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themselves or retinue in Maybole, so that, remarks M‘Crie, had any person brought in wine there and then among them it is thought they would not have debated long concerning the purpose for which it was intended.
Knox proposed that they should adjourn to Ayr, and there finish the dispute; but to this the Abbot objected. He expressed himself, however, as willing on some future occasion to proceed to Edinburgh for the purpose of renewing the debate, provided he could obtain the Queen's permission. Upon this the company dismissed, never again to have the privilege of listening to a debate in which Rome staked the issue on appeal to reason as distinguished from tradition and authority. The dispute was never resumed, although Knox writes of having applied to the Privy Council for the necessary permission. Abbot Kennedy died in August, 1564, and is mentioned by Dempster as having been canonised —"Aug. 22.-Monasterio Crucis regalis obitus Beati Quintini Kennedii Abbotis," &c. The name, it is but right to say, does not appear in the Roman Calendar. Among the objects of interest in and around Maybole, and there are many—some to be afterwards referred to in these pages-not the least suggestive is the still existing fabric known as “The Provost's House," in which the singular encounter above described took place.
THE STORY OF GLENFRUIN.
It has been the fashion lately among historians who think lightly of James VI.
a statesman, to contrast to his disadvantage the famous Settlement, or Plantation, as it was called, of Ulster, with the disorder he permitted to exist at the same time along his own Highland line, better known, it has been argued, and even easier of access. This story of the Raid or “Conflict” of Glenfruin, may be taken as at least one pregnant illustration of the difference in disposition prevailing among the quiet thrifty emigrants of the North of Ireland and the turbulent chieftains of Western Scotland, who despised alike the peace of their neighbour and the power of their Sovereign. The year 1603, memorable in British history from the Union of the Crowns, is especially conspicuous in this western part of the island by an encounter of unusual fierceness, even for these days, which took place between the Clangregor and the ancient family of Colquhoun of Luss.
That the Macgregors for many years prior to 1603 were considered a disorderly clan is not seriously disputed, except, it may be, among a few family enthusiasts whom the grace of Parliament in the reign of George III. permitted to resume their own name. In 1563, their excesses had reached such a height that Queen Mary, by an Act of Privy Council, granted permission to several noblemen to pursue them with fire and sword, and prohibited the lieges from receiving or assisting them in any way whatever. In 1589 the murder of John Drummond in the forest of Glenartney—a murder attended with circumstances of appalling atrocity—again let loose the terrors of the law against the clan; but to so little purpose that in 1594 the Macgregors, along with the Macfarlanes of Arrochar, occupy the unenviable distinction of being the first-mentioned clans against whom the statute for the punishment of “theft, reiff, oppression, and sorning" was directed. It has been alleged that the extensive possessions held by the Macgregors in Perthshire and Argyllshire had been iniquitously wrested from them by the Earls of Argyll and Breadalbane, and that, therefore, the clan was justified in treating with contempt those laws from which they so often experienced severity, and never protection. But this allegation, even if correct, could have only a secondary bearing in their dispute with Colquhoun of Luss, as it is not even hinted that this family either shared in the plunder or abetted others in their attacks upon the Clangregor.
In order to strengthen their position, the Macgregors, about the close of
the sixteenth century, entered into alliances, offensive and defensive, with certain families reputed to be connected with them by “auld descent” or otherwise. One was concluded at Kilmorie, on the 6th June, 1571, between James Macgregor and Lauchlan Mackinnon of Strathardill; and another, twenty years later, between Alexander Macgregor of Glenstray and Aulay M'Aulay of Ardincaple. The latter, “understanding our name to be M‘Calppins of auld,” bound himself to assist Macgregor, and to pay the “calpe” in token of submission. Before the close of the year in which this last “bond” was signed, the King's Secret Council were called to listen to a complaint by Buchanan of Culcreuch, that, under pretence of revenging the slaughter of certain of his men by the Buchanans, M'Aulay had conceived deadly hatred against the complainer, and under colour of His Majesty's charge, had brought within the Buchanan territory a great number of Macgregor's men, all of them “broken men and sorners, to sorn, harry, and wrack the complainer's lands and possessions."
Regarding the origin of the feud between the Macgregors and Colquhouns, no very precise information has ever been forthcoming. Sir Walter Scott tells a story on which, however, much reliance cannot be placed. Two of the Macgregors (he says) being benighted, asked shelter in a house belonging to a dependent of the Colquhouns, and were refused. They then retired to an out-house, took a wedder from the fold, killed it, and supped off the carcase, for which they offered payment to the owner. The Laird of Luss, so goes the story, unwilling to be propitiated by the offer made to his tenant, seized the offenders, and, by the summary process which feudal barons had at their command, caused them to be condemned and executed. The Macgregors confess to verify this account of the feud by appealing to the proverb current among them, execrating the hour (mult dhu an carbail ghil) that the black wedder with the white tail was ever lambed.
If the dying declaration of Macgregor of Glenstray can be believed—and there seems no strong reason to question his veracity—the feud was kept up, if not originated, by the artful machinations of Archibald, Earl of Argyll, who in January, 1593, obtained a commission for repressing the violence of “the wicked Clangregour, and divers other broken men of the Hielands;" with power to charge “all and indrie personis of the surname of Macgregour, thair assisstars and pairt takaris, to find souirtie, or to enter plegeis as he sall think maist expedient, for observatioun of his hieness peace, quietness, and guide reule in the countrey;" and, if necessary, to "persew and assege their housis, and strengthis, raise fyre, and use all kynd of force and weirlyke ingyne" against that clan. In these circumstances (says Pitcairn, whose valuable “Criminal Trials" throw so much light upon the “Raid of Glenfruin ") it might be supposed that it was Argyll's interest, as it certainly was his duty, to have done all in his power to retain the Clangregor in obedience to the laws; but, on the contrary, it appears that from that time he first, as King's lieutenant, acquired complete control over the Macgregors, the principal use he made of his power was artfully to stir up the clan to various acts of aggression and hostility against his own personal enemies, of whom, it is well known, Colquhoun of Luss was one. It is therefore to be remarked that at the period of the conflict at Glenfruin both parties were in a manner equally armed with the royal authority—the Laird of Luss having raised his forces under a commission emanating from the King himself, while the Macgregors marched to invade the Lennox under the authority of the King's lieutenant.
With “Commissions of Pursuit" in the hands of leaders like Argyll, and subordinates, like the Laird of Culcreuch, it is little wonder that the restless, though brave, Clangregor had recourse to desperate measures, both of defence and retaliation. In 1602, their forays upon the lands of Luss became so frequent and aggravated, that the King, upon complaint being made to him, issued the following warrant, dispensing, in favour of Sir Alexander Colquhoun, with the provisions of the Act anent the wearing of guns and other weapons :
“We vnderstanding that sindrie of the disorderlie thievis and lymmaris of the Clangregour wyth utheris thair complices dailie makis incursions vpoun and within the boundis and landis pertaining to Alexander Colquhoun of Lus, stealls, reiffs, and awataks divers gret herschipps fra him and his tenants; likeas thay tak greater bauldness to continew in thair said stouth and reiff becaus thay ar inarmit wyth all kynd of prohibit, and forbidding weapponis. Thairfor, for the bettir defense of the Laird of Lus and his saidis tennants, guidis, and gear, fra the persewit of the saidis thievis and broken men, we have given and grantit, and be the tenor heirof give and grant licence and libertie to the said Alexander Colquhoun of Lus, his househald men and servantis, and sic as sall accompany him, not onlie to beir, weir, and shuitt wyth hagbuttis and pistolettis in the following and persewitt of the said thievis and lymmaris, quhilk is lauchful be the act of parliament, but alas to beir and weir the same hagbuttis and pistolettis in ony pairt abune the water of Levin, and at the said Laird's place at Dunglas and landis of Colquhoun, for the watching and keeping of thair awn guidis without ony crime, scaith, pains, or dainger to be incurred be thaim thairfra, in thair personnis, landis, or guidis in ony manner of way in tyme coming, notwithstanding our acts, statutes, or proclamations in the contrar thafranent or pains therein contenit, we dispens be thir presents. Given under our signet and subscrivit wyth our hand at Hamiltoun, the fyrst dai of September, and of our reign the xxvj year, 1602. JAMES.”
In the early part of 1603, the Macgregors and Colquhouns are described in several works as desirous of terminating their feud by a friendly conference; but, with characteristic imprudence, they each seem to have made secret preparations to follow up that conference with instant measures of hostility if its results were not satisfactory. Judging from the records of the burgh of Dumbarton, the alleged peaceable intention of the Macgregors does not appear to have made a strong impression on the burgesses. On the 8th January of that year (1603) —
“ It is ordained that all burgesses within the burgh be sufficientlie furnissit with armor, and that sik persones as the baillies and counsall think fitt sall be furnissit with hagbuttis, that they haif the samyn with the furnitear thairto, uthirs quha sall be appointit to haif jak speir and steil-bonnat, that thay be furnissit with the samyn, and that the Baillies and counsall on the xxi of this