Rob Roy Macgregor
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Rob Roy MacGregor’s name and reputation stride through late-17th- and early 18th-century Scottish history and he is probably the nation’s best-known historical figure next to Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Along with those three, Rob Roy’s portrayal in book and film has created a figure that does not really tally with the man that Nigel Tranter believes was much more than a mere Trossachs-based cattle thief, blackmailer, outlaw and protection racketeer. That he stole cattle, forced lairds to pay money to ensure their cattle were safe and lived on the wrong side of the law is not in dispute, but there are two sides to every story, and Rob’s is one of the most fascinating in Scottish history. In this comprehensible portrait of Rob Roy, master storyteller Nigel Tranter reveals a strange man who always had to stay one step ahead of everyone around him, be it in the business of cattle, his financial and political dealings with the dukes of Montrose and Argyll, his endeavours in support of the Jacobite cause, or his continual struggle with Montrose’s factor, Graham of Killearn.
When he failed to manage this complex set of activities, the repercussions were dire, not only for himself and his clan, but most importantly for his relationship with his remarkable wife, Mary. That he managed to survive in the political cauldron that was Jacobite Scotland, reconcile himself with his wife, maintain his nephew’s clan lands and somehow survive into relative old age to die in peace in his bed is wholly remarkable.
This is Rob Roy’s story, warts and all.
About the Author
Until his death in January 2000, Nigel Tranter was one of Scotland's most prolific author and specialised in Scottish historical fiction with over 100 novels written.
that he discovered that Murray was making tentative approaches so as to be ready to change sides if necessary, and let Murray know that he knew, using his knowledge to force the Secretary of State to change the government’s entire attitude towards himself. I may be wrong, but I cannot think of any other situation that would account for this sudden and totally unlooked for compact between these two men. At all events, for the time being the barometer was set fair for Rob Roy MacGregor. There are
but it would have been sheer lunacy. It is in the light of this situation that we must consider his reported decision: ‘No – if they cannot do it without me, they cannot do it with me.’ I believe that was the reasoned and reasonable decision of a very able and experienced guerilla fighter, seeing the military situation and summing it up. He had only 250 men. He could not change the course of the battle now. By standing fast he could keep the enemy cavalry at the far side of the river, and also
sticks in so many throats, of course, is where he declares that he sent to Argyll all the intelligence he could of the strength and situation of the rebels. This, at first glance, does seem like a damning admission of treachery. But is it so? Is it not much more likely, and in accord with Rob’s amply revealed character and his long standing loyalties, that he was here admitting, for political purposes, what he knew that the government already knew – that he had indeed been in touch with Argyll at
Constable. Hamilton Howlett (Blackwood), 1950. History of Rob Roy. AH Millar, 1883. Memoirs of Rob Roy. Kenneth Macleay, 1881. History of the Clan Gregor. Murray MacGregor (Wm. Brown), 1898-1901. History of the Scottish Highlands, Clans and Regiments. John S Keltie, 1875. Historic Haunts of Scotland. Alex Maclehose (Maclehose), 1936. In the Hills of Breadalbane. VA Firsoff (Hale), 1954. RL Stevenson and the Scottish Highlands. DB Morris (Mackay), 1929. INDEX Aberfoyle 65, 67, 86
presence felt on quite a wide swathe of Scotland. CHAPTER 3 Capture – and Escape FOR THE NEXT few years, Rob was a busy man. Scotland smouldered, always about to burst into flame but never quite doing so. All the time, revolt and civil war were just below the surface. The government in London was feeble; it was savage, fluctuating, riddled with jealousies and suspicions, personal animosities and divided loyalties. Ever since 1603, on the death of the childless Queen Elizabeth, when King