Jacobites, Rob Roy and Bonnie Prince Charlie
In 1707 the Scottish and English
parliaments merged. This became a time of civil wars with Strathearn right
in the middle. To the north were supporters of the Stuarts (Jacobites) and
to the south supporters of the imported German monarchy (Hanoverians). In
past times Crieff was famous for hanging lawless Highlanders and the old
gallows tree's timbers are still preserved in the Town Hall!
The film Rob Roy, set in and around Strathearn, gave a taste of what these
wild times were like. Robert Roy Macgregor visited the town on many occasions,
often to sell cattle. In the second week of October 1714 the Highlanders
gathered in Crieff for the annual market. Most people expected civil war
to break out at any time. By day the town was also full of Redcoats and
undercover government spies! One night, just after midnight, Rob Roy and
his men marched to Crieff Town Square. There they tolled the Town bell, awakening
everyone, and in front of the gathering crowd sang Jacobite songs and drank
a good many loyal toasts to their uncrowned King James VIII. Eventually the
Redcoats arrived from their camp outside the town and Rob Roy left into the
night to fight another day.
In 1716 Jacobites burnt the
towns and villages of Lowland Strathearn on their way back from the battle
of Sheriffmuir which hadn't gone too well for them. This was ordered by the
Earl of Mar to deny food and shelter to the troops of the Duke of Argyll.
No doubt many Highlanders settled old scores against the Lowlanders. Comrie
was spared, presumably as the most Highland of the Strathearn towns it's
sympathies were Jacobite. The people of Strathearn suffered greatly at this
Things couldn't have been
all bad as huge cattle sales continued to take place at Crieff. In 1723 30,000
cattle sold at one great fair with many driven south 800km to Smithfield
River Earn near Crieff
dramatically through the 18thC. Prior to this only rough tracks had existed.
There were no bridges over the rivers of Strathearn and these must have acted
as formidable obstacles in poor weather. Movement by wheeled vehicle for
any distance must have been impossible. The River Earn at Crieff was bridged
around 1700, but this was destroyed by retreating Highlanders after Sheriffmuir
in 1716 and had to be rebuilt. After 1715 rebellion it was obvious that military
roads were required to move government troops into and around the Highlands.
General Wade began to oversee work from 1724. Around 1730 a road was driven
from Tummel Bridge in the north down to Crieff and in 1741/2 a military road
was laid from Stirling to Crieff.
Rebuilding of Strathearn towns
began after 1716. The main industry of Auchterarder was hand-loom weaving
employing over 500 weavers in the production of linen. In 1731 James Drummond,
3rd Duke of Perth, laid out Crieff's central James Square and establishing
a textile industry with a flax factory. Drummond Castle featured in Rob
Roy - remember the garden scene? It was partly demolished in 1745 to
prevent its occupation by Hanoverian troops.
July Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) landed on the west
coast of Scotland, raised his standard at Glenfinnan on 19 August 1745 and
built a small but dedicated army of Highlanders (about 2500 men) for his
Jacobite cause. The '45 Jacobite rebellion had begun. By September he occupied
Edinburgh and destroyed the Hanoverian Government army of John Cope at
Prestonpans outside Edinburgh. In November he crossed into England with almost
6000 men and marched to Derby. English Catholics did not rise for his Jacobite
cause, the backing he expected from France still did not materialise and
faced with a Government army five times larger, he withdrew back to
Prince Charles Edward Stuart
(Bonnie Prince Charlie) held his last war council in the Drummond Arms Hotel,
Crieff. On 16th April 1746 he was finally defeated at Culloden by the Duke
After 1746 the Drummond estates
were forfeited to the Crown until 1784 - the price of being on the losing
side of a civil war! Unfortunately Hanoverian troops also burnt Crieff's
flax factory. The public library now stands on this site.