out a guide, and horses without a rider, broke 
from the ranks in wild disorder, and flying 
every way, as fear and consternation urged, 
they overwhelmed their own files, and trampled 
down all who came in their way. 

Meanwhile the Britons, who had hitherto 
kept their post on the hills, looking down with 
contempt on the scanty numbers of the Roman 
army, began to quit their station. Descending 
slowly, they hoped, by wheeling round the 
field of battle, to attack the victors in the rear. 
To counteract their design, Agricola ordered 
four squadrons of horse, which he had kept as 
a body of reserve, to advance to the charge. 
The Britons poured down with impetuosity, 
and retired with equal precipitation. At the 
same time, the cavalry, by the directions of the 
general, wheeled round from the wings, and 
fell with great slaughter on the rear of the 
enemy, who now perceived that their own 
stratagem was turned against themselves. 

The field presented a dreadful spectacle of 
carnage and destruction. The Britons fled; 
the Romans pursued; they wounded, gashed, 
and mangled the runaways; they seized their 


prisoners, and, to bo ready for others, butchered 
them on the spot Despair and horror ap- 
pean-d iu various shapes; in one part of the 
lii-ld the, Caledonians, sword in hand, fled in 
crowds from a handful of Romans; in other 
places, without a weapon left, they faced every 
lunger, and rushed on certain death. Swords 
and bucklers, mangled limbs and dead bodies, 
covered the plain. The field was red with 
blood. Tho vanquished Britons had their 
moments of returning courage, and gave proofs 
of virtue and of brave despair. They fled to 
the woods, and, rallying their scattered num- 
bers, surrounded such of the Romans -as pur- 
sued with too much eagerness. 

Night coming on, the Romans, weary of 
slaughter, desisted from the pursuit. Ten 
thousand of tlio Caledonians fell in this en- 
gagement: on the part of the Romans, the 
number of slain did not exceed three hundred 
and forty. 

The Roman army, elate with success, and 
enriched with plunder, passed the night in 
exultation. The Britons, on the other hand, 
wandered about, uncertain which way to turn, 
helpless and disconsolate. The mingled cries 
of men and women filled the air with lamen- 
tations. Some assisted to carry off the 
wounded; others called for the assistance of 
such as escaped unhurt; numbers abandoned 
their habitations, or, in their frenzy, set 
them on fire. They fled to obscure retreats, 
and, in the moment of choice, deserted them; 
they held consultations, and, having inflamed 
their hopes, changed their minds in despair; 
they beheld the pledges of tender affection, 
nd burst into tears ; they viewed them again, 
and grew fierce with resentment. It is a fact 
well authenticated, that some laid violent 
hands upon their wives and children, deter- 
mined with savage compassion to end their 

After obtaining hostages from the Horestians, 
who in all probability inhabited what is now 
the county of Fife, Agricola garrisoned the 
stations on the isthmus and elsewhere, re- 
crossed the Forth, and took up his winter- 
quarters in the north of England, about the 
Tyne and Solway. In the meantime he gave 
orders to the fleet, then lying probably in the 
Frith of Forth or Tay, to proceed on a voyage 

of discovery to the northward. The enterprise 
appears to have been successfully accomplished 
by the Roman navy, which proceeded coast- 
wise as far as the Orkneys, whence it sailed 
by the Western Islands and the British Chan- 
nel ad Portum Trutulenscm, Richborough in 
Kent, returning to the point from which it 
started. This is the first voyage on record 
that determined Britain to be an island. 

The Emperor Domitian now resolved to 
supersede Agricola in his command in North 
Britain; and he was accordingly recalled in 
the year 85, under the pretence of promoting 
him to the government of Syria, but in reality 
out of envy on account of the glory which ho 
had obtained by the success of his arms. He 
died on the 23d of August, 93, some say, from 
poison, while others attribute his death to the 
effects of chagrin at the unfeeling treatment 
of Domitian. His countrymen lamented his 
death, and Tacitus, his son-in-law, preserved 
the memory of his actions and his worth in 
the history of his life. 

During the remainder of Domitian's reign, 
and that of Hadrian his successor, North Britain 
appears to have enjoyed tranquillity; an infer- 
ence which may be fairly drawn from the 
silence of the Roman historians. Yet as 
Hadrian in the year 121 built a wall between 
the Solway and the Tyne, some writers have 
supposed that the Romans had been driven 
by the Caledonians out of North Britain, in 
the reign of that Emperor. But if such was 
the case, how did Lollius Urbicus, the Roman 
general, about nineteen years after Hadrian's 
wall was erected, penetrate without opposition 
to Agricola's forts between the Clyde and the 
Forth? May we not rather suppose that the 
wall of Hadrian was built for the purpose of 
preventing incursions into the south by the 
tribes which inhabited the country between 
that wall and the Friths? But, be this as it 
may, little is known of the history of North 
Britain from the time of Agricola's recall till 
the year 138, when Antoninus Pius assumed 
the imperial purple. That good and sagacious 
emperor was distinguished by the care which 
he took in selecting the fittest officers for the 
government of the Roman provinces; and his 
choice, for that of Britain, fell on Lollius 



The positive information concerning the 
transactions of this general in North Britain 
is as meagre as could possibly be, the only 
clearly ascertained fact in connection with his 
command being that he built a wall between 
the Forth and Clyde, very nearly on a line 
with the forts established by Agricola. " The 
meagreness of all ancient record," says Burton, 4 
" of the achievements of Lollius Urbicus is 
worthy of emphatic mention and recollection, 
because his name has got into the ordinary 
abridged histories which speak of it, and of ' Ms 
campaign in the north' as well-known events, 
of which people naturally expect fuller informa- 
tion elsewhere. The usual sources for reference 
regarding him will however be found utterly 
dumb." The story commonly given is that he 
proceeded north as far as the Moray Frith, 
throwing the extensive country between Forth 
and Clyde and the Moray Frith into the form 

of a regular Roman province, which, on the 
worthless authority of the pseudo-Richard, was 
named Vespasiana. All this may have been 
the case, and the remains 5 of Roman stations 
found throughout the wide tract just men- 
tioned give some plausibility to the conjecture; 
but there is only the most slender grounds for 
connecting them with any northern expedition 
of Lollius Urbicus. At all events we may 
very safely conclude, from the general tone of 
the records which remain of his and of subso 
quent expeditions, as well as from the fact that 
they found it necessary to divide the Lowlands 
from the Higlilands by a fortified wall, that 
the Romans considered the Caledonians of 
their time very troublesome, and found it ex- 
ceedingly difficult if not impossible to bring 
them under their otherwise universal yoke. 

It may not bo out of place to give here 
some account of the wall of Antonine. The 

Map and Profile of Antonine's Wall. 

wall or rampart extended from Carriden on 
the Forth, two miles west from Blackness, and 
about the same distance east from Bo'ness, to 
West Kilpatrick on the Clyde. The date, 
which may be depended on, assigned to the 
building of the wall is between 138 and 140 
A. D. Taking the length of this wall from 
Kilpatrick on the Clyde to Caeridden or 
Carriden on the Forth, its extent would be 
39,726 Roman paces, which exactly agrees 
with the modern measurement of 36 English 
miles and 620 yards. This rampart, which 
was of earth, and rested on a stone foundation, 
was upwards of twenty feet high and four and 

4 Scotland, vol. i. p. 29. 

twenty feet thick Along the whole extent of 
the wall there was a vast ditch or praeteniura 
on the outward or north side, which was gene- 
rally twenty feet deep and forty feet wide, and 
which, there is reason to believe, might be 
filled with water when occasion required. 6 

5 Wilson says that beyond the Forth and Clyde 
nearly the sole traces of the presence of the Romans 
are a few earthworks, with one or two exceptions, of 
doubtful import, and some chance discoveries of pot- 
tery and coins, mostly ascribable, it may be presumed, 
to the fruitless northern expedition of Agricola, after 
the victory of Mons Grampius, or to the still more 
ineffectual one of his successor, Severus. Prehistoric 
Annals, p. 365. 

6 On the estate of Callender, to the east of Falkirk, 
distinct remains of this trench are still to be seen, ill 
good preservation, n.easuring a few hundred yards in 
length and about 1 2 feet in depth. 



This ditch and rampart were strengthened at 
both ends, and throughout its whole extent, by 
about twenty forts, three being at each extrem- 
ity, and the remainder placed between at the 
distance of about two English miles from one 
another; and it is highly probable that these 
stations were designedly placed on the previous 
fortifications of Agricola. The following, going 
from east to west, are the names and sites of 
some of the stations which have been iden- 
tified: Eough Castle, Castlecary, Westerwood, 
Bunhill, Auchindinny, Kirkintilloch, Bemulie, 
East Kilpatrick, Castlehill, Duntocher, West 
Kilputrick. It will be seen that to a certain ex- 
tent they are on the line of the Edinburgh and 
Glasgow railway, and throughout nearly its 
whole length that of the Forth and Clyde canal. 
Its necessary appendage, a military road, ran be- 
hind the rampart from end to end, for the use 
of the troops and for keeping up the usual 
communication between the stations or forts. 

From inscriptions on some of the foundation 
stones, which have been dug up, it appears that 
the Second legion, with detachments from the 
sixth and twentieth legions and some auxili 
aries, executed these vast military works, 
equally creditable to their skill and persever- 
ance. Dunglas near the western extremity, 
and Blackness near the eastern extremity of 
the rampart, afforded the Eomans commodious 
harbours for their shipping, as also did Cram- 
ond, about five miles west from Edinburgh. 
This wall is called in the popular language of 
the country Grime's or Graham's Dyke. 7 In 
1868 a large oblong slab, in first-rate preserva- 
tion, was dug up at Bo'ness, in the parish of 
Kinneil (Bede's Peanfahel, " the head of the 
wall"), containing an inscription as distinct as 
it was on the day when it came from a Boman 
chisel. We give here a cut of this remarkable 
stone, which is now in the Scottish Antiqua- 
rian Museum. 





7 FEC 

Stone from Antonine's Wall. (Copied and engraved specially for the present work.) 

Wo have no distinct mention of the Caledo- 
nians again until the reign of Commodus, 
when, about the year 183, these troublesome 
barbarians appear to have broken through the 
northern wall, slain the general in command 
of the Eoman forces, and pillaged the lowland 
country beyond. They were, however, driven 
back by Ulpius Marcellus, who succeeded by 
prudent management in maintaining peace for 
a number of years. In the beginning of the 
reign of Severus, however, the Caledonians 
again broke out, but were kept in check by 
Virius Lupus, who appears to have bribed 
rather than beaten the barbarians into con- 

The irrepressible Highlanders again broke 
out about the year 207, and this time the 
Emperor Severus himself, notwithstanding his 
bad health and old age, came from Eome to 
Britain, determined apparently to " stamp out" 
the rebellion. On hearing of his arrival the 
tribes sent deputies to him to negotiate for 
peace, but the emperor, who was of a warlike 
disposition, and fond of military glory, declined 
to entertain any proposals. 

After making the necessary preparations, 

7 There are several other earthworks in England, 
according to Chalmers (Caledonia) and Taylor (Words 
and Places), which go under the appellation of Grime's 
Dyke or Grime's Ditch. Grime in Cornish is said to 
signify strong; in Gaelic, war, battle. 



Severus began his march to the north in the 
year 208. He traversed the whole of North 
.Britain, from the wall of Antoninus to the very 
extremity of the island, with an immense army. 
The Caledonians avoided coming to a general 
engagement with him, but kept up an inces- 
sant and harassing warfare on all sides. He, 
however, brought them to sue for peace ; but 
the honours of this campaign were dearly 
earned, for fifty thousand of the Romans fell a 
prey to the attacks of the Caledonians, to 
fatigue, and to the severity of the climate. 
The Caledonians soon disregarded the treaty 
which they had entered into with Severus, 
which conduct so irritated him that he gave 
orders to renew the war, and to spare neither 
age nor sex; but his son, Caracalla, to whom 
the execution of these orders was intrusted, 
was more intent in plotting against his father 
and brother than in executing the revengeful 
mandate of the dying emperor, whose demise 
took place at York on the 4th February, 211, 
m the sixty-sixth year of his age, and in the 
third year of his administration in Britain. 

It is in connection with this invasion that 
wo first hear of the Meats or Mseatoe, who are 
mentioned by Dion Cassius, or rather his epi- 
tomiser Xiphiline, and who are supposed by 
some to have inhabited the country between 
the two walls, while others think it more 
likely that they were a part of the Caledonians, 
and inhabited the district between the Gram- 
pians and the wall of Antonine. We shall 
not, however, enter into this question here, but 
endeavour, as briefly as possible, to record all 
that is known of the remaining transactions of 
the Romans in the north of Scotland, reserving 
other matters for the next chapter. 

It was not consistent with the policy by 
which Caracalla was actuated, to continue a 
war with the Caledonians ; for the scene of his 
ambition lay in Rome, to which he made hasty 
preparations to depart on the death of his father. 
He therefore entered into a treaty with the Cale- 
donians by which he gave up the territories sur- 
rendered by them to his father, and abandoned 
the forts erected by him in their fastnesses. 
The whole country north of the wall of Anto- 
nine appears in fact to have been given up to 
the undisputed possession of the Caledonians, 
and we hear of no more incursions by them 

till the reign of the emperor Constantius 
Chlorus, who came to Britain in the year 306, 
to repel the Caledonians and other Picte. 8 
Their incursions were repelled by the Roman 
legions under Constantius, and they remained 
quiet till about the year 345, when they again 
entered the territories of the provincial Brit- 
ons ; but they were compelled, it is said, again 
to retreat by Constans, son of Constantine the 

Although these successive inroads had been 
always repelled by the superior power and dis- 
cipline of the Romans, the Caledonians of the 
fourth century no longer regarded them in the 
formidable light in which they had been 
viewed by their ancestors, and their genius for 
war improving every time they came in hostile 
contact with their enemies, they meditated 
the design of expelling the intruders altogether 
from the soil of North Britain. The wars 
which the Romans had to sustain against the 
Persians in the East, and against the Germans 
on the frontiers of Gaul, favoured the plan of 
the Caledonians ; and having formed a treaty 
with the Scots, whose name is mentioned for 
the first time in history in this connection by 
Ammianus Marcellinus, they, in conjunction 
with their new allies, about the year 360 in- 
vaded the Roman territories and committed 
many depredations. Julian, who commanded 
the Roman army on the Rhine, despatched 
Lupicinus, an able military commander, to do- 
fend the province against the Scots and Picts, 
but he was recalled before ho had done much 
to repel them. 

The Picts who on this occasion are men- 
tioned by Ammianus Marcellinus 9 as being di- 
vided into two nations, the Diedledones and 
Vecturiones and Scots, being joined by the 
Attacots, " a warlike race of men," and the 
Saxons, numbers of whom appear at this early 
period to have settled in Britain, made another 
attack on the Roman provinces in the year 

8 The first writer who mentions the Picts is Enmen- 
ius, the orator, who was a Professor at Aiitun, and who, 
in a panegyric pronounced by him in the year 297, 
mentions the Puts along with the Irish, and again, in 
308, in a panegyric pronounced by him on Constans, 
speaks of the Caledonians and other Picts. This is 
one of the passages mainly relied on by those who 
consider the Caledonians and Ticts to have been the 
same people. 

Am. Mar., xxvii., 8. 



364, on the accession of Valentinian. These 
appear to have made their way as far south as 
London, and it required all the valour and 
skill of Theodosius the Elder, father of the em- 
peror of that name, who was sent to Britain in 
the year 307, to repel this aggression, and to 
repair the great ravages committed by the bar- 
barians. The next outbreak occurred about 
the year 398, when the Picts and Scots again 
broke loose and ravaged the provinces, being 
repelled by a legion sent over by the great 
Stilicho, in answer to the petition of the help- 
less provincials for assistance. 

In the beginning of the fifth century the 
enervated Romanized Britons again appear to 
have been subjected to the tender mercies of 
their wicked northern neighbours ; and in re- 
ply to their cry for help, Honorius, in 416, sent 
over to their relief a single legion, which drove 
back the intruders. The Romans, as is well 
known, engrossed by overwhelming troubles 
nearer home, finally abandoned Britain about 
the year 446, advising the inhabitants, who 
were suffering from the ravages of the Picts 
and Scotc, to protect themselves by retiring 
behind and keeping in repair the wall of Se- 

Such is a brief account of the transactions of 
the Romans in Britain so far as these were con- 
nected with the Highlands of Scotland. That 
energetic and insatiable people doubtless left 
their mark on the country and its inhabitants 
south of the Forth and Clyde, as the many 
Roman remains which exist there at the pres. 
ent day testify. The British provincials, in- 
deed, appear in the end to have been utterly 
enervated, and, in the worst sense, Roman- 
ized, so that they became an easy prey to their 
Saxon helpers. It is quite evident, however, 
that the inhabitants of Caledonia proper, the 
district beyond the wall of Antonine, were to 
a very slight extent, if at all, influenced by the 
Roman invasion. Whether it was from the 
nature of the people, or from the nature of the 
country which they inhabited, or from both 
combined, they appear to have been equally 
impervious to Roman force and Roman cul- 
ture. The best services that their enemies 
rendered to the Caledonians or Picts were that 
they forced them to unite against the common 
foe thus contributing towards the foundation 

of a future kingdom ; and that they gave them 
a training in arms such as the Caledonians 
could never have obtained, had they not been 
brought into collision with the best-trained 
soldiers of the world in their time. 

"We have in what precedes mainly followed 
only one thread in the very intricate web 
formed by the early history of the Highlands, 
which, to a certain extent at this period, is the 
history of Scotland; but, as will have been 
seen, there are various other threads which 
join in from time to time, and which, after 
giving a short account of the traces of the Ro- 
man invasion still existing in the Highlands, 
we shall endeavour to catch up and follow out 
as far as possible. 

It is not necessary in a history of the High- 
lands of Scotland, as we have denned that term, 
that much space should be given to an ac- 
count of Roman remains ; for, as we have al- 
ready said, these Italian invaders appear never 
to have obtained anything like a firm footing 
in that rugged district, or made any definite or 
characteristic impression on its inhabitants. 
" The vestiges whence it is inferred that the 
Empire for a time had so far established itself 
in Scotland as to bring the natives over to the 
habits of peaceful citizens, belong almost ex- 
clusively to the country south of Antonine's 
wall, between the Forth and Clyde. Coins 
and weapons have been found farther north, 
but scarcely any vestige of regular settlement 
None of the pieces of Roman sculpture found 
in Scotland belong to the districts north of the 
wall. It is almost more significant still, that 
of the very considerable number of Scottish 
Roman inscriptions in the various collections, 
only one was found north of the wall, and that 
in the strongly-fortified station of Ardoch, 
where it commemorated that it was dedicated 
to the memory of a certain Ammonius Damio- 
nis. 1 On the other hand, it is in that unsub- 
dued district that the memorials of Roman con- 
quest chiefly abound." 2 

The whole of Britain was intersected by Ro- 
man ways, and as, wherever a Roman army 
went, it was preceded by pioneers who cleared 
and made a durable road to facilitate its march, 
there can be no doubt that the north of Scot- 

1 Wilson's Prehisl. Annals. 

* Burton's Scotland, vol. i. p. 74. 


land was to a considerable extent intersected 
by highways during the invasion of Agricola, 
Lollius Urbicus, and Severus. One road at 
least can be traced as far north as Aberdeen- 
shire, and is popularly known in some districts 
as the Lang Causeway. This road appears to 
have issued from the wall of Antonine, passed 
through Camelon, the Roman port on the Car- 
ron, and pushing straight forward, according to 
the Eoman custom, across the Carron, it pur- 
sued its course in a general north-east direction 
through Stirling, Perth, by Ardoch, through 
Forfar and Kincardine, to about Stonehaven. 

It would appear that there are traces of Eo- 
man roads even farther north. Between the 
rivers Don and Urie in Aberdeenshire, on the 
eastern side of Bennachee, there exists an an- 
cient road known in the country by the name 
of the Maiden Causeway, a name by which 
some of the Eoman roads in the north of Eng- 
land are distinguished. This proceeds from 
Bennachee whereon there is said to have been 
a hill-fort, more than the distance of a mile 
into the woods of Pitodrie, when it disappears : 
it is paved with stones, and is about fourteen 
feet wide. Still farther north, from Forres to 
the ford of Cromdale on the Spey, there has 
been long known a road of very ancient con- 
struction, pointing to Cromdale, where the 
Eomans may have forded the Spey. Various 
traces of very ancient roads are still to be seen 
by Corgarf and through Braemar : the tradition 
of the people in Strathdee and Braemar, sup- 
ports the idea that there are remains of Eoman 
roads which traverse the country between the 
Don and the Dee. Certain it is, that there are 
obvious traces of ancient roads which cross the 
wild districts between Strathdon and Strath- 
dee, though it is impossible to ascertain when 
or by whom these ancient roads were con- 
structed, in such directions, throughout such a 

Along these roads there were without doubt 
many camps and stations, as it is well known 
that the Eomans never halted even for a single 
night, without entrenching themselves beliind 
secure fortifications. There are many remains 
of what are supposed to have been Eoman 
camps still pointed out in various places north 
of the line occupied by Antonine's wall. These 
are well known even to the peasantry, and are 

generally treated with respect. The line of 
these camps reaches as far as the counties of 
Aberdeen and Inverness, the most important 
of them, however, being found in Strathallan, 
Strathearn, and Strathmore. Besides the most 
important of these camps, that at Ardoch, 
traces of many others have been found. There 
was one on the river Earn, about six miles east 
of Ardoch, which would command the middle 
part of Strathearn lying between the Ocliil 
hills on the south and the river Almond on 
the north. Another important station is sup- 
posed to have been established near Callander, 
where, on a tongue of land formed by the junc- 
tion of the rivers Strathgartney and Strathyre, 
the two sources of the Teith, are seen the em- 
bankments referred to by Scott 3 as 

. . " The mouldering lines 
Where Rome, the empress of the world, 
Of yoro her eagle wings unfurled." 4 

Another camp is placed at Dalgenross, near 
the confluence of the Euchel and the Earn, 
which, with Bochastle, would command the 
western district of Strathearn. Another im- 
portant station was the East Findoch, at the 
south side of the Almond ; it guarded the only 
practicable passage through the mountains 
northward, to an extent of thirty miles from 
east to west. The Eoman camp here was placed 
on a high ground, defended by water on two 
sides, and by a morass with a steep bank 01 
the other two sides. It was about one hundred 
and eighty paces long, and eighty broad, and 
was surrounded by a strong earthen wall nearly 
twelve feet thick, part of which still remains. 
The trenches are still entire, and in some places 
six feet deep. 

On the eastern side of Strathearn, and be- 
tween it and the Forth, are the remains of Eo- 
man posts; and at Ardargie a Eoman camp 
was established with the design, it is supposed, 
of guarding the passage through the Ochil hills, 
by the valley of May water. Another camp 
at Gleneagles secured the passage of the same 
hills through Glendevon. "With the design of 
guarding the narrow, but useful passage from 

8 Lady of the Lake. 

* According to Burton, however, these are by som 
geologists set down as a geological phenomenon. 
Hist, of Scot. i. 75. 



the middle Highland*, westward through Glen- 
lyon to Argyle, the Romans fixed a post at 
Fortingal, about sixteen miles north-west from 
the station at East-Findoch. 

A different line of posts became necessary 
to secure Angus and the Mearns. At Coupar 
A ngus, on the east side of the Isla, about seven 
miles east from Inchtutlicl, stood a Roman 
ramp, of a square form, of twenty acres within 
the ramparts. This camp commanded the pas- 
sage down Strathmore, between the Siedlaw 
hills on the south-east, and the Isla on the 
north-west. On Campmoor, little more than 
a mile south from Coupar Angus, appear the re- 
mains of another Roman fort. The great camp 
of Battledyke stood about eighteen miles north- 
cast from Coupar Angus, being obviously placed 
there to guard the passage from the Highlands 
through Glen Esk and Glen Prosen. About 
eleven and a-half miles north-east of the camp 
at Battledykes was another Roman camp, the 
remains of which may still be traced near the 
mansion-house of Keitliock. This camp is 
known by the name of Wardikes. The coun- 
try below the Siedlaw hills, on the north side 
of the estuary of Tay, was guarded by a Roman 
camp near Invergowrie, which had a communi- 
cation on the north-east with the camp at 
Harefatilds. This camp, which was about two 
hundred yards square, and fortified with a high 
rampart and a spacious ditch, stood about two 
miles west from Dundee. 

Traces of a number of others have been 
found, but we need not go farther into detail 
This account of the Roman transactions in 
Scotland would, however, be incomplete with- 


Roman Camp at Ardoch as it appeared in 1755. 
[Stuart's Caledonia llomana.} 

out a more particular notice of the well-known 
camp at Ardoch. Ardoch village, in Perth- 
shire, lies on the cast side of Knaigwater, ten 
miles north from Stirling, and is about two 
miles from the Greenloaning station of tho 
Caledonian railway, tho site of the camp be- 
ing a little distance to tho north-west of the 
village. As this station guarded the principal 
inlet into the interior of Caledonia, the Romans 
were particularly anxious to fortify so advan- 
tageous a position. " The situation of it," says 
the writer of the Old Statistical Account of 
Muthill, " gave it many advantages ; being on 
the north-west side of a deep moss that runs 
a long way eastward. On the west side, it is 
partly defended by the steep bank of the water 
of Knaik ; which bank rises perpendicularly 
between forty and fifty feet. The north and 
east sides were most exposed ; and there we 
find very particular care was taken to secure 
them. The ground on the east is pretty regu- 
lar, and descends by a gentle slope from the 
lines of fortification, which, on that side, con- 
sists of five rows of ditches, perfectly entire, 
and running parallel to one another. These 
altogether are about fifty-five yards in breadth. 
On the north side, there is an equal number of 
lines and ditches, but twenty yards broader 
than the former. On the west, besides tho 
steep precipices above mentioned, it was de- 
fended by at least two ditches. One is still 
visible ; the others have probably been filled 
up, in making the great military road from 
Stirling to the north. The side of the camp, 
lying to the southward, exhibits to tho anti- 
quary a less pleasing prospect. Here the pea- 
sant's rugged hand has laid in ruins a great 
part of the lines ; so that it may be with pro- 
priety said, in the words of a Latin poet, ' Jam 
seges est, ubi Troja fuit.' Tho area of tho 
camp is an oblong of 140 yards, by 125 within 
the lines. The general's quarter rises above 
the level of the camp, but is not in the centre. 
It is a regular square, each side being exactly 
twenty yards. At present it exhibits evident 
marks of having been enclosed with a stone 
wall, and contains the foundation of a house, ten 
yards by seven." There are two other encamp- 
ments adjoining, having a communication 
with one another, and containing about 130 
acres of ground. A subterranean passage is 



said to have extended from the praetorium 
under the bed of the Knaik. Not far north of 
this station, on the way to Crieff, may be traced 
three temporary Roman camps of different sizes. 
Portions of the ramparts of these camps still 
exist. A mile west of Ardoch, an immense 
cairn lately existed, 182 feet long, 45 broad at 
the base, and 30 feet in sloping height A 
human skeleton, 7 feet long, in a stone coffin, 
was found in it. 6 


Early Inhabitants Roman Writers Aristotle Taci- 
tus Dion Cassius Caledonians and llicatu; Eu- 
menius Picts DicaledonesandVecturiones Clau- 
dian Inferences Ecclesiastical Chroniclers Their 
value Gildas Adamnan Northern and Southern 
Picts Columba's "Interpreter" Bede's Account 
of Picts Pictish Language Peanfahel Northern 
and Southern Picts Welsh Triads Irish Annals 
Evidence from Language Cymric and Gaelic Theo- 
ries Inver and A ter Innes's Theory Conclusion. 

TUB preceding chapter has been occupied almost 
entirely with an account of the transactions of 
the Romans in the north of Scotland, and it is 
now our duty to go back and narrate what is 
known of the internal history of the Highlands 
during the time of the Romans. In doing so we 
are brought face to face with certain much agi- 
tated questions which have for centuries engaged 
the attention of antiquaries, and in the discus- 
sion of which many bulky tomes have been 
written and incredible acrimony displayed. 
To enter with anything like minuteness into 
this discussion would occupy more space than 
can be devoted to the entire history, and, more- 
over, would be out of place in a popular work 
like the present, and distasteful to most of its 
readers. The following are some of the much- 
discussed questions referred to : Who were 
the original inhabitants of Caledonia ? To what 
race did they belong were they Gothic or 
Celtic? and if Celtic, were they Cymric or Gae- 
lic ? When did they enter Scotland, and whence 
did they come from the opposite continent, or 

6 For more minute descriptions of this camp, as well 
as for further details concerning the Roman transac- 
tions in Scotland, consult Key's Military Antiquities, 
Gough's Camdcn (under Strathearn), Stuart's Cale- 
donia Romana, Burton's History of Scotland. 

from the south of Britain ? Was the whole of 
Scotland, in the time of Agricola, occupied by 
one people, or by a mixed race, or by various 
races? Were the Picts and Caledonians the 
same people ? What is the meaning and origin 
of Pict, and was Caledonia a native appellation? 
What were the localities of the Northern and 
Southern Picts ? Who were the Scots ? What 
was the nature of the union of the Scots and 
Picts under Kenneth MacAlpin ? 

The notices of the early inhabitants of the 
Highlands in the contemporary Roman his- 
torians are so few, the information given so 
meagre and indefinite, and the ecclesiastical 
historians of a later time are so full of miracle, 
myth, and hearsay, and so little to be depended 
on, that it appears to us almost impossible, with 
the materials at present within the historian's 
reach, to arrive at anything like a satisfactory 
answer to the above questions. The impression 
left after reading much that has been written 
on various sides, is one of dissatisfaction and 
bewilderment, dissatisfaction with the far- 
fetched and irrelevant arguments frequently 
adduced, and the unreliable authorities quoted, 
and bewilderment amid the dust-cloud of words 
with which any one who enters this debatable 
land is sure to be enveloped. " It is scarcely 
necessary to observe, that there are few points 
of ethnology on which historians and antiqua- 
ries have been more at variance with each 
other, than respecting the real race of those 
inhabitants of a portion of Caledonia popularly 
known by the designation of Picts. The diffi- 
culty arising from this discrepancy of opinion 
is increased by the scanty and unsatisfactory 
nature of the materials now available to those 
who wish to form an independent judgment. 
No connected specimen of the Pictish language 
has been preserved ; nor has any ancient au- 
thor who knew them from personal observa- 
tion, stated in direct terms that they approxi- 
mated to one adjoining tribe more than another. 
They are indeed associated with the Scots or 
Irish as joint plunderers of the colonial Bri- 
tons ; and the expression of Gildas that they 
differed in some degree from the Scots in their 
customs, might seem to imply that they did 
bear an analogy to that nation in certain re- 
spects. Of course, where there is such a lack 
of direct evidence, there is more scope for con- 



Jecture; and the Picts are pronounced by dif- 
ferent investigators of their history to have 
been Germans, Scandinavians, Welsh, Gael, or 
lomething distinct from all the four. The ad- 
vocates of the German hypothesis rest chiefly 
on Tacitus's description of their physical con- 
formation. Dr. Jamieson, assuming that the 
present Lowland Scotch dialect was derived 
from them, sets them down as Scandinavians; 
Bishop Lloyd and Camden conceive them to 
have been of Celtic race, probably related to 
the Britons; Chalmers, the author of ' Caledo- 
nia," regards them as nothing more than a 
tribe of Cambrians or "Welsh; while Skene, 
one of the latest authors on the subject, thinks 
he has proved that they were the ancestors of 
the present race of Scottish Highlanders." 

The earliest known name applied to Britain 
is found in a treatise on the World ascribed to 
Aristotle, in which the larger island is called 
Albinn, and Ireland referred to as lerne; and 
it is worthy of notice that at the present day 
the former is the name applied to Scotland by 
the Highlanders, who call themselves the Gad 
Albinnich. The first author, however, who 
gives us any information about the early in- 
habitants of the north part of Scotland is 
Tacitus, who, in his Life of Agricola, devotes 
a few lines, in a parenthetical way, to charac- 
terising each of the great divisions of the 
people who, in the time of that general, in- 
habited Britain. Tacitus tells us that in his 
time the inhabitants of Britain differed in the 
habit and make of their bodies, and from the 
ruddy locks and large limbs of the Caledonians 
he inferred that they were of German origin. 7 
This glimpse is clear enough, but tantalizing 
in its meagreness and generality. What does 
Tacitus mean by German does he use it in 
the same sense as we do at the present day? 
Does he mean by Caledonia the whole of the 
country north of the Forth and Clyde, or does 
it apply only to that district Fife, Forfar, the 
east of Perth, &c. with the inhabitants of 
which his father-in-law came in contact? We 
find Ptolemy the geographer, who flourished 
about the middle of the 2d century A. D., men- 
tioning the Caledonians as one of the many 
tribes which in his time inhabited the north of 

Garnett's Philological Essays, p. 
7 Agricola li. 


Scotland. The term Caledonians is supposed 
by some authorities to have been derived from 
a native word signifying " men of the woods," 
or the inhabitants of the woody country; this, 
however, is mere conjecture. 

The next writer who gives any definite in- 
formation as to the inhabitants of Caledonia is 
Dion Cassius, who flourished in the early part 
of the 3d century, and who wrote a history of 
Eome which has come down to us in a very 
imperfect state. Of the latter part, containing 
an account of Britain, wo possess only an epi- 
tome made by Xiphilinus, an ecclesiastic of 
the llth century, and which of course is very 
meagre in its details. The following are the 
particulars given by this writer concerning the 
early inhabitants of north Britain. " Of the 
Britons the two most ample nations are tho 
Caledonians and the Maeatae; for the names of 
the rest refer for the most part to these. Tho 
Maeatae inhabit very near the wall 8 which 
divides the island into two parts; the Caledo- 
nians are after these. Each of them inhabit 
mountains, very rugged and wanting water, 
and also desert fields, full of marshes: thej 
have neither castles nor cities, nor dwell in 
any : they live on milk and by hunting, and 
maintain themselves by the fruits of the trees : 
for fishes, of which there is a very great and 
numberless quantity, they never taste: they 
dwell naked in tents and without shoes: they 
use wives in common, and whatever is born to 
them they bring up. In the popular state 
they are governed, as for the most part : they 
rob on the highway most willingly: they war 
in chariots: horses they have, small and fleet; 
their infantry, also, are as well most swift at 
running, as most brave in pitched battle. 
Their arms are a shield and a short spear, in 
the upper part whereof is an apple of brass, 
that, while it is shaken, it may terrify the 
enemies with the sound: they have likewise 
daggers. They are able to bear hunger, cold, 
and all afflictions ; for they merge themselves 
in marshes, and there remain many days, hav- 
ing only their head out of water: and in woods 
are nourished by the bark and roots of trees. 
But a certain kind of food they prepare for all 
occasions, of which if they take as much as ' the 

' The wall of Antonine. 



size' of a single bean, they are in nowise ever 
wont to hunger or thirst." 9 

From this we learn that in the 3d century 
there were two divisions of the inhabitants of 
the Highlands, known to the Eomans as the 
Caledonians and Maeats or Moeatae, the latter 
very probably inhabiting the southern part of 
that territory, next to the wall of Antonine, 
and the former the district to the north of this. 
As to whether these were Latinized forms of 
native names, or names imposed by the Eo- 
mans themselves, we have no means of judg- 
ing. The best writers on this subject think 
that the Caledonians and Maaats were two 
divisions of the same people, both living to the 
north of the Forth and Clyde, although Innes, 1 
and one or two minor writers, are of opinion 
that the Mseats were provincial Britons who 
inhabited the country between the wall of 
Hadrian and that of Antonine, known as the 
province of Valentia. However, with Skene, 2 
Mr. Joseph Eobertson, and other able authori- 
ties, we are inclined to tliink that the evidence 
is in favour of their being the inhabitants of 
the southern portion of Caledonia proper. 

Herodian, 3 who wrote about A. D. 240, 
tells us that the Caledonians were in the habit 
of marking or painting their bodies with figures 
of animals, and that they wore no clothes in 
order that these figures might be preserved and 

The next reference made by a Eoman writer 
to the inhabitants of Caledonia we find in a 
panegyric pronounced in his presence on the 
Emperor Constantius Chlorus, by Eumenius, a 
professor of rhetoric at Augustodunum (Autun] 
in Gaul, in the year 296 or 297, who speaks of 
the Britons, in the time of Caesar, having been 
attacked by the half-naked Picts and Irish. 
To what people the orator meant to apply the 
term Picts, around which there has clustered 
so much acrimonious disputation, we learn from 
another oration pronounced by liim on the same 
emperor, before his son Constantino, in the 
year 309, in which, recording the actions of 
Constantius, he speaks of the woods and 
marshes of the Caledonians and other Picts. 

9 Dio L. 76, c. 12, as quoted in Ritson's Annals, 
p. II. 

1 Critical Essay, cl). ii. 
8 Highlanders 
* Book iii. 

After this no further mention is made of thn 
Caledonians by any Eoman writer, but towards 
the end of the 4th century Ammianus Marcel- 
linus, in his account of the Eoman transactions 
in Britain, speaks of the Picts in conjunction 
with the Saxons, Scots, and Attacots harassing 
the provincial Britons about the year 364. 
Further on ho informs us that at this time the 
Picts were divided into two tribes or nations, 
the Dicaledones and Vecturiones, remarking, 
at the same time, that " the Attacots were a 
warlike race of men, and the Scots a people 
much given to wandering, and in the habit of 
ravaging or laying waste the districts into 
which they came." 4 

Claudian the poet, writing, about 397, in 
praise of Houorius, mentions, among other ac- 
tions of Theodosius, the grandfather of that 
emperor, his having subdued the Picts, who 
were fitly so named, 5 and makes various other 
references to this people and the Scots, which 
show that these two in combination were 
troubling the Eoman provincials not a little. 6 

Such are most of the scanty details given by 
the only contemporary historians who take any 
notice of the inhabitants of North Britain ; and 
the unprejudiced reader will see that the foun- 
dation thus afforded upon which to construct 
any elaborate theory is so narrow that every 
such theory must resemble a pyramid standing 
on its apex, liable at the slightest touch to 
topple over and be shattered to pieces. It ap- 
pears to us that all the conclusions which it is 
safe to draw from the few facts stated by the 
contemporary Eoman historians are, that at the 
commencement of the Christian era Caledonia 
proper, or the Highlands, was inhabited by a 
people or peoples apparently considerable in 
number, and who in all probability had been 
settled there for a considerable time, part of 
whom at least were known to the Eomans by 
the name of Caledonians. That these Calo 

4 " Scotti per di versa vagantes, imilta popula- 
bnntnr." Am. Mar. xxvii. 8. 

Nee falso nomine Pictos 


6 " Venit et extremis legio pnetenta Britannis 
Quse Rcoto dat fnena truci, ferroque notatas 
Perlegit exaugues Scoto moriente tiguras." 

Debello (Jetico, v. 416. 
Thus rendered by Eitson : 
The legion came, o'er distant Britains placed, 
Which bridles the fierce Scot, and bloodless figures 
With iron marked, views in the dying Pict 



doniana, those of them at any rate with whom 
Agricola camo in contact in the first century, 
were red or fair haired and large limbed, from 
which Tacitus inferred that they were of Ger- 
man extraction. In the beginning of the third 
century there were at least two divisions of the 
inhabitants of Caledonia, the Caledonians and 
Mocats, the former inhabiting the country to 
the north of the Grampians, and the latter, in 
all probability, that to the south and south- 
east of these mountains. They appear to have 
been in many respects in a condition little re- 
moved from that of savages, although they 
must have made wonderful attainments in the 
manufacture of implements of war. 

In the latter part of the third century we 
found the Highlanders spoken of under a new 
name, Picti, which the Roman historians at 
least, undoubtedly understood to be the Latin 
word meaning ' painted,' 7 and which all the 
best modern writers believe to have been im- 
posed by the Romans themselves, from the fact 
that the indomitable Caledonians had retained 
the custom of self-painting after all the Roman- 
ized Britons had given it up. There is the 
strongest probability that the Caledonians 
spoken of as Picts by Eumenius were the same 
as the Caledonians of Tacitus, or that the 
Caledonians and Picts were the same people 
under different names. The immediate cause 
for this change of name we have no means of 
ascertaining. It is in every way improbable 
that the Picts were a new people, who had 
come in upon the Caledonians, and supplanted 
them some time after Agricola's invasion. The 
Romans were constantly coming into contact 
with the Caledonians from the time of Agri- 
cola till they abandoned Britain entirely, and 
had such a supplantation taken place, it cer- 
tainly could not have been done quietly, and 
without the cognizance of the Romans. But 
we find no mention in any contemporary his- 
torian of any such commotion, and we know 
that the inhabitants of the Highlands never 
ceased to harass the British provincials, show- 
ing that they were not much taken up with 
any internal disturbance. Indeed, writers who 
adopt the most diverse opinions on other 
points in connection with the Pictish question 

7 The name givun by the Irish Annalists to the Picts 
[a Cruithie, said by sonic to ini-im "variegated." 

are all agreed as to this, that the Caledonians 
und Picts were the same people. 8 

We learn further from our authorities, that 
towards the end of the fourth century the in- 
habitants of Caledonia were known to the 
Romans under the names of Dicaledoncs and 
Vecturiones, it being conjectured that these 
correspond to the Caledonians and Maeats of 
Dio, and the Northern and Southern Picts of n 
later period. The connection of the latter 
part of the word Di-caledones with Caledonii is 
evident, although the significance of the first 
syllable is doubtful, some authorities conjec- 
turing that it is the Gaelic word du, meaning 
" genuine." It appears at all events to be es- 
tablished that during the early history of the 
Highlands, whatever other divisions may have 
existed among the inhabitants, those dwelling 
to the north and those dwelling to the south 
of the Grampians were two separate confeder- 
acies, and were known by distinct names. 

Another not unimportant fact to be learned 
from the Roman historians in relation to the 
Picts or Caledonians is, that about the middle 
of the 4th century they were assisted by the 
Attacots, Saxons, and Scots. As to who the 
Attacots were it is now impossible to conjec- 
ture with anything like certainty, there being no 
sufficient reason for believing that they were 
allied to the Irish Scots. It is well enough 
known who the Saxons were, but how they 
came at this early period to be acting in concert 
with the Picts it is difficult to say. It is pos- 
sible that numbers of them may have effected 
a settlement, even at this early period, in North 
Britain, although it is more likely that they 
were roving adventurers, who had left their 
homes, from choice or on compulsion, to try 
their fortune in Britain. They were probably 
the first droppings of the abundant shower 
that overwhelmed South Britain a century 
later. The Romans at this period had an offi- 
cer with the title of "Comes litoris Saxonici 
per Britanniam ;" and Claudian, in his praises 
of Stilicho, introduces Britain, saying 

" Illius effectum curis, ne bella timerem 
Scotica, ne Pictum tremerem, ne littore toto 
Prospicerem dubiis venturum Saxona ventis. " 

" The only important exception is Ritson, whose 
arguments, like those of his opponent Pinkerton, con- 
sist mostly of virulent language and vehement assertion 



It is interesting to notice that this 9 is the 
first mention made of the (Scots in connection 
with what is now Scotland ; but whether there 
were settlements of them at this time among 
Jhe Piets, or whether they had come over from 
Ireland for the purpose of assisting the latter 
to harass the Eomans, it is difficult to Bay. 
Probably, as was the case with tho Saxons, 
these were the harbingers of the great migra- 
tion, that reached its culmination about a cen- 
tury and a half later. They appear, from what 
Ammianus says, to have been at this time a 
set of destructive vagabonds. "We shall have 
more to say about them further on. 

From the general tone of these contemporary 
Roman historians we learn that, whether Celtic 
or Gothic, these Picts or Caledonians were a 
hardy, indomitable, determined race, with a 
strong love of liberty and of the country in 
which they dwelt, and a resolution never to be 
subject to the greedy Roman. Comparatively 
few and barbarous as they were, they caused 
the Romans far more trouble than all the rest 
of Britain together ; to conquer the latter and 
Romanize it appears to have been compara- 
tively smooth work, but the Italians acknow- 
ledged the Highlanders invincible by building 
walls and other fortifications, and maintaining 
extra garrisons to protect the provincials from 
their fierce and wasting inroads. Whether the 
present Highlanders are the descendants of 
these or not, they certainly possess many 
of their qualities. 

It will have been seen that the Roman his- 
torians give us almost no clue to what we now 
deem of most interest and importance, the 
place of the early inhabitants among the fami- 
lies of men, the time and manner of their 
arrival, the language they spoke, and their 
internal history generally. Of course the re- 
cords of contemporaries stand in the first place 
of importance as evidences, and although we 
have other sources, historical, linguistic, and 
antiquarian, which shed a little light upon the 
subject, these, for various reasons, must be used 
with great caution. The only statement ap- 
proaching to anything like a hint as to the 
origin of the Caledonians is that of Tacitus, 
referring to their ruddy locks and large limbs 

' In Amin. Mir. 

as an evidence of their German origin. There 
is no reason to doubt that those with whom 
Agricola came in contact were of this make and 
complexion, which, at the present day, are 
generally hold to be indicative of a Teutonic 
origin ; whereas the true Celt is popularly be- 
lieved to be of a small make and dark com' 
plexion. 1 It may have been, that in Agiicola's 
time the part of the country into wliich ho 
penetrated was occupied by considerable num- 
bers of Teutons, who had effected a settlement 
either by force, or by favour of tho prior in 
habitants. The statement of Tacitus, however, 
those who uphold the Celtic theory endeavour 
to explain away. 

We may safely say then, that with regard to 
all the most important points that have ex- 
cited the curiosity of modern enquirers, the 
only contemporary historians to whom we can 
appeal, leave us almost entirely in the dark. 

The writers, next in order of importance to 
whom an appeal is made as witnesses in this 
perplexing case, are the ecclesiastical chroni- 
clers, the chief of whom are Gildas, Adamnan, 
Bede, Nennius. "Much of the error into 
which former winters have been led, has arisen 
from an improper use of these authors ; they 
should be consulted exclusively as contempor- 
ary historians whatever they assert as exist- 
ing or occurring in their own time, or shortly 
before it, we may receive as true ; but when 
we consider the perverted learning of that 
period, and the little information which they 
appear to have possessed of the traditions of 
the people around them, we ought to reject 
their fables or fanciful origins as altogether un- 
deserving of credit." 2 Though this dictum 
may perhaps be too sweeping, still any one who 
examines the authors referred to for himself, 
must admit that it is in the main just. It is 
well known that these writers exercise little or 
no discrimination in the composition of their 
narratives, that tradition, miracle, and observed 
fact are placed side by side, as all equally worthy 
of belief. Even Bede, the most reliable and 

1 It is a curious fact that these latter arc, among tho 
peasantry of Scotland, the distinctive characteristics of 
the Picts or Pechts, who, however, it is not unlikely, 
may lie popularly confounded with the Brownies, 
especially as, in Perthshire at any rate, they are said 
always to have done their work while others were 

- Skeiie's HigJilarulcrs, vol. i. p. 2. 



cautious of these early chroniclers, lived as long 
after some of the events of which he professes 
to give an account, as we of the present day do 
after the time of the Crusades ; almost his sole 
authority being tradition or hearsay. More- 
over, the knowledge which these writers had 
of the distinction between the various races of 
mankind was so very hazy, the terms they use 
are to us so comparatively unintelligible, and 
the information they do contain on the points 
in dispute so brief, vague, and parenthetical, 
that their value as authorities is reduced almost 
to a minimum. 

Whoever was the author of the work De 
Excidio Britannia, one of the latest and most 
acute writers 3 on ethnology has shown that he 
is almost totally unworthy of credit, the sources 
of his information being exceedingly suspicious, 
and lus statements proved to be false by com- 
parison with trustworthy contemporary Roman 
historians. There is every reason to believe 
that the so-called Gildas for by Mr. Wright 4 
he has been reduced to a nominis umbra 
lived and wrote about the middle of the 6th cen- 
tury A.D., so that, had he used ordinary dili- 
gence and discrimination, he might have been of 
considerable assistance in enabling us to solve 
the perplexing mystery of the Pictish question. 
But indeed we have no right to look for much 
history in the work of Gildas, as it professes 
to be merely a complaint " on the general de- 
struction of every thing that is good, and the 
general growth of evil throughout the land ;" 
it is his purpose, he says, " to relate the deeds 
of an indolent and slothful race, rather than 
the exploits of those who have been valiant in 
the field." 6 So far as the origin and early 
history of the Picts is concerned, Gildas is of 
almost no value whatever, the only time ho 
mentions the Picts being incidentally to notice 
an invasion they had made into the Roman 
provinces. 8 If we can trust him, the Picts 
and their allies, the Scots, must have been 
very fierce enemies to deal with. They went 
about, he tells us, almost entirely destitute of 
clothes, having their faces covered with bushy 
hair, and were in the habit of dragging the 
poor enervated Britons from the top of their 

3 L. 0. Pike, The English and their Origin, ch. i. 

4 Biographia Britannica Literaria, vol. i. 
' Gildas, 1. Id., 19. 

protecting wall with hooked weapons, slaughter- 
ing them without mercy. Some writers infer 
from this narrative that, during the Roman oc- 
cupation, no permanent settlement of Scots had 
been effected in present Scotland, but that the 
Scots who assisted the Picts came over from 
their native Scotland (Ireland) for that pur- 
pose ; he tells us that the Scots came from the 
north-west, and the Picts from the north. 7 
" North-west " here, however, would apply 
quite as well to Argyle as to Ireland. 

The writer next in chronological order from 
whom we derive any information of conse- 
quence concerning the Picts is Adamnan, a 
member of the early Irish Church, who was 
born in the county of Donegal about the 
year 625, elected abbot of lona in 679, and 
who died in the year 704. Adamnan wrote 
a life of his great predecessor St. Columba, 
in which is contained much information con- 
cerning that great missionary's labours among 
the Northern Picts ; and although he narrates 
many stories which are palpably incredible, 
still the book contains much which may 
with confidence be accepted as fact. In con- 
nection with the questions under consideration, 
wo learn that, in the time of Columba and 
Adamnan, there were as formerly, in the time 
of the Roman writers two divisions of the 
Picts, known in the 7th century and afterwards 
as the Northern and Southern Picts. Adam- 
nan informs us that Columba's mission was to 
the Northern Picts alone, the southern divi- 
sion having been converted by St. Ninian in 
the 5th century. There has been much dispu- 
tation as to the precise district inhabited by 
each of these two divisions of the Picts, some 
maintaining that the southern division occupied 
the country to the south of the Forth and Clyde, 
while the Northern Picts occupied the whole 
district to the north of these estuaries. The 
best authorities, however, are of opinion that 
both divisions dwelt to the north of Antonine's 
wall, and were divided from each other by the 

What more immediately concerns our pres- 
ent purpose is a passage in Adamnan's work in 
which he speaks of Columba preaching to the 
Picts through an interpreter. Now Columba 

' Gildas, 14. 



was an Irish Scot, whose native tongue was 
Gaelic, and it is from this argued that the Picts 
to whom he preached must have spoken a differ- 
ent language, or at least dialect, and belonged 
to a different race or tribe from the saint him- 
self. Mr. Skene, 8 who ably advocates the 
Gaelic origin of the Picts, perceiving this diffi- 
culty, endeavours to explain away the force of 
Ihe passage by making it mean that Columba 
"interpreted or explained the word of God, 
that is, the Bible, which, being written in 
Latin, would doubtless require to be interpreted 
to them." The passage as quoted by Skene is, 
" Verbo Dei per interpretorem recepto." Gar- 
nett, however, one of the most competent and 
candid writers on this question in its philologi- 
cal aspect, and who maintains, with the great- 
est clearness and ability, the Cymric origin of 
the Picts, looks at the passage in a different 
light. The entire passage, he says, 9 as it 
stands in Colganus, is as follows: "Alio in 
tempore quo sanctus Columba in Pictorum 
provincia per aliquot demorabatur dies, quidam 
",um tota plebeius familia, verbum vitce per in- 
terpretorem, Sancto prcedicante viro, audiens 
credidit, credensque baptizatus est." 1 " Here 
it will be observed," continues Garnett, "Adam- 
nan does not say, ' verbum Dei,' which might 
have been construed to mean the Scripture, 
but 'verbum vita, Sancto prcedicante viro,' 
which can hardly mean anything but 'the 
word of life, as it was preached by the Saint.'" 
Certainly, we think, the unprejudiced reader 
must admit that, so far as this point is con- 
cerned, Mr. Garnett has the best of it. Al- 
though at that time the Gaelic and Cymric 
dialects may have had much more in common 
than they have at the present day, nevertheless 
it appears to be beyond a doubt that the differ- 
ence between the two was so great that a Gael 
would be unintelligible to a speaker of Cymric. 2 

8 Highlanders, vol. i. p. 72. 

' Garnett's Philological Essays, p. 199. 

1 Adam. ap. Colganum, 1. ii. c. 32. 

* On the subject in question the recently published 
T.ook of Deer cannot be said to afford us any informa- 
tion. It gives a short account of the landing of 
Columba and a companion at Aberdour in the north 
of Aberdeenshire, and the founding of a monastery at 
Deer. But although the entries are in Gaelic, they do 
not tell ns what language Colnmba spoke, nor whether 
' Bede the Pict,' the mormaer of Buchan, understood 
him without an interpreter. The name of the saint 
Drostan whom Columba left beliiud him to prose- 

The next and most important authority of 
this class on this qucestio vexata is the Vener- 
able Bede, who, considering the age in which he 
lived, exercised so much caution and discrimina- 
tion, that he deserves to be listened to with re- 
spect Bede was born about 673. He was 
educated in the Monastery of Wearmouth, 
whence he removed to Jarrow, where he was 
ordained deacon in his nineteenth year, and 
priest in his thirtieth, and where he spent the 
rest of his days, dying in 735. He wrote many 
works, but the most important is the Historia 
Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, the materials 
for which he obtained chiefly from native 
chronicles and biographies, records and public 
documents, and oral and written communica- 
tions from contemporaries. 

"We shall transcribe most of the passage in 
which Bede speaks of the ancient inhabitants 
of Britain; so that our readers may be able to 
judge for themselves of the nature and value 
of the testimony borne by this venerable au- 
thor. It must, however, be kept in mind that 
Bede does not pretend to give any but the ec- 
clesiastical history of the English nation, every- 
thing else being subsidiary to this. 

" This island at present, following the num- 
ber of the books in which the Divine law was 
written, contains five nations, the English, 
Britons, Scots, Picts, and Latins, each in its 
own peculiar dialect cultivating the sublime 
study of Divine truth. The Latin tongue is, 
by the study of the Scriptures, become common 
to all the rest. At first this island had no 
other inhabitants but the Britons, from whom 
it derived its name, and who coming over into 
Britain, as is reported, from Annorica, pos- 
sessed themselves of the southern parts thereof. 
When they, beginning at the south, had made 
themselves master of the greatest part of the 
island, it happened, that the nation of the 

cute the work, is Pictish, at any rate not Irish, so 
that nothing can be inferred from this. Since much 
of the first part of this book was written, Mr. Skene 
has advanced the theory, founded partly on four 
new Pictish words he has managed to discover, that 
the language of the Picts was neither pure Gaelic 
nor Cymric, 'but a sort of low Gaelic dialect par- 
taking largely of Welsh forms.' This theory is not 
new, but was distinctly put forth by Dr. Maclauchlan 
some years ago in his able and learned work, The 
Early Scottish Church, p. 29 : if true, it would cer- 
tainly satisfy a great many of the demands which any 
hypothesis on the subject must do. 



Picts coming into the ocean from Scythia, as 
is reported, in a few tall ships, were driven 
by the winds beyond the shores of Britain 
and arrived off Ireland, on the northern 
coasts, where, fouling the nation of the Scots, 
they requested to he allowed to settle among 
them, but could not succeed in obtaining 
their request. The Scots answered, that 
the island could not contain them both; 
but ' wo can give you good advice,' said they, 
' what to do ; we know there is another island, 
not far from ours, to the eastward, which we 
often see at a distance, when the days are clear. 
If you will repair thither, you may be able to 
obtain settlements; or if they should oppose 
you, you may make use of us as auxiliaries.' 
The Picts accordingly sailing over into Britain, 
began to inhabit the northern parts thereof, for 
the Britons were possessed of the southern. 
Now the Picts having no wives, and asking 
them of the Scots, they would not consent to 
grant them upon any other terms, than that 
when any difficulty should arise, they should 
rather choose themselves a king from the fe- 
male royal race than from the male; which 
custom, as is well known, has been observed 
among the Picts to this day. In process of 
time, Britain, besides the Britons and the Picts, 
received a third nation, the Scots, who, de- 
parting out of Ireland under their leader Eeuda, 
either by fair means, or by force of arms, se- 
cured to themselves those settlements among 
the Picts which they still possess. From the 
name of their commander, they are to this day 
called Dalreudins ; for in their language Dal 

signifies a part It is properly the 

country of the Scots, who, migrating from 
thence, as has been said, added a third nation 
in Britain to the Britons and the Picts. There 
is a very large gulf of the sea, which formerly 
divided the nation of the Picts from the Bri- 
tons ; which gulf runs from the west very far 
into the land, where, to this day, stands the 
strong city of the Britons, called Alcluith. 
The Scots arriving on the north side of this 
bay, settled themselves there." 2 

Here then Bede informs us that in his time 
the common report was that the Picts came 
into Scotland from Scythia, which, like the 

1 Bcde's Eccla. Hut., Rook I. c. i. 

Germania of Tacitus, may bo taken to mean 
the northern countries of Europe generally. 
This is substantially the same statement as that 
of the author of the Histona Britonum, com- 
monly called Nennius, who lived in the 9th 
century, and who informs us that the Picts 
coming to Scotland about 300 B.C., occupied 
the Orkney Islands, whence issuing, they 
laid waste many regions, and seized those 
on the left-hand side, i. e. the north of 
Britain, where they still remained in the writer's 
time, keeping possession of a third part of 
Britain. 3 

Supposing that Bede's report was quite in 
accordance with truth, still it gives us but 
small help in coming to a conclusion as to the 
place of these Picts among the families of men. 
It is certain that by far the greater part of 
Europe had at one time a Celtic population who 
preceded, but ultimately gave way to another 
wave of emigrants from the east. Now, if we 
knew the date at which this so-called migra- 
tion of the Picts took place it might be of con- 
siderable assistance to us; but as we cannot 
now find out whether these emigrants pro- 
ceeded from a Celtic or a Teutonic stock, the 
statement of Bede, even if reliable, helps us 
not at all towards a solution of the question 
as to the race of the Picts. Innes 4 remarks 
very justly on this point " Now, supposing 
that there were any good ground for the opin- 
ion of these two writers, which they themselves 
give only as a conjecture or hearsay, and that 
we had any certainty of the Caledonians, or 
Picts, having had their origin from the more 
northern parts of the European continent, it 
were an useless, as well as an endless discus- 
sion, to examine in particular from which of 
all the northern nations of the continent tho 
first colony came to Caledonia; because that 
these nations of the north were almost in per- 
petual motion, and changing habitations, as 
Strabo remarks ; and he assigns for it two rea- 
sons : the one, because of the barrenness of the 
soil, they tilled not the ground, and built habi- 
tations only for a day ; the other, because be- 
ing often overpowered by their neighbours, 
they were forced to remove. Another reason 
why it is impossible to know from which of 

* Nennius 12, Vatican MS. 

4 Critical Assay on Scotland, vol. i. y. 68. 



those nations the northern parts of Britain, 
(supposing they came from thence) were at 
first peopled, is because we have but very lame 
accounts of these northern nations from the 
Greek or Roman writers, (from whom alone we 
can look for any thing certain in those early 
times) especially of those of Scandia, to the 
north of the Baltic sea, as the same Strabo ob- 
serves. Besides, it appears that Caledonia was 
peopled long before the inhabitants of these 
northern parts of the continent were men- 
tioned, or even known by the most ancient 
writers wo have ; and perhaps before the first 
nations mentioned by them were settled in 
those parts." 

There is, however, another statement made 
by Bede in the passage quoted, upon which, 
as it refers to his own time, much more reli- 
ance can be placed ; it is, that in his time 
Britain contained five nations, each having its 
own peculiar dialect, viz., the English, Britons, 
Scots, Picts, and Latins. We know that the 
English spoke in the main Saxon ; the Britons, 
'. e., the inhabitants of "Wales, Cumbria, &c., 
Welsh ; the Scots, Gaelic ; the Latins, we sup- 
pose, being the Eomanized Britons and eccle- 
siastics. xWhat language then did the Picts 
Bpeak 1 As we know that Bede never travelled, 
he must have got his information from an in- 
formant or by hearsay, which circumstance 
rather detracts from its value. But supposing 
we take the passage literally as it stands, we 
learn that in Bede's time there were five dis- 
tinct peoples or nations, whose names he gives, 
sharing among them the island. He does not 
say there were five distinct tongues, which 
would have been quite a different statement ; 
he speaks of them not so much in respect of 
their language as in respect of their being the 
separate items which composed the inhabitants 
of Britain. In his time they were all quite 
distinct, in a measure independent of and at 
enmity with each other. He does not classify 
them in respect of the race to which they be- 
longed, but with reference to the particular 
districts which they inhabited, and perhaps 
with regard to the time and means of their 
conversion to Christianity, each having been 
converted at a different time and by a different 
saint. The substance then of what he says 
appears to be, that there were in his time 

five distinct tribes or congregations of people 
in Britain, each converted to Christianity, and 
each having the gospel preached in its own 
tongue. Supposing that the Picts and Scots, 
or Picts and Britons, or Picts and English did 
speak exactly the same tongue, it is not at all 
likely that Bede, in the present case, would 
have classed them together as both being one 
nation. Moreover, suppose we allow that Bedo 
did mean that each of these nations spoke a 
language quite distinct from all the others, then 
his statement cuts equally at the Gothic and 
Celtic theory. The conclusion we are forced 
to is, that from this passage nothing can be 
gained to help us out of our difficulty. 

There is a statement at the end of the 
passage quoted to which we would draw the 
reader's attention, as being Bede's way, and no 
doubt the universal way in his time, of ac- 
counting for a peculiar law which appears to 
have regulated the succession to the Pictish 
throne, and which ultimately, according to 
some, was the means of placing on that throne 
a Scottish monarch ; thus accounting to some 
extent for the sudden disappearance and ap- 
parent destruction of the Pictish people and 

We shall here refer to one other passage 
in the same historian, which has perhaps 
given rise to greater and more acrimonious 
contention than any other point in connec- 
tion with this wordy discussion. The only 
word that has come down to us, which, with 
the exception of the names of the Pictish 
kings, we can be sure is a remnant of the Pic- 
tish language, is the name said by Bede to 
have been given to the eastern termination of 
the wall of Antonine. Bede, 6 in speaking of 
the turf wall built by the Britons of Valentia 
in the beginning of the 5th century, says, " it 
begins at about two miles distance from the 
monastery of Abercorn on the west, at a place 
called in the Pictish language Peanfahel, but 
in the English tongue Penneltum." This state- 
ment of Bede's is straightforward and clear 
enough, and has never been disputed by any 
writer on any one of the three sides of the 
question. Nevertheless it has been used by the 
advocates respectively of the Gothic, Gaelic, and 

Book i., o, 12. 



Cymric origin of the Picts, as an undoubted 
proof of the correctness of each of these theo- 
ries. Pinkerton, whose dishonesty and acri- 
moniousncss arc well known, and must detract 
considerably from the force of his arguments, 
claims it as being entirely Gothic or Teutonic. 
"Tho Pictish -word," he says, 6 "is broad Go- 
thic; Paena 'to extend,' Ihre; and Valid, a 
broad sound of veal, the Gothic for ' wall,' or 
of the Latin vallum, contracted val ; hence it 
means ' the extent or end of the wall.' " This 
statement of Pinkerton's may be dismissed as 
too far-fetched and awkward to merit much 
consideration, and we may safely regard the 
word as capable of satisfactory explanation only 
in Celtic. Innes, who upholds the British, 
'. e. the Cymric, origin of the Picts, says, 7 
" we nowhere find a clearer proof of the Pictish 
language being the same as the British [Welsh], 
than in Bede, where he tells us that Penudhel 
in Pictish signifies the head of the wall, which 
is just the signification that the same two 
words Pen and UaJiel have in the British." 
In this opinion Chalmers and other advocates 
of the Cymric theory coincide. Mr. Gar- 
nett, who essentially agrees with Innes and 
Chalmers as to the Cymric origin of the Picts, 
lays little stress upon this word as furnishing 
an argument in support of his theory. " Al- 
most the only Pictish word given us by an an- 
cient writer is the well-known Pen val (or as 
it appears in the oldest MSS. of Bede (Peann 
fahel), the name given by the Picts to the 
Wall's End, or eastern termination of the 
Vallum of Antoninus. It is scarcely necessary 
to say the first part of the word is decidedly 
Cymric ; pen, head, being contrary to all Gaelic 
analogy. The latter half might be plausibly 
claimed as the Gaelic fal; gwall being the 
more common termination in Welsh for a 
wall or rampart. Fal, however, does occur in 
Welsh in the sense of inclosure, a signification 
not very remote." 8 

The two most recent and able supporters 9 
of the Gaelic theory are of much the same 

' Inquiry into the Hist, of Scot., vol. i. p. 357, cd. 

7 Crit. Essfai, vol. i. p. 75. 

Garnctt's Phil. Essays, p. 198. 

* Robertson's Scotland under her Early Kings, vol. 
ii. p. 380. Forbes- Leslie's Early Races of Scotland, 
vol. i. p 35. 


mind as Garnett, and appear to regard this 
tantalizing word as affording no support to 
either side. Burton 1 cannot admit that any- 
thing has been made out of this leading to a 
historical conclusion. 

We may safely conclude, then, that this so 
called Pictish word, or, indeed, any informa- 
tion which we find in Bede, affords us no key to 
the perplexing question of the origin and race 
of the Picts. 

We learn, however, one fact from Bede 2 
which is so far satisfactory, viz., that in his 
time there were two divisions of the Picts, 
known as the Northern and Southern Picts, 
which were separated from each other by steep 
and rugged mountains. On reading the pas- 
sage in Bede, one very naturally supposes that 
the steep and rugged mountains must be the 
Grampians, to which the expression applies 
more aptly than to any other 'mountain-chain 
in Scotland. Even this, however, has been 
made matter of dispute, it being contended by 
some that the locality of the Southern Picts 
was in the south-west and south of Scotland, 
where some writers set up a powerful Pictish 
kingdom. Mr. Grub, 3 however, has clearly 
shown that the locality of the Southern Picts 
was to the north of the Forth and Clyde, and 
to the south of the Grampians. " The mistake 
formerly so common in regard to the country 
of the Southern Picts converted by St. Ninian, 
was in part owing to the situation of Candida 
Casa. It was supposed that his see must have 
been in the country of those whom he con- 
verted." He clearly proves that it was not so 
in reality, and that there was nothing so un- 
usual in the situation as to justify the conclu- 
sion which was drawn from it. " It was, no 
doubt, the case that the teachers by whom the 
chief Celtic and Teutonic nations were con- 
verted generally fixed their seat among those 
whom they instructed in the faith. But there 
was no necessity for this, especially when the 
residence of the teacher was in the neighbour- 
hood of his converts. St. Columba was pri- 
mate of all the churches of the Northern Picts, 
but ho did not permanently reside among that 
nation. St. Ninian had ready access to his 

1 Hist, of Scot., vol. i. p. 187 

a Hook iii. ch. 4. 

Eccl. Hist, of Soot., vol. i. p. 15, *c. 



Pietisli converts, and could govern them as 
easily from liis White Church on the Solway, 
as Columba could instruct and rule the North- 
ern Picts from his monastery in lona." 4 

Other authorities appealed to by the uphold- 
ers of each of the Celtic theories are the Welsh 
traditions, the Irish Annals, the Chronicles 
of the Picts and Scots, and various legend- 
ary documents of more or less value and 
authenticity. As these are of no greater au- 
thority than the writers with whom we have 
been dealing, and as the partisans of each 
theory claim the various passages as either 
confirming, or, at any rate, not contradicting 
their views, we shall not further trouble the 
reader with specimens of the manner in 
which they are dealt with. There is one 
passage, however, in the Welsh Triads, which 
the advocates of the Gaelic hypothesis claim 
as strongly confirmatory of their theory. After 
referring to the coming in of the Cymry, the 
Britons, etc., the Triads 6 go on to say, "Three 
tribes came, under protection, into the Island 
of Britain, and by the consent and permission 
of the nation of the Cymry, without weapon, 
without assault. The first was the tribe of the 
Caledonians in the north. The second was 
the Gwyddelian Eace, which are now in Alban 
(Scotland). The third were the men of Gale- 
din, who came into the Isle of Wight. Three 
usurping tribes came into the Island of Britain 
and never departed out of it. The first were 
the Coranied, who came from the land of Pwyl. 
The second were the Gwyddelian Ffichti, who 
came into Alban over the sea of Llychlyn (Den- 
mark). The tliird were the Saxons." " The 
Triads," says Skene 6 in connection with this, 
" appear distinctly to have been written pre- 
vious to the Scottish conquest in the ninth cen- 
tury, and they mention among the three usurp- 
ing tribes of Britain the ' Gwyddyl Ffichti,' 
and add immediately afterwards, ' and these 
Gwyddyl Ffichti are in Alban, along the shore 
of the sea of Llychlyn.' In another place, 
among the treacherous tribes of Britain, the 
same Triads mention the ' Gwyddyl coch o'r 
Werddon a ddaethant in Alban,' that is ' the 
Eed Gwyddyl from Ireland, who came into 

4 Eccl. Ifisl. of Scot., vol. i. p. 17. 

5 Davies' Celtic Researches, p. 165. 

6 Highlanders of Scotland, vol. i. p. 69. 

Alban,' plainly alluding to the Dalriads, who 
were an Irish colony, and who have been ac- 
knowledged by all to have been a Gaelic race. 
It will be observed from these passages that 
the Welsh Triads, certainly the oldest and 
most unexceptionable authority on the subject, 
apply the same term of Gwyddyl to the Piots 
and to the Dalriads, and consequently they 
must have been of the same race, and the 
Picts a Gaelic people. Farther, the Welsh 
word ' Gwyddyl,' by which they distinguish 
that race, has been declared by all the best au- 
thorities to be exactly synonymous with the 
word Gael, the name by which the Highlanders 
have at all times been distinguished, and the 
Welsh words ' Gwyddyl Ffichti ' cannot be 
interpreted to mean any tiling else than ' The 
Gaelic Picts,' or ' Pictish Gael.' " 

The following is the substance of the infor- 
mation given by the Irish writers as to the 
origin, race, and early history of the Picts. 
The greater part of it is, of course, mere tradi- 
tion, accumulating as it grew older, and height- 
ened by the imagination of the writers them- 
selves. 7 The Picts were called by the Irish 
writers Cruitlinidh, which O'Brien considers to 
be the same as Britneigh, or Britons ; but ac- 
cording to others the name was derived from 
Cruthen, who founded the kingdom of the Picts 
in North Britain, in the first century ; others 
derive the name from Cruit, a harp, hence Cruit- 
neach, the Irish for Pict, also signifies a harper, 
as they are said to have been celebrated harp- 
ers. The ancient Britons are mentioned by 
Csesar, and other Eoman writers, to have 
painted their bodies of a blue colour, with the 
juice of a plant called woad, hence the painted 
Britons were called-by the Eomans Picti. The 
Picts or Cruthneans, according to the Psalter 
of Cashel, and other ancient annals, came from 
Thrace, in the reign of the Milesian monarch 
Heremon, nearly a thousand years before the 
Christian era, and landed at Inver Slainge, 
now the Bay of Wexford, under two chief 
commanders named Gud and Cathluan, but 
not being permitted to settle in Ireland, they 
sailed to Albain, or that part of North Britain, 
now Scotland, their chiefs having been kindly 

7 We are indebted for most of the following account 
to Connellan's Annals of the Four Masters, p. 307 



supplied with wives of Irish birth. The 
Crutlineans became possessed of North Brit- 
ain, and founded there the kingdom of the 
Picts. A colony of the Crutlineans, or 
Picts, from North Britain, settled in Ulster 
in early times, and are often mentioned from 
the first to the ninth century; they resided 
chiefly in Dalaradia and Tir Eogain, or parts 
of Down, Antrim, and Deny, and became 
mixed by intermarriages with the old Irish of 
the Irian race, and were ruled over by their 
own princes and chiefs; and some of those 
Picts, also settled in Connaught, in the county 
of Eoscommon. According to the Irish writ- 
ers, the Picts, in their first progress to Ireland 
from Thrace, settled a colony in Gaul, and the 
tribes called Pictones and Pictavi, in that 
country, were descended from them, and they 
gave name to Pictavia, or the city of Poictiers, 
and the province of Poitou; and from these 
Picts were descended the Vendeans of France. 
The Caledonians, or first inhabitants of Scot- 
land, are considered to have been the same as 
the Picts, and mixed with Cimbrians or Britons, 
and some of the Milesian Scots from Ireland. 

The advocates of the various theories, appa- 
rently aware of how little can be made of the 
meagre and suspicious information afforded by 
these early histories and chronicles, have lat- 
terly made language the principal battle-ground 
on which to fight out this endless and profit- 
less strife. Most of them take for granted 
that if the language spoken by any people can 
bo found out, a sure indication is afforded of 
the race to which that people belonged; and 
that the topography of a country must neces- 
sarily have been imposed by the earliest inha- 
bitants of whom we have record; and that, if 
so, the limits of their territory must have been 
co-extensive with the limits of such topography. 
This, however, is going too far. AH the length 
to which we are permitted in fairness to go, 
when we find in any district or country an 
abundance of names of natural objects, as 
rivers and mountains, which can with certainty 
be traced to any particular language, is, that 
at one time or other, a race of people speaking 
this language must have passed over and dwelt 
for some time in that particular district or 
country. We find Celtic names of rivers and 
mountains scattered all over Europe, in the 

midst of peoples who are admitted on all hands 
to have little or none of the Celtic element in 
them. 8 So that an unprejudiced judge must 
admit that the fact of Cymric and Gaelic words 
being found in certain districts of the north of 
Scotland argues only that at one time people 
speaking these dialects must have dwelt in 
these districts. It affords no proof by itself 
that the people whom we first meet with in 
these districts are the people who spoke these 
dialects, and who imposed these names; nor in- 
deed, if we could be sure that the people whom 
we first meet with as inhabitants also spoke the 
dialect to which such names belong, does it 
prove that they were the imposers of these 
names, that the dialect was their native and ori- 
ginal tongue, and that they had not acquired it 
either as conquerors or conquered. Nor can it 
be adduced as a proof of sameness of race, that 
the present inhabitants of any particular dis- 
trict speak the same language as those who in- 
habited that district 1800 years ago or less. 
" He who trusts to language, and especially to 
written language, alone, as an index to race, 
must bo prepared to maintain that the Gallic 
nation emigrated from, the seven hills of Rome, 
and that the Franks came with them; that the 
Romans extirpated the Celts and Iberians of 
Spain, and that the Goths and Moors spoke 
nearly the same language as the Romans; that 
the Negroes of the United States and Jamaica 
were exported from England when in their in- 
fancy. So would Philology, if left to herself, 
interpret phenomena, of which we know, from 
other sources of information, that the causes 
are totally different." 9 "The clearest proof 
that a mountain or river has a Celtic name, 
only shows that at some time or other Celts 
had been there; it does not tell us when they 
were there. Names, as the experience of the 
world amply shows, live after the people who 
bestowed them have long disappeared, and that 
through successive races of occupants. nl 

The materials which have been wrought up 
into a linguistic argument by the upholders of 
each of the three Pictish theories, Gothic, 
Gaelic, and Cymric, are chiefly a list of Pictish 

8 See Taylor's Words and Places, ch. ix. 

9 Pike's English and their Origin, ch. ii., which 
contains some shrewd and valuable remarks on the 

subject of language. 
1 Burton, vol. i. p. 192. 



kings which, we believe, may be depended on 
as authentic, and the topography of the country 
to the east and south-east of the Grampians, 
together with the single so-called Pictish word 
Peanfahel, which we have already considered. 
The theorists differ as much in their interpre- 
tation of the significance of what remains of 
the Pictish language, as we have seen they do 
in their interpretation of any references to the 
subject in dispute in ancient chronicles. The 
names of the kings, and the names of places 
have been traced by the disputants to Gothic, 
Gaelic and Cymric roots. As an amusing 
specimen of the ingenuity displayed in this 
hunt after roots, we give below a small table 
from Burton, comparing the different etymo- 
logies of names of kings given by Pinkerton, 
Chalmers, and Jamieson. 2 

It is, however, generally admitted at the 
present day, that so far as language is con- 
cerned, the Gothic theory has not the remotest 
chance; that names of places and of kings are 
most satisfactorily and straightforwardly ex- 
plained by Cymric roots. As the Gothic 
or Teutonic theory cannot stand the test 
of modern criticism, we shall content our- 
selves with giving specimens of the manner 
in which the linguistic, or, more strictly, 
topographical argument is used by the advo- 
cates of the Cymric and Gaelic hypotheses 

The Cymric argument is clearly, ably, and 
succinctly stated by Mr. Garnett in his essay 
on "The Eelation of the Pict and Gael;" he, 
however, it must be remembered, looked at 
the whole question mainly in its philological 
aspect. In stating the argument we shall use 
chiefly his own words. 3 " That the Picts 

were actually Celts, and not of Teutonic race, 
is proved to a demonstration by the names of 
their kings; of whom a list, undoubtedly gen- 
uine from the fifth century downwards, was 
published by Innes, from a manuscript in the 
Colbertine library. Some of those appellations 
are, as far as we know at present, confined to 
the Pictish sovereigns; but others are well- 
known Welsh and Gaelic names. They differ, 
however, slightly in their forms, from their 
Cymric equivalents ; and more decidedly so 
from the Gaelic ones ; and, as far as they go, 
lead to the supposition that those who bore 
them spoke a language bearing a remote ana- 
logy to the Irish with its cognates, but a pretty 
close one to the Welsh. 

" In the list furnished by Innes the names 
Madcon, Elpin, Tar an (i.e. thunder), Uven 
(Owen), Bargoit, are those of personages well 
known in British history or tradition. Wrgust, 
which appears as Fergus in the Irish annals, is 
the Welsh Gwrgust. Talorg, Talorgan, evi- 
dently contain the British word Tal, forehead, 
a common element in proper names ; ex. gr. 
Talhaiarn, Iron Forehead ; Taliesin, splendid 
forehead, &c. Taleurgain would signify in 
Welsh golden or splendid front. Three kings 
are represented as sons of Wid, in the Irish 
annals of Fait or Foith. In Welsh ortho- 
graphy it would be Gwydd, wild , a common 
name in Brittany at the present day, under the 
form of Gwez. The names Drust, Drostan, 
Wrad, Necton (in Bede Naitari), closely re- 
semble the Welsh Trwst, Trwstan, Gwriad, 
Nwython. It will be sufficient to compare the 
entire list with the Irish or Highland gene- 
alogies, to be convinced that there must have 
been a material distinction between the two 


Brudi or 

Chalmers for Celtic, 

Probably the British 
name Trwst, which 
signifies din. 

Brudw, which is pro- 
nounced Bridw or 
Bradw, is in the 
British treacherous. 

Pinkerton for Gothic, 

Drust, a common Pikish name, is 
also Persian, and signifies sin- 
cems. . . The Persians were 
the old Sythse or Goths, from 
whom the rest sprung. 

Brudi is the real Gothic name; 
Bout is the wounded (Bott 
ictus AVachter). 

Jamieson, "Teutonic Etymons." 

Su. Goth, troesi, drislig. Germ., 
dreist. Alem. gidrost, daring. 

Island., Briddi eminebat. vercl : 
breida, to extend; and Sueo- 
Goth, , law; 2. one who ex- 
tends the law, who publishes it. 

For other instances see Burton's Scotland, i. p. 196. 
* Garnett's Phil. Essays, pp. 197, 198. 



branches. Most of the Pictish names are 
totally unknown in Irish or Highland history, 
and the few that are equivalent, such as Angus 
and Fergus, generally differ in form. The Irish 
annalists have rather obscured the matter, by 
transforming those names according to their 
national system of orthography ; but it is re- 
markable that a list in the 'Book of Bally- 
mote,' partly given by Lynch in his ' Cam- 
brensis Eversus,' agrees closely with Innes, 
even preserving the initial w or u where the 
Gaelic would require / The philological in- 
ferences to be deduced from this document may 
bo thus briefly summed up : 1. The names of 
the Pictish kings are not Gaelic, the majority 
of them being totally unknown both in the 
Irish and Highland dialects, while the few 
which have Gaelic equivalents decidedly differ 
from them in form. Cineod (Kenneth) and 
Domhnall or Donnel, appear to be the only ex- 
ceptions. 2. Some of them cannot be identi- 
fied as Welsh; but the greater number are 
either identical with or resemble known Cym- 
ric names ; or approach more nearly to Welsh 
in structure and orthography than to any other 
known language. 3. There appears neverthe- 
less to have been a distinction, amounting, at 
all events, to a difference in dialect. The Pict- 
ish names beginning with w would in Welsh 
have gw, as Gwryust for Wrgust, and so of the 
rest. There may have been other differences 
sufficient to justify Bede's statement that the 
Pictish language was distinct from the British, 
which it might very well be without any im- 
peachment of its claim to be reckoned as closely 

We have already referred to the use made of 
the Pictish word Peannfahel, preserved by 
Bede, and to the phrase in Adamnan concerning 
Columba's preaching by means of an interpreter. 
It is contended by the upholders of the Cymric 
theory that the ancient topographical appella- 
tions of the Pictish territory can in general 
only be explained by the Cymric dialects, one 
strong point being the number of local names 
beginning with the Welsh prefix after, which, 
according to Chalmers, was in several instances 
subsequently changed by the Gael into inver. 
Skene, 4 who felt the force of this argument, 

4 Highlanders. 

a-ied to get rid of it by contending that alter is 
essentially a Gaelic word, being compounded 
of ath, ford, and bior, water. Garnett thinks 
this explanation utterly gratuitous, and observes 
that the term may be much more satisfactorily 
accounted for by a different process. " There 
are," he observes, 6 " three words in Welsh do- 
noting a meeting of waters after, cynver, and 
ynver, respectively compounded of the par- 
ticles a, denoting juxtaposition, cyn (Lat. con), 
and yn, with the root ber, flowing, preserved 
in the Breton verb beri, to flow, and all virtu- 
ally equivalent to our word confluence. Inver 
is the only term known in any Gaelic dialect, 
either as an appellative or in proper names ; 
and not a single local appellation with the pre- 
fix after occurs either in Ireland or the He- 
brides, or on the west coast of Scotland. In- 
deed, the fact that inver was substituted for it 
after the Gaelic occupation of the Pictish terri- 
tories, is decisive evidence on the point ; for, 
if after was a term familiar to the Gael, why 
should they change it 1 " 

" In Scotland," says Isaac Taylor, 8 who up- 
holds the Cymric hypothesis, " the invert and 
afters are distributed in a curious and instruc- 
tive manner. If we draw a line across the map 
from a point a little south of Inverary, to one 
a little north of Aberdeen, we shall find that 
(with very few exceptions) the invers lie to the 
north west of the line, and the aftera to the 
south-east of it. This line nearly coincides with 
the present southern limit of the Gaelic tongue, 
and probably also with the ancient division be- 
tween the Picts and Scots. Hence we may con- 
clude that the Picts, a people belonging to the 
Cymric branch of the Celtic stock, and whose 
language has now ceased to be anywhere verna- 
cular, occupied the central and eastern districts 
of Scotland, as far as the Grampians ; while 
the Gadhelic Scots have retained their language, 
and have given their name to the whole coun- 
try. The local names prove, moreover, that in 
Scotland the Cymry did not encroach on the 
Gael, but the Gael on the Cymry. The in- 
trusive names are invers, which invaded the 
land of the afters. Thus on the shore of eth 
Frith of Forth we find a few invers among the 
after*. The Welsh word uchel, high, may also 

6 Phil. Essays, p. 200. 

Words and Places, p. 246. 



bo adduced to prove the Cymric affinities of 
the Picts. This word does not exist in either 
the Erse or the Gaelic languages, and yet it ap- 
pears in the name of the OCHIL HILLS, in Perth- 
shire. Again, the Erse bally, a town, occurs 
in 2,000 names in Ireland ; and, on the other 
hand, is entirely absent in Wales and Brittany. 
In Scotland this most characteristic test-word is 
found frequently in the inver district, while it 
never appears among the abers. The evidence 
of these names makes it impossible to deny 
that the Celts of the Scottish Lowlands must 
have belonged to the Cymric branch of the 
Celtic stock." 

We infer from what Mr. Taylor says, that 
he is of opinion that at one time the language 
of the whole of the north of Scotland was 
Cymric, but that the district in which the 
Scots obtained a settlement afterwards under- 
went a change of topography. But it is ad- 
mitted on all hands that the Scottish Dalriada 
comprehended no more than the modern Ar- 
gylesliire, extending no farther north than 
Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe ; and that the 
Irish Scots had little influence on the people or 
their language to the north-west of the Gram- 
pians. Indeed, Skene 7 maintains that this dis- 
trict, in which he places the Northern Picts, 
was never subjected to the Scots, and that it 
was only the Southern Picts who latterly came 
under their sway. Yet we find that the abers 
here are few and far between, or, indeed, any 
indications of Cymric possession such as we 
find in the southern district. Is it possible 
that the Northern and Southern Picts were re- 
presentatives of the two great divisions of the 
Celts, the former claiming a Gaelic origin, 
and the latter a Cymric? Perhaps after all 
the Welsh Triads may in course of time be of 
some help in the solution of this dark prob- 
lem, as, according to them, there was more 
than one Celtic settlement in Scotland before 
the migration of the Scots. The passages 
above quoted are, to all appearance, much 
more favourable to the Gaelic than to the 
Cymric hypothesis, and have been made much 
of by Skene and other supporters of that side 
of the question. 

The Cymric origin of the Picts, besides 

7 Highlanders. 

Garnett and Taylor, is supported by such 
names as Innes, Chalmers, Ritson, Whittaker, 
Grub, and others. 

Pinkerton, it is well known, is the great and 
unscrupulous upholder of the Gothic origin of 
the Picts ; while the Gaelic theory has for its 
supporters such writers, of undoubted ability 
and acuteness, as Skene, E. W. Robertson, 
Forbes-Leslie, &c. Burton 8 is of opinion that 
the Highlanders of the present day are the 
true representatives of the Dalriadic Scots of 
the West. 

We shall, as we have done in the case of the 
other side, allow the upholders of the Gaelic 
hypothesis to state for themselves the Gaelic 
topographical argument. We shall use the 
words of Colonel Forbes-Leslie, who, in his 
invaluable work on the " Early Races of Scot- 
land," 9 says, " The Celtic words Inver and 
Aber have nearly the same meaning ; and the 
relative position in which they occur in names 
of places has been employed as if it were a suf- 
ficient argument for defining the presence or 
preponderance of the British or Gaelic Celts in 
certain districts. In this way Aber, prefixed 
to names of places, has been urged as adequate 
proof that the Picts of Caledonia were Celts of 
the British branch. The value of these and 
some other words requires examination. Iii- 
ver is to be found in names of places in Wales. 
It may possibly be a British word. It cer- 
tainly is a Gaelic one. Aber, although un- 
doubtedly British, is also Gaelic compounded 
of the two words Ath and Bior and signifying 
the same as Inver, viz., the confluence of two 
streams, or the entrance to a river. If the 
word Aber had been unknown to the Gaelic 
scholars of modern days, its former existence in 
that language might have been presumed from 
the ancient names of places in the districts of 
Caledonia, where it occurs most frequently, 
being generally Gaelic and not British. 

"Beyond the limits of Caledonia on the south 
of the Forth and Clyde, but within the boun- 
dary of modern Scotland, the word Inver, 
generally pronounced Inner, is of common oc- 
currence, and bears witness to a Gaelic nomen- 
clature. Thus, Inner or Inverkip, in the county 
of Renfrew ; Innerwell, in the county of \Vig- 

8 Scotland, vol. i. p. 207. 
Vol. i. y. 26. 



ton ; Iimerwiek, in the county of Haddington ; 
[mii'rlcithen, in the county of Peebles ; Inver- 
leith and Inveresk, in the county of Edin- 
burgh, derive their names from their situation 
in regurd to the rivers Kip, Leithun, Esk, &c. 

" From the Moray Frith to the Forth, in the 
eastern counties of Caledonia, tho prefix Inver 
or Aber is used indiscriminately in contiguous 
places. At the confluence of lesser streams 
with the river Dee, in Aberdeenshire, we 
find Inverey, Abergeldie, Invercauld, Inver- 
canny, Aberdeen. Yet in those counties 
viz., Aberdeen, Kincardine, Forfar, Perth, and 
Fife, in which were situated the capitals, 
and which were the richest provinces of the 
southern Picts the number of names of 
places beginning with Inver is three times as 
numerous as those commencing with Aber; 
there being, in a list taken from land-regis- 
ters, which do not go farther back than the 
middle of the sixteenth century, seventy-eight 
with Inver to twenty-four with Aber. It 
may, however, be admitted that, although 
Aber is Gaelic, its use is far more general by 
Celts of the British tribes ; and that the pre- 
dominance of Inver in the districts north of 
tho Spey, and the intermixture of places the 
names of which commence with Inver or Aber, 
not unfrequently used in records of nearly the 
same date for the same place in the country ly- 
ing between the Moray and the Solway Friths, 
is, to a certain extent, evidence of a British 
element of population extending into Caledonia. 
The Britons, in earlier times, may have been 
pressing on to the north by gradual intrusion, 
and were probably afterwards increased by 
bodies of exiles escaping from the severity of 
Roman bondage and the punishment of unsuc- 
cessful revolt. 

" That names of places containing the words 
Bal, from Bail, a place or residence, and Ard, 
a height or rising ground, are so common in 
Ireland, and comparatively rare, so it is alleged, 
in Caledonia, has also been used as an argu- 
ment to prove that the language of the Picts 
and other Caledonians of the southern and 
eastern districts was British, not Gaelic. But 
the foundation of the argument has been as- 
sumed, and is easily disproved. It is true that 
of largo towns and places that appear in gazet- 

teers, names commencing with Bal and Ard are 
not numerous. But in fact such names are 
extremely common. In the lowlands of Aber- 
deenshire that is, in the portion of one county, 
and in the part of Caledonia farthest removed 
from the settlements of the intrusive Gaels, viz., 
the Scots from Ireland registers of land show 
upwards of fifty places the names of which com- 
mence with Bal, and forty which commence 
with Ard. In the Pictish territory, from tho 
Moray Frith to the Forth, I soon collected up 
wards of four hundred names of places begin- 
ning with Bal, and upwards of one hundred 
with Ard; and the number might easily bo 

Mr. E. W. Robertson, one of the latest and 
ablest upholders of this theory, thinks 1 there 
is scarcely sufficient evidence to justify any 
very decided conclusion as to the pre-existence 
of a Cymric population; and that, whilst it 
would be unquestionably erroneous to ascribe 
a Cymric origin to the Picts, the existence of 
a Celtic element akin to the Cymri, amongst 
the population of Alban before the arrival of 
the Gwyddd Ffichti, must remain to a certain 
extent an open question. 

Of all a priori theories that have hitherto 
been advanced as to how Scotland was likely 
to have been at first peopled, that of Father 
Innes, the first writer who investigated tho 
subject thoroughly and critically, appears to 
us to be the most plausible and natural, al- 
though even it is beset with many difficulties. 
It appears to him more natural and probable 
that the Caledonian Britons, or Picts, were of 
the same origin as the Britons of the south; 
that as these came in originally from the near- 
est coast of Gaul, as they multiplied in the 
island, they advanced to the north and settled 
there, carrying with them the customs and 
language of the South Britons.* 

We have thus endeavoured to lay before 
the reader, as fully as space permits, and as 
clearly and unprejudicedly as possible, the 
materials at present existing by means of 
which to form an opinion on the Pictish ques- 
tion, and the arguments pro and con, mainly 
in their own words, urged by the partisans of 
the different theories. It appears to us that 

1 Vol. ii. p. 377. * Essay on Scotland, vol. :. p. 70 



the data within reach are far too scanty to 
justify any one in coming to a settled conclu- 
sion, and that we must wait for more light 
before we can be justified in finally making up 
our minds on this perplexing subject. 1 

At the present day we find that nearly the 
whole of the territory said to have been ori- 
ginally occupied by the Picts, is inhabited, 
and has been for centuries, by a population 
which in appearance is far more Teutonic than 
Celtic, and which undoubtedly speaks a broad 
Teutonic dialect. 2 And even in the district 
where the Gaelic language has been triumphant 
for ages, it is acknowledged even by the most 
devoted partisans of the Gaelic theory, that 
among the population there is a very consider- 
able intermixture of the Teutonic element. 
Burton thinks, from a general view of the 
whole question, that the proportion of the Teu- 
tonic race that came into the use of the Gaelic, 
was much greater than the proportion of the 
Gaelic that came into the use of the Teutonic 
or Saxon, and that this may account for the 
contrasts of physical appearance to be seen in 
the Highlands. 

We certainly have not exhausted the statement 
of the question, have not stated fully and com- 
pletely all the points in dispute ; nor do we pretend 
to have given with fulness all the arguments pro 
and eon on the various sides. We have, how- 
ever, given as much as will enable any ordinary 

1 We have already (p. 22) referred to the Gaelo- 
Cymric theory broached by Dr. Maclauchlan in his 
Early Scottish Church, and recently adopted by Dr. 
Skene. Speaking of the distribution of the topo- 
graphical nomenclature in the Highlands, Dr. Mac- 
lauchlan says it indicates one of two things ; ' ' either 
that the one race overpowered the other in the east, 
and superinduced a new nomenclature over the old 
throughout the country, that we have in fact two 
successive strata of Celtic names, the Gaelic under- 
lying the British, which is by no means impossible; 
or, what is more likely, that the Pictish people were 
a people lying midway between the Gael and the 
Cyinri more Gaelic than the Cymri, and more Cymric 
than the Gael. This is precisely the character of the 
old Pictish topography; it is a mixture of Gaelic and 
Cymric ; and if the language of the people was like 
their topography, it too was a language neither Gaelic 
nor Cymric, but occupying a middle- space between 
them, indicating the identity of the races at some dis- 
tant period, although they afterwards became rivals 
for the possession of the land. " This we think on the 
whole the most satisfactory theory yet propounded. 

* We would infer from the recently published Book of 
Deer, that down at least to the time of David II., the 
inhabitants were still a Gaelic speaking population ; all 
the entries in that book as to land are in that language. 

reader to form for himself a fair idea of the 
present state of the Pictish question, and indi- 
cated the sources whence more information 
may be derived, should any one wish to pur- 
sue the subject farther. In the words of the 
latest and greatest Scottish historian " this 
brief survey of the great Pictish controversy 
leaves nothing but a melancholy record of 
wasted labour and defeated ambition. It has 
been more fruitless than a polemical or a politi- 
cal dispute, for these leave behind them, either 
for good or evil, their marks upon the conduct 
and character of the populations among whom 
they have raged; while here a vast outlay of 
learning, ingenuity, enthusiasm, and, it must 
be added, temper, have left no visible monu- 
ment but a pile of forbidding volumes, in 
which should any one who has not studied the 
matter fundamentally expect to find instructive 
information, he will assuredly be led into a 
tangled maze of unintelligible pedantry, from 
which he will come forth with no impression 
but a nightmare feeling of hopeless struggle 
with difficulties." 3 

A. D. 446843. 

Early History Scottish Settlement Origin of Scots 
Dalriada Conversion of Picts Druidism i^t. 
Columba lona Spread of Christianity Brude 
and his Successors Dun-Nechtan Pictish Wars 
Ungus Contests Norsemen Union of Picts and 
Scots Scoto-Irish or Dalriads Lorn, Fergus, 
Angus and their Successors Aidan Contest at 
Degsastan Donal Breac Wars with Irish and 
Picts Conal II. and Successors Ferchar Fada 
Selvach and Duncha Beg Eocha III. unites Dal- 
riada Muredach Contests with Picts Aodh-fin 
Eocha IV. or Achaius Alpin Kenneth Union 
of Picts and Scots Dalriadic Government Tanist 
Brehon Laws Fosterage Lists of Kings. 

As we have already said, the materials for the 
internal history of the Highlands during the 
Roman occupation are of the scantiest, nearly 
all that can be recorded being the straggles of 
the northern tribes with the Roman invaders, 
and the incursions of the former and their 
allies into the territories of the Romanized 
Britons. Doubtless many events as worthy of 
record as these, an account of which has been 

3 Burton, vol. i. p. 200. 



preserved, were during this period being 
transacted in the northern part of Scotland, 
and wo have seen that many additions, from 
various quarters, must have been made to the 
population. However, there are no records 
extant which enable us to form any distinct 
notion of the nature of these events, and his- 
tory cannot be manufactured. 

After the departure of the Eomans, the pro- 
vincial Britons of the south of Scotland were 
completely at the mercy of the Picts as well 
as the Saxons, who had been invited over by 
the South Britons to assist them against the 
northern barbarians. These Saxons, we know, 
very soon entered into alliance with those 
whom they came to repel, and between them 
the Britons south of the friths were eventually 
driven into the West, where for centuries they 
appear to have maintained an independent 
kingdom under the name of Strathclyde, until 
ultimately they were incorporated with the 
Scots. * 

Although both the external and internal 
history of the Highlands during this period is 
much better known than in the case of the 
Boinan period, still the materials are exceed- 
ingly scanty. Scottish historians, from Fordun 
and Boece downwards, made it their business 
to fill up from their own imaginations what is 
wanting, so that, until the simple-minded but 
acute Innes put it in its true light, the early 
history of Scotland was a mass of fable. 

Undoubtedly the two most momentous 
events of this period are the firm settlement in 
Argyle of a colony of Scots from Ireland and 
some of the neighbouring isles in 503, 5 and 
the conversion of the Northern Picts to Chris- 
tianity by Columba about 563. 

At the time of the Eoman abandonment of 
Britain the Picts were under the sway of a 
king or chieftain named Drust, son of Erp, 
concerning whom the only record remaining is, 
that he lived a hundred years and fought a 
hundred battles. In fact, little is known with 
certainty of the Pictish history for upwards of 
one hundred years after the departure of the 
Romans, although some ancient chronicles af- 

4 See Innes's Essay, vol. i. 

"This is the date commonly given, although Mr. 
E. W. Robertson makes it 502 on the authority of 
Tighcrnach, while O'Donovan (Annals of the Four 
Mn.tttrs, vol. i. p. 160) makes it 508. 

ford us lists of Pictish kings or princes, a 
chronological table of whom, from Drust down- 
wards, will be found at the end of this chap- 
ter. The Pictish chronicle contains the names 
of thirty-six others who are said to have 
reigned before Drust, but these are generally 
regarded as almost entirely spurious. 

Before proceeding farther with the Pictish 
history, it may bo proper to give a brief ac- 
count of the settlement of the Irish Scots or 
Dalriads, as they are frequently called, in the 
Pictish territory. 

The time of the settlement of the Scots in 
present Scotland was for long a subject of dis 
putation, the early Scottish historians, from a 
false and unscrupulous patriotism, having 
pushed it back for many centuries before its 
actual occurrence. This dispute is now, how- 
ever, fairly set at rest, there being no founda- 
tion for believing that the Scots found their 
way from Ireland to Scotland earlier than a cen- 
tury or two before the birth of Christ. As we 
have already seen, we find the first mention of 
the Scots in Ammianus Marcellinus about the 
year 360 A.D. ; and their name occurs in the 
same connection frequently afterwards, during 
the Roman occupation of Scotland. Burton 8 
is of opinion that the migration did not take 
place at any particular time or under any par- 
ticular leader, but that it was gradual, that tho 
Scots " oozed " out of Ireland upon the western 
coast of Scotland. 

It belongs to the history of Ireland to trace 
the origin and fix the race of the Scots, to 
settle tho time of their coming into Ireland, 
and discover whence they came. Some sup- 
pose that they migrated originally from Britain 
to Ireland, while Innes and others bring them 
either from Scandinavia or Spain, and connect 
them with the Scyths, asserting that Scot is a 
mere corruption of Scyth, and dating the settle- 
ment at about the commencement of the Chris- 
tian era. The Irish traditions connect them 
with a certain Scota, daughter of Pharaoh, and 
date their coming to Ireland upwards of 1,000 
years B.C. E. W. Robertson 7 and others con 
sider them to have been Irish Picts or Cruithne. 

Wherever the Scots came from and to what- 
ever race they belong, whether Teutonic or 

Vol. i. p. 212. 

" Early Kings, vol. i. p. 5. 



Celtic, they certainly appear not to have been 
the first settlers in Ireland, and at the time at 
which they first appear in authentic history 
occupied a district in Ireland corresponding to 
Connaught, Leinster, and part of Munster. 
They were also one of the most powerful of the 
Irish tribes, seeing that for many centuries 
Ireland was, after them, called Scotia or Scot- 
land. It is usually said that a particular corner 
in the north-east of Ireland, about 30 miles in 
extent, corresponding to the modern county of 
Antrim, was the kingdom of the particular band 
of Scots who migrated to Scotland ; and that 
it received its name, Dal-Riada ('the portion of 
Riada'), from Carbre-Riada, a leader of the 
Scots who conquered this particular part, pre- 
viously inhabited by Cruithne or Irish Picts. 
Robertson, 8 however, considers all this fable 
and the kingdom of Dalriada as mythical, 
Tighernach and the early Irish annalists never 
applying the name to any other locality than 
British Dalriada. At all events, this particu- 
lar district was spoken of by the later chroni- 
clers under the name of Dalriada, there being 
thus a Dalriada both in Scotland and Ireland. 9 
At the time of the migration of the Scots from 
Ireland to Scotland, they were to all intents 
and purposes a Celtic race, speaking Irish Gae- 
lic, and had already been converted to Chris- 

The account of the Scottish migration usu- 
ally given is, that in the year 503 A. n., 1 a new 
colony of Dalriads or Dalriadic Scots, under 
the leadership of Fergus son of Ere, a descend- 
ant of Carbre-Riada, along with his brothers 
Lorn and Angus, left Ireland and settled on 
the western coast of Argyle and the adjacent 
islands. "The territories which constituted 
the petty kingdoms of Dalriada can be pretty 
well defined. They were bounded on the 
south by the Frith of Clyde, and they were 
separated on the east from the Pictish king- 
dom by the ridge of the great mountain chain 

8 Early Kings, vol. ii. p. 305. 

9 At this time, and up at least to the 1 1th century, 
present Scotland was known as Albania, Alban, or 
Alba, the term Scotland or Scotia being generally 
applied to Ireland, unless where there is some quali- 
fying term, as Nova. Burton thinks it not safe to 
consider that the word Scot must mean a native of 
present Scotland, when the period dealt with is ear- 
lier than the middle of the 12th century. 

1 Skene in his Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, 
. ex., makes the date to be about 495 or 498. 

called Drumalban. They consisted of four 
tribes, the genus or Cinel Lorn, descended 
from Lorn, the elder of the three brothers ; 
the Cinel Gabran and Cinel ComgaD, de- 
scended from two sons of Domangart, son of 
Fergus, the second of the brothers; and the 
Cinel Angus, descended from the third brother, 
Angus. The Cinel Comgall inhabited the dis- 
trict formerly called Comgall, now corrupted 
into Cowall. The Cinel Gabran inhabited what 
was called the Airgiallas, or the district of Ar- 
gyle proper, and Kintyre. The Cinel Angus 
inhabited the islands of Islay and Jura, and 
the Cinel Lorn, the district of Lorn. Beyond 
this, on the north, the districts between Lorn 
and the promontory of Ardnamurchan, i.e., 
the island of Mull, the district of Morven, 
Ardgower, and probably part of Lochaber, 
seem to have formed a sort of debatable ground 
the population of which was Pictish, while the 
Scots had settlements among them. In the 
centre of the possessions of the Cinel Gabian, 
at the head of the well-sheltered loch of Crinan, 
lies the great Moss of Crinan, with the river 
Add flowing through it. In the centre of the 
moss, and on the side of the river, rises an 
isolated rocky hill called Dunadd, the top of 
which is strongly fortified. This was the 
capital of Dalriada, and many a stone obelisk 
in the moss around it bears silent testimony to 
the contests of which it was the centre. The 
picturesque position of Dunolly Castle, on a 
rock at the entrance of the equally sheltered 
bay of Oban, afforded another fortified sum- 
mit, which was the chief stronghold of the 
tribe of Lorn. Of Dunstaffnage, as a royal 
seat, history knows nothing." 2 

It would appear that Lorn and Fergus at 
first reigned jointly, the latter becoming sole 
monarch on the decease of the former. The 
succession appears not to have been confined 
to any particular line, and a disputed succes- 
sion not unfrequently involved the Scots in 
civil war. 

There is no portion of history so obscure or 
so perplexing as that of the Scoto-Irish kings, 
and their tribes, from their first settlement, in 
the year 503, to their accession to the Pictish 
throne in 843. Unfortunately no contem- 

"Skene's Chronicles oftlie Picts and Scots, p. cxiiL 



poraneous written records appear ever to have 
cxi-tod of that dark pi'riod.of our annals, and 
the efforts which the Scotch and Irish anti- 
quaries have made to extricate the truth from 
the mass of contradictions in which it lies 
buried, have rather heen displays of national 
prejudice) than calm researches by reasonable 
inquirers. The annals, however, of Tigernach, 
and of Ulster, along with the brief chronicles 
and historical documents first brought to light 
by the industrious Innes, in his Critical Essay, 
have thrown some glimpses of light on a sub- 
ject which had long remained in almost total 
darkness. 3 

The next authentic event of importance that 
falls to be recorded in connection with the 
history of the Highlands, is the conversion of 
the Northern Picts to Christianity, about the 
year 563. The Southern Picts, L e. those 
living to the south and east of the Grampians, 
were converted by St. Ninian (360 432) about 
the beginning of the 5th century ; but the 
Northern Picts, until the date above-men- 
tioned, continued Pagans. That there were 
no Christians among them till that time ap- 
peal's very improbable, considering their close 
neighbourhood and constant intercourse with 
the Southern Picts and the Scots of Dalriada; 
but there can be no doubt that the court and 
the great bulk of the people adhered to their 
ancient superstitions. 

The religion of the Picts before their con- 
version is supposed by the majority of writers 
on this subject to have been that which pre- 
vailed in the rest of Britain and in Celtic Gaul, 
Druidism. The incredulous Burton, however, 
if we may judge from his History of Scotland, 4 
as well as from an article of his in the Edin- 
burgh Review, seems to believe that the whole 
system of Druidism has been elaborated by the 
imaginations of modern historians. That the 
Picts previous to their conversion had a religion, 
and a religion with what may be called priests 
and religious services, cannot be doubted, if we 
may trust Tacitus and Adamnan, the biographer 
of Columba; the former of whom tells us that, 
previous to the battle of the Grampians, the 

* More recently the invaluable labours of E. W. 
Robertson, Burton, Forbes-Leslie, Joseph Robertson, 
Grub, Skene, and Maclauchlan, have been the means of 
putting the history of this period on its proper footing. 

4 Vol. i. ch. vi. 

union of the various tribes was ratified by 
solemn rites and sacrifices, and the latter, that 
Columba's efforts at conversion were strenuously 
opposed by the diabolical arts and incantations 
of the Magi. It appears from Adamnan that 
fountains were particularly objects of venera- 
tion ; the superstitious awe with which many 
fountains and wells are regarded at the present 
day, being doubtless a remnant of the ancient 
Pictish religion. Trees, rivers, and lakes, as 
well as the heavenly bodies, appear also to have 
been objects of religious regard, and not a few 
of the customs which exist in Scotland at the 
present day have been inherited from our Pict- 
ish ancestors. Such are many of the rites 
performed on Hallowe'en, Beltane, Midsummer, 
&c., and many every-day superstitions still 
prevalent in the country districts of Scotland. 
" Druidism is said to have acknowledged a 
Supreme Being, whose name was synonymous 
with the Eastern Baal, and if so, was visibly 
represented by the sun; and such remnants of 
the ancient worship as are still traceable in the 
language of the people, would indicate its having 
been a species of sun-worship. To this day 
the four leading points of the compass bear, in 
the terms which designate them among the 
Gael, marks of this. The east is ear, like the 
Latin oriens, from the Gaelic eiridh, 'to rise/ 
the west is iar, 'after,' used also as a preposi- 
tion ; the south is deas, and the north tuath ; 
and it is in the use of these terms that 
the reverence for the solar luminary chiefly 
appears. Deas, 'the south,' is in all circum- 
stances right ; it is the right hand, which is 
easily intelligible, from the relation of that 
hand to the south when the face looks east- 
ward ; and it is expressive of whatever is other- 
wise right. Deas also means complete, trim, 
ready ; whatever is deas, or southerly, is just 
as it should be. Tuath, ' north,' is the very 
opposite. Tuathaisd is a 'stupid fellow;' 
Tuuthail is ' wrong' in every sense : south and 
north, then, as expressed in the words deiseal 
and tuathail, are, in the Gaelic language, the 
representatives of right and wrong. Thus 
everything that is to move prosperously among 
many of the Celts, must move sunwise : a boat 
going to sea must turn sunwise ; a man or woman 
immediately after marriage, must make a turn 
sunwise. There are relics of fire-worship too; 



certain days are named from fire -lighting; 
Beallteine, or ' the first day of summer,' and 
tiimhtheine, ' the first day of winter,' the 
former supposed to mean the fire of Baal or | 
Bel, the latter closing the saimhnS, or summer 
period of the year, and bringing in the geamhre, 
or winter period, are sufficient evidence of this. 
There are places in Scotland where within the 
memory of living men the teine cigin, or ' forced 
fire,' was lighted once every year by the rubbing I 
of two pieces of wood together, while every 

fire in the neighbourhood was extinguished in 
order that they might bo lighted anew from 
this sacred source." 7 

Many of the antiquities which are scattered 
over the north of Scotland, such as stone circles, 
monoliths, sculptured stones, rocking stones, 
&c., are very generally supposed to have been 
connected with religion. From the resem- 
blance of the circles especially, to those which 
exist in South Britain and in France, it has 
been supposed that one religion prevailed over 

Stonehenge. Copied by permission from Col. Forbes- Leslie's Early Races of Scotland. 

these countries. As Druidism is so commonly 
believed to have prevailed among the Picts as 
well as among the other inhabitants of Britain, 
we shall here give a very brief account of that 
system, chiefly as we find it given in Caesar. 8 
The following is the account given by Caesar of 
the character and functions of the Druids: 
" They attend to divine worship, perform pub- 
lic and private sacrifices, and expound matters 
of religion. A great number of youths are 
gathered round them for the sake of education, 
and they enjoy the highest honour in that 
nation; for nearly all public and private 
quarrels come under their jurisdiction; and 
when any crime has been committed, when a 
murder has been perpetrated, when a contro- 
versy arises about a legacy, or about land- 
marks, they are the judges too. They fix re- 
wards and punishments; and should any one, 

7 Dr. Maclauchlan's Early Scottish Church, pp. 32, 33. 

8 Druid is said to be derived from a word meaning 
oak, ' common to many of the Indo-European tongues. 

whether a private individual or a public man, 
disobey their decrees, then they exclude him 
from the sacrifices. All these Druids have 
one chief, who enjoys the highest authority 
amongst them. When he dies, he is succeeded 
by the member of the order who is most pro- 
minent amongst the others, if there be any 
such single individual; if, however, there are 
several men equally distinguished, the successor 
is elected by the Druids. Sometimes they 
even go to war about this supremacy. 

"The Druids take no part in warfare; nor 
do they pay taxes like the rest of the people ; 
they are exempt from military service, and 
from all public burdens. Attracted by such 
rewards, many come to be instructed by their 
own choice, while others are sent by their 
parents. They are reported to learn in the 
school a great number of verses, so that some 
remain there twenty years. They think it an 
unhallowed thing to commit their lore to writ- 
ing, though in the other public and private 



affairs of life they frequently make use of the 
Greek alphabet. . . . Beyond all things, 
they arc desirous to inspire a belief that men's 
souls do not perish, but transmigrate after 
death from one individual to another; and 
besides, they hold discourses about the stars, 
about the size of the world and of various 
countries, about the nature of things, and about 
the power and might of the immortal gods." 

Among the objects of druidical veneration 
the oak is said to have been particularly dis- 
tinguished; for the Druids imagined that there 
was a supernatural virtue in the wood, in the 
leaves, in the fruit, and above all in the mistle- 

toe. Hence the oak woods were the first places 
of their devotion; and the offices of their reli- 
gion were there performed without any covering 
but the broad canopy of heaven. The part 
appropriated for worship was inclosed in a 
circle, within which was placed a pillar of 
stone set up under an oak, and sacrifices were 
offered thereon. The pillars which mark the 
sites of these places of worship are still to be 
seen; and so great is the superstitious venera- 
tion paid by the country people to those sacred 
stones, as they are considered, that few persons 
have ventured to remove them. 

Besides the immunities before-mentioned en- 

Circle of Callernish in Lewis. Copied by permission from Col. Forbes-Leslie's Early Raca of Scotland. 

joyed by the Druids, they also possessed both 
civil and criminal jurisdiction, they decided all 
controversies among states as well as among 
private persons ; and whoever refused to sub- 
mit to their awards was exposed to the most 
severe penalties. The sentence of excommuni- 
cation was pronounced against him ; he was de- 
barred all intercourse with his fellow-citizens ; 
his company was universally shunned as pro- 
fane and dangerous ; he was refused the pro- 
tection of law ; and death itself became an 
acceptable relief from the misery and infamy 
to which he was exposed. 

St. Columba was born in the county of 
Donegal, in Ireland, in the year 521, and was 
connected both on his father's and mother's 
side with the Irish royal family. He was care- 
fully educated for the priesthood, and, after hav- 
ing finished his ecclesiastical studies, founded 
monasteries in yarious parts of Ireland. The 
year of his departure from Ireland is, on good 
authority, ascertained to have been 563, and it 
is generally said that he fled to save his life, 
which was in jeopardy on account of a feud 
in which his relations were involved. Mr. 

Grub 9 believes that " the love of God and of 
his brethren was to him a sufficient motive for 
entering on the great work to which he was 
called. His immediate objects were the in- 
struction of the subjects of Conal, king of the 
British Scots, and the conversion of their 
neighbours the heathen Picts of the North." 
In the year 563, when Columba was 42 years 
of age, he arrived among his kindred on the 
shores of Argyle, and immediately set himself 
to fix on a suitable site for a monastery which 
he meant to erect, from which were to issue 
forth the apostolic missionaries destined to 
assist him in the work of conversion, and in 
which also the youth set apart for the office of 
the holy ministry were to be educated. St. 
Columba espied a solitary isle lying apart from 
the rest of the Hebridean group, near the 
south-west angle of Mull, then known by tho 
simple name I, whose etymology is doubtful, 
afterwards changed by Bede into Hy, latin- 
ized by the monks into lova or lona, and 
again honoured with tho name of I-columb-cil, 

Eecles. Hist., vol. i. p. 49. 



the island of St. Columba of the church. This 
island, Conal, who was then king of the 
Christian Scots of Argyle, presented to Co- 
lumba, in order that he might erect thereon a 
monastery for the residence of himself and his 
disciples. No better station could have been 
selected than this islet during such barbarous 

In pursuance of his plan, St. Columba 
settled with twelve disciples in Hy " Thev 

now," says Bede, " neither sought, nor loved, 
anything of this world," true traits in the 
missionary character. For two years did they 
labour with their own hands erecting huts and 
building a church of logs and reeds. " The 
monastery of lona, like those previously founded 
by Columba in Ireland, was not a retreat for 
solitaries whose chief object was to work out 
their own salvation ; it was a great school of 
Christian education, and was specially designed 

Ruins on lona. 

to prepare and send forth a body of clergy 
trained to the task of preaching the Gospel 
among the heathen.'' 1 Having established his 
missionary institution, and having occupied 
himself for some time in the instruction of his 
countrymen the Scots of Argyle, the pious 
Columba set out on his apostolic tour among 
the Picts, probably in the year 565. At this 
time Bridei or Brude, whose reign extended 
from 536 to 586, the son of Mailcon, a power- 
ful and influential prince, reigned over the 
Northern Picts, and appears also to have had 
dominion over those of the south. Judging 
well that if he could succeed in converting 
Brude, who, when Columba visited him was 
staying at one of his residences on the banks 
of the Ness, the arduous task he had undertaken 

1 Grub'a Ece, Uist., vol. i. p. 51 

of bringing over the whole nation to the wor- 
ship of the true God would be more easily 
accomplished, he first began with the king, 
and by great patience and perseverance suc- 
ceeded in converting him. 

The first Gaelic entry in the Book of Deer 
lets us see the great missionary on one of his 
tours, and describes the founding of an im- 
portant mission-station which became the centre 
of instruction for all the surrounding country. 
The following is the translation given of the 
Gaelic original : " Columcille, and Drostan 
son of Cosgrach, his pupil, came from Hf, as God 
had shown to them, unto Abbordoboir, and 
Bede the Pict was mormaer of Buchan before 
them, and it was he that gave them that town 
in freedom for ever from mormaer and toisech. 
They came after that to the other town, and 
it was pleasing to Columcille because it was 



full of God's grace, and ho asked of the mor- 
maor, to wit Bode, that ho should give it to 
him ; and he did not give it, and a son of his 
took an illness after [or in consequence of] 
refusing the clerics, and ho was nearly dead 
[lit. ho was dead but if it wore a little]. After 
this the mormaer went to entreat the clerics 
that they should make prayer for the son, 
that health should come to him ; and he gave 
in offering to them from Cloch in tiprat to 
Cloch pette meic Garnait. They made the 
prayer, and health came to him. After that 
Columcille gave to Drostan that town, and 
blessed it, and left as (his) word, ' Whosoever 
should come against it, let him not be many- 
yoared [or] victorious.' Drostan's tears came 
on parting from Columcille. Said Columcille, 
' Let DEAR be its name henceforward.' " 

The Abbordoboir here spoken of is Aberdour 
on the north coast of Aberdeenshire, and Dear 
probably occupied the site of what is now Old 
Deer, about twelve miles inland from Aber- 
dour. There is every reason for believing in 
the substantial truth of the narrative. The 
two saints, probably from the banks of the 
Ness, came to Aberdour and "tarried there for 
a time and founded a monastery on the land 
which had been granted them. In later times 
the parish church of Aberdour was dedicated 
to St. Drostan." One would almost be inclined 
to suppose, from the manner in which the 
missionaries were apparently received, that 
Christianity had been heard of there before ; 
possibly Bede the Pictish mormaer had been 
converted at the court of King Brude, and had 
invited Columba to pay him a visit in Buchan 
and plant the gospel among the inhabitants. 
Possibly St. Ninian, the apostle of the southern 
Picts, may, during his mission among them, 
have penetrated as far north as Buchan. 
On the side of the choir of the old parish 
church of Turriff, a few miles west of Deer, 
was found painted the figure of St. Ninian, 
which was probably as old as the 16th cen- 
tury. At all events, Colnmba and his com- 
panion appear to have been made most welcome 
in Buchan, and were afforded every facility for 
prosecuting their sacred work. The above 
record doubtless gives us a fair notion of 
Columba's mode of procedure in prosecuting 
his self-imposed task of converting the in- 

habitants of Alba. As was the case in Buchan, 
he appears to have gone from district to dis- 
trict along with his missionary companions, 
seen the work of conversion fairly begun, 
planted a monastery in a suitable place, and 
left one or more of his disciples as resident 
missionaries to pursue the work of conversion 
and keep Christianity alive in the district. 2 

Columba soon had the happiness of seeing 
the blessings of Christianity diffusing them- 
selves among a people who had hitherto sat 
in the darkness of paganism. Attended by his 
disciples he traversed the whole of the Pictish 
territories, spreading everywhere the light of 
faith by instructing the people in the truths of 
the Gospel. To keep up a succession of the 
teachers of religion, he established, as we have 
seen, monasteries in every district, and from 
these issued, for many ages, men of apostolic 
earnestness, who watered and tended the good 
seed planted by Columba, and carried it to the 
remotest parts of the north of Scotland and its 
islands, so that, in a generation or two after 
Columba, Christianity became the universal 
religion. These monasteries or cells were long 
subject to the Abbey of lona, and the system 
of church government which proceeded from 
that centre was in many respects peculiar, and 
has given rise to much controversy between 
presbyterians and episcopalians. 

St. Columba died on the 9th of June, 597, 
after a glorious and well-spent life, thirty-four 
years of which he had devoted to the instruc- 
tion of the nation he had converted. His in- 
fluence was very great with the neighbouring 
princes, and they often applied to him for ad- 
vice, and submitted to him their differences, 
which he frequently settled by his authority. 
His memory was long held in reverence by the 
Scots and Caledonians. 

Conal, the fifth king of the Scots in Argyle, 
the kinsman of St. Columba, and under whose 
auspices he entered on the work of conver- 
sion, and to whom it is said he was indebted 
for Hy, died in 571. His successor Aidan 
went over to lona in 574, and was there 
ordained and inaugurated by the Abbot ac- 
cording to the ceremonial of the liber vitreus, 

' Hook of Deer, Preface. Farther details concern- 
ing the early Scottish church will be given at the end 
of this volume. 



the cover of which is supposed to have been 
encrusted with crystal. 

To return to the history of the Picts, we 
have already observed that little is known of 
Pictish history for more than a hundred years 
after the Roman abdication; and even up to 
the union of the Picts and Scots, the materials 
for the history of both are about as scarce as 
they could possibly be, consisting mostly of 
meagre chronicles containing the names of 
kings, the dates of their accession and death, 
and occasionally the names of battles and of 
the contending nations. Scotland during this 
period appears to have been the scene of un- 
ceasing war between the Scots, Picts, Britons 
of Strathclyde, English, and Danes, the two 
first being continually at strife not only with 
each other but among themselves. We shall 
endeavour to give, as clearly and as faithfully 
as possible, the main reliable facts in the his- 
tory of the Scots and Picts until the union of 
these two nations. 

The reign of Brude was distinguished by 
many warlike exploits, but above all, as we 
have seen, by his conversion and that of his 
people to Christianity, which indeed formed 
his greatest glory. His chief contests were 
with the Scoto-Irish or Dalriads, whom he de- 
feated in 557, and slew Gauran their king. 
Bmde died in 586, and for several ages his suc- 
cessors carried on a petty system of warfare, 
partly foreign and partly domestic. Passing 
over a domestic conflict, at Lindores in 621, 
under Kenneth, son of Luthrin, we must notice 
the important battle of Dun-Nechtan, fought 
in 685, between the Picts under Brude, the son 
of Bili, 1 and the Saxons, under the Northum- 
brian Egfrid. The Saxon king, it is said, greedy 
of conquest, attacked the Picts without provoca- 
tion, and against the advice of his court. Cross- 
ing the Forth from Lothian, he entered Strathearn 
and penetrated through the defiles of the Pictish 
kingdom, leaving fire and desolation in his train. 
His career was stopt at Dun-Nechtan, the hill 
of Nechtan, a hill in the parish of Dunnichen, 
about the centre of Forfarshire ; and by a 
neighbouring lake, long known by the name of 
Nechtan's mere, a short distance east from the 

1 There is some confusion here ; Dr. Maclauchlan 
places this conflict in the reign of Brude son of DerU<~, 
who, according to our list, did not succeed till 699. 

town of Forfar, did Egfrid and his Saxons fall 
before Brude and his exasperated Picts. This 
was a sad blow to the Northumbrian power; 
yet the Northumbrians, in 699, under Berht, 
an able leader, again ventured to try their 
strength with the Picts, when they were once 
more defeated by Brude, the son of Dereli, 
who had recently mounted the Pictish throne. 

The wars between the Picts and Northum- 
brians were succeeded by various contests for 
power among the Pictish princes, which gave 
rise to a civil war. Ungus, honoured by the 
Irish Annalists with the title of great, and 
Elpin, at the head of their respective partisans, 
tried their strength at Monacrib, supposed by 
some to be Moncrieff in Strathearn, in the 
year 727, when the latter was defeated; and 
the conflict was renewed at Duncrei (Crieff), 
when victory declared a second time against 
Elpin, who was obliged to flee from the hostil- 
ity of Ungus. Nechtan next tried his strength 
with Ungus, in 728, at a place called Mona- 
cuma by the Annalists possibly Moncur in 
the Carse of Gowrie but he was defeated, and 
many of his followers perished. Talorgan, the 
son of Congus, was defeated by Brude, the son 
of Ungus, in 730, and in the same year the 
Picts appear to have entered into a treaty of 
peace with the English nation. 

The victorious Ungus commenced hostilities 
against the Dalriads, or Scoto-Irish, in the 
year 736, and appears to have got the better 
of the latter. The Scots were again worsted 
in another battle in 740 by Ungus, who in the 
same year repulsed an attack of the Northum- 
brians under Eadbert. In the year 750 he 
defeated the Britons of the Cumbrian kingdom 
in the battle of Cato or Cath-0, in which his 
brother Talorgan was killed. Ungus, who ap- 
pears to have been a powerful and able mon- 
arch, but whom Bede 2 characterizes as having 
conducted himself " with bloody wickedness, 
a tyrant and an executioner," died about 760. 
A doubtful victory was gained by Ciniod, or 
Kenneth, the Pictish king, over Aodh-fin, the 
Scottish king, in 767. Constantino, having 
overcome Conal, the son of Tarla, in 789, 
succeeded him in the throne. 3 

Book V. c. 24. 

3 See the Ulster Annals, where an account is given 
of all these conflicts. 



Up to this period the Norsemen from Scan- 
dinavia, or the Vikingr, i. e. men of the voes 
or bays, as they were termed, had confined 
their ravages to the Baltic; but, in the year 
787 they for the first time appeared on the 
east coast of England. Some years afterwards 
they found their way to the Caledonian shores, 
and in 795 made their first attack on lona, 
which frequently afterwards, along with the 
rest of the Hebrides, suffered grievously from 
their ravages. In 839 the Vikingr entered 
the Pictish territories. A murderous conflict 
ensued between them and the Picts under Uen 
their king, in which both he and his only 
brother Bran, as well as many of the Pictish 
chiefs, fell This event, no doubt, hastened 
the downfall of the Pictish monarchy; and as 
the Picts were unable to resist the arms of 
Kenneth, the Scottish king, he carried into 
execution, in the year 843, a project ho had 
long entertained, of uniting the Scots and 
Picts, and placing both crowns on his head. 
That anything like a total extermination of the 
Picts took place is now generally discredited, 
although doubtless there was great slaughter 
both of princes and people. Skene 4 asserts 
indeed that it was only the Southern Picts 
who became subject to Kenneth, the Northern 
Picts remaining for long afterwards indepen- 
dent of, but sometimes in alliance with, the 
Scots. This is substantially the opinion of 
Mr. E. W. Eobertson, 5 who says, " the modern 
shires of Perth, Fife, Stirling, and Dumbarton, 
with the greater part of the county of Argyle, 
may be said to have formed the actual Scottish 
kingdom to which Kenneth succeeded." The 
Picts were recognised as a distinct people even 
in the tenth century, but before the twelfth 
they lost their characteristic nominal distinc- 
tion by being amalgamated with the Scots, 
their conquerors. 

The Scoto-Irish after their arrival in Argyle 
did not long continue under the separate autho- 
rity of the three brothers, Lorn, Fergus, and 
Angus. They were said to have been very far 
advanced in life before leaving Ireland, and 
the Irish chroniclers assert that St. Patrick 
gave them his benediction before his death, in 
the year 493. The statement as to their ad- 

* Highlanders, vol. i p. 65. 
8 Early Kings, vol. L p. 39. 


vanced age derives some support from their 
speedy demise after they had laid the founda- 
tions of their settlements, and of a new dynasty 
of kings destined to rule over the kingdom of 
Scotland. Angus was the first who died, 
leaving a son, Muredach, who succeeded him 
in the small government of Ha. After tho 
death of Lorn the eldest brother, Fergus, the 
last survivor, became sole monarch of the 
Scoto-Irish; but he did not long enjoy the 
sovereignty, for he died in 506. 

Fergus was succeeded by his son Dornangart, 
or Dongardus, who died in 511, after a short 
but troubled reign of about five years. His 
two sons Comgal and Gabhran or Gauran, suc- 
cessively enjoyed liis authority. Comgal had 
a peaceful reign of four and twenty years, dur- 
ing which he extended his settlements. He 
left a son named Conal, but Gauran his brother, 
notwithstanding, ascended the throne in the 
year 535 without opposition. Gauran reigned 
two and twenty years, and, as we have already 
observed, was slain in a battle with the Picts 
under Bridei their king. 

Conal, the son of Comgal, then succeeded 
in 557, and closed a reign of fourteen years in 
571. It was during his reign that Columba's 
mission to the Picts took place. A civil war 
ensued between Aodhan or Aidan, the son of 
Gauran, and Duncha or Duncan, the son of 
Conal, for the vacant crown, the claim to which 
was decided on the bloody field of Loro or Loco 
in Kintyre in 575, where Duncha was slain. 
Aidan, the son of Gauran, had been formally 
inaugurated by St. Columba in lona, in 574. 
In the time of Aidan there were frequent wars 
between the Dalriads and the English Saxons. 
Many battles were fought in which the Scots 
were generally defeated, the principal being 
that of Degsastan or Dalston near Carlisle, in 
603, in which nearly the whole of the Scottish 
army was defeated. The wars with the Saxons 
weakened the power of the Dalriads very con- 
siderably, and it was not till after a long period 
of time that they again ventured to meet the 
Saxons in the field. 

During a short season of repose, Aidan, at- 
tended by St. Columba, went to the celebrated 
council of Drum-keat in Ulster, in the year 
590. In this council he claimed the princi- 
pality of Dalriada, the land of his fathers, and 


obtained an exemption from doing homage to 
the kings of Ireland, which his ancestors, it 
would appear, had been accustomed to pay. 
Aidan died in 605 or 608, at the advanced age 
of eighty, and was buried in the church of 
Kil-keran, the ruins of which are still to be 
Been in the midst of Campbelton. 

Aidan was succeeded in the throne by his 
son Eocha-bui, or the "yellow," who reigned six- 
teen years. He carried on war with the Cruithne 
of Ulster. After him came his brother Kenneth- 
Cear, or the " left-handed," who was followed 
by Ferchar, son of Eogan, of the race of Lorn. 

Donal, surnamed breac or freckled, the son 
of Eocha'-bui, of the race of Gauran, succeeded 
Ferchar about 637. He was a warlike prince 
and had distinguished himself in the wars 
against the Cruithne of Ireland. Congal-Claon, 
the son of Scanlan, the king of the Cruithne 
in Ulster, having slain Suibne-Mean, a power- 
ful king of Ireland, was attacked by Domnal 
II., supreme king of Ireland, who succeeded 
Suibne, and was defeated in the battle of 
Duncetheren, in 629. Congal sought refuge 
in Cantyre, and having persuaded Donal-breac, 
the kinsman of Domnal, to join him in a war 
against the latter, they invaded Ireland with a 
heterogeneous mass of Scoto-Irish, Picts, Brit- 
ons, and Saxons, commanded by Donal and 
liis brothers. Cealach, the son of Maelcomh, 
the nephew of the reigning king, and as tanist 
or heir-apparent, the leader of his army, at- 
tacked Donal-breac in the plain of Magh Rath 
or Moyra in Down, in 637, and completely de- 
feated him after an obstinate and bloody en- 
gagement. Congal, the murderer of his sov- 
ereign, met his merited fate, and Donal-breac 
was obliged to secure his own and his army's 
safety by a speedy return to Cantyre. St. Co- 
lumba had always endeavoured to preserve an 
amicable understanding between the Cruithne 
of Ulster and the Scoto-Irish, and his injunc- 
tions were, that they should live in constant 
peace; but Donal disregarded the wise advice 
of the saint, and paid dearly for so doing. He 
was not more successful in an enterprise against 
the Piets, having been defeated by them in the 
battle of Glinne Mairison, Glenmairison, or 
Glenmoreson, probably in West Lothian, 6 

' Slcunc's Citron, p/ Picts and Scots, p. cxv. 

during the year 638. He ended his days at 
Straith-cairmaic or Strathcarron, possibly in the 
neighbourhood of Falkirk, by the sword of 
Hoan or Owen, one of the reguli of Strathcluyd, 
in the year 642. His son Cathasuidh fell by 
the same hand in 649. 

Conal II., the grandson of Conal I., who 
was also of the Fergusian race of Congal, nest 
ruled over the tribes of Cantyre and Argyle; 
but Dungal, of the race of Lorn, having ob- 
tained the government of the tribe of Lorn, 
questioned the right of Conal. He did not, 
however, carry his pretensions far, for Conal 
died, in undisturbed possession of his domin- 
ions, in 652, after a reign of ten years. To 
Donal-duin, or the brown, son of Coual, who 
reigned thirteen years, succeeded Maolduin, his 
brother, in 665. The family feuds which had 
long existed between the Fergusian races of 
Comgal and Tauran, existed in their bitterest 
state during the reign of Maolduin. Doman- 
gart, the son of Donal-breac, was murdered in 
672, and Conal, the son of Maolduin, was as- 
sassinated in 675. 

Ferchar-fada, or the tall, apparently of the 
race of Lorn, and either the son or grandson of 
Ferchar, who died in 637, seized the reins of 
government upon the death of Maolduin. On 
the death of Ferchar, in 702, the sceptre passed 
again to the Fergusian race in the person of 
Eocha'-rineval, remarkable for his Roman nose, 
the son of Domangart. The reign of this 
prince was short and unfortunate. His scep- 
tre was seized by Ainbhcealach, the son of 
Ferchar-fada, who succeeded Eocha' in 705. 
He was of an excellent disposition, but after 
reigning one year, was dethroned by his 
brother, Selvach, and obliged, in 706, to take 
refuge in Ireland. Selvach attacked the 
Britons of Strathcluyd, and gained two succes- 
sive victories over them, the one at Longecoleth 
in 710, and the other at the rock of Mionuirc 
in 7 1 6. At the end of twelve years, Ainbhceal- 
ach returned from Ireland, to regain a sceptre 
which his brother had by his cruelties shown 
himself unworthy to wield, but he perished in 
the battle of Finglein, perhaps Glen Fyne at 
the head of Loch Fyne, in 719. Selvach met a 
more formidable rival in Duncha-beg, who was 
descended from Fergus, by the line of Congal; 
he assumed the government of Cantyre and 



Argail, and confined Selvach to his family 
settlement of Lorn. These two princes ap- 
pear to have been fairly matched in disposi- 
tion and valour, and both exerted themselves 
for the destruction of one another, thus bring- 
ing many miseries upon their tribes. In an 
attempt which they made to invade the ter- 
ritories of each other in 719 by means of cur- 
rachs, a naval combat ensued off Airdeanesbi, 
(probably Ardaness on the coast of Argyle,) in 
which Selvach was overcome by Duncha ; but 
Selvach was not subdued. The death of 
Duncha in 721 put an end to his designs; but 
Eocha' III., the son of Eocha'-rineval, the suc- 
cessor of Duncha, being as bent on the over- 
throw of Selvach as his predecessor, continued 
the war. The rival chiefs met at Irroisfoichne 
in 727, where a battle was fought, which pro- 
duced nothing but irritation and distress. 
This lamentable state of things was put an end 
to by the death of Selvach in 729. This 
event enabled Eocha to assume the govern- 
ment of Lorn, and thus the Dalriadan kingdom 
which had been alternately ruled by chiefs of 
the houses of Fergus and Lorn became again 
united under Eocha. He died in 733, after a 
reign of thirteen years, during nine of which 
he ruled over Cantyre and Argyle, and four 
over all the Dalriadic tribes. 

Eocha was succeeded in the kingdom by 
Muredach, the son of Ainbhceallach, of the 
race of Lorn. His reign was short and unfor- 
tunate. In revenge for an act of perfidy com- 
mitted by Dungal, the son of Selvach, who 
had carried off Forai or Torai, the daughter of 
Brude, and the niece of Ungus, the great Pictish 
king, the latter, in the year 736, led his army 
from Strathearn, through the passes of the 
mountains into Lorn, which he wasted with 
fire and sword. He seized Dunad, in Mid-Lorn, 
and burned Creic, another fortress in the Ross 
of Mull, taking Dungal and Feradach, the two 
sons of Selvach, prisoners. Muredach went in 
pursuit of his enemy, and having overtaken 
him at Knock Cairpre, at Calatros, on the shores 
of the Linne, 6 a battle ensued, in which the 
Scots were repulsed with great slaughter. 
Talorgan, the brother of Ungus, commanded 

6 Dr. Reeves supposes this to be Cnlross in Perth- 
shire. JIaclauchlan. 

the Picts on this occasion, and pursued the 
flying Scots. In this pursuit Muredach in 
supposed to have perished, after a reign of 
three years. 

Eogban or Ewan, the son of Muredach, took 
up the fallen succession in 736, and died in 
739, in which year the Dalriadic sceptre was 
assumed by Aodh-fin, the son of Eocha' III., 
and grandson of Eocha'-rineval, descended 
from the Fergusian race of Gauran. In 740 
he measured his strength with the celebrated 
Ungus; but victory declared for neither, and 
during the remainder of Ungus' reign, he did 
not attempt to renew hostilities. After the 
death of Ungus, in 761, Aodh-fin declared war 
against the Picts, whose territories he entered 
from Upper Lorn, penetrating through the 
passes of Glenorchy and Breadalbane. In 767 
he reached Forteviot, the Pictish capital in 
Strathearn, where he fought a doubtful battle 
with Ciniod the Pictish king. Aodh-fin died 
in 769, after a splendid reign of thirty years. 7 

Fergus II., son of Aodh-fin, succeeded to 
the sceptre on the demise of his father, and 
died after an unimportant reign of three years 
Selvach II., the son of Eogan, assumed the 
government in 772. His reign, which lasted 
twenty-four years, presents nothing very re- 
markable in history. 

A new sovereign of a different lineage, now 
mounted the throne of the Scots in 796, in the 
person of Eocha or Auchy, the son of Aodh-fin 

7 Dr. Skene, in his preface to the Chronicles of the 
Picts and Scots, endeavours to prove, by very plausi- 
ble reasoning, and by comparison of various lists of 
kings, that for a century previous to the accession of 
Kenneth to the Pictish throne, Dalriada was under 
subjection to the Anglian monarchy, and was ruled 
by Pictish sovereigns. In an able paper, however, 
read recently by Dr. Archibald Smith before the Anti- 
quarian Society of Scotland, he shows that Argyleshire 
was invaded but not subdued by Ungus, king of the 
Picts, in 736 and 741. Dr. Smith supported his con- 
clusion by reference to passages in the annals of Tiger- 
nach, of Ulster, and the Albanic Duan, which seemed 
to him to give an intelligible and continuous account 
of regal succession in Dalriada, but afforded no coun- 
tenance to the theory of Pinkerton of the entire con- 
quest of the Scote in Britain by Ungus, nor to the 
conclusion Dr. Skene has come to, viz., the complete 
supremacy of the Picts in the Scottish Dalriada, ana 
the extinction of Dalriada as a Scottish nation from 
the year 741 to the era of a new Scottish kingdom 
founded by Kenneth Macalpin in the year 843. On 
the contrary, he was convinced that Aodh-tionn was 
the restorer of its full liberty to the crushed section of 
Lorn, and that he was, at the close of his career, the 
independent ruler of Dalriada as a Scottish nation. 



of the Gauran race. Eocha' IV. is known also 
by the latinized appellation of Achaius. The 
story of the alliance between Achaius and 
Charlemagne has been shown to be a fable; 
although it is by no means improbable that he 
entered into an important treaty with the 
Picts, by marrying Urgusia, the daughter of 
Urguis, an alliance which, it is said, enabled 
his grandson Kenneth afterwards to claim and 
acquire the Pictish sceptre, in right of Urgusia 
his grandmother. Eocha died in 826, after a 
happy and prosperous reign of thirty years. 
He was succeeded by Dungal, the son of Sel- 
vach II., of the race of Lorn, being the last of 
that powerful family who swayed the Dalri- 
adic sceptre. After a feeble but stormy reign 
of seven years, he died in 833. 

Alpin, the last of the Scoto-Irish kings, and 
the son of Eocha IV. and of Urgusia, now 
mounted the throne. He was killed in 836, 
near the site of Laicht castle, on the ridge 
which separates Kyle from Galloway. The 
fiction that Alpin fell in a battle with the 
Picts, when asserting his right to the Pictish 
throne, has long been exploded. 

In 836 Kenneth, the son of Alpin, succeeded 
his father. He was a prince of a warlike dis- 
position, and of great vigour of mind and body. 
He avenged the death of his father by frequent 
inroads among the people dwelling to the 
south of the Clyde; but the great glory of Ms 
reign consists in his achievements against the 
Picts, which secured for him and his posterity 
the Pictish sceptre. The Pictish power had, 
previous to the period of Kenneth's accession, 
been greatly enfeebled by the inroads of the 
Danish Vikingr; but it was not till after the 
death of Uven, the Pictish king, in 839, after 
a distracted reign of three years, that Kenneth 
made any serious attempt to seize the Pictish 
diadem. On the accession of Wred, Kenneth, 
in accordance with the principle of succession 
said by Bede to have prevailed among the 
Picts, claimed the Pictish throne in right of 
Urgusia, his grandmother; Wred died in 842, 
and after an arduous struggle, Kenneth wrested 
the sceptre from Bred, his successor, in 843, after 
he had reigned over the Scots seven years. 

Burton 8 thinks there can be no doubt that 

8 Scotland, vol. i. p. 329. 

the two countries were prepared for a fusion 
whenever a proper opportunity offered, but 
that this was on account of a matrimonial alli- 
ance between the two royal houses cannot with 
certainty be ascertained. 9 As we have said 
already, it is extremely improbable that Ken- 
neth gained his supremacy by extermination. 
The Picts certainly appear to have suffered 
severe defeat, but the likelihood is that aftei 
Kenneth succeeded to the throne, a gradual 
fusion of the two people took place, so that in 
course of time they became essentially ono 
speaking one language, obeying the same laws, 
and following the same manners and customs. 
If we knew for certain to what race the Pictp 
belonged, and what language they spoke, it 
might help us not a little to understand the 
nature and extent of the amalgamation; but as 
we know so little about these, and as the 
chroniclers, in speaking of this event, are so 
enigmatical and meagre, we are left almost en- 
tirely to conjecture. We are certain, at any 
rate, that from some cause or other, the kings 
of the Dalriadic Scots, about the middle of the 
9th century, obtained supremacy over at least 
the Southern Picts, who from that time forward 
ceased to be a separate nation. l 

9 See Skene's preface to Chronicle of Picts and Scots, 
p. xcviii. et seq. , for some curious and ingenious spe- 
culation on this point. 

1 We shall take the liberty of quoting here an ex- 
tract from an able and ingenious paper read by Dr. 
Skene before the Soc. of Ant, in June 1861, and 
quoted in Dr. Gordon's Scotichronicon, p. 83. It 
will help, we think, to throw a little light on this 
dark subject, and assist the reader somewhat to under- 
stand the nature and extent of the so-called Scottish 
conquest. "The next legend which bears upon the 
history of St. Andrews is that of St. Adrian, at 4th 
March. The best edition of this legend is in the Aber- 
deen Breviary, and it is as follows : Adrian was a na- 
tive of Hungary, and after preaching there for some 
time, was seized with a desire to preach to other peo- 
ple; and having gathered together a company, he set 
out ' ad orientales Scotise partes que tune a Pictis oc- 
cupabantur, ' i.e., 'to the eastern parts of Scotland, 
which were then occupied by the Picts, ' and landed 
there with 6,606 confessors, clergy, and people, among 
whom were Glodianus, Gayus, Minanus, Scobrandus, 
and others, chief priests. These men, with their bish- 
op, Adrian, 'deleto regno Pictorum, i.e., ' the Pictish 
kingdom being destroyed, ' did many signs, but after- 
wards desired to have a residence on the Isle of May. 
The Danes, who then devastated the whole of Britain, 
came to the Island, and there slew them. Their mar- 
tyrdom is said to have taken place in the year 875. 
It will be observed that they are here said to have 
settled in the east part of Scotland, opposite the Isle 
of May, that is in Fife, while the Picts still occupied 
it; that the Pictish kingdom is then said to have been 
destroyed; and that their martyrdom took place in 875, 



The history of the Scoto-Irish kings affords 
few materials either amusing or instructive; 
but it was impossible, from the connexion be- 
tween that history and the events that will 
follow in detail, to pass it over in silence. 
The Scoto-Irish tribes appear to have adopted 
much the same form of government as existed 
in Ireland at the time of their departure from 
that kingdom ; the sovereignty of which, though 
nominally under one head, was in reality a 
pentarchy, which allowed four provincial kings 
to dispute the monarchy of the fifth. This 
system was the prolific source of anarchy, 
assassinations, and civil wars. The Dalriads 
were constantly kept in a state of intestine 
commotion and mutual hostility by the preten- 
sions of their rival chiefs, or princes of the 
three races, who contended with the common 
sovereign for pre-eminence or exemption. The 
dlighe-tanaiste, or law of tanistry, which ap- 
pears to have been generally followed as in 
Ireland, as well in the succession of kings as 
in that of chieftains, rather increased than 

thirty years after the Scottish conquest under Kenneth 
M'Alpin. Their arrival was therefore almost coinci- 
dent with the Scottish conquest; and the large num- 
ber said to have come, not tne modest twenty-one who 
arrived with Regulus, but 6,606 confessors, clergy, and 
people, shows that the traditionary history was really 
one of an invasion, and leads to the suspicion at once 
that it was in reality a part of the Scottish occupation 
of the Pictish kingdom. This suspicion is much 
strengthened by two corroborative circumstances: 1st, 
the year 875, when they are said to have been slain by 
the Danes, falls in the reign of Constantine, the son of 
Kenneth Macalpin, in his fourteenth year, and in this 
year the Pictish chronicle records a battle between the 
Danes and the Scots, and adds, that after it, ' occasi 
sunt Scotti in Coachcochlum,' which seems to refer to 
this very slaughter. 2d. Hector Boe'ce preserves a 
different tradition regarding their origin. He says 
' Non desunt qui scribant sanctissimos Christi mar- 
tyros Himgaros fuisse. Alii ex Scotis Aiiglisque gre- 
garie collectos,' i.e., ' Some write that the most holy 
martyrs of Christ were Hungarians. Others (say) 
that they were collected from the Scots and English.' 
There was therefore a tradition that the clergy slain 
were not Hungarians, but a body composed of Scotti 
and Angli. Rut Hadrian was a bishop; he landed in 
tho east of Fife, within the parochia of S. Regnlus, and 
he is placed at the head of some of the lists of bish- 
ops of St. Andrews as first bishop. It was there- 
fore the Church of St. Andrews that then consisted of 
clergy collected from among the Scotti and the Angli. 
The Angli probably represented the Church of Acca, 
and the Scotti those brought in by Adrian. The real 
signification of this occupation of St. Andrews by 
Scottish clergy will be apparent when we recollect 
that the Columban clergy, who had formerly pos- 
sessed the chief ecclesiastical seats among the Picts, 
had been expelled in 717, and Anglic clergy intro- 
duced the cause of quarrel being the difference of 
their usages. Now, tho Pictish chronicle states as the 

mitigated these disorders; for the claim to rule 
not being regulated by any fixed law of hered- 
itary succession, but depending upon the 
capricious will of the tribe, rivals were not 
found wanting to dispute the rights so con- 
ferred. There was always, both in Ireland and 
in Argyle, an heir presumptive to the Crown 
chosen, under the name of tanist, who com- 
manded the army during the life of the reign- 
ing sovereign, and who succeeded to him after 
his demise. Budgets, and committees of sup- 
ply, and taxes, were wholly unknown in those 
times among the Scots, and the monarch was 
obliged to support his dignity by voluntary 
contributions of clothes, cattle, furniture, and 
other necessaries. 

There is reason to believe that tradition sup- 
plied the place of written records for many 
ages after the extinction of the Druidical super- 
stition. Hence among the Scots, traditionary 
usages and local customs long supplied the 
place of positive or written laws. It is a mis- 
take to suppose, as some writers have done, 

main cause of the overthrow of the Pictish kingdom, 
a century and a half later, this very cause. It says 
' Deus enim eos pro merito suae malitiae alienos ac 
otiosos hsereditate dignatus est facere, qnia illi noil 
soluni Deum, missam, ac praceptum spreverunt sed et 
in jure sequalitatis aliis aequi pariter noluerunt.' I.e., 
' For God, on account of their wickedness, deemed 
them worthy to be made hereditary strangers and 
idlers; because they contemned not only God, the mass, 
and the precept (of the Church), but besides refused 
to be regarded as on the same equality with others. 1 
They were overthrown, not only because they despised 
' Deum missani et prseceptum," but because they would 
not tolerate the other party. And this great griev- 
vance was removed, when St. Andrews appears at the 
head of the Scottish Church in a solemn Concordat 
with the king Constantine, when, as the Pictish 
Chronicle tells ns, ' Constantinus Rex et Cellachus 
Episcopus leges disciplinasque fidei atque jura ecclesi- 
arum evangeliorum que pariter cum Scottis devoverunt 
custodiri.' I.e., ' King Constantine and Bishop Kel- 
laeh vowed to preserve the laws and discipline of tho 
faith and the rights of the churches and gospels, 
equally with the Scots. ' Observe the parallel language 

Bishop of St. Andrews ' vowed to preserve the laws 
and discipline of the faith ' 'pariter cum Scottis,' the 
thing the Picts would not do. It seems plain, there- 
fore, that the ecclesiastical element entered largely into 
the Scottish conquest; and a main cause and feature 
of it was a determination on the part of the Scottish 
clergy to recover the benefices they had been deprived 
of. The exact coincidence of this great clerical inva- 
sion of the parochia of St. Andrews by ecclesiastics, 
said by one tradition to have been Scots, and the sub- 
sequent position of St. Andrews as the head of the 
Scottish Church, points strongly to this as the true 
historic basis of the legend of S. Adrian." 



that the law consisted in the mere will of the 
Brehon or judge. The office of Breitheamhuin 
or Brehon was hereditary, and it is quite 
natural to infer, that under such a system of 
jurisprudence, the dictum of the judge might 
not always comport with what was understood 
to he the common law or practice; hut from 
thence, to argue that the will of the judge was 
to be regarded as the law itself, is ahsurd, and 
contrary to every idea of justice. As the prin- 
ciple of the rude jurisprudence of the Celtic 
tribes had for its object the reparation, rather 
than the prevention of crimes, almost every crime, 
even of the blackest kind, was commuted by 
a mulct or payment. Tacitus observes in allu- 
sion to this practice, that it was " a temper 
wholesome to the commonwealth, that homi- 
cide and lighter transgressions were settled by 
the payment of horses or cattle, part to the 
king or community, part to him or his friends 
who had been wronged." The law of Scotland 
long recognised this system of compensation. 
The fine was termed, under the Brehon law, 
eric, which not only signifies a reparation, but 
also a fine, a ransom, a forfeit. Among the 
Albanian Scots it was called cro, a term pre- 
served in the Regiam Majesiatem, which has 
a whole chapter showing " the cro of ilk man, 
now mikil it is." 2 This law of reparation, 
according to O'Connor, was first promulgated 
in Ireland, in the year 164.* According to 
the Regiam Majestatem, the cro of a villain 
was sixteen cows; of an earl's son or thane, one 
hundred; of an earl, one hundred and forty; 
and that of the king of Scots, one thousand 
cows, or three thousand oras, that is to say, 
three oras for every cow. 

Besides a share of the fines imposed, the 
Brehon or judge obtained a piece of arable 
land for his support. When he administered 
justice, he used to sit sometimes on the top of 
a hillock or heap of stones, sometimes on turf, 
and sometimes even on the middle of a bridge, 
surrounded by the suitors, who, of course, 
pleaded their own cause. We have already 
seen that, under the system of the Druids, the 
offices of religion, the instruction of youth, and 
the administration of the laws, were conducted 
in the open air; and hence the prevalence of 

3 Lib. iv c. XJUT. 

3 O'Connor's Dissert. 

the practice alluded to. But this practice was 
not peculiar to the Druids; for all nations, in 
the early stages of society, Lave followed a 
similar custom. The Tings of the Scandina- 
vians, which consisted of circular enclosures of 
stone, without any covering, and within which 
both the judicial and legislative powers were 
exercised, afford a striking instance of this. 
According to Pliny, 4 even the Roman Senate 
first met in the open air, and the sittings of 
the Court of the Areopagus, at Athens, were so 
held. The present custom of holding courts of 
justice in halls is not of very remote antiquity 
in Scotland, and among the Scoto-Irish, the 
baron bailie long continued to dispense justice 
to the baron's vassals from a moothill or emi- 
nence, which was generally on the bank of a 
river, and near to a religious edifice. 

Of the various customs and peculiarities 
which distinguished the ancient Irish, as well 
as the Scoto-Irish, none has given rise to 
greater speculation than that of fosterage; 
which consisted in the mutual exchange, by 
different families, of their children for the pur- 
pose of being nursed and bred. Even the son 
of the chief was so entrusted during pupilarity 
with an inferior member of the clan. An ade- 
quate reward was either given or accepted in 
every case, and the lower orders, to whom the 
trust was committed, regarded it as an honour 
rather than a service. " Five hundred kyne 
and better," says Campion, "were sometimes 
given by the Irish to procure the nursing of a 
great man's child." A firm and indissoluble 
attachment always took place among foster- 
brothers, and it continues in consequence to be 
a saying among Highlanders, that " affectionate 
to a man is a friend, but a foster-brother is as 
the life-blood of his heart." Camden observes, 
that no love in the world is comparable by 
many degrees to that of foster-brethren in Ire- 
land. 6 The close connexion which the practice 
of fosterage created between families, while it 
frequently prevented civil feuds, often led to 
them. But the strong attachment thus created 
was not confined to foster-brothers, it also 
extended to their parents. Spenser relates of 
the foster-mother to Murrough O'Brien, that, 
at his execution, she sucked the blood from his 

4 Lib. viii. c. 45. 
5 Holland's Camden, Ireland, p. 116. 



head, and bathed her face and breast with it, 
saying that it was too precious to fall to the 

It is unnecessary, at this stage of our labours, 
to enter upon the subject of clanship ; we 
mean to reserve our observations thereon till 
we come to the history of the clans, when we 

shall also notice some peculiarities or traits of totally untrustworthy, we shall omit them. 

the Highlanders not hitherto mentioned. We 
shall conclude this chapter by giving lists of 
the Pictish and Scoto-Irish Kings, wliich are 
generally regarded as authentic. A great many 
other names are given by the ancient chroniclers 
previous to the points at which the following 
lists commence, but as these are considered as 




Date of 


Duration of 

Data ' 


DROST, the son of Erp, . 
TALORO, the son of Aniel, 


4 years. 




NECTON MORBET, the son of Erp, . 


25 .. 



DHEST Qurthinmoch, 


30 . 





12 . 



DADREST, .... 


1 . 



DREST, the son of Girom, 


1 . 


DRBST, the son of Wdrest, with the former, 


5 . 


DREST, the son of Girom, alone, 


5 . 



GARTNACH, the son of Girom, . . 


7 . 



GEALTRAIH, or CAILTRAIH, the son of Girom, 





TALORO, the son of Muircholaich, . 


11 . 



DREST, the son of Munait, 





GALAM, with Alepb, . . . ' 




GALAM, with Briuei, 


1 . 



BRIDEI, the son of Mailcon, 


30 . 



GARTNAICH, the son of Domelch, or Donald, 





NECTU, or NEOHTAN, the nephew of Verb, 


20 . 



CINEOCH, or KENNETH, the son of Lutlirin, 





GARNARD, the son of Wid, . . 





BRIDEI, the son of Wid, 


5 . 



TALORO, their brother, . 





TALLORCAN, the son of Enfret, . 





GARTNAIT, the son of Donnel, . . 


6J . 



DREST, his brother, 


7 . 



BRIDEI, the son of Bili, 


21 . 



TARAN, the son of Entitidich, . 





BRIDEI, the son of Dereli, . . 


11 . 



NECHTON, the son of Dereli, . . 


15 . 



DREST, and Elpin, 





UKOUS, or ONNDST, the son of t'rguist, 


31 . 



BRIDEI, the son of Wirguist, 





CINIOCH, or KENNETH, the son of Wredech, 


12 . 



ELPIN, the son of Wroid, 


34 . 



DRBST, the son of Talorgan, 


5 . 



TALOROAN, the son of Ungus or Angus, 




CANADL, the son of Tarla, 





CUSSTASTISE, the son of Urguist, 


so ; 



UNOUS, the son of Crguist, 


12 . 



DREST, the son of Coustantine, and Talorgan, the son of ) 
Wthoil, . . . . } 


3 .. 



DDEN, or UVEN, the son of Ungus, 





WRAD, the son of Bargoit, . . 


3 .. 



BRED, or BRIDDI, . . . 


1 .. 




FROM THE YEAR 503 TO 843. 



Date of 


Duration of 



FERGUS, the son of Ere, . . , 

A. D. 






DOMANOART, the son of Fergus, 





COMOAL, the son of Domangart, . . 





GAVRAN, the son of Domangart, 





CONAL, the son of Comgal, . . . 





AIDAN, the son of Gavran, . . . 





EoACHA'-Bui, the son of Aidau, 





KENNETH-Cear, the son of Eoacha'-Bui, 





FERCHAR, the son of Eogan, the first of the race of) 
Lorn, .... J 





DONAL-BREAO, the son of Eoacha'-Bui, . 





CONAL II., the grandson of Conal I. . ) 





DUNGAL reigned some years with Conal, > 


DoNAL-Duin, the son of Conal, . . . 





MAOL-Duin, the son of Conal, . 





FERCHAR-Fada, the grandson of Ferchar I., 





EoACHA'-Rinevel, the son of Domangart, and the grand- 1 
son of Donal-breae, ... J 





AINBHCEALACH, the son of Ferchar-fada, 





SELVACH, the son of Ferchar-fada, reigned over Lorn~) 

from 706 to 729, .... 


DCNCHA BEO reigned over Cantyre and Argaill till 720, 1 





EOCHA' III., the son of Eoacha'-rinevel, over Cantyre f 

and Argaill, from 720 to 729; and also over Lorn 
from 729 to 733, . . J 


MIREDACH, the son of Ainbhcealach, 





EOOAK, the son of Muredach, 





AoBH-Fin, the son of Eoacha' III., 





FERGUS, the son of Aodh-fin, 





SELVACH II., the son of Eogan, 





EoAOHA'-Annuine IV., the son of Aodh-fin, 





DUNOAL, the son of Selvach II., 





ALPIN, the son of Eoacha'-Annuine IV., 





KENNETH, the son of Alpin, . 




It is right to mention that the Albania Duan 
oinits the names between Ainbhcealach and 
Dungal (17 27), most of which, however, are 
contained in the St. Andrews' list. 


A. D. 8431107. 

The Norse Invasions Kenneth Constantine Aodh 
Grig and Eocha Donald IV. Constantine III. 
Danes Battle of Brunanburg Malcolm I. In- 
dulph Duff Culen Kenneth III. Battle of Lun- 
carty Malcolm II. Danes Duncan Thorfinn, 
Jarl of Orkney Macbeth Battle with Siward Lti- 
lach Malcolm III. (Ceanmore) Queen Margaret- 
Effect of Norwegian Conquest Donal-bane Edgar 
Norsemen Influx of Anglo-Saxons Isolation of 
Highlands Table of Kings. 

FOR about two centuries after the union of the 
two kingdoms, the principal facts to be re- 
corded are the extension of the Scottish do- 
minion southwards beyond the Forth and 

Clyde, towards the present border, and north- 
wards beyond Inverness, and the fierce con- 
tests that took place with the " hardy Norse- 
men " of Scandinavia and Denmark, who dur- 
ing this period continued not only to pour 
down upon the coasts and islands of Scotland, 
but to sway the destinies of the whole of Eu- 
rope. During this time the history of the 
Highlands is still to a great extent the history 
of Scotland, and it was not till about the 12th 
century that the Highlanders became, strictly 
speaking, a peculiar people, confined to the 
territory whose boundaries were indicated in 
the first chapter, having for their neighbours 
on the east and south a population of undoubt- 
edly Teutonic origin. The Norse invasions not 
only kept Scotland in continual commotion at 
the time, but must have exercised an impor- 
tant influence on its whole history, and contri- 
buted a new and vigorous element to its popu- 
lation. These Vikingr, about the end of the 



9th century, became so pnv ; to be able 

to establish a separate and independent king- 
dom in Orkney and the Western Islands, which 
proved formidable not only to the king of 
Scotland, but also to the powerful king of 
Norway. "It is difficult to give them dis- 
tinctness without risk of error, and it is even 
hard to decide how far the mark left by these 
visitors is, on the one hand, the brand of the 
devastating conqueror; or, on the other hand, 
the planting among the people then inhabiting 
Scotland of a high-conditioned race a race 
uniting freedom and honesty in spirit with a 
strong and healthy physical organization. It 
was in the north that the inroad preserved its 
most distinctive character, probably from its 
weight, as most completely overwhelming the 
original population, whatever they might be ; 
and though, in the histories, the king of Scots 
appears to rule the northern end of Britain, the 
territory beyond Inverness and Fort-William 
had aggregated in some way round a local 
magnate, who afterwards appears as a Maormor. 
He was not a viceroy of the king of Norway: 
and if he was in any way at the order of the 
King of Scotland, he was not an obedient subor- 
dinate." 8 

Up to the time of Macbeda or Macbeth, the 
principle of hereditary succession to the throne, 
from father to son, appears not to have been 
recognised; the only principle, except force, 
which seems to have been acted upon being 
that of collateral succession, brother succeeding 
to brother, and nephew to uncle. After the 
time of Macbeth, however, the hereditary 
principle appears to have come into full force, 
to have been recognised as that by which alone 
succession to the throne was to be regulated. 

The consolidation of the Scottish and Pick 
ish power under one supreme chief, enabled 
these nations not only to repel foreign aggres- 
sion, but afterwards to enlarge their territories 
beyond the Forth, which had hitherto formed, 
for many ages, the Pictish boundary on the 

Although the power of the tribes to the 
north of the Forth was greatly augmented by 
the union which had taken place, yet all the 
genius and warlike energy of Kenneth were 

Burton's Scotland, vol. i. p. 354. 

necessary to protect him and his people from 
insult. Eagnor Lodbrog (i. e., Eagnor of the 
Shaggy Bones,) with his fierce Danes infested 
the country round the Tay on the one side, and 
the Strathclydo Britons on the other, wasted 
the adjoining territories, and burnt Dunblane. 
Yet Kenneth overcame these embarrassments, 
and made frequent incursions into the Saxon 
territories in Lothian, and caused his foes to 
tremble. After a brilliant and successful reign, 
Kenneth died at Fortoviot, the Pictish capital, 
7 miles S.W. of Perth, on the 6th of February, 
859, after a reign of twenty-three years. Ken- 
neth, it is said, removed the famous stone 
which now sustains the coronation chair at 
Westminster Abbey, from the ancient seat of 
the Scottish monarchy in Argyle, to Scone. 
Kenneth (but according to some Constantine, 
the Pictish king, in 820), built a church at 
Dunkeld, to which, in 850, he removed the 
relics of St. Columba from lona, which at this 
time was frequently subjected to the ravages 
of the Norsemen. He is celebrated also as a 
legislator, but no authentic traces of his laws 
now appear, the Macalpine laws attributed 
to the son of Alpin being clearly apocryphal. 

The sceptre was assumed by Donald III., 
son of Alpin. He died in the year 863, after 
a short reign of four years. It is said he re- 
stored the laws of Aodh-fin, the son of Eocha 
III. They were probably similar to the an- 
cient Brehon laws of Ireland. 

Constantine, the son of Kenneth, succeeded 
his uncle Donald, and soon found himself in- 
volved in a dreadful conflict with the Danish 
pirates. Having, after a contest which lasted 
half a century, established themselves in Ire- 
land, and obtained secure possession of Dublin, 
the Vikingr directed their views towards the 
western coasts of Scotland, which they laid 
waste. These ravages were afterwards ex- 
tended to the whole of the eastern coast, and 
particularly to the shores of the Frith of Forth ; 
but although the invaders were often repulsed, 
they never ceased to renew their attacks. In 
the year 881, Constantine, in repelling an at- 
tack of the pirates, was slain at a place called 
Merdo-fatha, or Werdo, probably the present 
Perth, according to Maclauchlan. 

Aodh or Hugh, the fair-haired, succeeded 
his brother Constantine. His reign was un- 



fortunate, short, and troublesome. Grig, who 
was Maormor, or chief, of the country betweer 
the Dee and the Spey, having become a com- 
petitor for the crown, Aodh endeavoured to 
put him down, but did not succeed; and havin; 
been wounded in a battle fought at Strath- 
allan, (or possibly Strathdon,) he was carriec 
to Inverurie, where he died, after lingering two 
months, having held the sceptre only one year. 

Grig now assumed the crown, and, either to 
secure his possession, or from some other 
motive, he associated with him in the govern- 
ment Eocha, son of Ku, the British king ol 
Strathclyde, and the grandson, by a daughter, 
of Kenneth Macalpin. After a reign of eleven 
years, both Eocha and Grig were forced to ab- 
dicate, and gave way to 

Donald IV., who succeeded them in 893. 
During his reign the kingdom was infested by 
the piratical incursions of the Danes. Al- 
though they were defeated by Donald in a 
bloody action at Collin, said to be on the Tay, 
near Scone, they returned under Ivar O'lvar, 
from Ireland, in the year 904, but were gallantly 
repulsed, and their leader killed in a threat- 
ened attack on Forteviot, by Donald, who un- 
fortunately also perished, after a reign of eleven 
years. In his reign the kings of present Scot- 
land are no longer called reges Pictorum by the 
Irish Annalists, but Ri Alban, or kings of 
Alban ; and in the Pictish Chronicle Pictavia 
gives place to Albania. 

Constantine III., the son of Aodh, a prince 
of a warlike and enterprising character, next 
followed. He had to sustain, during an un- 
usually long reign, the repeated attacks of the 
Danes. In one invasion they plundered Dun- 
keld, and in 908, they attempted to obtain the 
grand object of their designs, the possession of 
Forteviot in Strathearn, the Pictish capital ; 
but in this design they were again defeated, 
and forced to abandon the country. The Danes 
remained quiet for a few years, but in 918 their 
fleet entered the Clyde, from Ireland, under 
the command of Reginald, where they were 
attacked by the Scots in conjunction with the 
Northern Saxons, whom the ties of common 
safety had now united for mutual defence. 
Reginald is said to have drawn up his Danes 
in four divisions ; the first headed by Godfrey 
O'lvar ; the second by Earis ; the third by 

Chieftains ; and the fourth by Reginald himself, 
as a reserve. The Scots, with Constantino at 
their head, made a furious attack on the first 
three divisions, which they forced to retire. 
Reginald's reserve not being available to turn 
the scale of victory against the Scots, the Danes 
retreated during the night, and embarked on 
board their fleet. 

After this defeat of the Danes, Constantine 
enjoyed many years' ropose. A long grudgo 
had existed between him and ^Ethelstane, son 
of Edward, the elder, which at last came to an 
open rupture. Having formed an alliance with 
several princes, and particularly with Anlaf, 
king of Dublin as well as of Northumberland, 
and son-in-law of Constantine, the latter col- 
lected a large fleet in the year 937, with which 
he entered the Humber. The hope of plunder 
had attracted many of the Vikingr to Constan- 
tino's standard, and the sceptre of ^Ethelstanc 
seemed now to tremble in his hand. But that 
monarch was fully prepared for the dangers 
with which he was threatened, and resolved to 
meet his enemies in battle. After a long, 
bloody, and obstinate contest at Brunanburg, 
near the southern shore of the Humber, victory 
declared for ^Ethelstane. Prodigies of valour 
were displayed on both sides, especially by 
Turketel, the Chancellor of England ; by Anlaf, 
and by the son of Constantine, who lost his 
life. The confederates, after sustaining a heavy 
loss, sought for safety in their ships. This, 
and after misfortunes, possibly disgusted Con- 
stantine with the vanities of this world, for, 
in the fortieth year of his reign, he put into 
practice a resolution which he had formed of 
resigning his crown and embracing a monastic 
Life. He became Abbot of the Monastery of 
St. Andrews in 943, and thus ended a long 
and chequered, but vigorous, and, on the whole, 
successful reign in a cloister, like Charles V. 
Towards the end of this reign the term Scot- 
land was applied to this kingdom by the 
Saxons, a term which before had been given 
ay them to Ireland. Constantino died in 952. 

Malcolm I., the son of Donald IV., obtained 
;he abdicated throne. He was a prince of 
great abilities and prudence, and Edmund of 
England courted his alliance by ceding Cum- 

ia, then consisting of Cumberland and part 
of Westmoreland, to him, in the year 945, on 



condition that he would defend that northern 
county, and become the ally of Edmund. Ed- 
red, the brother and successor of Edmund, ac- 
cordingly applied for, and obtained the aid of 
Malcolm against Anlaf, king of Northumber- 
land, whose country, according to the barbarous 
practice of the times, ho wasted, and carried 
off the people with their cattle. Malcolm, 
after putting down an insurrection of the 
Moray-men under Cellach, their Maormor, or 
chief, whom he slew, was sometime thereafter 
?lain, as is supposed, at Ulurn or Auldearn in 
Moray, by one of these men, in revenge for 
the death of his chief. 

Indulph, the son of Constantino III., suc- 
ceeded the murdered monarch in the year 953. 
He sustained many severe conflicts with the 
Danes, and ultimately lost his life in 961, after 
a reign of eight years, in a successful action 
with these pirates, on the moor which lies to 
the westward of Cullen. 

Duff, the son of Malcolm I., now mounted 
the throne ; but Culen, the son of Indulpli, laid 
claim to the sceptre which his father had 
wielded. The parties met at Drum Crup (pro- 
oably Crieff), and, after a doubtful struggle, 
in which Doncha, the Abbot of Dunkeld, and 
Dubdou, the Maormor of Athole, the partisans 
of Culen, lost their lives, victory declared for 
Duff. But this triumph was of short duration, 
for Duff was afterwards obliged to retreat from 
Forteviot into the north, and was assassinated 
at Torres in the year 965, after a brief and un- 
happy reign of four years and a half. 

Culen, the son of Indulph, succeeded, as a 
matter of course, to the crown of Duff, which 
he stained by his vices. He and his brother 
Eocha were slain in Lothian, in an action with 
the Britons of Strathclyde in 970, after an in- 
glorious reign of four years and a half. Dur- 
ing his reign Edinburgh was captured from 
the English, this being the first known step 
in the progress of the gradual extension of the 
Scottish kingdom between the Forth and the 
. Tweed. 7 

Kenneth III., son of Malcolm I., and brother 
of Duff, succeeded Culen the same year. He 
waged a successful war against the Britons of 
Strathclyde, and annexed their territories to 

J Robertson's Early Kings, vol. i. p. 76. 

his kingdom. During his reign the Danes 
meditated an attack upon Forteviot, or Dun- 
keld, for the purposes of plunder, and, with 
this view, they sailed up the Tay with a nu- 
merous fleet. Kenneth does not appear to 
have been fully prepared, being probably not 
aware of the intentions of the enemy ; but col- 
lecting as many of his chiefs and their followers 
as the spur of the occasion would allow, he 
met the Danes at Luncarty, in the vicinity of 
Perth. Malcolm, the Tanist, prince of Cum- 
berland, it is said, commanded the right wing 
of the Scottish army; Duncan, the Maormor 
of Athole, had the charge of the left: and 
Kenneth, the king, commanded the centre. 
The Danes with their battle-axes made dread- 
ful havoc, and compelled the Scottish army 
to give way; but the latter was rallied by 
the famous Hay, the traditional ancestor of 
the Kinnoul family, and finally repulsed the 
Danes, who, as usual, fled to their ships. Bur- 
ton thinks the battle of Luncarty " a recent 

The defeat of the Danes enabled Kenneth 
to turn his attention to the domestic concerns 
of his kingdom. He appears to have directed 
his thoughts to bring about a complete change 
in the mode of succession to the crown, in or- 
der to perpetuate in and confine the crown to 
his own descendants. This alteration could 
not bo well accomplished as long as Malcolm, 
the son of Duff, the Tanist of the kingdom, 
and prince of Cumberland, stood in the way; 
and, accordingly, it has been said that Kenneth 
was the cause of the untimely death of prince 
Malcolm, who is stated to have been poisoned. 
It is said that Kenneth got an act passed, 
that in future the son, or nearest male heir, of 
the king, should always succeed to the throne; 
and that in case that son or heir were not of 
age at the time of the king's demise, that a 
person of rank should be chosen Eegent of the 
kingdom, until the minor attained his four- 
teenth year, when he should assume the reins 
of government; but whether such a law was 
really passed on the moot-hill of Scone or not, 
of which we have no evidence, certain it is 
that two other princes succeeded to the crown 
before Malcolm the son of Kenneth, Ken- 
neth, after a reign of twenty-four years, was, it 
is said, in 994 assassinated at Fettercairn by 



Finella, 3 the wife of the Maormor of the 
Mearns, and the daughter of Cunechat, the 
Maormor of Angus, in revenge for having put 
her only son to death. It has been thought 
that till this time the Maormorship of Angus 
was iii some measure independent of the Scot- 
tish crown, never having thoroughly yielded 
to its supremacy, that the death of the young 
chief took place in course of an effort on the 
part of Kenneth for its reduction, and that 
Kenneth himself was on a visit to the quarter 
at the time of his death, for exacting the usual 
royal privileges of cain and cuairt, or a certain 
tax and certain provision for the king and his 
followers when on a journey, due by the chiefs 
or landholders of the kingdom. 9 

Constantino IV., son of Culen, succeeded; 
but his right was disputed by Kenneth, the 
Grim, i. e. strong, son of Duff. The dis- 
pute was decided at Kathveramoii, i. e. the 
castle at the mouth of the Almond, near 
Perth, where Constantino lost his life in the 
year 995. 

Kenneth IV., the son of Duff, now obtained 
the sceptre which ho had coveted ; but he was 
disturbed in the possession thereof by Malcolm, 
the son of Kenneth III., heir presumptive to 
the crown. Malcolm took the field in 1003, 
and decided his claim to the crown in a bloody 
battle at Monivaird, in Strathearn, in which 
Kenneth, after a noble resistance, received a 
mortal wound. 

Malcolm II. now ascended the vacant throne, 
but was not destined to enjoy repose. At the 
very beginning of his reign he was defeated at 
Durham by the army of the Earl of Northum- 
berland, under his son Uchtred, who ordered 
a selection of good-looking Scotch heads to be 
stuck on the walls of Durham. 

The Danes, who had now obtained a firm 
footing in England, directed their attention in 
an especial manner to Scotland, which they were 
in hopes of subduing. Sigurd, the Earl of 
Orkney, carried on a harassing and predatory 
warfare on the shores of the Moray Frith, 
which he continued even after a matrimonial 
alliance he formed with Malcolm, by marrying 

8 According to Skene, Finella is a conniption of 
Pinuele or Finale Cunchar, Earl of Angus. Skeue's 
Annals of the Picls and Scots, p. cxliv. 

9 Maclauchlan's Early Scottish Church, p. 306. 
Robertson's Scot, under her Early Kings, vol. i. p. 88. 

his daughter ; but this was no singular trait in 
the character of a Vikingr, who plundered 
friends and foes with equal pleasure. The 
scene of Sigurd's operations was chosen by 
his brother northmen for making a descent, 
which they effected near Speymouth. They 
carried fire and sword through Moray, and 
laid siege to the fortress of Nairn, one of 
the strongest in the north. The Danes were 
forced to raise the siege for a time, by Mal- 
colm, who encamped his army in a plain near 
KiMos or Kinloss. In this position he was 
attacked by the invaders, and, after a severe 
action, was forced to retreat, after being seri- 
ously wounded. 

Malcolm, in 1010, marched north with his 
army, and encamped at Mortlach. The Danes 
advanced to meet the Scots, and a dreadful 
and fierce conflict ensued, the result of which 
was long dubious. At length the northmen 
gave way and victory declared for Malcolm. 
Had the Danes succeeded they would in all 
probability have obtained as permanent a foot- 
ing in North Britain as they did in England ; 
but the Scottish kings were determined, at all 
hazards, never to suffer them to pollute the soil 
of Scotland by allowing them even the smallest 
settlement in their dominions. In gratitude 
to God for his victory, Malcolm endowed a 
religious house at Mortlach, with its church 
erected near the scene of action. Maclauchlan, 
however, maintains that this church was 
planted by Malcolm Ceanmore. 

Many other conflicts are narrated with mi- 
nute detail by the later chroniclers as having 
taken place between Malcolm and the Danes, 
but it is very doubtful how far these are wor- 
thy of credit. That Malcolm had enough to 
do to prevent the Danes from overrunning 
Scotland and subduing the inhabitants can 
readily be believed ; but as we have few au- 
thentic particulars concerning the conflicts 
which took place, it would serve no purpose 
give the imaginary details invented by com- 
paratively recent historians. 

Some time after this Malcolm was engaged 
in a war with the Northumbrians, and, having 
led his army, in 1018, to Carham, near Werk, 
on the southern bank of the Tweed, where he 
was met by Uchtred, the Earl of Northumber- 
and, a desperate battle took place, which was 



contested with great valour on both sides. 1 
The success was doubtful on either side, though 
Uchtred claimed a victory ; but he did not 
long enjoy the fruits of it, as he was soon 
thereafter assassinated when on his road to 
pay obeisance to the great Canute. Endulf, 
the brother and successor of Uchtred, justly 
dreading the power of the Scots, was induced 
to cede Lothian to Malcolm for ever, who, on 
this occasion, gave oblations to the churches 
iiuil gifts to the clergy, and they in return 
transmitted his name to posterity. He was 
designed, par excellence, by the Latin chroni- 
clers, rex victoriosissimus , by Si Berchan, the 
Forranach or destroyer. 

The last struggle with which Malcolm was 
threatened, was with the celebrated Canute, 
who, for some cause or other not properly ex- 
plained, entered Scotland in the year 1031 ; 
but those powerful parties appear not to have 
come to action. Canute's expedition appears, 
from what followed, to have been fitted out to 
compel Malcolm to do homage for Cumber- 
land, for it is certain that Malcolm engaged to 
fulfil the conditions on which his predecessors 
had held that country, and that Canute there- 
after returned to England. 

But the reign of Malcolm was not only dis- 
tinguished by foreign wars, but by civil con- 
tests between rival chiefs. Finlegh, the Maor- 
mor of Ross, and the father of Macbeth, was 
assassinated in 1020, and about twelve years 
thereafter, Maolbride, the Maormor of Moray, 
grandfather of Lulach, was, in revenge for 
Finlegh's murder, burnt within his castle, with 
fifty of his men. 

At length, after a splendid reign of thirty 
years, Malcolm slept with his fathers, and his 
body was transferred to lona, and interred 
ttrith due solemnity among the remains of his 
predecessors. By some authorities he is said 
to have been assassinated at Glammis. 

Malcolm was undoubtedly a prince of great 
acquirements. He made many changes and 
some improvements in the internal policy of his 
kingdom, and in him religion always found a 
guardian and protector. But although Mal- 

1 The last we hear of any king or ruler of Strath- 
clyde was one that fought on Malcolm's side in this 
battle ; and presently afterwards the attenuated state 
is found, without any conflict, absorbed in the Scots 
king's dominions. Burton, TO!, i. p 367. 

colm is justly entitled to this praise, he by no 
means came up to the standard of perfection 
assigned him by fiction. In his reign Scot- 
land appears to have reached its present bound- 
ary on the south, the Tweed, and Strathclyde 
was incorporated with the rest of the kingdom. 
Malcolm was the first who was called Rex 
Scotice, and might justly claim to be so desig- 
nated, seeing that he was the first to hold 
sway over nearly the whole of present Scot- 
land, the only portions where his authority 
appears to have been seriously disputed being 
those in which the Danes had established 

Duncan, son of Bethoc or Beatrice, daughter 
of Malcolm II., succeeded his grandfather in 
the year 1033. " In the extreme north, do- 
minions more extensive than any Jarl of the 
Orkneys had hitherto acquired, were united 
under the rule of Thorfinn, Sigurd's son, whose 
character and appearance have been thus de- 
scribed: ' He was stout and strong, but very 
ugly, severe and cruel, but a very clever man.' 
The extensive districts then dependant upon 
the Moray Maormors were in the possession of 
the celebrated Macbeth." 2 Duncan, in 1033, 
desiring to extend his dominions southwards, 
attacked Durham, but was forced to retire 
with considerable loss. His principal strug- 
gles, however, were with his powerful kins- 
man, Thorfinn, whose success was so great that 
he extended his conquests as far as the Tay. 
" His men spread over the whole conquered 
country," says the OrJcneyinga Saga, 3 " and 
burnt every hamlet and farm, so that not a cot 
remained. Every man that they found they 
slew ; but the old men and women fled to the 
deserts and woods, and filled the country with 
lamentation. Some were driven before the 
Norwegians and made slaves. After this Earl 
Thorfinn returned to his ships, subjugating the 
country everywhere in his progress," Duncan's 
last battle, in which he was defeated, was in 
the neighbourhood of Burghead, near the 
Moray Frith ; and shortly after this, on the 
14th August, 1040, he was assassinated in 
Bothgowanan, which, in Gaelic, is said to 
mean " the smith's hut," by his kinsman the 

3 Robertson's Early Kings, vol. i. p. 113. 

1 As quoted by Skene, Highlanders, vol. i. p. 112. 



Maormor Macbeda or Macbeth. Duncan bad 
reigned only live years when he was assassi- 
nated by Macbeth, leaving two infant sons, 
Malcolm and Donal, by a sister of Siward, the 
Earl of Northumberland. The former fled to 
Cumberland, and the latter took refuge in the 
Hebrides, on the death of their father. 

Macbeth, " snorting with the indigested 
fumes of the blood of his sovereign," imme- 
diately seized the gory sceptre. As several 
fictions have been propagated concerning the 
history and genealogy of Macbeth, we may 
mention that, according to the most authentic 
authorities, he was by birth Thane of Eoss, and 
by his marriage with the Lady Gruoch, who 
had a claim to the throne, as granddaughter of 
Kenneth, became also Thane of Moray, dur- 
ing the minority of Lulach, the infant son of 
that lady, by her former marriage with Gilcom- 
gain, the Maormor or Thane of Moray. Lady 
Gruoch was the daughter of Boedhe, son of 
Kenneth IV. ; and thus Macbeth united in his 
own person many powerful interests which en- 
abled him to take quiet possession of the 
throne of the murdered sovereign. He, of 
course, found no difficulty in getting himself 
inaugurated at Scone, under the protection of 
the clans of Moray and Eoss, and the aid of 
those who favoured the pretensions of the de- 
scendants of Kenneth IV. 

Various attempts were made on the part of 
the partisans of Malcolm, son of Duncan, to 
dispossess Macbeth of the throne. The most 
formidable was that of Siward, the powerful 
Earl of Northumberland, and the relation of 
Malcolm, who, at the instigation or command 
of Edward the Confessor, led a numerous army 
into Scotland in the year 1054. They marched 
as far north as Dunsinnan, where they were met 
by Macbeth, who commanded his troops in 
person. A furious battle ensued, but Macbeth 
fled from the field after many displays of cour- 
age. The Scots lost 3,000 men, and the Sax- 
ons 1,500, including Osbert, the son of Si ward. 
Macbeth retired to his fastnesses in the north, 
and Siward returned to Northumberland ; but 
Malcolm continued the war till the death of 
Macbeth, who was slain by Macduff, Thane of 
Fife, in revenge for the cruelties he had in- 
flicted on his family, at Lumphanan, in Abor- 
deenshirc, in the year 1056, although, accord- 

ing to Skene (Chronicles), it was in August, 

Macbeth was unquestionably a man of 
great vigour, and well fitted to govern in the 
age in which he lived ; and had it not been 
for the indelible character bestowed upon him 
by Shakespere (who probably followed the 
chronicle of Holinshed), his character might 
have stood well with posterity. " The deeds 
which raised Macbeth and his wife to power 
were not in appearance much worse than others 
of their clay done for similar ends. However 
he may have gained his power, he exercised it 
with good repute, according to the reports 
nearest to his time." 4 Macbeth, " in a manner 
sacred to splendid infamy," is the first king of 
Scotland whose name appears in the ecclesias- 
tical records as a benefactor of the church, and, 
it would appear, the first who offered his ser- 
vices to the Bishop of Rome. According to 
the records of St. Andrews, he made a gift of 
certain lands to the monastery of Lochleven, 
and certainly sent money to the poor of Eomc, 
if, indeed, he did not himself make a pilgrim- 
age to the holy city. 

After the reign of Macbeth, the former irre- 
gular and confusing mode of succession ceased, 
and the hereditary principle was adopted and 
acted upon. 

Lulach, the great-grandson of Kenneth IV., 
being supported by the powerful influence of 
his own family, and that of the deceased 
monarch, ascended the throne at the age of 
twenty-five or twenty-six ; but his reign lasted 
only a few months, he having fallen in battle 
at Essie, in Strathbogie, in defending his crown 
against Malcolm. The body of Lulach was in- 
terred along with that of Macbeth, in loua, the 
common sepulchre, for many centuries, of the 
Scottish kings. 

Malcolm III., better known in history by 
the name of Malcolm Ceanmore, or great head, 
vindicated his claim to the vacant throne, and 
was crowned at Scone, 25th April, 1057. His 
first care was to recompense those who had 
assisted him in obtaining the sovereignty, 
and it is said that he created new titles of 
honour, by substituting earls for thanes ; but 
this has been disputed, and there are really no 

4 Burton's Scotland, vol. i. p. 372. 


data from which a certain conclusion can bo 

In the year 1059 Malcolm paid a visit to 
Edward the Confessor, during whose reign he 
lived on amicable terms with the English ; but 
after the death of that monarch he made a 
hostile incursion into Northumberland, and 
wasted the country. He even violated the 
peace of St. Cuthbert in Holy Island. 

William, Duke of Normandy, having over- 
come Harold in the battle of Hastings, on the 
14th October, 1066, Edgar ^Etheling saw no 
hopes of obtaining the crown, and left Eng- 
land along with his mother and sisters, and 
sought refuge in Scotland. Malcolm, on hear- 
ing of the distress of the illustrious strangers, 
left his royal palace at Dunfermline to meet 
them, and invited them to Dunfermline, where 
they were hospitably entertained. Margaret, 
one of Edgar's sisters, was a princess of great 
virtues and accomplishments ; and she at once 
won the heart of Malcolm. 

The offer of his hand was accepted, and their 
nuptials were celebrated with great solemnity 
and splendour. This queen was a blessing to 
the king and to the nation, and appears to 
have well merited the appellation of Saint. 
There are few females in history who can be 
compared with Queen Margaret. 

It is quite unnecessary, and apart from the 
object of the present work, to enter into any 
details of the wars between Malcolm and Wil- 
liam the Conqueror, and William Eufus. Suf- 
fice it to say that both Malcolm and his eldest 
son Edward were slain in a battle on the Alne, 
on the 13th November, 1093, after a reign of 
thirty-six years. Queen Margaret, who was on 
her death-bed when this catastrophe occurred, 
died shortly after she received the intelligence 
with great composure and resignation to the 
will of God. Malcolm had six sons, viz., Ed- 
ward, who was killed along with his father, 
Edmund, Edgar, Ethelred, Alexander, and Da- 
vid, and two daughters, Maud, who was mar- 
ried to Henry I. of England, and Mary, who 
married Eustache, Count of Boulogne. Of the 
sons, Edgar, Alexander, and David, successively 
came to the crown. 

Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, died in 1064, and 
his extensive possessions in Scotland did not 
revert to his descendants, but to the native 

chiefs, who had had the original right to pos- 
sess them. These chiefs appear to have been 
independent of the Scottish sovereign, and to 
have caused him no small amount of troublc- 
A considerable part of Malcolm's reign was 
spent in endeavouring to bring them into sub- 
jection, and before his death he had the satis- 
faction of seeing the whole of Scotland, with 
perhaps the exception of Orkney, acknowledg- 
ing him as sole monarch. The Norwegian 
conquest appears to have effected a most im- 
portant change in the character of the popu- 
lation and language of the eastern lowlands of 
the north of Scotland. The original po- 
pulation must in some way have given way 
to a Norwegian one, and, whatever may 
have been the original language, we find 
after this one of a decidedly Teutonic char- 
acter prevailing in this district, probably in- 
troduced along with the Norse population. 
" In the more mountainous and Highland dis- 
tricts, however, we are warranted in conclud- 
ing that the effect must have been very differ- 
ent, and that the possession of the country by 
the Norwegians for thirty years could have ex- 
ercised as little permanent influence on the 
population itself, as we are assured by the Saga 
it did upon the race of their chiefs. 

" Previously to this conquest the northern 
Gaelic race possessed the whole of the north of 
Scotland, from the western to the eastern sea, 
and the general change produced by the con- 
quest must have been, that the Gael were for 
the first time confined within those limits which 
they have never since exceeded, and that the 
eastern districts became inhabited by that 
Gothic race, who have also ever since possessed 
them." 5 

On the demise of Malcolm, Donal-bane his 
brother assumed the government ; but Duncan, 
the son of Malcolm, who had lived many years 
in England, and held a high military rank un- 
der William Kufus, invaded Scotland with a 
large army of English and Normans, and forced 
Donal to retire for safety to the Hebrides. 
Duncan, whom some writers suppose to have 
been a bastard, and others a legitimate son of 
Malcolm by a former wife, enjoyed the crown 
only six months, having been assassinated by 

* Skcne's Highlanders, vol. u p. 123. 



Maolpoder, tlio Maormor of the Mearns, at 
Menteith, at the instigation, it is believed, 
of Donal. Duncan left, by his -wife Etlireda, 
daughter of Gospatriclc, a son, William, some- 
times surnamed Fitz-Duncan. 

Donal-bane again seized the sceptre, but 
he survived Duncan only two years. Edgar 
^Etheling having assembled an army in Eng- 
land, entered Scotland, and made Donal pri- 
soner in an action which took place in Septem- 
ber 1097. He was imprisoned by orders of 
Edgar, and died at Eoscobie in Forfarshire, 
after having been deprived of his eyesight, ac- 
cording to the usual practice of the age. The 
series of the pure Scoto-Irish kings may be said 
to have ended with Donal-bane. 

The reign of Edgar, who appears to have 
been of a gentle and peaceful disposition, is 
almost devoid of incident, the principal events 
being the marriage of his sister Matilda to the 
English Henry, and the wasting and conquest 
of the Western Islands by Magnus Olaveson 
and his Norwegians. This last event had but 
little effect on Scotland proper, as these Islands 
at that time can hardly be said to have belonged 
to it. These Norsemen appear to have settled 

Seal of Edgar. 

among and mixed with the native inhabitants, 
and thus to have formed a population, spoken 
of by the Irish Annalists under the name of 

Gallgael, " a horde of pirates, plundering on 
their own account, and under their own leaders, 
when they were not following the banner of 
any of the greater sea-kings, whose fleets were 
powerful enough to sweep the western seas, and 
exact tribute from the lesser island chief tains." 
Edgar died in 1107, and was succeeded by his 
brother Alexander, whom he enjoined to be- 
stow upon his younger brother David the dis- 
trict of Cumbria. 

We have now arrived at an era in our his- 
tory, when the line of demarcation between the 
inhabitants of the Lowlands and Highlands of 
Scotland begins to appear, and when, by the 
influx of a Gothic race into the former, the 
language of that part of North Britain is com- 
pletely revolutionized, when a new dynasty or 
race of sovereigns ascends the throne, and when 
a great change takes places in the laws and 
constitution of the Hngdom. 

Although the Anglo-Saxon colonization of 
the Lowlands of Scotland does not come exactly 
within the design of the present work; yet, as 
forming an important feature in the history of 
the Lowlands of Scotland, as contradistin- 
guished from the Highlands, a slight notice of 
it may not be uninteresting. 

Shortly after the Eoman abdication of North 
Britain in the year 446, which was soon suc- 
ceeded by the final departure of the Romans 
from the British shores, the Saxons, a people 
of Gothic origin, established themselves upon 
the Tweed, and afterwards extended their set- 
tlements to the Frith of Forth, and to the 
banks of the Solway and the Clyde. About 
the beginning of the sixth century the Dalriads, 
as we have seen, landed in Kintyre and Ar- 
gyle from the opposite coast of Ireland, 
and colonized these districts, whence, in the 
course of little more than two centuries, they 
overspread the Highlands and western islands, 
which their descendants have ever since con- 
tinued to possess. Towards the end of the 
eighth century, a fresh colony of Scots from 
Ireland settled in Galloway among the Britons 
and Saxons, and having overspread the whole 
of that country, were afterwards joined by de- 
tachments of the Scots of Kintyre and Argyle, 
in connection with whom they peopled that 

6 Early Kings, vol. i. p. 1 80. 



peninsula. Besides these three races, who 
made permanent settlements in Scotland, the 
Scandinavians colonized the Orkney and Shet- 
land islands, and also established themselves 
on the coasts of Caitliness and Sutherland, and 
in the eastern part of the country north of the 
Firth of Tay. 

But notwithstanding these early settlements 
of the Gothic race, the era of the Saxon colon- 
ization of the Lowlands of Scotland is, with 
more propriety, placed in the reign of Malcolm 
Ceanmore, who, by liis marriage with a Saxon 
princess, and the protection he gave to the 
Anglo-Saxon fugitives who sought an asy- 
lum in his dominions from the persecutions of 
William the Conqueror and his Normans, laid 
the foundations of those great changes which 
took place in the reigns of his successors. 
Malcolm, in Ms warlike incursions into North- 
umberland and Durham, carried off immense 
numbers of young men and women, who were 
to be seen in the reign of David I. in almost 
every village and house in Scotland. The 
Gaelic population were quite averse to the set- 
tlement of these strangers among them, and it 
is said that the extravagant mode of living in- 
troduced by the Saxon followers of Queen 
Margaret, was one of the reasons which led to 
their expulsion from Scotland, in the reign of 
Donal-bane, who rendered himself popular with 
Ids people by this unfriendly act. 

This expulsion was, however, soon rendered 
nugatory, for on the accession of Edgar, the 
first sovereign of the Scoto-Saxon dynasty, 
many distinguished Saxon families with their 
followers settled in Scotland, to the heads of 
which families the king made grants of land of 
considerable extent. Few of these foreigners 
appear to have come into Scotland during the 
reign of Alexander I., the brother and suc- 
cessor of Edgar ; but vast numbers of Anglo- 
Saxons, Anglo-Normans, and Flemings, estab- 
lished themselves in Scotland in the reign of 
David I. That prince had received his educa- 
tion at the court of Henry I., and had married 
Maud or Matilda, the only child of Waltheof, 
Earl of Northumberland and Huntingdon, by 
Judith, niece to William the Conqueror on the 
mother's side. This lady had many vassals, 
and when David came to the throne, in the 
year 1124, he was followed by a thousand 


Anglo-Normans, to whom ho distributed lands, 
on which they and their followers settled. 
Many of the illustrious families in Scotland 
originated from this source. 

Malcolm Ceanmore had, before his accession 
to the throne, resided for some time in Eng- 
land as a fugitive, under the protection of Ed- 
ward the Confessor, where he acquired a know- 
ledge of the Saxon language ; which language, 
after his marriage with the princess Margaret, 
became that of the Scottish court. This cir- 
cumstance made that language fashionable 
among the Scottish nobility, in consequence of 
which and of the Anglo-Saxon colonization un- 
der David I., the Gaelic language was altogether 
superseded in the Lowlands of Scotland in 
little more than two centuries after the death 
of Malcolm. A topographical line of demar- 
cation was then fixed as the boundary between 
the two languages, which has ever since been 
kept up, and presents one of the most singular 
phenomena ever observed in the history of 

The change of the seat of government by 
Kenneth, on ascending the Pictish throne, to 
Abernethy, also followed by the removal of 
the marble chair, the emblem of sovereignty, 
from Dunstaffnage to Scone, appears to have 
occasioned no detriment to the Gaelic popula- 
tion of the Highlands ; but when Malcolm 
Ceanmore transferred his court, about the year 
1066, to Dunfermline, which also became, in 
place of lona, the sepulchre of the Scottish 
kings, the rays of royal bounty, which had 
hitherto diffused their protecting and benign in- 
fluence over the inhabitants of the Highlands, 
were withdrawn, and left them a prey to an- 
archy and poverty. " The people," says Gen- 
eral David Stewart, " now beyond the reach of 
the laws, became turbulent and fierce, revenging 
in person those wrongs for which the adminis- 
trators of the laws were too distant and too 
feeble to afford redress. Thence arose the 
institution of chiefs, who naturally became the 
judges and arbiters in the quarrels of their 
clansmen and followers, and who were sur. 
rounded by men devoted to the defence of 
their lights, their property, and their power; 
and accordingly the chiefs established within 
their own territories a jurisdiction almost 
wholly independent of their liege lord." 



The connection which Malcolm and his suc- 
cessors maintained with England, estranged 
still farther the Highlanders from the dominion 
of the sovereign and the laws ; and their his- 
tory, after the population of the Lowlands had 
merged into and adopted the language of the 
Anglo-Saxons, presents, with the exception of 
the wars between rival clans which will be no- 
ticed afterwards, nothing remarkable till their 
first appearance on the military theatre of our 
national history in the campaigns of Montrose, 
Dundee, and others. 

On the accession of Alexander I., then, 
Scotland was divided between the Celt and 
the Saxon, or more strictly speaking, Teuton, 
pretty much as it is at the present day, the 
Gaelic population having become gradually 
confined very nearly to the limits indicated in 
the first chapter. They never appear, at least 
until quite recently, to have taken kindly to 
Teutonic customs and the Teutonic tongue, and 
resented much the defection of their king in 

court, in submitting to Saxon innovations. 
Previous to this the history of the Highlands 
has been, to a very great extent, the history of 
Scotland, and even for a considerable time after 
this, Scotia was applied strictly to the country 
north of the Forth and Clyde, the district south 
of that being known by various other names. 
During and after Edgar's time, the whole of 
the country north of the Tweed became more 
and more a counterpart of England, with its 
thanes, its earls, and its sheriffs ; and even the 
Highland maormors assumed the title of earl, 
in deference to the new customs. The High- 
landers, however, it is well known, for cen- 
turies warred against these Saxon innovations, 
becoming more and more a peculiar people, 
being, up till the end of the last century, a 
perpetual thorn in the flesh of their Saxon 
rulers and their Saxon fellow-subjects. They 
have a history of their own, which we deem 
worthy of narration. 1 



Date of 

Duration of 


KENNETH MACALPINK over the Scots and Picts, 









CONSTANTINE II., son of Kenneth, 




AODH, or HUGH, the son of Kenneth, 




BOCHA, or AOHT, or GEIO, jointly, 




DONAL IV., the son of Constantino, 




CONSTANTINB III., the son of Aodh, 




MALCOLM I., son of Donal IV., 




INDDLF, the son of Constantino III., 




DOP, the son of Malcolm I., 


4 J 


COLEN, the son of Indulf, 



KENNETH III., son of Malcolm I., 




CONSTANTINE I V., son of Culen, 




KENNETH IV., son of Duf, 




MALCOLM II., son of Kenneth III., 




DONCAN, grandson of Malcolm II., 




MACBETH, son of Finlegh, . 




LULACH, son of Gruoch and Gilcomgain, 




MALCOLM III., Ceanmore, son of Duncan, 




DONALD BANE, son of Duncan, 




DDNOAH II., son of Malcolm III., 








KIKIAK, son of Malcolm III., 




1 Since the above was written, the Book of Deer has been published ; what further information is to be 
gained from it will \ found at the end of this volume. * Abdicated ; died 952. 




A.D. 1107-1411. 


Alexander I., 11071124. 
David I., 11241153. 
Malcolm IV., 11631165. 
William the Lion, 1165-1214. 
Alexander II., 1211 -12 III. 
Alexander III., 12491286. 
Regency, 12861290. 
Interregnum, 12901292. 
John Ballol. 12921306. 

Robert Bruce, 13061320. 
David II., 13291332. 
Edward Baliol, 13321341. 
David II. restored, 13411370. 
Robert II. (Stewart), 1370 


Robert III., 13901408. 
James I., 14001436. 

Alexander I. David I. Insurrections in Highlands 
Somerled Moray men and Malcolm IV. William 
The Lion Disturbances in the Highlands Ross- 
shire Orkney Alexander II. Argyle Caithness 
Alexander III. Disturbances in Ross Expedi- 
tion of Haco Battle of Largs Robert Bruce Ex- 
pedition into Lorn Subdues Western Isles Isles 
revolt under David II. and again submit Contest 
between the Monroes and Clan Chattan The Clan 
Chattan and the Camerons Battle on North Inch 
Wolf of Badenoch His son Alexander Stewart 
Disturbances in Sutherland Lord of the Isles in- 
vades Scotland Battle of Harlaw. 

THE reign of Alexander I. was disturbed, about 
the year 1116, by an attempt made by the 
men of Moray and Merne to surprise the king 
while enjoying himself at his favourite resi- 
dence at Invergowrie, on the north bank of 
the Tay, not far from its mouth. The king, 
however, showed himself more than a match 
for his enemies, as he not only defeated their 
immediate purpose, but, pursuing them with his 
army across the Moray Frith, chastised them 
so effectually as to keep them quiet for the re- 
mainder of his reign, which ended by his 
death, in April, 1124. In 1130, six years 
after the accession of King David I. to the 
Scottish throne, while he was in England, the 
Moraymen again rose against the semi-Saxon 
king, but were defeated at Strickathrow, in 
Forfarshire, by Edward the Constable, son of 
Siward Beorn, Angus the Earl of Moray being 
left among the dead, Malcolm his brother es- 
caping to carry on the conflict. In 1134 
David himself took the field against these 
Highlanders, and, with the assistance of the 
barons of Northumberland, headed by Walter 
L'Espec, completely subdued the Moraymen, 
confiscated the whole district, and bestowed it 
upon knights in whose fidelity he could place 
confidence, some of these being Normans. 

This was manifestly, according to Dr. Mac- 
lauchlan, the period of the dispersion of the 

ancient Moravienses. Never till then was 
the power of the Moray chiefs thoroughly 
broken, and only then were the inhabitants 
proscribed, and many of them expelled. The 
Murrays, afterwards so powerful, found their 
way to the south, carrying with them the name 
of their ancient country, and some of the present 
tribes of Sutherland, as well as of Inverness- 
shire, who, there is reason to believe, belonged to 
the Scoto-Pictish inhabitants of Moray, removed 
their dwellings to those portions of the country 
which they have occupied ever since. The 
race of Mac Heth may appear among the Mac 
Heths or Mac Aoidhs, the Mackays of Suther- 
land, nor is this rendered less probable by the 
Morganaich or sons of Morgan, the ancient 
name of the Mackays, appearing in the Book 
of Deer as owning possessions and power in 
Buchan in the 10th or llth century. 2 

The next enterprise of any note was under- 
taken by Somerled, thane of Argyle and the 
Isles, against the authority of Malcolm IV., 
who, after various conflicts, was repulsed, 
though not subdued, by Gilchrist, Earl of An- 
gus. A peace, concluded with this powerful 
chieftain in 1153, was considered of such im- 
portance as to form an epoch in the dating of 
Scottish charters. A still more formidable in- 
surrection broke out among the Moraymen, 
under Gildominick, on account of an attempt, 
on the part of the Government, to intrude the 
Anglo-Norman jurisdiction, introduced into the 
Lowlands, upon their Celtic customs, and the 
settling of Anglo-Belgic colonists among them. 
These insurgents laid waste the neighbouring 
counties ; and so regardless were they of the 
royal authority, that they actually hanged the 
heralds who were sent to summon them to lay 
down their arms. Malcolm despatched the 
gallant Earl Gilchrist with an army to subdue 
them, but he was defeated, and forced to re- 
cross the Grampians. 

This defeat aroused Malcolm, who was natu- 
rally of an indolent disposition. About th 
year 1160 he marched north with a powerful 
army, and found the enemy on the moor of 
Urquhart, near the Spey, ready to give him 
battle. After passing the Spey, the noblemen 
in the king's army reconnoitred the enemy; 

* Maclauchlan's Early Scottish Church, pp. 346-7. 



but they foTind them so well prepared for ac- 
tion, and so flushed with their late success, 
that they considered the issue of a battle 
rather doubtful. On this account, the com- 
manders advised the king to enter into a nego- 
tiation with the rebels, and to promise, that in 
the event of a submission their lives would be 
spared. The offer was accepted, and the king 
kept liis word. According to Fordun, 7 the king, 
by the advice of his nobles, ordained that every 
family in Moray which had been engaged in 
the rebellion should, within a limited time, re- 
move out of Moray to other parts of the king- 
dom, where lands would be assigned to them, 
and that their places should be supplied with 
people from other parts of the kingdom. For 
the performance of this order, they gave hos- 
tages, it is said, 8 and at the time appointed 
transplanted themselves, some into the north- 
em, but the greater number into the southern 
counties. Chalmers considers this removal of 
the Morayrnen as " an egregious improba- 
bility," because " the dispossessing of a whole 
people is so difficult an operation, that the re- 
cital of it cannot be believed without strong 
evidence;" 9 it is very probable that only the 
ringleaders and their families were trans- 
ported. The older historians say that the 
Moraymen were almost totally cut off in an 
obstinate battle, and strangers brought into 
their place. 1 

About this time Somerled, the ambitious and 
powerful lord of the Isles, made another and a 

7 Book viii. ch. 6. 

8 Shaw's Hist, of Moray, new ed., pp. 259-60. 
8 Caledonia, vol. i. p. 627. 

1 " Whilst the lowlands and the coast of Moray, 
which had already been partitioned out among the 
followers of David, would have presented compara- 
tively few obstacles to such a project, it is hardly pos- 
sible to conceive how it could ever have been success- 
fully put into execution amidst the wild and inaccessible 
mountains of the interior. It appears, therefore, most 
reasonable to conclude, that Malcolm only earned out 
the policy pursued by his grandfather ever since the 
first forfeiture of tbe earldom; and that any changes 
that may have been brought about in the population 
of this part of Scotland and which scarcely extended 
below the class of the lesser Duchasach, or small pro- 
prietors are not to be attributed to one sweeping and 
compulsatory measure, but to the grants of David and 
his successors ; which must have had the effect of either 
reducing tbe earlier proprietary to a dependant posi- 
tion, or of driving into the remoter Highlands all who 
were inclined to contest the authority of the sovereign, 
or to dispute the validity of the royal ordinances which 
reduced them to the condition of subordinates." 
Robertson's Early Kings, vol. i. p. 361. 

last attempt upon the king's authority, Hav- 
ing collected a large force, chiefly in Ireland, 
he landed, in 1164, near Eenfrew ; but he was 
defeated by the brave inhabitants and the 
king's troops in a decisive battle, in which ho 
and his son Gillecolum were slain. 

The reign of William the Lion, who suc- 
ceeded his brother in 1165, was marked by 
many disturbances in the Highlands. The 
Gaelic population could not endure the new 
settlers whom the Saxon colonization had intro- 
duced among them, and every opportunity was 
taken to vex and annoy them. An open insur- 
rection broke out in Ross-shire, headed by Don- 
ald Bane, known also as Mac William, which 
obliged William, in the year 1181, to march 
into the north, where he built the two castles 
of Eddirton and Dunscath to keep the people in 
check. He restored quiet for a few years ; but. 
in 1187, Donald Bane again renewed his pre- 
tensions to the crown, and raised the standard 
of revolt in the north. He took possession of 
Ross, and wasted Moray. William lost no 
time in leading an army against him. While 
the king lay at Inverness with his army, a 
party of 3,000 faithful men, under the com- 
mand of Roland, the brave lord of Galloway, 
and future Constable of Scotland, fell in with 
Donald Bane and his army upon the Mam- 
garvy moor, on the borders of Moray. A con- 
flict ensued in which Donald and five hundred 
of his followers were killed. Roland carried 
the head of Donald to William, " as a savage 
sign of returning quiet." After this compara- 
tive quietness prevailed in the north till the 
year 1196, when Harold, the powerful Earl of 
Orkney and Caithness, disturbed its peace. 
William dispersed the insurgents at once ; but 
they again appeared the following year near 
Inverness, under the command of Torphiu, the 
son of Harold. The rebels were again over- 
powered. The king seized Harold, and obliged 
him to deliver up his son, Torphin, as an hos- 
tage. Harold was allowed to retain the north- 
ern part of Caithness, but the king gave the 
southern part of it, called Sutherland, to Hugh 
Freskin, the progenitor of the Earls of Suther- 
land. Harold died in 1206 ; but as he had 
often rebelled, his son suffered a cruel and 
lingering death in the castle of Roxburgh, 
where he had been confined. 



During the year 1211 a new insurrection 
broke out in Ross, headed by Guthred or God- 
frey, tho son of Donald Bane or Mac William, 
as ho was called. Great depredations were 
committed by the insurgents, who were chiefly 
freebooters from Ireland, the Hebrides, and 
Lochaber. For a long time they baffled the 
king's troops ; and although the king built two 
forts to keep them in check, and took many 
prisoners, they maintained for a considerable 
period a desultory and predatory warfare. Guth- 
red even forced one of the garrisons to capitu- 
late, and burnt the castle ; but being betrayed 
by his followers into the hands of William 
Comyn, Earl of Buchan, the Justiciary of Scot- 
land, he was executed in the year 1212. 

Shortly after the accession of Alexander II. 
in 1214, the peace of the north was attempted 
to be disturbed by Donald Mac William, who 
made an inroad from Ireland into Moray ; but 
he was repulsed by the tribes of that country, 
' ed by M'Intagart, the Earl of Eoss. In 1 2 2 2, 
notwithstanding the formidable obstacles which 
presented themselves from the nature of the 
country, Alexander carried an army into Ar- 
gyle, for the purpose of enforcing the homage 
of the western chiefs. His presence so alarmed 
the men of Argyle, that they immediately made 
their submission. Several of the chiefs fled 
for safety, and to punish them, the king distri- 
buted their lands among his officers and their 
followers. After this invasion Argyle was 
brought under the direct jurisdiction of the 
Scottish king, although the descendants of the 
race of Somerled, Lord of the Isles, still con- 
tinued to be the chief magnates. 

During the same year a tumult took place in 
Caithness, on account of the severity with 
which the tithes were exacted by Adam, the 
bishop, who, with his adviser, Serlo, was mur- 
dered by the bonders. The king, who was at 
tho time at Jedburgh, hearing of this murder, 
immediately hastened to the north with a mili- 
tary force, and inflicted the punishment of death 
upon the principal actors in this tragedy, who 
amounted, it is said, to four hundred persons ; 
and that their race might become extinct, their 
children were emasculated, a practice very com- 
mon in these barbarous times. The Earl of 
Caithness, who was supposed to have been privy 
to the murder, was deprived of half of his 

estate, which was afterwards restored to him on 
payment of a heavy fine. The Earl is said to 
have been murdered by his own servants in tho 
year 1231, and in order to prevent discovery, 
they laid his body into Ms bed and set fire to 
the house. 

In 1228 the country of Moray became the 
theatre of a new insurrection, headed by a Ross- 
shire freebooter, named Gillespoc M'Scolane. 
He committed great devastations by burning 
some wooden castles in Moray, and spoiling 
the crown lands. He even attacked and set 
fire to Inverness. A large army of horse and 
foot, under the command of John Comyn, Earl 
of Buchan, Justiciary of Scotland, was, in 1229, 
sent against this daring rebel, who was cap- 
tured, with his two sons, and their heads sent 
to the king. 

The lords of Argyle usually paid homage to 
the king of Norway for some of the Hebrides 
which belonged to that monarch, but Ewen, 
on succeeding his father Duncan of Argyle in 

1248, refused his homage to the Scottish king, 
who wished to possess the whole of the Western 
Isles. Though Ewen was perfectly loyal, and 
indeed was one of the most honourable men of 
his time, Alexander marched an army against 
him to enforce obedience, but his Majesty died 
on his journey in Kerrera, a small island near 
the coast of Argyle opposite Oban, on July 8, 

1249, in the fifty-first year of his age, and the 
thirty-fifth of his reign. 

According to the custom of the times, his 
son, Alexander III., then a boy only in his 
eighth year, was seated on the royal chair, or 
sacred stone of Scone, which was placed before 
the cross that stood within the burying-ground. 
Immediately before his inauguration, the bishop 
of St. Andrews girded him with the sword of 
state, and explained to him, first in Latin and 
aiterwards in Norman French, the nature of 
the compact he and his subjects were about to 
enter into. The crown, after the king had 
been seated, was placed on his head, and tho 
sceptre put into his hand. He was then covered 
with the royal mantle, and received the homage 
of tho nobles on their knees, who, in token of 
submission, threw their robes beneath his feet 
On this occasion, agreeably to ancient practice, 
a Gaelic sennachy, or bard, clothed in a red 
mantle, and venerable for his great age and 




JScotort- N 

Alexander III. From Pinkerton's Scottish Gallery. 

hoary locks, approached the king, and in a 
bended and reverential attitude, recited, from 
memory, in his native language, the genealogy 
of all the Scottish kings, deducing the descent 
of the youthful monarch from Gathetus, the 
fabulous founder of the nation. 2 The reign of 
this prince was distinguished by the entire sub- 
jugation of the western islands to the power 
of the Scottish crown. The Scandinavian set- 
tlers were allowed to leave the islands, if in- 
clined, and such of them as remained were 
bound to observe the Scottish laws. 

Shortly after the accession of Alexander III., 
an insurrection broke out against the Earl of 
Ross, of some of the people of that province. 
The Earl apprehended their leader or captain, 
whom he imprisoned at Dingwall. In revenge, 
the Highlanders seized upon the Earl's second 

1 Almost the same ceremonial of inauguration was 
observed at the coronation of Macdonald, king of the 
Isles. Martin says, that "there was a big stone of 
seven feet square, in which there was a deep impres- 
sion made to receive the feet of Mack-Donald, for he 
was crowned king of the Isles standing in this stone ; 
and swore that he would continue his vassals in the 
possession of their lands, and do exact justice to all 
his subjects ; and then his father's sword was put into 
his hands. The bishop of Argyle and seven priests 
anointed him king, in presence of all the heads of the 
tribes in the isles and continent, and were his vassals ; 
at which time the orator rehearsed a catalogue of his 
incestors." Western Islands, p. 241. 

son at Balnagown, took him prisoner, and 
detained Viim as a hostage till their captain 
should be released. The Monroes and the 
Dingwalls immediately took up arms, and hav- 
ing pursued the insurgents, overtook them at a 
place called Bealligh-ne-Broig, between Ferran- 
donald and Loch Broom, where a bloody con- 
flict ensued. "The Clan Ivor, Clan-Talvich, 
and Clan-Laiwe," says Sir Robert Gordon, 
"wer almost uterlie extinguished and slain. 1 ' 
The Monroes and Dingwalls lost a great many 
men. Dingwall of Kildun, and seven score of 
the surname of Dingwall, were killed. No 
less than eleven Monroes of the house of Foulis, 
who were to succeed one after another, fell, so 
that the succession of Foulis opened to an in- 
fant then lying in his cradle. The Earl's son 
was rescued, and to requite the service per- 
formed, he made various grants of lands to the 
Monroes and Dingwalls. 3 

In 1263, Haco, the aged king of Norway, 
sailed with a large and powerful fleet, deter- 
mined to enforce acknowledgm ant of his 
claims as superior of the Western Islands on 
their chiefs, as well as upon the king of Scot 
land. Sailing southwards among the islands, 
one chief after another acknowledged his su- 
premacy, and helped to swell his force, the 
only honourable exception being the stanch 
Ewen of Argyle. Meantime Haco brought 
his fleet to anchor in the Frith of Clyde, be- 
tween Arran and the Ayrshire coast, his men 
committing ravages on the neighbouring coun- 
try, as, indeed, they appear to have done dur- 
ing the whole of his progress. Negotiations 
entered into between Haco and Alexander III. 
came to nothing, and as winter was approach- 
ing, and his fleet had suffered much from 
several severe storms which caught it, the for- 
mer was fain to make his way homewards. A 
number of his men, however, contrived to ef- 
fect a landing near Largs, where they were met 
by a miscellaneous Scottish host, consisting of 
cavalry and country people, and finally com- 
pletely routed. The date of this skirmish, 
which is known as the battle of Largs, is Oc- 
tober 2d, 1263. Haco died in the end of the 
same year in Orkney, and in 1266 Magnus 
TV., his successor, ceded the whole of the 

3 Sir R. Gordon's History of the Earldom of Suther- 
land, p. 36. 



Scottish Islands held by Norway, except Ork- 
ney and Shetland, the Scottish king paying a 
small annual rent. Those of the islesmen who 
had proved unfaithful to the Scottish king 
were most severely and cruelly punished. 

No event of any importance appears to have 
occurred in the Highlands till the time of King 
Robert Bruce, who was attacked, after his defeat 
at Methven, by Macdougall of Lorn, and de- 
feated in Strathfillan. But Bruce was deter- 
mined that Maedougall should not long enjoy 
his petty triumph. Having been joined by his 
able partisan, Sir James Douglas, he entered the 
territory of Lorn. On arriving at the narrow 
pass of Ben Crtiachan, beween Loch Awe and 
Loch Etive, Bruce was informed that Mac- 
dougall had laid an ambuscade for him. Bruce 
divided his army into two parts. One of these 
divisions, consisting entirely of archers who 
were lightly armed, was placed under the com- 
mand of Douglas, who was directed to make a 
circuit round the mountain, and to attack the 
Highlanders in the rear. As soon as Douglas 
had gained possession of the ground above the 
Highlanders, Bruce entered the pass, and, as 
soon as he had advanced into its narrow gorge, 
he was attacked by the men of Lorn, who, from 
the surrounding heights, hurled down stones 
upon him accompanied with loud shouts. 
They then commenced a closer attack, but, 
being instantly assailed in the rear by Douglas's 
division, and assaulted by the Icing with great 
fury in front, they were thrown into complete 
disorder, and defeated with great slaughter. 
Macdougall, who was, during the action, on 
board a small vessel in Loch Etive, waiting the 
result, took refuge in his castle of Dunstaffnage. 
After ravaging the territory of Lorn, and giving 
it up to indiscriminate plunder, Bruce laid siege 
to the castle, which, after a slight resistance, 
was surrendered by the lord of Lorn, who 
swore homage to the king ; but John, the son 
of the chief, refused to submit, and took refuge 
in England. 

During the civil wars among the competi- 
tors for the Scottish crown, and those under 
Wallace and Bruce for the independence of 
Scotland, the Highlanders scarcely ever appear 
as participators in those stirring scenes which 
developed the resources, and called forth the 
jhivalry of Scotland ; but we are not to infer 

from the silence of history that they were less 
alive than their southern countrymen to the 
honour and glory of their country, or that 
they did not contribute to secure its indepen- 
dence. General Stewart says that eighteen 
Highland chiefs 4 fought under Robert Bruce at 
Bannockburn; and as these chiefs would be ac- 
companied by their vassals, it is fair to suppose 
that Highland prowess lent its powerful aid to 
obtain that memorable victory which secured 
Scotland from the dominion of a foreign 

After Robert Bruce had asserted the inde- 
pendence of his country by the decisive battle 
of Bannockburn, the whole kingdom, with the 
exception of some of the western islands, under 
John of Argyle, the ally of England, submitted 
to his authority. He, therefore, undertook an 
expedition against those isles, in which he was 
accompanied by Walter, the hereditary high- 
steward of Scotland, his son-in-law, who, by 
his marriage with Marjory, King Robert's 
daughter, laid the foundation of the Stewart 
dynasty. To avoid the necessity of doubling 
the Mull of Kintyre, which was a dangerous 
attempt for the small vessels then in use, 
Robert sailed up Loch-Fyne to Tarbert with hia 
fleet, which he dragged across the narrow isth- 
mus between the lochs of East and West Tar- 
bert, by means of a slide of smooth planks of 
trees laid parallel to each other. It had long 
been a superstitious belief amongst the inha- 
bitants of the Western Islands, that they 
should never be subdued till their invaders 
sailed across this neck of land, and it is 
said that Robert was thereby partly induced 
to follow the course he did to impress upon the 
minds of the islanders a conviction that the 
time of their subjugation had arrived. The 
islanders were quickly subdued, and John of 
Lorn, who, for his services to Edward of Eng- 
land, had been invested with the title of Ad- 
miral of the Western fleet of England, was 
captured and imprisoned first in Dumbarton 

4 The chiefs at Bannockbnrn were Mackay, Mackin- 
tosh, llacpherson, Cameron, Sinclair, Campbell, 
Menzies, Maclean, Sutherland, Robertson, Grant, 
Fraser, Macfarlane, Ross, Macgregor, Munro, Mac- 
kenzie, and Macquarrie. After the lapse of live 
hundred years since the battle of Bannockbnrn was 
fought, it is truly astonishing to find such a number 
of direct descendants who are now in existence, and 
still possessed of their paternal estates. 


castle, and afterwards in the castle of Loch 
Leven, where lie died. 

The feeble and effeminate reign of David II. 
was disturbed by another revolt by the Lord 
of the Isles, who was backed in his attempt to 
throw off his dependence by a great number of 
the Highland chiefs. David, with "an un- 
wonted energy of character, commanded the 
attendance of the steward, with the prelates 
and barons of the realm, and surrounded by 
this formidable body of vassals and retainers, 
proceeded against the rebels in person. The 
expedition was completely successful. The 
rebel prince, John of the Isles, with a numer- 
ous train of those wild Highland chieftains 
who followed his banner, and had supported 
him in his attempt to thr'ow off his dependence, 
met the king at Inverness, and submitted to 
his authority. He engaged in the most solemn 
manner, for himself and his vassals, that they 
should yield themselves faithful and obedient 
subjects to David, their liege lord ; and not 
only give due and prompt obedience to the 
ministers and officers of the king in suit and 
service, as well as in the payment of taxes and 
public burdens, but that they would coerce and 
put down all others, of whatever rank or de- 
gree, who dared to raise themselves in opposi- 
tion to the royal authority, and would compel 
them either to submit, or would pursue and 
banish them from their territories : for the ful- 
filment of which obligation the Lord of the 
Isles not only gave his own oath, under the 
penalty of forfeiting his whole principality if 
it was broken, but offered the high-steward, his 
father-in-law, as his security, and delivered his 
lawful son, Donald, his grandson, Angus, and 
his natural son, also named Donald, as hostages 
for the strict performance of the articles of the 
treaty." 5 The deed by which John of the 
Isles bound liimself to the performance of these 
stipulations is dated 15th November, 1369. 6 

To enable him the better to succeed in re- 
ducing the inhabitants of the Highlands and 
islands to the obedience of the laws, it is stated 
by an old historian, 7 that David used artifice 
by dividing the chiefs, and promising high re- 

5 Tytler's Hist, of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 185. Robert- 
son's Parliamentary Records, p. 115. 

6 Vide the Deed printed in the Appendix to Tytler's 
History, vol. ii. 

7 Fordun a G )odal, vol. ii. p. 380. 

wards to those who should slay or capture theb 
brother chiefs. The writer says that this dia 
bolical plan, by implanting the seeds of dis- 
union and war amongst the chiefs, succeeded ; 
and that they gradually destroyed one another 
a statement, to say the least of it, highly im- 
probable. Certain it is, however, that it was 
in this reign that the practice of paving manrent 
began, when the powerful wished for followers, 
and the weak wanted protection, a circumstance 
which shows that the government was too 
weak to afford protection to the oppressed, or 
to quell the disputes of rival clans. 

In the year 1333, 8 John Monroe, the tutoi 
of Foulis, in travelling homeward, on his jour- 
ney from Edinburgh to Boss, stopped on a 
meadow in Stratherdale that he and his ser- 
vants might get some repose. While they 
were asleep, the owner of the meadow cut off 
the tails of their horses. Being resolved to 
wipe off this insult, he immediately, on his 
return home to Eoss, summoned his whole 
kinsmen and followers, and, after inform- 
ing them how he had been used, craved their 
aid to revenge the injury. The clan, of 
course, complied ; and, having selected 350 
of the best and ablest men among them, 
he returned to Stratherdale, which he. wasted 
and spoiled; killed some of the inhabitants, 
and carried off their cattle. In passing by the 
isle of Moy, on his return home, Macintosh, 
the chief of the clan Chattan, being urged by 
some person who bore Monroe a grudge, sent 
a message to him demanding a share of the 
spoil. This was customary among the High- 
landers when a party drove cattle which had 
been so taken through a gentleman's land, and 
the part so exacted was called a Staoig Rathaid, 
or Staoig Creicli, that is, a Eoad Collop. Mon- 
roe, not being disposed to quarrel, offered Mac- 
intosh a reasonable share, but this he was 
advised not to accept, and demanded the half 
of the booty. Monroe refused to comply with 
such an unreasonable demand, and proceeded 
on his journey. Macintosh, determined to en- 
force compliance, immediately collected his 
lansmen, and went in pursuit of Monroe, 
whom he overtook at Clach-na-Haire, near In- 

8 This is the date assigned by Sir Robert Gordon, 
jut Shaw makes it more than a century later, viz., in 



verness. As soon as Monroe saw Macintosh 
approaching, ho sent home five of his men to 
Forrindonald with the cattle, and prepared for 
action. But Macintosh paid dearly for his ra- 
pacity and rashness, for he and the greater part 
of his men were killed in the conflict. Several 
of the Monroes also were slain, and John Mon- 
roe himself was left for dead in the field of 
battle, and might have died if the predecessor 
of Lord Lovat had not carried him to his house 
in the neighbourhood, where he was cured of 
his wounds. One of his hands was so muti- 
lated, that he lost the use of it the remainder 
of his life, on which account he was afterwards 
called John Bac-laiinh, or Ciotach. 9 

Besides the feuds of the clans in the reign of 
David II., the Highlands appear to have been 
disturbed by a formidable insurrection against 
the government, for, in a parliament which 
was held at Scone, in the year 1366, a resolu- 
tion was entered into to seize the rebels in Ar- 
gyle, Athole, Badenoch, Lochaber, and Eoss, 
and all others who had risen up against the 
royal authority, and to compel them to submit 
to the laws. The chief leaders in this commo- 
tion (of which the bare mention in the parlia- 
mentary record is the only account which has 
reached us,) were the Earl of Eoss, Hugh de 
Eoss, John of the Isles, John of Lorn, and 
John de Haye, who were all summoned to at- 
tend the parliament and give in their submis- 
sion, but they all refused to do so in the most 
decided manner; and as the government was 
too weak to compel them, they were suffered 
to remain independent. 

In the year 1386, a feud having taken place 
between the clan Chattan and the Camerons, a 
battle took place in which a great number of 
the elan Chattan were killed, and the Camerons 
were nearly cut off to a man. The occasion of 
the quarrel was as follows. The lands of Macin- 
tosh a in Lochaber, were possessed by the Ca- 

Sir R. Gordon, p. 47. Shaw, p. 264. 

1 According to that eminent antiquary, the Rev. 
Donald Macintosh, non-juring episcopal clergyman, 
in his historical illustrations of his Collections of Gaelic 
Proverbs, published in 1785, the ancestor of Macin- 
tosh became head of the clan Chattan in this way. 
During these contests for the Scottish crown, which 
succeeded the death of King Alexander III., and fa- 
voured the pretensions of the King of the Isles, the 
latter styling himself " King," had, in 1291, sent his 
nephew Angus Macintosh of Macintosh to Dougall 
Dall (blind) MacGillichattan, chief of the clan Chat- 

morons, who were so tardy in the payment of 
their rents that Macintosh was frequently 
obliged to levy them by force by carrying off 
his tenants' cattle. The Camerons were so 
irritated at having their cattle poinded and 
taken away, that they resolved to make repri- 
sals, preparatory to which they marched into 
Badenoch to the number of about 400 men, 
under the command of Charles Macgilony. 
As soon as Macintosh became acquainted 
with this movement ho called his clan and 
friends, the Macphersons and Davidsons, to- 
gether. His force was superior to that of the 
Camerons, but a dispute arose among the chiefs 
which almost proved fatal to them. To Mac- 
intosh, as captain of the clan Chattan, the 
command of the centre of the army was as- 
signed with the consent of all parties; but a 
difference took place between Cluny and Iii- 
vernahavon, each claiming the command of the 
right wing. Cluny demanded it as the chief 
of the ancient clan Chattan, of which the Da- 
vidsons of Invernahavon were only a branch ; 
but Invernahavon contended that to him, as 
the oldest branch, the command of the right 
wing belonged, according to the custom of the 
clans. The Camerons came up during this 
quarrel about precedency, on which Macin- 
tosh, as umpire, decided against the claim of 
Cluny. This was a most imprudent award, as 
the Macphersons exceeded both the Macin- 
toshes and Davidsons in numbers, and they 
were, besides, in the country of the Macpher- 
sons. These last were so offended at the deci- 
sion of Macintosh that they withdrew from 
the field, and became, for a time, spectators of 
the action. The battle soon commenced, and 
was fought with great obstinacy. Many of the 
Macintoshes, and almost all the Davidsons, 
were cut off by the superior number of the Ca- 

tan, or Macphersons, to acquaint him that " the king " 
was to pay him a visit. Macpherson, or MacGillichat- 
tan, as ho was named, in honour of the founder of the 
family Gillichattan* Mor, having an only child, a 
daughter, who, he dreaded, might attract an incon- 
venient degree of royal notice, offered her in marriage 
to Macintosh along with his lands, and the station of 
the chief of the clan Chattan. Macintosh accepted 
the offer, and was received as chief of the lady's clan. 

* " A votary or servant of St. Kattan," a most popular 
Scottish saint, we have thus GUlichallun^, meaning a " vo- 
tary of Columba," and of which another form is Malcolm 
or Motealm, the prefix Mol being corrupted into Mai, 
signifying the same as Gilly. Thus (Htty-Dhia, is the 
etymon of Culdce, signifying "servant of God," GilK- 
chrut means " servant of Christ." 



merons. Tlie Macpliersons seeing their friends 
and neighbours almost overpowered, could no 
longer restrain themselves, and friendship got 
the tetter of their wounded pride. They, 
therefore, at this perilous crisis, rushed in 
upon the Camerons, who, from exhaustion and 
the loss they had sustained, were easily de- 
feated. The few that escaped, with their 
leader, were pursued from Invernahavon, the 
place of battle, three miles above Euthven, to 
Badenoch. Charles Macgilony was killed on a 
hill in Glenbenchir, which was long called 
Torr-Thearlaich, i. e., Charles'-hill. 2 

In the opinion of Shaw this quarrel about 
precedency was the origin of the celebrated ju- 
dicial conflict, which took place on the North 
Inch of Perth, before Eobert III., his queen, 
Annabella Drummond, and the Scottish no- 
bility, and some foreigners of distinction, in 
the year 1396, and of which a variety of ac- 
counts have been given by our ancient histor- 
ians. The parties to this combat were the 
Macphersons, properly the clan Chattan, and 
the Davidsons of Invernahavon, called in the 
Gaelic Clann-Dhaibhidh. The Davidsons were 
not, as some writers have supposed, a separate 
clan, but a branch of the clan Chattan. These 
rival tribes had for a long period kept up a 
deadly enmity with one another, which was 
difficult to be restrained ; but after the award 
by Macintosh against the Macphersons, that 
enmity broke out into open strife, and for ten 
years the Macphersons and the Davidsons car- 
ried on a war of extermination, and kept the 
country in an uproar. 

To put an end to these disorders, it is said 
that Eobert III. sent Dunbar, Earl of Moray, 
and Lindsay of Glenesk, afterwards Earl of 
Crawford, two of the leading men of the king- 
dom, to endeavour to effect an amicable ar- 
rangement between the contending parties; 
but having failed in their attempt, they pro- 
posed that the differences should be decided in 
open combat before the king. Tytler 3 is of 
opinion that, the notions of the Norman knights 
having by this time become familiar to the 
fierce mountaineers, they adopted the singular 
idea of deciding their quarrel by a combat of 
30 against 30. Burton, however, with his 

8 Shaw's History of Moray, pp. 260, 261 . 
Vol. iu. pp. 76, 77. 

usual sagacity, remarks that, "for a whole 
race to submit to the ordeal of battle would im- 
ply the very highest devotion to those rules of 
chivalry which were an extravagant fashion in 
all the countries under the Norman influence, 
but were utterly unknown to the Highlanders, 
who submitted when they must submit, and 
retaliated when they could. That such an ad- 
justment could be effected among them is about 
as incredible as a story about a parliamentary 
debate in Persia, or a jury trial in Tiinbuctoo." 4 
The beautiful and perfectly level meadow on 
the banks of the Tay at Perth, known as the 
North Inch, was fixed on, and the Monday 
before Michaelmas was the day appointed for 
the combat. According to Sir Eobert Gordon, 
who is followed by Sir Eobert Douglas and 
Mr. Mackintosh, it was agreed that no weapon 
but the broad sword was to be employed, but 
Wyntoun, who lived about the time, adds 
bows, battle-axes, and daggers. 
' ' All thai entrit in Barreris, 
With Bow and Axe, Knyf and Swerd, 
To deal amang them thair last Werd."' 

The numbers on each side have been variously 
reported. By mistaking the word triceni, used 
by Boece and Buchanan, for treceni, some 
writers have multiplied them to 300. Bower, 
the continuator of Fordun and Wyntoun, how- 
ever, mentions expressly 60 in all, or 30 on 
either side. 

On the appointed day the combatants made 
their appearance on the North Inch of Perth, 
to decide, in presence of the king, his queen, 
and a large concourse of the nobility, their re- 
spective claims to superiority. Barriers had 
been erected on the ground to prevent the 
spectators from encroaching, and the king and 
his party took their stations upon a platform 
from which they could easily view the combat. 
At length the warriors, armed with sword and 
target, bows and arrows, short knives and 
battle-axes, advanced within the barriers, and 
eyed one another with looks of deadly revenge. 
When about to engage, a circumstance occurred 
which postponed the battle, and had well-nigh 
prevented it altogether. According to some 
accounts, one of the Macphersons fell sick; 
but Bower says, that when the troops had been 

Vol. iil p. 72. 



marshalled, one of tho Macphersons, panic- 
Btruck, slipped tlirough the crowd, plunged 
into the Tay and swam across, and, though 
pursued by thousands, effected his escape. 
Sir Robert Gordon merely observes, that, " at 
their entrio into tho feild, the clan Chattan 
lacked one of their number, who wes privilie 
stolne away, not willing to be pertaker of so 
deir a bargane." A man being now wanting 
on one side, a pause ensued, and a proposal 
was made that one of tho Davidsons should 
retire, that tho number on both sides might be 
equal, but they refused. As the combat could 
not proceed from this inequality of numbers, 
the king was about to break up the assembly, 
when a diminutive and crooked, but fierce 
man, named Henry Wynd, a burgher of Perth, 
better known to readers of Scott as Hal o' the 
Wynd, and an armourer by trade, sprung with- 
in tho barriers, and, as related by Bower, thus 
addressed the assembly: "Here am I. Will 
any one fee me to engage with these hirelings 
in this stage play? For half a mark will I try 
tho game, provided, if I escape alive, I have 
my board of one of you so long as I live. 
Greater love, as it is said, hath no man than 
this, that a man lay down his life for his 
friends. What, then, shall be my reward, 
who stake my life for the foes of the common- 
wealth and realm?" This demand of Gow 
Crom, " Crooked Smith," as Henry was fami- 
liarly styled, adds Bower, was granted by the 
king and nobles. A murderous conflict now 
began. The armourer, bending his bow, and 
sending the first arrow among the opposite 
party, killed one of them. After showers of 
arrows had been discharged on both sides, the 
combatants, with fury in their looks, and re- 
venge in their hearts, rushed upon one another, 
and a terrific scene ensued, which appalled the 
heart of many a valorous knight who witnessed 
the bloody tragedy. The violent thrusts of 
the daggers, and the tremendous gashes in- 
flicted by the two-handed swords and battle- 
axes, hastened the work of butchery and death. 
"Heads were cloven asunder, limbs were 
lopped from the trunk. The meadow was 
soon flooded witli blood, and covered with 
dead and wounded men." 5 

* Tales of a Grandfather, vol. ii. 

After tho crooked armourer had killed his 
man, as already related from Bower, it is said 
that he either sat down or drew aside, which 
being observed by the leader of Cluny's band, 
he asked his reason for thus stopping ; on 
which Wynd said, " Because I have fulfilled 
my bargain, and earned my wages." "The 
man," exclaimed the other, "who keeps no 
reckoning of his good deeds, without reckoning 
shall be repaid," an observation which tempted 
the armourer to earn, in the multiplied deaths 
of his opponents, a sum exceeding by as many 
times the original stipulation. This speech of 
the leader has been formed into the Gaelic 

" Am fear nach cunnladh rium 
Cha chimntainn ns," 

which Macintosh thus renders, 

" The man that reckons not with me 
I will not reckon with him." 

Victory at last declared for the Maephersons, 
but not until 29 of the Davidsons had fallen 
prostrate in the arms of death. Nineteen of 
Cluny's men also bit the dust, and the remain- 
ing 11, with the exception of Henry Wynd, 
who by his excellence as a swordsman had 
mainly contributed to gain the day, were all 
grievously wounded. The survivor of the 
clan Davidson escaped unhurt. Mackintosh 
following Buchanan, relates that this man, 
after all his companions had fallen, threw him- 
self into the Tay, and making the opposite 
bank, escaped ; but this is most likely a new ver- 
sion of Bower's account of the affrighted cham- 
pion before the commencement of the action. 

The leader of the clan Kay or Davidsons is 
called by Bower Schea-beg, and by Wyntoun, 
Scha-Ferquharis son, Boece calls him Strat- 
berge. Who Christi-Mac-Iain, or Christi-Jon- 
ton was genealogically, we are not informed ; 
but one thing is pretty clear, that he, not 
Schea-beg, or Shaw Oig, for these are obvi- 
ously one and the same, commanded the clan 
Chattan, or " Clamw-Chait." 6 Both the prin- 
cipals seem to have been absent, or spectators 
merely of the battle ; and as few of the lead- 
ing men of the clan, it is believed, were parties 

' For a more thorough discussion of this fight, 
e account of the Clan Mackintosh in Vol. II 




in the combat, the savage policy of the govern- 
ment, which, it is said, had taken this method 
to rid itself of the chief men of the clan, by 
making them destroy one another, was com- 
pletely defeated. This affair seems to have 
produced a good effect, as the Highlanders re- 
mained quiet for a considerable time thereafter. 
The disorders in the Highlands occasioned 
by the feuds of the clans were, about the period 
in question, greatly augmented by Alexander 
of Badenoch, fourth son of Eobert II., whom 
he had constituted Lieutenant or governor from 
the limits of Moray to the Pentland Frith. 
This person, from the ferocity of his disposi- 
tion, obtained the appropriate appellation of 
" the Wolf of Badenoch." Avaricious as well 

Efligy of "the Wolf of Badenoch" in Dunkehl Cathedral. 

as cruel, the Wolf seized upon the lands of 
Alexander Barr, bishop of Moray, and as he 
persisted in keeping violent possession of them, 
he was excommunicated. The sentence of ex- 
communication not only proved unavailing, but 
tended to exasperate the Lord of Badenoch to 
such a degree of fury that, in the month of 
May, 1390, he descended from his heights and 
burnt the town of Forres, with the choir of the 
church and the manse of the archdeacon. And 
in June following, he burnt the town of Elgin, 
the church of Saint Giles, the hospital of Mai- 
son-Dieu, and the cathedral, with eighteen 
houses of the canons and chaplains in the 
college of Elgin. He also plundered these 
churches of their sacred utensils and vestments, 
which he carried off. For this horrible sacri- 
lege the Lord of Badenoch was prosecuted, and 
obliged to make due reparation. Upon making 
his submission he was absolved by Walter Trail, 

bishop of St. Andrews, in the church of the 
Black Friars, in Perth. He was first received 
at the door, and afterwards before the high 
altar, in presence of the king (Eobert III. his 
brother,) and many of the nobility, on condi- 
tion that he should make full satisfaction to 
the bishop of Moray, and obtain absolution 
from the pope. 6 

The Lord of Badenoch had a natural son, 
named Alexander Stewart, afterwards Earl of 
Mar, who inherited the vices of his father. 
Bent upon spoliation and bloodshed, and re- 
solved to imitate liis father's barbarous exploits, 
he collected, in 1392, a vast number of cateraus, 
armed only with the sword and target, and 
with these he descended from the range of hills 
which divides the county of Aberdeen and 
Forfar, devastated the country, and murdered 
the inhabitants indiscriminately. A force was 
instantly collected by Sir Walter Ogilvy, sheriff 
of Angus, Sir Patrick Gray, and Sir David Lind 
say of Glenesk, to oppose him, and although 
inferior in numbers, they attacked Stewart and 
his party of freebooters at Gasklune, near the 
water of Ha. A desperate conflict took place, 
which was of short duration. The caterans 
fought with determined bravery, and soon over- 
powered their assailants. The sheriff, his bro- 
ther, Wat of Lichtoune, Young of Ouchterlony, 
the lairds of Cairncross, Forfar, and Guthry, 
and 60 of their followers, were slain. Sir 
Patrick Gray and Sir David Lindsay were 
severely wounded, and escaped with difficulty. 
Winton has preserved an anecdote illustrative 
of the fierceness of the Highlanders. Lindsay 
had run one of them, a strong and brawny 
man, through the body with a spear, and 
brought him to the earth ; but although in the 
agonies of death, he writhed himself up, and 
with the spear sticking in his body, struck 
Lindsay a desperate blow with his sword, which 
cut him through the stirrup and boot into the 
bone, on which he instantly fell and expired. 7 

Nicolas, Earl of Sutherland, had a feud with 
Y-Mackay of Far, in Strathnaver, chief of the 
Clanwig-worgm, and his son Donald Mackay. 
in which many lives were lost, and great de- 
predations committed on both sides. In order 

8 Shaw's Moray, pp. 314-15. Winton, vol. ii. p, 
363. Keith's Catalogue, p. 83. 
7 Winton, vol. ii. p. 369. 


to put an end to this difference, the Earl pro- 
posed a meeting of the parties at Dingwall, to 
be held in presence of the Lord of the Isles, 
his father-in-law, and some of the neighbouring 
gentry, the friends of the two families. The 
meeting having been agreed to, the parties mot 
at the appointed time, in the year 1395, and 
took up their residence in the castle of Ding- 
wall in apartments allotted for them. A dis- 
cussion then took place between the Earl and 
Mackay, regarding the points in controversy, 
in which high and reproachful words were ox- 
changed, which so incensed the Earl, that he 
killed Mackay and his son with his own hands. 
Having with some difficulty effected his escape 
from the followers and servants of the Mac- 
kays, he immediately returned home and pre- 
pared for defence, but the Mackays were too 
weak to take revenge. The matter was in 
some degree reconciled between Robert, the 
successor of Nicolas, and Angus Mackay, the 
eldest son of Donald. 8 

Some years after this event a serious conflict 
took place between the inhabitants of Suther- 
land and Strathnaver, and Malcolm Macleod 
of the Lewis, which arose out of the following 
circumstances. Angus Mackay above men- 
tioned, had married a sister of Malcolm Mac- 
lood, by whom he had two sons, Angus 
Dow, and Roriegald. On the death of Angus, 
Houcheon Dow Mackay, a younger brother, be- 
came tutor to his nephews, and entered upon 
the management of their lands. Malcolm Mac- 
leod, understanding that his sister, the widow 
of Angus, was ill treated by Houcheon Dow, 
went on a visit to her, accompanied by a num- 
ber of the choicest men of his country, with the 
determination of vindicating her cause either 
by entreaty or by force. He appears not to 
have succeeded in his object, for he returned 
homeward greatly discontented, and in revenge 
laid waste Strathnaver and a great part of the 
Breachat in Sutherland, and carried off booty 
along with him. As soon as Houcheon Dow 
and his brother Neill Mackay learnt this in- 
telligence, they acquainted Robert, Earl of 
Sutherland, between whom and Angus Mackay 
a reconciliation had been effected, who imme- 
diately despatched Alexander Ne-Shrem-Gorme 

8 Sir Robert Gordon's History, p. 60. 

(Alexander Murray of Cubin,) with a number 
of stout and resolute men, to assist the Mac- 
kays. They followed Macleod with great haste, 
and overtook himat'fittum-Turwigh, upon the 
marches between Ross and Sutherland. The 
pursuing party at first attempted to recover the 
goods and cattle which had been carried off, 
but this being opposed by Macleod and his 
men, a desperate conflict ensued, in which 
great valour was displayed on both sides. It 
" was long, furious, cruel, and doubtful," says 
Sir Robert Gordon, and was " rather desperate 
than resolute." At last the Lewismen, with 
their commander, Malcolm Macleod, nick- 
named Gilealm Beg M'Bowen, were slain, and 
the goods and cattle were recovered. One 
man alone of Macleod's party, who was sorely 
wounded, escaped to bring home the sorrowful 
news to the Lewis, which he had scarcely de- 
livered when he expired. 9 

These feuds were followed by a formidable in- 
surrection, or more correctly, invasion, in 1411, 
by Donald, Lord of the Isles, of such a serious 
nature as to threaten a dismemberment of the 
kingdom of Scotland. The male succession to 
the earldom of Ross having become extinct, 
the honours of the peerage devolved upon a 
female, Euphemia Ross, wife of Sir "Walter 
Lesley. Of this marriage there were two chil- 
dren, Alexander, afterwards Earl of Ross, and 
Margaret, afterwards married to the Lord of the 
Isles. Earl Alexander married a daughter of 
the Duke of Albany. Euphemia, Countess of 
Ross, was the only issue of this marriage, but 
becoming a nun she resigned the earldom of 
Ross in favour of her nncle John Stewart, Earl 
of Buchan. The Lord of the Isles conceiving 
that the countess, by renouncing the world, 
had forfeited her title and estate, and, more- 
over, that she had no right to dispose thereof, 
claimed both in right of Margaret his wife. 
The Duke of Albany, governor of Scotland, at 
whose instigation the countess had made the 
renunciation, of course refused to sustain the 
claim of the prince of the islands. The Lord 
of the Isles having formed an alliance with 
England, whence he was to be supplied 
with a fleet far superior to the Scottish, at 
the head of an army of 10,000 men, fully 

* Sir Robert Gordon, pp. 61, 62. 



equipped and armed after the fashion of the 
islands with bows and arrows, pole-axes, knives, 
and swords, in 1411 burst like a torrent upon 
the earldom, and carried everything before him. 
He, however, received a temporary check at 
Dingwall, where he was attacked with great 
impetuosity by Angus Dubh Mackay of Parr, 
or Black Angus, as he was called ; but Angus 
was taken prisoner, and his brother Roderic 
Gald and many of his men were killed. 

Flushed with the progress he had made, 
Donald now resolved to carry into execution 
a threat he had often made to burn the town 
of Aberdeen. For this purpose he ordered his 
army to assemble at Inverness, and summoned 
all the men capable of bearing arms in the 
Boyno and the Enzie, to join his standard on 
his way south. This order being complied 
with, the Lord of the Isles marched through 
Moray without opposition. He committed 
great excesses in Strathbogie and in the dis- 
trict of Garioch, which belonged to the Earl of 
Mar. The inhabitants of Aberdeen were in 
dreadful alarm at the near approach of this 
marauder and his fierce hordes; but their fears 
were allayed by the speedy appearance of a 
well-equipped army, commanded by the Earl 
of Mar, who bore a high military character, 
assisted by many brave knights and gentlemen 
in Angus and the Mearns. Among these were 
Sir Alexander Ogilvy, sheriff of Angus, Sir 
James Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee and 
hereditary standard-bearer of Scotland, Sir 
William de Abemethy of Salton, nephew to 
the Duke of Albany, Sir Robert Maule of Pan- 
mure, Sir Alexander Irving of Drum, and Sir 
Robert Melville. The Earl was also joined by 
Sir Robert Davidson, the Provost of Aberdeen, 
and a party of the burgesses. 

Advancing from Aberdeen, Mar marched by 
Inverury, and descried the Highlanders sta- 
tioned at the village of Harlaw, on the water of 
Ury,near its junction with the Don. Mar soon 
saw that he had to contend with tremendous 
odds; but although his forces were, it is said, 
only a tenth of those opposed to him, he 
resolved, from the confidence he had in his 
steel-clad knights, to risk a battle. Having 
placed a small but select body of knights and 
men-at-arms in front, iinder the command of 
the constable of Dundee and tho sheriff of 

Angus, the Earl drew up the main strength of 
his army in the rear, including the Murrays, 
the Straitens, the Maules, the Irvings, the 
Lesleys, the Levels, the Stirlings, headed by 
their respective chiefs. The Earl then placed 
himself at the head of this body. At the head 
of the Islesmen and Highlanders was the Lord 
of the Isles, subordinate to whom were Mac- 
intosh and Maclean and other Highland chiefs, 
all bearing the most deadly hatred to their 
Saxon foes, and panting for revenge. 

On a signal being given, the Highlanders 
and Islesmen, setting up those terrific shouts 
and yells which they were accustomed to raise 
on entering into battle, rushed forward upon 
their opponents ; but they were received with 
great firmness and bravery by the knights, 
who, with their spears levelled, and battle-axes 
raised, cut down many of their impetuous but 
badly armed adversaries. After the Low- 
landers had recovered themselves from the 
shock which the furious onset of the High- 
landers had produced, Sir James Scrymgeour, 
at the head of the knights and bannerets who 
fought under him, cut his way through the 
thick columns of the Islesmen, carrying death 
everywhere around him; but the slaughter of 
hundreds by this brave party did not intimi- 
date the Highlanders, who kept pouring in by 
thousands to supply the place of those who 
had fallen. Surrounded on all sides, no alterna- 
tive remained for Sir James and his valorous 
companions but victory or death, and the latter 
was their lot. The constable of Dundee was 
amongst the first who suffered, and his fall so en- 
couraged the Highlanders, that seizing and stab- 
bing the horses, they thus unhorsed their riders, 
whom they despatched with their daggers. In 
the meantime the Earl of Mar, who had pene- 
trated with his main army into the very heart 
of the enemy, kept up the unequal contest 
with great bravery, and, although he lost dur- 
ing the action almost the whole of his army, 
he continued the fatal struggle with a handful 
of men till nightfall. The disastrous result 
of this battle was one of the greatest mis- 
fortunes which had ever happened to the 
numerous respectable families in Angus and 
the Mearns. Many of these families lost 
not only their head, but every male in tho 
house. Lesley of Balquhain is said to have 



fallen with six of his sons. Besides Sir James 
Srrymgeour, Sir Alexander Ogilvy the slieriff 
of Angus, with his eldest son George Ogilvy, 
Sir Thomas Murray, Sir Robert Maule of Pan- 
mure, Sir Alexander Irving of Drum, Sir Wil- 
liam Abernethy of Salton, Sir Alexander Strai- 
ten of Lauriston, James Lovel, and Alexander 
Stirling, and Sir Robert Davidson, Provost of 
Aberdeen, with 500 men-at-arms, including 
the principal gentry of Buchan, and the greater 
part of the burgesses of Aberdeen who fol- 
lowed their Provost, were among the slain. 
The Highlanders left 900 men dead on the 
field of battle, including the chiefs Maclean 
and Mackintosh. This memorable battle was 
fought on the eve of the feast of St. James the 
Apostle, July 25th, 1411. It was the final 
contest for supremacy between the Celt and 
the Teuton, and appears to have made at the 
time an inconceivably deep impression on the 
national mind. For more than a hundred 
years, it is said, the battle of Harlaw continued 
to be fought over again by schoolboys in their 
play. "It fixed itself in the music and the 
poetry of Scotland ; a march, called the ' Battle 
of Harlaw,' continued to be a popular air down 
to the time of Drummond of Hawthornden, 
and a spirited ballad, on the same event, is 
still repeated in our age, describing the meeting 
of the armies, and the deaths of the chiefs, in 
no ignoble strain." 1 

Mar and the few brave companions in arms 
who survived the battle, passed the night on 
the field; when morning dawned, they found 
that the Lord of the Isles had retreated during 
the night, by Inverury and the hill of Benochy. 
To pursue him was impossible, and he was 

1 Tytler, vol. iii. p. 177. 
concludes thus: 

The ballad of the Battle 

There was not, sin" King Kenneth's days, 

Sic strange intestine cruel strife 
In Scotlande seen, as ilk man says, 

\Yhere monie likelie lost their life ; 

Whilk made divorce tween man and wife, 
And monie children fatherless, 

Whilk in this realm has been full rife; 
Lord help these lands ! our wrangs redress ! 

In July, on Saint James his evin, 

That four-and-twenty dismal day, 
Twelve hundred, ten score, and eleven 

Of years sin' Christ, the soothe to say; 

Men will remember, as they may, 
When thus the reritie they knaw ; 

And monie a ane will nimirnc for aye 
The brim battle of the Harlaw. 

therefore allowed to retire without molestation, 
and to recruit his exhausted strength. 2 

As soon as the news of the disaster at Hai- 
law reached the ears of the Duke of Albany, 
then regent of Scotland, he set about collecting 
an army, with which he marched in pernon to 
the north in autumn, with a determination to 
bring the Lord of the Isles to obedience. Hav- 
ing taken possession of the castle of Dingwall, 
he appointed a governor, and from thence pro- 
ceeded to recover the whole of Ross. Donald 
retreated before him, and took up his winter- 
quarters in the islands. Hostilities were re- 
newed next summer, but the contest was not 
long or doubtful notwithstanding some little 
advantages obtained by the King of the Isles 
for he was compelled to give up his claim to 
the earldom of Ross, to become a vassal to the 
Scottish crown, and to deliver hostages to se- 
cure his future good behaviour. A treaty to 
this effect was entered into at Pilgilbe or Pol- 
gillip, the modern Loch-Gilp, in Argyle 

A. D. 1424-1512. 


James I.. 14061436. 
James II., 14361460. 

James III., 14CO 14S8. 
James IV., 14881613. 

James I. State of Country Policy of the King to the 
Highland Chiefs Lord of the Isles Disturbances in 
Sutherland Barbarity of a Robber James's High- 
land Expedition Disturbances in Caithness In- 
surrection in the West under Donald Balloch Lord 
of the Isles invades Sutherland Allan of Lorn 
Machinations of Edward IV. with Island Chiefs 
Rebellion of Earl of Ross Lord of the Isles sub- 
mits Disturbances in Ross and Sutherland Wiso 
Policy of James IV. Visits Highlands Feuds in 
Sutherland Highlanders at Flodden. 

ON the return of James I., in 1424, from his 
captivity in England, he found Scotland, and 

* "So ended one of Scotland's most memorable bat- 
tles. The contest between the Lowlanders and Don- 
ald's host was a contest between foes, of whom their 
contemporaries would have said that their ever being 
in harmony with each other, or having a feeling of 
common interests and common nationality, was not 
within the range of rational expectations ..... 
It will be difficult to make those not familiar with the 
tone of feeling in Lowland Scotland at that time be- 
lieve that the defeat of Donald of the Isles was felt ta 
a more memorable deliverance even than that of Ban- 
nockburn." Burton, vol. iii. pp. 101, 102. 



particularly the Highlands, in a state of thi 
most fearful insubordination. Rapine, rob 
bory, and an utter contempt of the laws pre- 
vailed to an alarming extent, which, requirec 
all the energy of a wise and prudent prince 
like James, to repress. When these excesses 
wore first reported to James, by one of his 
nobles, on entering the kingdom, he thus ex- 
pressed himself : " Let God but grant me life, 
and there shall not be a spot in my dominions 
where the key shall not keep the castle, and 
the furze-bush the cow, though I myself should 
lead the life of a dog to accomplish it." 3 "At 
this period, the condition of the Highlands, so 
far as is discoverable from the few authentic 
documents which have reached our times, ap- 
pears to have been in the highest degree rude 
and uncivilized. There existed a singular com- 
bination of Celtic and of feudal manners. 
Powerful chiefs, of Norman name and Norman 
blood, had penetrated into the remotest dis- 
tricts, and ruled over multitudes of vassals and 
serfs, whose strange and uncouth appellatives 
proclaim their difference of race in the most 
convincing manner. 4 The tenure of lands by 
charter and seisin, the feudal services due by 
the vassal to his lord, the bands of friendship 
or of rnanrent which indissolubly united certain 
chiefs and nobles to each other, the baronial 
courts, and the complicated official pomp of 
feudal life, were all to be found in full strength 
and operation in the northern counties ; but 
the dependence of the barons, who had taken 
up their residence in these wild districts, upon 
the king, and their allegiance and subordina- 
tion to the laws, were less intimate and influ- 
ential than in the Lowland divisions of the 
country ; and as they experienced less protec- 
tion, we have already seen, that in great public 
emergencies, when the captivity of the sover- 
eign, or the payment of his ransom, called for 
the imposition of a tax upon property through- 
out the kingdom, these great northern chiefs 
thought themselves at liberty to resist the col- 
lection within their mountainous principalities. 
"Besides such Scoto-Norman barons, how- 
ever, there were to be found in the Highlands 
and Isles, those fierce aboriginal chiefs, who 

3 Fordun a Goodal, voL ii. p. 511. 

4 MS. Adv. Lib. Coll. Diplom. a Macferlane, vol. 
i. p. 245. MS. Cart. Moray, 263. 

hated the Saxon and the Norman race, and 
offered a mortal opposition to the settlement of 
all intruders within a country which they con- 
sidered their own. They exercised the same 
authority over the various clans or septs of 
which they were the chosen heads or leaders, 
which the baron possessed over his vassals 
and military followers ; and the dreadful dis- 
putes and collisions which perpetually occurred 
between these distinct ranks of potentates, 
were accompanied by spoliations, ravages, im- 
prisonments, and murders, which had at last 
become so frequent and so far extended, that 
the whole country beyond the Grampian range 
was likely to be cut off, by these abuses, from 
all regular communication with the more pacific 
parts of the kingdom." 6 

Having, by a firm and salutary, but perhaps 
severe, course of policy, restored the empire of 
the laws in the Lowlands, and obtained the 
enactment of new statutes for the future wel- 
fare and prosperity of the kingdom, James 
next turned his attention to his Highland do- 
minions, which, as we have seen, were in a do- 
plorable state of insubordination, that made 
both property and life insecure. The king 
determined to visit in person the disturbed 
districts, and by punishing the refractory chiefs, 
put an end to those tumults and enormities 
which had, during his minority, triumphed 
over the laws. James, in the year 1427, ar- 
rived at Inverness, attended by his parliament, 
and immediately summoned the principal chiefs 
.here to appear before him. From whatever 
motives whether from hopes of effecting a 
reconciliation by a ready compliance with the 
mandate of the king, or from a dread, in case 
of refusal, of the fate of the powerful barons 
of the south who had fallen victims to James's 
severity the order of the king was obeyed, and 
he chiefs repaired to Inverness. No sooner, 
lowever, had they entered the hall where the 
>arliament was sitting, than they were by 
order of the king arrested, ironed, and im- 
orisoned in different apartments, and debarred 
ill communication with each other, or with 
heir followers. It has been supposed that 
hese chiefs may have boon entrapped by some 
air promises on the part of James, and the joy 

5 Tytler, vol. iii. pp. 250, 251. 



James I. 

which, according to Fordun, he manifested at 
seeing these turbulent and haughty spirits 
caught in the toils which he had prepared for 
them, favours this conjecture. The number of 
chiefs seized on this occasion is stated to have 
amounted to about forty; but the names of 
the principal ones only have been preserved. 
These were Alaster or Alexander Macdonald, 
Lord of the Isles ; Angus Dubh Mackay, with 
his four sons, who could bring into the field 
4 ; 000 fighting men ; Kenneth More and his 
son-in-law, Angus of Moray, and Macmathan, 
who could muster 2,000 men ; Alexander Mac- 
reiny of Garmoran and John Macarthur, each of 
whom could bring into the field 1 ,000 followers. 
Besides these were John Ross, James Campbell, 
and William Lesley. The Countess of Ross, 
the mother of Alexander, the Lord of the Isles, 
and heiress of Sir Walter Lesley, was also 
apprehended and imprisoned at the same time. 8 
The king now determined to inflict summary 
vengeance upon his captives. Those who were 
most conspicuous for their crimes were imme- 
diately executed ; among whom were James 
Campbell, who was tried, convicted, and hanged 

Forduu a Hearne, vol. iv. pp. 12834. 

for the murder of John of the Isles ; and Alex- 
ander Macreiny and John Macarthur, who were 
beheaded. Alexander of the Isles and Angus 
Dubh, after a short confinement, were both 
pardoned ; but the latter was obliged to deliver 
up, as a hostage for his good behaviour, his 
son Neill, who was confined on the Bass rock, 
and, from that circumstance, was afterwards 
named Neill- Wasse-Mackay. 7 Besides these, 
many others who were kept in prison in differ- 
ent parts of the kingdom, were afterwards con- 
demned and executed. 

The royal clemency, which had been extended 
so graciously to the Lord of the Isles, met with 
an ungrateful return ; for shortly after the king 
had returned to his lowland dominions, Alex- 
ander collected a force of ten thousand men in 
Ross and the Isles, and with this formidable 
body laid waste the country ; plundered and 
devastated the crown lands, against which his 
vengeance was chiefly directed, and razed the 
royal burgh of Inverness to the ground. On 
hearing of these distressing events, James, with 
a rapidity rarely equalled, collected a force, the 
extent of which has not been ascertained, and 
marched with great speed into Lochaber, where 
he found the enemy, who, from the celerity of 
his movements, was taken almost by surprise. 
Alexander prepared for battle ; but, before its 
commencement, he had the misfortune to wit- 
ness the desertion of the clan Chattan, and 
the clan Cameron, who, to a man, went over 
to the royal standard. The king, thereupon, 
attacked Alexander's army, which he com- 
pletely routed, and the latter sought safety in 

Reduced to the utmost distress, and seeing 
the impossibility of evading the active vigi- 
lance of his pursuers, who hunted him from 
place to place, this haughty lord, who con- 
sidered himself on a par with kings, resolved 
to throw himself entirely on the mercy of the 
king, by an act of the most abject submission. 
Having arrived in Edinburgh, to which ho had 
travelled in the most private manner, the hum- 
bled chief suddenly presented himself before 
the king, on Easter-Sunday, in the church of 
Holyrood, when he and his queen, sumrinded 
by the nobles of the court, were employed in 

' Sir R. Gordon, p. 64, 




their devotions before the high altar. The 
extraordinary appearance of the fallen prince 
denoted the inward workings of his troubled 
mind. Without bonnet, arms, or ornament 
of any kind, his legs and arms quite bare, his 
body covered with only a plaid, and holding 
a naked sword in his hand by the point, he fell 
down on his knees before the king, imploring 
mercy and forgiveness, and, in token of his un- 
reserved submission, offered the hilt of his 
sword to his majesty. At the solicitation of 
the queen and nobles, James spared his life, 
but committed him immediately to Tantallan 
castle, under the charge of William Earl of 
Angus, his nephew. This took place in the 
year 1429. The Countess of Ross was kept in 
close confinement in the ancient monastery of 
Inchcolm, on the small island of that name, in 
the Frith of Forth. 8 The king, however, re- 
lented, and released the Lord of the Isles and 
his mother, after about a year's imprisonment. 
About this period happened another of those 
bloody frays, which destroyed the internal 
peace of the Highlands, and brought ruin and 
desolation upon many families. Thomas Mac- 
neill, son of Neill Mackay, who was engaged 
in the battle of Tuttum-Turwigh, possessed the 
lands of Creigh, Spaniziedaill, and Palrossie, in 
Sutherland. Having conceived some displea- 
sure at Mowat, the laird of Freshwick, the 
latter, with his party, in order to avoid his ven- 
geance, took refuge in the chapel of St. Duffus, 
near the town of Tain, as a sanctuary. Thither 
they were followed by Thomas, who not only 
slew Mowat and his people, but also burnt the 
chapel to the ground. This outrage upon re- 
ligion and humanity exasperated the king, 
who immediately ordered a proclamation to be 
issued, denouncing Thomas Macneill as a rebel, 
and promising his lands and possessions as a 
reward to any one that would kill or appre- 
hend him. Angus Murray, son of Alexander 
Murray of Cubin, immediately set about the 
apprehension of Thomas Macneill. To accom- 
plish his purpose, he held a secret conference 
with Morgan and Neill Macneill, the brothers 
of Thomas, at which he offered, provided 
they would assist him in apprehending their 
brother, his two daughters in marriage, and 

.8 KoiJun, vol. iv. p. 1286. 

promised to aid them in getting peaceable pos- 
session of such lands in Strathnaver as they 
claimed. This, ho showed them, might be 
easily accomplished, with little or no resistance 
as Neill Mackay, son of Angus Dubh, from 
whom the chief opposition might have been 
expected, was then a prisoner in the Bass, and 
Angus Dubh, the father, was unable, from 
age and infirmity, to defend his pretensions. 
Angus Murray also promised to request the 
assistance of the Earl of Sutherland. As these 
two brothers pretended a right to the posses- 
sions of Angus Dubh in Strathnaver, they were 
easily allured by these promises ; they imme- 
diately apprehended their brother Thomas at 
Spaniziedaill in Sutherland, and delivered hini 
up to Murray, by whom he was presented to 
the king. Macneill was immediately executed 
at Inverness, and Angus Murray obtained, in 
terms of the royal proclamation, a grant of the 
lands of Palrossie and Spaniziedaill from the 
king. The lands of Creigh fell into the hands 
of the Lord of the Isles, as superior, by the 
death and felony of Macneill. 9 

In pursuance of his promise, Murray gave his 
daughters in marriage respectively to Neill and 
Morgan Macneill, and with the consent and 
approbation of Robert Earl of Sutherland, he 
invaded Strathnaver with a party of Suther- 
land men, to take possession of the lands of 
Angus Dubh Mackay. Angus immediately 
collected his men, and gave the command of 
them to John Aberigh, his natural son, as he 
was unable to lead them in person. Both par- 
ties met about two miles from Toung, at a place 
called Drum-ne-Coub ; but, before they came 
to blows, Angus Dubh Mackay sent a message 
to Neill and Morgan, his cousins-german, offer- 
ing to surrender them all his lands and posses- 
sions in Strathnaver, if they would allow him 
to retain Keantayle. This fair offer was, how- 
ever, rejected, and an appeal was therefore 
immediately made to arms. A desperate con- 
flict then took place, in which many were 
killed on both sides ; among whom were 
Angus Murray and his two sons-in-law, Neill 
and Morgan Macneill. John Aberigh, though 
he gained the victory, was severely wounded, 
and lost one of his arms. After the battle 

Sir Robert Gordon, pp. 64, 65. 



Angus Dubh Mackay was carried, at his own 
request, to the field, to search for tho bodies 
of his slain cousins, but ho was killed by an 
arrow from a Sutherland man who lay con- 
cealed in a bush hard by. 

James I. made many salutary regulations for 
putting an end to the disorders consequent 
upon the lawless state of the Highlands, and 
the oppressed looked up to him for protection. 
The following remarkable case will give some 
idea of the extraordinary barbarity in which 
the spoliators indulged : A notorious thief, 
named Donald Ross, who had made himself 
rich with plunder, carried off two cows from a 
poor woman. This woman having expressed a 
determination not to wear shoes again till she 
had made a complaint to the king in person, 
the robber exclaimed, " It is false : I'll have 
you shod before you reach the court;" and 
thereupon, with a brutality scarcely paralleled, 
the cruel monster took two horse shoes, and 
fixed them on her feet with nails driven into 
the flesh. Tho victim of this savage act, as 
soon as she was able to travel, went to the 
king and related to him the whole circum- 
stances of her case, which so exasperated him, 
that ho immediately sent a warrant to the 
sheriff of the county, where Ross resided, for his 
immediate apprehension ; which being effected, 
he and a number of his associates were sent 
ander an escort to Perth, where the court was 
then held. Boss was tried and condemned, he 
and his friends being treated in the same man- 
ner as he had treated the poor woman ; and 
before his execution a linen shirt, on which 
was painted a representation of his crime, was 
thrown over him, in which dress he was paraded 
through tho streets of tho town, afterwards 
dragged at a horse's tail, and hanged on a gal- 
lows. 1 

The commotions in Strathnaver, and other 
parts of the Highlands, induced tho king to 
make another expedition into that part of his 
dominions ; previous to which he summoned a 
Parliament at Perth, wliich was held on the 
15th of October, 1431, in which a land-tax, or 
" zelde," was laid upon the whole lands of the 
kingdom, to defray the expenses of the under- 
taking. No contemporary record of this expe- 

1 Foriluii a GooJal, vol. ii. p. 510. 

dition exists ; but it is said that tho king pro 
ceedod to Dunstaflnage castle, to punish those 
chiefs who had joined in Donald Balloch's in- 
surrection ; that, on his arrival there, numbers 
of these came to him and made their submis- 
sion, throwing the whole odium of the rebel- 
lion upon the leader, whose authority, they 
alleged, they were afraid to resist; and that, 
by their means, three hundred thieves were ap- 
prehended and put to death. 

For several years after this expedition the 
Highlands appear to have been tranquil ; but, 
on the liberation of Neill Mackay from his 
confinement on the Bass, in the year 1437, 
fresh disturbances began. This restless clu'ef 
had scarcely been released, when he entered 
Caithness, and spoiled the country. He was 
met at a place called Sandsett ; but the people 
who came to oppose his progress were defeated, 
and many of them were slain. This conflict was 
called Ruaig Hanset; that is, the flight, or 
chase at Sandsett. 

About the same time a quarrel took place be- 
tween the Keiths and some others of the inhab- 
itants of Caithness. As the Keiths could not 
depend upon their own forces, they sought the 
aid of Angus Mackay, son of Neill last men- 
tioned, who had recently died. Angus agreed 
to join the Keiths; and accordingly, accom- 
panied by his brother, John Roy, and a chief- 
tain named lain-Mor-Mac-Iain-Riabhaich, with 
a company of men, he went into Caithness, 
and, joining the Keiths, invaded that part of 
Caithness hostile to the Keiths. Tho people 
of Caithness lost not a moment in assembling 
together, and met the Strathnaver men and the 
Keiths at a place called Blare-Tannie. Here a 
sanguinary contest took place; but victory de- 
clared for the Keiths, whose success, it is said, 
was chiefly owing to the prowess of lain-Mor- 
Mac-Iain-Riabhaich, whose name was, in con- 
sequence, long famous in that and the adjoin- 
ing country.* 

After the defeat of James, Earl of Douglas, 
who had renounced his allegiance to James II., 
at Arkinholme, in 1454, he retired into Ar- 
gyleshire, where he was received by the Earl 
of Ross, with whom, and the Lord of the Isles, 
ho entered into an alliance. The ocean prince, 

1 Sir R. Gordon, p. 89. 



having a powerful fleet of 500 galleys at 
his command, immediately assembled his 
vassals, to the amount of 5,000 fighting men, 
and, having embarked them in his navy, 
gave the command of the whole to Donald 
Balloch, Lord of Ma, his near kinsman, a chief 
who, besides his possessions in Scotland, had 
great power in the north of Ireland. This 
potent chief, whose hereditary antipathy to 
the Scottish throne was as keen as that of his 
relation, entered cheerfully into the views of 
Douglas. "With the force under his command 
he desolated the western coast of Scotland 
from Innerkip to Bute, the Cumbraes and the 
Island of Arran ; yet formidable as he was both 
in men and ships, the loss was not so consider- 
able as might have been expected, from the 
prudent precautions taken by the king to re- 
pel the invaders. The summary of the damage 
sustained is thus related in a contemporary 
chronicle : " There was slain of good men fif- 
teen; of women, two or three; of children, 
three or four. The plunder included five or 
six hundred horse, ten thousand oxen and kine, 
and more than a thousand sheep and goats. 
At the same time, they burnt down several 
mansions in Innerkip around the church; har- 
ried all Arran ; stormed and levelled with the 
ground the castle of Brodick ; and wasted, with 
fire and sword, the islands of the Cumbraes. 
They also levied tribute upon Bute ; carrying 
away a hundred bolls of malt, a hundred marts, 
and a hundred marks of silver." 3 

While Donald Balloch was' engaged in this 
expedition, the Lord of the Isles, with his 
kinsmen and followers to the number of five or 
six hundred, made an incursion into Suther- 
land, and encamped before the castle of Skibo. 
What his object was has not been ascertained; 
but, as a measure of precaution, the Earl of 
Sutherland sent Neill Murray, son of Angus 
Murray, who was slain at Drum-na-Coub, to 
watch his motions. The Lord of the Isles im- 
mediately began to commit depredations, where- 
upon he was attacked by Murray, and com- 
pelled to retreat into Eoss with the loss of one 
of his captains, named Donald Dubh-na-Soirn, 
and fifty of liis men. Exasperated at this de- 
feat, Macdonald sent another party of his 

8 Auckinledc Chronicle, p. 55. 

islanders, along with a company of men from 
Eoss, to Strathfleet in Sutherland to lay waste 
the country, and thus wipe off the disgrace of 
his late defeat. On hearing of this fresh in- 
vasion, the Earl of Sutherland despatched his 
brother Eobert with a sufficient force to attack 
the Clandonald. They met on the sands of 
Strathfleet, and, after a fierce and bloody strug- 
gle, the islanders and their allies were over- 
thrown with great slaughter. Many perished 
in the course of their flight. This was the last 
hostile irruption of the Clandonald into Suther- 
land, as all the disputes between the Lord of 
the Isles and the Sutherland family were after- 
wards accommodated by a matrimonial alliance 

The vigorous administration of James II., 
which checked and controlled the haughty 
and turbulent spirit of his nobles, was also 
felt in the Highlands, where his power, 
if not always acknowledged, was neverthe- 
less dreaded ; but upon the death of that 
wise prince in 1460, and the accession of his 
infant son to the crown, the princes of the 
north again abandoned themselves to theii 
lawless courses. The first who showed the 
example was Allan of Lorn of the Wood, as 
he was called, a nephew of Donald Balloch by 
Ms sister. Coveting the estate of his eldei 
brother, Ker of Lorn, Allan imprisoned him 
in a dungeon in the island of Kerrera, with the 
view of starving him. to death that he might 
the more easily acquire the unjust possession 
he desired; but Ker was liberated, and his pro- 
perty restored to him by tho Earl of Argyle, to 
whom he was nearly related, and who suddenly 
attacked Allan with a fleet of galleys, defeated 
him, burnt his fleet, and slew the greater part 
of his men. This ect, so justifiable in itself, 
roused tho revengeful passions of the island 
chiefs, who issued from their ocean retreats and 
committed the most dreadful excesses. 4 

After the decisive battle of Teuton, Henry 
VI. and his Queen retired to Scotland to watch 
tho first favourable opportunity of seizing the 
sceptre from the house of York. Edward IV., 
anticipating the danger that might arise to his 
crown by an alliance between his rival, tho 
exiled monarch, and the king of Scotland, de- 
termined to counteract the effects of such a 

4 Auchinleck GkronicU, pp. 58, 59. 



connection by a stroke of policy. Aware of 
the disaffected disposition of some of the Scot- 
tish nobles, and northern and island chiefs, he 
immediately entered into a negotiation with 
John, Earl of Eoss, and Donald Balloch, to 
detach them from their allegiance. On the 19th 
of October, 1461, the Earl of Ross, Donald 
Balloch, and his son John de Isle, held a coun- 
cil of their vassals and dependants at Astornish, 
at which it was agreed to send amliassadors to 
England to treat with Edward. On the arrival 
of these ambassadors a negotiation was entered 
into between them and the Earl of Douglas, 
and John Douglas of Balveny, his brother, both 
of whom had been obliged to leave Scotland 
for their treasons in the previous reign. These 
two brothers, who were animated by a spirit of 
hatred and revenge against the family of their 
late sovereign James II., warmly entered into 
the views of Edward, whose subjects they had 
become ; and they concluded a treaty with the 
northern ambassadors which assumed as its 
basis nothing less than the entire conquest of 
Scotland. Among other conditions, it was sti- 
pulated that, upon payment of a specified 
sum of money to himself, his son, and ally, the 
Lord of the Isles should become for ever the 
vassal of England, and should assist Edward 
and his successors in the wars in Ireland and 
elsewhere. And, in the event of the entire 
subjugation of Scotland by the Earls of Eoss 
and Douglas, the whole of the kingdom on the 
north of the Frith of Forth was to be divided 
equally between these Earls and Donald Bal- 
loch, and the estates which formerly belonged 
to Douglas between the Frith of Forth and the 
borders were to be restored to him. This sin- 
gular treaty is dated London, 18th February, 
H62. 5 

Pending this negotiation, the Earl of Angus, 
at that time one of the most powerful of the 
Scottish nobles, having, by the promise of an 
English dukedom from the exiled Henry, en- 
gaged to assist in restoring him to his crown 
and dominions, the Earl of Eoss, before the 
plan had been organized, in order to counteract 
the attempt, broke out into open rebellion, 
which was characterized by all those circum- 
stances of barbarous cruelty which clistin- 

' Rotuli Scotia, vol. ii. p. 407. 

guished the inroads of the princes of the 
islands. He first seized the castle of Inver- 
ness at the head of a small party, being ad- 
mitted unawares by the governor, who did not 
suspect his hostile intentions. He then col- 
lected a considerable army, and proclaimed 
himself king of the Hebrides. With his army 
he entered the country of Athole, denounced 
the authority of the king, and commanded all 
taxes to bo paid to him ; and, after committing 
the most dreadful excesses, he stormed the 
castle of Blair, dragged the Earl and Countess 
of Athole from the chapel of St. Bridget, and 
carried them off to Isla as prisoners. It is re- 
lated that the Earl of Eoss thrice attempted to 
set fire to the holy pile, but in vain. He lost 
many of his war-galleys, in a storm of thunder 
and lightning, in which the rich booty he had 
taken was consigned to the deep. Prepara- 
tions were immediately made by the regents 
of the kingdom for punishing this rebellious 
chief; but these became unnecessary, for, 
touched with remorse, he collected the remains 
of his plunder, and stripped to his shirt and 
drawers, and barefooted, he, along with his 
principal followers, in the same forlorn and de- 
jected condition, went, to the chapel of St. 
Bridget which they had lately desecrated, and 
there performed a penance before the altar. 
The Earl and Countess of Athole were there- 
upon voluntarily released from confinement, 
and the Earl of Eoss was afterwards assassi- 
nated in the castle of Inverness, by an Irish 
harper who bore iiim a grudge.* 

Although at this period an account of Ork- 
ney and Shetland does not properly belong to 
a history of the Highlands, as these islands had 
long been the property of the king of Nor- 
way, and had a population almost purely Teu- 
tonic, with a language, manners, and customs 
widely differing from those of the Highlanders 
proper ; still it will not be out of place to men- 
tion here, that these islands were finally made 
over to Scotland in 1469, as security for the 
dowry of Margaret of Norway, the wife of 
James III. 

The successor of the Lord of the Isles who 
was generally more like an independent sov- 

Ferrerius, p. 883. Lesley de Rebus Oatii Scvto- 
mm, p. 300. 



ereign than a subject of the Scottish king not 
being disposed to tender the allegiance which 
his father had violated, the king, in the month 
of May, 1476, assembled a large army on the 
north of the Forth, and a fleet on the west 
coast, for the purpose of making a simultaneous 
attack upon him by sea and land. Seeing no 
hopes of making effectual resistance against 
such a powerful force as that sent against him, 
he tendered his submission to the king on cer- 
tain conditions, and resigned the earldom of 
Ross, and the lands of Kintyre and Knapdale, 
into his majesty's hands. By this act he was 
restored to the king's favour, who forgave him 
all his offences, and " infeft him of new " in the 
lordship of the Isles and the other lands which 
he did not renounce. The Earl of Athole, who 
commanded the royal army, was rewarded for 
this service by a grant of the lands and forest 
of Cluny. 7 

After the Lord of the Isles had thus resigned 
the earldom of Ross into the king's hands, that 
province was perpetually molested by incur- 
sions from the islanders, who now considered 
it a fit theatre for the exercise of their preda- 
tory exploits. Gillespic, cousin of the Lord 
of the Isles, at the head of a large body of the 
islanders, invaded the higher part of Ross and 
committed great devastation. The inhabitants, 
or as many as the shortness of the time would 
permit, amongst whom the Clankenzie were 
chiefly distinguished, speedily assembled, and 
met the islanders on the banks of the Connan, 
where a sharp conflict took place. The Clan- 
kenzie fought with great valour, and pressed 
the enemy so hard that Gillespic Macdonald 
was overthrown, and the greater part of his 
men were slain or drowned in the river, about 
two miles from Braile, thence called Blar-ua- 
Pairc. The predecessor of the Laird of Brodie, 
who happened to be with the chief of the Mac- 
kenzies at the time, fought with great courage. 

For a considerable time the district of Suther- 
land had remained tranquil, but on the llth 
of July, 1487, it again became the scene of a 
bloody encounter between the Mackays and the 
Rosses. To revenge the death of a relation, or 
to wipe away the stigma of a defeat, were con- 
sidered sacred and paramount duties by the 

7 Lesley's Hist., p. 41. Sir K. Gordon, p. 77. 

Highlanders ; and if, from the weakness of the 
clan, the minority of the chief, or any other 
cause, the day of deadly reckoning was de- 
layed, the feeling which prompted revenge was 
never dormant, and the earliest opportunity 
was embraced of vindicating the honour of the 
clan. Angus Mackay, son of the famous Neill 
of the Bass, having been killed at Tarbert by 
a Ross, his son, John Riabhaich Mackay, ap- 
plied to John Earl of Sutherland, on whom he 
depended, to assist him in revenging his father's 
death. The Earl promised his aid, and accord 
ingly sent his uncle, Robert Sutherland, with 
a company of chosen men, to assist John Mac- 
kay. With this force, and such men as John 
Mackay and his relation Uilleam-Dubh-Mac- 
lain-Abaraich, son of John Aberigh who fought 
at Drum-na-Coub, could collect, they invaded 
Strath-oy-kell, carrying fire and sword in theit 
course, and laying waste many lands belonging 
to the Rosses. As soon as the Laird of Balna- 
gown, the chief of the Rosses, heard of this 
attack, he collected all his forces, and attacked 
Robert Sutherland and John Riabhaich Mac- 
kay, at a place called Aldy-charrish. A long 
and obstinate battle took place ; but the death 
of Balnagown and seventeen of the principal 
landed gentlemen of Ross decided the combat , 
for the people of Ross, being deprived of their 
leader, were thrown into confusion, and utterly 
put to flight, with great slaughter. 

The fruit of this victory was a large quantity 
of booty, which the victors divided the same 
day ; but the avarice of the men of Assynt, in- 
duced them to instigate John Mackay to resolve 
to commit one of the most perfidious and dia- 
bolical acts ever perpetrated by men who had 
fought on the same side. The design of the 
Assynt men was, to cut off Robert Sutherland 
and his whole party, and possess themselves of 
their share of the spoil, before the Earl of 
Sutherland could learn the result of the battle, 
that he might be led to suppose that his uncle 
and his men had all fallen in the action with 
the Rosses. When this plan was divulged to 
UiUeam-Dubh-Mac-Iain-Abaraich, he was hor- 
rified at it, and immediately sent notice to 
Robert Sutherland of it, that he might be upon 
his guard. Robert assembled his men upon 
receipt of this extraordinary intelligence, told 
them of the base intentions of John Mackay, 



u<l put them in order, to be prepared for the 
threatened attack; but on John Eiabhaich 
Miickay perceiving that Robert and his party 
were prepared to meet him, he slunk off, 
and went home to Strathnaver. 8 

The lawless state of society in the Highlands, 
which followed as a consequence from the re- 
moval of the seat of government to the Low- 
lands, though it often engaged the attention of 
the Scottish sovereigns, never had proper re- 
medies applied to mend it. At one time the 
aid of force was called in, and when that was 
found ineffectual, the vicious principle of di- 
viding the chiefs, that they might the more 
effectually weaken and destroy one another, 
was adopted. Both plans, as might be sup- 
posed, proved abortive. If the government 
had, by conciliatory measures, and by a profu- 
sion of favours, suitable to the spirit of the 
times, secured the attachment of the heads of 
the clans, the supremacy of the laws might 
have been vindicated, and the sovereign might 
have calculated upon the support of powerful 
and trustworthy auxiliaries in his domestic 
struggles against the encroachments of the 
nobles. Such ideas appear never to have once 
entered the minds of the kings, but it was re- 
served for James IV., who succeeded to the 
throne in 1488, to make the experiment. " To 
attach to his interest the principal chiefs of 
these provinces, to overawe and subdue the 
petty princes who affected independence, to 
carry into their territories, hitherto too exclu- 
sively governed by their own capricious or 
tyrannical institutions, the same system of a 
severe, but regular and rapid, administration of 
civil and criminal justice, which had been 
established in his Lowland dominions, was the 
laudable object of the king ; and for this pur- 
pose he succeeded, with that energy and activ- 
ity which remarkably distinguished him, in 
opening up an intercourse with many of the 
leading men in the northern counties. With 
the captain of the Clanchattan, Duncan Mack- 
intosh ; with Ewan, the son of Alan, captain 
of the Clancameron ; with Campbell of Glen- 
urqhay ; the Macgillcouns of Duart and Loch- 
buy; Mackane of Ardnamurchan ; the lairds of 
Mackenzie and Grant ; and the Earl of Huntley 

' Sir R. Gordon, pp. 78, 79. | 

a baron of the most extensive power in those 
northern districts he appears to have been in 
habits of constant and regular communication 
rewarding them by presents, in the shape 
either of money or of grants of land, and se- 
curing their services in reducing to obedience 
such of their fellow chieftains as proved contu- 
macious, or actually rose in rebellion." ' 

But James carried his views further. Eightly 
judging how much the personal presence of 
the sovereign would be valued by his distant 
subjects, and the good effects which would re- 
sult therefrom, he resolved to visit different 
parts of his northern dominions. Accordingly, 
in the year 1490, accompanied by his court, he 
rode twice from Perth across the chain of 
mountains which extends across the country 
from the border of the Mearns to the head of 
Loch Eannoch, which chain is known by the 
name of the " Mount." Again, in 1493, he 
twice visited the Highlands, and went as far 
as Dunstaffnage and Mengarry, in Ardnamur- 
chan. In the following year he visited the 
isles no less than three times. His first voy- 
age to the islands, which took place in April 
and May, was conducted with great state. He 
was attended by a vast suite, many of whom 
fitted out vessels at their own expense. The 
grandeur which surrounded the king impressed 
the islanders with a high idea of his wealth 
and power ; and his condescension and famili- 
arity with all classes of his subjects, acquired 
for him a popularity which added strength to 
his throne. During these marine excursions 
the youthful monarch indulged his passion for 
sailing and hunting, and thereby relieved the 
tediousness of business by the recreation of 
agreeable and innocent pleasures. 

The only opposition which James met with 
during these excursions was from the restless 
Lord of the Isles, who had the temerity to put 
the king at defiance, notwithstanding the re 
peated and signal marks of the royal favour 
he had experienced. But James was not to bo 
trifled with, for he summoned the island prince 
to stand his trial for " treason in Kintyre ; " 
and in a parliament held in Edinburgh shortly 
after the king's return from the north, " Sir 
John of the Isles," as he is named in the troa- 

Tytler, vol. iv. pp. 867, 38fs. 



surer's accounts, was stripped of his power, and 
his possessions were forfeited to the crown. 

One of those personal petty feuds which were 
so prevalent in the Highlands, occurred about 
this time. Alexander Sutherland of Dilred, 
being unable or unwilling to repay a sum of 
money he had borrowed from Sir James Dun- 
bar of Cumnock, the latter took legal measures 
to secure his debt by appraising part of Dilred's 
lands. This proceeding vexed the laird of 
Dilred exceedingly, and he took an umbrage at 
the Dunbars, who had recently settled in 
Sutherland, " grudgeing, as it were," says Sir 
E. Gordon, " that a stranger should brawe 
(brave) him at his owne doors." Happening 
to meet Alexander Dunbar, brother of Sir 
James, who had lately married Lady Margaret 
Baillie, Countess Dowager of Sutherland, high 
words passed between them, a combat ensued, 
and, after a long contest, Alexander Dunbar was 
killed. Sir James Dunbar thereupon went to 
Edinburgh, and laid the matter before King 
James IV., who was so exasperated at the 
conduct of Alexander Sutherland, that he 
immediately proclaimed him a rebel, sent mes- 
sengers everywhere in search of him, and pro- 
mised his lands to any person that would 
apprehend Mm. After some search he was 
apprehended with ten of his followers by his 
uncle, Y-Eoy-Mackay, brother of John Eeawigh 
Mackay already mentioned, who sent him to 
the king. Dilred was tried, condemned, and 
executed, and his lands declared forfeited. 
For this service, Y-Eoy-Mackay obtained from 
the king a grant of the lands of Armdall, Far, 
Golspietour, Kinnald, Kilcolmkill, and Dilred, 
which formerly belonged to Alexander Suther- 
land, as was noted in Mackay's infeftment, 
dated in 1449. 1 " Avarice," says Sir E. Gor- 
don, " is a strange vyce, which respects neither 
blood nor freindship. This is the first infeft- 
ment that any of the familie of Macky had 
from the king, so far as I can perceave by the 
records of this kingdom ; and they wer untill 
this tyme possessors onlie of ther lands in 
Strathnaver, not careing much for any charters 
or infeftments, as most pairts of the High- 
landers have alwise done." 

The grant of the king as to the lands over 

1 Sir B. Gordon, p. 80 

which Sir James Dunbar's security extended, 
was called in question by Sir James, who ob- 
tained a decree before the lords of council and 
session, in February, 1512, setting aside the 
right of Y-Eoy-Mackay, and ordaining the Earl 
of Sutherland, as superior of the lands, to re- 
ceive Sir James Dunbar as his vassal. 

A lamentable instance of the ferocity ot 
these times is afforded in the case of one of 
the Earls of Sutherland, who upon some pro- 
vocation slew two of his nephews. This earl, 
who was named John, had a natural brother, 
Thomas Moir, who had two sons, Eobert 
Sutherland and the Keith, so called on account 
of his being brought up by a person of that 
name. The young men had often annoyed the 
Earl, and on one occasion they entered Ms 
castle of Dunrobin to brave him to his face, an 
act wMch so provoked the Earl, that he in- 
stantly killed Eobert in the house. The Keith, 
after receiving several wounds, made his es- 
cape, but he was overtaken and slain at the 
Clayside, near Dunrobin, wMch from that cir- 
cumstance was afterwards called Ailein-Cheith, 
or the bush of the Keith. 

In 1513 a troop of Highlanders helped to 
swell the Scotch army on the ever-memorable 
and disastrous field of Flodden, but from their 
peculiar mode of fighting, so different from 
that of the Lowlandors, appear to have been 
more a hindrance than a help. 


A. D. 15161588. 


James V., 151S-1642. I Mary, 1642-1667. 

James VI., 16671603. 

Doings in Sutherland Battle of Torran-Dubh Fend 
between the Keiths and the clan Gun John llac- 
kay and Murray of Aberscors Alexander Suther- 
land, the bastard, claims the Earldom Contests 
between John Mackay and the Master of Sutherland 
Earls of Caithness and Sutherland Dissensions 
among the clan Chattan Hector Macintosh elected 
Captain His doings Disturbances in Sutherland 
Feuds between the Clanranald and Lord Lovat 
The ' Field of Shirts' Earl of Huntly's Expedition 
Commotions in Sutherland Earl of Huntly and 
the Clanranald The Queen Eegent visits the High- 
lands Commotions in Sutherland Queen Mary'i 
Expedition against Huntly Earl and Countess of 
Sutherland poisoned Earl of Caithness' treatment 
of the young Earl of Sutherland Quarrel between 



the Monroes and clan Kenzie Doings of the Earl 
of Caithness Unruly state of the North The clan 
Chattixn Reconciliation of the Earls of Sutherland 
and Caithness The Earl of Sutherland and the clan 
Gun Disastrous Feud between the Macdonalds and 
Macleans Disputes between the Earls of Sutherland 
and Caithness Reconciliation between llackay and 
the Earl of Sutherland. 

IN the year 1516, Adam Earl of Sutherland, 
in anticipation of threatened dangers in the 
north, entered into bonds of friendship and 
alliance with the Earl of Caithness for mutual 
protection and support. The better to secure 
the goodwill and assistance of the Earl of 
Caithness, Earl Adam made a grant of some 
lands upon the east side of the water of Ully ; 
but the Earl of Caithness, although he kept 
possession of the lands, joined the foes of his 
ally and friend. The Earl of Sutherland, how- 
ever, would have found a more trustworthy 
supporter in the person of Y-Roy-Maekay, who 
had come under a written obligation to serve 
him the same year ; but Mackay died, and a 
contest immediately ensued in Strathnaver, be- 
tween John and Donald Mackay his bastard 
sons, and Neill-Naverigh Mackay, brother of 
Y-Roy, to obtain possession of his lands. John 
took possession of all the lands belonging to 
his father in Strathnaver ; but his uncle Neill 
laid claim to them, and applied to the Earl of 
Caithness for assistance to recover them. The 
Karl, after many entreaties, put a force under 
the command of Neill and his two sons, with 
which they entered Strathuaver, and obtaining 
an accession of strength in that country, they 
dispossessed John Mackay, who immediately 
went to the clan Chattan and clan Kenzie, to 
crave their aid and support, leaving his brother 
Donald Mackay to defend himself in Strath- 
naver as ho best could. Donald not having a 
sufficient force to meet his uncle and cousins in 
open combat, had recourse to a stratagem which 
succeeded entirely to his mind. "With his 
little band he, under cloud of night, surprised 
his opponents at Delreavigh in Strathnaver, 
and slew both his cousins and the greater 
purl of their men, and thus utterly destroyed 
the issue of Neill. John Mackay, on hearing 
of this, immediately joined his brother, and 
drove out of Strathnaver all persons who had 
favoured the pretensions of his uncle Neill- 
Nuvri-igh. This unfortunate old man, after be- 
ing abandoned by the Earl of Caithness, threw 

himself upon the generosity of his nephew*, 
requesting that they would merely allow him a 
small maintenance to keep him from poverty 
during the remainder of his life ; but these un- 
natural relatives, regardless of mercy and the 
ties of blood, ordered Neill to be beheaded in 
their presence by the hands of Claff-na-Gep, 
his own foster brother. 2 

In the year 1517, advantage was taken by 
John Mackay of the absence of the Earl of 
Sutherland, who had gone to Edinburgh to 
transact some business connected with his 
estates, to invade the province of Sutherland, 
and to burn and spoil every thing wliich came 
in his way. He was assisted in this lawless 
enterprise by two races of people dwelling in 
Sutherland, called the Siol-Phaill, and the Siol- 
Thomais, and by Neil-Mac-Iain-Mac- Angus of 
Assynt, and his brother John Mor-Mac-Iain, 
with some of their countrymen. As soon as 
the Countess of Sutherland, who had remained 
at home, heard of this invasion, she prevailed 
upon Alexander Sutherland, her bastard bro- 
ther, to oppose Mackay. Assisted chiefly by 
John Murray of Aberscors, and Uilleam Mac- 
Sheumais-Mhic-Chruner, chief of the clan Gun 
in Sutherland, Alexander convened hastily the 
inhabitants of the country and went in search 
of the enemy. He met John Mackay and his 
brother Donald, at a place called Torran-Dubh 
or Cnocan-Dubh, near Rogart in Strathfleet. 
Mackay's force was prodigious, for he had as- 
sembled not only the whole strength of Strath- 
naver, Durines, Edderachillis, and Assynt, with 
the Siol-Phaill and Soil-Thomais ; but also all 
the disorderly and idle men of the whole dio- 
cese of Caithness, with all such as he could 
entice to join him from the west and north- 
west isles, to accompany him in his expedition, 
buoyed up with the hopes of plunder. But 
the people of Sutherland were nowise dismayed 
at the appearance of this formidable host, and 
made preparations for an attack. A desperate 
struggle commenced, and after a long contest, 
Mackay's vanguard was driven back upon the 
position occupied by himself. Mackay having 
rallied the retreating party, selected a number 
of the best and ablest men he could find, and 
having placed the remainder of his army under 

3 Sir Robert Gordon, p. 90. 



the command of Ms brother Donald, to act as 
a reserve in case of necessity, lie made a furious 
attack upon the Sutherland men, who received 
the enemy with great coolness and intrepidity. 
The chiefs on both sides encouraged their men 
to fight for the honour of their clans, and in 
consequence the fight was severe and bloody ; 
but in the end the Sutherland men, after great 
slaughter, and after prodigies of valour had been 
displayed by both parties, obtained the victory. 
Mackay's party was almost entirely cut off, 
and Mackay himself escaped with difficulty. 
The victors next turned their attention to the 
reserve under the command of Donald Mackay ; 
but Donald dreading the fate of his brother, 
fled along with his party, which immediately 
dispersed. They were, however, closely pur- 
sued by John Murray and Uilleam Mac-Shcu- 
mais, till the darkness of the night prevented 
the pursuit. In this battle, two hundred of 
the Strathnaver men, tliirty-two of the Siol- 
Phaill, and fifteen of the Siol-Thomais, besides 
many of the Assynt men, and their commander, 
Niall-Mae-Iain-Mac-Aonghais, a valiant chief- 
tain, were slain. John Mor-Mac-Iain, the 
brother of this chief, escaped with his life after 
receiving many wounds. Of the Sutherland 
men, tliirty-eight only were slain. Sir Robert 
Gordon says that this "was the greatest conflict 
that hitherto lies been foughtin between the 
inhabitants of these cuntrcyes, or within the 
diocy of Catteynes, to our knowlcge." 3 

Shortly after the battle of Torran-Dubh, 
Uilleam Mac-Sheumais, called Cattigh, chief of 
the clan Gun, killed George Keith of Aikregell 
with his son and twelve of their followers, at 
Drummoy, in Sutherland, as they were travel- 
ling from Invcrugie to Caithness. Tliis act 
was committed by Mac-Sheumais to revenge 
the slaughter of his grandfather (the Cruner,) 
who had been slain by the Keiths, under the 
following circumstances. A long feud had ex- 
isted between the Keiths and the clan Gun, to 
reconcile which, a meeting was appointed at 
the chapel of St. Tayr in Caithness, near 
Girnigoe, of twelve horsemen on each side. 
The Crunor, then chief of the clan Gun, with 
some of lu's sons and his principal kinsmen, 
to the number of twelve in all, came to the 

* Sir K. Gordon, p. 92. 

chapel at the appointed time. As soon as they 
arrived, they entered the chapel and prostrated 
themselves in prayer before the altar. While 
employed in this devotional act, the laird of 
Inverugie and Aikregell arrived with twelve 
horses, and two men on each horse. After 
dismounting, the whole of this party rushed 
into the chapel armed, and attacked the Cruner 
and his party unawares. The Clan Gun, how- 
ever, defended themselves with great intrepid- 
ity, and although the whole twelve were slain, 
many of the Keiths were also killed. For 
nearly two centuries the blood of the slain was 
to be seen on the walls of the chapel, which it 
had stained. James Gun, one of the sons of the 
Cruner, being absent, immediately on hearing 
of his father's death, retired with his family 
into Sutherland, where he settled, and where 
his son William Mac-Sheumais, or Mac-James, 
otherwise William Cattigh, was bom. 

As John Mackay imputed his defeat at 
Torran-Dubh mainly to John Murray of Aber- 
scors, he resolved to take the first convenient 
opportunity of revenging himself, and wiping 
off the disgrace of his discomfiture. He, there- 
fore, not being in a condition himself to under- 
take an expedition, employed two brothers, 
William and Donald, his kinsmen, chieftains 
of the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, with a company 
of men, to attack Murray. The latter having 
mustered his forces, the parties met at a place 
called Loch-Salchie, not far from the Torran- 
Dubh, where a sharp skirmish took place, in 
which Murray proved victorious. The two 
Strathnaver chieftains and the greater part 
of their men were slain, and the remainder 
were put to flight. The principal person who 
fell on Murray's side was his brother Jolm- 
Roy, whose loss he deeply deplored. 

Exasperated at this second disaster, John 
Mackay sent Jolui Croy and Donald, two of 
his nephews, sons of Angus Mackay, who was 
killed at Morinsh in Ross, at the head of a 
number of chosen men, to plunder and burn 
the town of Pitfour, in Strathfieet, which be- 
longed to John Murray ; but they were equally 
unsuccessful, for John Croy Mackay and some 
of his men were slain by the Murrays, and 
Donald was taken prisoner. In consequence 
of those repeated reverses, John Mackay sub- 
mitted himself to the Earl of Sutherland on 



hie return from Edinburgh, and granted him 
liia bond of service, in the year 1518. But, 
notwithstanding this submission, Mackay after- 
wards tampered with Alexander Sutherland, 
the bastard, and having gained his favour by 
giving his sister to Sutherland in marriage, he 
prevailed upon him to rise against the Earl of 
Sutherland. All these commotions in the 
north happened during the minority of King 
James V., when, as Sir R, Gordon says, " everio 
man thought to escape unpunished, and cheiflie 
these who were remotest from the seat of jus- 
tice." 4 

This Alexander Sutherland was son of Jol n, 

the third (if that name, Earl of Sutherland, 
and as ho pretended that the Earl and his 
mother had entered into a contract of marriage, 
lie laid claim, on the death of the Earl, to tho 
title and estates, as a legitimate descendant of 
Earl John, his father. By tho entreaties of 
Adam Gordon, Lord of Aboyne, who had mar- 
ried Lady Elizabeth, the sister and sole heiress 
of Earl John, Alexander Sutherland judicially 
renounced lus claim in presence of the sheriff 
of Inverness, on the 25th of July, 1509. Ho 
now repented of what he had done, and, being 
instigated by the Earl of Caithness and John 
Mackay, mortal foes to the house of Suther- 

Old Dunrohin Castle. 

land, he renewed his pretensions. Earl Adam, 
perceiving that ho might incur some danger 
in making an appeal to arms, particularly as 
the clans and tribes of the country, with many 
of whom Alexander had become very popular, 
were broken into factions and much divided 
on the question betwixt tho two, endeavoured 
to win him over by offering him many favour- 
able conditions, again to renounce his claims, 
but in vain. Ho maintained the legitimacy 
of his descent, and alleged that tho renuncia- 
tion he had granted at Inverness had been 
obtained from him contrary to his inclination, 
and against the advice of his best friends. 
U.-.ving collected a considerable force, he, in 

1 i'ir K. Gordon, p. 1)3. 

absence of the earl, who was in Strathbogie, 
attacked Dunrobin castle, tho chief strength ol 
tho earl, wlu'ch he took. In this siege he was 
chiefly supported by Alexander Terrell of tho 
Doill, who, in consequence of taking anus 
against tho earl, his superior, lost all his lands, 
and was afterwards apprehended and executed. 
As soon as the earl heard of the insurrection, 
ho despatched Alexander Lesley of Kinninuvy, 
with a body of men, into Sutherland to assist 
John Murray of Aberscors, who was already at 
tho head of a force to support the earl. They 
immediately besieged Dunrobin, which sur- 
rendered. Alexander had retired to Strath- 
navcr, but ho again returned into Sutherland 
with a fresh body of men, and laid waste the 
country. After putting to death several of hi* 



own kinsmen who had joined the earl, he de- 
scended farther into the country, towards the 
parishes of Loth and Clyne. Meeting with 
little or no opposition, the bastard grew care- 
less, and being observed wandering along the 
Sutherland coast, flushed with success and re- 
gardless of danger, the earl formed the design 
of cutting him entirely off. With this view, 
he directed Alexander Lesley of Kinninuvy, 
John Murray, and John Scorrigh-Mac-Finlay, 
one of the Siol-Thomais, to hover on Suther- 
land's outskirts, and to keep skirmishing with 
him till he, the earl, should collect a sufficient 
force with which to attack him. Having col- 
lected a considerable body of resolute men, the 
earl attacked the bastard at a place called Ald- 
Quhillin, by East Clentredaill, near the sea 
side. A warm contest ensued, in which Alex- 
ander Sutherland was taken prisoner, and the 
most of his men were slain, including John 
Bane, one of his principal supporters, who fell 
by the hands of John Scorrigh-Mac-Finlay. 
After the battle Sutherland was immediately 
beheaded by Alexander Lesley on the spot, and 
his head sent to Dunrobin on a spear, which 
was placed upon the top of the great tower, 
" which shews us " (as Sir Eobert Gordon, fol- 
lowing the superstition of his times, curiously 
observes), " that whatsoever by fate is allotted, 
though sometymes forshewod, can never be 
avoyded. For the witches had told Alexander 
the bastard that his head should be the highest 
that ever wes of the Southerlands ; which he 
did foolishlye interpret that some day he should 
be Earl of Southerland, and in honor above 
all his prcdicessors. Thus the divell and his 
ministers, the witches, deceaving still such as 
trust in them, will either find or frame predic- 
tions for everio action or event, which doeth 
ever fall out contrarie to thcr expectations ; a 
kynil of people to all men unfaithfull, to hopers 
decoatful, and in all cuntries allwise forbidden, 
all wise reteanod and manteaned." 5 

The Earl of Sutherland being now far ad- 
vanced in life, retired for the most part to 
Strathbogieand Aboyne, to spend the remainder 
of his days amongst his friends, and intrusted 
the charge of the country to Alexander Gordon, 
his eldest son, a young man of great intrepidity 

6 Sii II Gordon, pp 96, 97. 

and talent. The restless chief John Mackay, 
still smarting under his misfortunes, and thirst- 
ing for revenge, thought the present a favour- 
able opportunity for retrieving his losses. 
With a considerable force, therefore, he in- 
vaded Sutherland, and entered the parish of 
Creigh, which he intended to ravage, but the 
Master of Sutherland hastened thither, attacked 
Mackay, and forced him to retreat into Strath- 
naver with some loss. Mackay then assembled 
a large body of his countrymen and invaded 
the Brcachat. He was again defeated by 
Alexander Gordon at the Grinds after a keen 
skirmish. Hitherto Mackay had been allowed 
to hold the lands of Grinds, and some other 
possessions in the west part of Sutherland, but 
the Master of Sutherland now dispossessed him 
of all these as a punishment for his recent con- 
duct. Still dreading a renewal of Mackay'a 
visits, the Master of Sutherland resolved to re- 
taliate, by invading Strathnaver in return, and 
thereby showing Mackay what he might in 
future expect if he persevered in continuing his 
visits to Sutherland. Accordingly, he collected 
a body of stout and resolute men, and entered 
Strathnaver, which he pillaged and burnt, and, 
having collected a largo quantity of booty, re- 
turned into Sutherland. In entering Strath- 
naver, the Master of Sutherland had taken the 
road to Strathully, passing through Mackay's 
bounds in the hope of falling in with and ap- 
prehending him, but Mackay was absent on a 
creach excursion into Sutherland. In return- 
ing, however, through the Diric Moor and the 
Breacliat, Alexander Gordon received intelli- 
gence that Mackay with a company of men 
was in the town of Lairg, with a quantity of 
cattle he had collected in Sutherland, on his 
way home to Strathnaver. He lost no time in 
attacking Mackay, and such was the celerity of 
his motions, that his attack was as sudden as 
unexpected. Mackay made the best resistance 
he could, but was put to the rout, and many 
of his men were killed. He himself made his 
escape with groat difficulty, and saved his life 
by swimming to the island of Eilcan-Minric, 
near Lairg, where he lay concealed during the 
rest of the day. All the cattle which Mackay 
had carried away were rescued and carried back 
into Sutherland. The following day Mackay 
left Ihn island, returned home to his country, 



and again submitted himself to the Master and 
his father, the Earl, to whom he a second time 
gave his bond of service and manrent in the 
year 1522. 6 

As the Earl of Caithness had always taken 
a side against the Sutherland family in these 
different quarrels, the Earl of Sutherland 
brought an action before the Lords of Council 
and Session against the Earl of Caithness, to 
recover back from him the lands of Strathully, 
on the ground, that the Earl of Caithness had 
not fulfilled the condition on which the lands 
were granted to him, viz., to assist the Earl of 
Sutherland against his enemies. There were 
other minor points of dispute between the earls, 
to got all wliich determined they both repaired 
to Edinburgh. Instead, however, of abiding 
the issue of a trial at law before the judges, 
both parties, by the advice of mutual friends, 
referred the decision of all the points in dis- 
pute on either side to Gavin Dunbar, 7 bishop 
of Aberdeen, who pronounced his award at 
Edinburgh, on the llth March, 1524, his 
judgment appearing to have satisfied both 
parties, as the carls lived in peace with one 
another ever after. 

The year 1526 was signalized by a great 
dissension among the clan Chattan. The 
chief and head of that clan was Lauchlan 
Macintosh of Dunnachtan, " a verrio honest 
and wyse gentleman," says Bishop Lesley, " an 
barroun of gude rent, quha keipit hes hole ken, 
friendes and tennentis in honest and guid 
rowll;" 8 and according to Sir Robert Gordon, 
" a man of great possessions, and of such ex- 
cellencies of witt and judgement, that with 
great commendation he did conteyn all his 
followers within the limits of ther dueties." 
The strictness with which this worthy chief 
curbed the lawless and turbulent dispositions of 
his clan raised up many enemies, who, as 
Bishop Lesley says, were " impacient of vertu- 
ous living." At the head of this restless party 
was James Malcolmeson, a near kinsman of 
the chief, who, instigated by his worthless 

6 Pir R. Gordon, p. 97. 

7 It was this excellent Bishop who built, at his own 
expense, the beautiful bridge of seven arches on the 
Dee, near Aberdeen. The Episcopal arms cut on 
mime of the stones are almost as entire as when 
chiselled by the hands of the sculptor. 

1 Hal of Scotland, p. 137 P. 99. 

companions, and the temptation of ruling the 
clan, murdered the good cliief. Afraid to face 
the well-disposed part of the clan, to whom the 
chief was beloved, Malcolmeson, along with 
his followers, took refuge in the island in the 
loch of Rothicmurclms; but the enraged clan 
followed them to their hiding places and de- 
spatched them. 

As the son of the deceased cliief was of ten- 
der age, and unable to govern the clan, with 
common consent they made choice of Hector 
Macintosh, a bastard brother of the late chief, 
to act as captain till his nephew should arrive 
at manhood. In the meantime the Earl of 
Moray, who was uncle to young Macintosh, 
the former chief having been married to the 
earl's sister, took away his nephew and placed 
him under the care of his friends for the bene- 
fit of his education, and to bring him up vir- 
tuously. Hector Macintosh was greatly in- 
censed at the removal of the child, and used 
every effort to get possession of him ; but meet- 
ing with a refusal he became outrageous, and 
laid so many plans for accomplishing his ob- 
ject, that his intentions became suspected, as 
it was thought he could not wish so ardently 
for the custody of the child without some bad 
design. Baffled in every attempt, Hector, as- 
sisted by his brother William, collected a body 
of followers, and invaded the Earl of Moray's 
lands. They overthrew the fort of Dykes, and 
besieged the castle of Tarnoway, the country 
surrounding which they plundered, burnt the 
houses of the inhabitants, and slew a number 
of men, women, an:l children. Raising the 
siege of Tarnoway, Hector and his men then 
entered the country of the Ogilvies and laid 
siege to the castle of Pettens, which belonged 
to the Laird of Durnens, one of the families 
of the Ogilvies, and which, after some resist- 
ance, surrendered. No less than twenty-four 
gentlemen of the name of Ogilvie were mas- 
sacred on this occasion. After this event the 
Macintoshes and the party of banditti they had 
collected, roamed over the whole of the adjoin- 
ing country, carrying terror and dismay into 
every bosom, and plundering, burning, and 
destroying everything within their reach. To 
repress disorders which called so loudly for 
redress, King James V., by the advice of his 
council, granted a commission to the Earl of 



Moray to take measures accordingly. Having 
a considerable force put under his command, 
the earl went in pursuit of Macintosh and his 
party, and having surprised them, he took 
upwards of 300 of them 1 and hanged them, 
along with William Macintosh, the brother 
of Hector. A singular instance of the fidelity 
of the Highlanders to their chiefs is afforded 
in the present case, where, out of such a 
vast number as suffered, not one would 
reveal the secret of Hector Macintosh's retreat, 
although promised their lives for the discovery. 
" Tlier faith wes so true to ther captane, that 
they culd not be persuaded, either by fair 
meanes, or by any terror of death, to break the 
same or to betray their master." 2 

Seeing no hopes of escaping the royal ven- 
geance but by a ready submission, Hector Mac- 
intosh, by advice of Alexander Dunbar, Dean 
of Moray, tendered his obedience to the king, 
which was accepted, and he was received into 
the royal favour. He did not, however, long 
survive, for he was assassinated in St. Andrews 
by one James Spence, who was in consequence 
beheaded. After the death of Hector, the 
clan Chattan remained tranquil during the re- 
maining years of the minority of the young 
chief, who, according to Bishop Lesley, " wes 
sua well brocht up by the meenes of the Erie of 
Murray and the Laird of Phindlater in vertue, 
honestie, and civile policye, that after he had 
received the governement of his cuntrey, he 
was a mirrour of vertuo to all the hieland cap- 
tanis in Scotland." 3 But the young chieftain's 
" honestie and civile policye " not suiting the 
ideas of those who had concurred in the mur- 
der of his father, a conspiracy was formed 
against him by some of his nearest kinsmen to 
deprive him of his lifo, which unfortunately 
took effect. 

The Highlands now enjoyed repose for some 
years. John Mackay died in 1529, and was 
succeeded by his brother Donald, who remained 
quiet during the life of Adam Earl of Suther- 
land, to ivhom his brother had twice granted 
his bond of service. But, upon the death of 

1 This is the number given by Bishop Lesley, whoso 
account must be preferred to that of Sir R. Gordon, 
who states it at upwards of 200, as the liishop lived 
almut a century before Sir Robert. 

* Sir R. Gordon, p. 100 

8 Hiil., p. 138. 

that nobleman, he began to molest the inhabi- 
tants of Sutherland. In 1542 he attacked the 
village of Knockartol, which he burnt ; and 
at the same time he plundered Strathbroray. 
To oppose his farther progress, Sir Hugh Ken- 
nedy collected as many of the inhabitants of 
Sutherland as the shortness of the time would 
permit, and, being accompanied by Gilbert 
Gordon of Gartay, John Murray of Aberscors, 
his son Hutcheon Murray, and Mac-Mhic- 
Sheumais of Killiernan, he attacked Mackay 
quite unawares near Alt-Na-Beth. Notwith- 
standing this unexpected attack, Mackay's men 
met their assailants with great firmness, but 
the Strathnaver men were ultimately obliged 
to retreat with the loss of their booty and a 
great number of slain, amongst whom was 
John Mackean-Mac-Angus, chief of Sliochd- 
Mhic-Iain-Mhic-IIutcheon, in Edderachillis. 
Though closely pressed by Gilbert Gordon and 
Hutcheon Murray, Donald Mackay made good 
his retreat into Strathnaver. 

By no means disheartened at his defeat, and 
anxious to blot out the stain which it had 
thrown upon him, he soon returned into Suth- 
erland with a fresh force, and encamped near 
Skibo. Houcheon Murray collected some Suth- 
erland men, and with them he attacked Mac- 
kay, and kept him hi check till an additional 
force which he expected should arrive. As 
soon as Mackay saw this new bod}' of men ap- 
proaching, with which he was quite unable to 
contend, he retreated suddenly into his own 
country, leaving several of his men dead on the 
field. This affair was called the skirmish of 
Loch-Buy. This mode of annoyance, which 
continued for some time, was put an end to by 
the apprehension of Donald Mackay, who, 
being brought before the Earls of Huntly and 
Sutherland, was, by their command, committed 
a close prisoner to the castle of Foulis, where 
he remained a considerable time in captivity. 
At last, by means of Donald Mac-Iain-Mhoir, 
a Strathnaver man, he effected his escape, and, 
returning home, reconciled himself with the 
Earl of Sutherland, to whom he gave his bond 
of service and manrent, on the 8th of April, 

During the reign of James V. some respect 
was paid in the Higldands to the laws ; but 
tho divisions which fell out amongst the no- 



bility, the unquiet state of the nation during 
the minority of the infant queen, and the wars 
with England, relaxed the springs of govern- 
ment, and the consequence was that the usual 
scenes of turbulence and oppression soon dis- 
played themselves in the Highlands, accom- 
panied with all those circumstances of ferocity 
which rendered them so revolting to humanity. 
The Clanranald was particularly active in these 
lawless proceedings. This clan bore great en- 
mity to Hugh, Lord Lovat ; and because Ran- 
ald, son of Allan Macruari of Moidart, was sis- 
ter's son of Lovat, they conceived a prejudice 
against him, dispossessed him. of his lands, and 
put John Macranald, his cousin, in possession 
of the estate. Lovat took up the cause of his 
nephew, and restored him to the possession of 
his property; but the restless clan dispossessed 
Ranald again, and laid waste part of Lovat's 
lands in Glenelg. These disorders did not 
escape the notice of the Earl of Arran, the 
governor of the kingdom, who, by advice of 
his council, granted a special commission to 
the Earl of Huntly, making him lieutenant- 
general of all the Highlands, and of Orkney 
and Zetland. He also appointed the Earl of 
Argyle lieutenant of Argyle and the Isles. 
The Earl of Huntly lost no time in raising a 
largo army in the north, with which he marched, 
in May, 1544, attended by the Macintoshes, 
Grants, and Frasers, against the clan Cameron 
and the clan Ranald, and the people of Moy- 
dart and Knoydart, whoso principal captains 
were Ewcn AUenson, Ronald M'Coneilglas, and 
John Moydart. These had wasted and plun- 
dered the whole country of Urquhart and Glen- 
morriston, belonging to the Laird of Grant, and 
the country of Abertarf, Strathglass, and others, 
the property of Lord Lovat. They had also 
taken absolute possession of these different 
territories as their own properties, which they 
intended to possess and enjoy in all time com- 
ing. But, by the mediation of the Earl of Ar- 
gyle, they immediately dislodged themselves 
upon the Earl of Huntly's appearance, and re- 
tired to their own territories in the west. 

In returning to his own country, Lovat was 
accompanied by the Grants and Macintoshes 
as far as Gloy, afterwards called the Ninc-Mile- 
Water, and they even offered to escort him 
home in case of danger ; but, having no appro- 

liensions, he declined, and they returned home 
by Badenoch. This was a fatal error on the 
part of Lovat, for, as soon as he arrived at 
Letterfinlay, he was informed that the Clan- 
ranald were at hand, in full march, to intercept 
him. To secure an important pass, he de- 
spatched lain-Cleireach, one of his principal 
officers, with 50 men ; but, from some cause 
or other, lain-Cluireach did not accomplish his 
object; and, as soon as Lovat came to the north 
end of Loch Lochy, he perceived the Clanran- 
ald descending the hill from the west, to the 
number of about 500, divided into seven com- 
panies. Lovat was thus placed in a position 
in which he could neither refuse nor avoid 
battle. The day (3d July) being extremely 
hot, Lovat's men, who amounted to about 300, 
stript to the shirts, from which circumstance 
the battle was called Blar-Nan-Leino, i.e., the 
Field of Shirts. A sort of skirmish at first 
took place, first with bows and arrows, which 
lasted a considerable time, until both sides had 
expended their shafts. The combatants then 
drew their swords, and rushed in true High- 
land fashion on each other, with fierce and 
deadly intent. The slaughter was tremendous, 
and few escaped on either side. Lord Lovat, 
with 300 of the surname of Fraser, and other 
followers, were left dead on the field. Lovat's 
eldest son, a youth of great accomplishments, 
who had received his education in France, 
whence he had lately arrived, was mortally 
wounded, and taken prisoner. He died within 
throe days. Great as was the loss on the side of 
the Frasers, that on the opposite side was com- 
paratively still greater. According to a tradi- 
tion handed down, only four of the Frasers and 
ten of the Clanranald remained alive. The 
darkness of the night alone put an end to the 
combat. This was an unfortunate blow to the 
clan Fraser, which, tradition says, would have 
been almost entirely annihilated but for the 
happy circumstance that the wives of eighty 
of the Frasers who were slain were pregnant at 
the time, and were each of them afterwards 
delivered of a male child. 4 

As soon as intelligence of this disaster was 
brought to the Earl of Huntly, he again ro- 

4 Lesley, p. 184. Sir R. Gordon, pp. 109, HO. 
Shaw's Moray, pp. 265, 266. 



turned with an army, entered Locliaber, wliich 
he laid waste, and apprehended many of the 
leading men of the hostile tribes, whom ho put 
to death. 

The great power conferred on the Earl of 
Huntly, as lieutenant-general in the north of 
Scotland, and the promptitude and severity 
with which he put down the insurrections of 
some of the chiefs alluded to, raised up many 
enemies against him. As he in company with 
the Earl of Sutherland was about to proceed 
to France for the purpose of conveying the 
queen regent to that country, in the year 1550, 
a conspiracy was formed against him, at the 
Head of which was Macintosh, chief of the 
clan Chattan. This conspiracy being discov- 
ered to the earl, he ordered Macintosh to 
be immediately apprehended and brought to 
Strathbogie, where he was beheaded in the 
month of August of that year. His lands 
were also forfeited at the same time. This 
summary proceeding excited the sympathy and 
roused the indignation of the friends of the 
deceased chief, particularly of the Earl of Cas- 
silis. A commotion was about to ensue, but 
matters were adjusted for a time, by the pru- 
dence of the queen regent, who recalled the 
act of forfeiture. and restored Macintosh's heir 
to all his father's lands. But the clan Chattan 
were determined to avail themselves of the 
first favourable opportunity of being revenged 
upon the earl, which they, therefore, anxiously 
looked for. As Lauchlan Macintosh, a near 
kinsman of the chief, was suspected of having 
betrayed his chief to the earl, the clan entered 
his castle of Pettie by stealth, slew him, and 
banished all his dependants from the country 
if the clan. 

About the same time the province of Suther- 
land again became the scene of some commo- 
tions. The carl having occasion to leave home, 
intrusted the government of the country to 
Alexander Gordon, his brother, who ruled it 
with great justice and severity; but the people, 
disliking the restraints put upon them by 
Alexander, created a tumult, and placed John 
Sutherland, son of Alexander Sutherland, the 
bastard, at their head. Seizing the favourable 
opportunity, as it appeared to them, when 
Alexander Gordon was attending divine service 
in the church at Golspikirktoun, they proceeded 

to attack him, but receiving notice of their 
intentions, he collected the little company he 
had about him, and went out of church reso- 
lutely to meet them. Alarmed at seeing liini 
and his party approach, the people immediately 
dispersed and returned every man to his own 
house. But William Murray, son of Caen 
Murray, one of the family of Pulrossie, indig- 
nant at the affront offered to Alexander Gor- 
don, shortly afterwards killed John Suther- 
land upon the Nether Green of Dunrobin, in 
revenge for which murder William Murray 
was liimself thereafter slain by the Laird of 

The Mackays also took advantage of the 
Earl of Sutherland's absence, to plunder and 
lay wasto the country. Y-Mackay, son of 
Donald, assembled the Strathnaver men and 
entered Sutherland, but Alexander Gordon 
forced him back into Strathnaver, and not 
content with acting on the defensive, he en- 
tered Mackay's country, which he wasted, and 
carried off a large booty in goods and cattle, 
in the year 1551. Mackay, in his turn, re- 
taliated, and this system of mutual aggression 
and spoliation continued for several years. 5 

During the absence of the Earl of Huntly hi 
France, John of Moydart, chief of the Clan- 
ranald, returned from the isles and recom- 
menced his usual course of rapine. The queen 
regent, on her return from France, being in- 
vested with full authority, sent the Earl of 
Huntly on an expedition to the north, for the 
purpose of apprehending Clanranald and put- 
ting an end to his outrages. The earl having 
mustered a considerable force, chiefly High- 
landers of the clan Chattan, passed into Moy- 
dart and Knoydart, but Ids operations were 
paralyzed by disputes in his camp. The cliief 
and his men having abandoned then- own 
country, the earl proposed to pursue them in 
their retreats among the fastnesses of the 
Highlands; but his principal officers, who 
were chiefly from the Lowlands, unaccustomed 
to such a mode of warfare in such a country, 
demurred; and as the earl was afraid to en- 
trust liimself with the clan Chattan, who 
owed him a deep grudge on account of the 
execution of their last chief, he abandoned the 

6 Sir E. Gordon, p. 133. 



enterprise and returned to the low country. 
Sir Robert Gordon says that the failure of the 
expedition, was owing to a tumult raised in 
the earl's camp by the clan Chattan, who 
returned homo; but we are rather disposed to 
consider Bishop Lesley's account, which we 
have followed, as the more correct. 6 

The failure of this expedition gave great 
offence to the queen, who, instigated it is sup- 
posed by Huntly's enemies, attributed it to 
negligence on his part. The consequence was, 
that the earl was committed a prisoner to the 
castle of Edinburgh in the month of October, 
where he remained till the month of March 
following. He was compelled to renounce the 
earldom of Moray and the lordship of Aber- 
nethy, with his tacks and possessions in Orkney 
and Zetland, and the tacks of the lands of the 
earldom of Mar and of the lordship of Strath- 
die, of wliich he was bailie and steward, and 
he was moreover condemned to a banishment 
of five years in France. But as he was about 
to leave the kingdom, the queen, taking a 
more favourable view of his conduct, recalled 
the sentence of banishment, and restored him 
to the office of chancellor, of which he had 
been deprived; and to make this act of leniency 
somewhat palatable to the earl's enemies, the 
queen exacted a heavy pecuniary fine from the 

The great disorders which prevailed in the 
Highlands at this time, induced the queen- 
regent to undertake a journey thither in order 
to punish these breaches of the law, and to 
repress existing tumults. She accordingly 
arrived at Inverness in the month of July, 
1555, where she was met by John, Earl of 
Sutherland, and George, Earl of Caithness. 
Although the latter nobleman was requested 
to bring his countrymen along with liim to the 
court, ho neglected or declined to do so, and 
he was therefore committed to prison at Inver- 
ness, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh, successively, 
and he was not restored to liberty till ho paid 
a considerable sum of money. Y-Mackay of 
Far was also summoned to appear before the 
queen at Inverness, to answer for his spolia- 
tions committed in the country of Sutherland 
during the absence of Earl John in France; 

4 I/islcy, p. 251. 

but he refused to appear. Whereupon the 
queen granted a commission to the Earl of 
Sutherland, to bring Mackay to justice. The 
earl accordingly entered Strathnaver with a 
great force, sacking and spoiling every thing 
in his way, and possessing himself of all the 
principal positions to prevent Mackay's escape. 
Mackay, however, avoided the carl, and as he 
declined to fight, the earl laid siege to the 
castle of Borwe, the principal strength in 
Strathnaver, scarcely two miles distant from 
Far, which he took after a short siege, and 
hanged Ruaridh -Mac- Iain -Mhoir, the com- 
mander. This fort the carl completely demo- 

"While the Earl of Sutherland was engaged 
in the siege, Mackay entered Sutherland se- 
cretly, and burnt the church of Loth. He 
thereafter went to the village of Knockartol, 
where he met Mackenzie and his countrymen 
in Strathbroray. A slight skirmish took place 
between them; but Mackay and his men fled 
after he had lost Angus-Mackcanvoir, one of 
his commanders, and several of his followers. 
Mackenzie was thereupon appointed by the earl 
to protect Sutherland from the incursions of 
Mackay during his stay in Strathnaver. Hav- 
ing been defeated again by Mackenzie, and 
seeing no chance of escape, Mackay surren- 
dered himself, and was carried south, and com- 
mitted a prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh, 
in which he remained a considerable time. 
During the queen's stay in the north many 
notorious delinquents were brought to trial, 
condemned and executed. 

During Mackay's detention in Edinburgh, 
John Mor-Mackay, who took charge of his 
kinsman's estate, seizing the opportunity of the 
Earl of Sutherland's absence in the south of 
Scotland, entered Sutherland at the head of a 
determined body of Strathnaver men, and 
spoiled and wasted the east corner of that pro- 
vince, and burnt the chapel of St. Ninian. 
Mac-Mhic-Sheumais, chief of the Clan-Gun, 
the Laird of Clyne, the Terrell of the Doill, 
and James Mac-William, having collected a 
body of Sutherland men, pursued the Strath- 
naver men, whom they overtook at the foot of 
the hill called Ben-Moir, in Berridell. Here 
they laid an ambush for them, and having, by 
favour of a fog, passed their sentinels, they 



unexpectedly surprised Mackay's men, and 
attacked them with great fury. The Strath- 
nayer men made an obstinate resistance, but 
were at length overpowered. Many of them 
were killed, and others drowned in the water 
of Garwary. Mackay himself escaped with 
great difficulty. This was one of the severest 
defeats the Strathnaver men ever experienced, 
except at the battle of Knoken-dow-Reywird. 

On the release of Mackay from his confine- 
ment in the castle of Edinburgh, he was em- 
ployed in the wars upon the borders, against 
the English, in which he acquitted himself 
courageously ; and on his return to Strathnaver 
he submitted himself to the Earl of Suther- 
land, with whom he lived in peace during the 
remainder of the earl's life. But Mackay in- 
curred the just displeasure of the tribe of 
Slaight-ean-Voir by the committal of two crimes 
of the deepest dye. Having imbibed a violent 
affection for the wife of Tormaid-Mac-Iain- 
Mhoir, the chieftain of that tribe, he, in order 
to accomplish his object, slew the chief, after 
which he violated his wife, by whom he had a 
son called Donald Balloch Mackay. The in- 
sulted clan flew to arms ; but they were de- 
feated at Durines, by the murderer and adul- 
terer, after a sharp skirmish. Three of the 
principal men of the tribe who had given 
themselves up, trusting to Mackay's clemency, 
were beheaded. 7 

In the early part of the reign of the unfor- 
tunate Queen Mary, daring the period of the 
Reformation in Scotland, the house of Huntly 
had acquired such an influence in the north 
and north-east of Scotland, the old Maormorate 
of Moray, as to be looked upon with suspicion 
by the government of the day. Moreover the 
Lords of the Congregation regarded the earl 
with no friendly feeling as the great leader of 
the Roman Catholic party in the country, and 
it was therefore resolved that Mary should 
make a royal progress northwards, apparently 
for the purpose of seeing what was the real 
state of matters, and, if possible, try to overawe 
the earl, and remind him that he was only a 
subject. The queen, who, although Huntly 
was the Catholic leader, appears to have entered 
into the expedition heartily; and her bastard 

7 Sir R. Gordon, p. 136. 

brother, the Earl of Murray, proceeded, in 1562, 
northwards, backed by a small army, and on 
finding the earl fractious, laid siege to the castle 
of Inverness, which was taken, and the governor 
hanged. The queen's army and the followers 
of Huntly met at the hill of Corrichie, about 
sixteen miles west of Aberdeen, when the lat- 
ter were defeated, the earl himself being found 
among the slain. It was on this occasion that 
Mary is said to have wished herself a man to 
be able to ride forth " in jack and knap- 
skull." This expedition was the means of 
effectually breaking the influence of this power- 
ful northern family. 

George, Earl of Caithness, who had long 
borne a mortal hatred to John, Earl of Suther- 
land, now projected a scheme for cutting him 
off, as well as his countess, who was big with 
child, and their only son, Alexander Gordon ; 
the earl and countess were accordingly both 
poisoned at Helmsdalo, while at supper, by 
Isobel Sinclair, wife of Gilbert Gordon of Gar- 
tay, and sister of William Sinclair of Duin- 
baith, instigated, it is said, by the earl ; but 
their son, Alexander, made a very narrow 
escape, not having returned in time from a 
hunting excursion to join his father and mother 
at supper. On Alexander's return the earl had 
become fully aware of the danger of his situ- 
ation, and he was thus prevented by his father 
from participating in any part of the supper 
which remained, and after taking an affection- 
ate and parting farewell, and recommending 
him to the protection of God and of his dearest 
friends, he sent him to Dunrobin the same 
night without his supper. The earl and his 
lady were carried next morning to Dunrobin. 
where they died within five days thereafter, in 
the month of July, 1567, and were buried in 
the cathedral church at Dornoch. Pretending 
to cover himself from the imputation of being 
concerned in this murder, the Earl of Caith- 
ness punished some of the earl's most faithful 
servants under the colour of avenging his death ; 
but the deceased earl's friends being determined 
to obtain justice, apprehended Isobel Sinclair, 
and sent her to Edinburgh to stand her trial, 
where, after being tried and condemned, she 
died on the day appointed for her execution. 
During all the time of her illness she vented 
the most dreadful imprecations upon her cousin, 



the carl, who had induced her to commit the 
horrid act. Had this woman succeeded in 
cutting off the earl's son, her own eldest son, 
John Gordon, hut for the extraordinary circum- 
stances of his death, to he noticed, would have 
succeeded to the earldom, as he was the next 
male heir. This youth happening to he in the 
house when his mother had prepared the poison, 
became extremely thirsty, and called for a 
drink. One of his mother's servants, not aware 
of the preparation, presented to the youth a 
portion of the liquid into which the poison 
had heen infused, which he drank. This oc- 
casioned his death within two days, a circum- 
stance which, together with the appearances of 
the body after death, gave a clue to the dis- 
covery of his mother's guilt. 8 

Taking advantage of the calamity which had 
befallen the house of Sutherland, and the 
minority of the young earl, now only fifteen 
years of age, Y-Mackay of Far, who had 
formed an alliance with the Earl of Caithness, 
in 15G7 invaded the country of Sutherland, 
wasted the barony of Skibo, entered the town 
of Dornoch, and, upon the pretence of a quar- 
rel with the Murrays, by whom it was chiefly 
inhabited, set fire to it, in which outrage he was 
assisted by the Laird of Duffus. These mea- 
sures were only preliminary to a design which 
the Earl of Caithness had formed to get the Earl 
of Sutherland into his hands, but he had the cun- 
ning to conceal his intentions in the meantime, 
and to instigate Mackay to act as he wished, 
without appearing to be in any way concerned. 

In pursuance of his design upon Alexander, 
the young Earl of Sutherland, the Earl of Caith- 
ness prevailed upon Robert Stuart, bishop of 
Caithness, to write a letter to the governor of 
the castle of Skibo, in which the Earl of 
Sutherland resided, to deliver up the castle to 
him ; a request with which the governor com- 
plied. Having taken possession of the castle, 
the earl carried off the young man into Caith- 
ness, and although only fifteen years of age, he 
got him married to Lady Barbara Sinclair, his 
daughter, then aged thirty-two years. Y-Mac- 
ka}' was the paramour of this lady, and for 
continuing the connexion with him she was 
afterwards divorced by her husband. 

' Sir R. Gordon, p. 147. 

The Earl of Caithness having succeeded in 
his wishes in obtaining possession of the Earl 
of Sutherland, entered the earl's country, and 
took possession of Dunrobin castle, in which 
he fixed his residence. He also brought the 
Earl of Sutherland along with him, but ho 
treated him meanly, and he burnt all the papers 
belonging to the house of Sutherland he could 
lay his hands on. Cruel and avaricious, he, 
under the pretence of vindicating the law, for 
imaginary crimes expelled many of the ancient 
families in Sutherland from the country, put 
many of the inhabitants to death, disabled 
those he banished, in their persons, by new 
and unheard-of modes of torture, and stripped 
them of all their wealth. To be suspected of 
favouring the house of Sutherland, and to be 
wealthy, were deemed capital crimes by this 

As the Earl of Sutherland did not live on 
friendly terms with his wife on account of her 
licentious connexion with Mackay, and as there 
appeared no chance of any issue, the Earl of 
Caithness formed the base design of cutting off 
the Earl of Sutherland, and marrying William 
Sinclair, his second son, to Lady Margaret 
Gordon, the eldest sister of the Earl of Suther- 
land, whom he had also gotten into his hands, 
with the view of making William earl of 
Sutherland. The better to conceal his inten- 
tions the Earl of Caithness made a journey 
south to Edinburgh, and gave the necessary 
instructions to those in his confidence to 
despatch the Earl of Sutherland ; but some of 
his trusty friends having received private intel- 
ligence of the designs of the Earl of Caithness 
from some persons who were privy thereto, 
they instantly set about measures for defeating 
them by getting possession of the Earl of 
Sutherland's person. Accordingly, under cloud 
of night, they came quietly to the burn of 
Golspie, in the vicinity of Dunrobin, where, 
concealing themselves to prevent discovery, 
they sent Alexander Gordon of Sidderay to the 
castle, disguised as a pedlar, for the purpose of 
warning the Earl of Sutherland of the danger 
of his situation, and devising means of escape. 
Being made acquainted with the design upon 
his life, and the plans of his friends for rescu- 
ing him, the earl, early the following morning, 
proposed to the residents in the castle, under 



whose charge he was, to accompany him on a 
small excursion in the neighbourhood. This 
proposal seemod so reasonable in itself, that, 
although he was perpetually watched by the 
Earl of Caithness' servants, and his liberty 
greatly restrained, they at once agreed; and, 
going out, the earl being aware of the ambush 
laid by his friends, led his keepers directly into 
the snare before they were aware of danger. 
The earl's friends thereupon rushed from their 
hiding-place, and seizing him, conveyed him 
safely out of the country of Sutherland to 
Strathbogie. This took place in 1569. As 
soon as the Earl of Caithness's retainers heard 
of the escape of Earl Alexander, they collected 
a party of men favourable to their interests, 
and wont in hot pursuit of him as far as Port- 
ne-Coulter ; but they found that the earl and 
his friends had just crossed the ferry. 9 

Shortly after this affair a quarrel ensued 
between the Monroes and the clan Kenzie, two 
very powerful Eoss-shire clans. Lesley, the 
celebrated bishop of Eoss, had made over to 
his cousin, the Laird of Balquhain, the right 
and title of the castle of the Canonry of Eoss, 
together with the castle lands. Notwithstand- 
ing this grant, the Eegent Murray had given 
the custody of this castle to Andrew Monroe 
of Milntown ; and to make Lesley bear with 
the loss, the Eegent promised him some of the 
lands of the Barony of Fintry in Buchan, but 
on condition that he should cede to Monroe the 
castle and castle lands of the Canonry ; but the 
untimely and unexpected death of the Eegent 
interrupted this arrangement, and Andrew 
Monroe did not, of course, obtain the title to 
the castle and castle lands as he expected. 
Yet Monroe had the address to obtain permis- 
sion from the Earl of Lennox during his 
regency, and afterwards from the Earl of Mar, 
his successor in that office, to get possession of 
the castle. The clan Kenzie grudging to see 
Monroe in possession, and being desirous to 
get hold of the castle themselves, purchased 
Lesley's right, and, by virtue thereof, demanded 
delivery of the castle. Monroe refused to 
accede to this demand, on which the clan laid 
siege to the castle ; but Monroe defended it for 
three years at the expense of many lives on 

9 Sir R. Gordon, p. 154 

both sides. It was then delivered up to the 
clan Kenzie under the act of pacification. l 

No attempt was made by the Earl of Suther- 
land, during his minority, to recover his pos- 
sessions from the Earl of Caithness. In the 
meantime the latter, disappointed and enraged 
at the escape of his destined prey, vexed and 
annoyed still farther the partisans of the 
Sutherland family. In particular, he directed 
his vengeance against the Murrays, and made 
William Sutherland of Evelick, brother to the 
Laird of DulTus, apprehend John Croy-Murray, 
under the pretence of bringing him to justice. 
This proceeding roused the indignation of 
Hugh Murray of Aberscors, who assembled his 
friends, and made several incursions upon the 
lands of Evelick, Pronsies, and Eiercher. They 
also laid waste several villages belonging to the 
Laird of Duffus, from which they carried off 
some booty, and apprehending a gentleman 
of the Sutherlands, they detained him as an 
hostage for the safety of John Croy-Murray. 
Upon this the Laird of Duffus collected all his 
kinsmen and friends, together with the Siol- 
Phaill at Skibo, and proceeded to the town of 
Dornoch, with the intention of burning it. 
But the inhabitants, aided by the Murrays, 
went out to meet the enemy, whom they 
courageously attacked and overthrew, and pur- 
sued to the gates of Skibo. Besides killing 
several of Duffus' men they made some prison- 
ers, whom they exchanged for John Croy- 
Murray. This affair was called the skirmish 
of Torran-Eoy. 

The Laird of Duffus, who was father-in-law 
to the Earl of Caithness, and supported him 
in all his plans, immediately sent notice of this 
disaster to the earl, who without delay sent 
his eldest son, John, Master of Caithness, with 
a large party of countrymen and friends, in- 
cluding Y-Mackay and his countryman, to 
attack the Murrays in Dornoch. They be- 
sieged the town and castle, which were both 
manfully defended by the Murrays and their 
friends ; but the Master of Caithness, favoured 
by the darkness of the night, set fire to the 
cathedral, the steeple of wliich, however, was 
preserved. After the town had been reduced, 
the Master of Caithness attacked the castlo 

1 Sir R. Gordon, p. 155. 


and the steeple of the church, into which a 
body of men had thrown themselves, both of 
which held out for the space of a week, and 
would probably have recisted much longer, but 
for the interference of mutual friends of the 
parties, by whose mediation the Hurrays sur- 
rendered the castle and the steeple of the 
church ; and, as hostages for the due perform- 
ance of other conditions, they delivered up 
Thomas Murray, son of Houcheon Murray of 
Aberscors, Houcheon Murray, son of Alex- 
ander Mac-Sir-Angus, and John Murray, son 
of Thomas Murray, the brother of John Mur- 
ray of Aberscors. But the Earl of Caithness 
refused to ratify the treaty which his son had 
entered into with the Murrays, and afterwards 
basely beheaded the three hostages. These 
occurrences took place in the year 1570. 2 

The Murrays and the other friends of the 
Sutherland family, no longer able to protect 
themselves from the vengeance of the Earl of 
Caithness, dispersed themselves into different 
countries, there to wait for more favourable 
times, when they might return to their native 
soil without danger. The Murrays went to 
Strathbogie, where Earl Alexander then re- 
sided. Hugh Gordon of Drummoy retired to 
Orkney, where he married a lady named Ursula 
Tulloch ; but he frequently visited his friends 
in Sutherland, in spite of many snares laid 
for him by the Earl of Caithness, while secretly 
going and returning through Caithness. Hugh 
Gordon's brothers took refuge with the Mur- 
rays at Strathbogie. John Gray of Skibo and 
his son Gilbert retired to St. Andrews, where 
their friend Robert, bishop of Caithness, then 
resided, and Mac-Mhic-Sheumais of Strathully 
went to Glengarry. 

As the alliance of such a powerful and war- 
like chief as Mackay would have been of great 
importance to the Sutherland interest, an 
attempt was made to detach him from the 
Earl of Caithness. The plan appears to have 
originated with Hugh Murray of Aberscors, 
who made repeated visits to Strathbogie, to 
consult with the Earl of Sutherland and his 
friends on this subject, and afterwards went 
into Strathnaver and held a conference with 
Mackay, whom he prevailed upon to accom- 

2 Sir R. Gordon, p. 16B. 

pany him to Strathbogie. Mackay then en- 
tered into an engagement with the Earl of 
Huntly and the Earl of Sutherland, to assist 
the latter against the Earl of Caithness, in con- 
sideration of which, and on payment of .300 
Scots, he obtained from the Earl of Huntly the 
heritable right and title of the lands of Strath- 
naver ; but Mackay, influenced by Barbara 
Sinclair, the wife of the Earl of Sutherland, 
with whom he now publicly cohabited, broke 
his engagement, and continued to oppress the 
earl's followers and dependents. 

From some circumstances which have not 
transpired, the Earl of Caithness became sus- 
picious of his son John, the Master of Caith- 
ness, as having, in connection with Mackay, a 
design upon his life. To put an end to the 
earl's suspicion, Mackay advised John to go to 
Girnigo (Castle Sinclair), and to submit him- 
self to his father's pleasure, a request with 
which the Master complied ; but, after arriving 
at Girnigo, he was, while conversing with his 
father, arrested by a party ol armed men, who, 
upon a secret signal being given by the earl, 
had rushed in at the chamber door. He was 
instantly fettered and thrust into prison within 
the castle, where, after a miserable captivity 
of seven years, he died, a prey to famine and 

Mackay, who had accompanied the Master to 
Girnigo, and who in all probability would have 
shared the same fate, escaped and returned 
home to Strathnaver, where he died, within 
four months thereafter, of grief and remorse 
for the many bad actions of his life. During 
the minority of his son Houcheon, John Mor- 
Mackay, the cousin, and John Beg-Mackay, 
the bastard son of Y-Mackay, took charge of 
the estate ; but John Mor-Mackay was speedily 
removed from his charge by the Earl of Caith- 
ness, who, considering him as a favourer of the 
Earl of Sutherland, caused him to be appre- 
hended and carried into Caithness, where he 
was detained in prison till his death. During 
this time John Robson, the chief of the clan 
Gun in Caithness and Strathnaver, became a 
dependent on the Earl of Sutherland, and acted 
as his factor in collecting the rents and duties 
of the bishop's lands within Caithness which 
belonged to the earl This connexion was 
exceedingly disagreeable to the Earl of Caith- 



ness, who in consequence took a grudge at 
John Robson, and, to gratify his spleen, he 
instigated Houcheon Mackay to lay waste the 
lands of the cl;u Gun, in the Brea-Moir, in 
Caithness, without the knowledge of John 
Beg-Mackay, his brother. As the clan Gun 
had always been friendly to the family of 
Mackay, John Beg-Mackay was greatly exas- 
perated at the conduct of the earl in enticing 
the young chief to commit such an outrage ; 
but he had it not in his power to make any 
reparation to the injured clan. John Robson, 
the chief, however, assisted by Alexander Earl 
of Sutherland, invaded Strathnaver and made 
ample retaliation. Meeting the Strathnaver 
men at a place called Creach-Drumi-Dovin, he 
attacked and defeated them, killing several of 
them, and chiefly those who had accompanied 
Houcheon Mackay in his expedition to the 
Brea-Moir. He then carried off a large quan- 
tity of booty, which he divided among the clan 
Gun of Strathully, who had suffered by IIou- 
cheon Mackay's invasion. 3 

The Earl of Caithness, having resolved to 
avenge himself on John Beg-Mackay for the 
displeasure shown by him at the conduct of 
Houcheon Mackay, and also on the clan Gun, 
prevailed upon Neil-Mac-Iain-Mac- William, 
chief of the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, and James 
Mac-Rory, chief of the Slioehd-Iaiii-Mhoir, to 
attack them. Accordingly, in the month of 
September, 1579, these two chiefs, with their 
followers, entered Balnekill in Durines during 
the night-time, and slew John Beg-Mackay 
and "William Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, the brother 
of John. Robson, and some of their people. 
The friends of the deceased were not in a con- 
dition to retaliate, but they kept up the spirit 
of revenge so customary in those times, and 
only waited a favourable opportunity to gratify 
it. This did not occur till several years there- 
after. In the year 1587, James Mac-Rory, 
" a fyne gentleman and a good commander," 
according to Sir Robert Gordon, was assassi- 
nated by Donald Balloch-Mackay, the brother 
of John Beg-Mackay ; and two years there- 
after John Mackay, the son of John Beg, 
attacked Neil Mac-Iain-Mac- William, whom 
he wounded severely, and cut off some of his 

3 Sir R. Gordon, p. 173 

followers. " This Neil," says Sir R. Gordon, 
" heir mentioned, wes a good captain, bold, 
craftie, of a verio good witt, and quick resolu 

After the death of John Beg-Mackay, and 
William Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, a most deadly and 
inveterate feud followed, between the clan GUI 
and the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, but no recital 
of the details has been handed down to us. 
" The long, the many, the horrible encounters," 
observes Sir R. Gordon " which happened be- 
tween these two trybes, with the bloodshed, 
and infinit spoills committed in every pairt of 
the diocy of Cattcynes by them and their asso- 
ciats, are of so disordered and troublesome 
mcmorie, that, what with their asperous names, 
together with the confusion of place, tymes, 
and persons, would yet be (no doubt) a wan- 
to the reader to overlook them; and therefor, 
to favor myne oune paines, and his who should 
get little profite or delight thereby, I doe pass 
them over." 4 

The clan Chattan, fifty years earlier, must 
have been harassing the surrounding districts 
to a terrible extent, and causing the govern- 
ment considerable trouble, as in 1528 we find 
a mandate addressed by King James " to our 
shirreffs of Kincardin, Abirdene, Banf, Elgen, 
Fores, Name, and Invernyss; and to our 
derrest bruthir, James, Erie of Murray, oiu 
lieutenant generate in the north partis of our 
realme, and to our louittis consingis [ ] Erie 
of Sutherland; John Erie of Cathnes," &c., 
&c., commanding them that inasmuch as John 
M'Kiiilay, Thomas Mackinlay, Donald Glass, 
&c., " throcht assistance and fortifying of all 
the kin of Clanquhattane duelland within 
Baienach, Petty, Brauchly, Strathnarne, and 
other parts thereabout, committs daily fire- 
raising, slaughter, murder, heirschippis, and 
wasting of the cuntre," to the harm of the true 
lieges, these sheriffs and others shall fall upon 
the " said Clanquhattane, and invade them to 
their utter destruction by slaughter, burning, 
drowning, and other ways; and leave na crea- 
ture living of that clan, except priests, women, 
and bairns." The "women and bairns" they 
were ordered to take to " some parts of the son 
nearest land, quhair ships salbe forsene on our 

4 History, p. 171. 



expenses, to sail with them, furth of our realme, 
ami land with them in Jesland, Zesland, or 
Norway; because it were inhumanity to put 
hands in the blood of women and bairns." 
Had this mandate for "stamping out" this 
troublesome clan been carried out it would 
certainly have been an effectual cure for many 
of the disturbances in the Highlands j but wo 
cannot find any record as to what practical 
result followed the issue of tliis cruel decree. 6 

In the year 1585 a quarrel took place be- 
tween Noil Houcheonson, and Donald Neilson, 
the Laird of Assyut, who had married Houcheon 
Mackay's sister. The cause of Donald Neilson 
wis espoused by Houcheon Mackay, and the 
elan Gun, who came with an army out of 
Caithness and Strathnavcr, to besiege Neil 
Houcheonson in the isle of Assynt. Neil, 
who was commander of Assynt, and a follower 
of the Earl of Sutherland, sent immediate 
notice to the earl of Mackay's movements, on 
receiving which the earl, assembling a body of 
men, despatched them to Assynt to raise the 
siege; but Mackay did not wait for their 
coming, and retreated into Strathnaver. As 
the Earl of Caithness had sent some of his 
people to assist Mackay, who was the Earl of 
Sutherland's vassal, the latter resolved to 
punish both, and accordingly made preparations 
for entering Strathnaver and Caithness with 
an army. But some mutual friends of the 
parties interfered to prevent the effusion of 
blood, by prevailing on the two earls to meet 
at Elgin, in the presence of the Earl of Huntly 
and other friends, and get their differences 
adjusted. A meeting was accordingly held, at 
which the earls were reconciled. The whole 
blame of the troubles and commotions which 
had recently disturbed the peace of Sutherland 
and Caithness, was thrown upon the clan Gun, 
who were alleged to have been the chief insti- 
gators, and as then- restless disposition might 
give rise to new disorders, it was agreed, at 
said meeting, to cut them off, and particularly 
that part of the tribe which dwelt in Caith- 
ness, which was chiefly dreaded, for which 
purpose the Earl of Caithness bound himself 
to deliver up to the Earl of Sutherland, certain 
individuals of the clan living in Caithness. 

' See Scolding Club Miscclla^.i , vol. ii. p. S3. 

To enable him to implement his engagement a 
resolution was entered into to send two com- 
panies of men against those of the clan Gun 
who dwelt in Caithness and Strathnaver, and 
to surround them in such a way as to prevent 
escape. The Earl of Caitlmess, notwithstand- 
ing, sent private notice to the clan of the 
preparations making against them by Angus 
Sutherland of Mellary, in Berriedale; but the 
clan were distrustful of the earl, as they had 
already received secret intelligence that he had 
assembled his people together for the purpose 
of attacking them. 

As soon as the Earl of Sutherland could get 
his men collected he proceeded to march to the 
territories of the clan Gun; but meeting by 
chance, on his way, with a party of Strath- 
naver men, under the command of William 
Mackay, brother of Houcheon Mackay, carrying 
off the cattle of James Mac-Rory, a vassal of 
his own, from Coireceann Loch in the Diri- 
Meanigh, he rescued and brought back his 
vassal's cattle. After this the earl's party pur- 
sued "William Mackay and the Strathnaver 
men during the whole day, and killed one of 
the principal men of the clan Gun in Strath- 
naver, called Angus-Eoy, with several others 
of Mackay's company. This affair was called 
Latha-Tom-Fraoich, that is, the day of the 
heather bush. At the end of the pursuit, and 
towards evening, the pursued party found 
themselves on the borders of Caithness, where 
they found the clan Gun assembled in conse- 
quence of the rising of the Caithness people 
who had taken away their cattle. 

Tliis accidental meeting of the Strathnaver 
men and the clan Gun was the means, probably, 
of saving both from destruction. They imme- 
diately entered into an alliance to stand by 
one another, and to live or die together. Next 
morning they found themselves placed between 
two powerful bodies of their enemies. On the 
one side was the Earl of Sutherland's party at 
no groat distance, reposing themselves from 
the fatigues of the preceding day, and on the 
other were seen advancing the Caithness men, 
conducted by Henry Sinclair, brother to tho 
laird of Dun, and cousin to the Earl of Caith- 
ness. A council of war was immediately held 
to consult how to act in this emergency, when 
it was resolved to attack the Caithness men 


first, as they were far inferior in numbers, 
which was done by the clan Gun and their 
allies, who had the advantage of the hill, with 
great resolution. The former foolishly expended 
their arrows wliile at a distanoe from their 
opponents; but the clan Gun having hus- 
banded their shot till they came in close con- 
tact with the enemy, did great execution. 
The Caithness men were completely over- 
thrown, after leaving 140 of their party, with 
their captain, Henry Sinclair, dead on the field 
of battle. Had not the darkness of the night 
favoured their flight, they would have all been 
destroyed. Henry Sinclair was Mackay's 
uncle, and not being aware that he had been 
in the engagement till he recognised his body 
among the slain, Mackay felt extremely grieved 
at the unexpected death of his relative. This 
skirmish took place at Aldgown, in the year 
1586. The Sutherland men having lost sight 
of Mackay and his party among the hills, 
immediately before the conflict, returned into 
their own country with the booty they had 
recovered, and were not aware of the defeat of 
the Caithness men till some time after that 

The Earl of Caithness afterwards confessed 
that he had no intention of attacking the clan 
Gun at the time in question ; but that his 
policy was to have allowed them to bo closely 
pressed and pursued by the Sutherland men, 
and then to have relieved them from the im- 
minent danger they would thereby be placed 
in, so that they might consider that it was to 
him they owed their safety, and thus lay them 
under fresh obligations to him. But the 
deceitful part he acted proved very disastrous 
to his people, and the result so exasperated 
him against the clan Gun, that he hanged 
John Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, chieftain of the clan 
Gun, in Caithness, whom he had kept captive 
for some time. 

The result of all these proceedings was another 
meeting between the Earls of Sutherland and 
Caithness at the hill of Bingrime in Suther- 
land, which was brought about by the media- 
tion of Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchindun, 
who was sent into the north by his nephew, 
the Earl of Huntly, for that purpose. Here 
again a new confederacy was formed against 
the clan Gun iu Caithness, who were now 

maintained and harboured by Mackay. The 
Earl of Sutherland, on account of the recent 
defeat of the Caithness men, undertook to 
attack the clan first. He accordingly directed 
two bodies to march with all haste against tlio 
clan, one of which was commanded by James 
Mac-Rory and Neil Mac-Iain-Mac-William, 
chief of the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, who were 
now under the protection of the Earl of Suther- 
land; and the other by William Sutherland 
Johnson, George Gordon in Marie, and Wil- 
liam Murray in Iviimald, brother of Hugh 
Murray of Aberscors. Houcheon Mackay, 
seeing no hopes of maintaining the clan Gun 
any longer without danger to himself, dis- 
charged them from his country, whereupon 
they made preparations for seeking an asylum 
in the western isles. But, on their journey 
thither, they were met near Loch Broom, at a 
place called Leckmelme, by James Mac-Rory 
and Neil Mac-Iain-Mac-William, where, after a 
sharp skirmish, they were overthrown, and 
the greater part of them killed. Their com- 
mander, George Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, brother of 
John Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, who was hanged by 
the Earl of Caithness, was severely wounded, 
and was taken prisoner after an unsuccessful 
attempt to escape by swimming across a loch 
close by. After being carried to Dunrobin 
castle, and presented to the Earl of Sutherland, 
George Gun was sent by liiui to the Earl of 
Caithness, who, though extremely grieved at 
the misfortune which had happened to the clan 
Gun, dissembled his vexation, and received the 
prisoner as if he approved of the Earl of 
Sutherland's proceedings against him and his 
unfortunate people. After a short confine- 
ment, George Gun was released from his cap- 
tivity by the Earl of Caithness, at the entreaty 
of the Earl of Sutherland, not from any favour 
to the prisoner himself, or to the earl, whom 
the Earl of Caithness hated mortally, but with 
the design of making Gun an instrument of 
annoyance to some of the Earl of Sutherland's 
neighbours. But the Earl of Caithness was 
disappointed in his object, for George Gun, 
after his enlargement from prison, always re- 
mained faithful to the Earl of Sutherland. 6 
About this time a violent feud arose in the 

Sir R. Gordon, p. 185. 



western isles between Angus Macdonald of 
Kintyre, and Sir Lauclilan Maclean of Duart, 
in Mull, whose sister Angus had married, 
which ended in the almost total destruction of 
the clan Donald and clan Lean. The circum- 
stances which led to this unfortunate dissen- 
sion were these : 

Donald Gorm Macdonald of Slate, when 
going on a visit from Slate to his cousin, Angus 
Macdonald of Kintyre, was forced by contrary 
winds to land with his party in the island of 
Jura, which belonged partly to Sir Lauclilan 
Maclean, and partly to Angus Macdonald. 
The part of the island where Macdouald of 
Slate landed belonged to Sir Lauchlan Maclean. 
No sooner had Macdonald and his company 
landed, than, by an unlucky coincidence, Mac- 
donald Tearrcagh and Houcheon Macgillespic, 
two of the clan Donald who had lately quarrelled 
with Donald Gorm, arrived at the same time 
with a party of men ; and, understanding that 
Donald Gorm was in the island, they secretly 
took away, by night, a number of cattle be- 
longing to the clan Lean, and immediately put 
to sea. Their object in doing so was to make 
the clan Lean believe that Donald Gorm and 
his party had carried off the cattle, in the hope 
that the Macleans would attack Donald Gorm, 
and they were not disappointed. As soon as 
the lifting of the cattle had been discovered, 
Sir Lauchlan Maclean assembled his whole 
forces, and, under the impression that Donald 
Gorm and his party had committed the spoli- 
ation, he attacked them suddenly and unawares, 
during the night, at a place in the island called 
Inverchuockwrick, and slew about sixty of the 
:lau Donald. Donald Gonn,having previously 
gone on board his vessel to pass the night, for- 
tunately escaped. 

When Angus Macdonald heard of this " un- 
toward event," he visited Donald Gorm in 
Skye for the purpose of consulting with him 
on the means of obtaining reparation for the 
loss of his men. On his return homeward to 
Kintyre, he landed in the Isle of Mull, and, 
contrary to the advice of Coll Mac-James and 
Reginald Mac-James, his two brothers, and of 
Reginald Mac-Coll, his cousin, who wished 
him to send a messenger to announce the re- 
sult of his meeting witli Donald Gorm, went 
to the castle of Duart, the principal residence 


of Sir Lauchlan Maclean in Mull. His two 
brothers refused to accompany him, and they 
acted rightly; for, the day after Angus arrived 
at Duart, he and all his party were perfidiously 
arrested by Sir Lauchlan Maclean. Reginald 
Mac-Coll, the cousin of Angus, alone escaped. 
The Rhinns of Islay at this time belonged to 
the clan Donald, but they had given the pos- 
session of them to the clan Lean for personal 
services. Sir Lauchlan, thinking the present 
a favourable opportunity for acquiring an abso- 
lute right to this property, offered to release 
Angus Macdonald, provided he would renounce 
liis right and title to the Ehinns ; and, in case 
of refusal, he threatened to make him end his 
days in captivity. Angus, being thus in some 
degree compelled, agreed to the proposed terms; 
but, before obtaining his liberty, he was forced 
to give James Macdonald, his eldest son, and 
Reginald Mac-James, his brother, as hostages, 
until the deed of conveyance should be deliv- 
ered to Sir Lauchlan. 

It was not, however, the intention of Angus 
Macdonald to implement this engagement, if 
he could accomplish the liberation of his son 
and brother. His cousin had suffered a griev- 
ous injury at the hands of Sir Lauchlan Mac- 
lean without any just cause of offence, and he 
himself had, when on a friendly mission, been 
detained most unjustly as a prisoner, and com- 
pelled to promise to surrender into Sir Lauch- 
lan's hands, by a regular deed, a part of his 
property. Under these circumstances, his 
resolution to break the unfair engagement he 
had come under is not to be wondered at. To 
accomplish his object he had recourse to a 
stratagem in which he succeeded, as will be 
shown in the sequel. 

After Maclean had obtained delivery of the 
two hostages, he made a voyage to Islay to get 
the engagement completed. He left behind, 
in the castle of Duart, Reginald Mac-James, 
one of the hostages, whom he put in fetters, 
and took the other to accompany him on his 
voyage. Having arrived in the isle of Islay, 
he encamped at Eilean-Gorm, a ruinous castle 
upon the Rhinns of Islay, which castle had 
been lately in the possession of the clan Lean. 
Angus Macdonald was residing at the tune at 
the house of Mulindry or Mullindhrca, a com- 
fortable and well-furnished residence belonging 



Castle Duart, 

to liim on the island, and to which he invited 
Sir Lauehlan, under the pretence of affording 
him better accommodation, and providing him 
with better provisions than he could obtain in 
liis camp ; but Sir Lauchlan, having his sus- 
picions, declined to accept the invitation. 
" There wes," says Sir Robert Gordon, " so 
little trust on either syd, that they did not now in friendship or amitie, bot vpon ther 
owne guard, or rather by messingers, one from 
another. And true it is (sayeth John Col win, 
in his manuscript) that the islanders are, of 
nature, verie suspicious ; full of invention 
against ther nighbours, by whatsoever way 
they may get them destroyed. Besyds this, 
they are bent and eager in taking revenge, that 
neither have they regaird to persone, tyme, 
aige, nor cause ; and ar generallie so addicted 
that way (as lykwise are the most pairt of all 
Highlanders), that therein they surpasse all 
other people whatsoever." 

Sir Lauchlan, however, was thrown off his 
guard by fair promises, and agreed to pay 
Macdonald a visit, and accordingly proceeded 
to Mulindry, accompanied by James Macdon- 
ald, his own nephew, and the son of Angus, 
and 8G of his kinsmen and servants. Maclean 
and his party, on their arrival, were received 
by Macdonald with much apparent kindness, 
and were sumptuously entertained during the 
whole day. In the meantime, Macdonald sent 
notice to all his friends and well-wishers in the 
island, to come to his house at nine o'clock at 

night, his design being to seize Maclean and 
his party. At the usual hour for going to 
repose, Maclean and his people were lodged in 
a long-house, which stood by itself, at some 
distance from the other houses. During the 
whole day Maclean had always kept James 
Macdonald, the hostage, within his reach, as a 
sort of protection to him in case of an attack, 
and at going to bed he took him along with 
him. About an hour after Maclean and his 
people had retired, Angus assembled his men 
to the number of 300 or 400, and made them 
surround the house in which Maclean and his 
company lay. Then, going himself to the 
door, he called upon Maclean, and told him 
that he had come to give him his reposing 
drink, which he had forgotten to offer him 
before going to bed. Maclean answered that 
he did not wish to drink at that time ; but 
Macdonald insisted that he should rise and 
receive the drink, it being, he said, his will 
that he should do so. The peremptory tone of 
Macdonald made Maclean at once apprehen- 
sive of the danger of his situation, and imme- 
diately getting up and placing the boy between 
his shoulders, prepared to preserve his life as 
long as he could with the boy, or to sell it as 
dearly as possible. As soon as the door was 
forced open, James Macdonald, seeing his 
father with a naked sword in his hand and a 
number of his men armed in the same manner, 
cried aloud for mercy to Maclean, Ms uncle, 
which being granted, Sir Lauchlan was irr.rae- 



diately removed to a secret chamber, where he 
remained till next morning. After Maclean 
had surrendered, Angus Macdonald announced 
to those within the house, that if they would 
come without their lives would he spared ; 
but lie excepted Macdonald Terreagh and 
another Individual whom he named. The 
whole, with the exception of these two, hav- 
ing complied, the house was immediately set 
on fire, and consumed along with Macdonald 
Terreagh and his companion. The former was 
one of the clan Donald of the Western Islands, 
and not only had assisted the clan Lean 
against his own tribe, but was also the origin- 
ator, as we have seen, of all these disturbances ; 
and the latter was a near kinsman to Maclean, 
one of the oldest of the clan, and celebrated 
for his wisdom and prowess. This affair took 
place in the month of July, 1586. 

When the intelligence of the seizure of Sir 
Lauchlan Maclean reached the Isle of Mull, 
Allan Maclean, who was the nearest kinsman 
to Maclean, whose children were then very 
young, bethought himself of an expedient to 
obtain the possessions of Sir Lauchlan. In 
conjunction with his friends, Allan cause. 1 a 
false report to be spread in the island of Islay, 
that the friends of Maclean had killed Reginald 
Mac-James, the remaining hostage at Duart 
in Mull, by means of which he hoped that 
Angus Macdonald would be moved to kill Sir 
Lauchlan, and thereby enable him (Allan) to 
supply his place. But although this device 
did not succeed, it proved very disastrous to 
Sir Lauclilan's friends and followers, who were 
beheaded in pairs by Coll Mac-James, the 
brother of Angus Macdonald. 

The friends of Sir Lauchlan seeing no hopes 
of his release, applied to the Earl of Argyle to 
ossist them in a contemplated attempt to rescue 
him out of the hands of Angus Macdonald ; 
but the earl, perceiving the utter hopelessness 
of such an attempt with such forces as he and 
they could command, advised them to com- 
plain to King James VI. against Angus Mac- 
donald, for the seizure and detention of their 
cliicf. The king immediately directed that 
Macdonald should 1)6 summoned by a herald- 
at-arms to deliver up Sir Lauchlan into the 
hands of the Earl of Argyle ; but the herald 
was interrupted in the performance of his duty, 

not being able to procure shipping for Islay, 
and was obliged to return home. The Earl of 
Argyle had then recourse to negotiation with 
Macdonald, and, after considerable trouble, he 
prevailed on him to release Sir Lauchlau on 
certain strict conditions, but not until Regi- 
nald Mac-James, the brother of Angus, had 
been delivered up, and the earl, for perform- 
ance of the conditions agreed upon, had given 
his own son, and the son of Macleod of Harris, 
as hostages. But Maclean, quite regardless of 
the safety of the hostages, and in open viola- 
tion of the engagements he had come under, 
on hearing that Angus Macdonald had gone 
on a visit to the clan Donald of the glens in 
Ireland, invaded Isla, which he laid waste, and 
pursued those who had assisted in his capture. 

On his return from Ireland, Angus Macdon- 
ald made great preparations for inflicting a 
just chastisement upon Maclean. Collecting 
a large body of men, and much shipping, he 
invaded Mull and Tiree, carrying havoc and 
destruction along with him, and destroying 
every human being and every domestic animal, 
of whatever kind. While Macdonald was 
committing these ravages in Mull and Tirce, 
Maclean, instead of opposing him, invaded 
Kintyre, where he took ample retaliation by 
wasting and burning a great part of that coun- 
try. In this manner did these hostile clans 
continue, for a considerable period, mutually 
to vox and destroy one another, till they were 
almost exterminated, root and branch. 

In order to strengthen his own power and 
to weaken that of his antagonist, Sir Lauchlan 
Maclean attempted to detach John Mac-Iain, 
of Ardnamurchan, from Angus Macdonald and 
his party. Mac-Iain had formerly been an 
unsuccessful suitor for the hand of Maclean's 
mother, and Sir Lauchlan now gave him an 
invitation to visit him in Mull, promising, at 
the same time, to give him his mother in mar- 
riage. Mac-Iain accepted the invitation, and 
on his arrival in Mull, Maclean prevailed on 
his mother to marry Mac-Iain, and the nuptials 
were accordingly celebrated at Torloisk in 
MulL No persuasion, however, could induce 
Mac-Iain to join against his own tribe, towards 
which, notwithstanding his matrimonial alli- 
ance, he entertained the strongest affection. 
Chagrined at the unexpected refusal of Mac- 



Iain, Sir Lauclilan resolved to punish Ms 
refractory guest "by one of those gross infringe- 
ments of the laws of hospitality which so often 
marked the hostility of rival clans. During 
the dead hour of the night he caused the door 
of Mac-Iain's bedchamber to he forced open, 
dragged him from his bed, and from the arms 
of his wife, and put him in close confinement, 
after killing eighteen of his followers. After 
Buffering a year's captivity, he was released and 
exchanged for Maclean's son, and the other 
hostages in Macdonald's possession. 

The dissensions between these two tribes 
having attracted the attention of government, 
the rival chiefs were induced, partly by com- 
mand of the king, and partly by persuasions 
and fair promises, to come to Edinburgh in the 
year 1592, for the purpose of having their 
differences reconciled. On their arrival they 
were committed prisoners to the castle of Edin- 
burgh, but were soon released and allowed to 
return home on payment of a small pecuniary 
fine, "and a shanifull remission," says Sir Ro- 
bert Gordon, "granted to either of them." 7 

In the year 1587, the flames of discord, 
which had lain dormant for a short time, burst 
forth between the rival houses of Sutherland 
and Caithness. In the year 1583, Alexander, 
Earl of Sutherland, obtained from the Earl of 
Huntly a grant of the superiority of Strath- 
naver, and of the heritable sheriffship of 
Sutherland and Strathnaver, which last was 
granted in lieu of the lordship of Aboyne. 
This grant was confirmed by his Majesty in 
a charter under the great seal, by which 
Sutherland and Strathnaver were disjoined 
and dismembered from the sheriffdom of 
Inverness. As the strength and influence of 
the Earl of Sutherland were greatly increased 
by the power and authority with which the 
superiority of Strathnaver invested him, the 
Earl of Caithness used the most urgent entreat- 
ies with the Earl of Huntly, who was his 
brother-in-law, to recall the gift of the superi- 
ority which he had granted to the Earl of 
Sutherland, and confer the same on him. The 
Earl of Huntly gave no decided answer to this 
application, although he seemed rather to listen 
with a favourable ear to his brother-in-law's 

7 History, p. 192. 

request. The Earl of Sutherland having been 
made aware of his rival's pretensions, and of 
the reception which he had met with from the 
Earl of Huntly, immediately notified to Huntly 
that he would never restore the superiority 
either to him or to the Earl of Caithness, as 
the bargain he had made with him had been 
long finally concluded. The Earl of Huntly 
was much offended at this notice, but he and 
the Earl of Sutherland were soon reconciled 
through the mediation of Sir Patrick Gordon 
of Auchindun. 

Disappointed in his views of obtaining the 
superiority in question, the Earl of Caithness 
seized the first opportunity, which presented 
itself, of quarrelling with the Earl of Suther- 
land, and he now thought that a suitable occa- 
sion had occurred. George Gordon, a bastard 
son of Gilbert Gordon of Gartay, having offered 
many indignities to the Earl of Caithness, the 
Earl, instead of complaining to the Earl of 
Sutherland, in whose service this George Gordon 
was, craved satisfaction and redress from the 
Earl of Huntly. Huntly very properly desired 
the Earl of Caithness to lay his complaint 
before the Earl of Sutherland ; but this he 
declined to do, disdaining to seek redress from 
Earl Alexander. Encouraged, probably, by the 
refusal of the Earl of Huntly to interfere, and 
the stubbornness of the Earl of Caithness to 
ask redress from his master, George Gordon, 
who resided in the town of Marie in Strathully, 
on the borders of Caithness, not satisfied with 
the indignities which he had formerly shown 
to the Earl of Caithness, cut off the tails of the 
earl's horses as they wore passing the river of 
Helmsdale under the care of his servants, on 
their journey from Caithness to Edinburgh, 
and in derision desired the earl's servants to 
show him what he had done. 

This George Gordon, it would appear, led a 
very irregular and wicked course of life, and 
shortly after the occurrence we have just related, 
a circumstance happened which induced the Earl 
of Caithness to take redress at his own hands. 
George Gordon had incurred the displeasure of 
the Earl of Sutherland by an unlawful con- 
nexion with his wife's sister, and as he had no 
hopes of regaining the earl's favour but by 
renouncing this impure intercourse, he sent 
Patrick Gordon, his brother, to the Earl of 



Caitluicss to endeavour to effect a reconciliation 
with him, as he could no longer rely upon the 
protection of his master, the Earl of Suther- 
land. The Earl of Caithness, who felt an 
inward satisfaction at hearing of the displea- 
sure of the Earl of Sutherland with George 
Gordon, dissembled his feelings, and pretended 
to listen with great favour to the request of 
Patrick Gordon, in order to throw George 
Gordon off his guard, while ho was in reality 
meditating his destruction. The ruse succeeded 
so effectually, that although Gordon received 
timcous notice, from some friends, of the 
intentions of the earl to attack him, he reposed 
in false security upon the promises held out to 
him, and made no provision for his personal 
safety. But he was soon undeceived by the 
appearance of the earl and a body of men, 
who, in February, 1587, entering Marie under 
the silence of the night, surrounded his house 
and required him to surrender, which he refused 
to do. Having cut his way through his enemies 
and thrown himself into the river of Helms- 
dale, which he attempted to swim across, he 
was slain by a shower of arrows. 

The Earl of Sutherland, though ho disliked 
the conduct of George Gordon, was highly in- 
censed at his death, and made great prepara- 
tions to punish the Earl of Caithness for his 
attack upon Gordon. The Earl of Caithness 
in his turn assembled his whole forces, and, 
being joined by Mackay and the Strathnaver 
men, together with John, the Master of Orkney, 
and the Earl of Carrick, brother of Patrick, 
Earl of Orkney, and some of his countrymen, 
marched to Helmsdale to meet the Earl of 
Sutherland. As soon as the latter heard of the 
advance of the Earl of Caithness, lie also pro- 
ceeded towards Helmsdale, accompanied by 
Mackintosh, Roderick Mackenzie of Redcastle, 
Hector Monroe of Contaligh, and Neill Hou- 
cheonson, with the men of Assynt. On his 
arrival at the river of Helmsdale, the Earl of 
Sutherland found the enemy encamped on the 
opposite side. Neither party seemed inclined 
to come to a general engagement, but contented 
themselves with daily skirmishes, annoying 
each other with guns and arrows from the 
opposite banks of the river. The Sutherland 
men, who were very expert archers, annoyed 
the Caithness men so much, as to force them 

to break up their camp on the river side and 
to remove among the rocks above the villago 
of Easter Helmsdale. Mackay and his coun- 
trymen were encamped on the river of Marie, 
and in order to detach liim from the Earl of 
Caithness, Macintosh crossed that river and 
had a private conference with liim. After 
reminding him of the friendship wliich had so 
long subsisted between his ancestors and the 
Sutherland family, Macintosh endeavoured to 
impress upon his mind the danger ho incurred 
by taking up arms against liis own superior the 
Earl of Sutherland, and entreated liim, for his 
own sake, to join the earl; but Mackay remained 

By the mediation of mutual friends, the two 
earls agreed to a temporary truce on the 9th 
of March, 1587, and thus the effusion of human 
blood was stopped for a short time. As 
Mackay was the vassal of the Earl of Suther- 
land, the latter refused to comprehend him in 
the truce, and insisted upon an unconditional 
submission, but Mackay obstinately refused to 
do so, and returned home to his own country, 
highly chagrined that the Earl of Caithness, 
for whom he had put his life and estate in 
jeopardy, should have acceded to the Earl of 
Sutherland's request to exclude him from tho 
benefit of the truce. Before the two earls 
separated they came to a mutual understand- 
ing to reduce Mackay to obedience ; and that 
he might not suspect their design, they agreed 
to meet at Edinburgh for the purpose of con- 
certing the necessary measures together. Ac- 
cordingly, they held a meeting at the appointed 
place in the year 1588, and came to the reso- 
lution to attack Mackay; and to prevent 
Mackay from receiving any intelligence of 
their design, both parties swore to keep the 
same secret; but the Earl of Caithness, re- 
gardless of his oath, immediately sent notice to 
Mackay of the intended attack, for the purpose 
of enabling him to meet it. Instead, however, 
of following the Earl of Caithncss's advice, 
Mackay, justly dreading his hollow friendship, 
made haste, by the advice of Macintosh and 
the Laird of Foulis, to reconcile himself to the 
Earl of Sutherland, his superior, by an im- 
mediate submission. For this purpose he and 
the earl first met at Inverness, and after con- 
ferring together they made another appoint- 



meiit to meet at Elgin, where a perfect and 
final reconciliation took place hi the month of 
November, 1588. 


A. D. 1K88 1601. 
KINO OP SCOTLAND:-- -James VI., 15071003. 

Continued strife between the Earls of Sutherland and 
Caithness Short Reconciliation Strife renewed 
Fivsh Keconciliation Quarrel between Clan Gun 
nnd other tribes The Earl of Hnntly, the Clan 
Chattan, and others Death of the " Bonny " Earl 
of Murray Consequent excitement Strife between 
Hnntly and the Clan Chattan Huntly attainted 
and treated as a rebel Argyle sent against him 
Battle of Glenlivet Journey of James VI. to the 
North Tumults in Ross Feud between the Mac- 
leans and Macdonalds Defeat of the Macleans Dis- 
pute between the Earls of Sutherland and Caithness 
Fend between Macdonald of Slate and Macleod of 
Harris Reconciliation. 

TUB truce between the Earls of Caithness 
and Sutherland having now expired, the latter, 
accompanied by Mackay, Macintosh, the Laird 
of Foulis, the Laird of Assynt, and Gille-Calum, 
Laird of Rasay, entered Caithness with all his 
forces in the beginning of 1588. In taking 
this step he was warranted by a commission 
which he had obtained at court, through the 
influence of Chancellor Maitland, against the 
Earl of Caithness for killing George Gordon. 
The people of Caithness, alarmed at the great 
force of the earl, lied in all directions on his 
approach, and he never halted till he reached 
the strong fort of Giniigo, where he pitched 
his camp for twelve days. He then penetrated 
as far as Duncansby, killing several of the 
country people on his route, and collecting an 
immense quantity of cattle and goods, so large, 
indeed, as to exceed all that had been seen toge- 
ther in that country for many years. This inva- 
sion had such an effect upon the people of Caith- 
ness, that every race, clan, tribe, and family 
there, vied with one another in offering pledges 
to the Earl of Sutherland to keep the peace in 
all time coming. The town of Wick was also 
pillaged and burnt, but the church was pre- 
served. In the church was found the heart of 
the Earl of Caithncss's father in a case of lead, 
which was opened by John Mac-Gille-Calum of 
Rasay, and the ashes of the heart were tlirown 
by liim to the winds. 

During the time when these depredations 
were being committed, the Earl of Caithness 
shut himself up in the castle of Girnigo ; but 
on learning the disasters which had befallen 
his country, he desired a cessation of hostilities 
and a conference with the Earl of Sutherland. 
As the castle of Girnigo was strongly fortified, 
and as the Earl of Caithness had made prepa- 
rations for enduring a long siege, the Earl of 
Sutherland complied with his request. Both 
carls ultimately agreed to refer all their differ- 
ences and disputes to the arbitration of friends, 
and the Earl of Huntly was chosen by mutual 
consent to act as umpire or oversman, in the 
event of a difference of opinion.. A second 
truce was in this way entered into until tho 
decision of the arbiters, when all differences 
were to cease. 8 

Notwithstanding this engagement, however, 
the Earl of Caithness soon gave fresh provoca- 
tion, for before the truce had expired he sent 
a party of his men to Diri-Chatt in Sutherland, 
under the command of Kenneth Buy, and his 
brother Farquhar Buy, chieftains of the Siol- 
Mhic-Imheair in Caithness, and chief advisers 
of the Earl of Caithness in his bad actions, and 
his instruments in oppressing the poor people 
of Caithness. The Earl of Sutherland lost no 
time in revenging himself for the depredations 
committed. At Whitsunday, in the year 1 580, 
he sent 300 men into Caithness, with Alexan- 
der Gordon of Kilcalmekill at their head. 
They penetrated as far as Girnigo, laying the 
country waste everywhere around them, and 
striking terror into the hearts of the inhabit- 
ants, many of whom, including some of the 
Siol-Mlu'c-Imheair, they killed. After spend- 
ing their fury the party returned to Sutherland 
with a large booty, and without the loss of a 
single man. 

To retaliate upon the Earl of Sutherland for 
this inroad, James Sinclair of Marklo, brother 
of the Earl of Caithness, collected an army 
of 3,000 men, with which he marched into 
Strathully, in the month of Juno, 1589. As 
the Earl of Sutherland had been apprehen- 
sive of an attack, he had placed a range of 
sentinels along the borders of Sutherland, to 
give notice of the approach of the enemy. Of 

8 Sir R. Gordon, o. 157. 


these, four wore stationed in the village of 
Liribcll, which the Caithness men entered in 
the middle of the day unknown to the sentinels, 
who, instead of keeping an outlook, were at 
the time carelessly enjoying themselves within 
the watch-house. On perceiving the Caithness 
men about entering the house, they shut them- 
selves up within it ; but the house being set 
on fire, three of them perished, and the fourth, 
rushing through the flames, escaped with great 
difficulty, and announced to his countrymen 
the arrival of the enemy. From Strathully, 
Sinclair passed forward with his army to a 
place called Crissalligh, on the height of Strath- 
broray, and began to drive away some cattle 
towards Caithness. As the Earl of Sutherland 
had not yet had sufficient time to collect a suf- 
ficient force to oppose Sinclair, he sent in the 
meantime Houchcon Mackay, who happened 
to be at Dunrobin with 500 or 600 men, to 
keep Sinclair in check until a greater force 
should be assembled. With this body, which 
was hastily drawn together on the spur of the 
occasion, Mackay advanced with amazing celer- 
ity, and such was the rapidity of his move- 
ments, that he most unexpectedly came up 
with Sinclair not far from Crissalligh, when 
his army was ranging about without order or 
military discipline. On coming up, Mackay 
found John Gordon of Kilcalmekill at the 
head of a small party skirmishing with the 
Caithness men, a circumstance which made 
him instantly resolve, though so far inferior in 
numbers, to attack Sinclair. Crossing there- 
fore the water, which was between him and 
the enemy, Mackay and his men rushed upon 
the army of Sinclair, which they defeated after 
a long and warm contest The Caithness men 
retreated with the lis of their booty and part 
of their baggage, and were closely pursued by 
a body of men commanded by John Murray, 
nicknamed the merchant, to a distance of 16 
miles. 9 

This defeat, however, did not satisfy the 
Earl of Sutherland, who, having now assembled 
an army, entered Caithness with the intention 
of laying it waste. The earl advanced as far 
as Corrichoigh, and the Earl of Caithness con- 
vened his forces at Spittle, where he lay wait- 

Sir R. Cordon, p. 199. 

ing the arrival of his enemy. The Earl of 
Huntly, having been made acquainted with the 
warlike preparations of the two hostile earls, 
sent, without delay, his uncle, Sir Patrick 
Cordon of Auchindun, to mediate between 
them, and he luckily arrived at the Earl of 
Sutherland's head-quarters, at the very instant 
his army was on its march to meet the Earl 
of Caithness. By the friendly interference of 
Sir Patrick, the parties were prevailed upon to 
desist from their hostile intentions, and to 
agree to hold an amicable meeting at Elgin, in 
presence of the Earl of Huntly, to whom they 
also agreed to refer all their differences. A 
meeting accordingly took place in the month 
of November, 1589, at which all disputes wern 
settled, and in order that the reconciliation 
might be lasting, and that no recourse might 
again bo had to arms, the two earls subscribed 
a deed, by which they appointed Huntly and 
his successors hereditary judges, and arbitra- 
tors of all disputes or differences, that might 
thenceforth arise between these two houses. 

This reconciliation, however, as it did not 
obliterate the rancour which existed between 
the people of these different districts, was but 
of short duration. The frequent depredations 
committed by the vassals and retainers of the 
earls upon the property of one another, led to an 
exchange of letters and messages between them 
about the means to be used for repressing these 
disorders. During this correspondence the Earl 
of Sutherland became unwell, and, being con- 
fined to liis bed, the Earl of Caithness, in Octo- 
ber, 1590, wrote him a kind letter, which he had 
scarcely despatched when he most unaccount- 
ably entered Sutherland with a hostile force ; 
but he only remained one night in that country, 
in consequence of receiving intelligence of a 
meditated attack upon his camp by John Gor- 
don of Kilcalmekill, and Neill Mac-Iain-Mac- 
William. A considerable number of the Suth- 
erland men having collected together, they re- 
solved to pursue the Caithness men, who had 
carried off a large quantity of cattle; but, on 
coming nearly up with them, an unfortunate 
difference arose between the Murrays and the 
Gordons, each contending for the command of 
the vanguard. The Murraye rested their claim 
upon their former good services to the house 
of Sutherland ; but the Gordons refusing to 



admit it, all the Hurrays, with tlio exception 
of William Murray, brother of tlie Laird of 
I'alrossie, and John Murray, the merchant, 
withdrew, and took a station on a hill hard 
by to witness the combat. This unexpected 
event seemed to paralyze the Gordons at first; 
but seeing the Caithness men driving the 
cattle away before them, and thinking that if 
they did not attack them they would be accused 
of cowardice, Patrick Gordon of Gartay, John 
Gordon of Einbo, and John Gordon of Kil- 
calmekill, after some consultation, resolved to 
attack the retiring foe without loss of time, 
and without waiting for the coming up of the 
Stratlmaver men, who were hourly expected. 
This was a bold and desperate attempt, as the 
Gordons were only as one to twelve in point 
of numbers, but they could not brook the idea 
of being branded as cowards. With such 
numerical inferiority, and with the sun and 
wind in their faces to boot, the Sutherland 
men advanced upon and resolutely attacked 
the Caillmess men near Clyne. In the van of 
the Caitlmess army were placed about 1,500 
archers, a considerable number of whom were 
from the Western Isles, under the command of 
Donald Balloch Mackay of Scourie, who 
poured a thick shower of arrows upon the men 
of Sutherland as they advanced, the latter, in 
return, giving their opponents a similar recep- 
tion. The combat raged with great fury for a 
considerable time between these two parties : 
thrice were the Caithness archers driven back 
upon their roar, which was in consequence 
thrown into great disorder, and thrice did 
they return to the conflict, cheered on and 
encouraged by their leader ; but, though supe- 
rior in numbers, they could not withstand the 
firmness and intrepidity 01 the Sutherland 
men, who forced them to re Ure from the field 
of battle on the approach of night, and to 
abandon the cattle which had been carried off. 
The loss in killed and wounded was about 
equal on both sides ; but, with the exception 
of Nicolas Sutherland, brother of the Laird of 
Forse, and Angus Mac-Angus-Tennat, both 
belonging to the Caitlmess party, and John 
Murray, the merchant, on the Sutherland side, 
there were no principal persons killed. 

Vain as the efforts of the common friends of 
the rival earls had hitherto been to reconcile 

them effectually, the Earl of Huntly and 
others once more attempted an arrangement, 
and having prevailed upon the parties to meet 
at Strathbogie, a final agreement was entered 
into in the month of March, 1591, by w'lich 
they agreed to bury all bygone differences in 
oblivion, and to live on terms of amity in al] 
time thereafter. 

This fresh reconciliation of the two earls was 
the means of restoring quiet in their districts 
for a considerable time, which was partially 
interrupted in the year 1594, by a quarrel 
between the clan Gun and some of the other 
petty tribes. Donald Mac-Williani-Mac-Hen- 
ric, Alister Mac-Iain-Mac-Eoric, and others of 
the clan Gun entered Caithness and attacked 
Farquhar Buy, one of the captains of the tribe 
of Siol-Mhic-Imheair, and William Sutherland, 
alias William Abaraich, the chief favourite of 
the Earl of Caithness, and the principal plotter 
against the life of George Gordon, whose death 
has been already noticed. After a warm skir- 
mish, Farquhar Buy, and William Abaraich, 
and some of their followers, wore slain. To re- 
venge this outrage, the Earl of Caithness sent 
the same year his brother, James Sinclair of 
Murkle, with a party of men, against the clan 
Gun in Strathic, in Stratlmaver, who killed 
seven of that tribe. George Mac-Iain-Mac- 
Ilob, the chief, and Donald Mac-William-Muc- 
Henric narrowly escaped with their lives. 

For the sake of continuity, we have deferred 
noticing those transactions in the north in 
wliich George Gordon, Earl of Huntly, was 
more immediately concerned, and which led to 
several bloody conflicts. 

The earl, who was a favourite at court, and 
personally liked by James VI., finding liirnself 
in danger from the prevailing faction, retired 
to his possessions in the north, for the purpose 
of improving his estates and enjoying domestic 
quiet. One of his first measures was to erect 
a castle at Euthven, in Badenoch, in the neigh- 
bourhood of his hunting forests. This gave 
great offence to Macintosh, the chief of the clan 
Chattan, and his people, as they considered 
that the object of its erection was to overawe 
the clan. Being the earl's vassals and tenants, 
they were bound to certain services, among 
wliich the furnishing of materials for the build- 
ing formed a chief part ; but, instead of a.ssiat- 


ing the earl's people, they at first indirectly 
and in an underhand manner endeavoured to 
prevent the workmen from going on with their 
operations, and afterwards positively refused 
to furnish the necessaries required for tho 
Imilding. This act of disobedience was the 
cause of much trouble, which was increased by a 
quarrel in tho year 1590, between tho Gordons 
and the Grante, the occasion of which was as 
follows. John Grant, the tutor of Ballen- 
dalloch, having withheld the rents due to the 
widow, and endeavoured otherwise to injure 
her, James Gordon, her nephew, eldest son of 
Alexander Gordon of Lismore, along with some 
of his friends, went to Ballendalloch to obtain 
justice for her. On their arrival, differences 
were accommodated so far that the tutor paid 
up all arrears due to the lady, except a trifle, 
which he insisted, on some ground or other, on 
retaining. This led to some altercation, in 
which the servants of both parties took a share, 
and latterly came to blows; but they were 
separated, and James Gordon returned home. 
Judging from what had taken place, that his 
aunt's interests would in future be better 
attended to if under the protection of a hus- 
band, he persuaded the brother of Sir Thomas 
Gordon of Cluny to marry her, which he did. 
Tin's act so incensed the tutor of Ballendalloch, 
that lie at once showed his displeasure by 
killing, at the instigation of the laird of Grant, 
one of John Gordon's servants. For this the 
tutor, and such of the Grants as should harbour 
or assist him, were declared outlaws and rebels, 
and a commission was granted to the Earl of 
lluntly to apprehend and bring them to justice, 
in virtue of which, he besieged the house of 
Biillendalloch, and took it by force, on the 
2d November, 1590 ; but the tutor effected 
his escape. Sir John Campbell of Cadell, a 
despicable tool of the Chancellor Maitland, 
who had plotted the destruction of the earl 
and the laird of Grant, now joined in the 
conspiracy against him, and stirred up the clan 
Chattan, and Macintosh their chief, to aid 
the Grants. They also persuaded tho Earls of 
Athol and Murray to assist them against the 
Earl of lluntly. 

As soon as Huntly ascertained that the 
til-ants and clan Chattan, who were his own 
vassals, had put themselves under the com- 


mand of these earls, ho assembled his followers, 
and, entering Badenoch, summoned his vassala 
to appear before him, and deliver up tho 
tutor and his abettors, but none of them came. 
He then proclaimed and denounced them rebels, 
and obtained a royal commission to invade and 
apprehend them. To consult on the best 
means of defending themselves, the Earls of 
Murray and Athole, tho Dunbars, tho clan 
Chattan, the Grants, and the laird of Cadell, 
and others of their party met at Forres. In 
the midst of their deliberations Huntly, who 
had received early intelligence of the meeting, 
and had, in consequence, assembled his forces, 
unexpectedly made his appearance in the 
neighbourhood of Forres. This sudden advance 
of Huntly struck terror into the minds of the 
persons assembled, and the meeting instantly 
broke up in great confusion. The whole party, 
with tho exception of tho Earl of Murray, left 
the town in great haste, and fled to Tarnoway; 
the Earl of Huntly, not aware that Murraj 
had remained behind, marcliing directly to 
Tarnoway in pursuit of tho fugitives. On 
arriving within sight of the castle into which 
the flying party had thrown themselves, the 
earl sent John Gordon, brother of Sir Thomas 
Gordon of Cluny, with a small body of men to 
reconnoitre ; but approaching too near without 
due caution, he was shot by one of the Earl of 
Murray's servants. As Huntly found the castle 
well fortified, and as the rebels evacuated it 
and fled to the mountains, leaving a sufficient 
force to protect it, he disbanded his men on 
November 24, 1590, and returned home, 
whence he proceeded to Edinburgh. 

Shortly after his arrival the Earl of Bothwell, 
who had a design upon the life of Chancellor 
Maitland, made an attack upon the palace of 
Holyroodhouso under cloud of night, with tho 
view of seizing Maitland ; but, having failed 
in Ids object, he was forced to flee to tho north 
to avoid the vengeance of the king. Tho Earl 
of Huntly, who had been lately reconciled to 
Maitland, and tho Duke of Lennox, were sent in 
pursuit of Bothwell, but ho escaped. Under- 
standing afterwards that ho was harboured by 
the Earl of Murray at Donnibristlo, tho chan- 
cellor, having procured a commission against 
him from the king in favour of lluntly, a_.;ain 
scut him, accompanied by forty gui llemen, to 



attack the Earl of Murray. When the party had 
arrived near Donnibristle. the Earl of Huntly 
sent Captain John Gordon, of Buckie, brother 
of Gordon of Gight, with a summons to the Earl 
of Murray, requiring him to surrender himself 
prisoner ; but instead of complying, one of the 
earl's servants levelled a piece at the bearer of 
the despatch, and wounded him mortally. 
Huntly, therefore, after giving orders to take 
the Earl of Murray alive if possible, forcibly 
entered the house ; but Sir Thomas Gordon, 
recollecting the fate of his brother at Tarnoway, 
and Gordon of Gight, who saw his brother 
lying mortally wounded before his eyes, entirely 
disregarded the injunction; and following the 
carl, who had fled among the rocks on the 
adjoining sea-shore, slew him. It was this Earl 
of Murray who was known as the "bonny" 
earl, and, according to some historians, had 
impressed the heart of Anne of Denmark, and 
excited the jealousy of her royal spouse. This 
at least was the popular notion of his time : 

" He was a braw gallant, 
And he played at the gluve ; 
And the bonny Earl of Murray, 
Oh 1 he was the queen's love 

According to one account the house was set 
on fire, and Murray was discovered, when 
endeavouring to escape, by a spark wliich fell 
on his helmet, and slain by Gordon of Buckie, 
saying to the latter, who had wounded him in 
the face, " You .have spilt a better face than 
your awin." 

The Earl of Huntly immediately despatched 
John Gordon of Buckie to Edinburgh, to lay 
a statement of the affair before the king and 
the chancellor. The death of the Earl of 
Murray would have passed quietly over, as an 
event of ordinary occurrence in those trouble- 
some tunes ; but, as he was one of the heads 
of the Protestant party, the Presbyterian 
ministers gave the matter a religious turn by 
denouncing the Catholic Earl of Huntly as a 
murderer, who wished to advance the interests 
of his church by imbruing his hands in the 
blood of his Protestant countrymen. The 
effect of the ministers' denunciations was a 
tumult among the people in Edinburgh and 
other parts of the kingdom, which obliged the 
king to cancel the commission he had granted 

to the Earl of Huntly. The spirit of discon- 
tent became so violent that Captain John 
Gordon, who had been left at Inverkeithing 
for the recovery of his wounds, but who had 
been afterwards taken prisoner by the Earl of 
Murray's friends and carried to Edinburgh, 
was tried before a jury, and, contrary to law 
and justice, condemned and executed for having 
assisted the Earl of Huntly acting under a royal 
commission. The recklessness and severity of 
this act were still more atrocious, as Captain 
Gordon's wounds were incurable, and he was 
fast hastening to his grave. John Gordon of 
Buckie, who was master of the king's house- 
hold, was obliged to flee from Edinburgh, and 
made a narrow escape with his life. 

As for the Earl of Huntly, he was summoned, 
at the instance of the Lord of St. Colme, brother 
of the deceased Earl of Murray, to stand trial. 
He accordingly appeared at Edinburgh, and 
offered to abide the result of a trial by his 
peers, and in the meantime was committed a 
prisoner to the castle of Blackness on the 12th 
of March, 1591, till the peers should assemble 
to try him. On giving sufficient surety, how- 
ever, that he would appear and stand trial on 
receiving six days' notice to that effect, he was 
released by the king on the 20th day of the 
same month. 

The clan Chattan, who had never submitted 
without reluctance to the Earl of Huntly, con- 
sidered the present aspect of affairs as peculiarly 
favourable to the design they entertained of 
shaking off the yoke altogether, and being 
countenanced and assisted by the Grants, and 
other friends of the Earl of Murray, made no 
secret of their intentions. At first the earl 
sent Allan Macdonald-Dubh, the chief of the 
clan Cameron, with his tribe, to attack the 
clan Chattan in Badenoch, and to keep them 
in due order and subjection. The Camerons, 
though warmly opposed, succeeded in defeat- 
ing the clan Chattan, who lost 50 of their 
men after a sharp skirmish. The earl next 
despatched Macronald, with some of the 
Lochaber men, against the Grants in Strath- 
spey, whom he attacked, killed 18 of them, 
and laid waste the lands of Ballendalloch. 
After the clan Chattan had recovered from 
their defeat, they invaded Strathdee and 
Glenmuck in November 1592. To punish 



this aggression, the Earl of Iluntly collected 
his forces and entered Pettie, then in posses- 
sion of the clan Chattan as a fief from the 
Earls of Murray, and laid waste all the lands 
of the clan Chattan there, killed many of 
them, and carried off a large quantity of cattle, 
which ho divided among his army. But in 
returning from Fettle after disbanding his 
army, he received the unwelcome intelligence 
that William Macintosh, son of Lauchlan Mac- 
intosh, the chief, with 800 of the clan Chattan, 
had invaded the lands of Auchindun and Cab- 
berogh. The earl, after desiring the small 
party which remained with him to follow him 
as speedily as possible, immediately set off at 
full speed, accompanied by Sir Patrick Gordon 
of Auchindun and 3G horsemen, in quest of 
Macintosh and his party. Overtaking them 
before they had left the bounds of Cabberogh, 
upon the top of a hill called Stapliegate, he 
attacked them with his small party, and, after 
a warm skirmish, defeated them, killing about 
CO of their men, and wounding William Mac- 
intosh and others. 

The Earl of Iluntly, after thus subduing his 
enemies in the north, now found himself placed 
under ban by the government on account 
of an alleged conspiracy between Mm and the 
Earls of Angus and Errol and the crown of 
Spain, to overturn the State and the Church. 
The king and his councillors seemed to be 
satisfied of the innocence of the narls ; but the 
ministers, who considered the reformed religion 
in Scotland in danger while these Catholic 
peers were protected and favoured, importuned 
his majesty to punish them. The king, yield- 
ing to necessity and to the intrigues of Queen 
Elizabeth, forfeited their titles, intending to 
restore them when a proper opportunity 
occurred ; and, to silence the clamours of the 
ministers, convoked a parliament, which was 
held in the end of May, 1594. As few of the 
peers attended, the ministers, having the com- 
missioners of the burghs on their side, carried 
everything their own way, and the consequence 
was, that the three earls were attainted without 
trial, and their arms were torn in presence of 
the parliament, according to the custom in 
such cases. 

Having so far succeeded, the ministers, 
instigated by the Queen of England, now 

entreated the king to send the Earl of Argyle, 
a youth of nineteen years of age, in the pay of 
Queen Elizabeth, with an army against the 
Catholic earls. The king, still yielding to 
necessity, complied, and Argyle, having col- 
lected a force of about 12,000 men, entered 
Badenoch and laid siege to the castle of Euth- 
ven, on the 27th of September, 1594. He was 
accompanied in this expedition by the Earl of 
Athole, Sir Lauchlan Maclean with soire of his 
islanders, the chief of the Macintoshes, the 
Laird of Grant, the clan Gregor, Macneil of 
Barra, with all their friends and dependents, 
together with the whole of the Campbells, and 
a variety of others animated by a thirst for 
plunder or malice towards the Gordons. The 
castle of Euthven was so well defended by the 
clan Pherson, who were the Earl of Huntly's 
vassals, that Argyle was obliged to give up the 
siege. He then marched through Strathspey, 
and encamped at Drummin, upon the river 
Avon, on the 2d of October, whence he issued 
orders to Lord Forbes, the Frasers, the Dun- 
bars, the clan Kenzie, the Irvings, the Ogil- 
vies, the Leslies, and other tribes and clans 
in the north, to join his standard with all con- 
venient speed. 

The earls, against whom this expedition was 
directed, were by no means dismayed. They 
knew that although the king was constrained 
by popular clamour to levy war upon them, he 
was in secret friendly to them ; and they were, 
moreover, aware that the army of Argylc, 
who was a youth of no military experience, 
was a raw and undisciplined militia, and com- 
posed, in a great measure, of Catholics, who 
could not be expected to feel very warmly for 
the Protestant interest, to support which the 
expedition was professedly undertaken. The 
seeds of disaffection, besides, had been already 
sown in Argyle's camp by the corruption of the 
Grants and Campbell of Lochnell. 

On hearing of Argyle's approach, the Earl 
of Errol immediately collected a select body of 
about 100 horsemen, being gentlemen, on 
whose courage and fidelity he could rely, and 
with these he joined the Earl of Huntly at 
Strathbogie. The forces of Iluntly, after this 
junction, amounted, it is said, to nearly 1,500 
men, almost altogether horsemen, and with this 
body he advanced to Carnborrow, where the 



two earls and their chief followers made a 
solemn TOW to conquer or die. Marching from 
thence, Huntly's army arrived at Auchindun 
on the same day that Argyle's army reached 
Drummin. At Auchindun, Huntly received 
intelligence that Argyle was on the eve of 
descending from the mountains to the lowlands, 
which induced him, on the following day, 
to send Captain Thomas Can and a party of 
horsemen to reconnoitre the enemy, while ho 
himself advanced with his main army. The 
reconnoitring party soon fell in, accidentally, 
with Argylo's scouts, whom they chased, and 
some of whom they killed. This occurrence, 
which was looked upon as a prognostic of 
victory, so encouraged Huntly and his men, 
that he resolved to attack the army of Argyle 
before he should he joined by Lord Forbes, 
and the forces which were waiting for his 
appearance in the lowlands. Argyle had now 
passed Glenlivet, and had reached the banks 
of a small brook named Altchonlachan. 

On the other hand, the Earl of Argyle had 
no idea that the Earls of Huntly and Errol 
would attack him with such an inferior force ; 
and he was, therefore, astonished at seeing them 
approach so near him as they did. Apprehen- 
sive that his numerical superiority in foot would 
be counterbalanced by Huntly's cavalry, he 
hold a council of war, which advised Argyle to 
wait till the king, who had promised to appear 
with a force, should arrive, or, at all events, 
till he should be joined by the Frasers and 
Mackenzies from the north, and the Irvings, 
Forbeses, and Leslies from the lowlands with 
their horse. This opinion, which was con- 
sidered judicious by the most experienced of 
Argyle's army, was however disregarded by 
him, and he determined to wait the attack of 
the enemy ; and to encourage his men he 
pointed out to them the small number of those 
they had to combat with, and the spoils they 
might expect after victory. He disposed Ms 
army on the declivity of a hill, betwixt Glen- 
livet and Glenrinnes, in two parallel divisions. 
The right wing, consisting of the Macleans and 
Macintoshes, was commanded by Sir Lauchlan 
Maclean and Macintosh the left, composed 
of the Grants, Macncills, and Macgregors, by 
Grant of Gartinbcg ; and the centre, consisting 
pf the Campbells, &c., was commanded by 

Campbell of Auchinbreck. This vanguard 
consisted of 4,000 men, one-half of whom 
carried muskets. The rear of the army, con- 
sisting of about 6,000 men, was commanded 
by Argyle himself. The Earl of Huntly's van- 
guard was composed of 300 gentlemen, led by 
the Earl of Errol, Sir Patrick Gordon of 
Auchindun, the laird of Gight, the laird of 
Bonnitoun, and Captain, afterwards Sir Thomas 
Carr. The earl liimself followed with tlio 
remainder of his forces, having the laird of 
Cluny upon his right hand and the laird of 
Abergeldy upon his left. Three pieces of field 
ordnance under the direction of Captain Andrew 
Gray, afterwards colonel of the English and 
Scots who served in Bohemia, were placed in 
front of the vanguard. Before advancing, the 
Earl of Huntly harangued his little army to 
encourage them to fight manfully; ho told 
them that they had no alternative before them 
but victory or death that they were now to 
combat, not for their own lives only, but also 
for the very existence of their families, which 
would be utterly extinguished if they fell a 
prey to their enemies. 

The position which Argyle occupied on tho 
declivity of the hill gave him a decided advan- 
tage over his assailants, who, from the nature 
of their force, were greatly hampered by the 
mossy nature of the ground at the foot of 
tho hill, interspersed by pits from which turf 
had been dug. But, notwithstanding these 
obstacles, Iluntly advanced up the hill with 
a slow and steady pace. It had been 
arranged between him and Campbell of 
Lochuell, who had promised to go over to 
Huntly as soon as the battle had commenced, 
that, before charging Argyle with his cavalry, 
Iluntly should fire his artillery at the yellow 
standard. Campbell bore a mortal enmity 
at Argyle, and as he was Argyle's nearest 
heir, he probably had directed the fir'ig 
at the yellow standard in the hope of 
cutting off the earl. Unfortunately for 
himself, however, Campbell was shot dead 
at the first fire of the cannon, and upon 
his fall all his men fled from the field. 
Macneill of Barra was also slain at the same 

The Highlanders, who had never before 
seen field pieces, were thrown into disorder 



by the cannonade, -which being perceived by 
Ilimtly, ho charged the enemy, and rashing in 
among them with his horsemen, increased the 
confusion. The Earl of Errol was directed to 
attack the right wing of Argyle's army, com- 
manded l>y Maclean, but as it occupied a very 
steep part of the hill, and as Errol was greatly 
annoyed by thick volleys of shot from above, 
ho was compelled to make a detour, leaving 
the enemy on his left. But Gordon of Auch- 
indun, disdaining such a prudent course, gal- 
loped up the hill with a party of his own fol- 
lowers, and charged Maclean with great im- 
petuosity ; but Auchindun's rashness cost him 
his life. The fall of Auchindun so exasperated 
his followers that they set no bounds to their 
fury; but Maclean received their repeated 
assaults with firmness, and manoeuvred his 
troops so well as to succeed in cutting off the 
Earl of Errol, and placing him between his 
own body and that of Argylc, by whose joint 
forces ho was completely surrounded. At this 
important crisis, when no hopes of retreat 
remained, and when Errol and his men were 
in danger of being cut to pieces, the Earl of 
Huntly, very fortunately, came up to his assist- 
ance and relieved him from, his embarrass- 
ment. The battle was now renewed and con- 
tinued for two hours, during which both parties 
fought with great bravery, "the one," says Sir 
Robert Gordon, " for glorie, the other for 
necessitie." In the heat of the action the Earl 
of Huntly had a horse shot under him, and was 
in imminent danger of his life ; but another 
horse was immediately procured for him. Af- 
ter a hard contest the main body of Argylo's 
army began to give way, and retreated towards 
the rivulet of Altchonlachan ; but Maclean 
still kept the field, and continued to support 
the falling fortune of the day. At length, 
finding the contest hopeless, and after losing 
many of his men, ho retired in good order with 
the small company that still remained about 
him. Huntly pursued the retiring foe beyond 
the water of Altchonlachan, when ho was 
prevented from following them farther by the 
steepness of the hills, so unfavourable to the 
operations of cavalry. The success of Huntly 
was mainly owing to the treachery of Lochncll, 
and of John Grant of Gartinbeg, one of Huntly's 
vassals, who, in terms of a concerted plan, re- 

treated with his men as soon as the action 
began, by which act the centre and the left 
wing of Argyle's army were completely broken. 
On the side of Argyle 500 men were killed 
besides Macneill of Barra, and Lochnell 
and Auchinbreck, the two cousins of Argylo. 
The Earl of Huntly's loss was comparatively 
trilling. About 14 gentlemen wore slain, in- 
cluding Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchindun, 
and the Laird of Gight ; and the Earl of Errol 
and a considerable number of persons were 
wounded. At the conclusion of the battle the 
conquerors returned thanks to God on tho 
field for tho victory they had achieved. This 
battle is called by some writers the battle of 
Glenlivet, and by others the battle of Altchon- 
lachan. Among the trophies found on the 
field was the ensign belonging to tho Earl of 
Argyle, which was carried with other spoils to 
Strathbogie, and placed upon the top of tho 
great tower. So certain had Argylo been of 
success in his enterprise, that he had made out 
a paper apportioning tho lands of the Gordons, 
the Hays, and all who were suspected to favour 
them, among the chief officers of his army. 
This document was found among tho baggage 
which he left behind him on the field of battle. 1 
Although Argyle certainly calculated upon 
being joined by the king, it seems doubtful if 
James ever entertained such an intention, for 
he stopped at Dundee, from which he did not 
stir till he heard of the result of tho battle of 
Glenlivet. Instigated by tho ministers and 
other enemies of tho Earl of Huutly, who 
became now more exasperated than ever at tho 
unexpected failure of Argyle's expedition, the 
king proceeded north to Strathbogie, and in 
his route he permitted, most unwillingly, the 
house of Craig in Angus, belonging to Sir 
John Ogilvio, son of Lord Ogilvie, that of 
Bagaes in Angus, the property of Sir Walter 
Lindsay, the house of Culsalmond in Garioch, 
appertaining to tho Laird of Newton-Gordon, 
the house of Slaincs in Buchan, belonging to 
tho Earl of Errol, and the castle of Strathbogio, 
to be razed to tho ground, under the pretext 
that priests and Jesuits had been harboured in 
them. In the meantime tho Earl of Ilunlly 

1 Sir K. Cordon, pp. 226, 227, 223, 220. Slmw's 
Moray, fp. 206, 267, 268. 



and his friends retired into Sutherland, where 
they remained six weeks with Earl Alexander; 
and on the king's departure to Strathbogie, 
Iluntly returned, leaving his eldest son George, 
Lord Gordon, in Sutherland with his aunt, till 
the return of more peaceable times. 

The king left the Duke of Lennox to act as 
his lieutenant in the north, with whom the 
two earls held a meeting at Aberdeen, and as 
their temporary absence from the kingdom 
might allay the spirit of violence and discon- 
tent, which was particularly annoying to his 
majesty, they agreed to leave the kingdom 
during the king's pleasure. After spending 
sixteen months in travelling through Germany 
and Flanders, Huntly was recalled, and on bis 
return he, as well as the Earls of Angus and 
Errol, were restored to their former honours 
and estates by the parliament, held at Edin- 
burgh in November 1597, and in testimony of 
his regard for Iluntly, the king, two years 
thereafter, created him a marquis. This signal 
mark of the royal favour had such an influence 
upon the clan Chattan, the clan Kenzie, the 
Grants, Forbeses, Leslies, and other hostile 
clans and tribes, that they at once submitted 
themselves to the marquis. 

The warlike operations in the north seem, 
for a time, to have drawn off the attention of 
the clans from their own feuds; but in the 
year 1597 a tumult occurred at Loggiewreid in 
Ross, which had almost put that province and 
the adjoining country into a flame. The quar- 
rel began between John Mac-Gille-Calum, 
brother of Gille-Calum, Laird of Rasay, and 
Alexander Bane, brother of Duncan Bane of 
Tulloch, in Ross. The Monroes took the side 
of the Banes, and the Mackenzies aided John 
Mac-Gille-Calum. In this tumult John Mac- 
Gille-Calum and John Mac-Murthow-Mac- 
William, a gentleman of the clan Kenzie, and 
three persons of that surname, were killed on 
the one side, and on the other were slain John 
Monroe of Culcraigie, his brother Houcheon 
Monroe, and John Monroe Robertson. This 
occurrence renewed the ancient animosity be- 
tween the clan Kenzie and the Monroes, and 
both parties began to assemble their friends 
for the purpose of attacking one another ; but 
their differences were in some measure happily 
reconciled by the mediation of common friends. 

In the following year the ambition and 
avarice cf Sir Lauchlan Maclean, of whom 
notice has been already taken, brought him to 
an untimely end, having been slain in Islay by 
Sir James Macdonald, Ids nephew, eldest son 
of Angus Macdonald of Kintyre. Sir Lauch- 
lan had long had an eye upon the possessions 
of the clan Ronald in Islay ; but having failed 
in extorting a conveyance thereof from Angus 
Macdonald in the way before alluded to, he 
endeavoured, by his credit at court and by 
bribery or other means, to obtain a grant of 
these lands from the crown in 1595. At this 
period Angus Macdonald had become infirm 
from age, and his son, Sir James Macdonald, 
was too young to make any effectual resistance 
to the newly acquired claims of his covetous 
uncle. After obtaining the gift, Sir Lauchlan 
collected his people and friends, and invaded 
Islay, for the purpose of taking possession of 
the lands which belonged to the clan Donald. 
Sir James Macdonald, on hearing of his uncle's 
landing, collected his friends, and landed in 
Islay to dispossess Sir Lauclilan of the property. 
To prevent the effusion of blood, some common, 
friends of the parties interposed, and endea- 
voured to bring about an adjustment of their 
differences. They prevailed upon Sir James 
to agree to resign the half of the island to his 
uncle during the life of the latter, provided he 
would acknowledge that he held the same for 
personal service to the clan Donald in the same 
manner as Maclean's progenitors had always 
held the Rhinns of Islay ; and he moreover 
offered to submit the question to any impartial 
friends Maclean might choose, under this 
reasonable condition, that in case they should 
not agree, his Majesty should decide. But 
Maclean, contrary to the advico of his best, 
friends, would listen to no proposals short of 
an absolute surrender of the whole of the island. 
Sir James therefore resolved to vindicate his 
right by an appeal to arms, though his force 
was far inferior to that of Sir Lauchlan. 
A desperate struggle took place, in which great 
valour was displayed on both sides. Sir 
Lauchlan was killed fighting at the head of 
his men, who were at length compelled to 
retreat to their boats and vessels. Besides 
their chief, the Macleans left 80 of the'r prin- 
cipal men and 200 common soldiers dead on 


the lield of battle. Lauchlan Barroch-Maclean, 
son of Sir Lauchlan, was dangerously wounded, 
but escaped. Sir James Macdonald was also 
so severely wounded that he never fully recov- 
t'rom liis wounds. About 30 of the clan 
Donald were killed and about 60 wounded. 
Sir Lauchlan, according to Sir Robert Gordon, 
had consulted a witch before he undertook this 
journey into Islay, who advised him, in the 
first place, not to land upon the island on a 
Thursday ; secondly, that he should not drink 
of the water of a well near Groynard ; and 
lastly, she told him that one Maclean should 
bo slain at Groynard. " The first he trans- 
gressed unwillingly," says Sir Robert, " being 
driven into the island of Ha by a tempest 
upon a Thursday ; the second he transgressed 
negligentlio, haveing drank of that water befor 
he wes awair; and so he wes killed ther at 
Groinard, as wes foretold him, hot doubtfullic. 
Thus endeth all these that doe trust in such 
kynd of responces, or doe hunt after them !" 2 

On hearing of Maclean's death and the defeat 
of his men, the king became so higlily incensed 
against the clan Donald that, finding he had a 
right to dispose of their possessions both in 
Kintyre and Islay, he made a grant of them to 
the Earl of Argyle and the Campbells. This 
gave rise to a number of bloody conflicts be- 
tween the Campbells and the clan Donald in 
the years 1614, -15, and -16, wliich ended in 
the ruin of the latter. 

The rival houses of Sutherland and Caith- 
ness had now lived on friendly terms for some 
years. After spending about eighteen months 
at court, and attending a convention of the 
estates at Edinburgh in July, 1598, John, sixth 
Earl of Sutherland, went to the Continent, 
where he remained till the month of September, 
1GOO. The Earl of Caithness, deeming the 
absence of the Earl of Sutherland a fit oppor- 
tunity for carrying into effect some designs 
against him, caused William Mackay to obtain 
leave from his brother Houcheon Mackay to 
hunt in the policy of Durines belonging to the 
Earl of Sutherland. The Earl of Caithness 
thereupon assembled all his vassals and de- 
pendents, and, under the pretence of hunting, 
made demonstrations for entering Sutherland 

2 Iliitory, p. 238. 

or Strathnaver. As soon as Mackay was 
informed of his intentions, he sent a message 
to the Earl of Caitlmcss, intimating to him that 
he would not permit him to enter either of 
these countries, or to cross the marches. Tho 
Earl of Caithness returned a haughty answer; 
but he did not carry his threat of invasion into 
execution on account of the arrival of the Earl 
of Sutherland from the Continent. As the 
Earl of Caithness still continued to threaten 
an invasion, the Earl of Sutherland collected 
his forces, in the month of July 1601, to op- 
pose him. Mackay, with his countrymen, 
soon joined the Earl of Sutherland at Lagan- 
Gaincamhd in Dirichat, where he was soon 
also joined by the Monroes under Robert 
Monroe of Contaligh, and the laird of Assynt 
with his countrymen. 

While the Earl of Sutherland's force was 
thus assembling, the Earl of Caithness ad- 
vanced towards Sutherland with his army. 
The two armies encamped at the distance of 
about three miles asunder, near the hill of 
Bengrinio. In expectation of a battle on the 
morning after their encampment, the Suther- 
land men took up a position in a plain which 
lay between the two armies, called Leathad 
Reidh, than which a more convenient station 
could not have been selected. But the com- 
modiousness of the plain was not the only 
reason for making the selection. There had 
been long a prophetic tradition in these coun- 
tries that a battle was to be fought on this 
ground between the inhabitants of Sutherland, 
assisted by the Strathnaver men, and the men 
of Caitlmess; that although the Sutherland 
men were to bo victorious their loss would bo 
great, and that the loss of the Strathnaver 
men should even be greater, but that the 
Caithness men should be so completely over- 
thrown that they should not be able, for a con- 
siderable length of time, to recover the blow 
which they were to receive. This superstitious 
idea made such an impression upon the minds 
of the men of Sutherland that it was with 
great difficulty they could be restrained from 
immediately attacking their enemies. 

The Earl of Caithness, daunted by this cir- 
cumstance, and being diffident of the fidelity 
of some of his people, whom lie had used with 
great cruelty, sent messengers to the Earl of 



Sutherland expressing his regret at what had 
happened, stating that he was provoked to his 
present measures by the insolence of Mackay, 
who had repeatedly dared him to the attack, 
and that, if the Earl of Sutherland would pass 
over the affair, he would permit him and his 
army to advance twice as far into Caithness as 
he had marched into Sutherland. The Earl of 
Sutherland, on receipt of tliis offer, called a 
council of his friends to deliberate upon it. 
Mackay and some others advised the earl to 
decline the proposal, and attack the Earl of 
Caithness; while others of the earl's advisors 
thought it neither fit nor reasonable to risk so 
many lives when such ample satisfaction was 
offered. A sort of middle course was, there- 
fore, adopted by giving the Earl of Caithness 
an opportunity to escape if lie inclined. The 
messengers were accordingly sent back with 
this answer, that if the Earl of Caitlmess and 
his army would remain where they lay till 
sunrise next morning they might be assured of 
an attack. 

When this answer was delivered in the Earl 
of Caitlmess' camp, his men got so alarmed 
that the carl, witli great difficulty, prevented 
them from running away immediately. Ho 
remained on the field all night watching them 
in person, encouraging them to remain, and 
making great promises to them if they stood 
firm. But his entreaties were quite unavailing, 
for as soon as the morning dawned, on per- 
ceiving the approach of the Earl of Sutherland's 
army, they fled from the field in the utmost 
confusion, jostling and overthrowing one an- 
other in their flight, and leaving their whole 
baggage behind them. The Earl of Sutherland 
resolved to pursue the flying enemy; but, 
before proceeding on the pursuit, his army col- 
lected a quantity of stones which they accu- 
mulated into a heap to commemorate the flight 
of the Caitlmess men, which heap was called 
Cani-Teiche, that is, the Flight Cairn. 

JN"ot wishing to encounter the Earl of Suther- 
land under the adverse circumstances which 
Lad occurred, the Earl of Caithness, after 
entering his own territories, sent a message to 
his pursuer to the effect that having complied 
with his request in withdrawing his army, ho 
liopod hostile proceedings would ceaso, and 
that if the Earl of Sutherland should advance 

with his army into Caitlmess, Earl George 
would not liinder him; but he suggested to 
Mm the propriety of appointing some gentle- 
men on both sides to see the respective armies 
dissolved The Earl of Sutherland acceded to 
this proposal, and sent George Gray of Cuttle, 
eldest son of Gilbert Gray of Sordell, with a 
company of resolute men into Caithness to see 
the army of the Earl of Caithness broken up. 
The Earl of Caithness, in Ms turn, despatched 
Alexander Bane, chief of the Caitlmess Lanes, 
who witnessed the dismissal of the Earl of 
Sutherland's army. 3 

About the period in question, great commo- 
tions took place in the iioi-th-west isles, in con- 
sequence of a quarrel between Donald Gorm 
Macdonald of Slate, and Sir Roderick Macleod 
of Harris, arising out of the following circum- 
stances. Donald Gorm Macdonald, who had 
married the sister of Sir Roderick, instigated 
by jealousy, had conceived displeasure at her 
and put her away. Having complained to 
her brother of the treatment thus received, Sir 
Roderick sent a message to Macdonald requir- 
ing him to take back his wife. Instead of 
eornplyingwiththis request, Macdonald brought 
an action of divorce against her, and having 
obtained decree therein, married the sister of 
Kenneth Mackenzie, lord of Kintail. Sir 
Roderick, who considered himself disgraced 
and his family dishonoured by such proceed- 
ings, assembled all la's countrymen and his 
tribe, the Siol-Thormaid, without delay, and 
invaded with fire and sword the lands of Mac- 
donald in the isle of Skye, to which lie laid 
claim as his own. Macdonald retaliated by 
landing in Harris with his forces, which he 
laid waste, and after killing some of the inha- 
bitants retired with a large booty in cattle. 
To make amends for tin's loss, Sir Roderick in- 
vaded Uist, which belonged to Macdonald, and 
despatched his cousin, Donald Glas Macleod, 
with 40 men, into the interior, to lay the 
island waste, and to carry off a quantity of 
goods and cattle, which the inhabitants had 
placed within the precincts of the church of 
Killtrynard as a sanctuary. This exploit 
turned out to be very serious, as Donald 
Macleod and his party were most unexpert- 

3 Sir Kobcrt Gonluu, \>. 243. 


e<lly attacked in the act of carrying off their 
prey, by John Mac-Iain-Mhic-Shoumais, a kins- 
man of Macdonald, at the head of a body of 
12 men who had remained in the island, by 
whom Donald Macleod and the greater part of 
his men were cut to pieces, and the booty 
rescued. Sir Roderick, thinking that the force 
which had attacked his cousin was much 
greater than it was, retired from the island, 
intending to return on a future day with a 
greater force to revenge his loss. 

This odious system of warfare continued till 
the hostile parties had almost exterminated one 
another ; and to such extremities were they re- 
duced by the ruin and desolation which fol- 
lowed, that they were compelled to eat horses, 
dogs, cats, and other animals, to preserve a 
miserable existence. To put an end, if possible, 
at once to this destructive contest, Macdonald 
collected all his remaining forces, with the 
determination of striking a decisive blow at 
his opponent ; and accordingly, in the year 
1C01, he entered Sir Roderick's territories with 
the design of bringing him to battle. Sir Ro- 
derick was then in Argyle, soliciting aid and 
advice from the Earl of Argyle against the 
clan Donald ; but on hearing of the approach 
of Macdonald, Alexander Macleod, brother of 
Sir Roderick, resolved to try the result of a 
battle. Assembling, therefore, all the inhabi- 
tants of his brother's lands, together with the 
whole tribe of the Siol-Thormaid, and some of 
the Siol-Thorquill, he encamped close by the 
hill of Benquhillin, in Skye, resolved to give 
battle to the clan Donald next morning. Ac- 
cordingly, on the arrival of morning, an obsti- 
nate and deadly fight took place, which lasted 
the whole day, each side contending with the 
utmost valour for victory ; but at length the 
clan Donald overthrew their opponents. Alex- 
ander Macleod was wounded and taken pri- 
soner, along with Neill-Mac-Alastair-Ruaidh, 
and 30 others of the choicest men of the 
Siol-Thormaid. lain-Mac-Thormaid and Thor- 
maid-Mac-Thormaid, two near kinsmen of Sir 
Roderick, and several others, were slain. 

After this affair, a reconciliation took place 
between Macdonald and Sir Roderick, at the 
solicitation of old Angus Macdonald of Kintyre, 
the laird of Coll, and other friends, when Mac- 
donald delivered up to Sir Roderick the pri- 

soners he had taken at Benquhillin ; but 
although these parties never again showed any 
open hostility, they brought several actions at 
law against each other, the one claiming from 

the other certain parts of his possessions. 


A.D. 1G02 1G13. 

James VI, 15671603. 


James I., 10031625. 

Feud between the Colquhouns and Macgregors Mac- 
gregors outlawed Execution of their Chief Quar- 
rel between the clan Kenzie and Glengarry Alister 
Mac-Uilleam-Mhoir beheaded Lawless proceedings 
in Sutherland Deadly quarrel in Dornoch Meeting 
between the Earls of Caithness and Sutherland- 
Feud between the Murrays and somo of the Siol- 
Thomais Dissension in Moray among the Dunbars 
Quarrel between the Earl of Caithness and the 
chief of the Mackays Commotions in Lewis among 
the Macleods Invasion of Lewis by Fife adventurers 
Compelled to abandon it Lord Kintail obtains 
possession of Lewis Expulsion of Neill Macleod 
Quarrel botwcen the Laird of Rasay arid Mackenzie 
of Gairloch Disturbances in Caithness Tumults 
in Caithness on the apprehension of Arthur Smith, 
a false coiner Earl of Caithness prosecutes Donald 
Mackay and others Dissensions among the clan 

IN the early part of the year 1602 the west of 
Scotland was thrown into a state of great dis- 
order, in consequence of the renewal of some 
old quarrels between Colquhoun of Luss, the 
chief of that surname, and Alexander Macgre- 
gor, chief of the clan Gregor. To put an end 
to these dissensions, Alexander Macgregor left 
Rannoch, accompanied by about 200 of his 
kinsmen and friends, entered Lennox, and took 
up his quarters on the confines of Luss's terri- 
tory, where he expected, by the mediation of 
his friends, to bring matters to an amicable 
adjustment. As the laird of Luss was sus- 
picious of Macgregor's real intentions, he as- 
sembled all his vassals, with the Buchanans 
and others, to the number of 300 horse and 
500 foot, designing, if the result of the meet- 
ing should not turn out according to his ex- 
pectations and wishes, to cut off Macgregor 
and his party. But Macgregor, anticipating 
Colquhoun's intention, was upon his guard, and, 
by his precautions, defeated the design upon 
him. A conference was held for the purpose 
of terminating all differences, but the meeting 



broke up without any adjustment : Macgregor 
then proceeded homewards. The laird of 
Luss, in pursuance of his plan, immediately 
followed Macgregor with great haste through 
Glenfruin, in the expectation of coming upon 
him unawares, and defeating him ; but Mac- 
gregor, who was on the alert, observed, in due 
time, the approach of his pursuers, and made 
his preparations accordingly. He divided his 
company into two parts, the largest of which 
he kept under his own command, and placed 
the other part under the command of John 
Macgregor, his brother, whom he despatched 
by a circuitous route, for the purpose of 
attacking Luss's party in the rear, when they 
should least expect to be assailed. This stra- 
tagem succeeded, and the result was, that after 
a keen contest, Luss's party was completely 
overthrown, with the loss of 200 men, besides 
several gentlemen and burgesses of the town 
of Dumbarton. It is remarkable that of the 
Macgregors, John, the brother of Alexander, 
and another person, were the only killed, though 
some of the party were wounded. 

The laird of Luss and his friends sent early 
notice of their disaster to the king, and by 
misrepresenting the whole affair to him, and 
exhibiting to his majesty eleven score bloody 
shirts, belonging to those of their party who 
were slain, the king grew exceedingly incensed 
at the clan Gregor, who had no person about 
the king to plead their cause, proclaimed them 
rebels, and interdicted all the lieges from har- 
bouring or having any communication with 
them. The Earl of Argyle, with the Camp- 
bells, was afterwards sent against the proscribed 
clan, and hunted them through the country. 
About 60 of the clan made a brave stand at 
Bentoik against a party of 200 chosen men 
belonging to the clan Cameron, clan Nab, and 
clan Konald, under the command of Robert 
Campbell, son of the laird of Gleuorchy, when 
Duncan Aberigh, one of the chieftains of the 
clan Gregor, and his son Duncan, and seven 
gentlemen of Campbell's party were killed. 
But although they made a brave resistance, and 
killed many of their pursuers, the Macgregors, 
after many skirmishes and great losses, were at 
last overcome. Commissions were thereafter 
sent through the kingdom, for fining those who 
had harboured any of the clan, and for pun- 

ishing all persons who had kept up any com- 
munication with them, and the fines so levied 
were given by the king to the Earl of Argyle, 
as a recompense for his services against the 
unfortunate Macgregors. 

Alexander Macgregor, the chief, after suffer- 
ing many vicissitudes of fortune, at last sur- 
rendered himself to the Earl of Argyle, on con- 
dition that he should grant him a safe conduct 
into England to King James, that he might 
lay before his majesty a true state of the whole 
affair from the commencement, and crave the 
royal mercy ; and as a security for his return to 
Scotland, he delivered up to Argyle thirty of his 
choicest men as hostages. But no sooner had 
Macgregor arrived at Berwick on his way to Lon- 
don, than he was basely arrested, brought back 
by the earl to Edinburgh, and, by his influence, 
executed along with the thirty hostages. Argyle 
hoped, by these means, ultimately to annihilate 
the whole clan ; but in this cruel design he 
was quite disappointed, for the clan speedily 
increased, and became almost as powerful as 
before. 4 

While the Highland borders were thus dis- 
turbed by the warfare between the Macgregors 
and the Colquhouns, a commotion happened in 
the interior of the Highlands, in consequence 
of a quarrel between the clan Kenzie and the 
laird of Glengarry, who, according to Sir Robert 
Gordon, was "unexpert and unskilfull in the 
lawes of the realme." From his want of know- 
ledge of the law, the clan Kenzie are said by 
the same writer to have "easalie intrapped 
him within the compas thereof," certainly by 
no means a difficult matter in those lawless 
times ; they then procured a warrant for citing 
him to appear before the justiciary court at 
Edinburgh, which they took good care should 
not be served upon him personally. Either not 
knowing of these legal proceedings, or neglect- 
ing the summons, Glengarry did not appear at 
Edinburgh on the day appointed, but went 
about revenging the slaughter of two of his 
kinsmen, whom the clan Kenzie had killed 
after the summons for Glengarry's appearance 
had been issued. The consequence was that 
Glengarry and some of his followers were out- 
lawed. Through the interest of the Earl of 

4 Sir K. Gordon, p. 247. 



Dunfermline, lord chancellor of Scotland, 
Kenneth Mackenzie, afterwards created Lord 
Kintail, obtained a commission against Glen- 
garry and his people, which occasioned great 
trouble and much slaughter. Being assisted 
by many followers from the neighbouring 
country, Mackenzie, by virtue of his commis- 
sion, invaded Glengarry's territories, which he 
mercilessly wasted and doetroycd with fire and 
sword. On his return, Mackenzie besieged 
the castle of Strome, which ultimately sur- 
rendered to him. To assist Mackenzie in this 
expedition, the Earl of Sutherland, in token of 
the ancient friendship which had subsisted 
between his family and the Mackenzies, sent 
240 well equipped and able men, under the 
command of John Gordon of Einbo. Mac- 
kenzie again returned into Glengarry, where 
lie had a skirmish with a party commanded by 
Glengarry's eldest son, in which the latter and 
CO of his followers were slain. The Mackenzies 
also suffered some loss on this occasion. At 
last, after much trouble and bloodshed on both 
sides, an agreement was entered into, by which 
Glengarry renounced in favour of Kenneth 
Mackenzie, the castle of Strome and the adja- 
cent lands. 5 

In the year 1G05, the peace of the northern 
Highlands was somewhat disturbed by one 
of those atrocious occurrences so common at 
that time. The chief of the Mackays had a 
servant named Alister-Mac-Uilleam-Mlioir. 
This man having some business to transact in 
Caithness, went there without the least appre- 
hension of danger, as the Earls of Sutherland 
and Caithness had settled all their differences. 
No sooner, however, did the latter hear of 
Mac-Uillcam-Mhoir's arrival in Caitliness, than 
he sent Henry Sinclair, liis bastard brother, 
with a party of men to kill him. Mac-Uilleam- 
Mhoir, being a bold and resolute man, was not 
openly attacked by Sinclair ; but on entering 
the house where the former had taken up his 
residence, Sinclair and his party pretended 
that they had come on a friendly visit to him 
to enjoy themselves in his company. Not 
suspecting their hostile intentions, Alister 
invited them to sit down and drink with him; 
but scarcely had they taken their seats when 

5 Sir Pv. Gordon, p. 243. 

they seized Mac-Uilleam-Mhoir, and carried 
him off prisoner to the Earl of Caithness, who 
caused him to bo beheaded in his own presence, 
the following day. The fidelity of this unfor- 
tunate man to Mackay, his master, during the 
disputes between the Earls of Sutherland and 
Caithness, was the cause for which he suffered. 
Mackay, resolved upon getting the earl 
punished, entered a legal prosecution against 
him at Edinburgh, but by the mediation of the 
Mai-quis of Huntly the suit was quashed, 6 

In July, 1G05, a murder was committed in 
Strathnaver, by Robert Gray of Hopsdalo or 
Ospisdell, the victim being Angus Mac-Ken- 
neth-Mac-Alister, one of the Siol-Mhurchaidh- 
Rhiabhaich. The circumstances leading to 
this will illustrate the utterly lawless and 
insecure state of the Highlands at this time. 
John Gray of Skibo held the lands of Ardinsh 
under John, the fifth of that name, Earl of 
Sutherland, as superior, wliich lands the grand- 
father of Angus Mac-Kenneth had in possession 
from John Mackay, son of Y-Roy-Mackay, 
who, before the time of this Earl John, pos- 
sessed some lands in Breachat. AVhcn Jolin 
Gray obtained the grant of Ardinsh from John 
the fifth, he allowed Kenneth Mac-Alister, the 
father of Angus Mae-Kenneth, to retain posses- 
sion thereof, which he continued to do till 
about the year 1573. About this period a 
variance arose between John Gray and Hugh 
Murray of Aberscors, in consequence of some 
law-suits which they carried on against one 
another; but they were reconciled by Alex- 
ander, Earl of Sutherland, who became bound 
to pay a sum of money to John Gray, for Hugh 
Murray, who was iu the meantime to get 
possession of the lands of Ardinsh in security. 
As John Gray still retained the property and 
kept Kenneth Mac-Alister in the possession 
thereof at the old rent, the Murrays took 
umbrage at him, and prevailed upon the Earl 
of Sutherland to grant a conveyance of the 
wadset or mortgage over Ardinsh in favour of 
Angus Murray, formerly bailie of Dornoch. In 
the meantime, Kenneth Mac-Alister died, leav- 
ing his son, Angus Mac-Kenneth, in possession. 
Angus Munay having acquired the mortgage, 
now endeavoured to raise the rent of Ardinsh, 

Sir R. Gordon, p. 253. 



but Ajigus Mac-Kenneth refusing to pay more 
than his father had paid, was dispossessed, and 
the lands were let to William Mac-Iain-Mac- 
Kcnneth, cousin of Angus Mac-Kenneth. This 
proceeding so exasperated Angus that he mur- 
dered Ids cousin "William Mac-Kenneth, his 
wife, and two sons, under cloud of night, and 
so determined was he that no other person 
should possess the lands but himself, that he 
killed no less than nine other persons, who had 
successively endeavoured to occupy them. No 
others being disposed to occupy Ardinsh at the 
risk of their lives, and Angus Murray getting 
wearied of his possession, resigned his right to 
Gilbert Gray of Skibo, on the death of John 
Gray, his father. Gilbert thereafter conveyed 
the property to Robert Gray of Ospisdell, his 
second son ; but Robert, being disinclined to 
allow Angus Mac-Kenneth, who had again 
obtained possession, to continue tenant, he 
dispossessed him, and let the land to one Pinlay 
Logan, but this new tenant was murdered by 
Mac-Kenneth in the year 1G04. Mac-Kenneth 
then fled into Strathnaver with a party com- 
posed of persons of desperate and reckless pas- 
sions like himself, with the intention of annoy- 
ing Robert Gray by their incursions. Gray 
having ascertained that they were in the parish 
of Creigh, he immediately attacked them and 
killed Murdo Mac-Kenneth, the brother of 
Angus, who made a narrow escape, and again 
retired into Strathnaver. Angus again re- 
turned into Sutherland in May 1G05, and, in 
the absence of Robert Gray, burnt his stable, 
with some of his cattle, at Ospisdell. Gray 
then obtained a warrant against Mac-Kenneth, 
and having procured the assistance of a body 
of men from John Earl of Suthcr?and, entered 
Strathnaver and attacked Mac-Kenneth at the 
Cruffs of Hoip, and slew him. 7 

The Earl of Caithness, disliking the unquiet 
state in which he had for some time been forced 
to remain, made another attempt, in the month 
of July, 1G07, to hunt in Bengrime, without 
asking permission from the Earl of Sutherland ; 
but ho was prevented from accomplishing his 
purpose by the sudden appearance in Strathully 
of the latter, attended by his friend Mackay, 
and a considerable body of their countrymen. 

' Sir R. Gordon, p. 254. 

Almost the whole of the inhabitants of Dornoch 
turned out on this occasion, and went to Stralh- 
ully. During their absence a quarrel ensued 
in the town between one John Macphaill and 
three brothers of the name of Pope, in which 
one of the latter was killed ; the circumstances 
leading to and attending which quarrel were 
these : In the year 1585, William Pope, a 
native of Ross, settled in Sutherland, and 
being a man of good education, was appointed 
schoolmaster in Dornoch, and afterwards be- 
came its resident minister. He also received 
another clerical appointment in Caithness, by 
means of which, and of his other living, ho 
became, in course of time, wealthy. This 
good success induced two yoimger brothers, 
Charles and Thomas, to leave their native 
country and settle in Sutherland. Thomas 
was soon made chancellor of Caithness ami 
minister of Rogart. Charles became a notary 
public and a mcssenger-at-arms ; and having, 
by his good conduct and agreeable conversa- 
tion, ingratiated himself with the Earl of 
Sutherland, was appointed to the office of 
sheriff-clerk of Sutherland. The brothers soon 
acquired considerable wealth, which they laid 
out in the purchase of houses in the town of 
Dornoch, where they chiefly resided. Many 
of the inhabitants of the town envied their 
acquisitions, and took every occasion to insult 
them as intruders, who had a design, as they 
supposed, to drive the ancient inhabitants of 
the place from their possessions. On the 
occasion in question William and Thomas 
Pope, along with other ministers, had held a 
meeting at Dornoch on church affairs, on 
dissolving which, they went to breakfast at 
an inn. While at breakfast, Jolm Macphaill 
entered the house, and demanded some liqucr 
from the mistress of the inn, but she refused 
to give him any, as she knew him to be a 
troublesome and quarrelsome person. Mac- 
phaill, irritated at the refusal, spoke harshly 
to the woman, and the ministers having made 
some excuse for her, Macphaill vented his abuse 
upon them. Being threatened by Thomas 
Pope, for his insolence, he pushed an arrow 
with a barbed head, which he held in his hand, 
into one of Pope's arms. The parties then 
separated, but the two Popes being observed 
walking in the churchyard in the evening, with 


Dornoch, showing the Cathedral and the remaining tower of the old Castle. 

their swords girt about them, by Macphaill, 
who looked upon their so arming themselves 
as a threat, he immediately made the circum- 
stance known to Houcheon Macphaill, his 
nephew, and one William Murray, all of whom 
entered the churchyard and assailed the two 
brothers with the most vituperative abuse. 
Charles Pope, learning the danger his brothers 
were in, immediately hastened to the spot, 
where he found the two parties engaged. 
Charles attacked Murray, whom he wounded 
in the face, whereupon Murray instantly killed 
him. "William and Thomas were grievously 
wounded by Macphaill and his nephew, and 
left for dead, but they ultimately recovered. 
Mii'-phaill and his nephew fled to Holland, 
where they ended their days. After tliis oc- 
currence, the surviving brothers left Sutherland 
nnil went back into their own country. It is 
only by recording such comparatively unim- 
portant incidents as this, apparently somewhat 
beneath the dignity of history, that a know- 
ledge of the real state of the Highlands at this 
time can be conveyed. 

By the mediation of the Marquis of Iluntly, 
the Earls of Caithness and Sutherland again 
met at Elgin with their mutual friends, and 
once more adjusted their differences. On this 
occasion the Earl of Sutherland was accom- 
panied by largo parties of the Gordons, the 
Frasers, the Dunbars, the clan Kcnzie, the 

Monroes, the clan Chattan, and other friends, 
which so displeased the Earl of Caithness, who 
was grieved to see his rival so honourably 
attended, that he could never afterwards be 
induced to meet again with the Earl of Suther- 
land or any of his family. 

During the year 1G08 a quarrel occurred in 
Sutherland between Tver Mac-Donald-Mac- 
Alister, one of the Siol-Thomais, and Alex- 
ander Murray in Auchindough. Tver and Ms 
eldest son, John, meeting one day with Alex- 
ander Murray and his son, Thomas, an alterca- 
tion took place on some questions in dispute. 
From words they proceeded to blows, and the 
result was that John, the son of Ivor, and 
Alexander Murray were killed. Ivor then fled 
into Strathnaver, whither he was followed by 
Thomas Murray, accompanied by a party of 2-t 
men, to revenge the death of his father. Ivor, 
however, avoided them, and having assembled 
some friends, he attacked Murray unawares, at 
the hill of BincMibrig, and compelled him to 
flee, after taking five of his men prisoners, 
whom he released after a captivity of five days. 
As the chief of the Mackays protected Iver, 
George Murray of Pulrossie took up the quarrel, 
and annoyed Iver and his party ; but the 
matter was compromised by Mackay, who paid 
a sum of money to Pulrossie and Thomas 
Murray, as a reparation for divers losses they 
had sustained at Tver's hands during his out, 



lawry. This compromise was the more readily 
entered into by Pulrossie, as the Earl of Suth- 
erland was rather favourable to Tver, and was 
by no means displeased at him for the injuries 
lie did to Pulrossie, who had not acted duti- 
fully towards liim. Besides having lost his 
own son in the quarrel, who was killed by 
Thomas Murray, Tver was unjustly dealt with 
in being made the sole object of persecution. 8 

A civil dissension occurred about this time 
in Moray among the Dunbars, which nearly 
proved fatal to that family. To understand 
the origin of this dispute it is necessary to state 
the circumstances which led to it, and to go 
back to the period when Patrick Dunbar, 
sheriff of Moray, and tutor and uncle of Alex- 
ander Dunbar of Westficld, was killed, along 
with the Earl of Murray, at Donnibristle. 
Alexander did not enjoy his inheritance long, 
having died at Dunkeld, shortly after the death 
of his uncle, under circumstances which led to 
a suspicion that he had been poisoned. As he 
died without leaving any issue, he was suc- 
ceeded by Alexander Dunbar, son of the above- 
mentioned Patrick, by a sister of Robert Dunbar 
of Burgy. This Alexander was a young man of 
great promise, and was directed in all his pro- 
ceedings by his uncle Robert Dunbar of Burgy. 
Patrick Dunbar of Blery and Kilbuyack and his 
family, imagining that Robert Dunbar, to whom 
they bore a grudge, was giving advice to his 
nephew to their prejudice, conceived a deadly 
enmity at both, and seized every occasion to 
annoy the sheriff of Moray and liis uncle. An 
accidental meeting having taken place between 
Robert Dunbar, brother of Alexander, and 
William Dunbar, son of Blery, high words 
were exchanged, and a scuffle ensued, in which 
William Dunbar received considerable injury 
in his person. Patrick Dunbar and his sons 
were so incensed at this occurrence that they 
took up arms and attacked their chief, Alex- 
ander Dunbar, sheriff of Moray, in the town of 
Torres, where he was shot dead by Robert 
Dunbar, son of Blery. John Dunbar, sherilf 
of Moray, who succeeded his brother Alexander, 
and his brother, Robert Dunbar of Burgy, en- 
deavoured to bring the murderers of his brother 
to justice ; but tney failed in consequence of 

8 Sir R. Gordon, p. 259. 

Alexander Dunbar being, at the time of his 
death, a rebel to the king, having been de- 
nounced at the horn for a civil cause. By 
negotiation, however, this deadly feud was 
stayed, and a sort of reconciliation effected by 
the friendly mediation of the Earl of Dunferm- 
line, then Lord Chancellor of Scotland. 9 

In the year 1610 the Earl of Caitlmess and 
Houcheon Mackay, chief of the Mackays, had 
a difference in consequence of the protection 
given by the latter to a gentleman named John 
Sutherland, the son of Mackay's sister. Suth- 
erland lived in Berridale, under the Earl of 
Caitliness, but he was so molested by the earl 
that he lost all patience, and went about 
avenging the injuries he had sustained. The- 
earl, therefore, cited him to appear at Edin- 
burgh to answer to certain charges made against 
him ; but not obeying the summons, he was 
denounced and proclaimed a rebel to the king. 
Reduced, in consequence, to great extremities, 
and seeing no remedy by which he could re- 
trieve himself, he became an outlaw, wasted 
and destroyed the earl's country, and carried 
off herds of cattle, which he transported into 
Strathnaver, the country of his kinsman. Tho 
earl thereupon sent a party of the Siol-Mhic- 
Imhcair to attack him, and, after a long search, 
they found him encamped near the water of 
Shin in Sutherland. He, however, was aware 
of their approach before they perceived him, 
and, taking advantage of this circumstance, 
attacked them in the act of crossing the water. 
They were in consequence defeated, leaving 
several of their party dead on the field. 

This disaster exasperated the earl, who re- 
solved to prosecute Mackay and his son, Do- 
nald Mackay, for giving succour and protec- 
tion within their country to John Sutherland, 
an outlaw. According!}', he served both of 
them with a notice to appear before the Privy 
Council to answer to the charges he had pre- 
ferred against them. Mackay at once obeyed 
the summons, and went to Edinburgh, where 
he met Sir Robert Gordon, who had come from 
England for the express purpose of assisting 
Mackay on the present occasion. The carl, 
who had grown tired of the troubles which 
John Sutherland had occasioned in his country, 

Sir R. Gordon, p. 261. 



was induced, by the entreaties of friends, to 
settle matters on the following conditions : 
That he should forgive John Sutherland all 
past injuries, and restore him to his former 
possessions ; that John Sutherland and his 
brother Donald should be delivered, the one 
after the other, into the hands of the earl, to 
be kept prisoners for a certain time ; and that 
Donald Mac-Thomais-Mhoir, one of the Sliochd- 
lain-Abaraich, and a follower of John Suther- 
land in his depredations, should be also deliv- 
ered up to the earl to be dealt with as to him 
should seem meet ; all of which stipulations 
were complied with. The earl hanged Donald 
Mac-Thomais as soon as he was delivered up. 
John Sutherland was kept a prisoner at Girnigo 
about twelve months, during which time Don- 
ald Mackay made several visits to Earl George 
for the purpose of getting him released, in which 
he at last succeeded, besides procuring a dis- 
charge to Donald Sutherland, who, in his turn, 
should have surrendered himself as prisoner on 
the release of his brother John, but upon the 
condition that he and his father, Houcheon 
Mackay, should pass the next following Christ- 
mas with the earl at Girnigo. Mackay and 
his brother William, accordingly, spent their 
Christmas at Girnigo, but Donald Mackay was 
prevented by business from attending. The 
design of the Earl of Caithness in thus favour- 
ing Mackay, was to separate him from the 
interests of the Earl of Sutherland, but he was 

Some years before the events we have just 
related, a commotion took place in Lewis, 
occasioned by the pretensions of Torquill 
Connaldagh of the Cogigh to the possessions 
of Roderick Macleod of Lewis, his reputed 
father. Roderick had first married Barbara 
Stuart, daughter of Lord Methven, by whom 
he had a son named Torquill-Ire, who, on arriv- 
ing at manhood, gave proofs of a warlike 
disposition. Upon the death of Barbara Stuart, 
Macleod married a daughter of Mackenzie, 
lord of Kintail, whom he afterwards divorced 
for adultery with the Breve of Lewis, a sort 
of judge among the islanders, to whose autho- 
rity they submitted themselves. Macleod next 
married a daughter of Maclean, by whom he 
had two sons, Torquill Dubh and Tormaid. 

In sailing from Lewis to Skye, Tonjuill- 

Ire, eldest son of Macleod, and 200 men, 
perished in a great tempest. Torquill Con- 
naldagh, above mentioned, was the fruit of the 
adulterous connexion between Macleod's second 
wife and the Breve, at least Macleod would 
never acknowledge him as his son. This Tor- 
quill being now of age, and having married a 
sister of Glengarry, took up arms against Mac- 
leod, his reputed father, to vindicate his sup- 
posed rights as Macleod's son, being assisted 
by Tormaid, Ougigh, and Murthow, three of 
the bastard sons of Macleod. The old man 
was apprehended and detained four years in 
captivity, when he was released on condition 
that he should acknowledge Torquill Con- 
naldagh as his lawful son. Tormaid Ougigh 
having been slain by Donald Macleod, his 
brother, another natural son of old Macleod, 
Torquill Connaldagh, assisted by Murthow 
Macleod, his reputed bastard brother, took 
Donald prisoner and carried him to Cogigh, 
but he escaped and fled to his father in 
Lewis, who was highly offended at Torquill for 
seizing his son Donald. Macleod then caused 
Donald to apprehend Murthow, and having 
delivered him to his father, he was imprisoned 
in the castle of Stornoway. As soon as 
Torquill heard of this occurrence, he went to 
Stornoway and attacked the fort, which he 
took, after a short siege, and released Murthow. 
He then apprehended Roderick Macleod, 
killed a number of his men, and carried off all 
the charters and other title-deeds of Lewis, 
which he gave in custody to the Mackenzies. 
Torquill had a son named John Macleod, who 
was in the service of the Marquis of Huntly ; lie 
now sent for him, and on his arrival committed 
to him the charge of the castle of Storuoway 
in. which old Macleod was imprisoned. John 
Macleod being now master of Lewis, and 
acknowledged superior thereof, proceeded to 
expel Rorie-Og and Donald, two of Roderick 
Macleod's bastard sons, from the island ; but 
Rorie-Og attacked him in Stornoway, and after 
killing him, released Roderick Macleod, his 
father, who possessed the island in peace during 
the remainder of his life. Torquill Connaldagh, 
by the assistance of the clan Kenzie, got 
Donald Macleod into his possession, and exe- 
cuted him at Dingwall. 

Upon the death of Roderick Macleod, his 



Stornoway Castle. From a photograph taken specially for this work. 

son Torquill DuLh succeeded him in Lewis. 
Taking a grudge at Eorie-Og, his brother, 
ho apprehended him, and sent him to Mac- 
lean to be detained in prison; but he escaped 
out of Maclean's hands, and afterwards per- 
ished in a snow-storm. As Torquill Dubh 
excluded Torquill Uonnaldagh from the 
Buceession of Lewis, as a bastard, the clan 
Kenzie formed a design to purchase and conquer 
Lewis, which they calculated on accomplish- 
ing on account of the simplicity of Torquill 
Connaldagh, who had now no friend to advise 
with, and from the dissensions which unfor- 
tunately existed among the race of the Siol- 
Torqtiill. This scheme, moreover, received the 
aid of a matrimonial alliance between Torquill 
Connaldagh and the clan, by a marriage between 
his eldest daughter and Eoderick Mackenzie, 
the lord of Kintail's brother. The clan did not 
avow their design openly, but they advanced 
their enterprise under the pretence of assisting 
Torquill Connaldagh, who was a descendant of 
the Ivintail family, and they ultimately suc- 
ceeded in destroying the family of Macleod of 
Lewis, together with his tribe, the Siol-Torquill, 
and by the ruin of that family and some neigh- 
bouring clans, this ambitious clan made them- 
selves complete masters of Lewis and other 
places. As Torquill Dubh was the chief 
oijstaclu iii their way, they formed a conspiracy 

against his life, which, by the assistance of the 
Breve, they were enabled to carry out success- 
fully. The Breve, by stratagem, managed to 
obtain possession of Torquill Dubh and some 
of his friends, and deliver them to the lord of 
Ivintail, who ordered them to be beheaded, 
which they accordingly were in July, 1597. 

Some gentlemen belonging to Fife, hearing 
of these disturbances in Lewis, obtained from 
the king, in 1598, a gift of the island, their 
professed object being to civilize the inhabit- 
ants, their real design, however, being, by 
means of a colony, to supplant the inhabitants, 
and drive thorn from the island. A body of 
soldiers and artificers of all sorts were sent, 
with every thing necessary for a plantation, 
into Lewis, where, on their arrival, they began 
to erect houses in a convenient situation, and 
soon completed a small but neat town, in which 
they took up their quarters. The new settlers 
were, however, much annoyed in their opera- 
tions by Neill and Murthow Macleod, the only 
sons of Eoderick Macleod who remained in 
the island. The speculation proved ruinous 
to many of the adventurers, who, in conse- 
quence of the disasters they met with, lost 
their estates, and were in the end obliged to 
quit the island. 

In the meantime, Nuill Macleod quarrelled 
witli his brother Murlhow, for harbouring and 



maintaining the Breve and such of his tribe as 
were still alive, who had been the chief instru- 
ments in the murder of Torquill Dubh. Neill 
thereupon apprehended his brother, and some 
of the clan Mhic-Ghille-Mhoir, all of whom ho 
killed, reserving Ills brother only alive. When 
the Fife speculators were informed that Neill 
had taken Murthow, his brother, prisoner, they 
scut him a message offering to give him a share 
of the island, and to assist him in revenging 
the death of Torquill Dubh, provided he would 
deliver Murthow into their hands. Neill 
agreed to this proposal, and having gone there- 
after to Edinburgh, he received a pardon from 
the king for all his past offences. 

These proceedings frustrated for a time the 
designs of the Mackenzies upon the island, and 
the lord of Kintail almost despaired of obtain- 
ing possession by any means. As the new 
settlers now stood in his way, he resolved to 
desist from persecuting the Siol-Torquill, and 
to cross the former in their undertakings, by 
all the means in his power. He had for some 
time kept Tormaid Macleod, the lawful brother 
of Torquill Dubh, a prisoner ; but he now re- 
leased him, thinking that upon his appearance 
in the Lewis all the islanders would rise in his 
favour ; and he was not deceived in his expec- 
tations, for, as Sir Eobert Gordon observes, 
" all these islanders, (and lykwayes the Hie- 
landers,) are, by nature, most bent and prone 
to adventure themselves, their lyffs, and all 
they have, for their masters and lords, yea 
beyond all other people." 1 In the meantime 
Murthow Macleod was carried to St. Andrews, 
and there executed. Having at his execution 
revealed the designs of the lord of Kintail, 
the latter was committed, by order of the 
king, to the castle of Edinburgh, from which, 
however, he contrived to escape without trial, 
by means, as is supposed, of the then Lord- 
Chancellor of Scotland. 

On receiving pardon Neill Macleod returned 
into Lewis with the Fife adventurers ; but he 
had not been long in the island when ho quar- 
relled with them on account of an injury ho had 
received from Sir James Spence of Wormistoun. 
He therefore abandoned them, and watched a 
favourable opportunity for attacking them. 

1 Uistory, p. 271. 

They then attempted to apprehend him by a 
stratagem, but only succeeded in bringing dis- 
aster upon themselves. Upon hearing of this, 
the lord of Kintail thought the time was now 
suitable for him to stir, and accordingly lie 
sent Tormaid Macleod into Lewis, as ho had 
intended, promising him all the assistance in 
his power if he would attack the Fife settlers. 

As soon as Tormaid arrived in the island, 
his brother Neill and all the natives assembled 
and acknowledged him as their lord and master. 
He immediately attacked the camp of the ad- 
venturers, which he forced, burnt the fort, 
killed the greater part of their men, took the 
commanders prisoners, whom ho released, after 
a captivity of eight months, on their solemn 
promise not to return again to the island, and 
on their giving a pledge that they should obtain 
a pardon from the king for Tormaid and his 
followers for all past offences. After Tormaid 
had thus obtained possession of the island, 
John Mac-Donald-Mac-Houcheon apprehended 
Torquill Connaldagh, and carried him into 
Lewis to his brother, Tormaid Macleod. Tor- 
maid inflicted no punishment upon Connal- 
dagh, but merely required from him delivery 
of the title-deeds of Lewis, and the other 
papers which he had carried off when he appre- 
hended his father Roderick Macleod. Con- 
naldagh informed him that he had it not in his 
power to give them up, as he had delivered 
them to the clan Kcnzie, in whose possession 
they still were. Knowing this to be the fact, 
Tormaid released Torquill Connaldagh, and 
allowed him to leave the island, contrary to 
the advice of all his followers and friends, who 
were for inflicting the punishment of deatli 
upon Torquill, as he had been the occasion of 
all the miseries and troubles which had befallen 

The Breve of Lewis soon met with a just 
punishment for the crime he had committed in 
betraying and murdering his master, Torquill 
Dubh Macleod. The Breve and some of his 
relations had taken refuge in the country of 
Assynt. John Mac-Donald-Mac-IIouchcon, 
accompanied by four persons, having accident- 
ally entered the house where the Breve and 
six of his kindred lodged, found themselves 
unexpectedly in the same room with them. 
Being of opposite factions, a light immediately 



ensued, in the course of which the Breve and 
his party fled out of the house, but were pur- 
sued by John and his men, and the Breve and 
five of his friends killed. 

Although the Fife settlers had engaged not 
to return again into Lewis, they neverthe- 
less made preparations for invading it, having 
obtained the king's commission against Tor- 
maid Macleod and his tribe, the Siol-Torquill. 
They were aided in tliis expedition by forces 
from all the neighbouring counties, and par- 
ticularly by the Earl of Sutherland, who sent 
a party of men under the command of William 
Mac-Mhic-Sheumais, chief of the clan Gun 
in Sutherland, to assist in subduing Tormaid 
Macleod. As soon as they had effected a land- 
ing in the island with all their forces, they sent 
a message to Macleod, acquainting him that if 
he would surrender himself to them, in name 
of the king, they would transport him safely to 
London, where his majesty then was ; and 
that, upon his arrival there, they would not 
only obtain his pardon, but also allow him to 
deal with the king in behalf of his friends, and 
for the means of supporting himself. Macleod, 
afraid to risk his fortune against the numerous 
forces brought against him, agreed to the terms 
proposed, contrary to the advice of his brother 
Neill, who refused to yield. Tormaid was 
thereupon sent to London, where he took care 
to give the king full information concerning all 
the circumstances of his case ; he showed his 
majesty that Lewis was his just inheritance, 
and that his majesty had been deceived by the 
Fife adventurers in making liim believe that 
the island was at his disposal, which act of 
deception had occasioned much trouble and a 
great loss of blood. He concluded by implor- 
ing his majesty to do him justice by restoring 
him to his rights. Understanding that Mac- 
leod's representations were favourably received 
by his majesty, the adventurers used all their 
influence at court to thwart him ; and as some 
of them were the king's own domestic servants, 
they at last succeeded so far as to get him to bo 
sent home to Scotland a prisoner in 1605. 
He remained a captive at Edinburgh till the 
month of March, 1615, when the king granted 
him permission to pass into Holland, to Maurice, 
Prince of Orange, where ho ended his days. 
The settlers soon trrew wearied of their new 

possession, and as all of them had declined in 
their circumstances in this luckless speculation, 
and as they were continually annoyed by Neill 
Macleod, they finally abandoned the island, 
and returned to Fife to bewail their loss. 

Lord Kintail, now no longer disguising his 
intentions, obtained, through means of the 
Lord Chancellor, a gift of Lewis, under the 
great seal, for his own use, in virtue of the old 
right which Torquill Connaldagh had long 
before resigned in his favour. Some of the 
adventurers having complained to the king of 
this proceeding, his majesty became highly 
displeased at Kintail, and made him resign his 
right into his majesty's hands by means of 
Lord Balmerino, then Secretary of Scotland, 
and Lord President of the session ; which right 
his majesty now (1608) vested in the persons 
of Lord Balmerino, Sir George Hay, afterwards 
Chancellor of Scotland, and Sir James Spenco 
of Wormistoun. Balmerino, on being con- 
victed of high treason in 1609, lost his share, 
but Hay and Spence undertook the coloniza- 
tion of Lewis, and accordingly made great 
preparations for accomplishing their purpose. 
Being assisted by most of the neighbouring 
countries, they invaded Lewis for the double 
object of planting a colony, and of subduing 
and apprehending Neill Macleod, who now 
alone defended tiie island. 

On this occasion Lord Kintail played a 
double part, for while he sent Roderick Mac- 
kenzie, his brother, with a party of men openly 
to assist the new colonists who acted under 
the king's commission, promising them at the 
same time his friendship, and sending them a 
vessel from Ross with a supply of provisions, 
he privately sent notice to Neill Macleod 
to intercept the vessel on her way; so that the 
settlers, being disappointed in the provisions 
to which they trusted, might abandon the 
island for want. The case turned out exactly 
as Lord Kintail anticipated, as Sir George 
Hay and Sir James Spence abandoned the 
island, leaving a party of men behind to keep 
the fort, and disbanded their forces, returning 
into Fife, intending to have sent a fresh sup- 
ply of men, with provisions, into the island. 
But Neill Macleod having, with the assistance 
of his nephew, Malcolm Macleod, son of Ro- 
derick Og, burnt the fort, and apprehended 



the men who were left behind in the island, 
whom he sent safely home, the Fife gentlemen 
abandoned every idea of again taking possession 
of the island, and sold their right to Lord Kin- 
taiL Ho likewise obtained from the king a 
grant of the share of the island forfeited by 
liuhucrino, and thus at length acquired what 
he had so long and anxiously desired. 2 

Lord Kintail lost no time in taking posses- 
sion of the island, and all the inhabitants, 
shortly after his landing, with the exception 
of Neill Macleod and a few others, submitted 
to him. Neill, along with his nephews, Mal- 
colm, William, and Eoderick, the three sons 
of Roderick Og, the four sons of Torquill Blair, 
and thirty others, retired to an impregnable 
rock in the sea called Bcnissay, on the west of 
Lewis, into which Neill had been accustomed, 
for some years, to send provisions and other 
necessary articles to serve him in case of neces- 
sity. Neill lived on this rock for three years, 
Lord Kintail in the meantime dying in 1611. 
As Macleod could not be attacked in his im- 
pregnable position, and as his proximity was a 
source of annoyance, the clan Kenzie fell on 
the following expedient to get quit of him. 
They gathered together the wives and children 
of those that were in Berrissay, and also all per- 
sons in the island related to them by consan- 
guinity or affinity, and having placed them on 
a rock in the sea, so near Berrissay that they 
could bo heard and seen by Neill and his 
party, the clan Kenzie vowed that they would 
suffer the sea to overwhelm them, on the 
return of the flood-tide, if Neill did not in- 
stantly surrender the fort This appalling 
spectacle had such an effect upon Macleod and 
his companions, that they immediately yielded 
up the rock and left Lewis. 

Neill Macleod then retired into Harris, where 
ho remained concealed for a time; but not 
being able to avoid discovery any longer, he 
gave himself up to Sir Eoderick Macleod of 
Harris, and entreated him to carry him into 
England to the king, a request with which Sir 
Roderick promised to comply. In proceeding 
on his jmtrney, however, along with Macleod, 
he was charged at Glasgow, under pain of 
treason, to deliver up Neill to the privy coun- 

1 Gordon, p. 274; Gregory's Western Higldands, 
p. 334. 

oil. Sir Roderick obeyed the charge, 
with his eldest son Donald, were presented to 
the privy council at Edinburgh, where Neill 
was executed in April 1G13. His son Donald 
was banished from the kingdom of Scotland, 
and immediately went to England, where he 
remained three years witli Sir Robert Gordon, 
tutor of Sutherland, and from England he 
afterwards went to Holland, where he died. 

After the death of Neill Macleod, Roderick 
and William, the sons of Roderick Og, were 
apprehended by Roderick Mackenzie, tutor of 
Kintail, and executed. Malcolm Macleod, his 
tliird son, who was kept a prisoner by Roder- 
ick Mackenzie, escaped, and having associated 
himself with the clan Donald in Islay and 
Kintyre during their quarrel with the Camp- 
bells in 1G15-16, he annoyed the clan Kenzie 
with frequent incursions. Malcolm, thereafter, 
went to Flanders and Spain, where he remained 
with Sir James Macdonald. Before going to 
Spain, he returned from Flanders into Lewis 
in 161G, where he killed two gentlemen 
of the clan Kenzie. He returned from Spain 
in 1G20, and the last that is heard of him is 
in 1626, when commissions of fire and sword 
were granted to Lord Kintail against " Mal- 
colm Macquari Macleod." 

From the occurrences in Lewis, we now 
direct the attention of our readers to some pro- 
ceedings in the isle of Rasay, which ended in 
bloodshed. The quarrel lay between Gille- 
Chalum, laird of the island, and Murdo Mac- 
kenzie of Gairloch, and the occasion was as 
follows. The lands of Gairloch originally bo- 
longed to the clan Mhic-Ghille-Chalum, the 
predecessors of the laird of Rasay; and when 
the Mackenzies began to prosper and to rise, 
one of them obtained the third part of thcso 
lands in mortgage or wadset from the clan 
Mhic-Ghille-Chalum. In process of time the 
clan Kenzie, by some means or other, unknown 
to the proprietor of Gairloch, obtained a right 
to the whole of these lands, but they did not 
claim possession of the whole till the death 
of Torquill Dubh Macleod of Lewis, whom 
the laird of Rasay and liis tribe followed as 
their superior. But upon the death of Torquil] 
Dubh, the laird of Gairloch took possession of 

1 Gregory, p. 337. 



the whole of the lauds of Gairloch in virtue of 
his pretended right, and chased the clan Mhic- 
Ghillo-Chalum from the lands with fire and 
sword. The clan retaliated hi their turn by 
invading the laird of Gairloch, plundering his 
lands and committing slaughters. In a skir- 
mish which took place in the year 1G10, in 
which lives were lost on both sides, the laird 
of Gairloch apprehended John Mac-Alain-Mac- 
Eory, one of the principal men of the clan; 
Lut being desirous to get hold also of John 
Holmoch-Mac-Rory, another of the chiefs, he 
sent his son Murdo the following year along 
with Alexander Bane, the son and heir of 
Bane of Tulloch in Ross, and some others, to 
scarcli for and pursue John llolmoch; and as 
he understood that John llolmoch was in Skye, 
lie hired a ship to carry his son and party 
thither; but instead of going to Skye, they 
unfortunately, from some unknown cause, 
landed in Rasay. 

On their arrival in Rasay in August 1611, 
Gillo-Chalum, laird of Rasay, with some of his 
followers, went on board, and unexpectedly 
found Murdo Mackenzie in the vessel. After 
consulting with his men, he resolved to take 
Mackenzie prisoner, in security for his cousin, 
John Mac-Alain-Mac-Rory, whom the laird of 
Gairloch detained in captivity. The party 
then attempted to seize Mackenzie, but he and 
lu's party resisting, a keen conflict took place 
on board, which continued a considerable time. 
At last, Murdo Mackenzie, Alexander Bane, 
and the whole of their party, with the excep- 
tion of three, were slain. These three fought 
manfully, killing the laird of Rasay and the 
whole men who accompanied him on board, 
and wounding several persons that remained in 
the two boats. Finding themselves seriously 
wounded, they took advantage of a favourable 
wind, and sailed away from the island, but 
expired on the voyage homewards. From this 
time the Mackenzies appear to have uninter- 
ruptedly held possession of Gairloch. 4 

About the time this occurrence took place, 
the peace of the north was almost again dis- 
turbed in consequence of the conduct of William 
Mac- Angus-Roy, one of the clan Gun, who, 
though born in Strathnaver, had become a 

1 Sir Robert Gordon, p 278. 

servant to the Earl of Caithness. This man 
had done many injuries to the people of Caith- 
ness by command of the earl; and the mere dis- 
pleasure of Earl George at any of his people, 
was considered by William Mac-Angus as 
sufficient authority for him to steal and take 
away their goods and cattle. William got so 
accustomed to this kind of service, that he 
began also to steal the cattle and horses of the 
earl, his master, and, after collecting a large 
booty in this way, he took his leave. The 
earl was extremely enraged at his quondam 
servant for so acting; but, as William Mac- 
Angus was in possession of a warrant in writing 
under the earl's own hand, authorizing him to 
act as he had done towards the people of 
Caithness, the earl was afraid to adopt any 
proceedings against him, or against those who 
protected and harboured him, before the Privy 
Council, lest he might produce the warrant 
which he held from the earl The confidence 
which, the earl had reposed in him served, 
however, still more to excite the earl's indig- 

As William Mac- Angus continued his depre- 
dations in other quarters, he was apprehended 
in the town of Tain, on a charge of cattle- 
stealing; but he was released by the Monroes, 
who gave security to the magistrates of the 
town for his appearance when required, upon 
due notice being given that ho was wanted for 
trial. On attempting to escape ho was re- 
delivered to the provost and bailies of Tain, by 
whom he was given up to the Earl of Caith- 
ness, who put him in fetters, and imprisoned 
him within Castle Sinclair (1612). He soon 
again contrived to escape, and fled into Strath- 
naver, the Earl of Caithness sending his son, 
William, Lord Berridale, in pursuit of him. 
Missing the fugitive, he, in revenge, appre- 
hended a servant of Mackay, called Angus 
Heiiriach, without any authority from his 
majesty, and carried him to Castle Sinclair, 
where he was put into fetters and closely im- 
prisoned on the pretence that he had assisted 
William Mac-Angus in effecting his escape. 
When tills occurrence took place, Donald 
Mackay, son of Houcheon Mackay, the chief, 
was at Dunrobiu castle, and he, on hearing of 
the apprehension and imprisonment of his 
father's servant, could scarcely bo made to 



believe the fact on account of the friend- 
ship which had been contracted between his 
father and the earl the preceding Christinas, 
liut being made sensible thereof, and of the 
cruel usage which the servant had received, he 
prevailed on his father to summon the earl and 
his son to answer to the charge of having ap- 
prehended and imprisoned Angus Henriach, a 
free subject of the king, without a commission. 
The earl was also charged to present his pris- 
oner before the privy council at Edinburgh in 
the month of June next following, which he 
accordingly did; and Angus being tried before 
the lords and declared innocent, was delivered 
over to Sir Robert Gordon, who then acted for 
Mackay. 5 

During the same year (1612) another event 
occurred in the north, which created consider- 
able uproar and discord in the northern High- 
lands. A person of the name of Arthur Smith, 
who resided in Banff, had counterfeited the 
coin of the realm, in consequence of which he, 
and a man who had assisted him, fled from Banff 

into Sutherland, where being apprehended in 
the year 1599, they were sent by the Countess 
of Sutherland to the king, who ordered them to 
be imprisoned in Edinburgh for trial. They 
were both accordingly tried and condemned, 
and having confessed to crimes even of a deeper 
dye, Smith's accomplice was burnt at the place 
of execution. Smith himself was reserved for 
farther trial By devising a lock of rare and 
curious workmanship, which took the fancy of 
the king, he ultimately obtained his release 
and entered into the service of the Earl of 
Caithness. His workshop was under the rock 
of Castle Sinclair, in a quiet retired place 
called the Gote, and to which there was a 
secret passage from the earl's bedchamber. 
No person was admitted to Smith's workshop 
but the earl ; and the circumstance of his 
being often heard working during the night, 
raised suspicions that some secret work was 
going on which could not bear the light of 
day. The mystery was at last disclosed by an 
inundation of counterfeit coin in Caitlmcss, 

Castles Sinclair and Girnigo. From a photograph taken specially for this work. 

Orkney, Sutherland, and Ross, which was first 
detected by Sir Robert Gordon, brother to the 
Earl of Sutherland, when in Scotland, in the 
year 1611, and he, on his return to England, 
made the king acquainted therewitlL A com- 
mission was granted to Sir Robert to apprehend 

5 Sir R. Gordon, p. 2S1. 

Smith, and bring him to Edinburgh, but he 
was so much occupied with other concerns 
that ho intrusted the commission to Donald 
Mackay, his nephew, and to John Gordon, 
younger of Ernbo, whoso name was jointly 
inserted in the commission along with that of 
Sir Robert. Accordingly, Mackay and Gordon, 
accompanied by Adam Gordon Georgcson Jului, 



Gordon in Broray, and some other Sutherland 
men, went, in May, 1612, to Strathnaver, and 
assembling some of the inhabitants, they 
marched into Caithness next morning, and 
entered the town of Thurso, where Smith then 

After remaining about three hours in the 
town, the party went to Smith's house and 
apprehended him. On searching his house 
they found a quantity of spurious gold and 
silver coin. Donald Maekay caused Smith 
to be put on horseback, and then rode off 
with him out of the town. To prevent any 
tumult among the inhabitants, Gordon remained 
behind with some of his men to show them, if 
necessary, his Majesty's commission for appre- 
hending Smith. Scarcely, however, had Mac- 
kay left the town, when the town-bell was 
rang and all the inhabitants assembled. There 
were present in Thurso at the time, John Sin- 
clair of Stirkage, son of the Earl of Caithness's 
brother, James Sinclair, brother of the laird of 
Dun, James Sinclair of Dyrren, and other 
friends, on a visit to Lady Berridale. When 
information was brought them of the appre- 
hension of Smith, Sinclair of Stirkage, trans- 
ported with rage, swore that he would not 
allow any man, no matter whose commission 
he held, to carry away his uncle's servant in 
his uncle's absence. A furious onset was made 
upon Gordon, but his men withstood it bravely, 
and after a warm contest, the inhabitants were 
defeated with some loss, and obliged to retire 
to the centre of the town. Donald Maekay 
hearing of the tumult, returned to the town to 
aid Gordon, but the affair was over before he 
arrived, Sinclair of Stirkage having been killed. 
To prevent the possibility of the escape or 
rescue of Smith, he was killed by the Strath- 
naver men as soon as they heard of the tumult 
in the town. 

The Earl of Caithness resolved to prosecute 
Donald Maekay, John Gordon, younger of 
Embo, with their followers, for the slaughter 
of Sinclair of Stirkago, and the mutilation of 
Janics Sinclair, brother of the laird of Dun, 
and summoned them, accordingly, to appear at 
Edinburgh. On the other hand, Sir Eobort 
Gordon and Donald Mackay prosecuted the 
Earl of Caithness and his son, Lord Berridalc, 
with several other of their countrymen, for 

resisting the king's commission, attacking the 
commissioners, and apprehending Angus Henri- 
ach, without a commission, which was declared 
treason by the laws. The Earl of Caithness 
endeavoured to make the Privy Council believe 
that the affair at Thurso arose out of a pre- 
meditated design against him, and that Sir 
Eobert Gordon's intention in obtaining a com- 
mission against Arthur Smith was, under the 
cloak of its authority, to find means to slay 
him and his brethren ; and that, in pursuance 
of his plan, Sir Eobert had, a little before the 
skirmish in Thurso, caused the earl to be 
denounced and proclaimed as a rebel to the 
king, and had lain in wait to kill him ; Sir 
Eobert, however, showed the utter ground- 
lessness of these charges to the Lords of the 

On the day appointed for appearance, the 
parties met at Edinburgh, attended by their 
respective friends. The Earl of Caithness and 
his son, Lord Berridale, were accompanied by 
the Lord Gray, the laird of Eoslin, the laird 
of Cowdenknowes, a son of the sister of the 
Earl of Caitlmess, and the lairds of Murkle and 
Greenland, brothers of the earl, along with a 
large retinue of subordinate attendants. Sir 
Eobert Gordon and Donald Mackay were 
attended by the Earl of Winton and his 
brother, the Earl of Eglinton, with all their 
followers, the Earl of Linlithgow, with 
the Livingstones, Lord Elphinston, with his 
friends, Lord Eorbes, with his friends, the 
Drummonds, Sir John Stuart, captain of Dum- 
barton, and bastard son of the Duke of Lennox ; 
Lord Balfour, the laird of Lairg Mackay in 
Galloway ; the laird of Foulis, with the Mon- 
roes, the laird of Duffus, some of the Gor- 
dons, as Sir Alexander Gordon, brother of the 
Earl of Sutherland, Cluny, Lcsmoir, Buckio. 
Knokespock, with other gentlemen of respoctar 
bility. The absence of the Earl of Sutherland 
and Houchcon Mackay mortified the Earl of 
Caithness, who could not conceal his displea- 
sure at being so much overmatched in the 
respectability and number of attendants by 
seconds and children, as lie was pleased to call 
his adversaries. 

According to the usual practice on such 
occasions, the parties were accompanied by 
their respective friends, from their lodgings, to 



the house where the council was sitting ; but 
fi'\v were admitted within. The council spent 
three days in hearing the parties and deliberat- 
ing upon the matters brought before them, but 
they came to no conclusion, and adjourned 
tlunr proceedings till the king's pleasure should 
bo known. In the meantime the parties, at 
the entreaty of the Lords of the Council, 
entered into recognizances to keep the peace, 
in time coming, towards each other, which 
extended not only to their kinsmen, but also 
to their friends and dependants. 

The king, after fully considering the state of 
affairs between the rival parties, and judging 
that if the law were allowed to take its course 
the peace of the northern countries might bo 
disturbed by the earls and their numerous fol- 
lowers, proposed to the Lords of the Privy 
Council to endeavour to prevail upon them to 
submit their differences to the arbitration of 
mutual friends. Accordingly, after a good 
deal of entreaty and reasoning, the parties 
were persuaded to agree to the proposed mea- 
sure. A deed of submission was then sub- 
scribed by the Earl of Caithness and William, 
Lord Berridale, on the one part, and by Sir 
Robert Gordon and Donald Mackay on the 
other part, taking burden on them for the Earl 
of Sutherland and Mackay. The arbiters ap- 
pointed by Sir Robert Gordon were the Earl of 
Kinghom, the Master of Elphinston, the Earl 
of Haddington, afterwards Lord Privy Seal of 
Scotland, and Sir Alexander Drummond of 
Meidhop. The Archbishop of Glasgow, Sir 
John Preston, Lord President of the Council, 
Lord Blantyre, and Sir William Oliphant, 
Lord Advocate, were named by the Earl of 
Caithness. The Earl of Dunfermline, Lord- 
Chancellor of Scotland, was chosen oversman 
and umpire by both parties. As the arbiters 
had then no time to hear the parties, or to 
enter upon the consideration of the matters 
submitted to them, they appointed them to re- 
turn to Edinburgh in the month of May, 1613. 

At the appointed time, the Earl of Caith- 
ness and Ms brother, Sir John Sinclair of 
Greenland, came to Edinburgh, Sir Robert 
Gordon arriving at the same time from En"- 

O O 

land. The arbiters, however, who were all 
members of the Privy Council, being much 
occupied with state affairs, did not go into the 

matter, but made the parties subscribe a new 
deed of submission, under which they gave 
authority to the Marquis of Huntly, by whoso 
friendly offices the differences between the two 
houses had formerly been so often adjusted, to 
act in the matter by endeavouring to bring 
about a fresh reconciliation. As the marquis 
was the cousin-german of the Earl of Suther- 
land, and brother-in-law of the Earl of Caith- 
ness, who had married his sister, the council 
thought him the most likely person to be 
intrusted with such an important negotiation. 
The marquis, however, finding the parties 
obstinate, and determined not to yield a single 
point of their respective claims and pretensions, 
declined to act farther in the matter, and remit- 
ted the whole affair back to the Privy Council. 
During the year 1613 the peace of Loch- 
aber was disturbed by dissensions among the 
clan Cameron. The Earl of Argyle, reviv- 
ing an old claim acquired in the reign of 
James V., by Colin, the third earl, endea- 
voured to obtain possession of the lands of 
Lochiel, mainly to weaken the influence of his 
rival the Marquis of Huntly, to whose party 
the clan Cameron were attached. Legal pro- 
ceedings were instituted by the earl against 
Allan Cameron of Lochiel, who, hastening to 
Edinburgh, was there advised by Argyle to 
submit the matter to arbiters. The decision 
was in favour of the earl, from whom Locliiel 
consented to hold his lands as a vassal This, 
of course, highly incensed the Marquis of 
Huntly, who resolved to endeavour to effect 
the ruin of his quondam vassal by fomenting 
dissensions among the clan Cameron, inducing 
the Camerons of Erracht, Kinlochiel, and Glen- 
nevis to become his immediate vassals in those 
lands which Lochiel had hitherto held from 
the family of Huntly. Lochiel, failing to in- 
duce his kinsmen to renew their allegiance to 
him, again went to Edinburgh to consult his 
lawyers as to the course which he ought to pur- 
sue. While there, he heard of a conspiracy by 
the opposite faction against his life, which 
induced him to hasten home, sending wcrd 
privately to his friends the Camerona of 
Callart, Strone, Letterfinlay, and others to 
meet him on the day appointed for the assem- 
bling of his opponents, near the spot where 
the latter were to meet. 



On arriving at the appointed rendezvous, 
Lochiel placed in ambush all his followers but 
six, with whom he advanced towards his ene- 
mies, informing them that he wished to have 
a conference with them. The hostile faction, 
thinking this a favourable opportunity for 
accomplishing their design, pursued the chief, 
who, when he had led them fairly into the 
midst of his ambushed followers, gave the 
signal for their slaughter. Twenty of their 
principal men were killed, and eight taken 
prisoners, Lochiel allowing the rest to escape. 
Lochiel and his followers were by the Privy 
Council outlawed, and a commission of fire and 
sword granted to the Marquis of Huntly and 
the Gordons, for their pursuit and apprehen- 
sion. The division of the clan Cameron which 
supported Lochiel continued for several years 
in a state of outlawry, but, through the influ- 
ence of the Earl of Argyle, appears not to have 
suffered extremely. 6 


A.D. 16131623. 

KINO OF OHEM BRITAIN I JaillCS 1., 16031325. 

Continued animosity between the Earls of Caithness 
and Sutherland The latter imprisoned as a sus- 
pected Catholic Formidable Kebellion in the South 
Hebrides Suppressed by the Earl of Argyle Fresh 
intrigues of the Earl of Caithness His oppressions 
Burning of the corn at Sanset Legal proceedings 
against the Guns Agreement between the Earl of 
Caithness, Sir Robert Gordon, and Lord Forbes 
Lord Berridale imprisoned Conditions of release 
Put in possession of the family Estates Alliance 
between the Earl of Caithness and Sir Donald Mac- 
kay Sir Robert Gordon protects the clan Gun 
Mackay's attempts against the Clan Mackay and 
Sir Robert Gordon reconciled Quarrel between the 
Earl of Enzie and the elan Chattan Slaughter of 
Thomas Lindsay Hostile preparations against the 
Earl of Caithness Expedition into Caithness 
Flight of the Earl Reduction and pacification of 

As the Privy Council showed no inclination to 
decide the questions submitted to them by the 
Earl of Caitlmcss and his adversaries, the earl 
sent his brother, Sir John Sinclair of Green- 
land, to Edinburgh, to complain of the delay 
which had taken place, and desired him to 
throw out hints, that if the earl did not obtain 

Gregory's Western Ui'jhlands, p. 342. 

satisfaction for his supposed injuries, he would 
take redress at his own hands. The earl 
thought that he would succeed, by such a 
threat, in moving the council to decide in his 
favour, for he was well aware that he was 
unable to carry it into execution. To give 
some appearance of an intention to enforce it, 
he, in the month of October, 1613, while the 
Earl of Sutherland, his brothers and nephews, 
were absent from the country, made a demon- 
stration of invading Sutherland or Strathnaver, 
by collecting his forces at a particular point, 
and bringing thither some pieces of ordnance 
from Castle Sinclair. The Earl of Sutherland, 
having arrived in Sutherland while the Earl of 
Caithness was thus employed, immediately 
assembled some of his countrymen, and, along 
with his brother Sir Alexander, went to the 
marches between Sutherland and Caithness, 
near the height of Strathully, where they 
waited the approach of the Earl of Caithness. 
Here they were joined by Mackay, who had 
given notice of the Earl of Caithness's move- 
ments to the lairds of Eoulis, Balnagown, and 
Assynt, the sheriff of Cromarty, and the tutor 
of Kintail, all of whom prepared themselves to 
assist the Earl of Sutherland. The Earl of 
Caithness, however, by advice of his brother, 
Sir John Sinclair, returned home and dis- 
banded his force. 

To prevent the Earl of Caitliness from at- 
tempting any farther interference with the 
Privy Council, either in the way of intrigue or 
intimidation, Sir Eobert Gordon obtained a 
remission and pardon from the king, in the 
month of December, 1613, to his nephew, 
Donald Mackay, John Gordon, younger of 
Embo, John Gordon in Broray, Adam Gordon 
Georgeson, and their accomplices, for the 
slaughter of John Sinclair of Stirkage at 
Thurso. However, Sir Gideon Murray, Deputy 
Treasurer for Scotland, contrived to prevent the 
pardon passing through the seals till the begin- 
ning of the year 1616. 

The Earl of Caitliness, being thus baffled in 
his designs against the Earl of Sutherland and 
his friends, fell upon a device which never 
failed to succeed in times of religious intoler- 
ance and persecution. Unfortunately for man- 
kind and for the interests of Christianity, the 
principles of religious toleration, involving the 



inalienable right of every man to worsliip God 
accenting to the dictates of his conscience, have 
been till of lato but little understood, and at 
the period in question, and for upwards of one 
hundred and sixty years thereafter, the statute 
book of Scotland was disgraced by penal enact- 
ments against the Catholics, almost unparalleled 
for their sanguinary atrocity. By an act of the 
first parliament of James VI., any Catholic 
who assisted at the offices of his religion was, 
" for the first fault," that is, for following the 
dictates of his conscience, to suffer confiscation 
of all his goods, movable and immovable, 
personal and real ; for the second, banishment; 
and death for the third fault ! But the law 
was not confined to overt acts only the mere 
suspicion of being a Catholic placed the sus- 
pected person out of the pale and protection of 
the law ; for if, on being warned by the bish- 
ops and ministers, ho did not recant and give 
confession of his faith according to the ap- 
proved form, ho was excommunicated, and 
declared infamous and incapable to sit or stand 
in judgment, pursue or bear office. 7 

Under this last-mentioned law the Earl of 
Caithness now sought to gratify his vengeance 
against the Earl of Sutherland. Having repre- 
sented to the Archbishop of St. Andrews and 
the clergy of Scotland that the Earl of Suther- 
land was at heart a Catholic, he prevailed upon 
the bishops with little difficulty, it is sup- 
posed to acquaint the king thereof. His 
majesty thereupon issued a wan-ant against 
the Earl of Sutherland, who was in conse- 
quence apprehended and imprisoned at St. 
Andrews. The earl applied to the bishops for 
a month's delay, till the 15th February, 1614, 
promising that before that time ho would 
cither give the church satisfaction or surrender 
himself; but his application was refused by 
the high commission of Scotland. Sir Alex- 
ander Gordon, the brother of the earl, being 
then in Edinburgh, immediately gave notice to 
his brother, Sir Robert Gordon, who was at 
the time in London, of the proceedings against 
their brother, the earl. Sir Robert having 
applied to his majesty for the release of the 
earl for a time, that ho might make up his 
mind on the subject of religion, and look after 

7 Act James VI., Parl. 3, Cap. 45. 

his affairs in the north, his majesty granted a 
warrant for his liberation till the month of 
August following. On the expiration of the 
time, ho returned to his confinement at St. 
Andrews, from which he was removed, on 
his own application, to the abbey of Holyrood 
house, where ho remained till the month of 
March, 1G15, when he obtained leave to go 
home, " having," says Sir Robert Gordon, " in 
some measure satisfied the church concerning 
liis religion." 

The Earl of Caithness, thus again defeated 
in his views, tried, as a dernier resort, to dis- 
join the families of Sutherland and Mackay. 
Sometimes he attempted to prevail upon the 
Marquis of Huntly to persuade the Earl of 
Sutherland and his brothers to come to an 
arrangement altogether independent of Mac- 
kay; and at other times he endeavoured to 
persuade Maekay, by holding out certain in- 
ducements to him, to compromise their differ- 
ences without including the Earl of Suther- 
land in the arrangement; but he completely 
failed in these attempts. 8 

In 161415 a formidable rebellion broke out 
in the South Hebrides, arising from the efforts 
made by the clan Donald of Islay to retain that 
island in their possession. The castle of Duny- 
veg in Islay, which, for three years previous to 
1614, had been in possession of the Bishop of the 
Isles, having been taken by Angus Oig, younger 
brother of Sir James Macdonald of Islay, from 
Ranald Oig, who had surprised it, the former 
refused to restore it to the bishop. The Privy 
Council took the matter in hand, and, having 
accepted from John Campbell of Calder an 
offer of a feu-duty or perpetual rent for Islay, 
they prevailed on him to accept a commission 
against Angus Oig and his followers. Tho 
clan Donald, who viewed with suspicion the 
growing power of the Campbells, looked upon 
this project with much dislike, and treated 
certain hostages left by the bishop with great 
severity. Even the bishop remonstrated against 
making " the name of Campbell greater in the 
Isles than they are already," thinking it neither 
good nor profitable to his majesty, " to root 
out one pestiferous clan, and plant in another 
little better." Tho remonstrance of the bishop 

Sir K. Gordon, p. 299. 



and an offer made to put matters right by Sir 
James Macdonald, who was then imprisoned 
in Edinburgh castle, were alike unheeded, and 
Campbell of Calder received his commission of 
Lieutenandry against Angus Oig Macdonald, 
CollMac-Gillespic, and the other rebels of Islay. 
A free pardon was offered to all who were not 
concerned in the taking of the castle, and a 
remission to Angus Oig, provided he gave up 
the castle, the hostages, and two associates of 
his own rank. 

While Campbell was collecting his forces, 
and certain auxiliary troops from Ireland 
were preparing to embark, the chancellor of 
Scotland, the Earl of Dunfermline, by means 

of a Ross-shire man, named George Graham of 
Eryne, prevailed on Angus Oig to release the 
bishop's hostages, and deliver up to Graham 
the castle, in behalf of the chancellor. Graham 
re-delivered the castle to Angus, to be held by 
him as the regular constable, until he should 
receive further orders from the chancellor, and at 
the same time assured Angus of the chancel- 
lor's countenance and protection, enjoining him 
to resist all efforts on the part of Campbell or 
his friends to eject him. These injunctions 
Graham's dupes too readily followed. "There 
can be no doubt whatever that the chancellor 
was the author of this notable plan to procure 
the liberation of the hostages, and at the same 

Duuyveg Castle, Islay. From a dra 
time to deprive the clan Donald of the benefit 
of the pardon promised to them on this account. 
There are grounds for a suspicion that the 
chancellor himself desired to obtain Islay ; 
although it is probable that he wished to avoid 
the odium attendant on the more violent mea- 
sures required to render such, an acquisition 
available. He, therefore, contrived so as to 
leave the punishment of the clan Donald to 
the Campbells, who were already sufficiently 
obnoxious to the western clans, whilst he him- 
self had the credit of procuring the liberation 
of the hostages." 

Campbell of Calder and Sir Oliver Lambert, 
commander of the Irish forces, did not effect a 
junction till the 5th of January, 1615, and on 

.wing taken expressly for this work, 
the 6th, Campbell landed on Islay with 200 
men, his force being augmented next day by 
140 more. Several of the rebels, alarmed, de- 
serted Angus, and were pardoned on condition 
of helping the besiegers. Ronald Mac-James, 
uncle of Angus Oig, surrendered a fort on the 
island of Lochgorme which he commanded, on 
the 21st, and along with, his son received a 
conditional assurance of his majesty's favour. 
Operations were commenced against Duny veg 
on February 1st, and shortly after Angus had 
an interview with the lieutenant, during which 
thelatter showed that Angushad been deceived 
by Graham, upon which he promised to sur- 
render. On returning to the castle, however, 
he refused to implement his promise, being in- 



stigated to liold out apparently by Coll Mac- 
Gillespic. After being again battered for some 
time, Angus and some of his followers at last 
surrendered unconditionally, Coll Mac-Gillespic 
contriving to make liis escape. Campbell took 
possession of tlio castle on the 3d February, 
dispersed the forces of the rebels, and put to 
death a number of those who had deserted the 
siege ; Angus himself was reserved for exami- 
nation by the Privy Council. In the course of 
the examination it came out clearly that the 
Earl of Argyle was the original promoter of the 
seizure of the castle, his purpose apparently 
being to ruin the clan Donald by urging them 
to rebellion ; but this charge, as well as that 
against the Earl of Dunfermline, appears to 
have been smothered. 

During the early part of the year 1615, Coll 
Mac-Gillespic and others of the clan Donald 
who had escaped, infested the western coasts, 
and committed many acts of piracy, being 
joined about the month of May by Sir James 
Macdonald, who had escaped from Edinburgh 
castle, where he had been lying for a long 
time under sentence of death. Sir James and 
his followers, now numbering several hundreds, 
after laying in a good supply of provisions, 
sailed towards Islay. The Privy Council were 
not slow in taking steps to repress the rebel- 
lion, although various circumstances occurred 
to thwart their intentions. Calder engaged to 
keep the castle of Dunyveg against the rebels, 
and instructions were given to the various 
western gentlemen friendly to the government 
to defend the western coasts and islands. 
Large rewards were offered for the principal 
rebels. All the forces were enjoined to be 
at their appointed stations by the Gth of July, 
furnished with forty days' provisions, and with 
a sufficient number of boats, to enable them to 
act by sea, if necessary. 

Sir James Macdonald, about the end of 
Juno, landing on Islay, managed by stratagem 
to obtain possession of Dunyveg Castle, him- 
self and his followers appearing to have con- 
ducted themselves with great moderation. 
Dividing his force, which numbered about 400, 
into two bodies, with one of which he himself 
intended to proceed to Jura, the other, under 
Coll Mac-Gillcppic, was destined for Kintyrc, 
tor the pii'i'ose of encouraging the ancient 

followers of his family to assist him. In tho 
beginning of July, Angus Oig and a number of 
his followers were tried and condemned, and 
executed immediately after. 

Various disheartening reports were now cir- 
culated as to the disaffection of Donald Gormo 
of Sleat, captain of the clan Eanald, Euari 
Macleod of Harris, and others ; and that Hector 
Maclean of Dowart, if not actually engaged in 
the rebellion, had announced, that if he was 
desired to proceed against the clan Donald, ho 
would not be very earnest in the service. Tho 
militia of Ayr, Eenfrew, Dumbarton, Bute, 
and Inverness were called out, and a commis- 
sion was granted to the Marquis of Hamilton 
to keep the clan Donald out of Arran. 

The Privy Council had some time before 
this urged tho king to send down the Earl of 
Argyle from England to which he had fled 
from his numerous creditors to act as lieu- 
tenant in suppressing the insurrection. After 
many delays, Argyle, to whom full powers had 
been given to act as lieutenant, at length 
mustered his forces at Duntroon on Loch 
Crinan early in September. He issued a pro- 
clamation of pardon to all rebels who were 
willing to submit, and by means of spies ex- 
amined Macdonald's camp, which had been 
pitched on the west coast of Kintyre, the num- 
ber of the rebels being ascertained to be about 
1,000 men. Argyle set himself so promptly 
and vigorously to crush the rebels, that Sir 
James Macdonald, who had been followed to 
Islay by the former, finding it impossible either 
to resist the Lieutenant's forces, or to escape 
with his galleys to the north isles, desired from 
the earl a truce of four days, promising at tho 
end of that tune to surrender. Argyle would 
not accede to this request except on condition 
of Sir James giving up the two forts which he 
held ; this Sir James urged Coll Mac-Gillespic 
to do, but ho refused, although he sent secretly 
to Argyle a message that he was willing to 
comply with the earl's request. Argyle im- 
mediately sent a force against Sir James to 
surprise him, who, being warned of tliis by tho 
natives, managed to make his escape to an 
island called Inchdaholl, on the coast of Ire- 
land, and never again returned to the Hebrides. 
Xext day, Mac-Gillespic surrendered the two 
forts and his prisoners, upon assurance of his 



own life and the lives of a few of liis followers, 
at tlie same time treacherously apprehending 
nnd delivering to Argyle, Macfie of Colonsay, 
one of the principal rebel leaders, and eighteen 
others. This conduct soon had many imita- 
tors, including Macfie himself. 

Having delivered the forts in Islay to Camp- 
bell of Calder, and having executed a number 
of the leading rebels, Argyle proceeded to 
Kintyre, and crushed out all remaining seeds of 
insurrection there. Many of the principal 
rebels, notwithstanding a diligent search, 
effected their escape, many of them to Ireland, 
Sir James Macdonald being sent to Spain by 
some Jesuits in Galway. The escape of so 
many of the principal rebels seems to have 
given the Council great dissatisfaction. Argyle 
carried on operations till the middle of Decem- 
ber 1615, refusing to dismiss the hired soldiers 
in the beginning of November, as he was 
ordered by the Council to do. He was com- 
pelled to disburse the pay, amounting to 
upwards of .7,000, for the extra month and a 
half out of his own pocket. 

" Thus," to use the words of our authority 
for the above details, 9 " terminated the last 
struggle of the once powerful clan Donald of 
Islay and Kintyre, to retain, from the grasp of 
the Campbells, these ancient possessions of 
their tribe." 

Ever since the death of John Sinclair at 
Thurso, the Earl of Caithness used every means 
in his power to induce such of his country- 
men as were daring enough, to show their 
prowess and dexterity, by making incursions 
into Sutherland or Strathnaver, for the pur- 
pose of annoying the vassals and depend- 
ants of the Earl of Sutherland and his ally, 
Mackay. Amongst others he often communi- 
cated on this subject with William Kenneth- 
Bon, whose father, Kenneth Buidhe, had always 
been the principal instrument in the hands 
of Earl George in oppressing the people of 
his own country. For the furtherance of his 
plans he at last prevailed upon William, who 
already stood rebel to the king in a criminal 
cause, to go into voluntary banishment into 
Stratlinaver, and pxit himself under the pro- 
oection of Mackay, to whom he was to pre- 

8 Gregory's Western Highlands, p. 349, it scq. 

tend that he had left Caitliness to avoid any 
solicitations from the Earl of Caithness to 
injure the inhabitants of Strathnaver. To 
cover their designs they caused a report to be 
spread that William Mac-Kenneth was to leave 
Caithness because he would not obey the orders 
of the earl to execute some designs against Sir 
Robert Gordon, the tutor of Sutherland, and 
Mackay, and when this false rumour had 
been sufficiently spread, Mac-Kenneth, and 
his brother John, and their dependants, fled 
into Stratlinaver and solicited the favour and 
protection of Mackay. The latter received 
them, kindly ; but as William and his party 
had been long addicted to robbery and theft, 
he strongly advised them to abstain from such 
practices in all time coming ; and that they 
might not afterwards plead necessity as an 
excuse for continuing their depredations, he 
allotted them some lands to dwell on. After 
staying a month or two in Strathnaver, during 
which time they stole some cattle and horses 
out of Caithness, William received a private 
visit by night from Kenneth Buidhe, his 
father, who had been sent by the Earl of Caith- 
ness for the purpose of executing a contem- 
plated depredation in Sutherland. Mackay 
was then in Sutherland on a visit to his uncle, 
Sir Robert Gordon, which being known to 
William Mac-Kenneth, ho resolved to enter 
Sutherland with his party, and cany off into 
Caithness all the booty they coidd collect. 
Being observed in the glen of Loth by some of 
the clan Gun, collecting cattle and horses, they 
were immediately apprehended, with the ex- 
ception of lain-Garbh-Mac-Chonahl-Mac-Mhur- 
chidh-Mhoir, who, being a very resolute man, 
refused to surrender, and was in consequence 
killed. The prisoners were delivered to Sir 
Robert Gordon at Dornqch, who committed 
William and his brother John to the castle of 
Dornoch for trial. In the meantime two of 
the principal men of Mac-Kenneth's party 
were tried, convicted, and executed, and the 
remainder were allowed to return home on 
giving surety to keep the peace. This occur- 
rence took place in the month of January, 

The Earl of Caitlmess now finished his rest- 
less career of iniquity by the perpetration of a 
crime which, tnough trivial in its cruscqucnces, 



was of so highly a penal nature in itself as to 
bring his own life into jeopardy. As the cir- 
cumstances which led to the burning of the 
corn of William Innes, a servant of Lord Forbes 
at Sanset in Caithness, and the discovery of 
the Earl of Caithness as instigator, are some- 
what curious, it is thought that a recital of 
them may not bo here out of place. 

Among other persons who had suffered at 
the hands of the earl was his own kinsman, 
William Sinclair of Dumbaith. After annoy- 
ing him in a variety of ways, the earl insti- 
gated his bastard brother, Henry Sinclair, and 
Kenneth Buidhe, to destroy and lay waste part 
of Dumbaith's lands, who, unable to resist, and 
being in dread of personal risk, locked himself 
up in his house at Dunray, which they besieged. 
William Sinclair immediately applied to John, 
Earl of Sutherland, for assistance, who sent 
his friend Mackay with a party to rescue Sin- 
clair from his perilous situation. Mackay suc- 
ceeded, and carried Sinclair along with him 
into Sutherland, where he remained for a time, 
but he afterwards went to reside in Moray, 
where he died. Although thus cruelly perse- 
cuted and forced to become an exile from his 
country by the Earl of Caithness, no entreaties 
could induce him to apply for redress, choosing 
rather to suffer himself than to see his relative 
punished. William Sinclair was succeeded by 
his grandson, George Sinclair, who married a 
sister of Lord Forbes. By the persuasion of 
his wife, who was a mere tool in the hands 
of the Earl of Caithness, George Sinclair was 
induced to execute a deed of entail, by which, 
failing of heirs male of his own body, he left 
the whole of liis lands to the carl. When the 
earl had obtained this deed he began to devise 
means to make away with Sinclair, and ac- 
tually persuaded Sinclair's wife to assist him 
in tliis nefarious design. Having obtained 
notice of this conspiracy against his life, Sin- 
clair left Caithness and took up his residence 
with his brother-in-law, Lord Forbes, who 
received liim with great kindness and hospi- 
tality, and reprobated very strongly the wicked 
conduct of his sister. Sinclair now recalled 
the entail in favour of the Earl of Caithness, 
and mado a new deed by which he conveyed 
his whole estate to Lord Forbes. George Sin- 
clair died soon after the execution of tlic deed, 

and having left no issue, Lord Forbes took pos- 
session of his lands of Dunray and Dumbaith. 

Disappointed in his plans to acquire Sinclair's 
property, the Earl of Caithness seized every 
opportunity of annoying Lord Forbes in his 
possessions, by oppressing his tenants and 
servants, in every possible way, under the pre- 
tence of discharging his duty as sheriff, to 
which office he had been appointed by the Earl 
of Huntly, on occasion of his marriage with 
Huntly's sister. Complaints were made from 
time to time against the earl, on account of 
these proceedings, to the Privy Council of 
Scotland, which, in some measure, afforded 
redress ; but to protect his tenants more effectu- 
ally, Lord Forbes took up a temporary resi- 
dence in Caithness, relying upon the aid of tho 
house of Sutherland in case of need. 

As the Earl of Caithness was aware that any 
direct attack on Lord Forbes would be properly 
resented, and as any enterprise undertaken by 
his own people would be laid to his charge, 
however cautious he might be in dealing with 
them, he fixed on the clan Gun as the fittest 
instruments for effecting his designs against 
Lord Forbes. Besides being the most resolute 
men in Caithness, always ready to undertake 
any desperate action, they depended more upon 
tho Earl of Sutherland and Mackay, from 
whom they held some lands, than upon tho 
Earl of Caitlincss ; a circumstance which .the 
latter supposed, should the contemplated out- 
rages of the clan Gun ever become matter of 
inquiry, might throw the suspicion upon tho 
two former as the silent instigators. Accord- 
ingly, the earl opened a negotiation with Jolm 
Gun, chief of the clan Gun in Caithness, and 
witli his brother, Alexander Gun, whose father 
he had hanged in the year 1586. In conse- 
quence of an invitation, the two brothers, along 
with Alexander Gun, their cousin-gennan, re- 
paired to Castle Sinclair, where they met tho 
earl. The earl did not at first divulge his 
plans to all the party; but taking Alexander 
Gun, tho cousin, aside, he pointed out to him 
the injury he alleged he had sustained, in con- 
sequence of Lord Forbes having obtained a 
footing in Caithness, that he could no longer 
submit to the indignity shown him by a stran- 
ger, that ho had made choice of him (Gun) to 
undertake a piece of service for him, on per- 



forming which he would reward him most 
amply ; and to secure compliance, the earl de- 
sired him to remember the many favours he had 
already received from him, and how well he 
had treated him, promising, at the same time, to 
show him even greater kindness in time coming. 
Alexander thereupon promised to serve the earl, 
though at the hazard of his life ; hut upon being 
interrogated by the earl whether he would 
undertake to burn the corn of Sanset, belong- 
ing to "William Innes, a servant of Lord Forbes, 
Gun, who had never imagined that he was to 
be employed in such an ignoble affair, expressed 
the greatest astonishment at the proposal, and 
refused, in the most peremptory and indignant 
manner, to undertake its execution ; yet, to 
satisfy the earl, he told him that he would, at 
his command, undertake to assassinate William 
Innes, an action which he considered less 
criminal and dishonourable, and more becom- 
ing a gentleman, than burning a quantity of 
corn ! Finding him obdurate, the earl enjoined 
him to secrecy. 

The earl next applied to the two brothers, 
John and Alexander, with whom he did not 
find it so difficult to treat. They at first hesi- 
tated with some firmness in undertaking the 
business on which the earl was so intent ; and 
they pleaded an excuse, by saying, that as 
justice was then more strictly executed in 
Scotland than formerly, they could not expect 
to escape, as they had no place of safety to re- 
treat to after the crime was committed ; as a 
proof of which they instanced the cases of the 
clan Donald and the clan Gregor, two races of 
people much more powerful than the clan Gun, 
who had been brought to the brink of ruin, and 
almost annihilated, under the authority of the 
laws. The earl replied, that as soon as they 
should perform the service for him he would 
send them to the western isles, to some of his 
acquaintances and friends, with whom they 
might remain till Lord Forbes and he were 
reconciled, when he would obtain their pardon ; 
that in the meantime he would profess, in 
public, to be their enemy, but that he would be 
their friend secretly, and permit them to fre- 
quent Caithness without danger. Alexander 
Gun, overcome at last by the entreaties of the 
carl, reluctantly consented to his request, and 
going into Sanset, in the dead of night, with 

two accomplices, set fire to all the corn stacks 
which were in the barn-yard, belonging to 
"William Innes, and which were in consequence 
consumed. This affair occurred in the month 
of November, 1615. The Earl of Caithness 
immediately spread a report through the whole 
country that Mackay's tenants had committed 
this outrage, but the deception was of short 

It may be here noticed that John, sixth Earl 
of Sutherland, died in September, 1015, and 
was succeeded by his eldest son, John, a boy 
six years old, to whom Sir Robert Gordon, his 
uncle, was appointed tutor. 

Sir Robert Gordon, having arrived in the 
north of Scotland, from England, in the montli 
of December following, resolved to probo the 
matter to the bottom, not merely on account 
of his nephew, Mackay, whose men were sus- 
pected, but to satisfy Lord Forbes, who waa 
now on friendly terms with the house of Suth- 
erland ; but the discovery of the perpetrators 
soon became an easy task, in consequence of a 
quarrel among the clan Gun themselves, the 
members of which upbraided one another as 
the authors of the fire-raising. Alexander Gun, 
the cousin of Alexander Gun, the real criminal, 
thereupon fled from Caithness, and sent some 
of his friends to Sir Robert Gordon and Donald 
Mackay with these proposals : that if they 
would receive him into favour, and secure him 
from danger, he would confess the whole cir- 
cumstances, and reveal the authors of the con- 
flagration, and that he would declare the whole 
before the Privy Council if required. On 
receiving this proposal, Sir Robert Gordon 
appointed Alexander Gun to meet him pri- 
vately at Hclmsdale, in the house of Sir Alex- 
ander Gordon, brother of Sir Robert. A meet- 
ing was accordingly held at the place appointed, 
at which Sir Robert and his friends agreed to 
do everything in their power to preserve Gun's 
life ; and Mackay promised, moreover, to give 
him a possession in Strathie, where jiis father 
had formerly lived. 

"When the Earl of Caithness heard of Alex- 
ander Gun's flight into Sutherland he became 
greatly alarmed lest Alexander should reveal the 
affair of Sanset ; and anticipating such a result, 
the carl gave out everywhere that Sir Robert 
Gordon, Mackay, and Sir Alexander Gordon, 



had hired some of the clan Gun to accuse 
him of having burnt William Innes's corn. 
But this artifice was of no avail, for as soon as 
Lord Forbes received notice from Sir Robert 
Gordon of the circumstances related by Alex- 
ander Gun, ho immediately cited Jolm Gun 
and his brother Alexander, and their accom- 
plices, to appear for trial at Edinburgh, on the 
2d April, 1616, to answer to the charge of 
burning the corn at Sanset ; and he also sum- 
moned the Earl of Caithness, as sheriff of that 
county, to deliver them up for trial. Jolin 
Gun, thinking that the best course he could 
pursue under present circumstances was to fol- 
low the example of his cousin, Alexander, sent 
a message to Sir Alexander Gordon, desiring 
an interview with him, which being granted, 
they met at Kavidale. John Gun then offered 
to reveal everytliing he knew concerning the 
fire, on condition that his life should be spared; 
but Sir Alexander observed that he could come 
under no engagement, as he was uncertain how 
the king and the council might view such a 
proceeding ; but he promised, that as John had 
not been an actor in the business, but a witness 
only to the arrangement between his brother 
and the Earl of Caithness, he would do what 
he could to save him, if he went to Edinburgh 
in compliance with the summons. 

In this state of matters, the Earl of Caith- 
ness wrote to the Marquis of Huntly, accusing 
Sir Eobert Gordon and Mackay of a design to 
bring him within the reach of the law of trea- 
son, and to injure the honour of his house by 
slandering him with the burning of the corn at 
Sanset. The other party told the marquis that 
they could not refuse to assist Lord Forbes in 
finding out the persons who had burned the corn 
at Sanset, but that they had never imagined 
that the earl would have acted so base a part 
as to become an accomplice in such a criminal 
act ; and farther, that as Mackay's men were 
challenged with the deed, they certainly were 
entitled at least to clear Mackay's people from 
the charge by endeavouring to find out the male- 
factors, in all which they considered they had 
done the earl no wrong. The Marquis of 
Huntly did not fail to write the Earl of Caith- 
ness the answer he had received from Sir Eo- 
bert Gordon and Mackay, which grieved him 
exceedingly, as he was too well aware of the 

consequences which would follow if the prose- 
cution of the Guns was persevered in. 

At the time appointed for the trial of the 
Guns, Sir Eobert Gordon, Mackay, and Lord 
Forbes, with all his friends, went to Edin- 
burgh, and upon their arrival they entreated 
the council to prevent a remission in favour of 
the Earl of Caithness from passing the signet 
until the affair in hand was tried ; a request 
with which the council complied. The Earl 
of Caithness did not appear ; but he sent his 
son, Lord Berridale, to Edinburgh, along with 
John Gun and all those persons who had been 
summoned by Lord Forbes, with the exception 
of Alexander Gun and his two accomplices. 
He alleged as his reason for not sending them 
that they were not his men, being Mackay's 
own tenants, and dwelling in Dilred, the pro- 
perty of Mackay, which was held by him off 
the Earl of Sutherland, who, he alleged, was 
bound to present the three persons alluded to. 
But the lords of the council would not admit 
of this excuse, and again required Lord Berri- 
dale and his father to present the three culprits 
before the court on the 10th June following, 
because, although they had possessions in Dil- 
rcd, they had also lands from the Earl of Caith- 
ness on which they usually resided. Besides, 
the deed was committed in Caithness, of which 
the earl was sheriff, on which account also he 
was bound to apprehend them. Lord Berri- 
dale, whose character was quite the reverse of 
that of his father, apprehensive of the conse- 
quences of a trial, now offered satisfaction in 
his father's name to Lord Forbes if he would 
stop the prosecution ; but his lordship refused 
to do anything without the previous advice and 
consent of Sir Eobert Gordon and Mackay, who, 
upon being consulted, caused articles of agree- 
ment to be drawn up, which were presented 
to Lord Berridale by neutral persons for his 
acceptance. He, however, considering the con- 
ditions sought to be imposed upon his father 
too hard, rejected them. 

In consequence of the refusal of Lord Berri- 
dale to accede to the terms proposed, John Gun 
was apprehended by one of the magistrates of 
Edinburgh, on the application of Lord Forbes, 
and committed a prisoner to the jail of that 
city. Gun thereupon requested to see Sir 
Eobert Gordon and Mackay, whom he entreated 



to use their influence to procure him his 
liberty, promising to declare everything he 
knew of the business for which he was 
prosecuted before the lords of the council. 
Sir Eobcrt Gordon and Mackay then deliber- 
ated with Lord Forbes and Lord Elphinston 
on the subject, and they all four promised 
faithfully to Gun to do everything in their 
power to save him, and that they would 
thenceforth maintain and defend him and his 
cousin, Alexander Gun, against the Earl of 
Caithness or any person, as long as they 
had reason and equity on their side ; besides 
which, Mackay promised him a liferent lease 
of the lands in Strathie to compensate for his 
possessions in Caithness, of which lie would, 
of course, be deprived by the earl for revealing 
the Litter's connexion with the fire-raising at 
Sansct. John Gun was accordingly examined 
the following day by the lords of the council, 
when he confessed that the Earl of Caithness 
made his brother, Alexander Gun, burn the 
com of Sanset, and that the affair had been 
proposed and discussed in liis presence. Alex- 
ander Gun, the cousin, was examined also at 
the same time, and stated the same circum- 
stances precisely as John Gun had done. 
After examination, John and Alexander were 
again committed to prison. 

As neither the Earl of Caithness nor his son, 
Lord Berridale, complied with the commands 
of the council to deliver up Alexander Gun and 
his accomplices in the month of June, they 
were both outlawed and denounced rebels ; and 
were summoned and charged by Lord Forbes to 
appear personally at Edinburgh in the month 
of July immediately following, to answer to the 
charge of causing the corn of Sanset to be burnt. 
This fixed determination on the part of Lord 
Forbes to bring the earl and his son to trial 
had the effect of altering their tone, and they 
now earnestly entreated him and Mackay to 
agree to a reconciliation on any terms ; but 
they declined to enter into any arrangement 
until they had consulted Sir Eobert Gordon. 
After obtaining Sir Bobert's consent, and a 
written statement of the conditions which lie 
required from the Earl of Caithness in behalf of 
his nephew, the Earl of Sutherland, the parties 
entered into a final agreement in the month of 
July, 1 GIG. The principal heads of the contract, 

which was afterwards recorded in the books of 
council and session, were as follows : That 
all civil actions between the parties should bo 
settled by the mediation of common friends, 
that the Earl of Caithness and his son should 
pay to Lord Forbes and Mackay the sum of 
20,000 merks Scots money, that all quarrels 
and criminal actions should be mutually for- 
given, and particularly, that the Earl of Caith- 
ness and all his friends should forgive and 
remit the slaughter at Thurso,- that the Earl 
of Caithness and his son should renounce for 
themselves and their heirs all jurisdiction, 
criminal or civil, within Sutherland or Sfcrath- 
naver, and any other jurisdiction which they 
should thereafter happen to acquire over any 
lands lying within the diocese of Caithness 
then pertaining, or which should afterwards 
belong, to the Earl of Sutherland, or his heirs, 
that the Earl of Caithness should deliver 
Alexander Gnn and his accomplices to Lord 
Forbes, that the earl, his son, and their heirs, 
should never thenceforth contend with the 
Earl of Sutherland for precedency in parlia- 
ment or priority of place, that the Earl of 
Caithness and his son, their friends and tenants, 
should keep the peace in time coming, under 
the penalty of great sums of money, and should 
never molest nor trouble the tenants of the 
Earl of Sutherland and Lord Forbes, that 
the Earl of Caithness, his son, or their friends, 
should not receive nor harbour any fugitives 
from Sutherland or Strathnaver, and that 
there should be good friendship and amity 
kept amongst them in all time to come. 

In consequence of this agreement, the two 
sons of Kenneth Buy, William and John be- 
fore-mentioned, were delivered to Lord Berri- 
dale, who gave security for their keeping the 
peace; and John Gun and Alexander his 
cousin were released, and delivered to Lord 
Forbes and Mackay, who gave surety to the 
lords of the council to present them for trial 
whenever required ; and as the Earl of Caith- 
ness had deprived them of their possessions in 
Caithness on account of the discovery they had 
made, Mackay, who had lately been knighted 
by the king, gave them lands in Slrathnaver 
as he had promised. Matters being thus set- 
tled, Lord Berridalo presented liimself bo- 
fore the court at Edinburgh to abide his 



trial; but no person of course appearing against 
him, the trial was postponed. The Earl of 
Caithness, however, failing to appear, tho diet 
against him was continued till the 28th of 
August following. 

Although tho king was well pleased, on ac- 
count of tho peace which such an adjustment 
would produce in lu's northern dominions, with 
the agreement which had been entered into, 
and tho proceedings which followed thereon, 
all of which were made known to him by the 
Privy Council; yet, as the passing over such 
a flagrant act as wilful fire-raising, without 
punishment, might prove pernicious, ho wrote 
a letter to the Privy Council of Scotland, 
commanding them to prosecute, with all sever- 
ity, those who were guilty of, or accessory to, 
tho crime. Lord Berridale was thereupon 
apprehended on suspicion, and committed a 
prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh ; and his 
father, perceiving the determination of the 
king to prosecute the authors of the fire, again 
declined to appear for trial on the appointed 
day, on which account he was again outlawed, 
and declared a rebel as the guilty author. 

In this extremity Lord Berridale had recourse 
to Sir Robert Gordon, then resident at court, 
for his aid. He wrote him a letter, entreating 
him that, as all controversies were now settled, 
lie would, in place of an enemy become a faithful 
friend, that for Ms own part, ho, Lord Berri- 
dalo, had been always innocent of the jars and 
dissensions which had happened between the 
two families, that he was also innocent of the 
crime of which lie was charged, and that lie 
\\Miccl his majesty to be informed by Sir Ro- 
of these circumstances, hoping that he 
would order him to bo released from confine- 
ment. Sir Robert answered, that he had long 
desired a perfect agreement between the houses 
of Sutherland and Caithness, which lie would 
endeavour to maintain during his administra- 
tion in Sutherland, -that ho would intercede 
with tlie Icing in behalf of his lordship to the 
utmost of his power, that all disputes being 
now at an end, he would be his faithful friend, 
that he had a very different opinion of his 
disposition from that he entcil lined of his 
father, the c:-.rl ; and he concluded by en treat- 
ing him to be careful to preserve the friend .Oiin 
which had been now commenced between them. 

As the king understood that Lord Berridale 
was supposed to be innocent of the crime with 
which he and his father stood charged, and as 
he could not, without a verdict against Berri- 
dale, proceed against tho family of Caithness 
by forfeiture, in consequence of his lordship 
having been infeft many years before in his 
father's estate; his majesty, on tho earnest 
entreaty of the then bishop of Ross, Sir Robert 
Gordon, and Sir James Spence of Wormistoun, 
was pleased to remit and forgive the crime on 
the following conditions: 1st. That tho Earl 
of Caithness and his son should give satisfac- 
tion to their creditors, who were constantly 
annoying his majesty with clamours against 
the earl, and craving justice at Ids hands. 2d. 
That the Earl of Caithness, with consent of 
Lord Berridale, should freely renounce and 
resign perpetually, into the hands of liis ma- 
jesty, the heritable sheriffship and justiciary of 
Caithness. 3d. That the Earl of Caithness 
should deliver tho three criminals who had 
burnt the corn, that public justice might bo 
satisfied upon them, as a terror and example 
to others. 4th. That the Earl of Caithness, 
with consent of Lord Berridalo, should give 
and resign in perpetuum to the bishop of 
Caithness, tho house of Strabister, with as 
many of the feu lands of that bishopric as 
should amount to the yearly value of two 
thousand mcrks Scots money, for the purpose 
of augmenting the income of the bishop, which 
was at tliat time small in consequence of tho 
greater part of his lands being in the hands of 
the earL Commissioners were sent down 
from London to Caithness in October 1 GIG, to 
see that these conditions were complied witlu 
The second and last conditions were imme- 
diately implemented; and as the earl and las 
son promised to give satisfaction to their 
creditors, and to do everything in their power 
to apprehend the burners of the corn, tho lat- 
ter was released from tho castle of Edinburgh, 
and directions were given for drawing up a 
remission and pardon to the Earl of Caithness. 
Lord Bemdalc, however, had scarcely been 
released from the castle, when he was again 
imprisoned within tho jail of Edinburgh, at 
the instance of Sir James Home of Cowdrn- 
knowcs, his cousin german, who had become 
surety for him and his father to their creditors 



for large sums of money. The earl himself 
narrowly escaped the fato of his son and retired 
io Caithness, but his creditors had sufficient 
interest to prevent his remission from passing 
till they should be satisfied. "With consent of 
the creditors the council of Scotland gave him 
a personal protection, from time to time, to 
enable him to come to Edinburgh for the pur- 
pose of settling with them, but he made no 
arrangement, and returned privately into Caith- 
ness before the expiration of the supersedere 
which had been granted him, leaving his son 
to suffer all the miseries of a prison. After 
enduring a captivity of five years, Lord Berri- 
dale was released from prison by the good 
offices of the Earl of Enzie, and put, for behoof 
of himself, and his own and his father's credi- 
tors, in possession of the family estates from 
wliich his father was driven by Sir Eobert 
Gordon acting under a royal warrant, a just 
punishment for the many enormities of a long 
and misspent life. * 

Desperate as the fortunes of the Earl of 
Caithness were even previous to the disposal 
of his estates, he most unexpectedly found an 
ally in Sir Donald Mackay, who had taken 
offence at Sir Eobert Gordon, and who, being a 
man of quick resolution and of an inconstant 
disposition, determined to forsake the house of 
Sutherland, and to ingratiate himself with the 
Earl of Caithness. He alleged various causes 
of discontent as a reason for his conduct, one 
of the chief being connected with pecuniary 
considerations ; for having, as he alleged, 
burdened his estates with debts incurred for 
some years past in following the house of 
Sutherland, he thought that, in time coming, he 
might, by procuring the favour of the Earl of 
Caithness, turn the same to his own advantage 
and that of his countrymen. Moreover, as he 
had been induced to his own prejudice to grant 
certain life-rent tacks of the lands of Strathio 
and Dilred to John and Alexander Gun, and 
others of the clan Gun for revealing the affair 
of Sanset, he thought that by joining the Earl 
of Caithness, these might be destroyed, by 
which means he would get back his lands 
which he meant to convey to his brother, John 
Mackay, as a portion ; and he, moreover, 

1 Sir K. Gordon, p. 329, ct scq. 

expected that the earl would give him and his 
countrymen some possessions in Caithness. 
But the chief ground of discontent on the part 
of Sir Donald Mackay was an action brought 
against him and Lord Forbes before the court 
of session, to recover a contract entered into 
between the last Earl of Sutherland and Mac- 
kay, in the year 1613, relative to their marches 
and other matters of controversy, which being 
considered by Mackay as prejudicial to him, 
he had endeavoured to get destroyed tlirough 
the agency of some persons about Lord Forbes, 
into whose keeping the deed had been intrusted. 

After brooding over these subjects of discon- 
tent for some years, Mackay, in the year 1618, 
suddenly resolved to break with the house of 
Sutherland, and to form an alliance with the 
Earl of Caithness, who had long borne a mortal 
enmity at that family. Accordingly, Mackay 
sent John Sutherland, his cousin-gennan, into 
Caithness to request a private conference with 
the earl in any part of Caithness he might 
appoint. This offer was too tempting to be 
rejected by the earl, who expected, by a recon- 
ciliation with Sir Donald Mackay, to turn the 
same to his own personal gratification and 
advantage. In the first place, he hoped to 
revenge himself upon the clan Gun, who were 
his principal enemies, and upon Sir Donald 
himself, by detaching him from his superior, 
the Earl of Sutherland, and from the friendship 
of his uncles, who had always supported him 
in all his difficulties. In the second place, he 
expected that, by alienating Mackay from the 
duty and affection he owed the house of Suther- 
land, that he would weaken his power and 
influence. And lastly, ho trusted that Mackay 
would not only be prevailed upon to discharge 
his own part, but would also persuade Lord 
Forbes to discharge his share of the sum of 
20,000 merks Scots, which ho and his son, 
Lord Berridale, had become bound to pay them, 
on account of the burning at Sanset. 

The Earl of Caithness having at once agreed 
to Mackay's proposal, a meeting was held by 
appointment in the neighbourhood of Dunray, 
in the parish of Eeay, in Caithness. The 
parties met in the night-time, accompanied each 
by three men only. After much discussion, and 
various conferences, which were continued for 
two or three days, they resolved to destroy the 


clan Gun, and particularly John Gun, and 
Alexander his cousin. To please the carl, 
Mackay undertook to despatch these last, as 
they were obnoxious to him, on account of the 
part they had taken against him, in revealing 
the burning at Sanset. They persuaded them- 
selves that tho house of Sutherland would 
defend the clan, as they were bound to do 
by their promise, and that that house would 
bo thus drawn into some snare. To confirm 
their friendship, the earl and Mackay arranged 
that John Mackay, the only brother of Sir 
Donald, should marry a niece of tho earl, a 
daughter of James Sinclair of Murkle, who 
was a mortal enemy of all the clan Gun. Hav- 
ing thus planned the line of conduct they were 
to follow, they parted, after swearing to con- 
tinue in perpetual friendship. 

Notwithstanding the private way in which 
the meeting was held, accounts of it immedi- 
ately spread through the kingdom ; and every 
person wondered at the motives which could 
induce Sir Donald Mackay to take such a step 
80 unadvisedly, without the knowledge of his 
uncles, Sir Robert and Sir Alexander Gordon, 
or of Lord Forbes. The clan Gun receiving 
secret intelligence of tho design upon them, 
from different friendly quarters, retired into 
Sutherland. The clan were astonished at Mac- 
kay's conduct, as he hud promised, at Edin- 
burgh, in presence of Lords Forbes and Elph- 
ingston and Sir Robert Gordon, in the year 
1G1G, to be a perpetual friend to them, and 
chiefly to John Gun and to his cousin Alex- 

After Mackay returned from Caithness, he 
sent his cousin-german, Angus Mackay of Big- 
house, to Sutherland, to acquaint his uncles, 
who had received notice of the meeting, that 
his object in meeting the Earl of Caithness was 
for his own personal benefit, and that nothing 
had been done to their prejudice. Angus 
Mackay met Sir Eobert Gordon at Dunrobin, 
to whom ho delivered his kinsman's message, 
which, he said, he hoped Sir Robert would 
take in good part, adding that Sir Donald 
would show, in presence of both his uncles, that 
the clan Gun had failed in duty and fidelity to 
Lira and the house of Sutherland, since they had 
revealed the burning ; and therefore, that if his 
uncles would not forsake John Gun, and some 

others of the clan, ho would adhere to them no 
longer. Sir Robert Gordon returned a verbal 
answer by Angus Mackay, that when Sir 
Donald came in person to Dunrobin to clear 
himself, as in duty he was bound to do, ho 
would then accept of his excuse, and not till 
then. And he at the same time wrote a letter 
to Sir Donald, to the effect that for his own 
(Sir Robert's) part, ho did not much regard 
Mackay's secret journey to Caithness, and his 
reconciliation with Earl George, without his 
knowledge or the advice of Lord Forbes ; and 
that, however unfavourable the world might 
construe it, he would endeavour to colour it in 
the best way he could, for Mackay's own 
credit. He desired Mackay to consider that a 
man's reputation was exceedingly tender, and 
that if it were once blemished, though wrong- 
fully, there would still some blot remain, be- 
cause the greater part of the world would 
always incline to speak the worst ; that what- 
ever had been arranged in that journey, between 
him and the Earl of Caithness, beneficial to 
Mackay and not prejudicial to the house of 
Sutherland, he should be always ready to assist 
him therein, although concluded without his 
consent. As to the clan Gun, he could not 
with honesty or credit abandon them, and par- 
ticularly John and his cousin Alexander, until 
tried and found guilty, as he had promised 
faithfully to be their friend, for revealing the 
affair of Sanset ; that he had made them this 
promise at the earnest desire and entreaty of 
Sir Donald himself ; that the house of Suther- 
land did always esteem their truth and con- 
stancy to be their greatest jewel ; and seeing 
that he and his brother, Sir Alexander, were 
almost the only branches of it then of ago or 
man's estate, they would endeavour to prove 
true and constant wheresoever they did possess 
friendship ; and that neither the house of 
Sutherland, nor any greater house whereof 
they had the honour to be descended, should 
have the least occasion to be ashamed of them 
in that respect ; that if Sir Donald had quar- 
relled or challenged the clan Gun, before going 
into Caithness and his arrangement with Earl 
George, the clan might have been suspected ; 
but ho saw no reason to forsake them until 
they were found guilty of some great offence. 
Sir Robert Gordon, therefore, acting as tutor 



for his nephew, took the clan Gun under his 
immediate protection, with the exception of 
Alexander Gun, the burner of the corn, and 
liia accomplices. John Gun thereupon de- 
manded a trial before hia friends, that they 
might hear what Sir Donald had to lay to his 
charge. John and his kinsmen were acquitted, 
and declared innocent of any offence, either 
against the house of Sutherland or Mackay, 
since the fact of the burning. 

Sir Donald Mackay, dissatisfied with this 
result, went to Edinburgh for the purpose of 
obtaining a commission against the clan Gun 
from the council, for old crimes committed by 
them before his majesty had left Scotland for 
England ; but he was successfully opposed in 
this by Sir Eobert Gordon, who wrote a letter 
to the Lord-Chancellor and to the Earl of 
Mclrose, afterwards Earl of Haddington and 
Lord Privy Seal, showing that the object of 
Sir Donald, in .asking such a commission, was 
to break the king's peace, and to breed fresh 
troubles in Caithness. Disappointed in tMs 
attempt, Sir Donald returned home to Strath- 
naver, and, in the month of April, 1618, he 
went to Braill, in Caithness, where he met the 
earl, with whom he continued three nights. 
On this occasion they agreed to despatch Alex- 
ander Gun, the burner of the corn, lest Lord 
Forbes should request the earl to deliver him 
up ; and they hoped that, in consequence of 
such an occurrence, the tribe might be ensnared. 
Before parting, the earl delivered to Mackay 
some old writs of certain lands in Strathnaver 
and other places within the diocese of Caith- 
ness, which belonged to Sir Donald's prede- 
cessors ; by means of which the earl thought 
lie would put Sir Donald by the ears with his 
uncles, expecting him to bring an action against 
the Earl of Sutherland, for the warrandice of 
Strathnaver, and thus free himself from the 
superiority of the Earl of Sutherland. 

Shortly after this meeting was held, Sir 
Donald entered Sutherland privately, for the 
purpose of capturing John Gun; but, after 
lurking two nights in Golspie, watching Gun, 
without effect, ho was discovered by Adam 
Gordon of Kilcalmkill, a trusty dependant of 
the house of Sutherland, and thereupon re- 
turned to his country. In the meantime the 
Earl of Caithness, who sought every oppor- 

tunity to quarrel with the house of Suther- 
land, endeavoured to pick a quarrel with Sir 
Alexander Gordon about some sheilings which 
he alleged the latter's servants had erected 
beyond the marches between Torrish, in Strath - 
ully, and the lands of Berridale. The dispute, 
however, came to nothing. 

When Sir Eobert Gordon heard of these 
occurrences in the north, he returned home 
from Edinburgh, where he had been for some 
time; and, on his return, ho visited the Marquis 
of Huntly at Strathbogie, who advised him to 
be on his guard, as he had received notice from 
the Earl of Caithness that Sir Donald meant 
to create some disturbances in Sutherland. 
The object the earl had in view, in acquaint- 
ing the marquis with Mackay's intentions, was 
to screen himself from any imputation of being 
concerned in Mackay's plans, although he fa- 
voured them in secret. As soon as Sir Eobert 
Gordon was informed of Mackay's intentions ho 
hastened to Sutherland ; but before his arrival 
there, Sir Donald had entered Strathully with 
a body of men, in quest of Alexander Gun, the 
burner, against whom he had obtained letters 
of caption. He expected that if he could find 
Gun in Strathully, where the clan of that 
name chiefly dwelt, they, and particularly 
John Gun, would protect Alexander, and that 
in consequence ho would ensnare John Gun 
and his tribe, and bring them within the reach 
of the law, for having resisted the king's 
authority ; but Mackay was disappointed in 
his expectations, for Alexander Gun escaped, 
and none of the clan Gun made the least 
movement, not knowing how Sir Eobert Gor- 
don was affected towards Alexander Gun. 
In entering Strathully, without acquainting 
his uncles of his intention, Sir Donald had 
acted improperly, and contrary to his duty, as 
the vassal of the house of Sutherland : but, not 
satisfied with this trespass, ho went to Badin- 
loch, and there apprehended William M'Corkill, 
one of the clan Gun, and carried him along 
with him towards Strathnaver, on the ground 
that he had favoured the escape of Alexander 
Gun; but M'Corkill escaped while his keepers 
were asleep, and went to Dunrobin, where he 
met Sir Alexander Gordon, to whom he related 
the circumstance. 

Hearing that Sir Eobert Gordon was upon 


liis journey to Sutherland, Mackay loft Badin- 
loch in haste, and wont privately to the parisl: 
of Culmaly, taking up his residence in Golspie- 
tour with John Gordon, younger of Emho, till 
hn should learn in what manner Sir Robert 
would act towards him. Mackay, perceiving 
that his presence in Golspietour was likely to 
lead to a tumult among the people, sent his 
men home to Strathnaver, and went himself 
the following day, taking only one man along 
with him, to Dunrobin castle, where he met 
Sir Robert Gordon, who received him kindly 
according to his usual manner; and after Sir 
Robert had opened his mind very freely to 
him on the bad course he was pursuing, ho 
began to talk to him about a reconciliation 
with John Gun; but Sir Donald would not 
hear of any accommodation, and after staying a 
few days at Dunrobin, returned home to his 
own country. 

Sir Donald Maekay, perceiving the danger 
in which he had placed himself, and seeing 
that he could put no reliance on the hollow 
and inconstant friendship of the Earl of Caith- 
ness, became desirous of a reconciliation with 
his uncles, and with this view he offered 
to refer all matters in dispute to the arbitra- 
ment of friends, and to make such satisfaction 
for his offences as they might enjoin. As Sir 
Robert Gordon still had a kindly feeling 
towards Mackay, and as the state in which the 
n (fairs of the house of Sutherland stood during 
the minority of his nephew, the earl, could not 
conveniently admit of following out hostile 
measures against Mackay, Sir Robert embraced 
his offer. The parties, therefore, met at Tain, 
and matters being discussed in presence of Sir 
Alexander Gordon of Navidale, George Monroe 
of Milntoun, and John Monroe of Leamlair, 
they adjudged that Sir Donald should send 
Angus Mackay of Bighouse, and three gentle- 
men of the Slaight-ean-Aberigh, to Dunrobin, 
there to remain prisoners during Sir Robert's 
plrasuro, as a punishment for apprehending 
William M'Corkill at Badinlocb, After set- 
tling some other matters of little moment, the 
partii's agreed to hold another meeting for 
adjusting all remaining questions, at Elgin, in 
the month of June of the following year, 1C19. 
Sir Donald wished to include Gordon of Emho 
and others of his friends in Sutherland in this 

arrangement; but as they were vassals of the 
house of Sutherland, Sir Robert would not 
allow Mackay to treat for them. 

In the month of November, 1018, a disturb- 
ance took place in consequence of a quarrel 
between George, Lord Gordon, Earl of Enzio, 
and Sir Lauchlan Macintosh, chief of the clan 
Chattan, which arose out of the following cir- 
cumstances: When the earl went into Loch- 
abcr, in the year 1613, in pursuit of the clan 
Cameron, he requested Macintosh to accom- 
pany him, both on account of his being the 
vassal of the Marquis of Huntly, the earl's 
father, and also on account of the ancient 
enmity which had always existed between the 
clan Chattan and clan Cameron, in consequence 
of the latter keeping forcible possession of cer- 
tain lands belonging to the former in Lochaber. 
To induce Macintosh to join him, the cavl 
promised to dispossess the clan Cameron of 
the lands belonging to Macintosh, and to 
restore him to the possession of them ; but, by 
advice of the laird of Grant, his father-in-law, 
who was an enemy of the house of Huntly, ho 
declined to accompany the earl in his expedi- 
tion. The earl was greatly displeased at Mac- 
intosh's refusal, which afterwards led to some 
disputes between them. A few years after the 
date of this expedition in which the earl sub- 
dued the clan Cameron, and took their chief 
prisoner, whom he imprisoned at Inverness in 
the year 1614 Macintosh obtained a commis- 
sion against Macronald, younger of Keppoch, 
and Ms brother, Donald Glass, for laying waste- 
his lands in Lochaber; and, having collected 
all his friends, he entered Loehaber for the 
purpose of apprehending them, but, being un- 
successful in his attempt, he returned home. 
As Macintosh conceived that he had a right to 
the services of all liis clan, some of whom 
were tenants and dependants of the Marquis 
of Huntly, he ordered these to follow liim, and 
compelled such of them as were refractory to 
accompany him into Lochaber. This proceed- 
ing gave offence to the Earl of Enzie, who 
summoned Macintosh before the lords of the 
Privy Council for having, as he asserted, ex- 
ceeded his commission. He, moreover, got 
Macintosh's commission recalled, and obtained 
a new commission in his own favour from the 
lords of the council, under which he invadej 



Lochaber, and expelled Macronald and his 
brother Donald from that country. 

As Macintosh held certain lands from the 
earl and his father for services to he done, 
which the earl alleged had not been performed 
by Macintosh agreeably to the tenor of his 
titles, the earl brought an action against Mac- 
intosh in the year 1618 for evicting these 
lands, on the ground of liis not having imple- 
mented the conditions on which he held them. 
And, as the earl had a right to the tithes of 
Culloden, wliich belonged to Macintosh, he 
served him, at the same time, with an inhibition, 
prohibiting him to dispose of these tithes. As 
the time for titliing drew near, Macintosh, by 
advice of the clan Kenzie and the Grants, 
circulated a report that he intended to oppose 
the earl in any attempt he might make to take 
possession of the tithes of Culloden in kind, 
because such a practice had never before been 
in use, and that he would try the issue of an 
action of spuilzie, if brought against him. 
Although the earl was much incensed at such 
a threat on the part of his own vassal, yet, 
being a privy counsellor, and desirous of 
showing a good example in keeping the peace, 
ho abstained from enforcing his right; but, 
having formerly obtained a decree against Mac- 
intosh for the value of the tithes of the pre- 
ceding years, he sent two messengers-at-arms 
to poind and distrain the crops upon the 
ground under that warrant. The messengers 
were, however, resisted by Macintosh's servants, 
and forced to desist from the execution of their 
duty. The earl, in consequence, pursued Mac- 
intosh and his servants before the Privy 
Council, and got them denounced and pro- 
claimed rebels to the king. He, thereupon, 
collected a number of his particular friends 
with the design of carrying his decree into 
execution, by distraining the crop at Cullodon 
and carrying it to Inverness. Macintosh pre- 
pared himself to resist, by fortifying the house 
of Culloden and laying hi a large quantity of 
ammunition; and having collected all the corn 
within shot of the castle and committed the 
charge of it to his two uncles, Duncan and 
Lauchlan, he waited for the approach of the 
earL As the earl was fully aware of Mac- 
intosh's preparations, and that the clan Chattan, 
the Grants, and the clan Kenzie, had promised 

to assist Macintosh in opposing the execution 
of his warrant, he wrote to Sir Robert Gordon, 
tutor of Sutherland, to meet him at Culloden 
on the 5th of November, 1618, being the day 
fixed by him for enforcing his decree. On 
receipt of this letter, Sir Robert Gordon left 
Sutherland for Bog-a-Gight, where the Marquis 
of Huntly and his son then were, and on his 
way paid a visit to Macintosh with the view 
of bringing about a compromise; but Macintosh, 
who was a young man of a headstrong disposi- 
tion, refused to listen to any proposals, and 
rode post-haste to Edinburgh, from wliich ha 
went privately into England. 

In the meantime, the Earl of Enzie having 
collected his friends, to the number of 1,100 
horsemen well appointed and armed, and 
600 Highlanders on foot, came to Inver- 
ness with this force on the day appointed, 
and, after consulting his principal officers, 
marched forwards towards Culloden. When 
ho arrived within view of the castle, the earl 
sent Sir Robert Gordon to Duncan Macintosh, 
who, with his brother, commanded the house, 
to inform him that, in consequence of his 
nephew's extraordinary boasting, he had come 
thither to put his majesty's laws in execution, 
and to carry off the corn which of right be- 
longed to him. To this message Duncan re- 
plied, that he did not mean to prevent the earl 
from taking away what belonged to him, but 
that, in case of attack, he would defend the 
castle which had been committed to his charge. 
Sir Robert, on his return, begged the earl to 
send Lord Lovat, who had some influence with 
Duncan Macintosh, to endeavour to prevail on 
him to surrender the castle. At the desire of 
the earl, Lord Lovat accordingly went to the 
house of Culloden, accompanied by Sir Robert 
Gordon and George Monroe of Milntoun, and, 
after some entreaty, Macintosh agreed to sur- 
render at discretion; a party thereupon took 
possession of the house, and sent the keys to 
the earl. He was, however, so well pleased 
with the conduct of Macintosh, that he sent 
back the keys to him, and as neither the clan 
Chattan, the Grants, nor the clan Kenzie, 
appeared to oppose him, ho disbanded his 
party and returned home to Bog-a-Gight. 
He did not even carry off the corn, but gave 
it to Macintosh's grandmother, who enjoyed 



the life-rent of the lands of Cullodcn as her 

As the Earl of Enzie had other claims against 
Sir Lauchlan Macintosh, he cited him before 
the lords of council and session, but failing to 
appear, he was again denounced rebel, and 
outlawed for his disobedience. Sir Lauchlan, 
who was then in England at court, informed 
the king of the earl's proceedings, which he 
described as harsh and illegal, and, to counteract 
the effect which such a statement might have 
upon the mind of his majesty, the earl posted 
to London and laid before him a true statement 
of matters. The consequence was, that Sir 
Lauchlan was sent home to Scotland and com- 
mitted to the castle of Edinburgh, until he 
should give the earl full satisfaction. This 
step appears to have brought him to reason, 
and induced him to apply, through the media- 
tion of some friends, for a reconciliation with 
the earl, which took place accordingly, at 
Edinburgh, in the year 1G19. Sir Lauchlan, 
however, became bound to pay a large sum of 
money to the earl, part of which tlifi latter 
afterwards remitted. The laird of Grant, by 
whoso advice Macintosh had acted in opposing 
the earl, also submitted to the latter; but the 
reconciliation was more nominal than real, 
for the earl was afterwards obliged to protect 
the chief of the clan Cameron against them, 
and this circumstance gave rise to many dis- 
sensions between them and the earl, which 
ended only witli the lives of Macintosh and 
the laird of Grant, who both, died in the year 
1G22, when the ward of part of Macintosh's 
lands fell to the carl, as his superior, during 
the minority of his son. The Earl of Seaforth 
and his clan, who had also favoured the de- 
signs of Macintosh, were in like manner recon- 
ciled, at the same time, to the Earl of Enzie, 
at Aberdeen, through the mediation of the 
Earl of Dunfermline, the Chancellor of Scot- 
land, whoso daughter the Earl of Seaforth had 
married. 2 

In no part of the Highlands did the spirit 
of faction operate so powerfully, or reign with 
greater virulence, than in Sutherland and 
Caithness and the adjacent country. The 
jealousies and strifes which existed for such a 

1 Sir liobort Gordon, p. 350, et SCTJ. 

length of time between the two great rival 
families of Sutherland and Caithness, and the 
warfare which these occasioned, sowed the 
seeds of a deep-rooted hostility, which extended 
its baneful influence among all their followers, 
dependants, and friends, and retarded their 
advancement. The most trivial offences were 
often magnified into the greatest crimes, and 
bodies of men, animated by the deadliest 
hatred, were instantly congregated to avenge 
imaginary wrongs. It would be almost an 
endless task to relate the many disputes and 
differences which occurred during the seven- 
teenth century in these distracted districts; 
but as a short account of the principal events 
is necessary in a work of this nature, we again 
proceed agreeably to our plan. 

The resignation which the Earl of Caithness 
was compelled to make of part of the feu lands 
of the bishopric of Caithness, into the hands of 
the bishop, as before related, was a measure 
which preyed upon his mind, naturally restless 
and vindictive, and in consequence he con- 
tinually annoyed the bishop's servants and 
tenants. His hatred was more especially 
directed against Robert Monroe of Aldie, com- 
missary of Caithness, who always acted as 
chamberlain to the bishop, and factor in the 
diocese, whom he took every opportunity to 
molest. The earl had a domestic servant, 
James Sinclair of Dyren, who had possessed 
part of the lands which he had been compelled 
to resign, and which were now tenanted by 
Thomas Lindsay, brother-uterine of Robert 
Monroe, the commissary. This James Sinclair, 
at the instigation of the earl, quarrelled with 
Thomas Lindsay, who was passing at the time 
near the earl's house in Thurso, and, after 
changing some hard words, Sinclair inflicted a 
deadly wound upon him, of which he shortly 
thereafter died. Sinclair immediately fled to 
Edinburgh, and thence to London, to meet 
Sir Andrew Sinclair, who was transacting 
some business for the king of Denmark there, 
that he might intercede with the king for a 
pardon ; but his majesty refused to grant it, 
and Sinclair, for better security, went to Den- 
mark along with Sir Andrew. 

As Robert Monroe did not consider his per- 
son safe in Caithness under such circumstances, 
he retired into Sutherland fur a time. He then 



pursued James Sinclair and his master, the 
Earl of Caithness, for the slaughter of his 
brother, Thomas Lindsay ; hut, not appearing 
for trial on the day appointed, they were both 
outlawed, and denounced rebels. Hearing that 
Sinclair was in London, Monroe hastened 
thither, and in his own name and that of the 
bishop of Caithness, laid a complaint before his 
majesty the earl and his servant. His 
majesty thereupon wrote to the Lords of the 
Privy Council of Scotland, desiring them to 
adopt the most speedy and rigorous measures 
to suppress the oppressions of the earl, that his 
subjects in the north who were well affected 
might live in safety and peace ; and to enable 
them the more effectually to punish the earl, 
his majesty ordered them to keep back the 
remission that had been granted for the affair 
at Sansct, which had not yet been delivered to 
him. His majesty also directed the Privy 
Council, with all secrecy and speed, to give a 
commission to Sir Robert Gordon to apprehend 
the earl, or force him to leave the kingdom, and 
to take possession of all his castles for his 
majesty's behoof; that he should also compel 
the lauded proprietors of Caithness to find 
surely, not only for keeping the king's peace 
in time coming, but also for their personal 
appearance at Edinburgh twice every year, as 
the West Islanders were bound to do, to 
answer to such complaints as might bo made 
against them. The letter containing these in- 
structions is dated from Windsor, 25th May, 

The Privy Council, on receipt of this letter, 
communicated the same to Sir Robert Gordon, 
who was then in Edinburgh ; but he excused 
himself from accepting the commission offered 
him, lest his acceptance might be construed as 
proceeding from spleen and malice against the 
Earl of Caithness. This answer, however, did 
not satisfy the Privy Council, which insisted 
that ho should accept the commission ; he 
eventually did so, but on condition that the 
council should furnish him with shipping and 
the munitions of war, and all other necessaries 
to force the earl to yield, in case he should 
fortify either Castlo Sinclair or Ackergill, and 
withstand a siege. 

While the Privy Council were deliberating 
on this matter, Sir Robert Gordon took occa- 

sion to speak to Lord Berridale, who was still 
a prisoner for debt in the jail of Edinburgh, 
respecting the contemplated measures against 
the earl, his father. As Sir Robert was still 
very unwilling to enter upon such an enter- 
prise, he advised his lordship to undertake 
the business, by engaging in which he might 
not only get himself relieved of the claims 
against him, save his country from the dangers 
which threatened it, but also keep possession of 
his castles ; and that as his father had treated 
him in the most unnatural manner, by suffering 
him to remain so long in prison without taking 
any steps to obtain his liberation, ho would bo 
justified, in the eyes of the world, in accepting 
the offer now made. Being encouraged by 
Lord Gordon, Earl of Enzic, to whom Sir 
Robert Gordon's proposal had been communi- 
cated, to embrace the offer, Lord Berridalo 
offered to undertake the service without any 
charge to his majesty, and that he would, 
before being liberated, give security to his 
creditors, cither to return to prison after he 
had executed the commission, or satisfy them 
for their claims against him. The Privy Coun- 
cil embraced at once Lord Berridale's proposal, 
but, although the Earl of Enzie offered himself 
as surety for his lordship's return to prison after 
the service was over, the creditors refused to 
consent to his liberation, anrl thus the matter 
dropped. Sir Robert Gordon was again urged 
by the council to accept the commission, and 
to make the matter more palatable to him, they 
granted the commission to him and the Earl 
of Enzio jointly, both of whom accepted it. 
As the council, however, had no command from 
the king to supply the commissioners with 
shipping and warlike stores, they delayed pro- 
ceedings till they should receive instructions 
from liis majesty touching that point. 

When the Earl of Caithness was informed of 
the proceedings contemplated against him, and 
that Sir Robert Gordon had been employed by a 
commission from his majesty to act in the mat- 
ter, ho wrote to the Lords of the Privy Council, 
asserting that he was innocent of the death of 
Thomas Lindsay ; that his reason for not ap- 
pearing at Edinburgh to abide his trial for that 
crime, was not that ho had been in any shape 
privy to the slaughter, but for fear of ln's 
creditors, who, he was afraid, would apprehend 



and imprison luin ; and promising, that if his 
majesty would grant him a protection and safe- 
comluct, ho would find security to abide trial 
for the slaughter of Thomas Lindsay. On 
receipt of this letter, the lords of the council 
promised him a protection, and in the month 
of August, his brother, James Sinclair of 
Murklo, and Sir John Sinclair of Greenland, 
became sureties for his appearance at Edin- 
burgh, at the time prescribed for his appear- 
ance to stand trial. Thus the execution of the 
commission was in the meantime delayed. 

Notwithstanding the refusal of Lord Berri- 
dale's creditors to consent to his liberation, 
Lord Gordon afterwards did all in his power 
to accomplish it, and ultimately succeeded in 
obtaining this consent, by giving his own 
personal security either to satisfy the creditors, 
or deliver up Lord Borridale into their hands. 
His lordship was accordingly released from 
prison, and returned to Caithness in the year 
1G21, after a confinement of five years. As 
his final cidargemcnt from jail depended upon 
his obtaining the means of paying his creditors, 
and as his father, the earl, staid at homo con- 
suming the rents of his estates, in rioting and 
licentiousness, without paying any part either 
of the principal or interest of his debts, and 
without feeling the least uneasiness at his son's 
confinement, Lord Berridale, immediately on 
his return, assisted by his friends, attempted 
to apprehend his father, so as to get the family 
estates into his own possession ; but without 

In the meantime the carl's creditors, wearied 
out with the delay which had taken place 
in liquidating their debts, grew exceedingly 
clamorous, and some of them took a journey to 
Caithness in the month of April, 1622, to 
endeavour to effect a settlement with the carl 
personally. All, however, that they obtained 
wi-rii fair words, and a promise from the earl 
that lie would speedily follow them to Edin- 
burgh, and satisfy them of all demands; but 
he failed to perform his promise. About this 
time, a sort of reconciliation appears to have 
taken place between the earl and his son, Lord 
Berridale; but it was of short duration. On 
this new disagreement breaking out, the earl 
lost the favour and friendship not only of his 
brothers, James and Sir John, but also that of 

his best friends in Caithness. Lord Berridale, 
thereupon, left Caithness and took up liis 
residence with Lord Gordon, who wrote to his 
friends at Court to obtain a new commission 
against the carl. As the king was daily troubled 
with complaints against the earl by his creditors, 
he readily consented to such a request, and ho 
accordingly wrote a letter to the Lords of tho 
Privy Council of Scotland, in tho month of 
December 1622, desiring them to issue a com- 
mission to Lord Gordon to proceed against tho 
carl. The execution of the commission was, 
however, postponed in consequence of a message 
to Lord Gordon to attend the Court and pro- 
ceed to France on some affairs of state, whoro 
ho accordingly went in the j-car 1C 23. On 
tho departure of his lordship, the earl mado 
an application to the Lords of tha Council for 
a new protection, promising to appear at Edin- 
burgh on tho 10th of August of this year, and 
to satisfy his creditors. This turned out to bo 
a mere pretence to obtain delay, for although 
the council granted tho protection, as required, 
upon tho most urgent solicitations, the earl 
failed to appear on tho day appointed. This 
breach of his engagement incensed his majesty 
and the council tho more against Mm, and made 
them more determined than ever to reduce him 
to obedience, llo was again denounced and 
proclaimed rebel, and a new commission was 
granted to Sir Robert Gordon to proceed against 
him and his abettors with fire and sword. In 
this commission there were conjoined with Sir 
Robert, his brother, Sir Alexander Gordon, 
Sir Donald Mackay, his nephew, and James 
Sinclair of Murlde, but on this condition, that 
Sir Robert should act as chief commissioner, 
and that nothing should be done by the other 
commissioners in tho service they wore employed 
in, without his advice and consent. 

The Earl of Caithness seeing now no longer 
any chance of evading the authority of tho 
laws, prepared to meet tho gathering storm by 
fortifying his castles and strongholds. Pro- 
clamations were issued interdicting all persons 
from having any communication with the earl, 
and letters of concurrence were given to Sir 
Robert in name of his majesty, charging and 
commanding tho inhabitants of Ross, Suther- 
land, Stralhnavcr, Caithness, and Orkney, to 
assist liim in the execution of his majesty's 



commission ; a ship well furnished with muni- 
tions of war, was sent to the coast of Caithness 
to prevent the earl's escape by sea, and to 
furnish Sir Robert with ordnance for battering 
the earl's castles in case he should withstand 
a siege. 

Sir Robert Gordon having arrived in Suther- 
land in the month of August, 1623, was 
immediately joined by Lord Berridale for the 
purpose of consulting ou the plan of operations 
to be adopted ; but, before fixing on any par- 
ticular plan, it was concerted that Lord Bern- 
dale should first proceed to Caithness to learn 
what resolution his father had come to, and to 
ascertain how the inhabitants of that country 
stood affected towards the earl. He was also 
to notify to Sir Robert the arrival of the ship 
of war on the coast. A day was, at the same 
time, fixed for the inhabitants of the adjoin- 
ing districts to meet Sir Robert Gordon in 
Strathully, upon the borders between Suther- 
land and Caitliucss. Lord Bcrridalo was not 
long in Caithness when lie sent notice to Sir 
Robert acquainting him that his father, the 
earl, had resolved to stand out to the last 
extremity, and that he had fortified the strong 
castle of Ackergill, which he had supplied with 
men, ammunition, and provisions, and upon 
holding out which he placed Ms last and only 
hope. He advised Sir Robert to bring with 
him into Caithness as many men as he could 
muster, as many of the inhabitants stood still 
well affected to the earl. 

The Earl of Caithness, in the meantime, 
justly apprehensive of the consequences which 
might ensue if unsuccessful in his opposition, 
despatched a messenger to Sir Robert Gordon, 
proposing that some gentlemen should be 
authorized to negotiate between them, for the 
purpose of bringing matters to an amicable 
accommodation. Sir Robert, who perceived 
the drift of this message, which was solely to 
obtain delay, returned for answer that he was 
exceedingly sorry that the earl had refused the 
benefit of his last protection for clearing away 
the imputations laid to his charge ; and that 
he clearly perceived that the earl's object in 
proposing a negotiation was solely to waste 
time, and to weary out the commissioners 
and army by delays, which he, for his own 
part, would not submit to, because the harvest 

was nearly at hand, and the king's ship could 
not be detained upon the coast idle. Unless, 
therefore, the earl at once submitted himself 
unconditionally to the king's mercy, Sir Robert 
threatened to proceed against him and his 
supporters immediately. The earl had been 
hitherto so successful in his different schemes 
to avoid the ends of justice that such an answer 
was by no means expected, and the firmness 
displayed in it served greatly to shake his 

Upon receipt of the intelligence from. Lord 
Berridale, Sir Robert Gordon rrade prepara- 
tions for entering Caithness without delay; 
and, as a precautionary measure, he took 
pledges from such of the tribes and families in 
Caitliness as he suspected were favourable to 
the earl. Before all his forces had time to 
assemble, Sir Robert received notice that tho 
war ship had arrived upon the Caitlmess coast, 
and that the earl was meditating an escape be- 
yond the seas. Unwilling to withdraw men 
from the adjoining provinces during the harvest 
season, and considering the Sutherland forces 
quite sufficient for his purpose, he sent couriers 
into Ross, Strathnaver, Assynt, and Orkney, 
desiring the people who had been engaged to 
accompany the expedition to remain at homo 
till farther notice ; and, having assembled all 
the inhabitants of Sutherland, he picked out 
the most active and resolute men among them, 
whom he caused to be well supplied with war- 
like weapons, and other necessaries, for the 
expedition. Having thus equipped his army, 
Sir Robert, accompanied by his brother, Sir 
Alexander Gordon, and the principal gentle- 
men of Sutherland, marched, on the 3d of 
September, 1623, from Dunrobin to Killiernan 
in Strathully, tho place of rendezvous previ- 
ously appointed. Here Sir Robert divided his 
forces into companies, over each of which he 
placed a commander. The following morning 
he passed the river Ilelmsdalc, and arranged 
liis army in the following order : Half-a-mile 
in advance of the main body he placed a com 
pany of the clan Gun, whose duty it was to 
search the fields as they advanced for the pur- 
pose of discovering any ambuscades wliich 
might be laid in their way, and to clear away 
any obstruction to the regular advance of tho 
main body. The right wing of the army was 



led by John Murray of Aberscors, Hugh Gor- 
don of Ballellon, and Adam Gordon of Kil- 
raliiikilL The left wing was commanded by 
John Gordon, younger of Embo, Robert Gray 
of Ospisdale, and Alexander Sutherland of 
Kilphiddcr. And Sir Robert Gordon himself, 
his brother Sir Alexander, the laird of Pul- 
rossie, and William Mac-Mhic-Sheumais of 
Killieman, led tlie centre. The two wings 
were always kept a short distance in advance 
of the centre, from which they were to 
receive support when required. In this man- 
ner the army advanced towards Berridale, and 
they observed the same order of marching dur- 
ing all the time they remained in Caithness. 

As soon as Lord Berridale heard of Sir 
Robert Gordon's advance, he and James Sin- 
clair of Murkle, one of the commissioners, and 
some other gentlemen, went forward in haste 
to meet him. The parties accordingly met 
among the mountains above Cayen, about three 
miles from Berridale. Sir Robert continued 
his march till he arrived at Brea-Na-Hcnglish 
in Berridale, where at night he encamped. 
Here they were informed that the ship of war, 
after casting anchor before Castle Sinclair, had 
gone from thence to Scrabster road, and that 
the Earl of Caithness had abandoned the 
country, and sailed by night into one of the 
Orkney Islands, with the intention of going 
thence into Norway or Denmark. From Brea- 
Na-Henglish the army advanced to Lathron, 
where they encamped. Here James Sinclair 
of Murkle, sheriff of Caithness, Sir William 
Sinclair of May, the laird of Ratter, the laird 
of Forse, and several other gentlemen of Caith- 
ness, waited upon Sir Robert Gordon and 
tendered their submission and obedience to his 
majesty, offering, at the same time, every 
assistance they could afford in forwarding the 
objects of the expedition. Sir Robert received 
them kindly, and promised to acquaint his 
majesty with their submission ; but ho dis- 
trusted some of them, and he gave orders that 
none of the Caithness people should be allowed 
to enter his camp after sunset. At Lathron, 
Sir Robert was joined by about 300 of the 
Caithness men, consisting of the Cadels and 
others who had favoured Lord Berridale. 
These men wore commanded by James Sinclair, 
fur cf Murkle, and were kept always a mile or 

two in advance of the army till they reached 
Castle Sinclair. 

No sooner did Sir Robert arrive before Castle 
Sinclair, which was a very strong place, and 
the principal residence of the Earl of Caith- 
ness, than it surrendered, the keys being de- 
livered up to him as representing his majesty. 
The army encamped before the castle two 
nights, during which time the officers took up 
their quarters within the castle, which was 
guarded by Sutherland men. 

From Castle Sinclair Sir Robert marched to 
the castle of Ackergill, another strong place, 
which also surrendered on the first summons, 
and the keys of which were delivered in like 
manner to him. The army next marched in 
battle array to the castle of Kease, the last resi- 
dence of the earl, which was also given up with- 
out resistance. The Countess of Caithness had 
previously removed to another residence not far 
distant, where she was visited by Sir Robert 
Gordon, who was her cousin-german. The 
countess entreated him, with great earnestness, 
to get her husband again restored to favour, 
seeing lie had made no resistance to him. Sir 
Robert promised to do what he could if tho 
earl would follow liis advice ; but he did not 
expect that matters could be accommodated so 
speedily as she expected, from the peculiar 
situation in which the earl then stood. 

From Kease Sir Robert Gordon returned 
with his army to Castle Sinclair, where, accord- 
ing to the directions he had received from the 
Privy Council, he delivered tho keys of all 
these castles and forts to Lord Berridale, to bo 
kept by him for his majesty's use, for which ho 
should be answerable to the lords of the coun- 
cil until the farther plcasiire of his majesty 
should be known. 

The army then returned to Wick in the same 
marcliing order which had been observed since 
its first entry into Caithness, at which place 
tho commissioners consulted together, and 
framed a set of instructions to Lord Berridalo 
for governing Caithness peaceably in time com- 
ing, conformably to the laws of the kingdom, 
and for preventing the Earl of Caithness from 
again disturbing the country, should he venture 
to return after the departure of the army. At 
Wick Sir Robert Gordon was joined by Sir 
Donald Mackay, who had collected together 



the choicest men of Stratlmaver ; but, as the 
object of the expedition had been accomplished, 
Sir Donald, after receiving Sir Robert's thanks, 
returned to Stratlmaver. Sir Robert having 
brought this expedition to a successful termina- 
tion, led back his men into Sutherland, and, 
after a stay of three months, went to England, 
carrying with him a letter from the Privy 
Council of Scotland to the king, giving an 
account of the expedition, and of its happy 
results. 3 

A. D. 1624-1636. 

James VI., 10031625. Charles I., 1625 1049. 

Insurrection of the clan Chattan against the Earl of 
Jinn-ay Dispute hctwccn the laird of DufTiis and 
Gordon, younger of Embo Sir Donald JIackay's 
machinations Feud among the Grants Dispute 
between the lairds of Frendraught and Rothiemay 
Quarrel between Frendraught and the laird of Pit- 
caple Calamitous and fatal fire at Frendraught 
House Inquiry as to the causa of the fire Escape 
of James Grant Apprehension of Grant of Ballin- 
dalloch And of Thomas Grant Dispute between 
the Earl of Sutherland and Lord Lorn Depreda- 
tions committed upon Frendraught Marquis of 
Huntly accused therewith The Marquis and Let- 
terfourie committed Liberated Death and char- 
acter of the Marquis. 

THE troubles in Sutherland and Caithness had 
been scarcely allayed, when a formidable in- 
surrection broke out on the part of the clan 
Chattan against the Earl of Murray, which 
occasioned considerable uproar and confusion 
in the Highlands. The clan Chattan had for 
a very long period been the faithful friends 
and followers of the Earls of Murray, who, 
on that account, had allotted them many 
valuable lands in recompense for their ser- 
vices in Pettie and Strathearn. The clan had, 
in particular, been very active in revenging 
upon the Marquis of Huntly the death of 
James, Earl of Murray, who was killed at 
Donnibristle; but his son and successor being 
reconciled to the family of Huntly, and need- 
ing no longer, as he thought, the aid of the 
clan, dispossessed them of the lands which his 
predecessors had bestowed upon them. This 
harsh proceeding occasioned great irritation, 

3 Sir Robert Gordon, p. 366, et sej. 

and, upon the death of Sir Lauchlan their 
cliief, who died a short time before Whitsun- 
day, 1624, they resolved either to recover the 
possessions of which they had been deprived, 
or to lay them waste. While Sir Lauchlan 
lived, the clan were awed by his authority and 
prevented from such an attempt, but no such 
impediment now standing in their way, and as 
their chief, who was a mere child, could run 
no risk by the enterprise, they considered tho 
present a favourable opportunity for carrying 
their plan into execution. 

Accordingly, a gathering of the clan, to tho 
number of about 200 gentlemen and 300 ser- 
vants, took place about Whitsunday, 1G24. 
This party was commanded by three uncles of 
the late chief. 4 " They keeped the feilds," 
says Spalding, " in their Highland weid upon 
foot with swords, bowes, arrowes, targets, hag- 
bnttis, pistollis, and other Highland armour; 
and first began to rob and spoulzie tho carle's 
tcnnents, who laboured their possessions, of 
their haill goods, geir, insight, plenishing, 
horse, nolt, sheep, corns, and cattell, and left 
them nothing that they could gett within their 
bounds; syne fell in sorning throw out Murray, 
Strathawick, Urquhart, Ross, Sutherland, Brao 
of Marr, and diverse other parts, takeing their 
meat and food per force wher they could not 
gett it willingly, frae freinds alseweill as frao 
their faes; yet still keeped themselves from 
shcdeing of innocent blood. Thus they lived 
as outlawes, oppressing the countrie, (bosydes 
the casting of the earlo's lands waist), and 
openly avowed they had tane this course to gett 
thir own possessions again, or then hold tho 
country walking." 

When this rising took place, the Earl of 
Murray obtained from Monteith and Balquhid- 
der about 300 armed men, and placing himself 
at their head he marched through Moray to In- 
verness. Tho earl took up his residence in 
the castle with the Earl of Enzie, his brother- 
in-law, eldest son of the Marquis of Huntly, 
and after the party had passed one night at 
Inverness, ho despatched them in quest of tho 

4 Spalding says that the party were commanded by 
Lauchlan Macintosh, alias Lauchlan Og, uncle of the 
young chief, and Lauchlan Macintosh or Lauchlau 
Angus-son, eldest son of Angus Macintosh, alias 
Angus William, son of Auld Tirlie. Meniorialls of 
Hie Trulilcs in Scotland and in England, A. D. 1624 


clan Chattan, but whether from fear of meet- 
ing them, or because they could not find them, 
certain it is that the Monteith and Balquhidder 
men returned without effecting anything, after 
putting the earl to groat expense. The earl, 
thiTi'l'inv, sriit Ihrin back to their respective 
countries, and went himself to Elgin, where he 
1 another body of men to suppress the 
clan Chattan, who were equally unsuccessful in 
iinding the latter out. 

These ineffectual attempts against the clan 
served to make them more bold and dar- 
ing in their outrages; and as the earl now saw 
that no force which he could himself bring 
into the field was sufficient to overawe these 
marauders, King James, at his earnest solici- 
1, 'it ion, granted him a commission, appointing 
him his lieutenant in the Highlands, and giv- 
ing him authority to proceed capitally against 
the offenders. On his return the earl pro- 
claimed the commission he had obtained from 
his majesty, and issued letters of intercom- 
muning against the clan Chattan, prohibiting 
all persons from harbouring, supplying, or en- 
tertaining them, in any manner of way, under 
certain severe pains and penalties. Although 
the Marquis of Huntly was the earl's father-in- 
law, he felt somewhat indignant at the appoint- 
ment, as he conceived that ho or his son had 
the best title to be appointed to the lieutenancy 
of the north; but he concealed his displeasure. 

After the Earl of Murray had issued the 
notices, prohibiting all persons from communi- 
cating with, or assisting the clan Chattan, their 
kindred and friends, who had privately pro- 
mised them aid, before they broke out, began 
to grow cold, and declined to assist them, as 
they were apprehensive of losing their estates, 
many of them being wealthy. The earl per- 
ceiving this, opened a communication with 
some of the principal persons of the clan, to 
induce them to submit to his authority, who, 
seeing no hopes of making any longer an effec- 
tual resistance, readily acquiesced, and, by the 
intercession of friends, made their peace with 
the earl, on condition that they should inform 
him of the names of such persons as had given 
them protection, after the publication of his 
letters of interdiction. Having thus quelled 
tin's formidable insurrection without bloodshed, 
tho earl, by virtue of his commission, held 

justice courts at Elgin, where " some slight 
louns, followers of the clan Chattan," were 
tried and executed, but all the principals con- 
cerned were pardoned. 

As the account which Spalding gives of the 
appearance of the accused, and of the base 
conduct of the principal men of the clan 
Chattan, in informing against their friends and 
benefactors, is both curious and graphic, it is 
hero inserted: "Then presently was brought 
in befor the barr; and in the honest men's 
faces, the clan Chattan who had gotten supply, 
verified what they had gotten, and the honest 
men confounded and dasht, knew not what to 
answer, was forced to come in the earle's will, 
whilk was not for their weill : others compearcd 
and willingly confessed, trusting to gett more 
favour at the earle's hands, but they came little 
speid: and lastly, some stood out and denyed 
all, who was reserved to the triall of an assyse. 
The principall malefactors stood up in judg- 
ment, and declared what they had gotten, 
whether meat, money, cloathing, gun, ball, 
powder, lead, sword, dirk, and the like com- 
modities, and also instructed the assyse in ilk 
particular, what they had gotten frae the per- 
sons pannalled; an uncouth form of probation, 
wher the principall malefactor proves against 
the receiptor for his own pardon, and honest 
men, perhaps neither of the clan Chattan's 
kyne nor blood, punished for their good will, 
ignorant of the laws, and rather receipting 
them more for their evil nor their good. 
Nevertheless thir innocent men, under collour 
of justice, part and part as they came in, were 
soundly fyned in great soumes as their estates 
might bear, and some above their estate was 
fyned, and every one warded within the tolbuith 
of Elgine, while the least myte was payed of 
such as was persued in anno 1624." 5 

Some idea of the unequal administration of 
the laws at this time may be formed, when it 
is considered that the enormous fines imposed 
in the present instance, went into the pockets 
of the chief judge, the Earl of Murray himself, 
as similar mulcts had previously gone into 
those of the Earl of Argyle, in his crusade 
against the unfortunate clan Cregor! This 
legal robbery, however, docs not appear to have 

Memorialised, i. p. 8. 



enriched the houses of Argyle and Murray, for 
Sir Eobert Gordon observes, that " these fynes 
did not much advantage either of these two 
earles." The Earl of Murray, no doubt, think- 
ing such a mode of raising money an easy and 
profitable speculation, afterwards obtained an 
enlargement of his commission from Charles I., 
not only against the clan Chattan, but also 
against all other offenders within several adja- 
cent shires; but the commission was afterwards 
annulled by his majesty, not so much on 
account of the abuses and injustice which 
might have been perpetrated under it, but 
because, as Sir Eobert Gordon observes, "it 
grieved divers of his majesty's best affected 
subjects, and chieflie the Marquis of Huntlio, 
unto whose predicessors onlie the office of 
livetcnnendrie in the nortli of Scotland had 
bein granted by former kings, for these many 

There seems reason, however, for supposing 
that the recall of the commission was hastened 
by complaints to the king, on the part of the 
oppressed; for the earl had no sooner obtained 
its renewal, than he held a court against the 
burgh of Inverness, John Grant of Glenmoris- 
ton, and others who had refused to acknowledge 
their connexion with the clan Chattan, or to 
pay him the heavy fines which he had imposed 
upon them. The town of Inverness endea- 
voured to get quit of the earl's extortions, on 
the ground that the inhabitants were innocent 
of the crimes laid to their charge; but the earl 
frustrated their application to the Privy Coun- 
cil. The provost, Duncan Forbes, was then 
sent to the king, and Grant of Glenmoriston 
took a journey to London, at the same time, 
on his own account; but their endeavours 
proved ineffectual, and they had no alternative 
but to submit to the earl's exactions. 7 

The quarrel between the laird of Duffus and 
John Gordon, younger of Embo, which had 
lain dormant for some time, burst forth again, 
in the year 1625, and proved nearly fatal to 
both parties. Gordon had long watched an 
opportunity to revenge the wrong which he 
conceived had been done him by the laird 

6 Founder of the house of Culloden, and great- 
grandfather of the celebrated Lord President Forbes. 

7 Vide the petition of Provost Forbes to the king, 
"in the name of the inhabitants" of Inverness; 
priiitoi among the Culloden Papers, No. 5, p. 4. 

of Duffus and his brother, James, but he could 
never fall in with either of them, as they 
remained in Moray, and, when they appeared 
in Sutherland, they were always accompanied 
by some friends, so that Gordon was prevented 
from attacking them. Frequent disappoint- 
ments in this way only whetted his appetite 
for revenge ; and meeting, when on horseback, 
one day, between Sidderay and Skibo, witli 
John Sutherland of Clyne, third brother of 
the laird of Duffus, who was also on horseback, 
he determined to make the laird of Clyne suffer 
for the delinquencies of his elder brother. 
Eaising, therefore, a cudgel which he held in 
his hand, he inflicted several blows upon John 
Sutherland, who, as soon as he recovered him- 
self from the surprise and confusion into which 
such an unexpected attack had thrown him, 
drew his sword. Gordon, in his turn, un- 
sheathed his, and a warm combat ensued, 
between the parties and two friends who ac- 
companied them. After they had fought a, 
while, Gordon wounded Sutherland in the 
head and in one of his hands, and otherwise 
injured him, but he spared his life, although 
completely in his power. 

Duffus immediately cited John Gordon to 
appear before the Privy Council, to answer for 
this breach of the peace, and, at the same 
time, summoned before the council some of the 
Earl of Sutherland's friends and dependants, 
for an alleged conspiracy against himself and 
his friends. Duffus, with his two brothers 
and Gordon, came to Edinburgh on the day 
appointed, and, the parties being heard, Gordon 
was declared guilty of a riot, and was there- 
upon committed to prison. This result gave 
great satisfaction to Duffus and his brothers, 
who now calculated on nothing less than the 
utter ruin of Gordon ; as they had by means 
of Sir Donald Mackay, obtained a Strathnaver 
man, named William Mack-Allen (one of the 
Siol-Thomais), who had been a servant of 
Gordon's, to become a witness against him, 
and to prove every thing that Duffus waa 
pleased to allege against Gordon. 

In this state of matters, Sir Eobert Gordon 
returned from London to Edinburgh, where lie 
found Duffus in high spirits, exulting at his 
success, and young Embo in prison. Sir 
Eobert applied to Duffus, hoping to bring 



about a reconciliation by the intervention of 
friends, but Duffus refused to hear of any 
arrangement ; and the more reasonable the 
conditions were, which Sir Robert proposed, 
the more unreasonable and obstinate did lie 
become ; his object being to get the lords to 
award him great sums of money at the expense 
of Gordon, in satisfaction for the wrong done 
Ms brother. Sir Robert, however, finally suc- 
ceeded, by the assistance of the Earl of Enzie, 
who was then at Edinburgh, in getting the 
prosecution against the Earl of Sutherland's 
friends quashed, in obtaining the liberation of 
John Gordon, and in getting his fine mitigated 
to one hundred pounds Scots, payable to the 
king only ; reserving, however, civil action to 
John Sutherland of Clyne against Gordon, 
before the Lords of Session. 8 

Sir Donald Mackay, always restless, and 
desirous of gratifying his enmity at the house 
of Sutherland, endeavoured to embroil it with 
the laird of Duffus in the following way. 
Having formed a resolution to leave the king- 
dom, Sir Donald applied for, and obtained, a 
license from the king to raise a regiment in the 
north, to assist Count Mansfield in his campaign 
in Germany. He, accordingly, collected, in a 
few months, about 3,000 men from different 
parts of Scotland, the greater part of whom he 
embarked at Cromarty in the month of October 
1C26; but, on account of bad health, he was 
obliged to delay his own departure till the 
following year, when he joined the king of 
Sweden with his regiment, in consequence of 
a peace having been concluded between the 
King of Denmark and the Emperor of Ger- 
many. 9 Among others whom Mackay had 
engaged to accompany him to Germany, was a 
person named Angus Roy Gun, against whom, 
a short time previous to his enlistment, Mac- 

Sir K. Gordon, p. 397, ct scq. 

* A considerable number of gentlemen, chiefly from 
Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, joined Mackay, some 
of whom rose to high rank in the army of Gustavus 
Adolphus. Among these were Kobert Monroe of 
Fonlis, and his brother, Hector ; Thomas Mackenzie, 
brother of the Earl of Seaforth ; John Monroe of Obis- 
dell, and his brother Robert ; John Monroo of Assynt, 
and others of that surname; Hugh Koss nf Priesthill ; 
David Ross and Nicolas Ross, sons of Alexander Ross 
(jf Invercharron; Hugh Gordon, son of Adam Gordon 
of Culkour ; John Gordon, son of John Gordon of 
Garty ; Adam Gordon and John Gordon, sons of 
Adam Gordon George-son ; Ivo Mackay, William, son 
of Donald Mackay of Scourie ; William Gun, sou of 

kay and his brother, John Mackay of Dirlet, 
had obtained a commission from the lords of 
the Privy Council for the purpose of appre- 
hending him and bringing him before the 
council for some supposed crimes. Mackay 
could have easily apprehended Angus Roy Gun 
on different occasions, but having become one 
of his regiment, he allowed the commission, as 
far as he was concerned, to remain a dead letter. 

Sometime after his enlistment, Angus Roy 
Gun made a journey into Sutherland, a circum- 
stance which afforded Mackay an opportunity 
of putting into execution the scheme he had 
formed, and which showed that he was no 
mean adept in the arts of cunning and dissimu- 
lation. His plan was this : He wrote, in the 
first place, private letters to the laird of Duffus, 
and to his brother, John Sutherland of Clyne, 
to apprehend Angus Roy Gun under the com- 
mission he had obtained ; and at the same 
time, sent the commission itself to the laird of 
Duffus as his authority for so doing. He next 
wrote a letter to Alexander Gordon, the Earl 
of Sutherland's uncle, who, in the absence of 
his brother, Sir Robert, governed Sutherland, 
entreating him, as Angus Roy Gun was then in 
Sutherland, to send him to him to Cromarty, as 
he was his hired soldier. Ignorant of Mackay's 
design, and desirous of serving him, Sir Alex- 
ander sent two of his men to bring Gun to 
Sir Alexander ; but on their return they were 
met by John Sutherland of Clyne and a party 
of sixteen men, who seized Gun ; and to pre- 
vent a rescue, the laird of Duffus sent his 
brother, James Sutherland, Alexander Murray, 
heir-apparent of Aberscors, and William Neill- 
son, chief of the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, with 
300 men to protect his brother John. At the 
same time, as he anticipated an attack from Sir 
Alexander Gordon, he sent messengers to his 
supporters in Ross, Strathnaver, Caithness, and 
other places for assistance. 

When Sir Alexander Gordon heard of the 
assembling of such a body of the Earl of 
Sutherland's vassals without his knowledge, 
he made inquiry to ascertain the cause ; and 

John Gnn Rob-son ; John Sinclair, bastard son of tho 
earl of Caithness ; Francis Sinclair, son of James Sin- 
clair of Murkle ; John Innes, son of William Innes of 
Sanset ; John Gun, son of William Gun in Golspie- 
Kirktown; and George Gun, son of Alexander Gun 



being informed of Gun's capture, lie collected 
18 men who were near at hand, and hastened 
with them from Dunrobin towards Clyno. On 
arriving at the bridge of Broray, he found 
James Sutherland, with his brother John, and 
their whole party drawn up in battle array at 
the cast end of the bridge. He, thereupon, sent 
a person to the Suthorlands to know the cause 
of such an assemblage, and the reason why they 
had taken Gun from his servants. As the 
Sutherlands refused to exhibit their authority, 
Sir Alexander made demonstrations for passing 
the bridge, but he was met by a shower of 
shot and arrows which wounded two of his 
men. After exchanging shots for some time, 
Sir Alexander was joined by a considerable 
body of his countrymen, by whose aid, not- 
withstanding the resistance he met with, ho 
was enabled to cross the bridge. The Suther- 
lands were forced to retreat, and as they saw 
no chance of opposing, with success, the power 
of the house of Sutherland, they, after some 
hours' consultation, delivered up Angus Roy 
Gun to Sir Alexander Sutherland, who sent 
him immediately to Mackay, then at Cromarty. 
As such an example of insubordination 
among the Earl of Sutherland's vassals might, 
if overlooked, lead others to follow a similar 
course, Sir Alexander caused the laird of Duffus 
and his brother of Clyne, with their accom- 
plices, to be cited to appear at Edinburgh on 
the 16th of November following, to answer 
before the Privy Council for their misdemean- 
ours. The laird of Duffus, however, died in 
the month of October, but the laird of Clyne 
appeared at Edinburgh at the time appointed, 
iind produced before the Privy Council the 
letter ho had received from Mackay, as his 
authority for acting as he had done. Sir Alex- 
ander Gordon also produced the letter sent to 
him by Sir Donald, who was thereby convicted 
of having been the intentional originator of the 
difference ; but as the lords of council thought 
that the laird of Clyno had exceeded the 
bounds of his commission, he was imprisoned 
in the jail of Edinburgh, wherein he was 
ordered to remain until he should give satisfac- 
tion to the other party, and present some of 
his men who had failed to appear though sum- 
moned. By the mediation, however, of James 
Sutherland, tutor of Duffus, a reconciliation 

was effected between Sir Robert and Sir Alex- 
ander Gordon, and the laird of Clyne, who 
was, in consequence, soon thereafter liberated 
from prison. 1 

The year 1628 was marked by the breaking 
out of an old and deadly feud among the 
Grants, which had been transmitted from father 
to son for several generations, in consequence 
of the murder of John Grant of Ballindalloch, 
about the middle of the sixteenth century, by 
John Roy Grant of Carron, the natural son of 
John Grant of Glenmoriston, at the instigation 
of the laird of Grant, the chief of the tribe, 
who had conceived a grudge against his kins- 
man. Some years before the period first men- 
tioned, James Grant, one of the Carrou family, 
happening to bo at a fair in the town of Elgin, 
observed one of the Grants of the Ballindalloch 
family eagerly pursuing his (James's) brother, 
Thomas Grant, whom he knocked down in the 
street and wounded openly before his eyes. 
The assailant was in his turn attacked by James 
Grant, who killed him upon the spot and im- 
mediately decamped. Ballindalloch then cited 
James Grant to stand trial for the slaughter of 
his kinsman, but, as he did not appear on the 
day appointed, he was outlawed. The laird of 
Grant made many attempts to reconcile tin 
parties, but in vain, as Ballindalloch was ob- 
stinate and would listen to no proposals. 
Nothing less than the blood of James Grant 
would satisfy Ballindalloch. 

This resolution on the part of Ballindalloch 
almost drove James Grant to despair, and see- 
ing his life every moment in jeopardy, and de- 
prived of any hope of effecting a compromise, 
he put himself at the head of a party of bri- 
gands, whom ho collected from all parts of the 
Highlands. These freebooters made no dis- 
tinction between friends and foes, but attacked 
all persons of whatever description, and wasted 
and despoiled their property. James Grant of 
Dalncbo, one of the family of Ballindalloch, 
fell a victim to their fury, and many of the 
kinsmen of that family suffered greatly from 
the depredations committed by Grant and his 
associates. The Earl of Murray, under the 
renewed and extended commission which he 
had obtained from King Charles, made various 

1 Sir K. Gordon, p. 101, et scq. 



attempts to put an end to these lawless pro- 
ceedings, but to no purpose; the failure of 
these attempts serving only to harden James 
Grant and his party, who continued their de- 
predations. As John Grant of Carron, nephew 
of James Grant, was supposed to maintain and 
assist his uncle secretly, a suspicion for which 
there seems to have been no foundation, John 
Grant of liallindalloch sought for an oppor- 
tunity of revenging himself upon Can-on, who 
was a promising young man. Carron having 
one day left his house, along with one Alex- 
ander Grant and seven or eight other persons, 
to cut down some timber in the woods of 
Abernethy, Ballindalloch thought the occa- 
sion favourable for putting his design into 
execution. Having collected and armed sixteen 
of his friends, he went to the forest where 
Carron was, and under the pretence of search- 
ing for James Grant and some of his associates, 
against whom he had a commission, attacked 
Carron, who fought manfully in defence of his 
life, but being overpowered, was killed by 
Ballindallocli. Before Carron fell, however, 
ho and Alexander Grant had slain several of 
Ballindalloch's friends, among whom were 
Thomas Grant of Davey, and Lauchlan Mac- 
intosh of Rockinoyr. Alexander Grant after- 
wards annoyed Ballindalloch, killing several of 
his men, and assisted James Grant to lay waste 
Ballindalloch'g lands. "Give me leave heir," 
says Sir E. Gordon, " to remark the provi- 
dence and seerait judgement of the Almightio 
God, who now hath mett Carron with the 
same measure that his forefather, John Eoy 
Grant of Carron, did serve the ancestor of 
Balli-iidallogh; for upon the same day of the 
moneth that John Eoy Grant did kill the great 
grandfa ther of Ballendallogh (being the eleventh 
day of September), the verie same day of this 
month wcs Carron slain by tliis John Grant of 
Ballendallogh many yeirs thereafter. And, be- 
sides,as that John Eoy Grant of Can-on was left- 
handed, so is this John Grant of Ballendallogh 
left-handed also; and moreover, it is to be ob- 
served that Ballendallogh, at the killing of this 
Can-on, had upon him the same coat-of-armour, 
or maillie-coat, which John Eoy Grant had upon 
him at the slaughter of the great-grandfather 
of this Ballendallogh, which maillie-coat Bal- 
lendallogh had, a little before this tymo, taken 

from James Grant, in a skirmish that passed 
betwixt them. Thus wee doe sio that the 
judgements of God are inscrutable, and that, 
in his own tyme, lie punisheth blood by blood." 8 

The Earl of Murray, when he heard of this 
occurrence, instead of taking measures against 
Ballindalloch for his outrage against the laws, 
which ho was fully entitled to do by virtue 
of the commission he held, took part with 
Ballindalloch against the friends of Carron. 
He not only represented Ballindalloch's case 
favourably at court, but also obtained an in- 
demnity for him for some years, that he might 
not be molested. The countenance thus given 
by his majesty's lieutenant to the murderer of 
their kinsmen, exasperated James and Alexan- 
der Grant in the highest degree against Ballin- 
dalloch and his supporters, whom they contin- 
ually annoyed with their incursions, laying 
waste their lands and possessions, and cutting 
off their people. To such an extent was this 
system of lawless warfare carried, that Ballin- 
dalloch was forced to flee from the north of 
Scotland, and live for the most part in 
Edinburgh, to avoid the dangers with which 
he was surrounded. But James Grant's des- 
perate career was checked by a party of the 
clan Chattan, who unexpectedly attacked him 
at Auchnachyle, in Strathdoun, under cloud of 
night, in the latter end of December, 1C 30, 
when he was taken prisoner after receiving 
eleven wounds, and after four of his party were 
killed. He was sent by his captors to Edin- 
burgh for trial before the lords of the council, 
and was imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, 
from which he escaped in the manner to bo 
afterwards noticed. 

About the time that James Grant was deso- 
lating the district of the Highlands, to which 
his operations were confined, another part of 
the country was convulsed by a dispute, end- 
ing tragically, which occurred between James 
Crichton of Frendret, or Frcndraught, and 
William Gordon of Eothiemay, whose lands 
lay adjacent to each other. Part of Gordon's 
lands wliich marched with those of Crichton 
were purchased by the latter; but a dispute 
having occurred about the right to the salmon 
fishings belonging to these lands, an irrccon- 

1 History,?. 416. 




cilable difference arose between them, which, no 
mediation of friends could reconcile, although 
the matter in dispute was of little moment. 
The parties having had recourse to the law to 
settle their respective claims, Crichton pre- 
vailed, and succeeded in getting Gordon de- 
nounced rebel He had previously treated 
Eothiemay very harshly, who, stung by the 
severity of his opponent, and by the victory he 
had obtained over him, would listen to no pro- 
posals of peace, nor follow the advice of his 
best friends. Determined to sot the law at 
defiance, he collected a number of loose and 
disorderly characters, and annoyed Frendraught, 
who, in consequence, applied for and obtained 
a commission from the Privy Council for appre- 
hending Eothiemay and his associates. In the 
execution of this task he was assisted by Sir 
George Ogilvy of Banff, George Gordon, 
brother-german of Sir James Gordon of Les- 
moir, and the uncle of Frendraught, James 
Leslie, second son of Leslie of Pitcaple, John 
Meldrum of Eeidhill, and others. Accom- 
panied by these gentlemen, Crichton left his 
house of Frendraught on the 1st of January, 
1630, for the house of Eothiemay, with a reso- 
lution either to apprehend Gordon, his anta- 
gonist, or to set him at defiance by affronting 
him. He was incited the more to follow this 
course, as young Eothiemay, at the head of a 
party, had come a short time before to the very 
doors of Frendraught, and had braved him to 
his face. "When Eothiemay heard of the ad- 
vance of Frendraught, he left his house, accom- 
panied by his eldest son, John Gordon, and 
about eight men on horseback armed with guns 
and lances, and a party of men on foot with 
muskets, and crossing the river Deveron, went 
forward to meet Frendraught and his party. 
A sharp conflict immediately took place, in 
which Eothiemay's horse was killed under him ; 
but he fought manfully for some time on foot, 
until the whole of his party, with the excep- 
tion of his son, were forced to retire. The son, 
notwithstanding, continued to support his 
father against fearful odds, but was at last 
obliged to save himself by flight, leaving his 
father lying on the field covered with wounds, 
and supposed to be dead. He, however, was 
found still alive after the conflict was over, and 
being earned home to his house, died within 

three days thereafter. George Gordon, brother 
of Gordon of Lesmoir, received a shot in the 
thigh, and died in consequence ten days after 
the skirmish. These were the only deaths 
which occurred, although several of the com- 
batants on both sides were wounded. John 
Meldrum, who fought on Frendraught's side, 
was the only person severely wounded. 

The Marquis of Huntly was highly displeased 
at Frendraught for having, in such a trifling 
matter, proceeded to extremities against his 
kinsman, a chief baron of his surname, whoso 
life had been thus sacrificed in a petty quarrel. 
The displeasure of the marquis was still farther 
heightened, when he was informed that Fren- 
draught had joined the Earl of Murray, and had 
claimed his protection and assistance ; but the 
marquis was obliged to repress his indignation. 
John Gordon of Eothiemay, eldest son of the 
deceased laird, resolved to avenge the death 
of his father, and having collected a party of 
men, he associated himself with James Grant 
and other freebooters, for the purpose of laying 
waste Frendraught's lands, and oppressing him 
in every possible way. Frendraught, who was 
in the south of Scotland when this combination 
against him was formed, no sooner heard of it 
than he posted to England, and, having laid a 
statement of the case before the king, his ma- 
jesty remitted the matter to the Privy Council of 
Scotland, desiring them to use their best endea- 
vours for settling the peace of the northern 
parts of the kingdom. A commission waa 
thereupon granted by the lords of the council 
to Frendraught and others, for the purpose of 
apprehending John Gordon and his associates ; 
but, as the commissioners were not able to 
execute the task imposed upon them, the lords 
of the council sent Sir Eobert Gordon, tutor 
of Sutherland, who had just returned from 
England, and Sir William Seaton of Killes- 
muir, to the north, with a new commission 
against the rebels. As it seemed to be en- 
tirely out of the power of the Earl of Murray 
to quell the disturbances in the north, the 
two commissioners received particular instruc- 
tions to attempt, with the aid of the Marquis 
of Huntly, to get matters settled amicably, and 
the opposing parties reconciled. The lords of 
the council, at the same time, wrote a letter to 
the Marquis of Huntly to the same effect. 



Sir Eobcrt Gordon and Sir William Seaton 
accordingly loft Edinburgh, on their way north, 
in the beginning of May, 1630. The latter 
stopped at Aberdeen for the purpose of con- 
sulting with some gentlemen of that county, 
as to the best mode of proceeding against the 
rebels ; and the former went to Strathbogie to 
advise with the Marquis of Huntly. 

On Sir Eobert's arrival at Strathbogie, he 
found that the marquis had gone to Aberdeen 
to attend the funeral of the laird of Drum. 
By a singular coincidence, James Grant and 
Alexander Grant descended the very day of 
Sir Robert's arrival from the mountains, at 
the head of a party of 200 Highlanders, well 
armed, with a resolution to burn and lay 
waste Frendraught's lands. As soon as Sir 
Robert became aware of this circumstance, 
he went in great haste to Rothiemay house, 
where he found John Gordon and his associates 
in arms, ready to set out to join the Grants. 
By persuasion and entreaties Sir Robert, as- 
sisted by his nephew the Earl of Sutherland, 
and his brother, Sir Alexander Gordon, who 
were then at Frendraught on a visit to tho 
lady of that place, who was a sister of the earl, 
prevailed not only upon John Gordon and his 
friends to desist, but also upon James Grant 
and his companions-in-arms, to disperse. 

On the return of the Marquis of Huntly to 
Strathbogie, Rothiemay and Frendraught were 
both induced to meet them in presence of the 
marquis, Sir Robert Gordon, and Sir William 
Seaton, who, after much entreaty, prevailed 
upon them to reconcile their differences, and 
submit all matters in dispute to their arbitra- 
ment. A decree-arbitral was accordingly pro- 
nounced, by which the arbiters adjudged that 
the laird of Rothiemay and the children of 
George Gordon should mutually remit their 
father's slaughter, and, in satisfaction thereof, 
they decerned that the laird of Frendraught 
should pay a certain sum of money to the laird 
of Rothiemay, for relief of the debts which ho 
had contracted during the disturbances between 
the two families, 3 and that he should pay some 
money to the children of George Gordon. 

* Spalding says that Frendranglit was " ordained to 
pay to tho lady, relict of Rothiemay, and the bairns, 
fiftie thousand merks, iu composition of tho slaughter. " 
- P. 11 

Frendraught fulfilled these conditions most 
willingly, and the parties shook hands together 
in tho orchard of Strathbogie, in token of a 
hearty and sincere reconciliation. 4 

The laird of Frendraught had scarcely been 
reconciled to Rothiemay, when he got into 
another dispute with the laird of Pitcaple, the 
occasion of which was as follows : John Mel- 
drum of Reidhill had assisted Frendraught in 
his quarrel with old Rothiemay, and had 
received a wound in the skirmish in which the 
latter lost his life, for which injury Fren- 
draught had allowed him some compensation ; 
but, conceiving that his services had not been 
fairly requited, he began to abuse Frendraught, 
and threatened to compel him to give him a 
greater recompense than he had yet received. 
As Frendraught refused to comply with his 
demands, Meldrum entered the park of Fren- 
draught privately in the night-time, and carried 
away two horses belonging to his pretended 
debtor. Frendraught thereupon prosecuted 
Meldrum for theft, but he declined to appear 
in court, and was consequently declared rebel. 
Frendraught then obtained a commission from 
the Privy Council to apprehend Meldrum, 
who took refuge with John Leslie of Pitcaple, 
whose sister he had married. Under tho com- 
mission which he had procured, Frendraught 
went in quest of Moldrum, on tho 27th of 
September, 1630. He proceeded to Pitcaplo's 
lands, on which he knew Meldrum then lived, 
where he met James Leslie, second son of the 
laird of Pitcaple, who had been with him at 
the skirmish of Rothiemay. Leslie then began 
to expostulate with him in behalf of Meldrum, 
his brother-in-law, who, on account of tho aid 
ho had given him in his dispute with Rothie- 
may, took Leslie's remonstrances in good part ; 
but Robert Crichton of Conland, 5 a kinsman 
of Frendraught, grow so warm at Leslie's free- 
dom that from high words they proceeded to 
blows. Conland, then, drawing a pistol from 
his belt, wounded Leslie in the arm, who was 
thereupon carried home, apparently in a dying 

This affair was the signal for a confederacy 
among the Leslies, the greater part of whom 

4 Sir R. Gordon, p. 416, et seq. Spalding, p. 14. 
8 Sir R. Gordon (p. 419) spoils this Couland and 



took up arms against Frendraught, who, a few 
days after the occurrence, viz., on the 5th of 
October, first went to the Marquis of Huntly, 
and afterwards to the Earl of Murray, to express I 
the regret he felt at what had taken place, and 
to beg their kindly interference to bring matters 
to an amicable accommodation. The Earl of 
Murray, for some reason or other, declined to 
interfere; but the marquis undertook to mediate 
between the parties. Accordingly, he sent for 
the laird of Pitcaple to come to the Bog of 
Gight to confer with him ; but, before setting 
out, he mounted and equipped about 30 horse- 
men, in consequence of information he had 
received that Frendraught was at the Bog. 

At the meeting with the marquis, Pitcaple 
complained heavily of the injury his son had 
sustained, and avowed, rather rashly, that he 
would revenge himself before he returned homo, 
and that, at all events, he would listen to no 
proposals for a reconciliation till it should be 
ascertained whether his son would survive the 
wound he had received. The marquis insisted 
that Frendraught had done him no wrong, and 
endeavoured to dissuade him from putting his 
threat into execution ; but Pitcaple was so dis- 
pleased at the marquis for thus expressing 
himself, that he suddenly mounted his horse 
and set off, leaving Frendraught behind him. 
The marquis, afraid of the consequences, de- 

Frendraught House, with the ruins of the old Castle in front. From a photograph taken for this work. 

tained Frendraught two days with him in the 
Bog of Gight, and, hearing that the Leslies 
had assembled, and lay in wait for Frendraught 
watching his return home, the marquis sent his 
son, John, Viscount of Aboyne, and the laird 
of Eothiemay along with him, to protect and 
defend him if necessary. They arrived at 
Frendraught without interruption, and being 
solicited to remain all night, they yielded, and, 
after partaking of a hearty supper, went to bed 
in the apartments provided for them. 

The sleeping apartment of the viscount was 
in the old tower of Frendraught, leading off 
from the hall Immediately below this apart- 
ment was a vault, in the bottom of which was 
a round hole of considerable depth. Eobert 

Gordon, a servant of the viscount, and his 
page, English Will, as he was called, also slept 
in the same chamber. The laird of Eothiemay, 
with some servants, were put into an upper 
chamber immediately above that in which the 
viscount slept ; and in another apartment, 
directly over the latter, were laid George 
Chalmer of Noth, Captain Eollock, one of 
Frendraught's party, and George Gordon, an- 
other of the viscount's servants. About 
midnight the whole of the tower almost 
instantaneously took fire, and so suddenly and 
furiously did the flames consume the edifice, 
that the viscount, the laird of Bothiernay, 
English Will, Colonel Ivat, one. of Aboyne's 
friends, and two other persons, perished in 



the flames. Eobert Gordon, called Sutherland 
Gordon, from having been born in that county, 
who lay in the viscount's chamber, escaped 
from the flames, as did George Chalmer and 
Captain Eollock, who were in the third floor; 
and it is said that Lord Aboyne might have 
saved himself also, had ho not, instead of going 
out of doors, which ho refused to do, run sud- 
denly up stairs to Rothiemay's chamber for the 
purpose of awakening him. While so engaged, 
the stair-case and ceiling of Eothiemay's apart- 
ment hastily took fire, and, being prevented 
from descending by the flames, which filled the 
stair-case, they ran from window to window of 
the apartment pitcously and unavailingly ex- 
claiming for help. 

The news of this calamitous event spread 
speedily throughout the kingdom, and the fate 
of the unfortunate sufferers was deeply deplored. 
Many conjectures were formed as to the cause 
of the conflagration. Some persons laid the 
blame on Frendraught without the least reason ; 
for, besides the improbability of the thing, 
Frendraught himself was a considerable loser, 
having lost not only a largo quantity of silver 
plate and coin, but also the title deeds of his 
property and other necessary papers, which 
were all consumed. The greater number, how- 
ever, suspected the Leslies and their adherents, 
wlio were then so enraged at Frendraught that 
they threatened to burn the house of Fren- 
draught, and had even entered into a negotia- 
tion to that effect with James Grant the rebel, 
who was Pitcaple's cousin -german, for his 
assistance. 6 

The Marquis of Huntly, who suspected 
Frendraught to be the author of the fire, after- 
wards went to Edinburgh and laid a statement 
of the case before the Privy Council, who, 
thereupon, issued a commission to the bishops 
of Aberdeen and Moray, Lord Ogilvie, Lord 
Carnegie, and Colonel Bruce, to investigate 
the circumstances which led to the catastrophe. 
The commissioners accordingly went to Fren- 
draught on April 13th, 1631, where they were 
met by Lords Gordon, Ogilvie, and Deskford, 
and several barons and gentlemen, along with 
whom they examined the burnt tower and 
vaults below, with the adjoining premises, to 

* Sit K. Gordon, p. 241. Scalding, p. 13, ct seij. 

ascertain, if possible, how the fire had origin- 
ated. After a minute inspection, they came to 
the deliberate opinion, which they communi- 
cated in writing to the council, that the firo 
could not have been accidental, and that it 
must have been occasioned either by some 
means from without, or raised intentionally 
within the vaults or chambers of the tower. 7 

The matter, however, was not allowed to 
rest hero, but underwent thorough investigation 
by the Privy Council in Edinburgh, the result 
being that John Mcldrum, above mentioned, 
was brought to trial and condemned to death 
by the Justiciary Court, in August, 1633, as 
having been the perpetrator of the fiend- 
ish deed. We give below an extract from 
the " dittay " or indictment against Meldrum, 
showing the manner in which it was thought 
he accomplished his devilish task. 8 The 
catastrophe roused such intense and wide- 
spread excitement among all classes of people 
at the time, that the grief and horror which 
was felt found an outlet in verse. 9 

7 Spalding, p. 24. 

8 "Johne Muldrum halting convocat to himsellT 
certane brokin men, all fugitiues and rcbellis, his 
complices and associattia, upone the audit day of 
October, the yeir of God jai vie and threttie yeiris 
under silence and clud of niclit, betwix twelff hours at 
nycht and twa eftir mydnycht, come to the place of 
Frendraucht, and supponeing and certanely persuad- 
ing himselff that the said James Creichtoun of Fren- 
draucht wes lying within the tourof Frendraucht, quhilk 
was the only,strenth and strongest pairt of the said 
place, the said Johne Meldrum, with his saidis com- 
plices, in maist tresonabill and feirfull maner, haifing 
brocht with thame ane hudge quantitie of powder, 
pik, bramstone, flax, and uther combustabill matter 
provydit be thame for the purpois, pat and convoyit 
the samyn in and throw the slittis and stones of the 
volt of the said grit tour of Frendraucht, weill knaw- 
in and foirseine be the said Johne Meldrum, quha 
with his complices at that instant tyme fyret the 
samyn pik, powder, brumstone, flax, and uther com- 
bustable matter above writtin, at dyuerse places of 
the said volt; quhilk being sua fyret and kindlet, did 
violentlie Hie to ane hoill in the heiil of the said volt 
and tak vent thairat, the whilk hoill of the said volt 
and vent thairof being perfytlie knawin to the said 
John Meldrum, be reasone he had remained in hous- 
hald with the said laird of Frendraucht, as his douie- 
full scrvand, within the said lions and place of Fren- 
draucht for ane lang tyme of befoir, and knew and was 
previe to all the secreitis of the said house. And tho 
said volt being sua fyref, the haill tour and houssis 
quhairof immediately thaireftir, being foure hous hight, 
in les space than ane hour tuik fyre in the deid hour 
of the night, and was in maist tresonabill, horrible, 
and lamentable maner brunt, blawin up, and con- 
suinct." Spalding's Memorialls, Appendix, vol. i. 
p. 390. 

9 A ballad is still sung in the distiict around 
Frcndraugl t, which, says Mothcrwell, " lias a hi^li 



During James Grant's confinement within 
the castle of Edinburgh, the north was com- 
paratively quiet. On the night of the 15th 
October, 1632, he, however, effected his escape 
from the castle by descending on the west side 
by means of ropes furnished to him by his 
wife or son, and fled to Ireland. Proclama- 
tions were immediately posted throughout the 
whole kingdom, offering large sums for his 
apprehension, either dead or alive, but to no 

degree of poetic merit, and probably was written 
at the time by an eye-witness of the event which it 
records." We give a few verses from the version in 
Motherwell's Minstrelsy, as quoted in the Appendix 
tc Spalding, vol. i. p. 409. 

" The eighteenth of October, 

A dismal tale to hear, 

How good Lord John and Rothiemay 

Was both burnt in the fire. 

They had not long cast off their cloatlis, 
And were but now asleep 
When the weary smoke began to rise, 
Likewise the scorching heat. 

' waken, waken, Rothiemay, 
waken, brother dear, 
And turn you to our Saviour, 
There is strong treason here.' 

He did him to the wire-window 

Aa fast as he could gang 

Says ' Wae to the hands put in the stancheonfi, 

For out we'll never win.' 

Cried ' Mercy, mercy, Lady Frendraught, 
Will ye not sink with sin ? 
For first your husband killed my father, 
And now you burn his son.' 

then out spoke her, Lady Frendraught, 

And loudly did she cry 

' It were great pity for good Lord John, 

But none for Rothiemay. 

But the keys are casten in the deep draw well, 

Ye cannot get away.' 

. While he stood in this dreadful plight, 
Most piteous to be seen, 
There called out his servant Gordon, 
As he had frantic been. 

' loup, loup, my dear master, 

loup and come to me; 

I'll catch you in my arms two, 
One foot I will not flee.' 

' But I cannot loup, I cannot come, 

1 cannot win to thee; 

My head's fast in the wire-window, 
My feet burning from me. 

' Take here the rings from my white fingers, 
That are so long and small, 
And give them to my Lady fair, 
Where she sits in her hall. 

' So I cannot loup, I cannot come, 
I cannot loup to thee 
My earthly part is all consumed, 
My spirit but speaks to thee.' 

Wringing her hands, tearing her hair, 
His Lady she was seen, 
And thus addressed his servant Gordon, 
Where he stood on the green. 

purpose. His wife was taken into custody by 
order of the Marquis of Huntly, but after 
undergoing an examination, in which she 
admitted nothing which, could in the least 
degree criminate her, she was set at liberty. 9 

James Grant did not remain long in Ireland, 
but returned again to the north, where he con- 
cealed himself for some time, only occasionally 
skulking here and there in such a private man- 
ner, that his enemies were not aware of his 
presence. By degrees he grew bolder, and at 
last appeared openly in Strathdoun and on 
Speyside. His wife, who was far advanced in 
pregnancy, had taken a small house in Carron, 
belonging to the heirs of her husband's nephew, 
in which she meant to reside till her accouche- 
ment, and in which she was occasionally visited 
by her husband. Ballindalloch hearing of this, 
hired a person named Patrick Macgregor, an 
outlaw, to apprehend James Grant. This em- 
ployment was considered by Macgregor and 
his party a piece of acceptable service, as they 
expected, in the event of Grant's apprehension, 
to obtain pardon for their offences from the 
lords of the council. Macgregor, therefore, at 
the head of a party of men, lay in wait for 
James Grant near Carron, and, on observing 
him enter his wife's house at night, along with 
his bastard son and another man, they im- 
mediately surrounded the house and attempted 
to force an entry. Grant perceiving Ms danger, 
acted with great coolness and determination. 
Having fastened the door as firmly as he could, 
he and his two companions went to two win- 
dows, from which they discharged a volley of 
arrows upon their assailants, who all shrunk 
back, and none would venture near the door 
except Macgregor himself, who came boldly 
forward and endeavoured to force it ; but he 
paid dearly for his rashness, for Grant, imrne- 

' wae be to you, George Gordon, 
An ill death may you die, 
So safe and sound as you stand there, 
And my Lord bereaved from me.' 

' I bade him loup, I bade him come, 
I bade him loup to me, 
I'd catch him in my arms two, 
A foot I should not flee.' 

And aft she cried, ' Ohon ! alas, alas, 
A sair heart's ill to win ; 
I wan a sair heart when I married him, 
And the day it's well return'd again.' " 

8 Spalding, vol. i. \>. 29. 



diately laying hold of a musket, shot him 
tlirough both his tliighs, when lie instantly 
foil to the ground, and soon after expired. 
In the confusion which this occurrence ocea- 
si jned among Macgregor's party, Grant and his 
two associates escaped. 

Shortly after this event, on the night of 
Sunday, December 7th, 1634, James Grant 
apprehended his cousin, John Grant of Ballin- 
dalloch, by stratagem. After remaining a few 
days at Culquholy, Ballindalloch was blind- 
folded and taken to Thomas Grant's house at 
Dandeis, about three miles from Elgin, on the 
high road between that town and the Spey. 
James Grant ordered him to be watched strictly, 
whether sleeping or waking, by two strong 
men on each side of him. Ballindalloch com- 
plained of foul play, but James Grant excused 
himself for acting as he had done for two 
reasons ; 1st, Because Ballindalloch had failed 
to perform a promise he had made to obtain 
a remission for him before the preceding Lam- 
mas; and, '2dly, That he had entered into a 
treaty with the clan Gregor to deprive him of 
his life. 

Ballindalloch was kept in durance vile for 
twenty days in a kiln near Thomas Grant's 
house, suffering the greatest privations, without 
fire, light, or bed-clothes, in the dead of winter, 
and without knowing where he was. He was 
closely watched night and day by Leonard 
Leslie, son-in-law of Robert Grant, brother of 
James Grant, and a strong athletic man, named 
M'Grimmon, who would not allow him to leave 
the kiln for a moment even to perform the 
necessities of nature. On Christmas, James 
Grant and his party having gone on some 
excursion, leaving Leslie and M'Grimmon be- 
hind them, Ballindalloch, worn out by fatigue, 
and almost perishing from cold and hunger, 
addressed Leslie in a low tone of voice, lament- 
ing his miserable situation, and imploring him 
to aid him in effecting his escape, and promis- 
ing, in the event of success, to reward him 
handsomely. Leslie, tempted by the offer, 
acceded to Ballindalloch's request, and made 
him acquainted with the place of his confine- 
ment. It was then arranged that Ballindalloch, 
under the pretence of stretching his arms, 
should disengage the arm which Leslie held, 
and that, having so disentangled that arm, he 

should, by another attempt, get his other arm 
out of M'Grimmon's grasp. The morning of 
Sunday, the 28th of December, was fixed upon 
for putting the stratagem into execution. The 
plan succeeded, and as soon as Ballindalloch 
found his arms at liberty, he suddenly sprung 
to his feet and made for the door of the kiln. 
Leslie immediately followed him, pretending 
to catch him, and as M'Grimmon was hard 
upon his heels, Leslie purposely stumbled in 
his way and brought M'Grimmon down to tho 
ground. This stratagem enabled Ballindalloch 
to get a-head of his pursuers, and although 
M'Grimmon sounded the alarm, and the pur- 
suit was continued by Robert Grant and a 
party of James Grant's followers, Ballindalloch 
succeeded in reaching the village of Urquhart 
in safety, accompanied by Leonard Leslie. 

Sometime after his escape, Ballindalloch 
applied for and obtained a warrant for the 
apprehension of Thomas Grant, and others, for 
harbouring James Grant. Thomas Grant, and 
some of his accomplices, were accordingly seized 
and sent to Edinburgh, where they were tried 
and convicted. Grant was hanged, and others 
were banished from Scotland for life. 

After Ballindalloch's escape, James Grant 
kept remarkably quiet, as many persons lay in 
wait for him ; but hearing that Thomas Grant, 
brother of Patrick Grant of Colquhoche, and 
a friend of Ballindalloch, had received a sum 
of money from the Earl of Moray, as an 
encouragement to seek out and slay James 
Grant, the latter resolved to murder Thomas 
Grant, and thus relieve himself of one enemy 
at least. He therefore went to Thomas's house, 
but not finding him at home, he killed sixteen 
of his cattle ; and afterwards learning that 
Thomas Grant was sleeping at the house of a 
friend hard by, he entered that house and 
found Thomas Grant and a bastard brother of 
his, both in bed. Having forced them out of 
bed, he took them outside of the house and 
put them immediately to death. A few days 
after the commission of this crime, Grant and 
four of his associates went to the lands of 
Strathbogie, and entered the house of the com- 
mon executioner, craving some food, without 
being aware of the profession of the host whoso 
hospitality they solicited. The executioner, 
disliking the appearance of Grant and hia 



companions, went to James Gordon, the bailie 
of Strathbogie, and informed him that there 
were some suspicious looking persons in his 
house. Judging that these could be none other 
but Grant and his comrades, Gordon immedi- 
ately collected some well-armed horsemen and 
foot, and surrounded the house in which Grant 
was ; but he successfully resisted all their 
attempts to enter the house, and killed two 
servants of the Marquis of Huntly. After 
keeping them at bay for a considerable time, 
Grant and his brother, Robert, effected their 
escape from the house, but a bastard son of 
James Grant, John Forbes, an intimate associ- 
ate, and another person, were taken prisoners, 
and carried to Edinburgh, where they were 
executed, along with a notorious thief, named 
Gille-Roy-Mac-Gregor. This occurrence took 
place in the year 1636. The laird of Grant 
had, during the previous year, been ordered 
by the council to apprehend James Grant, or 
to make him leave the kingdom; and they 
had obliged him to find caution and surety, in 
terms of the general bond 1 appointed by law 
to be taken from all the heads of clans, and from 
all governors of provinces in the kingdom, but 
chiefly in the west and north of Scotland ; but 
the laird could neither perform the one nor the 
other. 2 

By the judicious management of the affairs 
of the house of Sutherland by Sir Robert 
Gordon, his nephew, the earl, on reaching his 

1 The "Common Band" or "General Band," was 
the name given in popular speech to an Act of the 
Scottish Parliament of the year 1587, which was passed 
with the view of maintaining good order, both on the 
Borders and in the Highlands and Isles. The plan 
on which tins Act chiefly proceeded was, "To make 
it imperative on all landlords, bailies, and chiefs of 
clans, to find sureties to a large amount, proportioned 
to their wealth and the number of their vassals or 
clansmen, for the peaceable and orderly behaviour of 
those under them. It was provided, that, if a supe- 
rior, after having found the required sureties, should 
fail to make immediate reparation of any injuries 
committed by persons for whom he was bound to 
answer, the injured party might proceed at law against 
the sureties for the amount of the damage sustained. 
Besides being compelled, in such cases, to reimburse 
Ids sureties, the superior was to incur a heavy fine to 
the Crown. This important statute likewise contained 
many useful provisions for facilitating the administra- 
tion of justice in these rude districts." Spalding's 
Memorialls, vol. i. p. 3, (note). Gregory's Western 
Highlands, p. 237. 

2 Continuation of the History of the Earls of Suther- 
land, by Gilbert Gordon of Sallagh, annexed to Sir K. 
Gordon's work, p. 460. Spalding, p. 63. 

majority in 1630 and entering upon the man- 
agement of his own affairs, found the hostility 
of the enemy of his family either neutralised or 
rendered no longer dangerous ; but, in the year 
1633 he found liimself involved in a quarrel 
with Lord Lorn, eldest son of the Earl of 
Argyle, who had managed the affairs of his 
family during his father's banishment from 
Scotland. This dispute arose out of the fol 
lowing circumstances. 

In consequence of a quarrel between Lord 
Berridale, who now acted as sole administrator 
of his father's estates, and William Mac-Iver, 
chieftain of the Siol-Mhic-Imheair, in Caith- 
ness, the former removed the latter from the 
lands and possessions he held of him in Caith- 
ness. Mac-Iver thereupon retired into Argyle, 
and assuming the surname of Campbell, as 
being originally an Argyle man, sought the 
favour and protection of Lord Lorn. The 
latter endeavoured, by writing to the Earl of 
Sutherland, Berridale liimself, and others, to 
bring about a reconciliation between Mac-Iver 
and Bcmdale, but to no purpose. Seeing 110 
hopes of an accommodation, Mac-Iver collected 
a party of rebels and outlaws, to the number of 
about 20, and made an incursion into Caith- 
ness, where, during the space of four or five 
years, he did great injury, carrying off con- 
siderable spoil, which he conveyed through 
the heights of Strathnaver and Sutherland. 

To put an end to Mac-Ivor's depredations, 
Lord Berridale at first brought a legal prosecu- 
tion against him, and having got him de- 
nounced rebel, sent out parties of his country- 
men to ensnare him ; but he escaped for a long 
time, and always retired in safety with his 
booty, either into the isles or into Argyle. 
Lord Lorn, however, publicly disowned Mac- 
Iver's proceedings. In his incursions, Mac- 
Iver was powerfully assisted by an islander of 
the name of Gille-Calum-Mac-Shomhairle, who 
had married his daughter, and who was well 
acquainted with all the passes leading into 

At last Mac-Iver and his son were appre- 
hended by Lord Berridale, and hanged, and 
the race of the Siol-Mhic-Imheair was almost 
extinguished; but Gille-Calum-Mac-Shomhairle 
having associated with himself several of the 
men of the Isles and Argyle, and some out- 



laws of the clan Mhic-Iain-Dhuinn, who wore 
dependants of Lord Lorn, continued his incur- 
sions into Caithness. Having divided his com- 
pany into two parties, 0iJ o.' which, headed by 
Gille-Calum himself, went to the higher parts 
of Ross and Sutherland, there to remain till 
joiiii'd by their companions. The other party 
went through the lowlands of Ross, under the 
pretence of g"ing to the Lammas fair, then held 
at Tain, and thciico proceeded to Sutherland to 
meet the rest of their associates, under the pre- 
tence of visiting certain kinsmen they said 
they had in Strathully and Strathnaver. This 
last-mentioned body consisted of 16 or 20 per- 
sons, most of whom were of the clan Mhic-Iain- 
Dhuinn. They were under the command of 
one Ewen Aird ; and as they passed the town 
of Tain, on their way to Sutherland, they stole 
some horses, which they sold in Sutherland, 
without being in the least suspected of the 

The owners of the stolen horses soon came 
into Sutherland in quest of them, and claimed 
them from the persons to whom they had been 
sold. The Earl of Sutherland, on proof being 
given of the property, restored the horses to 
the true owners, and sent some men in quest of 
Ewen Aird, who was still in Strathully. Ewen 
was apprehended and brought to Dunrobin. 
The Earl of Sutherland ordained him to repay 
the monies which Ewen and his companions 
had received for the horses, the only punish- 
ment he said he would inflict on them, be- 
cause they were strangers. Ewen assented 
to the earl's request, and remained as a hostage 
at Dunrobin until his companions should send 
money to relieve liim ; but as soon as his asso- 
ciates heard of his detention, they, instead of 
sending money for liis release, fled to Gille- 
('alum-MaoShomhairle and his party, leaving 
their captain a prisoner at Dunrobin. In their 
retreat they destroyed some houses in the high 
parts of Sutherland, and on entering Ross 
they laid waste some lands belonging to 
Hutcheon Ross of Auchincloigh. These out- 
rages occasioned an immediate assemblage of 
the inhabitants of that part of the country, 
who pursued the marauders and took them 
prisoners. On the prisoners being sent to the 
Earl of Sutherland, ho assembled the principal 
gentlemen of Ross and Sutherland at Dornoch, 


where Ewen Aird and his accomplices were 
tried before a jury, convicted, and executed tit 
Dornoch, with the exception of two young 
boys, who were dismissed. 

The Privy Council not only approved of 
what the Earl of Sutherland had done, but 
also sent a commission to him, the Earl 
of Seaforth, Houcheon Ross, and some other 
gentlemen in Ross and Sutherland, against the 
clan Mliic-Iain-Dhuinn, in case they should 
again make any incursion into Ross and Suth- 

Lord Lorn being at this time justiciary of the 
Isles, had obtained an act of the Privy Council 
in his favour, by which it was decreed that any 
malefactor, being an islander, upon being appre- 
hended in any part of the kingdom, shotdd be 
sent to Lord Lorn, or to his deputies, to be 
judged ; and that to this effect he should have 
deputies in every part of the kingdom. As 
soon as his lordsliip heard of the trial and exe- 
cution of the men at Dornoch, who were of the 
clan Mhic-Lain-Dhuinn, his dependants and 
followers, he took the matter highly amiss, and 
repaired to Edinburgh, where he made a com- 
plaint to the lords of the council against the 
Earl of Sutherland, for having, as he main- 
tained, apprehended the king's free subjects 
without a commission, and for causing them to 
be executed, although they had not been appre- 
hended within liis own jurisdiction. The 
lords of the council having heard tliis com- 
plaint, Lord Lorn obtained letters to charge 
the Earl of Sutherland and Houcheon Ross 
to answer to the complaint at Edinburgh be- 
fore the lords of the Privy Council, and, more- 
over, obtained a suspension of the earl's com- 
mission against the clan Mhic-Iain-Dhuinn, on 
liivoming bound, in the meantime, as surety for 
their obedience to the laws. 

Sir Robert Gordon happening to arrive at 
Edinburgh from England, shortly after Lord 
Lorn's visit to Edinburgh, in the year 1G31, 
learned the object of his mission, and the suc- 
cess which had attended it. He, therefore, 
being an eye-witness of every thing which had 
taken place at Dornoch respecting the trial, 
condemnation, and execution of Lord Loru'a 
dependents, informed the lords of the council 
of all the proceedings, wliich proceeding on his 
part had the effect of preventing Lord Lorn 



from going on with his prosecution against the 
Earl of Sutherland. He, however, proceeded 
to summon Houcheon Ross; hut the earl, Sir 
Eobcrt Gordon, Lord Eeay, and all the gentle- 
men who were present at the trial at Dornoch, 
signed and sent a letter to the lords of the 
council, giving a detail of the whole circum- 
stances of the case, and along with this letter 
he sent a copy of the proceedings, attested by 
the sheriff clerk of Sutherland, to be laid 
before the council 011 the day appointed for 
Eoss's appearance. After the matter had been 
fully debated in council, the conduct of the 
Earl of Sutherland and Houcheon Eoss was 
approved of, and the commission to the earl of 
Sutherland again renewed, and Lord Lorn was 
taken bound, that, in time coming, the counties 
of Sutherland and Eoss should be kept harm- 
less from the clan Mhic-Iain-Dhuiiin. The 
council, moreover, decided, that, as the Earl 
of Sutherland had the rights of regality and 
shcrilFship within himself, and as he was ap- 
pointed to administer justice within his own 
bounds, therefore he was not obliged to send 
criminals, though islanders, to Lord Lorn or to 
Ids deputies. This decision had the effect of 
relieving Sutherland and Eoss from farther 
incursions on the part of Lord Lorn's followers. 3 
The disaster at Erendraught had made an 
impression upon the mind of the Marquis of 
Huntly, which notliing could efface, and he 
could never be persuaded that the fire had not 
originated with the proprietor of the mansion 
himself. Ho made many unsuccessful attempts 
to discover the incendiaries, and on the arrival 
of King Charles at Edinburgh, in the year 
1G33, the marquis made preparations for paying 
a personal visit to the king, for the purpose of 
imploring him to order an investigation into 
all the circumstances attending the fire, so as 
to lead to a discovery of the criminals. Fall- 
ing sick, however, on his journey, and unable 
to proceed to Edinburgh, he sent forward his 
marchioness, who was accompanied by Lady 
Aboyne and other females of rank, all clothed 
in deep mourning, to lay a statement of the 
case before his majesty, and to solicit the 
royal interference. The king received the 
marchioness and her attendants most gra- 

* Gordon of Sallagli's Continuation, p. 46J, et seq. 

ciously, comforted them as far as words could, 
and promised to see justice done. 

After the king's departure from Scotland, 
the marcliioness and Lady Aboyne, both of 
whom still remained in Edinburgh, determining 
to see his majesty's promise implemented, pre- 
vailed upon the Privy Council to bring John 
Meldrum of Eeidhill to trial, the result being 
as previously recorded. A domestic servant of 
Frendraught named Tosh, who was suspected 
of having been concerned in the fire, was after- 
wards put to the torture, for the purpose of 
extorting a confession of guilt from him; but ho 
confessed nothing, and was therefore liberated 
from prison. 

The condemnation and execution of Mel- 
drum, in place of abating, appear to have 
increased the odium of Frendraught's enemies. 
The Highlanders of his neighbourhood, as well 
as the Gordons, considering his property to bi 
fair game, made frequent incursions upon his 
lands, and earned olf cattle and goods. In 
1633 and 163i Adam Gordon of Strathdoun, 
with a few of liis friends and some outlaws, 
made incursions upon Frendraught's lands, 
wasted them, and endeavoured to carry off a 
quantity of goods and cattle. Frendraught, 
however, heading some of his tenants, pursued 
them, secured the booty, and captured some of 
the party, whom he hanged. 

On another occasion, about 600 High- 
landers, belonging to the clan Gregor, clan 
Cameron, and other tribes, appeared near 
Frendraught, and openly declared that they 
had come to join Adam Gordon of Park, John 
Gordon of Invcrmarkie, and the other friends 
of the late Gordon of Eotliiemay, for the pur- 
pose of revenging his death. When Fren- 
draught heard of the irruption of this body, ho 
immediately collected about 200 foot, and 140 
horsemen, and went in quest of these in- 
truders; but being scattered through the coun- 
try, they could make no resistance, and every 
man provided for his own safety by flight. 

To put an end to these annoyances, Fren- 
draught got these marauders declared outlaws, 
and the lords of the Privy Council wrote to 
the Marquis of Huntly, desiring him to repress 
the disorders of those of his surname, and 
failing his doing so, that they would consider 
him the author of them. The marquis returned 



an answer to tliis communication, stating, that 
as the aggressors were neither his tenants nor 
servants, ho could in no shape be answerable 
for them, that he had neither countenanced 
nor incited them, and that lie had no warrant 
to pursue or prosecute them. 

The refusal of the marquis to obey the 
orders of the Privy Council, emboldened the 
denounced party to renew their acts of spolia- 
tion and robbery. They no longer confined 

their depredations to Frendraught and his 
tenants, but extended them to the property of 
the ministers who lived upon Frendraught's 
lands. In tliis course of life, they were joined 
by some of the young men of the principal 
families of the Gordons in Strathbogio, to the 
number of 40 horsemen, and GO foot, and 
to encourage them in their designs against 
Frendraught, the lady of Ilothieinuy gave them 
the castle of Ilothicmay, which they fortified, 

First Marquis and Alarcliionesa of Huntly. flnnipd !>y permission of His Girace the Duke of 
Richmond, from the Originals at Gordon Castle. 


and from which they made daily sallies upon 
Frendraught's possessions; burned his corn, 
laid waste his lands, and killed some of his 
people. Frendraught opposed them for some 
time; but being satisfied that such proceedings 
taking place almost under the very eyes of the 
Marquis of Huntly, must necessarily be done 
with his concurrence he went to Edinburgh, 
and entered a complaint against the marquis 
to the Privy Council During Frendraught's 
absence, his tenants were expelled by the 
Gordons from their possessions, without oppo- 
sition. 4 

When the king heard of these lawless pro- 
ceedings, and of the refusal of the marquis to 
interfere, he ordered the lords of the Privy 
Council to adopt measures for suppressing 
them; preparatory to which they cited the 

Gordon's Continuation, p. 475. 
p 47, el scj. 

S[ialiling, vol. 

marquis, in tiie beginning ot the following 
year, to appear before them to answer for 
these oppressions. lie accordingly went to 
Edinburgh in the month of February, 1635, 
where he was commanded to remain till the 
matter should bo investigated. The heads of 
the families whose sons had joined the outlaws 
also appeared, and, after examination, Letter- 
fourie, Park, Tilliangus, Terrisoule, Inver- 
markie, Tulloch, Ardlogy, and several other 
persons of the surname of Gordon, were com- 
mitted to prison, until their sons, who had 
engaged in the combination against Fren- 
draught, should be presented before the council. 
The prisoners, who denied being accessory 
thereto, then petitioned to be set at liberty, a 
request which was complied with on condition 
that they should either produce the rebels, as 
tin' pillagers were called, or make them leave 
thu kingdom. The marquis, although nothing 
could be proved agairst him, was obliged to 



find caution that all persons of the surname 
of Gordon within his hounds should keep 
the peace ; and that he should he answerable 
in all time coming for any damage which 
should hefall the laird of Frendraught, or his 
lands, hy whatever violent means; and also 
that he should present the rebels at Edinburgh, 
that justice might be satisfied, or make them 
leave the kingdom. 

The Marquis of Huntly, thereupon, returned 
to the north, and the rebels hearing of the 
obligation he had come under, immediately 
dispersed themselves. The greater part of 
them fled into Flanders, and about twelve of 
them were apprehended by the marquis, and 
sent by him to Edinburgh. John Gordon, 
who lived at Woodhead of Rothiernay, and 
another, were executed. Of the remaining 
two, James Gordon, son of George Gordon in 
Auchterless, and William Ross, son of John 
Ross of Ballivet, the former was acquitted by 
the jury, and the latter was imprisoned in the 
jail of Edinburgh for future trial, having been 
a ringleader of the party. In apprehending 
these twelve persons, James Gordon, son of 
Adam Gordon of Strathdoun, was killed, and 
to show the Privy Council how diligent the 
marquis had been in fulfilling his obligation, 
his head was sent to Edinburgh along with 
the prisoners. 

The activity with which the marquis pursued 
the oppressors of Frendraught, brought him 
afterwards into some trouble. Adam Gordon, 
ono of the principal ringleaders of the confed- 
eracy, and second son of Sir Adam Gordon of 
the Park, thinking it " hard to be baneishit 
out of his native country, resoluit to cum home" 
and throw himself on the king's mercy. For 
this purpose he made a private communication 
to the Archbishop of St. Andrews, then chan- 
cellor of Scotland, in which he offered to sub- 
mit himself to the king's pleasure, promis- 
ing, that if his majesty would grant him a 
pardon, ho would reveal the author of the re- 
bellion. The archbishop, eager, it would ap- 
pear, to fulfil the ends of justice, readily 
entered into Gordon's views, and sent a spe- 
cial messenger to London to the king, who 
at once granted Adam a pardon. On receiving 
the pardon, Gordon accused the Marquis of 
Ihuitly as the author of the conspiracy against 

Frendraught, and with having instigated him 
and his associates to commit all the depreda- 
tions which had taken place. The king, there- 
upon, sent a commission to Scotland, appoint- 
ing a select number of the lords of the Privy 
Council to examine into the affair. 

As Adam Gordon had charged James Gordon 
of Letterfourie, with having employed him and 
his associates, in name of the marquis, against 
the laird of Frendraught, Letterfourie was cited 
to appear at Edinburgh for trial. On being 
confronted with Adam Gordon, he denied 
everything laid to his charge, but, notwith- 
standing this denial, ho was committed a 
prisoner to the jail of Edinburgh. The mar- 
quis himself, who had also appeared at Edin- 
burgh on the appointed day, January 15th, 
1636, was likewise confronted with Adam 
Gordon before the committee of the Privy 
Council ; but although he denied Adam's ac- 
cusation, and " cleared himself with great dex- 
teritie, beyond admiration," as Gordon of Sal- 
lagh observes, he was, " upon presumption," 
committed a close prisoner to the castle of 

When his majesty was made acquainted with 
these circumstances by the commissioners, and 
that there was no proof to establish the charge 
against the marquis, both the marquis and 
Gordon of Lotterfourie were released by his 
command, on giving security for indemnify- 
ing the laird of Frcndraught for any damage 
he might sustain in time coining, from the 
Gordons and their accomplices. Having so 
far succeeded in annoying the marquis, Adam 
Gordon, after collecting a body of men, by 
leave of the Privy Council, went along with 
them to Germany, where he became a captain 
in the regiment of Colonel George Leslie. To 
terminate the unhappy differences between the 
marquis arid Frendraught, the king enjoined 
Sir Robert Gordon, who was related to both, 
the marquis being his cousin-gorman, and 
chief of that family, and Frendraught the 
husband of his niece, to endeavour to bring 
about a reconciliation between them. Sir 
Robert, accordingly, on his return to Scotland, 
prevailed upon the parties to enter into a sub- 
mission, by which they agreed to refer all 
questions and differences between them to the 
arbitrament of friends ; but before the submis- 



sion was brought to a final conclusion, the 
marquis expired at Dundee on the 13th 
June, (15th according to Gordon), 1636, at 
the age o'f seventy-four, while returning to 
the north from Edinburgh. Ho was in- 
terred in the family vault at Elgin, on the 
thirtieth day of August following, " having," 
says Spalding, " above his chist a rich mort- 
cloath of black velvet, wherein was wrought 
t\vo ivhyte crosses. He had torchh'ghts in 
great number carried bo freinds and gentlemen ; 
the marques' son, called Adam, was at his 
head, the carlo of Murray on the right spaik, 
the carle of Seaforth on the loft spaik, the 
earle of Sutherland on the third spaik, and Sir 
Robert Gordon on the fourth spaik. Besyds 
tliir nobles, many barrens and gentlemen was 
there, haveing above three hundred lighted 
torches at the lifting. Ho is carried to the 
east port, doun the wynd to the south kirk 
stile of the colledge kirk, in at the south kirk 
door, and buried in his own isle with much 
murning and lamentation. The like forme of 
burriall, with torch light, was not seiii heir tliir 
many dayes befor." 6 

The marquis was a remarkable man for the 
age in which he lived, and there arc no char- 
acters in that eventful period of Scottish his- 
tory so well entitled to veneration and esteem. 
A lover of justice, he never attempted to 
aggrandize his vast possessions at the expense 
of his less powerful neighbours; a kind and 
humane superior and landlord, he exercised a 
lenient sway over his numerous vassals and 
tenants, who repaid his kindness by sincere 
attachment to his person and family. En- 
dowed with great strength of mind, invincible 
courage, and consummate prudence, he sur- 
mounted the numerous difficulties with which 
he was surrounded, and lived to see the many 
factions which had conspired against him dis- 
comfited and dissolved. While his constant 
and undeviating attachment to the religion of 
his forefathers, raised up many enemies against 
him among the professors of the reformed doc- 
trines, by whoso cabals he was at one time 
obliged to leave the kingdom, his great power 
and influence were assailed by another formi- 

8 Spalding, vol. i. p. 50, cl seq. Gordon's Contin- 
uation, p. 476, cl seq. 

dable class of opponents among the turbulent 
nobility, who were grieved to see a man who 
had not imitated their venality and rapacity, 
not only retain his predominance in the north, 
but also receive especial marks of his sovereign's 
regard. But skilful and intriguing as they 
were in all the dark and sinister ways of an 
ago distinguished for its base and wicked 
practices, their machinations were frustrated 
by the discernment and honesty of George 
Gordon, the first Marquis of Huntly. 


A.D. 1636 (SEPTEMBER) 1644. 
Bnrrisn SOVEREIGN : Charles I., 1025 1G49. 

Charles I. attempts to introduce Episcopacy into Scot- 
land Meets with opposition Preparations for war 
Doings in the North Earl of Montrose Mont- 
rose at Aberdeen Arrests the Marquis of Huntly 
Covenanters of the North meet at Turrilf The 
"Trottof Turray" Movements of the Gordons 
Viscount Aboyne lands at Aberdeen " Raid of 
Stonehaven " Battle at the Bridge of Dee Pacifi- 
cation of Berwick War again Earl of Argyle 
endeavours to secure the "West Highlands Harsh 
proceedings against the Earl of Airly Montrose 
goes over to the king Marquis of Huntly rises in 
the North Montrose enters Scotland in disguise 
Landing of Irish forces in the West Highlands 
Meeting of Montrose and Alexander Macdonald 
Atholemen join Montrose Montrose advances into 
Strathearn Battle of Tippermuir. 

HITHERTO the history of the HigMands has 
been confined chiefly to the feuds and con- 
flicts of the clans, the details of which, though 
interesting to their descendants, cannot be sup- 
posed to afford the same gratification to readers 
at large. We now enter upon a more impor- 
tant era, when the Highlanders begin to play 
a much more prominent part in the theatre of 
our national history, and to give a foretaste of 
that military prowess for which they after- 
wards became so highly distinguished. 

In entering upon the details of the military 
achievements of the Highlanders during the 
period of the civil wars, it is quite unnecessary 
and foreign to our purpose to trouble the 
reader with a history of the rash, unconstitu- 
tional, and ill-fated attempt of Charles I. to 
introduce Episcopacy into Scotland ; nor, for the 
same reason, is it requisite to detail minutely 
the proceedings of the authors of the Covenant 



Suffice it to say, that in consequence of the 
inflexible determination of Charles to force 
English Episcopacy upon the people of Scot- 
land, the great majority of the nation declared 
their determination " by the great name of the 
Lord their God," to defend their religion against 
what they considered to be errors and corrup- 
tions. Notwithstanding, however, the most 
positive demonstrations on the part of the 
people to resist, Charles, acting by the advice 
of a privy council of Scotsmen established in 
England, exclusively devoted to the affairs of 
Scotland, and instigated by Archbishop Laud, 
resolved to suppress the Covenant by open force. 
In order to gain time for the necessary prepara- 
tions, he sent the Marquis of Hamilton, as his 
commissioner, to Scotland, who was instructed 
to promise " that the practice of the liturgy and 
the canons should never be pressed in any other 
than a fair and legal way, and that the high 
commission should be so rectified as never to 
impugn the laws, or to be a just grievance to 
loyal subjects," and that the king would pardon 
those who had lately taken an illegal covenant, 
on their immediately renouncing it, and giving 
up the bond to the commissioners. 

When the Covenanters heard of Hamilton's 
approach, they appointed a national fast to be 
held, to beg the blessing of God upon the kirk, 
*ml on the 10th of June, 1638, the marquis 
was received at Leith, and proceeded to the 
capital through an assemblage of about 60,000 
Covenanters, and 500 ministers. The spirit 
and temper of such a vast assemblage over- 
awed the marquis, and he therefore concealed 
his instructions. After making two successive 
journeys to London to communicate the alarm- 
ing state of affairs, and to receive fresh instruc- 
tions, he, on his second return, issued a pro- 
clamation, discharging " the service book, the 
book of canons, and the high commission court, 
dispensing with the five articles of Perth, dis- 
pensing the entrants into the ministry from 
taking the oath of supremacy and of canonical 
obedience, commanding all persons to lay aside 
the new Covenant, and take that which had 
been published by the king's father in 1589, 
and summoning a free assembly of the kirk to 
meet in the month of November, and a parlia- 
ment in the month of May, the following year." 
Matters had, however, proceeded too far for 

submission to the conditions of the proclama- 
tion, and the covenanting leaders answered it 
by a formal protest, in which they gave sixteen 
reasons, showing that to comply with the de- 
mands of the king would be to betray the cause 
of God, and to act against the dictates of con- 

In consequence of the opposition made to 
the proclamation, it was generally expected 
that the king would have recalled the order for 
the meeting of the assembly at Glasgow ; but 
no prohibition having been issued, that assem- 
bly, which consisted, besides the clergy, of one 
lay-elder and four lay-assessors from every pres- 
bytery, met at the time appointed, viz., in the 
month of November, 1638. After the assembly 
had spent a week in violent debates, the com- 
missioner, in terms of his instructions, declared 
it dissolved ; but, encouraged by the accession 
of the Earl of Argyle, who placed himself at 
the head of the Covenanters, the members de- 
clined to disperse at the mere mandate of the 
sovereign, and passed a resolution that, in 
spiritual matters, the kirk was independent of 
the civil power, and that the dissolution by 
the commissioner was illegal and void. After 
spending three weeks in revising the ecclesi- 
astical regulations introduced into Scotland 
since the accession of James to the crown of 
England, the assembly condemned the liturgy, 
ordinal, book of canons, and court of high 
commission, and, assuming all the powers of 
legislation, abolished episcopacy, and excom- 
municated the bishops themselves, and the 
ministers who supported them. Charles de- 
clared their proceedings null ; but the people 
received them with great joy, and testified 
their approbation by a national thanksgiving. 

Both parties had for some time been prepar- 
ing for war, and they now hastened on their 
plans. In consequence of an order from the 
supreme committee of the Covenanters in Edin- 
burgh, every man capable of bearing arms was 
called out and trained. Experienced Scottish 
officers, who had spent the greater part of their 
lives in military service in Sweden and Ger- 
many, returned to Scotland to place themselves 
at the head of their countrymen, and the Scot- 
tish merchants in Holland supplied them with 
arms and ammunition. The king advanced as 
far as York with an army, the Scottish bishojia 



making him believe that the news of his ap- 
proach would induce the Covenanters to submit 
themselves to his pleasure ; but he was disap- 
pointed, for instead of submitting themselves, 
they were the first to commence hostilities. 
About the 19th of March, 1G39, General Les- 
lie, the covenanting general, with a few men, 
surprised, and without difficulty, occupied the 
castle of Edinburgh, and about the same time 
the Earl of Traquair surrendered Dalkeith 
house. Dumbarton castle, like that of Edin- 
burgh, was taken by stratagem, the governor, 
named Stewart, being intercepted on a Sunday 
as he returned from church, and made to 
change clothes with another gentleman and 
give the pass- word, by which memis the Cove- 
nanters easily obtained possession. The king, 
on arriving at Durham, despatched the Marquis 
of Hamilton with a fleet of forty ships, having 
on board 6,000 troops, to the Frith of Forth ; 
but as both sides of the Frith were well forti- 
fied at different points, and covered with troops, 
he was unable to effect a landing. 6 

In the meantime, the Marquis of Huntly 
raised the royal standard in the north, and as 
the Earl of Sutherland, accompanied by Lord 
Reay, John, Master of Berridale and others, 
had been very busy in Inverness and Elgin, 
persuading the inhabitants to subscribe the 
Covenant, the marquis wrote him confidentially, 
blaming him for his past conduct, and advising 
him to declare for the king ; but the earl 
informed him in reply, that it was against the 
bishops and their innovations, and not against 
the king, that he had so acted. The earl then, 
in his turn, advised the marquis to join the 
Covenanters, by doing which he said he woul^l 
not only confer honour on himself, but much 
good on his native country; that in any private 
question in which Huntly was personally inter- 
ested he would assist, but that in the present 
affair ho would not aid him. The earl there- 
upon joined the Earl of Seaforth, the Master of 
Berridale, Lord Lovat, Lord Eeay, the laird of 
Balnagown, the Rosses, the Monroes, the laird 
of Grant, Macintosh, the laird of Lines, the 
sheriff of Moray, the baron of Kilravock, the 
lain! of Altire, the tutor of Duffus, and the 
oilier Covenanters on the north of the riverSpey. 

1 Gordon's Scab A/airs, vol. ii. p. 209. 

The Marquis of Huntly assembled his forces 
first at Turriff, and afterwards at Kintore, 
whence he marched upon Aberdeen, which he 
took possession of in name of the king. The 
marquis being informed shortly after his arrival 
in Aberdeen, that a meeting of Covenanters, 
who resided within his district, was to be held 
at Turriff on the 1 4th of February, resolved to 
disperse them. Ho therefore wrote letters to 
his chief dependents, requiring them to meet 
him at Turriff the same day, and bring with 
them no arms but swords and " schottis" or 
pistols. One of these letters fell into the hands 
of the Earl of Montrose, one of the chief cove- 
nanting lords, who determined at all hazards 
to protect the meeting of his friends, the Cove- 
nanters. In pursuance of this resolution, ho 
collected, with great alacrity, some of his best 
friends in Angus, and with his own and their 
dependents, to the number of about 800 men, 
he crossed the range of hills called the Grange- 
bean, between Angus and Abcrcleenshire, and 
took possession of Turriff on the morning of 
the 14th of February. When Huntly's party 
arrived during the course of the day, they were 
surprised at seeing the little churchyard of the 
village filled with armed men ; and they were 
still more surprised to observe them levelling 
their hagbuts at them across the walls of the 
churchyard. Not knowing how to act in the 
absence of the marquis, they retired to a placo 
called the Broad Ford of Towie, about two 
miles south from the village, when they were 
soon joined by Huntly and his suite. After 
some considtation, the marquis, after parading 
his men in order of battle along the north-west 
side of the village, in sight of Monlrose, 
dispersed his party, which amounted to 2,000 
men, without offering to attack Montrose, on 
the pretence that his commission of licii' 
tenancy only authorised him to act on the 
defensive. 7 

James Graham, Earl, and afterwards first 
Marquis of Montrose, who played so pro- 
minent a part in the history of the troublous 
times on which we are entering, was descended 
from a family which can be traced back to tho 
beginning of the 12th century. His ancestor, 
tho Earl of Montrose, fell at Flodden, and liu 

* Spalding, voL i. p. 137. 



grandfather became viceroy of Scotland after 
James VI. ascended the throne of England, 
lie himself was born in 1G12, his mother being 
Lady Margaret Ruthven, eldest daughter of 
William, first Earl of Gowrie. lie succeeded 
to the estates and title in 1026, on the deatli 
of his father, and three years after, married 
Magdalene Carnegie, daughter of Lord Car- 
negie of Kinnaird. He pursued his studies at 
St. Andrews University and Kinnaird Castle 
till lie was about twenty years of age, when 
he went to the Continent and studied at the 
academies of France and Italy, returning an 
accomplished gentleman and a soldier. On 
his return he was, for some reason, coldly 
received by Charles I., and it is supposed by 
some that it was mainly out of chagrin on this 
account that he joined the Covenanters. What- 
ever may have been his motive for joining 
them, lie was certainly an important and 
powerful accession to their ranks, although, as 
will be seen, his adherence to them was but of 
short duration. 

Montrose is thus portrayed by his contempo- 
rary, Patrick Gordon of Ruthven, author of 
Britane's Distemper. " It cannot be denied 
but he was ane accomplished gentleman of 
many excellent partes ; a bodie not tall, but 
comely and well compossed in all Ms linia- 
mcntes ; his complexion mecrly whiteo, with 
il.ixin liaire ; of a stayed, graue, and solide 
looke, and yet his eyes sparkling and full of 
lyfe ; of speach slowo, but wittie and full of 
sence ; a presence graitfull, courtly, and so 
winneing vpon the beholder, as it seemed to 
claimo reuerence without seweing for it ; for 
he was so affable, so courteous, so bening, as 
seemed verely to scorne ostentation and the 
keeping of state, and therefor he quicklie made 
a conquesse of the heartes of all his followers, 
so as whan he list ho could hauc lead them in 
a chaine to hauo followed him with chearo- 
fullnes in all his intorpryses ; and I am ccr- 
tancly perswaded, that this his gratious, hu- 
mane, and courteous fredomo of behauiour, 
being certanely acceptable befor God as well as 
men, was it that wanne him so much renovnc, 
und inabled him cheifly, in the loue of his 
followers, to goe through so great interprysscs, 
wheirin his equall had failled, altho they 
exceeded him farrc in power, nor can any 

other reason be giuen for it, but only this that 
followeth. He did not seeme to affect state, 
nor to claime reuerence, nor to keepe a dis- 
tance witli gentlemen that ware not his domes- 
tickes ; but rather in a noble yet courteouso 
way lie seemed to slight those vanisheing 
smockes of greatnes, affecting rather the real! 
possession of mens heartes then the frothie 
and outward showo of reuerence ; and therefor 
was all reuerence thrust vpon him, because all 
did loue him, therfor all did honour him and 
reuerence him, yea, haucing once acquired there 
heartes, they ware roadie not only to honour 
him, but to quarrell with any that would not 
honour him, and would not spare there for- 
tounes, nor there derrest blood about there 
heartes, to the end he might be honoured, 
because they saue that he tooke the right 
course to obtaine honour. He had fund furtli 
the right way to be reuerenced, and thereby 
was approued that propheticke maxime which 
hath never failed, nor nouer shall faille, 
being pronounced by the Fontaine of treutli 
(lie that exalteth liimsclfe shall le liimibled) ; 
for his winneiug behauiour and courteous 
caryago got him more respect then those to 
whom they ware bound both by the law of 
nature and by good reason to hawc giuen it to. 
Nor could any other reason bo giuen for it, 
but only there to much keepeing of distance, 
and caryeing themselfes in a more statlye and 
reserued way, without putteLng a difference 
betuixt a free borne gentleman and a seruillo 
or base myuded slaue. 

" This much I thought good by the way to 
signifie ; for the best and most waliant generall 
that euer lead ano armie if ho mistake the dis- 
position of the nation whom ho commandes, 
and will not descend a litle till he meete witli 
the genious of his shouldiours, on whose fol- 
loweing his grandour and the success of his in- 
tcrpryses chiefely dependeth, stryueing tlirougli 
a higli soireing and ower winneing ambition to 
drawe them to his byas with awe and not 
with lowe, that leader, I say, shall neuer pre- 
waill against his enemies with ane armie of the 
Scotes nation." 

Montrose had, about this time, received a 
commission from the Tables as the boards of 
representatives, chosen respectively by the no- 
bility, county gentry, clergy, ami inhabitants of 



the burghs, were called to raise a body of 
troops for the service of the Covenanters, and lie 
now proceeded to embody them with extraordi- 
nary promptitude. Within one month, lie col- 
lected a force of about 3,000 horse and foot, 
from the counties of Fife, Forfar, and Perth, 
and put them into a complete state of military 
discipline. Being joined by the forces under 
General Leslie, he marched upon Aberdeen, 
which lie entered, without opposition, on the 
30th of March, the Marquis of Kuntly having 
abandoned the town on his approach. Some 
idea of the well-appointed sta'.e of this army 
may bo formed from the curious description of 
Spalding, who says, that "upon the morne, 
being Saturday, they came in order of battell, 
weill armed, both on horse and foot, ilk horse- 
man having five shot at the least, with ane 
carabine in his hand, two pistols by his sydes, 
and other two at his saddell toir ; the pikemen 
in their ranks, with pike and sword ; the 
rausketiers in their ranks, with musket, musket- 
stafl'e, bandelier, sword, powder, ball, and 
match ; ilk company, both on horse and foot, 
had their captains, lieutenants, ensignes, ser- 
jeants, and other officers and commanders, all 
for the most part in buff coats, and in goodly 
order. They had five colours or ensignes, 
whereof the Earl of Montrosc had one, have- 
ing this motto : ' Fon RELIGION, THE COVE- 
NANT, AND THE COUNTRIE ;' the Earle of Maris- 
chall had one, the Earle of Kinghorne had 
one, and the town of Dundie had two. They 
had trumpeters to ilk company of horsemen, 
and drummers to ilk company of footmen; 
they had their meat, drink, and other provi- 
sion, bag and baggage, carryed with them, 
all done be advyse of his excellence Felt Mar- 
schall Leslie, whose councell Gcnerall Montrose 
followed in this busiencss. Now, in seemly 
order and good array, this army came forward, 
and entered the burgh of Aberdein, about ten 
hours in the morning, at the Over Kirkgate 
Port, syne came doun throw the Broadgate, 
throw the Castlegate, out at the Justice Port 
to the Queen's Links directly. Here it is to 
be notted that few or none of this hail army 
wanted ane blew ribbin hung about his craig, 
doun under his left arme, which they called 
the Covenanters' Rililin. But the Lord Gor- 
don, and some other of the marquess' bairnes 

and familie, had ane ribbin when he was 
dwelling in the toun, of ane reid flesh cullor, 
which they wore in their hatts, and called it 
The HoyaU Ribbin, as a signe of their love and 
loyalltie to the king. In despyte and derision 
thereof this blew ribbin was worne, and called 
the Covenanters' Ribbin, be the hail souldiers 
of the army, and would not hear of the royall 
ribbin ; such was their pryde and malice." 8 

At Aberdeen Montrose was joined the same 
day by Lord Frascr, the Master of Forbes, the 
laird of Dalgettic, the tutor of Pitsligo, the 
Eavl Marshal's men in Buchan, with several 
other gentlemen and their tenants, dependants, 
and servants, to the number of 2,000, an addi- 
tion which augmented Montrose's army to 9,000 
men. Leaving the Earl of Kinghorn with 
1,500 men to keep possession of Aberdeen, 
Montrose marched the same day towards Kin- 
tore, where he encamped that night. Halting 
all Sunday, he proceeded on the Monday to In- 
verury, where he again pitched his camp. The 
Marquis of Huntly grew alarmed at this sudden 
and unexpected movement, and thought it now 
time to treat with such a formidable foe for his 
personal safety. He, therefore, despatched 
Robert Gordon of Straloch and Doctor Gordon, 
an Aberdeen physician, to Montrose's camp, to 
request an interview. The marquis proposed 
to meet him on a moor near Blackball, about 
two miles from the camp, with 11 attendants 
each, with no arms but a single sword at their 
side. After consulting with Field Marshal 
Leslie and the other officers, Montroso agreed 
to meet the marquis, on Thursday the 4th of 
April, at the place mentioned. The parties 
accordingly met. Among the eleven who 
attended the marquis were his son James, 
Lord Aboyne, and the Lord Oliphant. Lords 
Elcho and Cowper were of the party who at- 
tended Montrose. After the usual salutation 
they both alighted and entered into conversa- 
tion; but, coming to no understanding, they 
adjourned the conference till tho following 
morning, when the marquis signed a paper 
obliging himself to maintain the king's author- 
ity, " the liberty of church and state, religion 
and laws." He promised at tho same time to 
do his best to make his friends, tenants, and 

8 Troubles, vol. i. pp. 107, 108. 



servants subscribe the Covenant. 9 The mar- 
quis, after this arrangement, went to Strath- 
bogie, and Montrose returned with his army to 
Aberdeen, the following clay. 

The marquis had not been many days at 
Strathbogie, when he received a notice from 
Montroso to repair to Aberdeen with his two 
sons, Lord Gordon and Viscount Aboyne, 
for the ostensible purpose of assisting the 
committee in their deliberations as to the 
settlement of the disturbances in the north. 1 
On Hnntly receiving an assurance from Mon- 
trose and the other covenanting leaders that 
no attempt should be made to detain himself 
and his sons as prisoners, he complied witli 
Montrose's invitation, and repairing to Aber- 
deen, ho took up his quarters in the laird of 
Pitfoddcl's house. 

The arrest of the marquis, which followed, 
has been attributed, not without reason, to the 
intrigues of the Frasers and the Forbeses, who 
bore a mortal antipathy to the house of Huntly, 
and who were desirous to sec the " Cock of the 
North," as the powerful head of that house was 
popularly called, humbled. 2 But, be these con- 
jectures as they may, on the morning after the 
marquis's arrival at Aberdeen, vi/., on the lllli 
April, a council of the principal officers of 
Montrose's army was held, at which it was 
determined to arrest the marquis and Lord 
Gordon, his eldest son, and cany them to 
Edinburgh. It was not, however, judged ad- 
visable to act upon this resolution immediately, 
and to do away with any appearance of treach- 
ery, Montrose and his friends invited the mar- 
quis and his two sons to supper the following 
evening. During the entertainment the most 
friendly civilities were passed on both sides, 
and, after the party had become somewhat 
merry, Montrose and his friends hinted to the 
marquis the expediency, in the present posture 
of affairs, of resigning his commission of lieu- 
tenancy. They also proposed that he should 
write a letter to the king along with the resig- 
nation of his commission, in favour of the 
Covenanters, as good and loyal subjects ; and 
that he should despatch the laird of Cluny, the 
following morning, with the letter and rcsigna- 

9 Spalding, vol. i. pp. 157, 160. 

1 Gordon of Kothiemay, vol. ii. p. 235. 

' Id., vol. ii. p. 235. 

tion. The marquis, seeing that his commission 
was altogether unavailable, immediately wrote 
out, in presence of the meeting, a resignation of 
it, and a letter of recommendation as proposed, 
and, in their presence, delivered the same to the 
laird of Cluny, who was to set off the following 
morning with them to the king. It would 
appear that Montrose was not sincere in mak- 
ing this demand upon the marquis, and that 
his object was, by calculating on a refusal, to 
make that the ground for arresting him; for 
the marquis had scarcely returned to his lodg- 
ings to pass the night, when an armed guard 
was placed round the house, to prevent him 
from returning home, as he. intended to do, the 
following morning. 

When the marquis rose, next morning, ho 
was surprised at receiving a message from 
the covenanting general, desiring his attend- 
ance at the house of the Earl Marshal; and 
he was still farther surprised, when, on 
going out, along with his two sons, to the 
appointed place of meeting, ho found his 
lodging beset with sentinels. The marquis 
was received by Montrose with the usual 
morning salutation, after which, he proceeded 
to demand from him a contribution for liqui- 
dating a loan of 200,000 mcrks, which the 
Covenanters had borrowed from Sir William 
Dick, a rich merchant of Edinburgh. To this 
unexpected demand the marquis replied, that 
he was not obliged to pay any part thereof, not 
having been concerned in the borrowing, and 
of course, declined to comply. Montroso then 
requested him to take steps to apprehend James 
Grant and John Dugar, and their accomplices, 
who had given considerable annoyance to the 
Covenanters in the Highlands. Huntly ob- 
jected, that, having now no commission, he 
could not act, and that, although he had, 
James Grant had already obtained a remission 
from the king ; and as for Jolui Dugar, he would 
concur, if required, with the other neighbouring 
proprietors in an attempt to apprehend him. 
The earl, finally, as the Covenant, he said, ad- 
mitted of no standing hatred or feud, required 
the marquis to reconcile himself to Crichton, 
the laird of Frendranght, but this the marquis 
positively refused to do. Finding, as he no 
doubt expected, the marquis quite resolute in 
i his determination to resist these demands, the 



earl suddenly changctl his tone, and thus ad- 
dressed the marquis, apparently in the most 
friendly terms, "My lord, seeing we are all 
now friends, will you go south to Edinburgh 
with us?" Hunlly answered that ho would 
not that he was not prepared for such a 
journey, and that ho was just going to set off 
for Strathbogie. "Your lordship," rejoined 
Montrose, " will do well to go with us." The 
marquis now perceiving Montrosc's design, 
accosted him thus, " My lord, I came here to 
this town upon assurance that I should come 
and go at my own pleasure, without molesta- 
tion or inquietude; and now I see why my 
lodging was guarded, and that ye mean to take 
me to Edinburgh, whether I will or not. This 
conduct, on your part, seems to mo to be 
neither fair nor honourable." He added, " My 
lord, give me back the bond which I gave you 
at Invcrury, and you shall have an answer." 
Montrose thereupon delivered the bond to the 
marquis. Huntly then inquired at the earl, 
" Whether he would take him to the south as 
a captive, or willingly of his own mindl" 
" Make your choice," said Montrose. " Then," 
observed the marquis, " I will not go as a cap- 
tive, but as a volunteer." The marquis there- 
upon immediately returned to his lodging, and 
despatched a messenger after the laird of 
Cluny, to stop him on his journey." 3 

It was the intention of Montrose to take 
both the marquis and his sons to Edinburgh, 
but Viscount Ahoyne, at the desire of some of 
his friends, was released, and allowed to return 
to Strathbogie. On arriving at Edinburgh, 
the marquis and his son, Lord Gordon, were 
committed close prisoners to the castle of 
Edinburgh, and the Tables "appointed five 
guardians to attend upon him and his son 
night and day, upon his own expenses, that 
none should come in nor out but by their 
sight." 3 On being solicited to sign the Cov- 
enant, Huntly issued a manifesto characterized 
by magnanimity and the most steadfast loyalty, 
concluding with the following words : " For 
my oune part, I am in your power; and re- 
solved not to leave that foul title of traitor as 
ane inheritance upon my posterityo. Yow 

5 Spalding, vol. i. p. 188. 
Ibid. p. 177. 

may tacke niy heado from my shoulders, but 
not my heart from my soveraigne." 4 

Some time after the departure of Montrose's 
army to the sputh, the Covenanters of the north 
appointed a committee meeting to be held at 
Turriff, upon Wednesday, 24th April, con- 
sisting of the Earls Marshal and Seaforth, 
Lord Fraser, the Master of Forbes, and somo 
of their kindred and friends. All persons 
within the diocese, who had not subscribed the 
Covenant, were required to attend this meeting 
for the purpose of signing it, and failing com- 
pliance, their property was to be given up 
to indiscriminate plunder. As neither Lord 
Aboyne, the laird of Banff, nor any of their 
friends and kinsmen, had subscribed the Cov- 
enant, nor meant to do so, they resolved to 
protect themselves from the threatened attack. 
A preliminary meeting of the heads of the 
northern Covenanters was held on the 22d of 
April, at Monymusk, where they learned of 
the rising of Lord Aboyne and his friends. 
This intelligence induced them to postpone 
the meeting at Turriff till the 26th of April, 
by which day they expected to be joined by 
several gentlemen from Caithness, Sutherland, 
Eoss, Moray, and other quarters. At another 
meeting, however, on the 24th of April, they 
postponed the proposed meeting at Turriff, 
sine die, and adjourned to Aberdeen; but as 
no notice had been sent of the postponement 
to the different covenanting districts in the 
north, about 1,500 men assembled at the place 
of meeting on the 2Gth of April, and were 
quite astonished to find that the chiefs were 
absent. Upon an explanation taking place, 
the meeting was adjourned till the 20th of May. 

Lord Aboyno had not been idle during this 
interval, having collected about 2,000 horse 
and foot from the Highlands and Lowlands, 
with which force ho had narrowly watched 
the movements of the Covenanters. Hearing, 
however, of the adjournment of the Turriff 
meeting, his lordship, at the entreaty of his 
friends, broke up his army, and went by sea to 
England to meet the king, to inform him of 
the precarious state of affairs in the north. 
Many of his followers, such as the lairds of 
Gight, Haddo, Uduey, Newton, Pitmedden, 

4 Gordon of Rothiemay, ii. 240. Spalding. i 1 "D. 



F overan, Tippertie, Hartliill, and others, who 
had subscribed the Covenant, regretted his 
departure; but as they had gone too far to 
recede, they resolved to continue their forces 
in the field, and held a meeting on the 7th of 
May at Auchterless, to concert a plan of 

A body of the Covenanters, to the number 
of about 2,000, having assembled at Turriff as 
early as the 13th of May, the Gordons resolved 
instantly to attack them, before they should 
be joined by other forces, which were expected 
to arrive before the 20th. Taking along with 
them four brass field-pieces from Strathbogie, 
the Gordons, to the number of about 800 horse 
and foot, commenced their march on the 13th 
of May, at ten o'clock at night, and reached 
Turriff next morning by day-break, by a road 
unknown to the sentinels of the covenanting 
army. As soon as they approached the town, 
the commander of the Gordons ordered the 
trumpets to be sounded and the drums to be 
beat, the noise of which was the first indication 
the Covenanters had of their arrival. Being 
thus surprised, the latter had no tune to make 
any preparations for defending themselves. 
They made, indeed, a shoit resistance, but were 
soon dispersed by the fire from the field-pieces, 
leaving behind them the lairds of Echt and 
Skene, and a few others, who were taken 
prisoners. The loss on either side, in killed 
and wounded, was very trifling. This skirmish 
is called by the writers of the period, " the 
Trott ofTurray." 5 

The successful issue of this trifling affair had 
a powerful effect on the minds of the victors, 
who forthwith marched on Aberdeen, which 
they entered on the 15th of May. They 
expelled the Covenanters from the town, and 
were there joined by a body of men from the 
Braes of Mar under the command of Donald 
Farquharson of Tulliegarmouth, and the laird 
of Abergeldie, and by another party headed by 
James Grant, so long an outlaw, to the num- 
ber of about 500 men. These men quartered 
themselves very freely upon the inhabitants, 
particularly on those who had declared for the 
Covenant, and they plundered many gentle- 

5 Turray is the old name of Turriff. Gordon of 
Kothiemay, vol. ii. p. 254. Gordon of Sallagh, p. 401. | 

men's houses in the neighbourhood. The house 
of Durris, belonging to John Forbes of Leslie, 
a great Covenanter, received a visit from them, 
" There was," says Spalding, " little plenishing 
left unconveyed away before their conieing 
They gott good bear and ale, broke up girnells, 
and buke bannocks at good fyrcs, and drank 
merrily upon the laird's best drink : syne 
carried away with them alse meikle victual 
as they could beir, which they could not gett 
eaten and destroyed ; and syne removed from 
that to Echt, Skene, Monymusk, and other 
houses pertaining to the name of Forbes, all 
great Covenanters." 6 

Two days after their arrival at Aberdeen, 
the Gordons sent to Dunnottar, for the purpose 
of ascertaining the sentiments of the Earl 
Marshal, in relation to their proceedings, and 
whether they might reckon on his friendship. 
The earl, however, intimated that he could say 
nothing in relation to the affair, and that he 
would require eight days to advise with his 
friends. This answer was considered quite 
unsatisfactory, and the chiefs of the army were 
at a loss how to act. Robert Gordon of Stra- 
loch, and James Burnet of Craigmyllc, a 
brother of the laird of Leys, proposed to enter 
into a negotiation with the Earl Marshal, but 
Sir George Ogilvie of Banff would not listen 
to such a proceeding, and, addressing Straloch, 
he said, " Go, if you will go ; but pr'ythee, let 
it be as quarter-master, to inform the earl that 
we are coming." Straloch, however, went not 
in the character of a quarter- master, but as a 
mediator in behalf of his chief. The earl said 
he had no intention to take up arms, without 
an order from the Tables ; that, if the Gordons 
would disperse, he would give them early 
notice to re-assemble, if necessary, for their 
own defence, but that if they should attack 
him, he would certainly defend himself. 

The army was accordingly disbanded on the 
21st of May, and the barons went to Aberdeen, 
there to spend a few days. The depredations 
of the Highlanders, who had come down to 
the lowlands in quest of plunder, upon the 
properties of the Covenanters, were thereafter 
carried on to such an extent, that the latter com- 
plained to the Earl Marshal, who immediately 

' Spalding, vol. i. p. 188. 



assembled a body of men out of Angus and 
the. Mcarns, with which ho entered Aberdeen 
on tho 23d of May, causing the barons to 
make a precipitate retreat. Two days there- 
after tho earl was joined by Montrose, at the 
head of 4,000 men, an addition which, with 
other accessions, made the whole force assem- 
bled at Aberdeen exceed 0,000. 

Meanwhile a largo body of northern Cove- 
nantors, tinder the command of tho Earl of 
Scaforth, was approaching from the districts 
beyond the Spey; but the Gordons having 
crossed the Spey for tho purpose of opposing 
their advance, an agreement was entered into 
between both parties that, on the Gordons re- 
tiring across the Spey, Seaforth and his men 
should also retire homewards. 

After spending five days in Aberdeen, Mon- 
trose marched his army to Udney, thence 
to Kellie, the seat of the laird of Haddo, and 
afterwards to Gight, the residence of Sir 
Eobert Gordon, to which he laid siege. But 
intelligence of the arrival of Viscount Aboyne 
in the bay of Aberdeen, deranged his plans. 
Being quite uncertain of Aboyne's strength, 
and fearing that his retreat might be cut off, 
Montrose quickly raised the siege and returned 
to Aberdeen. Although Lord Aboyne still 
remained on board his vessel, and could easily 
have been prevented from landing, Montroso 
most unaccountably abandoned the town, and 
retired into the Mearns. 

Viscount Aboyne had been most graciously 
received by the king, and had ingratiated him- 
self so much with the monarch, as to obtain 
the commission of lieutenancy which his father 
held. Tho king appears to have entertained 
good hopes from his endeavours to support the 
royal cause in the north of Scotland, and be- 
fore taking leave he gave the viscount a letter 
addressed to the Marquis of Hamilton, request- 
ing him to afford his lordship all the assistance 
in his power. From whatever cause, all the 
aid afforded by the Marquis was limited to a 
few officers and four field-pieces: "The king,'' 
says Gordon of Sallagh, " coming to Berwick, 
and business growing to a height, the armies 
of England and Scotland lying near one another, 
his majesty sent the Viscount of Aboyne and 
Colonel Gun (who was then returned out of 
Germany) to the Marquis of Hamilton, to 

receive some forces from him, and with these 
forces to go to Aberdeen, to possess and re- 
cover that town. The Marquis of Hamilton, 
lying at anchor in Forth, gave them no supply 
of men, but sent them five ships to Aberdeen, 
and the marquis himself retired with his fleet 
and men to the Holy Island, hard by Berwick, 
to reinforce tho king's army there against the 
Scots at Dunslaw." " On his voyage to 
Aberdeen, Aboyne's ships fell in with two 
vessels, one of which contained the lairds of 
Banff, Foveran, Newton, Crummie, and others, 
who had fled on the approach of Montrose to 
Gight; and the other had on board some 
citizens of Aberdeen, and several ministers 
Trho had refused to sign the Covenant, all of 
whom the viscount persuaded to return homo 
along with him. 

On the 6th of June, Lord Aboyne, accom- 
panied by the Earls of Glencairn and Tulli- 
bardine, the lairds of Drum, Banff, Fedderet, 
Foveran, and Newton, .and their followers, 
with Colonel Gun and several English officers, 
landed in Aberdeen without opposition. Imme- 
diately on coming ashore, Aboyne issued a pro- 
clamation which was read at the cross of Aber- 
deen, prohibiting all his majesty's loyal subjects 
from paying any rents, duties, or other debts to 
the Covenanters, and requiring them to pay 
one-half of such sums to the king, and to 
retain the other for themselves. Those persona 
who had been forced to subscribe the Cove- 
nant against their will, were, on repentance, to 
be forgiven, and every person was required to 
take an oath of allegiance to his majesty. 

This bold step inspired the royalists with 
confidence, and in a short space of time a con- 
siderable force rallied round the royal standard. 
Lewis Gordon, third son of the Marquis ot 
Huntly, a youth of extraordinary courage, on 
hearing of his brother's arrival, collected his 
father's friends and tenants, to the number of 
about 1,000 horse and foot, and with these he 
entered Aberdeen on the 7th of June. These 
were succeeded by 100 horse, sent in by tho 
laird of Drum, and by considerable forces led 
by James Grant and Donald Farquharson. 
Many of the Covenanters also joined tho 
viscount, so that liis force ultimately amounted 

7 Continuation, p. 102. 



to several thousand men. Spalding 8 gives 
a sad, though somewhat ludicrous account 
of the way in which Farquliarson's " hie- 
land men" conducted themselves while in 
Aberdeen. He says, " Thir saulless lounis 
plunderit meit, drink, and sclieip quliair ever 
they cam. Thay oppressit the Oldtoun, and 
brocht in out of the countrie honest mcnis 
scheip, and sold at tho cross of Old Abirdein 
to sic as wold by, ane scheip upone foot for 
ane groat. The poor men that audit tliame 
follouit in and coft bak thair awin scheip 
agane, sic as wes left unslayno for thair meit." 

On the 10th of Juno the viscount left Aber- 
deen, and advanced upon Kintore with an 
army of about 2,000 horse and foot, to which 
he received daily accessions. The inhabitants 
of the latter place_ were compelled by him to 
subscribe the oath of allegiance, and notwith- 
standing their compliance, " the troops," says 
Spalding, " plundered meat and drink, and 
made good fires: and, where they wanted 
peats, broke down beds and boards in honest 
men's houses to be fires, and fed their horses 
with com and straw that day and night." 9 
Next morning the army made a raid upon 
Hall Forrest, a seat of the Earl Marshal, and 
the house of Muchells, belonging to Lord 
Fraser; but Aboyne, hearing of arising in the 
south, returned to Aberdeen. 

As delay would be dangerous to his cause in 
the present conjuncture, he crossed the Dee on 
the 14th of June, his army amounting alto- 
gether probably to about 3,000 horse and foot, 1 
with the intention of occupying Stonehaven, 
and of issuing afresh the king's proclamation 
at the market cross of that burgh. He pro- 
ceeded as far as Muchollis, orMuchalls, the seat 
of Sir Thomas Burnet of Leyes, a Covenanter, 
where he encamped that night. On hearing of 
his approach, the Earl Marshal and Montrose 
posted themselves, with 1,200 men, and some 
pieces of ordnance which they had drawn from 
Dunnottar castle, on the direct road which 
Aboyne had to pass, and waited his approach. 

8 Spaldiug, vol. i. p. 205. 

9 Troubles, vol. i. p. 206. 

1 Spalding, vol. i. p. 207. Gordon of Rpthiernay, 
vol. ii. p. 268. Gordon of Euthven, in his abridg- 
ment of Sritmie'a Distemper (Spald. Club ed.), p. 20ti, 
makes the number 5,000. 

Although Aboyno was quite aware of tho 
position of the Earl Marshal, instead of endea- 
vouring to outflank him by making a detour to 
the right, he, by Colonel Gun's advice, crossed 
tho Meagre hill next morning, directly in tho 
face of his opponent, who lay with his forces 
at the bottom of the hill. As Aboyne de- 
scended the hill, the Earl Marshal opened a 
heavy fire upon him, which threw his men into 
complete disorder. The Highlanders, unaccus- 
tomed to the fire of cannon, were the first to 
retreat, and in a short time the whole army 
gave way. Aboyne thereupon returned to 
Aberdeen with some horsemen, leaving tho 
rest of tho army to follow; but the High- 
landers took a homeward course, carrying along 
with them a largo quantity of booty, which 
they gathered on their retreat. Tho disastrous 
issue of "the Eaid of Stonehaven," as this 
affair has been called, has been attributed, with 
considerable plausibility, to treachery on the 
part of Colonel Gun, to whom, on account of 
Ms great experience, Aboyne had intrusted the 
command of tho army. 2 

On his arrival at Aberdeen, Aboyne held a 
council of war, at which it was determined to 
send some persons into the Mearns to collect 
the scattered remains of his army, for, with the 
exception of about 180 horsemen and a few foot 
soldiers, the whole of the fine army which he 
had led from Aberdeen had disappeared ; but 
although the army again mustered at Leggets- 
den to the number of 4,000, they were pre- 
vented from recrossing the Dee and joining 
his lordship by tho Marshal and Montrose, 
who advanced towards tho bridge of Dee with 
all their forces. Aboyne, hearing of their ap- 
proach, resolved to dispute with them the 
passage of tho Dee, and, as a precautionary 
measure, blocked up tho entrance to the bridge 
of Dee from the south by a thick wall of turf, 
beside which ho placed 100 musketeers upon 
the bridge, under the command of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Jolmstone, to annoy the assailants from 
tho small turrets on its sides. Tho viscount 
was warmly seconded in his views by the citi- 
zens of Aberdeen, whoso dread of another hos- 
tile visit from the Covenanters induced them to 

5 Spaldiuf!, vol. i. p. 208. Gordon of Rothienmy, 
vol. ii. p. 272. Britane's Distemper, p. 2*. 



alford him every assistance in their power, and 
it is recorded that the women and children 
even occupied themselves in carrying provi- 
sions to the army during the contest. 

The army of Montrose consisted of about 
2,000 foot and 300 horse, and a largo train of 
artillery. The forces which Lord Aboyne 
had collected on the spur of the occasion 
were not numerous, but he was superior in 
cavalry. His ordnance consisted only of four 
pieces of brass cannon. Montrose arrived at 
the bridge of Dee on the 18th of June, and, 
without a moment's delay, commenced a furious 
cannonade upon the works which had been 
thrown up at the south end, and which he 
kept up during the whole day without produc- 
ing any material effect. Lieutenant-colonel 
Johnstone defended the bridge with deter- 
mined bravery, and his musketeers kept up a 
galling and well-directed fire upon their assail- 
ants. Both parties reposed during the short 
twilight, and as soon as morning dawned Mon- 
trose renewed his attack upon the bridge, with 
an ardour which seemed to have received a 
fresh impulse from the unavailing efforts of 
the preceding day ; but all his attempts were 
vain. Seeing no hopes of carrying the bridge 
in the teeth of the force opposed to him, lie had 
recourse to a stratagem, by which he succeeded 
in withdrawing a part of Aboyne's forces from 
the defence of the bridge. That force had, 
indeed, been considerably impaired before the 
renewal of the attack, in consequence of a party 
of 50 musketeers having gone to Aberdeen to 
escort thither the body of a citizen named John 
Forbes, who had been killed the preceding 
day ; to which circumstance Spalding attri- 
butes the loss of the bridge ; but whether the 
absence of this party had such an effect upon 
the fortune of the day is by no means clear. 
The covenanting general, after battering unsuc- 
cessfully the defences of the bridge, ordered 
a party of horsemen to proceed up the river 
some distance, and to make a demonstration as 
if they intended to cross. Aboyne was com- 
pletely deceived by this manoeuvre, and sent 
the whole of his horsemen from the bridge 
to dispute the passage of the river with those 
of Montrose, leaving Lieutenant-colonel John- 
stone and his 50 musketeers alone to protect 
the bridge. Montrose having thus drawn his 

opponent into the snare set for him, imme- 
diately sent back the greater part of his horse, 
under the command of Captain Middletou, with 
instructions to renew the attack upon the 
bridge with redoubled energy. This officer lost 
no time in obeying these orders, and Lieutenant- 
colonel Johnstone having been wounded in the 
outset by a stone torn from the bridge by a shot, 
was forced to abandon its defence, and he and 
his party retired precipitately to Aberdeen. 

When Aboyne saw the colours of the Cove- 
nanters flying on the bridge of Dee, he fled with 
great haste towards Strathbogie, after releasing 
the lairds of Purie Ogilvy and Purie Fodder- 
inghame, whom he had taken prisoners, and 
carried witli him from Aberdeen. The loss on 
either side during the conflict on the bridge 
was trifling. The only person of note who fell 
on Aboyne's side was Seaton of Pitmedden, a 
brave cavalier, who was killed by a cannon 
shot while riding along the river side with 
Lord Aboyne. On that of the Covenanters 
was slain another valiant gentleman, a brother 
of llamsay of Balmain. About 14 persons of 
inferior note were killed on each side, including 
some burgesses of Aberdeen, and several were 

Montrose, reaching the north bank of the 
Dee, proceeded immediately to Aberdeen, 
which he entered without opposition. So ex- 
asperated were Montrose's followers at the 
repeated instances of devotedness shown by 
the inhabitants to the royal cause, that they 
proposed to raze the town and set it on fire ; 
but they were hindered from carrying their 
design into execution by the firmness of Mou- 
trose. The Covenanters, however, treated the 
inhabitants very harshly, and imprisoned many 
who were suspected of having been concerned 
in opposing their passage across the Dee ; but 
an end was put to these proceedings in conse- 
quence of intelligence being brought on the fol- 
lowing day (June 20th) of the treaty of paci- 
fication which had been entered into between 
the king and his subjects at Berwick, upon the 
18th of that month. On receipt of this news, 
Montrose sent a despatch to the Earl of Sea- 
forth, who was stationed with his army on the 
Spey, intimating the pacification, and desiring 
liiiu to disband his army, with which order he 
instantly complied. 



The articles of pacification were preceded by 
a declaration on the part of the king, in which 
he stated, that although he could not conde- 
scend to ratify and approve of the acts of the 
Glasgow General Assembly, yet, notwithstand- 
ing the many disorders which had of late been 
committed, he not only confirmed and made 
good whatsoever his commissioner had granted 
and promised, but he also declared that all mat- 
ters ecclesiastical should be determined by the 
assemblies of the kirk, and matters civil by 
the parliament and other inferior judicatories 
established by law. To settle, therefore, " the 
general distractions" of the kingdom, his ma- 
jesty ordered that a free general assembly 
should be held at Edinburgh on the 6th August 
following, at which he declared his intention, 
" God willing, to be personally present;" and 
he moreover ordered a parliament to meet at 
Edinburgh on the 20th of the same month, for 
ratifying the proceedings of the general assem- 
bly, and settling such other matters as might 
conduce to the peace and good of the kingdom 
of Scotland. By the articles of pacification, it 
was, infer alia, provided that the forces in 
Scotland should be disbanded within forty- 
eight hours after the publication of the de- 
claration, and that all the royal castles, forts, 
and warlike stores of every description, should 
be delivered up to his majesty after the said 
publication, as soon as he should send to 
receive them. Under the seventh and last 
article of the treaty, the Marquis of Huntly 
and his son, Lord Goi'don, and some others 
who had been detained prisoners in the castle 
af Ediiiburgh by the Covenanters, were set at 

It has been generally supposed that neither 
party had any sincere intention to observe the 
conditions of the treaty. Certain it is, that the 
ink with which it was written was scarcely dry 
before its violation was contemplated. On the 
one hand, the king, before removing his army 
from the neighbourhood of Berwick, required 
the heads of the Covenanters to attend him there, 
obviously with the object of gaining them over 
to his side ; but, with the exception of three 
commoners and three lords, Montrose, Lon- 
don, and Lothian, they refused to obey. It 
was at this conference that Charles, who ap- 
parently had great persuasive powers, made 

a convert of Montrose, who from that time 
determined to desert his associates in arms, 
and to place himself under the royal standard. 
The immediate strengthening of the forts of Ber- 
wick and Carlisle, and the provisioning of the 
castle of Edinburgh, were probably the sugges- 
tions of Montrose, who would, of course, be 
intrusted with the secret of his majesty's de- 
signs. The Covenanters, on the other hand, 
although making a show of disbanding their 
army at llunse, in reality kept a considerable 
force on foot, which they quartered in different 
parts of the country, to be in readiness for the 
field on a short notice. The suspicious conduct 
of the king certainly justified this precaution. 

The general assembly met on the day fixed 
upon, but, instead of attending in person as ho 
proposed, Charles appointed the Earl of Tra- 
quair to act as his commissioner. After abolish- 
ing the articles of Perth, the book of canons, the 
liturgy, the high commission and episcopacy, 
and ratifying the late Covenant, the assembly 
was dissolved on the 30th of August, and 
another general assembly was appointed to be 
held at Aberdeen on the 28th of July of the fol- 
lowing year, 1640. The parliament met next 
day, viz., on the last day of August, and as there 
were no bishops to represent the third estate, 
fourteen minor barons were elected in their 
stead. His majesty's commissioner protested 
against the vote and against farther proceedings 
till the king's mind should be known, and the 
commissioner immediately sent off a letter ap- 
prising him of the occurrence. Without wait- 
ing for the king's answer, the parliament was 
proceeding with a variety of bills for securing 
the liberty of the subject and restraining the 
royal prerogative, when it was unexpectedly 
and suddenly prorogued, by an order from the 
king, till the 2d of June in the following year. 

If Charles had not already made up his mind 
for war with his Scottish subjects, the conduct 
of the parliament which he had just prorogued 
determined him again to have recourse to aims 
in vindication of his prerogative. He endea- 
voured, at first, to enlist the sympathies of the 
bulk of the English nation in his cause, but 
without effect ; and his repeated appeals to his 
English people, setting forth the rectitude of 
his intentions and the justice of his cause, 
being answered by men who questioned the 



one anil denied the other, rather injured than 
served him. The people of England were not 
then in a mood to embark in a crusado against 
the civil and religious liberties of the north; 
and they had too much experience of the arbi- 
trary spirit of the king to imagine that their 
own liberties would bo better secured by ex- 
tinguishing the flame which burned in the 
breasts of the sturdy and enthusiastic Cove- 

But notwithstanding the many discouraging 
circumstances which surrounded him, Charles 
displayed a firmness of resolution to coerce the 
rebellious Scots by every means within his 
reach. The spring and part of the summer of 
1C40 were spent by both parties in military 
preparations. Field-Marshal Sir Alexander 
Leslie of Balgony, an old and experienced 
officer who had been in foreign service, was 
appointed generalissimo of the Scots army by 
the war committee. When mustered by the 
general at Choicelee, it amounted to about 
22,000 foot and 2,500 horse. A council of 
war was held at Dunse at which it was deter- 
mined to invade England. Montrose, to whose 
command a division of the army, consisting of 
2,000 foot and 500 horse, was intrusted, was 
absent when this meeting was held; but, 
although his sentiments had, by this time, 
undergone a complete change, seeing on his 
return no chance of preventing the resolution 
of the council, he dissembled his feelings and 
openly approved of the plan. There seems to 
be no doubt that in following this course he 
intended, on the first favourable opportunity, 
to declare for the king, and carry off such part 
of the army as should be inclined to follow 
him, which he reckoned at a third of the 
whole. 3 

The Earl of Argyle was commissioned by 
the Committee of Estates to secure the west 
and central Highlands. This, the eighth 
Earl and first Marquis of Argyle, had suc- 
ceeded to the title only in 1638, although 
he had enjoyed the estates for many years 
before that, as his father had been living in 
Spain, an outlaw. He was born in 1598, 
and strictly educated in the protestant faith as 
established in Scotland at the Reformation. 

Wishart's Memoirs, Edin. 1819, p. 24. 

In 1C26 he was made a privy councillor, and 
in 1634 appointed one of the extraordinary 
lords of session. In 1638, at the General 
Assembly of Glasgow, he openly went over to 
the side of the Covenanters, and from that time 
was recognised as their political head. Argyle, 
in executing the task intrusted to him by the 
committee, appears to have been actuated more 
by feelings of private revenge than by an 
honest desire to carry out the spirit of his 
commission. The ostensible reason for his 
undertaking this charge was his thorough ac- 
quaintance with the Highlands and the High- 
landers, and his ability to command the ser- 
vices of a large following of his own. " But the 
cheefe cause," according to Gordon of Rothie- 
may, 4 "though least mentioned, was Argylle, 
his spleene that he carryed upon the accompt 
of former disobleedgments betwixt his family 
and some of the Highland clans: therefore he 
was glade now to gett so faire a colour of 
revenge upon the publicke score, which he did 
not lett slippe. Another reasone he had 
besyde; it was his designe to swallow upp 
Badzenoch and Lochaber, and some landes 
belonging to the Mackdonalds, a numerous 
trybe, but haters of, and aeqwally hated by 
Argylle." He had some hold on these two 
districts, as, in 1639, he had become security 
for some of Huntly's debts to the latter's 
creditors. Argyle managed to seduce from 
their allegiance to Huntly the clan Cameron 
in Lochaber, who bore a strong resentment 
against their proper chief on account of some 
supposed injury done to the clan by the former 
marquis. Although they had little relish for 
the Covenant, still to gratify their revenge, 
they joined themselves to Argyle. A tribe 
of the Macdonalds who inhabited Lochaber, 
the Macranalds of Keppoch, who remained 
faithful to Huntly, met with very different 
treatment at the hands of Argyle, who devas- 
tated their district and burnt down their chief's 
dwelling at Keppoch. 

During this same summer (July 1640), 
Argyle, who had raised an army of about 5,000 
men, made a devastating raid into the district 
of Forfarshire belonging to the Earl of Airly. 
He made first for Airly castle, about five 

4 Scots Affairs, iii. 183. 



miles north of Meigle, which, in the absence 
of the earl in England, was held by his son 
Lord Ogilvie, who had recently maintained it 
against Montrose. When Argyle came up, 
Ogilvie saw that resistance was hopeless, and 
abandoned the castle to the tender rnercy of 
the enemy. Argyle without scruple razed the 
place to the ground, and is said to have shown 
himself so " extremely earnest" in the work of 
demolition " that he was seen taking a hammer 
in his hande and knocking down the hewed 
work of the doors and windows till ho did 
sweat for heat at his work." 5 Argyle's men 
carried off all they could from the house and 
the surrounding district, and rendered useless 
what they were compelled to leave behind. 

From Airly, Argyle proceeded to a seat be- 
longing to Lord Ogilvie, Forthar in Glenisla, 
the " bonnie house o' Airly," of the well-known 
song. Here lie behaved in a manner for which 
it would be difficult for his warmest supporters 
to find the shadow of an excuse, even taking 
into consideration the roughness of the times. 
The place is said by Gordon to have been " no 
strength," so that there is still less excuse for 
his conduct. He treated Forthar in the same 
way that he did Airly, and although Lady 
Ogilvie, who at the time was close on her con- 
finement, asked Argyle to stay proceedings 
until she gave birth to her infant, lie without 
scruple expelled her from the house, and pro- 
ceeded with his work of destruction. Not 
only so, however, but " the Lady Drum, Dame 
.Marian Douglas, who lived at that time in 
Kelly, hearing tell what extremity her grand- 
child, the Lady Ogilvy, was reduced to, did 
send a commission to Argyle, to whom the said 
Lady Drum was a kinswoman, requesting that, 
with his license, she might admit into her own 
house, her grandchild, the Lady Ogilvy, who 
at that time was near her delivery; but Argyle 
would give no license. . This occasioned the 
Lady Drum for to fetch the Lady Ogilvie to 
her house of Kelly, and for to keep her there 
upon all hazard that might follow." 

At the same time Argylo " was not forgetful 
to remember old quarrels to Sir John Ogilvie 
of Craigie." He sent a sergeant to Ogilvie's 
house to warn him to leave it, but the sergeant 

5 Gordon of Rothievnay, iii. 165. 

thought Argyle must have made some mistake, 
as he found it no more than a simple unfortified 
country house, occupied only by a sick gentle- 
womnu and some servants. The sergeant re- 

First Marquis of Argyle. 

turned and told this to Argyle, who waxed 
wroth and told him it was his duly simply to 
obey orders, commanding him at the same tiruo 
to return and " deface and spoil the house." 
After the sergeant had received his orders, 
Argylo was observed to turn round and repeat 
to himself the Latin political maxim Abscin- 
danhtr qui nos pertwbant, "a maximo which 
many thought that he practised accurately, 
which he did upon the account of the proverb 
consequential thereunto, and which is the rea- 
son of the former, which Argyle was remarked 
likewise to have often in his mouth as a choice 
aphorism, and well observed by statesmen, 
Quod mortui non mordent." 

Argyle next proceeded against the Earl of 
Athole, who, with about 1,200 followers, was 
lying in Breadalbane, ready to meet him. 
Argyle, whose army was about five times the 
size of Athole's, instead of giving fight, man- 
aged by stratagem to capture Athole and some 
of his friends, whom he sent to the Committee 
of Estates at Edinburgh. 



Aigylc, after having thus gratified his private 
revenge aiut made a show of quieting the 
Highlands, returned to the lowlands. 

On the 20th of August General Leslie crossed 
the Tweed with his army, the van of which 
was led by Montrose on foot. This task, 
though performed with readiness and with 
every appearance of good will, was not volun- 
tarily undertaken, but had been devolved upon 
Montrose by lot; none of the principal officers 
daring to take the lead of their own accord in 
such a dangerous enterprise. There can be 
no doubt that Montrose was insincere in his 
professions, and that those who suspected Mm 
were right in thinking that in his heart ho 
was turned Eoyalist, 7 a supposition which his 
correspondence with the king and his subse- 
quent conduct fully justify. 

Although the proper time had not arrived 
for throwing off the mask, Montrose im- 
mediately on liis return to Scotland, after 
the close of this campaign, began to concert 
measures for counteracting the designs of the 
Covenanters; but his plans were embarrassed by 
some of his associates disclosing to the Cove- 
nanters the existence of an association which 
Montroso had formed at Cumbemauld for sup- 
porting the royal authority. A great outcry 
was raised against Montrose in consequence, 
but his influence was so great that the heads 
of the Covenanters were afraid to show any 
severity towards him. On subsequently dis- 
covering, however, that the king had written 
him letters which were intercepted and forcibly 
taken from the messenger, a servant of the 
Earl of Traquair, they apprehended him, along 
with Lord Napier of Mercluston, and Sir 
George Stirling of Keith, his relatives and in- 
timate friends, and imprisoned them in the 
castle of Edinburgh. On the meeting of the 
parliament at Edinburgh in July, 1641, which 
was attended by the king in person, Montrose 
demanded to bo tried before them, but his appli- 
cation was rejected by the Covenanters, who 
obtained an order from the parliament prohib- 
iting him from going into the king's presence. 
After the king had returned to England, Mon- 
trose and his fellow-prisoners were liberated, 

* See Gordon of Rothiemay, iii. 163 ct scq. Spal- 

i!, i. 290. 

7 Gutbrie's Memoirs, p. 70. 

and he, thereupon, went to his own castle, 
where ho remained for some time, ruminating 
on the course he should pursue for the relief 
of the king. The king, while in Scotland at 
this time, conferred honours upon several of 
the covenanting leaders, apparently for tho 
purpose of conciliation, Argyle being raised to 
the dignity of a marquis. 

Although Charles complied with tho de- 
mands of his Scottish subjects, and heaped 
many favours and distinctions upon the heads 
of the leading Covenanters, they were by no 
means satislied, and entered fully into the 
hostile views of their brethren in the south, 
with whom they made common cause. Having 
resolved to send an army into England to join 
the forces of tho parliament, which had come 
to an open rupture with tho sovereign, they 
attempted to gain over Montrose to their side 
by offering him the post of lieutenant-general of 
their army, and promising to accede to any 
demands he might make; but lie rejected all 
their offers; and, as an important crisis was at 
hand, he hastened to England in tho early part 
of the year 1643, in company with Lord 
Ogilvie, to lay the state of affairs before the 
king, and to offer him his advice and service 
in such an emergency. Charles, however, 
either from a want of confidence in the judg- 
ment of Montrose, who, to the rashness and 
impetuosity of youth, added, as he was led to 
believe, a desire of gratifying his personal 
feelings and vanity, or overcome by the calcu- 
lating but fatal policy of the Marquis of Ham- 
ilton, who deprecated a fresh war between 
the king and his Scottish subjects, declined to 
follow tho advice of Montrose, who had offered 
to raise an army immediately in Scotland to 
support him. 

A convention of estates called by the Cove- 
nanters, without any authority from the king, 
met at Edinburgh on the 22d of June, 1643, 
and ho soon perceived from tho character and 
proceedings of this assembly, tho great majority 
of which were Covenanters, the mistake he had 
committed in rejecting tho advice of Montrose, 
and lie now resolved, thenceforth, to be guided 
in his plans for subduing Scotland by the 
opinion of that nobleman. Accordingly, at a 
meeting held at Oxford, between the king and 
Montrose, in the month of December, 1643, 



wlicii tlio Scots army was about entering 
England, it was agreed that the Earl of An- 
trim, an Irish nobleman of great power and 
influence, who then lived at Oxford, should be 
sent to Ireland to raise auxiliaries with whom, 
he should make a descent on the west parts of 
Scotland in the month of April following ; 
that the Marquis of Newcastle, who commanded 
the royal forces in the north of England, should 
furnish Montrose with a party of horse, with 
which he should enter the south of Scotland, 
that an application should be made to the 
King of Denmark for some troops of German 
horse; and that a quantity of arms should be 
transported into Scotland from abroad. 8 

Instructions having been given to the Earl 
of Antrim to raise the Irish levy, and Sir 
James Cochran having been despatched to the 
continent as ambassador for the king, to procure 
foreign aid, Montrose left Oxford on his way 
to Scotland, taking York and Durham in his 
route. Near the latter city he had an inter- 
view with the Marquis of Newcastle for the 
purpose of obtaining a sufficient party of horse 
to escort him into Scotland, but all he could 
procure was about 100 horse, badly appointed, 
with two small brass field pieces. 9 The Mar- 
quis sent orders to the king's officers, and to 
the captains of the militia in Cumberland and 
Westmoreland, to afford Montrose such assist- 
ance as they could, and he was in consequence 
joined on his way to Carlisle by 800 foot and 
three troops of horse, of Cumberland and 
Northumberland militia. With this small 
force, and about 200 horse, consisting of noble- 
men and gentlemen who had served as officers 
in Germany, France, or England, Montrose 
entered Scotland on the 13th of April, 1644. 
He had not, however, proceeded far, when a 
revolt broke out among the English soldiers, 
who immediately returned to England. In 
spite of this discouragement, Montrose pro- 
ceeded on with his small party of horse 
towards Dumfries, which surrendered to him 
without opposition. After waiting there a few 
days, in expectation of hearing some tidings 
respecting the Earl of Antrim's movements, 
without receiving any, he retired to Carlisle, 

6 "Wishart. 

9 The Duchess of Newcastle says, in the memoirs of 
b.9! husband, that the number was 200. 

to avoid being surprised by the Covenanters, 
large bodies of whom were hovering about in 
all directions. 

To aid the views of Montrose, the king had 
appointed the Marquis of Huntly, on whose 
fidelity he could rely, his lieutenant-general 
in the north of Scotland. He, on hearing 
of the capture of Dumfries by Montrose, 
immediately collected a considerable body of 
horse and foot, consisting of Highlanders and 
lowlanders, at Kincardine-O'Neil, with the 
intention of crossing the Cairn-a-Mount ; but 
being disappointed in not being joined by 
some forces from Perthshire, Angus, and the 
Mearns, which he expected, he altered his steps, 
and proceeded towards Aberdeen, which he 
took. Thence he despatched parties of his 
troops through the counties of Aberdeen and 
Banff, which brought in quantities of horses 
and arms for the use of his army. One 
party, consisting of 120 horse and 300 foot, 
commanded by the young laird of Drum and 
his brother, young Gicht, Colonel Nathaniel 
Gordon and Colonel Donald Farquliarson and 
others, proceeded to the town of Montrose, 
which they took, killed one of the bailies, made 
the provost prisoner, and threw some cannon 
into the sea as they could not carry them away. 
But, on hearing that the Earl of Kinghorn was 
advancing upon them with the forces of Angus, 
they made a speedy retreat, leaving thirty of 
their foot behind them prisoners. To protect 
themselves against the army of the Marquis of 
Huntly, the inhabitants of Moray, on the north 
of the Spey, raised a regiment of foot and 
three companies of horse, which were quartered 
in the town of Elgin. 

When the convention heard of Huntly's 
movements, they appointed the Marquis of 
Argyle to raise an army to quell this insurrec- 
tion. He, accordingly, assembled at Perth 
a force of 5,000 foot and 800 horse out of 
Fife, Angus, Mearns, Argyle, and Perthshire, 
with which he advanced on Aberdeen. Huntlj', 
hearing of his approach, fled from Aberdeen 
and retired to the town of Banff, where, on 
the day of his arrival, he disbanded his army. 
The marquis himself thereafter retired to 
Strathnaver, and took up his residence with 
the master of Eeay. Argyle, after taking 
possession of Aberdeen, proceeded northward 



and took the castles of Gicht and Kcllie, made 
tho lairds of Gicht and Haddo prisoners and 
sent them to Edinburgh, tho latter being, along 
with one Captain Logan, afterwards beheaded. 1 

"Wo now return to Montrose, who, after an 
ineffectual attempt to obtain an accession of 
force from tho army of Prince Rupert, Count 
Palatine of the Rhine, determined on again 
entering Scotland with his little band. But 
being desirous to learn the exact situation of 
affairs there, before putting this resolution into 
effect, he sent Lord Ogilvie and Sir William 
Rollock into Scotland, in disguise, for that 
purpose. They returned in about fourteen 
days, and brought a spiritless and melancholy 
account of the state of matters in the north, 
where they found all the passes, towns, 
and forts, in possession of the Covenanters, 
and where no man dared to speak in favour 
of the king. This intelligence was received 
with dismay by Montrose's followers, who now 
began to think of the best means of securing 
their own safety. In this unpleasant conjunc- 
ture of affairs, Montrose called them together 
to consult on the line of conduct they should 
pursue. Some advised him to return to Ox- 
ford and inform his majesty of the hopeless 
etate of his affairs in Scotland, while others 
gave an opinion that he should resign his com- 
mission, and go abroad till a more favourable 
opportunity occurred of serving the king; 
but the chivalrous and undaunted spirit of 
Montrose disdained to follow either of these 
courses, and he resolved upon the desperate 
expedient of venturing into the very heart of 
Scotland, with only one or two companions, in 
the hope of being able to rally round his per- 
son a force sufficient to support the declining 
interests of his sovereign. 

Having communicated this intention pri- 
vately to Lord Ogilvie, he put under his charge 
the few gentlemen who had remained faithful 
to him, that ho might conduct them to the 
king j and having accompanied them to a dis- 
tance, he withdrew from them clandestinely, 
leaving his servants, horses, and baggage behind 
him, and returned to Carlisle. Having pre- 
pared himself for his journey, he selected Sir 
William Rollock, a gentleman of tried honour, 

1 Gordon of Sallagh, p. 519. 

and one Sibbald, to accompany him. Dis- 
guised as a groom, and riding upon a lean, 
worn-out horse, and leading another in his 
hand, Montrose passed for Sibbald's servant, 
in which condition and capacity he proceeded 
to the borders. The party had not proceeded 
far when an occurrence took place, which 
considerably disconcerted them. Meeting with 
a Scottish soldier, who had served under the 
Marquis of Newcastle in England,' he, after 
passing Rollock and Sibbald, went up to the 
marquis, and accosted him by his name. Mon- 
trose told him that he was quite mistaken ; but 
the soldier being positive, and judging that the 
marquis was concerned in some important affair, 
replied, with a countenance which betokened 
a kind heart, " Do not I know my lord Mar- 
quis of Montrose well enough ? But go your 
way, and God be with you." 2 When Montrose 
saw that he could not preserve an incognito 
from the penetrating eve of the soldier, he gave 
him some money and dismissed him. 

This occurrence excited alarm in the mind 
of Montrose, and made him accelerate his 
journey. Within four days he arrived at the 
house of Tullibelton, among the hills near the 
Tay, which belonged to Patrick Graham of 
Inchbrakie, his cousin, and a royalist. No 
situation was better fitted for concocting his 
plans, and for communicating with those clans 
and the gentry of the adjoining lowlands who 
stood well affected to the king, It formed, in 
fact, a centre, or point tfappiii to the royalists 
of the Highlands and the adjoining lowlands, 
from which a pretty regular communication 
could be kept up, without any of those dangers 
which would have arisen in the lowlands. 

For some days Montrose did not venture to 
appear among the people in the neighbourhood, 
nor did he consider himself safe even in Tulli- 
belton house, but passed the night in an obscure 
cottage, and in the day-time wandered alone 
among the neighbouring mountains, ruminating 
over the strange peculiarity of his situation, and 
waiting the return of his fellow-travellers, whom 
he had despatched to collect intelligence on tho 
state of the kingdom. These messengers came 
back to him after some days' absence, bringing 
with them tho most cheerless accounts of the 

Wishart, p. 61. 



situation of the country, and of the persecu- 
tions which the royalists suffered at the hands 
of the Covenanters. Among other distressing 
pieces of intelligence, they communicated to 
Montrose the premature and unsuccessful at- 
tempt of the Marquis of Huntly in favour of 
the royal cause, and of his retreat to Strath- 
naver to avoid the fury of his enemies. These 
accounts greatly affected Montrose, who was 
grieved to find that the Gordons, who were 
stern royalists, should be exposed, by the aban- 
donment of their chief, to the revenge of their 
enemies ; but lie consoled himself with the 
reflection, that as soon as he should be enabled 
to unfurl the royal standard, the tide of fortune 
would turn. 

While cogitating on the course he should 
pursue in this conjuncture, a report reached 
him from some shepherds on the hills that a 
body of Irish troops had landed in the West, 
and was advancing through the Highlands. 
Montrose at once concluded that these were 
the auxiliaries whom the Earl of Antrim had 
undertaken to send him four months before, 
and such they proved to be. This force, which 
amounted to 1,500 men, was under the com- 
mand of Alexander Macdonald, son of Coll 
Mac-Gillespic Macdonald of lona, who had 
been greatly persecuted by the family of Argylc. 
Maedonald had arrived early in July, 1644, 
among the Hebrides, and had landed and taken 
the castles of Meigray and Kinloch Alan. He 
had then disembarked his forces in Knoydart, 
where ho expected to bo joined by the Marquis 
of Huntly and the Earl of Seaforth. As he 
advanced into the interior, ho despatched the 
fiery cross for the purpose of summoning the 
clans to his standard ; but, although the cross 
was carried through a large extent of country, 
even to Aberdeen, he was joined at first only 
by the clan Donald, under the captain of clan 
Eanald, and tho laird of Glongary. The Mar- 
quis of Argyle collected an army to oppose 
the progress of Macdonald, and, to cut off 
his retreat to Ireland, he sent some ships of 
war to Loch Eishord, where Macdonald's fleet 
lay, which captured or destroyed them. This 
loss, while it frustrated an intention Macdonald 
entertained of returning to Ireland, in conse- 
quence of the disappointment lie had met with 
in not being joined by the clans, stimulated 

him to farther exertions in continuing his 
march, in the hope of meeting Montrose. 

As Macdonald was perfectly ignorant of 
Montrose's movements, and thought it likely 
that he might be still at Carlisle, waiting till 
he should hear of Macdonald's arrival, ho sent 
letters to him by the hands of a confidential 
friend, who resided in the neighbourhood of 
Inchbrakie's house. This gentleman, who 
knew nothing of Montrose's return to Scotland, 
having luckily communicated to Mr. Graham 
the secret of being intrusted with letters to his 
kinsman, Montrose, Graham offered to see them 
safely delivered to Montrose, though he should 
ride to Carlisle himself. The gentleman in 
question then delivered tho letters to Graham, 
and Montrose having received them, wrote an 
answer as if from Carlisle, in which he requested 
Macdonald to keep up his spirits, that he would 
soon be joined by a seasonable reinforcement 
and a general at their head, and he ordered 
him with all expedition to march down into 
Athole. In fixing on Athole as the place of 
his rendezvous, Montrose is said to have been 
actuated by an implicit reliance on the fidelity 
and loyalty of the Athole-men, and by a high 
opinion of their courage. They lay, besides, 
under many obligations to himself, and he cal- 
culated that he had only to appear among 
them to command their services in the cause of 
their sovereign. 

When Macdonald received these instructions, 
he marched towards Athole; but in passing 
through Badenoch he was threatened with an 
attack by the Earls of Sutherland and Seaforth, 
at the head of some of their people, and by the 
Erasers, Grants, Rosses, and Monroes, and 
other inhabitants of Moray, who had assembled 
at the top of Strathspey; but Macdonald very 
cautiously avoided them, and hastened into 
Atholc. On arriving in Athole, Macdonald 
was coldly received by the people of that as 
well as the surrounding country, who doubted 
whether ho had any authority from the king ; 
and besides, they hesitated to place themselves 
under the command of a person of neither 
noble nor ancient lineage, and whom they con- 
sidered an upstart. This indecision might 
have proved fatal to 'Macdonald, who was 
closely pressed in his rear by tho army of 
Argyle, had not these untoward deliberations 



boon instantly put an. end to by the arrival of 
Montrose at Blair, where Macdonakl had fixed 
his head-quarters. Montroso had travelled 
seventy miles on foot, in a Highland dress, 
accompanied by Patrick Graham, his cousin, 
as his guide. 3 His appearance was hailed by 
his countrymen with every demonstration of 
joy, and they immediately made him a spon- 
taneous offer of their services. 

Accordingly, on the following day, the 
Athole-men, to the number of about 800, con- 
sisting chiefly of the Stewarts and Robertsons, 
put themselves under arms and flocked to the 
standard of Montrose. Thus, in little more 
than twenty-four hours, Montrose saw himself 
at the head of a force of upwards of 2,000 men, 
animated by an enthusiastic attachment to his 
person and to the cause which he had espoused. 
The extraordinary contrast between his present 
commanding position, and the situation in 
which he was placed a few days before, as a 
forlorn wanderer among the mountains, pro- 
duced a powerful effect upon the daring and 
chivalrous spirit of Montrose, who looked for- 
ward to the success of his enterprise with the 
eagerness of a man who considered the destinies 
of his sovereign as altogether depending upon 
lus individual exertions. Impressed with the 
necessity of acting with promptitude, he did 
not hesitate long as to the course he should 
pursue. He might have immediately gone in 
quest of Argyle, who had followed the army of 
Macdonald, with slow and cautious steps, and 
by one of those sudden movements which no 
man knew better how to execute with advan- 
tage, surprised and defeated his adversary; 
but such a plan did not accord with the designs 
of Montrose, who resolved to open the cam- 
paign at once in the lowlands, and thus give 
confidence to the friends and supporters of 
the king. 

The general opinion which the Lowlanders 
of this period entertained regarding their up- 
land neighbours was not very respectful. A 
covenanting wit, in a poem which he wrote 
against the bishops only a few years before, 
saya of one whose extraction was from thu 
other side of the Grampians, 

" A bishop and a Highla'mlman, how oan'st then 
honest be ? 

' Wishart, ]>. !> 

as if these two qualifications were of them- 
selves sufficient, without any known vice, to 
put a man completely beyond the pale of virtue. 
It seems, indeed, to have been a general belief 
at the time that this primitive and sequestered 
people, as they were avowedly out of the sav- 
ing circle of the Covenant, were also out of the 
limits of both law and religion, and therefore 
hopelessly and utterly given up to all sorts of 
wickedness. Not only were murder and rob- 
bery among the list. of offences which they 
were accused of daily committing, but there 
even seems to have been a popular idea that 
sorcery was a prevailing crime amongst them. 
They were also charged with a general inclina- 
tion to popery, an offence which, from the 
alarms and superstitions of the time, had now 
come, in general phraseology, to signify a con- 
densation of all others. Along with this hor- 
rible notion of the mountaineers, there was not 
associated the slightest idea of their ardent and 
chivalrous character; nor was there any general 
sensation of terror for the power which they 
undoubtedly possessed of annoying the peace- 
ful inhabitants, and thwarting the policy of 
the Low country, no considerable body of 
Highlanders having been there seen in arms 
for several generations. 

In pursuance of his determination, Montrose 
put his small array in motion the same day to- 
wards Strathearn, in passing through which he 
expected to be joined by some of the inhabitants 
of that and the adjoining country. At the 
same time he sent forward a messenger with a 
friendly notice to the Menzieses of his inten- 
tion to pass through their country, but instead 
of taking this in good part they maltreated the 
messenger and harassed the rear of his army. 
This unprovoked attack so exasperated Mon- 
trose, that ho ordered his men, when passing 
by "Weem castle, which belonged to the clan 
Men/ies, to plunder and lay waste their lands, 
and to burn their houses, an order which was 
literally obeyed. He expected that this exam- 
ple of summary vengeance would serve as a 
useful lesson to dster others, who might be dis- 
posed to imitate the conduct of the Menzieses, 
from following a similar course. Notwith- 
standing the time spent in making these repri- 
sals, Montrose passed the Tay with a part of 
his forces the same evening, and the remainder 



followed very early the next morning. He 
had. at the special request of the Athole-men 
themselves, placed them under the command 
of his kinsman, Patrick Graham of Inchbrakie, 
and he now sent him forward with a select 
party to reconnoitre. Inchbrakie soon returned 
with information that he had observed a party 
of armed men stationed upon the hill of 
Euchanty. On inquiry, Montrose ascertained 
that this body was commanded by Lord Kil- 
pont, eldest son of the Earl of Menteith, and 
by Sir John Drummond, son of the Earl of 
Perth, both of whom were his relations. The 
force in question, which consisted of about 500 
men, was on its way to Perth to join the other 
covenanting troops who were stationed there. 
Montrose immediately marched up to this 
body, with the intention, if he could not pre- 
vail on them to join him, of attacking them, 
but before he had approached sufficiently near, 
Lord Kilpont, who had ascertained that Mon- 
trose commanded, sent some of his principal 
officers to him to ascertain what his object was 
in thus advancing. Montrose having explained 
his views and stated that he acted by the king's 
authority, and having entreated them to return 
to their allegiance, they and the whole of their 
party immediately joined him. This new ac- 
cession augmented Montrose's army to about 
3,000 men. 

Montrose now learned from his new allies 
that the Covenanters had assembled their forces 
in great numbers at Perth, and that they lay 
there waiting for his approach. The cove- 
nanting army, in fact, was more than double 
that of Montrose, amounting to about 6,000 
foot and 700 horse, to which were attached 
four pieces of artillery. Montrose, on the 
other hand, had not a single horseman, and 
but three horses, two of which were for his 
own use, and the other for that of Sir William 
Rollock, and besides he had no artillery. Yet 
with such a decided disparity, Montrose re- 
solved to march directly to Perth and attack 
the enemy. He appears to have been influenced 
in this resolution by the consideration of the 
proximity of Argyle with his army, and 
the danger in which he would be placed by 
being hemmed in by two hostile armies : he 
could expect to avoid such an embarrassment 
only by risking an Immediate engagement. 

As the day was too far advanced to proceed 
to Perth, Montrose ordered Ids men to bivouac 
during the night about three miles from 
Buchanty, and began his march by dawn of 
day. As soon as Lord Elcho, the commander 
of the covenanting army, heard of Montrose's 
approach, he left Perth and drew up his army 
on Tippernmir, a plain of some extent between 
four and five miles west from the town. Re- 
serving to himself the command of the right 
wing, he committed the charge of the left to 
Sir James Scott, an able and skilful officer, 
who had served with great honour in the 
Venetian army ; and to the Earl of Tullibar- 
dine he intrusted the command of the centre. 
The horse were divided and placed on each 
wing with the view of surrounding the army 
of Montrose, should he venture to attack them 
in their position. As soon as Montrose per- 
ceived the enemy thus drawn up in battle 
array, he made the necessary dispositions for 
attacking them. To counteract as much as 
possible the danger arising to such a small 
body of men, unprotected by cavalry, from the 
extended line of the Covenanters, Montrose 
endeavoured to make his line as extensive as 
possible with safety, by limiting his files to 
three men deep. As the Irish had neither 
swords nor pikes to oppose the cavalry, they 
were stationed in the centre of the line, and 
the Highlanders, who were provided with 
swords and Lochaber axes, were placed on the 
wings, as better fitted to resist the attacks of 
the cavalry. Some of the Highlanders were, 
however, quite destitute of arms of every de- 
scription, and it is related on the authority of 
an eye-witness that Montrose, seeing their help- 
less condition, thus quaintly addressed them : 
" It is true you have no arms ; your enemies, 
however, have plenty. My advice, therefore, is, 
that as there happens to be a great abundance 
of stones upon this moor, every man should 
provide himself, in the first place, with as 
stout a stone as he can well manage, rush 
up to the first Covenanter he meets, beat out 
his brains, take his sword, and then, I be- 
lieve, he will be at no loss how to proceed." 4 
This advice, as will be seen, was really acted 
upon. As Montrose was almost destitute of 

4 Gentleman's Mag., vol. xvi. p. 158. 



powder, he ordered the Irish forces to husband 
their fire till they should como close to the 
enemy, and after a simultaneous discharge 
from the three ranks, (the front rank kneel- 
ing,) to assail the enemy thereafter as they test 
could. To oppose the left wing of the Cove- 
nanters, commanded by Sir James Scott, Mon- 
trose took upon himself the command of his 
own right, placing Lord Kilpont at the head 
of the left, and Macdonald, his major-general, 
over the centre. 

During the progress of these arrangements, 
Montrose despatched an accomplished young 
nobleman, named Drummond, eldest son of 
Lord Madeiiy, with a message to the chiefs of 
the Covenanters' army, entreating them to lay 
down their arms and return to their duty and 
obedience to their sovereign. Instead, how- 
ever, of returning any answer to this message, 
they seized the messenger, and sent him to 
Perth under an escort, with an intimation that, 
on obtaining a victory over his master, they 
would execute him. Indeed, the probability of 
a defeat seems never for a moment to have 
entered into the imaginations of the Covenant- 
ers, and they had been assured by Frederick 
Carmichael, a minister who had preached to 
them the same day, being Sunday, 1st Septem- 
ber, " that if ever God spoke truth out of his 
mouth, he promised them, in the name of God, 
a certain victory that day." 5 

There being no hopes, therefore, of an accom- 
modation, both armies, after advancing towards 
each other, remained motionless for a short 
time, as if unwilling to begin the attack ; but 
this state of matters was speedily put an end to 
by the advance of a select skirmishing party 
under the command of Lord Drummond, sent 
out from the main body of the covenanting 
army, for the double purpose of distracting the 
attention of Montrose, and inducing his troops 
to leave their ranks, and thus create confusion 
among them ; but Montrose kept his men in 
check, and contented himself with sending out 
a few of his men to oppose them. Lord Drum- 
mond, whom Baillie appears to have suspected 
of treachery, and his party were routed at the 
first onset, and fled back upon the main body 
in great disorder. This trivial affair decided 

Wisbart, p. 77. 

the fate of the day, for the Covenanters, many 
of whom were undisciplined, seeing the unex- 
pected defeat of Lord Drummond's party, be- 
came quite dispirited, and began to show 
symptoms which indicated a disposition for 
immediate flight. The confusion into which 
the main body had been thrown by the retreat 
of the advanced party, and the indecision which 
seemed now to prevail in the Covenanters' army 
in consequence of that reverse, were observed 
by the watchful eye of Montrose, who saw that 
the favourable moment for striking a decisive 
blow had arrived. He therefore gave orders to 
his men to advance, who, immediately setting 
up a loud shout, rushed forward at a quick pace 
towards the enemy. They were met by a ran- 
dom discharge from some cannon which the 
Covenanters had placed in front of their army, 
but which did little or no execution. When 
sufficiently near, Montrose's musketeers halted, 
and, as ordered, poured a volley into the main 
rank of the Covenanters, which immediately 
gave way. The cavalry of the Covenanters, 
thereupon, issued from their stations and at- 
tacked the royalists, who, in their turn, de- 
fended themselves with singular intrepidity. 
While the armed Highlanders made ample use 
of their Lochaber axes and swords, the Irish 
steadily opposed the attacks of the horse with 
the butt ends of their muskets ; but the most 
effective annoyance which the cavalry met with 
appears to have proceeded from the unarmed 
Highlanders, who having supplied themselves 
with a quantity of stones, as suggested by 
Montrose, discharged them with well-directed 
aim at the horses and their riders. The result 
was, that after a short struggle, the cavalry were 
obliged to make a precipitate retreat. While 
this contest was going on, another part of 
Montrose's army was engaged with the right 
wing of the covenanting army, under Sir James 
Scott, but although this body made a longer and 
more determined resistance, and galled the party 
opposed to them by an incessant fire of mus- 
ketry, they were at last overpowered by the 
Athole-men, who rushed upon them with their 
broad-swords, and cut down and wounded a 
considerable number. The rout of the Cove- 
nanters now became general. The horsemen 
saved themselves by the fleetness of their 
horses; but during the pursuit, which was kept 
2 A 



up to a distance of six or seven miles, many 
hundreds of foot were killed, and a consider- 
able number made prisoners, 6 some of whom 
afterwards served in Montrose's army. The 
loss on the side of Montrose appears to have been 
very trifling. By this victory, and the subse- 
quent capture of Perth, which he entered the 
same day, Montrose was enabled to equip his 
army with all those warlike necessaries of 
which it had been so remarkably destitute in 
the morning, and of which the Covenanters 
left him an abundant supply. 7 


A. D. 1644 (SEPTEMBER* 1645 (FEBRUARY). 
BRITISH SOVEREIGN : Charles I., 1025 1C49. 

Montvose crosses the Tay to Collace Marches through 
Angus and Mearns Battle of Aberdeen Supine- 
ness of the Gordons Movements of Argyle Mon- 
trose retreats through Badenoch Second march of 
Montrose to the north Battle of Fyvie Montrose 
retreats to Strathbogie Secession from his camp 
Montrose enters and wastes Breadalbane and Argyle 
Marches to Lochness Argyle enters Lochaber 
Battle of Inverlochy. 

MONTROSE now entertained confident expecta- 
tions that many of the royalists of the sur- 
rounding country who had hitherto kept aloof 
would join him; but after remaining three days 
at Perth, to give them an opportunity of rally- 
ing round his standard, he had the mortifica- 
tion to find that, with the exception of 
Lords Dupplin and Spyiiie, and a few gentle- 
men from the Carse of Gowrie, who came to 
him, his anticipations were not to be realized. 
The spirits of the royalists had been too much 
subdued by the severities of the Covenanters 
for them all at once to risk their lives and for- 
tunes on the issue of what they had long con- 
sidered a hopeless cause; and although Mon- 
trose had succeeded in dispersing one army 
with a greatly inferior force, yet it was well 

e There is a great discrepancy between contemporary 
writers as to the number killed. Wishart states it at 
2,000; Spalding, at 1,300, and 800 prisoners; though 
lie says that some reckoned the number at 1,500 
killed. Gordon of Sallagh mentions only 300. Gor- 
don of Ruthven, in Jiritanc's Distemper, gives the 
number at 2,000 killed and 1,000 prisoners. Baillie 
sayjj (vol. ii. p. 233, ed. 1841) that no quarter was 
given, and not a prisoner was taken. 

1 Britain's Distemper, p. 73. 

known that that army was composed of raw 
and undisciplined men, and that the Covenant- 
ers had still large bodies of well-trained troops 
in the field. 

Thus disappointed in his hopes, and under- 
standing that the Marquis of Argyle was fast 
approaching with a large army, Moutrose 
crossed the Tay on the 4th of September, di- 
recting his course towards Coupar-Angus, and 
encamped at night in the open fields near Col- 
lace. His object in proceeding northward was 
to endeavour to raise some of the loyal clans, 
and thus to put himself in a sufficiently strong 
condition to meet Argyle. Montrose had given 
orders to the army to march early next morn- 
ing, but by break of day, and before the drums 
had beat, he was alarmed by an uproar in the 
camp. Perceiving his men running to their 
arms in a state of fury and rage, Montrose, ap- 
prehensive that the Highlanders and Irish had 
quarrelled, immediately rushed in among the 
thickest of the crowd to pacify them, but to his 
great grief and dismay, he ascertained that the 
confusion had arisen from the assassination of 
his valued friend Lord Kilpont. He had fall- 
en a victim to the blind fury of James Stewart 
of Ardvoirlich, with whom he had slept the 
same night, and who had long enjoyed his con- 
fidence and friendship. According to Wishart, 
wishing to ingratiate himself with the Cove- 
nanters, he formed a design to assassinate Mon- 
trose or his major-general, Macdonald ; and 
endeavoured to entice Kilpont to concur in his 
wicked project. He, therefore, on the night in 
question, slept with his lordship, and having 
prevailed upon him to rise and take a walk in 
the fields before daylight, pn the pretence of re- 
freshing themselves, he there disclosed his hor- 
rid purpose, and entreated his lordship to con- 
cur therein. Lord Kilpont rejected the base 
proposal with horror and indignation, which so 
alarmed Stewart that, afraid lest his lordship 
might discover the matter, he suddenly drew 
his dirk and mortally wounded Kilpont. 
Stewart, thereupon, fled, and thereafter joined 
the Marquis of Argyle, who gave him a com- 
mission in his army. 8 

8 Wishart, p. 84. Stewart's descendant, the late 
Robert Stewart of Ardvoirlieh, gives an account of 
the above incident, founded on a " constant tradition 
in the family," tending to show that his ancestor was 
list so much a man of base and treacherous character, 



Montrose now marched upon Dundee, which 
refused to surrender. Not wishing to \\asd 
his timo upon the hazardous issue of a siege 
with a hostile army in his rear, Monlrose pro- 
il through Angus and the Mcarns, and in 
the course of his route was joined by the Ear] 
of Airly, his two sons, Sir Thomas and Sir 
David Ogilvie, and a considerable number oi 
their friends and vassals, and some gentlemen 
from the Mcarns and Aberdcenshire. This wa 
a seasonable addition to Montrose's force, which 
had been greatly weakened by the absence of 
some of the Highlanders who had gone home 
to deposit their spoils, and by the departure of 
Lord Kilpont's retainers, who had gone to Mon- 
teith with his corpse. 

After the battle of Tippcrmuir, Lord Elcho 
had retired, with his regiment and some fugi- 
tives, to Aberdeen, where he found Lord 
Burleigh and other commissioners from the 
convention of estates. As soon as they heard 
of the approach of Montrose, Burleigh, who 
acted as chief commissioner, immediately as- 
sembled the Forbeses, the Erasers, and the 
other friends of the covenanting interest, and 
did everything in his power to gain over to his 
side as many persons as he could from those 
districts where Montrose expected assistance. 
In this way Burleigh increased his force to 
2,500 foot and 500 horse, but some of these, 
consisting of Gordons, and others who were 
obliged to take up arms, could not be relied 

When Montrose heard of these preparations, 
he resolved, notwithstanding the disparity of 
force, his own army now amounting only to 

as of "violent passions and singular temper." James 
Stewart, it is said, was so irritated at tho Irish, for corn- 
In ittinj; some excesses on lands belonging to him, that 
he challenged their commander, Macdonald, to single 
combat. By advice of Kilpont, Montroso arrested both, 
and brought about a seeming conciliation. When 
encamped at Collacc, Montrose gave an entertain- 
ment to his officers, on returning from which Ardvoir- 
lich, " heated with drink, began to blame Kilpont for 
the part ho had taken in preventing his obtaining re- 
dress, and reflecting against Montrose for not allowing 
him what he considered proper reparation. Kilpont, 
of course, defended the conduct of himself and his 
relative, Montrose, till their argument came to high 
words, acd finally, from the state they were both in, 
by an easy transition, to blows, when Ardvoirlich, with 
his dirk, struck Kilpont dead on the spot." Ho fled, 
leaving his eldest eon, Henry, mortally wounded at 
Tippermuir, on \iis death-bed. Introd. to Legend of 

1,500 foot and H horse, to hasten his march 
and attack them before Argylo should come up. 
On arriving near tho bridge of Dee, he found 
it strongly fortified and guarded by a consider- 
able force. He did not attempt to force a pas- 
sage, but, directing his course to the west, along 
tho river, crossed it at a ford at the Mills of 
Drum, and encamped at Crathas that night 
(Wednesday, llth September). The Cove- 
nanters, the same day, drew up their army at 
tho Two Mile Cross, a short distance from 
Aberdeen, when) they remained till Thursday 
night, when they retired into the town. On 
tho same night, Montrose marched down Dee- 
side, and took possession of the ground which 
tho Covenanters had just left. 9 

On the following morning, vi/., Friday, 13th 
September, about eleven o'clock, the Covenant- 
ers marched out of Aberdeen to meet Montrose, 
who, on their approach, despatched a drummer 
to beat a parley, and sent a commissioner 
along with liim bearing a letter to the pro- 
vost and bailies of Aberdeen, commanding and 
charging them to surrender the town, promis- 
ing that no more harm should be done to it ; 
" otherwise, if they would disobey, that then 
he desired them to remove old aged men, 
women, and children out of the way, and to 
stand to their own peril." Immediately on 
receipt of this letter, the provost called a meet- 
ing of the council, which was attended by Lord 
Burleigh, and, after a short consultation, an 
answer was sent along with the commissioner 
declining to surrender tho town. On their 
return the drummer was killed by the Cove- 
nanters, at a place called Justice Mills ; which 
violation of tho law of nations so exasperated 
Montrose, that lie gave orders to his men not 
to spare any of the enemy who might fall into 
their hands. His anger at this occurrence is 
strongly depicted by Spalding, who says, that 
" he grew mad, and became furious and im- 

As soon as Moutrose received notice of the 
refusal of the magistrates to surrender the town, 
ho made tho necessary dispositions for attack- 
ing the enemy. From his paucity of cavalry, 
he was obliged to extend his line, as he had 
done at Tippcrmuir, to prevent the enemy 

9 Spalding, vol. ii. p. 405. 



from surrounding or outflanking him with 
their horse, and on each of his wings he posted 
his small body of horsemen along with select 
parties of musketeers and archers. To James 
Hay and Sir Nathaniel Gordon he gave the 
command of the right wing, committing the 
charge of the left to Sir William Eollock, all 
men of tried bravery and experience. 

The Covenanters began the battle by a can- 
nonade from their field-pieces, and, from their 
commanding position, gave considerable annoy- 
ance to the royal forces, who were very defi- 
cient in artillery. After the firing had been 
kept up for some time, Lord Lewis Gordon, 
third son of the Marquis of Huntly, a young 
man of a very ardent disposition, and of a vio- 
lent and changeable temper, who commanded 
the left wing of the Covenanters, having ob- 
tained possession of some level ground where 
liis horse could act, made a demonstration to 
attack Montrose's right wing ; which being ob- 
served by Montrose, lie immediately ordered 
Sir William Eollock, with his party of horse, 
from the left wing to the assistance of the right. 
These united wings, which consisted of only 
44 horse, not only repulsed the attack of a 
body of 300, but threw them into complete 
disorder, and forced them to retreat upon the 
main body, leaving many dead and wounded 
on the field. Montrose restrained these brave 
cavaliers from pursuing the body they had 
routed, anticipating that their services might 
be soon required at the other wing; and he 
was not mistaken, for no sooner did the cove- 
nanting general perceive the retreat of Lord 
Lewis Gordon than he ordered an attack to be 
made upon the left wing of Montrose's army ; 
but Montrose, with a celerity almost unex- 
ampled, moved his whole cavalry from the 
right to the left wing, which, falling upon the 
flank of their assailants sword in hand, forced 
them to fly, with great slaughter. In this 
affair Montrose's horse took Forbes of Craigie- 
var and Forbes of Boyndlie prisoners. 

The unsuccessful attacks on the wings of 
Montrose's army had in no shape affected the 
future fortune of the day, as both armies kept 
their ground, and were equally animated with 
hopes of ultimate success. Vexed, but by no 
means intimidated by their second defeat, the 
gentlemen who composed Burleigh's horse con- 

sulted together as to the best mode of renewing 
the attack ; and, being of opinion that the suc- 
cess of Montrose's cavalry was owing cliiefly to 
the expert musketeers, with whom they were 
interlined, they resolved to imitate the same 
plan, by mixing among them a select body of 
foot, and renewing the charge a third time, 
with redoubled energy. But this scheme, 
which might have proved fatal to Montrose, if 
tried, was frustrated by a resolution he came 
to, of making an instant and simultaneous 
attack upon the enemy. Perceiving their 
horse still in great confusion, and a consider- 
able way apart from their main body, he deter- 
mined upon attacking them with his foot before 
they should get tune to rally ; and galloping 
up to his men, who had been greatly galled by 
the enemies' cannon, he told them that there 
was no good to be expected by the two armies 
keeping at such a distance that in this way 
there was no means of distinguishing the 
strong from the weak, nor the coward from 
the brave man, but that if they would once 
make a home charge upon these timorous and 
effeminate striplings, as he called Burleigh's 
horse, they would never stand their attack. 
" Come on, then," said he, " my brave fellow- 
soldiers, fall down upon them with your swords 
and muskets, drive them before you, and make 
them suffer the punishment due to their perfidy 
and rebellion." 1 These words were no sooner 
uttered, than Montrose's men rushed forward 
at a quick pace and fell upon the enemy, sword 
in hand. The Covenanters were paralyzed 
by the suddenness and impetuosity of the 
attack, and, turning their backs, fled in the 
utmost trepidation and confusion, towards 
Aberdeen. The slaughter was tremendous, as 
the victors spared no man. The road leading 
from the field of battle to Aberdeen was strewed 
with the dead and the dying; the streets of 
Aberdeen were covered with the bodies, and 
stained with the blood of its inhabitants. 
" The lieutenant followed the chase into Aber- 
deen, his men hewing and cutting down all 
manner of men they could overtake, within the 
town, upon the streets, or in the houses, and 
round about the town, as our men were fleeing, 
with broad swords, but (i.e. without) mercy 

1 Wishart, p. 89 



or remeid. Their cruel Irish, seeing a man 
well clad, would first tyr (strip) him, and save 
Lis clothes unspoiled, syne kill the man." 2 
In fine, according to this writer, who was an 
eye-witness, the town of Aberdeen, which, but 
a few years before, had suffered for its loyalty, 
was now, by the same general who had then 
oppressed it, delivered up by him to be indis- 
criminately plundered by his Irish forces, for 
having espoused the same cause which he him- 
self had supported. For four days did these 
men indulge in the most dreadful excesses, 
"and nothing," continues Spalding, was "heard 
but pitiful howling, crying, weeping, mourning, 
through all the streets." Yet Guthry says 
that Montrose " shewed great mercy, both 
pardoning the people and protecting their 
goods." 3 

It is singular, that although the battle con- 
tinued for four hours without any determinate 
result, Montrose lost very few men, a circum- 
stance the more extraordinary as the cannon of 
the Covenanters were placed upon advantageous 
ground, whilst those of Montrose were rendered 
quite ineffective by being situated in a position 
from which they could not be brought to bear 
upon tha enemy. An anecdote, characteristic 
of the bravery of the Irish, and of their cool- 
ness in enduring the privations of war, has 
been preserved. During the cannonade on the 
side of the Covenanters, an Irishman had his 
leg shot away by a cannon ball, but which 
kept still attached to the stump by means of 
a small bit of skin, or flesh. His comrades-in- 
arms being affected with his disaster, this bravo 
man, without betraying any symptoms of pain, 
thus cheerfully addressed them : " This, my 
companions, is the fate of war, and what none 
of us ought to grudge : go on, and behave as 
becomes you ; and, as for me, I am certain my 
lord, the marquis, will make mo a trooper, as 
I am now disabled for the foot service." Then, 
taking a knife from his pocket, he deliberately 
opened it, and cut asunder the skin which 
retained the leg, without betraying the least 
emotion, and delivered it to one of his com- 
panions for interment. As soon as this cour- 
ageous man was able to mount a horse, his 
wish to become a trooper was complied with, 

3 Spaldiug, vol. u. 407. 3 Memoirs, p. 131. 

in which capacity he afterwards distinguished 
himself. 4 

Hoping that the news of the victory he had 
obtained would create a strong feeling in his 
favour among the Gordons, some of whom had 
actually fought against him, under the com- 
mand of Lord Lewis Gordon, Montrose sent a 
part of his army towards Kintore and Inver- 
ury, the following day, to encourage the people 
of the surrounding country to declare for him ; 
but he was sadly disappointed in his expecta- 
tions. The fact is, that ever since the appoint- 
ment of Montrose as lieutenant-general of the 
kingdom, an appointment which trenched 
upon the authority of the Marquis of Huntly as 
lieutenant of the north, the latter had become 
quite lukewarm in the cause of his sovereign ; 
and, although he was aware of the intentions 
of his son, Lord Lewis, to join the Covenanters, 
he quietly allowed him to do so without re- 
monstrance. But, besides being thus, in some 
measure, superseded by Montrose, the marquis 
was actuated by personal hostility to him on 
account of the treatment he had formerly 
received from him ; and it appears to have been 
partly to gratify his spleen that he remained a 
passive observer of a struggle which involved 
the very existence of the monarchy itself. 
Whatever may have been Huntly's reasons foi 
not supporting Montrose, his apathy and in- 
difference had a deadening influence upon his 
numerous retainers, who had no idea of taking 
the field but at the command of their chief. 

As Montrose saw no possibility of opposing 
the powerful and well-appointed army of Ar- 
gyle, which was advancing upon him with 
slow and cautious steps, disappointed as he had 
been of the aid which ho had calculated upon, 
he resolved to march into the Highlands, and 
there collect such of the clans as were favour- 
ably disposed to the royal cause. Leaving 
Aberdeen, therefore, on the 16th of September, 
with the remainder of his forces, ho joined the 
camp at Kintore, whence he despatched Sir 
William Bollock to Oxford to inform the king 
of the events of the campaign, and of his 
present situation, and to solicit him to send 

Wo must now advert to the progress of 

"Wiehart, p. 91 



Argyle's army, the slow movements of which 
form an unfavourable contrast with the rapid 
marches of Montrose's army. On the 4th of 
September, four days after the battle of Tip- 
permuir, Argylc, who had been pursuing the 
Irish forces tinder Macdonald, had arrived with 
his Highlanders at Stirling, where, on the 
following day, he was joined by the Earl of 
Lothian and his regiment, which had shortly 
before been brought over from Ireland. After 
raising some men in Stirlingshire, he marched 
to Perth upon the 10th, whore he was joined 
by some Fife men, and Lord Bargenny's and 
Sir Frederick Hamilton's regiments of horse, 
which had been recalled from Newcastle for 
that purpose. With this increased force, which 
now consisted of about 3,000 foot and two 
regular cavalry regiments, besides ten troops 
of horse, Ai-gylo left Perth on the 14th of 
September for the north, and in his route 
was joined by the Earl Marshal, Lords Gor- 
don, Eraser, and Crichton, and other Covenant- 
ors. He arrived at Aberdeen upon the 19th 
of September, where he issued a proclamation, 
declaring the Marquis of Montrose and his 
followers traitors to religion and to their king 
and country, and offering a reward of 20,000 
pounds Scots, to any person who should bring 
in Moutrose dead or alive. 5 Spalding laments 
with great pathos and feeling the severe hard- 
ships to which the citizens of Aberdeen had 
been subjected by these frequent visitations of 
hostile armies, and alluding to the present oc- 
cupancy of the town by Argyle, he observes 
that " this multitude of people lived upon free 
quarters, a new grief to both towns, whereof 
there was quartered on poor old Aberdeen 
Argyle's own three regiments. The soldiers 
had their baggage carried, and craved nothing 
but house-room and fire. But ilk captain, 
with twelve gentlemen, had free quarters, (so 
long as the town had meat and drink,) for two 
ordinaries, but the third ordinary they furnished 
themselves out of their own baggage and pro- 
visions, having store of meal, molt and sheep, 
carried with them. But, the first night, they 
drank out all the stale ale in Aberdeen, and 
lived upon wort thereafter." * 

Argyle was now within half a day's march 

1 Spalding, vol. ii. p. Hi, 

6 Idem. 

of Montrose, but, strange to tell, he made no 
preparations to follow him, and spent two or 
three days in Aberdeen doing absolutely 
nothing. After spending this time in ingloii 
ous supineness, Ajgylo put his army in motion 
in the direction of Kintore. Montroso, on 
hearing of his approach, concealed his cannon 
in a bog, and leaving beliind him some of his 
heavy baggage, made towards the Spoy with 
the intention of crossing it. On arriving at 
the river, lie encamped near the old castle of 
Rothiemurchus; but finding that the boats used 
in passing the river had been removed to the 
north side of the river, and that a large armed 
force from the country on the north of the 
Spey had assembled on the opposite bank to 
oppose his passage, Montrose marched his 
army into the forest of Aberncthy. Argyle 
only proceeded at first as far as Strathbogie; 
but instead of pursuing Moutrose, he allowed 
his troops to waste their time in plundering 
the properties and laying waste the lands of 
the Gordons in Strathbogie and the Enzie, 
under the very eyes of Lord Gordon and Lord 
Lewis Gordon, neither of whom appears to have 
endeavoured to avert such a calamity. Spald- 
ing says that it was "a wonderful unnaturalitie 
in the Lord Gordon to suffer his father's lands 
and friends in his own sight to bo thus wreckt 
and destroyed in his father's absence;" but 
Lord Gordon likely had it not in his power to 
stay these proceedings, which, if not done at 
the instigation, may have received the appro- 
bation of his violent and headstrong younger 
brother, who had joined the Covenanters' stand- 
ard. On the 27th of September, Argyle mus- 
tered his forces at the Bog of Gicht, when they 
were found to amount to about 4,000 men; but 
although the army of Montrose did not amount 
to much more than a third of that number, 
and was within twenty miles' distance, he did 
not venture to attack him. After remaining a 
few days in Abernethy forest, Montroso passed 
through the forest of Rothiemurchus, and follow- 
ing the course of the Spey, marched through 
Badenoch to Athole, which he reached on 1st 

When Argyle heard of the departure of 
Montrose from the forest of Abernothy, he 
made a feint of following him. Ho accord- 
ingly set his army in motion along Spey- side, 



and crossing the river liiin.-ii'li' with a few horse, 
man-lied up some distance along the north 
bank, and recrossed, when he ordered his troops 
to halt. Ho then proceeded to Forres to at- 
t>'iid a committee meeting of Covenanters to 
i't a plan of operations in the north, at 
which the Earl of Sutherland, Lord Lovat, the 
sheriff of Moray, the lairds of Balnagown, 
Inncs and Pluscardine, and many others were 
present. From Forres Argyle went to Inver- 
ness, and after giving some instructions to Sir 
Mungo Campbell of Lawers, and the laird of 
Buchanan, the commanders of the regiments 
stationed there, he returned to his army, which 
he marched through Badenoch in pursuit of 
Montrose. From Athole Montrose sent Mac- 
donald with a party of 500 men to the Western 
Highlands, to invite the laird of Maclean, the 
captain of clan Eanald, and others to join him. 
Marching down to Dimkeld, Montrose himself 
proceeded rapidly through Angus towards 
TSrechin and Montrose. 7 

Although some delay had been occasioned 
in Montrose's movements by his illness for a 
fi-w Jays in Badenoch, this was fully compen- 
sated for by the tardy motions of Argyle, who, 
on entering Badenoch, found that his vigilant 
antagonist was several days' march a-head of 
him. This intelligence, however, did not in- 
duce him in the least to accelerate his march. 
1 [earing, when passing through Badenoch, that 
Montrose had been joined by some of the in- 
habitants of that country, Argyle, according to 
Spaldiug, " left nothing of that country un- 
destroyed, no not one four footed beast ; " and 
Athole shared a similar fate. 

At the time Montrose entered Angus, a com- 
mittee of the estates, consisting of the Earl 
Marshal and other barons, was sitting in Aber- 
deen, who, on hearing of his approach, issued 
on the 10th of October a printed order, to which 
the Earl Marshal's name was attached, ordain- 
ing, under pain of being severely fined, all 
persons, of whatever age, sex, or condition, 
having horses of the value of forty pounds 
Scots or upwards, to send them to the bridge 
of Dee, which was appointed as the place of 
rendezvous, on the 14th of October, by ten 
o'clock, A. M., with riders fully equipped and 

" Guthry, \<. 231. 

armed. With the exception of Lord Gordon, 
who brought three troops of horse, and Captain 
Alexander Keith, brother of the Earl Marshal, 
who appeared with one troop at the appointed 
place, no attention was paid to the order of the 
committee by the people, who had not yet 
recovered from their fears, and their recent 
sufferings were still too fresh in their minds to 
induce them again to expose themselves to the 
vengeance of Montrose and his Irish troops. 

After refreshing his army for a few days in 
Angus, Montroso prepared to cross the Gram- 
pians, and march to Strathbogie to make 
another attempt to raise the Gordons ; but, 
before setting out on his march, he released 
Forbes of Craigievar and Forbes of Boyndlie, 
on their parole, upon condition that Craigievar 
should procure the liberation of the young laird 
of Drum and his brother from the jail of Edin- 
burgh, failing which, Craigievar and Boynd 
lie were both to deliver themselves up to him 
as prisoners before the 1st of November. This 
act of generosity on the part of Montrose was 
greatly admired, more particularly as Craigievar 
was one of the heads of the Covenanters, and 
had great influence among them. In pursu- 
ance of his design, Montrose marched through 
the Mearns, and upon Thursday, the 17th of 
October, crossed the Dee at the Mills of Drum, 
with his whole army. In his progress north, 
contrary to his former forbearing policy, he 
laid waste the lands of some of the leading 
Covenanters, burnt their houses, and plundered 
their effects. He arrived at Strathbogie on the 
19th of October, where he remained till the 
27th, without being able to induce any con- 
siderable number of the Gordons to join him. 
It was not from want of inclination that they 
refused to do so, but they were unwilling 
to incur the displeasure of their chief, who 
they knew was personally opposed to Mon- 
tiose, and who felt indignant at seeing a man 
who had formerly espoused the cause of the 
Covenanters preferred before him. Had Mon- 
trose been accompanied by any of the Marquis 
of Huntly's sons, they might have had influence 
enough to have induced some of the Gordons 
to declare for him ; but the situation of the 
marquis's three sons was at this tinle very pecu 
liar. The eldest son, Lord Gordon, a young 
man " of singular worth and accomplishments," 



was with. Argyle, his uncle by the mother's 
side ; the Earl of Aboyne, the second son, was 
shut up in the castle of Carlisle, then in a state 
of siege; and Lord Lewis Gordon, the third 
son, had, as we have seen, joined the Cove- 
nanters, and fought in their ranks. 

In this situation of matters, Montroso left 
Strathbogie on the day last mentioned, and 
took up a position in the forest of Fyvie, 
where he despatched some of his troops, who 
took possession of the castles of Fyvie and 
Tollie Barclay, in which he found a good sup- 
ply of provisions, which was of great service to 
his army. During his stay at Strathbogie, 
Montrose kept a strict outlook for the enemy, 
and scarcely passed a night without scouring 
the neighbouring country to the distance of 
several miles with parties of light foot, who 
attacked straggling parties of the Covenanters, 
and brought in prisoners from time to time, 
without sustaining any loss. These petty 
enterprises, while they alarmed their enemies, 
gave an extraordinary degree of confidence to 
Montrose's men, who were ready to tmdertake 
any service, however difficult or dangerous, if 
lie only commanded them to perform it. 

When Montrose crossed the Dee, Argyle 
was several days' march behind him. The 
latter, however, reached Aberdeen on the 24th 
of October, and proceeded the following morn- 
ing towards Kintore, which he reached the 
same night. Next morning he marched for- 
ward to Inverury, where lie halted at night. 
Here he was joined by the Earl of Lothian's 
regiment, which increased his force to about 
2,500 foot, and 1,200 horse. In his progress 
through the counties of Angus, Kincardine, 
Aberdeen, and Banff, he received no accession 
of strength, from the dread which the name 
and actions of Montrose had infused into the 
minds of the inhabitants of these counties. 

The sudden movements of Argyle from. Aber- 
deen to Kintore, and from Kintore to Inverury, 
form a remarkable contrast with the slowness 
of his former motions. He had followed Mon- 
trose through a long and circuitous route, the 
greater part of which still bore recent traces of 
his footsteps, and instead of showing any dispo- 
sition to overtake his flying foe, seemed rather 
inclined to keep that respectful distance from 
him so congenial to the mind of one who, 

" willing to wound," is " yet still afraid to 
strike." But although this questionable policy 
of Argyle was by no means calculated to raise 
his military fame, it had the effect of throwing 
Montrose, in the present case, off his guard, 
and had well-nigh proved fatal to him. The 
rapid march of Argyle on Kintore and Invcrmy, 
in fact, was effected without Montrose's know- 
ledge, for the spies he had employed concealed 
the matter from him, and while he imagined 
that Argyle was still on the other side of the 
Grampians, he suddenly appeared within, a very 
few miles of Moutrose's camp, on the 28th of 

The unexpected arrival of Argyle's army did 
not disconcert Montrose. His foot, which 
amounted to 1,500 men, were little more than 
the half of those under Argyle, while he had only 
about 50 horse to oppose 1,200. Yet, with 
this immense disparity, he resolved to await the 
attack of the enemy, judging it inexpedient, 
from the want of cavalry, to become the assail- 
ant by descending into the plain where Argyle's 
army was encamped. On a rugged eminence 
behind the castle of Fyvie, on the uneven 
sides of which several ditches had been cut 
and dikes built to serve as farm fences, Mon- 
trose drew up his little but intrepid host ; but 
before he had marked out the positions to be 
occupied by his divisions, he had the misfor- 
tune to witness the desertion of a small body 
of the Gordons, who had joined him at Strath- 
bogie. They, however, did not join Argyle, 
but contented themselves with withdrawing 
altogether from the scene of the ensuing action. 
It is probable that they came to the determina- 
tion of retiring, not from cowardice, but from 
disinclination to appear in the field against 
Lord Lewis Gordon, who held a high com- 
mand in Argyle's army. The secession of the 
Gordons, though in reality a circumstance of 
trifling importance in itself, (for had they re- 
mained, they would have fought unwillingly, 
and consequently might not have had sufficient 
resolution to maintain the position which would 
have been assigned them,) had a disheartening 
influence upon the spirits of Montrose's men, 
and accordingly they found themselves unable 
to resist the first shock of Argyle's numerous 
forces, who, charging them with great impetuo- 
sity, drove them up the eminence, of a consider- 



able part of which Argyle's army got possession. 
In this critical conjuncture, when terror and de- 
spair seemed about to obtain the mastery over 
hearts to which fear had hitherto been a 
stranger, Montrose displayed a coolness and 
presence of mind equal to the dangers which 
surrounded him. Animating them by his pre- 
sence, and by the example which he showed in 
risking his person in the hottest of the fight, 
lie roused their courage by putting them fur- 
ther in mind of the victories they had achieved, 
and how greatly superior they were in bravery 
to the enemy opposed to them. After this 
emphatic appeal to their feelings, Montrose 
turned to Colonel O'Kean, a young Irish gentle- 
man, highly respected by the former for his 
bravery, and desired him, with an air of the 
most perfect sang froid, to go down with such 
men as were readiest, and to drive these fel- 
lows (meaning Argyle's men), out of the ditches, 
that they might be no more troubled with 
them. O'Kean quickly obeyed the mandate, 
and though the party in the ditches was 
greatly superior to the body he led, and was, 
moreover, supported by some horse, he drove 
them away, and captured several bags of 
powder which they left behind them in their 
hurry to escape. This was a valuable acquisi- 
tion, as Moutrose's men had spent already al- 
most the whole of their ammunition. 

AVhile O'Kean was executing this brilliant 
affair, Montrose observed five troops of horse, 
under the Earl of Lothian, preparing to attack 
his 50 horse, who were posted a little way up 
the eminence, with a small wood in their rear. 
He, therefore, without a moment's delay, or- 
dered a party of musketeers to their aid, who, 
having interlined themselves with the 50 horse, 
kept up such a galling fire upon Lothian's 
troopers, that before they had advanced half 
way across a field which lay between them and 
Montrose's horse, they were obliged to wheel 
about and gallop off. 

Montrose's men became so elated with their 
success that they could scarcely be restrained 
from leaving their ground and making a gen- 
eral attack upon the whole of Argyle's army ; 
but although Montrose did not approve of this 
design, he disguised his opinion, and seemed 
rather to concur in the views of his men, telling 
them, however, to be so far mindful of their 


duty as to wait till ho should see the fit mo- 
ment for ordering the attack. Argyle remained 
till the evening without attempting anything 
farther, and then retired to a distance of about 
three miles across the Ythan; his men passed 
the night under arms. The only person of 
note killed in these skirmishes was Captain 
Keith, brother of the Earl Marshal. 

Next day Argyle resolved to attack Mon- 
trose, with the view of driving him from his 
position. He was induced to come to this de- 
termination from a report, too well founded, 
which had reached him, that Montrose's army 
was almost destitute of ammunition ; indeed, 
he had compelled the inhabitants of all the 
surrounding districts to deliver up every article 
of pewter in their possession for the purpose 
of being converted into ammunition ; but this 
precarious supply appears soon to have been 
exhausted. 8 On arriving at the bottom of 
the hill, he changed his resolution, not judg- 
ing it safe, from the experience of the pre- 
ceding day, to hazard an attack. Montrose, 
on the other hand, agreeably to his original 
plan, kept his ground, as he did not deem it 
advisable to expose his men to the enemy's cav- 
alry by descending from the eminence. With 
the exception of some trifling skirmishes be- 
tween the advanced posts, the main body of 
both armies remained quiescent during the 
whole day. Argyle again retired in the even- 
ing to the ground he had occupied the pre- 
ceding night, whence he returned the following 
day, part of which was spent in the same man- 
ner as the former ; but long before the day had 
expired he led off his army, "upon fair day 
light," says Spalding, " to a considerable dis- 
tance, leaving Montrose to effect Ms escape un- 

Montrose, thus left to follow any course ho 
pleased, marched off after nightfall towards 
Strathbogie, plundering Turriff and Eothiemay 
house in his route. He selected Strathbogie as 
the place of his retreat on account of the rugged- 
ness of the country and of the numerous dikes 
with which it was intersected, which would 
prevent the operations of Argyle's cavalry, and 
where he intended to remain till joined by 
Macdonald, whom he daily expected from the 

Wishart, p. 100. 




Higldands with a reinforcement. When Ar- 
gyle heard of Montrose's departure on the fol- 
lowing morning, being the last day of October, 
he forthwith proceeded after him with his 
army, thinking to bring him to action in the 
open country, and encamped at Tullochbeg on 
the 2d of November, where he drew out his 
army in battle array. He endeavoured to bring 
Montrose to a general engagement, and, in 
order to draw him from a favourable position 
he was preparing to occupy, Argylo sent out a 
skirmishing party of his Highlanders ; but they 
were soon repulsed, and Montrose took posses- 
sion of the ground he had selected. 

Baffled in all his attempts to overcome Mon- 
trose by force of arms, Argyle, whose talents 
were more fitted for the intrigues of the cabinet 
than the tactics of the field, had now recourse 
to negotiation, with the view of effecting the 
ruin of his antagonist. For this purpose he 
proposed a cessation of arms, and that he and 
Montrose should hold a conference, previous to 
which arrangements should be entered into for 
their mutual security. Montrose knew Argyle 
too well to place any reliance upon his word, 
and as lie had no doubt that Argyle would take 
advantage, during the proposed cessation, to 
tamper with his men and endeavour to with- 
draw them from their allegiance, he called a 
council of war, and proposed to retire without 
delay to the Highlands. The council at once 
approved of this suggestion, whereupon Mon- 
trose resolved to march next night as far as 
Badenoch ; and that his army might be able to 
accomplish such a long journey within the time 
fixed, lie immediately sent off all his heavy bag- 
gage under a guard, and ordered his men to 
keep themselves prepared as if to fight a battle 
the next day. 9 Scarcely, however, had the 
carriages and heavy baggage been despatched, 
when an event took place which greatly dis- 
concerted Montrose. This was nothing less 
than the desertion of his friend Colonel Sib- 
bald and some of his officers, who went over 
to the enemy. They were accompanied by Sir 
William Forbes of Craigievar, who, having been 
unable to fulfil the condition on which he was 
to obtain his ultimate liberation, had returned 
two or three days before to Montrose's camp. 

9 Wishart, p. 102. 

This distressing occurrence induced Montrose 
to postpone his march for a time, as he was 
quite certain that the deserters would commu- 
nicate his plans to Argyle. Ordering, there- 
fore, back the baggage ho had sent off, lie 
resumed his former position, in which he 
remained four days, as if he there intended to 
take up his winter quarters. 

In the meantime Montrose had the mortifi- 
cation to witness the defection of almost the 
whole of his officers, who were very numerous, 
for, with the exception of the Irish and High- 
landers, they outnumbered the privates from 
the Lowlands. The bad example which had 
been set by Sibbald, the intimate friend of 
Montrose, and the insidious promises of pre- 
ferment held out to them by Argyle, induced 
some, whose loyalty was questionable, to adopt 
this course ; but the idea of the privations to 
which they would be exposed in traversing, 
during winter, among frost and snow, the 
dreary and dangerous regions of the Highlands, 
shook the constancy of others, who, in different 
circumstances, would have willingly exposed 
their lives for their sovereign. Bad health, 
inability to undergo the fatigue of long and 
constant marches these and other excuses 
were made to Montrose as the reasons for crav- 
ing a discharge from a service which had now 
become more hazardous than ever. Montrose 
made no remonstrance, but with looks of high 
disdain which betrayed the inward workings 
of a proud and unsubdued mind, indignant at 
being thus abandoned at such a dangerous 
crisis, readily complied with the request of 
every man who asked permission to retire. The 
Earl of Airly, now sixty years of age and in 
precarious health, and his two sons, Sir Thomas 
and Sir David Ogilvie, out of all the Low- 
landers, alone remained faithful to Montrose, 
and could, on no account, be prevailed upon to 
abandon him. Among others who left Mon- 
troso on this occasion, was Sir Nathaniel Gor- 
don, who, it is said, went over to Argyle's camp 
in consequence of a concerted plan between 
him and Montrose, for the purpose of detaching 
Lewis Gordon from the cause of the Covenant- 
ers, a conjecture which seems to have originated 
in the subsequent conduct of Sir Nathaniel 
and Lord Lewis, who joined Montrose the 
following year. 



Montroso, now abandoned by all his Low- 
land friends, prepared for liis march, prepara- 
tory to -which ho sent off his baggage as 
formerly ; and after lighting some fires for the 
purpose of deceiving the enemy, took his 
departure on the evening of the 6th of Novem- 
ber, and arrived about break of day at Balveny. 
After remaining a few days there to refresh his 
men, ho proceeded through Badenoch, and 
descended by rapid marches into Atholo, where 
ho was joined by Macdonald and John Muid- 
artach, the captain of the Clanranald, the latter 
of whom brought 500 of his men along with 
him. He was also reinforced by some small 
parties from the neighbouring Highlands, whom 
Macdonald had induced to follow him. 

In the meantime Argyle, after giving orders 
to his Highlanders to return home, wont him- 
self to Edinburgh, where ho " got but small 
thanks for his service against Montrose." 1 
Although the Committee of Estates, out of 
deference, approved of his conduct, which some 
of his flatterers considered deserving of praise 
because he "had shed no blood;" 2 yet the 
majority had formed a very different estimate 
of his character, during a campaign which had 
been fruitful neither of glory nor victory. 
Confident of success, the heads of the Cove- 
nanters looked upon the first efforts of Mon- 
troso in the light of a desperate and forlorn 
attempt, rashly and inconsiderately undertaken, 
and which they expected would be speedily 
put down ; but the results of the battles of 
Tippermuir, Aberdeen, and Fyvie, gave a new 
direction to their thoughts, and the royalists, 
hitherto contemned, began now to be dreaded 
and respected. In allusion to the present 
" posture of affairs," it is observed by Guthry, 
that " many who had formerly been violent, 
began to talk moderately of business, and what 
was most taken notice of, was the lukewarm- 
ness of many amongst the ministry, who now 
in their preaching had begun to abate much of 
their former zeal." 3 The early success of Mon- 
trose had indeed caused some misgivings in 
the minds of the Covenanters ; but as they all 
hoped that Argylo would change the tide of war, 
they showed no disposition to relax in their 

1 SpiUtling, -vol. ii. p. 287. 5 Guthry, p. 134. 
3 Memoirs, pp. 1345. 

severities towards those who were suspected of 
favouring the cause of the king. The signal 
failure, however, of Argyle's expedition, and 
his return to the capital, quite changed, as we 
have seen, the aspect of affairs, and many of 
those who had been most sanguine in their 
calculations regarding the result of the struggle, 
began now to waver and to doubt. 

While Argylo was passing his time in Edin- 
burgh, Montroso was meditating a terrible 
blow at Argyle himself to revenge the cruelties 
ho had exercised upon the royalists, and to give 
confidence to the clans in Argyle's neighbour- 
hood. These had been hitherto prevented from 
joining Montrose's standard from a dread of 
Argyle, who having always a body of 5,000 or 
6,000 Highlanders at command, had kept them 
in such complete subjection that they dared not, 
without the risk of absolute ruin, espouse the 
cause of their sovereign. The idea of curbing 
the power of a haughty and domineering chief 
whose word was a law to the inhabitants of 
an extensive district, ready to obey his cruel 
mandates at all times, and the spirit of revenge, 
the predominating characteristic of the clans, 
smoothed the difficulties which presented 
themselves in invading a country made almost 
inaccessible by nature, and rendered still more 
unapproachable by the severities of winter. 
The determination of Montrose having thus 
met with a willing response in the breasts of 
his men, ho lost no time in putting them in 
motion. Dividing his army into two parts, 
ho himself marched with the main body, con- 
sisting of the Irish and the Athole-men, to 
Loch Tay, whence ho proceeded through 
Breadalbane. The other body, composed of 
the clan Donald and other Highlanders, he- 
despatched by a different route, with instruc- 
tions to meet him at an assigned spot on tho 
borders of Argyle. The country through which 
both divisions passed, being chiefly in posses- 
sion of Argyle's kinsmen or dependants, was 
laid waste, particularly the lands of Campbell 
of Glenorchy. 

When Argyle heard of the ravages com- 
mitted by Montrose's army on tho lands of his 
kinsmen, ho hastened home from Edinburgh 
to his castle at Inverary, and gavo orders for 
the assembling of his clan, either to repel any 
attack that might be made on his own country, 



or to protect his friends from future aggression. 
It is by no means certain that he anticipated 
an invasion from Montrose, particularly at such 
a season of the year, and he seemed to imagine 
himself so secure from attack, owing to the 
intricacy of the passes leading into Argyle, that 
although a mere handful of men could have 
effectually opposed an army much larger than 
that of Montrose, he took no precautions to 
guard them. So important indeed did he 
himself consider these passes to be, that he 
had frequently declared that he would rather 
forfeit a hundred thousand crowns, than that 
an enemy should know the passes by which an 
armed force could penetrate into Argyle. 4 

Wliile thus reposing in fancied security in 
liis impregnable stronghold, and issuing his 
mandates for levying his forces, some shepherds 
arrived in great terror from the hills, and brought 
him the alarming intelligence that the enemy, 
whom he had imagined were about a hundred 
miles distant, were within two miles of his 
own dwelling. Terrified at the unexpected 
appearance of Montrose, whose vengeance he 
justly dreaded, he had barely self-possession 
left to concert measures for his own personal 
safety, by taking refuge on board a fishing 
boat in Loch Fyiie, in which he sought his 
way to the Lowlands, leaving his people and 
country exposed to the merciless will of an 
enemy thirsting for revenge. The inhabitants 
of Argyle being thus abandoned by their 
chief, made no attempt to oppose Montrose, 
who, the more effectually to carry his plan for 
pillaging and ravaging the country into execu- 
tion, divided his army into three parties, under 
the respective orders of the captain of clan 
Ranald, Macdonald, and himself. For up- 
wards of six weeks, viz., from the 13th of 
December, 1644, till nearly the end of Janu- 
ary following, these different bodies traversed 
the whole country without molestation, burn- 
ing, wasting, and destroying every thing which 
came within their reach. Nor were the people 
themselves spared, for although it is men- 
tioned by one writer that Montroso " shed 
no blood in regard that all the people 
(following their lord's laudable example) deli- 
vered themselves by flight also," 5 it is evident 

4 Wishart, p. 107. ' Guthiy, p. 136. 

from several contemporary authors that the 
slaughter must have been immense. 6 In fact, 
before the end of January, the face of a single 
male inhabitant was not to be seen throughout 
the whole extent of Argyle and Lorn, the 
whole population having been either driven 
out of these districts, or taken refuge in dens 
and caves known only to themselves. 

Having thus retaliated upon Argyle and his 
people in a tenfold degree the miseries which 
he had occasioned in Lochaber and the adjoin- 
ing countries, Montrosc left Argylo and Lorn, 
passing through Glencoe and Lochaber on his 
way to Lochness. On his march eastwards ho 
was joined by the laird of Abergeldie, the Far- 
quharsons of the Braes of Mar, and by a party 
of the Gordons. The object of Montrose, by 
this movement, was to seize Inverness, which 
was then protected by only two regiments, in 
the expectation that its capture would operate 
as a stimulus to the northern clans, who had 
not yet declared themselves. This resolution 
was by no means altered on reaching the head 
of Lochness, where he learned that the Earl of 
Seaforth was advancing to meet Mm with an 
army of 5,000 horse and foot, which he re- 
solved to encounter, it being composed, with 
the exception of two regular regiments, of raw 
and undisciplined levies. 

While proceeding, however, through Aber- 
tarf, a person arrived in great haste at Kilcum- 
rain, the present fort Augustus, who brought 
him the surprising intelligence that Argyle had 
entered Lochaber with an army of 3,000 men ; 
that he was burning and laying waste the 
country, and that his head-quarters were at the 
old castle of Inverlochy. After Argyle had 
effected his escape from Inverary, he had gone 
to Dumbarton, where he remained till Mon- 
trose's departure from his territory. While 
there, a body of covenanting troops who had 
served in England, arrived under the command 
of Major-general Baillie, for the purpose of 
assisting Argyle in expelling Montrose from 
his bounds ; but on learning that Montrosc 
had left Argyle, and was marcliing through 
Glcncoo and Lochaber, General Baillie deter- 
mined to lead his army in an easterly direction 

6 Spading, vol. ii. p. 442; Wishart, p. 108 Red 
Book of ClanranaJd. 



through the Lowlands, with tho intention of 
intercepting Montrose, should lie attempt a 
descent. At the same time it was arranged 
between Baillio and Argylo that the latter, 
who had now recovered from his panic in con- 
sequence of Montrose's departure, should re- 
turn to Argyle and collect his men from their 
hiding-places and retreats. As it was not im- 
probable, however, that Montroso might renew 
his visit, the Committee of Estates allowed 
Baillio to place 1,100 of his soldiers at the 
disposal of Argyle, who, as soon as he was 
able to muster his men, was to follow Mon- 
troso's rear, yet so as to avoid an engagement, 
till Baillie, who, on hearing of Argyle's advance 
into Lochaber, was to march suddenly across 
the Grampians, should attack Montrose in 
front. To assist him in levying and organiz- 
ing his clan, Argyle called over Campbell of 
Auchinbreck, his kinsman, from Ireland, who 
had considerable reputation as a military com- 
mander. In terms of his instructions, there- 
fore, Argyle had entered Lochaber, and had 
advanced as far as Inverlochy, when, as we 
Lave seen, the news of his arrival was brought 
to Montrose. 

Montrose was at first almost disinclined, 
from the well-known reputation of Argyle, to 
credit this intelligence, but being fully assured 
of its correctness from the apparent sincerity of 
his informer, he lost not a moment in making 
up his mind as to the course he should pursue. 
He might have instantly marched back upon 
Argyle by the route he had just followed ; but 
as tho latter would thus get due notice of his 
approach, and prepare himself for the threat- 
ened danger, Montrose resolved upon a differ- 
ent plan. The design ho conceived could 
only have originated in the mind of such a 
bold and enterprising commander as Mon- 
trose, before whose daring genius difficulties 
hitherto deemed insurmountable at once disap- 
peared. The idea of carrying an army over 
dangerous and precipitous mountains, whose 
wild and frowning aspect seemed to forbid the 
approach of human footsteps, and in the middle 
of winter, too, when the formidable perils of 
the journey were greatly increased by the snow, 
however chimerical it might have seemed to 
other men, appeared quite practicable to Mon- 
trose, whose sanguine anticipations of the ad- 

vantages to bo derived from such an extra- 
ordinary exploit, more than counterbalanced, 
in his mind, tho risks to bo encountered. 

The distance between tho place where Mon- 
trose received the news of Argyle's arrival and 
Inverlochy is about thirty miles ; but this dis- 
tance was considerably increased by the devious 
track which Montrose followed. Marching 
along tho small river Tarf in a southerly direc- 
tion, ho crossed tho hills of Lairie Thierard, 
passed through Glenroy, and after traversing the 
range of mountains between tho Glen and Ben 
Nevis, he arrived in Glennevis before Argyle 
had the least notice of his approach. Before 
setting out on his march, Montrose had taken 
the wise precaution of placing guards upon the 
common road leading to Inverlochy, to prevent 
intelligence of his movements being carried to 
Argyle, and he had killed sucli of Argyle's 
scouts as he had fallen in with in the course of 
his march. This fatiguing and unexampled 
journey had been performed in little more than 
a night and a day, and when, in the course of 
the evening, Montrose's men arrived in Glen- 
nevis, they found themselves so weary and 
exhausted that they could not venture to attack 
the enemy. They therefore lay under arms all 
night, and refreshed themselves as they best 
could till next morning. As the night was 
uncommonly clear, it being moonlight, the ad- 
vanced posts of both armies kept up a small 
fire of musketry, which led to no result. 

In the meantime Argyle, after committing 
his army to the charge of his cousin, Campbell 
of Auchinbreek, with his customary prudence, 
went, during the night, on board a boat in the 
loch, excusing himself for this apparent pusil- 
lanimous act by alleging his incapacity to enter 
the field of battle in consequence of some con- 
tusions lie had received by a fall two or three 
weeks before; but his enemies averred that 
cowardice was the real motive which induced 
him to take refuge in his galley, from which 
he witnessed the defeat and destruction of his 
army. This somewhat suspicious action of 
Argyle and it was not the only time he pro- 
vided for his personal safety in a similar man- 
ner is accounted for in the following ( ? iron- 
ical) way by the author of Britane's Distemper 
(p. 100) :- 

" In this confusion, the commanders of there 



armie liglites wpon this resolution, not to hazart 
the marquisse owne persone ; for it seems not 
possible that Ardgylle himselfc, being a noble- 
man of such eminent qualitie, a man of so doepo 
and profuncl judgement, one that knew so weell 
what bclongeth to the office of a gencrall, that 
any basso motion of feare, I say, could make 
him so wnsensible of the poynt of honour as is 
generally reported. Nether will I, for my owne 
pairt, belieuo it ; but I am confident that those 
barrones of his kinred, wha ware captancs 
and commanderes of the armie, feareing the 
cuent of this battelle, for diners reasones ; and 
one was, that Allan M'Collduie, ane old fox, 
and who was thought to be a seer, had told 
them that there- should be a battell lost there 
by them that came first to seike battell ; this 
was one cause of there importunitie with him 
that he should not come to battell that day ; 
for they sawe that of necessitie they most feght, 
and would not hazart there chcife persone, 
urgeing him by force to reteiro to his galay, 
which lay hard by, and committo the tryall of 
the day to them ; he, it is to be thought, with 
great difficultie yeelding to there request, 
leaues his cusine, the laird of Auchinbreike, a 
most walorous and braue gentleman, to the 
generall commande of the armie, and takes with 
himselfe only sir James Eollocke, his brother 
in lawe, sir Jhono Wachopo of Nithrie, Mr. 
Mungo Law, a preacher. It is reported those 
two last was send from Edinburgh with liim 
to beare witnesse of the expulsion of those 
rebelles, for so they ware still pleased to terme 
the Eoyalistes." 

It would appear that it was not until the 
morning of the battle that Argylc's men were 
aware that it was the army of Montrose that 
was so near them, as they considered it quite 
impossible that ho should have been able to 
bring his forces across the mountains ; they 
imagined that the body before them consisted 
of some of the inhabitants of the country, who 
had collected to defend their properties. But 
they were undeceived when, in the dawn of the 
morning, the warlike sound of Montrose's 
trumpets, resounding through the glen where 
they lay, and reverberating from the adjoining 
hills, broke upon their ears. This served as 
the signal to both armies to prepare for buttle. 
Montrose drew out his army in an extended 

line. The right wing consisted of a regiment 
of Irish, under the command of Macdonald, 
his major-general ; the centre was composed of 
the Atholo-men, the Stuarts of Appin, the Mac- 
donalds of Glcncoe, and other Highlanders, 
severally under the command of Clanranald, 
M'Lcan, and Glengary ; and the left wing con- 
sisted of some Irish, at the head of whom was the 
brave Colonel O'Kean. A body of Irish was 
placed behind the main body as a reserve, under 
the command of Colonel James M'Donald, alias 
O'Neill. The general of Argyle's army formed 
it in a similar manner. The Lowland forces 
were equally divided, and formed the wings, 
between which the Highlanders were placed. 
Upon a rising ground, behind this line, General 
Campbell drew up a reserve of Highlanders, 
and placed a field-piece. Within the house of 
Invcrlochy, which was only about a pistol-shot 
from the place where the army was formed, he 
planted a body of 40 or 50 men to protect the 
place, and to annoy Montrose's men with dis- 
charges of musketry. 7 The account given by 
Gordon of Sallagh, that Argyle had transported 
the half of his army over the water at Inver- 
lochy, under the command of Auchinbreck, 
and that Montrose defeated this division, while 
Argylo was prevented from relieving it with 
the other division, from the intervening of 
"an arm of the sea, that was interjected- betwixt 
them and him," 8 is probably erroneous, for the 
circumstance is not mentioned by any other 
writer of the period, and it is well known, that 
Argyle abandoned his army, and witnessed its 
destruction from his galley, circumstances 
which Gordon altogether overlooks. 

It was at sunrise, on Sunday, the 2d of 
February, 1645, that Montrose, after having 
formed his army in battle array, gave orders to 
his men to advance upon the enemy. The left 
wing of Montroso's army, under the command of 
O'Kean, was the first to commence the attack, 
by charging the enemy's right. This was imme- 
diately followed by a furious assault upon the 
centre and left wing of Argyle's army, by 
Montroso's right wing and centre. Argyle's 
right wing not being able to resist the attack 
of Montrose's left, turned about and fled, which 

7 Spalding, vol. ii. p. 444. 

8 ContintMlion, p. 522. 



circumstance had such a discouraging effect on 
tho remainder of Argyle's troops, that after 
discharging their muskets, the whole of them, 
including the reserve, took to their heels. The 
rout now became general. An attempt was 
made by a body of about 200 of the fugitives, 
to throw themselves into the castle of Inver- 
locliy, but a party of Montrose's horse pre- 
vented them. Some of the flying enemy 
directed their course along the side of Louh- 
l-'.il, but all these were either killed or diowned 

in the pursuit. The greater part, however, 
fled towards the hills in the direction of Argyle, 
and were pursued by Montrose's men, to the dis- 
tance of about eight miles. As no resistance 
was made by the defeated party in their flight, 
tho carnage was very great, being reckoned at 
1,500 men. Many more would have been cut 
off hud it not been for the humanity of Mon- 
trose, who did every thing in his power to save 
the unresisting enemy from the fury of his men, 
who were not disposed to give quarter to the 

Inverlucliy C:i4h>. - - Krnm M'Oulloeh's celebrated picture in the Kdinl>un,'li National Gallery. 

unfortunate Campbells. Having taken the 
castle, Montrose not only treated the officers, 
who were from tho Lowlands, with kindness, 
but gave them their liberty on parole. 

Among the principal persons who fell on 
Argyle's side, were the commander, Campbell 
of Auchinbreck, Campbell of Lochnell, the 
eldest son of Lochnell, and his brother, Colin ; 
M'Dougall of Kara and his eldest son ; Major 
Menzies, brother to the laird, (or Prior as he 
was called) of Achattens Parbreck ; and the 
provost of the church of Kilmun. The loss 
on the side of Montrose was extremely trilling. 
Tho number of wounded is indeed not stated, 
but lie had only three privates killed. He 
sustained, however, a severe loss in Sir Thomas 
Ogilvie, son of the Earl of Airly, who died a 

few days after the battle, of a wound he 
received in the thigh. Montrose regretted the 
death of this steadfast friend and worthy man, 
with feelings of real sorrow, and caused his 
body to be interred in Athole with due solem- 
nity. 9 Montrose immediately after the battle 
sent a messenger to the king with a letter, 
giving an account of it, at the conclusion of 
which he exultingly says to Charles, " Give me 
I leave, after I have reduced this country, and 
| conquered from Dan to Beersheba, to say to 
I your Majesty, as David's general to his master, 
' Come thou thyself, lest this country be called 
by my name." When the king received this 
letter, the royal and parliamentary commis- 

Spalding, vol. ii. p. 445. Wishart, p. Ill, et 
seq. Guthry, p. 140. 



sioners were sitting at Uxbridge negotiating 
the terms of a peace ; but Charles, induced by 
the letter, imprudently broke off the negotia- 
tion, a circumstance which led to his ruin. 


BRITISH SOVEREIGN : Charles I., 1625 1C49. 

Montrose marches to Inverness and Elgin, wasting 
the lands of the Covenanters Enters and plunders 
Banff Deputation from Aberdeen Death of Donald 
Farquharson Montrose imposes a tax of 10,000 
on Aberdeen Enters and burns Stonehaven De- 
feats Hurry's horse at Fettercairn Marches to 
Brechin and Dunkeld Storms and captures Dundee 
Montrose's retreat from Dundee Movements of 
General Baillie Battle of Auldearn Montrose's 
after-movements Battle of Alford General Baillie 
and the Committee of Estates retreat to Stirling 
Montrose inarches to Aberdeen Montrose marches 
south Is joined by more Highlanders Threatens 
Perth Retreats to Dunkeld Again moves south 
Baillie joined by the men of Fife Montrose at 
Alloa Maclean burns Castle Campbell Montrose 
goes towards Stirling Differences among the Cove- 
nanters Battle of Kilsyth Montrose enters Glas- 
gow Submission of the nobility and the western 
counties Submission of Edinburgh Montrose ap- 
pointed Lieutenant-governor of Scotland Deser- 
tion of Highlanders Battle of Philiphaugh. 

WHEN the disastrous news of the battle of 
Inverlochy reached Edinburgh, the Estates 
were thrown into a state of great alarm. They 
had, no doubt, begun to fear, before that event, 
and, of course, to respect the prowess of Mon- 
trose, but they never could have been made to 
believe that, within the space of a few days, 
a well-appointed army, composed in part of 
veteran troops, would have been utterly defeated 
by a force so vastly inferior in point of num- 
bers, and beset with difficulties and dangers to 
which the army of Argyle was not exposed. 
Not were the fears of the Estates much allayed 
by the appearance of Argyle, who arrived at 
Edinburgh to give them an account of the 
affair, " having his left arm tied up in a scarf, 
as if he had been at bones-breaking." 1 It is 
true that Lord Balmerino made a speech before 
the assembly of the Estates, in which he 
affirmed, that the great loss reported to be 
sustained at Inverlochy " was but the inven- 
tion of the malignants, who spake as they 

1 Quthry, p. 141. 

wished," and that " upon his honour, not more 
than thirty of Argyle's men had been killed;" 2 
but as the disaster was well known, this device 
only misled the weak and ignorant. Had 
Montrose at this juncture descended into the 
Lowlands, it is not improbable that his presence 
might have given a favourable turn to the state 
of matters in the south, where the king's 
affairs were in the most precarious situation; but 
such a design does not seem to have accorded 
with his views of prolonging the contest in 
the Highlands, which were more suitable than 
the Lowlands to his plan of operations, and to 
the nature of his forces. 

Accordingly, after allowing his men to re- 
fresh themselves a few days at Inverlochy, 
Montrose returned across the mountains of 
Lochabcr into Badenoch, " with displayed 
banner." Marching down the south side of 
the Spey, he crossed that river at Balchastel, 
and entered Moray without opposition. He 
proceeded by rapid strides towards the town 
of Inverness, which he intended to take pos- 
session of; but, on arriving in the neighbour- 
hood, he found it garrisoned by the laird of 
Lawers' and Buchanan's regiments. As he did 
not wish to consume his time in a siege, ho 
immediately altered his course and marched in 
the direction of Elgin, issuing, as he went along, 
a proclamation in the king's name, calling 
upon all males, from 16 to 60 years of age, to 
join him immediately, armed as they best 
could, on foot or on horse, and that under 
pain of fire and sword, as rebels to the king. 
In consequence of this threat Montrose was 
joined by some of the Moray-men, including 
the laird of Grant and 200 of his followers; 
and, to show an example of severity, he 
plundered the houses and laid waste the estates 
of many of the principal gentlemen of the dis- 
trict, carrying off, at the same time, a large 
quantity of cattle and effects, and destroying 
the boats and nets which they fell in with on 
the Spcy. 3 

Whilst Montrose was thus laying waste part 
of Moray, a committee of the Estates, consist- 
ing of the Earl of Seaforth, the laird of Innes, 
Sir Robert Gordon, the laird of Pluscardine, 
and others, was sitting at Elgin; these, on 

1 idem. 8 Spalding, vol. ii. p. 447. 



hearing of his proceedings, prohibited the 
holding of the fair which was kept there 
annually on Fasten's eve, and to which 
many merchants and others in the north 
resorted, lest the property brought there- for 
sale might fall a prey to Montrose's army. 
They, at the same time, sent Sir Robert Gor- 
don, Mackenzie of Pluscardine, and Innes of 
Luthers, to treat with Montrose, in name of 
the gentry of Moray, most of whom were then 
assembled in Elgin; but he refused to enter 
into any negotiation, offering, at the same time, 
to accept of the services of such as would join 
him and obey him as the king's lieutenant. 4 
Before this answer had been communicated to 
the gentry at Elgin, they had all fled from the 
town in consequence of hearing that Montrose 
was advancing upon them with rapidity. The 
laird of Innes, along with some of his friends, 
retired to the castle of Spynie, possessed by 
his eldest son, which was well fortified and pro- 
vided with every necessary for undergoing a 
siege. The laird of Duffus went into Suther- 
land. As soon as the inhabitants of the town 
saw the committee preparing to leave it, most 
of them also resolved to depart, which they 
did, carrying along with them their principal 
effects. Some went to Inverness, and others 
into Ross, but the greater part went to the 
castle of Spynie, where they sought and ob- 
tained refuge. 

Apprehensive that Montrose might follow 
up the dreadful example he had shown, by 
burning the towu, a proposal was made to, and 
accepted by him, to pay four thousand merks 
to save the town from destruction; but, on 
entering it, which he did on the 19th of Feb- 
ruary, his men, and particularly the laird of 
Grant's party, were so disappointed in their 
hopes of plunder, in consequence of the inhab- 
itants having carried away the best of their 
effects, that they destroyed every article of 
furniture which was left. 

Montrose was joined, on his arrival at 
Elgin, by Lord Gordon, the eldest son of the 
Marquis of Huntly, with some of his friends 
and vassals. This young nobleman had been 
long kept in a state of durance by Argyle, his 
uncle, contrary to his own wishes, and now, 
when an opportunity had for the first time 
4 Gordon's Continuation, p. 522. 

occurred, he showed the bent of his inclination 
by declaring for the king. 

On taking possession of Elgin, Montrose 
gave orders to bring all the ferry-boats on the 
Spey to the north side of the river, and he 
stationed sentinels at all the fords up and 
down, to watch any movements which might 
be made by the enemies' forces in the south. 

Montrose, thereupon, held a council of war, 
at which it was determined to cross the Spey, 
march into the counties of Banff and Aberdeen, 
by the aid of Lord Gordon, raise the friends 
and retainers of the Marquis of Huntly, 
and thence proceed into the Mearns, where 
another accession of forces was expected. Ac- 
cordingly, Montrose left Elgin on the 4th of 
March with the main body of his army, towards 
the Bog of Gicht, accompanied by the Earl of 
Seaforth, Sir Robert Gordon, the lairds of 
Grant, Pluscardine, Findrassie, and several 
other gentlemen who " had come in to him " 
at Elgin. To punish the Earl of Findlater, 
who had refused to join him, Montrose sent 
the Farquharsons of Braemar before him, across 
the Spey, who plundered, without mercy, the 
town of Cullen, belonging to the earl. 

After crossing the Spey, Montrose, either 
apprehensive that depredations would be com- 
mitted upon the properties of his Moray 
friends who accompanied him, by the two 
regiments which garrisoned Inverness, and the 
Covenanters of that district, or having received 
notice to that effect, he allowed the Earl of 
Seaforth, the laird of Grant, and the other 
Moray gentlemen, to return home to defend 
their estates ; but before allowing them to de- 
part, he made them take a solemn oath of 
allegiance to the king, and promise that they 
should never henceforth take up arms against 
his majesty or his loyal subjects. At the same 
time, he made them come under an engage- 
ment to join him with all their forces as soon 
as they could do so. The Earl of Seaforth, 
however, disregarded his oath, and again joined 
the ranks of the Covenanters. In a letter 
which he wrote to the committee of Estates at 
Aberdeen, he stated that he had yielded to 
Montrose through fear only, and he avowed 
that he would abide by " the good cause to 
his death." 5 

Spalding, vol. il p. 301. 



On Montreal's arrival at Stratlibogie, or 
Gordon castle, Lord Graham, his eldest son, a 
most promising youth of sixteen, became un- 
well, and died after a few days' illness. The 
loss of a son who had followed him in. his 
campaigns, and shared with him the dangers 
of the field, was a subject of deep regret to 
Montrose. While Montrose was occupied at 
the death-bed of his son, Lord Gordon was 
busily employed among the Gordons, out of 
whom he speedily raised a force of about 500 
foot, and 160 horse. 

With this accession to his forces, Montrose 
left Stratlibogie and marched towards Banff, 
on his route to the south. In passing by the 
house of Cullen, in Boyne, the seat of the Earl 
of Findlater, who had fled to Edinburgh, and 
left the charge of the house to the countess, a 
party of Montrose's men entered the house, 
which, they plundered of all its valuable con- 
tents. They then proceeded to set the house 
on fire, but the countess entreated Montroso 
to order his men to desist, and promised that 
if her husband did not come to Montrose 
and give him satisfaction within fifteen days, 
she would pay him 20,000 merles, of which 
sum she instantly paid down 5,000. Montrose 
complied with her request, and also spared 
the lands, although the earl was " a great 
Covenanter." Montrose's men next laid waste 
the lands in the Boyne, burnt the houses, 
and plundered the minister of the place of all 
his goods and effects, including his books. 
The laird of Boyne shut himself up in his 
stronghold, the Crag, where ho was out of 
danger ; but he had the misfortune to see his 
lands laid waste and destroyed. Montrose 
then went to Banff, which he gave up to indis- 
criminate plunder. His troops did not leave a 
vestige of moveable property in the town, and 
they even stripped to the skin every man they 
met with in the streets. They also burned two 
or three houses of little value, but not a drop 
of blood was shed. 

From Banff Montrose proceeded to Turriff, 
where a deputation from the town council of 
Aberdeen waited upon him, to represent the 
many miseries which the loyal city had suf- 
fered from its frequent occupation by hostile 
nrmies since the first outbreaking of the unfor- 
tunate troubles which molested the kingdom. 

They further represented, that such was the 
terror of the inhabitants at the idea c f another 
visit from his Irish troops, that all the men 
and women, on hearing of his approach, had 
made preparations for abandoning the town, 
and that they would certainly leave it if they 
did not get an assurance from the marquis of 
safety and protection. Montrose heard the 
commissioners patiently, expressed his regret 
at the calamities which had befallen their town, 
and bade them not be afraid, as he would take 
care that none of his foot, or Irish, soldiers 
should come within eight miles of Aberdeen : 
and that if he himself should enter the town, 
he would support himself at his own expense. 
The commissioners returned to Aberdeen, and 
related the successful issue of their journey, to 
the great joy of all the inhabitants. 

Whilst Montrose lay at Turriff, Sir Nathaniel 
Gordon, with some troopers, went to Aberdeen, 
which he entered on Sunday, the 9tli of March, 
on which day there had been " no sermon in 
either of the Aberdeens," as the ministers had 
fled the town. The keys of the churches, gates, 
and jail were delivered to him by the magis- 
trates. The following morning Sir Nathaniel 
was joined by 100 Irish dragoons. After re- 
leasing some prisoners, ho went to Torry, and 
took, after a slight resistance, 1,800 muskets, 
pikes, and other arms, which had been left in 
charge of a troop of horse. Besides receiving 
orders to watch the town, Sir Nathaniel was 
instructed to send out scouts as far as Cowie 
to watch the enemy, who were daily expected 
from the south. When reconnoitring, a skir- 
mish took place at the bridge of Dee, in which 
Captain Keith's troop was routed. Finding 
the country quite clear, and no appearance of 
the covenanting forces, Gordon returned back 
to the army, which had advanced to Fren- 
draught. No attempt was made upon the 
house of Frendraught, which was kept by the 
young viscount in absence of his father, who 
was then at Muchallis with his godson, Lord 
Eraser ; but Montrose destroyed 60 ploughs 
of land belonging to Frendraught within the 
parishes of Forgue, Inverkeithnie, and Drum- 
blade, and the house of the minister of Forgue, 
with all the other houses, and buildings, and 

8 Spalding, vol. ii. p. 452. 



their contents. Nothing, in fact, was spared. 
All the cattle, horses, sheep, and other do- 
mestic animals, were carried oft', and tho whole 
of Frondraught's lauds were loft a dreary and 
uninhabitable waste. 

From Penny burn, Montroso despatched, on 
the 10th of March, a letter to the authorities of 
Aberdeen, commanding them to issue an order 
that all men, of whatever description, between 
the ago of sixteen and sixty, should meet him 
equipped in their best arms, and such of them 
as had horses, mounted on tho best of them, on 
tho 15th of March, at his camp at Tnvcrury, un- 
der the pain of fire and sword. In consequence 
of this mandate he was joined by a considerable 
number of horse and foot. On tho 12th of 
March, Montrose arrived at Kintore, and took 
up his own quarters in tho house of John 
Cheyno, the minister of tho place, whence he 
issued an order commanding each parish within 
tho presbytery of Aberdeen, (with the excep- 
tion of the town of Aberdeen,) to send to liim 
two commissioners, who were required to bring 
along with them a complete roll of the whole 
heritors, fcuars, and lifereuters of each parish. 
His object, in requiring such a list, was to 
ascertain the number of men capable of serving, 
and also tho names of those who should refuse 
to join him. Commissioners were accordingly 
sent from the parishes, and the consequence was, 
that Montroso was joined daily by many men 
who would not otherwise have assisted him, but 
who were now alarmed for the safety of their 
properties. While at Kintore, an occurrence 
took place which vexed Montrose exceedingly. 

To reconnoitre and watch the motions of the 
enemy, Montroso had, on the 12th of March, 
sent Sir Nathaniel Gordon, along with Donald 
Farquharson, Captain Mortimer, and other 
well-mounted cavaliers, to the number of about 
80, to Aberdeen. This party, perceiving no 
enemy in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen, 
utterly neglected to place any sentinels at the 
gates of the town, and spent their time at 
their lodgings in entertainments and amuse- 
ments. This careless conduct did not pass 
unobserved by some of the Covenanters in tho 
town, who, it is said, sent notice thereof to 
Major-general Hurry, the second in command 
under General Baillie, who was then lying at the 
North Water Bridge with Lord Balcarras's and 

other foot regiments. On receiving this intelli- 
gence, Hurry put himself at tho head of 160 
horso and foot, taken from tho regular regi- 
ments, and some troopers and musketeers, and 
rode off to Aberdeen in great haste, where he 
arrived on the 15th of March, at 8 o'clock in the 
evening. Having posted sentinels at tho gates 
to prevent any of Montroso's party from escap- 
ing, ho entered the town at an hour when they 
wore all carelessly enjoying themselves in their 
lodgings, quite unapprehensive of such a visit. 
Tho noise in tho streets, occasioned by the 
tramping of the horses, was the first indication 
they had of tho presence of the enemy, but it 
was then too late for them to defend themselves. 
Donald Farquharson was killed in the street, 
opposite the guard-house ; " a brave gentle- 
man," says Spalding, " and one of tho noblest 
captains amongst all the Highlanders of Scot- 
land, and the king's man for life and death." 
The enemy stripped him of a rich dress he had 
put on the same day, and left his body lying 
naked in the street. A few other gentlemen 
were killed, and some taken prisoners, but 
tho greater part escaped. Hurry left the town 
next day, and, on his return to Baillie's camp, 
entered the town of Montrose, and carried off 
Lord Graham, Montrose's second son, a boy of 
fourteen years of age, then at school, who, 
along with his teacher, was sent to Edinburgh, 
and committed to the castle. 

The gentlemen who had escaped from Aber- 
deen returned to Montrose, who was greatly 
offended at them for their carelessness. The 
magistrates of Aberdeen, alarmed lest Montrose 
should inflict summary vengeance upon the 
town, as being implicated in tho attack upon 
the cavaliers, sent two commissioners to Kin- 
tore to assure him that they were in no way con- 
cerned in that affair. Although he heard them 
with great patience, he gave them no satisfac- 
tion as to his intentions, and they returned to 
Aberdeen without being able to obtain any 
promise from hivn to spare the town. Montroso 
contented himself with making tho merchants 
furnish him with cloth, and gold and silver- 
lace, to the amount of 10,000 Scots, for the 
use of his army, which he held the magistrates 
bound to pay, by a tax upon tho inhabitants. 
" Thus," says Spalding, " cross upon cross 
upon Aberdeen." 



When Sir Nathaniel Gordon and the re- 
mainder of his party returned to Kintorc, 
Montrose despatched, on the same day (March 
IGtli), a body of 1,000 horse and foot, the latter 
consisting of Irish, to Aberdeen, under the com- 
mand of Macdonald, his major-general. Many 
of the inhabitants, alarmed at the approach of 
lliis party, and still having tho fear of the Irish 
before their eyes, were preparing to leave the 
town; but Macdonald relieved their apprehen- 
sions by assuring them that the Irish, who 
amounted to 700, should not enter the town; 
he accordingly stationed them at tho Bridge 
of Deo and the Two Mile Cross, ho and his 
troopers alone entering the town. With the 
exception of the houses of one or two " remark- 
able Covenanters," which were plundered, Mac- 
donald showed the utmost respect for private 
property, a circumstance which obtained for 
him the esteem of the inhabitants, who had 
seldom experienced such kind treatment before. 

Having discharged the last duties to the 
brave Farquharson and his companions, Mac- 
donald left Aberdeen, on March 18th, to join 
Montrose at Durris; but he had not proceeded 
far when complaints were brought to him that 
some of his Irish troops, who had lagged 
behind, had entered the town, and were plun- 
dering it. Macdonald, therefore, returned 
immediately to the town, and drove, says 
Spalding, " all these rascals with sore skins 
out of the town before him." 7 

Before leaving Kintore, the Earl of Airly 
was attacked by a fever, in consequence of 
which, Montrose sent him to Lethintie, the 
residence of the earl's son-in-law, under a guard 
of 300 men; but he was afterwards removed 
to Strathbogie for greater security. On ar- 
riving, March 17th, at Durris, in Kincardine- 
shire, where he was joined by Macdonald, 
Montrose burnt the house and offices to the 
ground, set fire to the grain, and swept away 
all tho cattle, horses, and sheep. He also 
wasted such of the lands of Fintry as belonged 
to Forbes of Craigievar, to punish him for the 
breach of his parole; treating in the same way 
the house and grain belonging to Abercrombie, 
the minister of Fintry, who was "a main 
Covenanter." On the 19th, Montrose entered 

7 Vol. ii. p. 457. 

Stonehavcn, and took up his residence in the 
house of James Clerk, the provost of the town. 
Hero learning that the Covenanters in the 
north were troubling Lord Gordon's lands, he 
despatched 500 of Gordon's foot to defend 
Strathbogie and his other possessions; but he 
still retained Lord Gordon himself with his 

On the day after his arrival at Stonehaven, 
Montrose wrote a letter to the Earl Marshal, 
who, along with sixteen ministers, and some 
other persons of distinction, had shut himself 
up in his castle of Dunottar. Tho bearer of 
the letter was not, however, suffered to enter 
within the gate, and was sent back, at tho 
instigation probably of the carl's lady and 
the ministers who were with him, without 
an answer. Montrose then endeavoured, by 
means of George Keith, the Earl Marshal's 
brother, to persuade tho latter to declare for 
the king, but he refused, in consequence of 
which Montrose resolved to inflict summary 
vengeance upon him, by burning and laying 
waste his lands and those of his retainers ii. 
the neighbourhood. Acting upon this deter- 
mination, he, on the 21st of March, set fire to 
the houses adjoining the castle of Dunottar, 
and burnt the grain which was stacked in the 
barn-yards. Even the house of the ministci 
did not escape. He next set fire to tho town 
of Stonehaven, sparing only tho house of the 
provost, in which he resided; plundered a ship 
which lay in the harbour, and then set her 
on fire, along with all the fishing boats. The 
lands and houses of Cowie shared tho same 
hard fate. Whilst the work of destruction 
was going on, it is said that the inhabitants 
appeared before the castle of Dunottar, and, 
setting up cries of pity, implored tho earl to 
save them from ruin, but they received no 
answer to their supplications, and the carl wit- 
nessed from his stronghold the total destruction 
of the properties of his tenants and dependents 
without making any effort to stop it. After 
he had effected the destruction of the barony 
of Dunottar, Montrose set fire to the lands of 
Fetteresso, one-fourth part of which was burnt 
up, together with the whole corn in the yards. 
A beautiful deer park was also burnt, and its 
alarmed inmates were all taken and killed, as 
woll as all the cattle in the barony. Montrose 



Dunnottar Castle in the 17th century. From Slezer's Theatrum Scotice (1693). 

next proceeded to Drumlithie and Urie, be- 
longing to John Forbes of Leslie, a leading 
Covenanter, where he committed similar depre- 

Montrose, on the following day, advanced 
to Fettercairn, where he quartered his foot 
soldiers, sending out quarter-masters through 
the country, and about the town of Montrose, 
to provide quarters for some troopers; but, as 
these troopers were proceeding on their journey, 
they were alarmed by the sudden appearance 
of some of Major-general Hurry's troops, who 
had concealed themselves within the plantation 
of Halkerton. These, suddenly issuing from 
the wood, set up a loud shout, on hearing 
which the troopers immediately turned to the 
right about and went back to the camp. This 
party turned out to be a body of 600 horse, 
under the command of Hurry himself, who had 
left the head-quarters of General Baillie, at 
Brechin, for the purpose of reconnoitring Mon- 
trose's movements. In order to deceive Hurry, 
who kept advancing with his 600 horse, Mon- 
troso placed his horse, which amounted only 
to 200, and which he took care to line with some 
expert musqueteers, in a prominent situation, 
and concealed his foot in an adjoining valley. 
This i-use had the desired effect, for Hurry 
imagining that there were no other forces at 

hand, immediately attacked the small body of 
horse opposed to him; but he was soon un- 
deceived by the sudden appearance of the 
foot, and forced to retreat with precipitation. 
Though his men were greatly alarmed, Hurry, 
who was a brave officer, having placed himself 
in the rear, managed to retreat across the 
North Esk with very little loss. 

After this affair Moutrose allowed his men 
to refresh themselves for a few days, and, on 
the 25th of March, put his army in motion in 
the direction of Brechin. On hearing of his 
approach, the inhabitants of the town concealed 
their effects in the castle, and in the steeples 
of churches, and fled. Montrose's troops, 
although they found out the secreted goods, 
were so enraged at the conduct of the inhab- 
itants that they plundered the town, and burnt 
about sixty houses. 

From Brechin, Montrose proceeded through 
Angus, with the intention cither of fighting 
Baillie, or of marching onwards to the south. 
His whole force, at this time, did not exceed 
3,000 men, and, on reaching Kirriemuir, his 
cavalry was greatly diminished by his having 
been obliged to send away about 160 horse- 
men to Strathbogie, under Lord Gordon and 
his brother Lewis, to defend their father's pos- 
sessions against the Covenanters. Montrose 



proceeded with his army along the foot of the 
Grampians, in the direction of Dunkeld, where 
he intended to cross the Tay in the sight of 
General Baillie, who commanded an army 
greatly superior in numbers ; but, although 
Montrose frequently offered him battle, Baillie, 
contrary, it is said, to the advice of Hurry, as 
often declined it. On arriving at the water of 
Isla, the two armies, separated by that stream, 
remained motionless for several days, as if un- 
determined how to act. At length Montrose 
sent a trumpeter to Baillio offering him battle; 
and as the water could not be safely passed by 
his army if opposed, Montrose proposed to al- 
low Baillie to pass it unmolested, on condition 
that he would give him his word of honour 
that he would fight without delay; but Baillie 
answered that he would attend to his own 
business himself, and that lie would fight when 
he himself thought proper. The conduct of 
Baillie throughout seems altogether extraordi- 
nary, but it is alleged that he had no power to 
act for himself, being subject to the directions 
of a council of war, composed of the Earls 
of Crawford and Cassilis, Lords Balmerino, 
Kirkcudbright, and others. 8 

As Montrose could not attempt to cross the 
water of Isla without cavalry, in opposition to 
a force so greatly superior, he led his army off 
in the direction of the Grampians, and marched 
upon Dunkeld, of which he took possession. 
Baillie being fully aware of liis intention to 
cross the Tay, immediately withdrew to Perth 
for the purpose of opposing Montrose's passage ; 
but, if Montroso really entertained such an in- 
tention after he had scut away the Gordon 
troopers, he abandoned it after reaching Dun- 
keld, and resolved to retrace his steps north- 
wards. Being anxious, however, to signalize 
himself by some important achievement before 
he returned to the north, and to give confi- 
dence to the royalists, he determined to sur- 
prise Dundee, a town which had rendered 
itself particularly obnoxious to him for the re- 
sistance made by the inhabitants after the 
battle of Tippermuir. Having sent off the 
weaker part of his troops, and those who were 
lightly armed, with his heavy baggage, along 
the bottom of the hills with instructions to 

Spalding, vol. ii. p. 482. 

meet him at Brechin, Montroso himself, at the 
head of about 150 horse, and GOO expert mus- 
keteers, 9 left Dunkeld on April 3d about mid- 
night, and marched with such extraordinary 
expedition that he arrived at Dundee Law at 
10 o'clock in the morning, where he encamped. 
Montrose then sent a trumpeter into the town 
with a summons requiring a surrender, promis- 
ing that, in the event of compliance, he would 
protect the lives and properties of the inhabit- 
ants,, but threatening, in case of refusal, to set 
fire to the town and put the inhabitants to 
the sword. Instead of returning an answer to 
this demand, the town's people put the mes- 
senger into prison. This insult was keenly 
felt by Moutrose, who immediately gave orders 
to his troops to storm the town in three differ 
ent places at once, and to fulfil the threat 
which he had held out in case of resistance. 
The inhabitants, in the mean time, made such 
preparations for defence as the shortness of the 
time allowed, but, although they fought brave- 
ly, they could not resist the impetuosity of 
Montrose's troops, who, impelled by a spirit of 
revenge, and a thirst for plunder, which Dun- 
dee, then one of the largest and most opulent 
towns in Scotland, offered them considerable 
opportunities of gratifying, forced the inhabit- 
ants from the stations they occupied, and 
turned the cannon which they had planted in 
the streets against themselves. The contest, 
however, continued in various quarters of the 
town for several hours, during which the town 
was set on fire in different places. The whole 
of that quarter of the town called the Bonnet 
Hill fell a prey to the flames, and the entire 
town would have certainly shared the same 
fate had not Montrose's men chiefly occupied 
themselves in plundering the houses and filling 
themselves with the contents of the wine cel- 
lars. The sack of the town continued till tho 
evening, and tho inhabitants were subjected to 
every excess which an infuriated and victorious 
soldiery, maddened by intoxication, coidd in- 

This melancholy state of tilings was, how- 
ever, fortunately put an end to by intelligence 
having been brought to Montrose, who had 
viewed the storming of tho town from the 

' Montrose Rcdivivus, p. 61. 



neighbouring height of Duiulco Law, thai 
Oi'iieral Baillic was marching in great haste 
down the Carsc of Gowrio, towards Dundee, 
with 3,000 foot and 800 horse. On receiving 
this news from his scouts, Montroso gave im 
nn-iliate orders to his troops to evacuate Dun- 
dee, but so intent were they upon their booty, 
that it was with the utmost difficulty they 
could be prevailed upon to leave the town, 
and, before the last of them could be induced 
to retire, some of the enemy's troops were 
within gun-shot of them. The sudden appear- 
ance of Baillie's army was quite unlooked-for, as 
Montrose had been made to believe, from the 
reports of his scouts, that it had crossed the 
Tay, and was proceeding to the Forth, when, 
in fact, only a very small part, which had been 
mistaken by the scouts for the entire army of 
Baillie, had passed. 

In this critical conjuncture, Montrose held 
a council of war, to consult how to act under 
the perilous circumstances in which he was 
now placed. The council was divided between 
two opinions. Some of them advised Mon- 
trose to consult his personal safety, by rid- 
ing off to the north with his horse, leaving 
the foot to their fate, as they considered it 
utterly impossible for him to cany thorn off in 
their present state, fatigued, and worn out as 
they were by a march of 24 miles during the 
preceding night, and rendered almost incapable 
of resisting the enemy, from the debauch they 
had indulged in during the day. Besides, they 
would require to march 20 or even 30 miles, 
before they could reckon themselves secure 
from the attacks of their pursuers, a journey 
which it was deemed impossible to perform, 
without being previously allowed some hours 
repose. In this way, and in no other, urged 
the advocates of this view, might he expect 
to retrieve matters, as he could, by his presence 
among his friends in the north, raise new 
forces ; but that, if he himself was cut off, the 
king's affairs would be utterly ruined. The 
other part of the council gave quite an opposite 
opinion, by declaring that, as the cause for 
which they had fought so gloriously was now 
irretrievably lost, they should remain in their 
position, and await the issue of an attack, 
judging it more honourable to die fighting in 
defence of their king, than to seek safety in an 

ignominious flight, which would be rendered 
still more disgraceful by abandoning their 
unfortunate fellow-warriors to the mercy of a 
revengeful foe. 

Montroso, however, disapproved of both 
these plans. He considered the first as unbe- 
coming the generosity of men who had fought 
so often side by side; and the second ho 
thought extremely rash and imprudent. He, 
therefore, resolved to steer a middle course, 
and, refusing to abandon his brave companions 
in arms in the hour of danger, gave orders 
for an immediate retreat, in the direction 
of Arbroath. This, however, was a mere 
manoeuvre to deceive the enemy, as Montrose 
intended, after nightfall, to march towards the 
Grampians. In order to make his retreat more 
secure, Montrose despatched 400 of his foot, 
and gave them orders to march as quickly as 
possible, without breaking their ranks. These 
were followed by 200 of his most expert 
musketeers, and Montrose himself closed the 
rear with his horse in open rank, so as to 
admit the musketeers to interline them, in case 
of an attack. It was about six o'clock in the 
evening when Montrose began his retreat, at 
which hour the last of Baillie's foot had reached 

Scarcely had Montrose begun to move, when 
intelligence was received by Baillie, from some 
prisoners he had taken, of Montrose's inten- 
tions, which was now confirmed by ocular 
proof. A proposal, it is said, was then made 
by Hurry, to follow Montrose with the whole 
army, and attack him, but Baillie rejected it ; 
and the better, as he thought, to secure Mon- 
trose, and prevent his escape, he divided his 
army into two parts, one of which he sent off 
in the direction of the Grampians, to prevent 
Montrose from entering the Highlands ; and 
the other followed directly in the rear of 
Montrose. He thus expected to be able to 
cut off Montrose entirely, and to encourage 
his men to the pursuit, he offered a reward 
of 20,000 crowns to any one who should bring 
him Montrose's head. Baillie's cavalry soon 
came up with Montrose's rear, but they were so 
well received by the musketeers, who brought 
down some of them, that they became very 
cautious in their approaches. The darkness of 
the night soon put an end to the pursuit, and 



Montrose continued unmolested his march to 
Arbroath, in the neighbourhood of which he 
arrived about midnight. His troops had now 
marched upwards of 40 miles, 17 of which 
they had performed in a few hours, in the 
face of a large army, and had passed two nights 
and a day without sleep ; hut as their safety 
might be endangered by allowing them to 
repose till daylight, Montrose entreated them 
to proceed on their march. Though almost 
exhausted with incessant fatigue, and over- 
powered with drowsiness, they readily obeyed 
the order of their general, and, after a short 
halt, proceeded on their route in a northwesterly 
direction. They arrived at the South Esk 
early in the morning, which they crossed, at 
sunrise, near Camston Castle. 

Montrose now sent notice to the party which 
he had despatched from Dunkcld to Brochin, 
with his baggage, to join him, hut they had, 
on hearing of his retreat, already taken refuge 
among the neighbouring hills. Baillie, who 
had passed the night at Forfar, now considered 
that he had Montrose completely in his power; 
but, to his utter amazement, not a trace of 
Montrose was to be seen next morning. Little 
did he imagine that Montrose had passed 
close by him during the night, and eluded 
his grasp. Chagrined at this unexpected dis- 
appointment, Baillie, without waiting for his 
foot, galloped off at full speed to overtake 
Montrose, and, with such celerity did he travel, 
that he was close upon Montrose before the 
latter received notice of his approach. The 
whole of Montrose's men, with the exception 
of a few sentinels, were now stretched upon 
the ground, in a state of profound repose, and, 
so firmly did sleep hold their exhausted frames 
in its grasp, that it was with the utmost diffi- 
culty that they could be aroused from their 
slumbers, or made sensible of their danger. 
The sentinels, it is said, had even to prick 
some of them with their swords, before they 
could be awakened, 1 and when at length the 
sleepers were aroused they effected a retreat, 
after some skirmishing, to the foot of the 
Grampians, about three miles distant from their 
camp, and retired, thereafter, through Glenesk 
into the interior without further molestation. 

1 Montrose Redivimis, p. 65. 

This memorable retreat is certainly one of 
the most extraordinary events which occurred 
during the whole of Montrose's campaigns. 
It is not surprising, that some of the most 
experienced officers in Britain, and in France 
and Germany, considered it the most splendid 
of all Montrose's achievements. 2 

Being now secure from all danger in the 
fastnesses of the Grampians, Montrose allowed 
his men to refresh themselves for some days. 
Whilst enjoying this necessary relaxation from 
the fatigues of the field, intelligence was brought 
to Montrose that a division of the covenanting 
army, under Hurry, was in full march on Aber- 
deen, with an intention of proceeding into 
Moray. Judging that an attack upon the pos- 
sessions of the Gordons would be one of Hurry's 
objects, Montrose despatched Lord Gordon with 
his horse to the north, for the purpose of assist- 
ing his friends in case of attack. 

It was not in the nature of Montrose to re- 
main inactive for any length of time, and an 
occurrence, of which ho had received notice, 
had lately taken place, which determined him 
to return a second time to Dunkeld. This was 
the escape of Viscount Aboyne, and some other 
noblemen and gentlemen, from Carlisle, who, 
he was informed, were on their way north to 
join him. Apprehensive that they might be 
interrupted by Baillie's troops, he resolved to 
make a diversion in their favour, and, by draw- 
ing off the attention of Baillie, enable them the 
more effectually to elude observation. Leaving, 
therefore, Macdonald, with about 200 men, to 
beat up the enemy in the neighbourhood of 
Coupar-Angus, Montrose proceeded, with the 
remainder of his forces, consisting only of 500 
foot and 50 horse, to Dunkeld, whence he 
marched to Crieff, which is about 17 miles 
west from Perth. It was not until he had ar- 
rived at the latter town that Baillie, who, after 
his pursuit of Montrose, had returned to Perth 
with his army, heard of this movement. As 
Baillie was sufficiently aware of the weakness 
of Montrose's force, and as he was sure that, 
with such a great disparity, Montrose would 
not risk a general engagement, he endeavoured 
to surprise him, in the hope either of cutting 
him off entirely, or crippling him so effectually 

* Wishart, p. 127. 



as to prevent him from again taking the field. 
He therefore left Perth during the night of the 
7th of April, with his whole army, consisting 
of 2,000 foot and 500 horse, with the inten- 
tion of falling upon Montrose t>y break of day, 
before he should be aware of his presence ; but 
Montrose's experience had taught him the ne- 
cessity of being always upon his guard when 
so near an enemy's camp, and, accordingly, he 
had drawn up his army, in anticipation of 
Baillie's advance, in such order as would en- 
able him either to give battle or retreat. 

As soon as he heard of Baillie's approach, 
Montrose advanced with his horse to recon- 
noitre, and having ascertained the enemy's 
strength and numbers, which were too formi- 
dable to be encountered with his little band, 
brave as they were, he gave immediate orders 
to his foot to retreat with speed up Strathearn, 
and to retire into the adjoining passes. To 
prevent them from being harassed in their re- 
treat by the enemy's cavalry, Montrose covered 
their rear with his small body of horse, sus- 
taining a very severe attack, which he warmly 
repulsed. After a march of about eight miles, 
Montrose's troops arrived at the pass of Strath- 
earn, of which they took immediate possession, 
and Baillie, thinking it useless to follow them 
into their retreat, discontinued the pursuit, and 
retired with his army towards Perth. Mon- 
trose passed the night on the banks of Loch 
Earn, and marched next morning through Bal- 
quidder, where he was joined, at the ford of 
Cardross, by the Viscount Aboyne, the Master 
of Napier, Hay of Dalgetty, and Stirling of 
Keir, who, along with the Earl of Nithsdale, 
Lord Herries, and others, had escaped from 
Carlisle, as before stated. 

No sooner had Baillie returned from the 
pursuit of Montrose than intelligence was 
brought him that Macdonald, with the 200 
men wliich Montrose had left with him, had 
burnt the town of Coupar-Angus, that he had 
wasted the lands of Lord Balmerino, killed 
Patrick Lindsay, the minister of Coupar, and 
finally, after routing some troopers of Lord 
Balcarras, and carrying off their horses and 
arms, had fled to the hills. This occurrence, 
withdrawing the attention of Baillie from Mon- 
trose's future movements, enabled the latter to 
proceed to the north without opposition. 


Montrose had advanced as far as Loch Kat- 
rine, when a messenger brought him intelli- 
gence that General Hurry was in the Enzie 
with a considerable force, that he had been 
joined by some of the Moray-men, and, after 
plundering and laying waste the country, was 
preparing to attack Lord Gordon, who had not 
a sufficient force to oppose him. On receiving 
this information, Montrose resolved to proceed 
immediately to the north to save the Gordons 
from the destruction which appeared to hang 
over them, hoping that, with such accessions of 
force as he might obtain in his march, united 
with that under Lord Gordon, he would suc- 
ceed in defeating Hurry before Baillie should 
be aware of his movements. 

He, therefore, returned through Balquidder, 
marched, with rapid strides, along the side of 
Loch Tay, through Athole and Angus, and, 
crossing the Grampian hills, proceeded down 
the Strath of Glenmuck. In his march, Mon- 
trose was joined by the Athole-men and the 
other Highlanders who had obtained, or rather 
taken leave of absence after the battle of Inver- 
lochy, and also by Macdonald and his party. 
On arriving in the neighbourhood of Auchin- 
doun, he was met by Lord Gordon, at the head 
of 1,000 foot and 200 horse. Montrose crossed 
the Dee on the 1st of May, at the mill of 
Crathie having provided himself with ammu- 
nition from a ship in Aberdeen harbour con- 
tinued his march towards the Spey, and before 
Hurry was even aware that the enemy had 
crossed the Grampians, he found them within 
six miles of his camp. The sudden appear- 
ance of Montrose with such a superior force 
for Hurry had only at this time about 1 ,000 
foot and 200 horse greatly alarmed him, 
and raising his camp, he crossed the Spey in 
great haste, with the intention of marching 
to Inverness, where he would be joined \>y the 
troops of the garrison, and receive large rein- 
forcements from the neighbouring counties. 
Montrose immediately pursued him, and fol- 
lowed close upon his heels to the distance of 
14 miles beyond Forres, when, favoured by the 
darkness of the night, Hurry effected his escape, 
with little loss, and arrived at Inverness. 

The panic into which Hurry had been thrown 
soon gave way to a very different feeling, as he 
found the Earls of Seaforth and Sutherland 



with their retainers, and the clan "Eraser, and 
others from Moray and Caithness, all assem- 
bled at Inverness, as he had directed. This 
accession of force increased his army to 3,500 
foot and 400 horse. He therefore resolved to 
act on the offensive, by giving battle to Mon- 
trose immediately. 

Montrose had taken up a position at the vil- 
lage of Auldearn, about three miles south-east 
from Nairn, on the morning after the pursuit. 
In the course of the day, Hurry advanced with 
all his forces, including the garrison of Inver- 
ness, towards Nairn ; and, on approaching 
Auldearn, formed his army in order of battle. 
Montrose's force, which had been greatly weak- 
ened by the return of the Athole-men and 
other Highlanders to defend their country from 
the depredations of Baillie's army, now con- 
sisted of only 1,500 foot and 250 horse. It 
was not, therefore, without great reluctance, 
that he resolved to risk a battle with an enemy 
more than double in point of numbers, and 
composed in great part of veteran troops ; but, 
pressed as he was by Hurry, and in danger of 
being attacked in his rear by Baillio, who was 
advancing by forced marches to the north, he 
had no alternative but to hazard a general en- 
gagement. He therefore instantly looked about 
him for an advantageous position. 

The village of Auldearn stands upon a height, 
behind which, or on the east, is a valley, over- 
looked by a ridge of little eminences, running 
in a northerly direction, and which almost con- 
ceals the valley from view. In this hollow 
Montrose arranged his forces in order of battle. 
Having formed them into two divisions, he 
posted the right wing on the north of the 
village, at a place where there was a consider- 
able number of dikes and ditches. This body, 
which consisted of 400 men, chiefly Irish, was 
placed under the command of Macdonald. On 
taking their stations, Montrose gave them strict 
injunctions not to leave their position on any 
account, as they were effectually protected by 
the walls around them, not only from the at- 
tacks of cavalry, but of foot, and could, with- 
out much danger to themselves, keep up a 
galling and destructive fire upon their assailants. 
In order to attract the best troops of the 
enemy to this difficult spot where they could 
not act, and to make them believe that Mon- 

trose commanded this wing, he gave the royal 
standard to Macdonald, intending, when they 
should get entangled among the bushes and 
dikes, with which the ground to the right was 
covered, to attack them himself with his left 
wing; and to enable him to do so the more 
effectually, he placed the whole of his horse 
and the remainder of the foot on the left wing 
to the south of the village. The former ho 
committed to the charge of Lord Gordon, re- 
serving the command of the latter to himself. 
After placing a few chosen foot with some can- 
non in front of the village, under cover of some 
dikes, Montrose firmly awaited the attack of 
the enemy. 

Hurry divided his foot and his horse each into 
two divisions. On the right wing of the main 
body of the foot, which was commanded by 
Campbell of Lawers, Hurry placed the regular 
cavalry which he had brought from the south, 
and on the left the horse of Moray and the 
north, under the charge of Captain Drummond. 
The other division of foot was placed behind 
as a reserve, and commanded by Hurry himself* 

When Hurry observed the singular position 
which Montrose had taken up, he was utterly 
at a loss to guess his designs, and though it 
appeared to him, skilful as he was in the art of 
war, a most extraordinary and novel sight, yet, 
from the well known character of Montrose, 
he was satisfied that Montrose's aiTangements 
were the result of a deep laid scheme. But 
what especially excited the surprise of Hurry, 
was the appearance of the large yellow banner 
or royal standard in the midst of a small body 
of foot stationed among hedges and dikes 
and stones, almost isolated from the horse 
and the main body of the foot. To attack 
this party, at the head of which he natu- 
rally supposed Montrose was, was his first 
object. This was precisely what Montrose 
had wished ; his snare proved successful. 
With the design of overwhelming at onco 
the right wing, Hurry despatched towards 
it the best of his horse and all his vet- 
eran troops, who made a furious attack 
upon Macdonald's party, the latter defending 
themselves bravely behind the dikes and 
bushes. The contest continued for some time 
on the right with varied success, and Hurry, 
who had plenty of men to spare, relieved those 



who were engaged by fresh troops. Montrose, 
who kept a steady eyo upon the motions of 
the enemy, and watched a favourable oppor- 
tunity for making a grand attack upon them 
with the left wing, was just preparing to carry 
his design into execution, when a confidential 
person suddenly rode up to him and whispered 
in his ear that the right wing had been put 
to flight. 

This intelligence was not, however, quite 
correct. It seems that Macdonald who, says 
Wishart, " was a brave enough man, but rather 
a better soldier than a general, extremely 
violent, and daring even to rashness," had been 
so provoked with the taunts and insults of the 
enemy, that in spite of the express orders lie 
had received from Montrose on no account to 
leave his position, he had unwisely advanced 
beyond it to attack the enemy, and though ho 
had been several times repulsed he returned to 
the charge. But he was at last borne down 
by the great numerical superiority of the 
enemy's horse and foot, consisting of veteran 
troops, and forced to retire in great disorder 
into an adjoining enclosure. Nothing, how- 
ever, could exceed the admirable manner in 
which he managed this retreat, and the courage 
he displayed while leading off his men. De- 
fending his body with a large target, he resisted, 
single-handed, the assaults of the enemy, and 
was the last man to leave the field. So closely 
indeed was ho pressed by Hurry's spearmen, 
that some of them actually came so near him 
as to fix their spears in his target, which he 
cut off by threes or fours at a time with his 
broadsword. 3 

It was during this retreat that Montrose re- 
ceived the intelligence of the flight of the right 
wing; but he preserved his usual presence of 
mind, and to encourage his men, who might 
get alarmed at hearing such news, he thus 
addressed Lord Gordon, loud enough to bo 
heard by his troops, " What are we doing, my 
Lord? Our friend Macdonald has routed the 
enemy on the right and is carrying all before 
him. Shall we look on and let him carry off 
the whole honour of the day?" A crisis had 
arrived, and not a moment was to be lost. 
Scarcely, therefore, were the words out of 

3 Wisliart, p. 136. 

Montrose's mouth, when he ordered his men to 
charge the enemy. When his men were ad- 
vancing to the charge, Captain or Major Drum- 
mond, who commanded Hurry's horse, made 
an awkward movement by wheeling about his 
men, and his horse coming in contact with the 
foot, broke their ranks and occasioned consid- 
erable confusion. Lord Gordon seeing this, 
immediately rushed in upon Drummond's horse 
with his party and put them to flight. Mon- 
trose followed hard with the foot, and attacked 
the main body of Hurry's army, which he 
routed after a powerful resistance. The vet- 
erans in Hurry's army, who had served in 
Ireland, fought manfully, and chose rather to 
be cut down standing in their ranks than re- 
treat ; but the new levies from Moray, Eoss, 
Sutherland, and Caithness, fled in great con- 
sternation. They were pursued for several 
miles, and might have been all killed or cap- 
tured if Lord Aboyne had not, by an unneces- 
sary display of ensigns and standards, which 
he had taken from the enemy, attracted the 
notice of the pursuers, who halted for some 
time under the impression that a fresh party of 
the enemy was coming up to attack them. In 
this way Hurry and some of his troops, who 
were the last to leave the field of battle, as well 
as the other fugitives, escaped from the impend- 
ing danger, and arrived at Inverness the fol- 
lowing morning. As the loss of this battle 
was mainly owing to Captain Dmmmond, he 
was tried by a court-martial at Inverness, and 
condemned to be shot, a sentence which was 
carried into immediate execution. He was 
accused of having betrayed the army, and it is 
said that ho admitted that after the battle had 
commenced he had spoken with the enemy.* 

The number of killed on both sides has been 
variously stated^ That on the side of the Cove- 
nanters has been reckoned by one writer at 
1,000, 5 by another at 2,000, and by a third 
at 3,000 men. 7 Montrose, on the other hand, 
is said by the first of these authors to have lost 
about 200 men, while the second says that he 
had only " some twenty-four gentlemen hurt, 
and some few Irish killed," and Wishart informs 
us that Montrose only missed one private man 

4 Gordon's Continuation, p. 525. ! Idem. 

6 Spalding. ' Wishart. 



on the left, and that the right wing, commanded 
by Macdonald, " lost only fourteen private 
men." The clans who had joined Hurry suf- 
fered considerably, particularly the Erasers, 
who, besides unmarried men, are said to have 
left dead on the field no less than 87 married 
men. Among the principal covenanting offi- 
cers who were slain were Colonel Campbell of 
Lawers, Sir John and Sir Gideon Murray, and 
Colonel James Campbell, with several other 
officers of inferior note. The laird of Lawers's 
brother, Archibald Campbell, and a few other 
officers, were taken prisoners. Captain Mac- 
donald and "William Macpherson of Invereschie 
were the only persons of any note killed on 
Montrose's side. Montrose took several pri- 
soners, whom, with the wounded, he treated 
with great kindness. Such of the former as 
expressed their sorrow for having joined the 
ranks of the Covenanters he released others 
who were disposed to join him he received into 
his army, but such as remained obstinate he im- 
prisoned. Besides taking 16 standards from 
the enemy, Montrose got possession of the 
whole of their baggage, provisions, and ammu- 
nition, and a considerable quantity of money 
and valuable effects. The battle of Auldearn 
was fought on the 4th of May, according to 
"Wishart, 8 and on the 9th according to others, 9 
in the year 1645. 

The immense disproportion between the 
numbers of the slain on the side of the Cove- 
nanters and that of the prisoners taken by 
Montrose evidently shows that very little quar- 
ter had been given, the cause of which is said 
to have been the murder of James Gordon, 
younger of Ehiny, who was killed by a party 
from the garrison of Spynie, and by some of 
the inhabitants of Elgin, at Struders, near 
Forrcs, where he had been left in consequence 
of a severe wound he had received in a skir- 
mish during Hurry's first retreat to Inverness. 1 
But Montrose revenged himself still farther by 
advancing to Elgin and burning the houses of 
all those who had been concerned in the mur- 
der, at the same time sending out a party 2 to 

8 Montrose Redivivus, p. 73. 

9 Spalding, vol. ii., p. 473. Britanc's Distemper, 
p. 127. 

1 Gordon's Conlimiation, p. 525. 
' Spalding, vol. ii. p. 474. 

treat in a similar way the town of Garmouth, 
belonging to the laird of Innes. 

While these proceedings were going on. 
Montrose sent his whole baggage, booty, and 
warlike stores across the Spey, which he him- 
self crossed upon the 14th of May, proceeding 
to Birkenbog, the seat of " a great Covenanter," 
where he took up his head quarters. He quar- 
tered his men in the neighbourhood, and, dur- 
ing a short stay at Birkenbog, he sent out 
different parties of his troops to scour the coun- 
try, and take vengeance on the Covenanters. 

"When General Baillie first heard of the de- 
feat of his colleague, Hurry, at Auldearn, he 
was lying at Cromar, with his army. He had, 
in the beginning of May, after Montrose's de- 
parture to the north, entered Athole, which he 
had wasted with fire and sword, and had made 
an attempt upon the strong castle of Blair, in 
which many of the prisoners taken at the 
battle of Inverlochy were confined; but, not 
succeeding in his enterprise, he had, after col- 
lecting an immense booty, marched through 
Athole, and, passing by Kirriemuir and Fetter- 
cairn, encamped on the Birse on the 10th of 
May. His force at this time amounted to 
about 2,000 foot and 120 troopers. On the fol- 
lowing day he had marched to Cromar, where 
ho encamped between the Kirks of Coull and 
Tarlan till he should be joined by Lord Bal- 
carras's horse regiment. In a short time ho 
was joined, not only by Balcarras's regiment, 
but by two foot regiments. The ministers en- 
deavoured to induce the country people also to 
join Baillie, by " thundering out of pulpits," 
but " they lay still," says Spalding, " and 
would not follow him." 3 

As soon as Baillio heard of the defeat of 
Hurry, he raised his camp at Cromar, upon .the 
19th of May, and hastened north. He arrived 
at the wood of Cochlarachie, within two miles 
of Strathbogie, before Montrose was aware of 
his approach. Here he was joined by Hurry, 
who, with some horse from Inverness, had 
passed themselves off as belonging to Lord 
Gordon's party, and had thus been permitted 
to go through Montrose's lines without oppo- 

It was on the 19th of May, when lying at 

* Spaldintf, vol. ii. p. 476. 



Birkenbog, that Montroso received the intelli- 
gence of Baillie's arrival in the neighbourhood 
of Strathbogie. Although Montrose's men had 
not yet wholly recovered from the fatigues of 
their late extraordinary march and subsequent 
labours, and although their numbers had been 
reduced since the battle of Auldearn, by the 
departure of some of the Highlanders with the 
booty they had acquired, they felt no disinclina- 
tion to engage the enemy, but, on the contrary, 
were desirous of coming to immediate action. 
But Montrose, although he had the utmost con- 
fidence in the often tried courage of his troops, 
judged it more expedient to avoid an engage- 
ment at present, and to retire, in the meantime, 
into his fastnesses to recruit his exhausted 
strength, than risk another battle with a fresh 
force, greatly superior to his own. In order to 
deceive the enemy as to his intentions, he ad- 
vanced, the same day, upon Strathbogie, and, 
within view of their camp, began to make in- 
trenchments, and raise fortifications, as if pre- 
paring to defend himself. But as soon as the 
darkness of the night prevented Baillie from 
discovering his motions, Montrose marched 
rapidly up the south side of the Spey with his 
foot, leaving his horse behind him, with in- 
structions to follow him as soon as daylight 
began to appear. 

Baillie had passed the night in the confident 
expectation of a battle next day, but was sur- 
prised to learn the following morning that not 
a vesligo of Montrose's army was to be seen. 
Montrose had taken the route to Balveny, 
which having been ascertained by Baillie, he 
immediately prepared to follow. He, accord- 
ingly, crossed the Spey, and after a rapid 
march, almost overtook the retiring foe in 
Glenlivet; but Montrose, having outdistanced 
his pursuers by several miles before night came 
on, got the start of them so completely, that 
they were quite at a loss next morning to 
ascertain the route he had taken, and could 
only guess at it by observing the traces of his 
footsteps on the grass and the heather over 
which ho had passed. Following, therefore, 
the course thus pointed out, Baillie came again 
in sight of Moutroso; but he found that he 
had taken up a position, which, whilst it almost 
defied approach from its rocky and woody situ- 
ation, commanded the entrance into Badonoch, 

from which country Montroso could, without 
molestation, draw supplies of both men and 
provisions. To attack Montrose in his strong- 
hold was out of the question; but, in the hope 
of withdrawing him from it, Baillie encamped 
his army hard by. Montrose lay quite secure 
in his well-chosen position, from which he 
sent out parties who, skirmishing by day, and 
beating up the quarters of the enemy during 
the night, so harassed and frightened them, 
that they were obliged to retreat to Inverness, 
after a stay of a few days, a measure which 
was rendered still more necessary from the 
want of provisions and of provender for the 
horses. Leaving Inverness, Baillie crossed the 
Spey, and proceeded to Aberdeenshire, arriving 
on the 3d of June at Newton, in the Garioch, 
" where he encamped, destroying the country, 
and cutting the green growing crops to the 
very clod." 4 

Having got quit of the presence of Baillie's 
army, Montrose resolved to make a descent 
into Angus, and attack the Earl of Crawford, 
who lay at the castle of Newtyle with an army 
of reserve to support Baillie, and to prevent 
Montrose from crossing the Forth, and carrying 
the war into the south. This nobleman, who 
stood next to Argyle, as head of the Cov- 
enanters, had often complained to the Estates 
against Argyle, whose rival he was, for his 
inactivity and pusillanimity; and having in- 
sinuated that he would have acted a very 
different part had the command of such an 
army as Argyle had, been intrusted to him, 
ho had the address to obtain the command 
of the army now under him, which had 
been newly raised; but the earl was without 
military experience, and quite unfit to cope 
with Montrose. 

Proceeding through Badenoch, Montrose 
crossed the Grampians, and arrived by rapid 
marches on the banks of the river Airly, within 
seven miles of Crawford's camp, but was pre- 
vented from giving battle by the desertion of 
the Gordons and their friends, who almost all 
returned to their country. 

He now formed the resolution to attack 
Baillie himself, but before ho could venture on 
such a bold step, he saw that there was an 

4 Spalding, vol. ii. p. 479. 



absolute necessity of making some additions 
to liis force. With this view he sent Sir 
Nathaniel Gordon, an influential cavalier, into 
the north before him, to raise the Gordons and 
the other royalists; and, on his march north 
tlirough Glensheo and the Braes of Mar, Mon- 
troso despatched Macdonald into the remoter 
Highlands with a party to bring him, as speedily 
as possible, all the forces ho could. Judging 
that the influence and authority of Lord Gordon 
might greatly assist Sir Nathaniel, he sent him 
after him, and Montrose himself encamped in 
the country of Cromar, waiting for the expected 

In the meantime, Baillie lay in camp on 
Dee-side, in the lower part of Mar, where he 
was joined by Crawford; but he showed no 
disposition to attack Montrose, who, from the 
inferiority, in point of number, of his forces, 
retired to the old castle of Kargarf. Crawford 
did not, however, remain long with Baillie; 
but, exchanging a thousand of his raw recruits 
for a similar number of Baillie's veterans, he 
returned with these, and the remainder of his 
army, through the Mearns into Angus, as if ho 
intended some mighty exploit; he, thereafter, 
entered Athole, and in imitation of Argyle, 
plundered and burnt the country. 

Eaising his camp, Baillio marched towards 
Strathbogio to lay siege to the Marquis of 
Huntly's castle, the Bog of Gight, now Gordon 
castle; but although Montroso had not yet 
received any reinforcements, ho resolved to 
follow Baillie and prevent him from putting 
his design into execution. But Montrose had 
inarched scarcely three miles when ho was 
observed by Baillio's scouts, and at the same 
time ascertained that Baillie had taken up a 
strong position on a rising ground above Keith, 
about two miles off. Next morning Montrose, 
not considering it advisable to attack Baillie 
in the strong position ho occupied, sent a 
trumpeter to him offering to engage him on 
open ground, but Baillie answered the hostile 
message by saying, that he would not receive 
orders for fighting from his enemy. 5 

In this situation of matters, Montrose had 
recourse to stratagem to draw Baillie from his 
stronghold. By retiring across the river Don, 

Wishart, p. 145. 

the covenanting general was led to believe that 
Montroso intended to march to the south, and 
ho was, therefore, advised by a committee of 
the Estates which always accompanied him, 
and in whoso hands ho appears to have been a 
mere passive instrument, to pursue Montrose. 
As soon as Montroso's scouts brought intelli- 
gence that Baillie was advancing, he set off by 
break of day to the village of Alford on the 
river Don, where ho intended to await the 
enemy. When Baillio was informed of this 
movement, he imagined that Montrose was in 
full retreat before him, a supposition which 
encouraged him so to hasten his march, that 
he came up with Montrose at noon at the dis- 
tance of a few miles from Alford. Montrose, 
thereupon, drew up his army in order of battle 
on an advantageous rising ground and waited 
for the enemy; but instead of attacking him, 
Baillie made a detour to the left with the 
intention of getting into Montrose's rear and 
cutting off his retreat. Montrose then conti 
nued his march to Alford, where he passed the 

On the following morning, the 2d of July, 
the two armies were only the distance of about 
four miles from each other. Montrose drew 
up Ms troops on a little hill behind the village 
of Alford. In his rear was a marsh fidl of 
ditches and pits, which would protect him 
from the inroads of Baillie's cavalry should 
they attempt to assail him in that quarter, and 
in his front stood a steep hill, which prevented 
the enemy from observing 'his motions. He 
gave the command of the right wing to Lord 
Gordon and Sir Nathaniel ; the left ho com- 
mitted to Viscount Aboyno and Sir William 
Eollock ; and the main body was put under the 
charge of Angus Macvichalister, chief of the 
Macdonells of Glengarry, Drummond younger 
of Balloch, and Quarter-master George Graham, 
a skilful officer. To Napier his nephew, Mon- 
trose intrusted a body of reserve, which was 
concealed behind the hill. 

Scarcely had Montroso completed his ar- 
rangements, when ho received intelligence that 
the enemy had crossed the Don, and was mov- 
ing in the direction of Alford. This was a 
fatal step on the part of Baillie, who, it is said, 
was forced into battle by the rashness of Lord 
Balcarras, "one of the bravest men of the 



kingdom,"* who unnecessarily placed himself 
and his regiment in a position of such danger 
that they could not be rescued without expos- 
ing the whole of the covenanting army. 7 

When Baillie arrived in the valley adjoining 
the hill on which Montrose had taken up his 
position, both armies remained motionless for 
some time, viewing each other, as if unwilling 
to begin the combat. Owing to the command- 
ing position which Montrose occupied, the 
Covenanters could not expect to gain any 
advantage by attacking him even with superior 
forces ; but now, for the first time, the number 
of the respective armies was about equal, and 
Montrose had this advantage over his adver- 
sary, that while Baillie's army consisted in 
part of the raw and undisciplined levies which 
the Earl of Crawford had exchanged for some 
of his veteran troops, the greater part of Mon- 
trose's men had been long accustomed to ser- 
vice. These circumstances determined Baillie 
not to attempt the ascent of the hill, but to 
remain in the valley, where, in the event of a 
descent by Montrose, his superiority in cavalry 
would give him the advantage. 

This state of inaction was, however, soon 
put an end to by Lord Gordon, who observing 
a party of Baillie's troops driving away before 
them a large quantity of cattle which they had 
collected in Strathbogie and the Enzie, and 
being desirous of recovering the property of 
his countrymen, selected a body of horse, with 
which he attempted a rescue. The assailed 
party was protected by some dykes and enclo- 
sures, from behind which they fired a volley 
upon the Gordons, which did considerable 
execution amongst them. Such a cool and 
determined reception, attended with a result 
so disastrous and unexpected, might have been 
attended by dangerous consequences, had not 
Montrose, on observing the party of Lord Gor- 
don giving indications as if undetermined how 
to act, resolved immediately to commence a 
general attack upon the enemy with his whole 
army. But as Baillie's foot had intrenched 
themselves amongst the dykes and fences which 
covered the ground at the bottom of the hill, 
and could not be attacked in that position 
with success, Montrose immediately ordered 

' Britane's D'atcmper, p. 129. 7 Wisliart, p. 147. 

the horse, who were engaged with the enemy, 
to retreat to their former position, in the expec- 
tation that Baillie's troops would leave their 
ground and follow them. And in this hope 
he was not disappointed, for the Covenanters 
thinking that this movement of the horse was 
merely the prelude to a retreat, advanced from 
their secure position, and followed the supposed 
fugitives with their whole horse and foot in 
regular order. 

Both armies now came to close quarters, and 
fought face to face and man to man with great 
obstinacy for some time, without either party 
receding from the ground they occupied. At 
length Sir Nathaniel Gordon, growing impa- 
tient at such a protracted resistance, resolved 
to cut his way through the enemy's left wing, 
consisting of Lord Balcarras's regiment of horse; 
and calling to the light musketeers who lined 
his horse, he ordered them to throw aside their 
muskets, which were now unnecessary, and to 
attack the enemy's horse with their drawn 
swords. This order was immediately obeyed, 
and in a short time they cut a passage through 
the ranks of the enemy, whom they hewed 
down with great slaughter. When the horse 
which composed Baillie's right wing, and which 
had been kept in check by Lord Aboyne, per- 
ceived that their left had given way, they also 
retreated. 8 An attempt was made by the 
covenanting general to rally his left wing by 
bringing up the right, after it had retired, to 
its support, but they were so alarmed at the 
spectacle or melee which they had just witnessed 
on the left, where their comrades had been cut 
down by the broad swords of Montrose's 
musketeers, that they could not be induced to 
take the place of their retiring friends. 

Thus abandoned by the horse, Baillie's foot 
were attacked on all sides by Montrose's forces. 
They fought with uncommon bravery, and 
although they were cut down in great numbers, 
the survivors exhibited a perseverance and 
determination to resist to the last extremity. 
An accident now occurred, which, whilst it 
threw a melancholy gloom over the fortunes of 
the day, and the spirits of Montrose's men, 
served to hasten the work of carnage and death. 
This was the fall of Lord Gordon, who having 

8 Wishart, p. 149. 



incautiously rushed in amongst the thickest of 
the enemy, was unfortunately shot dead, it is 
said, 9 when in the act of pulling Baillie, the 
covenanting general, from his horse, having, it 
is said, in a moment of exultation, promised 
to his men, to drag Baillie out of the ranks 
and present him "before them. The Gordons, 
on perceiving their young chief fall, set no 
bounds to their fury, and falling upon the 
enemy with renewed vigour, hewed them down 
without mercy ; yet these brave men still 
showed no disposition to flee, and it was not 
until the appearance of the reserve under the 
Master of Napier, which had hitherto been 
kept out of view of the enemy at the back of 
the hill, that their courage began to fail them. 
When this body began to descend the hill, 
accompanied by what appeared to them a fresh 
reinforcement of cavalry, but which consisted 
merely of the camp or livery boys, who had 
mounted the sumpter-horses to make a display 
for the purpose of alarming the enemy, the 
entire remaining body of the covenanting foot 
fled with precipitation. A hot pursuit took 
place, and so great was the slaughter that very 
few of them escaped. The covenanting general 
and his principal officers were saved by the 
fleetness of their horses, and the Marquis of 
Argyle, who had accompanied Baillie as a 
member of the committee, and who was closely 
pursued by Glengarry and some of his High- 
landers, made a narrow escape by repeatedly 
changing horses. 

Thus ended one of the best contested battles 
which Montrose had yet fought, yet strange as 
the fact may appear, his loss was, as usual, 
extremely trifling, Lord Gordon being the only 
person of importance slain. A considerable 
number of Montrose's men, however, were 
wounded, particularly the Gordons, who, for a 
long time, sustained the attacks of Balcarras's 
horse, amongst whom were Sir Nathaniel, and 
Gordon, younger of Gicht. l The loss on the 
side of the Covenanters was immense ; by far 
the greater part of their foot, and a consider- 
able number of their cavalry having been slain. 

9 This incident is extremely doubtful ; it appears 
to be mentioned only in the Red Book of Clanranald, 
while no mention is made of it in Gordon of Sallagh, 
Wishart, or Gordon of Ruthven. 

1 Gordonts Continuation, p. 626. 

Some prisoners were taken from them, but 
their number was small, owing to their obsti- 
nacy in refusing quarter. These were sent to 
Strathbogie under an escort. 

The brilliant victory was, however, clouded 
by the death of Lord Gordon, " a very 
hopeful young gentleman, able of mind and 
body, about the age of twenty-eight years." 2 
Wishart gives an affecting description of the 
feelings of Montrose's army when this amiable 
young nobleman was killed. " There was," he 
says, " a general lamentation for the loss of 
the Lord Gordon, whose death seemed to 
eclipse all the glory of the victory. As the 
report spread among the soldiers, every one 
appeared to be struck dumb with the melan- 
choly news, and a universal silence prevailed 
for some time through the army. However, 
their grief soon burst through all restraint, 
venting itself in the voice of lamentation and 
sorrow. When the first transports were over, 
the soldiers exclaimed against heaven and 
earth for bereaving the king, the kingdom, and 
themselves, of such an excellent young noble- 
man; and, unmindful of the victory or of the 
plunder, they thronged about the body of their 
dead captain, some weeping over his wounds 
and kissing his lifeless limbs; while others 
praised his comely appearance even in death, 
and extolled his noble mind, which was en- 
riched with every valuable qualification that 
could adorn his high birth or ample fortune : 
they even cursed the victory bought at so dear 
a rate. Nothing could have supported the 
army under this immense sorrow but the pre- 
sence of Montrose, whose safety gave them 
joy, and not a little revived their drooping 
spirits. In the meantime he could not com- 
mand his grief, but mourned bitterly over the 
melancholy fate of his only and dearest friend, 
grievously complaining, that one who was the 
honour of his nation, the ornament of the Scots 
nobility, and the boldest asserter of the royal 
authority in the north, had fallen in the flower 
of his youth." 3 

The victories of Montrose in Scotland were 
more than counterbalanced by those of the 
parliamentary forces in England. Under dif- 
ferent circumstances, the success at Alford 

* Idem. 

3 Memoirs, p. 132. 



might have been attended with consequences 
the most important to the royal cause; but the 
defeat of the king on the 14th of June, at 
Naseby, had raised the hopes of the Cove- 
nanters, and prepared their minds to receive 
the tidings of Baillie's defeat with coolness and 

Upon the day on which the battle of Alford 
was fought, the parliament had adjourned to 
Stirling from Edinburgh, on account of a 
destructive pestilence which had reached the 
capital from Newcastle, by way of Kelso. 
Thither General Baillie, Lord Balcarras, and 
the committee of Estates, which had accompa- 
nied the covenanting army, repaired, to lay a 
statement of the late disaster before the par- 
liament, and to receive instructions as to their 
future conduct. With the exception of Baillie, 
they were well received. Balcarras, who had 
particularly distinguished himself in the battle 
at the head of his horse, received a vote of 
thanks, and a similar acknowledgment was, 
after some hesitation, awarded to Baillie, not- 
withstanding some attempts made to prejudice 
the parliament against him. But the fact was, 
they could not dispense in the present emer- 
gency with an officer of the military talents of 
Baillie, who, instead of shrinking from respon- 
sibility for the loss of the battle of Alford, 
offered to stand trial before a court martial, 
and to justify his conduct on that occasion. 
To have withheld, therefore, the usual token of 
approbation from him, while bestowing it upon 
an inferior officer, would have been to fix a 
stigma upon him which ho was not disposed to 
brook consistently with the retention of the 
command of the army; and as the parliament 
resolved to renew his commission, by appoint- 
ing him to the command of the army then 
being concentrated at Perth, they afterwards 
professed their unqualified satisfaction with 

After the battle of Alford the army of Mon- 
trose was considerably diminished, in conse- 
quence of the Highlanders, according to cus- 
tom, taking leave of absence, and returning 
home with the spoil they had taken from the 
enemy. This singular, though ordinary prac- 
tice, contributed more to paralyze the exertions 
of Montrose, and to prevent him from follow- 
ing up his successes, than any event which 


occurred in the whole course of his campaigns, 
and it may appear strange that Montrose did 
not attempt to put an end to it; but the tenure 
by which he held the services of these hardy 
mountaineers being that they should be allowed 
their wonted privileges, any attempt to deviate 
from their established customs would have been 
an immediate signal for desertion. . 

As it would have been imprudent in Mon- 
trose, with forces thus impaired, to have fol- 
lowed the fugitives, who would receive fresh 
succours from the south, he, after allowing hia 
men some time to refresh themselves, marched 
to Aberdeen, where he celebrated the funeral 
obsequies of his valued friend, Lord Gordon, 
with becoming dignity. 

The district of Buchan in Aberdeenshire, 
which, from its outlying situation, had hitherto 
escaped assessment for the supply of the hostile 
armies, was at this time subjected to the sur- 
veillance of Montrose, who despatched a party 
from Aberdeen into that country to collect all 
the horses they could find for the use of hia 
army, and also to obtain recruits. About the 
same time the Marquis of Huntly, who had 
been living in Strathnaver for some time, hav- 
ing heard of the death of his eldest son, Lord 
Gordon, meditated a return to his own country, 
intending to throw the influence of his name 
and authority into the royal scale. But as ho 
might be exposed to danger in passing through 
countries which were hostile to the royal 
cause, it was arranged between Montrose and 
Viscount Aboyne, who had just been created 
an earl, that the latter should proceed to Strath- 
naver, with a force of 2,000 men to escort his 
father south. This expedition was, however, 
abandoned, in consequence of intelligence 
having been brought to Montroso that the 
Covenanters were assembling in great strength 
at Perth. 

The parliament which, as we have seen, had 
left Edinburgh, and gone to Stirling on account 
of the pestilence, had been obliged, in conse- 
quence of its appearance in Stirling, to adjourn 
to Perth, where it was to meet on the 24th of 
July ; but before leaving Stirling, they ordered 
a levy of 10,000 foot to be raised in the coun- 
ties to the south of the Tay; and to insure duo 
obedience to this mandate, all noblemen, gen- 
tlemen, and heritors, were required to attend 



at Perth on or before that day, well mounted, 
and to bring with them such forces as they 
could raise, under a heavy penalty. 4 

On leaving Aberdeen, Montrose took up his 
quarters at Crabston, situated a few miles from 
Aberdeen, between the rivers Don and Dee, 
where he remained for some time in the expec- 
tation of being joined by reinforcements from 
the Highlands under Major-general Macdonald, 
who had been absent about two months from 
the army in quest of recruits. As, however, 
these expected succours did not arrive within 
the time expected, Montroso, impatient of 
delay, crossed the Dee, and inarching over the 
Grampians, descended into the Mearns, and 
pitched his camp at Fordoun in Kincardine- 

Proceeding on his march through Angus and 
Blairgowrie to Dunkeld, Montroso had the 
good fortune to be successively joined by his 
cousin, Patrick Graham of Inchbrakie, at the 
head of the bravo Athole Highlanders, and by 
Macdonald, his major-general, who brought 
with him the chief of the Macleans, and 
about 700 of that clan, all animated by a 
strong feeling of animosity against Argyle and 
his partisans. He was also joined by John 
Muidartach, the celebrated captain of the 
Clanranald, at the head of 500 of his men; 
by the Macgregors and Macnabs, headed 
by their respective chieftains; by the Clan- 
donald, under the command of the uncles of 
Glengarry and other officers, Glengarry him- 
self, " who," says Bishop Wishart, " deserves 
a singular commendation for his bravery and 
steady loyalty to the king, and his peculiar 
attachment to Montrose," 5 having never left 
Montrose since he joined him at the time of 
his expedition into Argyle. Besides all these, 
the Stewarts of Appin, some of the Farquhar- 
sons of Braemar, and small parties of inferior 
clans from Badenoch, rallied round the standard 
of Montrose. 

Having obtained these reinforcements, Mon- 
trose now formed the design of inarching upon 
Perth, and breaking up the parliament which 
had there assembled, and thereafter of pro- 
ceeding to the south, and dissipating the levies 
which were being raised beyond the Tay. 

4 Guthrie's Memoirs, p. 160. B Memoirs, p. 156. 

But the want of cavalry, in which he was con 
stantly deficient, formed a bar to this plan, 
and Montrose was, therefore, obliged to defer 
his project till he should be joined by the 
Earls of Aboyne and Airly, whom he expected 
soon with a considerable body of horse. In 
the meantime, Montrose crossed the Tay at 
Dunkeld, and encamped at Amulree. The 
covenanting army, with the exception of the 
garrison of Perth, was then lying on the south 
side of the Earn, and a body of 400 horse was 
posted near the town, for the protection of the 
Estates or parliament. 

This movement, on the part of Montrose, 
created some alarm in the minds of the Cove- 
nanters, which was greatly increased by a 
report from their horse, stationed in the neigh- 
bourhood of the town, who, seeing some of his 
scouts approach it, had fancied that lie was 
going to storm it. While this panic was at its 
height, Montrose, who had no intention of 
attacking the town, raised his camp, and took 
up a position in the wood of Methven, about 
five miles from Perth. During this movement, 
the town was thrown into a state of the greatest 
consternation, from an apprehension that Mon- 
trose was about to attack it, and the nobility 
and the other members of the parliament were 
earnestly solicited to secure their safety by a 
speedy flight, but the Estates remained firm, 
and could not be persuaded to abandon their 
posts. In order, if possible, still farther to 
increase the panic in the town, Montrose ad- 
vanced almost to the very gates of Perth with 
his horse the following day, which, although 
not exceeding 100, were made to appear for- 
midable by the addition of the baggage-horses, 
on which some musketeers were mounted. 
This act of bold defiance magnified the fears 
of those who were in the town, and made them 
imagine that Montrose was well provided in 
cavalry. The covenanting troops, therefore, 
were afraid to venture beyond the gates; and 
Montrose having thus easily accomplished his 
object, was encouraged,, still farther, to cross 
the Earn at Dupplin, when he openly recon- 
noitred the enemy's army on the south of that 
river, and surveyed the Strath with great deli- 
beration and coolness, without interruption. 

Both armies remained in their positions for 
several days without attempting any thing, 



each waiting for reinforcements. During all 
tliis time, the enemy had been deceived re- 
specting the strength of Montrose's horse, but 
having learned his weakness in that respect, 
and the deception which he had practised so 
successfully upon them, and being joined by 
three regiments from Fife, they resolved to 
offer him battle. Montrose, however, from his 
great inferiority of numbers, particularly in 
horse, was not in a condition to accept the 
challenge, and wisely declined it. Accordingly, 
when he saw the enemy advancing towards 
him, he prepared to retreat among the neigh- 
bouring mountains; but to deceive the enemy, 
and to enable him to carry off his baggage, ho 
drew out his army as if he intended to fight, 
placing his horse in front, and securing the 
passes into the mountains with guards. While 
making these dispositions, he sent off his 
baggage towards the hills under an escort; and 
when he thought the baggage out of clanger, 
gave orders to his army to march off in close 
rank ; and to cover its retreat and protect it 
from the cavalry of the enemy, he placed his 
horse, lined as usual with the best musketeers, 
in the rear. 

As soon as Baillie, the covenanting general, 
perceived that Montrose was in full retreat, ho 
despatched General Hurry with the cavalry in 
pursuit of him ; but from a most unaccountable 
delay on Hurry's part in crossing the Pow so 
slow, indeed, had his movements been, that 
Baillie's foot overtook him at the fords of the 
Almond Montrose had almost reached the 
passes of the mountains before lie was over- 
taken. Chagrined at his easy escape, and 
determined to perform some striking exploit 
before Montrose should retire into his fastnesses, 
a body of 300 of the best mounted covenanting 
cavalry set off at full gallop after him, and 
attacked him witli great fury, using at the 
same time the most insulting and abusive lan- 
guage. To put an end to this annoyance, Mon- 
trose selected twenty expert HigMandcrs, and 
requested them to bring down some of the 
assailants. Accordingly these marksmen ad- 
vanced in a crouching attitude, concealing their 
guns, and having approached within musket- 
ehot, took deliberate aim, and soon brought 
down the more advanced of the party. This 
unexpected disaster made the assailants more 

cautious in their advances, and caused them to 
resolve upon an immediate retreat ; but the 
marksmen were so elated with their success 
that they actually pursued them down into the 
plain, " and resolutely attacked the whole party, 
who, putting spurs to their horses, fled with 
the utmost precipitation, like so many deer 
Tjefore the hunters." 7 In this retreat Montrose 
did not lose a single man. 

After giving over this fruitless pursuit, the 
enemy returned to Montrose's camp at Meth- 
ven, where, according to Wishart, they com- 
mitted a most barbarous act in revenge of their 
late affront, by butchering some of the wives of 
the Highlanders and Irish who had been left 
behind. Montrose took up his quarters at 
Little Dunkeld, both because he was there per- 
fectly secure from the attacks of the enemy's 
cavalry, and because it was a convenient sta- 
tion to wait for the reinforcements of horse 
which he daily expected from the north under 
the Earls of Airly and Aboyne. Although 
both armies lay close together for several days, 
nothing was attempted on either side. The 
covenanting general had become quite disgusted 
with the service in consequence of the jealousies 
and suspicions which it was too evident the 
committee entertained of him. His disgust was 
increased by the sudden return to their country 
of the Fife men, who preferred their domestic 
comforts to the vicissitudes of war, but who 
unfortunately were, as wo shall soon see, to be 
sacrificed at its shrine. 

At length the Earl of Aboyne, accompanied 
by Sir Nathaniel Gordon, arrived at Little 
Dunkeld, but with a force much inferior in 
numbers to what was expected. They only 
brought 200 horse and 120 musketeers, which 
last were mounted upon carriage horses. The 
smallness of their number was compensated, 
however, in a great measure by their steadiness 
and bravery. The Earl of Airly and his son, 
Sir David Ogilvie, joined Montrose at the same 
time, along with a troop of 80 horse, consisting 
cliiefly of gentlemen of the name of Ogilvio, 
among whom was Alexander Ogilvie, son of 
Sir John Ogilvie of Innerquharity, a young 
man who had already distinguished himself in 
the field. 

7 Wishart's Memoirs, p. 169. 



Never, at any former period of his eventful 
career, did the probabilities of ultimate suc- 
cess on the side of Montroso appear greater 
than now. His army, ardent and devoted to 
the royal cause, now amounted to nearly 
5,000 foot and about 500 horse, the greater 
part of which consisted of brave and experi- 
enced warriors whom he had often led to 
victory. A considerable portion of his army 
was composed of some of the most valiant 
of the Highland clans, led by their respective 

chiefs, among whom stood conspicuous the re- 
nowned captain of clan Eanald, in himself a 
host. The clans wore animated by a feeling 
of the most unbounded attachment to what 
they considered the cause of their chiefs, and 
by a deadly spirit of revenge for the cruelties 
which the Covenanters under Argyle had exer- 
cised in the Highlands. The Macleans and 
the Athole Highlanders in particular, longed 
for an opportunity of retaliating upon the cove- 
nanting partisans of Argyle the injuries which 

Perth in the 17th century. From Slezer's Theatrum Scotias (1693). 

they had repeatedly received at his hands, and 
thereby wiping out the stain which, as they 
conceived, had been cast upon them. But for- 
tunate as Montrose now was in having such an 
army at his disposal, the chances in his favour 
wore greatly enhanced by the circumstance, that 
whereas in his former campaigns he had to 
watch the movements of different armies, and 
to fight them in detail, he was now enabled, 
from having annihilated or dispersed the whole 
armies formerly opposed to him, to concentrate 
his strength and to direct all his energies to 
one point. The only bar which now stood in 
the way of the entire subjugation of Scotland 
to the authority of the king, was the army of 

Baillie, and the defeat or destruction of this 
body now became the immediate object of 
Montrose. His resolution to attack the enemy 
was hastened by the receipt of information that 
the Fife regiments had left Baillie's camp and 
returned home, and that the general himself 
was so dissatisfied with the conduct of the 
covenanting committee, who thwarted all his 
plans and usurped his authority, that he was 
about to resign the command of the army. 

Montrose, therefore, without loss of time, 
raised his camp, and descending into the Low- 
lands, arrived at Logie Almond, where he 
halted his foot. Thence ho went out with his 
cavalry to reconnoitre the enemy, and came in 



full view of them before sunset. They made 
no attempt to molest him, and testified their 
dread of this unexpected visit by retiring within 
their lines. Early next morning Montrose 
again rode out to make his observations, but 
was surprised to learn that the enemy had 
abandoned their camp at Methven during the 
night, and had retired across the Earn, and 
taken up a position at Kilgraston, near Bridge- 
of-Earn. Montroso immediately put his army 
in motion towards tho Earn, which he crossed 
by the bridge of Nether Gask, about eight 
miles above Kilgraston. He then proceeded 
forward as far as the Kirk of Dron, by which 
movement ho for the first time succeeded in 
throwing open to the operations of his army the 
whole of the country south of tho Tay, from 
which the enemy had hitherto carefully ex- 
cluded him. The enemy, alarmed at Montrose's 
approach, made every preparation for defending 
themselves by strengthening the position in 
wliich they were intrenched, and which, from 
the narrowness of the passes and the nature of 
the ground, was well adapted for sustaining 
an attack. 

Montrose was most anxious to bring tho 
enemy to an engagement before they should 
be joined by a large levy then raising in Fife ; 
but they were too advantageously posted to be 
attacked with much certainty of success. As 
lie could not by any means induce them to 
leave their ground, he marched to Kinross for 
the double purpose of putting an end to the 
Fife levies and of withdrawing the enemy from 
their position, so as to afford him an opportu- 
nity of attacking them under more favourable 
circumstances. This movement had tho effect 
of drawing Baillie from his stronghold, who 
cautiously followed Montrose at a respectful 
distance. In the course of his march, Baillio 
was again joined by tho three Fife regiments. 
On arriving at Kinross in the evening, Mon- 
troso learned from an advanced party ho had 
sent out to collect information through the 
country, under the command of Colonel Na- 
thaniel Gordon, and Sir William Rollock, that 
the people of Fife were in arms, a piece of 
intelligence which made him resolve immedi- 
ately to retrace his steps, judging it imprudent 
to risk a battle in such a hostile district. Al- 
though the men of Fife were stern Covenanters, 

and were ready to fight for the Covenant on 
their own soil, yet living for the most part in 
towns, and following out tho sober pursuits of 
a quiet and domestic life, they had no relish 
for war, and disliked the service of the camp. 
Hence the speedy return of the Fife regiments 
from tho camp at Methven, to their own coun- 
try, and hence another reason which induced 
Montroso to leave their unfriendly soil, viz., 
that they would probably again abandon Baillie, 
should he attempt to follow Montrose in his 
progress west. 

Accordingly, after remaining a night at Kin- 
ross, Montrose, the following morning, marched 
towards Alloa, in the neighbourhood of which 
he arrived in the evening, and passed the night 
in the wood of Tullybody. The Irish plundered 
the town of Alloa, and tho adjoining lordship, 
which belonged to the Earl of Mar ; but not- 
withstanding this unprovoked outrage, the earl 
and Lord Erskine gave Montrose, the Earl of 
Airly, and the principal officers of the army, 
an elegant entertainment in the castle of Alloa. 
Montrose, however, did not delay the march 
of his army while partaking of the hospitality 
of the Earl of Mar, but immediately despatched 
Macdonald west to Stirling with the foot, 
retaining only the horse to serve him as a body- 
guard. In this route the Macleans laid waste 
the parishes of Muckart and Dollar, of which 
tho Marquis of Argyle was tho superior, and 
burnt Castle Campbell, the principal residence 
of tho Argyle family in the lowlands, in requital 
of similar acts done by the marquis and his 
followers in the country of the Macleans. 8 

As the pestilence was still raging in the town 
of Stirling, Montrose avoided it altogether, lest 
his army might catch the infection. He halted 
within three miles of the town, where his army 
passed tho night, and being apprised next 
morning, by one of Baillie's scouts who had 
been taken prisoner, that Baillio was close at 
hand with the whole of his army, Montrose 
marched quickly up to tho fords of Frew, about 
eight miles above Stirling bridge, and there 
crossed the Forth. Pursuing his march the 
following morning in the direction of Glasgow, 
ho made a short halt about six miles from 
Stirling, to ascertain the enemy's movements, 

* Guthry s Memoirs, p. 151. 



and being informed that Baillie had not yet 
crossed the Forth, he marched to Kilsyth, 
where he encamped. During the day, Baillio 
passed the Forth hy Stirling bridge, and 
marching forwards, came within view of Mon- 
trose's army, and encamped that evening within 
three miles of Kilsyth. 9 

The covenanting army had, in its progress 
westward, followed exactly the tract of Mon- 
trose through the vale of the Devon. The 
Marquis of Argyle availing himself of this cir- 
cumstance, caused the house of Menstrie, the 
seat of the Earl of Stirling, the king's secre- 
tary, and that of Airthrie, belonging to Sir 
John Graham of Braco, to be burnt. He, 
moreover, sent an insolent message to the Earl 
of Mar, notifying to him, that, on the return 
of the army from the pursuit of Montrose, lie, 
the earl, might calculate on having his castle 
also burnt, for the hospitality he had shown 
Montrose. l 

The conjecture of Montrose, that the Fife 
regiments would not cross the Forth, was not 
altogether without foundation. In fact, when 
they arrived near Stirling, they positively 
refused to advance further, and excused them- 
selves by alleging, that they were raised on the 
express condition that they should not lie called 
upon to serve out of their own shire, and that, 
having already advanced beyond its limits, they 
would on no account cross the Forth. But their 
obstinacy was overcome by the all-powerful 
influence of the ministers, who, in addition to 
the usual scriptural appeals, " told them jolly 
tales that Lanark, Glencairn, and Eglinton, 
were lifting an army to join them, and there- 
fore entreated that they would, for only one 
day more, go out," until that army approached, 
when they should be discharged. 3 

While the Fife regiments were thus per- 
suaded to expose themselves to the unforeseen 
destruction which unfortunately awaited them, 
an incident occurred on the opposite bank of 
the Forth, which betokened ill for the future 
prospects of the covenanting army. This will 
be best explained by stating the matter in 
General Baillio's own words. " A little above 
the park (the king's park at Stirling), I halted 
until the Fife regiments were brought up, 

9 Wishart, p. 156. " Guthry, p. 15b. Idem. 

hearing that the rebels were marching towards 
Kilsyth. After the upcoming of these regi- 
ments, the Marquis of Argyle, Earl of Craw- 
ford, and Lord Burleigli, and, if I mistake not, 
the Earl of Tullicbardine, the Lords Elcho and 
Balcarras, with some others, came up. My 
lord marquis asked mo what next was to be 
done. I answered, the direction should come 
from his lordship and those of the committee. 
My lord demanded what reason was for this t 
I answered, I found myself so slighted in 
every thing belonging to a Commander-in-chief, 
that, for the short time I was to stay with 
them, I would absolutely submit to their di- 
rection and follow it. The marquis desired mo 
to explain myself, which I did in these parti 
culars, sufficiently known to my lord marquis 
and the other lords and gentlemen then present. 
I told his lordship, (1.) Prisoners of all sorts 
were exchanged without my knowledge; the 
traffickers therein received passes from others, 
and, sometimes passing within two miles of 
me, did neither acquaint mo with their busi- 
ness, nor, at their return, where, or in what 
posture they had left the enemy: (2.) While I 
was present, others did sometimes undertake 
the command of the army : (3.) Without either 
my order or knowledge, lire was raised, and 
that destroyed which might have been a re- 
compense to some good deserver, for which I 
would not be answerable to the public. All 
which things considered, I should in any tiling 
freely give my own opinion, but follow the 
judgment of the committee, and the rather be- 
cause that was the last day of my undertaking." 3 
It is here necessary to state, by way of expla- 
nation, that Baillio had, in consequence of the 
previous conduct of the committee, resigned 
his commission, and had only been induced, at 
the earnest solicitation of the parliament, to 
continue his services for a definite period, 
which, it appears, was just on the point of ex- 

The differences between Baillie and the 
committee being patched up, the covenanting 
army proceeded on the 14th of August in 
the direction of Denny, and having crossed 
the Carron at Hollandbush, encamped, as we 
have stated, about 3 miles from Kilsyth. 

3 General Baillie s Narrative, Baillie 's Letters, vol 
ii. pp. 270, 271 



I'.rt'ore the arrival of Baillio, Montross had 
mrivuil iut'unnalion which made him resolve 
lo hazard a battle immediately. The intelli- 
gence he had obtained was to the effect, that 
the Earls of Cassilis, Eglinton, and Glencairn, 
and other heads of the Covenanters, were ac- 
tively engaged in levying forces in the west of 
Scotland, and that the Earl of Lanark had 
already raised a body of 1,000 foot and 500 
horse in Clydesdale, among the vassals and de- 
pendents of the Hamilton family, and that this 
force was within 12 miles of Kilsytli. 

Having taken his resolution, Montrosc made 
the necessary arrangements for receiving the 
enemy, by placing his men in the best position 
which the nature of the ground afforded. In 
front of his position were several cottages and 
gardens, of which he took possession. Baillie, 
seeing the advantageous position chosen by 
Montrose, would have willingly delayed battle 
till either the expected reinforcements from the 
west should arrive, or till Montrose should be 
induced to become the assailant ; but his plans 
were over-ruled by Argyle and the other mem- 
bers of the committee, who insisted that ho 
should immediately attack Montrose. Accord- 
ingly, early in the morning he put his army in 
motion from Hollandbush, and advanced near 
Auchinclogh, about two miles to the east of 
Kilsyth, where he halted. As the ground be- 
tween him and Montrose was full of quagmires, 
which effectually prevented Montrose from at- 
tacking him in front, he proposed to take up a 
defensive position without advancing farther, 
and await an attack. But here again the com- 
mittee interposed, and when he was in the 
very act of arranging the stations of his army, 
they advised him to take a position on a hill 
on his right, which they considered more suit- 
able. It was in vain that Baillie remonstrated 
against what he justly considered an impru- 
dent advice the committee were inexorable in 
their resolution, and Baillio had no alternative 
but to obey. In justice, however, to Lord 
Balcarras, it must be mentioned that he disap- 
proved of the views of the committee. 

When Montrose saw the covenanting army 
approach from Hollandbush, he was exceed- 
ingly delighted, as, from the excellent state of his 
army, the courageous bearing of his men, and 
the advantage of his position, he calculated 

upon obtaining a decisive victory, which might 
enable him to advance into England and re- 
trieve the affairs of his sovereign in that king- 
dom. But while Montrose was thus joyfully 
anticipating a victory which, he flattered him- 
self, would be crowned with results the most 
favourable to the royal cause, an incident 
occurred which might have proved fatal to his 
hopes, had he not, with that wonderful self- 
possession and consummate prudence for which 
ho was so distinguished, turned that very in- 
cident to his own advantage. Among the 
covenanting cavalry was a regiment of cuiras- 
siers, the appearance of whose armour, glitter- 
ing in the sun, struck such terror into Mon- 
trose's horse, that they hesitated about engag- 
ing with such formidable antagonists, and, 
while riiling along the lino to encourage his 
men and give the necessary directions, Mon- 
troso heard his cavalry muttering among them- 
selves and complaining that they were now 
for the first time to fight with men clad in 
iron, whose bodies would be quite impenetra- 
ble to their swords. When the terror of a foe 
has once taken hold of the mind, it can only 
be sufficiently eradicated by supplanting it 
with a feeling of contempt for the object of its 
dread, and no man was better fitted by nature 
than Montrose for inspiring such a feeling into 
the minds of his troops. Accordingly, scarcely 
had the murmurings of his cavalry broken 
upon his ears, when he rode up to the head of 
his cavalry, and (pointing to the cuirassiers) 
thus addressed his men: " Gentlemen, these 
are the same men you beat at Alford, that ran 
away from you at Auldearn, Tippermuir, &c. ; 
they are such cowardly rascals that their offi- 
cers could not bring them to look you in the 
face till they had clad them in armour; to 
show our contempt of them we'll fight them 
in our shirts." 4 No sooner had these words 
been uttered, when, to add to the impression 
they could not fail to produce, Montrose threw 
off his coat and waistcoat, and, drawin