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The Campbells were reviled for the Massacre of Glencoe

Posted in Famous crimes, Historical articles, History, Politics, Royalty, Scotland on Thursday, 28 March 2013

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This edited article about Scotland originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 214 published on 19 February 1966.

Glencoe massacre, picture, image, illustration

The Massacre of Glencoe by Peter Jackson

When William III succeeded to the Kingdom of England and Scotland in 1688, many of the Highland clans continued to support the deposed Stuarts. Civil war smouldered in the Highlands. Gradually, William brought the rebellion under control. In 1691 he promised a pardon to all rebels who before December 31, 1691, swore allegiance to his Government.

Among William’s opponents were the Maclans of Glencoe, a branch of the Clan Macdonald. On December 30, 1691, their chief went to Inverary to swear on their behalf before a magistrate, but bad weather prevented him from getting there until January 6, 1692. He then took the required oath.

William’s affairs in Scotland were being administered by the Dalrymple family. Viscount Stair, head of the Dalrymples, was President of the Court of Session. His son, the Master of Stair, was Secretary of Scotland. Both saw in the late signing of the oath an opportunity to settle old scores.

Reporting to the King that Maclan had not taken the oath, the Master of Stair asked that, as the Macdonalds were still in rebellion, their chiefs should be brought to trial. King William signed an order to that effect, but did not realize that all the Macdonalds were to be exterminated as well.

The order was to be carried out by the Campbells. Arriving in Glencoe on February 13, 1692, supposedly to discuss the end of the feud, the Campbells were received by the Macdonalds. That night they fell on the Macdonalds, killed nearly all the menfolk, burnt their houses and stole their cattle. A few survived to escape to the mountains.

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