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Balquidder. Both these bands of Macyregors appear to have made it their great object and occupation to retaliate on the Campbells the injuries they had received, by making expeditions into the territories of which they had taken possession, carrying away the cattle, and doing all the mischief in their power. A Macgregor of the fifteenth century, whether born on the banks of Loch Rannoch or on the banks of Loch Lomond, was taught, as his first duty, to hate a Campbell. Nay more, the Macgregors had no other means of subsistence than harassing and “harrying” the Campbells. Hence, by the end of the fifteenth century, the Macgregors, formerly known as an unruly and intractable clan, had come to be notorious as robbers and cattle-stealers. In 1488, the first year of the reign of James IV., an act was passed by the parliament for the “stanching of thift, reiff, and uther inormiteis, throw all the realme;" and, as was customary, the task of doing so was committed to the great landed proprietors, the proprietors of each district becoming bound to do their best to put down crime within their bounds. The Macgregors appear to have been specially aimed at by this act, for we find the following three proprietors, Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy, Ewen Campbell of Strachur, and Neil Stewart of Fortingal, appointed as a commission of justice to inquire into and punish the depredations committed in the districts of Glenurchy, Glenlyon, Glenfalloch, &c. the very districts inhabited by the impoverished and desperate Macgregors.
We have sketched the history of the Macgregors down to the year 1500, at which period we find them, not spread over Perthshire and Argyleshire, as they had been two or three centuries before, but accumulated in two masses, one on the banks of Loch Rannóch, the other on the banks of Loch Lomond. The principal agents in effecting this change had been the Campbells; but in the beginning of the sixteenth century, we find the Macgregors of Rannoch involved in a new feud with the Menzieses. In 1502, Robert Menzies of that ilk, already an extensive proprietor in the north of Perthshire, obtained a grant of the Iands of Rannoch. In making this grant, the government did not trouble itself with the question, What was to become of the Macgregors who at present held the lands? It simply said to Menzies, “ Here is a desirable piece of property filled with Macgregors, and we make you a present of it on condition that you fill it with Menzieses.” Embracing the proposal, the Laird of Menzies made all preparations for expelling the poor Macgregors; who, on the other hand, having no means of emigrating, and not choosing to be driven into the sea, or to break up the clan and dissipate themselves through the kingdom, prepared as resolutely to remain where they were. They clung so desperately to their lands, and made such incursions into the territories of their oppressors, that the poor lairds of Menzies began to wish from their hearts they had never been made lords of Rannoch. The honour was very great, but the income was very small. By accepting the grant, they had incurred a sort of obligation to the government, which they found themselves unable to discharge. Thus, in 1523, we find Robert Menzies putting in a petition to the lords of the council, begging to be exempted from all liability in the matter of keeping the Macgregors in order,“ seeing that the said Macgregor forcibly entered the said Robert's lands of Rannoch, and withholds the same frae him maisterfully, and is of far greater power than the said Robert, and will not be put out by him of the said lands;" and in 1536 we find the same laird, or his successor, “ asking instruments, that without some good rule be found for the clan Grigor, he may not have to answer for his lands, nor be bounden for good rule in the same.” This state of things continued through the whole of the sixteenth century, the Menzieses being the legal lords of Rannoch, and bound for good behaviour within the same; and yet the lands being held forcibly by the “ broken men of Macgregor,” who, though growing weaker and weaker every year, still refused to be rooted
out. Such, during the sixteenth century, was the condition of the Macgregors of Rannoch; nor was the condition of the other mass of the Macgregors, accumulated in Balquidder and on the borders of the Lowlands, happier or more peaceful. Their enemies, however, were far more formidable than the Menzieses they were the Campbells of the neighbourhood, backed by all the power of the great Earl of Argyle, and by all the authority of the government. It must, indeed, have been galling to the Scottish council, sitting at Perth or Stirling, where also the king sometimes resided, to hear every day of depredations committed by the Macgregors in Glengyle, Strathearn, or Balquidderalmost, as it were, at their doors. Not only so, but the Macgregors began also to make incursions into the Lowlands, and to harass the most quiet and peaceable of the king's subjects. Now striking a blow at their old enemies, the Campbells of Glenurchy and Breadalbane, now making an expedition southward into the territories of the Colquhouns, the Buchanans, the Grahams, the Stewarts, and the Drummonds, sometimes even dashing in amongst the honest burghers working at their trades in the Lowland towns, the robber clan became a pest and a terror to all the neighbourhood. Accordingly, their name occurs frequently in the justiciary and other public records of the sixteenth century.
To such a pitch of violent and angry feeling was the privy, council raised by the continual depredations of the "robber clan, that in September 1563, in the reign of Queen Mary, it issued an edict of extermination by fire and sword against the whole of the Macgregors; appointing the Earls of Argyle, Moray, Athole, and Errol, Lords Ogilvy, Ruthven, and Drummond, Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchy, and John, Laird of Grant, as commis
sioners, with power to see the edict put in force, each in his own district. Supplementary to this terrible decree, a similar warrant was granted to proceed with fire and sword against all “harbourers” of the clan; that is, against all who should shelter any of the doomed race, or receive them into their houses.
The decree for exterminating the Macgregors was zealously put in force by at least one of the commissioners, whose feeling against them was more personal and bitter than that of any of the others could be expected to be-Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchy. The keen relish with which he fulfilled his share of the bloody business is commemorated in a passage, written in a manuscript history of the Campbells by the orders of his own son and successor, which tells us that “he was ane great justiciar of all his time, through which he sustained that deadly feud of the clan Gregor ane lang space; and besides that, he caused execute to the death mony notable limmers (criminals) ; he beheaded the Laird of Macgregor himself at Kenmore, in presence of the Earl of Athole, the lord-justice-clerk, and sundry other noblemen." In executing the decree against the harbourers of the Macgregors, however, Sir Colin carried matters with so high a hand, and committed such atrocities against the lives and property of respectable families, that, after being remonstrated with to no purpose, he was deprived of his commission in the year 1565.
Although the severities employed against the Macgregors at this time fell far short of those which the language of the decree threatened, they appear to have produced some effect. A fraction of the clan' had, in the course of this and previous persecutions, found it advisable to throw themselves upon the mercy of the government, and give security for peaceable conduct. The great majority of the clan, however, whether in Rannoch or Balquidder, continued as wild, as lawless, and as outrageous as ever. In the year 1566, the tenants and feuars of Menteath were unable to pay their rents, stating as a reason that their lands and houses had been “hárried” by the Macgregors. In fact, desperate and reckless, brought up from their earliest youth with the idea of being a wronged and persecuted race, and with the expectation of a violent death as a matter of course, the “ broken men of Macgregor” were ready to engage in any scheme, quarrel, or conspiracy which held out a prospect of activity, and especially of revenge against the Campbells.
We now come to a crisis in the history of the Macgregors. For three hundred years they had been the victims of a cruel fortune; but now there was impending over them one calamity more, the fall of which was to shatter them to pieces.
STORY OF DRUMMOND-EIRNICH-MACGREGOR OF GLENSTRAE
-PROSCRIPTION OF THE CLAN MACGREGOR.
In the reign of James IV. there was a deadly feud between the Drummonds and the Murrays, two powerful clans on the
southern frontiers of Perthshire. The Drummonds chancing once to find a hundred and sixty Murrays in the church of Monivaird, set fire to it, and roasted or suffocated them all-talk: except a single Murray, whom one of the Drummonds took pity: upon, and suffered to leap clear out of the flames Noisooner was the horrible deed made public, than vigorous measures were adopted against the Drummonds, a great many of whom were seized and executed. The Drummond to whose scompassion the single Murray remaining out of the hundred and sixty owed. his life, fed to Ireland; but being at length permitted to return, he and his family were known afterwards by the name of Drum-1 mond-Eirnich, or the Irish Drummonds. In the year 1589-90, Drummond-Eirnich, probably the grandson of this man, was one of the royal foresters in the forest of Glenartney,
the haunts occupied by a particular branch of the Macgregors, called MacEagh, or the Children of the Mist. Drummond-Eirnich having made himself obnoxious to the Children of the Mist, by hanging several of the clan for some depredations—of which, as forester, he was officially required to take cognisance-a small party of them waylaid him in the forest, cut off his head, and, wrapping it in a plaid, carried it away with them as a trophy. “ In the full exultation of vengeance, they stopped at the house of Ardvoirlich, and demanded refreshment, which the lady, a sister of the murdered man (her husband being absent), was afraid or unwilling to refuse. She caused bread and cheese to be placed before them, and gave directions for more substantial refreshments to be prepared. While she was absent with this hospitable intention, the barbarians placed the head of her brother on the table, filling the mouth with bread and cheese, and bidding him eat, for many a merry meal he had eaten in that house. The poor woman returning, and beholding this dreadful sight, shrieked aloud, and fled into the woods, where for many weeks she roamed a raving maniac, and for some time secreted herself from all living society. The sequel of her story is, that some remaining instinctive feeling bringing her at length out of the woods to steal a glance, from a distance, at the maidens while they milked the cows, always darting away when she found herself perceived, her husband was at length able to convey her home, where, after giving birth to a child of which she had been pregnant, and whose subsequent history showed the influence of the circumstances preceding his birth, she gradually recovered her mental faculties." * To return to the Macgregors. Foréseeing the storm which would burst upon them in consequence of the bloody deed they had committed, they marched straight to the old church of Balquidder, taking the head of Drummond-Eirnich along with them. There all the clan having been convened, the ghastly head of the murdered man was laid on
Introduction to the Legend of Montrose.
the altar, and the Macgregors, going up to it one by one, begin. ning with the chief, placed their hands upon it, and swore in the most awful manner to make common cause with the clansmen who had done the deed.
The murder of Drummond-Eirnich was no sooner known than prompt measures of vengeance were taken. By an act of the privy council, dated Edinburgh, 4th February 1589, a commission was given to the Earls of Huntly, Argyle, Athole, Montrose, Patrick Lord Drummond, and seven other landed proprietors, to search for and apprehend Allaster Macgregor of Glenstrae, nearly two hundred others mentioned by name, “and all others of the said clan Gregor, or their assisters, culpable of the said odious murder, or of theft, reset of theft, herships, and sornings, wherever they may be apprehended. And if they refuse to be taken, or flee to strengths and houses, to pursue and assiege them with fire and sword; and this commission to endure for the space of three years.” The commission appears to have been executed with extreme severity.
Allaster Roy Macgregor of Glenstrae, the person named first in the commission, being the head of the clan, was a brave and active man, the chief of an important family of the Macgregors, which had for long held a small property as tenants of Argyle, but
which, about the year 1554, when the property was made over to Campbell of Glenurchy, was involved in the miseries endured by the rest of the clan. His father having been put to death, and himself ejected from his property, Allaster was compelled to follow the same wild and lawless career as other chieftains of his unhappy race. At the same time he seems to have foreseen the ruin which would inevitably attend the conduct of him and his fellows, and to have wished, from the bottom of his heart, to avert the coming catastrophe by putting himself and his clan within the pale of civilised life before it was too late. Accordingly, in year 1591, we find him entering into a compact with Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy and other Perthshire proprietors, under the auspices of government, binding himself and his followers to abstain from slaughters and depredations; and in consequence of this compact, it appears that the sentence of the commission against him was annulled. All his efforts, however, were insufficient to tame the turbulent spirit which had grown up under centuries of suffering; and the other proprietors who had signed the bond-or, as they are called, the Landlords of the clan Gregor" — finding it impossible to keep their promise so long as they had any Macgregors among
their tenants, began ruthlessly to turn them out. Seeing his poor clansmen thus buffeted and tossed about, denied house-room, as it were, on the face of the earth, Allaster Macgregor went to Dunfermline in July 1596, and delivered himself up as a hostage to the king for the future good behaviour of his clan. Tired, however, of dancing attendance at the court of King James,