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The Solemn League and Covenant.—Montrose and Alasdair
Mac Cholla Chiataich take the side of the King.—The Laird
of Grant and the Tutor of Glenmoriston hold aloof.—Alasdair’s
Requisition on the Tutor.—The Tutor’s Trick.—A Brilliant
Campaign.—Battle of Inverlochy.—The Laird of Grant sends
Men to Montrose.—The Covenanters invade Glen-Urquhart.
Lady Ogilvy Robbed and driven out of the Parish.—
Her Appeal to her Son.—Undertaking to Support the King.
—Montrose’s Description of the Laird’s Recruits.—Urquhart
Men Killed at the Battle of Auldearn.—Montrose’s High­
landers in Glen-Urquhart.—Raid upon the Aird.—Lovat
Calls upon The Chisholm to drive the Royalists out of
the Parish. — Disputes and Notarial Writs. — Montrose’s
Vengeance on the Frasers.—His Skirmish in Glenmoriston.—
His Exile.—Huntly takes the Field for the King.—Middleton
Defeats him in Glenmoriston. — Lady Ogilvy’s Troubles
and Death.—Feud between her Tenants and those of Glen-
moriston.—A Fight at a Funeral.—Death of the Big Miller.—
The Condition of the Castle.

The Parliamentary Party in England, and the
extreme section of the Covenanters in Scotland,
entered, in 1643, into the bond and compact known
as the Solemn League and Covenant. The prin­
ciples embodied in that document were looked upon
by the Marquis of Montrose and other Scotsmen
who had subscribed, and still adhered to, the more
moderate Covenant of 1638, as unconstitutional and

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 151

rebellious ; and they resolved to support the King
in his conflict with the party which had adopted
them. At an interview with His Majesty in
December, Montrose was authorised to raise the
Scottish Royalists, and to co-operate with Irish
levies whom the Earl of Antrim, a powerful
kinsman of the Highland Macdonalds, was to send
to Scotland. The Irish soon arrived on the West
Coast under the command of a Highland warrior,
Alexander Macdonald, better known as Alasdair
Mae Cholla Chiataich—the renowned Colkitto of
John Milton. Macdonald, having taken certain
castles on the West Coast, and done some injury
to the Marquis of Argyll, landed in Knoydart, and
marched down Glengarry to Kil-Chuimein, the
modern Fort­ Augustus. There he encamped, while
the fiery cross sped over the Central Highlands
summoning the clans to rise for the King.1 The
summons was tardily obeyed. At first he was
joined only by Glengarry and the Captain of Clan
Ranald, followed by their clansmen, among whom
were Macdonalds from Urquhart and Glenmoriston.
The Laird of Grant had no desire to follow the
extreme Covenanters in the paths on which they
had now entered ; but he was not yet prepared
to separate himself openly from them, and he
remained inactive. His example was followed by
John Grant of Coineachan, the Tutor or legal

1 Leitir nan Lub, near the village, is still pointed out as the site
of his camp, as well as of the camp of Montrose some months later.


guardian of young John Grant, who had recently
succeeded to the estate of Glenmoriston.

Tradition tells that while at Kil-Chuimein Mac-
donald sent to the Tutor for a supply of cattle for
provision for his men. The artful Coineachan,
unwilling to grant his request, and still more
unwilling to incur his displeasure, forwarded a large
supply from the untamed herds of Corri-Dho. On
approaching the camp and seeing the soldiers and
their tents and banners, these denizens of the
remote glens broke away in a wild stampede, and
with a speed that defied the winds made their way
back to their native pastures. A good joke was
never lost on Alasdair Mac Cholla, and he sent a
message to “ Toitear liath Ghlinne-Moireastuinn”—
the grey Tutor of Glenmoriston — complimenting
him on the success of his trick.

From Kil-Chuimein Macdonald proceeded across
the Grampians to Blair-Athole, where he was joined
by Montrose, who assumed the command, and began
that brief but brilliant campaign which is the
foundation of his fame. Leading the Highlanders
into the Lowlands, he defeated the Covenanters
at Tippermuir, near Perth, on 1st September, 1644.
Turning northward, he won another victory at
Aberdeen, and still another at Fyvie. Penetrating
into Argyll in the dead of winter, he burned and
laid waste that county, and then pressed on towards
Inverness, which was held by the Earls of Sutherland
and Seaforth in the interest of the Solemn League.
At Kil-Chuimein he was overtaken by Iain Lom

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 153

Macdonald, the Gaelic Bard,1 and urged to return
to Lochaber, as the Marquis of Argyll had entered
that country with a large army. It was the last
day of January, and the snow lay deep in the
trackless passes. But Argyll had to be disposed of,
and Montrose resolved to approach him secretly by
a circuitous route through the mountains. Turning
up Glen-Tarff, he and his men trudged for forty
miles through heather and snow until they found
themselves, on the evening of Saturday, 1st Feb­
ruary, at the mouth of Glen-Nevis, and within a
gun-shot of the unsuspecting Campbells. That

1 That Iain Lom was the messenger sent to Montrose is asserted by a
tradition which is corroborated by the following stanzas in the Bard’s “ Battle
of Inverlochy,” where he states that he saw Montrose’s army turn up by
Cullachy, near Fort­Augustus, and that he was at Inverlochy Castle during
the subsequent battle :—

An cuala’ sibhse ’n tionndaidh duineil
Thug an camp bha ’n Cille Chuimein I
’S fhad chaidh ainm air an iomairt,
Thug iad as an naimhdean iomain.

Dhirich mi moch madainn dhomhnaich
Gu barr Caisteil Inbher-Lochaidh,
Chunna’ mi ’n t-arm a dol an ordugh,
’S bha buaidh an la le Clann-Domhnuill.

Direadh a mach glun Chuil-Eachaidh,
Dh’ aithnich mi oirbh surd ’ur tapaidh ;
Ged bha mo dhuthaich ’na lasair.
’S eirig air a’ chuis mar thachair.

The Bard makes no mention of Montrose in his song. He gives all the credit
to Mac Cholla ; and without in any way detracting from the great Marquis’
soldierly and chivalrous qualities, it must be admitted that his successes were
due as much to Macdonald’s Celtic fire and knowledge of the Gael as to his
own generalship. So long as the Highland leader fought by his side, he
carried all before him. His engagements without Macdonald’s aid—Phillip-
haugh and Culrain—were disastrous to him.


night the weary men lay under arms ; but ere the
early Sabbath sun had cast its beams over the
shoulders of Ben-Nevis, they sprang upon their foes,
and cut them to pieces. Argyll viewed the battle
from the security of his galley, and sailed home­
wards. Fifteen hundred of his men never left the
shores of Loch Linnhe.

Montrose’s plans and prospects were now com­
pletely changed. Many who had hitherto held
aloof joined him. His great victory helped the
Laird of Grant to sever his connection with the
Covenanters ; and he sent him three hundred
men to swell the ranks of the Royalists.l For this
the Laird’s residence at Elchies was plundered by
the Covenanters of Inverness ; but he had his
reward in the hearty approbation of his mother,
the Lady of Urquhart, who had, as we saw in
our last chapter, resisted his efforts in the cause
of the Covenant, and obstructed its progress among
her people. For her loyalty to the King and the
Bishops she suffered much. With the connivance
of the Tutor of Glenmoriston and other gentlemen
of our Parish, a company of the Covenanting forces
at Inverness invaded Urquhart about Christmas,
1644, robbed her of her household and personal
effects, and drove her out of the country. She
found shelter at Lesmoir ; and from that retreat
she now encouraged her son to persevere in
the King’s cause, and to avenge the wrongs which
they had both suffered. “ Dispense with, your goods, ”

1 Memorials of the Trubles, II., 447.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                   155

she wrote him on 2nd April, 1645, in reference to
his loss at Elchies, “by way of care for the loss of
them, as I have done with mine ; for, in conscience,
there is not left me worth one servit1 to eat my
meat on. Yet think with me upon a way of repar­
ation, and, ere long, you joining with him2 who is
coming of purpose to aid you, I believe in God
that the Christmas pie which we have unwillingly
swallowed shall be paid home at Easter. How soon
I either see my son-in-law or hear any certain
word from the camp, I shall not fail to advertise
you. Meanwhile, be courageous, and remember
still how both your mother and yourself have

The Laird for once accepted the advice of his
Spartan mother. He had already—on 30th March
—entered into a bond with some of his friends,
among whom we find William Grant of Achlayn
in Glenmoriston, by which they bound them­
selves in the most solemn manner to support the
cause of the King. His loyalty increased, but the
recruits whom he had sent to Montrose brought him
no credit. “ Your men,” wrote the Marquis to him,
“tho’ they were lyke to Jacob’s dayes, did not con­
tent themselfes with that, bot bade and feu as they
wer, heave all playd the runaways.”4 Better stuff
was, however, forthcoming, and in May several
Urquhart men, including Robert Grant, son of

1  Serviette.

2  Lord Lewis Gordon, her son-in-law, who had raised the Gordons for the

3 Letter at Castle Grant.            4 Chiefs of Grant, II., 16.


Shewglie, died for their King at the battle of

From the scene of that conflict Montrose marched
into the east and south of Scotland. On the 3rd of
September—a few days before his defeat at Phillip-
haugh—his Highlanders left him for the purpose of
getting their winter’s fuel, and doing the annual re-
thatching of their houses. On their journey home­
ward they sojourned for a time in Glen-Urquhart,
and thence, in conjunction with Urquhart men,
made incursions into the Aird, and carried
away many cattle. Sir James Fraser of Brea,
brother of Lord Lovat, and a keen adherent of the
Solemn League, proposed to drive them out, and
called for the assistance of Alexander Chisholm of
Comar—The Chisholm1—who held a portion of his
estate, including Buntait in the vale of Urquhart,
as vassal of Lovat. Nothing, however, was done.
Sir James blamed Chisholm, and caused the follow­
ing instrument to be taken for the purpose of
preserving evidence to be used against him in the
day of the triumph of the Covenant :—

1 Browne, in his History of the Highland Clans, sneers at the title of
“ The Chisholm,” which, he says, is “ not remarkable either for its modesty or
good taste, and which is apt to provoke a smile when it first meets the eye or
the ear of persons not accustomed to such definite and exclusive appellations ;”
and one renowned member of the clan boasted that only three personages
were entitled to the definite article—The Chisholm, The Pope, and The Devil !
The title is, however, a translation of “ An Siosalach,” which is ancient and
natural. Even the translation can claim the sanction of antiquity. The
Author has found many old documents in the Chisholm archives in which
it is used, the oldest being a “Dischairge to ye Chessolme for delyuerie
[delivery] off guidis [cattle] ” to Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy, dated
17th November, 1596. In the proceedings of a court-martial, held by the
officers of Cromwell at Inverness, in 1654, the appellations Chisholm of
Comar, The Chisholm, and the Laird of Chisholm are indiscriminately used.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 157

Apud Ercheless, undecimo die mensis Decembris,
—That day compeirit Johne Fraser, grieve in
Lovat, procurator for Sir James Fraser of Brey,
Knight, before Alex. Dunbar, Notar Publict, and
the witnesses underwritten, and protestit and tuke
instrument that Alex. Chisholme of Comar gave no
assistance of his men to the publict cause in putting
away of the publict enemie out of Urquhart : for
the quhilk cause John Fraser tuke instrument in my
hand, Alex. Dunbar, Notar Publict, day, yier, and
place above-written, before thir witnesses, Alex.
Fraser, of Litle Struy, John Grant of Corvony
[Corrimony], Mr Thomas Howestoun, with diverse

But The Chisholm had his own version of the
tale to tell, and prudence suggested that he should
state it to the notary. That official accordingly
recorded the following on the same sheet of paper :—

“ The quhilk day, yier, and place, Alex. Chisolme
of Chisolme of Comar compeirit before Alex. Dunbar,
Notar Publict forsaid, and the witnesses forsaid, and
tuke instrument that he haid more men upone the
Lord Lovat’s lands in the campe still with my Lord’s
men there as [than] ye saids lands culd affoorde.

“As also, the said Alex. Chisolme of Comar tuke
instrument in the hands off me, Alex, Dunbar,
Notar Publict, in presens off ye witnesses forsaid,
that the said Alex. Chisolme of Comar offerit to go
with his whole men in Straglais after the enemie, if

1 Instrument at Erchless Castle.


so be that Sir James Fraser and the rest of the kin
of Fraser wold go, quhilk Sir James and all the
rest of the specialls off the friends refussit, quhilk
the said Alex. Chisolme will qualifie before famous
witnesses :1 all this was done, day, yier, and place
foresaid,—Per me,

“ Al. Dunbar, Norum Pubm.

No legal proceedings seem to have followed on
these formal writs ; but the Covenanting zeal of
Fraser of Brea brought down upon his clan the
vengeance of Montrose, who, on his return to the
Highlands after the battle of Philliphaugh, dealt out
such chastisement to them that, according to the
testimony of an eyewitness,2 not a horse, or a cow,
or a sheep, or a fowl, was left in their country
from Inverness to Guisachan.

Montrose tried, without success, to take Inverness
from the Covenanters. General Middleton, with an
army strong in cavalry, hastened from Aberdeen
to the relief of the town, and forced him, in
May, 1646, to retreat into Strathglass, and thence
by Glenmoriston, Kil-Chuimein, and Stratherrick
into Strathspey.3 In Glenmoriston he had an
encounter with the enemy, in which Thomas Dunbar
of Boghole was slain.4 His spirits were high, and his
hope of ultimate success strong. It was, therefore,
with feelings of keen disappointment that he received
on the last day of May, a letter from the King, who

1 i.e., prove before witnesses of good character or reputation.

2 Rev. James Fraser of Wardlaw or Kirkhill.

3 Wishart’s Life of Montrose, 255.

4 Records of Synod of Moray—Minute of 5th October, 1646,

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 159

was now virtually a prisoner with the Scottish army
in England, ordering him to disband his forces, and
betake himself to the Continent. The command was
obeyed, and he lived an exile from his country until
1650, when he made that ill-fated attempt on behalf
of Charles the Second, which ended in his defeat at
Culrain, and his capture and execution.

Charles the First soon had reason to regret the
expatriation of his devoted general. Weary of his
life in the camp of the Covenanters, he resolved
to escape, and place himself at the head of the
Scottish Royalists. As a preparatory step he sent
a private commission to the Marquis of Huntly,
empowering him to raise an army in the North.
Huntly, in whose household the loyal Lady of
Urquhart had found shelter, was strongly attached
to the King ; but hitherto the feelings of jealousy
which he unhappily entertained towards Montrose
destroyed his usefulness, and made his loyalty
of little avail. Now that his rival was out
of the way, he accepted the commission with
alacrity. He was not destined to succeed. The
King escaped from the Scots, but was recaptured,
and delivered up to the English Parliamentary
Party. General David Leslie, a soldier of great
experience and ability, hastened from England to
Scotland, in April, 1647, to crush Huntly, who, on
his approach, retreated through Badenoch into Loch-
aber, where he disbanded his army. Along with his
son, and a bodyguard of trusted adherents, he fled
northward, followed by General Middleton, with a


body of horse and foot, and a company of Camerons.
In Glenmoriston he was taken by surprise, and an
obstinate fight followed, in which many were killed.1
“ Midltone,” says a writer of the time, “ by their
[the Camerons’] convoy, being brought, both with
his horse and foot, upon them befor they could stand
to their arms, they, with great difficultie, got my
Lord [Huntly] and his sonne to horse ; and, that he
might get tyme to be out of their reich, fourtie of
their best men stayes in the reir with such curradge
and valour and obstinat resolutione, as, if the Clan
Camerone, climing over the rocks, had not incom-
passed them, they had mad the pass good, in spight
of all their enimies. This pairtie was commanded
by [Leith of] Hearthill, a youth of tuantie years, or
litle more, but of such admirable valour, curradge,
and dexteritie in arms, as he was amongest his
enimies the most redoubted man that followed the
Marquise at that tyme. Being thus incompassed,
many of them ware slaine ; few wane away. Heart-
hill himself was taken, and Invermarkie Gordone,
with young Newtone, who, altho he wan frie at
that tyme, yit by means of the Forbeses, his
grandam’s kin, he was surprysed soon efterwards ;
and both Hearthill and he, being about one age and
dear commerads, ware soon efter had to Edinburghe,
where they ware both execute, for no cause but
standing in defence of their soverain lord’s pre­

1 Memoirs of Lochiel.

2 Patrick Gordon’s Short Abridgement of Britane’s Distemper (Spalding
Club), 204-5,

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 161

Through the devotion of Harthill and his com­
panions the Marquis and his son escaped ; but he
was soon afterwards captured and put to death.
His son, Lord Lewis Gordon, son-in-law of the Lady
of Urquhart, took refuge in Holland.1

To Mary Ogilvy herself the troubles of the time
brought nothing but loss and vexation of spirit.
We have seen how her loyal enthusiasm brought on
her the displeasure of the Covenanters, and how,
when Urquhart was occupied by the soldiers of the
Solemn League, she was robbed, and driven out of
the Parish, with the connivance, if not the active
assistance, of the Tutor of Glenmoriston and the
leading men in Urquhart. In that letter which she
addressed to her son on 2nd April, she urged him to
think with her “ upon a way of reparation,” and
expressed in a somewhat dark parable her belief
that she would be restored to her possessions before
the ensuing Easter. The longed-for restoration did
not come. Her son placed caretakers in the Castle,
which, on her death, was to revert to himself ; but
more than that he did not do. “ My sufferings,”
she wrote him—her “ honorabill and loving sone,
the Laerd of Grant,” as she addresses him—on 8th
June, 1646, “ have been long from the hands of

1 A rising ground near Ceanacroc is still pointed out as the scene of “ the
battle between the Camerons and the Gordons.” According to a Glenmoriston
tradition, Huntly was severely wounded, and owed his life to the bravery of a
Macdonald of the Glenmoriston race of Mac Iain Chaoil, who carried him on his
back off the field. Huntly—so runs the legend—was so filled with gratitude
that he caused to be inscribed on the lintel of his castle gate the words—
“ Cha bhi Mac Iain Chaoil a mach, agus Gordanach a stigh”—A Mac Iain Chaoil
shall not be without, and a Gordon within !



those parties mentioned in your letter ; but never
till this time have I found it resented by you. If
you continue in your resolution to revenge it, you
will both clear your own honour from much suspicion
of much indifference in matters concerning my
prejudice, and purchase friends to assist you in the
like or greater occasions. There be some of greatest
worth who, in respect of your by-past coldness, can
hardly be brought to believe that now you are in
earnest ; so that your own carriage must vindicate
you from suspicion. For the Castle, I intreat you
to make those to whom you have concreadit
[entrusted] it keep it well from those rogues till our
further advisementis [consultations], for howsoever
I could not be a party to keep myself from prejudice
while the whole country was enemies, I trust Sir
James shall find my friends of power sufficient to
right me at his hands—and if you play your own
part you shall find me your loving mother,

“Marie Ogilvy.”

Four days later she writes him again in the
bitterness of her soul—“ I always knew the men of
Urquhart to be knaves, and I hope ere long to
make them suffer for it ; but”—she adds in reference
to the Castle—“ I beseech you to have care of the
house till you either meet with me or know my
further intention.”

But for Lady Ogilvy there was no redress ;
and before the end of another year death put her
beyond the power of the “ knaves” who had so
terribly tormented her. The hardships she endured,

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                 163

and the circumstances connected with her flight
from Urquhart, left their impression on the
traditions of the Parish, which have not yet ceased
to tell of her. When the MacPhatricks,1 says one
Glenmoriston legend, were owners of Culnakirk and
other lands in Glen-Urquhart, their tenants were
chiefly of the Clan Dougall, and were known as
Dughallaich ’Ic Phadruig—the Macdougalls of Mac-
Phatrick. Between those Macdougalls and the
tenants of Lady Ogilvy there was much enmity, and
at the funeral of one of the family of Glenmoriston,
who was buried at Kirkhill, a desperate fight took
place between the rival parties. Of Lady Ogilvy’s
men the most distinguished in the fray was Am
Muillear Mor—the Big Miller of Wester Milton.
The Macdougalls swore vengeance, and soon after­
wards surprised and killed him in his own house.
Lady Ogilvy and her people were greatly incensed,
and Dugald Mac Ruari in Pitkerrald, the leader of
the Macdougalls, had to seek safety in the woods.
His wife, Mairi, Nighean Du-Sith—Mary, daughter
of Du-Shee2—refused to inform his enemies of his
retreat, and by order of Lady Ogilvy she was seized,
and placed in the lowest vault of the Castle.
Patrick Grant, of Bealla-Do, in Glenmoriston,
having heard of this, sent a message to the Lady to
the effect that if Mairi was not at once released he
would give her houses to the flames. Lady Ogilvy

1  MacPhatrick, or, more correctly, Mac Tc Phadruig : the patronymic of
the Lairds of Glenmoriston.

2 Du-Shee : apparently the Doule Shee of our last chapter.


gave no heed to the threat, and Patrick went with
a party of Glenmoriston men and set fire to her
farm buildings. In great anger she ordered her
people to follow the fire-raisers into their own glen
and punish them ; but they refused, and so con­
cerned were they about the safety of their own
houses that they insisted on the immediate release
of the prisoner. The Lady was forced to give way ;
but she was so displeased with the men of Urquhart
that she left the Glen and never returned.1

On Lady Ogilvy’s death, the Laird, her son,
succeeded to the Grant estate in Urquhart. He
was careful to preserve evidence of such effects
as her representatives or creditors might claim, and
on 27th June, 1647, “ honest men” from Strathspey
made an inventory of the “ plenishing, goods, and
gear” within the Castle, in presence of a notary and
witnesses. The whole was found to consist only
of a timber bed, a taffil, or small table, and a
form, in the “ chamber above the hall ;” in the “ valt
chamber,” a timber bed and a taffil ; a board or
large table, a form, a taffil, and a chair, in the hall ;
and, in the cellar, an old chest—“without any kind
of other wares, plenishing, goods, or gear whatso­
ever, in all or any of the said houses and
manor place foresaid, except allenarly [only] bare
walls ;” and the value of the whole was estimated

1 According to tradition, it was in consequence of the feud between the
Big Miller and the tenants of Culnakirk that the mill of Easter Milton was
built. Easter Milton formed part of the lands of Culnakirk, and the mill is
mentioned as early as 1646,—Mr Fraser-Mackintosh’s Letters of Two
Centuries, p. 53.

OLDEN TIMES IN THE PARISH.                165

at the sum of twenty pounds Scots money.1 Such
was the depth of the degradation to which the War
of the Covenant had reduced the old fortress which
a century earlier yielded a rich spoil of “ plenishing”
to the Western invaders, and in which, two
centuries earlier still, the nobles and prelates of the
land were entertained with becoming pomp by its
proud constables.

1 Chiefs of Grant, III., 341.

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