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which they imprudently continued to hold by the c oir a glaive, that is,
the right of the sword. Their neighbours, the Earls of Argyle and
Breadalbane, in the meanwhile, managed to leave the lands occupied by the
MacGregors engrossed in those chart ers whic h they easily obtained from
the Crown; and thus constituted a legal right in their own favour,
without much regard to its justice. As opportunity occurred of annoying
or extirpating their neighbours, they gradually extended their own
domains, by usurping, under the pretext of such royal grants, those of
their more uncivilised neighbours. A Sir Duncan Campbell of Loc how, known
in the Highlands by the name of Donacha Dhu nan Churraichd, that is,
Black Duncan with the Cowl, it being his pleas ure to wear such a
head-gear, is said to have been pec uliarly successful in those acts of
spoliation upon the clan MacGregor.
The devoted sept, ever finding themselves iniquitously driven from their
possessions, defended themselves by force, and occasionally gained
advantages, which they used cruelly enough. This conduct, though natural,
considering the country and time, was studio usly represented at the
capital as arising from an untameable and innate ferocity, which not hing,
it was said, could remedy, save cutting o the tribe of Mac Gregor root
and branch.
In an act of Privy Council at Stirling, 22d September 1563, in the reign
of Queen Mary, commission is granted to the most powerful nobles, and
chiefs of the clans, to pursue the clan Gregor with fire and sword. A
similar warrant in 1563, not only grants the like powers to Sir John
Campbell of Glenorchy, the descendant of D uncan with the Cowl, but
discharges the lieges to receive or assist any of the clan Gregor, or
aord them, under any colour whatever, meat, drink, or clothes.
An atrocity which the clan Gregor committed in 1589, by the murder of
John Drummond of Drummond-ernoch, a forester of the royal forest of
Glenartney, is elsewhere given, wit h all its horrid circumstances. The
clan swore upon the severed head of the murdered man, that they would
make common cause in avowing the deed. This led to an act of the Privy
Council, directing another crusade against the ”wicked clan Gregor, so
long continuing in blood, slaughter, theft, and robbery,” in which
letters of fire and sword are denounced against them for the space of
three years. The reader will find this particular fact illustrated in the
Introduction to the Legend of Montrose in the
present edition of these
Other occasions frequently occurred, in which the MacGregors testified
contempt for the laws, from which they had oft en experienced severity,
but never protection. Though they were gradually deprived of their
possessions, and of all ordinary means of proc uring subsistence, they
could not, nevertheless, be suppos ed likely to starve for famine, while
they had the means of taking from strangers what they considered as
right fully their own. Hence they became versed in predatory forays, and
accustomed to bloodshed. Their passions were eager, and, with a little
management on the part of some of their most powerful neighbours, they
could easily be hounded out, to use an expressive Scottish phrase, to
commit violence, of which the wily instigators took the advantage, and
left the ignorant MacGregors an undivided portion of blame and
punishment. This policy of pushing on the fierce clans of the Highlands
and Borders to break the peace of the country, is accounted by the
historian one of the most dangerous practices of his own period, in which