The Hunt for Rob Roy: The Man and the Myths

By David Stevenson | Go to book overview

7
CLIMAX

Throughout 1716 the Squadrone had been increasing in power. Argyll had lost all his offices, not least because George I was on bad terms with his son, the prince of Wales, and was jealous of his growing popularity with the public. In part the king blamed Argyll’s influence (as groom of the stole to the prince) for his family problem. After Argyll’s fall purges began of officials and army officers who had supported him. But the duke was not a man who gave up easily. He sought power not through high political office for himself but through his influence over the votes of Scottish members of parliament and representative peers at Westminster. If he could deliver enough votes, the English ministers who dominated government would be quick buy his services as a political manager and abandon the Squadrone. Argyll’s practice of opposing all government measures whenever excluded from power made him dangerous. In the early months of 1717 the government majority in House of Commons votes was very small, so though the Squadrone was for the moment winning the battle for power and office, Argyll was a force to be feared.1 An outstanding example of ‘Scotch pride and ambition’, he fought ‘to make himself absolutely a necessary man’ to government.2 Thus the Squadrone could not relax in its success. Bringing about the complete ruin of Argyll seemed more urgent than ever.

Obsession with catching Rob Roy intensified, and a few weeks between April and June 1717 saw the climax of the hunt for him come – and pass. That he lived to tell the tale (or some of it, as much as suited him) of the series of attempts to snare him in these weeks was remarkable, and for once his claims to occupy the moral high ground win some sympathy. Three powerful men sought to catch him by any means available. These men, the dukes of Montrose and Atholl and Justice Clerk Ormiston, Rob was to denounce as ‘the triumvirate’ engaged in a ‘bloody conspiracy’.

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The Hunt for Rob Roy: The Man and the Myths
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface x
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Chronology of - The Life of Rob Roy xiv
  • 1 - The Obscurity of Childhood 1
  • 2 - Cattle Raider, Cattle Trader 16
  • 3 - Downfall 44
  • 4 - Chiefs, Pensions and Politicians 70
  • 5 - Rebel 92
  • 6 - Burning Houses 124
  • 7 - Climax 136
  • 8 - Defiance 161
  • 9 - Highland Rogue 184
  • 10 - Jacobite Rebel to Hanoverian Spy 194
  • 11 - Out of Order 223
  • 12 - Their Father’s Sons 233
  • 13 - Life after Death 268
  • 14 - Man versus Myth 286
  • Abbreviations 297
  • Notes 301
  • Index 329
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