The Hunt for Rob Roy: The Man and the Myths

By David Stevenson | Go to book overview
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6
BURNING HOUSES

The Hanoverian army moved north after Mar’s flight from Perth, slowly penetrating into the north-east of Scotland and the Highlands, picking up rebels of status as prisoners, making sure all Jacobite forces had dispersed, and establishing small garrisons. Not surprisingly, MacGregors proved troublesome. Whether they should be classified as defiant rebels, or as traditional raiders and extorters of blackmail, or as the latter pretending to be the former to add legitimacy of their activities is a subjective matter. In March 1716 Graham of Gorthie was complaining that, while all other rebels were peaceable, small parties of MacGregors were still levying ‘contributions’ in the parishes of Kippen and Kilmoranock and other ‘low country’ areas. He went to Edinburgh to consult Cadogan, the new commander-in-chief, about ‘the most proper way of makeing us rid of our nighbours the McGregors’. Cadogan promised to make troops available, but Gorthie proved, in spite of his complaints, opposed to harsh action. ‘I’m of the opinion that no extraordinary [severe] method be taken with the common people of that clan, till once we see if they will lay down their arms peaceably as others do.’ Only after most had been given a chance to submit should the remaining offenders be arrested.

Gorthie does not say that Rob Roy was among the raiders, but that his letter moves on to discussing how to deal with Rob implies that he was one of the ‘offenders’ to be arrested. ‘The generall had form’d a project himself for apprehending Rob Roy, and I belive that gentleman will find his quarters too hott. He imploys Captain Robison who I beleive has undertaken it, and I make no dout he’l exert himself to gain merit of the generall. He asked me if Finab might not be as proper a person as any for that service; I disabused him of that notion, very soon’. Cadogan has not yet learnt the nuances of Highland politics, but Gorthie had found out the hard way that

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