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Argyll. But " these unhallowed people with that unchristian tongue "
(so Sir Alexander Hay calls them in 1615) were either innocent as
doves, so that Argyll could always take them with the same chaff, or
they were not remarkably veracious.

Meanwhile Angus Oig made life a burden to John and Thomas
Knox, and the bishop was much annoyed and distressed. Why put
in the Campbells, he asked, a clan hardly less " pestiferous " than
the Macdonalds themselves? Presently Angus relieved Thomas
and John, understanding that he should be allowed to keep Dunyveg
Castle. Royal forces from Ireland, however, arrived to demand its
surrender. In January 16 15 Calder joined the Irish contingent,
and artillery began its work. A number of the garrison were hanged.
Left-handed Coll escaped, Angus Oig was taken to Edinburgh.
They had scarcely arrived, or had not yet arrived, when that old
prisoner, Sir James of Dunluce, who slew the great Lachlan Maclean
of Dowart, escaped from the Castle (May 24). Keppoch, the young
Clanranald, and Dougal Macallester (who was in a writer's office)
managed the escape ; Sir James made for the Firth of Forth, crossed,
and got clean away. He was nearly taken, in Atholl, by TuUibar-
dine's men, but fled by speed of foot. He wrote interesting letters
to Lord Crauford and others, protesting that he had only broken
ward because he heard that Calder had a warrant for his death, and
asking that his books might be returned to him. They were seized
with his baggage in Atholl, One book was " The Three Conversions
of England," and a manuscript " Great Chronicle." Once arrived in
Keppoch's country books were scarce, but liberty was secured. Sir
James sailed to Eig, and was welcomed by Coll the left-handed, with
a strong force of Macdonalds, who fired their muskets to honour
the chief. They next sailed to Isla and took Dunyveg. First they
ambushed till the captain with a small party came out, then attacked
them, killing some, but the captain escaped into the castle. This
they besieged, and soon compelled a surrender, " all the Campbells
in Scotland, without his majesty's power, shall not recover it as long
as they live " (July 3).^*^ Sir James now intended to reduce Kin-
tyre and Jura to his subjection.

Sir James, in brief, was rehearsing, on a small scale. Napoleon's
escape from Elba, and recovering the dominions of his house which


the Campbells had annexed. All this while Argyll was away from
home in fear of his creditors. But in August Argyll came down ;
he was amply supplied with " waged men " and ammunition by the
Government. Attacking the slender peninsula of Kintyre, where
Sir James was, on both sides from the sea, Argyll drove the Mac-
donalds out, and followed Sir James to Isla, where he had two new
fortresses. He drove the Macdonald strategist out to an island on
the Irish coast ; Left-handed Coll surrendered in Isla, he betrayed a
number of his allies ; the other Celts began to follow his example.
Argyll now returned to Kintyre, and reduced the remnant of the
Macdonalds there, while Sir James fled from Ireland to Spain ; in
fact, most of the leaders remained at large. Arg^'ll very patriotically
kept the waged men for six weeks at his own expense, and he had
now put down for ever the Macdonald revolt in the south-western
Highlands, Isla, and Kintyre. He left "ragged ends" of the task
to be trimmed, but his Scottish creditors were pressing him hard,
and he returned to his English and Catholic wife, who presently
converted him from the errors of the Kirk, so that he was obliged to
go into exile on the Continent.

His son was the celebrated Gillespie Grumach, "gleyed-eyed
Argyll," who burned the Bonnie House o' Airlie, was the foe of the
great Montrose, and lost his head at the Restoration. This dis-
tinguished Presbyterian leader appears, from his portrait, to have
been by no means so gnimach or " gleyed " as tradition avers. Sir
James dwelt abroad for ten years, and ended his days among his
beloved books in England.

The chiefs of the old Icolmkill statutes now renewed their
declaration against imported wines and in favour of education. On
the whole the result was the relative tranquillity of Kintyre and Isla,
and the increase of the Campbell power (which henceforth was
Whig), at the expense of the Macdonalds.

These movements in the tiny outlying Celtic principalities were
not really unimportant. More than once in later national history
the preponderance of the Campbells over the Macdonalds and
Macleans turned the delicately poised scales of fortune in favour
of the Kirk or of the house of Hanover as against the Stuart
dynasty. The measures taken for quieting the Highlands and Isles
included a system of bands among the Inchcolme chiefs, as they
may be called, guaranteeing the good behaviour of their clans.
The chiefs themselves (including Clanranald, and the MacLean


representatives) were to make an appearance annually before the
Council in Edinburgh, and were also to " exhibit " some of the
most potent cadets of their houses. The old rules against " sorners,"
men living at free quarters, were enforced. Probably these were
muscular idlers, of course of good family, who were supported by
their hosts, now as useful fighters, now as kinsmen, now from
timidity, while the ancient Celtic custom which entitled chiefs,
tanists, bards, and others to free entertainment gave a kind of
sanction to the usage. The chiefs were bidden to reside per-
manently at different residences of theirs, and to cultivate home
farms — partly to give their idle hands something other than mischief
to do, partly as an example of industry.

The Celt is naturally, or then was, rather in the pastoral than the
agricultural stage of civilisation. To keep the kye, hunt the deer, and
watch the eternal and beautiful passage of light and shade on the hills,
the lochs, and the sea, was more congenial than to dig and plough
an ungrateful soil. To counteract these sympathetic tendencies of
children of nature, the chiefs promised to take home farms, or "mains,"
into their own hands. ("Mains" is common in Lowland place-names,
as " Branxholme Mains," the " toun " or farm on the hillside above
Branxholme Tower.) An attempt was made (1616) to enforce fixed
rents in place of all the many forms of service, in agriculture and in
war, which of old had existed in England and the Lowlands, as well
as in the Highlands. But the ancient system continued to flourish,
especially in Knoydart and Moydart, till the great epoch of change
after 1745. The rules as to education and importation of foreign
wines were re-enacted. The practice of taking " calps," or heriots,
" the best beast," after the death of a tenant was denounced. They
who have the power — church, chief, or democracy- — usually think that
the death of a man, which impoverishes his family, gives a happy
opportunity to add to their distress by taxation.

The affairs of Lochiel, still an outlaw for the lesson he read to
the Glen Nevis Camerons, were complicated by a dispute with the
Mackintoshes about certain lands. This matter provided a good
running feud, in which occurred that slaughter of the Mackintosh
branch of Clan Chattan which caused the saying, "Cat-skins are
cheap to-day." Lochiel, at considerable cost, reconciled himself to
Huntly by a cession of the superiority over certain estates, but, as
late as 1720, the exiled James VIIL had to settle a feud between the
Gordons and Camerons which grew up out of this arrangement.


The outlawed Keppoch, for his part, joined Sir James Macdonald
in Spain, whither (1618) the now CathoUc Argyll had also wan-
dered. In his absence the chiefship of the Campbells was put in
commission — Lundy, Lochnell, Ardkinglas, Kilberry, and others
being the managers. Among them was Macdonald of Largie, in
Kintyre, one of the few Macdonalds whose representative still
retains the ancient property in Kintyre. Argyll having been per-
verted, Sir James Macdonald and Keppoch were recalled from
Spain by the king; Sir James died in London (1626), Keppoch
was permitted to go home. The Maclans of Ardnamurchan, hard
pressed by the Campbells, took to piracy, but were put down by
that son of Argyll, Lord Lome, who was afterwards the famous
Presbyterian Argyll, Gillespie Grumach (1625).

At the time of the death of James VI., when our volume closes,
the northern and island branches of the House of Somerled, the
Macdonalds of Sleat, Glengarry, and Clanranald, with the Camp-
bells, were the most powerful Highland clans, while the Mackintoshes
held more sway than the elder Clan Vourich (Macphersons) over
the septs of Clan Chattan. The troubles of the reign of Charles I.
and the Restoration alternately elevated or depressed the Campbells
and the Macdonalds.

A most disturbed district of the realm lay in the remote domains
of the Earl of Orkney. The Earl was a son of that Lord Robert
Stewart, commendator of Holyrood, who had vainly warned Darnley
to fly from Kirk o' Field, vainly admonished Morton to escape his
impending doom. This Lord Robert was a natural son of James V.,
a natural brother of Queen Mary, so that his son, the Earl of
Orkney, was no distant cousin of the king. He seemed to derive
his genius from a far more distant collateral, the famous Wolf of
Badenoch. He dwelt in great pomp at Kirkwall, with a regular
guard of musketeers, which his sovereign might have envied ; he had
a fleet, and his oppressions are said to have been exercised " under
a shadow of the Danish law." The bishop expected to keep him in
order was Law, who, in his day, had trouble with the impetuous
and learned Calderwood, the preacher and historian. By 1608 the
Earl had been " put to the horn," for which he cared very little, on
account of his oppressions. James rebuked the Council for not
being energetic in the matter in 1608.-^ They replied that, as
James knew, " they had no forces to send to Orkney " to make the
said Earl conformable. He was only at the horn for a civil cause.


James made it criminal in case the Earl did not appear before
them in March 1609. The Earl did appear, and was warded in
Edinburgh Castle, July 1609.^^ But he had left kinsmen in Orkney as
unruly as himself, while only less trouble was given by his neighbour
and feudal enemy, the Earl of Caithness. In January 161 o, Law,
as bishop, had received a commission like that of Bishop Knox in
the Western Isles. The Earl made plausible offers, which were
rejected ; his brother James and other kinsmen were apprehended.
Things did no^: improve ; to cut the Earl off from communications
with his people he was confined to his chamber in the Castle, and
was very destitute. In May 161 1 the Danish laws in Orkney were
abrogated by proclamation, and the Earl's deputies were dismissed.
At the end of August he was allowed to dwell, under heavy caution,
within four miles of Edinburgh. Meanwhile Bishop Law had been
doing his best in Orkney, but Robert Stewart, bastard of the Earl,
had proclaimed his own authority as soon as the bishop's back was

On December 6, 161 1, the Privy Council considered the griev-
ances of the Orcadians. They were, it seems, forbidden to help
shipwrecked vessels, — no great hardship to wreckers, — to carry law
cases beyond the island courts, to cross ferries without a passport,
and were subject to capricious confiscations. These ill customs
were to be abrogated. ^^ In February 1 6 1 2 thfe Earl was removed to
Dumbarton Castle, and in October Parliament annexed the lands
of Orkney to the Crown. Law was appointed administrator. In
January 16 13 Robert Stewart, the Earl's bastard, promised never to
return to Orkney. By May 16 14 he had broken parole, and was
setting the heather on fire in the islands. In August the Earl of
Caithness was empowered to restore order, and appeared with ships
and guns before Kirkwall. The siege lasted till the end of Sep-
tember, when the place surrendered ; the walls were strong, the
cannon balls of the besiegers "were broken like golf balls, and
cloven in two halfs," writes Caithness. Robert Stewart was removed
to Edinburgh. He was tall, handsome, and only twenty-two, so he
had public sympathy at his trial (January 5, 16 15).

Some of the retainers of Caithness were on the jury ; many of the
others were burgesses of Edinburgh. They unanimously found
Stewart and his associates guilty, and the men were hanged. A month
later the Earl was tried for collusion with his son, convicted, and
beheaded. The names of the associates of Robert Stewart are Low-

NOTES. 539

land, unless Halcro be Scandinavian. The destroyer of the Earl,
Caithness (a Sinclair) had himself betrayed his kinsman, the Lord
Maxwell who murdered the Laird of Johnston under trust, and was a
notorious ruffian. He later tried to drive the Forbeses out of Caithness
by destroying their crops, and was a kind of land pirate. He lost the
sheriffship of Caithness, and a warrant to pursue him was granted to
his own son. Calderwood seems to grudge at the execution of the
Earl of Orkney, who, he says, did not even know the Lord's Prayer.
But Calderwood never, perhaps, approved of any measure of James,
and public sentiment, in all classes, was averse to capital punish-
ment when it was richly deserved by a noble. The plan was now
to revile James for not punishing violence, now to rail at him when
he did. There can be no doubt that " Earl Pate " was an ambitious
tyrant, with dreams, perhaps, of a separate principality. The
Orcadians were a peaceful people, probably they were as much
wronged by Caithness as by their Earl, but they disliked " foreigners "
— officials brought in by the central Government. Their old
Scandinavian tenures and habits of wrecking were disturbed, and
we receive the impression that the Claud Halcros were for the Earl,
and that the complainers against his rule may have been the Yellow-
leeses (to cite examples from " The Pirate ") of the period. But
perhaps older Lowland settlers, who called themselves " The Gentle-
men of Orkney," had become fond of Scandinavian institutions.
They are Douglases, Grays, Sinclairs, Mowats, Gordons, with only
Halcro, who was pardoned, to represent a Norse element. But, of
200 who signed the Band with Robert Stewart, only seventeen
names, including initials, are given. ^■^ Whatever the rights and
wrongs of the natives, the question of Orkney was settled. Later
the Orcadians gave very weak support to the great Montrose in his
final fight and defeat.


^ Privy Council Register, vol. vii. viii.

2 Pitcairn, iii. 28-52, the Trials of Maxwell. The details are in the "Tales of a
Grandfather. "
^ Pitcairn, iii. pp. 4, 5.
* Privy Council Register, vi. pp. 8-10.

540 NOTES.

^ Privy Council Register, vi. pp. 24, 25.

6 Thorpe, ii. 784.

"^ Pitcairn, ii. pp. 431, 432.

^ In the Privy Council Register, viii. p. 219, is a note of January 5, 1609,
charging Maclan of Glencoe with the murder at Glenfruin of forty poor persons
" with his own hand." This is cited by Pitcairn, ii. p. 431.

^ Pitcairn, ii. 434, citing Erslvine, Birrel's Diary, and Caldervvood. Birrel calls
this a "a Hielandman's promise."

^^ Privy Council Register, vi. 558, note.

" Privy Council Register, viii. Ixxviii. Ixxix.

12 Privy Council Register, viii. 742 ct sei/.

13 Privy Council Register, ix. 26-30.

14 Privy Council Register, x. (1613), 819, 820.

15 Privy Council Register, x. 186- 191.

^^ James Primrose, n^ supra ; Gregory, pp. 346, 347.

■•" James Primrose, ui supra.

18 Privy Council Register, x. 715.

13 Gregory, p. 354.

"^ Pitcairn, iii. 17, 18.

21 Privy Council Register, viii. 529, 531.

22 Privy Council Register, viii. p. 312.
^ Privy Council Register, ix. 297.

^ Pitcairn, iii. 293, 294.




Some idea of the social condition of Scotland may have been
gathered from the pages of its general history. It could not
be called happy, if compared with that of England. From the
Orkneys to the Oykel, one set of feuds was raging ; others were
active from the Lewes to Kintyre ; others from the Borders to
Peebles, Hawick, and Biggar. Where there happened to be no
great feud, involving every family of the gentry, the minor lairds
were fighting among themselves. There were constant sieges and
burnings of houses, from the great castle to the little peel tower.
Gentlemen who could not easily come at each other in the country,
where every man of note rode with a company of steel-clad
horsemen, would meet in Edinburgh, in silks and satins, and fight
it out with swords and pistols, or simply assassinate each other
without warning. Long after Douglas of Parkhead speared Captain
James Stewart in the lonely vale of Catslack, he was himself
stabbed in the back, near the Cross of Edinburgh, by a Stewart of
Arran's kin (July 1608). This was a scene in the long vendetta of
Lord Ochiltree against the house of Torthorwald, Parkhead having
married an heiress of the Carlyles, and so obtained the Torthor-
wald title.

In the volume of the "Privy Council Register" for 16 13, ten
years after James ascended the throne of England, we have a
list of running feuds. There are forty-two feuds, exclusive of
the Highlands and Islands, and these are not feuds of the sweep-
ing character of Huntly versus Argyll, or Stewart versus Hamilton.
For example, we have a feud between Ker of Yair, on Tweed
below Elibank, and the small but warlike burgh of Selkirk. From
Selkirk to the pleasant house of Yair is about three miles across

542 FEUDS.

the hills, and the common land of the burgh "marches" with Yair
(the author conceives) on the Linglee. The provost and burgesses
yearly " rode their marches " in a festive manner, as they still do, but
Andrew Ker, thinking that they trespassed on his heather, planned
to lie in wait for the citizens, "where upon some inconvenients
will not fail to fall out," as the Privy Council observed (1613).
The Council tried to smooth matters down, vainly. The people
of Selkirk had, and probably have a common herdsman to look
after the kye of the burgesses on the common, as the citizens of
Glasgow also used at this period. This herdsman, and several
citizens, vi et armis took 300 cattle, and pastured them on the
lands of Yair. The usual repartee was to hough the cattle, but
Ker of Yair does not seem to have adopted this course.

The provost of Selkirk was not a man of mild measures. In
August 1 613 he was Scott of Haining, the estate lying just out-
side the town. He was " kinsman of the bold Buccleuch," and
his deputy on the Border at the time of Kinmont Willie. This
gentleman arrested a woman and her son, from Leith, on sus-
picion of stealing cheese, and tortured them with cords, " for moving
of them to confess the truth." Haining was let off for this outrage
on paying a small fine. The burghs at this time preferred to
elect country gentlemen as their provosts, to secure leadership
in private war, and the backing of a clan. The Yair and Selkirk
feud was a branch of the old Scott and Ker feud, and thus things
were so arranged that simple burgesses had their share of the
universal fighting, beyond what they could get by merely " whin-
gering " each other in the market-place, as in the case of Provost
Dickson of Peebles. We even find a " sometime minister "
entering a house in full armour, and beginning to shoot with
pistol and musket. There were feuds within clans, as of Ker of
Grange and Ker of Ancrum. In Galloway matters passed busily,
Gordon of Lochinvar having a feud with Kennedy of Bargany
and Vaus of Longcastle. Even in civilised Fife, the focus of
godliness, Lundie of Lundie was at war with Wood of Largo.

A feud which was remarked on, even at that time, as exemplary,
was the Auchendrane affair. In 1597 John Mure of Auchendrane,
in Ayrshire, was a gentleman much looked up to in the district for
the fairness and sagacity of his judicial decisions as bailie of Carrick.
He had married a daughter of Kennedy of Bargany, who was on ill
terms with Kennedy of Colzean. Auchendrane was also dissatisfied


with Colzean, and so was the Master of Kennedy, brother of Lord
Cassilis, the head of the Kennedys. Auchendrane, the Master,
and the Laird of Dunduff, therefore, made up their minds to have
the blood of Colzean. We need not enter into the merits of the
quarrel. On New Year's day, 1597, Colzean was to dine, in the
town of Maybole, with Sir Thomas Nisbet, and was to sleep in his
own lodgings. Knowing this, Auchendrane with a party of friends
hid among the trees in Nisbet's garden, and, when Colzean was
walking through to his rooms, they fired a volley at him, missed
him, hunted him vainly, and attacked his lodgings. Colzean, there-
fore, took proceedings against Auchendrane with such vigour that
he was alarmed, made peace, and married his eldest son to
Colzean's daughter. Before this, however, Colzean had wrecked
Auchendrane's house and garden, which, it is to be feared, rankled
in his mind.

In May 1602 Colzean was going to Edinburgh on legal business.
Anxious to oblige, he sent a retainer to Auchendrane, asking the
laird to meet him, if he had any affairs which Colzean could trans-
act for him in the capital. If so, the laird would find him next
day at Duppie, near Ayr. The servant missed the laird, who was
absent from home. He therefore asked Mr Robert Mure, the
schoolmaster at Maybole, to write the message in a letter to the
laird. Mure complied, and sent the letter by a schoolboy, William
Dalrymple. The laird was found with Mure of Cloncaird, and on
reading the letter he bade the boy carry it back and say that he had
not found Auchendrane at his house. He and Cloncaird then
summoned a few friends of the right sort, lay in wait where Colzean
was to pass (as he had informed Auchendrane), and found him
riding with only one servant. They slew Colzean with swords and
pistols, and took 1000 merks in gold, his gold buttons, and the
rings which he wore.

This incident was only part of a very flourishing feud, in which
Auchendrane induced young Kennedy of Bargany to try to destroy
the house of Cassilis, of which he was the senior cadet. Bargany,
consequently, had ridden past Cassilis's gate without making a call.
The Earl, " resolving to die rather than digest that public indignity,"
assembled two or three hundred of his friends in arms. Bargany
also raised a force, and attacked Cassilis, whose men lay in cover,
their front protected by ditches. In attempting a charge, poor
young Bargany was shot, and Auchendrane, advancing with great


intrepidity, was severely wounded. It is believed that his failure
after this to shoot the Earl of Cassilis irritated him, and
induced him to murder Colzean, as has already been narrated.
His retainers, who took part in that exploit, were outlawed,
but the laird boldly offered himself for trial. Evidence was
lacking, and Auchendrane's offer of trial by combat was not
taken up by any of the kinsmen of Colzean. But a dangerous
witness was Dalrymple, the schoolboy who had carried Colzean's
letter informing Auchendrane that he was to be at the place where
the laird murdered and robbed him. Young Colzean was known
to be interrogating this lad, whom Auchendrane therefore first
immured, and then sent to Arran, afterwards packing him off to fight
under Buccleuch's colours in the Low Countries. Six years later
"the eye of God conveyed Dalrymple back to Ayr." The laird
then bade one Bannatyne bring Dalrymple to him, at night, on the
sands of Girvan, where young Auchendrane strangled the lad, and
tried to bury him in the sands. The water frustrating this pur-
pose they threw the corpse into the sea, whence, a few days later,
it was cast up on shore and recognised.

As this darkling and cruel murder, if brought home to the
Auchendranes, was of a type reckoned discreditable, the Auchen-
dranes were advised by friends to commit some ordinary crime, and
fly the country on the strength of that misdeed. " It was fitter
they should kill Hew Kennedy of Garrishorn " (a retainer of Cassilis),
"for divers probable quarrels which they had against him." This
was the advice of a cousin, and Auchendrane recognised that it was
both kindly meant and, in effect, judicious. Any trouble caused
by the murder of Hew was such as their kindred could sympathise
with, openly abetting and sheltering them. The Auchendranes,
therefore, armed themselves with sword and pistol, and, finding

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 56 of 60)