|The Battle at Glenfruin|
|In the beginning of the year
1603, Allaster MacGregor of Glenstrae, followed
by four hundred men chiefly of his own clan, but including also some of
the clans Cameron and Anverich, armed with "halberschois, pow-aixes, twa-handit
swordis, bowis and arrowis, and with hagbutis and pistoletis", advanced
into the territory of Luss. Alexander Colquhoun, acting under his
royal commission, had raised a force of 300 horse and 500 foot.
This is probably an exaggeration, but even it is not, the disasters which
befell them may be explained from the trap into which they fell, and from
the nature of the ground on which they encountered the enemy. This
divested them of all advantages which they might have derived from superiority
of numbers and from their horse.
On the 7th of February, 1603, the MacGregors were in Glenfruin in two divisions. One of them at the head of the glen, and the other in ambuscade near the farm of Strone, at a hollow or ravine called the Crate. The Colquhouns came into Glenfruin from the Luss side, which is opposite Strone - probably by Glen Luss and Glen Mackurn. Alexander Colquhoun pushed his forces in order to get through the glen before encountering the MacGregors; but, aware of his approach, Allaster MacGregor also pushed forward one division of his forces and entered at the head of glen in time to prevent his enemy from emerging from the upper end of the glen, whilst his brother, John MacGregor, with the division of his clan, which lay in ambuscade, by a detour, to the rear of the Colquhouns, which prevented their retreat down the glen without fighting their way through that section of the MacGregors who had just got in their rear. The success of the stratagem by which the Colquhouns were thus placed between two fires seems to be the only way of accounting for the terrible slaughter of the Colquhouns and much less loss of the MacGregors.
"The Colquhouns soon became unable to maintain their ground, and falling into a moss at the farm of Anchingaich, they were thrown into disorder, and made a hasty and disorderly retreat, which proved even more disastrous than the conflict, for they had to force their way through the men led by John MacGregor, whilst they were pressed behind by Allaster, who reuniting the two divisions of his army, continued the pursuit"
All who fell into the hands
of the victors were at once put to death, and the chief of the Colquhouns
barely escaped with his life after his horse had been killed under him.
One hundred and forty of the Colquhouns were slaughtered, and many more
were wounded, among them were several women and children. When the
pursuit ended, the work of spoliation and devastation commenced.
Large numbers of horse, cattle, sheep and goats were carried off, and many
of the houses and steading of the tenantry were burned to the ground.
Their triumph the MacGregors were not allowed long to enjoy. The
government took instant and severe measures against them. A price
was put upon the heads of seventy or eighty of them by name, and upon a
number of their confederates of other clans - "Before any judicial inquiry
was made, on the 3rd of April 1603, only two days before James VI left
Scotland for England to take possession of the English throne, an Act of
Privy Council was passed, by which the name of Gregor or MacGregor was
forever abolished. All of this surname were commanded, under penalty
of death, to change it for another; and the same penalty was denounced
against those who should give food or shelter to any of the clan.
All who had been at the conflict at Glenfruin, and at the spoliation and
burning of the lands of the Laird of Luss, were prohibited, under penalty
of death, from carrying any weapon except a pointless knife to eat their
meat." (This was to remain in effect until 1775 when
the penalty was repealed) Thirty five of the clan Gregor were
executed after a trial between the 20th of May 1603 and the 2nd of March
1604. Amongst these was Allaster MacGregor,
who surrendered himself to the Earl of Argyll.
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