Graham, John (1649?-1689) (DNB00)
GRAHAM, JOHN, of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee (1649?–1689), was descended from a younger branch of the Grahams of Kincardine, ancestors of the Montrose family. The link of connection between the Claverhouse and Montrose branches was Sir Robert Graham of Strathcarron, son of Sir William Graham of Kincardine, by his second wife, the Princess Mary Stewart, second daughter of Robert III. John, the second son of Sir Robert Graham, by his wife Marjory, daughter of Sir James Scrimgeour, ancestor of the earls of Dundee, had a son John, who in 1530 acquired the lands of Claverhouse in Mains parish, near Dundee, from which the family takes its name. The old mansion-house is now wholly demolished, its site being marked by a dovecote. The grandfather of Claverhouse, Sir William Graham of Claypots and Claverhouse, was one of the tutors or curators of the great Montrose. Claverhouse's father was also named Sir William, and his mother was Lady Madeline Carnegie, fifth daughter—not Lady Jean, fourth daughter, as usually stated—of the first Earl of Northesk (marriage contract in Fraser, History of the Carnegies, Earls of Southesk, p. 357). Hitherto the year of the birth of Claverhouse has been given as 1643, a date inferred from a note to a decision of the court of session of 24 July 1687. The decision declares a certain charter of Fotheringham of Powrie to give him a sufficient right and title to certain dues, on the supposition that he had possessed forty years by virtue of that title, but a note is added, ‘As for Clavers’ (one of the defendants) ‘he was seventeen years of this forty a minor, and so they must prove forty years before that’ (Fountainhall, Decisions, i. 468). The note does not necessarily mean (as has been supposed) that Claverhouse was a minor during the first seventeen of the forty years, but only that he was a minor during a certain seventeen of the previous forty years. It therefore does not follow that he came of age in 1664, or seventeen years after 1647, but only that he was born four years before the death of his father. The birth-date 1643 would make his age twenty-two when he entered the university, twenty-nine when he entered the army as a volunteer, thirty-one when he became a cornet, and forty when he married; and it scarcely harmonises with certain allusions to his age made by himself, or with his youthful appearance in his portraits. The marriage contract of his mother, dated 7, 15, and 24 Feb. 1645, and made ‘in contemplation of the marriage’ (Fraser, Carnegies, p. 357), must moreover be regarded as decisive against the date 1643. There is also undoubted evidence that his father was alive in 1649 (Acta Parl. Scot. vol. vi. pt. ii. p. 715); and the signature of a deed by his mother as tutrix-testamentur to her son, 7 April 1653 (Fraser, Carnegies, p. 358), renders it probable that the father died in that year. If he did so, then, according to the court of session note, the son must have been born about 1649.
Claverhouse was eldest son of the family, but whether he was eldest child or not is uncertain. On 22 Dec. 1660 he and his brother David were admitted burgesses of Dundee on their father's privilege (Millar, Roll of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee, p. 166). The brothers also entered together the university of St. Andrews on 13 Feb. 1665. How long Claverhouse remained at the university is unknown. The author of ‘Memoirs of Dundee’ (p. 4) mentions his ‘liberal education in humanity and in mathematics;’ while the author of ‘Memoirs of Ewan Cameron’ says that he ‘had made considerable progress in the mathematics, especially those parts of it that related to his military capacity; and there was no part of the belles-lettres that he had not read with great ease and exactness. He was much master of the epistolary way of writing, for he not only expressed himself with great ease and fluency, but argued well, and had a great art in giving his thoughts in few words’ (p. 278). Burnet characterises him as ‘a man of good parts and some very valuable virtues’ (Own Time, ed. 1838, p. 510); and Dalrymple says that he had ‘inflamed his mind from his earliest youth by the perusal of the ancient poets, historians, and orators; with the love of the great actions they paint and describe’ (Memoirs of Great Britain, pt. ii. p. 73). Many letters of Claverhouse are still extant, and induced Scott to say that he spelt like a chambermaid. His letters are less correct than those of Sir George Mackenzie, the Dalrymples, or the ninth Earl of Argyll. His powers of spelling were those of the average country gentleman (see exact specimens in Fraser, Red Book of Menteith, pp. xxxvii–ix). The terseness and idiomatic vigour of his letters are, however, in striking contrast to their orthographical defects, and they show familiarity with the great classical writers. Claverhouse, on leaving the university, proceeded to the continent to study the art of war. He entered several foreign services, and when he could not obtain a commission served as a volunteer (Memoirs of Great Britain, pt. ii. p. 73). In all likelihood he joined the English contingent of Turenne, commanded by Monmouth. Subsequently he transferred his services to William, prince of Orange, but hardly so early as 1672, as stated by C. K. Sharpe (Napier, i. 180), and very probably immediately after the conclusion by England of a separate peace with Holland in 1674. In this year Sir David Colyear, earl of Portmore [q. v.], is also known to have entered the troop of William's guards. Claverhouse is reported to have obtained a cornetcy in the troop, and shortly afterwards, at the battle of Seneff, on 14 Aug., to have saved the life of the prince by mounting him on his own horse at a critical moment. According to tradition he was on this account promoted to the rank of captain. Macaulay, supposing the author of ‘Memoirs of Dundee,’ published in 1714, to have been the first to give currency to the story, derides it as a ‘Jacobite invention,’ which ‘seems to have originated a quarter of a century after Dundee's death’ (note to chap. xv.). The gallantry of Claverhouse at Seneff was, however, mentioned, though without specific details, in laudatory verses addressed to him on New Year's day, 1683 (reprinted in Laing, Fugitive Scottish Poetry of the Seventeenth Century). The actual incident is also described in the Latin poem ‘Grameid’ (published by the Scottish History Society, 1888), written by James Philip of Amryclos, Forfarshire, Claverhouse's standard-bearer at Killiecrankie, the original manuscript of which, in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, bears the date 1691. According to ‘Memoirs of Dundee’ (p. 5) and ‘Memoirs of Ewan Cameron’ (pp. 274–5), Claverhouse left the service of the Prince of Orange in 1677, because he was disappointed by not obtaining the colonelcy of one of the Scotch regiments. In ‘Memoirs of Ewan Cameron’ it is further mentioned that his successful rival was David Colyear (who certainly did obtain such a command), and that Claverhouse was dismissed for having assaulted Colyear with his cane within the precincts of the palace at the Loo. That Claverhouse was some time in the Dutch service is fully substantiated by two letters of his own, printed in Fraser's ‘Red Book of Grandtully’ (ii. 229–30). If he joined that service before 1676, he seems either temporarily to have left it before that year, or in that year to have been permitted leave of absence, for in March he wrote, while in Scotland, to the laird of Grandtully about the purchase of a horse for service in Holland (ib.), and on 4 April James Graham also wrote in the name of Claverhouse, who, he stated, had sailed on the previous Saturday, thanking Grandtully for the horse, and asking him to let him know of any men ready to volunteer for service in Holland (ib. i. cxli). In ‘Memoirs of Ewan Cameron’ it is stated that the Prince of Orange, though he thought it expedient to dismiss Claverhouse, ‘had the generosity to write to the king and the duke recommending him as a fine gentleman and a brave officer, civil or military.’ As the peace of Nimeguen was not signed till August 1678, the withdrawal of Claverhouse from the service of the prince in 1677 requires some other explanation than that ‘all fighting on the continent was stayed’ (Mowbray Morris, p. 15). In November of this year the prince married Mary, daughter of the Duke of York, and, whatever may be the reasons of Claverhouse for leaving his service, the prince seems to have specially recommended him to his father-in-law, for in February 1677–8 the duke commended Claverhouse for a lieutenancy to the Marquis of Montrose, who was then raising the first troop for the duke's regiment of horse guards in Scotland (Napier, i. 185). The purpose of raising the new regiment was to curb the covenanters. There is no evidence as to when Claverhouse received his lieutenant's commission, but on the promotion of Montrose on 21 Nov. to the command of the regiment he was made captain of Montrose's troop. Shortly afterwards he was sent to the south of Scotland to begin his prolonged effort for the subjugation of the covenanters.
The disaffected districts embraced the counties of Ayr, Lanark, Dumfries, and Galloway. Thirty years previously seven thousand peasants from these districts had joined in the ‘whigamore raid.’ Their uncompromising determination to have a ‘covenanted king’ had also ruined the romantic attempt of Montrose in behalf of Charles II, and had brought Montrose to the scaffold. The memory of Montrose was cherished by every Graham with peculiar and proud regret, and Claverhouse especially regarded the career of Montrose as the highest model for his imitation. Claverhouse had thus with the covenanters a personal and hereditary feud. In his crusade he was sincerely in earnest. He possessed nothing of the joviality and careless love of pleasure associated with the typical cavalier. He was reputed to be truly pious, and even the covenanters themselves admitted that the ‘hell wicked-witted, bloodthirsty Graham of Claverhouse … hated to spend his time with wine and women’ (‘Life of Walter Smith’ in Walker, Biographia Presbyteriana, ii. 56).
With his single troop Claverhouse was entrusted with the duty of repressing conventicles in Dumfries and Annandale. The earliest record of his doings is contained in a letter of his own to his commander-in-chief, the Earl of Linlithgow, dated 28 Dec. 1678 (Napier, ii. 187–8), announcing his arrival in Moffat and his intention to march to Dumfries, where he purposed to quarter his troop. Its purport is a request for a more comprehensive commission to authorise not merely the prevention of conventicles, but the apprehension of persons who could be proved to have previously attended them, and also to permit him in emergencies to take the initiative beyond the bounds of Dumfries and Annandale. He had learned of the existence on the Galloway side of the bridge at Dumfries of a covenanting meeting-house disguised as a byre, erected by some wealthy covenanting ladies. Having received a special commission from the council, Claverhouse with a squad of his dragoons superintended its destruction by a number of countrymen, ‘all fanatics’ (ib. p. 189), who had been pressed into the work by the deputy-sheriff of Galloway, Grierson of Lag [q. v.] His letters of this period show a scrupulous desire to repress unlicensed outrages committed by dragoons. At the same time it is abundantly evident that when he was convinced of the guilt of any one he did not regard the total absence of legal proof as an insuperable obstacle to proceedings against him. Thus, regarding the brother of a notorious covenanter, who had been apprehended by mistake for the man himself, he writes: ‘Though he may be cannot preach as his brother, I doubt not but he is as well-principled as he; wherefore I thought it would be no great fault to give him the trouble to go with the rest’ (ib. p. 191). His energetic vigilance failed to strike sufficient terror, and it gradually dawned on him that in his main purpose of suppressing conventicles he was being practically baffled. The hilly, pastoral country was very difficult to watch. ‘Good intelligence,’ Claverhouse writes on 8 Feb. 1679, ‘is the thing we want most here. Mr. Welsh and others preach securely within twenty or thirty miles off; but we can do nothing for want of spies’ (ib. p. 193). News of his own movements, and even of the proceedings and orders of the council, seemed prematurely to reach the persons against whom action was being taken. On 28 Dec. 1678 he begged that any new orders might be kept as secret as possible, ‘and sent for me so suddenly as the information some of the favourers of the fanatics are to send may be prevened’ (ib. p. 188); and on 24 Feb. 1679 he chafes because ‘there is almost nobody lays in their beds that knows themselves in any way guilty, within forty miles of us’ (ib. p. 194). Another difficulty by which he was at first greatly hampered was the inefficiency of the old hereditary jurisdictions, and the passive attitude adopted by many of the lords of regality. To meet this the king, on 18 Jan., by express warrant, empowered the council to name such sheriffs and bailies deputies in such bounds as they should find necessary to deal solely with religious delinquencies; and in accordance with this order Claverhouse and his lieutenant, Bruce of Earlshall, were on 11 March named sheriff deputes of Dumfries and Annandale.
Gradually it became evident that the measures of the government were driving the peasants to desperation. ‘Mr. Welsh,’ he writes to Linlithgow, ‘is accustoming both ends of the country to face the king's forces, and certainly intends to break out in an open rebellion’ (ib. p. 202). He reminds Linlithgow that the arms of the militia are in the hands of the country people, ‘though very disaffected’ (ib.) On 6 May he reports that Cameron, screened by a fog, had preached the Sunday before, and had actually preached ‘that very day the matter of three miles from the place where we were at’ (ib. p. 206). He seems also to have had some doubts whether, if he chanced on an armed conventicle, his dragoons would fight with their fellow-countrymen ‘in good earnest’ (ib.) In the neighbouring districts the soldiers in several encounters with armed conventiclers had decidedly the worst, and in some cases isolated groups of soldiers were attacked without direct provocation and severely handled. On a sudden the country was stunned by the news of the murder of Archbishop Sharpe, on 3 May 1679, at Magus Moor in Fifeshire. The western covenanters, stirred to emulation, chose 29 May, the king's birthday, as a providentially opportune occasion for lifting up their testimony against their uncovenanted enemies. Their purpose was to assemble on that day at the cross of Glasgow, and, after reading a ‘Declaration and Testimony’ against this and other acts for ‘overturning the whole covenanted reformation,’ to consign them to the flames. The sudden march of Claverhouse from Falkirk to Glasgow prevented them from carrying out their programme in the place originally selected, but they did so at Rutherglen, concluding the proceedings by nailing the declaration to the market cross.
The movement of Claverhouse westwards had been caused by a rumour that had reached him of the purpose of the covenanters of eighteen parishes to hold a meeting on the following Sunday on Kilbride Moor. He scarcely credited the rumour, but resolved to inform Lord Ross in Glasgow that they might attack it with their joint force (Letter in Napier, ii. 218). On learning of the demonstration at Rutherglen, he left Ross at Glasgow, and advanced on Saturday night to the former town to obtain particulars of the ‘insolency’ which had been perpetrated there. He succeeded in apprehending ‘not only one of these rogues, but also an intercommuned minister named King.’ He had almost forgotten the rumour about the intended meeting on Sunday, but before retiring to Glasgow he thought he ‘might make a little tour’ to see if he ‘could fall upon a conventicle … which,’ he candidly adds, ‘we did little to our advantage’ (ib. ii. 222). The battle of Drumclog which followed is described, with the addition of many picturesque details, but with substantial accuracy, as well as vivid delineation, in chap. xvi. of Scott's ‘Old Mortality.’ The covenanters, on learning the approach of Claverhouse, sent away their women and children, and drew up on sloping ground on the farm of Drumclog, ‘to which,’ Claverhouse reported, ‘there was no coming but through mosses and lakes.’ He describes the covenanting forces as consisting of ‘four battalions of foot, and all well armed with fusils and pitchforks, and three squadrons of horse.’ Wodrow gives the number of the covenanters as only ‘50 horse and 150 or 200 foot,’ but this estimate is evidently much too low. They probably outnumbered the forces under Claverhouse by at least four to one. They do not appear to have been under the direction of one leader, for Sir Robert Hamilton [q. v.] had not then been chosen to the supreme command, but their advance was led by several country gentlemen of some military experience, including John Balfour [q. v.] and David Hackston [q. v.], against whom warrants were out for the murder of Sharpe, while young William Cleland (1661?–1689) [q. v.] was also prominent in the fight. When Claverhouse came in sight, they showed no signs of wavering. The spectacle was to him a novel experience, and, rather gratified than otherwise that they had dared at last ‘to look honest men in the face,’ he advanced against them with careless hardihood. In a preliminary skirmish the advanced posts of the covenanters were driven back by a charge of the dragoons, whereupon the whole mass advanced down the slope in regular order. Owing to the bogs Claverhouse could not follow up his advantage by a charge, and was compelled to wait their attack. Their knowledge of the ground enabled them to effect a crossing without difficulty, and the bulk of them ‘made up against’ his own troop. He kept his fire till they were within ten paces, but the volley did not check their onward movement for a moment, and as soon as they came to close quarters his small force was overwhelmed. The horses being unable to act with freedom were attacked by the peasants with pitchforks and scythes, while the troopers, without sufficient opportunities for the use of their swords, sat almost helpless. Two of his principal officers were shot down at the first fire, and almost immediately afterwards a pitchfork, according to his own account, or a scythe, according to another version, made such an opening in his ‘sorrel horse's belly, that its guts hung out half an ell.’ This, he says, so discouraged his men that they ‘sustained not the shock, but fell into disorder.’ As soon as they began to yield, the covenanters charged them with their horse, and pursued them ‘so hotly’ that they got ‘no time to rally.’ Claverhouse's only crumb of comfort was that he had saved the standards. He had to ‘make the best retreat the confusion’ of his troops ‘would suffer,’ and after mounting a fresh horse did not call a halt till he reached Lord Ross at Glasgow (see his own letter in Napier, ii. 221–3). The sight of the panic-stricken troopers attracted the notice of the townsfolk of Strathaven, who rushed out of their houses, and attempted to attack the straggling throng, but Claverhouse made the fugitives pluck up sufficient courage ‘to fall to them and make them run.’ ‘This,’ he sententiously concludes, ‘may be counted the beginning of the rebellion in my opinion’ (ib.). The covenanters followed the fugitives somewhat leisurely, and halted for the night some distance from Glasgow. With the aid of the fresh troops of Ross, Claverhouse resolved meanwhile to hold the town. The troops were ordered to stand to their arms all night, a portion of them also being busily employed in barricading the streets. At sunrise Captain Creighton was sent out with six dragoons to discover which way the covenanters proposed to enter the town. He watched them till they divided, the one portion intending to cross the Gallowgate bridge, and the rest advancing by the high church and college. The Gallowgate portion did not give sufficient time for their comrades by the High Street to co-operate with them. ‘The broad street,’ Creighton narrates, ‘was immediately full of them, but advancing to the barricades before their fellows who followed the other road could arrive to their assistance, were valiantly received by Clavers*** and his men, who chased them out of the town; but were quickly forced to return to receive the other party, which by that time was marching down by the high church and college; but when they came within pistol-shot were likewise fired upon and driven out of the town’ (‘Memoirs’ in Swift, Works, xii. 33). More than this Claverhouse did not venture to do. This indirect confession of impotence braced up the courage of many hesitating supporters of the covenant, and in a few days the number of the insurgents totalled five or six thousand. They were, however, unfortunate in their selection of Sir Robert Hamilton as a leader; they were divided by petty jealousies and doctrinal dissensions; they were at a loss as to the policy they should adopt, and allowed the golden opportunity of winning a substantial victory to pass. The conduct of Claverhouse received no censure from the council; but on news reaching them of the disaster he was directed to return to the main body under Linlithgow at Stirling, his independent command thus coming to a close. Memories of the former ‘whigamore raid’ seized the imaginations of the council in Edinburgh, and something resembling a panic ensued among those in authority. Linlithgow was ordered to fall back on Edinburgh, and a post was sent in all haste to London for a reinforcement of English soldiers. With the English troops the Duke of Monmouth was sent to assume the chief command.
At the battle of Bothwell Bridge on 22 June Claverhouse was present with his troop of horse guards, and although the regiment was nominally under the command of the Marquis of Montrose, his duties were not improbably delegated to Claverhouse. Monmouth, as soon as he was assured of victory, ‘stopped the execution his men were making.’ The statement of Wodrow that Claverhouse was one of those who urged Monmouth to terrify the western districts by severe punishment (iii. 112) has been called in question; but as a matter of fact this was the policy which Claverhouse himself actually adopted. Reinforced by a detachment of English troops he immediately after the battle made a progress through Ayr, Dumfriesshire, and Galloway, plundering without scruple the farms of those who were supposed to have been in arms. Moreover he and Linlithgow were on 25 July sent by the council to London to procure the abandonment of the mild policy inaugurated by Monmouth. After the appointment on 6 Nov. of Thomas Dalyell [q. v.] as sole commander-in-chief, a régime of unrelenting severity succeeded. This led to the publication on 22 June 1680 by the followers of Richard Cameron [q. v.] of the Sanquhar declaration, in which they ‘disowned Charles Stewart’ as having forfeited the crown by his ‘perjury and breach of the covenant.’ A month afterwards the Cameronians, to the number of seventy, under the command of Hackston of Rathillet, were surprised and routed at Airds Moss by a detachment of Claverhouse's troops, Cameron himself being killed, and Hackston taken prisoner.
In February 1680 Claverhouse received a grant of the forfeited lands of Macdougal of Freuch in Galloway, but the execution was stayed by the exchequer on the ground that Claverhouse had made no proper account of the rents, duties, and movables he had sequestrated in Wigtownshire. Claverhouse, who was then in London, thereupon complained to the king, asserting that while in Scotland he had received not one farthing from sequestrations, and the commission were commanded to remove the stop they had put upon the grant (Napier, ii. 238).
A partial glimpse of Claverhouse's private life at this period is afforded us by a series of his letters first reported on in the Historical MSS. Commission's third Report, and printed in full in Fraser's ‘Red Book of Menteith.’ Claverhouse's kinsman, the eighth earl of Menteith, having no children, and the earl's cousin, Helen Graham, daughter of Sir James Graham, being the nearest heiress, the proposal was made by Claverhouse that the earl should settle on him the title and estates on condition that he married Helen Graham. In his first letter, undated, but probably written towards the close of 1678, he urges the advisability of Menteith's settling his affairs, instancing the wisdom of Julius Cæsar in adopting Augustus, and thus securing a valuable friend as well as a wise successor. The earl, impressed with the force of Claverhouse's representations, wrote the young lady's father on his behalf, stating that he would ‘never consent to the marriage unless it be Claverhouse.’ The suit was making rapid progress when the young lady's father announced that a rival was in the field, who proved to be the Marquis of Montrose, the titular head of the Grahams. The diplomacy of Claverhouse was thus rendered of no avail. Montrose had, however, his desires fixed solely on the old earl's estates. Having outwitted Claverhouse by securing from Menteith a grant of the estates, he began to cool in his attentions to the young lady, and soon afterwards married Lady Christian Leslie, daughter of the Duke of Rothes. He then told Claverhouse that he might have ‘Sir James's daughter and all,’ but the ‘all’ Claverhouse discovered did not refer to the estates. He had some thoughts of applying to the Duke of York to make Montrose disgorge, but gave up the idea. In any case he had the assurance of the title, and matters had gone so far with him that he expressed his willingness to marry the lady on almost any terms. ‘I will assure you,’ he wrote on 1 Oct. 1681 to Menteith, ‘I need nothing to persuade me to take that young lady. I would take her in her smoak.’ The parents, however, suspected that Montrose and Claverhouse had been acting in collusion, and in any case Claverhouse without the Menteith estates was not regarded as a brilliant match. There was also an old love whom possibly the lady in any case preferred. Towards the close of the year she and her parents crossed over to Ireland, and she was married there to Captain Rawdon, nephew and heir-apparent to Lord Conway.
It was perhaps after making a last effort to obtain the hand of Helen Graham that on 26 Nov. 1681 Claverhouse narrowly escaped drowning in crossing the Firth of Forth from Burntisland to Leith (Tyler, Poem of the Tempest, 1685; Napier, i. 319). There is no further record of his doings till the following January. On the 2nd of that month Queensberry reported to the newly appointed lord president of the court of session, Sir George Gordon of Haddo, that all was peaceable in his district except that ‘in the heads of Galloway some of the rebels meet’ (Gordon Papers, p. 5), and recommended that a competent party be sent with Claverhouse for ‘scouring that part of the country.’ To enable him to do his work more effectually, he was on 30 Jan. appointed hereditary sheriff of Wigtown, in room of Sir Andrew Agnew, and bailie of the regality of Longlands, in room of Viscount Kenmure, both of these having refused to take the recently prescribed ‘test.’ He was also specially empowered to call before him all persons guilty of withdrawing from the public ordinances or attending conventicles (Napier, ii. 252). The same commission also conferred on him the office of sheriff depute and steward depute of the shire of Dumfries and stewartry of Kirkcudbright and Annandale, with a caveat, however, that this latter appointment was not to interfere with the hereditary jurisdictions, and that he was ‘only to proceed and do justice in the cases foresaid when he is the first attacher.’ In carrying out his commission his proposal was ‘to fall to work with all that have been in the rebellion or accessory thereto by giving men, money, or arms, and next resetters, and after that field conventicles.’ He also proposed ‘to threaten much, but forbear execution for a while, lest people should grow desperate’ (Letter in Napier, ii. 261). To meet his ‘great expense’ he asked leave to make use of all movable property against which he could find probation, ‘for the maintenance of prisoners, witnesses, spies,’ &c. (ib.) His first care was to provide magazines of corn and straw in every part of the district, so that he might be free to move with rapidity wherever he pleased, ‘after which he fell in search of the rebels, played them hotly with parties, so that there were several taken, many fled the country, and all were dung from their haunts; and then rifled so their houses, ruined their goods, and imprisoned their servants, that their wives and children were brought to starving, which forced them to have recourse to the safe-conduct,’ &c. (report by Claverhouse to the privy council in Gordon Papers, pp. 107–11). By ‘rebels’ he meant those who had been in arms at Bothwell Bridge; for others a milder course of treatment was adopted. He called the inhabitants of two or three parishes together, and intimated that all who would resolve to conform might expect favour except resetters and ringleaders. By this method large numbers were induced to attend the episcopal services in the parish church. The absentees in every church were marked, and ‘severely punished if obstinate’ (ib.) The charge of wanton cruelty preferred by Wodrow against Claverhouse in this campaign cannot, however, be substantiated. On the contrary, he himself condemned the wanton and unsystematic methods that were in operation in other districts, and ‘thought it wisest to pardon the multitude and punish the ringleaders.’ But the systematic character of his severity, and the fact that it was concentrated on ringleaders, produced a greater effect on the popular imagination, and made it seem more terrible. Against ringleaders his vengeance was implacable. ‘I am as sorry,’ he wrote, ‘to see a man die, even a whig, as any of themselves; but when one dies justly for his own faults, and may save a hundred to fall in the like, I have no scruple’ (ib. p. 122). Notwithstanding the terror he had inspired, he clearly recognised that the effect produced was merely temporary, and that all would be to no purpose unless permanent garrisons were established, for which it would be necessary to raise additional troops. The proceedings and proposals of Claverhouse gave great satisfaction to the privy council, and on 15 May he received their ‘thanks for his diligence in executing his commission in Galloway.’ Shortly afterwards he was sent to Ayr and Lanark to arrange for the application of similar methods there. He then paid a visit to Edinburgh, and as he was returning to his district narrowly escaped assassination, the plans of the plotters having only been frustrated by his having been delayed in Edinburgh two days longer than was expected (ib. p. 23; Letter in Napier, ii. 283).
One of the most serious difficulties Claverhouse had to contend with in his district was the connivance of the heritors at covenanting practices. On 5 March 1682, he writes: ‘I find the lairds all following the example of a late great man [Sir James Dalrymple], and still a considerable heritor here among them; which is to live regularly themselves, but have their houses constant haunts of rebels and intercommuned persons, and have their children baptised by the same, and then lay all the blame on their wives’ (Letter, ib. ii. 268). In such circumstances the complaint of Sir John Dalrymple (1648–1707) [q. v.] in August of this year, that Claverhouse was interfering with his rights as bailie of Glenluce in seizing the goods of a proclaimed rebel, was possibly welcomed by Claverhouse as an opportune chance for striking a blow at the influence of that family in Galloway. Legally Dalrymple was probably in the right, for this particular rebel does not seem to have been proclaimed at the instance of Claverhouse, but before the issue of his commission. It was plain, however, that Dalrymple was not so much concerned to obtain the goods himself as to prevent Claverhouse seizing them. Finding his expostulations with Claverhouse vain, Dalrymple now resolved to use his legal rights with the direct purpose of frustrating his action against all covenanters within his bailieship. The action of Claverhouse was restricted to cases in which he was the first attacher, and Dalrymple therefore, at a court held at Glenluce on 15 Aug., proceeded to impose what Claverhouse called ‘mock fines’ on the obnoxious persons within his regality, in order, Claverhouse reported, that he ‘might take them off complainers' hands’ (ib. ii. 291). He was said to have a short time previously gone through the form of fining his own mother, Lady Stair, who, however, with her husband and daughter had now fled beyond Claverhouse's jurisdiction. Dalrymple, confident that his legal position was unassailable, now complained on 20 Aug. to the privy council that Claverhouse had imposed fines on some of his own and his father's tenants whom he had first attached. It was impossible, however, that the council could allow Dalrymple to impede Claverhouse in his work by mere technical objections. While postponing their decision till the matter should be gone into more fully, they on 29 Aug. gave Dalrymple a preliminary reprimand for seeming to compete with the sheriffs commissioned and put in by the council (Fountainhall, Historical Notices, p. 374). On 15 Sept. the father, Sir James Dalrymple, wrote to Queensberry, announcing that Claverhouse had raised a libel to ‘stage’ himself, his wife, and eldest son, and asking him to use his influence with the king that he might have security ‘to live at home and end his days in peace’ (Napier, ii. 293). But both the private representations of the Dalrymples and the endeavours of the son to combine the gentry of the district against Claverhouse were equally vain. On 29 Sept. the council wrote him that they were so well satisfied with his proceedings that they not only gave him hearty thanks, but were ready to concur in anything he might propose (ib. p. 294). On 2 Dec. the Duke of York assured him he ‘need not fear anything Stair can say against him’ (ib. p. 300), and on 29 Dec. he was appointed colonel of a new regiment specially raised in accordance with his own proposal. On the 14th of the month he had retaliated on Dalrymple by presenting against him a special bill of complaint for weakening the hands of the government by ‘traversing and opposing the commands of the king's council’ (Fountainhall, Historical Notices, p. 388). Fountainhall mentions that in the discussion which then took place there was ‘much transport, flame, and humour,’ and that on Sir John alleging that the people in Galloway were turned orderly and loyal, Claverhouse answered ‘there were as many elephants’ (the first specimen brought to Scotland was then being exhibited in Edinburgh) ‘and crocodiles as loyal and regular persons there’ (ib. p. 389). Sir John afterwards complained that during the proceedings Claverhouse had in the hearing of several persons offered to give him a box on the ear (Napier, ii. 309). The consideration of the case was several times adjourned; but though all the forms were scrupulously observed it was inevitable that it should go against Dalrymple. On 12 July 1683 the council, while they specially thanked Claverhouse for his services, expressing at the same time their surprise that ‘he not being a lawyer had walked so warily in so irregular a country’ (Fountainhall, p. 416), found Dalrymple guilty in substance of all the charges against him, and besides inflicting on him a fine of 500l. committed him to prison during the council's pleasure. The power of the Dalrymples was thus completely broken; the father took refuge in Holland, and the son, after remaining in durance for three years, took to heart the lessons of adversity, and for a time made friends ‘with the mammon of unrighteousness.’
Shortly after the disposal of the Dalrymple dispute Claverhouse set out on 1 March 1683 to visit the king at Newmarket. A great part of the time there was occupied with ‘cockfighting and courses’ (Claverhouse to Queensberry, 9 March 1683, in Napier, ii. 314), but the main object of the visit was business rather than pleasure. The principal supporters of Charles in Scotland deemed the time opportune for some special recognition of their services, and Claverhouse, who, besides his social talents, had the qualification of special influence with the Duke of York, was entrusted with the representation of their interests at court. He discharged his mission with his accustomed thoroughness, and with remarkable diplomatic skill. It had chiefly reference to the division of the spoils consequent upon the ruin of the Lauderdale family for tampering with the coinage. Though the decision against them had not been arrived at before he set out, it was regarded as inevitable, and Claverhouse, with the Earl of Aberdeen and the Marquis of Queensberry, had privately arranged matters on this supposition. Queensberry, lately created marquis, was ambitious for the higher dignity of duke; Huntly coveted a similar honour; Aberdeen wished a gift of 20,000l. (deposition of Claverhouse in Napier, ii. 321–4); and the desires of Claverhouse were fixed on the lands of Dudhope, adjoining his own property, with the constabulary and other jurisdictions of Dundee. He held long consultations with the Duke of York in regard to these proposals (see amusing details in his letters, Napier, ii. 329–38), and when he left for Scotland in the middle of May was confident that all his recommendations would ultimately be adopted. He himself received 4,000l. out of the fines of the Lauderdales, and after some litigation came into the possession of the estate of Dudhope, notwithstanding that the Earl of Aberdeen by a private bargain with Lauderdale threatened to frustrate his hopes. The king had in fact to interpose on his behalf, and ‘clogged’ the remission to Lauderdale with the condition that he should perfect his disposition to Claverhouse. Meanwhile, immediately after his return to Scotland, Claverhouse was admitted a member of the privy council, and henceforth had a more direct part in shaping the policy of the government against the covenanters. As the result of private representations made by him to the king at Newmarket, a letter was addressed by Charles in April to the council, appointing Claverhouse to go along with the justices during their whole progress, and command the forces, except at places where the commander-in-chief himself should be present.
During a temporary lull in the struggle with the covenanters Claverhouse was on 10 June 1684 married to Jean, daughter of William, lord Cochrane, son of the earl of Dundonald. The family had presbyterian connections, the old Earl of Dundonald being actually at that very time under threats of prosecution for harbouring fugitive rebels on his lands. While the proposed alliance therefore was at once turned to account by the enemies of Claverhouse, whose jealousy was aroused by the recent rise in his fortunes and his evident influence at court, it awakened also some uneasiness among his friends. He thought it advisable to assure Queensberry, whom perhaps he was in doubt whether to reckon a friend or an enemy, ‘that it is not in the power of love nor any other folly to alter my loyalty’ (ii. 389). ‘I may cure,’ he writes, ‘people guilty of that plague of presbytery by conversing with them, but cannot be infected, and I see very little of that amongst these persons but may be easily rubbed off, and for the young lady herself I shall answer for her’ (ii. 390).
On Sunday, 8 June, two days before the marriage, news had reached Dalyell while at the ‘forenoon sermon’ in Glasgow, that a conventicle was being held on Blacklock Moor, and at an extraordinary meeting of the council special measures were taken to deal with the threatened danger. On the afternoon of his wedding-day Claverhouse had therefore to mount and scour the moors in search of the rebels; he returned to his bride at Paisley on the 13th, but again at noon had to take horse, and just before mounting wrote a letter which concludes with a certain touch of humour: ‘I am just taking horse. I shall be revenged some time or other of this unseasonable trouble these dogs give me. They might have let Tuesday pass’ (ib. ii. 398). During his absence to visit his bride, his second in command, Colonel Buchan, had come upon an ambuscade, who after firing upon his troops fled to the hills over boggy ground where the troopers could not follow. Claverhouse spurred hard in pursuit so as to secure, if possible, the passes into Galloway, but never came in sight of the fugitives. ‘We were,’ he writes, ‘through all the moors, mosses, hills, glens, woods, and spread in small parties, and ranged as if we had been at hunting … but could learn nothing of those rogues’ (ii. 403). Some time subsequently several of those suspected were seized; but while a body of troops were conveying sixteen persons to Dumfries, an attack was made at a narrow pass at Enterkin Hill, in which, though some of the prisoners lost their lives, the majority escaped, only two being retained. These audacious manifestations led to a new measure of repression by the privy council, and on 1 Aug. Claverhouse, with Colonel Buchan as his second in command, was sent to act in Ayr and Clydesdale, a special civil commission being joined with his military command. This was followed in October 1684 by the declaration of Renwick and other covenanters of their determination to retaliate by punishing those ‘who make it their work to embrue their hands in our blood,’ according to ‘our power and the degree of their offence’ (Wodrow, iv. 148–9). To meet this manifesto an act was thereupon passed by the council ‘that any person who owns or will not disown the late treasonable declaration on oath, whether they have arms or not, be immediately put to death, this being done in the presence of two witnesses and the person or persons having commission to that effect.’ This enactment inaugurated the period of exceptional severity known in covenanting annals as the ‘killing time.’ The proclamation of Renwick was followed by several outrages, some of which took place in the Galloway district. These latter included the murder of the curate of Carsphairn and the invasion of Kirkcudbright by armed covenanters, ‘who broke open the jail and carried away such persons as would go with them’ (Letter of Dalyell in Napier, ii. 428). Claverhouse hastened from Edinburgh, and was soon on their track. On the 20th news came from him that he had met with a party of those rogues, had killed five, and taken three prisoners, some of whom were of the murderers of the curate of Carsphairn, and that he was to judge and execute the three persons by his justiciary power (ib. ii. 427). Before setting out on this raid Claverhouse, at a meeting of the council, had supported a complaint of some of the soldiers against Colonel Douglas, brother of the Duke of Queensberry. The Duke of York seems so far to have supported Queensberry, and when the scene in the council was described to him wrote that he ‘was sorry Claverhouse was so little master of himself.’ Having rapidly accomplished his purpose in Galloway, Claverhouse by 15 Jan. appeared with the Earl of Balcarres by special commission at the circuit justiciary court of Fife to propose that the oath of abjuration should be taken by all men and women above the age of sixteen (Fountainhall, p. 602). He was now, however, through his quarrel with Queensberry, on bad terms with the council. His ‘high, proud, and peremptory humour’ had given deep offence, and the Scottish statesmen had probably become jealous and afraid of the rapid rise of his fortunes and his influence with the Duke of York. With Queensberry the jealousy was of long standing, although he was both sensible of the merits of Claverhouse as an officer, and had not scrupled to make use of this influence with the Duke of York for his own advancement. To mark the council's disapproval of the attack of Claverhouse on Colonel Douglas, he was despatched instead of Claverhouse to quell a rising in the western shires (ib. p. 623); and not content with administering an indirect rebuke, Queensberry at the same time called him to account for the fines of delinquents in Galloway. ‘He told his brother was gathering them in and craved a time. Queensberry offered him five or six days; he told that was all one considering the distance as to offer him none at all, whereon the treasurer replied, Then you shall have none’ (ib.) In accordance with the same policy, when on 27 March a special commission of lords justices was named for Wigtownshire, although David Graham, sheriff depute and brother of Claverhouse, was one of the commission, they were appointed to ‘concur with Colonel Douglas,’ and not with Claverhouse who was sheriff of the shire. A still more galling humiliation was the omission of his name from the new privy council on 9 April; but a reconciliation having been patched up at the time of the threatened invasion by Monmouth and Argyll, a special order was on 11 May given to admit him (Napier, iii. 443).
These circumstances must be borne in mind in view of the charges which have been made against Claverhouse in connection with the drowning of two women, Margaret Maclachlan and Margaret Wilson, on the sands of the Solway Frith, for refusing to take the abjuration oath. These women were sentenced on 18 April at a court where David Graham, his sheriff depute and brother, sat as one of the judges; they were remanded by the privy council on 1 May, and recommended to the royal mercy, but they were nevertheless executed on 11 May. Whether they were executed because James, now king, refused to interpose, is unknown. The fact that the execution took place within the jurisdiction of Claverhouse, and that his brother was one of the judges at the trial, necessarily associated his name with the execution in popular tradition. Nor have the apologisers of Claverhouse recognised the exact circumstances of his relation to it. But for his quarrel with Queensberry, the issue of the special commission, and his omission from the new privy council, it would have been difficult to believe that he was not in some degree responsible for the execution. Napier has tried less to disprove the connection of Claverhouse with the execution than to show that it never took place at all; but a pamphlet published by the Rev. Archibald Stewart in 1869, ‘History vindicated in the Case of the Wigtown Martyrs,’ must be regarded as establishing the fact of the execution beyond doubt. There is no evidence that the women were prosecuted directly or indirectly at the instance of Claverhouse; there is nothing to show that he was in the district while the case was under consideration or in suspense, and it is impossible to state whether he even knew anything of the case till all was over. All that can be positively affirmed is that the act in accordance with which they were condemned to death was one which had his full approval, and that one of the judges was his brother who enjoyed his full confidence, and up till then had acted under his special directions; but apart from this there is the widest room for conjecture as to what Claverhouse did do or would have done. While the case of these two women was in suspense Claverhouse was concerned in the summary execution of John Brown (1627?–1685) [q. v.], of Priestfield, ‘the Christian carrier.’ Professor Aytoun published an appendix to the second edition of his ‘Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers,’ in which he maintained that the details were mythical, and even Brown's existence doubtful. The preservation of a letter by Claverhouse himself is conclusive of the opposite. ‘On Friday last,’ he says, on 3 May, ‘amongst the hills beyond Douglas and Ploughlands, we pursued two fellows a great way through the mosses, and in end seized them. They had no arms about them, and denied they had any. But being asked if they would take the abjuration, the eldest of the two, called John Brown, refused; nor would he swear not to rise against the king, but said he knew no king. Upon which and there being found bullets and match in his house, and treasonable papers, I caused shoot him dead; which he suffered very unconcernedly’ (ib. i. 141, iii. 457). This summary procedure has been condemned and defended in ignorance of the facts. Brown was executed in accordance with the act passed in November, authorising the summary execution of all who refused to take the oath. Claverhouse was thus simply giving practical effect to an act which had been passed on his own recommendation. Claverhouse, in his letter, only records the bare outlines of the occurrence; Wodrow states that he shot Brown with his own hand, because the prayers and exhortations of Brown had unsteadied the nerves of the troopers; but Walker represents Brown as having been shot by a file of six soldiers. Some of the other details of their narrative have no doubt been distorted; but there is no reason to doubt that the execution took place in presence of Brown's wife and children, and that Claverhouse shot Brown with his own hand is not by any means improbable. Possibly he may have done so in a moment of irritation, or to cut short a painful scene. The whole occurrence is recorded by Claverhouse as a mere matter of course, and although the execution of John Brown roused special execration against him, this was rather on account of the high reputation of Brown than because the deed was one of exceptional severity. Bishop Burnet, a connection of Claverhouse, who allows him some valuable qualities, mentions his extraordinary rigour against the presbyterians, ‘even to the shooting many on the highway, that refused the oath required of them’ (Own Time, ed. 1838, p. 510). The other person captured at the same time as John Brown proved to be his nephew, who, somewhat to Claverhouse's embarrassment, at once agreed to take the oath. ‘I was convinced,’ writes Claverhouse, ‘that he was guilty, but saw not how to proceed against him. Wherefore after he had said his prayers, and carabines presented to shoot him, I offered him that, if he would make an ingenuous confession, and make a discovery that might be of any importance for the king's service, I should delay putting him to death, and plead for him.’ Brown on this assurance made a clean breast of it. After detailing his confession, Claverhouse concludes: ‘I have acquitted myself when I have told your grace the case. He has been but a month or two with his halbert, and if your grace thinks he deserves no mercy justice will pass on him; for I, having no commission of justiciary myself, have delivered him up to the lieutenant-general to be disposed of as he pleases’ (Napier, i. 141, iii. 457). In the case of the nephew the conduct of Claverhouse was less irreproachable than in that of the uncle. He had no right to apply the mental strain, in the absence of direct evidence; in pretending to reprieve one whom he dared not execute, he was, to say the least, taking credit for greater generosity than he possessed; and he scarcely fulfilled his promise to ‘plead for him’ with the sincerity the man had a right to expect. His reserved method of ‘pleading’ may, however, be partly accounted for by the strained character of his relations with the Duke of Queensberry, to whom the letter is addressed.
Shortly after the despatch of this letter Claverhouse, by order of the king, was restored to the privy council. In a few days subsequent to this he was, in view of the threatened incursion of Argyll, made a brigadier-general of horse. This would have given him precedency over Colonel Douglas, whom it was proposed to make a brigadier-general of foot, and to prevent this the commission of Douglas was drawn two days before that of Claverhouse (Napier, iii. 469). After the danger from the Argyll invasion was over, Claverhouse went to London to complain of the conduct of Queensberry in regard to the Galloway fines, and Queensberry was ordered to refund him the money. He returned to Edinburgh along with Balcarres on 24 Dec. (Fountainhall, p. 688). The insecurity of his position, apart from the special support of the king, was probably what chiefly determined Claverhouse to link his fortunes so closely to those of James, and to give him a support in his policy towards the catholics, which seems to have been unquestioning and absolute. At the meeting of the council in February 1686 he was the only one who supported the motion of the chancellor Perth for taking notice of a sermon against popery preached by one Canaires, minister of Selkirk, the other councillors maintaining a ‘deep silence’ (ib. p. 709). In the autumn of 1686 he was promoted major-general. In the disaffected districts the ‘killing time’ was succeeded by a period of almost unbroken stillness. The most prominent leaders had either been executed, or were languishing in prison, or toiling in the plantations. Isolated rebels who had escaped either of these fates were occasionally discovered in hiding-places and summarily dealt with. Possibly the last official act of Claverhouse against conventicles was the examination of James Renwick before the privy council. Renwick, the last of the martyrs, suffered on 17 Feb. 1688.
It was no doubt with a view to strengthen his hands in the north-east of Scotland that James, in March 1688, appointed Claverhouse by royal warrant provost of Dundee, which with the constable's jurisdiction would ‘make him absolute there’ (ib. p. 860). The letter of the king announcing the appointment was engrossed in the town council's minutes of 27 March (Millar, Roll of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee, p. 166), but the town and Claverhouse had for years been on indifferent terms, and the arbitrary appointment only widened the estrangement. Nearly four years previously, on 14 May 1684, the council had protested against the charter of King Charles appointing Claverhouse constable (Charters of Dundee, pp. 103–5). On one occasion at least he exercised his office as constable to moderate punishment for crime, for in February 1684 he used his influence with the privy council to enable him to substitute some ‘arbitrary’ punishment for that of death for petty thefts (Napier, ii. 410). The town council, however, were jealous of the jurisdiction of the constable; Claverhouse was supposed to have carried his pretensions to further lengths than any of his predecessors, and, so far from his appointment as provost aiding him in his final effort in behalf of James, the town became one of the rallying points of his rival, General Mackay.
When news reached the privy council in Edinburgh of the threatened invasion of England by the Prince of Orange, they advised the concentration of a large force under Douglas and Claverhouse on the borders; but, while preparations were proceeding, a peremptory order came from the king that all the available forces in Scotland should be despatched southwards. The total Scottish contingent, numbering 3,763, under the command of Douglas, Claverhouse being second in command and general of the cavalry, accordingly left Scotland in October, and, after taking up their quarters for a short time in London, marched on 10 Nov. to join the general rendezvous of the king's forces at Salisbury. On the 12th the king marked his appreciation of Claverhouse's constancy by creating him by royal patent Viscount Dundee and Lord Graham of Claverhouse. At a council of war held on the 24th, James, without striking a blow, broke up his camp and returned to London. Almost immediately afterwards a portion of the Scotch forces deserted to the prince. The Scotch horse and dragoons under Dundee remained faithful, and he marched them to Watford to wait further commands. On the news reaching him of the king's flight from London he ‘burst into tears’ (Creighton, in Swift's Works, xii. 72). The news was succeeded by a message from William guaranteeing the safety of his troops provided they remained inactive where they were until further orders (ib.) Dundee, leaving his forces in Watford, went to London, where all the members of the Scotch privy council there held a conference in the house of the Duke of Hamilton (Balcarres, Memoirs, p. 19). They were in great perplexity, the duke apparently having determined to make terms with William; but on hearing that the king had again returned to Whitehall, he sent for Dundee and ‘desired that all might be forgot’ (ib. p. 20). Dundee and Balcarres alone of the Scottish nobles in London remained faithful to James. They waited on him in his bedroom early on the morning of the 17th, and made a last but fruitless endeavour to induce him to make a final stand. At the request of the king they accompanied him in his morning walk in the Mall. At parting he told them that he was about to sail immediately for France, and added: ‘You, my Lord Balcarres, must manage the civil business, and you, my Lord Dundee, shall have a commission from me to command the troops.’ After the departure of James to France, Dundee employed Bishop Burnet to carry messages to William ‘to know what security he might expect if he should go and live in Scotland without owning the government. The king said if he would live peaceably and at home he would protect him. To this he answered that unless he were forced to it he would live quietly’ (Burnet, ed. 1838, p. 537). The precaution had been taken to disband Dundee's own regiment. The Scots Greys and Lord Dumbarton's regiment made an effort to retire northwards, but, their passage being stopped by the breaking down of the bridges and the felling of trees across the highways, they at last laid down their arms and surrendered at discretion. Dundee had taken no part in the mutiny, and he was permitted, along with the Earl of Balcarres, to depart for Scotland, accompanied for his protection by fifty troopers of his own regiment. Even in the old privy council his enemies outnumbered his friends; King James alone had given him almost unwavering support; among the covenanters his name was, in the words of Sir Walter Scott, ‘held in equal abhorrence and rather more terror than that of the devil himself;’ by his own troopers he was idolised, but, with the exception of his small body-guard of fifty, the Scottish soldiers had been retained in England, and when he entered Edinburgh with his small band in the end of February he knew that it was swarming with western covenanters. Already the Duke of Gordon was on terms for the surrender of the castle when Dundee and Balcarres waited on him and persuaded him to abandon his intention ‘until he saw what the convention [of estates] intended to do’ (Balcarres, Memoirs, p. 23). Dundee and Balcarres resolved to attend the convention, but after the reading of King James's fatally imprudent message, sent without their knowledge, they decided to adjourn to Stirling and hold a convention there in the king's name (ib. p. 26). The day before that fixed for their departure Dundee affirmed that he had received information that a plot had been formed by the western covenanters for his assassination. He brought the matter before the convention, informing them that he could point out the house where the plotters were then met, but they declined to take any steps in the matter till other business was disposed of (ib. p. 29). The account given by the covenanting party of the matter was that Dundee had formed a design to seize certain members of the convention, but was prevented by ‘George Hamilton of Barns, who lodged four hundred armed citizens of Glasgow about the parliament house, that the adverse party found no security of the enterprise’ (Mackay, Memoirs, p. 4). Monday, 18 March, was the day fixed for the departure to Stirling, but the Marquis of Atholl craved another day's delay, and this, at a meeting held in Dundee's absence, had been agreed upon. Dundee, on the plea that he did not consider his life any longer safe, declined, notwithstanding the expostulations of Balcarres, to remain another hour, and said that he would go before, but that if any got out of the town he would wait for them (Balcarres, p. 30). Accompanied by the fifty horse of his own regiment he had brought from England, he rode down the Canongate, and then, turning into the Stirling road, passed close by the foot of the Castle Rock. The Duke of Gordon noticed the cavalcade, and signalled that he desired to speak with Dundee. With some difficulty Dundee clambered halfway up the steep rock, and succeeded in letting him know of the intention to ‘set up the king's standard in Stirling, and that their first work would be to relieve him’ (ib.) Scott's spirited ‘Bonnets of Bonnie Dundee’ misrepresents the facts. Dundee's retirement was precipitate rather than defiant; and though perhaps caused as much by distrust of some of his professed allies as by fear of his enemies, it was the occasion of completely upsetting the plans of the confederates. It put the whigs on their guard, and, owing to the precautions that were immediately taken, the proposed convention had to be abandoned. That very night Tarbat despatched the laird of Alva to Stirling, and the Earl of Mar, who was in command of the castle, decided to hold it for William (Leven and Melville Papers, p. 113). Dundee, distrustful of his attitude, rode through Stirling at the gallop, and, gaining the bridge, halted for the night at Dunblane. There he is stated to have been informed by Drummond of Bahaldy of a confederacy of the clans in behalf of King James, and to have encouraged the rising (Memoirs of Ewan Cameron, p. 236). He then retired to his house at Dudhope, where on the 26th a message reached him from the Duke of Hamilton asking him to lay down his arms and return to the convention. He replied that he had left the convention because he was in danger of his life; he begged the favour at least of a delay till his wife ‘was brought to bed;’ and announced his willingness meanwhile to ‘give security or parole not to disturb the peace’ (Letter in Napier, iii. 525–7). The charge of ‘disingenuity’ made against this letter has been objected to (Mowbray, p. 163), but it can scarcely be affirmed, even at the best, that Dundee in writing it had a more ingenuous purpose than merely to gain time. Had he obtained an absolute guarantee of his personal safety, he might have broken off his purposes in the highlands, but it must be remembered that, by having his troop of dragoons with him, he was actually in arms against the government. In such circumstances any reply short of a promise immediately to return to Edinburgh could only be regarded as ‘disrespectful and disingenuous,’ and after it had been read to the convention he was on 30 March proclaimed a traitor.
With the despatch of his letter Dundee probably knew that the die was cast. Learning that a large party under Mackay were approaching his neighbourhood, he and his dragoons retired into the Duke of Gordon's country, where they were joined by the Earl of Dunfermline with sixty horse. To delude Mackay and draw him into the highlands, he retired still further into the northern regions, and then returned by long marches to Dudhope, where his wife in his absence had been delivered of a son. Soon afterwards he was informed of a detachment from the clans who were waiting for him on the highland border, and under their guidance he advanced rapidly to Inverness, where Keppoch had arranged to join him with nine hundred men. On his arrival he found that Keppoch had already begun to pillage the town on the ground that certain moneys were owing him. Dundee, to satisfy Keppoch's claim, advanced the money, but his interference gave offence to Keppoch, who retired to his own country. Inverness being now threatened by Mackay, Dundee with a small following retreated rapidly through the forest of Badenoch to the low grounds, where the promised commission reached him from James to command his troops in Scotland. On 11 May with a party of horse he then suddenly entered the city of Perth at midnight, and, surprising the lairds of Blair and Pollock with some newly raised troops, carried off his prisoners with a store of ammunition and provisions before daybreak. He then passed into Angus, and after plundering several of the houses of the whigs appeared suddenly on the 13th before Dundee. He all but surprised Lord Rollo, who was encamped outside the walls, but Rollo retreated into the town; and as the gates were immediately shut against Dundee, he contented himself with setting fire to the suburb of Hilltown, and near nightfall drew off towards the highlands. After a rapid and difficult march he arrived safely at Lochiel's house in Lochaber, where a great muster of the clans had been arranged. From Lochaber Dundee wrote to James praying him to come over in person with an Irish contingent, when he would be master of the situation; but as usual James failed when it came to the pinch. Besides the small band of troopers which accompanied Dundee from London, he was joined by a few lowland gentlemen, but apart from this his force was composed wholly of the highland clans who had formerly served under Montrose against their hereditary enemies the Campbells of Argyll. At first he made a proposal to introduce among them the discipline of regular troops, but Lochiel explained the difficulties of the plan with such force of reasoning that it was at once abandoned. While Dundee was anxiously awaiting news from Ireland, word reached him that Colonel Ramsay with twelve hundred men intended to pass through the country of Atholl to join Mackay at Inverness. Dundee resolved to intercept him, but Ramsay getting information of his intention retreated with the utmost haste on Perth, after blowing up his ammunition to prevent it falling into Dundee's hands. The appointed rendezvous of Mackay and Ramsay had been Ruthven Castle on the Spey, which was held for the government by Captain Forbes, and, on the retreat of Ramsay, it was captured by Dundee and razed to the ground. He then endeavoured to surprise Mackay, who decamped suddenly during the night. To get between him and the low grounds and cut off his retreat, Dundee marched swiftly up Glenlivet, and then turned down Strathdon. But for nightfall coming on he would have forced an engagement. On coming in sight of Mackay's troops the highlanders raised a great shout and threw off their plaids preparatory to an attack, but Mackay drew rapidly off, and on Dundee detaching a troop of horse to endeavour to provoke a skirmish, his troops only withdrew the faster. Dundee then took up his quarters at Edenglassy, but Mackay, as soon as he had effected a junction with Ramsay, retraced his steps and advanced against him. To give battle to the combined forces did not suit Dundee, who was in hope of large reinforcements from Ireland, and he precipitately retired to the hills, keeping always so strong a rear-guard that Mackay deemed it unwise to harass his retreat. On reaching Lochaber he dismissed most of the clans, retaining, however, two hundred of the Macleans, who ‘were far from their own country’ (Balcarres, p. 42). Mackay resolved, after leaving a detachment to protect Inverness, to retire to the lowlands until he was provided with means to establish a line of fortified posts in the Grampians. Taking advantage of his absence, Dundee made a tour through the more remote clans, and was so well received that he wrote from Moy, Inverness-shire, ‘I hope we shall be masters of the north.’ He was gaining a remarkable personal influence over the chiefs and their men by sharing their fatigues, sympathising with their feelings, and listening to their stories, and above all by his relationship to the great Montrose. Even his stern severity powerfully assisted him in winning their regard. The only punishment he inflicted was death: ‘All other punishment, he said, disgraced a gentleman, and all who were with him were of that rank; but that death was a relief from the consciousness of crime’ (Dalrymple, Memoirs, p. 74). Having completed his tour in the northern regions, Dundee now devoted his attention to securing the Atholl men, and obtaining possession of Blair Castle. The Marquis of Atholl, whose hesitation in Edinburgh had led to the abandonment of the convention at Stirling, had gone south to England for his health, and to be ‘as much as possible out of the world now in his old age’ (Murray to Melville, 11 June, in Leven and Melville Papers, p. 54). On hearing that his son, Lord Murray, had appointed a rendezvous of the Atholl men at Blair, Dundee wrote him urgent letters exhorting him to ‘declare openly for the liberty of his country’ (ib.) Receiving no answer he got a commission prepared, authorising the absent Marquis of Atholl to hold Blair Castle in the name of the king, and, delivering it to Stewart of Ballochin, steward of the marquis, commanded him in the absence of his lord to hold the castle for King James. To this Ballochin at once agreed. Murray thereupon gathered fifteen hundred of his men to capture it, but on arriving they demanded to know in whose cause they were expected to fight. Learning that it was not under but against Dundee, they at once forsook the ranks, and running to the adjoining stream of Baldovie they filled their bonnets with water, and drank to the health of King James. In the absence of their chief they did not venture to join Dundee, but returned to their homes. Dundee's procedure in Atholl alarmed Mackay, and he hastened to anticipate him by seizing Blair Castle. Learning that Mackay was moving towards the highlands, Dundee ordered a rendezvous of all the clans, and at the urgent request of Lochiel set out for Blair with the small detachment he had with him. Lochiel overtook him with 240 men just as he was entering Atholl; three hundred badly armed Irish under Cannon joined him shortly afterwards; the more distant adherents of Lochiel followed; and every hour afterwards detachments from the other clans came hurrying in. In all probability the forces at his disposal were about three thousand, when news reached him that Mackay was approaching the pass of Killiecrankie. At the council of war some were for holding the pass till they had a fuller muster, but Dundee opposed this, knowing that Mackay had collected his forces hurriedly, and was notably deficient in cavalry. Lochiel also was for giving battle. The scene of the encounter between Dundee and Mackay was specially selected by Dundee under the guidance of Lochiel. Never was an attack more carefully or deliberately planned. Mackay was unaware of Dundee's movements, and when, on reaching the narrow table-land at the top of the pass, he was met by the sight of the bonnets and plaids of the highlanders on the hills, he recognised at once that he was caught in a trap. On discovering that the bulk of Dundee's forces were concentrated on the hills to his right, he wheeled his men round to avoid the danger of a flank attack, and marched them up to slightly more elevated ground. His room for manœuvring was so narrow that he was unable to form a reserve, and he drew out his men in a single extended line of three deep. His forces in all numbered about four thousand. The nature of the ground did not permit him to give the attack; he had advanced too far for retreat; with the enemy on the hills to the right he was unable to advance into the open plain beyond; he was compelled to stand to arms till Dundee assumed the offensive. From his higher position Dundee could study his movements at his leisure and form his plans accordingly. He was ‘much pleased’ to observe the formation Mackay had adopted, and now regarded victory as certain (Balcarres, p. 46). Against a thickly massed body of troops the charge of irregular highland clans might be comparatively ineffectual, but a thin extended line might be swept into confusion by the first onset. Retaining the formation into separate clans, Dundee widened the spaces between them so as to embrace the whole of Mackay's line. Having concluded his arrangements, and possibly addressed the chiefs and his officers (a speech said to have been Dundee's is printed in Macpherson's ‘Original Papers,’ pp. 371–2), Dundee waited till the sun, which was shining on the faces of his men, had touched the western hills in its descent. Lochiel urged him to content himself with issuing his commands, but Dundee replied that on this first occasion he must establish his character for courage (Memoirs of Ewan Cameron, p. 157), and he charged in the centre at the head of the cavalry. To the wild shout of the highlanders Mackay's troops replied with a cheer, but, partly from the peculiarity of their formation, it sounded broken and feeble. The strange and savage surroundings had probably also told on their imaginations; they were moreover in total ignorance as to the number of their opponents; and when in the gathering twilight the outlandish array advanced against them from the shadows of the hills their resolution had probably begun to give way before a blow was struck. Their fire was ineffectual; and the highlanders moving swiftly down the slopes, and retaining their fire till they almost reached level ground, poured in a single volley, and, throwing away their firelocks, rushed impetuously at the thin extended line with their claymores. The soldiers of Mackay had not time to fix their bayonets, and the great bulk of them broke and ran at the first charge. An English regiment showed a firm front, but it was impossible for Mackay to stay the general stampede. The stand of the Englishmen proved fatal to Dundee. He galloped towards his cavalry, and, waving his sword, signalled to them where to charge. Desultory firing was going on, and as he lifted his arm a ball struck him below the cuirass and inflicted a mortal wound. The cavalry swept past him, and the cloud of dust and smoke concealed his fall from the enemy and from the bulk of his own forces. As he was sliding down from the saddle he was caught by a soldier named Johnstone. ‘How goes the day?’ said Dundee. ‘Well for King James,’ answered Johnstone, ‘but I am sorry for your lordship.’ ‘If it goes well for him it matters the less for me,’ said Dundee (evidence of Johnstone in App. to Acta Parl. Scot. ix. 56 a). It is uncertain whether Dundee died on the evening of the battle, 17 July 1689, or next morning. The highlanders being engaged in plunder or in the pursuit, probably no officer or chief witnessed his death. The body was afterwards wrapped up in a pair of highland plaids (ib. p. 57 a), and after being brought to the castle of Blair was buried in the old parish church of Blair, in the Atholl vault. In 1889 a monument to his memory was erected in old Blair church by the Duke of Atholl. Some bones, believed to be those of Dundee, were removed in 1852 from Blair to the church of St. Drostan, Old Deer, Aberdeenshire. A steel cap, or morion, and a cuirass, supposed to have been stolen from the grave of Dundee, were recovered from some tinkers, in 1794, by General Robertson of Lude, Perthshire; the morion is now at Lude, and the cuirass in the castle of Blair. They are, however, also stated to have been in 1809 in possession of a descendant of the widow of General Mackay at Dornoch (C. K. Sharpe, Correspondence, i. 380). The circumstances of Dundee's death allowed full play to the imagination of the covenanters. No one had seen him shot, and he was supposed to have obtained a charm from the devil against leaden bullets; various accounts became current as to how he met his death; but that which ultimately found general acceptance was that he was shot by his own servant ‘with a silver button he had before taken off his own coat’ (Howie, God's Judgement on Persecutors, p. xxxix). In accordance with this tradition Dundee is depicted by Scott among the ghostly revellers in ‘Wandering Willie's Tale’ as having ‘his left hand always on his right spule-blade to hide the wound that the silver bullet had made.’
Four portraits of Dundee are given in Napier's ‘Life of Montrose;’ the first from a mezzotint print by Williams, of which there is a copy in the Bodleian Library, and another at Keir, Stirlingshire; the second from one in possession of William Graham of Airth; the third from that formerly in the possession of the Leven and Melville family; and the fourth from the Lely portrait in the possession of the Earl of Strathmore. The Leven portrait was also engraved from a sketch by C. K. Sharpe for the Bannatyne edition of ‘Dundee's Letters;’ and a copy of the Williams print is prefixed to the ‘Memoirs.’ The Strathmore portrait has been engraved for Lodge's ‘Portraits.’ One of the best portraits is said to be that in court dress at Dalkeith; and there are also others at Abbotsford, Longleat, Lee, Milton Lockhart, Boldovan House, and elsewhere. The epithet ‘Bonnie Dundee’ as applied to Claverhouse is a modern invention. The old song ‘Bonnie Dundee’ had reference solely to the town. From the verse of this song, ‘Now where got ye that feather and bonnet,’ &c., Scott seems to have borrowed the refrain of Dundee's march, ‘It's up with the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee.’ In the Bannatyne edition of ‘Dundee's Letters’ there is an engraving of a ring, which is said to have contained some of Dundee's hair, with the letters V. D. surmounted by a coronet worked on it in gold, and on the inside of the ring the engraving of a skull with the poesy ‘Great Dundee for God and me. J. Rex.’ A pistol said to have been taken from Dundee's body at Killiecrankie is now at Duntrune. Dundee's only and infant son, James, died in December 1689. His brother David, who was outlawed, died without issue in 1700. His widow, who married Viscount Kilsyth, was killed by the fall of a house in Holland.[The statements regarding the doings of Claverhouse in Wodrow's Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, Howie's Scots Worthies, the Cloud of Witnesses, and other books written by the descendants of, or sympathisers with, the covenanters must be read with caution; but below the colouring of strong prejudice they contain a solid basis of truth, and the main purport of their assertions is sufficiently corroborated by Claverhouse's own letters and various public documents. The Letters of the Viscount Dundee, with Illustrative Documents, were printed for the Bannatyne Club, 1826; but since that publication a large additional number were discovered among the Queensberry Papers, which have been included by Napier in his Memorials of Dundee, 1859–62; a series of Letters reported on in Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. are printed in Fraser's Red Book of Menteith. There is a large collection of letters and other documents at Duntrune, which were richly bound by Clementina Stirling-Graham [q. v.], author of Mystifications. Some letters are in the possession of local collectors at Dundee and elsewhere. For Dundee's proceedings during the highland campaign the chief authorities are Balcarres's Memoirs (Bannatyne Club); Memoirs of Ewan Cameron (ib.); Leven and Melville Papers (ib.); Appendix to vol. ix. of Acta Parl. Scot.; Macpherson's Original Papers; Mackay's Life of Lieutenant-general Mackay, 1836; Mackay's Memoirs (Abbotsford Club); Dalrymple's Memoirs of Great Britain; and James Philips's poem the Grameid, edited for the Scottish Hist. Soc. by the Rev. Alex. Murdoch, 1888. There is a variety of information in Memoirs of Dundee (more or less trustworthy), 1714; Gordon Papers (Spalding Club), 1851; Memoirs of Captain Creighton (Swift's Works); Fountainhall's Hist. Notices and his Hist. Observes; Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland; A Southern's Clavers, the Despot's Champion, 1889; and Notes and Queries, especially 1st ser. ii. 70, 134, 171, 2nd ser. v. 131, 222, vii. 54, and 3rd ser. vii. 3, 103, ix. 430. A biography of Claverhouse by Mowbray Morris is included in the series of English Worthies edited by Andrew Lang. See also Fergusson's Laird of Lag, Millar's Burgesses of Dundee, Macaulay's History of England, and Burton's History of Scotland. Claverhouse is a central figure in Scott's Old Mortality.]