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The Great Historic Families of Scotland
The Campbells of Argyll

ARGYLLSHIRE is one of the most interesting, as it is one of the most picturesque counties of Scotland, its scenery combining the beautiful, the grand, and the sublime. The ‘great and wide sea’ which washes its shores; its magnificent lochs stretching far into the interior, fringed with woods or surrounded with steep rocks; its lofty and rugged mountains lifting their grey heads to the skies; its extensive moors, deep ravines, and waterfalls, and quiet pastoral straths, each watered by its own clear and softly flowing stream, make Argyllshire an object of great attraction to the visitor and of strong attachment to the native. It is also to be regarded as the cradle of the Scottish race, who made their first settlement in Scotland on its western shores; and one of its islands, which was designated ‘The light of the western world,’ ‘The gem of the ocean,’ was the place whence, in the words of Samuel Johnson, ‘savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge and the blessings of religion.’ The daring Vikings who, a thousand years ago, ruled with almost royal authority the western shores of Argyllshire, and whose shattered but picturesque strongholds attest, even in ruins, the power of their founders, have ages ago passed away, leaving no representatives, and their successors, the famous Lords of the Isles, who for centuries reigned in the Western Isles, as virtually independent princes, have followed, and even their memory has almost perished. The head of the great Clan Donald, who claimed descent from these powerful chieftains, retains only a remnant of their ancient possessions, and the other old clans of Argyllshire have shared their fate.

The first Lords of Lorne were the M’Dougalls, descended from Dugal, youngest son of the mighty Somerled; but, unfortunately for themselves and their country, they embraced the side of the English invaders in the Scottish War of Independence, and after a desperate struggle, in which they oftener than once put the life of Robert Bruce in imminent peril, they were stripped of their power and their extensive territory; and now the ruined stronghold of Dunolly, and an estate yielding only £1,300.00 a year, are all that remain to their present lineal representative. The M’Dougalls have, however, in later times, generation after generation, earned distinction in the service of their country. The heir of the family, nearly seventy years ago, fell fighting gallantly in Spain, under the Duke of Wellington—a death, as Sir Walter Scott remarks, worthy of his ancestors.

The Stewarts of Lorne, a family of royal lineage, succeeded the M’Dougalls in their power and vast possessions in Argyllshire, and they in their turn gave place to the Campbells, who have for several centuries been the predominant clan in this county. Beginning as simple lairds of Lochaw, the chiefs of the race of Diarmid have, by dint of remarkable ability, shrewdness, energy, and good fortune, not only absorbed, one after another, the smaller clans of Lorne and Kintyre—the M’Naughtons, who once were masters of those beautiful valleys through which the Aray and the Shiray flow to Loch Fyne, and the M’Alisters and the M’Fies—but have also ousted the once powerful clan Donald from the supremacy which they long held in the Western Islands. ‘It was said,’ Lord Macaulay remarks, ‘that MacCallum More after MacCallum More had with unwearied, unscrupulous, and unrelenting ambition annexed mountain after mountain, and island after island to the original domains of his house. Some tribes had been expelled from their territory, some compelled to pay tribute, some incorporated with their conquerors. It was still constantly repeated in verse and prose that the finest part of the domain belonging to the ancient heads of the Gaelic nation—Islay where they had lived with the pomp of royalty, lona where they had been interred with the pomp of religion, the Paps of Jura, the rich peninsula of Kintyre—had been transferred from the legitimate possessors to the insatiable MacCallum More.’ Throughout their long career the Campbells have always been staunch supporters of the cause which, whatever temporary reverses it might suffer, was sure to win in the end—the cause of the independence of Scotland against foreign aggression; the cause of Protestantism against Popery and of freedom against despotism. Hence, in spite of repeated forfeitures, and temporary ruin (to say nothing of a spendthrift MacCalian More, whose reckless expenditure clipped the wings of their extensive patrimony), their ancestral possessions have descended to their present owner comparatively unimpaired.

The origin of the Campbell family is hid in the mists of antiquity, and we shall not run the risk of provoking the ire either of Goth or Celt by pronouncing an opinion either on the notion of Pinkerton, who affirms that they are descended from a Norman knight, named De Campo Bello, alleged to have come to England with William the Conqueror, but of whose existence no trace can be found; or on the tales of the Sennachies, that the great ancestor of the clan was a certain Diarmid O’Dwbin, or O’Dwin, a brave warrior, who it is asserted was a contemporary of the heroes of Ossian. Suffice it to say that the earliest figure who emerges out of the Highland mist is GILLESPIC CAMPBEL, or Cambell, as the name is invariably written in the earliest charters, who married the heiress of Lochaw, and whose grandson, Sir Gillespie, witnessed the charter granted by Alexander III. to Newburgh, March 12th, 1266, more than six hundred years ago. His son, SIR COLIN, who is reckoned the seventh of the chiefs of the Campbells, was one of the nominees selected by Robert Bruce, in 1291, when his title to the crown was to be investigated. The story runs that this Sir Colin was so distinguished by his warlike achievements and the additions he made to the family estates that he obtained the surname of ‘More,’ or ‘Great,’ and that from him the chief of the clan is to this day styled in Gaelic MACCALIAN MORE, or the son of Colin the Great. Sir Colin’s second son founded the earliest branch of the family—the Campbells, earls of Loudoun. His eldest son, SIR NIGEL, or NEIL, was one of the first of the Scottish barons to join Robert Bruce, and adhered with unwavering fidelity to that monarch’s cause throughout the whole of his chequered career. After the disastrous battle of Methven, Bruce, with a small body of followers, took refuge in the Western Highlands, and Sir Nigel, through his influence with Angus, Lord of the Isles, secured a retreat for the hunted King in the remote district of Kintyre. Sir Nigel shared in all the subsequent struggles of the Scottish patriots for the recovery of their independence, and took part in the crowning victory of Bannockburn. He was rewarded for his fidelity and his important services with the hand of Lady Mary, Bruce’s own sister, and with a grant of the forfeited estates of David de Strathbogie, Earl of Athol. Sir Nigel was one of the commissioners sent to York, in 1314, to negotiate a peace with England—was one of the leading barons in the Parliament held at Ayr in 1315; when the succession to the crown was settled, and obtained from his royal brother-in-law a charter, under the Great Seal, of several estates. By his wife, Lady Mary Bruce, Sir Nigel had three sons, the second of whom, John, was created Earl of Athol, and succeeded to the extensive possessions of that earldom, in accordance with the grant made by his uncle. He fell, however, at the battle of Halidon Hill, July 19th, 1333; and, as he left no issue, his title reverted to the crown. Sir Nigel’s eldest son— 

SIR C0LIN, rendered important service to Edward Bruce in his Irish campaigns, and to David, son of King Robert, in assisting to expel the English invaders once more from the kingdom. It is of Sir Colin that the well-known story is told, that when marching through a wood in Ireland along with his uncle, King Robert, in February, 1317, an order was issued by that monarch that his men were on no account to quit their ranks. Sir Colin, irritated by the attacks of two English archers who discharged their arrows at him, rode after them to avenge the insult. King Robert followed, and nearly struck him from his horse with his truncheon, exclaiming, ‘Come back! Your disobedience might have brought us all into peril.’ In 1334 Sir Colin surprised and recovered the strong castle of Dunoon, which had been held by the English and the adherents of Edward. He was rewarded for this exploit by being appointed hereditary keeper of the castle which he had captured—an office that has descended by inheritance to the present Duke of Argyll.

For several successive generations, though nothing worthy of special notice occurred, the chiefs of the Campbell clan continued steadily to extend their territorial possessions and to augment their power. Kilmun—the last resting-place of the family—the barony of Milport, and extensive estates in Cowal, Knapdale, and Arran fell into their hands in the early part of the fourteenth century. The first of the family who received the title of Argyll was SIR DUNCAN, the great-grandson of Sir Colin and nephew of Annabella Drummond, the Queen of Robert III. He was accounted one of the wealthiest barons in Scotland, and in 1424 was one of the hostages for the payment of the expense of the maintenance of James I. during his long imprisonment in England. At this date Sir Duncan’s annual revenue was set down as 1,500 merks—a larger income than that of any of the other hostages, except Lord Douglas of Dalkeith, whose estates were valued at the same amount. He was made a Lord of Parliament in 1445, under the title of LORD CAMPBELL. He was the founder of the collegiate church of Kilmun, where he was buried in 1453. His first wife was Marjory or Mariotta Stewart, daughter of Robert, Duke of Albany, brother of King Robert IlI., and Regent of the kingdom during the imprisonment of his nephew, James I., in England. [One of the charters which Duncan, Lord Campbell, received from his father-in-law was witnessed, amongst others, by Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, the eldest son of the renowned Hotspur, who was at that time a refugee at the Scottish court.] This was the second intermarriage of the House of Argyll with the royal family of Scotland. Lord Campbell’s youngest son by this royal lady is the ancestor of the Campbells of Breadalbane.

COLIN, the grandson of Lord Campbell, was created EARL OF ARGYLL by James II., in 1457. By his marriage to the eldest of the three daughters and co-heiresses of John, Lord Lorne (all three married Campbells), the young Earl put an end to the feuds which for upwards of two hundred and fifty years had raged between the families of Lochaw and Lorne, and obtained the undisputed chieftainship of the county of Argyll. He acquired, in consequence of this connection, the lordship and title of Lorne from Walter Stewart, Lord Lorne and Invermeath, heir male of that lordship, in exchange for the estates of Kildoning, Baldoning, and other lands in the shires of Perth, Fife, Kinross, and Aberdeen. The galley—the ancient badge of the family of Lorne— was, in consequence of this acquisition, assumed into the Earl’s hereditary coat-of-arms. ‘The acquisition of Lorne,’ says Dr. Fraser, ‘was a favourable arrangement for the family of Argyll, as it lay adjacent to their other lands, while the Lowland possessions surrendered as an equivalent were scattered over various counties and far distant from their more important territories.’ The Earl acquired extensive estates besides in Perthshire and Fifeshire, and the lordship of Campbell, with its celebrated castle near Dollar, where John Knox visited Archibald, fourth Earl of Argyll, and preached to him and his relatives. It continued to be a frequent residence of the family until 1644, when it was burned by the Macleans in the army of the Marquis of Montrose. At a later period he obtained a large share of the forfeited possessions of the Lord of the Isles. The most important offices at Court and in the kingdom were conferred upon him. He was frequently sent as ambassador to the English Court, and also to France. He was Master of the Royal Household, Grand Justiciary of Scotland, and eventually became Lord High Chancellor—an office which he held for a long period. This dignity, along with the lands of ‘Mekell and Lettel Pincartoun,’ in the barony of Dunbar, was probably bestowed upon the Earl in 1483, as a reward for his loyal adherence to James III. at the time of the conspiracy of Archibald Bell-the-Cat and other nobles, which led to the murder of the royal favourites at Lauder, in 1482. Argyll was in England at the time of the defeat and death of that unfortunate monarch at Sauchieburn, in 1488. On his return to Scotland he was at once reappointed Chancellor by James IV., who also conferred upon him the lands of Roseneath, Dumbartonshire (January 9th, 1489) which are still in the possession of the family. The mansion is one of the principal seats of the Duke of Argyll. This powerful and prosperous nobleman died in 1493. The Lords of the Isles, the mightiest of all the ancient Highland chieftains, had long possessed unquestioned supremacy in the Hebrides and throughout the mountain country of Argyllshire and Inverness-shire. But from this period their power began to wane before the rising influence of the Campbells. As late as the fifteenth century these haughty and turbulent island chieftains even disputed the authority of the kings of Scotland; but their successive rebellions were punished by successive forfeitures both of their ancient dignities and their possessions, and now that the house of Argyll had become sufficiently powerful to enforce the decrees of the King and Parliament, and had a strong interest in carrying these decrees into effect, the extensive territories which for many generations had belonged to the Lordship of the Isles were finally wrested from their ancient possessors and conferred upon the loyal clans, and especially upon the Campbells, who could now meet in the field the combined forces of all the other Western septs.

ARCHIBALD, the second Earl of Argyll, steadily pursued what may now be termed the family policy. In his father’s lifetime he obtained a grant of the lands of Auchintorlie and Dunnerbok in Dumbartonshire, and of Duchall, in the county of Renfrew, forfeited by Robert, Lord Lyle. He succeeded to the great offices held by his father of Lord Chancellor of Scotland, Lord Chamberlain, and Master of the Household. He was also appointed Lord Lieutenant of the Borders, and Warden of the Marches, and largely increased the possessions of his clan at the expense of the island chiefs. Sir John Campbell, his third son, married Muriel, daughter and heiress of Sir John Calder of Calder, or Cawdor, near Nairn, and became the founder of the branch of the clan now represented by the Earl of Cawdor.

The second Earl of Argyll commanded, with his brother-in-law, the Earl of Lennox, the right wing of the Scottish army at the sanguinary battle of Flodden, September 9th, 1513, and both Earls were left dead on the field.

COLIN, third Earl, added to the family territories the lordship of Balquhidder, in Perthshire, the barony of Abernethy, forfeited by the Douglases, and other valuable estates. He obtained the important office of Justice-General of Scotland, which, with the office of Master of the Household, was now made hereditary in his family. He was also appointed Lord-Lieutenant of the Borders and Warden of the Marches. He was a member of the Council of Regency during the minority of James V., and was nominated Lieutenant-General over the Isles, with the most ample powers, which he did not allow to remain unused in his suppression of the formidable rebellion of Macdonald of Lochalsh, the heir of the ancient Lords of the Isles. It was Lady Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of this Earl, whose romantic and perilous adventure is the subject of Thomas Campbell’s well-known ballad of ‘Glenara,’ and of Miss Baillie’s drama, ‘The Family Legend.’ This lady had been married to Maclean of Duart, a powerful and ferocious chieftain, who, conceiving a dislike to his wife, conveyed her to a small rock, still called ‘The Lady’s Rock,’ near Lismore, which at high-water was covered by the sea. She was on the eve of being overwhelmed by the tide when she was fortunately observed and rescued by some of her father’s retainers who were passing in a boat. Maclean was allowed to go through all the ceremonial of a mock funeral, but was, shortly afterwards, killed in his bed by his brother-in-law, Sir John Campbell of Calder.

John, second son of Earl Cohn, was ancestor of the Campbells of Lochnellflio have, both in ancient and modern times, stood next in succession to the earldom.

ARCHIBALD, the fourth Earl of Argyll, was on his succession to the title, in 1530, appointed to all the offices held by his father and grandfather, and in 1542 obtained a charter of the King’s lands of Cardross, in Dumbartonshire, which had belonged to King Robert Bruce, who died there. Three years later he received a portion of the lands of Arrochar, part of the confiscated estates of the Earl of Lennox, an adherent of the English faction in Scotland. At the death of James V., Argyll attached himself to the party of Cardinal Beaton, Archbishop of St. Andrews, who granted to him a charter of the lands of Balrudry, Pitgogar, and Blairhill, in the barony of Muckhart and shire of Perth. The charter, which is dated at St. Andrews, on the 17th August, 1543, is signed by the Cardinal, and bears to have been granted in consideration of the ‘great benefits, assistance, counsel, and services’ rendered by the Earl to the Cardinal and the Church, and ‘especially for the protection and defence of ecclesiastical liberty, at that dangerous time when Lutheran heresies were springing up on every side, and striving to weaken and subvert ecclesiastical freedom; and for the like services to be rendered to the Church in time coming.’ The Earl was one of the peers who entered into an association to oppose the marriage of the infant Queen Mary to Prince Edward of England, ‘as tending to the high dishonour, perpetual skaith, damage, and ruin of the liberty and nobleness of the realm.’ His own country suffered severely in the contest which ensued, and was wasted and plundered by the English and their adherents. In the year 1546 he received from Queen Mary a charter of the barony of Boquhan, in the county of Stirling. [A contemporary indorsation on the charter, and also on the relative precept of sasine, marks both as granted to Archibald Roy—that is, the Red; a characteristic also of the celebrated John Duke of Argyll and Greenwich, and which, as Dr. Fraser remarks, appears prominently in the present generation of the descendants of Archibald Roy. ] The Earl commanded a large body of Highlanders and Islanders at the sanguinary battle of Pinkie (10th September, 1547); and, on the invasion of Scotland in the following year, he marched with a strong force to Dundee, to repel the enemy. But at this juncture, for reasons which have not been fully explained, he changed sides, became a zealous opponent of Mary of Guise and the French party, and soon after quitted the Church of Rome, and openly embraced the Protestant faith. He was indeed one of the first men of his rank in Scotland who took this step. John Douglas, a converted Carmelite friar, afterwards the first Protestant Archbishop of St. Andrews, became his domestic chaplain, and carefully educated his family in the principles of the Reformed religion. The Earl also signed the famous Covenant against ‘Popish abominations’ in 1557, and, on his deathbed, earnestly exhorted his son to support the Protestant doctrine, and to suppress Popish superstitions. From this time forward the house of Argyll was conspicuous among the leaders of the Reformation, and both by their great influence and exertions, and by their sufferings on behalf of the good cause, have contributed more than any other family to the ultimate triumph of the Protestant religion in Scotland.

ARCHIBALD, fifth Earl of Argyll, though a zealous Protestant, supported at first the Government of the Queen-Regent; but on her perfidious violation of the Treaty of Perth, which he helped to negotiate, he joined the Lords of the Congregation, became the faithful friend and champion of John Knox, and, along with Lord James Stewart—the one, as Douglas remarks, the most powerful, the other the most popular, leader of the Protestant party—aided in the expulsion of the French troops from the country, and in all the measures which led to the overthrow of the Romish system and the establishment of the Reformed faith in Scotland. The Earl’s name appears third on the list of the nobility who subscribed the First Book of Discipline, and he was appointed by the Lords of the Congregation, along with the Earls of Glencairn and Arran, to destroy the ‘remaining monuments of idolatry in the West.’ On the return of Queen Mary from France in 1561, Argyll was immediately appointed a Privy Councillor, and appears to have stood high in the royal favour. In 1565, however, the English ambassador reports that ‘The Queen hateth my Lord of Argyll.’ He was strongly opposed to her marriage with Darnley, and united with the Earls of Moray and Glencairn and the Duke of Chatelherault, in an attempt to prevent this ill-fated match by force of arms. When the other Protestant lords were compelled to take refuge in England, Argyll retired to his own country. It was ‘a far cry to Lochaw,’ and he well knew that his enemies durst not attempt to follow him into the fastnesses of Argyllshire.

The Earl married one of the illegitimate daughters of James V., with whom he does not seem to have lived on very happy terms. John Knox, at the request of the Queen, made repeated attempts to reconcile the jarring couple, but with indifferent success, and their quarrels and separation caused great scandal to the Protestant party, and even drew upon them the censure of the General Assembly. The Countess of Argyll was with the Queen at supper in her closet when Rizzio was murdered (9th March, 1566), an event which led at once to the pardon of the banished lords and their restoration to their estates. Argyll took a prominent and by no means creditable part in the events which rapidly followed. He was deeply implicated in the plot for the murder of Darnley; he signed the bond in favour of the Queen’s marriage with Bothwell; he was one of the noblemen who immediately thereafter entered into an association for the defence of the infant prince against the machinations of Mary’s husband; he took part in the deposition of the Queen, carried the sword of state at the coronation of her son (29th July, 1567), and concurred in the appointment of the Earl of Moray to the office of Regent. In the following year he changed sides, and joined the Queen at Hamilton on her escape from Lochleven, which he was instrumental in procuring. She appointed him Lieutenant-General of all her forces by a commission granted on the morning of the fatal battle of Langside (13th May, 1568), where he was taken prisoner. He was purposely allowed to escape, however, and retired to his own country. A few months later he was again in arms, in conjunction with the Hamiltons and Huntly, to effect the restoration of Mary, but ultimately disbanded his forces and made terms with the Regent. On the assassination of Moray, Argyll was one of the noblemen who assembled at Linlithgow, 10th April, 1570, and, along with Chatelherault and Huntly, was appointed the Queen’s lieutenant in Scotland. In the following year, however, he submitted to the authority of Lennox, the new Regent, and was in Stirling attending the meeting of Parliament (September, 1571) when the town was surprised and Lennox killed by a body of the partisans of the Queen. Argyll offered himself as a candidate for the office of Regent, but the choice fell on the Earl of Mar, and Argyll was sworn a Privy Councillor. On the elevation of Morton to the Regency in November, 1572, Argyll was appointed Lord High Chancellor, and on the 17th of January, 1573, he obtained a charter of that office for life. He died of the stone, September 12, 1575, in the forty-third year of his age; and as he left no issue, was succeeded in his titles and estates by his half-brother, Sir Colin Campbell of Boquhan. As the Earl was the reverse of a weak or vacillating character, the frequency with which he changed sides during these civil broils must be ascribed to motives of self-interest and ambition, though, unlike most of his brother nobles at that period, he seems to have cherished a sincere desire to promote the welfare of his country rather than the interest of either the French or the English faction. 

COLIN, sixth Earl of Argyll, soon after his accession to the earldom had a quarrel with Morton, arising out of his claim of jurisdiction as hereditary Justice-General of Scotland, and his alienation from the Regent was confirmed by his demanding the restitution of the valuable crown jewels which the Earl had obtained either from his sister-in-law, or more probably through his second wife, who was the widow of the Regent Moray. Athole and Argyll, who had quarrelled about their jurisdiction, and were on the eve of settling the matter by trial of battle, learning that the Regent intended to prosecute them for treason, united in a confederacy against him, and resolved to effect his overthrow. On the 4th of March, 1578, Argyll proceeded to Stirling, and complained loudly to the King of the oppressive and tyrannical proceedings of the Regent, and recommended James to take the government into his own hands, which was accordingly done, and Argyll was placed at the head of the Council of Twelve, appointed to assist the King, who was only twelve years of age, in the management of public affairs. The crafty ex-Regent, however, overreached his opponents, and in the course of a few weeks contrived to obtain possession of the King’s person, and to regain his former supremacy. Argyll and Athole mustered their clansmen, and at the head of 7,000 men marched towards Stirling to rescue the King, but by the mediation of Bowes, the English ambassador, a compromise was effected between the hostile factions. Argyll and Lindsay agreed to enter the new council, of which Morton was the head, and on the 10th of August following, the former, on the death of Athole, was appointed Lord High Chancellor of the kingdom. But though the Earl was apparently reconciled to Morton, he co-operated with Esme Stewart, afterwards Duke of Lennox, the royal favourite, and James Stewart, who was subsequently created Earl of Arran, in undermining the influence of the ex-Regent, and was one of the jury at his trial, in June, 1581. Afterwards, however, having discovered the ulterior designs of the French faction against the Protestant faith and the independence of the kingdom, he confessed to the Ministers that he had been mistaken or misled, and joined in the bond against Lennox which led to the Raid of Ruthven and the restoration of the Protestant party to power. But, strange to say, he was soon afterwards found in the ranks of the nobles who assisted James to escape from the hands of Gowrie, Mar, and Angus, the leaders of the English faction (June, 1583). His career was now, however, near an end. He died after a long illness, in October of the following year.

Earl Colin was succeeded by his eldest son, ARCHIBALD, seventh Earl, who was then little more than eight years of age. In 1592, when he was in his seventeenth year, the young Earl married Lady Anne Douglas, fifth daughter of the Earl of Morton. Shortly after he became the object of a nefarious plot, which was directed also against his cousin, the ‘bonnie Earl of Moray.’ The principal conspirators were the Chancellor Maitland, the Earl of Huntly, the hereditary enemy of the Moray family, Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglass, John, Lord Maxwell, and Campbell of Lochnell, a kinsman of Argyll, and one of his guardians, and next heir to the earldom after the Earl and his brother. These ‘titled and official ruffians,’ as Tytler justly terms them, drew up with the strictest legal precision a formal bond by which they solemnly bound themselves to assist each other in the murder of the Earl of Moray, the Earl of Argyll, Colin his brother, and Sir John Campbell of Calder, another of their guardians. It was agreed that the Campbell of Lochnell should obtain the earldom of Argyll, but that a considerable portion of its princely estates should be made over to the Chancellor Maitland. In pursuance of this villainous scheme, ‘the bonnie Earl of Moray’ was murdered at Donnibrissel by Huntly, and Sir John Campbell was shot at night through the window of his own house, in Lorne, by an assassin named M’Kellar, who had been employed by Ardkinglas to do this foul deed. Argyll was to have been the next victim. An attempt to take him off by poison having failed, a favourable opportunity to perpetrate the long-meditated crime seemed to present itself in 1594, when Argyll received the royal commission as King’s Lieutenant to suppress the rebellion of the Popish Earls of Huntly and Erroll. Marching into Strathbogie at the head of a numerous but undisciplined and ill-armed force, without either cavalry or artillery, the Earl encountered the rebel army at Glenlivat (October 3rd, 1594). After a fierce and sanguinary conflict, in which the traitor, Campbell of Lochnell, was killed by the first discharge of Huntly’s artillery, the Highlanders fled, leaving their young chief almost alone, and he was at length forced off the field by his friends, weeping with indignation and grief at the disgraceful desertion of his retainers.

Shortly after, however, the discovery was made that the cause of his defeat was not the cowardice but the treachery of some of his captains, who were in correspondence with the enemy. Ardkinglas, seized with remorse, confessed the plot, and Argyll having obtained possession of the original ‘bond,’ discovered the full extent and objects of the conspiracy. Fired with indignation he assembled his vassals and proclaimed a war of extermination against Huntly and the traitor Campbell. The most frightful excesses were committed on both sides, and the northern districts were laid waste with fire and sword. At length the King, roused to activity by the scenes of bloodshed and misery which ensued, took vigorous proceedings against both parties. Argyll and Campbell of Glenorchy were imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, and the Popish Earls Huntly and Erroll were expelled the country and took refuge in Denmark. Eight years later, however, King James, just before his accession to the throne of England, effected a reconciliation between the two hereditary enemies, and the eldest son of Huntly was betrothed to the eldest daughter of Argyll. Their friendship was still more closely cemented in 1608 at the expense of the Macgregors, against whom the two Earls were authorised to undertake a joint expedition, which ended in the almost total extermination of that unhappy ‘broken clan.’ The chief of the Macgregors surrendered to Argyll on condition that he should be sent out of Scotland. ‘But,’ says Birrel, ‘the Earl keipit ane Hielandman’s promise in respect he sent the gaird to convey him out of Scottis ground, but they were not directit to pairt with him, but to fetch him back agane.’ The ill-starred chief was conveyed across the Tweed at Berwick, but was immediately brought back to Edinburgh, where he was executed, 18th January, 1609.

In 1615 the Macdonalds raised the standard of rebellion in Islay, where, as Lord Macaulay says, ‘they had once lived with the pomp of royalty,’ but which was now the property of their unrelenting enemies, the Campbells. The Council with considerable reluctance intrusted to Argyll the task of suppressing this insurrection, and the Earl, with the help of some soldiers hired at the public expense, speedily brought the war to a conclusion. He was rewarded by the King for his services with a grant of the district of Kintyre in 1617, and the deed was ratified by a special Act of Parliament the same year. On the death of his first wife the Earl, in 1610, married a daughter of Sir William Cornwallis of Broome, ancestor of the Marquis Cornwallis, and this lady, who was a Roman Catholic, induced the once-zealous leader of the Protestant party to join the Romish Church. His defection was kept secret, however, till the year 1618, when he obtained permission from the King to go abroad on pretence of visiting Spa for the benefit of his health. But instead of visiting Spa he proceeded to Spain, where he made an open profession of the Romish faith, and entered the Spanish service. He gained considerable distinction in the war which Philip waged against the States of Holland, but his conduct gave just and deep offence to his own sovereign, who caused him to be proclaimed a rebel and a traitor, and compelled him to make over the management of his estates and the government of his clan to his eldest son. Though released from this ban in 1621, he did not venture to return to Britain till 1638. His death took place in London in that same year. His son by his first wife succeeded him in the earldom and family estates. A son, named James, whom his second wife bore to him, was created Earl of Irvine.

ARCHIBALD, the celebrated Gillespic Grumach, eighth Earl and first Marquis of Argyll, raised the house of Campbell to a greater height of political power than it had ever before attained. This eminent patriot and statesman was born in 1598, and was early introduced into public life. While yet Lord Lorne he apprehended Patrick Macgregor, popularly called Gilderoy, or Gillie Roy, who, about the year 1632, at the head of a band of caterans, plundered various districts of the Highlands. This noted freebooter and nine of his gang, who were arrested at the same time, were tried and executed in Edinburgh in July, 1636. The capture and fate of this bold outlaw has been made the subject of a well-known ballad and of several works of fiction. At the time of the Earl’s accession to the family title and estates, all Scotland was convulsed by the arbitrary and impolitic innovations of Charles I. and Laud on the worship of the Scottish Church, and Argyll, whose advice was solicited by the King, earnestly recommended that they should be withdrawn. Finding that his counsel was not followed, and that Charles was obstinately bent on carrying out his unconstitutional policy, the Earl signed the National Covenant and attended the famous Assembly which met at Glasgow, November, 1638, and abolished the Episcopal form of government in Scotland. When the Marquis of Hamilton, as High Commissioner, ordered the Assembly to dissolve under pain of treason and withdrew on the refusal of the members to disperse, Argyll alone of all the Privy Councillors refused to follow his example, and at the close declared publicly his approbation of all their decisive measures for the restoration of the Presbyterian form of worship. In the following year, when Charles prepared to crush the Covenanters by force of arms, Argyll raised nine hundred of his clansmen and marched into the west to secure that part of the kingdom against the threatened invasion of the Earl of Antrim and the Irish Romanists. In 1640 he received a commission from the Committee of Parliament, signed by the Earl, afterwards Marquis, of Montrose and other leading Covenanters, authorising him to proceed against the Earl of Athole, Lord Ogilvie, and the Farquharsons in Braemar, to pursue them with fire and sword until he brought them to their duty or utterly routed them out of the country. Armed with this ruthless commission, Argyll proceeded to the north at the head of five thousand men, and compelled the inhabitants of Badenoch, Athole, and Mar to submit to the authority of the Parliament. Then, marching eastward into Angus, he captured Airlie and Forthar, the castles of the Earl of Airlie, who had left Scotland to avoid subscribing the Covenant. Airlie Castle, which was defended by Lord Ogilvie, the eldest son of the Earl, and was strongly garrisoned and furnished with large stores of ammunition, had previously defied the efforts of the Earls of Montrose and Kinghorn to reduce it. But on the approach of Argyll it was abandoned by the garrison, and was laid in ruins by the Covenanters. This is the incident which has been commemorated in the well-known ballad of ‘The bonnie house of Airlie.’ (See THE OGILVIES OF AIRLIE.)

When Charles visited Scotland in 1641, the Earl of Montrose, who had originally espoused the popular cause but had now gone over to the side of the Court, represented to the King that the removal of the Marquis of Hamilton and the Earl of Argyll was necessary as a preliminary to the accomplishment of his plans for the union of the Scottish and Irish forces against the English Parliament. It was accordingly arranged that they were to be seized and carried on board a vessel in Leith Roads; but having received timely notice of the plot against them, they made their escape to Kinneil, a country seat of Hamilton’s, where they were safe. Charles, thus baffled in his nefarious scheme, was glad to recall the two noblemen to Court, and, finding it impossible to crush these powerful and popular magnates, he tried to gain them and their party to his side, and raised Argyll to the rank of a Marquis. When the King took up arms against the English Parliament, Argyll, who was now the recognised leader of the Covenanters, induced the Scottish Council to make repeated offers of mediation; but these proposals having been rejected by the King, the Scots at length resolved to send an army to the assistance of the Parliament. From this time onward the Marquis took a prominent part in the Civil War; his influence was paramount in Scotland, where he was popularly known as ‘King Campbell.’ He became the object of the bitter hatred of the Royalists. He was defeated by Montrose at Inverlochy; his estates were laid waste with fire and sword, and ‘not a four-footed beast in the haill country’ was left. So ruinous were the devastating inroads of Montrose and the Irish kernes that the Parliament was obliged to grant a sum of money for the support of the Marquis and his family, and a collection was ordered to be made throughout all the, churches for the relief of his plundered clansmen. Up to this time Argyll had steadily co-operated with the English Parliament, but on the surrender of the King and the ascendancy of the Republican party, he separated from them and consulted with the Royalist nobles, Richmond and Hertford (with the royal authority), respecting the advisability of the Scottish Parliament and army coming to the rescue of the King. The plan had to be abandoned as impracticable, and Argyll, with his usual sagacity, disapproved of the ‘Engagement’ entered into by the Duke of Hamilton and other Presbyterian Royalists, in the latter part of 1647, for the restoration of the royal cause, which brought defeat and death to them and ruin on the King. After the overthrow of the ‘Engagers’ at Preston, Argyll and his friends seized the reins of Government. He protested, however, against the execution of the King—a deed which completely alienated the whole Scottish nation from the English Republicans, and Prince Charles, the eldest son of the deceased monarch, was immediately proclaimed King of Scotland in his father’s stead. A series of letters, written by Charles from the Hague, Jersey, and Breda, and, after he came to Scotland, from Falkland and Perth, showed how much he relied upon Argyll for his restoration to the throne of his ancestors, and how earnestly he implored the great Marquis to use his influence in his behalf. The profuse promises which Charles made of remembering and rewarding the services of the powerful Presbyterian leader culminated in the following remarkable letter written at Perth:-

‘24th Sept., 1650.

‘Having taken into consideration the faithful endeavours of the Marquis of Argyll for restoring me to my just rights and the happie setting of my dominions, I am desyrous to let the world see how sensible I am of his reall respect to me by some particular marks of my favour to him, by whiche they may see the trust and confidence I repose in him; and particularly I doe promis that I will mak him Duk of Argyll, and Knight of the Garter, and one of the Gentlemen of my bedchamber; and this to be performed when he shall think fitt.

‘Whensoever it shall please God to restore me to my just rights in England I shall see him payed the £40,000 pownds sterling which is due to him. All which I doe promis to mak good upon the word of a King.


He even, it is said, made a proposal to marry Argyll’s daughter, which the wary chief prudently declined.

At his coronation, on the 1st of January, 1651, Argyll placed the crown on the head of the young monarch, who seems to have thoroughly deluded the staunch Presbyterians into a belief that he had sincerely embraced the Covenant. The defeat of the Scottish army at Worcester and Dunbar laid the country prostrate at the feet of Cromwell. Still, amid almost universal despair, Argyll strove to raise the depressed spirits of his fellow-countrymen, and mustered his clan with the view of resisting the victorious forces of the Commonwealth. He held out against them for a year amid the fastnesses of his own district, but a reluctant submission was at last extorted from him by General Dean, who suddenly invaded Inverary by sea, and surprised the Marquis while confined to his castle by sickness.

At the Restoration in 1660, Argyll repaired to London for the purpose of congratulating the King, lured thither by the cordial reception Charles had given his son; but, on his arrival at Whitehall, he was immediately arrested and committed to the Tower. After lying there for five months he was sent down to Scotland, and tried on fourteen different charges, extending over all the transactions which had taken place in Scotland since 1638. He pleaded that during the late unhappy commotions he had always acted by authority of Parliament, and not on his individual responsibility; that all the public proceedings of the Covenanters were covered by the Act of Oblivion passed by Charles I., and by the indemnity granted by his present Majesty at Stirling; and that as for his compliance with the late usurpation, the entire kingdom shared in it equally with himself; that it was necessary for his own preservation; that he did not submit himself till the whole nation had acquiesced in the rule of the Commonwealth; that his submission to the Government then existing did not imply a recognition of its original title, much less a treasonable opposition to the rightful heir while excluded from the throne. ‘And how could I suppose,’ he added, ‘that I was acting criminally when a man so learned as his Majesty’s Advocate took the same oath to the Commonwealth with myself?’ Sir John Fletcher, the Lord Advocate, was so enraged at this reference to himself that he called Argyll an impudent villain. The Marquis meekly replied that he had learned in his afflictions to suffer reproach. The unanswerable defence of the accused nobleman compelled the Parliament, though filled with enemies thirsting for his blood, to exculpate him from all the charges in his indictment except that of compliance with Cromwell’s usurpation. Even on this point the evidence was so defective that his acquittal seemed certain; but, after the case was closed, a number of confidential letters which Argyll had written to Monk were laid before the Court by a messenger whom the latter had basely and treacherously sent down from London with all haste on learning the scantiness of the proof against his former friend. [This fact, mentioned by Burnet, has been denied by Sir George Rose in his remarks on Fox’s History; but, to say nothing of the reference to the letters by Sir George Mackenzie, in his Laws and Customs of Scotland, the originals have recently been discovered among the papers of the Duke of Argyll, with an indorsation by the Clerk of the Court, proving that they were produced by the Lord Advocate at the trial of the Marquis.—See Appendix to Sixth Report of Historical Manuscripts' Commission.]  Argyll begged for a respite for ten days, in order that his sentence might be communicated to the King; but when this was refused, he understood that his fate had been determined by the Court, and quietly remarked, ‘I placed the crown upon the King’s head, and this is my reward; but he hastens me to a better crown than his own.’ On evidence thus shamefully obtained and illegally brought forward, the old nobleman was found guilty (25th May, 1661), and condemned to be beheaded. The sentence was executed at the Cross of Edinburgh on the 27th of May.

The Marquis displayed great calmness and dignity during the closing scene. ‘He came to the scaffold,’ says Burnet, ‘in a very solemn and undaunted manner, accompanied by many of the nobility and some ministers. He spoke for half an hour with great appearance of serenity. Cunningham, his physician, told me that he touched his pulse, and it did then beat at the usual rate—calm and strong.’ ‘I could die like a Roman,’ was his remark to a friend, ‘but I choose rather to die like a Christian.’

There can be no doubt that the great Marquis was a man of sincere and deep religious feeling. He was a true patriot, who made the love of his country and the desire for her good paramount to all personal considerations; and a statesman of great sagacity, and experience, and consummate address. He was almost adored by his own clan, and his memory is still held in high veneration by the Scottish Presbyterians; but his vast influence, and the height to which he carried the policy of his house, made him equally dreaded and hated by the neighbouring chiefs of his day. The Campbells were not satisfied—like their predecessors the old Lords of Argyll, the Isles, and Lorne—with a sway quite absolute and almost independent over the inhabitants of these remote and inaccessible mountains and isles of the western Highlands. From the days of Robert Bruce downward they attached themselves to the Scottish Court, allied themselves by marriage to the great Lowland families, and held the highest offices of State. They were the Chancellors, the hereditary Masters of the Household, and Great Justiciars of Scotland. The personal character of the successive heads of this aspiring family—combining unwearied and indomitable energy with a peculiar dexterity and plausibility of address—had step by step raised them to such a height of power, that the number of fighting men who bore the name of Campbell was sufficient to meet in the field the combined forces of all the other western clans. The Marquis of Argyll, as Lord Macaulay remarks, ‘was the head of a party as well as the head of a tribe. Possessed of two different kinds of authority, he used each of them in such a way as to extend and fortify the other. The knowledge that he could bring into the field the claymores of five thousand half-heathen mountaineers added to his influence among the austere Presbyterians who filled the Privy Council and the General Assembly. His influence at Edinburgh added to the terror which he inspired among the mountains. Of all the Highland princes whose history is well known to us, he was the greatest and the most dreaded.’

On the death of the great Marquis, ARCHIBALD, his eldest son, became the head of the house of Campbell. In accordance with the Celtic custom of ‘fostering,’ Earl Archibald’s early years were spent under the roof of his kinsman, the accomplished Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. The foster-mother of the youthful heir to the chieftainship of the clan was Juliana Campbell, daughter of Hew, Lord Loudoun, and wife of Sir Colin. An interesting correspondence between the Marquis and the foster-father of his son has been preserved, and throws light on the nature and obligations of the relation of fosterage. The correspondence begins in 1633, with a letter from Sir Colin to Lord Lorne, expressing his great gratification that the chief had given him the preference over ‘sundrie of his Lordship’s friends who were most desyrous to have his Lordship’s eldest son in fostering, quich,’ he says, ‘I acknowledge as a great testimonie both of your Lordship’s trust and love; and I hop in God evir so to approve myself to be most willing and desyrous to deserve both.’ Careful arrangements were made for the conveyance of the boy to his new home. ‘In regard,’ says Sir Colin, ‘that I am not weel able to travel! myself so far a journey, I intend to send my wyfe and some other of my friends to be his convoy.’ And he requests his Lordship to ‘provyde some discrit woman and ane sufficient man quha has both Irisch [Gaelic] and Englisch, and will have a care not onhie to attend him, but sometimes lykewayes to learne him, and quhat else may concern him, quhill he is in my company.’ Great importance seems to have been attached to the acquisition of the Gaelic language, for in December, 1637, Lady Lorrie writes to Glenorchy: ‘I hear my sone begines to wearye of the Irish hangwadge. I entreat yew to cause holde hime to the speaking of itt, for since he has bestowed so long tyme and paines on the getting of it, I sould be sorry he lost it now with leasiness in not speaking of it.’ A letter from the youth himself shows the strength of his affection for his ‘loving foster-father and respected freind.’

The young chief received an excellent education under the eye of his father, and travelled in France and Italy from 1647 to 1649. On his return to Scotland he took the opposite side from his family in the Civil War, and, attaching himself to the royal cause, fought for Charles II. at the battle of Dun bar, in September, 1650. Even after the crowning defeat of the Scottish army at Worcester, Lord Lorne still continued in arms, and in his zeal for the interest of the King fought side by side with the hereditary enemies of his house. After the cause had become desperate he submitted to Monk, who treated him with great severity, and even committed him to prison in 1657, where he lay till the Restoration. In return for his services and sufferings, the King remitted his father’s forfeiture, and restored to him his hereditary estates and his grandfather’s title of Earl of Argyll. The greedy and unprincipled Middleton, the Royal Commissioner, who had hunted the Marquis to death, was bitterly disappointed at this procedure, and in 1662 procured the condemnation of the young Earl to death, because, in a private letter which the Commissioner intercepted, Argyll had commented freely on the intrigues of his potent enemy. The King, however, interposed, and saved the Earl’s life; but he was subjected to a long and severe imprisonment, and was not released until June, 1663, when Middleton had been removed from office. During nearly twenty years Argyll continued to give a steady support to the Government, and even to some extent assisted in suppressing the insurrections of the Covenanters, a step which afterwards caused him deep sorrow and penitence.

In 1681 the slavish Parliament of Scotland, to gratify the Duke of York, the King’s brother and successor, enacted the notorious Test of Passive Obedience, binding the subscriber never to attempt to bring about any alteration in Government, in Church, or in State without the King’s authority. This Test was such a mass of inconsistencies and self-contradiction, that it was impossible for any man to take it bond fide, and even eighty of the Episcopal ministers refused to subscribe to it, and were in consequence ejected from their livings. Argyll intimated his intention to resign his office rather than take this Test, but, at the instance of James himself, he at length complied; adding, however, the explanation, of which the Duke professed to approve, that he took it so far as it was consistent with itself and with the Protestant religion. James, however, saw clearly that he could not rely on the support of Argyll in his plot for the overthrow of the religion and liberties of the kingdom, and therefore resolved to avail himself of this opportunity to destroy him. The Earl was accordingly committed a prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh, and was tried, on the 18th of December, 1681, by a packed jury, of which the Marquis of Montrose, the hereditary enemy of the Campbells, was foreman, on a charge of treason and leasingmaking, or creating a dissension between the King and his subjects. He was found guilty, and condemned to death. On the evening of the 20th, however, he made his escape from the castle in the disguise of a page holding up the train of his step-daughter, Lady Sophia Lindsay, and, in spite of a keen pursuit, made his way to London, and thence passed over into Friesland, where his father had bought a small estate as a place of refuge for his family in case of their expulsion from their hereditary possessions. Sentence of attainder was immediately pronounced against him, his estates were confiscated, his titles forfeited, and a large reward was offered for his head. This shameless prostitution of justice excited deep indignation among men of all parties both in England and Scotland. ‘I know nothing of the Scottish law,’ said Lord Halifax, ‘but this I know, that we should not hang a dog even, on the grounds on which my Lord Argyll has been sentenced.’

Argyll remained in Holland living in obscurity till the death of Charles II. in 1685, when, at a meeting of Scottish and English exiles, it was resolved that two expeditions should be undertaken— one, under Monmouth, to England, the other, under Argyll, to Scotland—for the purpose of vindicating the rights and liberties of the nation. The history of the ill-managed and disastrous Scottish expedition, the causes of its failure, and the difficulties which Argyll encountered from the wrong-headedness and obstinacy of his associates in command, the dispersion of the insurgents and the capture of their unfortunate leader, have all been narrated in most picturesque style by Macaulay, and must be familiar to all who take an interest in the history of Scotland. Argyll was conveyed from Inchinnan, where he was captured, to Edinburgh, every kind of indignity being heaped upon him during his journey, and he was put in irons in his old place of imprisonment. It was resolved not to bring him to a new trial, but to put him to death under the old sentence of 1681. In these trying circumstances the Earl still displayed the same calm courage and equanimity which had distinguished the close of his father’s career. He professed deep penitence for his former compliance with the sinful measures of the Government, and expressed his firm conviction that the good cause would ultimately triumph. ‘I do not,’ he said, ‘take on myself to be a prophet, but I have a strong impression on my spirit that deliverance will come very suddenly.’ The sight of his peaceful sleep a few hours before his execution overwhelmed one of his bitterest enemies with remorse and shame, and has often been portrayed both by the pencil and the pen. On the day of his execution he wrote a brief farewell to his second son: 

‘DEARE JOHNE,—We parted sudenly, but I hope shall meete hapily in heauen. I pray God blese you, and if you seeke Him He will be found of you. My wiffe will say all to you. Pray love and respect her. I am your loving father,


A similar letter was written by him on the same day to his son James. When the Earl was brought down to the Council-house, where he was to remain till the hour of his execution, he wrote the following farewell letter to his wife :— 

‘DEAR HEART,—God is unchangeable; He hath always been good and gracious to me, and no place alters it. Forgive me all my faults; and now comfort thyself in Him, in whom only true comfort is to be found. The Lord be with thee, bless and comfort thee, my dearest! Adieu.’

To his step-daughter and daughter-in-law, who had formerly saved his life by aiding his escape from prison, he wrote :— 

‘My DEAR LADY SOPHIE,—What can I say in this great day of the Lord where, in the midst of a cloud, I find a fair sunshine? I can wish no more for you but that the Lord may comfort you, and shine upon you as He doth upon me, and give you the same sense of His love in staying in the world as I have in going out of it. Adieu.’

His farewell speech breathed the spirit of piety, resignation, and forgiveness. He was beheaded on the 30th of June, 1685, and his head was fixed on the Tolbooth of Edinburgh.

His eldest son and successor, ARCHIBALD, tenth Earl, and first Duke of Argyll, took refuge in Holland, and accompanied the Prince of Orange to England in 1688. The Revolution, which expelled the Stewarts from the throne, at once reinstated the chief of the Campbells in all his ancestral rights and privileges. The Convention treated as a nullity the sentence which deprived him of his estates and honours. He was selected from the whole body of Scottish nobles to make a tender of the crown of Scotland, and to administer the oath of office, to William and Mary. He was authorised to raise a regiment among his clansmen for the service of the Crown, who were employed under Campbell of Glenlyon in the atrocious massacre of Glencoe, and afterwards served with distinction both in Ireland and Flanders. Although he had been guilty of the crime, ‘singularly disgraceful in him,’ says Macaulay, of intriguing with the agents of James while professing loyalty to William, the latter created him, in 1701, Duke of Argyll, Marquis of Kintyre and Lorne, Earl of Campbell and Cowal, Viscount Lochaw and Glenisla, Lord Inverary, Mull, Inverness, and Tiree. But, as the historian justly remarks, the Duke was in his personal qualities one of the most insignificant of the long line of nobles who had borne the great name of Argyll. He was the descendant of eminent men and the parent of eminent men, but he was unworthy both of his ancestry and of his progeny. He was noted for little else than his polished manners; he had no application to business, and by his careless and spendthrift style of living he still further involved his estates, which had been greatly impoverished by the misfortunes of his father and grandfather. He married a daughter of the notorious Duchess of Lauderdale, with whom, as might have been expected, he led a very unhappy life, and at last he in a great measure abandoned public duties and lived with a mistress in a house. called Clinton, near Newcastle. His death, which took place in 1703, was both miserable and discreditable. He was succeeded by his son, a nobleman of a very different character, the famous— 

DUKE JOHN—Jeanie Deans’s Duke—the friend of Pope, who has eulogised him as— 

‘Argyll, the States’ whole thunder born to wield,
And shake alike the senate and the field.’

He was born in October, 1678. On the very day on which his grandfather was executed, in 1685, the boy fell from a window in the upper flat of Lethington, the seat of his grandmother, the Duchess of Lauderdale, without receiving any injury—an incident which was regarded as an omen of his future greatness. Lord Macaulay declares that this nobleman was renowned as a warrior and as an orator, as the model of every courtly grace, and as the judicious patron of arts and letters. Sir Walter Scott says, ‘Few names deserve more honourable mention than that of John, Duke of Argyll and Greenwich. His talent as a statesman and soldier was generally admitted; he was not without ambition, but "without the illness that oft attends it "—without the irregularity of thought and aim which often excites great men in his peculiar situation (for it was a very peculiar one) to grasp the means of raising themselves to power at the risk of throwing a kingdom into confusion. He was alike free from the ordinary vices of statesmen—falsehood and dissimulation; and from those of warriors—inordinate and ardent thirst after seif-aggrandisement.’ ‘Ian Roy Bean’ —Red John, the Warrior—as the Highlanders termed him, was very dear to his countrymen, who were justly proud of his military and political talents, and grateful for the ready zeal with which he asserted the rights of his native country. Duke John held several high offices in his native land, and in 1705 was appointed Lord High Commissioner to the Scottish Parliament for the purpose of carrying through the Act of Union. For his services on this occasion he was rewarded with a British peerage. The next year he joined the British army under Marlborough in Flanders, and served in four campaigns. He distinguished himself at the battles of Ramilies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet, and all the principal sieges carried out by the great general, and rose to the rank of lieutenant-general. On the dismissal of Marlborough, with whom he was continually at variance, Argyll was sent to take charge of both civil and military affairs in Spain, but finding that he had been only made a tool of by the Tory ministry, who were actively carrying on negotiations for the peace of Utrecht, the Duke, thoroughly disgusted, threw up his command and returned home, with the firm resolution of joining the Opposition. His vehement and eloquent attacks on the Government did no small injury to the Tory and Jacobite cause. On the death of Queen Anne he suddenly presented himself, uninvited, along with the Duke of Somerset, in the Council-chamber, and in conjunction with Shrewsbury, frustrated the plans of Bolingbroke and the Jacobites for the accession of the Pretender to the throne. He was one of the Lords Justices appointed by George I. to act as Regents before his arrival in England, and was subsequently appointed Groom of the Stole to the Prince of Wales, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Scotland, Governor of Minorca, a Privy Councillor, and a Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards. When the Earl of Mar raised the standard of rebellion in 1715, the Duke of Argyll was sent down to oppose him. By dint of great activity and zeal he succeeded in collecting a force of 3,300 men, with which he kept in check the Jacobite army of more than three times that number. The hostile armies encountered at Sheriffmuir, near Dunblane (15th Nov., 1715), with doubtful result. Argyll himself broke the left wing of the rebels, but his left wing was in turn worsted by the clans. The battle in itself was therefore as indecisive as the satirical ballad represents— 

‘Some say that we wan, and some say that they wan;
And some say that nane wan at a’, man.’

On being told that his victory was incomplete, Argyll replied in the words of an old Scottish song called the ‘Bob o’ Dunblane ‘—

‘If it wasna weel bobbit, weel bobbit, weel bobbit,
If it wasna weel bobbit, we’ll bob it again.’

All the advantage of the fight, however, remained with the Royalists. Mar’s advance to the south was completely checked, and after some weeks of inactivity, during which the clansmen deserted his standard daily, the rebel leader fled to the Continent, and the remains of his army dispersed into the inaccessible wilds of Badenoch.

The services which the Duke rendered to the house of Hanover at this critical period were probably too great to be either acknowledged or repaid, and the extraordinary popularity which he enjoyed among his countrymen was of itself fitted to make him the object of jealousy at Court. His independent conduct, too, and somewhat haughty mode of expressing himself in Parliament and acting in public, were ill calculated, as Sir Walter Scott remarks, to attract royal favour. His opposition to the Bill which proposed to deprive the city of Edinburgh of its rights and privileges, on account of the Porteous mob, gave great offence to the King and his counsellers. Although he was therefore always respected and often employed, he was not a favourite of George II, his consort, or his ministers, and in 1716 he had become so obnoxious to them that he was deprived of all his offices, and went into violent opposition. Three years later he again joined the Ministry at a great crisis, and was appointed High Steward of the Household, and was created Duke of Greenwich. He was subsequently nominated Master-General of the Ordnance, Governor of Portsmouth, and a Field-Marshal. With the assistance of his politic brother, Lord Islay, in spite of all the efforts of the Government to thwart him, he obtained in 1725 the complete control of Scottish affairs, and might have been termed ‘King Campbell,’ as truly as was his ancestor, the great Marquis. The readers of the ‘Heart of Midlothian’ will remember the description there given of the part which the Duke took against the Ministry on the occasion of the famous Porteous riot, in 1737. Three years later he was once more dismissed from all his employments. On the downfall of Walpole, who mortally hated him, says Lord Hervey, and whom he mortally hated, the Duke, in 1742, accepted the office of Commander-in-Chief, but resigned it in a fortnight, in consequence of the appointment of the Marquis of Tweeddale as Secretary of State for Scotland. His Grace now retired from public life, and devoted himself to the improvement of his estates, but did not long survive. He died on the 4th of October, 1743. The Duke possessed a cultivated and poetical taste, and he is said to have been the author of the well-known Scottish song, ‘Bannocks of Barley-Meal.’

Duke John left four daughters, but no son. His English titles of Duke and Earl of Greenwich and Baron of Chatham became extinct at his death, but he was succeeded in his estates and Scottish honours by his brother— 

ARCHIBALD—who had been previously created Lord Oronsay, Dunoon, and Aros, and Viscount and Earl of Islay—’of late his bitter enemy,’ says Earl Stanhope. ‘Never did such near kinsmen display less affinity of minds. With all his faults and follies, Argyll was still brave, eloquent, and accomplished, a skilful officer and a princely nobleman. Islay, on the contrary, was base and mean.’ ‘His heart is like his aspect—vile,’ says Hanbury Williams. ‘Suspected of having betrayed Walpole at his fall, I believe unjustly, yet seldom on any occasion swayed by gratitude or generosity.’ Macaulay, however, takes a more favourable view of Islay’s character, and speaks of him as ‘distinguished by talents for business and command, and by skill in the exact sciences.’ His private life was not as untarnished as his brother’s; he was more subtle and pliant, and altogether seems to have been morally of a lower stamp of character, probably derived from his grandmother, the notorious Duchess of Lauderdale. He held at various times the offices of Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, one of the Commissioners for the Union, one of the Extraordinary Lords of Session, Lord Justice-General for Scotland, Lord Chief Registrar, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen. Dr. Alexander Carlyle, in his autobiography, gives a very graphic description of the Duke’s habits, and says he detested the ‘High Flying,’ or Evangelical, party in the Scottish Church. But he was both a statesman and an accomplished gentleman and scholar, a humorist, and was possessed of very remarkable colloquial powers. ‘He never harangued or was tedious,’ says Carlyle, ‘but listened to you in your turn. He had the talent of conversing with his guests so as to distinguish men of knowledge and talents, without neglecting those who valued themselves more on their birth and their rent-rolls than on personal merit. The Duke had a great collection of fine stories, which he told so neatly and so frequently repeated them without variation as to make one- believe that he had wrote them down. He had been in the battle of Sheriffmuir, and was slightly wounded in his foot, which made him always halt a little. He would have been an admirable soldier, as he had every talent and qualification necessary to arrive at the height of that profession; but his brother John, Duke of Argyll, having gone before him with a great and rising reputation, he was advised to take the line of a statesman.’

Duke Archibald was a great favourite with Sir Robert Walpole, and governed his native country as representative of that powerful minister with such authority as to be styled ‘The King of Scotland.’ Under his ‘liberal and partial patronage’ the Campbells attained to a degree of wealth and power superior to that of any other surname in Scotland. On the abolition, in 1747, of the hereditary jurisdictions of the great landed proprietors, Argyll received £21,000 as compensation for the office of Justiciary of Argyllshire and the Western Islands, the Sheriffship of Argyll, and the Regality of Campbell. The Duke remained at the head of affairs in Scotland till his death, which took place while he was sitting in his chair at dinner, April 15th, 1761, in the seventy-ninth year of his age. It was he who pulled down the noble old Gothic castle of Inverary, which, Sir Walter Scott says, ‘with its varied outline, embattled walls, towers, and outer and inner courts, so far as picturesque is concerned, presented an aspect much more striking than the present massive and uniform mansion.’ To meet the great expense of the new structure, the Duke sold the fine estate of Duddingston, near Edinburgh, which came from his grandmother, the Duchess of Lauderdale.

It thus appears that no fewer than four Earls of Argyll held the office of Lord Chancellor of Scotland, and that the high judicial office of Lord Justice General, which was conferred upon the third Earl, was hereditary in the family for upwards of a century, till it was resigned by the seventh Earl into the hands of Charles I. The third, fifth, and seventh Earls were Masters of the Royal Household. Besides these great offices of State, the Earls of Argyll held the heritable office of Justice-General within the whole bounds of Argyll, and in that capacity exercised jurisdiction within the whole islands of Scotland (excepting Orkney and Shetland), and within the lands of Morven, Knoydart, Moydart, Morar, and Arisaig. The office of Hereditary Sheriff of Argyll was also vested in the family. They were lords of the regality, lordship, and barony of Campbell, which comprehended the baronies of Roseneath in Dumbartonshire, Menstrie, in Clackmannanshire, Boquhan in Stirlingshire, Glenelg, in Inverness-shire, Lundie in Forfarshire, and Muckhart in Perthshire, with the privilege of holding courts. The Earls of Argyll likewise held the heritable office of Bailey of the Isle of Tiree, and lands in Islay and Jura, and the office of Bailery and Stewartry of the earldom, lordship, and barony of Argyll. To the Argyll family also belonged the heritable office of Constable and Keeper of Dunoon and other fourteen castles in the shire of Argyll. [See Report by William Fraser on the Manuscripts of his Grace the Duke of Argyll, fourth report of the Royal Commission on Historical MSS.]

The third Duke left no legitimate issue, and was succeeded in his family titles and estates in Scotland by his cousin— 

JOHN CAMPBELL OF MAMORE, grandson of Archibald, ninth Earl of Argyll. He attained the rank of general in the army, and served both in Germany and in the rebellion of 1715, as aide-decamp to his chief, Duke John; but his career was marked by no event worthy of special notice, and he is best remembered as the husband of the beautiful and witty Mary Bellenden, Maid of Honour to Queen Caroline. His eldest son, JOHN, fifth Duke, served against the Highlanders at Falkirk and Culloden in the ‘45, was made Field-Marshal, and in his father’s lifetime was created an English peer, as BARON SUNDRIDGE, the title by which the present Duke sits in the House of Lords. Boswell gives an amusing account of the visit which Dr. Johnson paid to this Duke at Inverary in 1773, of the respect which the amiable nobleman showed to the philosopher, of the impertinent behaviour of Bozzy himself to the Duchess, and of the stately contempt with which she put down his impertinence. Her Grace was one of the three Gunnings, whose extraordinary beauty was so often celebrated both by painters and poets. She had been previously Duchess of Hamilton, was the mother of four dukes—two of Hamilton and two of Argyll—and was created, in 1776, Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon, in Leicestershire—a title which on the death of her son, Douglas, Duke of Hamilton, fell to his half-brother, GEORGE WILLIAM, sixth Duke of Argyll, a handsome man of pleasure, and a friend of the Prince Regent, whose extravagances deeply injured the family estates, and alienated Castle Campbell and other outlying possessions of the house.

His brother, JOHN DOUGLAS, who succeeded him in 1839, as seventh Duke, was a man of no political position, and will be remembered mainly as the father of GEORGE DOUGLAS CAMPBELL, the eighth and present Duke of Argyll, who has attained a high reputation both in politics and in literature. An old Highland prophecy foretold that the ancient power and honour of the house should be restored by a MacCalian More, whose locks would be of the same hue as those of the famous ‘Red John, the Warrior,’ Duke of Argyll and Greenwich; and his own clansmen believe, and not without reason, that this prediction has already been fulfilled in the person of the present Duke, the father of the Marquis of Lorne, and the father-in-law of the Queen’s daughter, the Princess Louise. His Grace, who is Hereditary Master of the Royal Household, Scotland, Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Lord-Lieutenant of Argyllshire, has held the office of Lord Privy Seal three times, and of Postmaster-General, and Secretary for India. He is the author of ‘A Letter to the Peers from a Peer’s Son,’ 1842; a brochure ‘On the Duty and Necessity of Immediate Legislative Interposition in behalf of the Church of Scotland, as determined by Considerations of Constitutional Law;’ ‘A Letter to the Rev. Thomas Chalmers, D.D., on the Present Position of Church Affairs in Scotland, and the causes which have led to it,’ 1842; ‘Presbytery Examined,’ 1848; ‘The Reign of Law,’ ‘866; ‘Primeval Man,’ 1869; ‘Antiquities of lona,’ 1870; ‘Relation of Landlord and Tenant,’ ‘877; ‘Eastern Question,’ 1879.

The family estates in the counties of Argyll and Dumbarton, according to the ‘Doomsday Book,’ comprise 175,111 acres, with a yearly rental of £50,842.

 Return to the Great Historic Families of Scotland


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