The Red Book of Clan Donnachaidh
The oldest written history of the chiefs of the Clan Donnachaidh was the ‘Red Book’ which, in the mid 1600s, was destroyed in a fire at Meggernie Castle, Glen Lyon, when on loan to the Tutor of Appin. The Poet Chief did his best to rewrite it. His source was his great-great uncle John. John had read the Book and, like a good Gael, seems to have retained a clear recollection of it. The Poet Chief’s account has been lost. However it was copied down, with difficulty since it was in poor condition, by his successor, Duncan, in France in 1768 and the material transcribed below has an introduction characteristic of him. This copy has also been lost. But it was copied by Colonel Alexander Robertson of Struan, his son, who died in 1822. Notes taken from this copy, also mislaid, in the late eighteenth century were the subject of an article in the 2002 Annual. However Colonel Alexander, writing to Rev Alexander Irvine about the Poet Chief in 1811, quotes a passage verbatim from his copy which he describes as his father’s ‘genealogical account of the Family of Strowan’. So, at least, the MS can be firmly placed back to that date. And the remarkable length of Duncan's grave is mentioned here as it is in the Poet Chief's account in the 'Martial Achievements of the Robertsons of Strowan'.
The descendants of Donald Robertson of Woodsheal, who led the Clan in the ‘45, preserved a copy of Colonel Alexander’s copy. This branch of the family ended up in Canada and, in 1981, presented their copy to the Clan Centre. This, dated from a mention in the text and the watermark on the paper, was written in 1845. So the transcription that follows is copying a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy cobbled together from information provided by an old man who had read an original copy more than half a century earlier. Since the Book itself was the product of some fifteen generations of oral history and written in ‘Old Gallick or Celtick character’, perhaps a few copyings here or there make little difference to its authenticity.
This MS seems to have been largely overlooked by clan historians of the 19th and 20th centuries and the accepted history differs in several significant respects from it, particularly as regards Duncan, the first Chief. It throws into doubt the account of Robert Rioch receiving his charter from the king suffering from the mortal wound received in his fight with Forrester of Torwood. Since his charter was dated 1451 and Robert survived another ten years, it always seemed unlikely that the two events were linked. Here important parts of this incident are ascribed to Duncan. And since it makes a much better story than that of Robert Rioch, it seems inconceivable that Clan historians would have selected the latter had they known about the Red Book MS.
The MS is headed Genealogy of the Family of Strowan. It states that it is ‘a copy of a MS written by Colonel Alexander Robertson of Strowan, the eldest son and successor of Duncan of Strowan last mentioned. That MS was a copy of an MS written by his father XIV Duncan.’ That means Duncan, the 14th chief.
‘Patronimics have long been in use in many nations but longer retained in the Highlands of Scotland as well as their language and dress than amongst any other people of Europe except Russia, perhaps, and some parts of Ireland. Appellations given from accidents or qualities of body or mind, from places of birth, nursing or residence were common to them with other Nations. Those circumstances put together must be very perplexing to a person that attempts to write the genealogies of families and expects to find written vouchers at every step. In ancient times the Scots had no idea of having recourse to writings for ascertaining their genealogies; uninterrupted tradition was looked upon as a moral certainty and the concurring testimony not only of a whole clan, but likewise of their neighbours, disinterested persons, was looked upon as stronger evidence than any writing and perhaps not altogether without reason. If there was a break in the succession of a considerable family in the Highlands of Scotland two or three hundred years ago or more, you will find people in the country that can tell you how it happened, and point you out the Representatives of the true heir if they exist. So that it is impossible to falsify the genealogy of a Highland Family if one is at pains to examine the truth; but those genealogies may be and actually are very much abridged since the practice has been introduced of admitting written evidences only in such cases. However it is to be observed that this traditionary evidence cannot be expected amongst any people composed of many different nations, and such are most of the States of Europe at this day which rendered writing necessary for proving the Genealogies of families
The Highlanders bethought themselves at length of writing down the principal circumstances that regarded their families. Those writings did not consist of several manuscripts kept in private families whose veracity might be liable to suspicion but of a Book that contained the principal history of every considerable family which was handed about from house to house; here there was no danger of imposition for every particular stood in awe of the whole and every chief was too jealous of his own dignity to suffer a falsehood in favour of another to pass upon Posterity. This Book was called ‘An Leabhar Dearg’ i.e. ‘The Red Book’, and was written in Old Gallick or Celtick character. It was lent by the 3rd Alexander Robertson of Strowan to the Tutor of Appin, then living at Meggerny in Glenlyon. The Castle of Meggerny took fire and the Red Book perished in the flames to the irreparable loss of the genealogy and History of the Highlands of Scotland. The fourth Alexander of Strowan has left a manuscript in his own handwriting where he gives some account of his Family and acknowledges that he had borrowed most of the oldest circumstances, relating to his subject, from John MacAllister (Grandson to Robert fourth of Strowan) who had perused the Red Book. Strowan was a young man when he conversed with John, who was then very old. This manuscript is shattered and spoiled, bits of it lost, and the writing so effaced in several places as not to be legible.
The Robertsons of Scotland are called in the Gallick language Clan-Donochy from Duncan the founder of the family in Perthshire, who was son to Angus, Lord of the Isles, called by the Highlanders ‘of Cowal’, from the place of his birth or nursing, for Duncan is styled in the Gallick language ‘Donnach Ravir Macinnes na Coalich’, that is ‘Duncan the fat or corpulent son of Angus of Cowal’. The friendship that has ever subsisted betwixt the Clan Donochy and the Macdonalds is avowedly grounded upon the absolute certainty of their being sprung from the same stock. Duncan is said to have been born in the year 1275, he came to the Highlands of Perthshire some time before the coronation of King Robert 1st most probably invited to be the Captain and Protector of such as found themselves apprised under the tyranny of the Baliol party. He had got such footing in Rannoch and the Braes of Athole as enabled him to be of considerable service to the King after he was defeated at Methven and Dalri. In troublesome times he frequently resided in the Island of Loch Tummel (distinct from Loch Rannoch) where he is said to have received the King. The conversation betwixt the King and him and the roughness of the entertainment are still related by the people of that country who say that the King then promised Duncan to take care of his fortune when affairs would be settled. The King lurked likewise in the wood of Kynachan in the neighbourhood of this Loch where there was a hut built for him, the place is known to this day by the name of ‘Larigh Tigh an Righ’ that is ‘The Vestige of the King’s House’. It seems that the Queen had been there too for a pool upon the river Tummel in the neighbourhood of this Loch is still called the Queen’s Pool.
There are particulars related of Duncan’s life and actions too many to be inserted here; we shall mention but a few. He banished from the north side of Loch Rannoch a Tribe called ‘Clan Ian Lea’ and is said to have planted that district with MacGregors. The story of the Mac Leas is confirmed by some Rhymes handed down by tradition. He often commanded considerable bodies of such Perthshire Highlanders as had the spirit to fight for the freedom and Independence of their country, nor did he confine his services to that district alone. For the people of Braemar point out to this day the ground where he fought and defeated a body of King Robert’s enemies. He was sometimes nick-names ‘Corishic mor Feachorie’, that is The Great or Big Warrior of Feachorie; this Feachorie is a little river running in a retired glen behind the mountains of Bunrannoch which Duncan found a perfect place of rendezvous when he was preparing any secret expedition. It was probably by his enemies services, in weakening the Baliol party and establishing the King’s authority in Athol (which is the centre of the Kingdom of Scotland) and in the neighbouring parts that Duncan merited the High place he obtained in the favour of his Majesty who at length fully performed the Royal promise he gave him in the Island of Loch Tummel.
The Manuscript says ‘the King having defeated McDougall of Lorn somewhere in the hills betwixt Rannoch & Breadalbane and taken McDougall himself prisoner, committed him to Duncan’s care who conveyed him to the island of Loch Rannoch. A little rocky hillock upon the Loch side, remarkable to some circumstances relating to McDougall is called to this day ‘Craggan mhic Dhughail’ that is McDougall’s little rock. McDougall obtained some freedoms upon his parole, but by an evasion of that parole grounded upon the ambiguity of the words in which it was expressed in the Gaelic Language he made his escape & when he had got fairly ashore, called out to his guard that he was going away. Duncan pursued him as soon as he could get a party in readiness for the purpose, but night coming on they lay down to rest in the hill, towards the end of Loch Erricht; the Standard bearer fixed the Staff of the colours in the ground and in pulling it out next morning he discovered a round transparent stone called afterwards ‘Clach na Brataich’ i.e. the stone of the colours. It is still looked upon in those countries as very precious on account of the virtues they ascribe to it for the cure of diseases in men and beasts particularly for stopping the progress of any unaccountable mortality amongst cattle. Duncan and all the Representatives of the Family from generation to Generation have carried this stone about their persons, and while it remained in Scotland people came frequently from places at a great distance to get water in which it had been dipped for various purposes.
Duncan in his old age obtained a charter from John Bishop of Dunkeld of the lands of Adulia (the Appin of Dull or Appinnadull by contraction as the MS explains it) for services done to the Church. The Charter is granted ‘Viro Nobili Duncano De Atholia suis masculis (Then is a word immediately after Duncan’s but it is so effaced as not to be legible) This is dated 11 December 1355. Duncan was then about 80 years of age, and by the course of nature could not have lived long, but from the circumstances of his death it appears that he lived for at least two or three years after the date of this Charter, that is until King David 2nd returned from England after the battle of Durham. The story is distinctly handed down by tradition and as it serves considerably to clear up the early history of the family we think it proper to give it a place here.
Duncan desirous to have the whole or some part of his large possessions secured to him and his posterity by written rights from the crown repaired to court which was then at Scoon or at Perth. He had his enemies but it seems they could not prevail against his favour with the King; his business was finished of an evening, and next morning he was to pay his court and receive charters from the King's own hand. Besides other occasional attendants he always had twelve chosen servants about his person but one of them was a traitor, Blair by name who was bribed to destroy his master. This he actually accomplished for when Duncan was getting himself dressed in the morning for his appearance at Court, Blair with his fist struck a razor or knife into the crown of his head, and then attempted to escape, but his master drove a chair at him which broke his back and Kenneth McGilivie another of the servants dispatched the traitor with a spear. All this was hushed up for the time. Duncan immediately caused his head to be bound up with bandages and caps and went to Court. The King observing his countenance as well as the tying up of his head, asked of him what was the matter and he answered that indeed the Gentlemen of the court had made him sit up and drink more than was fit for a man of his age. He received his papers and departed but had not gone far from court when his People were obliged to put him in a litter; his papers were laid under him, he ordered his men to carry him to Dull and not to slacken their speed whether he was dead or alive, and if he should die by the way his body was not to be touched till his son Robert should arrive. Robert found the charters and buried his father at Dull where his grave is shown to this day as a rarity for its length.’
This story is highly probable for though there is no charter extant in the family prior to the Charter of Erection by King James 2nd (except for the above mentioned charter by the Bishop of Dunkeld and one by King David 2d to the first Robert and both of them of lands not in Athole) yet it is scarcely credible that they should have possessed a great Estate in Athole and Rannoch down to the sixth generation in the Royal Family, Robert 1st inclusive, without any written rights, especially in Perthshire where the King commonly resided in those days, but that there were written rights of those lands though now it is lost is presumable from the overt strain of the charter of erection itself as shall be observed when we come to mention the charter in its proper place.
Duncan married a daughter of ‘Callum Ruath Leaunach’ as the Highlanders then designated Malcolm, Earl of Lennox. He left two sons, Robert his heir of whom afterwards and Patrick ancestor of the family Lude, and its branches, and probably of Robertson of Straloch commonly designated in the Highland Language ‘Am Baron Ruath’.
II Robert designated filius Duncan de Atholia. The Author of the MS supposes that Duncan & Robert were the Duncan McDonnel and his son who were taken prisoners at the Battle of Durham with King David II the 17 October 1348. The different castles to which they were confined and the officers who had charge of them are particularly mentioned in Rhymer Federa. This supposition is strongly supported by this circumstance that the King four or five years after his return from England makes a donation of the lands of Fordell, now Fairdell, in the Stormont ‘Roberto filio Duncain de Atholia’, for his services.
This charter is in the records and is dated in the 33rd year of King David’s reign. There is no particular account of Robert’s wife; It may be supposed that many of the papers of the Family were lost and it is rather to be wondered at that any of them escaped the violent shock the Family suffered upon different occasions. He was succeeded by his son
III Duncan, second of the name, it is not known whether he was desponed of Athol or of Strowan as there are no charters to him extant. Tradition affirms that he married a daughter of the family of Graham by whom he had a son Robert. It is probable that he was likeways the father of Thomas Duncanson, father of Matilda who obtained a charter from King James II which was the foundation of Baron Ruath’s title to some lands in Strathairdle. The charter bears the same date as Thomas Duncanson’s charter of erection and it is very probable that Robert who had sufficient interest at Court would procure the expedition of his niece’s charter at the same time as his own. Duncan was succeeded by his son.
IV Robert Duncanson of Strowan, a man of great loyalty and patriotism as well as courage and resolution for upon the execrable murder of King James I when the nation was like to be involved in a civil war Robert was the main instrument of crushing the designs of the Parricides (Regicides?) in the bud by attacking them with such vigour and expedition as to give them no time for concerting their wicked measures. He was indeed the only man of power in the close neighbourhood of Walter, Earl of Athol to whom the assassins would naturally fly for shelter. Robert Graham was taken within two miles of Blair castle, near a little rivulet called Graham’s Burn to this day. It is positively handed down by tradition that Robert `Duncanson took the earl of Athol himself as well as Graham. The earl was the head of the conspiracy and yet we hear of no other person or family rewarded or taken notice of, for having apprehended him or that ever claimed the merit of having performed so great a service to their country which is of itself a sufficient proof of the Tradition. When King James II came of age he offered Robert rewards proportionable to the significant service he had done the Crown and Kingdom of Scotland, but all he would would accept of was to have the lands he already possessed united into one Barony which was immediately done by a charter under the Great seal. The lands contained in this charter under different denominations are - eighty seven mark land in the parish of Strowan comprehending almost the whole parish, fifty five mark land in Rannoch, the twenty pound land of Fernan, twenty four mark land of Faskilly and Dysart, the lands of Delacabon, the lands of Killichangy, and the baronies of Balnaguard and Balnavert with the great west forest of Athol extending west and north to the marches of Invernessshire. This charter proceeds upon the resignation of Robert Duncanson into the king’s hands, and erects all those lands into one free barony, to be called in time thereafter the barony of Strowan with these words as the cause of granting thereof ‘pro zelo &c--------diligentissimi cordialissimi factis..' These last words confirm a part of what Buchanan says upon that subject, for he informs us that all the principal traitors suffered within forty days after they had committed the horrible fact.
Here it is to be observed 1st that this charter proceeds upon Robert’s resignation into the King’s hands, 2nd That in the charter itself those lands are declared to be the hereditary lands and 3rd that they are given to him in as ample a manner as any of his ancestors had at any time possessed them; from all of which it plainly follows that Robert Duncanson and his ancestors were in full & legal possession of those lands by charter from the Crown prior to this charter of erection. It is dated at Edinburgh the 15th day of August 1451; it is said that the King did not chuse to have the earl of Athol mentioned in this charter because he was a Prince of the Blood.
Tradition says that Robert was offered the title of earl, but that he refused it, not thinking that it could add anything to the Dignity of his family; but some changes were made in his coat of arms; it is doubtful whether or not it was upon this occasion they got a dexter supporting and imperial crown for their crest, but it is certain that it was then that their motto was changed to ‘Virtutis Gloria Merces’ and a savage in chains added as a compartment all properly alluding to the circumstances of Robert’s History.
Robert married Lady Margaret Stewart whose family is not known, but she is styled in prayers ‘Domina Margareta Stewart Relicta quondam Vir nobilis Roberti Duncanson de Strowan. The MS observes that the Lady must have been nearly related to the royal family, as it was not the custom in those days to prefix Domina or Lady to the Christian names of the daughters of ordinary earls.
It is certain that Robert Duncanson left two sons Alexander his heir of whom presently, and Patrick, for the Predicant Fryers of Perth give a charter of lands on to Patrick Robertson Brother german to Alexander Robertson of Strowan
V Alexander Robertson of Strowan succeeded his father Robert still upon the patronymics he takes the surname of Robertson and ever after Robertson continued to be the surname of the family in the Low country language. He married first Elizabeth Lyon only daughter of Patrick Lord Glammis who was grandson of the Lady Jean Stewart daughter of King Robert II by Euphame Ross. Of this marriage he had several sons, particularly Duncan, Robert, Andrew & James and a daughter Margaret. 1st Duncan was the eldest as appears by his resignation of certain lands into his father’s hands, but he dying without issue before his father the line of the family was carried on by 2nd Robert the second son of whom presently 3 Andrew was the progenitor of the family of Killiechangie and its branches, namely the Robertsons of Blairchrosk and Ladykirk, of Tenandry, Balnacraig, Lettoch, Cultalony, Eastertyre, Edradynate &c 4 James surnamed Aulin from the handsome figure of his person, of whom are descended the Robertsons of Calvine, Blairfetty, Auchleeks, Bohespick, Trinafour, Inches and Kindess[ace]. Margaret the only daughter was married to Umphra Murray son and apparent heir of Umphra Murray of Ogilvy, ancestor of Abercairney and had issue - Alexander married secondly Elizabeth Stewart daughter of John Earl of Athol, uterine bother of King James II and by her he had a son - ancestor of the family of Faskilly and its branches and a daughter - married to - Earl of Errol & had issue
VI Robert Robertson Fiar of Strowan married Isabell Stewart daughter of John Earl of Atholl and sister to his father’s second wife. He died before his father leaving a son William to succeed his grandfather.
VII William Robertson of Strowan. The Author of the MSS says ‘that there happened to be a dispute between William and the Earl of Athol about marches, that they came to open force; that William burnt Blair castle and was afterwards surprised and murdered by some people belonging to the Earl of Athol.’ Buchanan’s construction upon the circumstance of his keeping so many men in arms is malicious as his insinuations are of the false and groundless. For we may suppose that every man in the Kingdom who was possessed of any degree of power would endeavour to put himself and his friends in a posture of defence. During the confusion that followed the fatal Battle of Flodden the MS says ‘Upon his death the Earl of Athol seized the whole estate except the Lady’s jointure. Of what family this Lady (William’s wife) was is not known, all the old contracts of the family being lost. he was succeeded by his son.
VIII Robert Robertson of Strowan fourth of the name. He was an infant when his father was murdered without an uncle or any other paternal relation to support his interest. When he came of age he was served heir to his father. her married Marion McIan, daughter and Heiress to John McIan of Ardnamurchan. It is said that the estate of Ardnamurchan went off from the family of Strowan in discharging a cautionary for the family of Argyle. He was succeeded by his son.
IX William Robertson of Strowan second of the name got a charter from his father of lands and barony of Strowan the 5th of November 1546. It is thought he married a daughter of Menzies of that Ilk but [bracketed is a note ‘he was married PD 1845’] died without heirs male of his body he settled his estate upon Donald Robertson his brother german in life rent, and upon Robert Robertson eldest lawful son of the said Donald and of Janet Stewart his first spouse in fee, N.B. The arbiters are named, and Robert and his heirs restricted from selling or alienating &c without the consent of them or their heirs male. Alexander Robertson of Dalcabon Ancestor of the Earl of Portmore is the first of the name and family of Strowan mentioned amongst the Arbiters. William was succeeded by his brothers,
IX Donald Robertson of Strowan. His first wife Janet Stewart was a daughter of Stewart of Foss, an immediate branch of the family of Garth `and mother to Robert his heir. After her death he had married likeways in his brother’s lifetime Beatrix Farquharson by whom he had one son Duncan who died without issue. There is extant the testamentary donation of the said Duncan to his nephews Donald & Duncan after mentioned. Donald was succeeded by his son
X Robert Robertson of Strowan fifth of the name. He sold a great part of the estate to James Menzies of that Ilk and others upon which what they call a decreet of cognition was obtained against him at the instance of the King’s Advocate. The sale was reduced and the Estate by some operations in law was put in the person of John Robertson, Merchant of Edinburgh, who had obtained the same under the great seal. The said John Robertson returned the Estate to Robert and the heirs male of his body, failing of which to his next lawful heirs-male bearing the surname and arms of Robertson, by charter which Charter is confirmed by a charter under the Great Seal. Robert married Agnes MacRanald daughter of Macranald of Keppoch (This Branch of the family of the Isles had not yet taken the name of McDonald) by her he had four sons - Alexander his heir Donald and Duncan of whom afterwards & James who married Margaret, daughter of Robertson of Faskilly & had issue. There is a charter under the great seal in confirmation of a charter by Robert Robertson of Strowan to Alexander his son and apparent heir with reservations to himself and to Agnes McDonald his spouse; and likeways with reservations in favour of Donald his second lawful son, and Duncan his third lawful son. The Charter is dated 23rd March 1630.
XI Alexander Robertson of Strowan second of the name succeeded his father Robert. He married Margaret daughter of George Graham or Graeme of Inchbrakie as appears by a charter passed by him in implement of this contract of marriage with the said Lady, with consent of his father and mother. Alexander grants likeways a charter to Alexander his son and apparent heir with the two particular reservations therein mentioned in favour of his own brothers Donald and Duncan. He died young and was succeeded by his son.
XII Alexander Robertson of Strowan third of the name. He was a child when his father died and fell naturally under the tuition of his uncle Donald, who from thence was designated the Tutor of Strowan. In Alexander’s minority broke out the great rebellion against King Charles I and Donald did the honours of the family, for he with his brother Duncan and their friends and followers adhered to the Royal cause to the last. Donald commanded a body of men reckoned amongst the most forward in the King’s cause, I mean the Athol-men, as appears by original letters and commissions from the Marquis of Montrose, and when the Royal cause was revived General Middleton gave him a fresh commission to ‘raise and command all the able-bodied men in Atholl, Strathairdle, Glenshee, the Laird of Garntully’s lands, the Bishoprick of Dunkeld and the Stormont except those of Clan Cameron and the name of Mcgregor.’ The levies of these countries were to form but one regiment of which Donald is empowered by his commission to appoint all the Officers. That he served with honor under Montrose appears by a letter addressed to him by King Charles II; and a letter to him from General Middleton when the Royal Cause was again reduced to a desperate condition shows in what consideration he was held by his fellow patriots. As the first of those letters does great honor to the Tutor of Strowan’s memory, and that the second is an authentic piece of the history of the times we shall insert them both.
The King’s letter,
Trustie and well beloved , we greet you weill as we heirtofore received frequent and ample testimonie of your great fidelitie and Loyaltie to our blessed Father and self, and your suffering for the same, the bearer hereof Generall Major William Drummond has given us a full account of the continuance and constancie of the same affection and courage in you towards us and our service for which we have thought fitt to return you our Prinslie thanks and acceptation and to assure you that when God shall inable us, we will reward your faithfull services and repair your sufferings, we know weill wee need not encourage you to use your outmost power and credit to assist those who are intrusted by us to conduct our affairs then and who we hope with God’s blessing will be the instruments to redeem your countrie from the oppression tyranny and slavery it now groans under what we have done and intend in person to do towards it you will understand by the bearer who will likeways tell you the good opinion we have of you and so we bid you fairwell. Given at Chantilly the 31st October 1653 the fyfth year of our reigne.
Directed thus To our trustie and weill beloved. The Tutor of Strowan.
Letter from General Middleton.
Though you cannot but be affected yet you will not wonder at the subject of this letter - has disappointed us in not keeping the rendezvous - and diverse oyre beaslie deserted us we being ready to march with McLoud, Glengarrie and their people. Yesterday I called aye counsell of was where we moved most seriouslie weighed and fullie debaited everything related to his Majestie’s service and having found that the treacheries and desertions of many of those who had joined in it and were emintlie considerable has reduced the business to such a condition that we were forced to conclude it impossible now to carrie it on with the meanest hopes of advantage and withall finding it very improbable if not altogether impossible to get the advice of yourself and all the noblemen and officers which we most earnestly wished in this sad exigent that everymans judgement might have gone along with ours without manifest prejudice in many respects, It was unanimouslie concludit necessarie to send for a pass for some persons to treat for the laying down of arms with Monke and to desire a cessation rather than foolishlei to sacrifice the lives and fortunes o those who have most loyallie and noblie resisted and condemned all difficulties, temptations, and discouragement and are yet most willing to spend their blood in this cause and so in human appearance preclude as far as in us lies all future hopes of the Kingdom’s libertie, I shall not neid now to enter upon particulars onlie we are resolved if fair and honorable conditions be denyed never to abandon one another but to perish altogether being perfectlie confident you will share with us; all that are now in arms shall be comprehended in the agreement and everything sought and stood upon that can reasonablie be expected; I have sent for a cessation and doe desire that in the meantime you may draw as neir togither as you can convenientlie both to send me your particular desyres and to be in readiness to waitt and join with us either to consult or act as we shall have occasione and you shall receive advertisement, sent your letters to Glengarrie and they will be safely delivered to Your affectionate friend and servant J: MIDDLETON
For My Honored Friend. The Tutor of Strowan.
This Donald having spent his patrimony in the wars received a pension from the King at the Restoration. He married - Graeme, daughter of George Graeme of Inchbreckie widow of - Robertson of Lude, but left no issue.
When Alexander the third came of age he had occasion to show that he was not inferiour to his uncle in Loyalty or Bravery. He married first Catherine Drummond sister to Sir James Drummond of Mochany ancestor of the Viscount Strath Allan by whom he had a son Robert who died without issue. He married secondly Marion Baillie daughter to General Baillie by whom he had two surviving sons Alexander his Heir and Duncan and several daughters who died without issue. Duncan served for several years in Russia in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel under Peter the Great with whom he was long a great favorite; but at length upon a disappointment of preferment he left that service and died in Sweden in the year 1718. He had married - daughter of William Robertson of Inches by whom he left issue one daughter. Alexander raised a process for the recovery of his Estate possessed by the family of Athole; it is said he had obtained or was about to obtain a sentence in his favour. It is certain the earl of Atholl and Alexander came to a submission and the consequence was that the lands remained in the Family of Athol. During the course of this process Alexander served heir to nine of his predecessors.
XIII Alexander Robertson of Strowan fourth of the name, succeeded his father in 1688 being then a youth at the University he retired home and took up arms of opposition to the troops sent into Scotland by King William. He was taken prisoner in 1689 and soon after released upon giving his parole of honour that he would procure the liberty of Sir Robert Pollock and officer in King William’s service who had fallen into the hands of King James’ party and was then prisoner in the Castle of Dowart in Argyleshire. Alexander having performed the conditions of his parole went over to France for his education being then but nineteen years of age.
In 1690 he was attainted by an act of Parliament of Scotland & his estate forfeited to the Crown. He always complained of this as hard usage as he never was charged with any act of opposition to King William’s government after he was released as prisoner of war and had fairly performed the conditions of his parole. This is taken from a Memorial found amongst his own papers when the whole story is related with the circumstances of his being under age when the sentence of forfeiture was passed.
These circumstances were so fresh in the memory in 1703 that they might probably be amongst the reasons which induced Queen Anne to permit Alexander to return to the peaceable possession of his Estate. It is said he obtained an ample remission and grant of the Estate, but as such remission of grant never passed the Seals, the sentence of forfeiture 1690 still remained in force.
In 1715 Alexander Robertson of Strowan with a Regiment of his followers joined the Earl of Mar and was taken prisoner in 1716 but his sister Margaret having procured his escape by stratagem he retired again to France.
In 1723 King George Ist was moved to restore the estate of Strowan to the family by a gift and Charter under the Great Seal to Margaret Robertson already mentioned, sister to Alexander an elderly woman never married. And in 1726 she deponed it in trust for the behoof of her brother, substituting (in the event of his death without lawful heirs of his body) Duncan Robertson of Drimachine, son to Alexander Robertson of Drimachine, his Father’s Cousin as the next lawful heir-male of the family of whom afterwards. Margaret died in 1727 with the merit of having accomplished for his paternal family what seemed to be beyond the reach of her efforts. Alexander her brother returned to Britain in 1725 obtained a remission for his life a few years after and had taken possession of the Estate even before his sister’s death in which he continued to the end of his life. He joined the Jacobite party in 1745 but retired in such time that no act of rebellion could be proved against him for the full three years before the Courts of oyer and terminer were held in Edinburgh in 1748. He died in April 1749 about the beginning of the eightieth year of his age.
This Gentleman was much esteemed by all his acquaintances for his sprightly wit and agreeable conversation and by those of his own principles for his steady adherence to his party. He had a considerable genius for poetry as appears by many of the pieces found in the Collection published under his name after his death; but he wrote carelesslie and was seldom at the trouble to revise what he wrote. Many of those who were about him are of opinion that he never intended anything for the press which was probably the case for there are a number of pieces in that Collection that he would have committed to the flames if he had intended a publication especially if he could have foreseen that his MSS were to fall into the hands of a mercenary servant. For whatever he might have said or wrote in his youth over a bottle or in an angry mood, he had too much sense and judgement in his calm deliberate hours to give publick offence to morality or decency. he was the last of the male race of his grandfather the Second Alexander eldest son of the 5th Robertson Robertson of Strowan; and Donald the Tutor dying without issue the representation of the Family and the succession to the estate devolved upon the male race of
XI Duncan often mentioned, third son of Robert Robertson of Strowan. He constantly bore his share in all the dangers and fatigues of the wars with his older brother Donald and he was a man of eminent stature, strength and courage, many particulars of his behaviour on different occasions were afterwards related by those who were personally acquainted with him, of whom some were alive in 1751. He was remarkable for his benevolent compassionate temper of which many instances are given, particularly his having had a principal hand in saving the town of Perth being destroyed after the battle of Tippermuir, for many of its inhabitants had joined the Covenanters. he purchased the lands of Drimachine from the Family of Atholl and died in the year 1688, leaving issue by Dorothy Stewart his wife, Daughter of Stuart of Foss, four sons. John his heir, Donald, Duncan and Patrick.
XII John Robertson of Drumachine eldest son and heir of Duncan married in 1677 Cecelia, Eldest daughter of Robert Stewart of Fincastle. In 1703 he consents to the marriage of Alexander Robertson his eldest lawful son with Margaret eldest lawful daughter of Patrick Robertson of Blairfettie and dispones his lands to his grandson Duncan in 1719
XIII Alexander had several children of this marriage of whom only three are now in life (See note at end J.M.) 1st Duncan the present representative of the family of Strowan 2nd Alexander a Lieutenant Colonel in the service of the States-General, and a daughter Emelia, married to Donald Robertson, a captain in the French Service, grandson and heir of the above mentioned Donald, Younger brother of John Robertson of Drimachine.
XIV Duncan Robertson of Strowan, third of the name, as the sentence of forfeiture in 1690 was never reversed, the estate rested upon the grant passed by King George 1st in favours of Margaret Robertson, and in consequence of her disposition in 1726, Duncan took possession of it by his doers, upon the death of the last Alexander of Strowan at the sight and under the protection of the Sheriff of the County, and the remaining papers of the family with the Stone called ‘Clach na Brataich’ were delivered to those doers and afterwards conveyed to him. Tho he himself was under a cloud having been excepted by name in the Bill of Indemnity, and next year mentioned in the court of Oyer and Terminer, his Lady and family were acknowledged by all to be in lawful possession of the estate; but means were found to procure a revocation of the grant above mentioned made to Margaret Robertson; and thus the Estate falling again under the sentence of Forfeiture passed by the Parliament of Scotland against Alexander Robertson of Strowan in 1690, it was annexed to the Crown by a particular clause in the annexation act 1752. The Lady and her children were forced to quite their dwelling in 1751 and in 1753 the whole family retired to France. Duncan married in 1739 May, fourth daughter of William Lord Nairne (son of John, Marquis of Athol) and of Margaret Lady Nairne his spouse. of this marriage are two sons, Alexander and Walter Philip Colyear, both officers in the Scots Brigade in the service of the States General, and a daughter Margaret married to Laurence Oliphant of Gask (Note. The preceding pages are a copy of a MS written by Colonel Alexander Robertson of Strowan, the eldest son & successor of Duncan of Strowan last mentioned. That MS was a copy of an MS written by his father XIV Duncan.) Colonel Alex Robertson of Drimachine died at Milton Rannoch in 1778 and within a short time of his sister’s death, her husband Woodsheal died shortly before. Duncan died in France in 1784. The Forfeited Estates generally were restored some time after.
XV Alexander Robertson of Strowan fifth of the name retiring from the Dutch Service in which he had attained the rank of Colonel returned to Scotland. His brother Col W P Colyear accompanied him & died unmarried in 1820. Alexander resided in the Barracks at the West End of Loch Rannoch, he built a large mansion at Mount Alexander which he never occupied, and died unmarried in Nov 1822. The was the last of the male race of his great grandfather John, eldest son of XI Duncan Robertson of Drimachine and the representation of the Family and succession to the estate devolved upon the male race of
XII Donald Robertson, second son of Duncan Robertson of Drimachine already mentioned. Donald married, first, a daughter of Robertson of Auchleeks by whom he has two sons Robert his heir and Charles - secondly - Stewart by whom he had issue, a son & a daughter, passing over his son Robert he constituted Donald of Woodsheal his heir.
XIII Robert Robertson commonly called Robbie Ban from the fairness of his complexion married 1st - Robertson who died in a few months without issue. 2ndly a daughter of Donald Robertson Brother to the Laird of Blairfetty & Clachan by whom he had four sons. Donald, 2 Duncan 3 Alexander & 4 Charles. He married thirdly a daughter of Robertson of Kindrochit by whom he had issue two daughters Betsy (married to Robertson of Reimore) & Margaret ( married to John Robertson great grandson of Duncan of Drimachine) Robert married 4thly a daughter of Neil Stewart of Cammach & by her had issue two sons, Neil and John and a daughter Emily (married to Archibald McDiarmid. Robert died at a very advanced age (above 100 year)
XIV Donald Robertson of Woodsheal Eldest son of Robert above mentioned distinguished himself in the cause of Prince Charles in 1745-6 he was a Colonel in the Athol Brigade and led the Strowan men at Culloden where he was severely wounded, his brother Alexander was killed while bearing the Standard. Donald retired to France where he obtained a Company of Grenadiers in Lord Ogilvy’s Scottish Regiment in the French Service. He returned to Scotland in 1967. Donald married in May 1753 Emelia sister of Duncan Robertson of Strowan XIV and had issue a son who died while yet a child and two daughter. Charlotte (married to Duncan Robertson of Trinafour) and Margaret (married to Lieut Alex Campbell). Donald was held in high personal esteem by Prince Charles in proof of which the Prince presented him with a gun and a rapier, the last of which is still preserved by his descendants. Dying between 1776-7 without make issue the succession devolved on the male race of his next brother.
XIV Duncan Robertson who served under the Duke of Cumberland in the war in Flanders, and elsewhere, he married Mary Ann Taylor and had issue a son
XV Alexander Robertson of Strowan sixth of the name who on the death of Colonel Alexander Robertson of Strowan in 1822 succeeded to the Estate and became representative of the Family. He was a Captain in the army and served, and was present at several battles during the American War of Independence. He married first Mary, daughter of William Best of Mansfield Yorkshire and had issue two sons George Duncan his heir born April 1766 and another son Francis who was supposed to have been lost at sea. . Alex married secondly Jane second daughter of Gilbert Stewart of Fincastle and had issue two sons Alexander G and Robert both alive the latter married in Jamaica & has issue. Alexander died in 20th March 1830 and was succeeded by his eldest son
XVI George Duncan Robertson of Strowan, He entered the Army at an early age and attained the rank of Lieutenant General. his distinguished himself in Calabria in the war against the French. He received the Cross of the Austrian order of Leopold. He married Ann Othwaite and had issue George Duncan, the present representative of the family of Strowan and two daughters Marianne (married to W Jenkins Esq died 1830 leaving issue) and Frances who died unmarried in 1850. l.General Robertson died in June 1842, and was succeeded by his son
XVII George Duncan Robertson of Strowan, second of the name who served for some years in the 42d Royal Highlanders. He married in 1838 Mary eldest daughter of Major Menzies 42d Royal Highlanders.