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Glencoe massacre

Glencoe massacre. The massacre, on 13 February 1692, has remained one of the most potent ‘myths’ in Scottish history. As part of the pacification of the Highlands after the collapse of the Jacobite rising of 1689–90 a royal order required all clan chieftains to take an oath of allegiance to William and Mary. The chief of the Macdonalds who lived in Glencoe, 10 miles from Fort William on the north-west coast of Scotland, did so, but only after the time limit of 1 January. The Scottish secretary, Sir John Dalrymple, and the administration in Edinburgh used his lateness as a pretext to send a force to Glencoe to exact the submission of a clan known to be Jacobite in its sympathies. The officers and men of this force were Campbells, hereditary enemies of the Macdonalds, who had raided Campbell land as recently as 1690. After being given traditional Highland hospitality the soldiers turned on and massacred some 40 of their hosts, and many of those who escaped soon died in winter storms. William had not authorized the action, but he did not punish those held to be responsible by a 1695 commission of inquiry. His failure was vociferously exploited by Jacobite propaganda.

J. R. Jones

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Glencoe, Massacre of

Glencoe, Massacre of a massacre in 1692 of members of the Jacobite MacDonald clan by Campbell soldiers, which took place near Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands.

The MacDonald clan failed to swear allegiance to William III, making them liable to military punishment. Soldiers from the Campbell clan, who had been billeted on the MacDonalds for twelve days, murdered the MacDonald chief and about thirty of his followers, while the rest of the clan escaped. The chief of the Campbell clan, which had a long-standing feud with the MacDonalds, was held responsible, although the massacre was almost certainly instigated by the government.

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