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The Laird of Makgregour's Declaratioun, 1603

Published by Donald Gregory, 1831

THE LAIRD OF MAKGREGOUR’S DECLARATION, producit the tyme of Convictioun [1]

I, ALLESTER MAGRIGOUR of Glenstra, confesse heir before God, that I have bein persuadit, movit and intysit, as I am now presentlie accusit and trublit for; alse, gif I had usit counsall or command of the man that hes Intysit me. [2] I wald have done and committit sindrie heich Murthouris mair; ffor trewlie, sen I was first his Majesteis man, [3] I culd never be at ane eise, by my Lord of Argylls falshete and inventiones ; for he causit McClaine and Glenchamrowne [4] committ herschip and slauchter in my roum of Rannoche, the quhilk causit my pure men therefter to bege and steill: also, therefter, he moweit my brother and sum of my freindis to commit baith herschip and slauchter upone the Laird of Luss: Alsua, he persuadit myselfe, with message, to weir [5] aganis the Laird of Boquhanene, quhilk I did refuise; for the quhilk I was contenowalie boetit [6] that he sould be my unfreind; and quhen I did refuise his desire in that point, then he intysit me with uther messingeris, as be the Laird of Mcknachtane and utheris of my friendis to weir and truble the Laird of Luss; quhilk I behuffit to do for his fals boutgaittis. [7]

Then, quhen he saw I was at ane strait, he cawsit me trow [8] he was my guid freind; bot I did persave that he was slaw [9] therin: Then I made my moyan [10] to pleis his Majestie and Lords of Counsall, baith of service and obedience, to puneische faultouris and to saif innosent men; and quhen Argyll was maid foresein [11] thereof, he intysit me to stay and start fra thay conditiouns, causing me to understand that I was dissavit, bot with fair wordis; to put me in ane snair, that he mycht gett the lands of Kintyre in feyell [12] fra his Majestic, begane to putt at me and my kin: The quhilk Argyll inventit, maist schamfullie, and persuadit the Laird of Ardkinlaiss to dissave me, quha was the man I did maist trest into; bot God did releif me in the mean tyme to libertie maist narrowlie. [13] Nevertheless, Argyll maid the oppin brutt, [14] that Ardkinlass did all that falsheid by his knawlege [15] ; quhilk he did intyse me, with oft and sindrie messages, that he wald mak my peace and saif my lyfe and landis, only to puneis certane faltouris of my kin, and my innosent freindis [16] to renunce thair sirname, and to leif peaseablie. Vpone the quhilk conditiouns, he was suorne be ane ayth to his freindis; and they suorne to me ; and als, I haif his warrand and handwrytt thereupon. The quhilk promeis, gif they be honestlie keipit, I let God be Juge! And at our meting, in oure awin chalmer, he was suorne to me, in witnes of his awin freind. Attour, [17] I confess, befor God, that he did all his craftie diligence to intyse me to slay and destroy the Laird Ardinkaippill, Mckallay, [18] for ony ganes kyndness or freindschip that he mycht do or gif me. [19] The quhilk I did refuis, in respect of my faithfull promeis made to Mckallay of-befor. [20]

Also, he did all the diligence he culd, to mowe me to slay the Laird of Arkyndlas in lyk maner; but I never grantit therto; [21] throw the quhilk he did invy me grettumly. [22] And now, seing God and man seis it is greidenes of warldlie geir quhilk causis him to putt at me and my kin, and not the weill of the realme, nor to pacifie the samyn, nor to his Majesties honour, bot to putt down innosent men, to cause pure bairnes and infanttis bege, and pure wemen to perisch for hunger, quhen they ar heriet of their geir: The quhilk, I pray God, that thais faltis lycht not upon his Majestie heirefter, nor upon his successione. [23] Quherfor, I wald beseik God that his Majestie knew the veratie, that at this hour I wald be content to tak Baneisment, with all my kin that was at the Laird of Lussis slauchter, [24] and all utheris of thame that ony falt can he laid to their charge. And his Majestie, of his mercie, to lat pure innosent men and young bairnes pas to libertie, and lerne to leiff as innosent men: The quhilk I wald fulfill, but ony kynd of faill; [25] quhilk wald be mair to the will of God and. His Majesteis honour nor [26] the greidie, crewall forme that is devysit, only for leuf of geir, haueing nather respect to God nor honestie !


Item, it is ordanitand statut, that for [samekle as the Capitane of the] Clanquhattane, callit Makintosche wt [his kyn, freindis, assistaris, and pairttakaris, hes bene doaris, committaris ....... of grete slauchteris, heirschippis, birningis, mur[thouris]... . barnys, preistis, byrning of kirkis, and uther grete ...crymes .... within this realme, and specialie upoun the Inhabitantis of Ar[der]sere perteining to the Bishop of Ross; and wes nevir proffitable to the Kingis grace nor realme in weir nor pece;

thairfoir that lettreis be direct till the sheriffis and thair deputis of Abirdene, Banff, Elgen, Forres, Cromarty, Nairne, and lnnernes, to command and charge all and sundrie our Souerane Lordis liegis that nane of thame tak upoun hand to naime or obey to this Makintosche, callit Capitane of the Clanquhattane nor to nane utheris in tyme to cum, nor that nane be namit nor chosen Capitanis of that Clan, nor nane callit of the Clanquhattane fra this furth; becaus the Kingis Grace, with awiss of the Lordis of his·Counsale, hes dischargeit and cryit doun perpetual lie the said Capitane and Clan and name of Makintosche, and all uther maner of heid or chiftane of that sorte of the Clanquhattane; bot thai to serve the Lord or Laird under quhome or upoun quhais landis thay duell, as utheris the Kingis liegis dois; and that all our Souerane Lordis liegis be chairgit heirto under the pane of deid; and that it be ane point of dittay, in the Justice-air gif onie cumis in the contrair heirof; and ordainis the Justice Clerk present and to cum to tak dittay heirupoun as effeiris &c.

[This act follows some instructions, much obliterated, to the Earl of Huntly for repressing the Clanchattan. These instructions appear, from the few words which can still he read, to have been particularly severe; yet they do not seem to have produced much effect. William Macintosh, Captain of the Clanchattan, was executed in or about the year 1550 by the Earl (or as some say the Countess) of Huntly. It can hardly be supposed, however, that this was in consequence of an act of council, dated 16 years before, and while Macintosh was in minority.]

[1] The original of the very interesting and important paper now given (which has been printed by Mr Pitcairn in his valuable and interesting criminal trials, in the appendix to the trial of the Laird of Macgregor, ii. p. 435) is preserved in the General Register House, and is in the hand of the then Clerk of Secret Council, James Primrose. It is marked as "PRESENTIT BE MR WILLIAME HAIRT" (of Levilands), as an article of evidence of Macgregor's guilt at his trial. This person officiated as Justice-depute on the occasion.

[2] The Earl of Argyle, King's Lieutenant in the bounds of the Clan Gregor since July 1596. (Record of Secret Council.)

[3] He had taken the usual oath to be his Majesty's 'house-hald man' 27th July 1596, as appears from the Record of Secret Council.

[4] Clan Cameron.

[5] Wage war.

[6] Threatened.

[7] Deceitful courses; literally, ' round about ways.'

[8] Believe.

[9] Slow, slack.

[10] Did my endeavour, moyen.

[11] Advertised, informed.

[12] Fee, feu-farm. This refers to the royal promise of reward to Argyle, after February 71603, for apprehending Glenstray; which reward, as he had earned it, he afterwards received ; and it was confirmed to him by the Parliament 1607.

[13] His escape, which forms a 'very romantic incident in his melancholy history, is thus narrated by a contemporary but anonymous chronicler, whose MS. is preserved in the Advocates' Library, A. 4. 35.
"Now, on the secund day of October (1603), the Laird of Arkinles takis in hand to the Erll of Argyll, to tak the Laird of Macgregour; and callis him to ane bankatt (invites him to a banquet) in his hous, quhilk hous stuid within ane loche; and thair takis him prissoner to send him to Argyll. And putting him in ane boitt, with fyve menne with him, by ( Forbye, over and above, besides.) thame that rowit the boitt; he seeing himself betreissit, (betrayed) gettis his handis lowse ; and striking him our hurd that wes narrest to him, he lowpis in the watter and out sowmis (Outstrips the boat by his swimming.) to the land." - Pitcairn's Criminal Trials,vol. ii. p. 434.

[14] Report. French, bruit.

[15] Without, contrary to his knowledge.

[16] Such of them as were innocent of the crimes charged against the Clan generally

[17] Moreover.

[18] Awlay Macawlay.

[19] In the Lord Treasurer's Books of Scotland, November 1802, is the following entry: Item, to Patrik McOmeis, messinger, passand of Edinburghe, wt Lettres to charge Ard Earle of Argyle to compeir personallie befoir the Counsall the xvj day of December nixt, to ansuer to sic thingis as sal be inquirit at him, tuiching his lying at await for the Laird of Ardincapill, vpone set purpois to have slane him, xvj li.

[20] Glenstray and Macaulay had entered into a bond of Clanship May 27, 1591, in which the latter owns his being a cadet of the house of the former, and promises to pay him ‘ THE CALP’ -Paper in the General Register House.

[21] Ardkinlass, as appears from the Book ofTaymouth, was Glenstray's near kinsman. He had been at feud with Argyle for some years, on account of his alleged share in the murder of Sir John Campbell of Calder (who at the time of his death was guardian to the Earl). It is probable that Ardkinlass hoped to make his peace with the Earl, by apprehending the Laird of Macgregor.

[22] Bore a great or mortal grudge at me.

[23] This prayer seems almost prophetic.

[24] The Laird of Luss not having been killed at Glenfroon, these words must mean "at the slaughter of the Laird of Luss's friends." See Note 102, p. 28.

[25 Without failure or evasion.

[26] Than

[27] Acta Dominorum Concilii et Sessionis, v. 31.