Please wait

Rob Roy MacGregor: The Scottish Robin Hood

Gaelic Pure Scotch Whisky: Definitely wanted, but never outlawed like Robert Roy MacGregor.

Robert Roy MacGregor, or more famously known as Rob Roy or even Red MacGregor, was a well known Scottish folk hero and outlaw in the early 18th century. Rob Roy has been likened to a Scottish version of Englands Robin Hood.

Rob Roy was also referred to on occasions as Red Robert as he had red hair, though this darkened to an auburn hue in his later life.

Rob Roy MacGregor

Rob Roy was born at Glengyle which is situated at the head of Loch Katrine in Scotland. His fathers name was Donald MacGregor, and his mothers was Margaret Campbell. Rob Roy was married in 1693 at Corrie Arklet farm near Inversnaid to Mary Helen MacGregor. Mary and Rob had four sons who they named James, Ranald, Coll, and Robert. A cousin named Duncan was adopted later.

Rob's involvement with the Jacobite movement

Jacobitism was the political movement in Great Britain and Ireland to restore the Roman Catholic Stuart King James II of England and his heirs to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. The movement took its name from Jacobus which is the Latinised form of James. The movement refers to a long series of Jacobite risings between 1688 and 1746. After James II was deposed in 1688 and replaced by his daughter Mary II, ruling jointly with her husband and first cousin William III, who was James's nephew, the Stuarts lived in exile, occasionally attempting to regain the throne. The strongholds of Jacobitism were the Scottish Highlands, Ireland and Northern England. Some support also existed in Wales.

The Jacobites believed that parliamentary interference with monarchical succession was illegal. Catholics also hoped the Stuarts would end recusancy. This was the term used to describe the state of those who refused to attend Anglican services. In Scotland, the Jacobite movement became heavily involved in the last throes of the warrior clan system.

Along with many of his fellow Highland clansmen, at the age of about eighteen Rob Roy and his father joined the Jacobite rising led by Viscount Dundee to support the Stuart King James who had been deposed by William of Orange. Although the victors in the early battles, Viscount Dundee was killed in 1689, deflating the rebellion. Rob's father was sent to jail, where he was held on charges of treason for two years. Rob's mother Margaret's health suffered during her husbands time in prison. By the time Rob's father was finally released, his wife was dead. Sadly he never returned to his former healthy self.

Rob Roy was seriously injured at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719, in which a British army of Scots and English defeated a Jacobite and Spanish expedition that aimed to restore the Stuart monarchy.

Rob Roy in later life

Rob Roy became a very well known and respected cattleman. Back in Rob's day, cattle rustling and protection rackets against theft was a well known method of earning a living. Rob Roy himself borrowed a large sum of money from Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose to increase his own cattle herd. Unfortunately for Rob, his chief herder, who was entrusted with the money to bring the cattle back dissapeared. Rob Roy lost his money and cattle, and defaulted on his loan repayment to the Duke. Because of this, he was classed as an outlaw, and his wife and family were evicted from their house at Inversnaid, which was then burned down. When the Duke of Montrose also seized his lands, Rob waged a private blood feud against the him until 1722, when he was forced to surrender. Rob Roy was imprisoned and he was finally pardoned in 1727.

Rob Roy moved to Glen Shira under the protection of the 2nd Duke of Argyll

In 1716 Rob Roy moved to Glen Shira for a short time and lived under the protection of John Campbell who was the 2nd Duke of Argyll. Argyll negotiated an amnesty and protection for Rob and granted him permission to build a house in the Glen for the surrendering up of weapons.

Rob Roy MacGregor in popular culture

Rob Roy became a legend in his own lifetime owing to the publication of a fictionalized account of his life called The Highland Rogue. Because of his fame, it is suggested that even King George I was moved to issue a pardon for his crimes just as he was about to be transported to the colonies. The publication of Rob Roy, by Sir Walter Scott in 1817, further added to his fame and fleshed out his biography. Adaptations of Rob's story have also been told in film including the 1922 silent film Rob Roy, a 1953 film from Walt Disney Productions Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue and the 1995 Rob Roy film directed starring Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, Brian Cox, John Hurt and Tim Roth.

Rob Roy MacGregor died in his house at Inverlochlarig Beg, Balquhidder, on 28 December 1734.