Prejudice against the Scots


English officers and their men were not the only ones wreaking vengeance on the Highlanders. Because even the most loyal of Scots, Lowlanders as well as Highlanders, were viewed by Cumberland and his senior officers with such suspicion and prejudice, some were tempted to prove their loyalty by acts of excessive severity. Lieutenant-General John Campbell admitted this when writing to the Deputy Sheriff of Argyll:

You cannot imagine what pains are taken to lessen the service done by our people, and to put bad constructions upon all our endeavours. For which reason I have cautioned Bar [whom he had just ordered to Tiree] to be as active as possible in disarming those concerned in this rebellion and to . . . apprehend some of the leading men and drive their cattle, nay I should be glad if he would even burn some of their houses. For these measures, though in my opinion of no service to the cause, suit the taste of the times more than you can imagine . . . If you send him any instructions I beg you would let him act with as little leniency as possible.

The worst of all the Scots officers were three Lowlanders who went far beyond the letter of the law. Although very little is known of him, Major Lockhart of Cholmondeley’s Regiment was apparently a fiery and bad-tempered Lowlander, who, in late May, led his first raiding party of 180 volunteers against the Grants of Glenmoriston and Glenurquhart. Over eighty clansmen had already surrendered their arms to Sir Ludovic Grant of Grant, only to be arrested and taken to Inverness, against Cumberland’s orders. Quite possibly, they had failed to surrender their best weapons. Nearly all were transported, probably at the instigation of their own chief, whom they had offended by supporting the Prince, while he had maintained a studious neutrality. Then Lockart and his volunteers harried the remaining inhabitants of Glenmoriston – men were shot quite arbitrarily, their wives and daughters raped, all their cattle driven off, and their houses burnt. Lockhart meted out the same treatment to the Chisholms of Strathglass, who were Roman Catholics, as well as to their Fraser neighbours. Survivors had to take refuge in the hills, where many died from hunger and starvation. In late July, Glenmoriston was the scene of more atrocities, committed this time by the men of the Kingston Light Horse.

Captain Caroline Scott of Guise’s Regiment, the Governor of Fort William, was another Lowland Scot whose savage brutality rivalled that of Lockhart. Soon after the siege of Fort William was lifted, he ventured into Glen Nevis with a raiding party. The Camerons living there had taken no part in the rebellion, so they did not expect reprisals. Nevertheless, Scott hanged three clansmen whom he had captured, before going on to sack the house of Alexander Cameron of Glen Nevis, who was away seeking the protection of Campbell of Mamore. Later in the summer, Scott raided Appin, where he demolished the house of Charles Stewart of Ardshiel in full view of its owner who was hiding in the hills, before selling the timber and slates for his own profit.

Meanwhile, Scott had joined Captain John Fergussone of HMS Furnace, which was cruising off the Western Isles. Bishop Forbes described Fergussone as

a fellow of very low extract, born in the country of Aberdeen, who, being naturally of a furious, savage disposition, thought he could never enough harass, misrepresent, and maltreat everyone whom he knew, or supposed to be, an enemy of the goodly cause he was embarked in.

Terrorising the Western Isles, Fergussone had already raided Canna and Barra before the Battle of Culloden and then, in late May, he visited Raasay, burning the house of Malcolm MacLeod of Raasay, before sailing to Morar and Arisaig. Anchoring off Loch Moidart, he burnt down the house of Donald MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart, another leading rebel like MacLeod of Raasay. He then sailed to the Isle of Eigg, where he took thirty-eight rebels prisoner, burning their homes and killing their cattle.

However Captain Fergussone claimed the capture on 4 June of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, as his greatest triumph (although it was actually Captain Dugald Campbell of Achrossan who found Lovat, hiding in a hollowed-out tree trunk on an island in Loch Morar). The captive `was put into his litter, and the soldiers made a run with him to the sea-side, the pipers playing Lovat’s march, with which he seemed well pleased’. Among his written papers in a locked chest was enough incriminating evidence of treason to bring him to the block.

Later in July, after finding that the Prince had spent a single night on Raasay, quite unknown to its surviving inhabitants, Fergussone and Scott raided the island of South Rona, just to the north, and then Raasay itself, driving off what few cattle remained after Fergussone’s earlier visit. Yet this was not the end of its people’s suffering, since the island was subsequently visited by the Independent Company raised by MacLeod of MacLeod. Although he was a distant kinsman to MacLeod of Raasay, his militiamen killed 280 cows, 700 sheep and 20 horses and destroyed 32 boats and burnt 300 houses.

Among the Highland commanders of the Independent Companies there was the occasional officer who behaved with the same barbarism as these Lowlanders. The worst of all was Colonel George Munro of Culcairn, whose Independent Company was with Bligh’s Regiment when it sacked Lochiel’s house at Achnacarry. It then marched into Moidart, `burning . . . houses, driving away cattle, and shooting those vagrants who were to be found in the mountains’. Much of the carnage and destruction was undoubtedly committed by Culcairn’s own men. Culcairn himself was eventually murdered on the shore of Loch Arkaig, apparently the victim of mistaken identity, since it seems Alexander Grant of Knockando was the intended victim. Grant had command of another Independent Company responsible for various atrocities in the Cameron country and he ordered the summary execution of a Cameron trying to surrender his weapons after taking to the hills with his family. Culcairn’s murder may well have been a mistargeted act of revenge for this death. His killer was never caught.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *