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Rob Roy - his capture and escape

These details concerning Rob Roy's capture and escape have been taken from "The History of the Clan Gregor", vol ii, Chapter 23
History of The Clan Gregor, by Amelia Murray MacGregor Vol II Chapter 23

Following the failure of the '15 Rising, Rob Roy remained an outlaw and was specifically exempted from the Act of Indemnity.

In the spring of 1716, [1]   General Cadogan was employed in chasing some hostile bands of the Clans in the remoter parts of the Highlands. Professor Miller relates that Rob Roy at this time led his men from place to place in the north Lowlands and greatly harassed the Whig Lairds of Fife and Stirlingshire. The Hanoverians having captured Finlarig Castle, belonging to the Earl of Breadalbane, garrisoned it, and Rob Roy went to Balquhidder to watch events. It appears that Rob Roy's wife at the time occupied the house of Auchinchallan in Glen Dochart. Hearing that Cadogan had ordered a party to burn the house of Auchinchallan, Rob Roy sent his wife to Glengyle, and posted himself with some followers in ambush near Auchinchallan, whilst he sent Alastair Roy to bring more men from Craigroistan. But in the meantime a party of Swiss mercenaries led by a guide reduced the house to ashes. Although outnumbered, Rob Roy ordered his men to fire on the mercenaries, but then retreated.

“Letter from Graham of Killearn to Mungo Graham of Gorthie -
"Killern 11 April 1716.
Sir-I was enquiring about Rob Roy's story, which is, as it comes from his own freinds, that on Wednesday last he was informed that a partie was to be sent from Finlarig to his house, he sent of ane express immediatelie to his people in Craigiostan to come as quicklie to his assistance as they could and thought fitt to absent himself when the party came because he found he had not force to resist.

The party caryed off his whole plenishing and goods, except a few wild beasts that ran away with the fyring and burnt all his houses save one little barn. But Robert was not able to bear all this without attempting some revenge. Therefor with a few of these he could gett readiest, his Craigroistan folks not having tyme to come up, he fyred from some rocks and passes upon the partie and killed two or three, and has wounded ten or twelve, ther's lykwise one of his killed and severall wounded, but all the booty was carryed off. This is the most distinct account of the matter that I have yet gott. Now its certain this partye has not been commanded by P. Robieson, for they returned to Finlarig: if it had been Robison he would have marched to Glenguyle, soe that you see that concert failed, wherfor its most necessar you consider hou to make a new application to the Generall to take a course with these villains whose insolence is not to be born any longer. They have just now stolen a good deall of sheep of the Muir of Blane above Duntreth, and daylie threatens more mischief to all the country."

The house of Monacaltuarach, which Rob Roy occupied in Balquhidder, was on the property of the Duke of Atholl and not on that of the Duke of Montrose as Professor Millar apparently supposed. Also the Duke of Atholl was the feudal Lord of Balquhidder, and most of its inhabitants were loyal to him, which makes various stories of encounters with him in Balquhidder difficult to understand, and rather takes the point out of them.

By Lt. Coll. Russell Commanding at Finlarig Castle. [2]  
“I doe hearby Certifie that John Oge Campbell has bought and payd for all the Cattle which was brought or taken from the House of Rob Roy by the party sent thither from Finlarg Castle, and if any of the said Cattle strayed from the party as they came along which severall of them did, the said John Oge Campbell is intitled to them as his owne proper goods soe may take ym up as such.
"Given at Finlarig Castle. this 5th of Aprill 1716.
(Signed) Chris. Russell.
"I doe likewise oblige myselfe yt the said John Oge Campbell shall not have ye said Cattle taken from him by any who shall pretend a writ by Law, or otherways as mony due to ym by the said Rob Roy any manner of way. Chris. Russell."

Outside this original paper is an old doquet as follows
"Lyes inclosed - Rob Roy's Discharge to me for my possession of Corriecherich & Innervonchall."
In Dr McLeay’s Memoir of Rob Roy, of which a reprint was brought out in 1881, many feats are related, the accuracy of which cannot be traced, such as a conflict between Drummonds and Murrays, at Drummond Castle, which certainly did not take place in Rob Roy's time or in the circumstances narrated. The Memoir also relates in much exaggerated form, the surrender of Rob Roy to John 1st Duke of Atholl from whose custody he skilfully escaped. The History by A. H. Millar, F.S.A. Scot, has reproduced McLeay’s Memoir and adds to the capture of Rob Roy, sundry picturesque details, the source of which is not specified, but both writers have evidently taken as their text the scarce and curious Tract entitled "The Highland Rogue," published in London during the lifetime of Rob Roy himself and mostly favourable to him, it is now considered to have been the work of Defoe. [3]   The later author of the “Trials of Rob Roy's three sons”, published in 1818, characterises some of the tales in this tract as "whimsical exaggeration," "if not entire fiction," and it pertains to the literature of romance. From various passages in Mr Millar's Book he appears to have been unaware that the Duke of Atholl, who he supposes to have vacillated, was a consistent "Whig" throughout, and was from youth opposed to the Stuart interests, partly, doubtless, because his wife Lady Katharine Hamilton was a very strong presbyterian. [4]   Several of his sons however, as also his brothers, were loyal to the Jacobite cause. A graphic account, taken with embellishments, from "the Highland Rogue " - describes Rob Roy's arrival at Blair Castle where he was taken to the "Library", a room which did not exist at Blair at the time, but that is a matter of trivial detail. It is very doubtful if on this occasion Rob Roy went to Blair Castle, for on the 3rd June the Duke had gone from Dunkeld to Huntingtower where he left the Duchess, his second wife, who therefore could not have been present at the interview. The Duke wrote about the capture of Rob Roy on the following day, June 4th, and the following letters are here given from the Atholl papers by permission of the present Duke

Extract of a letter from John 1st Duke of Atholl to Lt.Genl Carpenter. [5]  
"Logyraite, June 4th, 1717.
"Yesterday Robert Campbell, commonly called Rob Roy, surrendered himself to me, who I sent prisoner to this place, where he is keep't in custody. He says he has not lain three nights together in a house these twelve months. I have wrote to Court that he is now my prisoner."

Letter from Lord Justice Clerk to Duke of Atholl. "Edinr'., 5th June 1717.
"My Lord - I Cannot express the joye I was in upon Receipt of your Grace's, and hopes it shall be most luckie that this man has fallen in your Grace's hands. I dispatcht your Grace's letters by a flying pacquet within less yn ane hour after they came to my hand, and I'm confident it will be most agreeable news at Court.
Yr Grace will escuse me to plead that Rob Roy may be brougbt over hither to the Castle; the prison of Logerait is at too great a distance from the troops, & I have procured a order from Mr Carpenter to the comanding officer at Perth to send a strong detachment to bring him over. The officer is ordered to concert with your Grace the time your Grace shall cause delyver the person of Rob Roy to him. He's to use him civilly, meantime to keep a good guard upon him.
I most be allowed to say 'tis fitt Rob Roy be in good keeping for he's in no smale danger if his old friends cane possibly be masters of him, and I'm perswaded they will lay all irons in the fire to Rescue him, yrfore I hope ye will be no difficulty proposed agt his coming hither, & he shall be putt in the Castle which is the best prison the King has Ad: Cockburne."

Mr Douglas, the Duke's Edinburgh agent, wrote privately to explain that the Lord Justice Clerk had received certain information of an intention to relieve "Rob Roy" out of the Duke's custody, particularly by some of Argyll's folks and that it was simply for the Duke's good that he had ordered a detachment of troops to conduct the prisoner to Edinburgh and not out of any disrespect or mistrust.

Duke of Atholl to General Carpenter.
"Huntingtower June 6, 1717.
"Sir, As I was coming from Dunkeld to this place, about two hours since, I mette Captain Lloyd with a party, who showed me his orders from you, but had no letter to me, In which orders he is appointed to receive Robert Campbell alias "Roy," who is my prisoner att Logerate. Butt since I have wrote to the Duke of Roxburgh principall Secretary of State, to acquaint his maj: that 'Rob Roy' had surrendered himself to me, and that I expected his maj:’s commands about him, I hope you will excuse my not delivering him untill I have a return with his Maj:’s pleasure about him which I doubt not will be in a few days, since I desired my Lord Justice Clerk to 'send my letter by a flying pacquett to Court.
I am &c. Atholl."

"The Duke of Roxburgh wrote from London saying that he had that night received his Grace's letter which he had delivered to the King who was 'mighty well pleased with his Grace's care and diligence on this occasion' and that his Majesty commanded him to say that he would have written to his Grace himself to thank him for so good a service if it had not been so late."

Duke of Atholl to General Carpenter. -
"Huntingtower, June 7th 1717.
"Sir,-About an hour after I writ to you yesterday I had the misfortunate accompt that 'Rob Roy' had made his escape from the prison he was in at Logyraite yesterday, betwixt ten and eleven in the forenoon, which was two hours after I met Captain Loyd with his party, so that they could have been of no use, tho' they had marched on, for no doubt he has had intelligence of their march whenever they came out of Perth, which I understand was about five o clock in the morning, and it was betwixt 12 and one o Clock befor the party reached the boat at Dunkeld where I mett them. I cannot express how vexed I am for this unlucky affaire, but I assure you I shall leave no method untryed that can be done to catch him, & I have already given orders to sixty of my Highlanders to follow him wherever he can be found, and those that command them, have undertaken to me, to bring him in if he keeps to Scotland. I have sent for all the arms I had of my own in my houses to (torn) among my men, but they do not serve them. If you can order Fifty fusils & as maney swords or bagonets for me, I shall oblidge me to restore them on demand. I send you a copy of the orders I left for guarding him at Logyraite, which I did think was sufficient for one that had surrendered, for I think there can hardly be an instance of any that had done so that made his escape immediatly after. I have made the Jailor prisoner, but nothing can retrive this misfortune butt apprehending him, which I am very hopefull may be done, and then I shal acquaint the garrisone of Perth to receive him.
"I am &" Atholl"

General Carpenter to the Duke, Edenr., June 9th, 1717.
"My Lord, I have rec'd yr Grace's of the 7th and am extremely concern'd at the ill fortune of Robroy's escape. Yesterday I Sent an order for Captn Loyd to come hither, that if he has been to blame he may have his just reward. I have look't over the coppy of my order for the party to march from Perth and find it very exact, with a paragraph to lett none know where or on what occasion the Party march't. 't was also sent hence with secrecy and all the dispatch possible.
“Ld Justice Clerk writt by the express to yr Grace which indeed I did nott, because I had nott then rec'd yr Grace's letter, which came to my hand after the express was gone.
“I shall be mighty glad yr Grace could gett Robroy taken & am &c.
"Geo: Carpenter.

The story of how Rob Roy contrived to escape from the prison at Logierait may be taken from the following narrative. From the letters, quoted above, Rob's captivity can only have lasted from the 4th, or possibly 3d, to the 6th June.

"His Grace left Rob at Logyrait under a strong guard till yt party should be ready to receive him. This space of time Rob had imployed in taking the other dram heartily with wt the Guard & qn all were pretty hearty Rob is delivering a letter for his wife to a servant to whom he most needs deliver some private instructions at the door, for his wife, where he is attended wt on the Guard. When serious in this privat conversatione he is taking some few steps carelessly from the door about the house till he comes closs by his horse which he soon mounted and made off." - Extract from a letter 2d July 1767 from Revd M. Murray of Comrie to Revd. Colin Campbell, Ardchattan, among the Papers of John Gregorson of Ardtornish, part of the said letter having been published by Sir Walter Scott in the Appendix to his Introduction to "Rob Roy," 1829

"Extract of letter from Lord James Murray of Garth to his Father the Duke of Atholl. [6]  
"London 11th June 1717.
"Mr Murray has likewise told me that 'Rob Roy' has surrendered to yr Grace. I wish it may not be fatal to him for by what I can understand he has little reason to expect any mercy."

Letter from the Duke to his Son Lord James.
"Dunkeld June 18. 1717.
"Dear Son I am so fatigued that I have scarce time to writ to you. I had not heard from you since I wrot an account of 'Rob Roy's' surrender but also I acquainted you with his unlucky escape & that I had taken all means to get him again. I have to that end employed ye person you recommended to me in Glen Tillt and hope his diligence in the affair will give me a handle to do for him, but he is to go about it in ye most private manner & not to be known that he is gone from me, not even to his own family since this stratagem perhaps do better than ye others. …. I’m more and more convinced that if ye troops had not been sent before I had been some time acquainted with itt to have kept ye knowledge of itt from Rob Roy all had done well enough, but ye surprise of itt so soon made him goe off, as I am informed there was intelligence sent him from Perth that morning tho' ye officer did it secretly yet they were all suspecting it even before that march,"

"On June 19th Mr John Douglas wrote telling the Duke that he had got information that on the 12th two of his Grace's men had sent intelligence to Rob Roy, otherwise Donald Stewart would have seized him the next morning, also that he heard that Rob was lying ill of a rose in his thigh swelled so big that he is unable to walk, but where he was he knew not."

"Declaration Rob Roy to all true Lovers of Honour and honesty.
"Honour and Conscience urge me to detest the Assassins of our Country, and Countrymen whose unbounded Malice prest me to be the Instrument of matchless villainy by endeavouring to make use of false Evidence against a Person of distinction whose greatest Crime known to me was that he broke the party I was unfortunately of. [7]   This worthy proposal was handed to me first by Graham of Killerne from his master the Duke of Montrose with the valuable offer of Life and fortune, which I could not entertain but with the utmost horror. Lord Ormistone who trysted me at the Bridge of Cramond was not less solicitous upon the same subject, which I immediately shifted till once I got Out of his Cluches fearing his Justice would be no Check upon his Tyranny.

"To make up the Triumvirate in this bloody conspiracy the Duke of Atholl resolved to outstrip the other two if possible, who after having coyducked me in his conversation, immediately committed me to prison, which was contrary to the Parole of Honour given to me by my Lord Edward in the Duke's name and his own who was privy to all that passed betwixt us. The reason why the promise was broke was because I boldly refused to bear false witness against the Duke of Argyle. It must be owned if just Providence had not helped me to escape the barbarity of these monstrous Purposes my fate had certainly been most deplorable for I would undoubtedly be committed to some stinking dungeon where I must choose either to rott, dye or be damned. But since I cannot purchace the sweet offer of Life and Liberty and Treasure at their high price I advise the Triumvirate to send out one of their own kidney who I'll engage will be a fit tool for any cruel or cowardly enterprise. "To narrate all the particular steps made towards this foul Plott and the persecution I suffered by the Duke of Montrose's means before and after I submitted to the Government would take up too much time. Were the Duke of Montrose and I to be alone to debate our own private quarrel which in my opinion might be done. I would show to the world how little he would signify to serve either King or Government.
"And I hereby solemnly Declare what I have said in this is positive truth and that these were the only persons deterr'd me many times since my first submission to throw myself over again in the King's mercy."
"Rob Roy MacGregor.
At Balquhidder 25th June 1717." [8]  

[2] Edinchip Papers, John Oig must have been John MacGregor or Murray of Glencarnock.

[3] See Appendix M. volume 2 Appendix

[4] Her life is given in the "Ladies of the Covenant,"

[5] Atholl and Tullibardine Chronicles.

[6] Atholl and Tullibardine Chronicles.

[7] Duke of Argyle

[8] Copy in Edinchip Papers