Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rob Roy MacGregor


The time of his birth is uncertain. But he is said to have been active in
the scenes of war and plunder which succeeded the Revolution; and
tradition affirms him to have been the leader in a predatory incursion
into the parish of Kippen, in the Lennox, which took place in the year
1691. It was of almost a bloodless character, only one person losing his
life; but from the extent of the depredation, it was long distinguished
by the name of the Her'-ship, or devastation, of Kippen.* The time of his
death is also uncertain, but as he is said to have survived the year
1733, and died an aged man, it is probable he may have been twenty-five
about the time of the Her'-ship of Kippen, which would assign his birth
to the middle of the 17th century.

* See Statistcal Account of Scotland, 1st edition, vol. xviii. p. 332.
Parish of * Kippen.

In the more quiet times which succeeded the Revolution, Rob Roy, or Red
Robert, seems to have exerted his active talents, which were of no mean
order, as a drover, or trader in cattle, to a great extent. It may well
be supposed that in those days no Lowland, much less English drovers,
ventured to enter the Highlands. The cattle, which were the staple
commodity of the mountains, were escorted down to fairs, on the borders
of the Lowlands, by a party of Highlanders, with their arms rattling
around them; and who dealt, however, in all honour and good faith with
their Southern customers. A fray, indeed, would sometimes arise, when the
Lowlandmen, chiefly Borderers, who had to supply the English market, used
to dip their bonnets in the next brook, and wrapping them round their
hands, oppose their cudgels to the naked broadswords, which had not
always the superiority. I have heard from aged persons who had been
engaged in such affrays, that the Highlanders used remarkably fair play,
never using the point of the sword, far less their pistols or daggers; so
that

               With many a stiff thwack and many a bang,
                   Hard crabtree and cold iron rang.

Rob Roy MacGregor’s birth is placed at February 1st, 1671.  By at least one source, his baptism at March 7.  Sir Walter Scott's text above comes from the intro to "Rob Roy".

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