1902 Encyclopedia > Rob Roy

Rob Roy
Scottish Highland outlaw
(c. 1660 - 1734)




ROB ROY (c. 1660-1734), the popular designation of a famous Highland outlaw whose prowess is the theme of one of Sir Walter Scott's novels, was by descent a Macgregor, being the younger son of Donald Macgregor of Glengyle, who had attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the army of James II., by his wife, a daughter of William Campbell of Glenfalloch. He received the name Roy from the red hair which clustered in thick curls over his brow, and latterly adopted Campbell as his surname on account of the Acts proscribing the name of his clan. Though in stature not much above the middle height, he was so muscular and thickly set that few were his equals in feats of strength, while the unusual length of his arms gave him an extraordinary advantage in the use of the sword. His eyes were remarkably keen and piercing, and his whole expression indicated a mental prowess forming an appropriate complement to his powerful physical frame. He inherited a small property on the Braes of Balquhidder, and at first devoted himself to the rearing of cattle. Hav-ing formed a band of armed clansmen, he obtained, after the accession of 1Villiam III., a commission from James II. to levy war on all who refused to acknowledge him as king, and in the autumn of 1691 made a descent on Stirlingshire to carry off the cattle of Lord Livingstone, when, being opposed by the villagers of Kippen, he also seized the cattle from all the byres of the village. Shortly afterwards he married Mary, daughter of Macg,regor of Comar. On the death of Gregor Macgregor, the chief of the clan, in 1693 he managed, though not the nearest heir, to get himself acknowledged chief, obtaining control of the lands stretching from the Braes of Balquhidder to the shores of Loch Lomond, and situated between the posses-sions of Argyll and those of Montrose. To assist in carry-ing on his trade as cattle-dealer he borrowed money from the duke of Montrose, and, being on account of losses un-able to repay it, he was in 1712 evicted from his property and declared an outlaw. Taking refuge in the more in-accessible Highlands, Rob Roy from this time forward sup-ported himself chiefly by depredations committed in the most daring manner on the duke and his tenants, all attempts to capture him being unsuccessful. During the rebellion of 1715, though nominally siding with the Pre-tender, he did not take an active part in the battle of Sheriffmuir except in plundering the dead on both sides. He was included in the Act of Attainder ; but, having for some time enjoyed the friendship of the duke of Arygll, he obtained, on making his submission at Inveraray, a promise of protection. He now established his residence at Craigroyston near Loch Lomond, whence for some time he levied black mail as formerly upon Montrose, escaping by his wonderful address and activity every effort of the English garrison stationed at Inversnaid to bring him to justice. In his later years he was, through the mediation of Argyll, reconciled to Montrose. According to a notice in the Caledonian. Mercury he died at Balquhidder on 28th December 1731. He was buried in Balquhidder churchyard.

K. Macleay, Historical Memoirs of Rob Roy (1818 ; new ed. 1881); Sir Walter Scott, Highland Clans ; A. II. Miller, Story of Rob Roy (1883).







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