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Robert Roy MacGregor
Portrait engraving of Rob Roy circa 1820s
Robert Roy MacGregor (baptised 7 March 1671 – 28 December 1734), usually known simply as Rob Roy or alternately Red MacGregor, was a famous Scottish folk hero and oulaw of the early 18th century, who is sometimes known as the Scottish Robin Hood. Rob Roy is anglicised from the Scottish Gaelic Raibeart Ruadh, or Red Robert. This is because Rob Roy had red hair, though it darkened to auburn in later life.
Rob Roy was born at Glengyle, at the head of Loch Katrine, as proved by the Baptismal Register of Buchanan Parish. His father was Donald MacGregor, and his mother Margaret Campbell. He later met Mary Helen MacGregor of Comar, who was born at Leny Farm, Strathyre, and they were married in Glenarklet in January 1693. She bore him four sons: James (known as Mor or Tall), Ranald, Coll, and Robert (known as Robin Oig or Young Rob). A cousin, Duncan, was later adopted.
Along with many Highland clans, at the age of eighteen Rob Roy together with 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 victorious in initial battles, "Bonnie Dundee" was killed and their fortunes fell. Rob’s father was taken to jail, where he was held on treason charges for two years. Rob’s mother Margaret’s health faltered and then failed during Donald’s time in prison. By the time Donald was finally released, his wife was dead, and his reason for living also gone. The Gregor chief never returned to his former spirit or health.
Rob Roy was badly wounded at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719 which saw the defeat of a Jacobite and Spanish expedition aiming to restore the Stuart monarchy.
Rob Roy became a well-known and respected cattleman — this was a time when cattle rustling and selling protection against theft was a commonplace means of earning a living. Rob Roy borrowed a large sum to increase his own cattle herd, but due to the disappearance of his chief herder, who was entrusted with the money to bring the cattle back, Rob Roy lost his money and cattle, and defaulted on his loan. As a result, he was branded an outlaw, and his wife and family were evicted from their house at Inversnaid, which was then burned down. After his principal creditor, James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose seized his lands, Rob Roy waged a private blood feud against the duke until 1722, when he was forced to surrender. Later imprisoned, he was finally pardoned in 1727. He died in his house at Inverlochlarig Beg, Balquhidder, on 28 December 1734.
Grave site of Rob Roy MacGregor, marking his wife (Helen) Magy, and sons Coll and Robert.
Glengyle House, on the shore of Loch Katrine, dates back to the early 18th century, with a porch dated to 1707, and is built on the site of the 17th century stone cottage in which Rob Roy is said to have been born. Since the 1930s, the Category B-listed building had been in the hands of successive water authorities, but was identified as surplus to requirements and put up for auction in November 2004, despite objections from the Scottish National Party.
The Rob Roy Way, a long distance footpath from Drymen to Pitlochry, was created in 2002 and named in Rob Roy's honour.
Descendants of Rob Roy settled around McGregor, Iowa, and in 1849 it was reported that the original MacGregor seal and signet was owned by Alex McGregor of Iowa. The Scots Gaelic clan seal was inscribed, "Triogal Ma Dh'ream/ Een dhn bait spair nocht", which was interpreted as "I am of royal descent/ Slay and spare not". The signet was a bloodstone from Loch Lomond, and was sketched by William Williams.
In 1878, the football club Kirkintilloch Rob Roy was founded and named in his memory.
In popular culture
A fictionalized account of his life appeared in 1723 called The Highland Rogue, making Rob Roy a legend in his own lifetime, and influencing George I 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. William Wordsworth wrote a poem called "Rob Roy's Grave", during a visit to Scotland (the 1803 tour was documented by his sister Dorothy in Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland). Adaptations of his story have also been told in film, most famously the 1995 Rob Roy directed by Michael Caton-Jones and starring Liam Neeson.
Headstone photo sent in by Betty McGaulley
Information from: Wikipedia
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