An Pàpanach Mòr and the Campbells of Ardslignish

On the right: the gravestone of Alexander Campbell of Ardslignish, An Pàpanach Mòr ("the Great Papist"), third son of Alexander Campbell, 6th of Lochnell, Camus nan Gael, Ardnamurchan.
On the right: the gravestone of Alexander Campbell of Ardslignish, An Pàpanach Mòr (“the Great Papist”), third son of Alexander Campbell, 6th of Lochnell, Camus nan Gael, Ardnamurchan.

Campbells of Ardslignish.
(Supplied by Mrs. Lillias Davidson, neé Campbell, Lochnell.)

ALEXANDER CAMPBELL of Ardslignish, son of (Airdslignis)
the sixth Lochnell (Loch-nan-eala), brother to Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell, and commonly known as the “Pàpanach Mòr,” either on
account of his great stature, or his zealous adherence to the Church of Rome, was an enthusiastic Jacobite; while his only son John was a Protestant, and in the service of the king.

By an accident characteristic of these unhappy times, when religion and politics superseded the ties of kindred, Ardslignish and his son met on Stirling (Sruileadh) Bridge: the latter leading on his men, though himself disabled—one arm being broken, and the other run through; the father, unwounded, and untouched by pity, exclaiming as he passed, “Would to God, John, that every man on your side was in the same state!”

On another occasion, the father and son were again brought together: in a remarkable manner, when the army of the Prince, amongst whom was the Pàpanach Mòr, were surrounding Edinburgh Castle (Caisteal Dhun-èideann), in which his son John was shut up with the king’s troops. The latter, having volunteered to convey despatches from the garrison to their friends in Stirling, was let down in a basket from a window in the Castle at the dead of night, and passing through the enemy’s camp, unseen by his father and the rest of the Prince’s army, reached Stirling; and returning to Edinburgh (Dun-éideann) before daybreak, re-entered the Castle in the same manner as he had quitted it.

The ill-fortune of Charles Edward did not in any way diminish Ardslignish’s enthusiasm in his cause,—as may be seen from the fact that, when he knew himself to be dying (in 1767), he desired his son to have him arrayed in the dress he wore at Culloden (Cùil-fhodair), and caused the pipers to march round the house playing the “Prince’s Welcome” (“Fàilt a’ Phrionnsa“).

At the funeral of this Ardslignish’s father (in 1714) there were 4000 men, under arms, attending the various chieftains; and before the mourners left the house, Rob Roy, who claimed kindred with the family, stepped up to the bier, declaring that, if he was not allowed to have the first lift of Lochnell’s body, it would not be the only one that would leave the house. This demand was granted,—undoubtedly rather because brawling was considered out of place at such a time than that so great a number of men would be intimidated even by Rob Roy.

On one occasion, when John Campbell of Ardslignish was going to leave home, he went to the kiln where it was customary for the dead to be taken between the time of decease and of interment; and while there, while speaking to the smith of the place, who was supposed to be gifted with secondsight, he was surprised to see the man’s face suddenly change, and his gaze become riveted on one corner. The smith, on being asked the cause of his extraordinary manner, said that he saw either Ardslignish or himself lying dead in the kiln, as the body was covered by a plaid woven in an unusual manner, and of which only two had been made—one being in his possession, and the other in that of Ardslignish. To calm the man’s agitation, the latter said that he would make it impossible that this dream should come to pass, as he would leave orders that, in the event of the smith’s death, his body should not be taken to the kiln, and in his own case such a thing was obviously impossible; thus the dream could have no fulfilment. However, he forgot all about the circumstance, and left without giving the promised order,—to find, on his return, that the smith was dead, and his body lying in the kiln, wrapped in the plaid, as he had predicted.

— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).

An Hardy and Intrepid Race of Men

John Slezer's engraving of Edinburgh Castle, c.1693 showing the Scottish Union Flag being flown above the Royal apartments.
John Slezer’s engraving of Edinburgh Castle c.1693, showing the Scottish Union Flag being flown above the Royal apartments.

SCOTLAND, considering its limited population and extent, has made a distinguished figure in History. No country, in modern times, has produced Characters more remarkable for learning, valour, or ability, or for knowledge in the most important arts both of peace and of War; and though the Natives of that formerly independent, and hitherto unconquered, kingdom have every reason to be proud of the name of Britons, which they have acquired since the Union in 1707, yet still they ought not to relinquish, on that account, all remembrance of the Martial Atchievements, the Characteristic Dress, or the Language, the Music, or the Customs of their Ancestors. If in all these respects they were to be completely assimilated to the English, Scotland would become in a manner blended with England, whilst its inhabitants at the same time could claim no peculiar merit, from old English valour, virtue, literature, or fame; whereas if they consider themselves not only as Britons, but as Scotchmen, there are many circumstances, connected with the more remote, and even the modern periods of their history, which they can recollect with enthusiasm, as the Songs of their Ancient Bards;– the Tales of their former times, when FINGAL conquered, and OSSIAN sung his praises,– their determined resistance to the Roman arms;– their reiterated victories over the Danes, who were formerly the terror of the North;– the renowned atchievements of a WALLACE, a DOUGLAS, and a BRUCE, and other heroes, in their contests with the English, the most warlike nation then existing;– their valour in the service of France, of Holland, and of other Powers;– the share they had in the immortal Victories of the great Gustavus;– the manner in which they have distinguished themselves in more recent times, as at Fontenoy, at Quebec, on the banks of the Ganges and of the Nile, and on so many other important occasions;– their contributing in so material a degree to the revival of Learning in Europe;– their having been the means of establishing some of the most famous Universities on the Continent;– the many celebrated Authors and Artists which Scotland has successively produced;– in short, in the words of a distinguished modern poet, the Scots may be accounted

… a manly race,
Of unsubmitting spirit, wise, and brave;
… thence of unequal bounds
Impatient, and by tempting glory borne
O’er every land,– for every land, their life
Has flow’d profuse, their piercing genius plann’d,
And swell’d the pomp of peace, their faithful toil.

Or if less partial authority be required, than the testimony of a Scottish Poet, let us recollect, that the celebrated Earl of Chatham, on the 11th of January, 1766, expressed himself in the British Senate, when the Military Services of the Scots were under discussion, in the following terms:

I sought for Merit wherever it was to 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, an hardy and intrepid race of men! men who, when 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 the 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.

Perhaps the best mode by which the Scots may be enabled to keep up that National Spirit, which was formerly so conspicuous, that “fier comme un Ecossais,” became proverbial on the Continent, is occasionally to meet in that Garb, so celebrated as having been the dress of their Celtic Ancestors, and on such occasions, at least, to speak the emphatic Language, to listen to the delightful Music, to recite the Ancient Poetry, and to observe the peculiar customs of their country.

— An Account of the Highland Society of London, 1813.

Vocavit Columbam de Foraminibus Petre

St Columba window, St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh Castle.
St Columba window, St. Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh Castle.

Jesus, wishing to relieve sighing in favour of
a song, called forth Columba from the
holes of the rock, from the hollows of timber.
This dove returned to the ark,
bearing, moreover, the sign of God’s mercy
in his mouth.

— Responsory Volens Jesus from the Office of St.Columba;
Inchcolm Antiphoner.

John Campbell of the Bank

John Campbell of the Bank, 1759 (or 1749). All “modern tartans” identified with the Clan Campbell are blue, green, and black. I am not aware of any red tartan which has been associated either historically or by the tartan mills with the Clan Campbell. This portrait just reinforces the truth that Highlanders simply wore what tartans were locally available or to their taste. John Campbell (c.1703-1777) was a Scottish banker and man of business. He worked for The Royal Bank of Scotland from its foundation in 1727, and was its cashier, 1745-77. He served as agent for his kinsmen the 2nd Earl of Breadalbane and Lord Glenorchy, keeping their estate accounts and acting as their representative for all types of business in Edinburgh. Campbell was a Gaelic-speaker with an interest in supporting the survival of the language. He read poetry and his diary suggests that he also wrote it, although no samples are known to survive. It is thought that he was one of the financial supporters of James Macpherson, in his search for the ‘lost’ Ossian cycle of poems.

John Campbell’s diary recounts how the Jacobite army took control of Edinburgh on 17 September 1745. On 1 October, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s secretary informed John Campbell that he had £857 of Royal Bank banknotes and wanted payment for them in gold. Upon failure to comply, the Jacobites would seize property from the Bank and its directors to the value of the notes.

It was not immediately easy for the Bank to comply, because all the Bank’s valuables, including its reserves of gold, had been moved to Edinburgh Castle for safekeeping during this time of turmoil. At first, it had been possible to get access to the Castle when necessary, but by this time the Castle – still in government hands – was locked down, while the rest of the city was under Jacobite control. Just a few days earlier, Campbell and some colleagues had been refused access to the castle, despite waiting at the gates for an hour.

Campbell sought and obtained a special pass from the Jacobite authorities permitting him to pass through the streets safely on his way to the castle. He also wrote ahead to the castle warning its commander that he would be asking for access. The commander implied he would be allowed in, but refused to put anything in writing.

Campbell, accompanied by colleagues and directors from the Bank, made his expedition to the castle on 3 October 1745. He successfully gained access, withdrew the gold to meet the Prince’s demands (which by now had risen to over £3,000), and more to meet any imminent further demands. He also destroyed a large quantity of unissued notes to remove the risk of them entering circulation and becoming an additional liability. While he worked, shooting went on between government forces in the Castle and Jacobites outside.

He paid the money to the Prince’s secretary at his office later that evening. The Jacobite army left Edinburgh on 1 November, marching on into England in a bid to claim the British throne. The army’s progress into England was funded in no small part by the gold it had received from The Royal Bank of Scotland.