Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734) – Farmer and cattle-dealer, noted for his exploits in levying blackmail. Subject of Walter Scott’s novel Rob Roy. Died at home and interred at Balquidder kirkyard (NN 536209) beneath an old cross-slab. “The most famous MacGregor of all is, of course, Rob Roy, of the Glengyle branch (1671-1734). Rob Roy was a multi-talented man – a great swordsman and soldier (fighting alongside his father by the age of 18 against William of Orange), an astute businessman, and master of the highland “protection racket”. That is, rather than just rustling cattle – the age-old highland way – Rob Roy discovered there was more money in “protecting” cattle for pay. Between 1689 and 1711, Rob Roy stayed at home (he was a loving family man) and prospered his business, increasing his lands and resources.
The legend of Rob Roy MacGregor grew out of his famous feud with the Duke of Montrose. As with all farmers and ranchers, Rob Roy found it difficult to lay hands on ready cash to expand his regular cattle business and turned to Montrose for a loan (or investment money). One of Rob Roy’s employees made off with £1,000 and Montrose, in his greed, brought charges of embezzlement against Rob hoping to gain his lands. Failing to answer the charge, Rob Roy was declared an outlaw and began his campaign of harassment against the Duke (rustling his cattle).
In 1715, despite his outlaw status, Rob Roy rallied the MacGregor clan and led them in battle against the English, making many successful raids. Afterwards, he was tried for treason and lived life on the run, being captured twice but making spectacular escapes both times. Finally, in 1725, he turned himself in and received a pardon from the king. He died quietly at home in 1734.
Ironically, Rob Roy’s mother was a Campbell, and since the name MacGregor was proscribed by William of Orange, Rob Roy used the name Campbell at various times throughout his life and hid (with permission) on the Duke of Argyll’s lands while an outlaw.