THEIR FATHER’S SONS
Biographies do not usually include the lives of their subject’s children. In Rob Roy’s case, however, this seems appropriate, for in some ways his son’s lives seem to work out themes from his own life, and the dramatic murder that first brought his sons to public attention was the violent conclusion to rivalry and hatred stirred up in Balquhidder by Rob’s unscrupulous behaviour. A less logical but nonetheless compelling reason for looking at their lives is that two of them are full of dramatic incident that at times seems to put their father’s life in the shade. Finally, I may plead the example set by Sir Walter Scott, who was unable to resist adding the story of the sons to that of the father.1
Rob Roy and his wife Mary may have had one daughter who survived to adulthood and married,2 but her name is unknown. Genealogists tended to ignore daughters unless they made good marriages. Four sons also survived to adulthood,3 and there are traces of a fifth, who died young. Dates of birth are commonly assigned to them, but what authority they are based on is unclear:
Coll, born c.1704, died 1735.
James Mor (Big) or Hamish, died in France 1754.
Ranald or Ronald, born 1706?, died 1786?
Robert or Rob Og (Young), occasionally referred to as Rob Roy,
born 1717?, executed Edinburgh 1754.
James in later life is referred to as Rob’s eldest son, but this probably means eldest surviving son, for tradition claims Coll as the eldest. To classify the four crudely, James was a schemer and plotter, whose ingenuity as a betrayer of those who trusted him made his father’s ventures in such matters seem amateurish. Coll died young, the surest way of keeping an almost unblemished reputation. Ranald was the survivor, eventually adapting to changing times and living to old