This yearÂ marks the 300th anniversary of the most pivotal year in the life of one of Scotland’s foremost historical figures, namely the outlaw and cattle rustler Rob Roy MacGregor; in continuation of the Early Modern Team’s Jacobite related blogs, I will examine records connected to it.
1716 would prove to be a momentous year for Robert MacGregor, having beenÂ outlawed on 30 June, and hunted by royalÂ troops forÂ kidnapping and ransoming; he was even in his own lifetime honored in chapter and verse.
Robert Campbell (alias MacGregor), his popular moniker âRob Royâ coming from the Gaelic for âRed Robertâ (owing to his red hair), was born at Glengyle in the Trossachs region of central Scotland in 1671. His fatherÂ was Donald MacGregor, and his mother Margaret Campbell. At that time ClanÂ MacGregor was âproscribedâ; James VI (soon to be crowned James I of England) had issued an edict in 1603 to abolish the name and the wearing of their tartan.
Ironically the âGregorâ clan would prove to be firm supporters of the Stuart dynasty, the teenage Rob Roy having fought withÂ Claverhouse’sÂ victorious army atÂ KilliecrankieÂ in 1689. His involvement in the âFifteenâ rising wasÂ virtually confined to his home territory, as he launched raids into Lennox on behalf of the âOld Pretenderâ (son of the exiledÂ James II). HeÂ was only an observer at Sheriffmuir in November 1715 (he would gain a reputation for martial caution with his avoidance of major engagements). With the rebellion over and the MacGregors on the losing side, he shrewdly placed himself under the protection of Campbell of Fonab, a close aide of his motherâs kinsman the loyalist Duke of Argyll (Commander-in-Chief of the government forces in Scotland).
Interestingly, other branches of the powerful Presbyterian Clan Campbell (like those of the GlenlyonÂ Breadalbane line) favoured the Jacobite cause against the House of Hanover during 1715-16. However, the 2nd Duke of Argyll, John Campbell (or âRed John of the Battlesâ), sympathetically negotiated an amnesty for MacGregor as a result of his attainment for treason (inÂ 1715) and his indictmentÂ of outlawry in 1716. Continue reading »