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The Clan Gregor in Sutherland 1746

By Peter Lawrie, ©1996

The Jacobite Rising in Sutherland - March 20th to April 14 1746

The campaign in Sutherland, in the weeks before the battle of Culloden is an aspect of the later part of the ‘45 rising which is often overlooked. However, the Clan Gregor regiment took part in this and their late recall to Inverness meant that the regiment did not return  in time to take part in the final battle. It may be idle to speculate, but if they had returned in time  some of our members, myself included might not be here today. We should remember that in addition to Glengyle’s Clan Gregor regiment members of our clan served in a number of regiments who were present at Culloden. In particular there were 24 MacGregors who followed MacGregor of Inverenzie and formed part of Farquharson of Monaltrie’s Deeside regiment. Only six of them returned to their homes.

I have dealt with the story of the MacGregors in the '45 more fully on my page on the "Clan Gregor in the last Jacobite rising of 1745-46" [ click here - clan gregor in the last Jacobite rising of 1745-46.]

Many Highland chiefs did not bring their people out for the Jacobites. In some cases this was due more to prudence than any real disagreement with the Jacobites. Highland Society was built on ancient traditions going back to the Picto-Scottish Monarchy with the rightful King at its head. The loyalty to the true King, no matter what he or his ancestors had done was the prime motivation. How else can one explain the loyalty of the Clan Gregor who were ‘out’ in every rising despite the awful record of the Stewart Kings to the Clan during the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries. Whereas the Lowlanders might be motivated by religion or commerce, Highland Society in its final years still clung to the old ways. However, not all of the Chiefs were so motivated. In particular the Duke of Argyll, was firmly for the Government and, while keeping his own person well clear of any trouble, raised large militia forces for the Hanoverians. In the North, William Gordon, Earl of Sutherland was similarly firmly on the Government side. As such, Sutherland was a significant problem for the Jacobite army when it reached Inverness in late February.

As the principal landowner in Sutherland, the Earl was able to deliver the whole county for the Hanoverian government. He had five militia companies raised and in arms during the rising, as well as a further two companies by Lord Reay, chief of the Clan Mackay. Lord Reay was heavily indebted to the Earl and had little option in the matter. Though there is mention of Jacobite sympathy both in the Reay country and in Sutherland proper, the Earl was able to keep it under his firm control, as he had during earlier risings. Similarly pro-Jacobite sympathies in Caithness and Orkney were muted, for fear of the Earl.

Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord President of the Court of Session, and Lord Loudoun had succeeded in raising twenty two pro-Government militia companies, including the seven mentioned above. One of the Earl’s and one of Lord Reay’s companies were at Prestonpans but, distrusted by Sir John Cope, they were left to guard the baggage. Following Cope’s defeat, the victorious Jacobites asked them to swear an oath not to bear arms against the Prince and then allowed them to go home on parole, leaving  their weapons behind. The Earl quickly had them back in arms again for the Government, despite their oath. The Grant and Ross companies surrendered Inverness Castle and themselves after a token siege on February 21st. The  Macintosh and Seaforth MacKenzie companies were captured at Dornoch, with virtually no bloodshed on March 20th. Most of them were paroled and allowed to go home, while some joined the Jacobite force. Lords Loudoun and Forbes,  with MacDonald of Sleat and MacLeod of Dunvegan fled to Skye. Lord Reay’s men also returned home, where they were to be fortuitously on hand when the Sloop “Le Prince Charles”, with treasure and supplies for the Jacobites, was driven ashore at Tongue by a Royal Navy Frigate on March 24th.  The Earl of Sutherland fled by boat and, narrowly escaping capture, he was picked up by a patrolling Royal Navy sloop and taken to Aberdeen. Left behind in  East Sutherland were his militia companies, commanded by Hugh Gordon of Carroll and John Clunes of Neilston.

It is the nature of armies to commit offences which in more peaceful times cannot be condoned, however the Jacobite leadership were acutely aware of the widespread opposition to them and were determined not to exacerbate matters by uncontrolled looting and violence. Despite inter-clan enmity and feuds, it is surprising how little looting there was. There are documented instances of severe discipline by the Jacobite leadership against those of their men caught looting. Conversely, Cumberland actively encouraged pillage and destruction on a huge scale, which sickened many of the Highland chiefs, including the Earl of Sutherland,  who had sided with the Government. Indeed Cumberland and his senior staff were not above looting on their own account as witnessed by the shiploads of furniture and valuables sent off to London from Aberdeen and Inverness, including property from the Lord President Duncan Forbes’ own house at Culloden, the most active supporter of the Government in the North. The Jacobites believed that they had a right to levy the Cess, that is the local taxation, as well as to encourage recruits where-ever they could be found. When their money supply ran out they gave receipts for food which they levied, payable in the event of their success. Merchants and farmers were given protection and safe-conduct against the seizure of their goods and persons, in return for fairly assessed contributions. Times were undoubtedly hard, with conditions of near-famine in early 1746. As an example, Munro of Foulis was an officer with Cumberland, yet from Duncan MacPharrie’s account “Lady Munro of Foulis petitioned the Prince, if he would be so kind as to order the MacGregors to guard the Castle of Foulis and her lands, as she knew the MacDonalds and MacKenzies would plunder and pillage her house and lands; these two parties were at enmity with the Munros. Her petition was granted and we were ordered to guard the Castle of Foulis.”

Several recent newspaper articles suggested that Coll Ban MacDonald of Barrisdale represented the Jacobite Force in Sutherland, and repeats the old story of the prowess of Ensign John Mackay of Mudale. In fact Barrisdale only commanded a small part of the Jacobite force, probably around a hundred. Of the approximately one thousand left in Sutherland between March 20th and April 14th, half comprised the MacKenzie regiment of Lord Cromartie, who was in overall command. There were some two hundred MacGregors under Glengyle and Glencarnock, and a company of Mackinnons, as well as the MacDonalds of Glengarry and Barrisdale. 

In an article in the present Sutherland newspaper, the “Northern Times”, the writer made a considerable issue of the looting and burning of houses belonging to gentlemen in Sutherland. Lord Cromartie had entered  into negotiations with the Sutherland militia leadership, whereby they would be allowed to return to their homes, without hindrance, on condition that they surrendered their weapons and the local Cess money which they were holding. This they agreed to do but prevaricated and delayed. Gordon of Carrol escaped by boat and joined the Earl in Aberdeen. Captain Clunes  was warned that he was in breach of the agreement which he and Carroll had made and threatened with the consequences. Only then were their houses burned. Bishop Forbes, in “The Lyon in Mourning” reports that this was the only punitive burning carried out by the Jacobite army and that it was the decision of Lord Cromartie and not of the Prince. There is an eye-witness account of the burnings by Duncan Macpharrie, who was a member of the Clan Gregor regiment in Sutherland. “There came an express (an urgent message) to the MacGregors and MacDonalds to burn the factor’s house and barn and put them to ashes; we were not pleased with this work, we would (rather) fight than burn his house; his lady and children were in the fever at the time. We were ordered to carry out all the plenishing and furniture and set them in the close, the beds and bedclothes in the middle of the plenishing, we moved the Lady and children and laid them in their beds and kept a guard that nothing should be stolen or carried away. Then we came to the barn, there was in it 200 bolls of bear (barley), we carried every grain out of the barn before we put it  aflame.” 

Even the Earl’s Castle of Dunrobin escaped relatively lightly. The Earl complained subsequently that his horses and weapons had been taken and that leather from his coaches and chairs had been cut to make targes. Some of his silver was taken by Barrisdale and his charter chest was looted, though most of the charters were subsequently recovered. However, the Castle and most of its plenishings escaped destruction despite the Earl’s position as leader of the Government sentiment in the North of Scotland.

Shortly before the battle of Culloden, the Jacobite forces in Sutherland were commanded to return to Inverness. All but Cromartie’s men left on the 14th of April. The next day, the Earl of Cromartie and his officers were entertained in the Castle by Lady Sutherland as their 500 strong regiment marched to Little Ferry, about three miles South of Golspie. Ensign John MacKay of Mudale with 14 men was able to enter the Castle and arrest the Earl and his officers while companies of Sutherland militia led by Captains MacAllister  and Gray attacked the MacKenzies in the flank as they marched over the links by Culmaily. Around two hundred men were captured and the remainder either killed or drowned in Loch Fleet, very few escaped. For the  MacKenzie prisoners, other than the officers, there was no question of parole or honourable treatment, they were crowded into the “Hound”, a  Royal Navy Sloop of about 200 tons  and transported to Inverness and then on to London. About 50 of them died of maltreatment and gaol fever and 154 survivors were eventually transported as indentured servants to the colonies. There were two men named William MacGregor among the prisoners taken to Inverness on the “Hound”.  Only one of them, a man aged 22 from Caithness,  is mentioned in the “Muster Roll of Prince Charles Edward Stewart’s Army” and is shown as having died, perhaps the other escaped.  Lord Cromartie was later sentenced, in the House of Lords, to be hung, drawn and quartered along with the other three captured Jacobites Lords, the Earl of Kilmarnock, Arthur Elphinstone, Lord Balmerino and Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat. The Earl of Cromartie was reprieved at the last moment following a plea by his wife to the Prince of Wales, a rare example of clemency by the ruling family. Lord MacLeod, the Earl of Cromartie’s son,  who was allowed to go into exile, rose to become a Marshall of Sweden and redeemed his father’s estate in 1788. His descendant, Ann Hay MacKenzie married the third Duke of Sutherland and had the Cromartie titles restored by Queen Victoria.

The Earl of Sutherland made a substantial claim on the government after the rising for the costs he had incurred, the lost rentals and the damage done to his own house and that of his two factors. In the nature of “insurance” claims it  undoubtedly grew “arms and legs”. In any event the government did not re-imburse him.  By comparison, the Duke of Montrose, another pro-government Lord, who spent the rising safely in London, also made a claim on the Government for the damage to his Buchanan estate, by Loch Lomond, where many MacGregors lived. Hundreds of  houses and farms were indiscriminately burned and their livestock driven off by Brigadier Mordaunt during the summer of 1746, although only a very few had been actually involved in any way with the rising. Needless to say his claims also fell on deaf ears in London.

Northern Times,
Main Street,

The Jacobites in Sutherland

Dear Sir,
In his recent article Michael Hook asserted without justification that I believe that “the Stuarts could do no wrong.”  Does that imply that he, in turn, believes that the Hanoverian regime could do no wrong? My passion is for the people of the Highlands, not the last fling of a failed dynasty. After the ‘45 there was wanton and deliberate destruction of what remained of one of the oldest surviving cultures of Europe, which despite assault by Viking, Norman and English, not to mention the anglicised Lowland Scot,  had survived up to the middle of the eighteenth century. James VIII and III was the legitimate King of Scots, whatever the English might decide, by right of descent, and in spite his many and manifest shortcomings. It is the measure the Loyalty of the Highland Chiefs to the representative of their ancient line of Kings that so many “came out” with their people for the rightful line in place of an usurping dynasty. Clan Gregor in particular had suffered grievously under successive Stewart Kings, and yet they fought for them in every rising, 1645, 1689, 1715, 1719 as well as 1745. George, Elector of Hanover, was in fact 52nd (or thereabouts) in line of succession to Queen Anne in 1714. More practical leaders, such as the Earls of Argyll and Sutherland, (as well as the sons and grandsons of  the Jacobite chiefs) had a clearer view to their own self-interest, as their own redundant clansman were to discover in the century after the ‘45. Nor do I believe that the later history of the Highlands would have turned out much differently had the Stuarts won back their throne in 1745.  More personally, I number among my ancestors men who served in the Gordon of Carroll’s militia company as well as Gregor MacGregor of Glengyle, Colonel of the Clan Gregor regiment.

Michael Hook also implies that I wrote in defence of Coll Ban MacDonell of Barrisdale, and made an issue of my mis-spelling of the name, (MacDonalds (sic) of Glengarry and Barrisdale) although the form of the name which I used is found in a number of contemporary accounts, and Michael Hook used it himself in his original article of 26 April!.  Barrisdale was a thief, cattle reiver, brigand and worse, he was a traitor to the cause he supposedly espoused. Like his cousin Alasdair MacDonell, Young Glengarry,  who Andrew Lang asserted was Pickle the Spy.

In my previous letter I made a number of points: The Jacobite leadership had a policy of paying for supplies when possible and giving promissory notes when it was not. They distinguished between Public Money, or Cess Tax which they claimed to have a right to collect and Private property. The utmost leniency was given to captives who gave their parole and punitive burning and  wanton looting was strongly discouraged. I need not spend any time proving these policies to be the direct opposite of those practised by Cumberland. In a civil war orders are not always carried out according to the policies of the commanders and when money ran out and the blockade bit hard in March and April of 1746 unjustifiable acts were committed.

I referred to five Sutherland and two MacKay militia companies among a total of twenty two pro-Government companies in the North. Michael Hook makes a number of assertions about this force which need to be answered and, as my original summary was open to criticism, I have analysed this issue in more detail.  In the strictest sense Michael Hook is correct to distinguish between Loudon’s regiment and the Independent companies and militias. However, the truth is by no means so clear. A number of  Independent companies or Watches (Am Freiceadan Dubh or Black Watch) raised in the Highlands since 1725 had been formed in 1743 into a Line Regiment, the 43rd,, (renumbered the 1749). In 1745 it was commanded by Lord John Murray. It was the intention of the Government to raise a second Highland regiment in the spring of 1745 under the command of Lord Loudon. This regiment, like the first, was to comprise 12 clan companies of 112 officers and men  provided by  “loyal” chiefs. On the 8th of June, 1745, he had assembled 750 officers and men at Inverness, (and 500 at Perth). Yet in August 1745, Sir John Cope found that there were only  four understrength companies at Inverness. These included one company under Sutherland of Forse and another under Alexander Mackay, son of Lord Reay. Together with a fifth from Murray’s regiment they could only muster 185 men in total when they were captured with Cope’s baggage at Prestonpans. According to General Stewart of Garth, all the officers and men of Loudon’s companies at Prestonpans surrendered, and a considerable number of the officers and men joined the rebels, whereas none of Murray’s regiment did so. Murray’s men did not give their parole to obtain release, whereas Loudon’s men did. Stewart goes on to give as a reason for this, that the men of Loudon’s “had entered into what they supposed only a kind of local and temporary service, on conditions of engagement which they considered as far less binding than those of a permanent regiment.” Many  of these men, (apart from those that joined the Jacobites!) despite being released on their parole not to fight against the Jacobites again, were later included among Loudon’s command in the North.  (It is stated that one of the reasons for the easy defeat of Loudon’s men at Dornoch was the anxiety of those who had given their parole of honour earlier to escape rather than risk being captured a second time.)

When Lord Loudon returned to Inverness on October 11th, his so-called “Highland Regiment”, comprising all the troops between Fort William and Inverness  numbered just 150 men. Duncan Forbes of Culloden, the Lord President,  was given blank commissions to raise as many new Independent companies as he could. By February 1746, there were 18 companies in Inverness, under Loudon’s command and paid by him, including 2 Sutherland and 2 Reay companies. I originally assumed that these embodied the remaining men from Loudon’s regiment, but it seems that this was not so. On March 10th, at Dornoch, having lost several companies in the retreat from Inverness, Lord President Duncan Forbes listed 7 very weak companies of Lord Loudon’s regiment with just 212 fit men and 46 NCOs, (among these, Captain Archibald MacNab  had just 4 men and NCOs, John Sutherland of Forse had 36 and 6 NCOs, Lord Reay’s son had 31 and 7 NCOs); 13 Independent companies had 1050 fit men and 113 NCOs. These 13 included  2 Sutherland and 2 MacKay companies with 338 effective men in total. The Earl of Sutherland also raised a further 4 companies of “militia” at his own expense, and commanded by Captains Gordon of Carroll, MacAlister, Clunes, and Grey which served from 14th February to 1st July 1746.   A fifth Sutherland militia company served from 19th April to 1st July for guarding the hill passes against fugitive rebels.  In Alasdair MacLean’s article on the Independent Companies he solves the problem of definition by referring to detached companies of regular regiments, formal Independent companies and irregular militia all as Independent companies since their function and personnel were interchangeable. In their roles of preventing Jacobite sympathisers from joining the rising and in policing territory they had some success. As an organised regiment in support of the Government army they were a complete failure. Within six months of the rising all of these companies were disbanded and drafts from them were used to  re-create Loudon’s regiment at Inverness. Only from the start of 1747 when it was brought up to full strength and sent to Flanders can it be properly regarded as a regular infantry regiment in the British Army. It was disbanded in 1748.  

Jacobite forces are notoriously difficult to enumerate. Paradoxically the most successful could be said to be those who escaped without their names being recorded! Only the names of a handful of officers of the Clan Gregor regiment, out of 300 is known. Clan Gregor had an Elective Chieftainship and almost all of the Clan lived on lands not belonging to their leaders, MacGregors chose to follow Glengyle and Glencarnaig, usually against the wishes of their Landlords. The number in a formation could fluctuate considerably. In the eyes of regular army officers, desertion is a heinous and capital crime, but a Highlander might return home with battlefield booty or to take in his harvest, or to find food. He would return to his regiment, with more or less encouragement from his Chief, at a later date. Though there is some evidence of compulsion by a Chief on his men to follow him, a further quotation from Stewart of Garth regarding the Laird of Grant, is relevant. “Eleven hundred men of  his Clan pressed forward to offer their services, on condition that their Chief would lead them, to support, what they styled, the cause of their ancient Kings. Afterwards when it was found necessary  to pay a compliment to the Royal General, (i.e Cumberland) all the Chief’s influence could only procure ninety five followers to attend him.” By contrast, the Earl of Sutherland had his ministers conduct a census of 2337 fencible men on his estates in order to raise his companies, and even Michael Hook states  definitively that none of the men were willing volunteers.
The Jacobite force which crossed the Dornoch Firth on March 20th numbered between 1500 and 1800  under the Duke of Perth and O’Sullivan. Shortly after this Clanranald, Lochgarry  and Ardsheal returned to Inverness with their regiments. It is variously estimated that these numbered around 700. This left between 800 and 1100 made up of Cromartie’s, Barrisdale’s, MacKinnon’s and MacGregor’s.  As 800 is obviously too low, let us use the figure of 1000 which is mentioned in several sources, including the Scots Magazine which took it from the estimates of Government spies in Sutherland.

There are references to Cromartie’s  numbering  500 men in the Scots Magazine which is where I took my earlier figure from, but other accounts give him less. However , John Home states in his “History of the Rebellion of 1745”, that “Lord Cromartie, with about 700 men was in Sutherland , as was also MacKinnon, Glengyle and Barrisdale, with their men”. (John Home took part in the Rising as a Volunteer on the Government side, He was captured at Falkirk and briefly imprisoned at Doune Castle when commanded by Glengyle). This 700 seems too low for the entire force and too high for Cromartie’s alone. There were 172 prisoners from Cromartie’s in the victual list of the sloops “Hawk” and “Hound” which carried them to Inverness. Depending on whose account of the battle of Little Ferry which you believe, there were 50 killed and about 40 escaped. However, according to the Scots Magazine, the Monros in Ross claimed to have killed at least 50 of these escapees, so the true number must have been higher. Also accounts of Lord MacLeod (Cromartie’s son) claimed that he led 300 of his father’s regiment (leaving at least some men with his father) into Caithness where he was joined by the MacKenzies of Balloan and Dundonald. Lord Elcho states that Cromartie had 300 men at Little Ferry. Assuming that the 500 in the Scots Magazine and repeated by Sir Walter Scott is an exaggeration, and that there had been some desertion, let us say that Cromartie’s numbered 350 rather than 500.

Michael Hook states that the MacGregors only had a detachment in Sutherland. I would be most grateful to him if he could provide proof for this statement. I have a copy the “Muster Roll of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Army”. In many ways this is an excellent book, but it is sadly deficient with regard to the Clan Gregor and I have submitted a number of corrections and additions to the Secretary of the 1745 Association. It lists only the officers, and has a number of factual errors regarding them. Even the prisoners taken at Ardno on Loch Fyne, when the Argyll militia repulsed Glengyle on 15 November 1745 which are listed in “Prisoners of the ‘45” are not included. John Home states that the MacGregors numbered 255 when they joined the army in September, and this did not include the 40 serving with the Duke of Perth, or those with the Atholl regiment and Keppoch’s. Lord Elcho gives the number in Sutherland at 300. The Scots Magazine gives the Clan Gregor 300 in its estimate of Jacobite strength. Clan Gregor had two leaders, Colonel Gregor MacGregor of Glengyle (definitely not, as in the “Muster Roll”, Gregor John MacGregor-Murray of Glengyle, T 15.4.46 - The John MacGregor taken at Little Ferry was a private man in Cromartie’s, and Glengyle used the alias James Graham) and Lt-Colonel Robert MacGregor-Murray of Glencarnaig. For much of the rising, they operated separately. Glencarnaig went into England with about 200 men, Glengyle remained in Scotland as governor of Doune Castle. At Falkirk, Glencarnaig’s were with Keppoch’s while Glengyle’s men were with Lochiel’s regiment. I have found no evidence to suggest that the two parts of Clan Gregor were not operating together in Sutherland. MacPharie makes it clear that Glencarnaig was in Sutherland and every other account I have read puts the whole regiment under Glengyle. The largest body of MacGregors at Culloden were the 24 under Inverenzie in Monaltrie’s Deeside regiment and an indeterminate number in the Atholl Brigade and Keppoch’s. These never formed part of the Clan Gregor regiment. James Mor MacGregor’s assertion that he was “At Culloden with six companies” is a fiction. Most of MacGregors who began the rising with the Duke of Perth later joined Glengyle. At the end of April Glengyle was reported with 120 men at Finlarig by Loch Tay. Glencarnaig had at least as many with him, Duncan MacPharie claimed that Glencarnaig had more men than Glengyle. The lowest number this produces for Clan Gregor  is 240, and probably as high as Lord Elcho’s figure of 300.

With regard to MacKinnon’s regiment, John dubh MacKinnon brought 120 men to Edinburgh after Prestonpans. The Loudon papers list 78 men, which is reproduced in the “Muster Roll”. Their strength in Sutherland was probably higher than the total named. To avoid argument let us assume a round 100. That makes 750 out of 1000, leaving 250 for Barrisdale, compared with the 200 men he had at Falkirk, though it is higher than my previous estimate. Barrisdale commanded the 2nd battalion of Glengarry’s regiment, rather than one of his own, which is why I referred in my previous letter to the “MacDonalds of Glengarry and Barrisdale” to which Michael Hook objected. Elcho gives Barrisdale 400 in Sutherland, which I believe is too high, but as Elcho does not here mention MacKinnon,  the 400 may include his 100. The Muster Roll lists 40 officers and 327 men of the Glengarry Regiment (Lochgarry’s and  Barrisdale’s battalions), most of whom surrendered in May on promises of clemency (despite which many of them were transported). Lochgarry is said to have had 300 at Culloden.  It was Lochgarry, not Barrisdale who led the regiment in the crossing of the Dornoch Firth on March 20th. W Drummond Norie states that Lochgarry had 530 men in Sutherland and when he returned to Inverness he took 250 men with him and  left Barrisdale with 280. Barrisdale, after all was only third in command of Glengarry’s, after James MacDonell, third son of Old Glengarry and Colonel from January 1746, and Lt Colonel Donald MacDonell of Lochgarry (Formerly a Lieutenant in Loudon’s regiment).  Michael Hook claims that Barrisdale effectively commanded in Sutherland. I have found no evidence of this and indeed Cromartie, an Earl and full Colonel in the Jacobite army would not have countenanced this, no matter what one’s view of his abilities as a commander. Glengyle was also a full Colonel and outranked Barrisdale.  Of course, I know that Lord MacLeod took most of Cromartie’s to Caithness, but that of itself did not put Barrisdale in command. 

The Earl of Sutherland left a very detailed account of his expenses in the ‘45 which is now in the National Library in Edinburgh. It gives the expense of the militia and other military operations at £9602 sterling. His personal losses, of effects and furnishings at Dunrobin are not included. Ignoring the shillings and pence, the losses caused by the rebels in Golspie, Loth, Creich, Rogart, Clyne and Lairg are given as £4615. Of this, £999 is for Gordon of Carrol’s house and £800 for Clunes of Neilston’s. Major Mackay in Reachar suffered losses of £100, which included 6 horses, 30 sheep and 3 goats altogether worth £40 as well as food and plenishing. All three of these men were in command of military units hostile to the Jacobites, hardly innocent victims. There is no mention in the Earl’s papers of any other houses being burnt, which corroborates the statement by Bishop Forbes in “Lyon in Mourning”. Aside from these the parishes claimed the following: Dornoch, £1141; Golspie, £538; Loth, £53; Creich, £228; Rogart, £255; Clyne, £266; and Lairg, £149.  Some of the losses in Dornoch were caused by Malcolm Ross, younger of Pitcalnie, an officer who had deserted from Loudon and is not numbered among either Barrisdale’s or Cromartie’s men in the “Muster Roll”, nor is he in “Prisoners of the ‘45”. If Pitcalnie did burn fifteen houses near Dornoch, which assertion I have no reason to doubt, they must have been turf cot-houses, which a man and his neighbours could easily rebuild in a day, rather than the substantial stone-houses of tacksmen. Quite clearly if one is poor, living on the edge of subsistence, to have someone burn your house and take your meal-chest and only cow is a major disaster. I am quite sure the many thousands of families who had their cot-houses similarly destroyed and their milch-cows driven off, and perhaps their women raped too by Regular soldiers in the months after Culloden would have felt just the same. Michael Hook appeals to our emotions by quoting examples of looting from the Ospisdale papers. I would never attempt to deny that these happened, despite what Michael Hook suggests. But just examine the above valuations which are the best that the Ministers of the parishes could come up with, when the Earl of Sutherland was desperate to emphasise just how much he had done and suffered for the Government. 

Rather than comment further on this, let me mention the cost of the devastation by the Hanoverians on the small estate of Robert MacGregor-Murray of Glencarnaig in the latter part of 1746. Glencarnaig was the tacksman of 17 merklands on the Duke of Atholl’s estate in Balquhidder. Not only was his own house and furnishing destroyed, and his livestock driven off, but  every building on his estate was systematically looted and destroyed and the standing crops burned. Glencarnaig’s own losses due to the ‘45, in his bankruptcy  proceedings, were estimated at £5060 sterling and his 40 tenants, between them lost £1500 worth of cattle, crops and plenishing. I make this point, not to say that “my loss is more than your loss”, but to put into context the value of cropland, houses and livestock. The Ministers of six large parishes in Sutherland could only account for losses amounting to £4615, 40% of which relates to two houses. A single detachment of Regular soldiers were able to do £6560 to just one small estate with 40 tenants. Just imagine what damage the Jacobites could have done in Sutherland had they really tried!.

I have tried to be as honest and accurate as I can in this, and I can only apologise for errors of interpretation and presentation. I am sure that Michael Hook as a professional historian, is very well aware of the contradictory and partial nature of the evidence. Therefore any analysis is bound to be selective and open to dispute. However, I do not choose to resort to emotive and derogatory remarks about someone who may choose to interpret the evidence differently. Looting and violence are inevitable in a civil war. Highland agriculture was always marginal and easily tipped over into famine, indeed there was famine again in 1751. Jacobite policy, irrespective of the practise of individual commanders, was firmly against indiscriminate looting and destruction. Lack of money, supplies and an increasingly  desperate position, especially after the loss of the French gold in the “Hazard” at Tongue, was bound to cause suffering. That is a long way from the deliberate policy of looting, killing and destruction visited on “The disaffected”, guilty and innocent alike, by a well-supplied and supposedly disciplined army after Culloden.