G – Glen Coe

The massacre at Glen Coe took place a little after the time period of the SCA, but I feel compelled to use it as my G.

In August, 1691, the Scottish highlanders were told they would be pardoned for their part in the Jacobite Uprising of 1690 if they took an oath of allegiance to King William former Prince of Orange before the end of the year. Alastair Maclain was the Chief of Glen Coe, the Maclains being a sept of Clan Macdonald. He waited until the last minute to travel to Fort William to take the oath. He was sent on to Inveraray so Sir Colin Campbell could administer the oath. Due to weather and the absence of Sir Colin, it was six days after the deadline before he could take the oath.

John Dalrymple, Master of the Stair, was a lowlander and hated the highlanders. He decided to make an example of Clan Macdonald. He called upon Archibald Campbell of Argyll who had a previous grievance against Maclain and issued orders.
In early February, 1692, approximately 120 of the Earl of Argyll’s men were housed at Glen Coe. As was the custom of the highlanders, they were offered food, drink and bed. On February 12, Captain Drummond arrived with orders for Robert Campbell.

Copy of order to Capt. Campbell by Maj. Duncanson
You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the McDonalds of Glenco, and put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have a special care that the old Fox and his sons doe upon no account escape your hands, you are to secure all the avenues that no man escape. This you are to putt in execution at fyve of the clock precisely; and by that time, or very shortly after it, I’ll strive to be att you with a stronger party: if I doe not come to you att fyve, you are not to tarry for me, but to fall on. This is by the Kings speciall command, for the good & safety of the Country, that these miscreants be cutt off root and branch. See that this be putt in execution without feud or favour, else you may expect to be dealt with as one not true to King nor Government, nor a man fitt to carry Commissione in the Kings service. Expecting you will not faill in the fulfilling hereof, as you love your selfe, I subscribe these with my hand att Balicholis Feb: 12, 1692
(signed) R. Duncanson
For their Majesties service
To Capt. Robert Campbell
of Glenlyon

After dining, Drummond spent the evening playing cards and then retired. In the night, the soldiers rose up and slaughtered the Macdonalds. In all, 78 men, women and children were either killed outright or died of exposure after their homes were burned. There is a song about the massacre – I hope I’m not breaking any copyright laws here:

“Cruel is the snow that sweeps Glen Coe
And covers the grave O’Donald
Cruel was the foe that raped Glen Coe
And murdered the house o’ Macdonald.”

One of my disappointments while in Scotland was not getting to Glen Coe. All of the hotels, etc. were full because a movie was being made there. Some small movie called Harry Potter – I’m not sure which one it was.

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6 responses to “G – Glen Coe

  1. Such an interesting post. I don’t know much about Scotland’s history except for Mary Queen of Scots and I think I should change that right now. I love history so this was a very interesting post to read. Thanks for sharing.

  2. great post.. I am so fascinated with history… Thanks for posting.. I hopped by here courtesy of the A -Z Blog thingy ma bobber.. 🙂

  3. You’ve got me interested in my history now, Julia. My uncle spent years tracing the family lineage – straight back to the Druids. 🙂

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