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Extirpate Clan Chattan 1583

By Peter Lawrie, ©2018
On February 24, 1603 King James and his Privy Council, sitting in Stirling Castle, issued an Edict for the Extermination of the ClanGregor, with offers of reward for the heads of Alexander MacGregor of Glenstrae and his principal followers. This was one of the last acts of King James before leaving for London to succeed Elizabeth as King of England.

However, such draconian treatment of a Highland Clan had not been the first such by James. In 1583 he had ordered the extirpation of Clan Chattan. The difference would be that proscription of the Clan Gregor would be far more severe and long-lasting.

The Original text.


James, be the grace of God, King of Scottis,
To our shirreffs of Kincardin, Abirdene, Banf, Elgen, Fores, Name, and Inuernyss ; and to our derrest bruthir, James, Erie of Murray, our lieutenant generale in the north partis of our realme, and to our louittis consingis [ ] Erie of Suthirland ; Alexander, Maistir of Sutherland; Johne, Erie of Cathnes; Johne, Lord Forbes ; Hew, Lord Eraser of Lovet ; Johne Grant of Freuchy ; Ewin Alansone, capitane of the Clan Cammeroun ; Johne M'Kainze of Kintaill ; Wellem Chesholme of [ ] Vrquard, our shirref of Cromerty ; Johne M'Ky of Strathnaver ; and all vthiris, fiehaldaris, baronis, capitanis of Clannys, and gentilmen, oure trew liegis, within our shirefdomis and boundis abouewrittin, oure shirreffis, in that parte, coniunctlie and seuerallie, specialie constitute,

Greting :
Forsamekill as Johne M'Kinla, Thomas Makkinla, Ferquhar M'Kinla, brethir, Donald Glass, Anguss Williamsone, his bruthir William, Lauchlane M'Kintoschis son, throcht assistance, aud fortifying of all the kin of Clanquhattane, duelland within Badenach, Petty, Brauchly, Strathnarne, aud vther partis thairabout, committis daly rasing of fire, slauchtir, murthur, heirschippis, and waisting of the cuntre, sa that oure trew liegis in thair partis about thaim may nocht leif in peace, and mak ws seruice. And in speciale, the saidis personis and thair complices hes cumm laitlie to the landis pertening to James Dunbar of Tarbert, in the Bray of Murray, and thair hes rasit fire, slane, and murtharit vj men and twa wemen, and mutilate vthir v men, and maid plane heirschip of nolt, scheip, hors, gait, swyne, cornis, and jnsycht gudis, layand the land waist, and makand depopulation of the cuntre, and tendis in contemption of oure autorite to ourthraw all landis about thaim with thair maisterfull oppressioun, heirschippis, and destruc8tion, and suffir na man to brouk landis that thai may wyn to, and will na wayis obey to oure lawis. And we and cure consale avisitlie considerand the grete harmys and contemptionis done be the said kin of Clanquhattane, and thair assistaris, aganis the comraoun wele, hes concludit and determit to mak vtir exterminatioun and destructioun of all that kin, thair assistaris, and parte takaris. And thairfore it is our will, and we charge straitlie and commandis yow, our said lieutenent, and shirreifis foirsaidis, and your deputis, and vtheris, our shirreifis in that parte aboue exprimit, that incontinent thir oure lettres sene, ye pass all at anys, or as ye may cum to, as salbe ordourit be yow, our said lieutenant, with all your powaris and convocatioun of our liegis in thai partis, in feir of weir, vpon the said Clanquhattane, and invaid thame to thair vter destructioun, be slauchtir, byrning, drowning, and vthir wayis; and leif na creatur levand of that clann, except preistis, women, and barnis. And that ye tak to your self, for your laubouris, all thair gudis that may be apprehendit, and hald the samyn to your avne vse ; and thair attour ye sail haue reward of ws for your gude seruice in the premissis. And gif ony personis assistis to thame, that is nochte of thair kin, or takis thair parte, that ye invaid thai assistaris, in lykewyse as the principale, to thair vtir destructioun. For the quhikis inuasionis, slauchteris, birningis, taking of gudis, or vthir skathis, done or to be done vpon the said Clanquhattane, or thair assisteris, thair sail neuir actioun nor cryme be impute to you, nor vtheris, our trew Regis, doaris, or committaris thairof ; nor accusatioun, nor restitutioun follow thairupon in the law, nor by the law, in tyme to cum. Bot all schairpnes done and to be done vpon thame salbe haldin and repute lauchfull and richtuuslie done, be command of ws and oure consale, for the common wele of oure realme; and als that ye tak the wemen and barnis of the said clan to sum partis of the sey, nerrest land, quhair schippis salbe forsene on our expenssis, to saill with thame furth of our realme, and land with them in Jesland, Zesland, or Norway ; becaus it wer inhumanite to put handis in the blude of wemen and barnis. This ye do, and ilkane of yow for your awne parte, as ye lufe the commoun wele of our realme, and will haue thank of ws thairfore and ansueir to ws thairvpoun. The quhilk to do we committ to yow, coniunctlie and seueralie, our full powar be thir our lettres.

Gevin vuder our signete, at Edinburgh, the x day of Nouember, and of our regno the xvj yeir.
Ex deliberatione dominorum consilii, &c.