Return  to  Index

The background tartan is faded MacGregor of GlenGyle.

Editor's note:  The background sound programmed into this chapter is "The MacGregor's Gathering".  As soon as you entered into this chapter, the song began to download.  If you have a high speed internet service, you will hear the song quickly.  For slow speed viewers, you must wait several minutes.  Please be patient.


Reprieve and Retribution



MacGregors Fight In The  Great British Civil War
James VI of Scotland and I of England died in bed, the first of his family to achieve that peaceful end.   His son, who became Charles I, inherited his father's war on the MacGregors and his family's firm belief in the divine right of Kings to rule with only God to answer to.  In 1633, he passed the Proscriptive Act , which was meant to quell Highland uprisings but it had little real effect and they continued to flourish.

When the Great Civil War broke out between Royalists and 'Roundheads,'  the Gregor clan decided to forgive Charles and back the Royalist cause.  Their reasoning was that their ancestors had been Kings of Scotland also, and their sympathies naturally flowed towards a fellow catholic under duress.   In Scotland, the War became a battle between the two rival families of Argyle and Graham, (the Protestant Campbell, Duke of Argyle and the Catholic Graham, Marquis of Montrose).

All the Highland clans, except the Campbells and their allies, fell behind Montrose.  It was virtually a racial conflict between Highlanders and Lowlanders.  The MacGregors took a heavy revenge on their hereditary persecutors.   At Kilsyth, they participated in the massacre of Covenanters who, being trapped in a peat bog , were shot without mercy.

At Inverlochy, near Ben Nevis, after an astonishing crossing of Drumalban,  the Spine of Britain, in the depths of a severe winter,  which no regular troops could have endured, Montrose's clans fell on the Duke of Argyle's army and  annihilated them.  The victors devastated the whole of Argyle country, burning and destroying Inverary and Campbeltown.   However, when the Royalist cause finally failed, Montrose was executed.

Charles I of Scotland and England was beheaded in London on 30 January, 1649. His execution had been carried out with no consultation with anyone in Scotland, where his real power base was.  
Many in Scotland turned to his 18 year old son, and proclaimed him Charles II of Scotland.   In the unsuccessful uprising of Glencairn in the Royalist cause in  1653,  the forces of Charles II met in 'MacGregor Hall' on the Isle of Loch Rannoch.  But Cromwell won a decisive victory at the Battle of Dunbar and turned Scotland into an occupied country, abolishing its separate Parliament.

Strangely enough, Cromwell lifted the persecutions of the MacGregors,  partly due to his belief in fair play and,  also because of his hatred towards fanaticism, whatever its source.  



  The Monarchy is Restored, Clan Gregor is Freed

   By the time the monarchy was restored in 1660,  Charles II had lost interest in Scotland.  He was a weak King and relied on court favourites to manage Britain.  His dragoons wrecked awful vengeance on Whigs and Covenanters alike throughout Scotland for a quarter century of misrule.  Many MacGregors rose to staff positions in the Kings army, including Lieutenant-Colonel Donald MacGregor, the father of Rob Roy.

  In 1661, the MacGregors were particularly happy to hear of the execution of Argyle.   He was not charged with his campaign against the MacGregors, but, in addition to his treason against the Stuarts, he was found guilty of  the massacre of the Lamonts of Cowal, after promising those that were taken prisoner they would be dealt with fairly.

Charles II's 'Highland Host' consisting of mainly MacGregors, MacDonalds, and Stewarts, also took part in his 'Divide and Rule' policy, effectively dividing Scotland in two.  He promised the Gregor Clan full restitution of their lands in return for the considerable services they had performed in support of his - and his father's causes but he only lifted the proscription of their name.  He died of apoplexy in 1685.


  When Charles II died, his brother  James, became king.  With the rotten judgment that dogged the Stuarts, James II imposed the death penalty on Covenanters.  His power base in London soon crumbled and he was deposed in favour of his nephew and son-in-law, the Protestant William of Orange.



  Enter William of Orange, Clan Gregor Is Set Upon Again

Most of the Highlanders remained faithful to James and rose up against the Dutch interloper.  These rebels (called Jacobites) rallied under Graham of Claverhouse and almost annihilated William's army in a fierce battle at Killiecrankie in 1689.  However, Claverhouse was mortally wounded and left the Jacobites leaderless.  Most of them lost heart and returned to their Highlands.   Among the Highland contingents were one hundred Glen Gyle MacGregors, included in their number was one young Roy (MacGregor) Campbell (later known as Rob Roy MacGregor).

William came from a tolerant country and people expected good things from him.  His coming was a welcome change for the  English and Presbyterian Scots, but his unfamiliarity with Scotland or its people caused him to rely on those such as the Campbell Earl of Stair, who had many axes to grind.  His father, the Duke of Argyle had been executed by the Stuarts so he got to work exacting vengeance on his personal foes amongst the clans.  The outstanding targets of his rage were that MacDonald sept-the MacIans of Glencoe, the MacGregors, the Stewarts and all those other clans that had  taken part in the rout at Killiecrankie. .

He would first deal with the MacIans in such a shameful and treacherous manner as to shock to its very core the entire Scottish nation and bring disdain throughout Europe.  William's rule was a period of vengeance against the catholic Highlanders under the guise of 'pacification.'  The new Argyle would use this cause as an opportunity to eliminate his foes once and for all.

 

  The Massacre of Glencoe,

 Campbells Murder MacIans (after befriending them)

Determined to exert his authority over the Scots, William demanded that every clan Chief swear an oath of loyalty to him before a certain date.  Due to inclimate weather and other reasons about where the ceremony would take place, the Chief of the Clan MacDonald, took his oath several days after the deadline.

Here was an opportunity to make an example of a prominent leader.  The Campbells, old enemies of the MacDonalds, were ordered to lodge their troops with the MacDonalds at their homes in Glencoe, get to know them, gain their confidence, then put every MacDonald, male and female, younger than 70 to the sword.  The Campbells were only too pleased to carry out their commission and the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692 remains one of the bloodiest dates in Scotland's bloodstained history.
 
 
GlenCoe, the scene of the most infamous depravity of the Campbells.

 The Glencoe  massacre shocked everyone in Scotland and Europe.
Yet such was the  stupidity of William III,  advised by Stair, in the year following Glencoe, severe proscriptive Acts  were again laid upon the MacGregors.   However, this time they only served the predatory services of the Campbells as they were not pursued with much enthusiasm by the real authorities.
            

Campbell troops watch GlenCoe burn.

          
          




Return to Index