Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

How does a woman tell her betrothed that she  murdered her first husband?


Elise Kingston is a wanted woman. Nothing,  not even Highlander Marcus MacGregor, will stop her from returning home to  ensure that the man responsible for her daughter’s death hangs.


Until she must choose between his life and  her revenge.


My upcoming release and first book in the Highland Lords series, the Scottish Historical My Highland Love, is set in 1825. When I began my research for this  book, I was intrigued by the history behind the centuries long feud between the  MacGregors and the Campbells.


Here’s a glimpse into how the conflict  began.


In 1519, Iain of Glenstrae died with no  direct heirs. This plunged the Clan Gregor into disarray as the powerful  Campbells asserted claim to the last remaining MacGregor lands. In 1560, the  Campbells dispossessed Gregor Roy MacGregor, who waged war against the Campbells  for ten years before being captured and killed. His son, Alistair, claimed the  MacGregor chiefship but was utterly unable to stem the tide of persecution which  was to be fate of the “Children of the Mist.”


Argyle and his Clan Campbell henchmen were  given the task of hunting down the MacGregors. About sixty of the clan made a  brave stand at Bentoik against a party of two-hundred chosen men belonging to  the Clan Cameron, Clan MacNab, and Clan Ronald, under command of Robert  Campbell, son of the Laird of Glen Orchy. In this battle, Duncan Aberach, one of  the Chieftains of the Clan Gregor, his son Duncan, and seven other MacGregors  were killed. But although they made a brave resistance, and killed many of their  pursuers, the MacGregors, after many skirmishes and great losses, were at last  overcome. Excerpt taken from Wikipedia  Clan Gregor.



So we move forward in time to the eighteenth century and find that the  Highlanders are betrayed by their own lords.


The Highland Clearances (Scottish Gaelic:  Fuadach nan Gàidheal, the expulsion of the Gael) was the forced displacement of  a significant number of people in the Scottish Highlands during the 18th and  19th century, as a result of an agricultural revolution (also known as  enclosure) carried out by hereditary aristocratic landowners. The changes were  seen to be supported by the government, who gave financial aid for roads and  bridges to assist the new sheep-based agriculture and trade. The clearances were  particularly notorious as a result of the late timing, the lack of legal  protection for year-by-year tenants under Scots law, the abruptness of the  change from the traditional clan system, and the brutality of many  evictions.


Elizabeth Leveson-Gower, Duchess of  Sutherland, and her husband George Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland,  conducted brutal clearances between 1811 and 1820. Evictions at the rate of  2,000 families in one day were not uncommon. Many starved and froze to death  where their homes had once been. The Duchess of Sutherland, on seeing the  starving tenants on her husband’s estate, remarked in a letter to a friend in  England, “Scotch people are of happier constitution and do not fatten like the  larger breed of animals.”


According to

Nobody pursued the clearance policy with  more vigour and cruel thoroughness than Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, and  her name is still reviled in many homes with Highland connections across the  world to this day.



Donald McLeod, a Sutherland crofter, later wrote about the events he  witnessed:


The consternation and confusion were  extreme. Little or no time was given for the removal of persons or property; the  people striving to remove the sick and the helpless before the fire should reach  them; next, struggling to save the most valuable of their effects. The cries of  the women and children, the roaring of the affrighted cattle, hunted at the same  time by the yelling dogs of the shepherds amid the smoke and fire, altogether  presented a scene that completely baffles description — it required to be seen  to be believed.


A dense cloud of smoke enveloped the whole  country by day, and even extended far out to sea. At night an awfully grand but  terrific scene presented itself — all the houses in an extensive district in  flames at once. I myself ascended a height about eleven o’clock in the evening,  and counted two hundred and fifty blazing houses, many of the owners of which I  personally knew, but whose present condition — whether in or out of the flames  — I could not tell. The conflagration lasted six days, till the whole of the  dwellings were reduced to ashes or smoking ruins. During one of these days a  boat actually lost her way in the dense smoke as she approached the shore, but  at night was enabled to reach a landing-place by the lurid light of the  flames.



From there, I discovered something very interesting: the Campbells, a very  powerful clan, took advantage of the turning political tide to rid the land of  their old enemy, and seized MacGregor land at every opportunity.


These are the major elements behind the family history of Marcus MacGregor,  the hero in My Highland Love. Clan leader Marcus MacGregor, Marquess of Ashlund,  is next in line to rule his branch of the MacGregors. Marcus is an educated man,  a modern man. He understands the need for peace. But the blood of his ancestors  cries out at each atrocity that is still committed against his people by their  centuries old enemies.



Here’s a peek into Marcus’  thoughts.


Marcus surged to his feet. He strode to the  wall, where hung the claymore belonging to his ancestor Ryan MacGregor, the man  who saved their clan from annihilation. Marcus ran a finger along the blade, the  cold, hard steel heating his blood as nothing else could. Except… Campbells.


Had two centuries of bloodshed not been  enough?


Fifty years ago King George finally  proclaimed the MacGregors no longer outlaws and restored their Highland name.  General John Murray, Marcus’s great uncle, was named clan chief. Only recently,  the MacGregors were given a place of honor in the escort, which carried the  “Honors of Scotland” before the sovereign. Marcus had been there, marching  alongside his clansmen.


Too many dark years had passed under this  cloud. Would the hunted feeling Ryan MacGregor experienced ever fade from the  clan? Perhaps it would have been better if Helena hadn’t saved Ryan that fateful  day so long ago. But Ryan had lived, and his clan thrived, not by the sword, but  by the timeless power of gold. Aye, the Ashlund name Helena gave Ryan saved  them. Yet, Ryan MacGregor’s soul demanded recompense.


How could Ryan rest while his people still  perished?




I think Marcus captures the heart of what  Hal MacGregor of the MacGregor clan says on his blog:

From the MacGregor viewpoint, they had  always seized and held their substantial properties by the sword, and, in their  own judgment, were quite capable of doing just that. Their fierceness in  defending their homelands was renowned and had been proved time and time  again.


My Highland Love is now available at Silver Publishing.




Please welcome today my friend Ian Colville.  In a virtual case of It’s a Small World, I ‘met’ Ian, as best as I can remember (Ian will hopefully correct me if I’m wrong), when he stopped by my blog or facebook author page and said hello, having read my book.  On checking out his site, a Scottish ‘Book of Days,’ I realized it was Iainthepict, whose site was among those I had used in researching the book!  I have recently learned Ian is also a poet and author, having been published previously in an anthology, and just weeks ago, released his own book of poetry, Poetry on the Rocks, which I have been enjoying.

If you love Scotland and Scottish history, check out his site!  And now, here’s Ian on some of Scotland’s great heroes.


Scotland has had many heroes over the centuries. Some are very well known, thanks in no small part to a Hollywood motion picture, written by an American, starring an Australian and filmed in Ireland. Now, there’s a diaspora for ye! Yet some of Scotland’s heroes are less well known, at least  outwith certain circles, notably those involving Laura and her fans. You’d have to number in that company of medieval knights in armour, two men in particular; Sir James Douglas – the Good Sir James – and Sir Andrew de Moray.

Like William Wallace, both of these men had a grudge to bear against their Anglo-Norman adversary, Edward Plantagenet, the first of that ill bred eponymous triumvirate and the one known as Longshanks. Funnily enough, these two guys had something else in common as their two families were related. Sir James Douglas’ great-great-grandfather had been the brother-in-law of Sir Freskin de Kerdale, from the Laich of Moray, and that Flemish gentleman was the 12th Century founder of the house of Moray from which Sir Andrew was descended.

Douglas’ grudge stemmed from his father’s capture and imprisonment by the English and having had his inheritance taken from him by Edward I, to be bestowed upon my Lord Clifford. The elder Douglas, Sir William ‘le Hardy’, the first Lord of Douglasdale, had joined Wallace in 1296 and was to die in captivity, either in the Tower of London, in 1298, or in the Tower of York, in 1302.

Coincidentally, de Moray’s father had also been imprisoned by Edward of England and that was part of his grudge against that king. After Dunbar, the elder Sir Andrew de Moray of Petty had been incarcerated in the Tower of London, where he died on the 4th of April, 1298. Perhaps William Douglas and Andrew Moray became neighbouring inmates in the dungeons of London’s Tower, where they might have played cards and expressed their hopes and fears for the future welfare of their sons and heirs.

Whilst James Douglas had fled to France after his father’s capture, returning later to join up with Robert the Bruce, Andrew Moray had felt Edward’s hospitality at first hand, having been a prisoner in Chester Castle. He didn’t like that much, during the winter of 1296-97, and so he escaped. After that, Moray’s tale is tied up with that of Wallace and, sadly, it has been more or less overshadowed by the fabled exploits of his erstwhile companion. If ever there was a gap in the market for a stirring tale of medieval derring-do, it would be that of Sir Andrew Moray of Petty, following his proclamation of defiance against the English at Avoch in Ross, in May of 1297.

Of course, the course of history would not have been the same had not Alexander III fallen to his death down a wee bit bank near Findhorn in Fife, in the misty-moisty, early morning hours of the 19th of March, 1286. Mystery persists around his death. Perhaps, along with that of Henry, Lord Darnley, who also died mysteriously in the early hours of a morning, in Kirk o’ Field, in Edinburgh, in 1567, it ranks as the greatest unsolved murder mystery in Scotland; who knows.

What is fair to say, is that the Bruces had most to gain from Alexander’s death. Everyone remembers Robert the Bruce, but not many recall his Pa was also called Robert. In fact, Robert the eldest son was the ninth such of that name in the space of ten generations. But it wasn’t Robert’s Dad who was the driving force, it was his grandfather who would be King – and time was running out for him. In 1286, Robert Bruce, the Competitor, had only nine years left before he was to die.

Nobody would suggest that an eleven years old Robert Bruce of Annandale would be up to mischief after midnight of the 18th of March, 1286, though somebody might raise the question of where was his father that night. Perhaps he was on the way back from the Bruce Lordship in the Garioch, by way of Fife, heading for one of the few crossings of the Forth, at Queensferry, on his way back to the south west. Well, he could’ve been.

So, think on this if you’re seeking a storyline for your next book; anyone whose son could play stabbety-stab with his main rival inside a kirk in Dumfries in 1306, could just as easily play bumps-a-daisy with Alexander mac Alexander mac William mac Henry at the top of a slippery slope in Fife, in the dark, in 1286. There is no evidence for that, of course, but it’d make a great motion picture. You can just see Russell Crowe in the role of the King, with Ewan McGregor as the Earl of Carrick and surely, the tale would read well in a book. Murder mystery, anyone?




Ian Colville writes a blog about Scottish history, under the pseudonym of ‘iainthepict’, a nom de guerre he’s been using for his on-line presence since the Internet contrived to set us all free (or let loose). Ian also writes poetry, using the same nom de plume, as a contributor to Jottify, and on his own Blogger page as iainthepoet. His blog about Scottish historical events is a sort of ‘book of days’, intended to present at least one post for each day of the year. It’s in its third year now, but it’s becoming a bit sporadic. Ian has also been writing poetry, albeit sporadically, for the last forty years or so, however, the major portion of his poems have been written in the last decade. He writes in English and Scots, and has written a couple of poems in German. Three of Ian’s poems appear in ‘Wordgasm’, a best-selling and award winning anthology with attitude, published by American author Rob Deck, in February, 2011. Ian has also published an e-book, entitled ‘Poetry on the Rocks’, which is available in the Jottify store.


Learn more about Ian at: