7th March 1671

Rob Roy is baptised in Perthshire

Although his date of birth is less certain, Robert (Rob) Roy MacGregor is known to have been baptised in 1671. As parents rarely wanted to risk their child dying before baptism offered them a better chance of getting into paradise, this would have been soon after his birth.

His father joined the Jacobite rising in support of the Catholic James II (of England and Ireland who was simultaneously James VII of Scotland) who was deposed and replaced by William III of Orange and James’ Anglican daughter, Mary.

Name change

Rob Roy built a house in Glen Shira and changed his name from MacGregor to Campbell – his mother’s maiden name – when the king banned the use of his birth name. In June 1719, he took part in the Battle of Glensheil in which Jacobites fought alongside Spanish troops against government forces in a clash timed to coincide with a Spanish invasion of Britain from the south coast. The southern invasion never occurred, and the Jacobite and Spanish forces were defeated when government forces deployed mortar shells, allowing them to bomb their opponents from a safe distance.

Rob Roy became a land owner, but subsequent events are disputed. Some accounts claim that he willingly gave up his property as a means of atoning for his crimes. However, another states that he lost a considerable sum of money, which he had given to the manager of his cattle so he could increase the size of the herd. The herdsman disappeared with the money and, unable to repay his loans, Rob Roy was declared an outlaw and evicted from his lands, which were seized by James Graham, the Duke of Montrose. This sparked a feud between the two men that lasted many years, until Rob Roy was arrested and imprisoned.

Later interpretation

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, though, claims that “Rob Roy’s fall was a matter of business failure, and the later tradition that it was due to a drover absconding with his money is implausible in view of the evidence that he knew months in advance that he was in trouble, and that he never himself used this as an explanation.”

Rob Roy died on 28 December 1734. On 9 January the following year, his death was reported across just two lines in the Caledonian Mercury: “On Saturday was fe’nnight died at Balqhuidder in Perthshire, the fam’d Highland Partizan Rob Roy.”



Other events that occured in March

FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.