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Title: The Scottish Highlands, Highland Clans and Highland Regiments, Volume I (of 2) - On the Basis of Browne's "History of the Highlands and Clans," but Entirely Re-Modelled and to a Large Extent Re-Written
Author: Sir John Scott Keltie, - To be updated
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Scottish Highlands, Highland Clans and Highland Regiments, Volume I (of 2) - On the Basis of Browne's "History of the Highlands and Clans," but Entirely Re-Modelled and to a Large Extent Re-Written" ***

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available by Internet Archive (https://archive.org)

      This volume originally was printed as four separate books
      (see transcriber's note below). Images of the original
      pages are available through Internet Archive.
      Book 1, pages 1-208:
      Book 2, pages 209-416:
      Book 3, pages 417-608:
      Book 4, pages 609-776:

Transcriber’s note:

      This is Volume I of a two-volume set. The second volume can

      This 1875 edition originally was published in eight separate
      books as a subscription publication. The Preface, Title
      pages, Tables of Contents and Lists of Illustrations (the
      Front Matter) were published in the final eighth book, and
      referenced books 1-4 as Volume I, and books 5-8 as Volume II.
      This etext follows the same two-volume structure. The
      relevant Front Matter has been moved to the front of each
      volume, and some illustrations have been moved to where the
      two Lists of Illustrations indicate they should be. No text
      was added or changed when the books were seamlessly joined
      to make Volume I and Volume II.

      The Index, at the end of Volume II in the original books, has
      been copied and placed at the end of this first volume as well.

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      Footnote anchors are denoted by [number], and the footnotes
      have been placed at the end of each chapter.

      A caret character is used to denote superscription. A
      single character following the caret is superscripted
      (example: 93^D). Multiple superscripted characters are
      enclosed by curly brackets (example: 71^{ST}).

      Some tables in the original book had } or { bracketing in
      some cells. These brackets are not helpful in the etext
      tables and in most cases have been removed to improve
      readability and save table space.

      Many minor changes to the text are noted at the end of the





  One of the Editors of the “Dean of Lismore’s Book,” Author of
  “The Early Scottish Church,” &c.;



During the last thirty years, the patriotic labours of the various
Scottish book-clubs,--The Abbotsford, The Bannatyne, The Iona, The
Maitland, The Spalding Clubs--the works of the various eminent
Scottish antiquaries and historians, not to mention many valuable
papers and pamphlets, have not only subjected everything connected
with the history of the Highlands to an unsparing and searching
criticism, but have also brought to light many new facts, and opened
up formerly unthought-of tracks of inquiry. Such a flood of light
has thus been thrown on all matters connected with the Highlands,
that the publishers feel BROWNE’S _History of the Highlands and
Clans_,--the work on which this publication is to a certain extent
based,--has fallen behind the age, and that, to keep pace with the
advanced state of historical research, a NEW WORK IS DEMANDED.
Therefore, in preparing the work now presented to the public, it
has been found necessary to make such extensive alterations and
additions, that the publishers feel justified in calling it a NEW

The work is divided into three sections:--





The whole of this part has been THOROUGHLY REVISED, RE-MODELLED,
and to a great extent RE-WRITTEN. All the introductory chapters
relating to the PRIMITIVE HISTORY of the Highlands, are NEW, and in
them are treated the much controverted questions as to the PICTS
points connected with the early SOCIAL and POLITICAL CONDITION of the
the Highlands, the ANCIENT MANNERS and CUSTOMS of their people,
SUPERSTITIONS, and other interesting antiquarian matters, have been
taken advantage of.

As to the rest of this portion of the work, while whatever had no
connection with Highland history has been expunged, much new matter
has been added in order to make the general narrative COMPLETE and
AUTHENTIC. When, at a later period of their history, the Highlanders
become a potent element in the settlement of many great disputes,
it has been sought to make the reader understand clearly the part
they thus took in the stirring and momentous transactions of the
times. As examples of these we need only mention here the CIVIL WARS
in which MONTROSE so often led on the Highland army to victory: the
Revolution disputes, culminating in KILLIECRANKIE: the unfortunate
insurrections of ’15 and ’45, which, but for the romantic enthusiasm
of the Highlanders, would never have been even commenced.

In writing these chapters ample use has been made of the various
club-publications above referred to, the latest of which, THE BOOK OF
DEER, issued by the Spalding Club, edited by Dr. Stuart, has proved
of great service in throwing light on the EARLY SOCIAL AND POLITICAL
CONDITION of the Highlands, as well as on the STATE and CONSTITUTION
of the EARLY SCOTTISH CHURCH. Among modern Scottish historians and
antiquarians whose labours have been taken advantage of in this
part of the work, we may mention the names of George Chalmers, W.
F. Skene, Joseph Robertson, Daniel Wilson, Mr. Gregory, John Hill
Burton, E. W. Robertson, James Logan, Cosmo Innes, George Grub, Dr.
Maclauchlan, and Colonel Forbes-Leslie: this last gentleman has been
kind enough to place at our disposal some of the cuts which adorn his
valuable work, _The Early Races of Scotland_. Besides these, books
and documents, ancient and modern, too numerous to detail here, have
been consulted.

To the GAELIC LANGUAGE and LITERATURE, which, in the old work,
possibly from lack of material, were treated in rather a summary
manner, a prominent place has been given. Since the publication of
_The Dean of Lismore’s Book_, and other works on this interesting
subject, there can be no complaint of lack of material; and so
much importance do the publishers attach to the literature of the
Highlands, that they have entered into an arrangement with the Rev.
Thomas Maclauchlan, LL.D., F.S.A.S.--one of the editors of _The
Dean of Lismore’s Book_, and one of the most eminent living Gaelic
scholars--to write an entirely new account of this subject, into
which will be introduced copious examples of genuine old GAELIC

In the course of the work will be given the late PROFESSOR WILSON’S
celebrated ESSAY ON HIGHLAND SCENERY, of which the copyright belongs
to the publishers.


In any history of the Highlands, an account of the CLANS ought to
occupy a place of the first importance, and in the present work,
the GREATER PART OF THE SECOND VOLUME is devoted to this part of
the subject. Every point of interest connected with this peculiar
social system has been noticed:--the ORIGIN OF THE CLAN-SYSTEM, the
relation of the chief to the general body of the clan, the various
CLAN-DIGNITIES and OFFICES and the duties which belonged to each,
the PECULIAR CUSTOMS to which the system gave rise, the difference
between CLANSHIP and the FEUDAL SYSTEM, and the influence it had
on the progress of the Highlands and on the rest of Scotland. In
short, no pains have been spared to enable the reader to form a clear
idea of all the ‘outs and ins’ of this primitive system of social

After this introductory matter, a DETAILED ACCOUNT is given of EACH
SEPARATE CLAN which has any claim to be considered Highland. THE
ORIGIN OF EACH CLAN, as far as possible, has been traced back to its
FOUNDER, and its claim to be considered purely Gaelic discussed; its
history is traced through all its branches and offshoots down to the
present day; the part it took in the various clan strifes, in the
disputes between the Highlands and Lowlands, and in the general wars
of Scotland, is set forth. Every link in the genealogical chain has
been carefully traced, and those chiefs and other members of a clan
who took a more prominent part in the affairs of the time, have their
lives given in considerable detail. Appended to the account of each
clan are its ARMORIAL BEARINGS, a description of its CLAN-TARTAN,
the name of its BADGE, its peculiar war-cry or SLOGAN, its estimated
STRENGTH, and its PRINCIPAL SEAT. In addition to the authorities
above referred to, the works of Smibert, Logan, Stewart, and others,
as well as the separate histories of those clans that are fortunate
enough to have such, this division of the work is greatly indebted
to the original researches of the late Mr. Anderson, author of the
_Scottish Nation_, whose examination of many ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS and
FAMILY RECORDS brought to light many facts connected with the history
of the Highland clans, never before made public.


The HISTORY OF THESE REGIMENTS is to a great extent the HISTORY
OF BRITAIN’S BATTLES for more than a century past; and the great
military glory which our country has acquired, has been owing, in no
HIGH MORALE. In the part of the work devoted to this subject, it has
been sought faithfully to record not only the noble services rendered
to its country in past times by each regiment in every engagement
in which it took part, but also the brave deeds performed by many
individual Highland soldiers.

With regard to the later history of the Highland regiments, it
has been sought to render this complete and perfectly reliable by
applying, for direct information, to the COLONEL OF EACH EXISTING
REGIMENT; and in every case the publishers have met with the greatest
courtesy and willingness to lend all assistance. In addition to
this, of course, every accessible published work on the subject
has been consulted, including the host of books called forth by the
Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the above statements it will be seen that in no other single
publication is it possible to obtain SUCH VARIED and VALUABLE
INFORMATION on ALL POINTS OF INTEREST connected with the Scottish
Highlands--their HISTORY, their ANTIQUITIES, their CLANS, their
LITERATURE, their MILITARY ANNALS. No pains have been spared to make


Besides clan-tartans, the work will be richly embellished with
autographs, seals, armorial bearings, objects of antiquarian
interest, and many views and portraits on wood and steel, all taken
from original or other authentic sources, and executed in the first
style of art.

The publishers have spared no pains to obtain original and genuine
portraits, and to have them faithfully and beautifully reproduced;
and they owe their sincere thanks to those noblemen and gentlemen
connected with the Highlands who have allowed them access to their
valuable family collections, in order to obtain copies of such
original portraits as were required for the work. Many of these
portraits have never before been engraved. The publishers would
especially mention here the valuable miniature portrait of Prince
Charles Edward Stuart in Highland costume, which has been in
possession of the Lochiel family for generations, and which has been
kindly placed at their disposal by the present representative of the
family, Donald Cameron, Esq., M.P. for Inverness-shire. It has the
merit of being a faithful likeness, and will be engraved by Holl of

Many of the views, illustrative both of the events narrated in the
history and of the rich and romantic Highland scenery, are from
photographs and drawings taken specially for the work. Others,
consisting chiefly of views of towns and fortresses taken at or
near the time of the events they are intended to illustrate, are
copied from the rare and valuable work of John Slezer, entitled
_Theatrum Scotiæ_, published at the end of the 17th century. The
facts that Slezer was a military engineer, and that he was appointed
by government to survey the chief towns and strongholds of Scotland,
are sufficient guarantees of the faithfulness of these views.


  This work will be published in Twenty-five parts, price Two
  Shillings each, size super-imperial 8vo. It will also be issued
  in Eight Divisions, rich cloth, price 7s. 6d. each. It will form,
  when completed, Two handsome Volumes, with Thirty specimens of
  authentic Clan-Tartans, beautifully executed in colour, and
  Twenty other page plates, including Map of Clan Territories,
  besides about Two Hundred illustrative wood engravings.















  VOL. I.



No apology is deemed necessary for bringing this History of the
Scottish Highlands before the public. A work under a similar title
was brought out by the present publishers upwards of thirty years
ago, under the care of Dr. James Browne, and met with a sale so
extensive and sustained as to prove that it supplied a real want.

Since the publication of Browne’s History, which it is only the
simple truth to say had no rival, research has brought to light
so much that is new connected both with the general history of
the Highlands and the history of the various clans, and so many
new laurels have been added to those already won by the Highland
regiments during the past century, and the early part of the present,
that the publishers believed the time had come for the preparation
and issue of a new work.

In preparing it, the editor has done all in his power to make it
complete and accurate. The object of Dr. Browne’s work was to
present in one book all that is interesting and valuable concerning
the Highlands and Highlanders, a great deal of information on this
subject having lain scattered in various quarters inaccessible to
the general public. In the preparation of the present work this
object has been kept steadily in view; and it may be said of it,
with even more force than of Browne’s, that it is a _collectanea_ of
information concerning the Scottish Highlands of an extent and kind
to be met with in no other single publication.

The general plan of Dr. Browne’s work has been adhered to. In the
First Part, that dealing with the General History of the Highlands,
which, from the nature of the case, is more a chronicle of clan
battles than a homogeneous history, it has been found possible, as
might have been expected, to retain much of Browne’s text. This,
however, has been subjected to a careful revision and comparison with
the original authorities, as well as with the many new ones that
have been brought to light during the past thirty years. Moreover,
many portions throughout this section have been rewritten, and
considerable additions made. One of the largest and most important
of these is the continuation of the General History from 1745 down
to the present day. The editor felt that, so far as the social
history of the Highlands is concerned, the period embraced in the
past hundred years was of even more importance than any previous
time; he has therefore attempted to do what, so far as he knows, has
not been done before, to present a sketch of the progress of the
Highlands during that period. For this purpose he has had to consult
a multitude of sources, and weigh many conflicting statements, his
aim being simply to discover and tell the truth. Such matters have
been gone into as Depopulation, Emigration, Agriculture, Large and
Small Farms, Sheep and Deer, Fishing, Manufactures, Education, &c. It
is hoped, therefore, that the First Part of the work will be found to
contain a complete account of the Highlands, historical, antiquarian,
and social.

An original and important feature of this part of the work is a
history of the Gaelic Language and Literature, by the well known
Celtic scholar, the Rev. T. Maclauchlan, LL.D., F.S.A. Scot.

In the Second Part, relating to the History of the Highland Clans,
it will be found that, in the case of every clan, modifications and
additions have been made. In some instances the histories have been
entirely rewritten, and several border clans have been included that
were not noticed in Browne’s work. The history of each clan, has,
as far as possible, been traced from its founder through all the
branches and offshoots down to the present day; the part it took in
the various clan strifes, in the disputes between the Highlands and
Lowlands, and in the general wars of Scotland, being set forth. In
the case of most of the clans, gentlemen who have made a special
study of particular clan histories have kindly revised the proofs.

The Third Part, the History of the Highland Regiments, occupies a
prominent place in the present work. Of these regiments one-half have
had their complete history published now for the first time, and in
the case of the others so many changes and additions have been made,
that this part of the work may be considered as entirely new. The
history of each of the nine regiments which now rank as Highland
has been gone into from its embodiment, and the trustworthiness of
this unique body of military history may be inferred from the fact,
that, in the case of every regiment, it is founded upon the original
Regimental Record, supplemented in many instances by the diaries
and recollections of officers; and in two cases, at least, as will
be seen, by materials collected by officers who have made a special
study of their regimental histories. The general reader will find
this part of the work of very great interest.

With regard to the Illustrations, the publishers feel justified in
alluding to them with considerable pride. No attempt has been made
to make the present work a mere picture-book; it will be invariably
found that the numerous plates, woodcuts, and clan-tartans either
add interest to the text, or throw light upon it. Every effort has
been made to secure authentic portraits and original views, and to
have every illustration executed in a thoroughly artistic style; and
it is hoped that, in these respects, the exertions of the editor
and publishers have been crowned with success. The specimens of
clan-tartans represent in every case those recognised by the heads of
the various clans. The illustrations, therefore, will be found both
historically and artistically valuable.

Throughout this work the editor has endeavoured to acknowledge the
authorities which he has in any way made use of. Were he to mention
the names of the numerous individuals to whom he has been indebted
for assistance during its preparation, it would add very considerably
to the length of this preface; in his own name and that of the
publishers, he expresses sincere gratitude to all who have in any
way lent a helping hand. Special thanks, however, are due to the
Duke of Athole for assistance in various ways, and particularly for
permission to engrave the portrait of Lord George Murray; to Lady
Elizabeth Pringle for the portrait of the first Earl of Breadalbane,
and to Mrs. Campbell of Monzie for that of the “Gentle Lochiel,”--all
published in this work for the first time. As mentioned in the text,
the beautiful miniature of “Prince Charlie” is copied from the
original in possession of Donald Cameron, Esq. of Lochiel, who has
also lent assistance in other ways. The originals of other valuable
illustrations, as will be seen, have been kindly placed at the
publishers’ service by the Duke of Sutherland, the Duke of Richmond,
the Earl of Strathmore, the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, The
Mackintosh, The Chisholm, Duncan Forbes, Esq. of Culloden, David
Laing, Esq., LL.D., James Drummond, Esq., R.S.A., and many others.

The editor has in the proper place in the text referred to the
assistance given him in connection with the important history of
“Clan Chattan” by Alexander Mackintosh Shaw, Esq., whose own history
of the clan is nearly completed; the narrative in the present work
owes its value almost entirely to his kindness. For assistance in the
history of this clan the editor was also indebted to the late Rev. W.
G. Shaw of Forfar.

To the Colonels-commanding of all the Highland regiments special
thanks are due for hearty co-operation in procuring material for the
Third Part of the work. Many other officers have, with the greatest
readiness, either volunteered assistance or given it when asked. In
this connection special mention must be made of Lieutenant-Colonels
Wheatley, Clephane, and Sprot, Captain Colin Mackenzie, and Captain

The large and increasing demand for this work during its publication,
and the extremely favourable notices of the press, afford good
grounds for believing that it will be found to fulfil the purpose for
which it has been compiled. May it ever meet with a kindly welcome
from all who are in any way interested in the romantic Highlands of








        I. B.C. 55.-A.D. 446.--Highlands defined--Ancient
           Scotland--Transactions of the Romans in the North of
           Scotland--Roman Remains--Roads--Camps,                     1

       II. B.C. 55.-A.D. 446.--Early Inhabitants--Roman
           Writers--Aristotle--Tacitus--Internal History of the
           Highlands during the Time of the Romans,                  16

      III. A.D. 446-843.--Early History--Settlement of the Scots
           in Scotland--Conversion of Picts--Druidism--St Columba
           --Iona--Spread of Christianity,                           32

       IV. A.D. 843-1107.--Norse Invasions--Danes--Effect of
           Norwegian Conquest--Influx of Anglo-Saxons--Table of
           Scottish Kings, A.D. 843 to 1097,                         48

        V. A.D. 1107-1411.--Insurrections--Intestine Feuds
           --Expedition of Haco--Battle of Largs--Robert Bruce
           --Lord of the Isles invades Scotland--Battle of Harlaw,   59

       VI. A.D. 1424-1512.--Policy of James I. to the Highland
           Chiefs--Disturbances in Sutherland and Caithness--Wise
           Policy of James IV.--Battle of Flodden,                   71

      VII. A.D. 1516-1588.--Doings in Sutherland--Dissensions
           among the Clan Chattan--The “Field of Shirts”--The
           Queen-Regent visits the Highlands--Queen Mary’s
           Expedition against Huntly--Unruly State of North, &c.,    80

     VIII. A.D. 1588-1601.--Strife between Earls of Caithness
           and Sutherland--Clan Feuds,                              102

       IX. A.D. 1602-1613.--Feud between the Colquhouns and
           Macgregors--Lawless Proceedings in Sutherland--Other
           Clan Feuds,                                              113

        X. A.D. 1613-1623.--Clan Feuds--Reduction and Pacification
           of Caithness,                                            128

       XI. A.D. 1624-1636.--Insurrections--Disputes--Feuds--First
           Marquis of Huntly,                                       148

      XII. A.D. 1636-1644.--Charles I. attempts to introduce
           Episcopacy into Scotland--Doings in the North--Earl of
           Montrose--Covenanters--Battle of Tippermuir,             165

     XIII. A.D. 1644 (September)-1645 (February).--Montrose
           crosses the Tay, and his movements in the North, till
           Battle of Inverlochy,                                    186

      XIV. A.D. 1645 (February-September).--Montrose’s movements
           in the North--at Inverness, Elgin, Banff, Aberdeen,
           Stonehaven, Perth, Dundee, &c.--Montrose enters Glasgow
           --Submission of Edinburgh--Battle of Philiphaugh,        200

       XV. A.D. 1645-1649.--Huntly refuses to join Montrose
           --Executions by the Covenanters--Meeting of the
           Covenanting Parliament--Montrose disbands his Army
           --Proceedings of General Leslie--Leslie in the Western
           Isles--Cromwell arrives in Edinburgh--Execution of
           Charles I.,                                              234

      XVI. A.D. 1649-1650.--Negotiations with Charles II.
           --Proceedings of Montrose--Pluscardine’s Insurrection
           --Montrose defeated at Carbisdale--Captured, and sent
           to Edinburgh--Trial and Execution,                       260

     XVII. A.D. 1650-1660.--Charles II. in Scotland--Cromwell
           invades Scotland--Battle of Dunbar--Flight of the
           King--Insurrections in the Highlands--Proceedings of
           Cromwell--Battle of Worcester--Operations of Monk in
           Scotland--Cameron of Lochiel--State of the Country
           --Restoration of Charles II,                             278

    XVIII. Character of Ancient Highlanders, Manners, Customs, &c.
           Appendix to Chapter XVIII.--Highland Dress and Arms,     298

      XIX. A.D. 1660-1689.--Execution of the Marquis of Argyll
           --Argyll and Monmouth’s Invasion--Execution of Earl
           of Argyll--Designs of the Prince of Orange--Proceedings
           of King James--State of feeling in Scotland--Viscount
           Dundee,                                                  331

       XX. A.D. 1689 (March-July).--General Hugh Mackay--Details
           of Dundee’s Insurrection till his Death at
           Killiecrankie--His Character,                            350

      XXI. A.D. 1689-1691.--General Mackay’s movements--Colonel
           Cannon--The Cameronians at Dunkeld--Erection of
           Fort-William--Cessation of Hostilities,                  378

     XXII. A.D. 1691-1702.--Negotiations with the Highland Chiefs
           --Massacre of Glencoe--Master of Stair--King William III.
           --Subsequent enquiry--State of Highlands during
           William’s reign--Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat,               394

    XXIII. A.D. 1695-1714.--The Darien Bubble--Death of James II.
           --Death of King William--The Union--Proceedings of the
           Jacobites--Death of Queen Anne,                          407

     XXIV. A.D. 1714-1715.--Proceedings of the Whigs--The Chevalier
          de St George--Arrival of George I. in England--Jacobite
          Intrigues--The Earl of Mar,                               420

      XXV. A.D. 1715.--Measures of the Government--Attempt to
           surprise Edinburgh Castle--Duke of Argyll appointed to
           the command of the Government forces--Proceedings of
           Mar--Rebels march into England--Battle of Preston,       431

     XXVI. A.D. 1715-1716.--Earl of Mar--Battle of Sheriffmuir
           --Dispersion of the Insurgents,                          456

    XXVII. A.D. 1716-1737.--Trial and Execution of Rebels
           --Proceedings of General Cadogan in the Highlands--Act
           of Grace--Disarming of the Highlanders--New Jacobite
           Conspiracy--Bolingbroke--The Disarming Act--Disgrace
           of the Earl of Mar--The Chevalier’s Domestic affairs
           --Death of George I.,                                    476

   XXVIII. A.D. 1739-1745.--Foreign Intrigues--Edinburgh
           Association--Jacobite Intrigues--Prince Charles Edward
           resolves to invade Scotland,                             502

     XXIX. A.D. 1745.--Prince Charles’ landing--He raises his
           standard--Manifesto,                                     511

      XXX. A.D. 1745.--Conduct of the Government--Sir John Cope
           --Prince Charles at Perth--The Prince marches South
           --Alarm in Edinburgh--Municipal Intrigues,               527

     XXXI. A.D. 1745.--Highlanders Capture Edinburgh--Prince
           Charles at Holyrood--The Chevalier de St George
           proclaimed--Battle of Prestonpans,                       540

    XXXII. A.D. 1745.--Prince Charles’ proceedings at Edinburgh
           --Resolves to invade England,                            566

   XXXIII. A.D. 1745.--Plan of the march of the Rebels into
           England--Composition of the Highland Army--March of
           Prince Charles into England--Proceedings there
           --Consternation at London--Retreat into Scotland,        584

    XXXIV. A.D. 1745-1746.--Highland Army returns to Scotland
           --Proceedings of the Jacobites in the North
           --Proceedings till Battle of Falkirk,                    611

     XXXV. A.D. 1746.--Duke of Cumberland sent to Scotland
           --Highland Army’s Retreat to the North--Expedition of
           Lord George Murray into Athole,                          630

    XXXVI. A.D. 1746.--Duke of Cumberland marches North--Battle
           of Culloden--Apprehension of Lord Lovat and others
           --Suppression of the Rebellion,                          648

   XXXVII. A.D. 1746.--Prince Charles’ Wanderings and Narrow
           Escapes--Arrives in France,                              683

  XXXVIII. A.D. 1746-1747.--Trial of Prisoners--Execution of
           Lords Kilmarnock, Cromarty, Balmerino, and Lovat--Act
           of Indemnity,                                            722

    XXXIX. A.D. 1747-1748.--Prince Charles’ arrival in Paris--His
           Treatment of Lord George Murray--His Advisers,
           Difficulties, and Plans,                                 738

       XL. A.D. 1748-PRESENT TIME.--Charles visits London--Arrest
           and Execution of Dr Cameron--Death of the Chevalier
           --Marriage of Charles--His death--Death of Cardinal
           York--Descendants of the Stewarts,                       753

      XLI. Proceedings which followed Culloden--Influence of Clan
           feeling--Disarming Act--The Old Jacobites--Queen
           Victoria--Jacobitism at the Present Day,                 762



  Subject.                              Painted by
                        Engraved by                                Page

  PRINCE CHARLES EDWARD STUART,         From Lochiel’s Original Miniature,
                        W. Holl,                          To face title.

  THE GREAT MARQUIS OF MONTROSE,        From a Rare Contemporary Print,
                        W. Holl,                                    271

  VIEW OF KILLIECRANKIE,                D. O. Hill,
                        W. Forrest,                                 369

    AT KILLIECRANKIE,            }      Original Drawing,
                        J. R. Collie,                               376

    SHERIFFMUIR,             }          J. C. Brown,
                        John Smith,                                 464

  JAMES STUART, “THE CHEVALIER,”        From an Original Painting,
                        W. Holl,                                    469

  JOHN ERSKINE, 11TH EARL OF MAR,       Sir G. Kneller,
                        S. Freeman,                                 498

  VIEW OF LOCH SHIEL, with Monument }
    on the spot where Prince        }
    Charles Edward first raised his }
    Standard, 19th August 1745,     }   John Fleming,
                        W. Forrest,                                 523

  WILLIAM, DUKE OF CUMBERLAND,          Sir Joshua Reynolds,
                        J. Le Conte,                                631

  VIEW OF BALMORAL,                     Sam Bough,
                        W. Forrest,                                 775


  MACINTYRE,                                              58
  MACNEILL,                 see page 162 Vol. II.,        74
  ROSS,                         ”    235    ”             78
  MACLEAN,                      ”    223    ”             99
  MACKENZIE,}                   ”    191    ”            112
  STUART,                       ”    297    ”            186
  MUNRO,                        ”    232    ”            258
  SUTHERLAND,               see page 272 Vol. II.,       266
  CAMERON OF LOCHIEL,           ”    217    ”            296
  MACPHERSON (full dress),      ”    210    ”            380
  ROBERTSON,                    ”    169    ”            411
  MACFARLANE,                   ”    173    ”            527
  FRASER,                       ”    302    ”            606
  MACKINNON,                    ”    256    ”            702
  CHISHOLM,                     ”    307    ”            713


  1. Representation of an ancient Caledonian on Sculptured Stone
       in the Church of Meigle,                                       4
  2. Representation of an ancient Caledonian on Sculptured Stone
     found at St Andrews,                                             4
  3. Ancient British War-chariot,                                     6
  4. Map and Profile of Antonine’s Wall,                             10
  5. Sculptured Stone, with inscription, from Antonine’s Wall,       11
  6. Sketch Plan of the Roman Camp at Ardoch in 1755,                15
  7. Stonehenge,                                                     36
  8. Circle of Callernish in Lewis,                                  37
  9. Ruins of Ancient Monastery, Iona,                               38
  10. Seal of King Edgar (1097-1107),                                56
  11. Alexander III.,                                                62
  12. Effigy of the “Wolf of Badenoch” in Dunkeld Cathedral,         68
  13. James I. (of Scotland),                                        73
  14. Old Castle of Dunrobin, as in 1712,                            83
  15. Castle Duart,                                                  98
  16. Dornoch, showing the Cathedral, &c.,                          117
  17. Stornoway Castle,                                             120
  18. Castles Sinclair and Girnigo,                                 125
  19. Dunyveg Castle, Islay,                                        130
  20. Frendraught House,                                            156
  21. First Marquis of Huntly,                                      163
  22. First Marchioness of Huntly,                                  163
  23. First Marquis of Argyll,                                      178
  24. Inverlochy Castle,                                            199
  25. Dunnottar Castle in the 17th Century,                         205
  26. Perth in the 17th Century,                                    220
  27. Old Aberdeen in the 17th Century,                             246
  28. Second Marquis of Huntly,                                     254
  29. General David Leslie,                                         264
  30. Castle of Ardvraick,                                          269
  31. William, Ninth Earl of Glencairn,                             292
  32. Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel,                                  296
  33. The Scottish “Maiden,” devised by Regent Morton,              333
  34. Ninth Earl of Argyle,                                         339
  35. John Graham, Viscount Dundee,                                 351
  36. General Hugh Mackay of Scourie,                               361
  37. Pass of Killiecrankie in the 18th Century,                    375
  38. Dunkeld in the 17th Century,                                  384
  39. First Earl of Breadalbane,                                    394
  40. View of Glencoe,                                              400
  41. Edinburgh Castle in 1715,                                     432
  42. Inverness in the 17th Century,                                456
  43. Dunblane about 1715,                                          460
  44. Second Duke of Argyll,                                        472
  45. Fort Augustus,                                                485
  46. Lieutenant General Wade,                                      491
  47. Donald Cameron of Lochiel, “The Gentle Chief,” 1745,          519
  48. Autograph of Sir John Cope,                                   531
  49. Holyrood House in 1745,                                       550
  50. Plan of the Battle of Prestonpans, 21st Sept. 1745,           561
  51. Colonel James Gardiner,                                       563
  52. Colonel Gardiner’s House, near Prestonpans,                   566
  53. The Duke of Perth,                                            586
  54. Carlisle in 1745,                                             604
  55. Stirling about A.D. 1700,                                     616
  56. Plan of the Battle of Falkirk, 17th January 1746,             624
  57. Lady Anne Mackintosh, 1745,                                   637
  58. Blair Castle, as it stood in 1745-6 before being dismantled,  643
  59. Old Culloden House as in 1746,                                657
  60. Plan of the Battle of Culloden, 16th April 1746,              661
  61. Lord George Murray,                                           672
  62. Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord President,                    679
  63. Flora Macdonald (with her autograph), 1747,                   690
  64. Loch Arkaig, with view of Achnacarry, the seat of Cameron
        of Lochiel,                                                 709
  65. Dr. Archibald Cameron, 1745,                                  718
  66. Simon, Lord Lovat, 1747,                                      734
  67. A Representation of the Execution of Lord Lovat,              737
  68. Henry, Cardinal Duke of York,                                 745
  70.} Medal, Prince Charles and his Wife Louisa,                   753
  71. Prince Charles Edward Stuart as in 1776,                      758
  73.} Medal of Henry, Cardinal Duke of York,                       760






In no other country does Nature exhibit herself in more various
forms of beauty and sublimity than in the north of England and the
Highlands of Scotland. This is acknowledged by all who, having
studied their character, and become familiar with the feelings it
inspires, have compared the effects produced on their minds by our
own mountainous regions, with what they have experienced among the
scenery of the Alps. There, indeed, all objects are on so vast a
scale, that we are for a while astonished as we gaze on the gigantic;
and all other emotions are sunk in an overwhelming sense of awe that
prostrates the imagination. But on recovering from its subjection to
the prodigious, that faculty everywhere recognises in those mighty
mountains of dark forests, glittering glaciers, and regions of
eternal snow--infinite all--the power and dominion of the sublime.
True that all these are but materials for the mind to work on, and
that to its creative energy Nature owes much of that grandeur which
seems to be inherent in her own forms; yet surely she in herself is
great, and there is a regality belonging of divine right to such a
monarch as Mont Blanc.

Those are the very regions of sublimity, and if brought into
immediate comparison with them in their immense magnitude, the most
magnificent scenery of our own country would no doubt seem to lose
its character of greatness. But such is not the process of the
imagination in her intercourse with Nature. To her, sufficient for
the day is the good thereof; and on each new glorious sight being
shown to her eyes, she employs her God-given power to magnify or
irradiate what she beholds, without diminishing or obscuring what
she remembers. Thus, to her all things in nature hold their own due
place, and retain for ever their own due impressions, aggrandized and
beautified by mutual reaction in those visionary worlds, which by a
thought she can create, and which, as they arise, are all shadowy
representations of realities--new compositions in which the image of
the earth we tread is reflected fairer or greater than any realities,
but not therefore less, but more true to the spirit of nature. It
is thus that poets and painters at once obey and control their own
inspirations. They visit all the regions of the earth, but to love,
admire, and adore; and the greatest of them all, native to our soil,
from their travel or sojourn in foreign lands, have always brought
home a clearer insight into the character of the scenery of their
own, a profounder affection for it all, and a higher power of imaging
its attributes in colours or in words. In our poetry, more than in
any other, Nature sees herself reflected in a magic mirror; and
though many a various show passes processionally along its lustre,
displaying the scenery of “lands and seas, whatever clime the sun’s
bright circle warms,” among them all there are none more delightful
or elevating to behold than those which genius, inspired by love, has
framed of the imagery, which, in all her pomp and prodigality, Heaven
has been pleased to shower, through all seasons, on our own beautiful
island. It is not for us to say whether our native painters, or the
“old masters,” have shown the greatest genius in landscape; but if
the palm must be yielded to them whose works have been consecrated
by a reverence, as often, perhaps, superstitious as religious, we do
not fear to say, that their superiority is not to be attributed in
any degree to the scenery on which they exercised the art its beauty
had inspired. Whatever may be the associations connected with the
subjects of their landscapes--and we know not why they should be
higher or holier than those belonging to innumerable places in our
own land--assuredly in themselves they are not more interesting or
impressive; nay, though none who have shared with us the spirit of
the few imperfect sentences we have now written, will for a moment
suppose us capable of instituting an invidious comparison between our
own scenery and that of any other country, why should we hesitate to
assert that our own storm-loving Northern Isle is equally rich in all
kinds of beauty as the Sunny South, and richer far in all kinds of
grandeur, whether we regard the forms or colouring of nature--earth,
sea, or air--

      “Or all the dread magnificence of heaven.”

What other region in all the world like that of the Lakes in the
north of England! And yet how the true lover of nature, while he
carries along with him its delightful character in his heart, and
can so revive any spot of especial beauty in his imagination, as
that it shall seem in an instant to be again before his very eyes,
can deliver himself up, after the lapse of a day, to the genius of
some savage scene in the Highlands of Scotland, rent and riven by
the fury of some wild sea-loch! Not that the regions do not resemble
one another, but surely the prevailing spirit of the one--not so of
the other--is a spirit of joy and of peace. Her mountains, invested,
though they often be, in gloom--and we have been more than once
benighted during day, as a thunder-cloud thickened the shadows that
for ever sleep in the deepest dungeons of Helvellyn--are yet--so it
seems to us--such mountains as in nature ought to belong to “merry
England.” They boldly meet the storms, and seen in storms you might
think they loved the trouble; but pitch your tent among them, and
you will feel that theirs is a grandeur that is congenial with the
sunshine, and that their spirit fully rejoices in the brightness of
light. In clear weather, verdant from base to summit, how majestic
their repose! And as mists slowly withdraw themselves in thickening
folds up along their sides, the revelation made is still of more
and more of the beautiful--arable fields below, then coppice woods
studded with standard trees--enclosed pastures above and among the
woods--broad breasts of close-nibbled herbage here and there adorned
by rich dyed rocks, that do not break the expanse--till the whole
veil has disappeared; and, lo! the long lofty range, with its wavy
line, rising and sinking so softly in the blue serenity, perhaps,
of an almost cloudless sky. Yet though we have thus characterised
the mountains by what we have always felt to be the pervading spirit
of the region, chasms and ravines, and cliffs and precipices, are
there; in some places you see such assemblages as inspire the fear
that quakes at the heart, when suddenly struck in the solitude with
a sense of the sublime; and though we have called the mountains
green--and during Spring and Summer, in spite of frost or drought,
they are green as emerald--yet in Autumn they are many-coloured, and
are girdled with a glow of variegated light, that at sunset sometimes
seems like fire kindled in the woods.

The larger Vales are all serene and cheerful; and among the sylvan
knolls with which their wide levels, highly cultivated, are
interspersed, cottages, single or in groups, are frequent, of an
architecture always admirably suited to the scenery, because in a
style suggested not by taste or fancy, which so often disfigure
nature to produce the picturesque, but resorted to for sake of the
uses and conveniences of in-door life, to weather-fend it in storms,
and in calm to give it the enjoyment of sunshine. Many of these
dwellings are not what are properly called cottages, but statesmen’s
houses, of ample front, with their many roofs, over-shadowed by a
stately grove, and inhabited by the same race for many generations.
All alike have their suitable gardens, and the porches of the poorest
are often clustered with roses; for everywhere among these hills,
even in minds the most rude and uncultivated, there is a natural love
of flowers. The villages, though somewhat too much modernised in
those days of improvement--and indeed not a few of them with hardly
any remains now of their original architecture--nothing old about
them but the church tower, perhaps the parsonage--are nevertheless
generally of a pleasing character, and accordant, if not with the
great features of nature, which are unchanged and unchangeable, with
the increased cultivation of the country, and the many villas and
ornamented cottages that have risen and are rising by every lake and
river side. Rivers indeed, properly so called, there are none among
these mountains; but every vale, great and small, has at all times
its pure and undefiled stream or rivulet; every hill has its hundreds
of evanescent rills, almost every one its own perennial torrent
flowing from spring, marsh, or tarn; and the whole region is often
alive with waterfalls, of many of which, in its exquisite loveliness,
the scenery is fit for fairy festivals--and of many, in its horrid
gloom, for gatherings of gnomes revisiting “the glimpses of the
moon” from their subterraneous prisons. One lake there is, which
has been called “wooded Winandermere, the river lake;” and there is
another--Ulswater--which you might imagine to be a river too, and to
have come flowing from afar; the one excelling in isles, and bays,
and promontories, serene and gentle all, and perfectly beautiful; the
other, matchless in its majesty of cliff and mountain, and in its old
forests, among whose hoary gloom is for ever breaking out the green
light of young generations, and perpetual renovation triumphing over
perpetual decay. Of the other lakes--not river-like--the character
may be imagined even from that we have faintly described of the
mountains; almost every vale has its lake, or a series of lakes; and
though some of them have at times a stern aspect, and have scenes
to show almost of desolation, descending sheer to the water’s edge,
or overhanging the depth that looks profounder in the gloom, yet
even these, to eyes and hearts familiar with their spirit, wear a
sweet smile which seldom passes away. Witness Wastwater, with its
huge single mountains, and hugest of all the mountains of England,
Scawfell, with its terrific precipices--which, in the accidents of
storm, gloom, or mist, has seemed, to the lonely passer-by, savage
in the extreme--a howling or dreary wilderness--but in its enduring
character, is surrounded with all quiet pastoral imagery, the deep
glen in which it is embedded being, in good truth, the abode of
Sabbath peace. That hugest mountain is indeed the centre from which
all the vales irregularly diverge; the whole circumjacent region may
be traversed in a week; and though no other district of equal extent
contains such variety of the sublime and beautiful, yet the beautiful
is so prevalent that we feel its presence, even in places where it is
overpowered; and on leaving “The Lakes,” our imagination is haunted
and possessed with images, not of dread, but of delight.

We have sometimes been asked, whether the north of England or the
Highlands of Scotland should be visited first; but, simple as the
question seems, it is really one which it is impossible to answer,
though we suspect it would equally puzzle Scotchman or Englishman
to give a sufficient reason for his wishing to see any part of any
other country, before he had seen what was best worth seeing in his
own. His own country ought to be, and generally is, dearest to every
man. There, if nothing forbid, he should not only begin his study of
nature, but continue his education in her school, wherever it may
happen to be situated, till he has taken his first degree. We believe
that the love of nature is strong in the hearts of the inhabitants of
our island. And how wide and profound may that knowledge of nature
be, which the loving heart has acquired, without having studied her
anywhere but within the Four Seas! The impulses that make us desire
to widen the circle of our observation, are all impulses of delight
and love; and it would be strange indeed, did they not move us, first
of all, towards whatever is most beautiful belonging to our own land.
Were it otherwise, it would seem as if the heart were faithless to
the home affections, out of which, in their strength, spring all
others that are good; and it is essential, we do not doubt, to the
full growth of the love of country, that we should all have our
earliest imaginative delights associated with our native soil. Such
associations will for ever keep it loveliest to our eyes; nor is
it possible that we can ever as perfectly understand the character
of any other; but we can afterwards transfer and transfuse our
feelings in imagination kindled by our own will; and the beauty, born
before our eyes, among the banks and braes of our childhood, and
then believed to be but there, and nothing like it anywhere else in
all the world, becomes a golden light, “whose home is everywhere,”
which if we do not darken it, will shine unshadowed in the dreariest
places, till “the desert blossom like the rose.”

For our own parts, before we beheld one of “the beautiful fields of
England,” we had walked all Scotland thorough, and had seen many a
secret place, which now, in the confusion of our crowded memory,
seem often to shift their uncertain ground; but still, wherever
they glimmeringly re-appear, invested with the same heavenly light
in which long ago they took possession of our soul. And now that
we are almost as familiar with the fair sister-land, and love her
almost as well as Scotland’s self, not all the charms in which she is
arrayed--and they are at once graceful and glorious--have ever for a
day withdrawn our deeper dreams from the regions where,

      “In life’s morning march when our spirit was young,”

unaccompanied but by our own shadow in the wilderness, we first heard
the belling of the red deer and the eagle’s cry.

In those days there was some difficulty, if not a little danger,
in getting in among some of the noblest regions of our Alps. They
could not be traversed without strong personal exertion; and a
solitary pedestrian excursion through the Grampians was seldom
achieved without a few incidents that might almost have been called
adventures. It is very different now; yet the _Genius Loci_, though
tamed, is not subdued; and they who would become acquainted with the
heart of the Highlands, will have need of some endurance still, and
must care nothing about the condition of earth or sky. Formerly, it
was not possible to survey more than a district or division in a
single season, except to those unenviable persons who had no other
pursuit but that of amusement, and waged a weary war with time. The
industrious dwellers in cities, who sought these solitudes for a
while to relieve their hearts from worldly anxieties, and gratify
that love of nature which is inextinguishable in every bosom that
in youth has beat with its noble inspirations, were contented with a
week or two of such intercommunion with the spirit of the mountains,
and thus continued to extend their acquaintance with the glorious
wildernesses, visit after visit, for years. Now the whole Highlands,
western and northern, may be commanded in a month. Not that any one
who knows what they are will imagine that they can be exhausted in a
lifetime. The man does not live who knows all worth knowing there;
and were they who made the trigonometrical survey to be questioned
on their experiences, they would be found ignorant of thousands of
sights, any one of which would be worth a journey for its own sake.
But now steam has bridged the Great Glen, and connected the two seas.
Salt water lochs the most remote and inaccessible, it has brought
within reach of a summer day’s voyage. In a week a joyous company
can gather all the mainland shores, leaving not one magnificent bay
uncircled; and, having rounded St Kilda and

                  “the Hebride Isles,
      Placed far amid the melancholy main,”

and heard the pealing anthem of waves in the cave-cathedral of
Staffa, may bless the bells of St Mungo’s tolling on the first
Sabbath. Thousands and tens of thousands, who but for those smoking
sea-horses, had never been beyond view of the city spires, have seen
sights which, though passing by almost like dreams, are not like
dreams forgotten, but revive of themselves in memory and imagination;
and, when the heart is weary with the work of the hand, quicken its
pulses with a sudden pleasure that is felt like a renovation of youth.

All through the interior, too, how many hundreds of miles of roads
now intersect regions not long ago deemed impracticable!--firm on the
fen, in safety flung across the chasm--and winding smoothly amidst
shatterings of rocks, round the huge mountain bases, and down the
glens once felt as if interminable, now travelled almost with the
speed of the raven’s wing!

In the Highlands now, there is no _terra incognita_. But there are
many places yet well worth seeing, which it is not easy for all men
to find, and to which every man must be his own guide. It is somewhat
of a selfish feeling, indeed, but the pride is not a mean one, with
which the solitary pedestrian sits down to contemplate some strange,
or wild, or savage scene, or some view of surpassing sweetness and
serenity, so far removed from the track of men, that he can well
believe for a time that his eyes have been the first to behold it,
and that for them alone it has now become a visible revelation.
The memory of such places is sometimes kept as a secret which we
would not communicate but to a congenial friend. They are hallowed
by those mysterious “thoughts that, like phantoms, trackless come
and go;” no words can tell another how to find his way thither; and
were we ourselves to seek to return, we should have to trust to some
consciousness mysterious as the instinct of a bird that carries it
through the blind night to the place of its desire.

It is well to have in our mind the conception of a route; but without
being utterly departed from--nay, without ceasing to control us
within certain bounds--it admits of almost any degrees of deviation.
We have known persons apparently travelling for pleasure who were
afraid to turn a few miles to the right or the left, for fear of
subjecting themselves to the reproach of their own conscience for
infirmity of purpose. They had “chalked out a route,” and acted as
if they had sworn a solemn oath to follow it. This is to be a slave
among the boundless dominions of nature, where all are free. As the
wind bloweth wherever it listeth, so move the moods of men’s minds,
when there is nought to shackle them, and when the burden of their
cares has been dropt, that for a while they may walk on air, and feel
that they too have wings.

      “A voice calls on me from the mountain depths,
      And it must be obeyed.”

The voice was our own--and yet though but a whisper from the heart,
it seemed to come from the front of yon distant precipice--sweet and
wild as an echo.

On rising at dawn in the shieling, why think, much less determine,
where at night we are to lay down our head? Let this be our thought:

      “Among the hills a hundred homes have I:
        My table in the wilderness is spread:
      In these lone spots one honest smile can buy
        Plain fare, warm welcome, and a rushy bed.”

If we obey any powers external to our own minds, let them be the
powers of Nature--the rains, the winds, the atmosphere, sun, moon and
stars. We must keep a look out--

      “To see the deep, fermenting tempest brewed,
      In the grim evening sky;”

that next day we may cross the red rivers by bridges, not by fords;
and if they roll along unbridged, that we may set our face to the
mountain, and wind our way round his shoulder by sheep-tracks, unwet
with the heather, till we behold some great strath, which we had not
visited but for that storm, with its dark blue river streaked with
golden light,--for its source is in a loch among the Eastern Range;
and there, during the silent hours, heather, bracken, and greensward
rejoiced in the trembling dews.

There is no such climate for all kinds of beauty and grandeur as
the climate of the Highlands. Here and there you meet with an old
shepherd or herdsman, who has beguiled himself into a belief, in
spite of many a night’s unforeseen imprisonment in the mists, that he
can presage its changes from fair to foul, and can tell the hour when
the long-threatening thunder will begin to mutter. The weather-wise
have often perished in their plaids. Yet among a thousand uncertain
symptoms, there are a few certain, which the ranger will do well
to study, and he will often exult on the mountain to feel that
“knowledge is power.” Many a glorious hour has been won from the
tempest by him before whose instructed eye--beyond the gloom that
wide around blackened all the purple heather--“far off its coming
shone.” Leagues of continuous magnificence have gradually unveiled
themselves on either side to him, as he has slowly paced, midway
between, along the banks of the River of Waterfalls; having been
assured by the light struggling through the mist, that it would not
be long till there was a break-up of all that ghastly dreariment,
and that the sun would call on him to come forth from his cave of
shelter, and behold in all its pride the Glen affronting the Sea.

Some Tourists--as they call themselves--are provided with map and
compass; and we hope they find them of avail in extremities, though
we fear few such understand their use. No map can tell--except very
vaguely--how the aspect of the localities, looked at on its lines, is
likely to be affected by sunrise, meridian, or sunset. Yet, true it
is, that every region has its own happy hours, which the fortunate
often find unawares, and know them at once to be so the moment they
lift up their eyes. At such times, while “our hearts rejoice in
Nature’s joy,” we feel the presence of a spirit that brings out the
essential character of the place, be it of beauty or of grandeur.
Harmonious as music is then the composition of colours and of forms.
It becomes a perfect picture in memory, more and more idealised by
imagination, every moment the veil is withdrawn before it; its aërial
lineaments never fade; yet they too, though their being be but in the
soul, are mellowed by the touch of time--and every glimpse of such a
vision, the longer we live, and the more we suffer, seems suffused
with a mournful light, as if seen through tears.

It would serve no good purpose, supposing we had the power, to
analyse the composition of that scenery, which in the aggregate so
moves even the most sluggish faculties, as to make “the dullest wight
a poet.” It rises before the mind in imagination, as it does before
the eyes in nature; and we can no more speak of it than look at it,
but as a whole. We can indeed fix our mental or our visual gaze on
scene after scene to the exclusion of all beside, and picture it
even in words that shall be more than shadows. But how shall any
succession of such pictures, however clear and complete, give an idea
of that picture which comprehends them all, and infinite as are its
manifestations, nevertheless is imbued with one spirit?

Try to forget that in the Highlands there are any Lochs. Then the
sole power is that of the Mountains. We speak of a sea of mountains;
but that image has never more than momentary possession of us,
because, but for a moment, in nature it has no truth. Tumultuary
movements envelope them; but they themselves are for ever steadfast
and for ever still. Their power is that of an enduring calm no
storms can disturb--and is often felt to be more majestical, the more
furious are the storms. As the tempest-driven clouds are franticly
hurrying to and fro, how serene the summits in the sky! Or if they be
hidden, how peaceful the glimpses of some great mountain’s breast!
They disregard the hurricane that goes crashing through their old
woods; the cloud-thunder disturbs not them any more than that of
their own cataracts, and the lightnings play for their pastime.
All minds under any excitation more or less personify mountains.
When much moved, that natural process affects all our feelings, as
the language of passion awakened by such objects vividly declares;
and then we do assuredly conceive of mountains as indued with
life--however dim and vague the conception may be--and feel their
character in their very names. Utterly strip our ideas of them of all
that is attached to them as impersonations, and their power is gone.
But while we are creatures of imagination as well as of reason, will
those monarchs remain invested with the purple and seated on thrones.

In such imaginative moods as these must every one be, far more
frequently than he is conscious of, and in far higher degrees,
who, with a cultivated mind and a heart open to the influences of
nature, finds himself, it matters not whether for the first or the
hundredth time, in the Highlands. We fancy the Neophyte wandering,
all by himself, on the “longest day;” rejoicing to think that the
light will not fail him, when at last the sun must go down, for
that a starry gloaming will continue its gentle reign till morn. He
thinks but of what he sees, and that is--the mountains. All memories
of any other world but that which encloses him with its still
sublimities, are not excluded merely, but obliterated: his whole
being is there! And now he stands on table-land, and with his eyes
sweeps the horizon, bewildered for a while, for it seems chaos all.
But soon the mighty masses begin arranging themselves into order;
the confusion insensibly subsides as he comprehends more and more of
their magnificent combinations; he discovers centres round which are
associated altitudes towering afar off; and finally, he feels, and
blesses himself on his felicity, that his good genius has placed him
on the very centre of those wondrous assemblages altogether, from
which alone he could command an empire of realities, more glorious
far than was ever empire of dreams.

It is a cloudy, but not a stormy day; the clouds occupy but portions
of the sky,--and are they all in slow motion together, or are they
all at rest? Huge shadows stalking along the earth, tell that there
are changes going on in heaven; but to the upward gaze, all seems
hanging there in the same repose; and with the same soft illumination
the sun to continue shining, a concentration rather than an orb of
light. All above is beautiful, and the clouds themselves are like
celestial mountains; but the eye forsakes them, though it sees them
still, and more quietly now it moves along the pageantry below that
endures for ever--till chained on a sudden by that range of cliffs.
’Tis along them that the giant shadows are stalking--but now they
have passed by--and the long line of precipice seems to come forward
in the light. To look down from the brink might be terrible--to look
up from the base would be sublime--but fronting the eye thus, horrid
though it be, the sight is most beautiful;--for weather-stains, and
mosses, and lichens, and flowering-plants--conspicuous most the
broom and the heather--and shrubs that, among their leaves of light,
have no need of flowers--and hollies, and birks, and hazels, and
many a slender tree besides with pensile tresses, besprinkle all the
cliffs, that in no gloom could ever lose their lustre; but now the
day though not bright is fair, and brings out the whole beauty of the
precipice--call it the hanging garden of the wilderness.

The Highlands have been said to be a gloomy region, and worse gloom
than theirs might well be borne, if not unfrequently illumined
with such sights as these; but that is not the character of the
mountains, though the purple light in which, for usual, they are so
richly steeped, is often for a season tamed, or for a short while
extinguished, while a strange night-like day lets fall over them all
a something like a shroud. Such days we have seen--but now in fancy
we are with the pilgrim, and see preparation making for a sunset. It
is drawing towards evening, and the clouds that have all this time
been moving, though we knew it not, have assuredly settled now, and
taken up their rest. The sun has gone down, and all that unspeakable
glory has left the sky. Evening has come and gone without our knowing
that she had been here; but there is no gloom on any place in the
whole of this vast wilderness, and the mountains, as they wax dimmer
and dimmer, look as if they were surrendering themselves to a repose
like sleep. Day had no voice here audible to human ear--but night
is murmuring--and gentle though the murmur be, it filleth the great
void, and we imagine that ever and anon it awakens echoes. And now it
is darker than we thought, for lo! one soft-burning star! And we see
that there are many stars; but not theirs the light that begins again
to reveal object after object as gradually as they had disappeared;
the moon is about to rise--is rising--has arisen--has taken her
place high in heaven; and as the glorious world again expands around
us, faintly tinged, clearly illumined, softly shadowed, and deeply
begloomed, we say within our hearts,

      “How beautiful is night!”

There are many such table-lands as the one we have now been
imagining, and it requires but a slight acquaintance with the country
to conjecture rightly where they lie. Independently of the panoramas
they display, they are in themselves always impressive; perhaps a
bare level that shows but bleached bent, and scatterings of stones,
with here and there an unaccountable rock; or hundreds of fairy
greensward knolls, fringed with tiny forests of fern that have almost
displaced the heather; or a wild withered moor or moss intersected
with pits dug not by men’s hands; and, strange to see! a huge log
lying half exposed, and as if blackened by fire. High as such places
are, on one of them a young gorcock was stricken down by a hawk close
to our feet. Indeed, hawks seem to haunt such places, and we have
rarely crossed one of them, without either seeing the creature’s
stealthy flight, or hearing, whether he be alarmed or preying, his
ever-angry cry.

From a few such stations, you get an insight into the configuration
of the whole Western Highlands. By the dip of the mountains, you
discover at a glance all the openings in the panorama around you into
other regions. Follow your fancies fearlessly wherever they may lead;
and if the blue aërial haze that hangs over a pass winding eastward,
tempt you from your line of march due north, forthwith descend in
that direction, and haply an omen will confirm you--an eagle rising
on the left, and sailing away before you into that very spot of sky.

No man, however well read, should travel by book. In books you find
descriptions, and often good ones, of the most celebrated scenes,
but seldom a word about the vast tracts between; and it would seem
as if many Tourists had used their eyes only in those places where
they had been told by common fame there was something greatly to
admire. Travel in the faith, that go where you will, the cravings
of your heart will be satisfied, and you will find it so, if you be
a true lover of nature. You hope to be inspired by her spirit, that
you may read aright her works. But such inspiration comes not from
one object or another, however great or fair, but from the whole
“mighty world of eye and ear,” and it must be supported continuously,
or it perishes. You may see a thousand sights never before seen by
human eye, at every step you take, wherever be your path; for no
steps but yours have ever walked along that same level; and moreover,
never on the same spot twice rested the same lights or shadows. Then
there may be something in the air, and more in your own heart, that
invests every ordinary object with extraordinary beauty; old images
affect you with a new delight; a grandeur grows upon your eyes in the
undulations of the simplest hills; and you feel there is sublimity
in the common skies. It is thus that all the stores of imagery are
insensibly gathered, with which the minds of men are filled, who
from youth have communed with Nature. And it is thus that all those
feelings have flowed into their hearts by which that imagery is
sanctified; and these are the poets.

It is in this way that we all become familiar with the Mountains. Far
more than we were aware of have we trusted to the strong spirit of
delight within us, to prompt and to guide. And in such a country as
the Highlands, thus led, we cannot err. Therefore, if your desire be
for the summits, set your face thitherwards, and wind a way of your
own, still ascending and ascending, along some vast brow, that seems
almost a whole day’s journey, and where it is lost from your sight,
not to end, but to go sweeping round, with undiminished grandeur,
into another region. You are not yet half-way up the mountain, but
you care not for the summit now; for you find yourself among a number
of green knolls--all of them sprinkled, and some of them crowned,
with trees--as large almost as our lowland hills--surrounded close
to the brink with the purple heather--and without impairing the
majesty of the immense expanse, embuing it with pastoral and sylvan
beauty;--and there, lying in a small forest glade of the lady-fern,
ambitious no longer of a throne on Benlomond or Bennevis, you dream
away the still hours till sunset, yet then have no reason to weep
that you have lost a day.

But the best way to view the mountains is to trace the Glens. To find
out the glens you must often scale the shoulders of mountains; and in
such journeys of discovery, you have for ever going on before your
eyes glorious transfigurations. Sometimes for a whole day one mighty
mass lowers before you unchanged; look at it after the interval of
hours, and still the giant is one and the same. It rules the region,
subjecting all other altitudes to its sway, though many of them
range away to a great distance; and at sunset retains its supremacy,
blazing almost like a volcano with fiery clouds. Your line of journey
lies, perhaps, some two thousand feet above the level of the sea,
and seldom dips down to one thousand; and these are the heights from
which all above and all below you look most magnificent, for both
regions have their full power over you--the unscaleable cliffs, the
unfathomable abysses--and you know not which is the more sublime. The
sublimity indeed is one. It is then that you may do well to ascend to
the very mountain top. For it may happen to be one of those heavenly
days indeed, when the whole Highlands seem to be reposing in the
cloudless sky.

But we were about to speak of the Glens. And some of them are best
entered by such descents as these--perhaps at their very head--where
all at once you are in another world, how still, how gloomy, how
profound! An hour ago and the eye of the eagle had not wider command
of earth, sea, and sky than yours--almost blinded now by the
superincumbent precipices that imprison you, and seem to shut you out
from life.

      “Such the grim desolation, where Ben-Hun
      And Craig-na-Torr, by earthquake shatterings
      Disjoined with horrid chasms prerupt, enclose
      What superstition calls the Glen of Ghosts.”

Or you may enter some great glen from the foot, where it widens into
vale, or strath--and there are many such--and some into which you can
sail up an arm of the sea. For a while it partakes of the cultivated
beauty of the lowlands, and glen and vale seem almost one and the
same; but gradually it undergoes a strange wild change of character,
and in a few miles that similitude is lost. There is little or
no arable ground here; but the pasture is rich on the unenclosed
plain--and here and there are enclosures near the few houses or huts
standing, some of them in the middle of the glen, quite exposed, on
eminences above reach of the floods--some more happily placed on the
edge of the coppices, that sprinkle the steep sides of the hills,
yet barely mountains. But mountains they soon become; and leaving
behind you those few barren habitations, you see before you a wide
black moor. Beautiful hitherto had been the river, for a river you
had inclined to think it, long after it had narrowed into a stream,
with many a waterfall, and in one chasm a cataract. But the torrent
now has a wild mountain-cry, and though there is still beauty on its
banks, they are bare of all trees, now swelling into multitudes of
low green knolls among the heather, now composed but of heather and
rocks. Through the very middle of the black moor it flows, yet are
its waters clear, for all is not moss, and it seems to wind its way
where there is nothing to pollute its purity, or tame its lustre.
’Tis a solitary scene, but still sweet; the mountains are of great
magnitude, but they are not precipitous; vast herds of cattle are
browsing there, on heights from which fire has cleared the heather,
and wide ranges of greensward upon the lofty gloom seem to lie in
perpetual light.

The moor is crossed, and you prepare to scale the mountain in front,
for you imagine the torrent by your side flows from a tarn in yonder
cove, and forms that series of waterfalls. You have been all along
well pleased with the glen, and here at the head, though there is a
want of cliffs of the highest class, you feel nevertheless that it
has a character of grandeur. Looking westward, you are astounded to
see them ranging away on either side of another reach of the glen,
terrific in their height, but in their formation beautiful, for
like the walls of some vast temple they stand, roofed with sky. Yet
are they but as a portal or gateway of the glen. For entering in
with awe, that deepens as you advance almost into dread, you behold
beyond mountains that carry their cliffs up into the clouds, seamed
with chasms, and hollowed out into coves, where night dwells visibly
by the side of day; and still the glen seems winding on beneath a
purple light, that almost looks like gloom; such vast forms and such
prodigious colours, and such utter stillness, become oppressive
to your very life, and you wish that some human being were by, to
relieve by his mere presence the insupportable weight of such a

But we should never have done were we to attempt to sketch, however
slightly, the character of all the different kinds of glens. Some
are sublime in their prodigious depth and vast extent, and would
be felt to be so, even were the mountains that enclose them of no
great majesty; but these are all of the highest order, and sometimes
are seen from below to the very cairns on their summits. Now we
walk along a reach, between astonishing ranges of cliffs, among
large heaps of rocks--not a tree--scarcely a shrub--no herbage--the
very heather blasted--all lifelessness and desolation. The glen
gradually grows less and less horrid, and though its sides are
seamed with clefts and chasms, in the gloom there are places for
the sunshine, and there is felt to be even beauty in the repose.
Descends suddenly on either side a steep slope of hanging wood, and
we find ourselves among verdant mounds, and knolls, and waterfalls.
We come then into what seems of old to have been a forest. Here and
there a stately pine survives, but the rest are all skeletons; and
now the glen widens, and widens, yet ceases not to be profound,
for several high mountains enclose a plain on which armies might
encamp, and castellated clouds hang round the heights of the glorious
amphitheatre, while the sky-roof is clear, and, as if in its centre,
the refulgent sun. ’Tis the plain called “The Meeting of the Glens.”
From the east and the west, the north and the south, they come like
rivers into the sea.

Other glens there are as long, but not so profound, nor so grandly
composed; yet they too conduct us nobly in among the mountains, and
up their sides, and on even to their very summits. Such are the
glens of Athole, in the neighbourhood of Ben-y-gloe. From them the
heather is not wholly banished, and the fire has left a green light
without quenching the purple colour native to the hills. We think
that we almost remember the time when those glens were in many places
sprinkled with huts, and all animated with human life. Now they are
solitary; and you may walk from sunrise till sunset without seeing
a single soul. For a hundred thousand acres have there been changed
into a forest, for sake of the pastime, indeed, which was dear of old
to chieftains and kings. Vast herds of red deer are there, for they
herd in thousands; yet may you wander for days over the boundless
waste, nor once be startled by one stag bounding by. Yet may a herd,
a thousand strong, be drawn up, as in battle array, on the cliffs
above your head. For they will long stand motionless, at gaze, when
danger is in the wind; and then their antlers to unpractised eyes
seem but boughs grotesque, or are invisible; and when all at once,
with one accord, at signal from the stag, whom they obey, they wheel
off towards the corries, you think it but thunder, and look up to the
clouds. Fortunate if you see such a sight once in your life. Once
only have we seen it; and it was, of a sudden, all by ourselves,

      “Ere yet the hunter’s startling horn was heard
      Upon the golden hills.”

Almost within rifle-shot, the herd occupied a position, high up
indeed, but below several ridges of rocks, running parallel for a
long distance, with slopes between of sward and heather. Standing
still, they seemed to extend about a quarter of a mile; and, as with
a loud clattering of hoofs and antlers they took more open order,
the line at least doubled its length, and the whole mountain side
seemed alive. They might not be going at full speed, but the pace was
equal to that of any charge of cavalry; and once and again the flight
passed before us, till it overcame the ridges, and then deploying
round the shoulder of the mountain, disappeared, without dust or
noise, into the blue light of another glen.

We question if there be in the Highlands any one glen comparable with
Borrowdale in Cumberland. But there are several that approach it,
in that combination of beauty and grandeur, which perhaps no other
scene equals in all the world. The “Gorge” of that Dale exhibits the
finest imaginable assemblage of rocks and rocky hills, all wildly
wooded; beyond them, yet before we have entered into the Dale, the
Pass widens, with noble cliffs on one side, and on the other a sylvan
stream, not without its abysses; and we see before us some lovely
hills, on which--

      “The smiling power of cultivation lies,”

yet leaves, with lines defined by the steeps that defy the
ploughshare, copses and groves; and thus we are brought into
the Dale itself, and soon have a vision of the whole--green
and golden fields--for though most are in pasture, almost all
seem arable--sprinkled with fine single trees, and lying in
flats and levels, or swelling into mounds and knolls, and all
diversified with every kind of woods; single cottages, with their
out-buildings, standing everywhere they should stand, and coloured
like the rocks from which in some lights they are hardly to be
distinguished--strong-roofed and undilapidated, though many of them
very old; villages, apart from one another a mile--and there are
three--yet on their sites, distant and different in much though
they be, all associated together by the same spirit of beauty that
pervades all the Dale. Half way up, and in some places more, the
enclosing hills and even mountains are sylvan indeed, and though
there be a few inoffensive aliens, they are all adorned with their
native trees. The mountains are not so high as in our Highlands,
but they are very majestic; and the passes over into Langdale, and
Wastdalehead, and Buttermere, are magnificent, and show precipices in
which the Golden Eagle himself might rejoice.

No--there is no glen in all the Highlands comparable with Borrowdale.
Yet we know of some that are felt to be kindred places, and their
beauty, though less, almost as much affects us, because though
contending, as it were, with the darker spirit of the mountain, it
is not overcome, but prevails; and their beauty will increase with
years. For while the rocks continue to frown aloft for ever, and the
cliffs to range along the corries, unbroken by trees, which there
the tempests will not suffer to rise, the woods and groves below,
preserved from the axe, for sake of their needful shelter, shall
become statelier till the birch equal the pine; reclaimed from the
waste, shall many a fresh field recline among the heather, tempering
the gloom; and houses arise where now there are but huts, and every
house have its garden:--such changes are now going on, and we have
been glad to observe their progress, even though sometimes they had
removed, or were removing, objects dear from old associations, and
which, had it been possible, but it was not, we should have loved to
see preserved.

And one word on those sweet pastoral seclusions into which one
often drops unexpectedly, it may be at the close of day, and finds
a night’s lodging in the lonely hut. Yet they lie, sometimes,
embosomed, in their own green hills, among the most rugged mountains,
and even among the wildest moors. They have no features by which you
can describe them: it is their serenity that charms you, and their
cheerful peace; perhaps it is wrong to call them glens, and they are
but dells. Yet one thinks of a dell as deep, however small it may be;
but these are not deep, for the hills slope down gently upon them,
and leave room perhaps between for a little shallow loch. Often they
have not any visible water at all, only a few springs and rivulets,
and you wonder to see them so very green; there is no herbage like
theirs; and to such spots of old, and sometimes yet, the kine are
led in summer, and there the lonely family live in their shieling
till the harvest moon.

We have all along used the same word, and called the places we have
spoken of--glens. A fine observer--the editor of _Gilpin’s Forest
Scenery_--has said: “The gradation from extreme width downwards
should be thus arranged--strath, vale, dale, valley, glen, dell,
ravine, chasm. In the strath, vale, and dale, we may expect to
find the large, majestic, gently flowing river, or even the deeper
or smaller lake. In the glen, if the river be large, it flows
more rapidly, and with greater variety. In the dell, the stream
is smaller. In the ravine, we find the mountain torrent and the
waterfall. In the chasm, we find the roaring cataract, or the rill,
bursting from its haunted fountain. The chasm discharges its small
tribute into the ravine, while the ravine is tributary to the dell,
and thence to the glen; and the glen to the dale.”

These distinctions are admirably expressed, and perfectly true to
nature; yet we doubt if it would be possible to preserve them in
describing a country, and assuredly they are very often indeed
confused by common use in the naming of places. We have said nothing
about straths--nor shall we try to describe one--but suggest to your
own imagination as specimens, Strath-Spey, Strath-Tay, Strath-Earn.
The dominion claimed by each of those rivers, within the mountain
ranges that environ their courses, is a strath; and three noble
straths they are, from source to sea.

And now we are brought to speak of the Highland rivers, streams,
and torrents; but we shall let them rush or flow, murmur or
thunder, in your own ears, for you cannot fail to imagine what
the waters must be in a land of such glens, and such mountains.
The chief rivers possess all the attributes essential to
greatness--width--depth--clearness--rapidity--in one word, power.
And some of them have long courses--rising in the central heights,
and winding round many a huge projection, against which in flood we
have seen them dashing like the sea. Highland droughts are not of
long duration; the supplies are seldom withheld at once by all the
tributaries; and one wild night among the mountains converts a calm
into a commotion--the many-murmuring voice into one roar. In flood
they are terrible to look at; and every whirlpool seems a place of
torment. Winds can make a mighty noise in swinging woods, but there
is something to our ears more appalling in that of the fall of
waters. Let them be united--and add thunder from the clouds--and we
have heard in the Highlands all three in one--and the auditor need
not care that he has never stood by Niagara. But when “though not
o’er-flowing full,” a Highland river is in perfection; far better do
we love to see and hear him rejoicing than raging; his attributes
appear more his own in calm and majestic manifestations, and as he
glides or rolls on, without any disturbance, we behold in him an
image at once of power and peace.

Of rivers--comparatively speaking, of the second and third order--the
Highlands are full--and on some of them the sylvan scenery is beyond
compare. No need there to go hunting the waterfalls. Hundreds of
them--some tiny indeed, but others tall--are for ever dinning in the
woods; yet, at a distance from the cataract, how sweet and quiet is
the sound! It hinders you not from listening to the cushat’s voice;
clear amidst the mellow murmur comes the bleating from the mountain;
and all other sound ceases, as you hearken in the sky to the hark
of the eagle--rare indeed anywhere, but sometimes to be heard as
you thread the “glimmer or the gloom” of the umbrage overhanging
the Garry or the Tummel--for he used to build in the cliffs of
Ben-Brackie, and if he has shifted his eyrie, a few minutes’ waftage
will bear him to Cairn-Gower.

In speaking of the glens, we but alluded to the rivers or streams,
and some of them, indeed, even the great ones, have but rivulets;
while in the greatest, the waters often flow on without a single
tree, shadowed but by rocks and clouds. Wade them, and you find they
are larger than they seem to be; for looked at along the bottom of
those profound hollows, they are but mere slips of sinuous light
in the sunshine, and in the gloom you see them not at all. We do
not remember any very impressive glen, without a stream, that would
not suffer some diminution of its power by our fancying it to have
one; we may not be aware, at the time, that the conformation of the
glen prevents its having any waterflow, if but we feel its character
aright, that want is among the causes of our feeling; just as there
are some scenes of which the beauty would not be so touching were
there a single tree.

Thousands and tens of thousands there are of nameless perennial
torrents, and “in number without number numberless” those that seldom
live a week--perhaps not a day. Up among the loftiest regions you
hear nothing, even when they are all aflow; yet, there is music in
the sight, and the thought of the “general dance and minstrelsy”
enlivens the air, where no insect hums. As on your descent you come
within hearing of the “liquid lapses,” your heart leaps within you,
so merrily do they sing; the first torrent-rill you meet with you
take for your guide, and it leads you perhaps into some fairy dell,
where it wantons awhile in waterfalls, and then, gliding along a
little dale of its own with “banks of green bracken,” finishes its
short course in a stream--one of many that meet and mingle before
the current takes the name of river, which in a mile or less becomes
a small woodland lake. There are many such of rememberable beauty;
living lakes indeed, for they are but pausings of expanded rivers,
which again soon pursue their way, and the water-lilies have ever a
gentle motion there as if touched by a tide.

It used, not very long ago, to be pretty generally believed by our
southern brethren, that there were few trees in the Lowlands of
Scotland, and none at all in the Highlands. They had an obscure
notion that trees either could not or would not grow in such a soil
and climate--cold and bleak enough at times and places, heaven
knows--yet not altogether unproductive of diverse stately plants.
They know better now; nor were we ever angry with their ignorance,
which was nothing more than what was to be expected in persons living
perpetually at home so far remote. They rejoice now to visit, and
sojourn, and travel here among us, foreigners and a foreign land
no more; and we rejoice to see and receive them not as strangers,
but friends, and are proud to know they are well pleased to behold
our habitation. They do us and our country justice now, and we
have sometimes thought even more than justice; for they are lost in
admiration of our cities--above all, of Edinburgh--and speak with
such raptures of our scenery, that they would appear to prefer it
even to their own. They are charmed with our bare green hills, with
our shaggy brown mountains they are astonished, our lochs are their
delight, our woods their wonder, and they hold up their hands and
clap them at our cliffs. This is generous, for we are not blind to
the fact of England being the most beautiful land on all the earth.
What are our woods to hers! To hers, what are our single trees!
We have no such glorious standards to show as her indomitable and
everlasting oaks. She is all over sylvan--Scotland but here and
there; look on England from any point in any place, and you see she
is rich, from almost any point in any place in Scotland, and you
feel that comparatively she is poor. Yet our Lowlands have long
been beautifying themselves into a resemblance of hers; as for our
Highlands, though many changes have been going on there too, and most
we believe for good, they are in their great features, and in their
spirit unalterable by art, stamped and inspired by enduring Nature.

We have spoken, slightly, of the sylvan scenery of the Highlands. In
Perthshire, especially, it is of rare and extraordinary beauty, and
we are always glad to hear of Englishmen travelling up the Tay and
the Earn. We desire that eyes familiar with all that is umbrageous
should receive their first impressions of our Scottish trees at
Duneira and Dunkeld. Nor will those impressions be weakened as they
proceed towards Blair Athole. In that famous Pass they will feel
the power possessed by the sweet wild monotony of the universal
birch woods--broken but by grey crags in every shape--grotesque,
fantastical, majestic, magnificent, and sublime--on the many-ridged
mountains, that are loth to lose the green light of their beloved
forests, retain it as long as they can, and on the masses of living
lustre seem to look down with pride from their skies.

An English forest, meaning thereby any one wide continuous scene of
all kinds of old English trees, with glades of pasture, and it may
be of heath between, with dells dipping down into the gloom, and
hillocks undulating in the light--ravines and chasms too, rills,
and rivulets, and a haunted stream, and not without some melancholy
old ruins, and here and there a cheerful cottage that feels not the
touch of time--such a forest there is not, and hardly can be imagined
to be in Scotland. But in the Highlands, there once were, and are
still, other forests of quite a different character, and of equal
grandeur. In his _Forest Scenery_, Gilpin shows that he understood
it well; all the knowledge, which as a stranger, almost of necessity
he wanted, Lauder has supplied in his annotations; and the book
should now be in the hands of every one who cares about the woods.
“The English forest,” says Gilpin, “is commonly composed of woodland
views, interspersed with extensive heaths and lawns. Its trees are
oak and beech, whose lively green corresponds better than the gloomy
pine with the nature of the scene, which seldom assumes the dignity
of a mountain one, but generally exhibits a cheerful landscape. It
aspires, indeed, to grandeur; but its grandeur does not depend,
like that of the Scottish forest, on the sublimity of the objects,
but on the vastness of the whole--the extent of its woods and the
wildness of its plains. In its inhabitants also the English forest
differs from the Scottish; instead of the stag and the roebuck, it
is frequented by cattle and fallow-deer, and exchanges the scream of
the eagle and the falcon for the crowing of pheasants and the melody
of the nightingale. The Scottish forest, no doubt, is the sublimer
scene, and speaks to the imagination in a loftier language than
the English forest can reach. The latter, indeed, often rouses the
imagination, but seldom in so great a degree, being generally content
with captivating the eye. The scenery, too, of the Scottish forest
is better calculated to last through ages than that of the English.
The woods of both are almost destroyed. But while the English forest
hath lost all its beauty with its oaks, and becomes only a desolate
waste, the rocks and the mountains, the lakes and the torrents, of
the Scottish forest make it still an interesting scene.”

The tree of the Highlands is the pine. There are Scotch firs,
indeed, well worth looking at, in the Lowlands, and in England; but
to learn their true character you must see them in the glen, among
rocks, by the river side, and on the mountain. “We, for our parts,”
says Lauder, very finely, “confess that when we have seen it towering
in full majesty in the midst of some appropriate Highland scene,
and sending its limbs abroad with all unrestrained freedom of a
hardy mountaineer, as if it claimed dominion over the savage region
round it, we have looked upon it as a very sublime object. People
who have not seen it in native climate and soil, and who judge of
it from the wretched abortions which are swaddled and suffocated in
English plantations, among dark, heavy, and eternally wet clays, may
well be called a wretched tree; but when its foot is among its own
Highland heather, and when it stands freely in its native knoll of
dry gravel, or thinly-covered rock, over which its roots wander afar
in the wildest reticulation, whilst its tall, furrowed, and often
gracefully-sweeping red and grey trunk, of enormous circumference,
rears aloft its high umbrageous canopy, then would the greatest
sceptic on this point be compelled to prostrate his mind before it
with a veneration which perhaps was never before excited in him by
any other tree.” The colour of the pine has been objected to as
murky, and murky it often is, or seems to be; and so then is the
colour of the heather, and of the river, and of the loch, and of the
sky itself thunder-laden, and murkiest of all are the clouds. But a
stream of sunshine is let loose, and the gloom is confounded with
glory; over all that night-like reign the jocund day goes dancing,
and the forest revels in green or in golden light. Thousands and
tens of thousands of trees are there; and as you gaze upon the whole
mighty array, you fear lest it might break the spell, to fix your
gaze on any one single tree. But there are trees there that will
force you to look on themselves alone, and they grow before your
eyes into the kings of the forest. Straight stand their stems in
the sunshine, and you feel that as straight have they stood in the
storm. As yet you look not up, for your heart is awed, and you see
but the stately columns reddening away into the gloom. But all the
while you feel the power of the umbrage aloft, and when thitherwards
you lift your eyes, what a roof to such a cathedral! A cone drops at
your feet--nor other sound nor other stir--but afar off you think you
hear a cataract. Inaudible your footsteps on the soft yellow floor,
composed of the autumnal sheddings of countless years. Then it is
true that you can indeed hear the beating of your own heart; you
fear, but know not what you fear; and being the only living creature
there, you are impressed with a thought of death. But soon to that
severe silence you are more than reconciled; the solitude, without
ceasing to be sublime, is felt to be solemn and not awful, and ere
long, utter as it is, serene. Seen from afar, the forest was one
black mass; but as you advance, it opens up into spacious glades,
beautiful as gardens, with appropriate trees of gentler tribes, and
ground-flowering in the sun. But there is no murmur of bee--no song
of bird. In the air a thin whisper of insects--intermittent--and
wafted quite away by a breath. For we are now in the very centre of
the forest, and even the cushat haunts not here. Hither the red deer
may come--but not now--for at this season they love the hill. To such
places the stricken stag might steal to lie down and die.

And thus for hours may you be lost in the forest, nor all the
while have wasted one thought on the outer world, till with no
other warning but an uncertain glimmer and a strange noise, you
all at once issue forth into the open day, and are standing on the
brink of a precipice above a flood. It comes tumbling down with a
succession of falls, in a mile-long course, right opposite your
stance--rocks, cliffs, and trees, all the way up on either side,
majestically retiring back to afford ample channel, and showing an
unobstructed vista, closed up by the purple mountain, that seems to
send forth the river from a cavern in its breast. ’Tis the Glen of
Pines. Nor ash nor oak is suffered to intrude on their dominion.
Since the earthquake first shattered it out, this great chasm, with
all its chasms, has been held by one race of trees. No other seed
could there spring to life; for from the rocks has all soil, ages
ago, been washed and swept by the tempests. But there they stand
with glossy boles, spreading arms, and glittering crest; and those
two by themselves on the summit, known all over Badenoch as “the
Giants”--“their statures reach the sky.”

We have been indulging in a dream of old. Before our day the
immemorial gloom of Glenmore had perished, and it ceased to be a
forest. But there bordered on it another region of night or twilight,
and in its vast depths we first felt the sublimity of lonesome
fear. Rothiemurchus! The very word blackens before our eyes with
necromantic characters--again we plunge into its gulphs desirous of
what we dread--again “in pleasure high and turbulent,” we climb the
cliffs of Cairngorm.

Would you wish to know what is now the look of Glenmore? One now
dead and gone--a man of wayward temper, but of genius--shall tell
you--and think not the picture exaggerated--for you would not, if you
were _there_. “It is the wreck of the ancient forest which arrests
all the attention, and which renders Glenmore a melancholy--more
than a melancholy--a terrific spectacle. Trees of enormous height,
which have escaped alike the axe and the tempest, are still standing,
stripped by the winds even of the bark, and like gigantic skeletons,
throwing far and wide their white and bleached bones to the storms
and rains of heaven; while others, broken by the violence of the
gales, lift up their split and fractured trunks in a thousand shapes
of resistance and of destruction, or still display some knotted and
tortuous branches, stretched out, in sturdy and fantastic forms of
defiance, to the whirlwind and the winter. Noble trunks also, which
had long resisted, but resisted in vain, strew the ground; some
lying on the declivity where they have fallen, others still adhering
to the precipice where they were rooted, many upturned, with their
twisted and entangled roots high in air; while not a few astonish us
by the space which they cover, and by dimensions which we could not
otherwise have estimated. It is one wide image of death, as if the
angel of destruction had passed over the valley. The sight, even of
a felled tree, is painful: still more is that of the fallen forest,
with all its green branches on the ground, withering, silent, and at
rest, where once they glittered in the dew and the sun, and trembled
in the breeze. Yet this is but an image of vegetable death. It is
familiar, and the impression passes away. It is the naked skeleton
bleaching in the winds, the gigantic bones of the forest still erect,
the speaking records of former life and of strength still unsubdued,
vigorous even in death, which renders Glenmore one enormous charnel

What happened of old to the aboriginal forests of Scotland, that
long before these later destructions they had almost all perished,
leaving to bear witness what they were, such survivors? They were
chiefly destroyed by fire. What power could extinguish chance-kindled
conflagrations when sailing before the wind? And no doubt fire
was set to clear the country at once of Scotch firs, wolves, wild
boars, and outlaws. Tradition yet tells of such burnings; and, if we
mistake not, the pines found in the Scottish mosses, the logs and the
stocks, all show that they were destroyed by Vulcan, though Neptune
buried them in the quagmires. Storms no doubt often levelled them by
thousands; but had millions so fallen they had never been missed, and
one element only--which has been often fearfully commissioned--could
achieve the work. In our own day the axe has indeed done wonders--and
sixteen square miles of the forest of Rothiemurchus “went to the
ground.” John of Ghent, Gilpin tells us, to avenge an inroad, set
twenty-four thousand axes at work in the Caledonian Forest.

Yet Scotland has perhaps sufficient forest at this day. For more has
been planted than cut down; Glenmore will soon be populous as ever
with self-sown pines, and Rothiemurchus may revive; the shades are
yet deeper of Loch Arkaig, Glengarry, Glenmoriston, Strathglass,
Glen Strathfarrar, and Loch-Shiel; deeper still on the Findhorn--and
deepest of all on the Dee rejoicing in the magnificent pine woods of
Invercauld and Braemar.

We feel that we have spoken feebly of our Highland forests. Some
perhaps, who have never been off the high roads, may accuse us of
exaggeration too; but they contain wondrous beauties of which we have
said not a word; and no imagination can conceive what they may be in
another hundred years. But, apparently far apart from the forests,
though still belonging to them--for they hold in fancy by the tenure
of the olden time--how many woods, and groves, and sprinklings of
fair trees, rise up during a day’s journey, in almost every region of
the North! And among them all, it may be, scarcely a pine. For the
oak, and the ash, and the elm, are also all native trees; nowhere
else does the rowan flush with more dazzling lustre; in spring, the
alder with its vivid green stands well beside the birk--the yew was
not neglected of yore, though the bow of the Celt was weak to that of
the Saxon; and the holly, in winter emulating the brightness of the
pine, flourished, and still flourishes on many a mountain side. There
is sufficient sylvan scenery for beauty in a land of mountains. More
may be needed for shelter--but let the young plants and seedlings
have time to grow--and as for the old trees, may they live for ever.
Too many millions of larches are perhaps growing now behind the Tay
and the Tilt; yet why should the hills of Perthshire be thought to be
disfigured by what ennobles the Alps and the Apennines?

Hitherto we have hardly said a word about Lochs, and have been doing
our best to forget them, while imagining scenes that were chiefly
characterised by other great features of Highland Landscape. A
country thus constituted, and with such an aspect, even if we could
suppose it without lochs, would still be a glorious region; but its
lochs are indeed its greatest glory; by them its glens, its mountains
and its woods are all illumined, and its rivers made to sing aloud
for joy. In the pure element, overflowing so many spacious vales
and glens profound, the great and stern objects of nature look even
more sublime or more beautiful, in their reflected shadows, which
appear in that stillness to belong rather to heaven than earth. Or
the evanescence of all that imagery at a breath may touch us with the
thought that all it represents, steadfast as seems its endurance,
will as utterly pass away. Such visions, when gazed on in that
wondrous depth and purity they are sometimes seen to assume, on a
still summer day, always inspire some such faint feeling as this; and
we sigh to think how transitory must be all things, when the setting
sun is seen to sink beneath the mountain, and all its golden pomp at
the same instant to evanish from the lake.

The first that takes possession of the imagination, dreaming of the
Highlands as the region of lochs, is the Queen of them all, Loch
Lomond. Wordsworth has said, that “in Scotland, the proportion of
diffused water is often too great, as at the Lake of Geneva, for
instance, and in most of the Scottish lakes. No doubt it sounds
magnificent, and flatters the imagination, to hear at a distance of
masses of water so many leagues in length and miles in width; and
such ample room may be delightful to the fresh-water sailor, scudding
with a lively breeze amid the rapidly shifting scenery. But who ever
travelled along the banks of Loch Lomond, variegated as the lower
part is by islands, without feeling that a speedier termination
of the long vista of blank water would be acceptable, and without
wishing for an interposition of green meadows, trees, and cottages,
and a sparkling stream to run by his side. In fact, a notion of
grandeur as connected with magnitude has seduced persons of taste
into a general mistake upon this subject. It is much more desirable
for the purposes of pleasure, that lakes should be numerous and small
or middle-sized than large, not only for communication by walks and
rides, but for variety and for recurrence of similar appearances. To
illustrate this by one instance: how pleasing is it to have a ready
and frequent opportunity of watching, at the outlet of a lake, the
stream, pushing its way among the rocks, in lively contrast with
the stillness from which it has escaped; and how amusing to compare
its noisy and turbulent motions with the gentle playfulness of the
breezes that may be starting up, or wandering here and there over the
faintly-rippled surface of the broad water! I may add, as a general
remark, that in lakes of great width, the shores cannot be distinctly
seen at the same time; and therefore contribute little to mutual
illustration and ornament; and if the opposite shores are out of
sight of each other, like those of the American and Asiatic lakes,
then unfortunately the traveller is reminded of a nobler object;
he has the blankness of a sea prospect without the grandeur and
accompanying sense of power.”

We shall not be suspected of an inclination to dissent, on light
grounds, from any sentiments of Wordsworth. But finely felt and
expressed as all this is, we do not hesitate to say that it is
not applicable to Loch Lomond. Far be it from us to criticise
this passage sentence by sentence; for we have quoted it not in a
captious, but in a reverent spirit, as we have ever done with the
works of this illustrious man. He has studied nature more widely and
profoundly than we have; but it is out of our power to look on Loch
Lomond without a feeling of perfection. The “diffusion of water”
is indeed great; but in what a world it floats! At first sight of
it, how our soul expands! The sudden revelation of such majestic
beauty, wide as it is and extending afar, inspires us with a power
of comprehending it all. Sea-like, indeed, it is--a Mediterranean
Sea--enclosed with lofty hills and as lofty mountains--and these,
indeed, are the Fortunate Isles! We shall not dwell on the feeling
which all must have experienced on the first sight of such a
vision--the feeling of a lovely and a mighty calm; it is manifest
that the spacious “diffusion of water” more than conspires with the
other components of such a scene to produce the feeling; that to it
belongs the spell that makes our spirit serene, still, and bright as
its own. Nor when such feeling ceases so entirely to possess, and so
deeply to affect us, does the softened and subdued charm of the scene
before us depend less on the expanse of the “diffusion of water.” The
islands, that before had lain we knew not how--or we had only felt
that they were all most lovely--begin to show themselves in the order
of their relation to one another and to the shores. The eye rests on
the largest, and with them the lesser combine; or we look at one or
two of the least, away by themselves, or remote from all a tufted
rock; and many as they are, they break not the breadth of the liquid
plain, for it is ample as the sky. They show its amplitude; as masses
and sprinklings of clouds, and single clouds, show the amplitude of
the cerulean vault. And then the long promontories--stretching out
from opposite mainlands, and enclosing bays that in themselves are
lakes--they too magnify the empire of water; for long as they are,
they seem so only as our eye attends them with their cliffs and woods
from the retiring shores, and far distant are their shadows from
the central light. Then what shores! On one side, where the lake
is widest, low-lying they seem and therefore lovelier--undulating
with fields and groves, where many a pleasant dwelling is embowered,
into lines of hills that gradually soften away into another land. On
the other side, sloping back, or overhanging, mounts beautiful in
their barrenness, for they are green as emerald; others, scarcely
more beautiful, studded with fair trees--some altogether woods. They
soon form into mountains--and the mountains become more and more
majestical, yet beauty never deserts them, and her spirit continues
to tame that of the frowning cliffs. Far off as they are, Benlomond
and Benvoirlich are seen to be giants; magnificent is their retinue,
but the two are supreme, each in his own dominion; and clear as the
day is here, they are diademed with clouds.

It cannot be that the “proportion of diffused water is here too
great;” and is it then true that no one “ever travelled along the
banks of Loch Lomond, variegated as the lower part is by islands,
without feeling that a speedier termination to the long vista
of blank water would be acceptable, and without wishing for an
interposition of green meadows, trees and cottages, and a sparkling
stream to run by his side?” We have travelled along them in all
weathers, and never felt such a wish. For there they all are--all
but the “sparkling stream to run by our side,” and we see not how
that well could be in nature. “Streams that sparkle as they run,”
cross our path on their own; and brighter never issued from the
woods. Along the margin of the water, as far as Luss--ay, and much
farther--the variations of the foreground are incessant; “had it no
other beauties,” it has been truly said, “but those of its shores,
it would still be an object of prime attraction; whether from the
bright green meadows sprinkled with luxuriant ash-trees, that
sometimes skirt its margin, or its white pebbled shores on which its
gentle billows murmur, like a miniature ocean, or its bold rocky
promontories rising from the dark water rich in wild-flowers and
ferns, and tangled with wild roses and honey-suckles, or its retired
bays where the waves dash, reflecting, like a mirror, the trees
which hang over them, an inverted landscape.” The islands are for
ever arranging themselves into new forms, every one more and more
beautiful; at least so they seem to be, perpetually occurring, yet
always unexpected, and there is a pleasure even in such a series
of slight surprises that enhances the delight of admiration. And
alongside, or behind us, all the while, are the sylvan mountains,
“laden with beauty;” and ever and anon open glens widen down upon us
from chasms; or forest glades lead our hearts away into the inner
gloom--perhaps our feet; and there, in a field that looks not as if
it had been cleared by his own hands, but left clear by nature, a
woodsman’s hut.

Half-way between Luss and Tarbet the water narrows, but it is still
wide; the new road, we believe, winds round the point of Firkin, the
old road boldly scaled the height, as all old roads loved to do;
ascend it, and bid the many-isled vision, in all its greatest glory,
farewell. Thence upwards prevails the spirit of the mountains. The
lake is felt to belong to them--to be subjected to their will--and
that is capricious; for sometimes they suddenly blacken it when
at its brightest, and sometimes when its gloom is like that of
the grave, as if at their bidding, all is light. We cannot help
attributing the “skiey influences” which occasion such wonderful
effects on the water, to prodigious mountains; for we cannot look on
them without feeling that they reign over the solitude they compose;
the lights and shadows flung by the sun and the clouds imagination
assuredly regards as put forth by the vast objects which they colour;
and we are inclined to think some such belief is essential in the
profound awe, often amounting to dread, with which we are inspired
by the presences of mere material forms. But be this as it may, the
upper portion of Loch Lomond is felt by all to be most sublime. Near
the head, all the manifold impressions of the beautiful which for
hours our mind had been receiving, begin to fade; if some gloomy
change has taken place in the air, there is a total obliteration, and
the mighty scene before us is felt to possess not the hour merely,
but the day. Yet should sunshine come, and abide a while, beauty will
glimpse upon us even here, for green pastures will smile vividly,
high up among the rocks; the sylvan spirit is serene the moment it
is touched with light, and here there is not only many a fair tree
by the water-side, but yon old oak wood will look joyful on the
mountain, and the gloom become glimmer in the profound abyss.

Wordsworth says, that “it must be more desirable, for the purposes of
pleasure, that lakes should be numerous, and small or middle-sized,
than large, not only for communication by walks and rides, but for
variety, and for recurrence of similar appearances.” The Highlands
have them of all sizes--and that surely is best. But here is one
which, it has been truly said, is not only “incomparable in its
beauty as in its dimensions, exceeding all others in variety as it
does in extent and splendour, but unites in itself every style of
scenery which is found in the other lakes of the Highlands.” He
who has studied, and understood, and felt all Loch Lomond, will be
prepared at once to enjoy any other fine lake he looks on; nor will
he admire nor love it the less, though its chief character should
consist in what forms but one part of that of the Wonder in which all
kinds of beauty and sublimity are combined.

We feel that it would be idle, and worse than idle, to describe any
number of the Highland lochs, for so many of the finest have been
seen by so many eyes, that few persons probably will ever read these
pages to whom such descriptions would be, at the best, more than
shadowings of scenery that their own imaginations can more vividly

We may be allowed, however, to say, that there cannot be a greater
mistake than to think, as many we believe do who have only heard of
the Highland lochs, that, with the exception of those famous for
their beauty as well as their grandeur, beauty is not only not the
quality by which they are distinguished, but that it is rarely found
in them at all. There are few, possessing any very marked character,
in which beauty is not either an ingredient or an accompaniment; and
there are many “beautiful exceedingly” which, lying out of the way
even of somewhat adventurous travellers, or very remote, are known,
if even by that, only by name. It does not, indeed, require much,
in some situations, to give a very touching beauty to water. A few
trees, a few knolls, a few tufted rocks, will do it, where all around
and above is stern or sterile; and how strong may be the gentle
charm, if the torrent that feeds the little loch chance to flow into
it from a lucid pool formed by a waterfall, and to flow out of it
in a rivulet that enlivens the dark heather with a vale of verdure
over which a stag might bound--and more especially if there be two or
three huts in which it is perceived there is human life! We believe
we slightly touched before on such scenes; but any little repetition
will be excused for the sake of a very picturesque passage, which
we have much pleasure in quoting from the very valuable _Guide to
the Highlands and Islands of Scotland_, by the brothers Anderson. We
well remember walking into the scene here so well painted, many long
years ago, and have indeed, somewhere or other, described it. The
Fall of Foyers is the most magnificent cataract, out of all sight
and hearing, in Britain. The din is quite loud enough in ordinary
weather--and it is only in ordinary weather that you can approach
the place, from which you have a full view of all its grandeur.
When the Fall is in flood--to say nothing of being drenched to the
skin--you are so blinded by the sharp spray smoke, and so deafened
by the dashing and clashing, and tumbling and rumbling thunder, that
your condition is far from enviable, as you cling, “lonely lover of
nature,” to a shelf by no means eminent for safety, above the horrid
gulf. Nor in former times was there any likelihood of your being
comforted by the accommodations of the General’s Hut. In ordinary
Highland weather--meaning thereby weather neither very wet nor very
dry--it is worth walking a thousand miles for one hour to behold
the Fall of Foyers. The spacious cavity is enclosed by “complicated
cliffs and perpendicular precipices” of immense height; and though
for a while it wears to the eye a savage aspect, yet beauty fears
not to dwell even there, and the horror is softened by what appears
to be masses of tall shrubs, or single shrubs almost like trees. And
they are trees, which on the level plain would look even stately; but
as they ascend ledge above ledge the walls of that awful chasm, it
takes the eye time to see them as they really are, while on our first
discernment of their character, serenely standing among the tumult,
they are felt on such sites to be sublime.

“Between the Falls and the Strath of Stratherrik,” says the book
we were about to quote, “a space of three or four miles, the river
Foyers flows through a series of low rocky hills clothed with birch.
They present various quiet glades and open spaces, where little
patches of cultivated ground are encircled by wooded hillocks, whose
surface is pleasingly diversified by nodding trees, bare rocks,
empurpled heath, and bracken bearing herbage.” It was the excessive
loveliness of some of the scenery there that suggested to us the
thought of going to look what kind of a stream the Foyers was above
the Fall. We went, and in the quiet of a summer evening, found it

      “Was even the gentlest of all gentle things.”

But here is the promised description of it:--“Before pursuing our
way westward, we would wish to direct the traveller’s attention to
a sequestered spot of peculiar beauty on the river Foyers. This
is a secluded vale, called Killean, which, besides its natural
attractions, and these are many, is distinguished as one of the few
places where the old practice of resorting to the ‘shieling’ for
summer grazing of cattle is still observed. It is encompassed on
all sides by steep mountains; but at the north end there is a small
lake, about a mile and a half in length, and from one-third to half
a mile in breadth. The remainder of the bottom of the glen is a
perfectly level tract, of the same width with the lake, and about
two miles and a half in length, covered with the richest herbage,
and traversed by a small meandering river flowing through it into
the lake. The surface of this flat is bedecked with the little huts
or bothies, which afford temporary accommodation to the herdsmen and
others in charge of the cattle. This portion of the glen is bordered
on the west by continuous hills rising abruptly in a uniformly
steep acclivity, and passing above into a perpendicular range of
precipices, the whole covered with a scanty verdure sprouted with
heath. At the bend of the lake near its middle, where it inclines
from a northernly course towards the west, a magnificent rounded
precipice, which, like the continuous ranges, may be about 1200 feet
in height, rises immediately out of the water; and a few narrow
and inclined verdant stripes alone preserve it from exhibiting a
perfectly mural character. To this noble rock succeeds, along the
rest of the lake, a beautiful, lofty, and nearly vertical hill-side,
clothed with birch, intermingled with hanging mossy banks, shaded
over with the deeper tinted bracken. The eastern side of the plain,
and the adjoining portion of the lake, are lined by mountains
corresponding in height with those opposed to them; but their lower
extremities are, to a considerable extent, strewed with broken
fragments of rock, to which succeeds an uninterrupted zone of birch
and alder, which is again overtopped in its turn by naked cliffs. An
elevated terrace occupies the remainder of this side of the lake;
above the wooded face of which is seen a sloping expanse of mingled
heath and herbage. About half a mile from the south end, Mr. Fraser
of Lovat, the proprietor, has erected a shooting lodge; viewed from
which, or from either end, or from the top of the platform on the
north-east side of the lake, fancy could scarcely picture a more
attractive and fairy landscape than is unfolded by this sequestered
vale, to which Dr. Johnson’s description of the ‘Happy Valley’ not
inaptly applies. The milch cows, to the number of several hundreds,
are generally kept here from the beginning of June to the middle of
August, when they are replaced by the yeld cattle. The river sweeps
to the northward from Loch Killean through richly birch-clad hills,
which rise in swelling slopes from its banks. A large tarn which
immediately joins it from the east is crossed at its mouth by a
rustic bridge, from which a single footpath conducts across the brow
of the hill to Whitebridge, a small public-house or inn, four miles

There is a loch of a very different character from Killean, almost
as little known (a view of it is given at page 708), equal to
anything in the Highlands, only two miles distant from Loch Lochy, in
the great glen--Loch Arkaig. We first visited it many years since,
having been induced to do so by a passage in John Stoddard’s _Remarks
on the Local Scenery and Manners of Scotland_; and it was then a
very noble oak and pine forest loch. The axe went to work and kept
steadily at it; and a great change was wrought; but it is still a
grand scene, with a larger infusion of beauty than it possessed of
old. The scenery of the valley separating it from Loch Lochy is very
similar to that of the Trossachs; through it there are two approaches
to the loch, and the _Mile-Dubh_, or the dark mile, according to
our feeling, is more impressive than any part of the approach to
Loch Katrine. The woods and rocks are very solemn, and yet very
sweet; for though many old pines, and oaks and ashes are there,
and the wall of rocks is immense, young trees prevail now on many
places, as well along the heights as among the knolls and hillocks
below, where alders and hawthorns are thick; almost everywhere the
young are intermingled with the old, and look cheerful under their
protection, without danger of being chilled by their shade. The loch,
more or less sylvan from end to end, shows on its nearer shores some
magnificent remains of the ancient forest, and makes a noble sweep
like some great river. There may be more, but we remember but one
island--not large, but wooded as it should be--the burying-place of
the family of Lochiel. What rest! It is a long journey from Loch
Lochy to Kinloch Arkaig--and by the silent waters we walked or sat
all a summer’s day. There was nothing like a road that we observed,
but the shores are easily travelled, and there it is you may be
almost sure of seeing some red deer. They are no better worth looking
at from a window than Fallow--no offence to Fallow, who are fine
creatures; indeed, we had rather not see them so at all; but on the
shores or steeps of Loch Arkaig, with hardly a human habitation
within many, many miles, and these few rather known than seen to
be there, the huts of Highlanders contented to cultivate here and
there some spot that seems cultivatable, but probably is found not
to be so after some laborious years--there they are at home; and
you, if young, looking on them feel at home too, and go bounding,
like one of themselves, over what, did you choose, were an evitable
steep. Roe, too, frequent the copses, but to be seen they must be
started; grouse spring up before you oftener than you might expect
in a deer forest; but, to be sure, it is a rough and shaggy one,
though lovelier lines of verdure never lay in the sunshine than we
think we see now lying for miles along the margin of that loch. The
numerous mountains towards the head of the loch are very lofty, and
glens diverge in grand style into opposite and distant regions. Glen
Dessary, with its beautiful pastures, opens on the Loch, and leads
to Loch Nevish on the coast of Knoidart--Glen Pæan to Oban-a-Cave on
Loch Morer, Glen Canagorie into Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel; and Glen
Kingie to Glengarry and Loch Quoich. There is a choice! We chose Glen
Kingie, and after a long climb found a torrent that took us down to
Glengarry before sunset. It is a loch little known, and in grandeur
not equal to Loch Arkaig; but at the close of such a day’s journey,
the mind, elevated by the long contemplation of the great objects of
nature, cannot fail to feel aright, whatever it may be, the spirit of
the scene, that seems to usher in the grateful hour of rest. It is
surpassing fair--and having lain all night long on its gentle banks,
sleeping or waking we know not, we have never remembered it since but
as the Land of Dreams.

Which is the dreariest, most desolate and dismal of the Highland
lochs? We should say Loch Ericht. It lies in a prodigious wilderness
with which perhaps no man alive is conversant, and in which you may
travel for days without seeing even any symptoms of human life. We
speak of the regions comprehended between the Forest of Athole,
and Bennevis, the Moor of Rannoch, and Glen Spean. There are many
Lochs--and Loch Ericht is their grisly Queen. Herdsmen, shepherds,
hunters, fowlers, anglers, traverse its borders, but few have been
far in the interior, and we never knew anybody who had crossed it
from south to north, from east to west. We have ourselves seen
more of it, perhaps than any other Lowlander; and had traversed
many of its vast glens and moors before we found our way to the
southern solitude of Loch Ericht. We came into the western gloom of
Ben Alder from Loch Ouchan, and up and down for hours dismal but
not dangerous precipices that opened out into what might almost
be called passes--but we have frequently to go back for they were
blind--contrived to clamber to the edge of one of the mountains
that rose from the water a few miles down the Loch. All was vast,
shapeless, savage, black, and wrathfully grim; for it was one of
those days that keep frowning and lowering, yet will not thunder;
such as one conceives of on the eve of an earthquake. At first the
sight was dreadful, but there was no reason for dread; imagination
remains not longer than she chooses the slave of her own eyes, and
we soon began to enjoy the gloom, and to feel how congenial it was
in nature with the character of all those lifeless cliffs. Silence
and darkness suit well together in solitude at noonday; and settled
on huge objects make them sublime. And they were huge; all ranged
together, and stretching away to a great distance, with the pitchy
water, still as if frozen, covering their feet.

Loch Ericht is many miles long--nearly twenty; but there is a loch
among the Grampians not more than two miles round--if so much, which
is sublimer far--Loch Aven. You come upon the sight of it at once,
a short way down from the summit of Cairngorm, and then it is some
two thousand feet below you, itself being as many above the level
of the sea. But to come upon it so as to feel best its transcendent
grandeur, you should approach it up Glenaven--and from as far down
as Inch-Rouran, which is about half-way between Loch Aven and
Tomantoul. Between Inch-Rouran and Tomantoul the glen is wild, but
it is inhabited; above that house there is but one other--and for
about a dozen miles--we have heard it called far more--there is
utter solitude. But never was there a solitude at once so wild--so
solemn--so serene--so sweet! The glen is narrow; but on one side
there are openings into several wider glens, that show you mighty
coves as you pass on; on the other side the mountains are without a
break, and the only variation with them is from smooth to shaggy,
from dark to bright; but their prevailing character is that of
pastoral or of forest peace. The mountains that show the coves belong
to the bases of Ben-Aven and Ben-y-buird. The heads of those giants
are not seen--but it sublimes the long glen to know that it belongs
to their dominion, and that it is leading us on to an elevation that
erelong will be on a level with the roots of their topmost cliffs.
The Aven is so clear--on account of the nature of its channel--that
you see the fishes hanging in every pool; and ’tis not possible to
imagine how beautiful in such transparencies are the reflections of
its green ferny banks. For miles they are composed of knolls, seldom
interspersed with rocks, and there cease to be any trees. But ever
and anon, we walk for a while on a level floor, and the voice of the
stream is mute. Hitherto sheep have been noticed on the hill, but
not many, and red and black cattle grazing on the lower pastures;
but they disappear, and we find ourselves all at once in a desert.
So it is felt to be, coming so suddenly with its black heather on
that greenest grass; but ’tis such a desert as the red-deer love.
We are now high up on the breast of the mountain, which appears to
be Cairngorm; but such heights are deceptive, and it is not till
we again see the bed of the Aven that we are assured we are still
in the glen. Prodigious precipices, belonging to several different
mountains, for between mass and mass there is blue sky, suddenly
arise, forming themselves more and more regularly into circular
order, as we near; and now we have sight of the whole magnificence;
yet vast as it is, we know not yet how vast; it grows as we gaze,
till in a while we feel that sublimer it may not be; and then so
quiet in all its terrific grandeur we feel too that it is beautiful,
and think of the Maker.

This is Loch Aven. How different the whole regions round from
that enclosing Loch Ericht! There, vast wildernesses of more than
melancholy moors--huge hollows hating their own gloom that keep them
herbless--disconsolate glens left far away by themselves, without any
sign of life--cliffs that frown back the sunshine--and mountains, as
if they were all dead, insensible to the heavens. Is this all mere
imagination--or the truth? We deceive ourselves in what we call a
desert. For we have so associated our own being with the appearances
of outward things, that we attribute to them, with an uninquiring
faith, the very feelings and the very thoughts, of which we have
chosen to make them emblems. But here the sources of the Dee seem
to lie in a region as happy as it is high; for the bases of the
mountains are all such as the soul has chosen to make sublime--the
colouring of the mountains all such as the soul has chosen to make
beautiful; and the whole region, thus imbued with a power to inspire
elevation and delight, is felt to be indeed one of the very noblest
in nature.

We have now nearly reached the limits assigned to our _Remarks on
the Character of the Scenery of the Highlands_; and we feel that
the sketches we have drawn of its component qualities--occasionally
filled up with some details--must be very imperfect indeed, without
comprehending some parts of the coast, and some of the sea-arms that
stretch into the interior. But even had our limits allowed, we do
not think we could have ventured on such an attempt; for though we
have sailed along most of the western shores, and through some of its
sounds, and into many of its bays, and up not a few of its reaches,
yet they contain such an endless variety of all the fairest and
greatest objects of nature, that we feel it would be far beyond our
powers to give anything like an adequate idea of the beauty and the
grandeur that for ever kept unfolding themselves around our summer
voyagings in calm or storm. Who can say that he knows a thousandth
part of the wonders of “the marine” between the Mull of Cantire and
Cape Wrath? He may have gathered many an extensive shore--threaded
many a mazy multitude of isles--sailed up many a spacious bay--and
cast anchor at the head of many a haven land-locked so as no more to
seem to belong to the sea--yet other voyagers shall speak to him of
innumerable sights which he has never witnessed; and they who are
most conversant with those coasts, best know how much they have left
and must leave for ever unexplored.

Look now only at the Linnhe Loch--how it gladdens Argyle! Without
it and the sound of Mull how sad would be the shadows of Morven!
Eclipsed the splendours of Lorn! Ascend one of the heights of Appin,
and as the waves roll in light, you will feel how the mountains are
beautified by the sea. There is a majestic rolling onwards there
that belongs to no land-loch--only to the world of waves. There is
no nobler image of ordered power than the tide, whether in flow or
in ebb; and on all now it is felt to be beneficent, coming and going
daily, to enrich and adorn. Or in fancy will you embark, and let the
“Amethyst” bound away “at her own sweet will,” accordant with yours,
till she reach the distant and long-desired loch.

      “Loch-Sunart! who, when tides and tempests roar,
      Comes in among these mountains from the main,
      ’Twixt wooded Ardnamurchan’s rocky cape
      And Ardmore’s shingly beach of hissing spray;
      And, while his thunders bid the sound of Mull
      Be dumb, sweeps onwards past a hundred bays
      Hill-sheltered from the wrath that foams along
      The mad mid-channel,--All as quiet they
      As little separate worlds of summer dreams,--
      And by storm-loving birds attended up
      The mountain-hollow, white in their career
      As are the breaking billows, spurns the Isles
      Of craggy Carnich, and Green Oronsay
      Drench’d in that sea-born shower o’er tree-tops driven
      And ivied stones of what was once a tower
      Now hardly known from rocks--and gathering might
      In the long reach between Dungallan caves
      And point of Arderinis ever fair
      With her Elysian groves, bursts through that strait
      Into another ampler inland sea;
      Till lo! subdued by some sweet influence,--
      And potent is she though so meek the Eve,--
      Down sinketh wearied the old Ocean
      Insensibly into a solemn calm,--
      And all along that ancient burial-ground,
      (Its kirk is gone,) that seemeth now to lend
      Its own eternal quiet to the waves,
      Restless no more, into a perfect peace
      Lulling and lull’d at last, while drop the airs
      Away as they were dead, the first risen star
      Beholds that lovely Archipelago,
      All shadow’d there as in a spiritual world,
      Where time’s mutations shall come never more!”

These lines describe but one of innumerable lochs that owe their
greatest charm to the sea. It is indeed one of those on which
nature has lavished all her infinite varieties of loveliness; but
Loch Leven is scarcely less fair, and perhaps grander; and there is
matchless magnificence about Loch Etive. All round about Ballachulish
and Invercoe the scenery of Loch Leven is the sweetest ever seen
overshadowed by such mountains; the deeper their gloom, the brighter
its lustre; in all weathers it wears a cheerful smile; and often
while up among the rocks the tall trees are tossing in the storm, the
heart of the woods beneath is calm, and the vivid fields they shelter
look as if they still enjoyed the sun. Nor closes the beauty there,
but even animates the entrance into that dreadful glen--Glencoe. All
the way up its river, Loch Leven would be fair, were it only for her
hanging woods. But though the glen narrows, it still continues broad,
and there are green plains between her waters and the mountains, on
which stately trees stand single, and there is ample room for groves.
The returning tide tells us, should we forget it, that this is no
inland loch, for it hurries away back to the sea, not turbulent, but
fast as a river in flood. The river Leven is one of the finest in the
Highlands, and there is no other such series of waterfalls, all seen
at once, one above the other, along an immense vista; and all the
way up to the farthest there are noble assemblages of rocks--nowhere
any want of wood--and in places, trees that seem to have belonged to
some old forest. Beyond, the opening in the sky seems to lead into
another region, and it does so; for we have gone that way, past some
small lochs, across a wide wilderness, with mountains on all sides,
and descended on Loch Treag,

      “A loch whom there are none to praise
      And very few to love,”

but overflowing in our memory with all pleasantest images of pastoral
contentment and peace.

Loch Etive, between the ferries of Connel and Bunawe, has been seen
by almost all who have visited the Highlands but very imperfectly;
to know what it is you must row or sail up it, for the banks on
both sides are often richly wooded, assume many fine forms, and are
frequently well embayed, while the expanse of water is sufficiently
wide to allow you from its centre to command a view of many of the
distant heights. But above Bunawe it is not like the same loch. For
a couple of miles it is not wide, and it is so darkened by enormous
shadows that it looks even less like a strait than a gulf--huge
overhanging rocks on both sides ascending high, and yet felt to
belong but to the bases of mountains that sloping far back have
their summits among clouds of their own in another region of the sky.
Yet are they not all horrid; for nowhere else is there such lofty
heather--it seems a wild sort of brushwood; tall trees flourish,
single or in groves, chiefly birches, with now and then an oak--and
they are in their youth or their prime--and even the prodigious
trunks, some of which have been dead for centuries, are not all dead,
but shoot from their knotted rhind symptoms of life inextinguishable
by time and tempest. Out of this gulf we emerge into the Upper
Loch, and its amplitude sustains the majesty of the mountains, all
of the highest order, and seen from their feet to their crests.
Cruachan wears the crown, and reigns over them all--king at once of
Loch Etive and of Loch Awe. But Buachaille Etive, though afar off,
is still a giant, and in some lights comes forwards, bringing with
him the Black Mount and its dependents, so that they all seem to
belong to this most magnificent of all Highland lochs. “I know not,”
says Macculloch, “that Loch Etive could bear an ornament without an
infringement on that aspect of solitary vastness which it presents
throughout. Nor is there one. The rocks and bays on the shore, which
might elsewhere attract attention, are here swallowed up in the
enormous dimensions of the surrounding mountains, and the wide and
ample expanse of the lake. A solitary house, here fearfully solitary,
situated far up in Glen Etive, is only visible when at the upper
extremity; and if there be a tree, as there are in a few places on
the shore, it is unseen; extinguished as if it were a humble mountain
flower, by the universal magnitude around.” This is finely felt and
expressed; but even on the shores of Loch Etive there is much of the
beautiful; Ardmatty smiles with its meadows, and woods, and bay,
and sylvan stream; other sunny nooks repose among the grey granite
masses; the colouring of the banks and braes is often bright; several
houses or huts become visible no long way up the glen; and though
that long hollow--half a day’s journey--till you reach the wild
road between Inveruran and King’s House--lies in gloom, yet the
hillsides are cheerful, and you delight in the greensward, wide and
rock-broken, should you ascend the passes that lead into Glencreran
or Glencoe. But to feel the full power of Glen Etive you must walk
up it till it ceases to be a glen. When in the middle of the moor,
you see far off a solitary dwelling indeed--perhaps the loneliest
house in all the Highlands--and the solitude is made profounder, as
you pass by, by the voice of a cataract, hidden in an awful chasm,
bridged by two or three stems of trees, along which the red-deer
might fear to venture--but we have seen them and the deer-hounds
glide over it, followed by other fearless feet, when far and wide the
Forest of Dalness was echoing to the hunter’s horn.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now brought our Remarks on the _Scenery of the Highlands_ to
a close, and would fain have said a few words on the character and
life of the people; but are precluded from even touching on that most
interesting subject. It is impossible that the minds of travellers
through those wonderful regions can be so occupied with the
contemplation of mere inanimate nature, as not to give many a thought
to their inhabitants, now and in the olden time. Indeed, without
such thoughts, they would often seem to be but blank and barren
wildernesses in which the heart would languish, and imagination
itself recoil; but they cannot long be so looked at, for houseless as
are many extensive tracts, and at times felt to be too dreary even
for moods that for a while enjoyed the absence of all that might tell
of human life, yet symptoms and traces of human life are noticeable
to the instructed eye almost every where, and in them often lies
the spell that charms us, even while we think that we are wholly
delivered up to the influence of “dead insensate things.” None will
visit the Highlands without having some knowledge of their history;
and the changes that have long been taking place in the condition
of the people will be affectingly recognised wherever they go, in
spite even of what might have appeared the insuperable barriers of




B.C. 55--A.D. 446.

  Highlands defined--Ancient Scotland--Roman Transactions--Agricola
  --Caledonians--Contest at Loch Ore--Galgacus--Mons Grampius--Battle
  --Agricola superseded--Lollius Urbicus--Antonine’s Wall--Ulpius
   Marcellus--Severus--Constantius Chlorus--Picts--Scots--Attacots
  --Attack Roman Provinces--Romans abandon Britain--Influence of
  Romans--Roman Remains--Roads--Camps--Ardoch.

As it is generally acknowledged that the physical character of
a country influences in a great degree the moral and physical
character of its inhabitants, and thus to a certain extent determines
their history, it may not be deemed out of place to define here
the application of the term _Highlands_, so far as Scotland is
concerned, 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 relation between a people and the country which they have
inhabited for centuries, the following 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 themselves 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, indomitable, impulsive
race, steadfast in their friendship and loyalty, and relentless but
generous 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 acquaintance with this interesting race, both
historically and by personal intercourse, to form an adequate notion
of their character in all its aspects.

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. Indeed, 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 southern Britons, as occupying the same position
in relation to the rest of the country as the Highlands proper did
at a subsequent period. In course of time the events which fall to
be recorded in the following pages gradually altered this easily
perceived boundary, so that for centuries before the present day, a
much more intricate but still distinct line has marked the limits
of what is now strictly and correctly regarded as the Highlands of

The definition of this territory which best suits the purposes of
history, and in all respects most nearly accords with those of
political 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, westward 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
outward 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 Westwater, 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 deviation, 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 excluding 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 description, 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 historically 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 extreme
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 distance 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 Ardnamurchan Point on the west,
they do not extend to more than 120 miles. The district comprehends
the whole of the counties of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, Cromarty,
Inverness, and Argyle, large parts of Nairn, Perth, Dumbarton, and
Bute, and considerable portions of Elgin, Banff, Aberdeen, Forfar,
and Stirling. Considerable parts of this district, however, such as
Caithness-shire, 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 pinnacled 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 direction 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 directions among the mountains,
and abound in voluminous streams, and large elongated lakes of
picturesque appearance,--nearly all the inland lakes extending in
stripes either north-eastward and south-westward, or eastward and
westward. Along the whole west coast, at remarkably 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 torrents, careering
for a while along mountain-gorges, and afterwards either expanding
themselves 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 favourable in position, are carpeted with agricultural
luxuriance, and thickly dotted with human dwellings, and successfully
vie with the south of Scotland in towns and population, and in the
pursuit and display of wealth. But almost everywhere else, except in
the fairyland of Loch Fyne, and the southern shore of Loch Etive, the
Highlands are sequestered,--sinless of a town,--a semi-wilderness,
where a square mile is a more convenient unit of measurement than an

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 dwelling on the loveliness of an
extensive marine or champaign landscape into the deep solitude of an
ancient forest, or the dark craggy fastnesses 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 perennial 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 met in every district;
while the extreme steepness, ruggedness, and sterility of many of the
mountain-chains impart to them as imposing and magnificent characters
as are to be seen in the much higher and more inaccessible elevations
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 diversity 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 recommending them
to visit the more remote or unknown solitudes.[1]

Such are the main features of the Highlands of Scotland at the
present day, and, to a considerable extent, the description might
have applied to the country at the time of the Roman invasion.
Still, in the graphic words of Stuart,[2] “To form an idea of the
general aspect of Scotland, 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
sombre hue, within which the _genius loci_ may be 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 continuous wood; a mass of cheerless verdure resting on hill and
dale--the sameness of its dark extent 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 the North; while, in others, occasional
spots of pasture-land would here and there appear;--but, on the
whole, these must have formed a striking contrast to the wide expanse
of the prevailing 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 Cæsar first
landed on the coast of South Britain, until A.D. 78, when, under
the Emperor Vespasian, Cnæus Julius Agricola assumed the command in
Great Britain, the greater part of midland and south England had been
brought under the sway of the Romans. This able commander set himself
with vigour and earnestness to confirm the conquests which had been
already made, to reduce the rest of the country to subjection, to
conciliate the Britons by mild measures, and to attach them to the
Roman power by introducing among them Roman manners, literature,
luxuries, and dress.

Agricola was appointed to the command in Britain in the year 78 A.D.,
but appears not to have entered Scotland till his third campaign
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,--erecting, in 81, a series of
forts between these two estuaries. Having accomplished this, Agricola
made preparations for his next campaign, which he was to open beyond
the friths in the summer of 83, he in the meantime having heard that
the Caledonians--as Tacitus calls the people north of the Forth--had
formed a confederacy to resist the invader.

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Sculptured Stone in the Church of Meigle.

Fig. 2. From a Sculptured Stone found at St. Andrews.]

These Caledonians appear to have been divided into a number of tribes
or clans, having little or no 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 command of a military leader.
Some writers, on the authority of Ptolemy of Alexandria, but chiefly
on that of the pseudo-Richard of Cirencester,[3] give a list of
the various tribes which, during the Roman 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 Herodian 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 Cæsar, “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 with felled trees, they build within it houses for
themselves, and hovels for their cattle.”[4] Notwithstanding, perhaps
owing to the scantiness of their covering, which left their bodies
exposed to the rigour of a cold and variable climate, 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 robbery. 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 modern 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 Tacitus. The use of cavalry appears not
to have been so well understood among the Caledonians 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 Britons,
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 be sparing in their conjectures; but analogy may supply
materials for well-grounded speculations, and it may therefore be
asserted, without 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
to whom they yielded a certain degree of obedience. Dio, indeed,
insinuates that the governments of these tribes were democratic; but
he 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
democracy can prevail; and the state of barbarism in which he says
the inhabitants of North 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 Tacitus, Galgacus, “inter
plures duces virtute et genere præstans.”[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 Roman 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 ambitious chieftain
had prolonged his power by successful 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 inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands
are mentioned, that they offered a far more formidable resistance
to the Roman 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 Roman invaders, and
from Tacitus we learn that those with whom his father-in-law came
into contact were distinguished 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
barbarous practice of tattooing their bodies. Indeed it may be taken
as a proof of their never having to any great extent come under the
power and influence of Rome and Roman customs, that they retained
this practice for long after the other Britons had abandoned it, and
on this account, in all probability, afterwards acquired the name of

[Illustration: British War-Chariot.]

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
_matériel_ of war with which they are said to have appeared before
him? 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 for it axles of great strength--above all, able to
construct the wheels and arm them with those sharp-edged instruments
that were destined 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
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 happened 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 campaign were commenced by the
Caledonian Britons, who, from the higher country, made a furious
attack upon the trans-Forthan fortifications, which so alarmed some
of Agricola’s officers, who were afraid of being cut off from a
retreat, that they advised their general to recross the Forth without
delay; but Agricola 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 continued 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 suppose to have been Roman
fortifications and encampments. As it would serve no good purpose
to encumber our pages with these antiquarian conjectures, detailed
accounts of which will be found in Chalmers, Stuart, Roy, and
others, we shall only say that, with considerable 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
do not seem to have been very far apart, as will be seen from the
following episode.

The enemy having watched the proceedings of the Roman army made
the necessary preparations 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 movements; 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,
maintained 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 subduing 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 proximity 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
coalesce in support of their liberties, which were threatened with
utter annihilation. In this 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, ratified the confederacy into which they
had entered 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 _Mons Grampius_; 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 Grampian 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 be 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 supposed to have numbered about 20,000 or 30,000, the
auxiliary infantry, in number about 8,000,[10] occupying the centre,
the wings consisting of 3,000 horse. The legions were stationed in
the rear, at the head of the entrenchments, as a body of reserve to
support the ranks, if necessary, but 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
light, according to “the fashion of historical literature at that
time,” a speech is put into the mouth of each general by the
historian 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 Galgacus was far removed
from a mere feat of idle pedantry. It was a noble rebuke on the
empire 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.”[11]

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.[12] The battle began, and at first was
maintained at a distance. The Britons wanted neither skill nor
resolution. 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 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 without 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 be ready
for others, butchered them on the spot. Despair and horror appeared
in various shapes; in one part of the field the Caledonians, sword
in hand, fled in crowds from a handful of Romans; in other places,
without a weapon left, they faced every danger, and rushed on certain
death. Swords and bucklers, mangled limbs and dead bodies, covered
the plain. The field was red with blood. The 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
numbers, surrounded such of the Romans as pursued with too much

Night coming on, the Romans, weary of slaughter, desisted from the
pursuit. Ten thousand of the Caledonians fell in this engagement:
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 lamentations. 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, and 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, determined with savage compassion to end their misery.

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, recrossed 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
coastwise as far as the Orkneys, whence it sailed by the Western
Islands and the British Channel _ad Portum Trutulensem_, 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
he 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
inference 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 Urbicus.

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,[13] “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
‘his campaign in the north’ as well-known events, of which people
naturally expect fuller information 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[14] of Roman stations
found throughout the wide tract just mentioned 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 subsequent expeditions, as
well as from the fact that they found it necessary to divide the
Lowlands from the Highlands by a fortified wall, that the Romans
considered the Caledonians of their time very troublesome, and found
it exceedingly difficult if not impossible to bring them under their
otherwise universal yoke.

[Illustration: Map and Profile of Antonine’s Wall.]

It may not be out of place to give here some account of the wall of
Antonine. The 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 twenty feet thick. Along the whole extent of the wall
there was a vast ditch or _prætentura_ on the outward or north
side, which was generally twenty feet deep and forty feet wide, and
which, there is reason to believe, might be filled with water when
occasion required.[15] This ditch and rampart were strengthened at
both ends, and throughout its whole extent, by about twenty forts,
three being at each extremity, 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 identified:--Rough Castle, Castlecary, Westerwood, Bunhill,
Auchindinny, Kirkintilloch, Bemulie, East Kilpatrick, Castlehill,
Duntocher, West Kilpatrick. It will be seen that to a certain extent
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 behind 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 auxiliaries, executed these vast military works,
equally creditable to their skill and perseverance. Dunglas near the
western extremity, and Blackness near the eastern extremity of the
rampart, afforded the Romans commodious harbours for their shipping,
as also did Cramond, about five miles west from Edinburgh. This wall
is called in the popular language of the country Grime’s or Graham’s
Dyke.[16] In 1868 a large oblong slab, in first-rate preservation,
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 Roman chisel. We give here a cut
of this remarkable stone, which is now in the Scottish Antiquarian

[Illustration: Stone from Antonine’s Wall. (Copied and engraved
specially for the present work.)]

We have no distinct mention of the Caledonians 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 Roman 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 conformity.

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 Rome 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, 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 incessant 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, in 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 we first hear of the
Meats or Mæatæ, who are mentioned by Dion Cassius, or rather his
epitomiser 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 Grampians 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 Caledonians by which he gave up the territories surrendered
by them to his father, and abandoned the forts erected by him in
their fastnesses. The whole country north of the wall of Antonine
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 Picts.[17] 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 Britons; 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 discipline 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 invaded the Roman territories and committed many
depredations. Julian, who commanded the Roman army on the Rhine,
despatched Lupicinus, an able military commander, to defend the
province against the Scots and Picts, but he was recalled before he
had done much to repel them.

The Picts--who on this occasion are mentioned by Ammianus
Marcellinus[18] as being divided into two nations, the _Dicaledones_
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 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 emperor of that name, who was sent to Britain in the year 367,
to repel this aggression, and to repair the great ravages committed
by the barbarians. 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 helpless 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 reply 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 Scots, to protect themselves by retiring
behind and keeping in repair the wall of Severus.

Such is a brief account of the transactions of the Romans in Britain
so far as these were connected 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 present day testify. The
British provincials, indeed, appear in the end to have been utterly
enervated, and, in the worst sense, Romanized, 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 culture. 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 Roman 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 Highlands of Scotland, as
we have defined that term, that much space should be given to an
account of Roman remains; for, as we have already 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 exclusively 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 Damionis.[19] On the other hand, it is in that unsubdued
district that the memorials of Roman conquest chiefly abound.”[20]

The whole of Britain was intersected by Roman 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 Scotland 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 Aberdeenshire, 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 Carron, and
pushing straight forward, according to the Roman custom, across the
Carron, it pursued 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 Roman roads even farther
north. Between the rivers Don and Urie in Aberdeenshire, on the
eastern side of Bennachee, there exists an ancient road known in
the country by the name of the _Maiden Causeway_, a name by which
some of the Roman roads in the north of England 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 construction, pointing to Cromdale, where the Romans 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, supports the idea that there are remains of
Roman 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 Strathdee, though it
is impossible to ascertain when or by whom these ancient roads were
constructed, in such directions, throughout such a country.

Along these roads there were without doubt many camps and stations,
as it is well known that the Romans never halted even for a single
night, without entrenching themselves behind secure fortifications.
There are many remains of what are supposed to have been Roman 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 Ochil hills on the
south and the river Almond on the north. Another important station
is supposed to have been established near Callander, where, on a
tongue of land formed by the junction of the rivers Strathgartney and
Strathyre, the two sources of the Teith, are seen the embankments
referred to by Scott[21] as

                  “The mouldering lines
      Where Rome, the empress of the world,
      Of yore her eagle wings unfurled.”[22]

Another camp is placed at Dalgenross, near the confluence of the
Ruchel and the Earn, which, with Bochastle, would command the
western district of Strathearn. Another important 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 Roman camp here was placed on a
high ground, defended by water on two sides, and by a morass with
a steep bank on 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 between it and the Forth,
are the remains of Roman posts; and at Ardargie a Roman 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 the
middle Highlands, westward through Glenlyon 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 Angus, on the east side of the Isla, about seven
miles east from Inchtuthel, stood a Roman camp, of a square form, of
twenty acres within the ramparts. This camp commanded the passage
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 remains of another Roman fort.
The great camp of Battledyke stood about eighteen miles north-east
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 Keithock. This camp is known by the name of Wardikes. The country
below the Siedlaw hills, on the north side of the estuary of Tay, was
guarded by a Roman camp near Invergowrie, which had a communication
on the north-east with the camp at Harefaulds. 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.

[Illustration: Roman Camp at Ardoch as it appeared in 1755.

(Stuart’s _Caledonia Romana_.)]

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 without a more particular
notice of the well-known camp at Ardoch. Ardoch village, in
Perthshire, lies on the east side of Knaigwater, ten miles north
from Stirling, and is about two miles from the Greenloaning station
of the Caledonian railway, the site of the camp being a little
distance to the 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 advantageous 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 regular,
and descends by a gentle slope from the lines of fortification,
which, on that side, consists 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 the steep precipices above mentioned,
it was defended 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 the antiquary a less pleasing prospect. Here
the peasant’s rugged hand has laid in ruins a great part of the
lines; so that it may be with propriety said, in the words of a Latin
poet, ‘Jam seges est, ubi Troja fuit.’ The area of the 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 encampments adjoining, having a communication with one
another, and containing about 130 acres of ground. A subterranean
passage is said to have extended from the prætorium 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.[23]


[1] We are indebted for great part of this description to Fullarton’s
_Gazetteer of Scotland_.

[2] _Caledonia Romana_, p. 11.

[3] The _De Situ Britanniæ_ “professed to be a manuscript 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
person who stepped forth as the lucky discoverer of so precious a
relic was Charles Julius Bertram, English Professor in the Royal
Marine Academy at Copenhagen. His revelation was accepted without
hesitation, 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.

[4] _De Bello Gallico_, ii. 17.

[5] Tacitus, _Agricola_, xxix.

[6] E. W. Robertson’s _Scotland under her Early Kings_, vol. i. p. 31.

[7] Stuart’s _Caledonia Romana_, pp. 35, 36.

[8] _Agricola_ xxv.

[9] _Military Antiquities._

[10] Tac. _Agricola_ xxxv.

[11] Burton’s _Hist. of Scotland_, vol. i. p. 9.

[12] Tac. _Agricola_ xxxvi, &c. We adopt Murphy’s translation in the
main, here and elsewhere.

[13] _Scotland_, vol. i. p. 29.

[14] 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 pottery 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.

[15] On the estate of Callender, to the east of Falkirk, distinct
remains of this trench are still to be seen, in good preservation,
measuring a few hundred yards in length and about 12 feet in depth.

[16] 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_.

[17] The first writer who mentions the _Picts_ is Eumenius, the
orator, who was a Professor at Autun, and who, in a panegyric
pronounced by him in the year 297, mentions the _Picts_ 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 Picts to have been the same people.

[18] _Am. Mar._, xxvii., 8.

[19] Wilson’s _Prehist. Annals_.

[20] Burton’s _Scotland_, vol. i. p. 74.

[21] _Lady of the Lake._

[22] According to Burton, however, these are by some geologists set
down as a geological phenomenon.--_Hist. of Scot._ i. 75.

[23] For more minute descriptions of this camp, as well as for
further details concerning the Roman transactions in Scotland,
consult Roy’s _Military Antiquities_, Gough’s _Camden_ (under
Strathearn), Stuart’s _Caledonia Romana_, Burton’s _History of


  Early Inhabitants--Roman Writers--Aristotle--Tacitus--Dion
  Cassius--Caledonians and Mæatæ--Eumenius--Picts--Dicaledones
  and Vecturiones--Claudian--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
  Theories--_Inver_ and _Aber_--Innes’s Theory--Conclusion.

The 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
agitated questions which have for centuries engaged the attention
of antiquaries, and in the discussion 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, moreover, 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 Gaelic? When did they enter
Scotland, and whence did they come--from the opposite continent, or
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 historians 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 antiquaries
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 difficulty 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 author who knew them from
personal observation, stated in direct terms that they approximated
to one adjoining tribe more than another. They are indeed associated
with the Scots or Irish as joint plunderers of the colonial Britons;
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 respects. Of course, where
there is such a lack of direct evidence, there is more scope for
conjecture; and the Picts are pronounced by different investigators
of their history to have been Germans, Scandinavians, Welsh, Gael,
or something distinct from all the four. The advocates of the German
hypothesis rest chiefly on Tacitus’s description of their physical
conformation. 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 ‘Caledonia,’
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

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 _Ierne_; 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
_Gael Albinnich_. The first author, however, who gives us any
information about the early inhabitants of the north part of Scotland
is Tacitus, who, in his _Life of Agricola_, devotes a few lines, in
a parenthetical way, to characterising each of the great divisions
of the people who, in the time of that general, inhabited 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.[25] 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., mentioning the Caledonians as one of
the many tribes which in his time inhabited the north of 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 information 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 Rome
which has come down to us in a very imperfect state. Of the latter
part, containing an account of Britain, we possess only an epitome
made by Xiphilinus, an ecclesiastic of the 11th 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 the
Caledonians and the Mæatæ; for the names of the rest refer for the
most part to these. The Mæatæ inhabit very near the wall[26] which
divides the island into two parts; the Caledonians are after these.
Each of them inhabit mountains, very rugged and wanting water, and
also desert fields, full of marshes: they 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, having
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 size’ of a single
bean, they are in nowise ever wont to hunger or thirst.”[27]

From this we learn that in the 3d century there were two divisions
of the inhabitants of the Highlands, known to the Romans as the
Caledonians and Mæats or Mæatæ, 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 Romans
themselves, we have no means of judging. The best writers on this
subject think that the Caledonians and Mæats were two divisions of
the same people, both living to the north of the Forth and Clyde,
although Innes,[28] and one or two minor writers, are of opinion that
the Mæats 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,[29] Mr. Joseph Robertson, and other
able authorities, we are inclined to think that the evidence is in
favour of their being the inhabitants of the southern portion of
Caledonia proper.

Herodian,[30] 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 exhibited.

The next reference made by a Roman 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 Cæsar, 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 him on the same emperor, before his son Constantine, in the year
309, in which, recording the actions of Constantius, he speaks of the
woods and marshes of _the Caledonians and other Picts_.

After this no further mention is made of the Caledonians by any Roman
writer, but towards the end of the 4th century Ammianus Marcellinus,
in his account of the Roman 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 he 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.”[31]

Claudian the poet, writing, about 397, in praise of Honorius,
mentions, among other actions of Theodosius, the grandfather of that
emperor, his having subdued the Picts, who were fitly so named,[32]
and makes various other references to this people and the Scots,
which show that these two in combination were troubling the Roman
provincials not a little.[33]

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 foundation 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 appears to us that all the conclusions which it is safe to
draw from the few facts stated by the contemporary Roman 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 Romans by the name of Caledonians. That these Caledonians, those
of them at any rate with whom Agricola came in contact in the first
century, were red or fair haired and large limbed, from which Tacitus
inferred that they were of German extraction. In the beginning of the
third century there were at least two divisions of the inhabitants
of Caledonia,--the Caledonians and Mæats,--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
removed 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,’[34] and which all the best modern writers believe to
have been imposed by the Romans themselves, from the fact that the
indomitable Caledonians had retained the custom of self-painting
after all the Romanized 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 Agricola
till they abandoned Britain entirely, and had such a supplantation
taken place, it certainly could not have been done quietly, and
without the cognizance of the Romans. But we find no mention in any
contemporary historian of any such commotion, and we know that the
inhabitants of the Highlands never ceased to harass the British
provincials, showing 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 are
all agreed as to this, that the Caledonians and Picts were the same

We learn further from our authorities, that towards the end of the
fourth century the inhabitants of Caledonia were known to the Romans
under the names of Dicaledones and Vecturiones, it being conjectured
that these correspond to the Caledonians and Mæats of Dio, and the
Northern and Southern Picts of a 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 conjecturing that it is the Gaelic word _du_, meaning
“genuine.” It appears at all events to be established 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
confederacies, 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 conjecture
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
possible 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
officer 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.”

It is interesting to notice that this[36] 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 the Picts, or
whether they had come over from Ireland for the purpose of assisting
the latter to harass the Romans, it is difficult to say. Probably, as
was the case with the Saxons, these were the harbingers of the great
migration that reached its culmination about a century 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 comparatively smooth work, but the
Italians acknowledged 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 historians give us almost no
clue to what we now deem of most interest and importance, the place
of the early inhabitants among the families of men, the time and
manner of their arrival, the language they spoke, and their internal
history generally. Of course the records 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 approaching to anything
like a hint as to the origin of the Caledonians is that of Tacitus,
referring to their ruddy locks and large limbs 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 held to be indicative of a Teutonic
origin; whereas the true Celt is popularly believed to be of a small
make and dark complexion.[37] It may have been, that in Agricola’s
time the part of the country into which he penetrated was occupied
by considerable numbers of Teutons, who had effected a settlement
either by force, or by favour of the prior inhabitants. 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 excited 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
chroniclers, the chief of whom are Gildas, Adamnan, Bede, Nennius.
“Much of the error into which former writers have been led, has
arisen from an improper use of these authors; they should be
consulted exclusively as contemporary historians--whatever they
assert as existing 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
undeserving of credit.”[38] 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 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. Moreover, 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 Britanniæ_, one of
the latest and most acute writers[39] on ethnology has shown that he
is almost totally unworthy of credit, the sources of his information
being exceedingly suspicious, and his statements proved to be false
by comparison with trustworthy contemporary Roman historians.
There is every reason to believe that the so-called Gildas--for
by Mr. Wright[40] he has been reduced to a _nominis umbra_--lived
and wrote about the middle of the 6th century A.D., so that, had
he used ordinary diligence 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 destruction 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.”[41] So far as the origin and early history of the Picts is
concerned, Gildas is of almost no value whatever, the only time he
mentions the Picts being incidentally to notice an invasion they had
made into the Roman provinces.[42] 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 protecting wall with hooked weapons, slaughtering them without
mercy. Some writers infer from this narrative that, during the Roman
occupation, 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 purpose; he tells
us that the Scots came from the north-west, and the Picts from the
north.[43] “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 consequence 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 Iona 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 concerning 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
connection with the questions under consideration, we 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.
Adamnan informs us that Columba’s mission was to the Northern Picts
alone,--the southern division having been converted by St. Ninian in
the 5th century. There has been much disputation 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 Grampians.

What more immediately concerns our present purpose is a passage in
Adamnan’s work in which he speaks of Columba preaching to the Picts
through an interpreter. Now Columba 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 different language, or at least
dialect, and belonged to a different race or tribe from the saint
himself. Mr. Skene,[44] who ably advocates the Gaelic origin of the
Picts, perceiving this difficulty, endeavours to explain away the
force of the 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.”
Garnett, however, one of the most competent and candid writers on
this question in its philological aspect, and who maintains, with the
greatest clearness and ability, the Cymric origin of the Picts, looks
at the passage in a different light. The entire passage, he says,[45]
as it stands in Colganus, is as follows:--“Alio in tempore quo
sanctus Columba in Pictorum provincia per aliquot demorabatur dies,
quidam cum tota plebeius familia, verbum _vitæ_ per interpretorem,
_Sancto prædicante viro_, audiens credidit, credensque baptizatus
est.”[46] “Here it will be observed,” continues Garnett, “Adamnan
does not say, ‘verbum Dei,’ which might have been construed to mean
the Scripture, but ‘verbum _vitæ, Sancto prædicante 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 concerned, Mr. Garnett has the best of
it. Although 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 difference between the two
was so great that a Gael would be unintelligible to a speaker of

The next and most important authority of this class on this _quæstio
vexata_ is the Venerable Bede, who, considering the age in which he
lived, exercised so much caution and discrimination, that he deserves
to be listened to with respect. 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 communications 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 author. It must, however, be kept in mind that Bede
does not pretend to give any but the ecclesiastical history of the
English nation, everything else being subsidiary to this.

“This island at present, following the number 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 Armorica, possessed 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 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, finding the nation of the Scots, they requested to be 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 ‘we 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 female 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, departing out of
Ireland under their leader Reuda, either by fair means, or by force
of arms, secured 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 Britons; 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.”[48]

Here then Bede informs us that in his time the common report was
that the Picts came into Scotland from Scythia, which, like the
Germania of Tacitus, may be taken to mean the northern countries of
Europe generally. This is substantially the same statement as that of
the author of the _Historia Britonum_, commonly 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.[49]

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
migration of the Picts took place it might be of considerable
assistance to us; but as we cannot now find out whether these
emigrants proceeded 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[50] remarks very
justly on this point--“Now, supposing that there were any good ground
for the opinion 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 discussion, to examine in particular from which of all the
northern nations of the continent the first colony came to Caledonia;
because that these nations of the north were almost in perpetual
motion, and changing habitations, as Strabo remarks; and he assigns
for it two reasons: the one, because of the barrenness of the soil,
they tilled not the ground, and built habitations only for a day; the
other, because being often overpowered by their neighbours, they were
forced to remove. Another reason why it is impossible to know from
which of 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 observes. Besides, it appears
that Caledonia was peopled long before the inhabitants of these
northern parts of the continent were mentioned, or even known by the
most ancient writers we 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 reliance
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, _i.e._, the inhabitants of Wales,
Cumbria, &c., Welsh; the Scots, Gaelic; the Latins, we suppose, being
the Romanized Britons and ecclesiastics. What language then did the
Picts speak? As we know that Bede never travelled, he must have got
his information from an informant 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
distinct 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 belonged, 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 Bede 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

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 accounting 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 apparent destruction of the Pictish people
and language.

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 connection 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
Pictish language, is the name said by Bede to have been given to the
eastern termination of the wall of Antonine. Bede,[51] 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 statement 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 Cymric origin of the Picts,
as an undoubted proof of the correctness of each of these theories.
Pinkerton, whose dishonesty and acrimoniousness are well known, and
must detract considerably from the force of his arguments, claims
it as being entirely Gothic or Teutonic. “The Pictish word,” he
says,[52] “is broad Gothic; _Paena_ ‘to extend,’ Ihre; and _Vahel_,
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, _i.e._ the Cymric, origin
of the Picts, says,[53] “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 _Penuahel_ in Pictish signifies the head of
the wall, which is just the signification that the same two words
_Pen_ and _Uahel_ have in the British.” In this opinion Chalmers
and other advocates of the Cymric theory coincide. Mr. Garnett, 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. “Almost the only Pictish word
given us by an ancient 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.”[54]

The two most recent and able supporters[55] of the Gaelic theory
are of much the same mind as Garnett, and appear to regard this
tantalizing word as affording no support to either side. Burton[56]
cannot admit that anything 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 information 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[57] 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 passage 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,[58] 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 converted.”
He clearly proves that it was not so in reality, and that there was
nothing so unusual in the situation as to justify the conclusion
which was drawn from it. “It was, no doubt, the case that the
teachers by whom the chief Celtic and Teutonic nations were converted
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 neighbourhood of his converts.
St. Columba was primate of all the churches of the Northern Picts,
but he did not permanently reside among that nation. St. Ninian had
ready access to his Pictish converts, and could govern them as
easily from his White Church on the Solway, as Columba could instruct
and rule the Northern Picts from his monastery in Iona.”[59]

Other authorities appealed to by the upholders of each of the Celtic
theories are the Welsh traditions, the Irish Annals, the Chronicles
of the Picts and Scots, and various legendary documents of more or
less value and authenticity. As these are of no greater authority
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[60] 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 Race, which are now in Alban
(Scotland). The third were the men of Galedin, 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_ (Denmark). The
third were the Saxons.” “The Triads,” says Skene[61] in connection
with this, “appear distinctly to have been written previous to the
Scottish conquest in the ninth century, and they mention among the
three usurping 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 Red
Gwyddyl from Ireland, who came into Alban,’ plainly alluding to the
Dalriads, who were an Irish colony, and who have been acknowledged
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 Picts 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 authorities 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 thing else than ‘The Gaelic Picts,’
_or_ ‘Pictish Gael.’”

The following is the substance of the information 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 tradition, accumulating
as it grew older, and heightened by the imagination of the writers
themselves.[62] The Picts were called by the Irish writers
_Cruithnidh_, which O’Brien considers to be the same as Britneigh,
or Britons; but according 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 Cruitneach, the Irish for Pict, also signifies a harper, as
they are said to have been celebrated harpers. The ancient Britons
are mentioned by Cæsar, and other Roman 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 Romans _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 supplied with wives of
Irish birth. The Cruthneans became possessed of North Britain, and
founded there the kingdom of the Picts. A colony of the Cruthneans,
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
Derry, 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
Roscommon. According to the Irish writers, 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
Scotland, are considered to have been the same as the Picts, and
mixed with Cimbrians or Britons, and some of the Milesian Scots from

The advocates of the various theories, apparently aware of how little
can be made of the meagre and suspicious information afforded by
these early histories and chronicles, have latterly made language
the principal battle-ground on which to fight out this endless and
profitless strife. Most of them take for granted that if the language
spoken by any people can be found out, a sure indication is afforded
of the race to which that people belonged; and that the topography
of a country must necessarily have been imposed by the earliest
inhabitants 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. All 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.[63] 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
indeed, 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 original 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 district speak the same language as those who inhabited
that district 1800 years ago or less. “He who trusts to language, and
especially to written language, alone, as an index to race, must be
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 infancy. So would Philology, if left to herself, interpret
phenomena, of which we know, from other sources of information, that
the causes are totally different.”[64] “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.”[65]

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 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 interpretation
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 etymologies of names of kings given
by Pinkerton, Chalmers, and Jamieson.[66]

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

The Cymric argument is clearly, ably, and succinctly stated by Mr.
Garnett in his essay on “The Relation 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.[67] “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 genuine 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 analogy to
the Irish with its cognates, but a pretty close one to the Welsh.

“In the list furnished by Innes the names _Maelcon_, _Elpin_, _Taran_
(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_, evidently 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 _Foit_ or _Foith_. In Welsh
orthography 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 _Naitan_), closely resemble
the Welsh _Trwst_, _Trwstan_, _Gwriad_, _Nwython_. It will be
sufficient to compare the entire list with the Irish or Highland
genealogies, to be convinced that there must have been a material
distinction between the two 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 remarkable that a list in the ‘Book of Ballymote,’ partly given by
Lynch in his ‘Cambrensis Eversus,’ agrees closely with Innes, even
preserving the initial _w_ or _u_ where the Gaelic would require _f_.
The philological inferences to be deduced from this document may be
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 exceptions. 2. Some of them cannot be
identified as Welsh; but the greater number are either identical with
or resemble known Cymric names; or approach more nearly to Welsh in
structure and orthography than to any other known language. 3. There
appears nevertheless to have been a distinction, amounting, at all
events, to a difference in dialect. The Pictish names beginning with
_w_ would in Welsh have _gw_, as _Gwrgust_ 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 impeachment of its
claim to be reckoned as closely cognate.”

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 appellations 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 _aber_,
which, according to Chalmers, was in several instances subsequently
changed by the Gael into _inver_. Skene,[68] who felt the force of
this argument, tried to get rid of it by contending that _aber_
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,[69] “three
words in Welsh denoting a meeting of waters--_aber_, _cynver_, and
_ynver_,--respectively compounded of the particles _a_, denoting
juxtaposition, _cyn_ (Lat. _con_), and _yn_, with the root _ber_,
flowing, preserved in the Breton verb _beri_, to flow, and all
virtually 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 prefix
aber occurs either in Ireland or the Hebrides, or on the west coast
of Scotland. Indeed, the fact that _inver_ was substituted for it
after the Gaelic occupation of the Pictish territories, is decisive
evidence on the point; for, if _aber_ was a term familiar to the
Gael, why should they change it?”

“In Scotland,” says Isaac Taylor,[70] who upholds the Cymric
hypothesis, “the _invers_ and _abers_ are distributed in a curious
and instructive 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 _abers_ 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 between the Picts
and Scots. Hence we may conclude that the Picts, a people belonging
to the Cymric branch of the Celtic stock, and whose language has now
ceased to be anywhere vernacular, 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 country. The local names prove, moreover, that in Scotland the
Cymry did not encroach on the Gael, but the Gael on the Cymry. The
intrusive names are _invers_, which invaded the land of the _abers_.
Thus on the shore of the Frith of Forth we find a few _invers_ among
the _abers_. The Welsh word _uchel_, high, may also be 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 appears in
the name of the OCHIL HILLS, in Perthshire. 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 underwent a change of topography. But it is admitted
on all hands that the Scottish Dalriada comprehended no more than
the modern Argyllshire, 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 Grampians.
Indeed, Skene[71] maintains that this district, 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
representatives 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 problem, 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

The Cymric origin of the Picts, besides 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[72] 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
Scotland,”[73] 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 sufficient 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. Inver is to be found in names of places
in Wales. It may possibly be a British word. It certainly is a Gaelic
one. Aber, although undoubtedly 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 boundary of modern Scotland, the word Inver,
generally pronounced Inner, is of common occurrence, and bears
witness to a Gaelic nomenclature. Thus, Inner or Inverkip, in the
county of Renfrew; Innerwell, in the county of Wigton; Innerwick,
in the county of Haddington; Innerleithen, in the county of Peebles;
Inverleith and Inveresk, in the county of Edinburgh, derive their
names from their situation in regard to the rivers Kip, Leithen, Esk,
&c. &c.

“From the Moray Frith to the Forth, in the eastern counties of
Caledonia, the 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,
Invercanny, 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-registers, 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 predominance of Inver in the districts north of
the 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 lying 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
unsuccessful 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 argument 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
assumed, and is easily disproved. It is true that of large towns and
places that appear in gazeteers, names commencing with Bal and Ard
are not numerous. But in fact such names are extremely common. In the
lowlands of Aberdeenshire--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 commence with Bal,
and forty which commence with Ard. In the Pictish territory, from the
Moray Frith to the Forth, I soon collected upwards of four hundred
names of places beginning with Bal, and upwards of one hundred with
Ard; and the number might easily be doubled.”

Mr. E. W. Robertson, one of the latest and ablest upholders of this
theory, thinks[74] 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 _Gwyddel 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 the subject thoroughly and
critically, appears to us to be the most plausible and natural,
although 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 nearest 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.[75]

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 question, and the arguments _pro_ and _con_, mainly in
their own words, urged by the partisans of the different theories.
It appears to us that the data within reach are far too scanty to
justify any one in coming to a settled conclusion, and that we must
wait for more light before we can be justified in finally making up
our minds on this perplexing subject.[76]

At the present day we find that nearly the whole of the territory
said to have been originally 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.[77] 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 considerable intermixture of the Teutonic
element. Burton thinks, from a general view of the whole question,
that the proportion of the Teutonic 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 completely all the points in dispute; nor do
we pretend to have given with fulness all the arguments _pro_ and
_con_ on the various sides. We have, however, given as much as
will enable any ordinary reader to form for himself a fair idea
of the present state of the Pictish question, and indicated the
sources whence more information may be derived, should any one
wish to pursue 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 political 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 monument 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


[24] Garnett’s _Philological Essays_, p. 196.

[25] Agricola xi.

[26] The wall of Antonine.

[27] Dio L. 76, c. 12, as quoted in Ritson’s _Annals_, p. 11.

[28] Critical Essay, ch. ii.

[29] _Highlanders._

[30] Book iii.

[31] “Scotti per diversa vagantes, multa populabantur.” Am. Mar.
xxvii. 8.

[32]  “---- Nec falso nomine Pictos

[33]  “Venit et extremis legio prætenta Britannis
      Quæ Scoto dat fræna truci, ferroque notatas
      Perlegit exangues Scoto moriente figuras.”--
               _De bello Getico_, v. 416.

Thus rendered by Ritson:--

      The legion came, o’er distant Britains placed,
      Which bridles the fierce Scot, and bloodless figures
      With iron marked, views in the dying Pict.

[34] The name given by the Irish Annalists to the Picts is
_Cruithne_, said by some to mean “variegated.”

[35] The only important exception is Ritson, whose arguments, like
those of his opponent Pinkerton, consist mostly of virulent language
and vehement assertion.

[36] In Amm. Mar.

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

[38] Skene’s _Highlanders_, vol. i. p. 2.

[39] L. O. Pike, _The English and their Origin_, ch. i.

[40] _Biographia Britannica Literaria_, vol. i.

[41] Gildas, 1.

[42] Id., 19.

[43] Gildas, 14.

[44] _Highlanders_, vol. i. p. 72.

[45] Garnett’s _Philological Essays_, p. 199.

[46] Adam. _ap. Colganum_, 1. ii. c. 32.

[47] On the subject in question the recently published _Book of Deer_
cannot be said to afford us any information. 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 us what language Columba
spoke, nor whether ‘Bede the Pict,’ the mormaer of Buchan, understood
him without an interpreter. The name of the saint--Drostan--whom
Columba left behind him to prosecute 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 partaking 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 certainly satisfy a
great many of the demands which any hypothesis on the subject must do.

[48] Bede’s _Eccles. Hist._, Book 1. c. i.

[49] Nennius 12, Vatican MS.

[50] _Critical Essay on Scotland_, vol. i. p. 68.

[51] Book i., c. 12.

[52] _Inquiry into the Hist. of Scot._, vol. i. p. 357, ed. 1814.

[53] _Crit. Essay_, vol. i. p. 75.

[54] Garnett’s _Phil. Essays_, p. 198.

[55] Robertson’s _Scotland under her Early Kings_, vol. ii. p. 380.
Forbes-Leslie’s _Early Races of Scotland_, vol. i. p 35.

[56] _Hist. of Scot._, vol. i. p. 187.

[57] Book iii. ch. 4.

[58] _Eccl. Hist. of Scot._, vol. i. p. 15, &c.

[59] _Eccl. Hist. of Scot._, vol. i. p. 17.

[60] Davies’ _Celtic Researches_, p. 155.

[61] _Highlanders of Scotland_, vol. i. p. 69.

[62] We are indebted for most of the following account to Connellan’s
_Annals of the Four Masters_, p. 367 (note).

[63] See Taylor’s _Words and Places_, ch. ix.

[64] Pike’s _English and their Origin_, ch. ii., which contains some
shrewd and valuable remarks on the subject of language.

[65] Burton, vol. i. p. 192.

        | Chalmers for        | Pinkerton for    | Jamieson,
        | Celtic,             | Gothic,          | “Teutonic Etymons.”
  Drust | Probably the British| Drust, a common  | Su. Goth. _troest_,
        | name Trwst, which   | Pikish name, is  | _dristig_. Germ.,
        | signifies din.      | also Persian, and| _dreist_. Alem.
        |                     | signifies _sinc- | _gidrost_, daring.
        |                     | erus_.... The    |
        |                     | Persians were the|
        |                     | old Sythæ or     |
        |                     | Goths, from whom |
        |                     | the rest sprung. |
        |                     |                                 |
  Brudi | Brudw, which is     | Brudi is the real| Island., Briddi
  or    | pronounced Bridw or | Gothic name;     | _eminebat_. vercl:
  Bridei| Bradw, is in the    | Bout is the      | breida, to extend;
        | British treacherous | wounded (Bott    | and Sueo-Goth, _e_,
        |                     | _ictus_ Wachter).| law; 2. one who
        |                     |                  | extends the law,
        |                     |                  | who publishes it.

  For other instances see Burton’s _Scotland_, i. p. 196.

[67] Garnett’s _Phil. Essays_, pp. 197, 198.

[68] _Highlanders._

[69] _Phil. Essays_, p. 200.

[70] _Words and Places_, p. 246.

[71] Highlanders.

[72] _Scotland_, vol i. p. 207.

[73] Vol. i. p. 26.

[74] Vol. ii. p. 377.

[75] _Essay on Scotland_, vol. i. p. 70.

[76] 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
topographical nomenclature in the Highlands, Dr. Maclauchlan 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 underlying 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
Cymri--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 distant period, although they
afterwards became rivals for the possession of the land.” This we
think on the whole the most satisfactory theory yet propounded.

[77] 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.

[78] Burton, vol. i. p. 200.


A.D. 446-843.

  Early History--Scottish Settlement--Origin of
  Scots--Dalriada--Conversion of Picts--Druidism--St.
  Columba--Iona--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
  Dalriada--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 struggles 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 preserved, were during this period being transacted in the
northern part of Scotland, and we 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 history cannot be

After the departure of the Romans, the provincial 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.[79]

Although both the external and internal history of the Highlands
during this period is much better known than in the case of the
Roman period, still the materials are exceedingly 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,[80] and the conversion of the Northern
Picts to Christianity by Columba about 563.

At the time of the Roman 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 afford us
lists of Pictish kings or princes, a chronological table of whom,
from Drust downwards, will be found at the end of this chapter. 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 be proper
to give a brief account 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 disputation, 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, however,
fairly set at rest, there being no foundation for believing that the
Scots found their way from Ireland to Scotland earlier than a century
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[81] is of
opinion that the migration did not take place at any particular time
or under any particular leader, but that it was gradual, that the
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 the time of their coming into Ireland,
and discover whence they came. Some suppose 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
settlement at about the commencement of the Christian 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[82] and others consider them to have been Irish Picts or

Wherever the Scots came from and to whatever race they belong,
whether Teutonic or 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 Scotland.
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, previously inhabited by Cruithne
or Irish Picts. Robertson,[83] 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 particular district was spoken
of by the later chroniclers under the name of Dalriada, there being
thus a Dalriada both in Scotland and Ireland.[84] At the time of the
migration of the Scots from Ireland to Scotland, they were to all
intents and purposes a Celtic race, speaking Trish Gaelic, and had
already been converted to Christianity.

The account of the Scottish migration usually given is, that in the
year 503 A.D.,[85] a new colony of Dalriads or Dalriadic Scots, under
the leadership of Fergus son of Erc, a descendant 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 kingdom
by the ridge of the great mountain chain 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
Comgall, descended 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 district formerly
called Comgall, now corrupted into Cowall. The Cinel Gabran inhabited
what was called the Airgiallas, or the district of Argyle 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 Gabran, 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
summit, which was the chief stronghold of the tribe of Lorn. Of
Dunstaffnage, as a royal seat, history knows nothing.”[86]

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 succession 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 contemporaneous written records appear ever to have
existed of that dark period of our annals, and the efforts which the
Scotch and Irish antiquaries have made to extricate the truth from
the mass of contradictions in which it lies buried, have rather been
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 subject which had long remained in almost
total darkness.[87]

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, i.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-mentioned,
continued Pagans. That there were no Christians among them till that
time appears 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 conversion is supposed by the
majority of writers on this subject to have been that which prevailed
in the rest of Britain and in Celtic Gaul, Druidism. The incredulous
Burton, however, if we may judge from his History of Scotland,[88]
as well as from an article of his in the Edinburgh 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 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
veneration; 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 Pictish 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 preposition; 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 circumstances _right_; it is the _right_ hand, which is easily
intelligible, from the relation of that hand to the south when the
face looks eastward; and it is expressive of whatever is otherwise
_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;’ _Tuathail_
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 _saimhtheine_, ‘the first day of
winter,’--the former supposed to mean the fire of Baal or Bel,
the latter closing the saimhré, or summer period of the year, and
bringing in the geamhré, or winter period, are sufficient evidence of
this. There are places in Scotland where within the memory of living
men the _teine eigin_, or ‘forced fire,’ was lighted once every year
by the rubbing of two pieces of wood together, while every fire
in the neighbourhood was extinguished in order that they might be
lighted anew from this sacred source.”[89]

[Illustration: Stonehenge.--Copied by permission from Col.
Forbes-Leslie’s _Early Races of Scotland_.]

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 resemblance of the circles
especially, to those which exist in South Britain and in France, it
has been supposed that one religion prevailed over 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 Cæsar.[90] The following is the account given by Cæsar of
the character and functions of the Druids:--“They attend to divine
worship, perform public 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 controversy arises about a legacy,
or about landmarks, they are the judges too. They fix rewards and
punishments; and should any one, 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 prominent 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 writing, though in the
other public and private affairs of life they frequently make use
of the Greek alphabet.... Beyond all things, they are 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 distinguished; for the Druids imagined that there
was a supernatural virtue in the wood, in the leaves, in the fruit,
and above all in the _mistletoe_. Hence the oak woods were the
first places of their devotion; and the offices of their religion
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 veneration paid by the country people to these sacred
stones, as they are considered, that few persons have ventured to
remove them.

[Illustration: Circle of Callernish in Lewis.--Copied by permission
from Col. Forbes-Leslie’s _Early Races of Scotland_.]

Besides the immunities before-mentioned enjoyed 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 submit to their awards was exposed
to the most severe penalties. The sentence of excommunication was
pronounced against him; he was debarred all intercourse with his
fellow-citizens; his company was universally shunned as profane and
dangerous; he was refused the protection 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 carefully educated for the
priesthood, and, after having finished his ecclesiastical studies,
founded monasteries in various 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[91] 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
instruction 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
the simple name I, whose etymology is doubtful, afterwards changed
by Bede into Hy, latinized by the monks into Iova or Iona, and again
honoured with the name of I-columb-cil, the island of St. Columba of
the church. This island, Conal, who was then king of the Christian
Scots of Argyle, presented to Columba, 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 times.

[Illustration: Ruins on Iona.]

In pursuance of his plan, St. Columba settled with twelve disciples
in Hy. “They 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 Iona, 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 to prepare and send forth a body of clergy trained to
the task of preaching the Gospel among the heathen.”[92] 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 powerful 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 of bringing over the whole nation to
the worship of the true God would be more easily accomplished, he
first began with the king, and by great patience and perseverance
succeeded 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
important 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 Drostán son of
Cosgrach, his pupil, came from Hí, 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 he asked of the mormaer, to wit Bede, that he 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 he was nearly dead
[_lit._ he was dead but if it were 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 Drostán that
town, and blessed it, and left as (his) word, ‘Whosoever should come
against it, let him not be many-yeared [or] victorious.’ Drostán’s
tears came on parting from Columcille. Said Columcille, ‘Let DÉAR 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 Aberdour. 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 century. At all events, Columba and his companion 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 inhabitants of Alba. As was the
case in Buchan, he appears to have gone from district to district
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.[93]

Columba soon had the happiness of seeing the blessings of
Christianity diffusing themselves 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 Iona, 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
instruction of the nation he had converted. His influence was very
great with the neighbouring princes, and they often applied to
him for advice, 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
conversion, and to whom it is said he was indebted for Hy, died in
571. His successor Aidan went over to Iona in 574, and was there
ordained and inaugurated by the Abbot according to the ceremonial of
the _liber vitreus_, 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 unceasing 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 history 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 defeated in
557, and slew Gauran their king. Brude died in 586, and for several
ages his successors 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,[94] and the Saxons, under the
Northumbrian Egfrid. The Saxon king, it is said, greedy of conquest,
attacked the Picts without provocation, and against the advice of his
court. Crossing 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 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 Northumbrians 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 hostility
of Ungus. Nechtan next tried his strength with Ungus, in 728, at a
place called Monacurna 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
Northumbrians under Eadbert. In the year 750 he defeated the Britons
of the Cumbrian kingdom in the battle of Cato or Cath-O, in which
his brother Talorgan was killed. Ungus, who appears to have been
a powerful and able monarch, but whom Bede[95] 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. Constantine, having overcome Conall, the son of Tarla,
in 789, succeeded him in the throne.[96]

Up to this period the Norsemen from Scandinavia, 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 Iona, 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 he 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[97] asserts indeed that it was only the Southern Picts
who became subject to Kenneth, the Northern Picts remaining for long
afterwards independent of, but sometimes in alliance with, the Scots.
This is substantially the opinion of Mr. E. W. Robertson,[98] 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
distinction by being amalgamated with the Scots, their conquerors.

The Scoto-Irish after their arrival in Argyle did not long continue
under the separate authority 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 advanced age derives some support from
their speedy demise after they had laid the foundations 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 Ila. After
the 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 Domangart, or Dongardus, who died
in 511, after a short but troubled reign of about five years. His
two sons Comgal and Gabhran or Gauran, successively enjoyed his
authority. Comgal had a peaceful reign of four and twenty years,
during 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
Iona, 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 considerably, 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, attended by St. Columba, went
to the celebrated council of Drum-keat in Ulster, in the year 590. In
this council he claimed the principality 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
seen in the midst of Campbelton.

Aidan was succeeded in the throne by his son Eocha-bui, or the
“yellow,” who reigned sixteen 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 powerful 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,
Britons, and Saxons, commanded by Donal and his brothers. Cealach,
the son of Maelcomh, the nephew of the reigning king, and as tanist
or heir-apparent, the leader of his army, attacked Donal-breac in
the plain of Magh Rath or Moyra in Down, in 637, and completely
defeated him after an obstinate and bloody engagement. Congal, the
murderer of his sovereign, 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. Columba had always endeavoured to preserve an amicable
understanding between the Cruithne of Ulster and the Scoto-Irish, and
his injunctions 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
Picts, having been defeated by them in the battle of Glinne Mairison,
Glenmairison, or Glenmoreson, probably in West Lothian,[99] 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, next ruled over the tribes of Cantyre and Argyle; but
Dungal, of the race of Lorn, having obtained 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 dominions, in 652, after a reign of ten years. To Donal-duin,
or the brown, son of Conal, 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. Domangart,
the son of Donal-breac, was murdered in 672, and Conal, the son of
Maolduin, was assassinated 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 sceptre 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 successive victories
over them, the one at Longecoleth in 710, and the other at the
rock of Mionuirc in 716. At the end of twelve years, Ainbhcealach
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 appear to have been fairly
matched in disposition and valour, and both exerted themselves for
the destruction of one another, thus bringing many miseries upon
their tribes. In an attempt which they made to invade the territories
of each other in 719 by means of currachs, 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 successor of Duncha, being as bent on
the overthrow of Selvach as his predecessor, continued the war. The
rival chiefs met at Irroisfoichne in 727, where a battle was fought,
which produced 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 government 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
unfortunate. In revenge for an act of perfidy committed 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,[100] a battle ensued, in which the Scots were repulsed with
great slaughter. Talorgan, the brother of Ungus, commanded the Picts
on this occasion, and pursued the flying Scots. In this pursuit
Muredach is 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.[101]

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
remarkable 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
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 Selvach II., of the race of Lorn,
being the last of that powerful family who swayed the Dalriadic
sceptre. After a feeble but stormy reign of seven years, he died in

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

In 836 Kenneth, the son of Alpin, succeeded his father. He was a
prince of a warlike disposition, 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 his 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[102] thinks there can be no doubt that the two countries were
prepared for a fusion whenever a proper opportunity offered, but that
this was on account of a matrimonial alliance between the two royal
houses cannot with certainty be ascertained.[103] As we have said
already, it is extremely improbable that Kenneth gained his supremacy
by extermination. The Picts certainly appear to have suffered severe
defeat, but the likelihood is that after Kenneth succeeded to the
throne, a gradual fusion of the two people took place, so that in
course of time they became essentially one, speaking one language,
obeying the same laws, and following the same manners and customs.
If we knew for certain to what race the Picts 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 entirely 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.[104]

The history of the Scoto-Irish kings affords few materials either
amusing or instructive; but it was impossible, from the connexion
between 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 pretensions 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 appears to have been generally followed as in
Ireland, as well in the succession of kings as in that of chieftains,
rather increased than mitigated these disorders; for the claim to
rule not being regulated by any fixed law of hereditary succession,
but depending upon the capricious will of the tribe, rivals were not
found wanting to dispute the rights so conferred. There was always,
both in Ireland and in Argyle, an heir presumptive to the Crown
chosen, under the name of _tanist_, who commanded the army during the
life of the reigning sovereign, and who succeeded to him after his
demise. Budgets, and committees of supply, 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 supplied the place of
written records for many ages after the extinction of the Druidical
superstition. Hence among the Scots, traditionary usages and local
customs long supplied the place of positive or written laws. It
is a mistake to suppose, as some writers have done, 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 be
the _common law_ or practice; but from thence, to argue that the
will of the judge was to be regarded as the law itself, is absurd,
and contrary to every idea of justice. As the principle 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 allusion to this practice, that it was “a temper wholesome to the
commonwealth, that homicide 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 preserved in the _Regiam Majestatem_, which
has a whole chapter showing “the _cro_ of ilk man, how mikil it
is.”[105] This law of reparation, according to O’Connor, was first
promulgated in Ireland, in the year 164.[106] 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 the practice alluded to. But this practice was not peculiar to
the Druids; for all nations, in the early stages of society, have
followed a similar custom. The Tings of the Scandinavians, 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,[107] 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 eminence, 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
purpose of being nursed and bred. Even the son of the chief was so
entrusted during pupilarity with an inferior member of the clan. An
adequate 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 Ireland.[108] 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 head, and bathed her face and breast with it, saying that it was
too precious to fall to the earth.

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 the Highlanders not hitherto mentioned.
We shall conclude this chapter by giving lists of the Pictish and
Scoto-Irish Kings, which 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 totally untrustworthy, we shall omit them.


  |       |                                 | Date of |Duration| Date  |
  |Series.|       NAMES AND FILIATIONS.     | Access- |   of   |  of   |
  |       |                                 |  ion.   | Reigns.| Death.|
  |   1   | DRUST, the son of Erp,          |         |        |   451 |
  |   2   | TALORC, the son of Aniel,       |   451   |4 years.|   455 |
  |   3   | NECTON MORBET, the son of Erp,  |   455   |   25   |   480 |
  |   4   | DREST Gurthinmoch,              |   480   |   30   |   510 |
  |   5   | GALANAU ETELICH, or GALANAN     |         |        |       |
  |       |   ERELECH,                      |   510   |   12   |   522 |
  |   6   | DADREST,                        |   522   |    1   |   523 |
  |   7   | DREST, the son of Girom,        |   523   |    1   |   524 |
  |       | DREST, the son of Wdrest, with  |         |        |       |
  |       |   the former,                   |   524   |    5   |   529 |
  |       | DREST, the son of Girom, alone, |   529   |    5   |   534 |
  |   8   | GARTNACH, the son of Girom,     |   534   |    7   |   541 |
  |   9   | GEALTRAIM, or CAILTRAIM, the    |         |        |       |
  |       |   son of Girom,                 |   541   |    1   |   542 |
  |  10   | TALORG, the son of Muircholaich,|   542   |   11   |   553 |
  |  11   | DREST, the son of Munait,       |   553   |    1   |   554 |
  |  12   | GALAM, with Aleph,              |   554   |    1   |   555 |
  |       | GALAM, with Bridei,             |   555   |    1   |   556 |
  |  13   | BRIDEI, the son of Mailcon,     |   556   |   30   |   586 |
  |  14   | GARTNAICH, the son of Domelch,  |         |        |       |
  |       |   or Donald,                    |   586   |   11   |   597 |
  |  15   | NECTU, or NECHTAN, the nephew   |         |        |       |
  |       |   of Verb,                      |   597   |   20   |   617 |
  |  16   | CINEOCH, or KENNETH, the son of |         |        |       |
  |       |    Luthrin,                     |   617   |   19   |   636 |
  |  17   | GARNARD, the son of Wid,        |   636   |    4   |   640 |
  |  18   | BRIDEI, the son of Wid,         |   640   |    5   |   645 |
  |  19   | TALORC, their brother,          |   645   |   12   |   657 |
  |  20   | TALLORCAN, the son of Enfret,   |   657   |    4   |   661 |
  |  21   | GARTNAIT, the son of Donnel,    |   661   |    6½  |   667 |
  |  22   | DREST, his brother,             |   667   |    7   |   674 |
  |  23   | BRIDEI, the son of Bili,        |   674   |   21   |   695 |
  |  24   | TARAN, the son of Entifidich,   |   695   |    4   |   699 |
  |  25   | BRIDEI, the son of Dereli,      |   699   |   11   |   710 |
  |  26   | NECHTON, the son of Dereli,     |   710   |   15   |   725 |
  |  27   | DREST, and Elpin,               |   725   |    5   |   730 |
  |  28   | UNGUS, or ONNUST, the son of    |         |        |       |
  |       |   Urguist,                      |   730   |   31   |   761 |
  |  29   | BRIDEI, the son of Wirguist,    |   761   |    2   |   763 |
  |  30   | CINIOCH, or KENNETH, the son of |         |        |       |
  |       |   Wredech,                      |   763   |   12   |   775 |
  |  31   | ELPIN, the son of Wroid,        |   775   |    3½  |   779 |
  |  32   | DREST, the son of Talorgan,     |   779   |    5   |   784 |
  |  33   | TALORGAN, the son of Ungus or   |         |        |       |
  |       |   Angus,                        |   784   |    2½  |   786 |
  |  34   | CANAUL, the son of Tarla,       |   786   |    5   |   791 |
  |  35   | CONSTANTINE, the son of         |         |        |       |
  |       |   Urguist,                      |   791   |   30   |   821 |
  |  36   | UNGUS, the son of Urguist,      |   821   |   12   |   833 |
  |  37   | DREST, the son of Constantine,  |         |        |       |
  |       |   and Talorgan, the son of      |         |        |       |
  |       |   Wthoil,                       |   833   |    3   |   836 |
  |  38   | UUEN, or UVEN, the son of Ungus,|   836   |    3   |   839 |
  |  39   | WRAD, the son of Bargoit,       |   839   |    3   |   842 |
  |  40   | BRED, or BRIUDI,                |   842   |    1   |   843 |

TO 843.

  |       |                                 | Date of |Duration| Date  |
  |Series.|    NAMES AND FILIATIONS.        | Access- |   of   |  of   |
  |       |                                 |   ion.  | Reigns.| Death.|
  |       |                                 |  A.D.   | Years. |  A.D. |
  |   1   | FERGUS, the son of Erc,         |   503   |    3   |   506 |
  |   2   | DOMANGART, the son of Fergus,   |   506   |    5   |   511 |
  |   3   | COMGAL, the son of Domangart,   |   511   |   24   |   535 |
  |   4   | GAVRAN, the son of Domangart,   |   535   |   22   |   557 |
  |   5   | CONAL, the son of Comgal,       |   557   |   14   |   571 |
  |   6   | AIDAN, the son of Gavran,       |   571   |   34   |   605 |
  |   7   | EOACHA’-Bui, the son of Aidan,  |   605   |   16   |   621 |
  |   8   | KENNETH-Cear, the son of        |         |        |       |
  |       |   Eoacha’-Bui,                  |   621   |     ¼  |   621 |
  |   9   | FERCHAR, the son of Eogan, the  |         |        |       |
  |       |   first of the race of Lorn,    |   621   |   16   |   637 |
  |  10   | DONAL-BREAC, the son of         |         |        |       |
  |       |   Eoacha’-Bui,                  |   637   |    5   |   642 |
  |  11   | CONAL II., the grandson of    } |         |        |       |
  |       |   Conal I.                    } |   642   |   10   |   652 |
  |  12   | DUNGAL reigned some years with} |         |        |       |
  |       |   Conal,                      } |   ...   |  ...   |   ... |
  |  13   | DONAL-Duin, the son of Conal,   |   652   |   13   |   665 |
  |  14   | MAOL-Duin, the son of Conal,    |   665   |   16   |   681 |
  |  15   | FERCHAR-Fada, the grandson of   |         |        |       |
  |       |   Ferchar I.,                   |   681   |   21   |   702 |
  |  16   | EOACHA’-Rinevel, the son of     |         |        |       |
  |       |   Domangart, and the grandson   |         |        |       |
  |       |   of Donal-breac,               |   702   |    3   |   705 |
  |  17   | AINBHCEALACH, the son of        |         |        |       |
  |       |   Ferchar-fada,                 |   705   |    1   |   706 |
  |  18   | SELVACH, the son of            }|         |        |       |
  |       |   Ferchar-fada, reigned over   }|         |        |       |
  |       |   Lorn from 706 to 729,        }|   ...   |  ...   |   ... |
  |  19   | DUNCHA BEG reigned over Cantyre}|         |        |       |
  |       |   and Argaill till 720,        }|   706   |   27   |   733 |
  |  20   | EOCHA’ III., the son of        }|         |        |       |
  |       |   Eoacha’-rinevel, over Cantyre}|         |        |       |
  |       |   and Argaill, from 720 to 729;}|         |        |       |
  |       |   and also over Lorn from 729  }|         |        |       |
  |       |   to 733,                      }|   ...   |  ...   |   ... |
  |  21   | MUREDACH, the son of            |         |        |       |
  |       |   Ainbhcealach,                 |   733   |    3   |   736 |
  |  22   | EOGAN, the son of Muredach,     |   736   |    3   |   739 |
  |  23   | AODH-Fin, the son of Eoacha’    |         |        |       |
  |       |   III.,                         |   739   |   30   |   769 |
  |  24   | FERGUS, the son of Aodh-fin,    |   769   |    3   |   772 |
  |  25   | SELVACH II., the son of Eogan,  |   772   |   24   |   796 |
  |  26   | EOACHA’-Annuine IV., the son of |         |        |       |
  |       |   Aodh-fin,                     |   796   |   30   |   826 |
  |  27   | DUNGAL, the son of Selvach II., |   826   |    7   |   833 |
  |  28   | ALPIN, the son of               |         |        |       |
  |       |   Eoacha’-Annuine IV.,          |   833   |    3   |   836 |
  |  29   | KENNETH, the son of Alpin,      |   836   |    7   |   843 |

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


[79] See Innes’s _Essay_, vol. i.

[80] This is the date commonly given, although Mr. E. W. Robertson
makes it 502 on the authority of Tighernach, while O’Donovan (_Annals
of the Four Masters_, vol. i. p. 160) makes it 506.

[81] Vol. i. p. 212.

[82] _Early Kings_, vol. i. p. 5.

[83] _Early Kings_, vol. ii. p. 305.

[84] At this time, and up at least to the 11th 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
qualifying 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 earlier than the middle of the 12th century.

[85] Skene in his _Chronicles of the Picts and Scots_, p. cx., makes
the date to be about 495 or 498.

[86] Skene’s _Chronicles of the Picts and Scots_, p. cxiii.

[87] 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

[88] Vol. i. ch. vi.

[89] Dr. Maclauchlan’s _Early Scottish Church_, pp. 32, 33.

[90] Druid is said to be derived from a word meaning ‘oak,’ common to
many of the Indo-European tongues.

[91] _Eccles. Hist._, vol. i. p. 49.

[92] Grub’s _Ecc. Hist._, vol. i. p. 51.

[93] _Book of Deer_, Preface. Further details concerning the early
Scottish church will be given at the end of this volume.

[94] There is some confusion here; Dr. Maclauchlan places this
conflict in the reign of Brude son of Derile, who, according to our
list, did not succeed till 699.

[95] Book V. c. 24.

[96] See the Ulster Annals, where an account is given of all these

[97] _Highlanders_, vol. i. p. 65.

[98] _Early Kings_, vol. i. p. 39.

[99] Skene’s _Chron. of Picts and Scots_, p. cxv.

[100] Dr. Reeves supposes this to be Culross in

[101] Dr. Skene, in his preface to the Chronicles of the Picts and
Scots, endeavours to prove, by very plausible 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 Antiquarian 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 conclusion by reference to
passages in the annals of Tigernach, 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 countenance to the
theory of Pinkerton of the entire conquest of the Scots in Britain
by Ungus, nor to the conclusion Dr. Skene has come to, viz., the
complete supremacy of the Picts in the Scottish Dalriada, and 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-fionn 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.

[102] Scotland, vol. i. p. 329.

[103] See Skene’s preface to _Chronicle of Picts and Scots_, p.
xcviii. et seq., for some curious and ingenious speculation on this

[104] We shall take the liberty of quoting here an extract 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 understand 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 Aberdeen Breviary, and it
is as follows:--Adrian was a native of Hungary, and after preaching
there for some time, was seized with a desire to preach to other
people; and having gathered together a company, he set out ‘ad
orientales Scotiæ partes que tunc a Pictis occupabantur,’ _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 bishop, Adrian, ‘deleto regno
Pictorum,’ _i.e._, ‘the Pictish kingdom being destroyed,’--did many
signs, but afterwards 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 martyrdom 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, thirty years after the Scottish
conquest under Kenneth M’Alpin. Their arrival was therefore almost
coincident with the Scottish conquest; and the large number said to
have come, not the 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 Boëce preserves
a different tradition regarding their origin. He says--‘Non desunt
qui scribant sanctissimos Christi martyros Hungaros fuisse. _Alii
ex Scotis Anglisque gregarie 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. But Hadrian was a bishop; he landed
in the east of Fife, within the parochia of S. Regulus, and he is
placed at the head of some of the lists of bishops of St. Andrews
as first bishop. It was therefore 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 possessed
the chief ecclesiastical seats among the Picts, had been expelled in
717, and Anglic clergy introduced--the cause of quarrel being the
difference of their usages. Now, the Pictish chronicle states as the
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
suæ malitiæ alienos ac otiosos hæreditate dignatus est facere, quia
illi non solum Deum, missam, ac præceptum spreverunt sed et in jure
æqualitatis _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.’ They were overthrown, not only
because they despised ‘Deum missam et præceptum,’ but because they
would not tolerate the other party. And this great grievance 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 us, ‘Constantinus Rex et Cellachus Episcopus leges
disciplinasque fidei atque jura ecclesiarum evangeliorum que _pariter
cum Scottis_ devoverunt custodiri.’ _I.e._, ‘King Constantine and
Bishop Kellach vowed to preserve the laws and discipline of the faith
and the rights of the churches and gospels, equally with the Scots.’
Observe the parallel language of the two passages. In the one, the
‘Picti in jure æqualitatis aliis,’ that is, the Scottish clergy,
‘aequi pariter noluerunt,’ and in the other the King and the 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, therefore, 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 invasion of the parochia of St. Andrews by
ecclesiastics, said by one tradition to have been Scots, and the
subsequent 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.”

[105] Lib. ix. c. xxiv.

[106] O’Connor’s Dissert.

[107] Lib. viii. c. 45.

[108] Holland’s Camden, Ireland, p. 116.


A.D. 843-1107.

  The Norse Invasions--Kenneth--Constantine--Aodh--Grig
  and Eocha--Donald IV.--Constantine III.--Danes--Battle
  of Brunanburg--Malcolm I.--Indulph--Duff--Culen--Kenneth
  III.--Battle of Luncarty--Malcolm II.--Danes--Duncan--Thorfinn,
  Jarl of Orkney--Macbeth--Battle with Siward--Lulach--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 recorded are the extension of the Scottish
dominion southwards beyond the Forth and Clyde, towards the present
border, and northwards beyond Inverness, and the fierce contests that
took place with the “hardy Norsemen” of Scandinavia and Denmark, who
during this period continued not only to pour down upon the coasts
and islands of Scotland, but to sway the destinies of the whole of
Europe. 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 undoubtedly Teutonic origin. The Norse
invasions not only kept Scotland in continual commotion at the time,
but must have exercised an important influence on its whole history,
and contributed a new and vigorous element to its population. These
Vikingr, about the end of the 9th century, became so powerful as to
be able to establish a separate and independent kingdom 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 distinctness 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

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 Pictish power under one supreme
chief, enabled these nations not only to repel foreign aggression,
but afterwards to enlarge their territories beyond the Forth, which
had hitherto formed, for many ages, the Pictish boundary on the south.

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 necessary to protect him
and his people from insult. Ragnor Lodbrog (_i.e._, Ragnor of the
Shaggy Bones,) with his fierce Danes infested the country round
the Tay on the one side, and the Strathclyde 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 Forteviot, the
Pictish capital, 7 miles S.W. of Perth, on the 6th of February, 859,
after a reign of twenty-three years. Kenneth, 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 Iona, 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

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 restored
the laws of Aodh-fin, the son of Eocha III. They were probably
similar to the ancient Brehon laws of Ireland.

Constantine, the son of Kenneth, succeeded his uncle Donald, and
soon found himself involved in a dreadful conflict with the Danish
pirates. Having, after a contest which lasted half a century,
established themselves in Ireland, 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
extended 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 attack 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 unfortunate, short, and troublesome. Grig, who was
Maormor, or chief, of the country between the Dee and the Spey,
having become a competitor for the crown, Aodh endeavoured to put him
down, but did not succeed; and having been wounded in a battle fought
at Strathallan, (or possibly Strathdon,) he was carried 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 government
Eocha, son of Ku, the British king of Strathclyde, and the grandson,
by a daughter, of Kenneth Macalpin. After a reign of eleven years,
both Eocha and Grig were forced to abdicate, 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. Although they were defeated by Donald in
a bloody action at Collin, said to be on the Tay, near Scone, they
returned under Ivar O’Ivar, from Ireland, in the year 904, but were
gallantly repulsed, and their leader killed in a threatened attack
on Forteviot, by Donald, who unfortunately also perished, after a
reign of eleven years. In his reign the kings of present Scotland 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 unusually long reign, the repeated attacks of the Danes. In one
invasion they plundered Dunkeld, 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’Ivar; the second by Earls; the third by Chieftains;
and the fourth by Reginald himself, as a reserve. The Scots, with
Constantine 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’
repose. A long grudge had existed between him and Æthelstane, son
of Edward, the elder, which at last came to an open rupture. Having
formed an alliance with several princes, and particularly with
Anlof, king of Dublin as well as of Northumberland, and son-in-law
of Constantine, the latter collected a large fleet in the year 937,
with which he entered the Humber. The hope of plunder had attracted
many of the Vikingr to Constantine’s standard, and the sceptre of
Æthelstane 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 Æthelstane. Prodigies of valour were
displayed on both sides, especially by Turketel, the Chancellor of
England; by Anlof, 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
Constantine 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 Scotland was applied to this kingdom by the Saxons, a term
which before had been given by them to Ireland. Constantine died in

Malcolm I., the son of Donald IV., obtained the abdicated throne. He
was a prince of great abilities and prudence, and Edmund of England
courted his alliance by ceding Cumbria, 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. Edred, the brother and successor of Edmund, accordingly
applied for, and obtained the aid of Malcolm against Anlaf, king of
Northumberland, whose country, according to the barbarous practice
of the times, he 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 slain, 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 Constantine III., succeeded 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 Indulf, laid claim to the sceptre which his father had
wielded. The parties met at Drum Crup (probably 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 Forres in the year 965, after a brief
and unhappy reign of four years and a half.

Culen, the son of Indulf, 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 inglorious reign of four years and a
half. During 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.[110]

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 his kingdom. During
his reign the Danes meditated an attack upon Forteviot, or Dunkeld,
for the purposes of plunder, and, with this view, they sailed up
the Tay with a numerous fleet. Kenneth does not appear to have been
fully prepared, being probably not aware of the intentions of the
enemy; but collecting 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 Cumberland,
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
dreadful 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. Burton 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 order to perpetuate in and confine the crown to
his own descendants. This alteration could not be 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 Regent of the kingdom, until
the minor attained his fourteenth 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. Kenneth, after a reign of twenty-four years, was, it
is said, in 994 assassinated at Fettercairn by Finella,[111] 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 in some measure independent of the Scottish 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.[112]

Constantine IV., son of Culen, succeeded; but his right was disputed
by Kenneth, the Grim, _i.e._ strong, son of Duff. The dispute was
decided at Rathveramon, _i.e._ the castle at the mouth of the Almond,
near Perth, where Constantine lost his life in the year 995.

Kenneth IV., the son of Duff, now obtained the sceptre which he 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 Northumberland, 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 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 Malcolm, who encamped his
army in a plain near Kilflos or Kinloss. In this position he was
attacked by the invaders, and, after a severe action, was forced to
retreat, after being seriously 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 footing 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 minute detail by the later
chroniclers as having taken place between Malcolm and the Danes, but
it is very doubtful how far these are worthy 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
authentic particulars concerning the conflicts which took place, it
would serve no purpose to give the imaginary details invented by
comparatively 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 Northumberland, a desperate battle took place, which
was contested with great valour on both sides.[113] 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 and gifts to
the clergy, and they in return transmitted his name to posterity.
He was designed, par excellence, by the Latin chroniclers, _rex
victoriosissimus_; by St. 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
explained, entered Scotland in the year 1031; but these 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 Cumberland, for it is certain that Malcolm
engaged to fulfil the conditions on which his predecessors had held
that country, and that Canute thereafter returned to England.

But the reign of Malcolm was not only distinguished by foreign wars,
but by civil contests between rival chiefs. Finlegh, the Maormor 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 Iona, and interred
with 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 Malcolm is justly entitled to this praise, he by no means
came up to the standard of perfection assigned him by fiction. In his
reign Scotland appears to have reached its present boundary on the
south, the Tweed, and Strathclyde was incorporated with the rest of
the kingdom. Malcolm was the first who was called _Rex Scotiæ_, and
might justly claim to be so designated, seeing that he was the first
to hold sway over nearly the whole of present Scotland,--the only
portions where his authority appears to have been seriously disputed
being those in which the Danes had established themselves.

Duncan, son of Bethoc or Beatrice, daughter of Malcolm II.,
succeeded his grandfather in the year 1033. “In the extreme north,
dominions 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 described:--‘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.”[114] Duncan, in
1033, desiring to extend his dominions southwards, attacked Durham,
but was forced to retire with considerable loss. His principal
struggles, however, were with his powerful kinsman, 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
_Orkneyinga Saga_,[115] “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 Maormor Macbeda or Macbeth. Duncan
had reigned only five years when he was assassinated 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,” immediately 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 Ross, and by his marriage with
the Lady Gruoch,--who had a claim to the throne, as granddaughter of
Kenneth,--became also Thane of Moray, during the minority of Lulach,
the infant son of that lady, by her former marriage with Gilcomgain,
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 enabled 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 Ross, and the aid of those who
favoured the pretensions of the descendants 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 courage. The
Scots lost 3,000 men, and the Saxons 1,500, including Osbert, the son
of Siward. 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 inflicted on his family, at Lumphanan,
in Aberdeenshire, in the year 1056, although, according to Skene
(_Chronicles_), it was in August, 1057.

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 day
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.”[116] Macbeth, “in a manner sacred to splendid infamy,” is
the first king of Scotland whose name appears in the ecclesiastical
records as a benefactor of the church, and, it would appear, the
first who offered his services 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 Rome,
if, indeed, he did not himself make a pilgrimage to the holy city.

After the reign of Macbeth, the former irregular 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 interred along with that of Macbeth, in Iona, 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 data from which a certain conclusion can be drawn.

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 overcome Harold in the battle of
Hastings, on the 14th October, 1066, Edgar Ætheling saw no hopes
of obtaining the crown, and left England along with his mother and
sisters, and sought refuge in Scotland. Malcolm, on hearing 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
William the Conqueror, and William Rufus. Suffice 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., Edward, who was killed along with his father, Edmund, Edgar,
Ethelred, Alexander, and David, and two daughters, Maud, who was
married 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 possess them. These
chiefs appear to have been independent of the Scottish sovereign,
and to have caused him no small amount of trouble. A considerable
part of Malcolm’s reign was spent in endeavouring to bring them
into subjection, and before his death he had the satisfaction of
seeing the whole of Scotland, with perhaps the exception of Orkney,
acknowledging him as sole monarch. The Norwegian conquest appears
to have effected a most important change in the character of the
population and language of the eastern lowlands of the north of
Scotland. The original population 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 character
prevailing in this district, probably introduced along with the Norse
population. “In the more mountainous and Highland districts, however,
we are warranted in concluding that the effect must have been very
different, and that the possession of the country by the Norwegians
for thirty years could have exercised 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 conquest 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

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 under William
Rufus, 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 Maolpeder, the Maormor of the Mearns,
at Menteith, at the instigation, it is believed, of Donal. Duncan
left, by his wife Ethreda, daughter of Gospatrick, a son, William,
sometimes surnamed Fitz-Duncan.

Donal-bane again seized the sceptre, but he survived Duncan only two
years. Edgar Ætheling having assembled an army in England, entered
Scotland, and made Donal prisoner in an action which took place in
September 1097. He was imprisoned by orders of Edgar, and died at
Roscobie in Forfarshire, after having been deprived of his eyesight,
according to the usual practice of the age. The series of the pure
Scoto-Irish kings may be said to have ended with Donal-bane.

[Illustration: Seal of Edgar.]

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 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 chieftains.”[118] Edgar died in 1107, and was succeeded by
his brother Alexander, whom he enjoined to bestow upon his younger
brother David the district of Cumbria.

We have now arrived at an era in our history, 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
completely 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 kingdom.

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 contradistinguished from the Highlands, a slight notice
of it may not be uninteresting.

Shortly after the Roman abdication of North Britain in the year
446, which was soon succeeded 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 settlements 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 Argyle 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 continued 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 detachments of the Scots of Kintyre and
Argyle, in connection with whom they peopled that peninsula. Besides
these three races, who made permanent settlements in Scotland, the
Scandinavians colonized the Orkney and Shetland islands, and also
established themselves on the coasts of Caithness and Sutherland, and
in the eastern part of the country north of the Frith of Tay.

But notwithstanding these early settlements of the Gothic race,
the era of the Saxon colonization of the Lowlands of Scotland is,
with more propriety, placed in the reign of Malcolm Ceanmore, who,
by his marriage with a Saxon princess, and the protection he gave
to the Anglo-Saxon fugitives who sought an asylum 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 his warlike incursions into
Northumberland 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 settlement of these strangers among them, and
it is said that the extravagant mode of living introduced 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 his 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
successor of Edgar; but vast numbers of Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Normans,
and Flemings, established themselves in Scotland in the reign of
David I. That prince had received his education 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 he 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 England as a fugitive, under the protection of Edward
the Confessor, where he acquired a knowledge of the Saxon language;
which language, after his marriage with the princess Margaret, became
that of the Scottish court. This circumstance made that language
fashionable among the Scottish nobility, in consequence of which and
of the Anglo-Saxon colonization under 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 demarcation 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 philology.

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 population of
the Highlands; but when Malcolm Ceanmore transferred his court, about
the year 1066, to Dunfermline,--which also became, in place of Iona,
the sepulchre of the Scottish kings,--the rays of royal bounty, which
had hitherto diffused their protecting and benign influence over the
inhabitants of the Highlands, were withdrawn, and left them a prey
to anarchy and poverty. “The people,” says General David Stewart,
“now beyond the reach of the laws, became turbulent and fierce,
revenging in person those wrongs for which the administrators 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 surrounded by men devoted to the defence of their rights, 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 successors maintained with
England, estranged still farther the Highlanders from the dominion of
the sovereign and the laws; and their history, 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 noticed 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 Highlanders, however, it is well
known, for centuries 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.[119]


  |                                        |Date of |Duration|       |
  |          NAMES OF THE KINGS.           |Access- |   of   | Death.|
  |                                        | -ion.  | Reign. |       |
  |                                        |   A.D. | Years. |  A.D. |
  | KENNETH MACALPINE over the Scots and   |        |        |       |
  |   Picts,                               |   843  |  16    |  859  |
  | DONAL MACALPIN,                        |   859  |   4    |  863  |
  | CONSTANTINE II., son of Kenneth,       |   863  |  18    |  881  |
  | AODH, or HUGH, the son of Kenneth,     |   881  |   1    |  882  |
  | EOCHA, or ACHY, or Grig, jointly,      |   882  |  11    |  893  |
  | DONAL IV., the son of Constantine,     |   893  |  11    |  904  |
  | CONSTANTINE III., the son of Aodh,     |   904  |  40    |  944[120]
  | MALCOLM I., son of Donal IV.,          |   944  |   9    |  953  |
  | INDULF, the son of Constantine III.,   |   953  |   8    |  961  |
  | DUF, the son of Malcolm I.,            |   961  |   4½   |  965  |
  | CULEN, the son of Indulf,              |   965  |   4½   |  970  |
  | KENNETH III., son of Malcolm I.,       |   970  |  24    |  994  |
  | CONSTANTINE IV., son of Culen,         |   994  |   1½   |  995  |
  | KENNETH IV., son of Duf,               |   995  |   8    | 1003  |
  | MALCOLM II., son of Kenneth III.,      |  1003  |  30    | 1033  |
  | DUNCAN, grandson of Malcolm II.,       |  1033  |   6    | 1039  |
  | MACBETH, son of Finlegh,               |  1039  |  17    | 1056  |
  | LULACH, son of Gruoch and Gilcomgain,  |  1056  |    ½   | 1057  |
  | MALCOLM III., Ceanmore, son of Duncan, |  1057  |  36⅔   | 1093  |
  | DONALD BANE, son of Duncan,            |  1093  |    ½   | 1094  |
  | DUNCAN II., son of Malcolm III.,       |  1094  |    ½   | 1094  |
  | DONALD BANE again,                     |  1094  |   3    | 1097  |
  | EDGAR, son of Malcolm III.,            |  1097  |   9    | 1106  |

[Illustration: MACINTYRE. (Tartan)]


[109] Burton’s _Scotland_, vol. i. p. 354.

[110] Robertson’s _Early Kings_, vol. i. p. 76.

[111] According to Skene, _Finella_ is a corruption of _Finuele_ or
_Finole_ Cunchar, Earl of Angus.--Skene’s _Annals of the Picts and
Scots_, p. cxliv.

[112] Maclauchlan’s _Early Scottish Church_, p. 306. Robertson’s
_Scot. under her Early Kings_, vol. i. p. 88.

[113] The last we hear of any king or ruler of Strathclyde 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, vol. i. p. 367.

[114] Robertson’s _Early Kings_, vol. i. p. 113.

[115] As quoted by Skene, _Highlanders_, vol. i. p. 112.

[116] Burton’s _Scotland_, vol. i. p. 372.

[117] Skene’s _Highlanders_, vol. i. p. 123.

[118] _Early Kings_, vol. i. p. 160.

[119] Since the above was written, the _Book of Deer_ has been
published; what further information is to be gained from it will be
found at the end of this volume.

[120] Abdicated; died 952.


A.D. 1107-1411.


  Alexander I., 1107-1124.
  David I., 1124-1153.
  Malcolm IV., 1153-1165.
  William the Lion, 1165-1214.
  Alexander II., 1214-1249.
  Alexander III., 1249-1285.
  Regency, 1286-1290.
  Interregnum, 1290-1292.
  John Baliol, 1292-1306.
  Robert Bruce, 1306-1329.
  David II., 1329-1332.
  Edward Baliol, 1332-1341.
  David II. restored, 1341-1370.
  Robert II. (Stewart), 1370-1390.
  Robert III. 1390-1406.
  James I., 1406-1436.

  Alexander I.--David I.--Insurrections in Highlands--Somerled
  --Moraymen and Malcolm IV.--William The Lion--Disturbances in the
  Highlands--Ross-shire--Orkney--Alexander II.--Argyle--Caithness
  --Alexander III.--Disturbances in Ross--Expedition of Haco--Battle
  of Largs--Robert Bruce--Expedition 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 invades 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 residence 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 remainder 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 escaping 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. Maclauchlan, 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 Sutherland, 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 11th century.[121]

The next enterprise of any note was undertaken 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 Angus. A peace, concluded with this powerful
chieftain in 1153, was considered of such importance as to form an
epoch in the dating of Scottish charters. A still more formidable
insurrection 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

This defeat aroused Malcolm, who was naturally of an indolent
disposition. About the 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; but they found them so
well prepared for action, and so flushed with their late success,
that they considered the issue of a battle rather doubtful. On this
account, the commanders advised the king to enter into a negotiation
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 his word. According to Fordun,[122] 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, remove out of
Moray to other parts of the kingdom, 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
hostages, it is said,[123] and at the time appointed transplanted
themselves, some into the northern, but the greater number into the
southern counties. Chalmers considers this removal of the Moray men
as “an egregious improbability,” because “the dispossessing of a
whole people is so difficult an operation, that the recital of it
cannot be believed without strong evidence;”[124] it is very probable
that only the ringleaders and their families were transported. The
older historians say that the Moraymen were almost totally cut off in
an obstinate battle, and strangers brought into their place.[125]

About this time Somerled, the ambitious and powerful lord of the
Isles, made another and a last attempt upon the king’s authority,
Having collected a large force, chiefly in Ireland, he landed, in
1164, near Renfrew; but he was defeated by the brave inhabitants
and the king’s troops in a decisive battle, in which he and his son
Gillecolum were slain.

The reign of William the Lion, who succeeded 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
introduced among them, and every opportunity was taken to vex and
annoy them. An open insurrection broke out in Ross-shire, headed by
Donald Bane, known also as MacWilliam, 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
pretensions 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
command of Roland, the brave lord of Galloway, and future Constable
of Scotland, fell in with Donald Bane and his army upon the Mamgarvy
moor, on the borders of Moray. A conflict 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 comparative 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 Torphin, the son of Harold. The rebels were again
overpowered. The king seized Harold, and obliged him to deliver up
his son, Torphin, as an hostage. Harold was allowed to retain the
northern part of Caithness, but the king gave the southern part of
it, called Sutherland, to Hugh Freskin, the progenitor of the Earls
of Sutherland. 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 Godfrey, the son of Donald Bane or MacWilliam, as he
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. Guthred even forced one of the garrisons to capitulate, and
burnt the castle; but being betrayed by his followers into the hands
of William Comyn, Earl of Buchan, the Justiciary of Scotland, 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 MacWilliam,
who made an inroad from Ireland into Moray; but he was repulsed by
the tribes of that country, led by M’Intagart, the Earl of Ross.
In 1222, notwithstanding the formidable obstacles which presented
themselves from the nature of the country, Alexander carried an
army into Argyle, 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 distributed 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
continued 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 murdered by the bonders. The king,
who was at the time at Jedburgh, hearing of this murder, immediately
hastened to the north with a military 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 common 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 the year 1231, and in order to prevent discovery, they
laid his body into his 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 captured, 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 afterwards 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
the sceptre put into his hand. He was then covered with the royal
mantle, and received the homage of the 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 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.[126] The reign of this
prince was distinguished by the entire subjugation of the western
islands to the power of the Scottish crown. The Scandinavian settlers
were allowed to leave the islands, if inclined, and such of them as
remained were bound to observe the Scottish laws.

[Illustration: Alexander III.--From Pinkerton’s Scottish Gallery.]

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
son at Balnagown, took him prisoner, and detained him as a hostage
till their captain should be released. The Monroes and the Dingwalls
immediately took up arms, and having pursued the insurgents, overtook
them at a place called Bealligh-ne-Broig, between Ferrandonald
and Loch Broom, where a bloody conflict ensued. “The Clan Iver,
Clan-Talvich, and Clan-Laiwe,” says Sir Robert Gordon, “wer almost
uterlie extinguished and slain.” 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 infant then lying in his cradle.
The Earl’s son was rescued, and to requite the service performed, he
made various grants of lands to the Monroes and Dingwalls.[127]

In 1263, Haco, the aged king of Norway, sailed with a large and
powerful fleet, determined to enforce acknowledgment of his claims
as superior of the Western Islands on their chiefs, as well as upon
the king of Scotland. Sailing southwards among the islands, one chief
after another acknowledged his supremacy, 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,
between Arran and the Ayrshire coast, his men committing ravages on
the neighbouring country, as, indeed, they appear to have done during
the whole of his progress. Negotiations entered into between Haco and
Alexander III. came to nothing, and as winter was approaching, and
his fleet had suffered much from several severe storms which caught
it, the former was fain to make his way homewards. A number of his
men, however, contrived to effect a landing near Largs, where they
were met by a miscellaneous Scottish host, consisting of cavalry
and country people, and finally completely routed. The date of this
skirmish, which is known as the battle of Largs, is October 2d, 1263.
Haco died in the end of the same year in Orkney, and in 1266 Magnus
IV., his successor, ceded the whole of the Scottish Islands held by
Norway, except Orkney 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 defeated
in Strathfillan. But Bruce was determined that Macdougall 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 Cruachan, beween Loch Awe and Loch
Etive, Bruce was informed that Macdougall 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 command 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 king 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

During the civil wars among the competitors 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 chivalry 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 independence. General Stewart
says that eighteen Highland chiefs[128] fought under Robert Bruce
at Bannockburn; and as these chiefs would be accompanied 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 yoke.

After Robert Bruce had asserted the independence 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 his
fleet, which he dragged across the narrow isthmus between the lochs
of East and West Tarbert, by means of a slide of smooth planks of
trees laid parallel to each other. It had long been a superstitious
belief amongst the inhabitants 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 England, had been invested with the title of
Admiral of the Western fleet of England, was captured and imprisoned
first in Dumbarton castle, and afterwards in the castle of Loch
Leven, where he 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 unwonted 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 numerous
train of those wild Highland chieftains who followed his banner, and
had supported him in his attempt to throw 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 degree, who
dared to raise themselves in opposition to the royal authority, and
would compel them either to submit, or would pursue and banish them
from their territories: for the fulfilment 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.”[129] The deed by which John of the Isles
bound himself to the performance of these stipulations is dated 15th
November, 1369.[130]

To enable him the better to succeed in reducing the inhabitants of
the Highlands and islands to the obedience of the laws, it is stated
by an old historian,[131] that David used artifice by dividing the
chiefs, and promising high rewards to those who should slay or
capture their brother chiefs. The writer says that this diabolical
plan, by implanting the seeds of disunion and war amongst the
chiefs, succeeded; and that they gradually destroyed one another,
a statement, to say the least of it, highly improbable. Certain it
is, however, that it was in this reign that the practice of paying
_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,[132] John Monroe, the tutor of Foulis, in
travelling homeward, on his journey from Edinburgh to Ross, stopped
on a meadow in Stratherdale that he and his servants 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 Ross, summoned his whole kinsmen
and followers, and, after informing 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
Highlanders 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 Creich_, that is, a Road Collop. Monroe, not
being disposed to quarrel, offered Macintosh 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 enforce
compliance, immediately collected his clansmen, and went in pursuit
of Monroe, whom he overtook at Clach-na-Haire, near Inverness. As
soon as Monroe saw Macintosh approaching, he sent home five of his
men to Ferrindonald with the cattle, and prepared for action. But
Macintosh paid dearly for his rapacity 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 Monroe 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 mutilated, that he
lost the use of it the remainder of his life, on which account he was
afterwards called John Bac-laimh, or Ciotach.[133]

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 resolution was entered into to seize the rebels
in Argyle, Athole, Badenoch, Lochaber, and Ross, 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 commotion (of which
the bare mention in the parliamentary record is the only account
which has reached us,) were the Earl of Ross, Hugh de Ross, John of
the Isles, John of Lorn, and John de Haye, who were all summoned to
attend the parliament and give in their submission, 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 clan Chattan were killed, and the Camerons were nearly cut off
to a man. The occasion of the quarrel was as follows. The lands of
Macintosh[134] in Lochaber, were possessed by the Camerons, 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 reprisals, 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 he called his clan and friends, the
Macphersons and Davidsons, together. His force was superior to
that of the Camerons, but a dispute arose among the chiefs which
almost proved fatal to them. To Macintosh, as captain of the clan
Chattan, the command of the centre of the army was assigned with
the consent of all parties; but a difference took place between
Cluny and Invernahavon, each claiming the command of the right wing.
Cluny demanded it as the chief of the ancient clan Chattan, of which
the Davidsons 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 Macintosh,
as umpire, decided against the claim of Cluny. This was a most
imprudent award, as the Macphersons exceeded both the Macintoshes
and Davidsons in numbers, and they were, besides, in the country
of the Macphersons. These last were so offended at the decision 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 Camerons. The
Macphersons seeing their friends and neighbours almost overpowered,
could no longer restrain themselves, and friendship got the better
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 defeated. The few that escaped, with their
leader, were pursued from Invernahavon, the place of battle, three
miles above Ruthven, to Badenoch. Charles Macgilony was killed on a
hill in Glenbenchir, which was long called Torr-Thearlaich, _i.e._,

In the opinion of Shaw this quarrel about precedency was the origin
of the celebrated judicial conflict, which took place on the North
Inch of Perth, before Robert III., his queen, Annabella Drummond, and
the Scottish nobility, and some foreigners of distinction, in the
year 1396, and of which a variety of accounts have been given by our
ancient historians. 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 carried on a war of extermination, and kept the country in
an uproar.

To put an end to these disorders, it is said that Robert III. sent
Dunbar, Earl of Moray, and Lindsay of Glenesk, afterwards Earl of
Crawford, two of the leading men of the kingdom, to endeavour to
effect an amicable arrangement between the contending parties; but
having failed in their attempt, they proposed that the differences
should be decided in open combat before the king. Tytler[137] 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 usual sagacity, remarks that, “for a whole race to
submit to the ordeal of battle would imply 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 adjustment could be effected among
them is about as incredible as a story about a parliamentary debate
in Persia, or a jury trial in Timbuctoo.”[138] 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 Robert Gordon, who is
followed by Sir Robert 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, however, mentions expressly 60 in all, or 30 on either

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 respective 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 marshalled, one of the Macphersons, panic-struck, slipped
through 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 entrie into the 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 the
Davidsons should retire, that the 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 within the 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 the 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 commonwealth and realm?” This demand of _Gow Crom_,
“Crooked Smith,” as Henry was familiarly 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 revenge 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 inflicted 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 with blood, and covered with dead and wounded men.”[139]

After the 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 adage,

      “_Am fear nach cunntadh rium_
      _Cha chunntainn ris_,”

which Macintosh thus renders,

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

Victory at last declared for the Macphersons, 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 remaining 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 himself into the Tay, and making the opposite bank, escaped;
but this is most likely a new version of Bower’s account of the
affrighted champion 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-Jonson_ was
genealogically, we are not informed; but one thing is pretty clear,
that he, not _Schea-beg_, or _Shaw Oig_,--for these are obviously one
and the same,--commanded the clan Chattan, or “_Clann-a-Chait_.”[140]
Both the principals seem to have been absent, or spectators merely
of the battle; and as few of the leading men of the clan, it is
believed, were parties in the combat, the savage policy of the
government, 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 completely defeated. This affair seems to have produced a good
effect, as the Highlanders remained quiet for a considerable time

[Illustration: Effigy of “the Wolf of Badenoch” in Dunkeld Cathedral.]

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 Robert II., whom he had constituted
Lieutenant or governor from the limits of Moray to the Pentland
Frith. This person, from the ferocity of his disposition, obtained
the appropriate appellation of “the Wolf of Badenoch.” Avaricious
as well 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 excommunication 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
Maison-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 sacrilege 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 (Robert
III. his brother,) and many of the nobility, on condition that he
should make full satisfaction to the bishop of Moray, and obtain
absolution from the pope.[141]

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 resolved to imitate his
father’s barbarous exploits, he collected, in 1392, a vast number
of caterans, 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
Lindsay of Glenesk, to oppose him, and although inferior in numbers,
they attacked Stewart and his party of freebooters at Gasklune,
near the water of Ila. A desperate conflict took place, which was
of short duration. The caterans fought with determined bravery, and
soon overpowered their assailants. The sheriff, his brother, 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.[142]

Nicolas, Earl of Sutherland, had a feud with Y-Mackay of Far, in
Strathnaver, chief of the Clan-wig-worgm, and his son Donald Mackay,
in which many lives were lost, and great depredations committed
on both sides. In order to put an end to this difference, the
Earl proposed 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 met at the appointed time, in the
year 1395, and took up their residence in the castle of Dingwall in
apartments allotted for them. A discussion then took place between
the Earl and Mackay, regarding the points in controversy, in which
high and reproachful words were exchanged, 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 Mackays, he immediately returned home and prepared
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.[143]

Some years after this event a serious conflict took place between
the inhabitants of Sutherland and Strathnaver, and Malcolm Macleod
of the Lewis, which arose out of the following circumstances. Angus
Mackay above mentioned, had married a sister of Malcolm Macleod,
by whom he had two sons, Angus Dow, and Roriegald. On the death of
Angus, Houcheon Dow Mackay, a younger brother, became tutor to his
nephews, and entered upon the management of their lands. Malcolm
Macleod, understanding that his sister, the widow of Angus, was ill
treated by Houcheon Dow, went on a visit to her, accompanied by a
number 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
intelligence, they acquainted Robert, Earl of Sutherland, between
whom and Angus Mackay a reconciliation had been effected, who
immediately despatched Alexander Ne-Shrem-Gorme (Alexander Murray
of Cubin,) with a number of stout and resolute men, to assist the
Mackays. They followed Macleod with great haste, and overtook him at
Tittim-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
delivered when he expired.[144]

These feuds were followed by a formidable insurrection, 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 children, 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 uncle 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, moreover, 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 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
Farr, 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
Boyne 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 district 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 Abernethy of Salton, nephew to the Duke of Albany,
Sir Robert Maule of Panmure, 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 stationed 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, under the
command of the constable of Dundee and the sheriff of Angus, the
Earl drew up the main strength of his army in the rear, including
the Murrays, the Straitons, the Maules, the Irvings, the Lesleys,
the Lovels, 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 Macintosh and Maclean and other Highland chiefs, all
bearing the most deadly hatred to their Saxon foes, and panting for

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
Lowlanders had recovered themselves from the shock which the furious
onset of the Highlanders 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 intimidate the Highlanders, who kept pouring in by thousands to
supply the place of those who had fallen. Surrounded on all sides,
no alternative 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 encouraged
the Highlanders, that seizing and stabbing the horses, they thus
unhorsed their riders, whom they despatched with their daggers. In
the meantime the Earl of Mar, who had penetrated with his main army
into the very heart of the enemy, kept up the unequal contest with
great bravery, and, although he lost during 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 misfortunes 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 the house. Lesley of
Balquhain is said to have fallen with six of his sons. Besides Sir
James Scrymgeour, Sir Alexander Ogilvy the sheriff of Angus, with
his eldest son George Ogilvy, Sir Thomas Murray, Sir Robert Maule
of Panmure, Sir Alexander Irving of Drum, Sir William Abernethy
of Salton, Sir Alexander Straiton 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 followed 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.”[145]

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
therefore allowed to retire without molestation, and to recruit his
exhausted strength.[146]

As soon as the news of the disaster at Harlaw reached the ears of
the Duke of Albany, then regent of Scotland, he set about collecting
an army, with which he marched in person to the north in autumn,
with a determination to bring the Lord of the Isles to obedience.
Having taken possession of the castle of Dingwall, he appointed a
governor, and from thence proceeded to recover the whole of Ross.
Donald retreated before him, and took up his winter-quarters in the
islands. Hostilities were renewed 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 secure his future good behaviour. A treaty to
this effect was entered into at Pilgilbe or Polgillip, the modern
Loch-Gilp, in Argyle.


[121] Maclauchlan’s _Early Scottish Church_, pp. 346-7.

[122] Book viii. ch. 6.

[123] Shaw’s _Hist. of Moray_, new ed., pp. 259-60.

[124] _Caledonia_, vol. i. p. 627.

[125] “Whilst the lowlands and the coast of Moray, which had already
been partitioned out among the followers of David, would have
presented comparatively few obstacles to such a project, it is hardly
possible to conceive how it could ever have been successfully put
into execution amidst the wild and inaccessible mountains of the
interior. It appears, therefore, most reasonable to conclude, that
Malcolm only carried out the policy pursued by his grandfather ever
since the first forfeiture of the 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 proprietors--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
the earlier proprietary to a dependant position, 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.

[126] 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 impression 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 ancestors.”--_Western Islands_, p. 241.

[127] Sir R. Gordon’s _History of the Earldom of Sutherland_, p. 36.

[128] The chiefs at Bannockburn were Mackay, Mackintosh, Macpherson,
Cameron, Sinclair, Campbell, Menzies, Maclean, Sutherland, Robertson,
Grant, Fraser, Macfarlane, Ross, Macgregor, Munro, Mackenzie, and
Macquarrie. After the lapse of five hundred years since the battle of
Bannockburn 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.

[129] Tytler’s _Hist. of Scotland_, vol. ii. p. 185. Robertson’s
_Parliamentary Records_, p. 115.

[130] Vide the Deed printed in the Appendix to Tytler’s _History_,
vol. ii.

[131] Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 380.

[132] This is the date assigned by Sir Robert Gordon, but Shaw makes
it more than a century later, viz., in 1454.

[133] Sir R. Gordon, p. 47.--Shaw, p. 264.

[134] 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 Macintosh 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 favoured 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 Chattan, or Macphersons, to
acquaint him that “_the king_” was to pay him a visit. Macpherson,
or MacGillichattan, as he was named, in honour of the founder of the
family Gillichattan[135] Mor, having an only child, a daughter, who,
he dreaded, might attract an inconvenient 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.

[135] “A votary or servant of St. Kattan,” a most popular Scottish
saint, we have thus _Gillichallum_, meaning a “votary of Columba,”
and of which another form is _Malcolm_ or _Molcalm_, the prefix
_Mol_ being corrupted into Mal, signifying the same as _Gilly_.
Thus _Gilly-Dhia_ is the etymon of _Culdee_, signifying “servant of
God,”--_Gilli-christ_ means “servant of Christ.”

[136] Shaw’s _History of Moray_, pp. 260, 261.

[137] Vol. iii. pp 76, 77.

[138] Vol. iii. p. 72.

[139] _Tales of a Grandfather_, vol. ii.

[140] For a more thorough discussion of this fight, see the account
of the Clan Mackintosh in Vol. II.

[141] Shaw’s _Moray_, pp. 314-15.--Winton, vol. ii. p. 363.--Keith’s
_Catalogue_, p. 83.

[142] Winton, vol. ii. p. 369.

[143] Sir Robert Gordon’s _History_, p. 60.

[144] Sir Robert Gordon, pp. 61, 62.

[145] Tytler, vol. iii. p. 177. The ballad of the Battle concludes

      There was not, sin’ King Kenneth’s days,
        Sic strange intestine cruel strife
      In Scotlande seen, as ilk man says,
        Where 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 veritie they knaw;
        And monie a ane will mourne for aye
      The brim battle of the Harlaw.

[146] “So ended one of Scotland’s most memorable battles. The contest
between the Lowlanders and Donald’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 believe
that the defeat of Donald of the Isles was felt as a more memorable
deliverance even than that of Bannockburn.”--Burton, vol. iii. pp.
101, 102.


A.D. 1424-1512.


  James I., 1406-1436.
  James II., 1436-1460.
  James III., 1460-1488.
  James IV., 1488-1513.

  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 Highland Expedition--Disturbances in
  Caithness--Insurrection 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 submits--Disturbances in Ross and Sutherland
  --Wise 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 particularly the Highlands, in a state of the
most fearful insubordination. Rapine, robbery, and an utter contempt
of the laws prevailed to an alarming extent, which required all the
energy of a wise and prudent prince, like James, to repress. When
these excesses were first reported to James, by one of his nobles, on
entering the kingdom, he thus expressed 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.”[147] “At this
period, the condition of the Highlands, so far as is discoverable
from the few authentic documents which have reached our times,
appears to have been in the highest degree rude and uncivilized.
There existed a singular combination of Celtic and of feudal manners.
Powerful chiefs, of Norman name and Norman blood, had penetrated
into the remotest districts, and ruled over multitudes of vassals
and serfs, whose strange and uncouth appellatives proclaim their
difference of race in the most convincing manner.[148] The tenure of
lands by charter and seisin, the feudal services due by the vassal to
his lord, the bands of friendship or of manrent 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
subordination to the laws, were less intimate and influential than in
the Lowland divisions of the country; and as they experienced less
protection, we have already seen, that in great public emergencies,
when the captivity of the sovereign, or the payment of his ransom,
called for the imposition of a tax upon property throughout the
kingdom, these great northern chiefs thought themselves at liberty to
resist the collection within their mountainous principalities.

“Besides such Scoto-Norman barons, however, there were to be found in
the Highlands and Isles, those fierce aboriginal chiefs, who hated
the Saxon and the Norman race, and offered a mortal opposition to the
settlement of all intruders within a country which they considered
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 disputes and collisions which perpetually occurred
between these distinct ranks of potentates, were accompanied by
spoliations, ravages, imprisonments, 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

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 welfare and prosperity
of the kingdom, James next turned his attention to his Highland
dominions, which, as we have seen, were in a deplorable 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, arrived at Inverness, attended by
his parliament, and immediately summoned the principal chiefs there
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 the chiefs repaired
to Inverness. No sooner, however, had they entered the hall where the
parliament was sitting, than they were by order of the king arrested,
ironed, and imprisoned in different apartments, and debarred all
communication with each other, or with their followers. It has been
supposed that these chiefs may have been entrapped by some fair
promises on the part of James, and the joy 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 Macreiny 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.[150]

[Illustration: James I.]

The king now determined to inflict summary vengeance upon his
captives. Those who were most conspicuous for their crimes were
immediately executed; among whom were James Campbell, who was
tried, convicted, and hanged for the murder of John of the Isles;
and Alexander 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.[151] Besides these, many others who were kept in
prison in different parts of the kingdom, were afterwards condemned
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, Alexander 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 witness 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 completely
routed, and the latter sought safety in flight.

Reduced to the utmost distress, and seeing the impossibility of
evading the active vigilance of his pursuers, who hunted him from
place to place, this haughty lord, who considered 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 he had travelled in the most private manner,
the humbled chief suddenly presented himself before the king, on
Easter-Sunday, in the church of Holyrood, when he and his queen,
surrounded by the nobles of the court, were employed in 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 unreserved 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.[152] The king, however, relented, and
released the Lord of the Isles and his mother, after about a year’s

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 Macneill, 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 displeasure at Mowat, the laird of Freshwick, the
latter, with his party, in order to avoid his vengeance, 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
religion 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 apprehend him. Angus Murray, son of Alexander Murray
of Cubin, immediately set about the apprehension of Thomas Macneill.
To accomplish 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 promised to aid them in getting
peaceable possession of such lands in Strathnaver as they claimed.
This, he 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 possessions of Angus Dubh in Strathnaver, they were
easily allured by these promises; they immediately apprehended their
brother Thomas at Spaniziedaill in Sutherland, and delivered him
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.[153]

[Illustration: MACNEILL. (Tartan)]

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 Sutherland 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 parties 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,
offering to surrender them all his lands and possessions in
Strathnaver, if they would allow him to retain Keantayle. This fair
offer was, however, rejected, and an appeal was therefore immediately
made to arms. A desperate conflict 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 Angus Dubh Mackay was carried, at his own request,
to the field, to search for the bodies of his slain cousins, but he
was killed by an arrow from a Sutherland man who lay concealed 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. The victim of this savage act, as soon
as she was able to travel, went to the king and related to him the
whole circumstances of her case, which so exasperated him, that he
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 under an escort to Perth, where
the court was then held. Ross was tried and condemned, he and his
friends being treated in the same manner 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 the streets of the town, afterwards dragged at a
horse’s tail, and hanged on a gallows.[154]

The commotions in Strathnaver, and other parts of the Highlands,
induced the king to make another expedition into that part of his
dominions; previous to which he summoned a Parliament at Perth,
which 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 undertaking. No contemporary record of this
expedition exists; but it is said that the king proceeded to
Dunstaffnage castle, to punish those chiefs who had joined in Donald
Balloch’s insurrection; that, on his arrival there, numbers of these
came to him and made their submission, throwing the whole odium
of the rebellion upon the leader, whose authority, they alleged,
they were afraid to resist; and that, by their means, three hundred
thieves were apprehended 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 chief 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 between the Keiths and some
others of the inhabitants of Caithness. As the Keiths could not
depend upon their own forces, they sought the aid of Angus Mackay,
son of Neill last mentioned, who had recently died. Angus agreed
to join the Keiths; and accordingly, accompanied by his brother,
John Roy, and a chieftain named Iain-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. The 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 declared for the
Keiths, whose success, it is said, was chiefly owing to the prowess
of Iain-Mor-Mac-Iain-Riabhaich, whose name was, in consequence, long
famous in that and the adjoining country.[155]

After the defeat of James, Earl of Douglas, who had renounced his
allegiance to James II., at Arkinholme, in 1454, he retired into
Argyleshire, where he was received by the Earl of Ross, with whom,
and the Lord of the Isles, he entered into an alliance. The ocean
prince, 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 Isla, 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 Cumbrays and the Island of Arran; yet formidable as he was
both in men and ships, the loss was not so considerable as might
have been expected, from the prudent precautions taken by the king
to repel the invaders. The summary of the damage sustained is thus
related in a contemporary chronicle:--“There was slain of good men
fifteen; 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;
harried all Arran; stormed and levelled with the ground the castle
of Brodick; and wasted, with fire and sword, the islands of the
Cumbrays. They also levied tribute upon Bute; carrying away a hundred
bolls of malt, a hundred marts, and a hundred marks of silver.”[156]

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 Sutherland, 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 immediately began to commit
depredations, whereupon he was attacked by Murray, and compelled
to retreat into Ross with the loss of one of his captains, named
Donald Dubh-na-Soirn, and fifty of his men. Exasperated at this
defeat, Macdonald sent another party of his islanders, along with a
company of men from Ross, to Strathfleet in Sutherland to lay waste
the country, and thus wipe off the disgrace of his late defeat. On
hearing of this fresh invasion, the Earl of Sutherland despatched
his brother Robert with a sufficient force to attack the Clandonald.
They met on the sands of Strathfleet, and, after a fierce and bloody
struggle, the islanders and their allies were overthrown with great
slaughter. Many perished in the course of their flight. This was the
last hostile irruption of the Clandonald into Sutherland, as all the
disputes between the Lord of the Isles and the Sutherland family were
afterwards 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 nevertheless 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 their 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 his sister. Coveting the estate
of his elder 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 property restored to him by the 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 act, so justifiable in itself,
roused the revengeful passions of the island chiefs, who issued from
their ocean retreats and committed the most dreadful excesses.[157]

After the decisive battle of Touton, Henry VI. and his Queen retired
to Scotland to watch the 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, the
exiled monarch, and the king of Scotland, determined to counteract
the effects of such a connection by a stroke of policy. Aware of
the disaffected disposition of some of the Scottish nobles, and
northern and island chiefs, he immediately entered into a negotiation
with John, Earl of Ross, 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 council of their
vassals and dependants at Astornish, at which it was agreed to send
ambassadors 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 stipulated 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 Ross 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 Balloch, and the estates which formerly
belonged to Douglas between the Frith of Forth and the borders were
to be restored to him. This singular treaty is dated London, 18th
February, 1462.[158]

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, engaged to assist in restoring
him to his crown and dominions, the Earl of Ross, before the plan had
been organized, in order to counteract the attempt, broke out into
open rebellion, which was characterized by all those circumstances
of barbarous cruelty which distinguished the inroads of the princes
of the islands. He first seized the castle of Inverness at the head
of a small party, being admitted unawares by the governor, who did
not suspect his hostile intentions. He then collected 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 be 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 related that the Earl of
Ross 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.
Preparations 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 dejected 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 thereupon voluntarily released from confinement, and the
Earl of Ross was afterwards assassinated in the castle of Inverness,
by an Irish harper who bore him a grudge.[159]

Although at this period an account of Orkney and Shetland does not
properly belong to a history of the Highlands, as these islands
had for long been the property of the king of Norway, and had a
population almost purely Teutonic, with a language, manners, and
customs widely differing from those of the Highlanders proper; still
it will not be out of place to mention 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 sovereign 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 certain 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.[160]

After the Lord of the Isles had thus resigned the earldom of Ross
into the king’s hands, that province was perpetually molested by
incursions from the islanders, who now considered it a fit theatre
for the exercise of their predatory exploits. Gillespie, 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 Clankenzie fought with great
valour, and pressed the enemy so hard that Gillespie 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-na-Pairc.
The predecessor of the Laird of Brodie, who happened to be with the
chief of the Mackenzies at the time, fought with great courage.

For a considerable time the district of Sutherland had remained
tranquil, but on the 11th 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 considered sacred and paramount duties by the Highlanders;
and if, from the weakness of the clan, the minority of the chief,
or any other cause, the day of deadly reckoning was delayed, 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, applied to John
Earl of Sutherland, on whom he depended, to assist him in revenging
his father’s death. The Earl promised his aid, and accordingly sent
his uncle, Robert Sutherland, with a company of chosen men, to assist
John Mackay. With this force, and such men as John Mackay and his
relation Uilleam-Dubh-Mac-Iain-Abaraich, son of John Aberigh who
fought at Drum-na-Coub, could collect, they invaded Strath-oy-kell,
carrying fire and sword in their course, and laying waste many lands
belonging to the Rosses. As soon as the Laird of Balnagown, the chief
of the Rosses, heard of this attack, he collected all his forces,
and attacked Robert Sutherland and John Riabhaich Mackay, at a place
called Aldv-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.

[Illustration: ROSS. (Tartan)]

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,
induced them to instigate John Mackay to resolve to commit one of the
most perfidious and diabolical 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 Uilleam-Dubh-Mac-Iain-Abaraich, he was
horrified 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, and put them in order, to be prepared for
the threatened attack; but on John Riabhaich Mackay perceiving that
Robert and his party were prepared to meet him, he slunk off, and
went home to Strathnaver.[161]

The lawless state of society in the Highlands, which followed as
a consequence from the removal of the seat of government to the
Lowlands, though it often engaged the attention of the Scottish
sovereigns, never had proper remedies applied to mend it. At one time
the aid of force was called in, and when that was found ineffectual,
the vicious principle of dividing the chiefs, that they might the
more effectually weaken and destroy one another, was adopted. Both
plans, as might be supposed, proved abortive. If the government had,
by conciliatory measures, and by a profusion 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 reserved 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 exclusively 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 purpose he succeeded,
with that energy and activity 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
Mackintosh; with Ewan, the son of Alan, captain of the Clancameron;
with Campbell of Glenurqhay; the Macgilleouns of Duart and Lochbuy;
Mackane of Ardnamurchan; the lairds of Mackenzie and Grant; and
the Earl of Huntley, 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 securing their services
in reducing to obedience such of their fellow chieftains as proved
contumacious, or actually rose in rebellion.”[162]

But James carried his views further. Rightly judging how much the
personal presence of the sovereign would be valued by his distant
subjects, and the good effects which would result 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
Rannoch, 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 Ardnamurchan. In the following year he visited the
isles no less than three times. His first voyage 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 familiarity 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 repeated and signal marks of
the royal favour he had experienced. But James was not to be 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 treasurer’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 Dunbar 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 R. 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
messengers everywhere in search of him, and promised his lands to any
person that would apprehend him. After some search he was apprehended
with ten of his followers by his uncle, Y-Roy-Mackay, brother of John
Reawigh Mackay already mentioned, who sent him to the king. Dilred
was tried, condemned, and executed, and his lands declared forfeited.
For this service, Y-Roy-Mackay obtained from the king a grant of
the lands of Armdall, Far, Golspietour, Kinnald, Kilcolmkill, and
Dilred, which formerly belonged to Alexander Sutherland, as was
noted in Mackay’s infeftment, dated in 1449.[163] “Avarice,” says
Sir R. Gordon, “is a strange vyce, which respects neither blood nor
freindship. This is the first infeftment 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 Highlanders have alwise done.”

The grant of the king as to the lands over which Sir James Dunbar’s
security extended, was called in question by Sir James, who obtained
a decree before the lords of council and session, in February, 1512,
setting aside the right of Y-Roy-Mackay, and ordaining the Earl of
Sutherland, as superior of the lands, to receive Sir James Dunbar as
his vassal.

A lamentable instance of the ferocity of these times is afforded in
the case of one of the Earls of Sutherland, who upon some provocation
slew two of his nephews. This earl, who was named John, had a natural
brother, Thomas Moir, who had two sons, Robert 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 his castle of Dunrobin to brave him to his
face, an act which so provoked the Earl, that he instantly killed
Robert in the house. The Keith, after receiving several wounds,
made his escape, but he was overtaken and slain at the Clayside,
near Dunrobin, which from that circumstance 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 Lowlanders,
appear to have been more a hindrance than a help.


[147] Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 511.

[148] MS. Adv. Lib. Coll. Diplom. a Macfarlane, vol. i. p. 245.--MS.
Cart. Moray, 263.

[149] Tytler, vol. iii. pp. 250, 251.

[150] Fordun a Hearne, vol. iv. pp. 1283-4.

[151] Sir R. Gordon, p. 64.

[152] Fordun, vol. iv. p. 1286.

[153] Sir Robert Gordon, pp. 64, 65.

[154] Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 510.

[155] Sir R. Gordon, p. 69.

[156] _Auchinleck Chronicle_, p. 55.

[157] _Auchinleck Chronicle_, pp. 58, 59.

[158] _Rotuli Scotiæ_, vol. ii. p. 407.

[159] Ferrerius, p. 383.--Lesley _de Rebus Gestis Scotorum_, p. 300.

[160] Lesley’s _Hist._, p. 41.--Sir R. Gordon, p. 77.

[161] Sir R. Gordon, pp. 78, 79.

[162] Tytler, vol. iv. pp. 367, 368.

[163] Sir R. Gordon, p. 80.


A.D. 1516-1588.


  James V., 1513-1542.
  Mary, 1542-1567.
  James VI., 1567-1603.

  Doings in Sutherland--Battle of Torran-Dubh--Feud between
  the Keiths and the clan Gun--John Mackay and Murray of
  Aberscors--Alexander Sutherland, 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 Regent visits the Highlands--Commotions
  in Sutherland--Queen Mary’s 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 Chattan--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 Mackay and the Earl of

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, however, would have found a more trustworthy
supporter in the person of Y-Roy-Mackay, who had come under a
written obligation to serve him the same year; but Mackay died,
and a contest immediately ensued in Strathnaver, between 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 Earl, after many entreaties,
put a force under the command of Neill and his two sons, with which
they entered Strathnaver, 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
Strathnaver as he 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 part 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-Naverigh. This unfortunate old man, after being abandoned
by the Earl of Caithness, threw himself upon the generosity of
his nephews, requesting that they would merely allow him a small
maintenance to keep him from poverty during the remainder of his
life; but these unnatural 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.[164]

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 which 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 brother, 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 assembled not only the
whole strength of Strathnaver, Durines, Edderachillis, and Assynt,
with the Siol-Phaill and Siol-Thomais; but also all the disorderly
and idle men of the whole diocese 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 the command of his brother Donald,
to act as a reserve in case of necessity, he 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
pursued by John Murray and Uilleam Mac-Sheumais, till the darkness of
the night prevented the pursuit. In this battle, two hundred of the
Strathnaver men, thirty-two of the Siol-Phaill, and fifteen of the
Siol-Thomais, besides many of the Assynt men, and their commander,
Niall-Mac-Iain-Mac-Aonghais, a valiant chieftain, were slain. John
Mor-Mac-Iain, the brother of this chief, escaped with his life after
receiving many wounds. Of the Sutherland men, thirty-eight only were
slain. Sir Robert Gordon says that this “was the greatest conflict
that hitherto hes been fought in between the inhabitants of these
cuntreyes, or within the diocy of Catteynes, to our knowlege.”[165]

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 travelling from Inverugie to Caithness. This 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 existed 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 Cruner, then chief of the clan Gun, with some of his sons
and his principal kinsmen, to the number of twelve in all, came to
the 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,
however, defended themselves with great intrepidity, 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 born.

As John Mackay imputed his defeat at Torran-Dubh mainly to John
Murray of Aberscors, he resolved to take the first convenient
opportunity of revenging himself, and wiping off the disgrace of
his discomfiture. He, therefore, not being in a condition himself
to undertake 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
John-Roy, whose loss he deeply deplored.

Exasperated at this second disaster, John Mackay sent John 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 Strathfleet, which belonged 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 these repeated reverses, John Mackay
submitted himself to the Earl of Sutherland on his return from
Edinburgh, and granted him his bond of service, in the year 1518.
But, notwithstanding this submission, Mackay afterwards 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, “everie man thought to escape unpunished, and cheiflie
these who were remotest from the seat of justice.”[166]

This Alexander Sutherland was son of John, the third of that name,
Earl of Sutherland, and as he pretended that the Earl and his mother
had entered into a contract of marriage, he laid claim, on the death
of the Earl, to the title and estates, as a legitimate descendant
of Earl John, his father. By the entreaties of Adam Gordon, Lord of
Aboyne, who had married Lady Elizabeth, the sister and sole heiress
of Earl John, Alexander Sutherland judicially renounced his claim
in presence of the sheriff of Inverness, on the 25th of July, 1509.
He now repented of what he had done, and, being instigated by the
Earl of Caithness and John Mackay, mortal foes to the house of
Sutherland, he renewed his pretensions. Earl Adam, perceiving that
he 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 the two, endeavoured to win him over by
offering him many favourable conditions, again to renounce his
claims, but in vain. He maintained the legitimacy of his descent, and
alleged that the renunciation he had granted at Inverness had been
obtained from him contrary to his inclination, and against the advice
of his best friends.

[Illustration: Old Dunrobin Castle.]

Having collected a considerable force, he, in absence of the earl,
who was in Strathbogie, attacked Dunrobin castle, the chief strength
of the earl, which he took. In this siege he was chiefly supported
by Alexander Terrell of the Doill, who, in consequence of taking
arms against the earl, his superior, lost all his lands, and was
afterwards apprehended and executed. As soon as the earl heard of
the insurrection, he despatched Alexander Lesley of Kinninuvy, with
a body of men, into Sutherland to assist John Murray of Aberscors,
who was already at the head of a force to support the earl. They
immediately besieged Dunrobin, which surrendered. Alexander had
retired to Strathnaver, but he again returned into Sutherland with a
fresh body of men, and laid waste the country. After putting to death
several of his own kinsmen who had joined the earl, he descended
farther into the country, towards the parishes of Loth and Clyne.
Meeting with little or no opposition, the bastard grew careless,
and being observed wandering along the Sutherland coast, flushed
with success and regardless 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 Sutherland’s outskirts, and to keep
skirmishing with him till he, the earl, should collect a sufficient
force with which to attack him. Having collected 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 Alexander 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 Robert
Gordon, following the superstition of his times, curiously observes),
“that whatsoever by fate is allotted, though sometymes forshewed, 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 predicessors. Thus the
divell and his ministers, the witches, deceaving still such as trust
in them, will either find or frame predictions for everie action or
event, which doeth ever fall out contrarie to ther expectations; a
kynd of people to all men unfaithfull, to hopers deceatful, and in
all cuntries allwise forbidden, allwise reteaned and manteaned.”[167]

The Earl of Sutherland being now far advanced in life, retired for
the most part to Strathbogy and 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 and talent. The restless chief John Mackay, still
smarting under his misfortunes, and thirsting for revenge, thought
the present a favourable opportunity for retrieving his losses.
With a considerable force, therefore, he invaded 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 Strathnaver with some loss. Mackay then
assembled a large body of his countrymen and invaded the Breachat.
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 conduct. Still dreading a renewal of
Mackay’s visits, the Master of Sutherland resolved to retaliate, 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 large quantity of booty, returned into Sutherland.
In entering Strathnaver, the Master of Sutherland had taken the road
to Strathully, passing through Mackay’s bounds in the hope of falling
in with and apprehending him, but Mackay was absent on a _creach_
excursion into Sutherland. In returning, however, through the Diric
Moor and the Breachat, Alexander Gordon received intelligence 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
great difficulty, and saved his life by swimming to the island of
Eilean-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 the
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.[168]

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 get all which 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 dispute on either
side to Gavin Dunbar,[169] bishop of Aberdeen, who pronounced his
award at Edinburgh, on the 11th March, 1524, his judgment appearing
to have satisfied both parties, as the earls 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 verrie honest and wyse gentleman,” says Bishop
Lesley, “an barroun of gude rent, quha keipit hes hole ken, friendes
and tennentis in honest and guid rewll;”[170] and according to Sir
Robert Gordon, “a man of great possessions, and of such excellencies
of witt and judgement, that with great commendation he did conteyn
all his followers within the limits of ther dueties.”[171] 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 vertuous living.” At the
head of this restless party was James Malcolmeson, a near kinsman
of the chief, who, instigated by his worthless companions, and
the temptation of ruling the clan, murdered the good chief. 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 Rothiemurchus; but the enraged clan followed
them to their hiding places and despatched them.

As the son of the deceased chief was of tender 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 benefit of his education,
and to bring him up virtuously. Hector Macintosh was greatly incensed
at the removal of the child, and used every effort to get possession
of him; but meeting with a refusal he became outrageous, and laid
so many plans for accomplishing his object, 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, assisted 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, and 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 resistance, surrendered. No less than twenty-four
gentlemen of the name of Ogilvie were massacred on this occasion.
After this event the Macintoshes and the party of banditti they had
collected, roamed over the whole of the adjoining 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[172] 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. “Ther 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

Seeing no hopes of escaping the royal vengeance but by a ready
submission, Hector Macintosh, 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 remaining years of the
minority of the young chief, who, according to Bishop Lesley, “wes
sua well brocht up by the meenes of the Erle 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
vertue to all the hieland captanis in Scotland.”[174] But the young
chieftain’s “honestie and civile policye” not suiting the ideas of
those who had concurred in the murder of his father, a conspiracy was
formed against him by some of his nearest kinsmen to deprive him of
his life, 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 Sutherland, to whom his brother had
twice granted his bond of service. But, upon the death of that
nobleman, he began to molest the inhabitants 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 Kennedy 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. Notwithstanding 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-Hutcheon, 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 Sutherland
with a fresh force, and encamped near Skibo. Hutcheon Murray
collected some Sutherland men, and with them he attacked Mackay, and
kept him in check till an additional force which he expected should
arrive. As soon as Mackay saw this new body of men approaching, 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, 1549.

During the reign of James V. some respect was paid in the Highlands
to the laws; but the divisions which fell out amongst the nobility,
the unquiet state of the nation during the minority of the infant
queen, and the wars with England, relaxed the springs of government,
and the consequence was that the usual scenes of turbulence and
oppression soon displayed themselves in the Highlands, accompanied
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 enmity to Hugh,
Lord Lovat; and because Ranald, son of Donald Glass of Moidart,
was sister’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 large 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 Moydart and Knoydart, whose principal
captains were Ewen Allenson, Ronald M’Coneilglas, and John Moydart.
These had wasted and plundered the whole country of Urquhart and
Glenmorriston, 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 coming. But, by the mediation of the Earl of Argyle,
they immediately dislodged themselves upon the Earl of Huntly’s
appearance, and retired 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
Nine-Mile-Water, and they even offered to escort him home in case of
danger; but, having no apprehensions, 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
Clanranald were at hand, in full march, to intercept him. To secure
an important pass, he despatched Iain-Cleireach, one of his principal
officers, with 50 men; but, from some cause or other, Iain-Cleireach
did not accomplish his object; and, as soon as Lovat came to the
north end of Loch Lochy, he perceived the Clanranald descending the
hill from the west, to the number of about 500, divided into seven
companies. 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-Leine_,
_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 Highland 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 three days. Great as was
the loss on the side of the Frasers, that on the opposite side was
comparatively still greater. According to a tradition 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

As soon as intelligence of this disaster was brought to the Earl of
Huntly, he again returned with an army, entered Lochaber, which he
laid waste, and apprehended many of the leading men of the hostile
tribes, whom he 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 discovered 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 Cassilis. A commotion was about to ensue, but matters
were adjusted for a time, by the prudence 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 of the clan.

About the same time the province of Sutherland again became the scene
of some commotions. The earl 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 resolutely to meet them.
Alarmed at seeing him 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, indignant
at the affront offered to Alexander Gordon, shortly afterwards killed
John Sutherland upon the Nether Green of Dunrobin, in revenge for
which murder William Murray was himself thereafter slain by the Laird
of Clyne.

The Mackays also took advantage of the Earl of Sutherland’s absence,
to plunder and lay waste 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 entered Mackay’s country, which he wasted, and
carried off a large booty in goods and cattle, in the year 1551.
Mackay, in his turn, retaliated, and this system of mutual aggression
and spoliation continued for several years.[176]

During the absence of the Earl of Huntly in France, John of Moydart,
chief of the Clanranald, returned from the isles and recommenced his
usual course of rapine. The queen regent, on her return from France,
being invested with full authority, sent the Earl of Huntly on an
expedition to the north, for the purpose of apprehending Clanranald
and putting an end to his outrages. The earl having mustered a
considerable force, chiefly Highlanders of the clan Chattan, passed
into Moydart and Knoydart, but his operations were paralyzed by
disputes in his camp. The chief and his men having abandoned their
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
entrust himself with the clan Chattan, who owed him a deep grudge
on account of the execution of their last chief, he abandoned the
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 home; but we are
rather disposed to consider Bishop Lesley’s account, which we have
followed, as the more correct.[177]

The failure of this expedition gave great offence to the queen,
who, instigated it is supposed 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
Abernethy, 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
Strathdie, of which 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 earl.

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 him to the court, he neglected or declined
to do so, and he was therefore committed to prison at Inverness,
Aberdeen, and Edinburgh, successively, and he was not restored to
liberty till he paid a considerable sum of money. Y-Mackay of Far was
also summoned to appear before the queen at Inverness, to answer for
his spoliations committed in the country of Sutherland during the
absence of Earl John in France; 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 earl, 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
commander. This fort the earl completely demolished.

While the Earl of Sutherland was engaged in the siege, Mackay
entered Sutherland secretly, 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-Mackeanvoir, 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. Having been defeated again by Mackenzie, and seeing no
chance of escape, Mackay surrendered himself, and was carried south,
and committed 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

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 province, 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 Strathnaver 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 Strathnaver 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

On the release of Mackay from his confinement in the castle of
Edinburgh, he was employed 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
Sutherland, with whom he lived in peace during the remainder of
the earl’s life. But Mackay incurred 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 insulted
clan flew to arms; but they were defeated at Durines, by the murderer
and adulterer, after a sharp skirmish. Three of the principal men of
the tribe who had given themselves up, trusting to Mackay’s clemency,
were beheaded.[178]

In the early part of the reign of the unfortunate Queen Mary, during
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 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 latter
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 powerful northern

George, Earl of Caithness, who had long borne a mortal hatred to
John, Earl of Sutherland, 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 Helmsdale, while at supper, by Isobel Sinclair,
wife of Gilbert Gordon of Gartay, and sister of William Sinclair
of Dumbaith, 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 situation, and he was thus prevented by his father from
participating in any part of the supper which remained, and after
taking an affectionate 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 Caithness
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 earl, 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, but for the extraordinary circumstances of
his death, to be noticed, would have succeeded to the earldom, as
he was the next male heir. This youth happening to be 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 been infused, which he drank. This occasioned
his death within two days, a circumstance which, together with the
appearances of the body after death, gave a clue to the discovery of
his mother’s guilt.[179]

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 1567 invaded the country of Sutherland,
wasted the barony of Skibo, entered the town of Dornoch, and, upon
the pretence of a quarrel 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 measures 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 cunning 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 Caithness 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 complied. Having
taken possession of the castle, the earl carried off the young man
into Caithness, and although only fifteen years of age, he got him
married to Lady Barbara Sinclair, his daughter, then aged thirty-two
years. Y-Mackay was the paramour of this lady, and for continuing the
connexion with him she was afterwards divorced by her husband.

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 he 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 Sutherland, whom he had also gotten
into his hands, with the view of making William earl of Sutherland.
The better to conceal his intentions 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 intelligence 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 rescuing 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 seemed 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 went 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.[180]

Shortly after this affair a quarrel ensued between the Monroes and
the clan Kenzie, two very powerful Ross-shire clans. Lesley, the
celebrated bishop of Ross, had made over to his cousin, the Laird
of Balquhain, the right and title of the castle of the Canonry of
Ross, together with the castle lands. Notwithstanding this grant,
the Regent Murray had given the custody of this castle to Andrew
Monroe of Milntown; and to make Lesley bear with the loss, the Regent
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
Regent 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 permission 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 both sides. It was then delivered up to the clan
Kenzie under the act of pacification.[181]

No attempt was made by the Earl of Sutherland, during his minority,
to recover his possessions 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 Duffus, 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 Riercher. 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 pursued to
the gates of Skibo. Besides killing several of Duffus’ men they made
some prisoners, whom they exchanged for John Croy-Murray. This affair
was called the skirmish of Torran-Roy.

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, including Y-Mackay and his countrymen, to attack the
Murrays in Dornoch. They besieged 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 which, however, was preserved.
After the town had been reduced, the Master of Caithness attacked
the castle 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 resisted much longer, but for the
interference of mutual friends of the parties, by whose mediation
the Murrays surrendered the castle and the steeple of the church;
and, as hostages for the due performance of other conditions, they
delivered up Thomas Murray, son of Houcheon Murray of Aberscors,
Houcheon Murray, son of Alexander Mac-Sir-Angus, and John Murray,
son of Thomas Murray, the brother of John Murray 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.[182]

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 resided. Hugh Gordon of Drummoy retired
to Orkney, where he married a lady named Ursla 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 Murrays 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

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 accompany
him to Strathbogie. Mackay then entered into an engagement with the
Earl of Huntly and the Earl of Sutherland, to assist the latter
against the Earl of Caithness, in consideration of which, and on
payment of £300 Scots, he obtained from the Earl of Huntly the
heritable right and title of the lands of Strathnaver; 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 suspicious of his son John, the Master of Caithness,
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 himself 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 of 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 vermin.

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 Caithness, who, considering him as a favourer of the Earl of
Sutherland, caused him to be apprehended 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 Caithness, 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 clan 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 exasperated 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-Doun, 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 quantity of booty, which he divided among
the clan Gun of Strathully, who had suffered by Houcheon Mackay’s

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
Neill-Mac-Iain-Mac-William, chief of the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, and
James Mac-Rory, chief of the Sliochd-Iain-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 condition 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
thereafter. In the year 1587, James Mac-Rory, “a fyne gentleman and
a good commander,” according to Sir Robert Gordon, was assassinated
by Donald Balloch-Mackay, the brother of John Beg-Mackay; and two
years thereafter John Mackay, the son of John Beg, attacked Neill
Mac-Iain-Mac-William, whom he wounded severely, and cut off some of
his followers. “This Neill,” says Sir R. Gordon, “heir mentioned,
wes a good captain, bold, craftie, of a verie good witt, and quick

After the death of John Beg-Mackay, and William Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, a
most deadly and inveterate feud followed, between the clan Gun 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 between these two trybes, with
the bloodshed, and infinit spoills committed in every pairt of the
diocy of Catteynes by them and their associats, are of so disordered
and troublesome memorie, that, what with their asperous names,
together with the confusion of place, tymes, and persons, would yet
be (no doubt) a warr 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.”[184]

The clan Chattan, about this time, must have been harassing the
surrounding districts to a terrible extent, and causing the
government considerable trouble, as in 1583 we find a mandate
addressed by King James “to our shirreffs of Kincardin, Abirdene,
Banf, Elgen, Fores, Narne, and Invernyss; and to our derrest
bruthir, James, Erle of Murray, our lieutenant generale in the
north partis of our realme, and to our louittis consingis [ ... ]
Erle of Suthirland; John Erle of Cathnes,” &c., &c., commanding
them that inasmuch as John M’Kinlay, 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 creature
living of that clan, except priests, women, and bairns.” The “women
and bairns” they were ordered to take to “some parts of the sea
nearest land, quhair ships salbe forsene on our expenses, to sail
with them furth of our realme, and 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; but we
cannot find any record as to what practical result followed the issue
of this cruel decree.[185]

In the year 1585 a quarrel took place between Neill Houcheonson,
and Donald Neilson, the Laird of Assynt, who had married Houcheon
Mackay’s sister. The cause of Donald Neilson was espoused by Houcheon
Mackay, and the clan Gun, who came with an army out of Caithness and
Strathnaver, to besiege Neill Houcheonson in the isle of Assynt.
Neill, 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 instigators, and as their 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 Caithness, 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. To enable him
to implement his engagement a resolution was entered into to send
two companies 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 Caithness, notwithstanding, 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 Strathnaver 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 pursued William Mackay and the
Strathnaver men during the whole day, and killed one of the principal
men of the clan Gun in Strathnaver, called Angus-Roy, 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 consequence of
the rising of the Caithness people who had taken away their cattle.

This accidental meeting of the Strathnaver men and the clan Gun
was the means, probably, of saving both from destruction. They
immediately 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 great 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
the laird of Dun, and cousin to the Earl of Caithness. 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 while at a distance from
their opponents; but the clan Gun having husbanded their shot till
they came in close contact 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 event.

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 be closely pressed and pursued by
the Sutherland men, and then to have relieved them from the imminent
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
Sutherland, which was brought about by the mediation 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 in 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 the clan, one of which was commanded by James Mac-Rory and
Neill Mac-Iain-Mac-William, chief of the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, who
were now under the protection of the Earl of Sutherland; and the
other by William Sutherland Johnson, George Gordon in Marle, and
William Murray in Kinnald, brother of Hugh Murray of Aberscors.
Houcheon Mackay, seeing no hopes of maintaining the clan Gun any
longer without danger to himself, discharged 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 Neill
Mac-Iain-Mac-William, where, after a sharp skirmish, they were
overthrown, and the greater part of them killed. Their commander,
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 him 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 confinement,
George Gun was released from his captivity 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 remained faithful to the
Earl of Sutherland.[186]

About this time a violent feud arose in the western isles between
Angus Macdonald of Kintyre, and Sir Lauchlan 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 circumstances which
led to this unfortunate dissension 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 Lauchlan Maclean, and partly to Angus Macdonald. The part of
the island where Macdonald of Slate landed belonged to Sir Lauchlan
Maclean. No sooner had Macdonald and his company landed, than, by an
unlucky coincidence, Macdonald Tearreagh 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 belonging 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 spoliation, he attacked them suddenly and unawares, during the
night, at a place in the island called Inverchuockwrick, and slew
about sixty of the clan Donald. Donald Gorm, having previously gone
on board his vessel to pass the night, fortunately escaped.

When Angus Macdonald heard of this “untoward 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 result of his meeting with 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 possession of them to the clan Lean for personal
services. Sir Lauchlan, thinking the present a favourable opportunity
for acquiring an absolute right to this property, offered to release
Angus Macdonald, provided he would renounce his right and title to
the Rhinns; 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 delivered 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 grievous injury at the hands
of Sir Lauchlan Maclean without any just cause of offence, and he
himself had, when on a friendly mission, been detained most unjustly
as a prisoner, and compelled to promise to surrender into Sir
Lauchlan’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 time at the house of Mulindry or Mullindhrea, a comfortable and
well-furnished residence belonging to him on the island, and to
which he invited Sir Lauchlan, under the pretence of affording him
better accommodation, and providing him with better provisions than
he could obtain in his camp; but Sir Lauchlan, having his suspicions,
declined to accept the invitation. “There wes,” says Sir Robert
Gordon, “so little trust on either syd, that they did not now meit
in friendship or amitie, bot vpon ther owne guard, or rather by
messingers, one from another. And true it is (sayeth John Colwin, 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.”

[Illustration: Castle Duart.]

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 Macdonald, his own nephew, and
the son of Angus, and 86 of his kinsmen and servants. Maclean and
his party, on their arrival, were received by Macdonald with much
apparent kindness, and were sumptuously entertained dining 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
apprehensive of the danger of his situation, and immediately 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, his
uncle, which being granted, Sir Lauchlan was immediately 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 be spared; but he
excepted Macdonald Terreagh and another individual whom he named.
The whole, with the exception of these two, having 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 originator, 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.

[Illustration: MACLEAN. (Tartan)]

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 caused 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 Lauchlan’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 assist 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 complain to King
James VI. against Angus Macdonald, for the seizure and detention of
their chief. The king immediately directed that Macdonald should be
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 Lauchlan on certain
strict conditions, but not until Reginald Mac-James, the brother of
Angus, had been delivered up, and the earl, for performance 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 violation 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 Macdonald 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 Tiree, Maclean, instead of
opposing him, invaded Kintyre, where he took ample retaliation by
wasting and burning a great part of that country. In this manner did
these hostile clans continue, for a considerable period, mutually to
vex 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 Hector now gave him an invitation to visit him
in Mull, promising, at the same time, to give him his mother in
marriage. 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 alliance, he
entertained the strongest affection. Chagrined at the unexpected
refusal of Mac-Iain, Sir Lauchlan resolved to punish his refractory
guest by one of those gross infringements 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
be 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 suffering a year’s captivity, he was released and
exchanged for Maclean’s son, and the other hostages in Macdonald’s

The dissensions between these two tribes having attracted the
attention of government, the rival chiefs were induced, partly by
command 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 Edinburgh, but were soon released and
allowed to return home on payment of a small pecuniary fine, “and a
shamfull remission,” says Sir Robert Gordon, “granted to either of

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 Strathnaver,
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 entreaties with the Earl of Huntly,
who was his brother-in-law, to recall the gift of the superiority
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 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 Sutherland,
and he now thought that a suitable occasion 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 Marle 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 were 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

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 connexion 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 Caithness to endeavour to
effect a reconciliation with him, as he could no longer rely upon
the protection of his master, the Earl of Sutherland. The Earl
of Caithness, who felt an inward satisfaction at hearing of the
displeasure 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 he was in reality meditating his destruction. The _ruse_
succeeded so effectually, that although Gordon received timeous
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 Marle 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 Helmsdale, which he attempted to swim across, he was
slain by a shower of arrows.

The Earl of Sutherland, though he disliked the conduct of George
Gordon, was highly incensed at his death, and made great preparations
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, he also proceeded towards Helmsdale,
accompanied by Mackintosh, Roderick Mackenzie of Redcastle, Hector
Monroe of Contaligh, and Neill Houcheonson, 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 village of Easter Helmsdale. Mackay and his
countrymen were encamped on the river of Marle, and in order to
detach him from the Earl of Caithness, Macintosh crossed that river
and had a private conference with him. After reminding him of the
friendship which had so long subsisted between his ancestors and the
Sutherland family, Macintosh endeavoured to impress upon his mind the
danger he incurred by taking up arms against his own superior the
Earl of Sutherland, and entreated him, for his own sake, to join the
earl; but Mackay remained inflexible.

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 Sutherland, 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 the benefit
of the truce. Before the two earls separated they came to a mutual
understanding to reduce Mackay to obedience; and that he might not
suspect their design, they agreed to meet at Edinburgh for the
purpose of concerting the necessary measures together. Accordingly,
they held a meeting at the appointed place in the year 1588, and
came to the resolution 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, regardless 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 Caithness’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 immediate submission. For this purpose he and
the earl first met at Inverness, and after conferring together they
made another appointment to meet at Elgin, where a perfect and final
reconciliation took place in the month of November, 1588.


[164] Sir Robert Gordon, p. 90.

[165] Sir R. Gordon, p. 92.

[166] Sir R. Gordon, p. 93.

[167] Sir R. Gordon, pp. 96, 97.

[168] Sir R. Gordon, p. 97.

[169] 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 some of the stones are almost as entire as when
chiselled by the hands of the sculptor.

[170] _Hist. of Scotland_, p. 137.

[171] P. 99.

[172] This is the number given by Bishop Lesley, whose account must
be preferred to that of Sir R. Gordon, who states it at upwards of
200, as the Bishop lived about a century before Sir Robert.

[173] Sir R. Gordon, p. 100.

[174] _Hist._, p. 138.

[175] Lesley, p. 184.--Sir R. Gordon, pp. 109, 110.--Shaw’s _Moray_,
pp. 265, 266.

[176] Sir R. Gordon, p. 133.

[177] Lesley, p. 251.

[178] Sir R. Gordon, p. 136.

[179] Sir R. Gordon, p. 147.

[180] Sir R. Gordon, p. 154.

[181] Sir R. Gordon, p. 155.

[182] Sir R. Gordon, p. 156.

[183] Sir R. Gordon, p. 173.

[184] _History_, p. 174.

[185] See Spalding Club _Miscellany_, vol. ii. p. 83.

[186] Sir R. Gordon, p. 185.

[187] _History_, p. 192.


A.D. 1588-1601.

KING OF SCOTLAND:--James VI., 1567-1603.

  Continued strife between the Earls of Sutherland and
  Caithness--Short Reconciliation--Strife renewed--Fresh
  Reconciliation--Quarrel between Clan Gun and other tribes--The
  Earl of Huntly, the Clan Chattan, and others--Death of the
  “Bonny” Earl of Murray--Consequent excitement--Strife between
  Huntly 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
  Macleans and Macdonalds--Defeat of the Macleans--Dispute between
  the Earls of Sutherland and Caithness--Feud between Macdonald of
  Slate and Macleod of Harris--Reconciliation.

The 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, fled in all
directions on his approach, and he never halted till he reached the
strong fort of Girnigo, 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
together in that country for many years. This invasion had such an
effect upon the people of Caithness, 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 preserved. In
the church was found the heart of the Earl of Caithness’s father in a
case of lead, which was opened by John Mac-Gille-Calum of Rasay, and
the ashes of the heart were thrown by him 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 preparations for enduring a long
siege, the Earl of Sutherland complied with his request. Both earls
ultimately agreed to refer all their differences 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 the
decision of the arbiters, when all differences were to cease.[188]

Notwithstanding this engagement, however, the Earl of Caithness soon
gave fresh provocation, 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 1589, he sent 300 men into Caithness, with Alexander 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 inhabitants, many of whom, including some of
the Siol-Mhic-Imheair, they killed. After spending 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 Markle, brother of the Earl of Caithness, collected an
army of 3,000 men, with which he marched into Strathully, in the
month of June, 1589. As the Earl of Sutherland had been apprehensive
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 these,
four were stationed in the village of Liribell, 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 themselves 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 Strathbroray, and began to drive away
some cattle towards Caithness. As the Earl of Sutherland had not
yet had sufficient time to collect a sufficient force to oppose
Sinclair, he sent in the meantime Houcheon 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 celerity, and such was the rapidity of his movements, 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 therefore 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 loss of their booty and part of
their baggage, and were closely pursued by a body of men commanded
by John Murray, nick-named _the merchant_, to a distance of 16

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 convened his forces at Spittle, where he lay
waiting 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 Gordon 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 were settled, and in order that the reconciliation might
be lasting, and that no recourse might again be had to arms, the
two earls subscribed a deed, by which they appointed Huntly and his
successors hereditary judges, and arbitrators 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
confined to his bed, the Earl of Caithness, in October, 1590, wrote
him a kind letter, which he had scarcely despatched when he most
unaccountably 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 Gordon of
Kilcalmekill, and Neill Mac-Iain-MacWilliam. A considerable number of
the Sutherland men having collected together, they resolved 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 Murrays rested their claim upon their former
good services to the house of Sutherland; but the Gordons refusing
to admit it, all the Murrays, with the exception of William Murray,
brother of the Laird of Palrossie, 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 Embo, and John
Gordon of Kilcalmekill, after some consultation, resolved to attack
the retiring foe without loss of time, and without waiting for the
coming up of the Strathnaver 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 Caithness men near Clyne. In the van
of the Caithness 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 reception. The combat raged with
great fury for a considerable time between these two parties: thrice
were the Caithness archers driven back upon their rear, 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 superior in numbers, they could not withstand the firmness and
intrepidity of the Sutherland men, who forced them to retire 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-Termat, both
belonging to the Caithness 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 which they agreed to bury all
bygone differences in oblivion, and to live on terms of amity in all
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-William-Mac-Henric,
Alister Mac-Iain-Mac-Rorie, 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 skirmish, Farquhar Buy, and
William Abaraich, and some of their followers, were slain. To revenge
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 Strathie, in Strathnaver, who killed seven of that tribe. George
Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, the chief, and Donald Mac-William-Mac-Henric
narrowly escaped with their lives.

For the sake of continuity, we have deferred noticing those
transactions in the north in which 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 himself 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 Ruthven, in Badenoch, in the neighbourhood 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 which the
furnishing of materials for the building formed a chief part; but,
instead of assisting 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 the building. This act of
disobedience was the cause of much trouble, which was increased by
a quarrel in the year 1590, between the Gordons and the Grants,
the occasion of which was as follows. John Grant, the tutor of
Ballendalloch, 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 husband,
he persuaded the brother of Sir Thomas Gordon of Cluny to marry her,
which he did. This act so incensed the tutor of Ballendalloch, that
he 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 Huntly to apprehend and bring them to justice, in virtue of
which, he besieged the house of Ballendalloch, 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 the Earls of Athol and Murray to assist them against the
Earl of Huntly.

As soon as Huntly ascertained that the Grants and clan Chattan, who
were his own vassals, had put themselves under the command of these
earls, he assembled his followers, and, entering Badenoch, summoned
his vassals to appear before him, and deliver up the 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, the Dunbars, the 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 the exception of the Earl of Murray,
left the town in great haste, and fled to Tarnoway; the Earl of
Huntly, not aware that Murray had remained behind, marching directly
to Tarnoway in pursuit of the 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 Holyrood-house under cloud of night, with the view of seizing
Maitland; but, having failed in his object, he was forced to flee to
the north to avoid the vengeance of the king. The Earl of Huntly, who
had been lately reconciled to Maitland, and the Duke of Lennox, were
sent in pursuit of Bothwell, but he escaped. Understanding afterwards
that he was harboured by the Earl of Murray at Donnibristle, the
chancellor, having procured a commission against him from the king
in favour of Huntly, again sent him, accompanied by forty gentlemen,
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 earl, 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! 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 which 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

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 troublesome
times; 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 discontent 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 household, 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,
however, 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, considered 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 defeating 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 Strathspey, 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 Huntly
collected his forces and entered Pettie, then in possession 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 he divided among his army.
But in returning from Pettie after disbanding his army, he received
the unwelcome intelligence that William Macintosh, son of Lauchlan
Macintosh, the chief, with 800 of the clan Chattan, had invaded the
lands of Auchindun and Cabberogh. 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 36 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 60 of
their men, and wounding William Macintosh and others.

The Earl of Huntly, after thus subduing his enemies in the north,
now found himself placed under ban by the government on account of
an alleged conspiracy between him 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 earls; 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, yielding
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 commissioners 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 collected a force of about 12,000 men,
entered Badenoch and laid siege to the castle of Ruthven, on the
27th of September, 1594. He was accompanied in this expedition by
the Earl of Athole, Sir Lauchlan Maclean with some 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
Ruthven 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 Dunbars, the clan Kenzie, the Irvings, the
Ogilvies, the Leslies, and other tribes and clans in the north, to
join his standard with all convenient 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 Argyle, who
was a youth of no military experience, was a raw and undisciplined
militia, and composed, 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 Huntly, 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 vow
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 Carr and a party of
horsemen to reconnoitre the enemy, while he himself advanced with
his main army. The reconnoitring party soon fell in, accidentally,
with Argyle’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 be 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

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. Apprehensive that his numerical superiority in foot
would be counterbalanced by Huntly’s cavalry, he held 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 considered 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 his army on
the declivity of a hill, betwixt Glenlivet 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, Macneills, and Macgregors, by Grant
of Gartinbeg; and the centre, consisting of 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,
consisting of about 6,000 men, was commanded by Argyle himself. The
Earl of Huntly’s vanguard 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 himself followed with the 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; he 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 the declivity of the hill gave
him a decided advantage over his assailants, who, from the nature of
their force, were greatly hampered by the mossy nature of the ground
at the foot of the hill, interspersed by pits from which turf had
been dug. But, notwithstanding these obstacles, Huntly advanced up
the hill with a slow and steady pace. It had been arranged between
him and Campbell of Lochnell, who had promised to go over to Huntly
as soon as the battle had commenced, that, before charging Argyle
with his cavalry, Huntly should fire his artillery at the yellow
standard. Campbell bore a mortal enmity at Argyle, as he had murdered
his brother, Campbell of Calder, in 1592; and as he was Argyle’s
nearest heir, he probably had directed the firing 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 time.

The Highlanders, who had never before seen field pieces, were thrown
into disorder by the cannonade, which being perceived by Huntly,
he charged the enemy, and rushing in among them with his horsemen,
increased the confusion. The Earl of Errol was directed to attack
the right wing of Argyle’s army, commanded by 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, he was compelled to make
a detour, leaving the enemy on his left. But Gordon of Auchindun,
disdaining such a prudent course, galloped up the hill with a party
of his own followers, and charged Maclean with great impetuosity;
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
manœuvred his troops so well as to succeed in cutting off the Earl of
Errol, and placing him between his own body and that of Argyle, by
whose joint forces he 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 assistance and relieved him from his
embarrassment. The battle was now renewed and continued 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. After a hard contest the main body of
Argyle’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, he retired in
good order with the small company that still remained about him.
Huntly pursued the retiring foe beyond the water of Altchonlachan,
when he 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 Lochnell, and of John
Grant of Gartinbeg, one of Huntly’s vassals, who, in terms of a
concerted plan, retreated 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
Argyle. The Earl of Huntly’s loss was comparatively trifling. About
14 gentlemen were slain, including 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 the field for the victory
they had achieved. This battle is called by some writers the battle
of Glenlivet, and by others the battle of Altchonlachan. Among the
trophies found on the field was the ensign belonging to the Earl
of Argyle, which was carried with other spoils to Strathbogie, and
placed upon the top of the great tower. So certain had Argyle been of
success in his enterprise, that he had made out a paper apportioning
the 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 the baggage which he left behind him on the field of

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 the battle of Glenlivet. Instigated by the
ministers and other enemies of the Earl of Huntly, who became now
more exasperated than ever at the 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 Ogilvie, son of Lord Ogilvie, that of Bagaes in
Angus, the property of Sir Walter Lindsay, the house of Culsalmond
in Garioch, appertaining to the Laird of Newton-Gordon, the house of
Slaines in Buchan, belonging to the Earl of Errol, and the castle
of Strathbogie, to be razed to the ground, under the pretext that
priests and Jesuits had been harboured in them. In the meantime the
Earl of Huntly and his friends retired into Sutherland, where they
remained six weeks with Earl Alexander; and on the king’s departure
to Strathbogie, Huntly 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 discontent, 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 his return he, as well as the
Earls of Angus and Errol, were restored to their former honours and
estates by the parliament, held at Edinburgh in November 1597, and in
testimony of his regard for Huntly, 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 quarrel
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 between 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 of 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, his
nephew, eldest son of Angus Macdonald of Kintyre. Sir Lauchlan 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 Lauchlan of the property. To prevent the
effusion of blood, some common friends of the parties interposed,
and endeavoured 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 advice 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 their principal men and 200 common soldiers dead on the
field 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 recovered from his 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 be slain at Groynard. “The
first he transgressed unwillingly,” says Sir Robert, “being driven
into the island of Ila by a tempest upon a Thursday; the second he
transgressed negligentlie, haveing drank of that water befor he wes
awair; and so he wes killed ther at Groinard, as wes foretold him,
bot doubtfullie. Thus endeth all these that doe trust in such kynd of
responces, or doe hunt after them!”[191]

On hearing of Maclean’s death and the defeat of his men, the king
became so highly 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 between the
Campbells and the clan Donald in the years 1614, -15, and -16, which
ended in the ruin of the latter.

The rival houses of Sutherland and Caithness 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, 1600. The Earl of
Caithness, deeming the absence of the Earl of Sutherland a fit
opportunity 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 dependents, and, under the pretence of hunting, made
demonstrations for entering Sutherland or Strathnaver. As soon as
Mackay was informed of his intentions, he sent a message to the
Earl of Caithness, intimating to him that he would not permit him
to enter either of these countries, or to cross the marches. The
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 oppose 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 advanced towards Sutherland with his army. The two
armies encamped at the distance of about three miles asunder, near
the hill of Bengrime. In expectation of a battle on the morning
after their encampment, the Sutherland 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 commodiousness of the plain was not the only reason for making
the selection. There had been long a prophetic tradition in these
countries that a battle was to be fought on this ground between
the inhabitants of Sutherland, assisted by the Strathnaver men,
and the men of Caithness; that although the Sutherland men were to
be victorious their loss would be great, and that the loss of the
Strathnaver men should even be greater, but that the Caithness men
should be so completely overthrown that they should not be able, for
a considerable 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 circumstance, and being
diffident of the fidelity of some of his people, whom he 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 this 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 advisers thought it neither
fit nor reasonable to risk so many lives when such ample satisfaction
was offered. A sort of middle course was, therefore, adopted by
giving the Earl of Caithness an opportunity to escape if he inclined.
The messengers were accordingly sent back with this answer, that if
the Earl of Caithness 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 Caithness’ camp, his
men got so alarmed that the earl, with great difficulty, prevented
them from running away immediately. He 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 perceiving
the approach of the Earl of Sutherland’s army, they fled from the
field in the utmost confusion, jostling and overthrowing one another
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 collected a quantity of stones
which they accumulated into a heap to commemorate the flight of the
Caithness men, which heap was called Carn-Teiche, that is, the Flight

Not wishing to encounter the Earl of Sutherland under the adverse
circumstances which had 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, he hoped hostile proceedings would cease, and that if the Earl
of Sutherland should advance with his army into Caithness, Earl
George would not hinder him; but he suggested to him the propriety of
appointing some gentlemen 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 his turn, despatched
Alexander Bane, chief of the Caithness Banes, who witnessed the
dismissal of the Earl of Sutherland’s army.[192]

About the period in question, great commotions took place in the
north-west isles, in consequence of a quarrel between Donald Gorm
Macdonald of Slate, and Sir Roderick Macleod of Harris, arising
out of the following circumstances. 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 requiring him to take back his wife. Instead of
complying with this 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 proceedings,
assembled all his countrymen and his tribe, the Siol-Thormaid,
without delay, and invaded with fire and sword the lands of Macdonald
in the isle of Skye, to which he laid claim as his own. Macdonald
retaliated by landing in Harris with his forces, which he laid waste,
and after killing some of the inhabitants retired with a large booty
in cattle. To make amends for this loss, Sir Roderick invaded 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 unexpectedly attacked in the act of
carrying off their prey, by John Mac-Iain-Mhic-Sheumais, a kinsman 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.

[Illustration: MACLEOD AND MACKENZIE, 71^{ST} AND 78^{TH}. (Tartan)]

This odious system of warfare continued till the hostile parties had
almost exterminated one another; and to such extremities were they
reduced by the ruin and desolation which followed, 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 1601, he entered Sir Roderick’s
territories with the design of bringing him to battle. Sir Roderick
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 inhabitants 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. Accordingly, on the arrival of morning, an obstinate
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. Alexander Macleod was wounded and
taken prisoner, along with Neill-Mac-Alastair-Ruaidh, and 30 others
of the choicest men of the Siol-Thormaid. Iain-Mac-Thormaid and
Thormaid-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 Macdonald delivered up to
Sir Roderick the prisoners 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.


[188] Sir R. Gordon, p. 157.

[189] Sir R. Gordon, p. 199.

[190] Sir R. Gordon, pp. 226, 227, 228, 229.--Shaw’s _Moray_, pp.
266, 267, 268.

[191] _History_, p. 238.

[192] Sir Robert Gordon, p. 243.


A.D. 1602-1613.

  James VI., 1567-1603.

  James I., 1603-1625.

  Feud between the Colquhouns and Macgregors--Macgregors
  outlawed--Execution of their Chief--Quarrel 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 some 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 between the Laird of Rasay and 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 disorder, in consequence of the renewal of some
old quarrels between Colquhoun of Luss, the chief of that surname,
and Alexander Macgregor, 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 territory, where he expected,
by the mediation of his friends, to bring matters to an amicable
adjustment. As the laird of Luss was suspicious of Macgregor’s
real intentions, he assembled all his vassals, with the Buchanans
and others, to the number of 300 horse and 500 foot, designing,
if the result of the meeting should not turn out according to his
expectations and wishes, to cut off Macgregor and his party. But
Macgregor, anticipating Colquhon’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 Glenfreon, in the
expectation of coming upon him unawares, and defeating him; but
Macgregor, 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 stratagem 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 harbouring or having any communication with them. The
Earl of Argyle, with the Campbells, 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 Ronald, under
the command of Robert Campbell, son of the laird of Glenorchy, 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
punishing all persons who had kept up any communication 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 suffering many vicissitudes
of fortune, at last surrendered himself to the Earl of Argyle, on
condition 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 London, 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.[193]

While the Highland borders were thus disturbed 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 knowledge 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 neglecting 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 outlawed. Through the interest of the Earl of Dunfermline, lord
chancellor of Scotland, Kenneth Mackenzie, afterwards created Lord
Kintail, obtained a commission against Glengarry and his people,
which occasioned great trouble and much slaughter. Being assisted by
many followers from the neighbouring country, Mackenzie, by virtue of
his commission, invaded Glengarry’s territories, which he mercilessly
wasted and destroyed with fire and sword. On his return, Mackenzie
besieged the castle of Strome, which ultimately surrendered 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 Embo. Mackenzie again returned
into Glengarry, where he had a skirmish with a party commanded by
Glengarry’s eldest son, in which the latter and 60 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 adjacent lands.[194]

In the year 1605, 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
Alastair-Mac-Uilleam-Mhoir. This man having some business to
transact in Caithness, went there without the least apprehension
of danger, as the Earls of Sutherland and Caithness had settled
all their differences. No sooner, however, did the latter hear
of Mac-Uilleam-Mhoir’s arrival in Caithness, than he sent Henry
Sinclair, his 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 they seized Mac-Uilleam-Mhoir, and carried him off
prisoner to the Earl of Caithness, who caused him to be beheaded in
his own presence, the following day. The fidelity of this unfortunate
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
Marquis of Huntly the suit was quashed.[195]

In July, 1605, a murder was committed in Strathnaver, by
Robert Gray of Hopsdale or Ospisdell, the victim being Angus
Mac-Kenneth-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, which lands the grandfather of Angus
Mac-Kenneth had in possession from John Mackay, son of Y-Roy-Mackay,
who, before the time of this Earl John, possessed some lands in
Breachat. When John Gray obtained the grant of Ardinsh from John
the fifth, he allowed Kenneth Mac-Alister, the father of Angus
Mac-Kenneth, to retain possession 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 Alexander, Earl of Sutherland, who became bound
to pay a sum of money to John Gray, for Hugh Murray, who was in 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, leaving his son, Angus Mac-Kenneth, in possession. Angus Murray
having acquired the mortgage, now endeavoured to raise the rent
of Ardinsh, but Angus Mac-Kenneth refusing to pay more than his
father had paid, was dispossessed, and the lands were let to William
Mac-Iain-Mac-Kenneth, cousin of Angus Mac-Kenneth. This proceeding so
exasperated Angus that he murdered his 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 Finlay Logan, but this new tenant was murdered by
Mac-Kenneth in the year 1604. Mac-Kenneth then fled into Strathnaver
with a party composed of persons of desperate and reckless passions
like himself, with the intention of annoying 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 returned into Sutherland in May 1605,
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 Sutherland, entered Strathnaver and attacked Mac-Kenneth
at the Cruffs of Hoip, and slew him.[196]

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, 1607, to hunt in Bengrime, without asking permission
from the Earl of Sutherland; but he 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. Almost the whole of the inhabitants of Dornoch turned
out on this occasion, and went to Strathully. 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 became its resident minister.
He also received another clerical appointment in Caithness, by means
of which, and of his other living, he became, in course of time,
wealthy. This good success induced two younger brothers, Charles
and Thomas, to leave their native country and settle in Sutherland.
Thomas was soon made chancellor of Caithness and minister of
Rogart. Charles became a notary public and a messenger-at-arms; and
having, by his good conduct and agreeable conversation, 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, John Macphaill entered the house, and demanded some
liquor from the mistress of the inn, but she refused to give him
any, as she knew him to be a troublesome and quarrelsome person.
Macphaill, 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
their swords girt about them, by Macphaill, who looked upon their so
arming themselves as a threat, he immediately made the circumstance
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. Macphaill and his nephew fled
to Holland, where they ended their days. After this occurrence, the
surviving brothers left Sutherland and went back into their own
country. It is only by recording such comparatively unimportant
incidents as this, apparently somewhat beneath the dignity of
history, that a knowledge of the real state of the Highlands at this
time can be conveyed.

[Illustration: Dornoch, showing the Cathedral and the remaining tower
of the old Castle.]

By the mediation of the Marquis of Huntly, 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 accompanied by large parties of the Gordons,
the Frasers, the Dunbars, the clan Kenzie, 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 Sutherland or any of his family.

During the year 1608 a quarrel occurred in Sutherland between Iver
Mac-Donald-Mac-Alister, one of the Siol-Thomais, and Alexander Murray
in Auchindough. Iver and his eldest son, John, meeting one day with
Alexander Murray and his son, Thomas, an altercation took place on
some questions in dispute. From words they proceeded to blows, and
the result was that John, the son of Iver, and Alexander Murray were
killed. Iver then fled into Strathnaver, whither he was followed
by Thomas Murray, accompanied by a party of 24 men, to revenge
the death of his father. Iver, however, avoided them, and having
assembled some friends, he attacked Murray unawares, at the hill of
Binchlibrig, 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 Iver’s hands during his outlawry. This compromise was the more
readily entered into by Pulrossie, as the Earl of Sutherland was
rather favourable to Iver, and was by no means displeased at him for
the injuries he did to Pulrossie, who had not acted dutifully towards
him. Besides having lost his own son in the quarrel, who was killed
by Thomas Murray, Iver was unjustly dealt with in being made the sole
object of persecution.[197]

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 Alexander Dunbar
of Westfield, 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 succeeded 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 proceedings 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
his 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, Alexander Dunbar, sheriff of Moray, in the town
of Forres, where he was shot dead by Robert Dunbar, son of Blery.
John Dunbar, sheriff of Moray, who succeeded his brother Alexander,
and his brother, Robert Dunbar of Burgy, endeavoured to bring the
murderers of his brother to justice; but they failed in consequence
of Alexander Dunbar being, at the time of his death, a rebel to
the king, having been denounced 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
Dunfermline, then Lord Chancellor of Scotland.[198]

In the year 1610 the Earl of Caithness 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. Sutherland lived in Berridale, under the Earl
of Caithness, 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 Edinburgh 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 retrieve 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. The earl thereupon sent
a party of the Siol-Mhic-Imheair 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 resolved to prosecute Mackay
and his son, Donald Mackay, for giving succour and protection within
their country to John Sutherland, an outlaw. Accordingly, he served
both of them with a notice to appear before the Privy Council to
answer to the charges he had preferred 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 earl, who had
grown tired of the troubles which John Sutherland had occasioned
in his country, 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-Iain-Abaraich, and a follower of John Sutherland
in his depredations, should be also delivered 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 Donald Mackay made several visits to
Earl George for the purpose of getting him released, in which he at
last succeeded, besides procuring a discharge 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
Christmas 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 favouring Mackay, was to separate him from the
interests of the Earl of Sutherland, but he was unsuccessful.

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
arriving 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
authority 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, Torquill-Ire, eldest son of Macleod,
and 200 men, perished in a great tempest. Torquill Connaldagh,
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 Torquill being now of age, and
having married a sister of Glengarry, took up arms against Macleod,
his reputed father, to vindicate his supposed 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 Connaldagh 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; he now sent for him, and on his arrival committed
to him the charge of the castle of Stornoway 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 executed him
at Dingwall.

[Illustration: Stornoway Castle.--From a photograph taken specially
for this work.]

Upon the death of Roderick Macleod, his son Torquill Dubh
succeeded him in Lewis. Taking a grudge at Rorie-Og, his brother, he
apprehended him, and sent him to Maclean to be detained in prison;
but he escaped out of Maclean’s hands, and afterwards perished in
a snow-storm. As Torquill Dubh excluded Torquill Connaldagh from
the succession of Lewis, as a bastard, the clan Kenzie formed a
design to purchase and conquer Lewis, which they calculated on
accomplishing on account of the simplicity of Torquill Connaldagh,
who had now no friend to advise with, and from the dissensions which
unfortunately existed among the race of the Siol-Torquill. This
scheme, moreover, received the aid of a matrimonial alliance between
Torquill Connaldagh and the clan, by a marriage between his eldest
daughter and Roderick 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 Kintail family, and they ultimately
succeeded in destroying the family of Macleod of Lewis, together
with his tribe, the Siol-Torquill, and by the ruin of that family
and some neighbouring clans, this ambitious clan made themselves
complete masters of Lewis and other places. As Torquill Dubh was the
chief obstacle in their way, they formed a conspiracy against his
life, which, by the assistance of the Breve, they were enabled to
carry out successfully. The Breve, by stratagem, managed to obtain
possession of Torquill Dubh and some of his friends, and deliver them
to the lord of Kintail, 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 inhabitants, their
real design, however, being, by means of a colony, to supplant the
inhabitants, and drive them 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 operations by Neill and Murthow
Macleod, the only sons of Roderick Macleod who remained in the
island. The speculation proved ruinous to many of the adventurers,
who, in consequence of the disasters they met with, lost their
estates, and were in the end obliged to quit the island.

In the meantime, Neill Macleod quarrelled with his brother Murthow,
for harbouring and maintaining the Breve and such of his tribe as
were still alive, who had been the chief instruments in the murder
of Torquill Dubh. Neill thereupon apprehended his brother, and some
of the clan Mhic-Ghille-Mhoir, all of whom he killed, reserving his
brother only alive. When the Fife speculators were informed that
Neill had taken Murthow, his brother, prisoner, they sent 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 thereafter 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
obtaining 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 released
him, thinking that upon his appearance in the Lewis all the
islanders would rise in his favour; and he was not deceived in
his expectations, for, as Sir Robert Gordon observes, “all these
islanders, (and lykwayes the Hielanders,) 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.”[199] 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 he
quarrelled with them on account of an injury he had received from Sir
James Spence of Wormistoun. He therefore abandoned them, and watched
a favourable opportunity for attacking them. They then attempted to
apprehend him by a stratagem, but only succeeded in bringing disaster
upon themselves. Upon hearing of this, the lord of Kintail thought
the time was now suitable for him to stir, and accordingly he sent
Tormaid Macleod into Lewis, as he 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 adventurers, which
he forced, burnt the fort, killed the greater part of their men,
took the commanders prisoners, whom he 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. Tormaid inflicted no
punishment upon Connaldagh, but merely required from him delivery of
the title-deeds of Lewis, and the other papers which he had carried
off when he apprehended his father Roderick Macleod. Connaldagh
informed him that he had it not in his power to give them up, as
he had delivered them to the clan Kenzie, 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 death upon Torquill, as he had been the occasion of all
the miseries and troubles which had befallen them.

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-Houcheon, accompanied by four
persons, having accidentally 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 fight immediately
ensued, in the course of which the Breve and his party fled out of
the house, but were pursued 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 nevertheless made preparations for invading it, having
obtained the king’s commission against Tormaid Macleod and his
tribe, the Siol-Torquill. They were aided in this expedition by
forces from all the neighbouring counties, and particularly 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
landing 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 him
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 imploring his majesty to do him justice by restoring him to his
rights. Understanding that Macleod’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 be 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 he ended
his days. The settlers soon grew 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 Spence
of Wormistoun. Balmerino, on being convicted of high treason in
1609, lost his share, but Hay and Spence undertook the colonization
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 the

On this occasion Lord Kintail played a double part, for while he sent
Roderick Mackenzie, 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 supply of men, with provisions, into the island. But
Neill Macleod having, with the assistance of his nephew, Malcolm
Macleod, son of Roderick 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 Kintail. He likewise
obtained from the king a grant of the share of the island forfeited
by Balmerino, and thus at length acquired what he had so long and
anxiously desired.[200]

Lord Kintail lost no time in taking possession 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, Malcolm, William, and Roderick, the three sons of
Roderick Og, the four sons of Torquill Blair, and thirty others,
retired to an impregnable rock in the sea called Berrissay, 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 necessity. Neill lived on this rock for three years, Lord Kintail
in the meantime dying in 1611. As Macleod could not be attacked
in his impregnable 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 persons in the island related
to them by consanguinity or affinity, and having placed them on a
rock in the sea, so near Berrissay that they could be 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 instantly 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 he remained concealed
for a time; but not being able to avoid discovery any longer, he
gave himself up to Sir Roderick 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 journey, however,
along with Macleod, he was charged at Glasgow, under pain of treason,
to deliver up Neill to the privy council. Sir Roderick obeyed the
charge, and Neill, with his eldest son Donald, were presented to
the privy council at Edinburgh, where Neill was executed in April
1613. His son Donald was banished from the kingdom of Scotland, and
immediately went to England, where he remained three years with 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 third son, who was kept
a prisoner by Roderick Mackenzie, escaped, and having associated
himself with the clan Donald in Islay and Kintyre during their
quarrel with the Campbells in 1615-16, 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 1616, where he killed
two gentlemen of the clan Kenzie. He returned from Spain in 1620,
and the last that is heard of him is in 1626, when commissions of
fire and sword were granted to Lord Kintail against “Malcolm Macquari

From the occurrences in Lewis, we now direct the attention of our
readers to some proceedings in the isle of Rasay, which ended in
bloodshed. The quarrel lay between Gille-Chalum, laird of the island,
and Murdo Mackenzie of Gairloch, and the occasion was as follows. The
lands of Gairloch originally belonged 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 these
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 his
tribe followed as their superior. But upon the death of Torquill
Dubh, the laird of Gairloch took possession of the whole of the
lands of Gairloch in virtue of his pretended right, and chased the
clan Mhic-Ghille-Chalum from the lands with fire and sword. The
clan retaliated in their turn by invading the laird of Gairloch,
plundering his lands and committing slaughters. In a skirmish which
took place in the year 1610, in which lives were lost on both sides,
the laird of Gairloch apprehended John Mac-Alain-Mac-Rory, one of the
principal men of the clan; but 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 search for and pursue
John Holmoch; and as he understood that John Holmoch was in Skye, he
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, Gille-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
his 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 exception 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 uninterruptedly held possession of

About the time this occurrence took place, the peace of the north
was almost again disturbed in consequence of the conduct of William
Mac-Angus-Roy, one of the clan Gun, who, though born in Strathnaver,
had become a servant to the Earl of Caithness. This man had done
many injuries to the people of Caithness by command of the earl;
and the mere displeasure 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 indignation.

As William Mac-Angus continued his depredations 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 he was wanted for trial. On attempting to
escape he was re-delivered to the provost and bailies of Tain,
by whom he was given up to the Earl of Caithness, who put him in
fetters, and imprisoned him within Castle Sinclair (1612). He soon
again contrived to escape, and fled into Strathnaver, the Earl of
Caithness sending his son, William, Lord Berridale, in pursuit of
him. Missing the fugitive, he, in revenge, apprehended a servant
of Mackay, called Angus Henriach, without any authority from his
majesty, and carried him to Castle Sinclair, where he was put into
fetters and closely imprisoned on the pretence that he had assisted
William Mac-Angus in effecting his escape. When this occurrence
took place, Donald Mackay, son of Houcheon Mackay, the chief,
was at Dunrobin castle, and he, on hearing of the apprehension
and imprisonment of his father’s servant, could scarcely be made
to believe the fact on account of the friendship which had been
contracted between his father and the earl the preceding Christmas.
But 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 apprehended and
imprisoned Angus Henriach, a free subject of the king, without a
commission. The earl was also charged to present his prisoner 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.[203]

[Illustration: Castles Sinclair and Girnigo.--From a photograph taken
specially for this work.]

During the same year (1612) another event occurred in the north,
which created considerable uproar and discord in the northern
Highlands. 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 Caithness,
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
therewith. A commission was granted to Sir Robert to apprehend
Smith, and bring him to Edinburgh, but he was so much occupied with
other concerns that he intrusted the commission to Donald Mackay,
his nephew, and to John Gordon, younger of Embo, whose name was
jointly inserted in the commission along with that of Sir Robert.
Accordingly, Mackay and Gordon, accompanied by Adam Gordon Georgeson
John, 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 resided.

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 Mackay 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 apprehending Smith. Scarcely, however, had Mackay
left the town, when the town-bell was rung and all the inhabitants
assembled. There were present in Thurso at the time, John Sinclair
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 apprehension of Smith, Sinclair of Stirkage, transported
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 Mackay 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 Strathnaver men as soon as
they heard of the tumult in the town.

The Earl of Caithness resolved to prosecute Donald Mackay, John
Gordon, younger of Embo, with their followers, for the slaughter of
Sinclair of Stirkage, and the mutilation of James Sinclair, brother
of the laird of Dun, and summoned them, accordingly, to appear at
Edinburgh. On the other hand, Sir Robert Gordon and Donald Mackay
prosecuted the Earl of Caithness and his son, Lord Berridale,
with several other of their countrymen, for resisting the king’s
commission, attacking the commissioners, and apprehending Angus
Henriach, 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 premeditated design
against him, and that Sir Robert Gordon’s intention in obtaining
a commission 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 Robert 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 Robert, however,
showed the utter groundlessness 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
Roslin, the laird of Cowdenknowes, a son of the sister of the Earl
of Caithness, and the lairds of Murkle and Greenland, brothers of
the earl, along with a large retinue of subordinate attendants. Sir
Robert 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 Forbes, with his friends, the Drummonds, Sir John
Stuart, captain of Dumbarton, and bastard son of the Duke of Lennox;
Lord Balfour, the laird of Lairg Mackay in Galloway; the laird of
Foulis, with the Monroes, the laird of Duffus, some of the Gordons,
as Sir Alexander Gordon, brother of the Earl of Sutherland, Cluny,
Lesmoir, Buckie, Knokespock, with other gentlemen of respectability.
The absence of the Earl of Sutherland and Houcheon Mackay mortified
the Earl of Caithness, who could not conceal his displeasure at being
so much overmatched in the respectability and number of attendants by
seconds and children, as he 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 few were admitted within.
The council spent three days in hearing the parties and deliberating
upon the matters brought before them, but they came to no conclusion,
and adjourned their proceedings till the king’s pleasure should be
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 be disturbed by
the earls and their numerous followers, 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 measure. A deed of submission was then
subscribed 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 appointed by Sir Robert Gordon were the Earl
of Kinghorn, 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 return to Edinburgh in the month of
May, 1613.

At the appointed time, the Earl of Caithness and his brother, Sir
John Sinclair of Greenland, came to Edinburgh, Sir Robert Gordon
arriving at the same time from England. 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 whose 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 Sutherland, and
brother-in-law of the Earl of Caithness, 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 remitted the whole affair back to the Privy Council.

During the year 1613 the peace of Lochaber was disturbed by
dissensions among the clan Cameron. The Earl of Argyle, reviving an
old claim acquired in the reign of James V., by Colin, the third
earl, endeavoured 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 proceedings
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
Lochiel 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 Glennevis to become his immediate vassals in those lands which
Lochiel had hitherto held from the family of Huntly. Lochiel, failing
to induce his kinsmen to renew their allegiance to him, again went
to Edinburgh to consult his lawyers as to the course which he ought
to pursue. While there, he heard of a conspiracy by the opposite
faction against his life, which induced him to hasten home, sending
word privately to his friends--the Camerons of Callart, Strone,
Letterfinlay, and others--to meet him on the day appointed for the
assembling of his opponents, near the spot where the latter were to

On arriving at the appointed rendezvous, Lochiel placed in ambush all
his followers but six, with whom he advanced towards his enemies,
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 apprehension. The division of the
clan Cameron which supported Lochiel continued for several years in a
state of outlawry, but, through the influence of the Earl of Argyle,
appears not to have suffered extremely.[204]


[193] Sir R. Gordon, p. 247.

[194] Sir R. Gordon, p. 248.

[195] Sir R. Gordon, p. 253.

[196] Sir R. Gordon, p. 254.

[197] Sir R. Gordon, p. 259.

[198] Sir R. Gordon, p. 261.

[199] _History_, p. 271.

[200] Gordon, p. 274; Gregory’s _Western Highlands_, p. 334.

[201] Gregory, p. 337.

[202] Sir Robert Gordon, p. 278.

[203] Sir R. Gordon, p. 281.

[204] Gregory’s _Western Highlands_, p. 342.


A.D. 1613-1623.

KING OF GREAT BRITAIN:--James I., 1603-1625.

  Continued animosity between the Earls of Caithness
  and Sutherland--The latter imprisoned as a suspected
  Catholic--Formidable Rebellion 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 Mackay--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
  clan Chattan--Slaughter of Thomas Lindsay--Hostile preparations
  against the Earl of Caithness--Expedition into Caithness--Flight
  of the Earl--Reduction and pacification of Caithness.

As the Privy Council showed no inclination to decide the questions
submitted to them by the Earl of Caithness and his adversaries, the
earl sent his brother, Sir John Sinclair of Greenland, 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 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 demonstration 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 movements
to the lairds of Foulis, 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 disbanded
his force.

To prevent the Earl of Caithness from attempting any farther
interference with the Privy Council, either in the way of intrigue
or intimidation, Sir Robert 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 beginning of the year 1616.

The Earl of Caithness, 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 intolerance and persecution.
Unfortunately for mankind and for the interests of Christianity,
the principles of religious toleration, involving the inalienable
right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his
conscience, have been till of late 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
enactments 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 suspected
person out of the pale and protection of the law; for if, on being
warned by the bishops and ministers, he did not recant and give
confession of his faith according to the approved form, he was
excommunicated, and declared infamous and incapable to sit or stand
in judgment, pursue or bear office.[205]

Under this last-mentioned law the Earl of Caithness now sought
to gratify his vengeance against the Earl of Sutherland. Having
represented to the Archbishop of St. Andrews and the clergy of
Scotland that the Earl of Sutherland was at heart a Catholic,
he prevailed upon the bishops--with little difficulty, it is
supposed--to acquaint the king thereof. His majesty thereupon issued
a warrant against the Earl of Sutherland, who was in consequence
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 he would either give the church satisfaction
or surrender himself; but his application was refused by the high
commission of Scotland. Sir Alexander 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
he might make up his mind on the subject of religion, and look after
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, he returned to his confinement at St. Andrews, from which
he was removed, on his own application, to the abbey of Holyrood
house, where he remained till the month of March, 1615, when he
obtained leave to go home, “having,” says Sir Robert Gordon, “in some
measure satisfied the church concerning his religion.”

The Earl of Caithness, thus again defeated in his views, tried,
as a _dernier ressort_, to disjoin 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 Mackay; and at other times he
endeavoured to persuade Mackay, by holding out certain inducements
to him, to compromise their differences without including the Earl
of Sutherland in the arrangement; but he completely failed in these

In 1614-15 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 Dunyveg 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. The 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.” The
remonstrance of the bishop 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, Coll Mac-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
order from the chancellor, and at the same time assured Angus of the
chancellor’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 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 measures 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 himself had the credit of procuring the
liberation of the hostages.”

[Illustration: Dunyveg Castle, Islay.--From a drawing taken expressly
for this work.]

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 the 6th, Campbell landed on Islay with 200 men, his force being
augmented next day by 140 more. Several of the rebels, alarmed,
deserted 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 Dunyveg on February 1st,
and shortly after Angus had an interview with the lieutenant, during
which the latter showed that Angus had been deceived by Graham,
upon which he promised to surrender. On returning to the castle,
however, he refused to implement his promise, being instigated to
hold 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 his escape.
Campbell took possession of the 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 examination 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 rebellion, 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 6th 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 June, landing on Islay, managed
by stratagem to obtain possession of Dunyveg Castle, himself and
his followers appearing to have conducted 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-Gillespic, was destined for Kintyre, for
the purpose of encouraging the ancient followers of his family to
assist him. In the beginning of July, Angus Oig and a number of his
followers were tried and condemned, and executed immediately after.

Various disheartening reports were now circulated as to the
disaffection of Donald Gorme of Sleat, captain of the clan Ranald,
Ruari 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, he would not be
very earnest in the service. The militia of Ayr, Renfrew, Dumbarton,
Bute, and Inverness were called out, and a commission was granted to
the Marquis of Hamilton to keep the clan Donald out of Arran.

The Privy Council had some time before this urged the king to send
down the Earl of Argyle from England--to which he had fled from
his numerous creditors--to act as lieutenant 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 proclamation of pardon
to all rebels who were willing to submit, and by means of spies
examined Macdonald’s camp, which had been pitched on the west coast
of Kintyre, the number 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 the end of that
time 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 he refused, although
he sent secretly to Argyle a message that he was willing to comply
with the earl’s request. Argyle immediately sent a force against Sir
James to surprise him, who, being warned of this by the natives,
managed to make his escape to an island called Inchdaholl, on the
coast of Ireland, and never again returned to the Hebrides. Next
day, Mac-Gillespic surrendered the two forts and his prisoners, upon
assurance of his own life and the lives of a few of his followers,
at the same time treacherously apprehending and delivering to Argyle,
Macfie of Colonsay, one of the principal rebel leaders, and eighteen
others. This conduct soon had many imitators, including Macfie

Having delivered the forts in Islay to Campbell 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 December 1615, refusing to dismiss the hired soldiers in the
beginning of November, as he was ordered by the Council to do. He was
compelled 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,[207]
“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
countrymen as were daring enough, to show their prowess and
dexterity, by making incursions into Sutherland or Strathnaver,
for the purpose of annoying the vassals and dependants of the
Earl of Sutherland and his ally, Mackay. Amongst others he often
communicated on this subject with William Kennethson, 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 Strathnaver, and put himself under the
protection of Mackay, to whom he was to pretend that he had left
Caithness 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
Strathnaver 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 Caithness for the purpose of executing a contemplated
depredation in Sutherland. Mackay was then in Sutherland on a visit
to his uncle, Sir Robert Gordon, which being known to William
Mac-Kenneth, he resolved to enter Sutherland with his party, and
carry off into Caithness all the booty they could collect. Being
observed in the glen of Loth by some of the clan Gun, collecting
cattle and horses, they were immediately apprehended, with the
exception of Iain-Garbh-Mac-Chonald-Mac-Mhurchidh-Mhoir, who, being
a very resolute man, refused to surrender, and was in consequence
killed. The prisoners were delivered to Sir Robert Gordon at Dornoch,
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
occurrence took place in the month of January 1616.

The Earl of Caithness now finished his restless career of iniquity
by the perpetration of a crime which, though trivial in its
consequences, was of so highly a penal nature in itself as to bring
his own life into jeopardy. As the circumstances 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 somewhat curious, it is thought that a recital of
them may not be 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 annoying him
in a variety of ways, the earl instigated 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 Sinclair from his perilous situation. Mackay succeeded, 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 persecuted 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 his lands to the earl. When the earl had obtained this deed
he began to devise means to make away with Sinclair, and actually
persuaded Sinclair’s wife to assist him in this nefarious design.
Having obtained notice of this conspiracy against his life, Sinclair
left Caithness and took up his residence with his brother-in-law,
Lord Forbes, who received him with great kindness and hospitality,
and reprobated very strongly the wicked conduct of his sister.
Sinclair now recalled the entail in favour of the Earl of Caithness,
and made a new deed by which he conveyed his whole estate to Lord
Forbes. George Sinclair died soon after the execution of the deed,
and having left no issue, Lord Forbes took possession 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 pretence 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 effectually, Lord Forbes
took up a temporary residence in Caithness, relying upon the aid of
the 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 the Earl of
Sutherland and Mackay, from whom they held some lands, than upon
the Earl of Caithness; a circumstance which the latter supposed,
should the contemplated outrages of the clan Gun ever become matter
of inquiry, might throw the suspicion upon the two former as the
silent instigators. Accordingly, the earl opened a negotiation with
John Gun, chief of the clan Gun in Caithness, and with his brother,
Alexander Gun, whose father he had hanged in the year 1586. In
consequence of an invitation, the two brothers, along with Alexander
Gun, their cousin-german, repaired to Castle Sinclair, where they
met the earl. The earl did not at first divulge his plans to all the
party; but taking Alexander Gun, the cousin, aside, he pointed out
to him the injury he alleged he had sustained, in consequence of
Lord Forbes having obtained a footing in Caithness,--that he could
no longer submit to the indignity shown him by a stranger,--that he
had made choice of him (Gun) to undertake a piece of service for
him, on performing which, he would reward him most amply; and to
secure compliance, the earl desired 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; but upon being interrogated by the earl
whether he would undertake to burn the corn of Sanset, belonging
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 becoming 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
hesitated 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
retreat 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
frequent Caithness without danger. Alexander Gun, overcome at last by
the entreaties of the earl, 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, 1615, 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 month of December following, resolved to probe the
matter to the bottom, not merely on account of his nephew, Mackay,
whose men were suspected, but to satisfy Lord Forbes, who was now on
friendly terms with the house of Sutherland; 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 circumstances,
and reveal the authors of the conflagration, 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
privately at Helmsdale, in the house of Sir Alexander Gordon, brother
of Sir Robert. A meeting 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 his father had formerly lived.

When the Earl of Caithness heard of Alexander Gun’s flight into
Sutherland he became greatly alarmed lest Alexander should reveal
the affair of Sanset; and anticipating such a result, the earl 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 Alexander Gun, he immediately cited John
Gun and his brother Alexander, and their accomplices, 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 summoned the Earl of
Caithness, as sheriff of that county, to deliver them up for trial.
John Gun, thinking that the best course he could pursue under present
circumstances was to follow the example of his cousin, Alexander,
sent a message to Sir Alexander Gordon, desiring an interview with
him, which being granted, they met at Navidale. John Gun then offered
to reveal everything 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 Caithness wrote to the Marquis
of Huntly, accusing Sir Robert Gordon and Mackay of a design to
bring him within the reach of the law of treason, 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 malefactors,--in all which they considered they had done the
earl no wrong. The Marquis of Huntly did not fail to write the Earl
of Caithness the answer he had received from Sir Robert Gordon and
Mackay, which grieved him exceedingly, as he was too well aware of
the consequences which would follow if the prosecution of the Guns
was persevered in.

At the time appointed for the trial of the Guns, Sir Robert Gordon,
Mackay, and Lord Forbes, with all his friends, went to Edinburgh, 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 property 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 Berridale and his
father to present the three culprits before the court on the 10th
June following, because, although they had possessions in Dilred,
they had also lands from the Earl of Caithness 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 Berridale, whose character was quite the reverse of that
of his father, apprehensive of the consequences 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 Robert Gordon and Mackay,
who, upon being consulted, caused articles of agreement to be drawn
up, which were presented to Lord Berridale by neutral persons for
his acceptance. He, however, considering the conditions sought to be
imposed upon his father too hard, rejected them.

In consequence of the refusal of Lord Berridale 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
Robert 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 Robert Gordon and Mackay then deliberated 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 he would, of course,
be deprived by the earl for revealing the latter’s connexion with
the fire-raising at Sanset. 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 corn of
Sanset, and that the affair had been proposed and discussed in his
presence. Alexander Gun, the cousin, was examined also at the same
time, and stated the same circumstances precisely as John Gun had
done. After examination, John and Alexander were again committed to

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 Robert Gordon. After
obtaining Sir Robert’s consent, and a written statement of the
conditions which he 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, 1616. 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 be 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 forgiven, and particularly, that the
Earl of Caithness 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 Strathnaver, 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 Gun 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
parliament 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 before-mentioned, were delivered to Lord Berridale,
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 Caithness 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 Strathnaver as he had promised. Matters
being thus settled, Lord Berridale presented himself before 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, the diet against him was continued till the 28th
of August following.

Although the king was well pleased, on account of the peace which
such an adjustment would produce in his northern dominions, with
the agreement which had been entered into, and the 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, he
wrote a letter to the Privy Council of Scotland, commanding them to
prosecute, with all severity, those who were guilty of, or accessory
to, the 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, he
would, in place of an enemy become a faithful friend,--that for his
own part, he, Lord Berridale, 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 he was charged,--and
that he wished his majesty to be informed by Sir Robert of these
circumstances, hoping that he would order him to be released from
confinement. Sir Robert answered, that he had long desired a
perfect agreement between the houses of Sutherland and Caithness,
which he would endeavour to maintain during his administration in
Sutherland,--that he would intercede with the king 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 entertained of his
father, the earl; and he concluded by entreating him to be careful to
preserve the friendship 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 Berridale, proceed
against the family of Caithness by forfeiture, in consequence of his
lordship having been infeft many years before in his father’s estate,
his majesty, on the 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
the Earl of Caithness and his son should give satisfaction to their
creditors, who were constantly annoying his majesty with clamours
against the earl, and craving justice at his hands. 2d. That the
Earl of Caithness, with consent of Lord Berridale, should freely
renounce and resign perpetually, into the hands of his majesty, the
heritable sheriffship and justiciary of Caithness. 3d. That the Earl
of Caithness should deliver the three criminals who had burnt the
corn, that public justice might be satisfied upon them, as a terror
and example to others. 4th. That the Earl of Caithness, with consent
of Lord Berridale, should give and resign _in perpetuum_ to the
bishop of Caithness, the house of Strabister, with as many of the
feu lands of that bishopric as should amount to the yearly value of
two thousand merks Scots money, for the purpose of augmenting the
income of the bishop, which was at that time small in consequence
of the greater part of his lands being in the hands of the earl.
Commissioners were sent down from London to Caithness in October
1616, to see that these conditions were complied with. The second and
last conditions were immediately implemented; and as the earl and
his son promised to give satisfaction to their creditors, and to do
everything in their power to apprehend the burners of the corn, the
latter was released from the castle of Edinburgh, and directions were
given for drawing up a remission and pardon to the Earl of Caithness.
Lord Berridale, however, had scarcely been released from the castle,
when he was again imprisoned within the jail of Edinburgh, at the
instance of Sir James Home of Cowdenknowes, 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 fate of
his son and retired to 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 purpose of settling with them, but he made
no arrangement, and returned privately into Caithness 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 Berridale 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 creditors, in possession of
the family estates from which his father was driven by Sir Robert
Gordon acting under a royal warrant, a just punishment for the many
enormities of a long and misspent life.[208]

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 Robert 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 Strathie 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, 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
Mackay, 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 through the agency of some
persons about Lord Forbes, into whose keeping the deed had been

After brooding over these subjects of discontent 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-german, 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 reconciliation 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 Sutherland, that he would
weaken his power and influence. And lastly, he 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 he 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 Reay, 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 earl, 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 themselves that the house of Sutherland would
defend the clan, as they were bound to do by their promise, and that
that house would be 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 the earl, a daughter
of James Sinclair of Murkle, who was a mortal enemy of all the clan
Gun. Having thus planned the line of conduct they were to follow,
they parted, after swearing to continue in perpetual friendship.

Notwithstanding the private way in which the meeting was held,
accounts of it immediately spread through the kingdom; and every
person wondered at the motives which could induce Sir Donald Mackay
to take such a step so unadvisedly, without the knowledge of his
uncles, Sir Robert and Sir Alexander Gordon, or of Lord Forbes. The
clan Gun receiving secret intelligence of the design upon them, from
different friendly quarters, retired into Sutherland. The clan were
astonished at Mackay’s conduct, as he had promised, at Edinburgh, in
presence of Lords Forbes and Elphingston and Sir Robert Gordon, in
the year 1616, to be a perpetual friend to them, and chiefly to John
Gun and to his cousin Alexander.

After Mackay returned from Caithness, he sent his cousin-german,
Angus Mackay of Bighouse, 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 Robert
Gordon at Dunrobin, to whom he 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 him 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, he 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, he 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, he 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 wrongfully, there
would still some blot remain, because the greater part of the world
would always incline to speak the worst; that whatever 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 particularly 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 Sutherland did always esteem their truth
and constancy to be their greatest jewel; and seeing that he and his
brother, Sir Alexander, were almost the only branches of it then of
age 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 quarrelled or challenged the
clan Gun, before going into Caithness and his arrangement with Earl
George, the clan might have been suspected; but he 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 his accomplices. John Gun
thereupon demanded a trial before his 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 Robert Gordon, who wrote a letter to the Lord-Chancellor
and to the Earl of Melrose, 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 this attempt, Sir
Donald returned home to Strathnaver, 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 Alexander 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
Caithness, which belonged to Sir Donald’s predecessors; by means
of which the earl thought he 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, he was
discovered by Adam Gordon of Kilcalmkill, a trusty dependant of the
house of Sutherland, and thereupon returned to his country. In the
meantime the Earl of Caithness, who sought every opportunity to
quarrel with the house of Sutherland, 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
Strathully, and the lands of Berridale. The dispute, however, came to

When Sir Robert Gordon heard of these occurrences in the north, he
returned home from Edinburgh, where he had been for some time; and,
on his return, he 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 acquainting the
marquis with Mackay’s intentions, was to screen himself from any
imputation of being concerned in Mackay’s plans, although he favoured
them in secret. As soon as Sir Robert Gordon was informed of Mackay’s
intentions he 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 he 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 Robert Gordon 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,
he went to Badinloch, 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

Hearing that Sir Robert Gordon was upon his journey to Sutherland,
Mackay left Badinloch in haste, and went privately to the parish of
Culmaly, taking up his residence in Golspietour with John Gordon,
younger of Embo, till he 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, he 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

Sir Donald Mackay, 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 Caithness, became desirous of
a reconciliation with his uncles, and with this view he offered to
refer all matters in dispute to the arbitrament 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 affairs 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 gentlemen
of the Slaight-ean-Aberigh, to Dunrobin, there to remain prisoners
during Sir Robert’s pleasure, as a punishment for apprehending
William M’Corkill at Badinloch. After settling some other matters
of little moment, the parties agreed to hold another meeting for
adjusting all remaining questions, at Elgin, in the month of June of
the following year, 1619. Sir Donald wished to include Gordon of Embo
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, 1618, a disturbance took place in
consequence of a quarrel between George, Lord Gordon, Earl of
Enzie, and Sir Lauchlan Macintosh, chief of the clan Chattan, which
arose out of the following circumstances:--When the earl went into
Lochaber, in the year 1613, in pursuit of the clan Cameron, he
requested Macintosh to accompany 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 certain lands belonging to the former
in Lochaber. To induce Macintosh to join him, the earl 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, he declined to accompany the earl in his expedition. The earl
was greatly displeased at Macintosh’s refusal, which afterwards led
to some disputes between them. A few years after the date of this
expedition--in which the earl subdued the clan Cameron, and took
their chief prisoner, whom he imprisoned at Inverness in the year
1614--Macintosh obtained a commission against Macronald, younger of
Moidart, and his brother, Donald Glass, for laying waste his lands in
Lochaber; and, having collected all his friends, he entered Lochaber
for the purpose of apprehending them, but, being unsuccessful in
his attempt, he returned home. As Macintosh conceived that he had
a right to the services of all his clan, some of whom were tenants
and dependants of the Marquis of Huntly, he ordered these to follow
him, and compelled such of them as were refractory to accompany him
into Lochaber. This proceeding gave offence to the Earl of Enzie,
who summoned Macintosh before the lords of the Privy Council for
having, as he asserted, exceeded 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 invaded
Lochaber, and expelled Macronald and his brother Donald from that

As Macintosh held certain lands from the earl and his father for
services to be done, which the earl alleged had not been performed by
Macintosh agreeably to the tenor of his titles, the earl brought an
action against Macintosh in the year 1618 for evicting these lands,
on the ground of his not having implemented the conditions on which
he held them. And, as the earl had a right to the tithes of Culloden,
which belonged to Macintosh, he served him, at the same time, with
an inhibition, prohibiting him to dispose of these tithes. As the
time for tithing 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, he
abstained from enforcing his right; but, having formerly obtained a
decree against Macintosh for the value of the tithes of the preceding
years, he sent two messengers-at-arms to poind and distrain the corns
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 Macintosh
and his servants before the Privy Council, and got them denounced
and proclaimed 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 Culloden and carrying it
to Inverness. Macintosh prepared himself to resist, by fortifying
the house of Culloden and laying in 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 Macintosh’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 disposition, refused
to listen to any proposals, and rode post-haste to Edinburgh, from
which he 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 Inverness with this force on the day
appointed, and, after consulting his principal officers, marched
forwards towards Culloden. When he 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
belonged to him. To this message Duncan replied, 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 surrender 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,
he 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 Culloden as her jointure.

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
committed 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 mediation of some friends,
for a reconciliation with the earl, which took place accordingly,
at Edinburgh, in the year 1619. Sir Lauchlan, however, became bound
to pay a large sum of money to the earl, part of which the latter
afterwards remitted. The laird of Grant, by whose 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 dissensions between
them and the earl, which ended only with the lives of Macintosh and
the laird of Grant, who both died in the year 1622, when the ward
of part of Macintosh’s lands fell to the earl, as his superior,
during the minority of his son. The Earl of Seaforth and his clan,
who had also favoured the designs of Macintosh, were in like manner
reconciled, at the same time, to the Earl of Enzie, at Aberdeen,
through the mediation of the Earl of Dunfermline, the Chancellor of
Scotland, whose daughter the Earl of Seaforth had married.[209]

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 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
seventeenth 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
continually annoyed the bishop’s servants and tenants. His hatred was
more especially directed against Robert Monroe of Aldie, commissary
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 Denmark along
with Sir Andrew.

As Robert Monroe did not consider his person safe in Caithness under
such circumstances, he retired into Sutherland for a time. He then
pursued James Sinclair and his master, the Earl of Caithness, for
the slaughter of his brother, Thomas Lindsay; but, 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 against 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 Sanset, 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 landed proprietors of Caithness to find surety, 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 be made against
them. The letter containing these instructions is dated from Windsor,
25th May, 1621.

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 he 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 Castle Sinclair or Ackergill, and withstand a siege.

While the Privy Council were deliberating on this matter, Sir
Robert Gordon took occasion 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 enterprise, 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, he would be
justified, in the eyes of the world, in accepting the offer now made.
Being encouraged by Lord Gordon, Earl of Enzie, to whom Sir Robert
Gordon’s proposal had been communicated, to embrace the offer, Lord
Berridale offered to undertake the service without any charge to his
majesty, and that he would, before being liberated, give security to
his creditors, either to return to prison after he had executed the
commission, or satisfy them for their claims against him. The Privy
Council 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, and 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 Enzie 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 proceedings till they
should receive instructions from his 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 matter,
he wrote to the Lords of the Privy Council, asserting that he was
innocent of the death of Thomas Lindsay; that his reason for not
appearing at Edinburgh to abide his trial for that crime, was not
that he had been in any shape privy to the slaughter, but for fear
of his creditors, who, he was afraid, would apprehend and imprison
him; and promising, that if his majesty would grant him a protection
and safe-conduct, he 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 Murkle, and Sir John Sinclair of
Greenland, became sureties for his appearance at Edinburgh, at the
time prescribed for his appearance to stand trial. Thus the execution
of the commission was in the meantime delayed.

Notwithstanding the refusal of Lord Berridale’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 Berridale into their hands. His lordship was
accordingly released from prison, and returned to Caithness in
the year 1621, after a confinement of five years. As his final
enlargement from jail depended upon his obtaining the means of paying
his creditors, and as his father, the earl, staid at home consuming
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 success.

In the meantime the earl’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
earl personally. All, however, that they obtained were fair words,
and a promise from the earl that he would speedily follow them to
Edinburgh, 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 his residence
with Lord Gordon, who wrote to his friends at Court to obtain a new
commission against the earl. As the king was daily troubled with
complaints against the earl by his creditors, he readily consented
to such a request, and he accordingly wrote a letter to the Lords
of the Privy Council of Scotland, in the month of December 1622,
desiring them to issue a commission to Lord Gordon to proceed against
the earl. The execution of the commission was, however, postponed
in consequence of a message to Lord Gordon to attend the Court and
proceed to France on some affairs of state, where he accordingly went
in the year 1623. On the departure of his lordship, the earl made
an application to the Lords of the Council for a new protection,
promising to appear at Edinburgh on the 10th of August of this year,
and to satisfy his creditors. This turned out to be a mere pretence
to obtain delay, for although the council granted the protection,
as required, upon the most urgent solicitations, the earl failed to
appear on the day appointed. This breach of his engagement incensed
his majesty and the council the more against him, and made them
more determined than ever to reduce him to obedience. He 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 Murkle, but on this condition, that Sir Robert
should act as chief commissioner, and that nothing should be done by
the other commissioners in the service they were employed in, without
his advice and consent.

The Earl of Caithness seeing now no longer any chance of evading
the authority of the laws, prepared to meet the gathering storm by
fortifying his castles and strongholds. Proclamations 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 the inhabitants of Ross, Sutherland,
Strathnaver, Caithness, and Orkney, to assist him in the execution of
his majesty’s commission; a ship well furnished with munitions 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 Sutherland in the month of
August, 1623, was immediately joined by Lord Berridale for the
purpose of consulting on the plan of operations to be adopted; but,
before fixing on any particular plan, it was concerted that Lord
Berridale 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 adjoining
districts to meet Sir Robert Gordon in Strathully, upon the borders
between Sutherland and Caithness. Lord Berridale was not long in
Caithness when he 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 his 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 bad 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 courage.

Upon receipt of the intelligence from Lord Berridale, Sir Robert
Gordon made preparations for entering Caithness without delay; and,
as a precautionary measure, he took pledges from such of the tribes
and families in Caithness as he suspected were favourable to the
earl. Before all his forces had time to assemble, Sir Robert received
notice that the war ship had arrived upon the Caithness coast, and
that the earl was meditating an escape beyond 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 home 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 gentlemen of Sutherland,
marched, on the 3d of September, 1623, from Dunrobin to Killiernan
in Strathully, the place of rendezvous previously appointed. Here
Sir Robert divided his forces into companies, over each of which
he placed a commander. The following morning he passed the river
Helmsdale, and arranged his army in the following order:--Half-a-mile
in advance of the main body he placed a company of the clan Gun,
whose duty it was to search the fields as they advanced for the
purpose of discovering any ambuscades which might be laid in their
way, and to clear away any obstruction to the regular advance of the
main body. The right wing of the army was led by John Murray of
Aberscors, Hugh Gordon of Ballellon, and Adam Gordon of Kilcalmkill.
The left wing was commanded by John Gordon, younger of Embo, Robert
Gray of Ospisdale, and Alexander Sutherland of Kilphidder. And Sir
Robert Gordon himself, his brother Sir Alexander, the laird of
Pulrossie, and William Mac-Mhic-Sheumais of Killiernan, led the
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 manner the army advanced towards Berridale, and they observed
the same order of marching during all the time they remained in

As soon as Lord Berridale heard of Sir Robert Gordon’s advance, he
and James Sinclair 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-Henglish 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 Caithness, 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 he distrusted 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 were commanded by James Sinclair, fiar of
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
Caithness, than it surrendered, the keys being delivered 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
residence of the earl, which was also given up without 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 he
had made no resistance to him. Sir Robert promised to do what he
could if the earl would follow his 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, according to the directions he had received from the
Privy Council, he delivered the keys of all these castles and forts
to Lord Berridale, to be kept by him for his majesty’s use, for which
he should be answerable to the lords of the council until the farther
pleasure of his majesty should be known.

The army then returned to Wick in the same marching order which
had been observed since its first entry into Caithness, at which
place the commissioners consulted together, and framed a set of
instructions to Lord Berridale for governing Caithness peaceably
in time coming, 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 Strathnaver; but, as the object of the
expedition had been accomplished, Sir Donald, after receiving Sir
Robert’s thanks, returned to Strathnaver. Sir Robert having brought
this expedition to a successful termination, 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


[205] Act James VI., Parl. 3, Cap. 45.

[206] Sir R. Gordon, p. 299.

[207] Gregory’s _Western Highlands_, p. 349, _et seq._

[208] Sir R. Gordon, p. 329, et seq.

[209] Sir Robert Gordon, p. 356, et seq.

[210] Sir Robert Gordon, p. 366, _et seq._


A.D. 1624-1636.


James VI., 1603-1625. Charles I., 1625-1649.

  Insurrection of the clan Chattan against the Earl of Murray
  --Dispute between the laird of Duffus and Gordon, younger of
  Embo--Sir Donald Mackay’s machinations--Feud among the Grants
  --Dispute between the lairds of Frendraught and Rothiemay--Quarrel
  between Frendraught and the laird of Pitcaple--Calamitous and
  fatal fire at Frendraught House--Inquiry as to the cause of the
  fire--Escape of James Grant--Apprehension of Grant of Ballindalloch
  --And of Thomas Grant--Dispute between the Earl of Sutherland and
  Lord Lorn--Depredations committed upon Frendraught--Marquis of
  Huntly accused therewith--The Marquis and Letterfourie committed
  --Liberated--Death and character of the Marquis.

The troubles in Sutherland and Caithness had been scarcely allayed,
when a formidable insurrection broke out on the part of the clan
Chattan against the Earl of 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 services 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 needing 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, and, upon the death of Sir Lauchlan their chief, who
died a short time before Whitsunday, 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 the present a
favourable opportunity for carrying their plan into execution.

Accordingly, a gathering of the clan, to the number of about 200
gentlemen and 300 servants, took place about Whitsunday, 1624. This
party was commanded by three uncles of the late chief.[211] “They
keeped the feilds,” says Spalding, “in their Highland weid upon foot
with swords, bowes, arrowes, targets, hagbuttis, pistollis, and other
Highland armour; and first began to rob and spoulzie the earle’s
tennents, 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,
Brae of Marr, and diverse other parts, takeing their meat and food
per force wher they could not gett it willingly, frae freinds
alseweill as frae their faes; yet still keeped themselves from
shedeing of innocent blood. Thus they lived as outlawes, oppressing
the countrie, (besydes the casting of the earle’s lands waist), and
openly avowed they had tane this course to gett thir own possessions
again, or then hold the country walking.”

When this rising took place, the Earl of Murray obtained from
Monteith and Balquhidder about 300 armed men, and placing himself
at their head he marched through Moray to Inverness. The 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, he despatched them in quest
of the clan Chattan, but whether from fear of meeting 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 great expense. The earl, therefore, sent them back to
their respective countries, and went himself to Elgin, where he
raised another body of men to suppress the clan Chattan, who were
equally unsuccessful in finding the latter out.

These ineffectual attempts against the clan served to make them more
bold and daring 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 solicitation,
granted him a commission, appointing him his lieutenant in the
Highlands, and giving him authority to proceed capitally against
the offenders. On his return the earl proclaimed the commission he
had obtained from his majesty, and issued letters of intercommuning
against the clan Chattan, prohibiting all persons from harbouring,
supplying, or entertaining 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 appointment,
as he conceived that he 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 communicating with, or assisting the clan Chattan, their
kindred and friends, who had privately promised 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 perceiving 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 effectual
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
this formidable insurrection without bloodshed, the 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 concerned 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 here 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
compeared 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 judgment, and declared what they
had gotten, whether meat, money, cloathing, gun, ball, powder, lead,
sword, dirk, and the like commodities, and alse instructed the assyse
in ilk particular, what they had gotten frae the persons 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.”[212]

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 Gregor! This legal robbery, however, does not appear to have
enriched the houses of Argyle and Murray, for Sir Robert Gordon
observes, that “these fynes did not much advantage either of these
two earles.” The Earl of Murray, no doubt, thinking 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 adjacent 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 Robert Gordon observes, “it grieved divers of his majesty’s
best affected subjects, and chieflie the Marquis of Huntlie, unto
whose predicessors onlie the office of livetennendrie in the north of
Scotland had bein granted by former kings, for these many ages.”

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 Glenmoriston, 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 endeavoured
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 Council. The
provost, Duncan Forbes,[213] 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.[214]

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 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 disappointments in this way only whetted his appetite for
revenge; and meeting, when on horseback, one day, between Sidderay
and Skibo, with 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. Raising,
therefore, a cudgel which he held in his hand, he inflicted several
blows upon John Sutherland, who, as soon as he recovered himself
from the surprise and confusion into which such an unexpected attack
had thrown him, drew his sword. Gordon, in his turn, unsheathed
his, and a warm combat ensued, between the parties and two friends
who accompanied 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 thereupon 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 was pleased to allege against Gordon.

In this state of matters, Sir Robert Gordon returned from London to
Edinburgh, where he found Duffus in high spirits, exulting at his
success, and young Embo in prison. Sir Robert 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 he 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 his brother. Sir Robert, however,
finally succeeded, 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

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 kingdom, 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
1626; 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 Germany.[216] 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, Mackay and his brother, John Mackay of Dirlet, had
obtained a commission from the lords of the Privy Council for the
purpose of apprehending 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

Sometime after his enlistment, Angus Roy Gun made a journey into
Sutherland, a circumstance 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 dissimulation.
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 commission 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 Alexander 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 prevent
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 being informed of Gun’s capture,
he collected 18 men who were near at hand, and hastened with them
from Dunrobin towards Clyne. 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 east end of the bridge. He,
thereupon, sent a person to the Sutherlands 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, notwithstanding
the resistance he met with, he was enabled to cross the bridge. The
Sutherlands 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

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 accomplices, to be cited to appear at Edinburgh on the
16th of November following, to answer before the Privy Council for
their misdemeanours. The laird of Duffus, however, died in the month
of October, but the laird of Clyne appeared at Edinburgh at the time
appointed, and produced before the Privy Council the letter he had
received from Mackay, as his authority for acting as he had done. Sir
Alexander 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 Clyne 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 satisfaction to the other party, and present some of
his men who had failed to appear though summoned. By the mediation,
however, of James Sutherland, tutor of Duffus, a reconciliation was
effected between Sir Robert and Sir Alexander Gordon, and the laird
of Clyne, who was, in consequence, soon thereafter liberated from

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 kinsman. Some years before
the period first mentioned, James Grant, one of the Carron family,
happening to be 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 immediately 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 the
parties, but in vain, as Ballindalloch was obstinate 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 seeing his life every moment in jeopardy, and
deprived of any hope of effecting a compromise, he put himself at
the head of a party of brigands, whom he collected from all parts
of the Highlands. These freebooters made no distinction between
friends and foes, but attacked all persons of whatever description,
and wasted and despoiled their property. James Grant of Dalnebo,
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 attempts to put an end to
these lawless proceedings, but to no purpose; the failure of these
attempts serving only to harden James Grant and his party, who
continued their depredations. 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 Ballindalloch sought for an opportunity of revenging himself
upon Carron, who was a promising young man. Carron having one day
left his house, along with one Alexander Grant and seven or eight
other persons, to cut down some timber in the woods of Abernethy,
Ballindalloch thought the occasion 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
searching 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 Ballindalloch. Before
Carron fell, however, he and Alexander Grant had slain several of
Ballindalloch’s friends, among whom were Thomas Grant of Davey, and
Lauchlan Macintosh of Rockinoyr. Alexander Grant afterwards annoyed
Ballindalloch, killing several of his men, and assisted James Grant
to lay waste Ballindalloch’s lands. “Give me leave heir,” says Sir
R. Gordon, “to remark the providence and secrait judgement of the
Almightie God, who now hath mett Carron with the same measure that
his forefather, John Roy Grant of Carron, did serve the ancestor
of Ballendallogh; for upon the same day of the moneth that John
Roy Grant did kill the great-grandfather of Ballendallogh (being
the eleventh day of September), the verie same day of this month
wes Carron slain by this John Grant of Ballendallogh many yeirs
thereafter. And, besides, as that John Roy Grant of Carron was
left-handed, so is this John Grant of Ballendallogh left-handed
also; and moreover, it is to be observed that Ballendallogh, at the
killing of this Carron, had upon him the same coat-of-armour, or
maillie-coat, which John Roy Grant had upon him at the slaughter
of the great-grandfather of this Ballendallogh, which maillie-coat
Ballendallogh had, a little before this tyme, taken from James
Grant, in a skirmish, that passed betwixt them. Thus wee doe sie that
the judgements of God are inscrutable, and that, in his own tyme, he
punisheth blood by blood.”[218]

The Earl of Murray, when he heard of this occurrence, instead of
taking measures against Ballindalloch for his outrage against the
laws, which he 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 indemnity 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 Alexander
Grant in the highest degree against Ballindalloch and his supporters,
whom they continually 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 Ballindalloch
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 desperate 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, 1630, when he
was taken prisoner after receiving eleven wounds, and after four
of his party were killed. He was sent by his captors to Edinburgh
for trial before the lords of the council, and was imprisoned in
the castle of Edinburgh, from which he escaped in the manner to be
afterwards noticed.

About the time that James Grant was desolating the district of the
Highlands, to which his operations were confined, another part of the
country was convulsed by a dispute, ending tragically, which occurred
between James Crichton of Frendret, or Frendraught, and William
Gordon of Rothiemay, whose lands lay adjacent to each other. Part of
Gordon’s lands which 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 irreconcilable
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 prevailed, and succeeded in getting Gordon denounced
rebel. He had previously treated Rothiemay very harshly, who, stung
by the severity of his opponent, and by the victory he had obtained
over him, would listen to no proposals of peace, nor follow the
advice of his best friends. Determined to set 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 apprehending Rothiemay 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 Lesmoir, and the uncle of Frendraught, James Leslie,
second son of Leslie of Pitcaple, John Meldrum of Reidhill, and
others. Accompanied by these gentlemen, Crichton left his house of
Frendraught on the 1st of January, 1630, for the house of Rothiemay,
with a resolution either to apprehend Gordon, his antagonist, or
to set him at defiance by affronting him. He was incited the more
to follow this course, as young Rothiemay, 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 Rothiemay heard of the advance
of Frendraught, he left his house, accompanied 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 Rothiemay’s horse
was killed under him; but he fought manfully for some time on foot,
until the whole of his party, with the exception 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 carried 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 combatants on both sides were wounded. John Meldrum,
who fought on Frendraught’s side, was the only person severely

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, whose life had been thus
sacrificed in a petty quarrel. The displeasure of the marquis was
still farther heightened, when he was informed that Frendraught
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 Rothiemay, 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 majesty remitted the matter to the
Privy Council of Scotland, desiring them to use their best endeavours
for settling the peace of the northern parts of the kingdom. A
commission was 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 Robert Gordon, tutor of Sutherland, who had just returned from
England, and Sir William Seaton of Killesmuir, to the north, with
a new commission against the rebels. As it seemed to be entirely
out of the power of the Earl of Murray to quell the disturbances in
the north, the two commissioners received particular instructions
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 Robert Gordon and Sir William Seaton
accordingly left Edinburgh, on their way north, in the beginning
of May, 1630. The latter stopped at Aberdeen for the purpose of
consulting 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 Robert’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, assisted
by his nephew the Earl of Sutherland, and his brother, Sir Alexander
Gordon, who were then at Frendraught on a visit to the 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 arbitrament. A decree-arbitral
was accordingly pronounced, 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 he had
contracted during the disturbances between the two families,[219]
and that he should pay some money to the children of George Gordon.
Frendraught fulfilled these conditions most willingly, and the
parties shook hands together in the orchard of Strathbogie, in token
of a hearty and sincere reconciliation.[220]

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 Meldrum 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 Frendraught 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 Frendraught
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 the commission which
he had procured, Frendraught went in quest of Meldrum, on the 27th
of September, 1630. He proceeded to Pitcaple’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 the aid he had given
him in his dispute with Rothiemay, took Leslie’s remonstrances
in good part; but Robert Crichton of Conland,[221] a kinsman of
Frendraught, grew so warm at Leslie’s freedom 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 state.

This affair was the signal for a confederacy among the Leslies,
the greater part of whom 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 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 horsemen, 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 home, 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 displeased 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, detained
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 Rothiemay 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.

[Illustration: Frendraught House, with the ruins of the old Castle in
front.--From a photograph taken for this work.]

The sleeping apartment of the viscount was in the old tower of
Frendraught, leading off from the hall. Immediately below this
apartment was a vault, in the bottom of which was a round hole of
considerable depth. Robert Gordon, a servant of the viscount, and
his page, English Will, as he was called, also slept in the same
chamber. The laird of Rothiemay, 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 Rollock, one of Frendraught’s party, and
George Gordon, another 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 Rothiemay, English Will, Colonel Ivat, one of
Aboyne’s friends, and two other persons, perished in the flames.
Robert 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 Rollock, who were in the
third floor; and it is said that Lord Aboyne might have saved himself
also, had he not, instead of going out of doors, which he refused to
do, run suddenly up stairs to Rothiemay’s chamber for the purpose
of awakening him. While so engaged, the stair-case and ceiling of
Rothiemay’s apartment 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 piteously and unavailingly
exclaiming 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
large 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, however, suspected the Leslies and their adherents,
who were then so enraged at Frendraught that they threatened to burn
the house of Frendraught, and had even entered into a negotiation
to that effect with James Grant the rebel, who was Pitcaple’s
cousin-german, for his assistance.[222]

The Marquis of Huntly, who suspected Frendraught to be the author of
the fire, afterwards 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 Frendraught
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 ascertain, if possible, how the fire had originated.
After a minute inspection, they came to the deliberate opinion, which
they communicated in writing to the council, that the fire 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.[223]

The matter, however, was not allowed to rest here, but underwent
thorough investigation by the Privy Council in Edinburgh, the result
being that John Meldrum, above mentioned, was brought to trial and
condemned to death by the Justiciary Court, in August, 1633, as
having been the perpetrator of the fiendish 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.[224] 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.[225]

During James Grant’s confinement within the castle of Edinburgh,
the north was comparatively 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. Proclamations were immediately
posted throughout the whole kingdom, offering large sums for his
apprehension, either dead or alive, but to no 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.[226]

James Grant did not remain long in Ireland, but returned again to the
north, where he concealed himself for some time, only occasionally
skulking here and there in such a private manner, 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 accouchement, 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 employment 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 immediately surrounded the house and attempted to force an
entry. Grant perceiving his danger, acted with great coolness and
determination. Having fastened the door as firmly as he could, he and
his two companions went to two windows, 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, immediately laying hold of a musket, shot him
through both his thighs, when he instantly fell to the ground, and
soon after expired. In the confusion which this occurrence occasioned
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 Ballindalloch, by
stratagem. After remaining a few days at Culquholy, Ballindalloch was
blindfolded 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
complained 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 Lammas; 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 behind them, Ballindalloch,
worn out by fatigue, and almost perishing from cold and hunger,
addressed Leslie in a low tone of voice, lamenting his miserable
situation, and imploring him to aid him in effecting his escape,
and promising, 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 confinement. 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 the ground. This stratagem
enabled Ballindalloch to get a-head of his pursuers, and although
M’Grimmon sounded the alarm, and the pursuit 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

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 common
executioner, craving some food, without being aware of the profession
of the host whose hospitality they solicited. The executioner,
disliking the appearance of Grant and his 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 immediately
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 associate,
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[227] 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.[228]

By the judicious management of the affairs of the house of Sutherland
by Sir Robert Gordon, his nephew, the earl, on reaching his majority
in 1630 and entering upon the management 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 himself
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 following

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 Caithness, the former
removed the latter from the lands and possessions he held of him
in Caithness. 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 himself, and others, to
bring about a reconciliation between Mac-Iver and Berridale, but to
no purpose. Seeing no hopes of an accommodation, Mac-Iver collected
a party of rebels and outlaws, to the number of about 20, and made
an incursion into Caithness, where, during the space of four or five
years, he did great injury, carrying off considerable spoil, which he
conveyed through the heights of Strathnaver and Sutherland.

To put an end to Mac-Iver’s depredations, Lord Berridale at first
brought a legal prosecution against him, and having got him denounced
rebel, sent out parties of his countrymen 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 Caithness.

At last Mac-Iver and his son were apprehended 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 outlaws
of the clan Mhic-Iain-Dhuinn, who were dependants of Lord Lorn,
continued his incursions into Caithness. Having divided his company
into two parties, one of which, headed by Gille-Calum himself, went
to the higher parts of Ross and Sutherland, there to remain till
joined by their companions. The other party went through the lowlands
of Ross, under the pretence of going to the Lammas fair, then held at
Tain, and thence proceeded to Sutherland to meet the rest of their
associates, under the pretence of visiting certain kinsmen they
said they had in Strathully and Strathnaver. This last-mentioned
body consisted of 16 or 20 persons, 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 theft.

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 punishment he said he would inflict on them,
because 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 him; but as soon as his associates heard of
his detention, they, instead of sending money for his release, fled
to Gille-Calum-Mac-Shomhairle 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 outrages
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, he assembled the
principal gentlemen of Ross and Sutherland at Dornoch, where Ewen
Aird and his accomplices were tried before a jury, convicted, and
executed at Dornoch, with the exception of two young boys, who were

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,
Hutcheon Ross, and some other gentlemen in Ross and Sutherland,
against the clan Mhic-Iain-Dhuinn, in case they should again make any
incursion into Ross and Sutherland.

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 apprehended in any
part of the kingdom, should 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 lordship heard of the
trial and execution of the men at Dornoch, who were of the clan
Mhic-Iain-Dhuinn, his dependants and followers, he took the matter
highly amiss, and repaired to Edinburgh, where he made a complaint to
the lords of the council against the Earl of Sutherland, for having,
as he maintained, apprehended the king’s free subjects without a
commission, and for causing them to be executed, although they had
not been apprehended within his own jurisdiction. The lords of the
council having heard this complaint, Lord Lorn obtained letters to
charge the Earl of Sutherland and Hutcheon Ross to answer to the
complaint at Edinburgh before the lords of the Privy Council, and,
moreover, obtained a suspension of the earl’s commission against the
clan Mhic-Iain-Dhuinn, on becoming 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 1634,
learned the object of his mission, and the success 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 Lorn’s dependents, informed the lords of the
council of all the proceedings, which 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
Hutcheon Ross; but the earl, Sir Robert Gordon, Lord Reay, and all
the gentlemen 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 circumstances 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 on the day appointed
for Ross’s appearance. After the matter had been fully debated in
council, the conduct of the Earl of Sutherland and Hutcheon Ross
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 Ross should be kept harmless from the
clan Mhic-Iain-Dhuinn. The council, moreover, decided, that, as the
Earl of Sutherland had the rights of regality and sheriffship within
himself, and as he was appointed to administer justice within his
own bounds, therefore he was not obliged to send criminals, though
islanders, to Lord Lorn or to his deputies. This decision had the
effect of relieving Sutherland and Ross from farther incursions on
the part of Lord Lorn’s followers.[229]

The disaster at Frendraught had made an impression upon the mind of
the Marquis of Huntly, which nothing could efface, and he could never
be persuaded that the fire had not originated with the proprietor of
the mansion himself. He made many unsuccessful attempts to discover
the incendiaries, and on the arrival of King Charles at Edinburgh, in
the year 1633, 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. Falling 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 graciously,
comforted them as far as words could, and promised to see justice

After the king’s departure from Scotland, the marchioness and Lady
Aboyne, both of whom still remained in Edinburgh, determining to see
his majesty’s promise implemented, prevailed upon the Privy Council
to bring John Meldrum of Reidhill to trial, the result being as
recorded above. A domestic servant of Frendraught named Tosh, who was
suspected of having been concerned in the fire, was afterwards put
to the torture, for the purpose of extorting a confession of guilt
from him; but he confessed nothing, and was therefore liberated from

The condemnation and execution of Meldrum, 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 be fair game, made frequent incursions upon his
lands, and carried off cattle and goods. In 1633 and 1634 Adam Gordon
of Strathdoun, with a few of his 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 Highlanders, 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 Invermarkie, and the other friends of the late
Gordon of Rothiemay, for the purpose of revenging his death. When
Frendraught heard of the irruption of this body, he immediately
collected about 200 foot, and 140 horsemen, and went in quest of
these intruders; but being scattered through the country, they could
make no resistance, and every man provided for his own safety by

To put an end to these annoyances, Frendraught 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
this communication, stating, that as the aggressors were neither
his tenants nor servants, he could in no shape be answerable for
them,--that he had neither countenanced nor incited them, and that he
had no warrant to pursue or prosecute them.

[Illustration: First Marquis and Marchioness of Huntly. Copied by
permission of His Grace the Duke of Richmond, from the Originals at
Gordon Castle.]

The refusal of the marquis to obey the orders of the Privy Council,
emboldened the denounced party to renew their acts of spoliation 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 this course of life, they
were joined by some of the young men of the principal families of
the Gordons in Strathbogie, to the number of 40 horsemen, and 60
foot, and to encourage them in their designs against Frendraught,
the lady of Rothiemay gave them the castle of Rothiemay, which they
fortified, 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

When the king heard of these lawless proceedings, 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 marquis, in the beginning of the following
year, to appear before them to answer for these oppressions. He
accordingly went to Edinburgh in the month of February, 1635, where
he was commanded to remain till the matter should be investigated.
The heads of the families whose sons had joined the outlaws also
appeared, and, after examination, Letterfourie, Park, Tilliangus,
Terrisoule, Invermarkie, Tulloch, Ardlogy, and several other persons
of the surname of Gordon, were committed to prison, until their
sons, who had engaged in the combination against Frendraught, 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 the pillagers were called, or make them leave the
kingdom. The marquis, although nothing could be proved against him,
was obliged to find caution that all persons of the surname of
Gordon within his bounds should keep the peace; and that he should
be answerable in all time coming for any damage which should befall
the laird of Frendraught, or his lands, by 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 Rothiemay,
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,
one of the principal ringleaders of the confederacy, 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 chancellor of Scotland, in which
he offered to submit himself to the king’s pleasure, promising, that
if his majesty would grant him a pardon, he would reveal the author
of the rebellion. The archbishop, eager, it would appear, to fulfil
the ends of justice, readily entered into Gordon’s views, and sent a
special messenger to London to the king, who at once granted Adam a
pardon. On receiving the pardon, Gordon accused the Marquis of Huntly
as the author of the conspiracy against Frendraught, and with having
instigated him and his associates to commit all the depredations
which had taken place. The king, thereupon, sent a commission to
Scotland, appointing 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, notwithstanding this
denial, he was committed a prisoner to the jail of Edinburgh. The
marquis himself, who had also appeared at Edinburgh 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 accusation, and “cleared himself with great dexteritie,
beyond admiration,” as Gordon of Sallagh observes, he was, “upon
presumption,” committed a close prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh.

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 Letterfourie
were released by his command, on giving security for indemnifying
the laird of Frendraught for any damage he might sustain in time
coming, 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 and
Frendraught, the king enjoined Sir Robert Gordon, who was related
to both,--the marquis being his cousin-german, 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 submission, by which they agreed to refer all questions and
differences between them to the arbitrament of friends; but before
the submission was brought to a final conclusion, the marquis
expired at Dundee on the 13th June, (15th according to Gordon),
1636, at the age of seventy-four, while returning to the north from
Edinburgh. He was interred 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 two
whyte crosses. He had torchlights in great number carried be freinds
and gentlemen; the marques’ son, called Adam, was at his head, the
earle of Murray on the right spaik, the earle of Seaforth on the left
spaik, the earle of Sutherland on the third spaik, and Sir Robert
Gordon on the fourth spaik. Besyds thir nobles, many barrons and
gentlemen was there, haveing above three hundred lighted torches at
the lifting. He 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 sein heir thir many
dayes befor.”[231]

The marquis was a remarkable man for the age in which he lived, and
there are no characters in that eventful period of Scottish history
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. Endowed with great strength of mind, invincible courage,
and consummate prudence, he surmounted the numerous difficulties with
which he was surrounded, and lived to see the many factions which had
conspired against him discomfited 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
doctrines, by whose cabals he was at one time obliged to leave the
kingdom, his great power and influence were assailed by another
formidable 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 age
distinguished for its base and wicked practices, their machinations
were frustrated by the discernment and honesty of George Gordon, the
first Marquis of Huntly.


[211] Spalding says that the party were commanded by Lauchlan
Macintosh, _alias_ Lauchlan Og, uncle of the young chief, and
Lauchlan Macintosh or Lauchlan Angus-son, eldest son of Angus
Macintosh, _alias_ Angus William, son of Auld Tirlie.--_Memorialls of
the Trubles in Scotland and in England_, A.D. 1624-1645.

[212] _Memorials_, vol. i. p. 8.

[213] Founder of the house of Culloden, and great-grandfather of the
celebrated Lord President Forbes.

[214] _Vide_ the petition of Provost Forbes to the king, “in the name
of the inhabitants” of Inverness; printed among the Culloden Papers,
No. 5, p. 4.

[215] Sir R. Gordon, p. 397, et seq.

[216] 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 Robert
Monroe of Foulis, and his brother, Hector; Thomas Mackenzie, brother
of the Earl of Seaforth; John Monroe of Obisdell, and his brother
Robert; John Monroe of Assynt, and others of that surname; Hugh Ross
of Priesthill; David Ross and Nicolas Ross, sons of Alexander Ross
of 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; Ive Mackay, William, son of Donald
Mackay of Scourie; William Gun, son of John Gun Rob-son; John
Sinclair, bastard son of the earl of Caithness; Francis Sinclair,
son of James Sinclair 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 Rob-son.

[217] Sir R. Gordon, p. 401, et seq.

[218] _History_, p. 416.

[219] Spalding says that Frendraught was “ordained to pay to the
lady, relict of Rothiemay, and the bairns, fiftie thousand merks, in
composition of the slaughter.”

[220] Sir R. Gordon, p. 416, _et seq._ Spalding, p. 14.

[221] Sir R. Gordon (p. 419) spells this _Couland_ and _Coudland_.

[222] Sir R. Gordon, p. 241.--Spalding, p. 13, et seq.

[223] Spalding, p. 24.

[224] “Johne Meldrum haifing convocat to himselff certane brokin men,
all fugitiues and rebellis, his complices and associattis, upone the
aucht day of October, the yeir of God jai vic and threttie yeiris
under silence and clud of nicht, betwix twelff hours at nycht and
twa eftir mydnycht, come to the place of Frendraucht, and supponeing
and certanely persuading himselff that the said James Creichtoun of
Frendraucht wes lying within the tour of Frendraucht, quhilk was the
only strenth and strongest pairt of the said place, the said Johne
Meldrum, with his saidis complices, in maist tresonabill and feirfull
maner, haifing brocht with thame ane hudge quantitie of powder, pik,
brumstone, 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 knawin
and foirseine be the said Johne Meldrum, quha with his complices at
that instant tyme fyret the samyn pik, powder, brumstone, flax, and
uther combustable matter above writtin, at dyuerse places of the
said volt; quhilk being sua fyret and kindlet, did violentlie flie
to ane hoill in the heid 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 houshald
with the said laird of Frendraucht, as his douiefull servand, within
the said hous and place of Frendraucht for ane lang tyme of befoir,
and knew and was previe to all the secreitis of the said house. And
the said volt being sua fyret, 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
consumet.”--Spalding’s _Memorialls_, Appendix, vol. i. p. 390.

[225] A ballad is still sung in the district around Frendraught,
which, says Motherwell, “has a high 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 to 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 cloaths,
      And were but now asleep--
      When the weary smoke began to rise,
      Likewise the scorching heat.

      ‘O waken, waken, Rothiemay,
      O waken, brother dear,
      And turn you to our Saviour,
      There is strong treason here.’

      He did him to the wire-window
      As fast as he could gang--
      Says--‘Wae to the hands put in the stancheons,
      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.’

      O 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.

      ‘O loup, O loup, my dear master,
      O 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,
      I 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.

      ‘O 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.’”

[226] Spalding, vol. i. p. 29.

[227] 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 this
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 superior, 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 his sureties, the superior was to incur a heavy
fine to the Crown. This important statute likewise contained many
useful provisions for facilitating the administration of justice
in these rude districts.”--Spalding’s _Memorialls_, vol. i. p. 3,
(note). Gregory’s _Western Highlands_, p. 237.

[228] _Continuation of the History of the Earls of Sutherland_, by
Gilbert Gordon of Sallagh, annexed to Sir R. Gordon’s work, p. 460.
Spalding, p. 63.

[229] Gordon of Sallagh’s _Continuation_, p. 464, et seq.

[230] Gordon’s _Continuation_, p. 475. Spalding, vol. i. p. 47, _et

[231] Spalding, vol. i. p. 50, _et seq._ Gordon’s _Continuation_, p.
476, _et seq._


A.D. 1636--(SEPTEMBER) 1644.

BRITISH SOVEREIGN:--Charles I., 1625-1649.

  Charles I. attempts to introduce Episcopacy into Scotland--Meets
  with opposition--Preparations for war--Doings in the North--Earl
  of Montrose--Montrose at Aberdeen--Arrests the Marquis
  of Huntly--Covenanters of the North meet at Turriff--The
  “Trott of Turray”--Movements of the Gordons--Viscount
  Aboyne lands at Aberdeen--“Raid of Stonehaven”--Battle at
  the Bridge of Dee--Pacification 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--Athole-men join Montrose--Montrose advances into
  Strathearn--Battle of Tippermuir.

Hitherto the history of the Highlands has been confined chiefly to
the feuds and conflicts of the clans, the details of which, though
interesting to their descendants, cannot be supposed to afford
the same gratification to readers at large. We now enter upon a
more important 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 afterwards 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, unconstitutional, 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 Scotland, 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 corruptions. 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 preparations, 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,
and 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 overawed the marquis, and he therefore concealed
his instructions. After making two successive journeys to London
to communicate the alarming state of affairs, and to receive fresh
instructions, he, on his second return, issued a proclamation,
discharging “the service book, the book of canons, and the high
commission court, dispensing with the five articles of Perth,
dispensing 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 parliament in the month of May,
the following year.” Matters had, however, proceeded too far for
submission to the conditions of the proclamation, and the covenanting
leaders answered it by a formal protest, in which they gave sixteen
reasons, showing that to comply with the demands of the king would
be to betray the cause of God, and to act against the dictates of

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 assembly, which consisted, besides the clergy, of
one lay-elder and four lay-assessors from every presbytery, met at
the time appointed, viz., in the month of November, 1638. After the
assembly had spent a week in violent debates, the commissioner, 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 declined 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 ecclesiastical 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 excommunicated the bishops
themselves, and the ministers who supported them. Charles declared
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 preparing for war, and they
now hastened on their plans. In consequence of an order from the
supreme committee of the Covenanters in Edinburgh, 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 Germany, returned to Scotland to
place themselves at the head of their countrymen, and the Scottish
merchants in Holland supplied them with arms and ammunition. The
king advanced as far as York with an army, the Scottish bishops
making him believe that the news of his approach would induce
the Covenanters to submit themselves to his pleasure; but he was
disappointed,--for instead of submitting themselves, they were
the first to commence hostilities. About the 19th of March, 1639,
General Leslie, 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 Edinburgh, 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 means the Covenanters 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 fortified at different points, and covered with troops, he was
unable to effect a landing.[232]

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 would not only confer honour on himself, but much good
on his native country; that in any private question in which Huntly
was personally interested he would assist, but that in the present
affair he would not aid him. The earl thereupon joined the Earl of
Seaforth, the Master of Berridale, Lord Lovat, Lord Reay, the laird
of Balnagown, the Rosses, the Monroes, the laird of Grant, Macintosh,
the laird of Innes, the sheriff of Moray, the baron of Kilravock, the
laird of Altire, the tutor of Duffus, and the other Covenanters on
the north of the river Spey.

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 14th
of February, resolved to disperse them. He 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 covenanting lords, who determined at all
hazards to protect the meeting of his friends, the Covenanters. In
pursuance of this resolution, he 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 Grangebean, between Angus and Aberdeenshire, 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 place 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
consultation, the marquis, after parading his men in order of battle
along the north-west side of the village, in sight of Montrose,
dispersed his party, which amounted to 2,000 men, without offering to
attack Montrose, on the pretence that his commission of lieutenancy
only authorised him to act on the defensive.[233]

James Graham, Earl, and afterwards first Marquis of Montrose, who
played so prominent 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 the beginning of the 12th century. His ancestor,
the Earl of Montrose, fell at Flodden, and his grandfather became
viceroy of Scotland after James VI. ascended the throne of England.
He himself was born in 1612, his mother being Lady Margaret Ruthven,
eldest daughter of William, first Earl of Gowrie. He succeeded to
the estates and title in 1626, on the death of his father, and three
years after, married Magdalene Carnegie, daughter of Lord Carnegie
of Kinnaird. He pursued his studies at St. Andrews University and
Kinnaird Castle till he 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. Whatever may have been his motive for
joining them, he 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 contemporary, 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 his liniamentes;
his complexion meerly whitee, with flaxin haire; of a stayed,
graue, and solide looke, and yet his eyes sparkling and full of
lyfe; of speach slowe, but wittie and full of sence; a presence
graitfull, courtly, and so winneing vpon the beholder, as it seemed
to claime reuerence without seweing for it; for he was so affable,
so courteous, so benign, 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 he could haue
lead them in a chaine to haue followed him with chearefullnes in
all his interpryses; and I am certanely perswaded, that this his
gratious, humane, and courteous fredome of behauiour, being certanely
acceptable befor God as well as men, was it that wanne him so much
renovne, and inabled him cheifly, in the loue of his followers, to
goe through so great interprysses, wheirin his equall had failled,
altho they exceeded him farre 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 distance
with gentlemen that ware not his domestickes; but rather in a noble
yet courteouse way he seemed to slight those vanisheing smockes of
greatnes, affecting rather the reall possession of mens heartes
then the frothie and outward showe of reuerence; and therefor was
all reuerence thrust vpon him, because all did loue him, therfor
all did honour him and reuerence him, yea, haueing once acquired
there heartes, they ware readie not only to honour him, but to
quarrell with any that would not honour him, and would not spare
there fortounes, 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 furth the right way to be
reuerenced, and thereby was approued that propheticke maxime which
hath never failed, nor neuer shall faille, being pronounced by the
Fontaine of treuth (_He that exalteth himselfe shall be humbled_);
for his winneing behauiour and courteous caryage got him more respect
then those to whom they ware bound both by the law of nature and by
good reason to hawe giuen it to. Nor could any other reason be giuen
for it, but only there to much keepeing of distance, and caryeing
themselfes in a more statlye and reserued way, without putteing a
difference betuixt a free borne gentleman and a seruille or base
mynded slaue.

“This much I thought good by the way to signifie; for the best and
most waliant generall that euer lead ane armie if he mistake the
disposition of the nation whom he commandes, and will not descend a
litle till he meete with the genious of his shouldiours, on whose
followeing his grandour and the success of his interpryses chiefely
dependeth, stryueing through a high soireing and ower winneing
ambition to drawe them to his byas with awe and not with lowe, that
leader, I say, shall neuer prewaill 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
nobility, county gentry, clergy, and inhabitants of the burghs,
were called--to raise a body of troops for the service of the
Covenanters, and he now proceeded to embody them with extraordinary
promptitude. Within one month, he collected 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
he entered, without opposition, on the 30th of March, the Marquis
of Huntly having abandoned the town on his approach. Some idea
of the well-appointed state of this army may be 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 horseman 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
musketiers in their ranks, with musket, musket-staffe, bandelier,
sword, powder, ball, and match; ilk company, both on horse and foot,
had their captains, lieutenants, ensignes, serjeants, 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 Montrose had one, haveing this motto: ‘FOR RELIGION, THE
COVENANT, AND THE COUNTRIE;’ the Earle of Marischall 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 provision, bag and
baggage, carryed with them, all done be advyse of his excellence
Felt Marschall Leslie, whose councell Generall Montrose followed
in this busieness. 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’ Ribbin_.
But the Lord Gordon, 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 Royall 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

At Aberdeen Montrose was joined the same day by Lord Fraser, the
Master of Forbes, the laird of Dalgettie, the tutor of Pitsligo,
the Earl Marshal’s men in Buchan, with several other gentlemen and
their tenants, dependants, and servants, to the number of 2,000,
an addition 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 Kintore, where he encamped that
night. Halting all Sunday, he proceeded on the Monday to Inverury,
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 Blackhall, 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, Montrose 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 attended Montrose. After the usual salutation
they both alighted and entered into conversation; but, coming to
no understanding, they adjourned the conference till the following
morning, when the marquis signed a paper obliging himself to maintain
the king’s authority, “the liberty of church and state, religion
and laws.” He promised at the same time to do his best to make his
friends, tenants, and servants subscribe the Covenant.[235] The
marquis, after this arrangement, went to Strathbogie, and Montrose
returned with his army to Aberdeen, the following day.

The marquis had not been many days at Strathbogie, when he received
a notice from Montrose 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.[236] On Huntly receiving an assurance from
Montrose and the other covenanting leaders that no attempt should be
made to detain himself and his sons as prisoners, he complied with
Montrose’s invitation, and repairing to Aberdeen, he took up his
quarters in the laird of Pitfoddel’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 see the “Cock of the North,” as the powerful head of that house
was popularly called, humbled.[237] But, be these conjectures as they
may, on the morning after the marquis’s arrival at Aberdeen, viz.,
on the 11th 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 carry them to Edinburgh. It was not,
however, judged advisable to act upon this resolution immediately,
and to do away with any appearance of treachery, Montrose and his
friends invited the marquis 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
lieutenancy. They also proposed that he should write a letter to the
king along with the resignation 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
resignation. 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 making 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 lodgings 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, he was surprised at receiving
a message from the covenanting general, desiring his attendance 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, he 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 liquidating
a loan of 200,000 merks, 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. Montrose 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
objected, 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 John 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, admitted of no
standing hatred or feud, required the marquis to reconcile himself to
Crichton, the laird of Frendraught, but this the marquis positively
refused to do. Finding, as he no doubt expected, the marquis quite
resolute in his determination to resist these demands, the earl
suddenly changed his tone, and thus addressed the marquis, apparently
in the most friendly terms, “My lord, seeing we are all now friends,
will you go south to Edinburgh with us?” Huntly answered that he
would not--that he was not prepared for such a journey, and that he
was just going to set off for Strathbogie. “Your lordship,” rejoined
Montrose, “will do well to go with us.” The marquis now perceiving
Montrose’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 molestation 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 me to be neither fair nor
honourable.” He added, “My lord, give me back the bond which I gave
you at Inverury, 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 mind?” “Make your choice,” said Montrose. “Then,” observed
the marquis, “I will not go as a captive, but as a volunteer.” The
marquis thereupon immediately returned to his lodging, and despatched
a messenger after the laird of Cluny, to stop him on his journey.[238]

It was the intention of Montrose to take both the marquis and his
sons to Edinburgh, but Viscount Aboyne, 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.”[239] On being solicited to sign the Covenant,
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 resolved not to leave that foul title
of traitor as ane inheritance upon my posteritye. Yow may tacke my
heade from my shoulders, but not my heart from my soveraigne.”[240]

Some time after the departure of Montrose’s army to the south, the
Covenanters of the north appointed a committee meeting to be held at
Turriff, upon Wednesday, 24th April, consisting of the Earls Marshal
and Seaforth, Lord Fraser, the Master of Forbes, and some 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 compliance, 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 Covenant, 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, Ross, 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 26th 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

Lord Aboyne had not been idle during this interval, having collected
about 2,000 horse and foot from the Highlands and Lowlands, with
which force he 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, Udney, Newton, Pitmedden, Foveran,
Tippertie, Harthill, 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 operations.

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 time to make any preparations for defending themselves. They
made, indeed, a short 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 of Turray.”[241]

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 number 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
gentlemen’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 comeing. They gott good bear and
ale, broke up girnells, and buke bannocks at good fyres, 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.”[242]

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 Straloch, and James Burnet of Craigmylle, 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 complained to the Earl Marshal,
who immediately assembled a body of men out of Angus and the Mearns,
with which he entered Aberdeen on the 23d of May, causing the barons
to make a precipitate retreat. Two days thereafter the earl was
joined by Montrose, at the head of 4,000 men, an addition which, with
other accessions, made the whole force assembled at Aberdeen exceed

Meanwhile a large body of northern Covenanters, under the command
of the Earl of Seaforth, was approaching from the districts beyond
the Spey; but the Gordons having crossed the Spey for the purpose of
opposing their advance, an agreement was entered into between both
parties that, on the Gordons retiring across the Spey, Seaforth and
his men should also retire homewards.

After spending five days in Aberdeen, Montrose marched his army
to Udney, thence to Kellie, the seat of the laird of Haddo, and
afterwards to Gight, the residence of Sir Robert 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, Montrose most unaccountably abandoned
the town, and retired into the Mearns.

Viscount Aboyne had been most graciously received by the king, and
had ingratiated himself so much with the monarch, as to obtain the
commission of lieutenancy which his father held. The king appears to
have entertained good hopes from his endeavours to support the royal
cause in the north of Scotland, and before taking leave he gave the
viscount a letter addressed to the Marquis of Hamilton, requesting
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
recover 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 the king’s army there against
the Scots at Dunslaw.”[243] 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 who had refused to sign the Covenant,
all of whom the viscount persuaded to return home along with him.

On the 6th of June, Lord Aboyne, accompanied by the Earls of
Glencairn and Tullibardine, the lairds of Drum, Banff, Fedderet,
Foveran, and Newton, and their followers, with Colonel Gun and
several English officers, landed in Aberdeen without opposition.
Immediately on coming ashore, Aboyne issued a proclamation which
was read at the cross of Aberdeen, 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 persons who had
been forced to subscribe the Covenant 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 considerable force rallied round the royal standard.
Lewis Gordon, third son of the Marquis of 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 the laird of Drum, and
by considerable forces led by James Grant and Donald Farquharson.
Many of the Covenanters also joined the viscount, so that his
force ultimately amounted to several thousand men. Spalding[244]
gives a sad, though somewhat ludicrous account of the way in which
Farquharson’s “hieland men” conducted themselves while in Aberdeen.
He says, “Thir saulless lounis plunderit meit, drink, and scheip
quhair ever they cam. Thay oppressit the Oldtoun, and brocht in out
of the countrie honest menis scheip, and sold at the cross of Old
Abirdein to sic as wold by, ane scheip upone foot for ane groat. The
poor men that aucht thame follouit in and coft bak thair awin scheip
agane, sic as wes left unslayne for thair meit.”

On the 10th of June the viscount left Aberdeen, 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
notwithstanding 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 corn and straw that day and
night.”[245] 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 a rising 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 altogether
probably to about 3,000 horse and foot,[246] with the intention of
occupying Stonehaven, and of issuing afresh the king’s proclamation
at the market cross of that burgh. He proceeded as far as Muchollis,
or Muchalls, 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.

Although Aboyne was quite aware of the position of the Earl Marshal,
instead of endeavouring to outflank him by making a detour to the
right, he, by Colonel Gun’s advice, crossed the Meagre hill next
morning, directly in the face of his opponent, who lay with his
forces at the bottom of the hill. As Aboyne descended the hill, the
Earl Marshal opened a heavy fire upon him, which threw his men into
complete disorder. The Highlanders, unaccustomed 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 the rest of the army to follow; but the Highlanders took
a homeward course, carrying along with them a large quantity of
booty, which they gathered on their retreat. The disastrous issue of
“the Raid 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 his great experience, Aboyne
had intrusted the command of the army.[247]

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 Leggetsden to the number of 4,000, they were prevented
from recrossing the Dee and joining his lordship by the Marshal and
Montrose, who advanced towards the bridge of Dee with all their
forces. Aboyne, hearing of their approach, resolved to dispute with
them the passage of the Dee, and, as a precautionary measure, blocked
up the entrance to the bridge of Dee from the south by a thick wall
of turf, beside which he placed 100 musketeers upon the bridge, under
the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnstone, to annoy the assailants
from the small turrets on its sides. The viscount was warmly seconded
in his views by the citizens of Aberdeen, whose dread of another
hostile visit from the Covenanters induced them to afford him every
assistance in their power, and it is recorded that the women and
children even occupied themselves in carrying provisions to the army
during the contest.

The army of Montrose consisted of about 2,000 foot and 300 horse,
and a large 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 producing any
material effect. Lieutenant-colonel Johnstone defended the bridge
with determined bravery, and his musketeers kept up a galling and
well-directed fire upon their assailants. Both parties reposed
during the short twilight, and as soon as morning dawned Montrose
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, he 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 attributes
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 unsuccessfully 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 completely deceived by this manœuvre, and sent the whole
of his horsemen from the bridge to dispute the passage of the river
with those of Montrose, leaving Lieutenant-colonel Johnstone and
his 50 musketeers alone to protect the bridge. Montrose having thus
drawn his opponent into the snare set for him, immediately sent
back the greater part of his horse, under the command of Captain
Middleton, 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 Covenanters flying on the bridge
of Dee, he fled with great haste towards Strathbogie, after releasing
the lairds of Purie Ogilvy and Purie Fodderinghame, whom he had taken
prisoners, and carried with 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 Ramsay of Balmain. About 14
persons of inferior note were killed on each side, including some
burgesses of Aberdeen, and several were wounded.

Montrose, reaching the north bank of the Dee, proceeded immediately
to Aberdeen, which he entered without opposition. So exasperated 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 Montrose. 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
consequence of intelligence being brought on the following day (June
20th) of the treaty of pacification 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 Seaforth, who was stationed with his army on the Spey, intimating
the pacification, and desiring him 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
condescend to ratify and approve of the acts of the Glasgow General
Assembly, yet, notwithstanding 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 matters 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 majesty 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 assembly, 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, _inter alia_, provided that the forces in
Scotland should be disbanded within forty-eight hours after the
publication of the declaration, 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 Gordon, and some
others who had been detained prisoners in the castle of Edinburgh by
the Covenanters, were set at liberty.

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, Loudon, and Lothian,
they refused to obey. It was at this conference that Charles,
who apparently 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 Berwick and Carlisle, and
the provisioning of the castle of Edinburgh, were probably the
suggestions of Montrose, who would, of course, be intrusted with the
secret of his majesty’s designs. The Covenanters, on the other hand,
although making a show of disbanding their army at Dunse, 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

The general assembly met on the day fixed upon, but, instead of
attending in person as he proposed, Charles appointed the Earl of
Traquair to act as his commissioner. After abolishing 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
following 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 apprising him of the
occurrence. Without waiting 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 arms in vindication of his
prerogative. He endeavoured, 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 and denied the other, rather
injured than served him. The people of England were not then in a
mood to embark in a crusade against the civil and religious liberties
of the north; and they had too much experience of the arbitrary
spirit of the king to imagine that their own liberties would be
better secured by extinguishing the flame which burned in the breasts
of the sturdy and enthusiastic Covenanters.

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 1640 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 determined 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.[248]

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 succeeded 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. In 1626 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 acquaintance with the Highlands and the Highlanders,
and his ability to command the services of a large following of his
own. “But the cheefe cause,” according to Gordon of Rothiemay,[249]
“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 devastated 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 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 mercy 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
he did sweat for heat at his work.”[250] 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 belonging to Lord Ogilvie,
Forthar in Glenisla, the “bonnie house o’ Airly,” of the well-known
song. Here he 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 confinement, asked Argyle to stay proceedings until she gave
birth to her infant, he without scruple expelled her from the house,
and proceeded 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 grandchild, 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

At the same time Argyle “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 thought Argyle
must have made some mistake, as he found it no more than a simple
unfortified country house, occupied only by a sick gentlewoman and
some servants. The sergeant returned and told this to Argyle, who
waxed wroth and told him it was his duty simply to obey orders,
commanding him at the same time to return and “deface and spoil
the house.” After the sergeant had received his orders, Argyle was
observed to turn round and repeat to himself the Latin political
maxim _Abscindantur qui nos perturbant_, “a maxime which many thought
that he practised accurately, which he did upon the account of the
proverb consequential thereunto, and which is the reason 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_.”

[Illustration: First Marquis of Argyle.]

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, managed by stratagem to capture Athole and some of his
friends, whom he sent to the Committee of Estates at Edinburgh.

Argyle, after having thus gratified his private revenge and made a
show of quieting the Highlands, returned to the lowlands.[251]

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 voluntarily 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 him were right in thinking that in his heart he was turned
Royalist,[252] a supposition which his correspondence with the king
and his subsequent conduct fully justify.

Although the proper time had not arrived for throwing off the mask,
Montrose immediately on his 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 Covenanters the existence of an
association which Montrose had formed at Cumbernauld for supporting
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 discovering, 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 Merchiston, and Sir George Stirling of Keith, his
relatives and intimate 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 be tried before them, but his application was rejected by the
Covenanters, who obtained an order from the parliament prohibiting
him from going into the king’s presence. After the king had returned
to England, Montrose and his fellow-prisoners were liberated, and
he, thereupon, went to his own castle, where he 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 the purpose
of conciliation, Argyle being raised to the dignity of a marquis.

Although Charles complied with the demands of his Scottish subjects,
and heaped many favours and distinctions upon the heads of the
leading Covenanters, they were by no means satisfied, 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 the parliament, which had come to an
open rupture with the 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 he rejected all their offers; and, as an important crisis was at
hand, he hastened to England in the 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 judgment 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 calculating but fatal policy of the
Marquis of Hamilton, who deprecated a fresh war between the king and
his Scottish subjects, declined to follow the advice of Montrose, who
had offered to raise an army immediately in Scotland to support him.

A convention of estates called by the Covenanters, without any
authority from the king, met at Edinburgh on the 22d of June, 1643,
and he soon perceived from the character and proceedings of this
assembly, the great majority of which were Covenanters, the mistake
he had committed in rejecting the advice of Montrose, and he 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, when the Scots army was about entering England, it
was agreed that the Earl of Antrim, 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.[253]

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 interview 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.[254] The Marquis sent orders to the king’s officers, and to
the captains of the militia in Cumberland and Westmoreland, to afford
Montrose such assistance 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 noblemen 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
proceeded 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,
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 Farquharson 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 insurrection. 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. Huntly, 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 Reay. Argyle, after taking possession of Aberdeen, proceeded
northward and took the castles of Gicht and Kellie, made the lairds
of Gicht and Haddo prisoners and sent them to Edinburgh, the latter
being, along with one Captain Logan, afterwards beheaded.[255]

We now return to Montrose, who, after an ineffectual attempt to
obtain an accession of force from the 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 conjuncture of affairs,
Montrose called them together to consult on the line of conduct
they should pursue. Some advised him to return to Oxford and inform
his majesty of the hopeless state of his affairs in Scotland, while
others gave an opinion that he should resign his commission, 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
person a force sufficient to support the declining interests of his

Having communicated this intention privately to Lord Ogilvie, he
put under his charge the few gentlemen who had remained faithful to
him, that he might conduct them to the king; and having accompanied
them to a distance, he withdrew from them clandestinely, leaving his
servants, horses, and baggage behind him, and returned to Carlisle.
Having prepared himself for his journey, he selected Sir William
Rollock, a gentleman of tried honour, and one Sibbald, to accompany
him. Disguised 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. Montrose 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 Marquis of Montrose well enough?
But go your way, and God be with you.”[256] When Montrose saw that
he could not preserve an incognito from the penetrating eye 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 d’appui_ 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
Tullibelton 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 the state of the kingdom. These messengers
came back to him after some days’ absence, bringing with them the
most cheerless accounts of the situation of the country, and of
the persecutions which the royalists suffered at the hands of the
Covenanters. Among other distressing pieces of intelligence, they
communicated to Montrose the premature and unsuccessful attempt
of the Marquis of Huntly in favour of the royal cause, and of his
retreat to Strathnaver 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
abandonment of their chief, to the revenge of their enemies; but he
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 command of Alexander Macdonald, son of Coll
Mac-Gillespic Macdonald of Iona, who had been greatly persecuted by
the family of Argyle. Macdonald 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 he expected to be joined by the Marquis of Huntly and the Earl
of Seaforth. As he advanced into the interior, he 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 Ranald, and the laird of Glengary.
The Marquis 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 consequence of the
disappointment he 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, he 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 the 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 calculated 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 Frasers, 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 Athole. On arriving in Athole, Macdonald was coldly
received by the people of that as well as the surrounding country,
who doubted whether he 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 considered an
upstart. This indecision might have proved fatal to Macdonald, who
was closely pressed in his rear by the army of Argyle, had not these
untoward deliberations been instantly put an end to by the arrival
of Montrose at Blair, where Macdonald had fixed his head-quarters.
Montrose had travelled seventy miles on foot, in a Highland dress,
accompanied by Patrick Graham, his cousin, as his guide.[257] His
appearance was hailed by his countrymen with every demonstration
of joy, and they immediately made him a spontaneous offer of their

Accordingly, on the following day, the Athole-men, to the number of
about 800, consisting 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, produced a powerful effect upon the
daring and chivalrous spirit of Montrose, who looked forward to the
success of his enterprise with the eagerness of a man who considered
the destinies of his sovereign as altogether depending upon his
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 advantage, surprised and defeated his adversary; but such a plan
did not accord with the designs of Montrose, who resolved to open the
campaign 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 upland neighbours was not very respectful. A
covenanting wit, in a poem which he wrote against the bishops only
a few years before, says of one whose extraction was from the other
side of the Grampians,

      “A bishop and a Highlandman, how can’st thou honest be?”

as if these two qualifications were of themselves 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 saving 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 robbery 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 inclination to popery, an offence which, from the alarms and
superstitions of the time, had now come, in general phraseology, to
signify a condensation of all others. Along with this horrible 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 peaceful 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 army in
motion the same day towards 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 intention 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 Montrose, that he ordered his men,
when passing by Weem castle, which belonged to the clan Menzies, to
plunder and lay waste their lands, and to burn their houses, an order
which was literally obeyed. He expected that this example of summary
vengeance would serve as a useful lesson to deter others, who might
be disposed to imitate the conduct of the Menzieses, from following
a similar course. Notwithstanding the time spent in making these
reprisals, 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 Buchanty. On inquiry,
Montrose ascertained that this body was commanded by Lord Kilpont,
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 prevail on them to join him, of attacking them, but
before he had approached sufficiently near, Lord Kilpont, who had
ascertained that Montrose 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 accession 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 covenanting 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 resolved 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
his 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 Tippermuir, a plain of some
extent between four and five miles west from the town. Reserving 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
Tullibardine 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 perceived 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 description, and
it is related on the authority of an eye-witness that Montrose,
seeing their helpless 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 believe, he will be at no loss how to proceed.”[258]
This advice, as will be seen, was really acted upon. As Montrose
was almost destitute of powder, he ordered the Irish forces to
husband their fire till they should come close to the enemy, and
after a simultaneous discharge from the three ranks, (the front
rank kneeling,) to assail the enemy thereafter as they best could.
To oppose the left wing of the Covenanters, commanded by Sir James
Scott, Montrose 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
Maderty, 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, however, 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 Covenanters, and they had been assured by
Frederick Carmichael, a minister who had preached to them the same
day, being Sunday, 1st September, “that if ever God spoke truth out
of his mouth, he promised them, in the name of God, a certain victory
that day.”[259]

There being no hopes, therefore, of an accommodation, 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 Drummond, 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 the fate of the day, for the Covenanters, many of whom were
undisciplined, seeing the unexpected defeat of Lord Drummond’s party,
became 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 random 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 attacked
the royalists, who, in their turn, defended 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 musketry, 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
Covenanters now became general. The horsemen saved themselves by
the fleetness of their horses; but during the pursuit, which was
kept up to a distance of six or seven miles, many hundreds of foot
were killed, and a considerable number made prisoners,[260] 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
subsequent 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.[261]


[232] Gordon’s _Scots Affairs_, vol. ii. p. 209.

[233] Spalding, vol. i. p. 137.

[234] _Troubles_, vol. i. pp. 107, 108.

[235] Spalding, vol. i. pp. 157, 160.

[236] Gordon of Rothiemay, vol. ii. p. 235.

[237] Id., vol. ii. p. 235.

[238] Spalding, vol. i. p. 168.

[239] Ibid. p. 177.

[240] Gordon of Rothiemay, ii. 240. Spalding, i. 179.

[241] _Turray_ is the old name of Turriff.--Gordon of Rothiemay, vol.
ii. p. 254. Gordon of Sallagh, p. 401.

[242] Spalding, vol. i. p. 188.

[243] _Continuation_, p. 402.

[244] Spalding, vol. i. p. 205.

[245] _Troubles_, vol. i. p. 206.

[246] Spalding, vol. i. p. 207.--Gordon of Rothiemay, vol. ii. p.
268.--Gordon of Ruthven, in his abridgment of _Britane’s Distemper_
(Spald. Club ed.), p. 206, makes the number 5,000.

[247] Spalding, vol. i. p. 208. Gordon of Rothiemay, vol. ii. p. 272.
_Britane’s Distemper_, p. 24.

[248] Wishart’s Memoirs, Edin. 1819, p. 24.

[249] Scots Affairs, iii. 163.

[250] Gordon of Rothiemay, iii. 165.

[251] See Gordon of Rothiemay, iii. 163 et seq. Spalding, i. 290.

[252] Guthrie’s Memoirs, p. 70.

[253] Wishart.

[254] The Duchess of Newcastle says, in the memoirs of her husband,
that the number was 200.

[255] Gordon of Sallagh, p. 519.

[256] Wishart, p. 64.

[257] Wishart, p. 69.

[258] _Gentleman’s Mag._, vol. xvi. p. 153.

[259] Wishart, p. 77.

[260] 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 he says that some reckoned the number at
1,500 killed. Gordon of Sallagh mentions only 300. Gordon of Ruthven,
in _Britane’s Distemper_, gives the number at 2,000 killed and 1,000
prisoners. Baillie says (vol. ii. p. 233, ed. 1841) that no quarter
was given, and not a prisoner was taken.

[261] _Britane’s Distemper_, p. 73.


A.D. 1644 (SEPTEMBER)-1645 (FEBRUARY).

BRITISH SOVEREIGN:--Charles I., 1625-1649.

  Montrose crosses the Tay to Collace--Marches through Angus and
  Mearns--Battle of Aberdeen--Supineness of the Gordons--Movements
  of Argyle--Montrose 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 expectations that many of the
royalists of the surrounding country who had hitherto kept aloof
would join him; but after remaining three days at Perth, to give
them an opportunity of rallying round his standard, he had the
mortification to find that, with the exception of Lords Dupplin
and Spynie, and a few gentlemen 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 fortunes
on the issue of what they had long considered a hopeless cause; and
although Montrose had succeeded in dispersing one army with a greatly
inferior force, yet it was well known that that army was composed of
raw and undisciplined men, and that the Covenanters had still large
bodies of well-trained troops in the field.

Thus disappointed in his hopes, and understanding that the Marquis
of Argyle was fast approaching with a large army, Montrose crossed
the Tay on the 4th of September, directing his course towards
Coupar-Angus, and encamped at night in the open fields near Collace.
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 morning, 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,
apprehensive 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 fallen 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 confidence and friendship. According to Wishart, wishing
to ingratiate himself with the Covenanters, he formed a design to
assassinate Montrose 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, on
the pretence of refreshing themselves, he there disclosed his horrid
purpose, and entreated his lordship to concur 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 commission in his army.[262]

[Illustration: STUART. (Tartan)]

Montrose now marched upon Dundee, which refused to surrender. Not
wishing to waste his time upon the hazardous issue of a siege with
a hostile army in his rear, Montrose proceeded through Angus and
the Mearns, and in the course of his route was joined by the Earl
of Airly, his two sons, Sir Thomas and Sir David Ogilvie, and a
considerable number of their friends and vassals, and some gentlemen
from the Mearns and Aberdeenshire. This was 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
Monteith with his corpse.

After the battle of Tippermuir, Lord Elcho had retired, with his
regiment and some fugitives, 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 assembled the Forbeses, the
Frasers, 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 upon.

When Montrose heard of these preparations, he resolved,
notwithstanding the disparity of force, his own army now amounting
only to 1,500 foot and 44 horse, to hasten his march and attack them
before Argyle should come up. On arriving near the bridge of Dee, he
found it strongly fortified and guarded by a considerable force. He
did not attempt to force a passage, but, directing his course to the
west, along the river, crossed it at a ford at the Mills of Drum,
and encamped at Crathas that night (Wednesday, 11th September). The
Covenanters, the same day, drew up their army at the Two Mile Cross,
a short distance from Aberdeen, where they remained till Thursday
night, when they retired into the town. On the same night, Montrose
marched down Dee-side, and took possession of the ground which the
Covenanters had just left.[263]

On the following morning, viz., Friday, 13th September, about
eleven o’clock, the Covenanters marched out of Aberdeen to meet
Montrose, who, on their approach, despatched a drummer to beat a
parley, and sent a commissioner along with him bearing a letter to
the provost and bailies of Aberdeen, commanding and charging them
to surrender the town, promising 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 meeting 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 the town. On their
return the drummer was killed by the Covenanters, at a place called
Justice Mills; which violation of the law of nations so exasperated
Montrose, that he 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 impatient.”

As soon as Montrose received notice of the refusal of the magistrates
to surrender the town, he made the necessary dispositions for
attacking the enemy. From his paucity of cavalry, he was obliged to
extend his line, as he had done at Tippermuir, to prevent the enemy
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 Rollock, all men of tried bravery and

The Covenanters began the battle by a cannonade from their
field-pieces, and, from their commanding position, gave considerable
annoyance to the royal forces, who were very deficient 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 violent and changeable temper, who commanded
the left wing of the Covenanters, having obtained possession of some
level ground where his horse could act, made a demonstration to
attack Montrose’s right wing; which being observed by Montrose, he
immediately ordered Sir William Rollock, 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 covenanting 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 unexampled,
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 Craigievar 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 consulted together
as to the best mode of renewing the attack; and, being of opinion
that the success of Montrose’s cavalry was owing chiefly 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 considerable way apart from their main body,
he determined upon attacking them with his foot before they should
get time 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.”[264]
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 Aberdeen, 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 or remeid. Their cruel Irish,
seeing a man well clad, would first tyr (strip) him, and save his
clothes unspoiled, syne kill the man.”[265] 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
indiscriminately plundered by his Irish forces, for having espoused
the same cause which he himself 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

It is singular, that although the battle continued for four hours
without any determinate result, Montrose lost very few men, a
circumstance 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 the enemy. An anecdote,
characteristic of the bravery of the Irish, and of their coolness
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 brave 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 me 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 companions for interment. As soon as this courageous man was able
to mount a horse, his wish to become a trooper was complied with, in
which capacity he afterwards distinguished himself.[267]

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 command of Lord Lewis Gordon,
Montrose sent a part of his army towards Kintore and Inverury,
the following day, to encourage the people of the surrounding
country to declare for him; but he was sadly disappointed in his
expectations. The fact is, that ever since the appointment 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 remonstrance. 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 for not supporting Montrose, his apathy and
indifference 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 Argyle, which was advancing upon him with slow
and cautious steps, disappointed as he had been of the aid which he
had calculated upon, he resolved to march into the Highlands, and
there collect such of the clans as were favourably disposed to the
royal cause. Leaving Aberdeen, therefore, on the 16th of September,
with the remainder of his forces, he joined the camp at Kintore,
whence he despatched Sir William Rollock to Oxford to inform the king
of the events of the campaign, and of his present situation, and to
solicit him to send supplies.

We must now advert to the progress of 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 Tippermuir, Argyle, who had been pursuing the
Irish forces under 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, where 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, Argyle left
Perth on the 14th of September for the north, and in his route was
joined by the Earl Marshal, Lords Gordon, Fraser, and Crichton, and
other Covenanters. 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 Montrose dead or alive.[268] Spalding laments with great
pathos and feeling the severe hardships to which the citizens of
Aberdeen had been subjected by these frequent visitations of hostile
armies, and alluding to the present occupancy 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 provisions, 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.”[269]

Argyle was now within half a day’s march 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 inglorious supineness, Argyle put his army in motion
in the direction of Kintore. Montrose, on hearing of his approach,
concealed his cannon in a bog, and leaving behind him some of his
heavy baggage, made towards the Spey with the intention of crossing
it. On arriving at the river, he 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 Abernethy. Argyle only proceeded at first as
far as Strathbogie; but instead of pursuing Montrose, 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. Spalding says
that it was “a wonderful unnaturalitie in the Lord Gordon to suffer
his father’s lands and friends in his own sight to be 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 approbation of his violent
and headstrong younger brother, who had joined the Covenanters’
standard. On the 27th of September, Argyle mustered 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, Montrose passed through the forest of Rothiemurchus, and
following the course of the Spey, marched through Badenoch to Athole,
which he reached on 1st October.

When Argyle heard of the departure of Montrose from the forest of
Abernethy, he made a feint of following him. He accordingly set his
army in motion along Spey-side, and crossing the river himself with
a few horse, marched up some distance along the north bank, and
recrossed, when he ordered his troops to halt. He then proceeded to
Forres to attend a committee meeting of Covenanters to concert a
plan of operations in the north, at which the Earl of Sutherland,
Lord Lovat, the sheriff of Moray, the lairds of Balnagown, Innes and
Pluscardine, and many others were present. From Forres Argyle went to
Inverness, 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 Macdonald
with a party of 500 men to the Western Highlands, to invite the laird
of Maclean, the captain of clan Ranald, and others to join him.
Marching down to Dunkeld, Montrose himself proceeded rapidly through
Angus towards Brechin and Montrose.[270]

Although some delay had been occasioned in Montrose’s movements by
his illness for a few days in Badenoch, this was fully compensated
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 induce him in the least
to accelerate his march. Hearing, when passing through Badenoch,
that Montrose had been joined by some of the inhabitants of that
country, Argyle, according to Spalding, “left nothing of that country
undestroyed, no not one four footed beast;” and Athole shared a
similar fate.

At the time Montrose entered Angus, a committee of the estates,
consisting of the Earl Marshal and other barons, was sitting in
Aberdeen, who, on hearing of his approach, issued on the 10th of
October a printed order, to which the Earl Marshal’s name was
attached, ordaining, 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
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, Montrose prepared
to cross the Grampians, 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 Edinburgh, failing which, Craigievar and Boyndlie 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 pursuance 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 considerable 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 Montrose, and who felt
indignant at seeing a man who had formerly espoused the cause of the
Covenanters preferred before him. Had Montrose 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 time very
peculiar. 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 Covenanters, and fought
in their ranks.

In this situation of matters, Montrose 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 supply 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 undertake
any service, however difficult or dangerous, if he 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 morning towards Kintore, which he reached
the same night. Next morning he marched forward to Inverury, where
he 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 Aberdeen to Kintore, and from
Kintore to Inverury, form a remarkable contrast with the slowness
of his former motions. He had followed Montrose through a long
and circuitous route, the greater part of which still bore recent
traces of his footsteps, and instead of showing any disposition
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 Inverury, in fact, was
effected without Montrose’s knowledge, 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 Montrose’s camp, on the 28th of October.

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 assailant 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, Montrose drew up his
little but intrepid host; but before he had marked out the positions
to be occupied by his divisions, he had the misfortune to witness
the desertion of a small body of the Gordons, who had joined him
at Strathbogie. 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 determination
of retiring, not from cowardice, but from disinclination to appear
in the field against Lord Lewis Gordon, who held a high command
in Argyle’s army. The secession of the Gordons, though in reality
a circumstance of trifling importance in itself, (for had they
remained, 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 impetuosity, drove them up the eminence, of
a considerable part of which Argyle’s army got possession. In this
critical conjuncture, when terror and despair 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 presence, and by
the example which he showed in risking his person in the hottest of
the fight, he roused their courage by putting them further 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 gentleman, 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 fellows
(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 acquisition, as Montrose’s
men had spent already almost the whole of their ammunition.

While 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,
ordered 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 general
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 he should see the
fit moment 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 Spey; 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 Montrose, with the view of driving
him from his position. He was induced to come to this determination
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.[271] On arriving at the bottom of the
hill, he changed his resolution, not judging it safe, from the
experience of the preceding 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 cavalry
by descending from the eminence. With the exception of some trifling
skirmishes between the advanced posts, the main body of both armies
remained quiescent during the whole day. Argyle again retired in the
evening to the ground he had occupied the preceding night, whence
he returned the following day, part of which was spent in the same
manner as the former; but long before the day had expired he led off
his army, “upon fair day light,” says Spalding, “to a considerable
distance, leaving Montrose to effect his escape unmolested.”

Montrose, thus left to follow any course he pleased, marched off
after nightfall towards Strathbogie, plundering Turriff and Rothiemay
house in his route. He selected Strathbogie as the place of his
retreat on account of the ruggedness 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 Highlands
with a reinforcement. When Argyle heard of Montrose’s departure on
the following 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, Argyle sent out a
skirmishing party of his Highlanders; but they were soon repulsed,
and Montrose took possession of the ground he had selected.

Baffled in all his attempts to overcome Montrose 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 he had
no doubt that Argyle would take advantage, during the proposed
cessation, to tamper with his men and endeavour to withdraw 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 Montrose 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, he immediately sent off all his
heavy baggage under a guard, and ordered his men to keep themselves
prepared as if to fight a battle the next day.[272] Scarcely,
however, had the carriages and heavy baggage been despatched, when
an event took place which greatly disconcerted Montrose. This was
nothing less than the desertion of his friend Colonel Sibbald
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. This distressing occurrence induced Montrose to postpone his
march for a time, as he was quite certain that the deserters would
communicate his plans to Argyle. Ordering, therefore, back the
baggage he had sent off, he resumed his former position, in which he
remained four days, as if he there intended to take up his winter

In the meantime Montrose had the mortification to witness the
defection of almost the whole of his officers, who were very
numerous, for, with the exception of the Irish and Highlanders, 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 preferment 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 craving 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 Lowlanders, alone remained
faithful to Montrose, and could, on no account, be prevailed upon to
abandon him. Among others who left Montrose on this occasion, was
Sir Nathaniel Gordon, 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 Covenanters,
a conjecture which seems to have originated in the subsequent conduct
of Sir Nathaniel and Lord Lewis, who joined Montrose the following

Montrose, now abandoned by all his Lowland friends, prepared for his
march, preparatory to which he 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 November, and arrived
about break of day at Balveny. After remaining a few days there to
refresh his men, he proceeded through Badenoch, and descended by
rapid marches into Athole, where he was joined by Macdonald and John
Muidartach, 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, went himself to Edinburgh, where he “got but small
thanks for his service against Montrose.”[273] 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;”[274] 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 Covenanters
looked upon the first efforts of Montrose 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 lukewarmness of many amongst the ministry,
who now in their preaching had begun to abate much of their former
zeal.”[275] The early success of Montrose had indeed caused some
misgivings in the minds of the Covenanters; but as they all hoped
that Argyle would change the tide of war, they showed no disposition
to relax in their 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 Argyle was passing his time in Edinburgh, Montrose was
meditating a terrible blow at Argyle himself to revenge the cruelties
he had exercised upon the royalists, and to give confidence to the
clans in Argyle’s neighbourhood. 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, he lost no
time in putting them in motion. Dividing his army into two parts, he
himself marched with the main body, consisting of the Irish and the
Athole-men, to Loch Tay, whence he proceeded through Breadalbane.
The other body, composed of the clan Donald and other Highlanders,
he despatched by a different route, with instructions to meet him
at an assigned spot on the borders of Argyle. The country through
which both divisions passed, being chiefly in possession of Argyle’s
kinsmen or dependants, was laid waste, particularly the lands of
Campbell of Glenorchy.

When Argyle heard of the ravages committed by Montrose’s army on the
lands of his kinsmen, he hastened home from Edinburgh to his castle
at Inverary, and gave 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.[276]

While thus reposing in fancied security in his 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 Fyne, 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 execution, divided his army into three
parties, under the respective orders of the captain of clan Ranald,
Macdonald, and himself. For upwards of six weeks, viz., from the 13th
of December, 1644, till nearly the end of January following, these
different bodies traversed the whole country without molestation,
burning, wasting, and destroying every thing which came within their
reach. Nor were the people themselves spared, for although it is
mentioned by one writer that Montrose “shed no blood in regard that
all the people (following their lord’s laudable example) delivered
themselves by flight also,”[277] it is evident from several
contemporary authors that the slaughter must have been immense.[278]
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 adjoining
countries, Montrose left Argyle and Lorn, passing through Glencoe
and Lochaber on his way to Lochness. On his march eastwards he was
joined by the laird of Abergeldie, the Farquharsons 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 him with an army of 5,000 horse and foot, which he resolved
to encounter, it being composed, with the exception of two regular
regiments, of raw and undisciplined levies.

While proceeding, however, through Abertarf, a person arrived in
great haste at Kilcummin, 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 Montrose’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 Montrose had left Argyle,
and was marching through Glencoe and Lochaber, General Baillie
determined to lead his army in an easterly direction through the
Lowlands, with the intention of intercepting Montrose, should he
attempt a descent. At the same time it was arranged between Baillie
and Argyle that the latter, who had now recovered from his panic in
consequence of Montrose’s departure, should return to Argyle and
collect his men from their hiding-places and retreats. As it was
not improbable, however, that Montrose might renew his visit, the
Committee of Estates allowed Baillie 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 Montrose’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 organizing his clan, Argyle
called over Campbell of Auchinbreck, his kinsman, from Ireland, who
had considerable reputation as a military commander. In terms of
his instructions, therefore, Argyle had entered Lochaber, and had
advanced as far as Inverlochy, when, as we have 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 the latter would thus get
due notice of his approach, and prepare himself for the threatened
danger, Montrose resolved upon a different plan. The design he
conceived could only have originated in the mind of such a bold
and enterprising commander as Montrose, before whose daring genius
difficulties hitherto deemed insurmountable at once disappeared.
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 Montrose, whose sanguine anticipations of the
advantages to be derived from such an extraordinary exploit, more
than counterbalanced, in his mind, the risks to be encountered.

The distance between the place where Montrose received the news of
Argyle’s arrival and Inverlochy is about thirty miles; but this
distance was considerably increased by the devious track which
Montrose followed. Marching along the small river Tarf in a southerly
direction, he crossed the hills of Lairie Thierard, passed through
Glenroy, and after traversing the range of mountains between the 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 such 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 Glennevis, 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
advanced 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 Auchinbreck, with his customary prudence,
went, during the night, on board a boat in the loch, excusing himself
for this apparent pusillanimous act by alleging his incapacity to
enter the field of battle in consequence of some contusions he 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 provided for his personal safety in a similar
manner--is accounted for in the following (? ironical) way by the
author of _Britane’s Distemper_ (p. 100):--

“In this confusion, the commanders of there armie lightes wpon
this resolution, not to hazart the marquisse owne persone; for it
seems not possible that Ardgylle himselfe, being a nobleman of such
eminent qualitie, a man of so deepe and profund judgement, one that
knew so weell what belongeth to the office of a generall, that any
basse 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, belieue it; but I am confident that those barrones of his
kinred, wha ware captanes and commanderes of the armie, feareing the
euent of this battelle, for diuers 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 cheife
persone, urgeing him by force to reteire to his galay, which lay
hard by, and committe 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 Rollocke, his brother in lawe, sir Jhone
Wachope of Nithrie, Mr. Mungo Law, a preacher. It is reported those
two last was send from Edinburgh with him to beare witnesse of the
expulsion of those rebelles, for so they ware still pleased to terme
the Royalistes.”

It would appear that it was not until the morning of the battle that
Argyle’s men were aware that it was the army of Montrose that was so
near them, as they considered it quite impossible that he 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 battle.
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 Athole-men, the
Stuarts of Appin, the Macdonalds of Glencoe, and other Highlanders,
severally under the command of Clanranald, M’Lean, and Glengary; and
the left wing consisted 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 Inverlochy, 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 discharges of musketry.[279] The account
given by Gordon of Sallagh, that Argyle had transported the half
of his army over the water at Inverlochy, under the command of
Auchinbreck, and that Montrose defeated this division, while Argyle
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,”[280] 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 Montrose’s
army, under the command of O’Kean, was the first to commence the
attack, by charging the enemy’s right. This was immediately followed
by a furious assault upon the centre and left wing of Argyle’s army,
by Montrose’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 circumstance had such a discouraging effect on the 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 Inverlochy, but a
party of Montrose’s horse prevented them. Some of the flying enemy
directed their course along the side of Loch-Eil, but all these
were either killed or drowned 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 distance of about eight miles. As
no resistance was made by the defeated party in their flight, the
carnage was very great, being reckoned at 1,500 men. Many more would
have been cut off had it not been for the humanity of Montrose, 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
unfortunate Campbells. Having taken the castle, Montrose not only
treated the officers, who were from the Lowlands, with kindness, but
gave them their liberty on parole.

[Illustration: Inverlochy Castle.--From M’Culloch’s celebrated
picture in the Edinburgh National Gallery.]

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 Rara 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 trifling.
The number of wounded is indeed not stated, but he 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 solemnity.[281] 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
leave, after I have reduced this country, and conquered from Dan
to Beersheba, to say to 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
commissioners were sitting at Uxbridge negotiating the terms of a
peace; but Charles, induced by the letter, imprudently broke off the
negotiation, a circumstance which led to his ruin.


[262] Wishart, p. 84.--Stewart’s descendant, the late Robert Stewart
of Ardvoirlich, gives an account of the above incident, founded
on a “constant tradition in the family,” tending to show that his
ancestor was not so much a man of base and treacherous character, as
of “violent passions and singular temper.” James Stewart, it is said,
was so irritated at the Irish, for committing some excesses on lands
belonging to him, that he challenged their commander, Macdonald, to
single combat. By advice of Kilpont, Montrose arrested both, and
brought about a seeming conciliation. When encamped at Collace,
Montrose gave an entertainment to his officers, on returning from
which Ardvoirlich, “heated with drink, began to blame Kilpont for the
part he had taken in preventing his obtaining redress, 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, and
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.” He fled, leaving his eldest son, Henry, mortally wounded at
Tippermuir, on his death-bed.--Introd. to _Legend of Montrose_.

[263] Spalding, vol. ii. p. 405.

[264] Wishart, p. 89.

[265] Spalding, vol. ii. 407.

[266] Memoirs, p. 131.

[267] Wishart, p. 91.

[268] Spalding, vol. ii. p. 414.

[269] Idem.

[270] Guthry, p. 231.

[271] Wishart, p. 100.