BADGE: Roid (Sweet Gale) or Garbhag an t-sleibh (lycopodium selago) Fir club moss
SLOGAN: Siol Diarmid an tuirc, The race of Diarmid of the Boar!
PIBROCH : Bodach na briogais
Probably no Highland family has been so prolific in cadet branches of distinction as the great race of the Campbells. From the earliest date at which authentic history dawns upon their race they are found multiplying and establishing new houses throughout the land. At the present hour scions of the name hold the earldoms of Cawdor and Loudon as well as the baronies of Blythswood and Stratheden, and no fewer than seven separate baronetcies. The steps in the growth of this great house are in every generation full of interest, and involve in their narration no small part of the romance of Scottish history.
The rise of the family began with a fortunate marriage in the twelfth century. With the hand of Eva, daughter of the O'Duibhne Chief, Gillespie Campbell acquired the lordship of Lochow, and brought into his family the blood of the Ossianic hero Diarmid of eight centuries earlier still. In 1280 Colin Campbell, the chief of the name, was knighted by Alexander III. He was the "Great" Colin from whom the chiefs of the family of the later times have taken the name of "MacCailein Mor". He fell in conflict with the MacDougals on the Sraing of Lorne, and his body lies in the little kirkyard of Kilchrennan, above Loch Awe. His eldest son was that Sir Nigel or Neil Campbell who joined Robert the Bruce at the beginning of his great struggle, and was rewarded with the hand of the king's sister, and the forfeited lands of the Earl of Atholl. His eldest son, again, the second Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, helped the High Steward of Scotland, afterwards King Robert II, to recover the Castle of Dunoon from the adherents of Edward Baliol - the first stroke in the overthrow of that adventurer; and in consequence was made hereditary governor of that royal stronghold. His grandson, still another Sir Colin, married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Drummond of Stobhall, and sister of Annabella, Queen of Robert III, and, partly through this royal connection his eldest son, Duncan, was made, first, Lord Lieutenant of Argyll by his cousin James I, and in 1445 was raised to the peerage as Lord Campbell by James II. He linked his family still more closely to the royal house by marrying Lady Marjorie Stewart, daughter of Robert, Duke of Albany, and granddaughter of King Robert II. On the death of his eldest son, Celestine, at school, he begged a burying-place at Kilmun from the Lamont Chief because the snows were too deep for the body to be carried to Lochow; and from that time to this Kilmun has been the burying-place of the Campbell chiefs.
While the main stem of the family was carried on by Lord Campbell's second son's son, Colin, who became 1st Earl of Argyll in 1457, it was his third son, another Sir Colin, who founded the greatest of all the branches of the Campbells, that of Glenorchy and Glenfalloch, the head of which is now Earl of Breadalbane. So well had the heads of the house improved their fortunes that Lord Campbell was probably the richest noble in Scotland, When he became one of the hostages for the redemption of James I in 1424, his annual revenue was stated to be fifteen hundred merks, He was well able, therefore, to endow his third son with the lands of Glenorchy and Glenfalloch in 1432.
Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy was one of the ablest men of his time. As guardian of his nephew, afterwards Earl of Argyll, he built for him the castle of Inveraray, and married him to the eldest daughter and co-heir of John Stewart, Lord of Lorne. He himself had married, first, Mariot, daughter of Sir Walter Stewart, eldest son, of Murdoch, Duke of Albany, grandson of Robert II; and on her death he married Margaret, the second daughter of the Lord of Lorne. By these marriages uncle and nephew not only acquired between them the great estates of the Stewart Lords of Lorne, but also placed upon their shields the famous lymphad, or galley, which betokened descent from the famous Somerled, Lord of the Isles.
Sir Colin, who was born about the year 1400, was a famous warrior, fought in Palestine, and was made a knight of Rhodes. The tradition runs that while he was away his wife built for him the castle of Kilchurn on its peninsula at the end of Loch Awe. He was so long absent that it was said he was dead, and the lady, like Penelope in the classic tale, was besieged by suitors. After long delays a neighbouring baron, MacCorquodale, it is said, forced her to a marriage. While the marriage feast was going on, a beggar came to the door. He refused to drink the health of the bride unless she herself handed him the cup. This she did, and as the beggar drank and returned it she gave a cry, for in the bottom lay Sir Colin's signet ring. The beggar was Sir Colin himself, returned just in time to rescue his wife.
After the assassination of James I at Perth, Glenurchy captured one of the assassins, Thomas Chalmer of Lawers, on Loch Tay side, and as a reward he received a grant of the murderer's forfeited estate. His son and successor, Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy, further added to the importance of his family by acquiring the estates of Glenlyon, Finlarig, and others on Loch Tay side. When he married Margaret, daughter of George, fourth earl of Angus, in 1479, he obtained with her a dowry of six hundred merks, and he fell with James IV at Flodden in 1513.
His eldest son and successor, again, Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchy, married Marjorie Stewart, daughter of John, Earl of Atholl, half brother of James II, her mother being Margaret Douglas, that Fair Maid of Galloway, who, as heiress of her ancient house, played such a strange romantic part in the story of her time.
Sir Colin, the youngest of the three sons who succeeded him, sat in the Scottish Parliament of 1560, and played an active part in furthering the Reformation. Till his time the lands of Breadalbane had belonged to the Carthusian Monastery at Perth founded by James I. Sir Colin first obtained a tack of these lands and afterwards had them converted into a feu holding. He was a great builder of houses, and besides a noble lodging in Perth erected Edinample on Loch Earn, and in 1580 founded at the eastern end of Loch Tay the splendid family seat of Balloch, now known as Taymouth Castle. The site of this strong-hold is said to have been settled in a curious way, Sir Colin being instructed in a dream to found his castle on the spot where he should first hear the blackbird sing on making his way down the strath. According to the family history written in 1598 he also added the corner turrets to Kilchurn Castle. Kilchurn and much of the other Breadalbane territory had once been possessed by Clan Gregor, but when feudal tenures came in, the chiefs of that clan had scorned to hold their land by what they termed "sheep-skin rights", and elected to continue holding them by the ancient "coir a glaive", or right of the sword. As a result, when disputes arose they had no documents to show; the effort to vindicate their claims by the power of the sword got them into trouble; and the Campbells and other neighbours easily procured against them powers of reprisal which in the end led to the conquest and transference of most of the MacGregor territory. Sir Walter Scott put the plight and feelings of the clansmen concisely in his famous lament:
Glenorchy's proud mountain, Kilchurn and her towers,
Glenstrae and Glenlyon no longer are ours;
We're landless, landless, landless, Gregalach !
Accordingly we find in the Breadalbane family history that Sir Colin "was ane greate Justiciar all his tyme, throch the quhilk he sustenit that deidly feid of the Clan Gregor ane lang space. And besydis that, he causit execute to the death many notable lymmars, and beheided the Laird of Mac Gregor himself at Keanmoir, in presence of the Erle of Atholl, the Justice Clerk, and sundrie uther nobillmen".
Sir Duncan Campbell, the eldest son and successor of this redoubtable chief, is remembered in popular tradition by the names of "Black Duncan", or "Duncan with the cowl". Like his father he added greatly to his family possessions by acquiring feus of the church lands which were then extensively in the market as a result of the Reformation. At the same time he was perhaps the most enlightened landowner of his age. At any rate he was the first of Highland lairds to turn attention to rural improvement. Among other matters he was a great planter of trees, and also compelled his tenants to plant them. Many of the noble trees which still surround his stronghold of Finlarig, at the western end of Loch Tay, were no doubt of his planting. Like his father also he was a notable builder of strongholds, and besides Taymouth, Edinample, and Strathfillan, he possessed Finlarig, Loch Dochart, Achalader, and Barcaldine, From this partiality he obtained the further sobriquet of "Duncan of the Castles". When he began to build Finlarig someone is said to have asked why he was placing it at the edge of his property, and he is said to have replied, in characteristic Campbell fashion, that he meant to "birse yont". He was knighted by James I in 1590; was made heritable keeper of the forest of Mamlorn in 1617, and afterwards Sheriff of Perth for life. Finally, when the order of Baronets of Nova Scotia began to be created in 1625, he was one of the first to have the dignity conferred upon him. His first wife was Jean, daughter of John Stewart, Earl of Atholl, Chancellor of Scotland, and a few years ago the effigies of the pair were discovered on the under side of two stones which for centuries had been used as a footbridge across a ditch at Finlarig. At Finlarig are also still to be seen the gallows tree and the fatal pit in the courtyard, to which prisoners came from the Castle dungeon by an underground passage, to be gazed at by the laird's retainers before placing their head in the hollow at the side still to be seen, to be lopped off by the executioner, The heading axe of these terrible occasions was till 1922 preserved among other interesting relics at Taymouth Castle. Since 1508 the chapel at Finlarig has been the burying-place of the chiefs of the house.
Black Duncan's eldest son and successor, Sir Colin, was a patron of the fine arts, and encouraged the painter Jameson, the "Scottish Vandyck". His brother Robert, who succeeded him as third Baronet, and was previously known as "of Glenfalloch", represented Argyllshire in the Scottish parliaments of 1643, 1646, and 1647, the period of the civil wars of Charles I. and the exploits of the Marquess of Montrose.
This chief, the third baronet of Glenurchy, had by his two wives a family of no fewer than fifteen, of whom more anon. Meanwhile his eldest son's son, Sir John Campbell, fifth baronet of Glenorchy, was to make history in more ways than one, both for his family and for the country. From his swarthy complexion he was known as Ian Glas. He was a clever and unscrupulous politician, and it was said of him that he was "cunning as a fox, wise as a serpent, and slippery as an eel". By his first wife, the Lady Mary Rich, daughter of the first Earl of Holland, beheaded in 1649, he received a dowry of £10000, and it is said that after the marriage in 1657 he conveyed her from London to the Highlands in simple fashion, the lady riding on a pillion behind her lord, while her marriage portion, which he made sure was paid in coin, was carried on the back of a strong gelding, guarded on each side by a sturdy, well-armed Highlander. It was probably this money which helped him to one of the most notable actions of his career. At any rate it appears that among other investments he lent large sums of money to George, sixth Earl of Caithness. The Sinclairs have stories to tell, which mayor may not be true, as to questionable methods by which these burdens of the Earl of Caithness were increased. One is that Charles II obtained the earl's security for large sums, and then pledged it with Glenurchy, In any case in 1572 the Earl of Caithness found his debts overwhelming, and, being pressed by Glenurchy as his chief creditor, conveyed to him in wadset the whole property and titles of the Earldom, the possession of which was to become absolute if not redeemed within six years. The redemption did not take place, and on the death of the Earl, Glenurchy procured from the king in 1677, in right of his wadset, a new charter to the lands and title of Earl of Caithness. The heir to the Earldom also claimed the title and estates, and Glenurchy proceeded under legal sanction to enforce his rights by strength of arms. For this purpose he sent his kinsman, Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, with a strong body of men, into the north. The Sinclairs also gathered in armed force, and the two parties carne face to face, with a stream between them. Glenlyon is said by the Sinc1airs to have used the strategy of sending a convoy of strong waters where he knew it would be captured by the Sinclairs, and at night, when the latter had enjoyed themselves not wisely but too well, the Campbells marched across the stream and utterly routed them. It was on this occasion that the Campbell piper composed the famous pibroch of the clan "Bodach na Briogais", the Lad of the Breeches, in ridicule of the Sinclairs, who wore that garment; and it is the event which is commemorated in the famous song "The Campbells are Coming". In the end, however, by the legitimate heir, George Sinclair of Keiss, the Carnpbells were driven out of the country, and Charles II, being at length persuaded of the injustice of his action, induced Glenurchy to drop the Caithness title, and compensated him in 1681 by creating him Earl of Breadalbane and Holland, with a number of minor dignities. Cunning as ever, Glenurchy procured the right to leave his titles to whichever of his sons by his first wife he should think proper to designate, and in the end, as a matter of fact, he passed over the elder of the two, Duncan, Lord Ormelie, who eventually died unmarried ten years after his father.
Glenurchy's first wife died in 1666, and twelve years later Glenurchy, probably by way of strengthening his claim to the Caithness title, married Mary, Countess Dowager of Caithness. This lady was the third daughter of the notorious Archibald, Marquess of Argyll, who, strangely enough, like the father of Glenurchy's first wife, had been beheaded after the Restoration.
Possibly Breadalbane was inspired by his father-in-law's example to adopt sinister methods. At any rate we know that he was the chief mover in the transaction known in history as the Massacre of Glencoe. In this transaction he showed his usual cunning. Glencoe appeared a desirable addition to the estate. So also did Glenlyon. He had left Campbell of Glenlyon to bear the expense of the great Caithness expedition, and he now took advantage of Glenlyon's impecuniosity to induce him to act as his catspaw in the affair of Glencoe. In that affair Glenlyon had also a personal revenge to satisfy, for the MacDonalds of Glencoe, on their way home after the battle of Killiecrankie, had raided and thoroughly destroyed his lands. At any rate it was Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, with a company of Campbells, who carried out the notorious massacre. What his feelings towards his chief may have been at a later day we do not know, when, upon riding into Edinburgh to redeem a wadset on his lands of Glenlyon only in the nick of time, he encountered his kinsman and chief in the act of closing the wadset and ousting him from his heritage. Such a personage was Ian Glas, first Earl of Breadalbane and Holland. The wily old chief lived till 1717. Two years before his death he sent 500 of his followers to join the Jacobite rising of the Earl of Mar, but escaped without serious consequences of the act.
Curiously enough as a result of the massacre Highland superstition has associated a curse with the house both of the prime mover Breadalbane and with that of his agent, Glenlyon. Sir Walter Scott tells the story of how at a later day a Campbell of Glenlyon was the officer in command of a firing party entrusted with the carrying out of the death sentence of a court martial. The intention was to reprieve the culprit, but the reprieve was not to be made known to the latter till the very moment of execution. Glenlyon had arranged that the signal to fire should be his drawing his white handkerchief from his pocket. When all was ready, and the firing party was in position, he put his hand into his pocket to produce the reprieve. Unfortunately his handkerchief came with it. This was taken by the soldiers as the appointed signal, the muskets rang out, and the prisoner fell. At that Glenlyon is said to have struck his forehead with his hand, exclaiming, "I am an unfortunate ruined man; the curse of God and Glenlyon is here !" and forthwith to have retired from the service.
The second Earl of Breadalbane was Lord Lieutenant of Perthshire and a representative peer. In his time occurred the Jacobite rising of 1745, when it was reckoned that the Earl could put a thousand men into the field. The third Earl was a Lord of the Admiralty and an ambassador to the Danish and Russian courts. By his third wife the Earl had a son John, Lord Glenorchy, who died before him childless in 1771. His widow Willielma, daughter and co-heir of William Maxwell of Preston, was the famous Lady Glenorchy whose peculiar religious views induced her to found chapels for her followers in Edinburgh, Carlisle, Matlock; and Strathfillan.
On the death of the third Earl himself in 1782, the male line of the notorious Ian Glas became extinct. The patent, however, included heirs male general, and the peerage accordingly went to a grandson of Colin of Mochaster, third son of Sir Robert Campbell, third baronet of Glenorchy. This grandson, John Campbell, succeeded as fourth Earl of Breadalbane. He was Major-General and a representative peer, and was made Marquess of Breadalbane and Earl of Ormelie in 1806. His only son, John, was, according to Peter Drummond of Perth (Perthshire in Bygone Days), the hero of a curious romance. While a student at Glasgow University he fell in love with Miss Logan, daughter of Walter Logan of Fingalton, near Airdrie, and partner in the firm of Logan and Adamson, who lived in West George Street, the ground floor of the house now occupied by Messrs. Paterson's music warehouse. The young lady was a great toast and strikingly handsome. Every time she entered the Theatre Royal in Queen Street it is said the audience rose to a man and cheered wildly. Alas, however, the match was considered unsuitable and was broken off, and the lady died unmarried in 1856.
Lord John meanwhile had succeeded as second Marquess and fifth Earl on the death of his father in 1834, and became a Knight of the Thistle, a Knight of the Black Eagle of Prussia, Lord Lieutenant of Argyllshire, and president of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. In his time Queen Victoria paid her famous first visit to Scotland, and on that occasion was entertained at Taymouth with the most splendid hospitality. With huntings and Highland games by day and feastings and balls at night, the royal entertainment was "more like the dreams of romance than reality".
The Marquess died without issue at Lausanne in 1862, when there ensued one of the most famous peerage cases on record. The Earldom was claimed by John Alexander Gavin Campbell of Glenfalloch, as great-great-grandson of William, fifth son of Sir Robert Campbell, third baronet of Glenorchy. There was, however, a question as to his legitimacy. His grandfather, it appeared, a younger son of the Glenfalloch of his time, had, while an officer in the army, run away with the wife of an apothecary at Bath, and though the apothecary presently died, it was questioned whether a union so begun could afterwards be accepted as legitimated by a Scottish marriage and so legitimize the offspring of the union. Glenfalloch's claim to the Earldom was accordingly disputed by the representative of his grandfather's younger brother, Campbell of Borland. In the end, however, it was shown that the gay young officer and the lady of Bath had been received at Glenfalloch by the young officer's father and mother, who were strict in their religious views, and unlikely to have countenanced the lady unless they regarded her as really their son's wife. The House of Lords accordingly decided in favour of Glenfalloch's claim, and he became sixth Earl of Breadalbane. His eldest son, the late head of the house, who succeeded in 1871, held several high positions in the royal household. He was a Lord-in-Waiting from 1873 to 1874, Treasurer of the household 1880-5, Lord Steward of the household 1892-5, also A.D.C. to the King and Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1893-4-5. He was created Baron Breadalbane in the peerage of the United Kingdom in 1873, and advanced to the Earldom of Ormelie and Marquessate of Breadalbane in 1885. He was also a Knight of the Garter and a Privy Councillor, and was Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland from 1907. He married in 1872 Lady Alma Graham, youngest daughter of the fourth Duke of Montrose. In 1921, when, in the stringency after the great war, many of the great landowners of Scotland parted with their estates, he disposed of Taymouth Castle, the town of Aberfeldy, and the lands at the lower end of Loch Tay. On the Marquess's death in 1922 he was succeeded in the Earldom and older titles by his nephew, Iain E.H. Campbell, but that nephew himself died in May 1923. At his death it was discovered that he had been married for seven years. Should he have no son the titles and estates will devolve upon the former competitor's son, Captain Charles W. Campbell of Borland.