John Dalrymple played a significant role in the history of Scotland and England. He was best known for his role in the Massacre of Glencoe, in 1692. At Glencoe, 38 MacDonald's were murdered while having received, on friendly terms, more than 100 English troops under Captain Robert Campbell. In a government review afterwards, Dalrymple was indicated as the individual who ordered the killing. He received a short suspension as a result. Though he died on January 8, 1707, Stair was also integral to the 1707 Treaty of Union between England and Scotland.
Scott describes Dalrymple's role at Glencoe in his "The Highland Widow":
"...At this time Sir John Dalrymple, afterwards Earl of Stair, being in attendance
upon William as Secretary of State for Scotland, took advantage of Macdonald's
neglecting to take the oath within the time prescribed, and procured from the King a
warrant of military execution against that chief and his whole clan. This was done
at the instigation of the Earl of Breadalbane, whose lands the Glencoe men had plundered,
and whose treachery to government in negotiating with the Highland clans,
Macdonald himself had exposed. The King was accordingly persuaded that Glencoe
was the main obstacle to the pacification of the Highlands ; and the fact of the unfortunate
chief's submission having been concealed, the sanguinary orders for proceeding
to military execution against his clan were in consequence obtained..."