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A well-known incident brought the ferocity of this tribe under immediate notice at Court. They had a feud with Drummond, the king's deer-keeper, and sought an occasion to kill him. . They found it when Drummond was too. near their haunts on a mission to lay in venison for the festivities attending the reception of King James on his return from Denmark. They cut off Drummond's head, and carrying that trophy with them, visited the slain man's sister at the house of her husband, Stewart of Ardvoirlich. It was said that, demanding hospitality, they were offended at the sordidness of the food offered to them-mere bread and cheese--and devised a playful method of exhibiting their feelings. Coming back into the room where they were, the woman saw her brother's bloody head, with the bread and cheese stuffed into its mouth. Even in that wild time such a sight went beyond the endurance of ordinary nerves, and the woman rushed out in a frenzy. The murderers carried their prize to the church of Balquhidder, and thither the men of the clan came at large, each laying his hand on the head, and solemnly vowing support to the doers of the deed.
The Government followed the usual policy of cheap retribution, by rousing the neighbours and natural enemies of the MacGregors to vengeance under the leadership of Argyle. But the MacGregors proved that they were not to be hunted with impunity. With the assistance of other broken clans, they marched in 1604 to Glenfruin, a half-Highland valley, and there fought something like a stricken field, to the defeat of their Lowland enemies with great slaughter. This of course deepened the ferocity of the retaliation. Like the wolf,' a MacGregor caught in any kind of trap was his captor's fair game. It is told by an annalist of the day as not a wonderful thing, how Argyle trapped “the notorious thief and rebel Alaster MacGregor, Laird of Glenstrae." Argyle pretended that he only wanted to rid the country of him, and offered to send the robber across the Border with an escort to protect him against his enemies. The escort went with him a short way to England, and brought him back again “to Edinburgh, where he was hanged with many of his kindred.” 1
reft, and away-taken from the inhabitants of the country about,” “whilk were eaten and slain by them within the said island.”—Pitcairn, iii. 232. The island must have been a mighty shambles, where animal flesh Jay strewn in many conditions of offensiveness; and perhaps it was to the organic matter thus heaped on it that the island obtained the luxuriance of vegetation for which it is renowned.
The practice of the Highlander living on plunder from the Lowlander had not achieved that extensive organisation of later times by which the cattle were conveyed into remote districts. Those seized in the south were thus exchanged for others seized in the north, so that the plundered farmers could not identify their own, and the remote districts of the Highlands partook in the booty as well as those bordering on the Lowlands. It is easy to see how these managed to live in the reign of King James; but for the inhabitants of the far-stretching West Highlands of Argyle, Inverness, and Ross, we must look for other sources of supply, and it is not easy to find them. In the days of the Vikings they were the border of that marine empire of marauders who lived a prosperous life on the sea, with their capital in Dublin. The numerous galleys sculptured on the old tombs in this district attest that those who sleep below were mighty sea-captains. If these mixed with the Celtic inhabitants, their common descendants degenerated from the old seamanship. The Highlanders have a distaste of the sea, and have been for centuries bad sailors. Through the long line of the western coast, indented with the finest natural harbours in the world, any shipping north of Greenock is a mere incidental trifle. The whalers, when the produce of their fishing was a larger and more important harvest than it now is, used to complete the complement of their crews from Peterhead, Orkney, and Shetland, but never from the Hebrides or the West Highlands.
There seems to have been throughout the reign of King James a resource for such spirit of enterprise as the Highlanders possessed in a quarter where one would not naturally seek for it-in Ireland. It would be useless to
attempt to discover the direct causes or the exact times of their migrations to Ulster. The Irish history of the period is signally indistinct and confused, and there was no more to fix attention on the progress of the migration than that people of kindred race sailed over narrow seas and mingled with each other. So close was their intercourse that we hear of Highlanders summoned from Kintyre by signal-fires on the opposite coast of Ulster. The one distinct fact is, that the Highlanders gravitated to Ireland, and that the Irish no longer, as of old, gravitated to Scotland. In the Irish annals and State papers the new-comers are called “the Scots.” It was no doubt their right name by ancient, but not in its contemporary, acceptation. They were Scots in the use of the obsolete term, just as the Irish themselves were. When they take a distinct place in Irish history, it is as a power, and that of a formidable kind, overawing the north of Ireland before the accession. They held some strong fortresses -among them the picturesque Castle of Dunluce and the island of Rathlin. În 1583 we find Sir Henry Sydney reporting to Walsingham how he had “interparlance by commissioners with the Scot Sorly Buy, who had defeated a company of the Earl of Essex's regiment, led by Captain John Norris.” “He humbly desired to have again the island of Rathlin, which his ancestors had occupied 140 or 160 years before.” 2 So early as 1559 it was an instruction to Essex, as lord lieutenant, “ to endeavour to people Ulster with English, and to recover Lecale, Newry, and Carlingford from the Scots." 3
1 Carew State Papers, 1586, p. 438. 2 Carew State Papers, 351..
3 Cox's History of Ireland, i. 313. Anong these Scots settlers in Ulster there appears occasionally a lady whose existence is a genea. logical mystery. James M'Connell and his brother, Sorly Buy, were taken prisoners by Shane O'Neil. James died of his wounds. “He had married the Lady Agnes Campbell, daughter of the fourth Earl of Argyle, and by her left six sons and a daughter, none of whom, however, inherited the Antrim property, which was usurped by their uncle, Sorly Buy.”—Ulster Archæological Journal, vii. 253. Either before or after this marriage she was the wife of Turloch Lenoch O'Neil, a great chief of the tribe, second only to Shane himself. On
We find that at need the stranger could bring an army of six thousand fighting men into action. Following these into their adopted home gives occasion for a curious historical contrast. Whoever has followed this History so far will see that there is seldom a doubt as to the character and position of the two sides whenever a quarrel comes between inhabitants of Scotland. The opposing forces are distinctly drawn up, each within its own lines. But in Ireland all is confusion and chaos, every man's hand seeming to be against every other man's. Just one element in the confusion stands apart in its own distinctness
—the compact army of Highlanders. They are there in the turmoil like a body of police in the midst of a Donnybrook Fair—their lines dressed, their purpose distinct, amid the surrounding turmoil; but all distinctness disappears if we endeavour to go beyond them, and separate from each other the factions on the heads of which their batons have been laid.
No attempt seems to have been made by diplomacy at the Court of Edinburgh to suppress the migration of the Highlanders to Ireland. On the other hand, they had
Ist March 1583, Sir Henry Sydney wrote to Walsingham about a visit in which Turloch had brought his wife with him :
“And truly, sir, I found her a good counsellor to him—a wellwiller to peace, and a reverent speaker of the queen's majesty. She would still persuade him to content himself to be a subject, and to contain him in all his actions like a loyal subject ; alleging many examples of her own country of Scotland, where there was many as great potentates as he was, and her own brother or nephew, the Earl of Argyle (I wot not whether, but daughter she was to an Earl of Argyle), who challenged as much jura regalia and other sovereignties as he could, and yet contented themselves to submit their causes to the laws of the realm, and themselves to the king's pleasure. In truth, sir, she was a grave, wise, and well.spoken lady, both in Scotch, English, and French ; and very well mannered." - Calendar, Carew MSS., 349, 350.
She was at one time in the hands of the great Shane himself, who was charged with brutalities against her incredible in any human creature but such as he. As he held the title of Earl of Tyrone, so she was called Countess of Tyrone. No one supplies her place in the ordinary genealogies of the house of Argyle. Her identity puzzles every genealogical antiquary I have mentioned the matter to, including the chief of all the accomplished Lyon King at Arms.
no privilege of Scots nationality, and, as at the taking of Rathlin, they were put to death when that method of treatment suited the English policy. There seems, however, to have been a feeling that their presence was not altogether a calamity, and that they were an element in the Irish difficulties capable of some time or other serving a good purpose.
Throughout the State correspondence of the day there is ever a tone of respect for the strength and capacity of these Highland Scots, however troublesome their presence is sometimes found. In an estimate of the difficulties in Ireland in 1595, and of possible aid to the enemy from Spanish invaders or the Highlanders, it is said of these that “they are a valiant nation, able to endure the miseries of a war better than the Irish, and will be pleased with any entertainment, be it never so little.”And again, in a project for securing the services of three thousand of these Highlanders for the suppression of Tyrone's rebellion : “It would be to good purpose for the speedy achieving of this war, they being men fit for the service by reason of their hard breeding, and many other abilities above other nations.” 2
1 A Discourse of Ireland, by Sir George Carew, 128, 129.
? A Declaration by the Lord Deputy and Council, 1596, p. 197. This paper shows, in the curious nature of the purely Irish risks, to be avoided in the selection of the Highlanders for such a service, how close was the social intercourse between the two Celtic popula. tions :
“We are bold to note thus much to your lordships, gathered out of some of our experience touching the Scots-namely, that the M'Connels have had always friendship with the O'Neils, both by marriage, fostering, and bonnaught, and therefore not to be trusted to serve her majesty in this weighty service; where, on the contrary, the M‘Ellanes are opposed unto the earl for sundry provocations, and especially for the hanging of Hugh Cayvoloughe, one of the sons of the late Shane O'Neil.”—P. 197. Most of the persons here referred to are Scots Highlanders, but it would be a perilous task to attempt to identify them with any persons known in Scotland.
Again it is said of Domhnall or Donnell, the root of the Macdonnells, that he “left a son called Angus More, generally known as Angus of Islay and Kintyre. This chief's son Angus Oge, married Agnes O’Cahan, daughter of an Ulster lord whose territories lay west of the river Bann, in the present county of Londonderry. Their