Born on 7th of March 1671
Died in Balquhidder, Perthshire
Died on 28th of December 1734
Rob Roy’s legend has grown out of a real person whose fight for his beliefs and his rights attained an almost mythical status. Sir Walter Scott’s novel portrayed him as a Scottish Robin Hood and the image lives on.
Rob Roy is Celtic for ‘Red Robert’ and is a reference to his red hair. He was born Robert MacGregor at Glen Gyle in the Trossachs and baptized on March 7, 1671, a senior member of the MacGregor Clan. Rob Roy fought with his father Donald in the first Jacobite uprising of 1689. (Many of the Highland Clans supported the Catholic James VII against the English Protestant William of Orange). Donald was captured as the rebellion failed and his wife died while he was still in prison. Still in his teens Rob laid down his sword and took up cattle farming.
In Scotland cattle were pretty much free to roam and Rob Roy’s farming involved ‘protecting’ the herds of other cattle farmers for a fee as well as raising his own. His business was successful, and wishing to expand he borrowed money from the local landowner, the Duke of Montrose. This is when things began to unravel. The money was lost. Most accounts have it that Rob Roy’s chief herdsman absconded with the not inconsiderable sum of £1000 and his cattle. Unable to repay the loan Rob Roy went on the run and was declared an outlaw. Hiding in the highlands Rob Roy became a sort of Scottish Robin Hood evading capture and harassing the Duke of Montrose’s men to avenge the seizure of his land and burning of his home.
Rob joined the Jacobite uprising of 1715 and was badly wounded at the Battle of Glen Shiel. Again a desperado he was captured twice both times making spectacular escapes, but the struggle took its toll and in 1725 Rob Roy finally handed himself in. By then his legend had grown and a book recounting his exploits did much to persuade George I to offer him a full pardon just before he was due to be transported to the colonies. Rob Roy lived out his final years peacefully in Inverlochlarig in Perthshire where he died December 28, 1734.
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