John Murray Graham.

Annals and correspondence of the viscount and the first and second earls of Stair; (Volume 1) online

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the 2ist chapter of the Westminster Confession as
to the mode of worship being conform to Holy
Scripture, pointing no doubt (in the case of a Presby-
terian establishment) to such mode of worship being
the usual Presbyterian form.

Another departure from the settlement of 1592
was the statute, passed later in the year, for trans-
ferring the patronage of churches to the Heritors and
Kirk-sessions, under certain conditions of approval
by the congregation. The passing of this Act was
a concession to the Presbyterian party, called for by
the urgent condition of public affairs, and was generally

* Letter to Lord Melvill, July 7, 1689 Melvill Papers, p. 148.

150 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1690.

believed to have been contrary to the inclination
of both the king and the Advocate.*

Immediately on the passing of the statute settling
the Church government, an Act was passed for a
supply to their Majesties of ,162,000, to be raised
out of the land-rent from the shires and burghs ; for
the collection of which an extensive nomination of
Commissioners of Supply, with as little reference as
possible to party distinctions, was made for all the
counties of Scotland.!

The success of William in Ireland, and his sub-
sequent return to England, materially strengthened
the hands of the Government. The Privy Council of
Scotland addressed to him upon this occasion a con-
gratulatory epistle, to which is appended the signa-
ture of Sir John Dalrymple, now, by his father's ele-
vation to the peerage, bearing the Scottish title of
Master of Stair. He had, after the adjournment
of Parliament, still the difficult task before him of
observing the proceedings of the General Assembly
of the Kirk. The Assembly met in October, Lord
Carmichael (afterwards Earl of Hyndford) being the
royal Commissioner ; while one of their own number
was their preses or " moderator." The king's letter,
presented by the Commissioner, counselled a calm

* Balcarres's Memoirs, p. 60 ; Cunningham's Church History of Scot-
land. It may be inferred that the king's private adviser in Scottish
ecclesiastical matters, Mr Carstairs, was in favour of this change in
the law, from the fact of his being one of three clergymen of the
Church of Scotland who signed a representation to the House of
Lords, in 1712, against the Bill for restoring patronages brought in by
Queen Anne's ministers. Carstairs State Papers, p. 796.

t StaL 1690, c. 6. This nomination of Commissioners of Supply
would, according to the practice of the time, be made by the Lord
Advocate, under the direction of the Privy Council.


and peaceable procedure, and concluded thus :
" Moderation is what religion enjoins, neighbouring
Churches expect from, and we recommend to you."
The Assembly's provisions for the order and dis-
cipline of the Church, and as to a portion of the
Episcopalian incumbents being admitted into it on
signing the Confession of Faith and adopting the
Presbyterian discipline, showed more regard to the
king's recommendation than was immediately after-
wards evinced in practice. Having sat about a month,
the Assembly was dissolved in his Majesty's name
by the Commissioner, and appointed to meet again
in November 1691."""

* Melvill Papers, pp. 567, 569, 572; Cunningham's Church History,
ii. 294.

152 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1691.


Sir John Dalrymple, now Master of Stair, becomes Secretary for Scot-
land Measures for restraining the hostile depredations of the High-
landers Secretary Stair accompanies the king to the Continent
Proclamation of indemnity and pardon to the Highlanders upon
certain conditions The Macdonalds of Glenco, too late with
their submission, are out of the letter of the proclaimed pardon

Proceedings thcreitpon Tenor of the letters of the Master
of Stair King IVilliam's Instructions to the military officers

Was the atrocity of the affair of Glenco realised by the parties
to it ?

IN the beginning of 1691, the Master of Stair was in
London, preparing to exchange the office of Lord
Advocate for the exclusively political office of Secre-
tary of State for Scotland. To apologise for past
heats in debate, he writes to the Duke of Hamilton,
referring to the part he had taken in parliamentary
debate with his Grace, that any conflict he may have
had never went beyond words, and was not the
effect of malice or design, but arose from the differ-
ent apprehensions of the ends or methods they each
pursued, the office of King's Advocate obliging
him " to challenge everybody without distinction that
had not our word."*

Before the end of January, William, accompanied

* Jan. 13, 1691 Sir J. Dalryqjple's Memoirs of Great Britain.


by many of the English nobility, and by the Master
of Stair as the Scottish secretary in attendance on
himself, revisited his native country of Holland/"
He was received at the Hague with enthusiasm,
and set himself immediately to infuse new spirit into
the operations of his continental allies. Secretary
Stair (whose letters in the Melvill Papers show him
entering with zest into the military proceedings of
the campaign) directed the chief part of the Scottish
business, under the eye and supervision of the king.
" The new prime minister for Scotland " (says Lord
Macaulay, referring to this recent change) "was the
able, eloquent, and accomplished Sir John Dalrymple."
In the middle of February he wrote to Melvill, from
the Hague, that the king had just signed two letters,
one to the Commission or standing committee of the
General Assembly of the Kirk (which will be noticed
in the next chapter), and another to the Privy Coun-
cil in relation to the fortifying of Inverness.

The second of these despatches had reference to
the measures in course of being adopted for restrain-
ing the depredations of the Highlanders, and bring-
ing about the pacification of the Highlands. With
a view to this object the parliament had already
passed various Acts ; and now that the affairs of the
Church were in so far settled, this was the matter of
chief interest to be attended to in Scotland, and to
which the efforts of the king and the Master of Stair
were mainly directed. The Earl of Breadalbane,

* When the king was abroad, a Joint-Secretary for Scotland re-
mained at home. Lord Melvill was at first the joint-secretary with
Dalrymple, but was soon allowed to exchange it for the keepership of
the Privy Seal, while James Johnston (of Warrieston) became joint-
secretary with the Master of Stair. .

154 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1691.

a Highland lord imbued with the sentiments and
somewhat irregular impulses of a powerful Highland
chief of that time, having more clansmen and fol-
lowers on his hills than guineas in his purse, had
in the previous year received a commission from
Government to assist in promoting so desirable an
end. There was, at the same time, intrusted to him
a sum of 1 2,000, to be disposed of by himself in his
dealings with the Highlanders.

During the first six months of the year 1691, the
Highland districts in the neighbourhood and to
the north of Fort William were in a feverish and
uncertain state ; while the Government officers in
command of troops were receiving orders from the
Privy Council and the Secretaries of State now to
act with severity against the clans who refused to
take the oath of allegiance, and now to hold their
hand.* On the 3Oth of June, as a result of the
negotiations of Lord Breadalbane, what was called
a " cessation of hostilities for a stated time " was
agreed to between two general officers of the late
king (Buchan and Sir George Barclay), acting on
behalf of the clans on the one part, and Lord
Breadalbane for the Government on the other part,
whereby a mutual forbearance from all acts of hostil-
ity and depredation was consented to until the first
of October next.t Following upon this, the Master
of Stair wrote, by express order of the king, to the
commander of the forces in Scotland to draw together

* Melville Papers; Papers illustrative of the Highlands, 1689-1696
Maitland Club, 1845.

t This Highland treaty (subscribed at Achallader) with its singular
" Private Articles," is printed among the Culloden Papers ; and also
in the Maitland Club Papers illustrative of the Highlands, p. 21.


his troops in some convenient place on the borders of
the Highlands, but in the mean time to commit no
acts of hostility."" Without actually infringing the
truce, the clans continued their posture of passive
resistance to the Government, MacDonald of Glen-
garry fortifying his house so strongly that it could
not be taken without cannon.t

In these circumstances, the measure was resolved
on by the king and the secretary of offering to all
the Highlanders who had been in arms against the
Government a free indemnity and pardon, upon con-
dition of their coming in and taking the oath of
allegiance before the sheriffs of their respective
shires at the county town. In a letter of the king
to the Privy Council, from the camp at St Gerard, in
the Netherlands, subscribed by the Master of Stair
as secretary, the Council was commanded to issue a
Proclamation of Indemnity to all such as, before the
ist of January next, should take and sign the oath of
allegiance. | The proclamation appeared accordingly
on the 27th of August, and was made known in the

The clans showed no great desire to take advan-
tage of the indemnity offered, and came dropping in
very slowly to take the oath. The clans Cameron,
M'Lean, and M 'Donald, with the exception of
the M' Donalds of Glenco, came, however, in suffi-

* The Master of Stair to Sir T. Livingstone, July 23, 1691 Melvill

t Sir Thomas Livingstone to Lord Melvill, Aug. 4, 1691 Melvill

j Aug. 17 and 27, 1691 Papers illustrative of the Highlands, pp. 33,

Secretary Stair to the Earl of Breadalbane, Sept. 10, 1691 Dal-
rymple's Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. iii., Appendix.

1 56 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1691.

cient time to have the oath of allegiance administered
to them. M'lan of Glenco was the only chief who
had not taken the oath by the appointed ist of

The king and the Master of Stair returned from
the seat of war in October, prepared for a winter
campaign against the Highlanders.* From the
Secretary's correspondence and letters at this time
which have found their way into print,t it is but too
clear that he was under the influence of feelings of
enmity towards the offending clans which no apology
of official zeal in his master's service could excuse.
The language of these letters points to the extirpa-
tion and ruin of the offenders. From such a dire
consummation the leading clans were saved by their
submission at the eleventh hour ; although now that
the military preparations were complete, the king
and his minister would possibly have been as well
satisfied with their opposition as with their sub-
mission. The Master of Stair's openly - expressed
sentiment as to these clans was, Delcnda est Carthago.
And as to the king's view of the matter, the Earl of
Linlithgow, a Commissioner of the Treasury, wrote
to Lord Breadalbane : " The last standers-out may
pay for all ; and besides, I know the king does not
care that some do it [that is, take the oath of allegi-

* Stair to Breadalbane, Dec. 2, 1691 Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great
Britain, vol. iii., Appendix.

t See particularly the Master of Stair's Letters in Dalrymple's Me-
moirs, Appendix to vol. iii. ; Letters as printed in an article of the
Edinburgh Review on Lord Macaulay's History, attributed to Lord
Moncreiff; Two unsigned Letters, presumed from Stair to Breadalbane,
printed in Appendix to vol. i. of Burton's Scotland (after the Revolu-
tion) ; Letters referred to in Report of Glenco Commission, printed in
Papers illustrative of the Highlands (Maitland Club).


ance], that he may make examples of them." * The
Macdonalds of Glenco were in the end made the
scapegoats of the other clans ; and the stroke that
but for a timely submission would have descended
on their more powerful neighbours, fell upon their

After a journey in tempestuous weather, in the
course of which he made an unavailing tender of his
oath of allegiance to Colonel Hill, commanding at
Fort William, the grey-haired chief M'lan of Glenco,
with a few of his clan, arrived on the 3d or 4th of
January at Inveraray, the seat of the sheriff's juris-
diction. Although it was after the day appointed,
the oath was then administered to him by Sir Colin
Campbell of Ardkinlass, sheriff of Argyle, who
despatched a certificate of it to the sheriff-clerk of
Argyle, then in Edinburgh, to be laid before the
Privy Council. The certificate was not formally laid
before the Council, but, after some private consulta-
tion, was declined to be received by the clerk of the
Council, and was delete and cancelled as irregular
because done after the ist of January 1692.!

* Letter in Edinburgh Review for January 1857.

t It appears from the Report of the Glenco Commission, rendered
to Parliament in 1695, that the Clerk of the Privy Council having
refused to receive the certificate of the oath, " because done after the
day appointed by the Proclamation," the Sheriff-Clerk of Argyllshire,
who was bearer of the certificate, and Mr John Campbell, a solicitor,
went to Lord Aberuchill (a Lord of Session and Privy Councillor), and
desired him to take the advice of the Privy Council ; whereupon (these
witnesses stated) Aberuchill said he had spoken to several Councillors,
and particularly to the Lord President Stair, and their opinion was that
the certificate could not be received without a warrant from the king,
and that it would neither be safe to the Sheriff nor profitable to M'lan of
Glenco to give in the certificate to the Clerk of the Council. This was
the statement of the Sheriff-Clerk and John Campbell in their evidence

158 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

Before positive information had been received in
London of the proceedings in the Highlands, In-
structions were sent from the king, dated from
Kensington, nth January 1692, to Sir Thomas
Livingstone, in command of the troops, of which
the first head was as follows:* - 1. "You are
hereby ordered and authorised to march our troops
which are now posted at Inverlochy and Inver-
ness, and to act against these Highland rebels who
have not taken the benefit of our indemnity, by
fire and sword and all manner of hostility ; to burn
their houses, seize or destroy their goods or cattle,
plenishing or clothes, and to cut off the men." The
Instructions further bore 4. " That the rebels may
not think themselves absolutely desperate, we allow
to [our] own powers to give terms and quarters ; but
we are so convinced of the necessity of severity, and
that they cannot be reclaimed, that we will not allow
you to give any other terms to chieftains, heritors, or
leaders, but to be prisoners of war, whereby their
lives are safe ; but for all other things they must
render on mercy, and take the oath of allegiance. "

before the Glenco Commissioners, and which in the main Lord
Aberuchill, in making his deposition, confirmed, " but doth not name
therein the Lord Stair" I have referred to this passage in the Report
of the Glenco Commission, in order to show that Lord Macaulay's un-
qualified assertion (chap, xviii. of his History) that the certificate was
privately submitted to some persons high in office, and particularly to
Lord President Stair, and that they pronounced the certificate irregular
and null, is not borne out by the evidence (as given in the Report of
1695) of Lord Aberuchill, who makes no mention of Lord Stair as one
of the councillors he had spoken with, and in so far contradicts the
hearsay or, at least, secondary evidence upon this point of the Sheriff-
Clerk and John Campbell.

* The king's Instructions of nth and i6th January, 1692, and the
relative letters of the same date of the Master of Stair, are printed at
length in the Papers illustrative of the Highlands, 1689-96, pp. 60-66.


Along with these Instructions, and of the same elate,
the Master of Stair wrote a letter to Sir T. Living-
stone, commencing " I send you the king's instruc-
tions super- and subscribed by himself. I am confident
you will see there are full powers given you in very
plain terms, and yet the method is left very much to
your own discretion." After some explanations, the
letter proceeds "Just now my Lord Argyle tells me
that Glenco hath not taken the oaths, at which I rejoice ;
it's a great work of charity to be exact in rooting out
that damnable sept, the worst in all the Highlands."
Another letter of the same date, superscribed by the
king and subscribed by the secretary, was addressed
to the Privy Council, enjoining them to issue a pro-
clamation following out the Instructions. In this
letter it is stated " You will know before these come
to your hands who have taken the benefit of the in-
demnity, and are thereby safe, and who have not,
that the names of the leaders in particular, and their
clans and tenants in general, who have been engaged
and involved with them may be expressed, that no-
body through ignorance may be ensnared."

On the 1 6th of January Additional instructions,
superscribed and subscribed by the king, were de-
spatched to Sir T. Livingstone. Of these the first
article related to papers to be granted to two Jacobite
officers, Buchan and Canon, to leave the country ; the
second and third articles related to the treatment of
Macdonald of Glengarry and his friends, and to the
house of Invergarry ; "they were to be safe as to their
lives, but as to their estates, they must depend upon
the king's mercy." The 4th and last article of the
Instructions was " If M'lan of Glenco and that tribe

160 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

can be well separated from the rest, it will be a proper
vindication of the public justice to extirpate that sept
of thieves." Of the same date the secretary wrote to
Sir T. Livingstone " The king does not at all in-
cline to receive any after the diet but on mercy, nor
will he alter the terms of indemnity, for that is to
make people always dog [dodge], and hope for better
terms than those got who obeyed and came in within
the day. But for a just example of vengeance, I
entreat that the thieving tribe in Glenco may be
rooted out in earnest." Similar language is used
in a letter of the same date from the secretary to
Colonel Hill at Fort William.

Letters of the 3Oth January from the Master of
Stair to Sir T. Livingstone and Colonel Hill repeat
these directions, Colonel Hill being told that he
cannot receive farther instructions than what he has
already had under the king's hand.

The orders by the upper military officers to their
subordinates (most of which have been preserved)
breathe the spirit of the royal Instructions and the
secretary's letters. The hunter's toils closed rapidly
round the devoted tribe ; the fatal day came, and
before dawn on the morning of the i3th of February
twenty-five inhabitants of the rugged wilderness of
Glenco were barbarously slaughtered. Their blood
has fixed an indelible stain on the reign of King Wil-
liam, and on his Scottish Secretary ; for although the
method or manner of the massacre, whereby the laws
of hospitality and humanity were set at nought, may
not have been anticipated and would probably not have
been sanctioned by the king and the secretary, it is


very clear that both the one and the other contem-
plated, in their instructions and letters to the mili-
tary officers, the rooting out of the offending clan by
hook or by crook, without the actors being too par-
ticular as to the mode of doing it.

That the Master of Stair, when directing (in terms
of the king's Instructions) a military execution by way
of example, was unconscious of the unjustifiable
severity and atrocity of the act he authorised, is evi-
dent from letters addressed by him in the ensuing
March and April to Colonel Hill, commanding at
Fort William, who was not himself an actor in the
massacre. Indeed, except as to the violation of the
laws of hospitality, the slaughter of Glenco was
somewhat of the same character with the cruel
measures, by proscription and otherwise, which had
been used at intervals for upwards of a century
against the marauding clan of M'Gregor.

In the first of these letters, having referred to the
talk in London of the Glenco men having been mur-
dered in their beds after they had taken the oath of
allegiance, he continues " For the last, I know
nothing of it. I am sure neither you nor anybody
empowered to treat or give indemnity did give Glen-
co the oath ; and to take it from anybody else after
the diet elapsed did import nothing at all." And
within two months after he writes again to Colonel
Hill from the Hague, where he was in attendance
on the king " For the people of Glenco, when you
do your duty in a thing so necessary to rid the
country of thieving, you need not trouble yourself to
take the pains to vindicate yourself by showing all


162 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

your orders, which are now put in the Paris Gazette.
When you do right, you need fear nobody." *

Although the affair of Glenco seems to have been


talked of in London in the spring of 1692, the details
were not generally known for a considerable time
after. The first public notices of it appeared in the
Paris Gazette, the information being probably sup-
plied from Jacobite sources.

* Letters of 5th March and 3oth April 1692, in Papers illustrative of
the Highlands.



The General Assembly's Commission and the Episcopal Clergy Views
of the king and of the Master of Stair The meeting of the As-
sembly adjourned by royal mandate to an inconvenient season of the
year The Earl of Lothian High Commissioner Ill-humour of
the Assembly Letters of the Master of Stair to the Earl of Lothian
on the affairs of the Assembly The kings letter to the Assembly
recommends union 'with Episcopal ministers on certain conditions
Resistance of the Assembly to the wishes of the king.

As the Secretary of State in immediate communica-
tion with the king, the Master of Stair had a difficult
part to play in connection with Scottish ecclesiastical
politics. The Commission, or standing committee of
the General Assembly, did not in its subsequent act-
ings follow up the moderate conduct of the first
Assembly which met after the passing of the Act
establishing Presbyterian Church government. In
large tracts of country the Episcopal clergy were
harshly removed from their livings, not by " rabbling,"
as in the western shires immediately after the Revo-
lution, but under form of law, without giving them
a fair opportunity of considering the conditions re-
quired by the Assembly and approved by the king,
the ministers complying with which conditions were
to be allowed to retain their benefices, and be ad-
mitted into the Presbyterian Church. It is possible

164 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1691.

that a considerable proportion of the Episcopal divines
who were then ejected might not have inclined to
take the oath of allegiance and sign the Westminster
Confession ; but they had small encouragement from
their Presbyterian brethren to do so. The precipi-
tancy of the Assembly's Commission in this matter
was shown by the fact of there being for a number
of years a want of qualified men to fill the vacant

The Principals and Professors also in Edinburgh,
Glasgow, and St Andrews universities, who did not
forthwith subscribe the Confession of Faith and take
the oath of allegiance, were, with more zeal for Presby-
tery than regard for learning, similarly dismissed, under
an Act of Parliament for visitation of universities and
schools, passed soon after the Establishment Act.t

A report of these occurrences, particularly in re-
ference to the parochial clergy, having been made by
the king when at the Hague with the Master of Stair
in the spring of 1691, his Majesty addressed a letter
to the Commission, the substance of which is stated
by the Secretary in a letter to Lord, now Earl Mel-
vill, his colleague in Scotland :

"HAGUE, Feb. 13, 1691 (o.s.)

" MY LORD, I have had no letter from you since
I came from London ; we are impatient to hear from
Scotland ; the post hath been expected all this week,
but is not yet come. The last we have from Scot-

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Online LibraryJohn Murray GrahamAnnals and correspondence of the viscount and the first and second earls of Stair; (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 28)