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The earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 1) online

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Lord Macleod took an honourable position in the service of the Swedish
Crown. In a letter by his father to the same correspondent, dated 30th January
1762, he states that Lord Macleod had been created a Knight of the Order of the
Sword and North Star, the most honourable Order in Sweden, and in the same
letter expresses his satisfaction that Lord Macleod and his brother George had
obtained freehold qualifications in Ross and Cromarty, and had thus again acquired
a footing in the country. In the army he rose from captain to the rank of colonel,
or, as other accounts state, to that of lieutenant-general. He was aide-de-camp to
the King of Sweden, and he had the honour of being created a Count of Sweden,
with the title of Count Cromartie.

On the recommendation of the Queen of Sweden, King George the Third
granted to Colonel John Mackenzie, in the service of the Crown of Sweden,
as heir to the late Earl of Cromartie, the interest of the surplus price of the
estate of Roystoun, which amounted to £4813, 17s. 9|d., and belonging to the
Crown, through the decease of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Grandvale and Cromartie,
and the attainder of George Earl of Cromartie. The gift passed the Privy Seal
9th August 1766. Sir John Goodricke, the British envoy at Stockholm, was
directed to assure the Swedish Queen that the King would show all the favour,
consistent with the laws of the kingdom, to a person who had the happiness to
be recommended by her.^

A letter from Leonard Urquhart, who was the legal solicitor in Edinburgh of
Lord Macleod, dated Edinburgh, 8th March 1774, addressed to him as Earl of
Cromartie, then at Gottenburg, informs him that a petition was brought up in the
Parliament from General Eraser (of Lovat), which Lord North informed the House
had been shown to his Majesty, and strongly recommended by him. This
petition, Mr. Urquhart states, it was thought would be carried through, and he
hoped that the rest of the noblemen and gentlemen whose estates had been
annexed, would have the same favour shown them. In another letter from the
same correspondent, dated 19th May of the same year, he says that it gave Lord

^ Original Narrative, Cromartie Papers, No. 165 ; and Copy Petition regarding it,
vol. xxii. No. 100. vol. xix. No, 247.

- Copy Gift, Cromartie Papers, vol. xxi.

Macleod's friends in this country great pleasure to learn that he meant to pay them
a Adsit on his return from Finland, and that it was hoped he would bring recom-
mendations from the Court of Sweden to that of Great Britain, and that he might
get and long enjoy his old estates.^

General Fraser, the eldest son of Simon Lord Lovat, having obtained from
Kino- George the Third, in 1774, a grant of the forfeited estate of Lovat, Lord
Macleod was induced to make application for a similar gift to himself of the for-
feited estate of Cromartie. He presented a petition to the King, and applied to
Lord North and others for their influence. His letter to Lord North is as follows : —

;My Lord,- — Tho' I have not the honour to be personaly known to your Lordship, I take
the libertj' of addressing you in this way, encouraged thereto by your Lordship's character of
humanity and benevolence.

Soon after General Fraser had obtain'd a grant of his father's estate, I came over to this
kingdom from Sweden, in hopes that, the ice being broke, the same favour might be shewn
to me as to General Fraser, encourag'd thereto as T had offer'd at different times during the
last war to raise a corps of Highlanders for his Majesty's service, tho' it was my misfortune
not to succeed, and more particularly as my family had the honour to be patronis'd and jiro-
tected by his Majesty's royal father. On my arrival in this country I was advis'd to fol-
low General Fraser's line of conduct, and endeavour to reconsile the leading men of different
parties to the measure before I troubl'd your Lordship with any application. I foUow'd this
advice, and only beg'd the Duke of Buccleugh to speak to your Lordship, and to give you a
copy of my case, which his Grace told me he had done the end of January. Having been
more successful with the heads of opposition than my most sanguine hopes had been, Mr.
Stuart Mackenzie- was so good as to inform your Lordship of that sircumstance the 4th of
last May ; and from what he told me next morning, I have reason to hope that your Lordship
approves of my application to Parliament, and will honour me with your protection. Mr. S.
Mackenzie having told me soon after that your Lordship had desir'd to see my intended
petition to the King, a copj'' of it was immediately sent to Mr. Robinson, who was so good as
to promise to lay it before your Lordship. The public business has probably prevented my
having heard since from Mr. Robinson.

The peculiarity of my situation, my not having bread in this country, and the necessity I
am under of returning to Sweden early next spring, will, I flatter myself, plead my excuse for
intruding on your Lordship at this time, to beg being allow'd the honour of waiting on you
when it is convenient.

I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, my Lord, your Lordship's, etc.^

1 Original Letter at Tarbat House. ^ Draft Letter, undated, but 1775, at Tar-

2 Mr. Stewart Mackenzie was the brother bat House,
of the Earl of Bute, some time Prime Minister.




The petition to King George the Third, above referred to, prays that the
estates which had belonged to the kite Earl of Cromartie might be restored to
him. Lord Macleod states the early age at which he had joined the Rebellion,
his education in principles of attachment to the Protestant succession, the services
of his great-grandfather at the Revolution, and the sparing of his father's life by
the intercession of his Majesty's father ; that he had entered the Swedish ser-
vice, and served as a volunteer in the Prussian army during the late war, and
had formerly offered to raise a body of Highlanders to serve the Crown. Lord
Macleod urges the similarity of his circumstances to those of General Fraser, and
prays for the like consideration.^

Lord Macleod and his friends were desirous that, following the example of
General Fraser, he should raise a regiment of Highlanders, in the hope that
thereby he might ultimately have the estates restored to him. Such a scheme
had been tried before, during Lord Macleod's visit to Britain after the Prussian
campaign. Lord Cromartie, in writing to Mr. Mackenzie of Meddat, on 31st
March 1759, says, — " We have, from time to time, had hopes of some thing better
being don, but hitherto disapointments have allways succeeded our hopes, and a
recent disapointment of a scheme that has been in agitation for my son, and
which scheme, at least the hopes of succeeding in it, was the cause of his coming
over from Sweden, redoubles our distresses upon us. Yet I hope there is a time
coming when we shall meet with more favour."^ But circumstances were now
more favourable; and as new levies were to be raised in 1777, Lord Macleod's
claim was favourably entertained. The following letter shows the first step taken
for Lord Macleod's recall to his native country, and employment in the British
service : —


3(1 December 1777.
My dear Sir, — Under the present circumstances, I cannot help suppusing that new corps
may be thought of. Permit me to mention the name of Lord Macleod. You know all the
hardship of his case, considering it in the civil line.

In the military line, he was, during the greatest part of the last war, a volunteer with
the King of Prussia, afterwards, upon the King's special recommendation, enter'd into the
Swedish service, where he is now an old colonel. He miss'd raising a regiment in our service
last war (when General Fraser raised one) by the wrong judgement of his uncle, Sir John

' Copy Petition, Cromartie Papers, vol. xix. No. 248.
- Original Letter at Tarbat House.

ccxiviii JOHN LORD MACLEOD. [1727-

Gordon,^ it being offer'd to him, under Mr. Pitt's administration, and might then, with the
utmost ease, have been raised.

If leave cou'd now be obtain'd to raise a regiment in the north of Scotland, to be com-
maaded by Lord Macleod, I have no difficulty in making myself answerable (in every pecuniary
sense) that it shall be ready with the earliest corps that can be raised, upon such terms as
may be prescribed by Government, and that Lord Macleod will, upon the first notice, quit
the Swedish service and devote himself to the fulfilling the engagements enter'd into by his
friends.— I am ever, dear Sir, yours faithfully, R. Atkinson.^

[John Robinson, Esqre.]

Henry Dundas of Melville, afterwards the first Viscount Melville, and
chief manager of the affairs of Scotland under Mr. Pitt, was the cousin-german
of Lord Macleod. Anne Gordon, wife of the President Dundas of Arniston,
was the sister of *' Bonnie Bell Gordon," Countess of Cromartie, and the
mother of Lord Melville. Distinguished for his favour to his friends and
countrymen, Henry Dundas greatly aided his cousin, Lord Macleod, in the re-
covery of the Cromartie estates. The following letter, addressed to Mr. Atkinson,
appears to have been written in reference to the letter of that gentleman : —

Sir, — I wrote the letter to Lord George Germain in the terms I proposed. I have seen his
Lordship since, and altho' I believe there is no decision formed, I rather believe new levies are
in contemplation, and I should suppose Lord MacLeod wou'd not be forgot in that event ;
the chief difficulty wou'd be as to his rank, and not being at all in the army.

I have talk'd to some military people, who do not think more wou'd be granted than that
of major-commandant. But if only that and a corps of 500 men was to be granted, I shou'd
be for accepting, the after civil establishment, and not any military prospect, being the object
Lord Macleod wou'd have chiefly in view.

^ Sir WiUiam Gordon, Baronet, the father many of the other northern proprietors. Sir

of Sir John Gordon, was firsb designated of William acquired luverbreakie, which he

DalfoUy iu the county of Sutherland, from his called Invergordon. He was created a

holding these lands under a right of wadset. Baronet on Sth February 1704, with limita-

Sir William was a banker in London, and was tion to his heirs-male. Sir William died at

one of the few persons who made money out Chelsea in June 1742. He was succeeded by

of the South Sea Bubble. His residence iu his son. Sir John Gordon, on whose death,

Sutherland was at Uppat, near Dunrobin, without issue, the Baronetcy was not taken up

where, on the mantelpiece of one of the rooms, by any heir, although it is understood that the

the armorial bearings of himself and his wife, late Mr. JosephGordon, W.S., claimed to be the

a Henderson of Fordell, in Fife, are still pre- heir-male. There is a good portrait of Sir Wil-

served. Sir William had considerable in- liam Gordon, by Highmore, at Melville Castle.

fluence with the Earl of Sutherland, and '^ Copy Letter, at Tarbat House.


Nay, if the corps with the rank of major-commandant was granted to his brother George,
who is now a captain in the 42d regiment, I shou'd esteem that a martial [material] point in
the view of forwarding what is my great object with regard to the final establishment of Lord
Macleod in his own country.

I thought it jtroper to mention to you these particulars, that you may have your eye upon

the bussiness if there is any prospect of its going forward ; and I shall expect to hear from

you for the regulation of my conduct both here and in Scotland. It would be proper that

Mr. Mackenzie wrote to Lord Macleod to inform what has been done respecting him. It is a

pitty he had not been in the country. — I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

Henry Dundas.^
London, 12th December 1777.

The difficulties alluded to by Mr. Dundas as to Lord Macleod's rank, were got
over, in all probability greatly by his exertions. Mr. Atkinson, in replying to this
letter on the following day, points out that the pretensions of Lord Macleod, a
soldier from his youth and a colonel in foreign sei'vice, to the rank of a colonel
are equal to those under which General Fraser was taken from the Bar and placed
in the same rank.

Only six days thereafter Lord Macleod received a Commission, under the hand
of King George the Third, which bears date 19th December 1777, for the special
purpose of raising a new Highland regiment. Such was the respect for Lord
Macleod's family and name in the north, that 840 Highlanders were enrolled in
a very short time and marched to Elgin. In addition to these, 236 Lowlanders
were raised by the Honourable John Lindsay, son of the Earl of Balcarres, David
Baird, afterwards Sir David Baird, James Fowlis, and other officers, besides
34 English and Irish enlisted in Glasgow, They amounted in all to 1100 men,
and under the name of Macleod's Highlanders, or 73d regiment, were embodied,
and inspected by General Skene, at Elgin, in April 1778. They were a hardy,
well-principled body of men, and fit for any service. Under other Eoyal Com-
missions, dated 18th July and 24th September 1778, a second battalion was
raised to the regiment in the end of that year. The following is Lord Amherst's
letter to Lord Macleod, directing the formation of the second battalion : —

Whitehall, 25th September 1778.
Mv Lord, — That a moment's time may not be lost in forwarding the raising of a second
battalion to your Lordship's regiment, his Majesty has been pleased to approve of the follow-
ing gentlemen, proposed by your Lordshiji through Mr. Atkinson, to be field officers in it, viz.,

1 Copy Letter, at Tarbat House.
2 i

Major George jSIackeiizie of your Lordship's regiment, to be Lieut.-Colonel, and Captains
Hamilton, Maxwell, and Norman Macleod of the 71st, to be Majors. I have the King's com-
mand to inform your Lordship that his consent to this quick promotion of Major Mackenzie
is given only on account of the necessity which it has been represented there is for his being
placed at the head of the intended battalion, and that it is not his Majesty's intention that
he shall hereafter avail hmself of a step so obtained to the prejudice of the numerous list of
Majors who are at this time his seniors in the army.

I have the honoiir to be, my Lord, your Lordship's most obedient and most humble servant,

Amherst. 1

The second battalion thus raised under the Honourable Lieutenant-Colonel
George Mackenzie, the younger brother of Lord Macleod, embarked at Fort George,
landed at Plymouth, and was sent thence to Gibraltar, where they landed on the
18th January 1780, and took part in the celebrated siege of that fortress, which
lasted three years. Li May 1783 the battalion returned to England, and marched
soon after to Stirling, where it was reduced, — allowance being granted to officers
regimentally senior in rank to join the first battalion in India.

Lord Macleod, now restored to the British service, was graciously received by
his Majesty, King George the Third, by whom, in his Commissions after the first,
he is courteously styled Lord Macleod. The King invested him with the order of
Commandant of the Sword and North Star on 9th December 1778, in compliance
with the request of his Swedish Majesty. Lord Macleod's battalion was immedi-
ately ordered for service in India. It was removed to Jersey, and thence to
Portsmouth, and embarked there in January 1779. Lord Macleod received
secret orders and instructions to take possession of the Island of Goree, on the
coast of Africa, on his way to India, with the forces under his command, assisted
by the fleet.^ In May 1779, Lord Macleod and the Admiral wrote a summons to
the Governor to surrender. The following is extracted from Lord Macleod's
official despatch announcing the capture of Goree : —

" Atlas" East Indiaman, Goree Bay, 10th May 1779.

My Lord, — I have the honor to inform you that, in obedience to his Majesty's orders,

I proceeded to the Island of Goree, in concert with the squadron under command of Rear-

Admiral Sir Edward Hughes, and came to an anchor in this bay the 8th instant. We found

the island evacuated by the French, who had retired to Senegal sometime before our arrival.

1 Copy Letter, at Tarbat House. King George the Third, dated 9th December

- Secret Orders and Instructions, signed by 1778, at Tarbat House.

1789.] CAPTURE OF GOREE IN 1770. ccli

The last officer abandon'd the fort upon our appearance off the island, leaving four small
vessels in the road, laden with guns, stores, brandy, etc., bound for Senegal, and which the
Admiral immediately took possession of.

I have garrison'd the island with the four companys of the 75th, or Prince of Wales's regi-
ment, and the detachment of artillery, ordnance stores, etc., under command of Lieut. -Col.
Hook of the 75th, whom I have appointed to act as governor till such time as his Majesty's
pleasure shall be known.^

Lord Macleod, in his despatch, further informs Lord George Germain, Secre-
tary of State, to whom the despatch is addressed, that he had ordered Lieut.-Colonel
Rook to put the island in the best state of defence, and to cultivate friendshij) with
the natives. He sends a return of military stores, guns, etc., found on the island,
together with a view of it taken by Mr. Hodges, the same ingenious gentleman
that accompanied Captain Cook in his discovery of Otaheite, now called
Tahiti, He also ordered Captain Wall, of the African corps, with the part of
that regiment under his command, to proceed to Gambia, under convoy of his
Majesty's ships the " Vengeance " and " Actseon," together with the " ^tna " and
" Vesuvius " bombs ; but in case Senegal was held by a superior French force,
he was to make the best of his way to the Leeward Islands, and put himself
under the command of the commander-in-chief of the forces there.

The young and untried Highland regiment, raised by Lord Macleod, landed
at Madras in January 1780. They suffered severely from the want of an
hospital and the smallness of the barracks, which were meant for 400 or 500
men, while the first battalion of the 73d amounted to above 1000.

They were soon engaged in active service. The very year of their landing
there occurred the invasion of the Carnatic by Hyder Ali, reputed to be the ablest
general in India, at the head of 80,000 men. An army of 6000 men was gathered
at Madras, the command of which was first offered to Lord Macleod, but was
afterwards given to Sir Hector Munro. On taking the field the army marched
to Conjeveram. A detachment was sent to meet Colonel Baillie, a gallant officer
from Inverness-shire, who was advancing from the Northern Circars to join the
army. The detachment reached Colonel Baillie's army, but next day, on the
march towards Conjeveram, they were surrounded by the masses of Hyder's army
at Perirabancum, and almost cut to pieces. The behaviour of the grenadiers
extorted the admiration of the French officers in Hyder's army. After the blow-

^ Duplicate of Despatch, at Tarbat House.

celii JOIiy LORD MACLEOD. [1727-

ing up of the ammunition the black troops were panic-struck, and fled ; and the
Europeans stood without a shot to fire, but with their bayonets kept their foes at
bay, till artillery was brought to bear upon them. The two flank companies of
the 73d Avere in this gallant band. The troops at Conjeveram had to beat a
hasty retreat to Madras.

The following is Lord Macleod's official account of these events : —

Fort St. George, the 10 October 1780.

SiE, — I have the honour to inclose yow returns of the first battalion of his Majesty's 73d
regiment for six months, taking up all occurrences since the last returns I sent you by the
fleet, which sail'd from Madras the 7th of April of the jiresent year.

You will see the heavy loss the regiment has sustain'd since last returns. Although the
change of climate must have occasioned the death of some men, yet I attribute the great mor-
tality from the regiment, which consisted of above a thousand Europians when landed here,
being crowded into barracks which were never meant to contain above 400 or 500 men at most.

Another very great cause, in my opinion, of the seekness, was the want of an hospital.

Tho' the battalion's destination was known to the Government here above a year before
we landed, and Poonamallee was allotted from the beginning for our quarters, yet the battalion
was actualy their on the spot above six weeks before the fundations of an hospital were laid,
which then was orderd on my repeated complaints and remonstrances.

The 5 ofEcers, 7 sergeants, 4 drums, and 117 rank and file, whom you will find taken up as
missing in the return since the 9th of September, are the two flank companies of my regiment.
They were sent together with two European companies of grenadeers of the E. I. C.'s troops,
10 companies of the Sepoy grenadiers, and a company of marksmen, on the evening of the
Sth of September, from our camp at Conjeveram to join Lieut.-Col. Baillie, who was advancing
from the Northern Circars with 3 battallions and six companies of Sepoys, above 200 Europians,
and 10 field-pieces, to join us. Lt.-Col. Fletcher commanded the detachment from the camp
at Conjeveram, and made good his junction the 9th of September, in the morning, with L.-C.

The 10th of September, in the morning, Colonel Baillie's corps was attack'd by Hyder Ali
with his whole army, and cut to pieces. We have certain intelligence that the misfortune
was in great measure owing to some of our tumbrils blowing up, which distroy'd the little
ammunition that was left, and occasion'd a great confusion, of which the enemy's cavalry took
advantage, and broke into the line.

I have pretty certain, tho' not oSicial, intelligence that Lieutenants A. G. Mackenzie and
Gun were kiU'd in the action of the 10th September, and that Captain Baird and Lieutenants
Lindsay and Melville were wounded, and that Captain Baird is since dead of his wounds at

^ Captain Baird, afterwards Sir David taken prisoner, with other officers, to Seringa-
Baird, did not die of his wounds. He was patam. Sir Walter Scott, in a letter to his

The European infantry stood firm as a wall while they had a shot left, and were almost
all kill'd or wounded. I do not expect to see many of the latter belonging to my regiment,
as I am told they die daily from want of proper care, and from harsh usage.

I hope, by the next ships, to get a good recruit, as otherwise I am affraid we will in a
short time not be able to guard our coullours.

As I am ordered by the King's instructions to inform you, when opportunities offer, of
what occun-ences hajipen, I think it my duty, in obedience to his Majesty's commands, to
acquaint you of the present situation of this country, so far as is within the reach of my own
knowledge, and no further.

About the 20th of July, advices arriv'd here from different quarters that Hyder Ali had
invaded the Carnatic with a powerful army, but no attention was paid by the people in power
to this intelligence, which they treated with contempt.

The 23d of July I took the liberty to tell the Governor that perhaps Hyder's invasion
might be true, and that I thought at all events they ought to take some measures to oppose
him. His answer was, ^Vhat can we do ? We have no monej'. He then added, we mean,
however, to assemble au army, and you are to command it. That evening put, however, the
invasion beyond a doubt, even with the Government here ; for certain intelligence was then
receiv'd that Porto Novo, on the sea-coast, and Conjeveram, not 50 miles from this capital,
had been plunder'd by the enemy.

The 27th of July I received orders from the Select Committee to march with the troops
assembling at Poonaraallee, consisting of the first battalion of my own regiment, a battalion of
Sepoys, and the artillery with 2 field-pieces, amounting in all to about 1650 men, to Conje-
veram and to Eioncollam, where I was to be join'd by a weak battalion of Europeans from
Vellore, and was then to march to Wandewash, where Col. Brathwaite was to join me with
another weak battalion of Europeans, and 3 battalions of Sepoys from Pondichery. This
order occasion'd my Avriting a letter to the Select Committee on the 31st of July, of which I
have the honoiir to inclose you a copy.

The 1st of August I receiv'd orders from the Select Committee to march early next morn-
ing towards Conjeveram. Eioncollam, etc., provided the provisions and stores shou'd ai-rive in

Online LibraryWilliam FraserThe earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 53)