The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

The Appin Murder - who was Mr Douglas?

The Appin Murder is one of the most famous in Scottish history. In the aftermath of the ’45 Rebellion, lands which had belonged to Jacobite clans were taken over by the government and parcelled-out to supporters of the victorious House of Hanover.

One of these was Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure. Colin Roy (who came to be known as the “Red Fox”) had served in the Earl of Loudoun’s regiment during the Rebellion. He was subsequently made factor over certain lands of Appin, which had belonged for centuries to the Stewarts.

On the 14th of May, as Colin Roy, with three companions, filed through the wood of Lettermore on their way to the place of the evictions, he was ambushed and fatally shot in the back by an unknown marksman.

A man with a dun-coloured coat and breeches was seen fleeing uphill from the scene of the crime. He was never captured or identified. The name of Glenure’s murderer remains a mystery to this day (although every so often it is allegedly revealed or deduced).

The famous historical incident became infamous. James of the Glen was arrested and imprisoned at Fort William. He was denied important legal rights. His trial was conducted in such a way that there would be no doubt as to its outcome. Witnesses were bullied and bribed. The jury was packed with Hanoverian Campbells. Presiding was the Lord Justice General, Archibald Campbell, Duke of Argyll.

As was inevitable, James of the Glen was found guilty (not of having committed the murder, but of being a member of the conspiracy to commit it). He was hanged at Ballachulish on 8th November 1752.

The folowing list of expences has an interesting link to the Douglas family:

Accompt of Depursements by Archibald Campbell, Sheriff Substitute of Argyllshire, upon the Execution of James Stewart, who was hung in Chains at Ballechelish the 8th Nov. 1752, for the murder of Mr. Campbell of Glenure.
To the Sheriff's Expences in going to Fort William with the Prisoner to deliver him to the Sheriff of Inverness, Conform to the Sentence, per Accott.,
To Wrights for making the Gibbett and Coming from Fort William to Balleciielish to put it up. Per accompt and Receipt, .
To the Smith at Fort William for Iron and making Plates for the Gibbett and Coming to Ballechelish to put on the Plates, per Accott. and Receipt,
To Mr. Douglas, Sheriff Substitute at Fort William, for an Executioner from Inverness, Timber to make the Gibbett, carrying the Gibbett to Ballechelish, Boats Employed to Ferry the Troops and Siuidry other Articles per Accott. and Rectt.
To Do. for a Saill that was destroyed by the Storm the day of the Execution. It being made use of for a Tent and 16s. allowed further to the Boatmen being detained by stormy weather, per Mr. Douglas" Missive,
To the SherifF\s Expences in Going to Glasgow to Engage an Executioner from thence, not being sure of one from Inverness, and Choosing to trust to one Executioner for fear of Accidents,
To the Executioner from Glasgow and his Guard for their Pains and Expences being defrayed by the Sheriff, per Accott. and Rectt.
To the Smith at Inverary tor making the Chains and going from thence to Ballechelish To put them on, His Expences being defrayed by the Sheriff, per Rectt.
To the Sheriff's Expences and Attendants, consisting of twelve men and nine horses, in going to Ballechelish and Returning, per Accott., To paid the men hired to Guard the Chains, Sheriff Officers, Expresses and diverse other Articles, per Accott.,Postages of Letters from the Lord Justice Clerk and King's Agent for taking Precognitions anent the Murder and other Proceedings

I have not been able to identify this Mr Douglas. Can anyone else?

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Comment by Russell Lynn Drysdale on March 26, 2012 at 17:05

Douglas 14 of Mains connection here perhaps ?

Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?

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