Greetings from iainthepict. This blog of mine is meant to be like a 'Book of Days' or a kind of 'Scottish Year Book' if you will. The idea was to present an event for each day of the year. Somewhere in here, you can find out what happened, affecting Scotland and the Scots, on any given day of the year. Your comments and observations are very welcome.
The photograph is by Sam Perkins (check him out on Facebook at Sam Perkins Photography) and was taken near Oban.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Highland chiefs' Bond of Association

Highland clan chiefs sign a 'Bond of Association', on the 24th of August, 1689.

Many Scots and, indeed, very many of the Scottish Diaspora, have a romantic view of the Jacobite era, fuelled perhaps, by tales such as  'The Jacobite Trilogy' by D. K. Broster, comprising books you will have read; 'Flight of the Heron', 'Gleam in the North' and 'Dark Mile'. However, any critical investigation of the earlier rule and influence of James VII & II would unearth a regime of which not to be so proud. 'Bluidy Clavers' is a more fitting epitaph than 'Bonny Dundee' and 'Ringhan Gilhaize' a better book to read than any pretender's eulogy.

Regardless of your religious persuasion, surely
nobody could look back and justify the merciless hounding of the Covenanters, the Presbyterian majority, most of whom were ordinary folk – poor peasantry – merely wanting leave to worship after their conscience. The Covenanters, at a height of fanaticism, decided they should obey their ‘Heavenly King’ rather than succumb to the persecution of Charles II & II or James VII & II in turn, during his brief, totalitarian reign. The Privy Council and its dread tribunals, led by the likes of Archbishop Sharp and ‘Bluidy’ Mackenzie, made the ‘Holy Office’ of the Inquisition look quite tame. The Acts sponsored by the Committee of Public Affairs were barbarically executed by the swords of a thousand men under the likes of Sir James Turner and aye, ‘Bonnie Dundee’.

Against that background, the majority of highland chieftains supported their King James, not because of an affinity with his religious intolerance and lack of moral justice, albeit they mostly shared his religious denomination. The clan chiefs didn't support the person and character of their king, rather, they supported the concept and institution of their rightful king, for better or worse, which is a big difference. The clans supported the eponymous Jacobite cause out of loyalty, misplaced you might argue, but nonetheless commendable for that. Historically, Scottish kings had a more direct relationship with their subjects, despite the concept of 'Divine Right', than any English (subsequently British) monarch since William and Mary, who were essentially 'invited' to rule by the aristocratic elite.

The Jacobite Wars began in Scotland with the raising of the standard, at Dundee Law, by John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, on the 16th of April, 1689. There followed battles at Killiecrankie, on the 27th of July, Dunkeld, on the 21st of August, 1689, and the Haughs of Cromdale, on the 1st of May, 1690.  Later, in Ireland, James’  army was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne, on the 12th of July, 1690, and the Irish Jacobites were finally defeated after the Battle of Aughrim, in October, 1691. The Jacobite Wars were to be continued, in the years of 1708, 1709, 1715, 1719 and 1745-6, culminating in the Battle of Drumossie Moor (or Culloden).

The first Jacobite Rising or Jacobite Rebellion if you favour the ruling government side, was prompted by the so called ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, when the Dutchman, Orange Wullie, became William III of England in place of his ousted father-in-law, James VII & II. Depsite the Union of the Crowns, there was not yet a Union of Parliaments, so the Scottish Government needed to ratify the Orangeman as William II (William I was the 12th Century's William the Lion). A Convention was called for the 14th of March, 1689, and by the 9th of April the decision to abandon James in favour of the Williamites resulted in Viscount Dundee, storming out. By the time Dundee got back home, he was declared an outlaw with a bounty of £20,000 on his head. Thus, the arrogant, handsome and charismatic Dundee became the first Jacobite leader and the mastermind of the first Rebellion to be so called.

Dundee made it his business to rally the Highland Clans in support of James VII & II. The predominant clans involved, included the might of Clan Donald, with the MacDonalds of Clan Ranald, Keppoch, Glengarry, Glencoe, Kintyre and Sleat. Also present were the Stewarts of Appin, MacLeans of Duart, McNeils of Barra, Macleods of Skye and Raasay, Frasers, MacNaughtons, MacAllisters, MacLachlans, MacGregors, Lamonts, the Grants of Glenmoriston, and those of Lochiel’s Camerons who had made it in time. And somewhere amongst the massed ranks of saffron clad Hielantmen was an eighteen years old Rob Rob MacGregor and his father, MacGregor of Glengyle.

Not all Highlanders supported James VII & II as, for example, in 1869, the Earl of Argyll raised a regiment of six hundred men, 10 companies of about 60 men each, in aid of William of Orange. That same year, Aulay MacAulay of Ardincaple, although attached to Episcopacy, was no partisan of the Stuart King and raised a company of fencibles for the Orangeman and his Stuart wife.

Those who did support King James included Lieutenant-Colonel Donald Glas MacGregor, Rob Roy's father, and who was designed as 'of Glengyle' and the Ceann Tigh (head) of the house of Clan Douill Chere (mouse coloured Dougal). On the 24th of August, 1689, at Blair Athole, MacGregor, along with the chiefs of several other Highland clans, signed a Bond of Association, under which he undertook to raise one hundred men for King James. The Bond of Association was a way of playing for time, since Dundee's death had left them essentially leaderless. They resolved to bond themselves to each other and meet again in September, and to bring aid to any one who was attacked. Prior to the signing of that bond, the Highland Clans had penned an answer to General Mackay's outrageous effrontery in offering the clans terms of surrender. That response, which basically suggested that Mackay æ¾±ugger off!・was dated at Birse, on the 17th of August, 1689.

Amongst those others who signed the Bond of Association  were representatives of the Murrays, Robertsons, Menzies, the Stewarts of Appin, the MacGregors of Roro, Farquharsons, Macphersons, Frasers, and Gordons, none of whom promised more than two hundred men. Notable signatories included, Donald MacDonald of Benbecula, who had fought at Killiecrankie with his young ward and Chief, and Allan MacDonald of Dalchosnie, also present at Killiecrankie. Another signatory was John MacNaughton, who also joined Viscount Dundee at Killiekrankie. MacNaughton is said to have undertaken to appear with fifty men for the cause of King James, at whatever place and time might be appointed. However, according to Matthew Cock, the MacNaughton chief had been captured on the 21st of August, after signing the letter of defiance on the 17th, so it's unlikely he signed on the 24th as he was in prison for at least fourteen months.

When Dundee fell at Killiecrankie, the spirit left the Highlanders and that heralded the beginning of the end for the hopes of James VII & II, which were finally scuppered at the Battle of the Boyne.


  1. Welcome back Iain, I've missed your posts for the last couple of weeks. I assume you've been on holiday - unless it's just that nothing ever happened in Scotland in August!

    1. Hi o fair one of Berwick; thanks for your post :-) Yes, I've been on holiday. Since I achieved my goal of an entry for each day of the year, including Feb 29th, I've been adding days here and there as each month goes by, but not with the same fervour as the first two years, which is how long it took me to complete the initial 366 days. I've not labelled the posts as months in an archive, but there are at least 31 entries for August if you search 'em out. Take care, the Pict.