James Graham. Earl of Montrose

James Graham. Earl of Montrose

James Graham, the son of the 4th Earl of Montrose, was born in 1612. After being educated at St. Salvator's College, St. Andrews, he travelled to France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Montrose returned to Scotland in 1637 and soon afterwards was one of the four noblemen who drew up the National Covenant in support of Presbyterianism. However, in 1639, he expressed doubts about the Covenant and after he confessed he had been communicating with Charles I his main political opponent, Earl of Argyll, arranged for him to be confined in Edinburgh Castle.

After his release he decided to support the king during the Civil War. In August, 1644, he defeated the Covenanters under Lord Elcho at Tippermuir. He then captured Aberdeen (September, 1644) and plundered the countryside. At Inverlochy (February, 1645) his army killed 1,500 Campbells in battle. He achieved further victories at Auldearn (May, 1645) and Alford (June, 1645).

Montrose was defeated by David Leslie at Philiphaugh (September, 1645). He managed to raise another army in the Highlands but after the surrender of Charles I he fled to Europe.

Montrose was offered a senior post in the French army but committed to the royalist cause he returned to Scotland with a small army in April 1650. Three weeks later he was defeated at Carbisdale.

James Graham, 5th Earl of Montrose, was hung, drawn and quartered at Mercat Cross in Edinburgh in May, 1650. His limbs were exhibited in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Stirling and Perth.


The Execution of Montrose

Richard Cavendish describes the execution of James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, on May 21st, 1650.

James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, soldier, poet and one of the most romantic figures in British history, led a campaign of dashing brilliance as Royalist captain general in Scotland against the Covenanters and his bitter personal enemy, the Marquess of Argyll, in the summer of 1645. With a small swift-moving force of Highlanders and Irish, he ran audacious rings round his opponents until September, when he was finally pinned down and defeated by superior numbers at Philiphaugh in the Borders.

Montrose escaped to the Continent, but he was a man of action who fretted in the safety of exile, and in 1650 he returned to the Highlands to fight for Charles II. He failed to raise the clans in sufficient numbers and in April he was trapped and routed at Carbisdale. After wandering in the hills with the hue and cry out against him, so hungry that he was reduced to eating his gloves, he took refuge at Ardvreck Castle with Neil MacLeod of Assynt, but there was a substantial reward to be earned for him and Macleod surrendered him to the authorities. Macleod got his money and his name has stunk in Scottish nostrils ever since.

Montrose's captors moved him south by Inverness and Dundee, preceded by a herald who proclaimed, "Here comes James Graham, a traitor to his country". Mounted on a carthorse, he reached Edinburgh on a cold Saturday afternoon in May, in the presence of a huge crowd. At the Water Gate he was met by the hangman, transferred to the hangman's cart and tied to the seat, to be taken through the streets to the Tolbooth prison. Argyll was watching from a house on the route and the two men's eyes are said to have met for a moment as the cart trundled by. Far from stoning and reviling the prisoner, as had been hoped, the watching crowds were silent, and observers sensed an air of reluctant admiration and sympathy. The cart reached the Tolbooth prison about seven o'clock in the evening. Montrose spent the Sunday in his cell, pestered by Presbyterian ministers, who renewed their assault on Monday, when he was taken to the Parliament to hear the death sentence.

On Tuesday morning Montrose rose for the last time on earth and made himself ready. Carefully combing out his long hair, he was reproached by one of the Puritan divines for paying so much attention to his appearance at such a time. "My head is still my own," Montrose replied. "Tonight, when it will be yours, treat it as you please". At two in the afternoon he was taken on foot along the High Street to the Mercat Cross, where a gallows 30ft high had been erected on a platform. The condemned man was dressed in his finest scarlet and lace, with white gloves, silk stockings, ribboned shoes and his hat in his hand. He was thirty-seven years old and, according to one observer, he looked more like a bridegroom than a criminal. Another saw in him "a gallantry that braced the crowd". He was not allowed to address the spectators, for fear of what he might say. He gave the hangman some money, his arms were pinioned behind him and he climbed the ladder. His last words were reported as "God have mercy on this afflicted land!" Tears were running down the hangman's face as he pushed him off.

The body was left hanging for three hours and was then cut down and dismembered for the limbs to be sent for public display in Stirling, Aberdeen, Perth and Glasgow. The head was cut off and fixed on a spike on the Tolbooth, where it remained rotting for eleven years, when Argyll's head took its place. The rest of the carcass was buried in a box on the Burgh-Moor, from where it was rescued after the restoration of Charles II and given honourable interment in the High Kirk of St Giles, where a noble monument marks the grave today.


Montrose & the Civil War

His name may not be as well known as that of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace - but James Graham, Earl of Montrose, was one of the greatest heroes Scotland has ever produced.

Like the Bruce and Wallace, Montrose was a brilliant strategist and fearless fighter who had the gift of being able to inspire his men on to dazzling victories.

The greatest difference was that while Scotland's two great medieval warriors were patriots who fought exclusively for their country, Montrose fought for his king and the royalist cause of the Stewart monarchs.

James Graham's campaigns on behalf of Charles I were so remarkable that they gave heart to Royalists right across Britain who were fighting the parliamentarian forces in the Civil War.

In Scotland, Montrose's enemies were the Covenantors - the Scots who had signed the National Covenant of 1638 in an attempt to protect the Reformed Calvinist faith against King Charles's attempts to impose an English and Anglican form of worship on Scotland.

In theory, Montrose should have been beaten at virtually every turn. Instead, he fought so cleverly and with such determination that he routed his enemies and claimed slices of Scotland for the king time after time.

By the time the Civil War started in England, Montrose has been made a marquis and officially appointed as the King's Lieutenant in Scotland. As well as his own cunning, he also had a major advantage in that he had the support of the brilliant Alastair MacDonald of Colonsay, who came originally from Ireland and was also known as Coll Keitach. In 1644, with only 2200 men, the pair captured Dumfries from the Covenantors and then went on to seize the Northumberland town of Morpeth.

Montrose won an even more spectacular victory later that year when he routed the Covenanting army at Tibbermore near Perth. He still had less than 3000 men, while his enemy had more than twice that number.

Most of Montrose's troops came from the Highlands, and they went home after helping to win the battle at Tibbermore. Montrose, however, pressed on and moved north. By the time he reached Aberdeen, he had just 1500 men.

This, however, did not put him off a further fight. Once again, he took on a vastly superior Covenanting army and once again he won. He took Aberdeen, where he was able to obtain reinforcements and prepare himself for further battle.

By now, Montrose felt confident enough to try and strike at the very heart of the enemy. He decided to take on Archibald Campbell, the fiercely Calvinist Earl of Argyll, on his own territory in the mountainous stronghold of Inveraray.

His tactics appeared little short of lunatic. Winter was setting in, and the Campbell position at Inveraray, with sea on three sides and the mountains on the fourth, looked virtually impregnable. But when Argyll heard that Montrose was on his way, he panicked and fled down Loch Fyne, leaving hundreds of his troops as easy pickings for Montrose's men.

The following February, Montrose launched another attack on Campbell. He staged a daring dawn guerrilla raid, with Coll Keitach's MacDonalds racing down the slopes of Ben Nevis at Inverlochy. Once again, Argyll himself escaped and once again, his men were put to the sword. The final body count was 1500 Covenanting dead, while only 10 royalists perished.

Victory after victory followed. Montrose continued to use his talents of charismatic leadership, speed of attack and surprise in battle to rout the enemy. He captured Dundee and won a series of other skirmishes until the Highlands were effectively his.

Having disarmed Campbell, Montrose turned his attention to the lowlands. He marched into Glasgow, though at this point Coll Keitach left him to return to the Highlands and eventually to Ireland. Montrose's Highland troops, too, deserted. Even now, however, he was able to take Edinburgh, though the Covenantors retained control of the castle.

With Campbell at a safe distance in Berwick, Montrose began to form a Scottish government in the name of King Charles. However, his glory was to be short lived. The Covenantors' best general, David Leslie, had come back to Scotland with a force of 4000 men, and his army blocked Montrose's attempts to link up with Charles in England.

The two sides met at Philiphaugh, near Selkirk. This time it was the covenanting army, under Leslie, which sprang the surprise. The fight which followed turned into a bloodbath and as it became clear he had lost the day, Montrose had to be persuaded to flee the battlefield for his own safety.

With their greatest Scottish enemy neutered, the Covenanting forces came into the ascendancy. Under the terms of the Solemn League and Covenant they had signed with the anti-royalist parliamentarian forces in England, they were already fighting Charles I south of the border. When he surrendered at Southwell near Newark in 1646, it was to a Scottish army.

After trying unsuccessfully to persuade the king to sign the Covenant, The Scots finally handed him over to the English in return for their battle expenses. However, there was still a way out for the defeated king. One of the principal architects of the Solemn League and Covenant, the Earl of Lauderdale, travelled to see him and offered Charles the support of the Scottish military if he would convert England to Presbyterianism for a trial period of three years.

The king, with nothing left to lose, agreed. But the move, known as The Engagement, split Scots Presbyterians and finally petered out when a Scots army led by the Duke of Hamilton and fighting for this deal was defeated by the parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell at Preston in Lancashire.

For Charles, it was the end. He was tried by the English parliament, found guilty and beheaded outside Whitehall in January 1649. Montrose, who by now was in exile in Brussels, vowed that he would work to avenge his death.

The king had left an 18-year-old son, also Charles, who was proclaimed King of Scots in Edinburgh on his father's execution. However, he could not actually take the throne until he had signed the document his father had turned away from - the Solemn League and Covenant.

Montrose warned Charles II against signing the document, saying that he would win him the throne by military means instead. The king secretly continued to talk with Argyll about signing the covenant, but agreed that Montrose could embark on a campaign to restore his monarchy.

Montrose began his new military expedition by landing on Orkney with a force of about 500 mercenaries recruited from Germany and Denmark. He then gathered local recruits before heading for the mainland. But his venture was a disaster.

When he fought the Scots forces at Carbisdale, his army was destroyed. Montrose fled the battlefield and hid in the wilderness of Sutherland, but he was captured only two days later.

After being taken to Edinburgh, preparations were made for his execution. There was no need for a trial - conveniently, the Covenantors had declared him a traitor back in 1644. He was to be hung, drawn and quartered at the Mercat Cross.

As was always the case with executions, a mob gathered, but this time they were crying instead of jeering. After being hung, his head was placed on a spike in Edinburgh's Tolbooth, while other pieces of his body were sent to Aberdeen, Glasgow, Stirling and Perth.

What Montrose did not learn before his death was that the unsavoury Charles II had double crossed him. He had struck a deal with Argyll and finally signed both the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant.

For Charles, it was a hollow victory. He was forced to accept the rule of the Presbyterians, who distrusted him, and unable to rule effectively. And there was another problem. In England, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector and victor in the Civil War, had his designs on Scotland too?.


ExecutedToday.com

On this day in 1650, James Graham, Earl of Montrose, was hanged in Edinburgh.

The tragic “Great Montrose” was renowned for his tactical genius on the battlefield during the civil wars that cost King Charles I both crown and head. Although Montrose would die as a royalist he first entered the lists in the 1630s’ Bishops’ War as part of the Covenanter army resisting the king’s bid to impose top-down religious governance on Scotland.

But Montrose was the moderate and post-Bishops War found himself a leading exponent of the pro-reconciliation faction, bitterly opposed by the chief of the Campbell clan, the Marquess of Argyll.

These two became the opposing poles for the ensuing civil war in Scotland, at once a local clan war and the vortex of a border-hopping conflict that sucked in Ireland and England too. Although Montrose, now King Charles’s lieutenant-general in Scotland, could kick tail in battle his faction was divided and ultimately outnumbered by the Covenanters. Montrose had to flee Scotland for exile in 1646.

The execution of Charles I opened the door for Montrose’s own untimely end, in one of those classic affairs of double-dealing. The exiled Charles II, having now inherited the claim, named Montrose his lieutenant in Scotland and dispatched his family’s longtime paladin back to native soil to try to raise an army. But even as he did so, he was negotiating with Argyll’s Covenanters, who saw a chance to make good their political and religious objectives by playing kingmaker with their former enemy.

So when Montrose landed in 1650, he found little support and was overwhelmed at the Battle of Carbisdale. After several days’ wandering he sought refuge with a former friend who he did not realize was now also on the government’s side, and was promptly arrested and given over to his enemies for execution and for posthumous indignities: his head was mounted on a pike atop Edinburgh’s Tolbooth, and his four limbs nailed to the gates of Stirling, Glasgow, Perth and Aberdeen.

After the end of Cromwell‘s Protectorate, and the actual restoration of Charles II, these scattered remains were gathered up and interred with reverence at St. Giles Cathedral. The present-day Dukes of Montrose are his direct descendants.

James Graham, Earl of Montrose and his execution have the still more considerable honor of a verse tribute by legendary dreadful poet William McGonagall. (Montrose himself was known to try his hand at poetry, too.)

The Execution of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose A Historical Poem

‘Twas in the year of 1650, and on the twenty-first of May,
The city of Edinburgh was put into a state of dismay
By the noise of drums and trumpets, which on the air arose,
That the great sound attracted the notice of Montrose.

Who enquired at the Captain of the guard the cause of it,
Then the officer told him, as he thought most fit,
That the Parliament dreading an attempt might be made to rescue him,
The soldiers were called out to arms, and that had made the din.

Do I, said Montrose, continue such a terror still?
Now when these good men are about my blood to spill,
But let them look to themselves, for after I am dead,
Their wicked consciences will be in continual dread.

After partaking of a hearty breakfast, he commenced his toilet,
Which, in his greatest trouble, he seldom did forget.
And while in the act of combing his hair,
He was visited by the Clerk Register, who made him stare,

When he told him he shouldn’t be so particular with his head,
For in a few hours he would be dead
But Montrose replied, While my head is my own I’ll dress it at my ease,
And to-morrow, when it becomes yours, treat it as you please.

He was waited upon by the Magistrates of the city,
But, alas! for him they had no pity.
He was habited in a superb cloak, ornamented with gold and silver lace
And before the hour of execution an immense assemblage of people were round the place.

From the prison, bareheaded, in a cart, they conveyed him along the Watergate
To the place of execution on the High Street, where about thirty thousand people did wait,
Some crying and sighing, a most pitiful sight to see,
All waiting patiently to see the executioner hang Montrose, a man of high degree.

Around the place of execution, all of them were deeply affected,
But Montrose, the noble hero, seemed not the least dejected
And when on the scaffold he had, says his biographer Wishart,
Such a grand air and majesty, which made the people start.

As the fatal hour was approaching when he had to bid the world adieu,
He told the executioner to make haste and get quickly through,
But the executioner smiled grimly, but spoke not a word,
Then he tied the Book of Montrose’s Wars round his neck with a cord.

Then he told the executioner his foes would remember him hereafter,
And he was as well pleased as if his Majesty had made him Knight of the Garter
Then he asked to be allowed to cover his head,
But he was denied permission, yet he felt no dread.

He then asked leave to keep on his cloak,
But was also denied, which was a most grievous stroke
Then he told the Magistrates, if they could invent any more tortures for him,
He would endure them all for the cause he suffered, and think it no sin.

On arriving at the top of the ladder with great firmness,
His heroic appearance greatly did the bystanders impress,
Then Montrose asked the executioner how long his body would be suspended,
Three hours was the answer, but Montrose was not the least offended.

Then he presented the executioner with three or four pieces of gold,
Whom he freely forgave, to his honour be it told,
And told him to throw him off as soon as he uplifted his hands,
While the executioner watched the fatal signal, and in amazement stands.

And on the noble patriot raising his hands, the executioner began to cry,
Then quickly he pulled the rope down from the gibbet on high,
And around Montrose’s neck he fixed the rope very gently,
And in an instant the great Montrose was launched into eternity.

Then the spectators expressed their disapprobation by general groan,
And they all dispersed quietly, and wended their way home
And his bitterest enemies that saw his death that day,
Their hearts were filled with sorrow and dismay.

Thus died, at the age of thirty-eight, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose,
Who was brought to a premature grave by his bitter foes
A commander who had acquired great military glory
In a short space of time, which cannot be equalled in story.


History of the Graham Family

The treatment and torture dealt out to these pious religious people, who held tenaciously to the principles of the Presbyterian faith, by the [2] church of England, under the false cloak of religion, would of itself fill a volume much larger than that contemplated in these pages, and reference is merely made to show the stern and unwavering character of a people who were driven from post to pillar, and suffered almost unendurable hardships and degradations, rather than depart from a principle which they believed to be the teachings of the Bible, as well as having the approval of their conscience. Thus, more than two centuries ago our ancestral parents left their beautiful homes in their native land, and looking for the last time on the green sloping swords of the Grampian Hills and bid farewell forever to the graves of their fathers and mothers, and left behind all that was near and dear to them, even as their own lovely Scotland, and took up their march for the Emerald Isle, in the vain hope that the persecutions and trials which had hitherto made life hideous, would cease and they would be free to exercise their faith[,] which had so long been the desire of their conscience. [3] But alas! for human expectations. Their sojourn is but for a while, until the broad and inviting land across the Atlantic bade them once more take up their line of march and plant their homes in the New World, where they would be free to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, unhindered by church or state. Among the many families who thus emigrated from Scotland to Ireland and later from Ireland to America, we might mention the following names: Forbesses, Stuarts, Hamiltons, Montgomerys, Alexanders, Grahams, Shaws, Moores, Lewises, Pattons, Mathews, Prestons, Baxtons, Lyles, Grigsbys, Crawfords, Comminses, Browns, Wallaces, Wilsons, Caruthers, Campbells, McClungs, McCues, McKees, McCowns, Lockridges, Boyds, Barclays, McDonals and Baileys, described as, “knights and gentlemen of Scotland, whose prosperity holds good to this day.” They were Irish Presbyterians, who, being of Scotch extraction, were called Scotch-Irish.

[4] These names are to-day familiar house-hold words of the names of our own land and are but a repetition, and of the same lineal descent of their noble ancestors, who, more than two centuries ago stood ever firm to the Magna Charta of Scottish rights, and rallied under their brave banners, emblazoned with the faith of their own creed, in the famous golden letters, “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant,” they waited undaunted, the tyranny of their foes.

As we have said, their sojourn in Ireland was but temporary, as to a large proportion of those who emigrated there. Of course, many hindered by poverty and other causes no doubt, made that their permanent home.

The relief which they sought, they found but temporary in their new found homes in Ireland. Under the rule of tyrant kings, their suffering and punishment was endurable only for its contrasts with their former suffering. Tithes and taxes demanded from their wrecked estates to support a church, not of their own choice restrained [5] from speaking their own opinions living in a strange land dwelling among enemies of their faith, all combined to make them an unhappy and restless people. Longing for new homes, the silent whispers came across the ocean that the Mayflower, years before had landed others, persecuted like themselves, safely on the other side of the blue waters. This gave them hope. “For thou, O, God, hast proved us, and thou hast tried us as silver is tried thou broughtest us into the net thou layest afflictions upon our loins thou hast caused men to ride over our heads we went through fire and through water but though broughtest us out into a wealth place.” Gathering together what little worldly goods they possessed, which was very meagre, and often nothing, save their Bible. They embarked for the New World, landing upon the banks of the Deleware, [sic] and many rested for a season in the land of Pennsylvania.

William Penn, having been formerly a subject of the King of England, and witnessed the perse- [6] cution of his own church (though he himself was a favorite of King James) it was but natural that these people should seek out in the New World, those that had been persecuted for conscience sake in the old world.

Among those who sought fresh relief and new homes amid the untrodden forests of America, few stood higher or occupied positions more exalted than the Grahams. During that bloody, treacherous, and ever memorable struggle in England, Ireland and Scotland, in which King James was dethroned, and William, Price of Orange, a presbyterian, became his successor — a time when no man could remain neutral, but, all must declare, either for the time honored established church of England the papistry of King James or for that faith which they believed to be taught in Holy Writ. According to the dictates of their own conscience, the Grahams occupied prominent positions on either side.

One Richard Graham, known as Viscount Preston, held the position of Secretary of State of [7] Scotland, under King James, about the year 1685 and history tells us that he was one [of] the privy council, and most trusty advisers of the king that his plans and recommendations were often adhered to, rather than those of the king himself. As a leader of the House of Commons, he counseled King James to reassemble the Houses of Parliament, in order to secure a peaceful settlement of differences between church and state. He was also made Lord Lieutenant for both the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, a position very rare and remarkable for one man to occupy.

During the absence of King James from the throne, who, on account of his fear of opposers, had fled to Salisbury, Richard Graham and four associates were appointed a committee, known as the Council of Five, to transact the business of the Throne until such time as might be deemed expedient for the king to return.

The positions of high honor and trust, held and occupied by this one man were many, and to rehearse [8] them all in detail, would require more space than it is our purpose here to consume in this brief sketch suffice it to say that he seems to have been a leader of his party in both civic and military affairs a minister at the courts of foreign countries honored, trusted and adhered to, and we might add, obeyed by kings feared and esteemed by the House of Commons, and held in the highest respect by the common people. While he was true and devoted to King James, in the sense of patriotism, it does not appear that he was a persecutor of those who differed from the king’s religious views.

James Graham, of Claverhouse, viscount of Dundee, was also a noted character in that eventful struggle, and while his persecution of those who differed from the religious persuasions of King James, must ever be deplored, we take consolation in the fact that he but carried out the dictates and decrees of his Master. That his fidelity to the king was ever true through life, and even in the hour of death, is fully substantiated [9] in his last utterance, after having spent an eventful life in the king’s cause.

After King James had vacated the throne, and William and Mary had been triumphantly crowned, and the armies of James abandoned and scattered, General Graham, with his indomitable will and ever-to-be admired energy, hoping against hope, collected together such as he could of the remaining fragmentary army of his escaped master and repaired to the Highlands of Scotland, where he succeeded in interesting the Scottish Chiefs of those Highland Clans, in behalf of the cause of the late king. The remoteness of these semi-barbarians from the active scene of war, coupled with their disinclination to inform themselves of the nature of the conflict, soon led them through the fluency of Graham’s speech to espouse his cause. Having sought and obtained the sympathy of all the principal chiefs of the various clans, he assembled them together and a council was held to decide the mode of warfare. The detached fragmentary of the army whom [10] Graham hitherto commanded, chagrined with former defeats, protested against a battle with those who espoused the cause of King William. While the leaders of the Highland Clans urged immediate assault, saying their men were ready and eager for the fray.

General Graham was influenced by the counsel of the Highlanders, assuring them that he would lead them to victory that he himself would march in front of his army to this, his subordinate officers objected, saying, he was too valuable a leader to expose his person in front of the battle, and urged him to remain in the rear and dictate the movements of his army in the on-coming conflict. To this Graham replied, “your people are accustomed to seeing their leader in the van of battle, and there I shall be seen this day, but after the decision of this day, I shall be more careful of my person and not expose myself in action as heretofore has been my custom.” After that statement, his army was commanded to move forward, himself being in the lead. [11]

Soon the foe was met and the battle of Killikrankie was fought. Early in the engagement Graham was shot, having raised his hand above his head and standing erect in his stirrups, giving command, his shield or armour raised above his waistband, exposing his person, when the ball took effect, he fell from his horse and one of his subordinate officers coming up to him, inquired if his injuries were fatal, Graham answered by saying, “How goes the cause of the king?” The attendant answered, “the cause of the king is well how is your lordship?” Graham replied, “it matters not for me, so the cause of the king is safe.” These were his last words. Though dying on the field, his army won a great victory and the battle of Killikrankie has passed into history, as one of the most memorable events of that time. History hands down to us other names of the Grahams, who were more or less noted in their day and time, of which we might mention, Malcolm Graham, who is last, but by no means least, stood high in society and was [12] bound with a golden chain by King James the II to Ellen Douglass, the girl he loved so well dishonoring thus thy loyal name.

Fetters and warden for the Greame (Graham)
His chain of gold the king unstrung
The links o’er Malcolm’s neck he flung,
Then gently drew the glittering band,
And laid the clasp on Ellen’s hand.

SCOTT’S LADY OF THE LAKE.From the above selection it will be noticed that the name is spelled Greame. Whether the author drew upon his poetical license for this misnomer or whether the name was sometimes so spelled by the Scotts, we are unable to determine.

In the early settlement of this country, when people paid but little attention to the orthography of names — the name was often spelled Grimes. There seems, however, to have been no authority whatever for this contortion of the name.

The only excuse that might be offered for this misapplication of the name is that the names of the early settlers were scarcely, if ever, seen in print and but seldom in writing, but were handed [13] orally from one to another, thus giving plenty of opportunity for misunderstandings. We can recall many names, which in our youth were pronounced differently from what they now are. To illustrate, the name Stevenson was called “Stinson” the name Withrow was called “Watherow” Stodghill was called “Stargeon” and so on. We even find in this day a few of the old-styled fathers and mothers who do not like to discontinue the old-fashioned way of expressing these names.

The Graham name in all English history and in the history of our country, as well as in all the legal writings pertaining to the family, from the earliest settlement in America down to the present time, is spelled as we now have it — Graham.

The people of Scotland of the same family tree were known as clans and these clans seem to have been bound together by very strong and endearing ties.

Such were the adhesion of these family clans that they kept themselves almost entirely aloof [14] from other clans marriage and intermarriage by members of one clan to another was scarcely admissible. If a member of one clan provoked or insulted a member of another clan, the insult was resented by the clan whose member had been insulted thus we find arose many of the clan feuds, with which Scottish history so much abounds.

Each clan had its official head chief or leader, whose duty it was to dictate to his people such a course as seemed to him most wise and discreet or that happened to please the whims of his own fancies. In military affairs this leader or chief was expected to occupy the most dangerous positions and to perform the most daring of the exploits in the heat of battle. He must either win a victory, in which he performed some noble part, or die in defeat.

The Graham clan was a very large and influential one, and, perhaps, at the time of its greatest power, had for its official head James Graham, the Earl of Montrose, who laid down his life for love to his king.

[15] It is claimed in Scottish history that the Graham family dates back for a thousand years, and has been conspicuous in the annal of their country, “from hovel to the palace, in arts, in eloquence and in song”. “It was a daring man by the name of Graham that first broke through the walls of Agricola which the Roman general had built between the firths of the Clyde and Forth to keep off the incursions of the Northern Britons, and the ruins of which, still visible, are called to this day the ruins of Graham’s Dyke”.

From Scotland to Virginia

The first immigration of the Grahams to this country, of which we have any account, occurred about the year 1720 to 1730, the exact date of which cannot now be known.

It is, however, a matter of history that one Michael Graham settled in Paxtong Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, about the date referred to and that he was a direct descendant of the Earl of Montrose, who was beheaded. The descendants of Michael Graham afterwards settled in the Valley of Virginia and became noted [16] for their scholarly attainments, as well as their religious zeal.

Of these, however, we may speak further on. It is known that at or near the same period of the coming of Michael to this country other members of the same family, kith and kin, also settled in this country, among whom were John Graham (the writer’s great grandfather), who settled for a time, it is believed, in Pennsylvania and later moved to the Great Calf Pasture River in Augusta county, Virginia. It is to be regretted that we cannot give the exact date of the settlement on the Calf Pasture River, but conclude that not earlier than the year 1740, nor later than 1745.

We find that he purchased a tract of six hundred and ninety-six acres of land in the year 1746, from John Lewis and James Patton. It will be remembered that John Lewis was the first settler in Augusta county, or rather in the territory which afterwards became Augusta, having planted his home in the then remote wilderness in the [17] year 1732, at Belle Fontaine Springs near Staunton. He was the father of General Andrew Lewis who commanded in the famous battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. John Graham (whom we will call senior) reared a family of four sons and five daughters on the banks of the Calf Pasture and died there about the year 1771, born about the year 1700. His oldest son’s name was Lanty (Lancelot). The names of the other three were John, James and Robert. His daughters’ names were Jane, Elizabeth, Anne, Rebecca and Florence, who was the writer’s grandmother on his mother’s side, she having married James Graham (her cousin).


The Grahams: These Are Your People

…prayed a 17th century laird whose land was bordered by all four. And indeed, the pride of the Grahams was famous throughout Scotland for they were a close knit race deeply loyal to kith and kin. They also took pride in their unswerving devotion to their monarch even when this was sometimes rewarded with scant thanks. And lastly, they took pride in following their personal conscience, whatever the consequences.

Tradition says the first Graham was a Caledonian chief called Graym who attacked and burst through the mighty Antoine Wall which divided Scotland in two, and drove the Roman legions back to Hadrian’s Wall on the English border. More likely, the chiefs spring from an Anglo-Norman family who originally came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066, and are recorded in his Doomsday Book as holding the lands of Graegham or Grey Home.

David I, king of Scots, was brought up in England and given a Norman education. He married a Norman heiress and through her acquired vast estates in England. Thus when he succeeded to the Scottish throne in 1124 he brought with him many of his Anglo-Norman friends to help create order in what was then a very primitive and savage land. He granted them large estates in the Lowlands and without exception these barons then intermarried into the local Celtic aristocracy. Within a generation or two they had become totally integrated with the older race and were soon exclusively Scottish.

William de Graham, the first recorded of that name, was granted land around Dalkieth and Abercorn in Midlothian and appears as a witness on David I’s charter of 1128 founding the Abbey of Holyroodhouse. His descendant, Sir David Graham, acquired the lands of Dundaff in Strathcarron in 1237, and built a castle there. This was probably a wooden fortification on a motte or artificial earth mound in the Norman style. The remains of the later stone castle can still be seen. Sir John de Graham of Dundaff was William Wallace’s right hand man and close friend in the first struggle for Scottish independence in the late 13th century. The contemporary poet Blind Harry calls him ‘’Schir Jhone the Grayme’’ and records his brave death at the battle of Falkirk in 1298 when the small, ragged Scottish army was crushed beneath the hooves of the heavy armoured cavalry of the English army of Edward I. Sir John’s gravestone and effigy can be seen today at Falkirk Old Church and bear the inscription ‘”Here lyes Sir John the Grame, baith wight and wise, Ane of the chiefs who rescewit Scotland thrise, Ane better knight not to the world was led, Nor was gude Graham of truth and hardiment”.

Although principally a Lowland and Border clan the Grahams never forgot the Highlanders who had fought for them. The 3rd Duke of Montrose, when Marquis of Montrose and a Member of Parliament, was responsible in 1782 for the repeal of the law forbidding the wearing of Highland dress. Mugdock was the principal seat of the Graham chiefs until 1680 when they acquired the lands of the Buchanans and moved to Old Buchanan House near Drymen. In 1707 James Graham, 4th Marquess, was created the 1st Duke of Montrose by Queen Anne. He is perhaps better known for being firstly the partner, and then the foe, of the Highland folk-hero Rob Roy McGregor.

The Grahams had become the largest landowners in Stirlingshire by Victorian times and in 1857 built the huge Gothic Buchanan Castle on the foundations of a much older fortification. This became the residence of the Dukes of Montrose until the beginning of the Second World War when it was requisitioned as a military hospital. Here was kept Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, after he made his mysterious flight to Scotland in 1940. The roof was removed after the war and the castle is now a ruin. James Angus Graham, b. 1907, was the 7th Duke of Montrose and was also Earl of Kincardine Viscount Dunduff, Lord Graham Aberuthven Mugdock and Fintry. He became a farmer in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and was a cabinet minister in the Rhodesian Government of Ian Smith. He moved to South Africa and later returned to Scotland before his death in 1992. His son, James, the 8th Duke of Montrose lives on the ancestral estates, at Auchmar near Loch Lomond. The name of Graham is an honourable one not only in Scottish history but also in more modern times. For example, it was the 6th Duke of Montrose who invented the aircraft carrier during the First World War. Others of note include the evangelist Billy Graham Kenneth Graeme who wrote the classic “Wind in the Willows: Admiral Sir Cunningham Graham of the last war and many others too numerous to mention.

The “pride of the Grahams” is perhaps best summed up in the famous verse by James Graham, the Great Montrose,

He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
Who dare not put it to the touch,
To win or lose it all.

Sir John’s elder brother, Sir Patrick Graham, had fallen two years before at the battle of Dunbar in 1296 while carrying the royal banner of the King of Scots. Their father, Sir David Graham, had married into the ancient Celtic Earldom of Strathern and acquired land around Kincardine in south Perthshire. He was also the first to acquire land around Loch Lomond on the verge of the Highlands, still held today by the present Duke of Montrose. Sir Patrick’s son, also Sir David, supported the cause of Robert de Brus, another Anglo-Norman-Scot whose mother was a Celtic countess and he descended from the younger son of David I. When de Brus or Bruce became King Robert I, and independence was achieved, he granted Sir David land around Montrose in Angus in exchange for Graham lands near the River Clyde. The hero king built a fortified house for himself at the latter where he died in 1329. A branch of the Graham – the Cunningham – Grahams – continued to live nearby until recent years.

The Grahams continued a steady rise. They had acquired land at Mugdock to the north of Glasgow and began to build a huge castle here from about 1370. This became the principal seat of the chiefs until the beginning of the 18th century. In 1445 Sir Patrick was created Lord Graham and in 1460 gave his land around Loch Lomond to the chief of the Buchanans in exchange for some land around Mugdock. These lands were regained later when the bankrupt Buchanan chief was forced to sell his ancestral estates to the Grahams in 1682.

An unfortunate episode began in 1413 after the then chief’s half brother, Patrick Graham, was murdered by the Drummonds. He had been created Earl Palatine of the royal Earldom of Strathearn after marrying the grand-daughter of Robert III, and had acquired the vastly rich estates. He had left his infant son in the care of his younger brother, Sir Robert Graham of Kilpont but in 1427 King James I seized the wealthy earldom and gave the boy only the poor Highland parish of Aberfoyle and the empty title of Earl of Menteith. He also sent the unfortunate child as a hostage to England where he was imprisoned for nearly twenty five years.

The Grahams always resented injustice and Sir Robert Graham of Kilpont protested loudly. He tried to arrest the king in Parliament, and then publicly renounced his allegiance to a tyrant. On February 21, 1437, Sir Robert led a band of Highlanders to Perth where they trapped the king in the cellar of the Blackfriars Monastery and stabbed him to death. For this crime Sir Robert and his sons were tortured and executed in a most horrible manner at Stirling.

William, 7th Earl of Menteith, was restored to the Earldom of Strathearn in 1603. He rose to high office as Justice – General of Scotland and President of the Scots Privy Council. But the pride of the Grahams was his undoing. His casual remark that he had a better right to the crown than the king reached the ears of Charles I who promptly stripped him of the Strathearn earldom. In 1680 the last Earl of Menteith, childless and in debt, left all his estates to his chief, the Marquess of Montrose, who thus regained all the old Graham land around Loch Lomond plus the lands of the Buchanans and also the land in Menteith. The Grahams now held a vast estate stretching right across Scotland from Loch Lomond to near Perth, and roughly comprising the ancient earldoms of Strathearn and Menteith. There were many cadet families established throughout these lands on the very verge of the Highlands. William, 3rd Lord Graham, chief of the Clan, had been created Earl of Montrose in 1504 but had died with the rest of the Scottish nobility around their king James IV on Flodden field in 1513.

But without doubt the most famous Graham was James, 5th Earl, born in 1612, and created a Marquis in 1644. He was the first to be given the Gaelic patrynomic An Greumach Mor, The Great Graham, or as he is better known to history, The Great Montrose. He was a poet and intellectual who was happiest in his study in one of his many castles or stately homes in Angus, Perthshire or Stirlingshire. In 1638 he was persuaded to sign the National Covenant which declared its opposition to the Episcopalian religion King Charles I wished to force upon Scotland. He then actively fought against the king’s forces who tried to enforce the king’s edicts. But as time went on James Graham became increasingly uneasy about the motives of the ultra-Protestant party headed by Archibald Campbell, Marquess of Argyll. In 1643 the Solemn League and Covenant was drawn up which declared the Scottish Covenanters would assist the English Parliament in a Civil War against the king provided England would adopt a Presbyterian form of worship. This was more than James Graham could stomach. He left the Covenanters and offered his services to the king. He was created Captain-General of the King’s army in Scotland although this comprised a mere 400 men, mainly Grahams. Then they were joined by a 1000 Highlanders led by Alasdair MacColla MacDonald, a giant of a man and a fearsome fighter from the western isles.

During 1644 – 45 James Graham won a series of brilliant victories against far superior odds and became renowned as probably the finest strategist the world has ever seen. Unfortunately, with all Scotland almost conquered, the Highlanders slipped away to harry the Campbell lands in Argyll. James Graham’s small force was cut to pieces at Philiphaugh in the Borders and he was forced to flee into exile. He returned in 1649 but was captured and taken to Edinburgh where he was hung, drawn and quartered. His quiet dignity on the scaffold won him the respect of all who watched. In 1660, when Charles II was restored to the throne, David Graham of Gorthie took his kinsman’s head off its spike and had the other remains gathered together for honorable burial in the Montrose Aisle of St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. All the various branches and cadets of the family attended the funeral – the Grahams of Inchbrakie Orchill Morphie Balgowan Cairnie Deuchrie Drums Duntroon Fintry, Killearn Monzie and Potento.

Another Graham entered the history books in 1689 when John Graham of Claverhouse raised a Highland army in the name of the exiled Stuart king James VII. He was created Viscount Dundee and was variously known as “Bonnie Dundee” or “Bloody Claverhouse”, depending on which side one was on. He met a government army on the hill above Killiecrankie gorge in Perthshire on July 27, 1689, and within minutes his screaming Highlanders had devastated the enemy with their claymores. But in the moment of victory Dundee fell dead. It is said he was killed by a silver button fired from a gun because his enemies believed he was the Devil incarnate and only silver would kill him. It is remarkable that although the Grahams were really a feudal Lowland family only these two were able to bring out the highland clans in a national cause and devise strategies which used their peculiar fighting methods to advantage.

The other principal Graham area was in the Borders. Sir John Graham of Kilbride, one of the cadet families, fell out of favor with the king towards the end of the 14th century and led his followers south into the Border country where they settled in Eskdale. They met violent opposition from the other unruly Border clans and also from the hostile English in this disputed area. Yet the Grahams not only flourished here but became the largest and strongest family in the Borders. By 1552 they held over thirteen Border towers and could raise over 500 mounted troopers. They continued to dominate the Borders by right of the sword until the early 17th century when measures were taken against them by the Commission for the pacification of the Borders. In truth this was an attempt by the English Earl of Cumberland to seize their lands for no action was taken against the other unruly Border families of Maxwells, Elliots, Armstrongs, Scotts and Kerrs. The Grahams were hanged, transported, banished and imprisoned. Some came back with assumed names and the McHargs and Mahargs in Scotland and Northern England are simply Border Grahams with the name reversed.

The coat-of-arms of Sir David de Graham appears on the earliest known roll of Scottish arms dated 1332. These shows three scallop shells, used as pilgrim’s begging bowls, and indicate an early Graham had made the pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostella in Spain. The scallops are also found on the earliest known Graham seal dated 1230.

The personal arms of the Duke of Montrose shows three scallop shells in the 1st and 4th quarters, and in the 2nd and 3rd quarters the rose for the title of Montrose.

The crest, entitled to be warn by clansmen, shows a falcon killing a stork. The motto is “Ne oublie” (Forget Not).

Reprinted with permission from The Highlander, Angus J. Ray Associates, Inc., 560 Green Bay Road, Suite 204, Winnetka, IL 60093


James Graham, Earl of Montrose / Famous Historical Figures

'Betrayed by a MacLeod and hanged in Edinburgh, enemies marvelled at his courage'.

Graham was the 5th Earl and 1st Marquess of Montrose, and was brought up in Kincardine Castle. Education was at St Andrews University. He was one of four noblemen who drew up the National Covenant at Greyfriars' Kirkyard in Edinburgh in 1638.

This Covenant renewed and expanded that of the one drawn up in 1581 into a public petition which presumed a direct Scottish relationship with God, without the interference of a king (in this case Charles I of course) and without 'all kinds of Papistry'. It was emotive and drew from upwards of 60 Scottish Acts of Parliament and many theological statements. In the end, over 300,000 signatures were appended in churches throughout Scotland.

Montrose was a moderate Presbyterian, and though fighting initially for the Covenant in the Bishops' War, he later distanced himself from the more extreme Presbyterians. After he refused to support the union of the Scottish Parliament with the English Roundheads, in effect bonded by the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, he was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle for five months. Made a change from the Tower of London.

The following year he was appointed King's Lieutenant in Scotland. He showed a great flair for military strategy and leadership, winning six battles in one year, despite leading an undisciplined Scottish-Irish force. With depleted forces however he was defeated by David Leslie at Philiphaugh near Selkirk, in 1645.

He escaped to Norway, having been ordered to disband by the captured King, but returned to Scotland to avenge the death by execution of Charles I. His return was fated shipwrecked in Orkney he survived with only 200 men. This small force was defeated at Carbisdale on 27 April 1650 and Montrose was betrayed by MacLeod of Assynt for a sum of £25,000, a huge sum in those days.

In Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament were obviously in no mood for clemency or even justice without a trial they sentenced him to death and he was hanged and disembowelled on 21 May. His remains were given a proper tomb and monument in St Giles, Edinburgh, in 1888. Along with high standards of honesty, generosity and decent dealing (all conspicuously absent otherwise in 17th century Scottish politics), he has a claim to be a fair poet, with the publication of his collected works in 1990.

'Scotland's glory, Britain's pride, As brave a subject as ere for monarch dy'd Kingdoms in Ruins often lye But great Montrose's Acts will never dye'.


Census records can tell you a lot of little known facts about your Graham Earl Van Montrose ancestors, such as occupation. Occupation can tell you about your ancestor's social and economic status.

There are 3,000 census records available for the last name Graham Earl Van Montrose. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Graham Earl Van Montrose census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 642 immigration records available for the last name Graham Earl Van Montrose. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name Graham Earl Van Montrose. For the veterans among your Graham Earl Van Montrose ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 3,000 census records available for the last name Graham Earl Van Montrose. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Graham Earl Van Montrose census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 642 immigration records available for the last name Graham Earl Van Montrose. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name Graham Earl Van Montrose. For the veterans among your Graham Earl Van Montrose ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.


James Graham. Earl of Montrose - History

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John Graham was the elder son of Royalists, and related to the Marquis of Montrose. Claverhouse spent his childhood in Glen Ogilvy near Dundee. He studied at St. Andrews University.

He began his career as a soldier in France, as a volunteer for Louis XIV (under the Duke of Monmouth and MacKay of Scourie). He joined William of Orange (of Holland, 1674) and is said to have saved William's life in battle. He was recommended to James, Duke of York at William's marriage to Mary Stuart (1677), and became one of James's personal advisors.

In 1678 he was assigned the duty of suppressing the Covenanters (Presbyterian rebels who opposed Anglicanism) in Dumfries and Galloway. In 1679 Covenanter's rebellion he was defeated at Drumclog. He also helped defend Glasgow, and fought at Bothwell Brig.

The years of 1681-1685 are known as the Killing Times because of the autrocities committed. James Graham was among those who committed them. He earned the name "Bloody Clavers" by his brutal suppression of the Coventanters. Two of those he dealt with were the Wigtown Martyrs - women who were tied to a post to be drowned by the incoming tide.

Although Claverhouse's reputation is for one of ruthless suppression in dealing with the convenanters, in 1674 he had married, Jean Cochrane, who was from a prominent Covenanter family. In addition, at one point he urged moderation.

Learning of Lochiel's Highland confederacy (to restore James II to the throne), and declared a rebel, Claverhouse left his wife and new born son in Glen Ogilvy and rode north-east to rally support for the Jacobite cause. In 1688 when William of Orange invaded, James II made Graham second-in-command of the Scottish army and named him Viscount Dundee.

In four months Dundee covered 800 miles (from Inverness on 8 May, he crossed Corrieyairack and Drumochter Passes to raid Perth on the 10th). General Hugh MacKay was dispatched to deal with the rebellion in Scotland. MacKay commanded met four thousand musketed men, Lowland Scots and veterans of the Dutch wars.

MacKay's Government army had to go through the pass of Killiecrankie. Dundee's troops hid in the braken and waited for MacKay. MacKay's troops outnumbered Dundee two to one. On July 17, 1689 Graham ambushed General Hugh Mackay at the Pass of Killicrankie.

The Battle of Killicrankie was one of the last last battles that saw the effective use of claymores and the highland charge. Graham's forces attacked Mackay's right flank. MacKay's forces firing a musket volley. However, because of their inexperience and the ferocity of the highland charge, they were too slow to reload. The Highlanders overwhelmed them. Mackay's left flank also retreated in disarray. Graham's troops performed the classic pincer movement and crushed the remainder of Mackay's troops. Graham's victory was absolute.

However, Graham himself had been mortally wounded. Surviving long enough to direct the battle and learn of his victory, he died soon after. The Jacobites had no leader as capable to replace Dundee. In August the Jacobites, under Colonel Alexander Cannon, were defeated at the Battle of Dunkeld by veterans of the Covenanter's Uprising led by William Cleland. The First Jacobite Uprising ended May Day, 1690.

Other Historical Links

Resources include:
The Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Chicago, Copyright 1977


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