Rob Roy MacGregor - His Story

Rob Roy MacGregor (or McGregor )

Rob Roy MacGregor, legend and the truth (McGregor Genealogy)

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Rob Roy Statue - Stirling in Dumbarton RoadRob Roy MacGregor was always famous but never really understood!

The illustration on the right is the Rob Roy Statue in Stirling at Dumbarton Road.

Rob Roy's life began in the old house of Glen Gyle near the western end of Loch Katrine. His birth was recorded in the parish registers of Buchanan thus:

"On the 7th day of March 1671, Donald M'Gregor in GlenGyle, ps. of Calendar, upon testificat from ye minister yrof. Margaret Campbell. Son baptised, called Robert. Witnesses, Mr. Wm. Anderson, Minister, and John Macgregor."

Rob married Mary (Helen) MacGregor at CorrieArklet farm near Inversnaid. Corriearklet is only about seven miles from Glengyle house at Loch Katrine where Rob Roy was born. Mary was born at Comer farm in the shadow of Ben Lomond. The farm is still there today and is about 5.5miles south of Corriearklet.

Rob Roy has been represented as a bit of a rogue, a Scottish Robin Hood, a hero and even as an out and out criminal. The difficulty we have is that life in the highlands in those days was a far cry from the life we see today. Life was hard, and the highlands were still in the turmoil of the Jacobite risings.

Values were quite different from the values we hold today - and in some ways life was cheap.

Clan loyalties were still fairly strong and men were reluctant to adhere to some of the rules imposed upon them by outsiders - especially those from the lowlands and further south. Cattle 'lifting' (or rustling) was a way of life for many highland clans and was often the only means of survival. The story of our friend Rob should therefor not be judged by our modern values - are we qualified to judge anyone from a time when we have little understanding of what was the normal way of life under the 'rules' of the day.

rob roy's grave

The grave of Rob Roy MacGregor, his wife and 2 sons is shown in the photo on the right. The Grave is in front of the east facing gable of the old church of Balquhidder and is marked by a carved grave slab which pre-dates Rob Roy by many years. It possibly was brought from west Argyll where these ancient slabs are most frequently found.

If you should come to Balquhidder church to see Rob's grave, think kindly of him - he was an ordinary man - perhaps a little more than that - who lived by the rules that he understood and who was respected by his kinsfolk, his friends and more than a few of his enemies.

This was the start of a story which has been told and re-told.

A great many books have been written and stories told relating both fact and fiction about Rob Roy MacGregor.

The MacGregor Monument

 

macgregor monumeny - Lanrick EstateOn the 'Lanrick Estate', on the south bank of the River Teith between Doune and Callander, is the MacGregor Monument.

It is located in the woodlands and resembles the trunk of a large oak - the tree emblem which is part of the Arms of the Chiefs of Clan Gregor.

The Highland Constable

The whole of the Clan McGregor and Rob Roy MacGregor story can be found in the book "The Highland Constable" available as a PDF file which can be DOWNLOADED HERE (ABOUT 750Kb). The full title is "Highland Constable - The Life and Times of Rob Roy MacGregor". It was published by William Blackwood & Sons Ltd. of Edinburgh and London.

The Clergymens' Version

I thought I'd do something a little different. Around the end of Queen Victoria's reign two English clergymen, Francis Watt and Andrew Carter, toured Scotland and wrote a book named 'Picturesque Scotland' which related their travels. The graphic further down the page on the right is from the gilt cover of the book. One chapter in the book is entitled ' Rob Roy and the Clan MacGregor'. The following is the legend or history extracted from that chapter and the illustrations are from the wood block prints in the book.

The Legend and Truth of Rob Roy MacGregor

Rob Roy MacGregor
ere we to write the history of the Clan MacGregor after the classic manner, we should do it in somewhat of this fashion. We should relate how the Clan MacGregor were grievously pursued by their foes; how their land was taken from them, and they were threatened with absolute extinction; how, in this desperate strait, they sent messengers to the oracle, with many gifts of Lowland cattle which they had "lifted" for the special purpose, and that Pythia, being duly invoked, was graciously pleased to respond that " MacGregor, despite them, should flourish for ever.

Years passed; the clan was utterly "broke," and so was Pythia’s reputation, when a famous poet and teller of tales arose, and so wrote about the clan that it revived in more than its former splendour. Is it not true that MacGregor shall flourish for ever in the pages of Scott? The Wizard of the North was particularly fond of Loch Katrine, for whilst one part has all the memories of the Lady of the Lake, the other end is full of reminiscences of Rob Roy.

The little islands at the west end were once possessed by the MacGregor. To the north is Glengyle, the very centre of their country. Further north of this is Balquhidder, where is Rob Roy’s grave, whilst in Loch Lomond is his prison and cave. Now, as it is our intention to conduct the reader next to that queen of Scottish lochs—there are only five miles between it and Loch KatrineWood block print of 'In the Trossachs' home of Rob Roy MacGregor—we think it best to take Rob MacGregor in transitu, so to speak, and first, then, of the Clan MacGregor. ‘this clan is of fairly ancient lineage, if we are to believe its chroniclers, who trace it up to "Gregor, or Gregorious, third son of Alpin, King of Scots, who flourished about 787."

At one time it was very powerful, and the clansmen had large possessions, which they held ‘cair a glaive’ -by the right of the sword. But even in the Highlands the time came when it became the fashion to have title-deeds. According to the theory of the feudal system, all the land belonged to the king, by whom it was, under certain conditions, gifted out. This was utterly repugnant to Celtic notions, but Celtic notions were in the long run, to prevail in Scotland.

The neighbours of the MacGregors were the Earls of Argyle and Breadalbane. Their influence at court was very great, and they easily obtained grants of the lands of the MacGregor. They proceeded bit by bit to take possession. The clansmen vehemently resisted. This was represented at court as resistance to law, and so the whole force of the executive was turned to crush them. With that ferocious. brevity and directness which render the Acts of the old Scottish Parliaments and Privy Council so great a contrast to the complexity and verbiage of modern legal documents, it was enacted of the "wicked clan MacGregor, so long continuing in blood, slaughter, theft, and robbery," that commission should be granted to their foes "to pursue them with fire and sword,’’ whilst the " lieges were discharged from receiving or assisting them, or affording them, under any colour whatever, meat, drink, or clothes.’ And now began a sort of savage civil war, in which the law was cruelly outraged, and then brutally avenged.

graphic - picture of old book cover from which this story of Rob Roy MacGregor was extractedTo tell all the feuds between them and their opponents would be impossible, but the feud which was the cause of their final extinction may be noticed briefly. Colquhoun, the laird of Luss, had executed two of the MacGregors for " lifting" a sheep. Immediately a force of three or four hundred men was assembled, and marched on Colquhoun, who collected all his forces to meet them. The battle took place in Glenfruin the Vale of Sorrow "—and the MacGregors were encouraged by a seer who saw in a trance the death shroud wound round the bodies of the leaders of the other party.

The prediction proved successful, for the MacGregor was completely victorious. One event of strange ferocity marked the victory. A party of youths, "candidates for clerical orders," appeared in some inexplicable and mysterious way on the field of battle. They were only present, we are told, as spectators, but, nevertheless, were made prisoners by the MacGregor , and handed over to the custody of one Dugald Ciar Mhor, or the great Mouse-coloured Man, the foster- brother of the MacGregor-in-chief. This individual, if he resembled a mouse in colour, certainly did not in disposition, for he made short work of his unfortunate charges, and when interrogated as to what had become of them, he replied, ac he showed his bloody dirk, "Ask that, and God save me "—this last phrase having been used by his unfortunate victims in the agonies of death.

This individual was the ancestor of Rob Roy MacGregor, but it is only fair to him to mention that, according to some accounts, be died some years before the date of trio battle. And now the full vengeance of the law was anew decreed on the unfortunate MacGregors. The name was abolished, and those who had been called by it were ordered instantly to choose some other; they were forbidden to carry anything like a weapon, save a pointless knife to assist them at meals; they were forbidden to assemble in greater numbers than four, and the same provisions were afterwards applied to the children, for, notwithstanding all that had been done, these were said to be so numerous that their numbers threatened to make the clan more powerful than ever. The persecution thus commenced was carried out with intensest zeal by the Earls of Argyle and Athole.

At last Alaster MacGregor , chief of the clan from GlenStrae, their ancestral homelands, surrendered to Argyle on the promise that he should be sent out of Scotland. He was made the victim of a strange and cruel trick. The escort took him and the other prisoners a little way over the border, and then immediately marched them back to Edinburgh, where the whole lot were tried, found guilty, and hanged the same day. We are told that, "for distinctions sake, he was suspended higher by his own height than two of his kindred and friends." He was thus, " by merit, raised to this bad eminence," probably not with the intention of soothing his feelings, but to add additional insult to his last moments. And yet it seemed impossible to crush this people.

Old book cover showing a Representation of Rob Roy  MacGregorMacGregor Under Charles i , in 1633, there is an Act of Parliament setting forth "that the clan Gregor, which had been suppressed and reduced to quietness (a fine illustration of the line ‘To make a wilderness and call it peace’) by the great care of the late King James, of eternal memory, had, nevertheless, broken out again in the counties of Perth, Stirling, Clackmannan, Monteith, Lennox, Angus, and the Mearns;" and then a new commission is granted for the further crushing or that wicked and rebellious race." During the civil war the MacGregor proved loyal adherents of the Stewarts. Their admirers have cited this as a touching instance of their fidelity "to the Crown of Scotland, which their ancestors once wore." Others, however, have thought that the opportunity of unlimited and legalised forays on the Lowlands had something to do with this. How- ever this may be, King Charles did not prove ungrateful and in the first Scottish parliament after the Restoration the attainder was reversed, though it was reimposed after the Revolution, and not finally removed till after the Union.

In the days of Rob Roy MacGregor, the thistle was never an emblem - just a pest which the cattle would not eat.We now come to the individual who (thanks to the genius of Scott) has made the name MacGregor illustrious. According to Sir Walter, he was born about the middle of the17th century, and had some sort of right over Craig Royston, a domain of rock and forest lying on the east side of Loch Lomond, where that beautiful lake stretches into the dusky mountains of Glenfalloch. At one time he was fairly prosperous. He carried on a perfectly legitimate trade in cattle, and had powerful friends and patrons, chief of whom was no less a person than the Duke of Montrose. From some cause or other he got into difficulties, and was charged with absconding with as much as £i.ooo sterling, which had been in- trusted to him for the purchase of cattle. Montrose was exceedingly wrath at what he considered a breach of trust, and at what he afterwards called "the insolence of that very notorious rogue, Rob Roy."

The MacGregor were evicted from their dwelling, and Rob keys wife is said to have been brutally insulted. He avenged this by carrying on a system of regular warfare against the duke, and, indeed, against the Lowlanders in general, or as many of them as refused to pay "black mail" to him. "The country," says Sir Walter Scott, in words which are well worthy of quotation for the excellent picture they give of the Highlands, ‘.in which this private warfare, or system of depredation, was to be carried on, was, until opened up by roads, in the highest degree favourable for his purpose. It was broken up into narrow valleys, the habitable part of which bore no pro- portion to the huge wilderness of forest, rocks, and precipices by whichan old cannon - but before the days of Rob Roy MacGregor they were encircled, and which was, moreover, full of inextricable passes, morasses, and natural strengths, unknown to any but the inhabitants themselves, where a few men, acquainted with the ground, were capable, with ordinary address, of baffling the pursuit of numbers."

From these fastnesses, then, Rob Roy MacGregor was wont to issue forth on his predatory excursions, and for years he was so successful in them that his name became a terror to the adjacent Lowlands.

It is not at all to be supposed that Rob Roy was a mere vulgar robber. He was kind and generous to the poor, and believed himself to be justified in the revenge which he took on the rich. Then, though brave himself, and daring, he was by no means of a cruel or sanguinary disposition. Nor was he without a certain grace and dignity of manner which impressed those who came in contact with him. Personally, he is described as being very strong, with very broad shoulders, and very long arms.

Wordsworth’s description of him must be accepted as a fair if somewhat flattering portrait.

Rob Roy The MacGregor

Heaven gave Rob Roy a dauntless heart,
And wondrous length and strength of era,
Nor craved he more to quell his foes,
Or keep his friends from harm.

Yet was Rob Roy as wise as brave
Forgive me if the phrase he strong
A poet worthy of Rob Roy
Must scorn a timid song.

Bear witness many a pensive sigh
Of thoughtful herdsman when he strays
Alone upon Loch Veol’s heights,
And by Loch Lomond’s braes!

Balquhidder, besides being celebrated for its braes (which, like "The Bush Aboon Traquair," and "The Birks of Aberfeldy," and "The Haughs of Yar- row," make no small figure in Scottish literature), is also the burial-place of Rob Roy. A more elaborate monument near it was erected to the memory of one of his sons, who died before him. The stone over Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave is a very old one, much older, indeed, than the period which that famous individual graced. It is covered all over with fanciful devices, the real meaning of which can only be conjecture. His wife, Helen MacGregor, is said to be buried near him, and another stone, also of very great antiquity, is pointed out as her monument. Popular legends have a great tendency to get mixed with one another. And it may be that because the stones were old and curious, and Rob Roy MacGregor was remarkable, that the two got connected.

By the side of Loch Lomond is Rob’s cave, where he is said occasionally to have put up. In 1306, Robert the Bruce, when his fortunes were at a very low ebb, also took refuge here.

Before taking leave of Rob Roy MacGregor we may just mention the Clachan of Aberfoil, where, according to Scott, young Osbaldstone received the note from the outlaw which justified the officer in detaining him; where the inimitable Bailee Nicole Jarvie defended himself so ably with the poker; and from whence the expedition proceeded on the way to Loch Lomond. We may quote the few words in which Scott describes the village. After re- marking on the beauty of the scenery, he says: "Man alone seemed to be placed in a state of inferiority, in a scene where all the ordinary features of nature were varied and exalted, the miserable little bourachs, as the Bailie termed them, of which about a dozen formed the village called the Clachan of Aberfoil, were composed of loose stones, cemented by clay instead of mortar, and thatched by turfs, laid rudely upon rafters formed of native and unknown birches and oaks from the woods around.

The roofs approached the ground so nearly, that Andrew Fairservice observed, we might have ridden over the village the night before, and never found out we were near it, unless our horses’ feet had ‘gone through the riggin. 'Well, all this is very much changed now, and we must give Rob Roy a little of the credit due for the improvement'.

In poetry and romance his figure appears moving over the hills, and giving an additional charm to many a fair spot. As each Highland tout, or guide, or innkeeper plunders the Sassenach with a zeal and industry which Rob Roy MacGregor himself never surpassed, we may imagine him invoking thy hallowed me- mory, Rob Roy MacGregor , oh!

Glengyle House

Glengyle House, Loch Katrine

The house stands assertively at the head of Loch Katrine, visible for miles along the south shore. The Glengyle MacGregors were asserting their presence and importance in the landscape with this bold architectural statement. The house is not deep and the ceilings are low. The western block was added in the 19th century and the westernmost extension after 1918.

This small property, extending to about 2200 acres, is situated at the extreme west end of Loch Katrine. The Loch for rather more than a quarter of a mile and the Glengyle water for another two and a half miles form its southern boundary. To the north the property is separated from the Braes of Balquhidder by the hill tops, which rise to a height of over two thousand feet.

The dwelling house, a two storied building with attic or storm windows above, is pleasantly situated facing towards the south, and overlooks the west end of Loch Katrine. It is sheltered from the west and north by a strip of trees, in which there is a small burying ground. In front of the house is a grassy field, which slopes gently to the level of the loch.

Glengyle at one time formed a portion of the extensive estates of the Buchanans of that ilk. The last male of the old family to possess the property was John Buchanan, who died before September 1631, leaving two daughters, and his lands were purchased from his creditors by James, 3rd Marquis of Montrose.

When the MacGregors first occupied Glengyle is not clearly ascertained, but they were there in 1530 as tenants of the Buchanans, and in 1655 Lieutenant-Colonel Donald MacGregor (Rob Roy's father, was designed as "of Glengyle". He was the Ceann Tigh or head of the house of Clan Douill Chere or mouse coloured Dougal. Lieutenant-Colonel Donald MacGregor took a leading part in the affairs of the clan. Donald had taken an active part in the rising under the Earl of Glencairn in favour of King Charles in 1653, and probably then had a commission as lieutenant-colonel, a designation which he retained for the rest of his life. At one time he was a man of considerable means, and appears as lending or paying considerable sums of money. He frequently was accepted as cautioner or surety for executors of deceased clansmen, and figured in many of the transactions in which his young chief was concerned. Notwithstanding the part which he had taken in Glencairn's rising, General Monck authorised him to secure any of the name of MacGregor or other broken men and to send them prisoners to Perth, and in 1685 John, Earl of Athole, as Justice-General of Scotland, gave him a commission for uplifting all forfaltours and fynes of fugitives from the Justiciary Court. Unfortunately his circumstances suffered a great eclipse, due to his loyalty to his Sovereign. On 24th August, 1689, he, along with the chiefs of several Highland clans, signed at Blair Athole, a Bond of Association, under which he undertook to raise one hundred men for King James. When Dundee fell at Killiekranky, every hope of his King perished, and on 11th January, 1690, it was announced, in a letter from the Earl of Crawford to Lord Melville that "the great robber Lifetennent Collonell Macgregor was taken by a party of my Lord Kenmuir's men and brought prisoner to Edinburgh". His rents had been sequestrated, and the Privy Council recommended the Lord Advocate to proceed against him for treason, having been in rebellion against King William and Queen Mary, and also for depredation, theft and robbery. Apparently that recommendation was not adopted, for Donald MacGregor petitioned the Privy Council to be set at liberty on 5th February, 1691, and on 1st October following, on taking the oath of allegiance, he was released from the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. It is also stated in his petition that any little means he had been spent, and that his wife was lately dead. The last occasion that we have proof of Lieutenant-Colonel Donald MacGregor being alive was on 23rd May, 1693, when he and John Buchanan of Arnprior entered into a Bond of Friendship.

John MacGregor, eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel Donald, was born about the year 1647, married in 1685, and dying young, left two sons and at least one daughter. His eldest son, Gregor was commonly called Gregor ghlun dubh, or of the black knee, was a child at the time of his father's death, and to him Rob Roy, who was a younger son of Lieutenant-Colonel Donald, and consequently Gregor's uncle, acted as his guardian.

Until this time the family had only been tacksmen or tenants of Glengyle, at first under the Buchanans and latterly under the Montrose family. Rob Roy, however, obtained from James, Marquis of Montrose, a feu charter of the two merklands of Glengyle, dated March 25, 1703, to himself, as tutor at law to James Graham (as Gregor ghlun dubh was called, owing to the proscription of the name MacGregor), and to the said James Graham at his lawful age.

Rob Roy wrote the following letter to the Earl of Breadalbane:-

"Portnellan, Nover. 12th 1707
"My Lord,
"I long to see your Lordship, and I presume to tell your Lordship that I have come of your Lordship's family and shall keep my dependency suitable to the samine of which I told your Lordship, when I parted with your Lordship last and what I sayed to your Lordship or ever promised shall be keeped while I live. My Nephew is to see your lordship, whom I hope will be capable to serve your Lordship and will do it tho I were in my grave he is a young man so my Lord give him your advice he is Bigging his house and I hope your Lordship will give him a precept for the four trees your Lordship promissed him the last time I was there I beg pardon for the subscriveing and I am, My Lord
"Your Lordship's servant. "Rob Campbell."

If the house of Glengyle was only built in 1707, it cannot have been the same house in which Rob Roy was born about thirty-six years earlier. The room in which he is said to have been born is, however, still pointed out in Glengyle House. Since Rob Roy's birth, Glengyle house has been rebuilt at least twice.

It was doubtless in preparation for his marriage that Gregor Ghlun dubh was building the house mentioned in the foregoing letter. He married Mary Hamilton, daughter of James Hamilton of Bardowie, and their marriage contract was signed six days after the date of the above letter. Gregor was then still in his minority.

The MacGregors were at Sheriffmuir under Rob Roy in the year 1715. "The Flying Post, of October 1st, 1715 records­ "Some days ago a party was ordered from Perth, another from Stirling, and a third from Glasgow towards the house and haunts of that notorious robber and rebel Robert Roy MacGregor with a design to have surrounded him and his men, but one of the parties being prevented by the waters being out from coming up in time enough to the rendezvous, the design miscarried and tho' our men came within sight of him, he and his clan escap'd to the mountains. Our men shot at them, but 'tis not certain whether any of the rebels dropp'd. They fir'd again and kill'd one of our grenadiers, so that all our men cou'd do was to burn his house, and what was not worth or capable of being carry'd off." The house burnt on this occasion may have been that of Glengyle.

Gregor Ghlun dubh was engaged in the '45. Prince Charles appointed him Colonel and Commandant of the fortress of Doune, Cardross, and Balinton, and Murray of Broughton in his memorials says he was judged the fittest man in the country to keep the garrison at Stirling castle in awe and to prevent their making excursions into the country to disturb the families of such as were in arms. In a footnote, Murray describes Glengyle's character as follows:-

"Glengyle . . . in person, a tall, handsome man and more of the mien of the antient heroes than our modern gentlemen, poaseast of a Singular deal of humanity and good nature, honest and disinterested to a Proverb, extreamly modest, brave and intrepide, and born one of the best Partisans in Europe, in that the whole people of that country declared that never did people live under so milde a Government as Glengyles, not a man having so much as lost a chicken whille he continued there." When in the tower of London, Murray gave an account of the Highland clans. His account of Glengyle there differs somewhat from that given above. He says M'Gregor of Glengyle "is a very humain honest man in private life, but seldom to be depended upon, being frequently delirious".

According to the Scots Magazine, on June 7th 1746, a body of 700 men entered Balquhidder and proceeded to the Braes of Menteith, but not finding Glengyle and his party, they burnt his house, and all the houses in Craigroyston possessed by the Macgregors and carried the cattle to Crieff."
Gregor Ghlun dubh, under the name James Graham of Glengyle was excepted by name from the Act of Pardon passed in the year 1747.

In the small burying ground a short distance to the west of Glengyle House there is a white marble slab in the north wall with the following inscription to Gregor ghlun dubh:-

To the Memory
of Gregor M'Gregor of Glengyle,
who died 21st August, 1777, aged 88.
Not with vain flatt'ry to insult thee dead
We place this stone above thy honour'd head
But that, while wand'ring here, the Good and Brave
May sighing pause to mark thy silent grave
And awful o'er thine ashes as they bend,
Think on their Chief their Father or their Friend
Speak of thy Steady Soul, and martial flame
That burnt for Truth and Virtue more than fame,
And tell their sons to hold thy Mem'ry dear
Thy footsteps follow and thy name revere.

Over the door of Glengyle House there is a stone inscribed as follows-

1704

J. M'G J.B.

G. M'G. 1726 M.H.

Obviously the inscription was not carved in 1704, for as we have seen the house was only built in 1707. The initials "G.M'G and M.H. stand for Gregor MacGregor and his wife Mary Hamilton, who were married in 1708 as mentioned above.

"J.M'G and J.B. stand for John MacGregor, the eldest son of Gregor Ghlun dubh, and his wife. John was born in 1708, and died before his father in 1774. He married Jean, daughter of William Buchanan of Craigievairn. I am not aware of the reason for putting the date 1726, as their marriage does not appear to have taken place until about the year 1743.

The remains of John MacGregor, who died on december 30, 1774, are also interred in the small burying ground.

John MacGregor was succeeded in the representation of the family of Clan Douill Chere by his son James, who was at one time a quartermaster in the 105th regiment. He was twice married. His first wife was Isabella, daughter of Captain Gregor MacGregor of the family of Inverardran, whom he married in the year 1777. She died in 1789, and left four daughters. His second wife was Henrietta, daughter of Alexander MacGregor in Ardmacmuin, which place is also situated on the north shore of Loch Katrine, to the eastward of Glengyle.

In 1791, while droving a flock of sheep, James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd had to get permission to drive them through Glengyle. He went to Glengyle House to get permission. The laird, he says, "was then an old man, and seemed to me to be a very queer man" but his lady granted my request without hesitation, and seemed to me an active, social woman. This was, of course, John's second wife. By her he had three sons. The two eldest dying in infancy, James was succeeded by his only surviving son John.

John MacGregor served for some time in the West Kent Militia and married in 1816 Jane Isabella the daughter of Captain Daniel MacGregor who was the brother of John's first wife, and had three sons, James, John Daniel and Gregor.

When the Commissioners of the Glasgow Corporation Waterworks Act 1855, proposed to raise the level of Loch Katrine, with the result that part of Glengyle would be submerged, he lodged a claim for compensation. In this claim he states that

"the property has been in the family of the claimant for hundreds of years, and possesses a distinction of the highest value to him and his family as the birthplace and last resting place of a long line of ancestors, who were in succession the chiefs of his race and clan. The effect of raising the level, he says, will be in winter and during seasons of long continued rain, the land will be covered with water, but in summer and autumn his beautiful green meadow will be converted into an unsightly, offensive and unwholesome swamp, exhibiting only decayed and decaying vegetation, and polluting the atmosphere with most offensive odours and exhalations. The compensation he claimed for the portion submerged, extending to 18 acres 3 roods and 2 perches, and the damage to the rest of the estate, was
25,900 11s 8d."

John MacGregor in 1855, owing to financial difficulties sold the estate to James MacGregor, proprietor of the Queen's Hotel, Glasgow, for 9675, and the commissioners of the Glasgow Corporation in 1918 purchased the estate from James MacGregor's daughter for rather less than half of that sum.

Of the three sons of John MacGregor, James, the eldest, died in Auchterarder Combination Poorhouse on January 25 1897, aged 79. He had been an inmate for many years. He was buried in the little burying ground at Glengyle among his ancestors by the generosity of certain members of the clan, who defrayed the expenses of the funeral. The second son appears to have died young. Gregor, the third son, for some time practised in Callander as a doctor, and dying in 1861 was buried in the burying ground there.

In the little burying ground near Glengyle House also rests the remains of Major General Sir Charles Metcalfe MacGregor K.C.B., who died at Cairo on February 5th 1887. He was the heir-male of Rob Roy, and during his last illness expressed his earnest desire to rest among his ancestors in this little graveyard. The interment took place with difficulty through drifted snow on March 11th in that year.

James MacGregor of the Queen's Hotel, who had purchased the estate in 1855, died in 1870, and his only son, Robert Napier MacGregor, in 1881, when the eldest daughter, Jemima, succeeded to the property. She married George Sheriff, who assumed the name MacGregor and died in 1895. Their only son was killed in action at Spion Kop on January 24, 1900, and it was from his mother that the Commissioners bought Glengyle in 1918, as mentioned above. James MacGregor, his son and grandson, are also interred in the little burying ground.

William Wordsworth, the poet, visited Glengyle in 1803 and was informed by a "well educated lady who lived at the head of the Lake, that Rob Roy's grave was near the head of Loch Katrine, in one of those small pinfoldlike burial-grounds, of neglected and desolate appearance, which the traveller meets with in the Highlands of Scotland, situated within a mile or less of her residence. And under this mistaken impression he composed the poem entitled "Rob Roy's Grave. in which the well-known lines occur:-

The eagle he was lord above
And Rob was lord below.

The burial-ground indicated is evidently that at Portnellan. The information, however was erroneous. Rob Roy was buried in Balquhidder burying-ground and that fact is stated in Notes to the later editions of Wordsworth's poems.



Extracted from the letter by John MacGregor W.S. ­ Glasgow Herald 3rd June 1926

 

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Rob Roy MacGregor country in the Trossachs in the Loch Lomond National Park


Things to Do in The Trossachs
Visit Callander and The Trossachs
Stay in Trossachs Hotels
Climb Ben Ledi, Ben A'an and Callander Crags
then walk to Bracklinn Falls and the New Bridge