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Fraser's Scottish Annual
The Highland Scotch U.E. Loyalists


BEFORE 1775 many natives of the Highlands of Scotland emigrated to America and settled within the borders of what is now the United States. Sometimes this emigration was of an individual character, but the emigration whose influence is yet distinctly felt in the Dominion of Canada and the United States was different in cause and character. Whole families, many times whole communities, were compelled to leave the glens they loved so well and seek new homes in America.

The Highlanders, like all peoples that live in rocky picturesque countries, love their home, their family and their freedom. From earliest times the Highlanders sought foreign service in various capacities. Accustomed as they were to scanty fare at home, their industry, perseverance, frugality and honesty soon enabled them in more highly favored countries to acquire a competency. With this the wanderer returned to his native hills and heath to live in homely affluence the rest of his days.

When families or communities migrated it was from necessity, not from choice. When they bade adieu to their past surroundings it was with a heavy heart, because they never hoped to return. The preparation for the journey has been graphically described by more than one writer. They approached the kirk and the adjoining yard with tears in their eyes. They kissed the walls of the sacred edifice, they prostrated themselves on the mounds of earth that marked the resting-place of their departed ones, and after a short prayer they moved slowly away from the hallowed scenes with heavy steps and aching hearts.

A Highland poet thus describes. them:

Farewell to the land of the mountain and wood,
Farewell to the home of the brave and the good,
My bark is afloat on the blue-rolling main,
And I ne'er shall behold thee, dear Scotland, again!

Adieu to the scenes of my life's early morn,
From the place of my birth I am cruelly torn;
The tyrant oppresses the land of the free
And leaves but the name of my sires unto me.

Oh I home of my fathers, I bid thee adieu,
For soon will thy hill-tops retreat from my view,
With sad drooping heart I depart from thy shore
To behold thy fair valleys and mountains no more.

'Twas there that I wooed thee, young Flora, my wife,
When my bosom was warm in the morning of life,
I courted thy love 'mong the heather so brown,
And heaven did I bless when it made thee my own.

The friends of my early years, where are they now?
Each kind honest heart, and each brave manly brow;
Some sleep in the churchyard, from tyranny free,
And others are crossing the ocean with me.

Lo! now on the boundless Atlantic I stray,
To a strange foreign realm I am wafted away;
Before me as far as my vision can glance,
I but see the wave-rolling wat'ry expanse.

So farewell, my country and all than is dear,
The hour is arrived and the bark is asteer,
I go and forever, oh! Scotland adieu

The land of my fathers no more I shall view.


The causes that led to emigration were the oppression of Lauderdale in the reign of Charles II. in trying to suppress conventicles; the adherence of many of the clans to the ill-fated Stuart cause in 1689, in 1715 and again in 1745; the change of land tenure after the "45," and the introduction of sheep-farming. The particulars of each of these causes may be found in any history of Scotland.

One of the first Highland settlements in America was in South Carolina. Lord Cardross, afterwards Earl of Buchan, brought out a colony of Presbyterians, groaning under the tyranny of Lauderdale. They settled on Port Royal Island in 1683 and under some agreement claimed co-ordinate authority with the Governor and Grand Council of Charlestown. The local government disallowed the claim and Lord Cardross returned to Britain. The colony prospered and lived on very friendly terms with the Indians, but was eventually scattered by the Spaniards, and its members found refuge in the other settlements.

Georgia was very early a refuge for the Highlanders. It was at first a plantation for refugee debtors languishing in English prisons. It was founded by James Oglethorpe, a philanthropist and afterwards an able general. After some years of trial, the trustees found that the poor of Britain was indeed a poor foundation upon which to build a colony. The settlements were in constant danger of extinction from raids of the Spaniards from Florida, and with every encouragement the colony did not prosper. It was proposed to induce men to emigrate who were hardy, inured to manual labor, with simple habits of life, men who could meet the exigencies of cultivation or of defence, and be successful in either. Such men were to be found only in the Highlands of Scotland. In February, 1736, 150 emigrants from Inverness-shire arrived in Georgia. They were settled on the Alatarnoha river, which was considered the b9undary between the British and Spanish dominions. They called their settlement New Inverness and the fort Darien. Here they lived in contented freedom and independence, cherishing the national characteristics of manner and dress. They were joined by others from their native country, and soon a minister, Rev. John MacLeod, was selected and sent out to attend to their spiritual wants. This minister preached in Gaelic, instructed the children in English and other branches of education, and in some measure tried to bring the Gospel to the Indians.

From its very inception the settlement was threatened by invasion by the Spaniards. The Highlanders were not at all dismayed by the prospect of meeting the Spaniards in war. In fact they rather enjoyed such a meeting. When their ship landed at Savannah, some people of South Carolina tried to dissuade them from going to the proposed place by saying the Spaniards were all ready there and would shoot them. The Highlanders replied "In that case we will drive them out of their fort, and have houses ready built for us."

For ten years there was continuous warfare, the brunt of which was borne by the Highlanders, and to the success of these actions Oglethorpe owed his reputation. The wonderful fighting powers of the Highlander has brought fame to many a general since the days of Oglethorpe, and memories of his gallant soldiers in far-off Georgia may have had some effect in preventing his coming to an engagement with their kinsman when they were out with Prince Charlie in '45.

Another early settlement, and perhaps the largest at the time of the Revolution, was in North Carolina, along Cape Fear River. It is not known when the first settlers came, but there were Highlanders there in 1729, probably the survivors of the broken up South Carolina Colony. The first great acquisition to this nucleus was the arrival of a shipload in 1739 from Kintyre, in Scotland, under Neil McNeil. From time to time others, dissatisfied with their homes, joined them, but in 1746 and 1747 the great emigration took place, caused by the oppression after the outbreak in 1745. Emigration continued from every part of Scotland, but just before the Revolution there was the greatest influx of settlers.

The most notable accessions to the Highlanders in North Carolina was the emigration of the McDonalds of Raasay and Skye. The most prominent figure among them was Allan McDonald, of Kings- burgh, husband of the heroic Flora McDonald, the faithful attendant of Prince Charlie. Allan McDonald was a splendid type of the aristocratic Highlander. The picture that is handed down to us is a large stately man, with steady, noble countenance, with his jet black hair tied behind, and dressed in the height of Highland fashion. It is not wonderful that such a man would take precedence among his countrymen.

At the first signs of the disturbance, Allan McDonald went to Governor Martin and offered to raise a battalion of Highlanders. He was granted permission, provided those who had the management of affairs would sanction it. It was the same old story— inefficient Governors, who were afraid to take prompt measures without authority, and indifferent officers and generals at headquarters, who refused to listen to the warnings of those who knew most about the true state of affairs. This delay strengthened the hands of the rebels, and dissension was sown among the Highlanders. Old clan jealousies were revived, and the adherence of the young men born in the colony was lost to the British cause. At first neutral, they were compelled to take up arms against Britain.

Early in 1776, Donald McDonald, from New York, arrived at Cape Fear River, with authority to raise a regiment. The mistake was made in not sending a force to command respect, as several of the older residents desired to remain neutral, because overawed by a superior force of rebels. However, a battalion was raised wholly from the late emigrants, and about the middle of February took up the line of march to Wilmington to embark for New York. The rebels, under Moore, placed themselves in the way, and the result was that after a slight skirmish the Highlanders were surrounded by a greatly superior force and compelled to surrender. The leaders were imprisoned in Halifax and the men released after being compelled to take an oath of neutrality.

Several small parties, however, managed to find their way northward, and enlisted in a corps called the Royal Highland Emigrants.

The most picturesque personage in the forming of this loyal regiment was Flora McDonald. She personally aided in getting the men to enlist and when the regiments were formed she addressed them and so enthusiastic was she that she followed her husband for several days until they came in touch with the rebel forces. At his earnest solicitation she consented to return to her home. Embracing her husband she breathed a prayer for the success of their cause and a quick return to their homes. She never saw her husband again in America. After the defeat of his force he and his eldest son were imprisoned, two of her younger children died of fever and on the advice of her husband she started for Scotland, with her daughter, Fanny, in 1779. Her five sons and, son-in-law were actively engaged in the war. The vessel on which she took passage was attacked by a French privateer and during the engagement she persisted in remaining on deck. While here she slipped and broke her arm. She used to say that she served both the House of Stuart and the House of Brunswick and was worsted in the cause for each.

New Jersey at the time of the Revolution had a large Highland population. The early influx to this colony was due to two of its proprietaries, Robert Barclay of Urie, and Lord Neil Campbell, brother of the Duke of Argyle.. Its first settlers were the Covenanters, but it received its fair share of the emigration until the breaking out of the Revolution. The Loyalists from New Jersey were numerous, as there were formed four battalions of Loyalists from its population besides contributing many volunteers to other loyal regiments.

In New York there were two distinctive Highland settlements; one planted by Lauchlin Campbell between the years 1737 and 1750 on the watershed that separates the streams flowing into Lake George from those flowing into the Hudson. The colony was augmented very materially by the practice of giving a grant of land in America to every discharged soldier.

The most notable Highland settlement in the province was that on the Mohawk.

Sir William Johnson for his services in the last war was rewarded with a grant of 100,000 acres of land north of the Mohawk. He had dreams of being a great feudal lord, and to people this vast estate he went to England to secure colonists. The broken fortunes under changed conditions of land tenure in Scotland of many of the Highland families led Sir 'William to seek for tenants in the Highlands. Consequently we find that his agents secured all the colonists he required from the Miacdonells of Glengarry, Glen Morrison, Glen Urquhart and Strath Glass. These were all of the Roman Catholic faith, and the leaders were Alexander Macdonell (Aberchalder), John Macdonell (Seotas), Archibald Macdonell (Leek), and Allan Macdonell (Collachie), and four hundred other heads of families. They reached their destination in September, 1773. They began at once to fell the trees and build their log houses for protection during the winter. For two years they toiled on their farms and the prospect for a brilliant future was most promising. The Highlanders became deeply attached to Sir William Johnson and their confidence in his integrity and honesty was not misplaced. But from such brilliant dreams of the future they were to be suddenly awakened.

The next June Sir William died and his son, Sir John Johnson, succeeded to the title and estates.

The rebels under the leadership of Schuyler, wishing to exact an oath of neutrality from Sir John, invaded his estate and the Macdonell settlement. Opposition was out of the question, so the Highlanders were disarmed and their leaders taken as hostages for their good behavior. Schuyler knowing that the loyal sentiments of the Highlanders would not stand too much provocation, resolved to imprison Sir John and a few more of the Highland leaders. But they were warned just in time. They fled to Canada and Sir John got permission to form a regiment called the King's Royal Regiment of New York. Nearly all the officers and a large share of the men were Highlanders, who after the war settled in the counties of Stormont and Glengarry in Tipper Canada. A full description of these people is to be found in the pages of "Sketches of Glengarry," by Mr. John Greenfield Macdonell, of Alexandria; and "Lunenburgh," by the late Judge Jacob Farrand Pringle.

A notable accession to the Highlanders in America were the disbanded heroes of the three famous Highland regiments that had won undying fame under Wolfe, under Forbes and under Amherst, in the struggle between the British and French for the possession of the continent. These regiments were the 42nd or Royal Highland Regiment, so well known as the Black Watch, the strongest and best regiment under Abercrombie in the ill-managed expedition that ended so disastrously at Ticonderoga; the 77th or Montgomery's Highlanders, named from its commander, Archibald Montgomery, son of the Earl of Eglinton,—a regiment that, under Forbes, drove the French from the forks of the Ohio, and whose prowess enabled him to perpetuate the name of Britain's great war minister, Pitt, in the Ohio valley. The other regiment was the 78th or Fraser's Highlanders, formed and organized by Simon Fraser, son of Lord Lovat, who paid with his life the penalty of an unswerving attachment to the hopeless Stuart cause. This was the first regiment to climb the heights of Abraham on the grey dawn of that September morning that put an end to the hopes of building a French empire in America.

After taking part in the various campaigns, and being sent wherever hard work was to be done, these regiments were to be sent home. In 1767 the Black Watch were to embark from Philadelphia for Ireland, but all men who wished to stay in America were allowed to join other regiments until their time of service expired, when they were discharged and became settlers. In 1763 Montgomery's Highlanders were offered the choice of going home or staying in America. A large number remained and received grants of land. Fraser's Highlanders were similarly treated, and, as in the other regiments, many became settlers.
Every writer who has narrated the services of these regiments has spoken of them in the highest terms of praise. The officers and men were from the same people, having the same manners, the same customs, a common language and a common devotion. The officers were of the best families in Scotland, and were the embodiment of all the virtues that a private soldier so dearly loves in a commander.

Perhaps it may not be out of place to quote here the famous words of the Earl of Chatham when speaking in the House of Lords in 1776 in reference to the Highland regiments. He said:

"I sought for merit wherever it could be found. It is my boast that I was the first minister who looked for it and found it in the mountains of the north. I called it forth and drew into your service a hardy and intrepid race of men; men who, left by your jealousy, became a prey to the artifices of your enemies and had gone nigh to have overturned the state in the war before last. These men in the last war were brought to combat on your side; they served with fidelity as they fought with valour, and conquered for you in every part of the world."

When the Revolution broke out authority was given to raise a regiment from the disbanded soldiers of these three Regiments and others who could be induced to join it. The command of the first battalion was given to Col. Allan MacLean, son of Torloisk, late of the 104th Regiment, and the command of the second battalion to John Small, late of the 42nd.

This regiment was called the Royal Highland Emigrants, afterwards the 84th.

Five companies of the 2nd battalion remained in Nova Scotia during the war while the other five joined Clinton and Cornwallis. At Eutaw Springs these five were in the brigade that drove all before them.

The first battalion, 350 strong, assembled at Quebec, but on the approach of the rebels under Montgomery, by Lake Champlain, McLean was ordered to St. Johns, but when at Sorel he heard that Arnold was marching on Quebec. By wonderful marching he succeeded in evading Arnold and getting within the fortress. He arrived just in time, as the city was held by only 50 men of the Fusiliers, some seamen and the Militia, and the citizens were about to surrender it. When Carleton arrived he found everything in readiness and in perfect order for withstanding a siege. Had Mc- Lean been anything different from what he was, Quebec must have fallen. A. weaker commander would have given way under the urgent appeals of the populace. Hatred of rebels to his sovereign was so exasperating that he turned out some of the disaffected to the mercy of the rebels.

An American writer says:-

Some of the faint-hearted were inclined to open the gates, but were held in check by the mastiff loyalty of McLean. The veteran guarded the gates with his Highlanders, forbade all communication with the besiegers, and fired upon their flag as an ensign of rebellion." Again the same writer says, " It was the hope of Washington to conquer Canada, but the despatches were withering. The works seemed to Montgomery incapable of defence, the only defenders being McLean's banditti."

We all know the result of the attack on the last day of the year 1776. Montgomery and a large number of his men killed, Arnold wounded and his men dispirited. However he remained till spring, when he was driven out of Canada.

During the remainder of the war the first battalion was engaged in garrison duty in Canada and in several small expeditions in the rebellious parts of the provinces.

It is a remarkable fact that the Highlanders took the Loyalist side. Every Highland settlement from Georgia to Canada declared for King George. It is remarkable because these people were the ones who suffered expatriation for their adherence to the Stuarts thirty years before.

In the service of Britain were two purely Highland regiments and a third about half Highlanders, and in every other regiment formed of the Loyalists there was a fair proportion of Scotchmen, while there was not one distinctive High- land regiment with the rebels. The attitude of the Highlanders has been a puzzle to historians of the United States. They reason thus:—since the Highlanders were punished by the House of Brunswick for being loyal to the Stuarts, they should now grasp the opportunity to punish the authors of their misfortunes. But they were made of sterner and more reliable stuff. They were of the blood that was loyal to kings. They knew England and England's king, and during their short sojourn in the colonies they had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with his opponents. Because they chose the Royalist side they have been maligned by writers with unceasing regularity, from that time to the present. Because they would not listen to pleasing promises and were proof against intimidation, they have been called weak-minded and little better than slaves who knew not freedom.

In a book published last summer in speaking of North Carolina Highlanders, the following expressions of a United States writer may be found:

"That the action of the Highlanders was ill-advised at that time admits of no discussion. They failed to realize the conditions if the country and the insuperable difficulties to overcome before making a junction with Sir Henry Clinton. What they expected to. gain by their conduct is uncertain, and why they should march away a distance of one hundred miles and then be transported by ships to a place they knew not where, thus leaving their wives and children to the mercy of those men whom they had offended and driven to arms, made bitter enemies of, must ever remain unfathomable. It shows they were blinded and exhibited the want of ordinary foresight. It is no wonder that although nearly a century and a quarter have elapsed since the Highlanders unsheathed the claymore in the pine forests of North Carolina, not a single person has shown the hardihood to applaud their action."

To my mind it is very easily explained. One word is sufficient —loyalty. The attitude of persons who write as above is also easily explained. Their natures are so constituted that selfishness and the love of mere gain have dwarfed every other noble sentiment, such as self-sacrifice or loyalty to their sovereign.

As descendants of loyalists we are proud of the sturdy Scotch who, in the face of unusually trying circumstances, remained loyal —not merely passively loyal, but were actively loyal, and, rather than live among men guilty of the crime of rebellion, they came to Canada, there to build up a nation such as we have to-day. All honour, I say, to those Highlanders who laid the foundation of New Brunswick, of Nova Scotia, of Prince Edward Island and part of Upper Canada. May their descendants ever cherish their self-sacrificing deeds and revere the loving devotion of those noble men, and all will be well with the future of Canada.

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