The Legend of Barrisdale by Norman H. MacDonald FSA Scot.

“The parish of Kilchoan extended from Loch Hourn on the north-west to Loch Morar on the south-west, and was at one time solely the property of Glengarry, comprehending the districts of Knoydart, betwixt Loch Hourn and Loch Nevis, and North Morar twixt Loch Nevis and Loch Morar. Barrisdale was the extreme northwest portion of the Glengarry property, and is one of the surest and most beautiful farms on the west coast. It has miles upon miles of frontage to the sea-loch, sloping upwards to the great heights of which the finest is the well known Mam Barisdale,” wrote Dr. Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, MP FSA Scot. in 1887.

This remote part of the West Highlands, described collectively in Gaelic as the “Garbh Crioch” i.e. “Rough Bounds” was the abode of the Glengarry cadet family known as the MacDonells of Barrisdale.

The most famous member of the family and the subject of this sketch was Coll MacDonell, the second Barrisdale, whose genealogy is shown by the following tree.


Ranald MacDonell 10th Chief of Glengarry (d. 1705)
1. Alasdair Dubh
11th of Glengarry
2. Donald Gorm
(k. Killiecrankie
3. John
4. Angus
5. Archibald
12th of
Yr. of
Yr. of


“Coll Ban”, as he was known to the Highlanders, on account of his fair hair and handsome appearance, was the son of Gilleasbuig, or Archibald, 1st of Barrisdale, the 5th and youngest son of Ranald, 2nd of Scotus who succeeded Lord MacDonell and Aros as Chief of Glengarry in 1680.

Born in 1698, Coll was already a living legend at the commencement of the Forty-Five and Prince Charles Edward was not slow to offer him a Colonel’s commission and to his son Archibald, that of a Major.

Coll is said to have been educated at Rome and is described as “a gentleman of polished behaviour, fine address, and fine person”. He was at least 6 feet 4 inches in height and possessed of such enormous strength that his name was respected and feared throughout the Highlands. On one occasion he is said to have pursued and caught a roe deer in a corrie of Mam Barrisdale with no other assistance than that of his own limbs. On another occasion he attempted to lift a restive stirk that refused to be driven into a ferryboat, and finding his arms too short to encircle the beast, bridged the gap with his Highland bonnet. He then lifted the animal and threw it into the boat. He is said to have been able to heave up to his knees, a large boulder which lay on the drive before Invergarry Castle which few very strong men were able to lift onto a short pin fixed into the ground beside it. It has been said that his courage did not match his strength, that he yielded to Cluny Macpherson in single combat and that he was wounded by the latter in a duel. The former claim is improbable but it is on record that a duel did take place between them.

Early in his career Coll was on very good terms with his cousin, John MacDonell of Glengarry who granted him charters to many properties on the estate including the Kytries, Cullachies and Inverguseran. He also added to his territorial importance through his two marriages – the first in 1724 to Catherine, daughter of MacKenzie of Balmuckie, by whom he had two sons, Archibald and Alasdair; and the second in 1736 to Mary, daughter of MacKenzie of Fairburn, by whom he had a third son Coll – acquiring lands in Ross and in Sutherland.

He was appointed Captain of the Watch and Guardian of the Marches on the west side of the county of Inverness by the local landowners. So much confidence had they in his ability to protect their herds from the numerous caterans and outlaws who preyed on their well-fed black cattle. For his services, Coll extracted from his clients a steady income called “black mail” said to be upwards of £500 per annum. From this and his numerous other sources of revenue Coll was able to build for himself a most beautiful two storeyed mansion at Traigh in Inverie on the west coast of Knoydart. It is described as “beautifully covered with blue slate, and having eighteen fire rooms, besides as many more without chimnies.” There can be little doubt that Coll was a large-scale cattle lifter himself and that his clients appointed him on the basis of “setting a thief to catch a thief”. But it must be remembered that cattle lifting had since time immemorial been regarded by the Highlanders as a manly and honourable pursuit. Burt in his letters (1725-26) says of Coll:

“He is said to have carried out the art of plunder to the highest pitch of perfection, besides exerting all the common practices, he imposed that article of commerce called blackmail, to a degree beyond what was ever known by his predecessors. He behaved with genuine humour in restoring on proper consideration the stolen cattle to his friends. He observed a strict fidelity towards his own gang, and yet was indefatigable in bringing to justice any rogues that interfered with his own. He considered himself in a very high light, as a benefactor to the public and preserver of general tranquility”.

Murray of Broughton writes in his Memorials:

“Mcdonell of Barrisdale is a man whose character is almost as well known as that of Lord Lovat’s …He has a small interest called Apin in the County of Ross, and is presently married to a Daughter of McKenzie of Fairburn, which enabled him to raise betwixt two or three hundred men in that Country who he join’d to those living on his wadsett lands in Knoydart, and then declared himself independent of his Chief. He has, for sometime past, fell upon a way to procure an yearly pension from a great many gentlemen of the Country to protect them from theift, by which he has gained a good deal of interest, which nevertheless proceeds much more from fear than love.”

General Wade informs us that they:

“go out in parties from 10 to 30 men, traverse large tracks of mountains till they arrive at the lowlands where they design to commit these depredations, which they choose to do in places distant from the glens they inhabit. They drive the stolen cattle in the night time, and in the day remain on the tops of the mountains or in the woods with which the Highlands abound… Those who are robbed of their cattle follow them on the track and often recover them from the robbers by compounding for a certain sum of money; but if the pursuers are in numbers superior to the thieves, and happen to seize any of them, they are seldom or never prosecuted. The encouragement and protection given by some of the chiefs … is reciprocally rewarded by allowing them a share in the plunder, which is sometimes one half, or two-thirds of what is stolen.”

The pro-Hanoverian “Edinburgh Evening Courant” for Monday 11th August 1746, reports:

“There was found in Barrisdale’s House a Hellish Engine for extorting Confession, and punishing such Thieves as were not in his Service (for as he took Black-Mail for preserving the Cattle of the Country round about to a great extent, he entertained many such) it is all made of Iron, and stands upright, the Criminal’s Neck, Hands and Feet are put into it, by which he’s in a sloping Posture, can neither sit nor stand”.

But the Sobieski Stuarts (Tales of the Century, 1847) state the “engine” of “torture”:

“was simply a sort of ‘jougs’ -the Scottish iron ‘stocks’ – used for the same purposes as those of wood, which, were to be seen in every village, and the yard of every parish church in EngIand…”

On one occasion, however, Coll’s activities did get him into serious trouble with the authorities and in 1736 he was tried before the High Court of Justiciary at the instance of four tenants of Glenorchy, with conourse of Duncan Forbes, His Majesty’s Advocate. The charge was being:

“guilty and accessory, or art and part of soliciting and inticing and the fradulent suborning and eliciting diverse persons to bear false witness against their knowledge and conscience … by rewards, promises, threats, and other corrupt means, to bear such false witness in a process he then told them was intended to be brought, when he imagined he had prevailed with those upon whom he practised to comply with the request in conspiring, by false witnessing, to defame and ruin the pursuers”.

It was further alleged that the panel:

“by subornation of witnesses, had endeavoured to found a charge against them by being art and part in several depredations committed upon James Menzies of Culdares and his tenants.”

Coll’s defence was along the following lines. The depredations and robberies on the properties of Breadalbane and Glenlyon had of late become more frequent and had reached such a pitch that the persons from whom the cattle had been stolen were likely to be ruined, and their country cast waste. And although occasionally some of the cattle had been recovered this was attended with heavy charges, often more than the value of the stock recovered. It had been concluded that such regular raids from one heritor’s property by strangers could not be carried out without the concurrence of persons living in the neighbourhood and it naturally occurred that the remedy for preventing such practises would be to endeavour to discover by whose assistance these depredations were committed on the property of a particular individual while his neighbours remained unmolested. Once the “assistants and outhounders” were detected and punished, and the robbers thereby deprived of protection and encouragement, their lawless practises might at least be curtailed.

In February 1734, “the panell”, i.e. Coll, “being in Edinburgh about his lawful affairs, had occasion” to meet Menzies of Culdares who had acquainted him with the circumstances which had led to his sufferings. In August of the same year, new depredations having been committed, Coll had been called on by Culdares to assist in recovering the latter’s cattle, which were supposed to have been lodged in his neighbourhood. Coll had then called on his cousin, Glengarry, for recovering the spoil, part of which had been found in Glengarry country, and part in Lochiel’s, and had returned the whole to the owner. About the middle of October thereafter, cattle were again lifted from Culdares and his tenants, but on this occasion the thieves were pursued by Menzies’ tenants through the Braes of Lochaber into the lands of Locheil and Glengarry. The pursuers then appealed to all “the gentlemen in these districts, including Coll, who used his influence to locate the stolen cattle. Being informed that some of them were in Lochiel’s country, he wrote to Cameron of Clunes, Lochiel’s bailie – Lochiel being absent at the time – and succeeded in having the spoil returned to the rightful tenants and promises obtained that the price of the remainder which had been slaughtered, would be paid. During these enquiries the culprits were discovered and acknowledged their guilt to Clunes and MacDonell of Shian, and also revealed that some of the prosecutors were accessories. This was reported to Menzies of Culdares by the tenants who returned with the cattle and at that laird’s request, two of the leading caterans, Evan Mor MacPhie and Kenneth Kennedy were brought to Culvullin in Rannoch where they testified before witnesses that certain of the prosecutors by the name of “M’Inlester” had been accessories in the raids and that one of them had been requiring his share of the booty.

Coll’s trial took place on 10th February 1736, when the jury “by a plurality of voices,” found the prisoner not guilty.

Whatever effect the foregoing escapade had on Coll’s future behaviour, if any, it is certain that it did nothing to lessen his Chief’s opinion of him as in 1744, he was appointed along with his cousin Donald MacDonell, Younger of Scotus, a deputy to be responsible for the prevention of theft and depredations within the district of Knoydart.

At the commencement of the Jacobite rising in 1745, Coll joined the Army of Prince Charles at Laggan Achdrome with his eldest son, Archibald, a youth of 20 and his cousin, Donald, Younger of Scotus, together with the men of Knoydart and Morar, “who made a very handsome appearance before the Prince, being compleatly armed, and most of them had targes” Coll was said to have had “180 Targets of a new Kind ready for use in the year 1743.” Some 400 of Glengarry’s Clan mustered on that occasion under the command of Angus MacDonell, Glengarry’s second son, a youth of 19, the eldest Son, Alasdair Ruadh, being in France. John MacDonell of Glengarry himself, who was in any case unfit to lead the Clan, immediately left home for Blair Castle to consult with the Hanoverian James, Duke of Athole, and wait upon General Sir John Cope who was marching north from Stirling. Coll and his son with the Knoydart men marched south with the Jacobite Army and took part in the battle of Gladsmuir or Prestonpans and in the pursuit which followed took three troops of Cope’s men prisoner. For this feat Coll was created a Knight Banneret by the Prince.

After Prestonpans, Young Glengarry and Coll were sent north to recruit more men while the command of the Glengarry Regiment was given to Donald MacDonell of Lochgarry under whom they marched south with the Prince to Derby.

On the 16th of October, 120 Glengarry men arrived in Glen Urquhart where Coll and the Master of Lovat urged the Prince’s claims so effectively that about 60 of the tenants agreed to join them. Grant’s factor, however, did his utmost to discourage them and his efforts together with the contents of a letter to him from Young Glengarry at Dalwhinnie, threatening to let loose the MacDonells in the glen if men were not forthcoming, made them change their minds at a meeting at Torshee on October 22nd, inspite of all the persuasive speechifying by “Coll Ban”: much to the anger of the latter, Coll in company with the Master of Lovat then withdrew to Castle Downie leaving their followers behind them. The feelings of resentment aroused by the MacDonells soon died down, however and when on the 25th of October they and the Frasers marched to Castle Downie, they were accompanied by 40 of the men of Glen Urquhart. In a letter dated 26th October to Sir Harry Innes, Alexander Brodie of Brodie, the Lord Lyon King of Arms wrote:

“…When I left Inverness yesterday, I was told that McDonalds of Knoydart, Barrisdale, and Glengary’s son were at Lovat’s, where there were twelve covered tables on Saturday’s night for the gentlemen conveen’d, and that the number of men there would be above a thousand, including 200 McDonalds and the people of Urquharrt etc. and that they were to march as yesterday for the castle of Brahan, to force Seafort to give them his men, from whence it was said they were to proceed further north to force all the north to join in a general rebellion…”

Coll then went north and called on the Earl of Cromartie at Newtarbet for the purpose of getting the Earl’s support to raise recruits in Ross. His mission was successful and a large number of MacKenzies from the estates of Allangrange, Applecross, Balmaduthy, Coul, Culcoy, Fairburn, Gairloch, Lentron and Recastle were together with his own immediate followers formed into a regiment under his command. His efforts to raise men in Assynt and Loch Broom were less successful.

Early in November Coll returned to Castle Downie with the intention of marching south with the Master of Lovat and the Frasers, while Cromartie and his son, Lord MacLeod proceeded to Glen Urquhart with between 150 and 160 men where they awaited him. Coll and the Master of Lovat with their followers reached Glen Urquhart about the middle of November but after a quarrel between them as to which should lead the Grants, the Master and the Frasers returned to their own country in a huff. Coll thereafter proceeded to Glenmoriston where he recruited a few more men and then marched south to Perth. He and his battalion left Perth on 11th of January 1746 for Stirling and joined the Highland Army on the day of the baffle of Falkirk “with 300 clever fellows” which raised the strength of the Glengarry Regiment to 1200 men.

During the winter months of the campaign the Jacobites decided to attempt to capture Duncan Forbes, the Lord President at his residence of Culloden House. Coll of Barrisdale was selected as the officer most suited to perform such an operation and with a chosen band he approached by way of the water of Nairn, and took shelter in a nearby wood with the intention of surrounding the house after dark. However, Coll remembering the occasion back in 1736 when he had been acquitted through the good offices of Duncan Forbes, then a young advocate, from such a serious charge, sent a warning to the Lord President, who escaped. This incident has been cited by Coll’s enemies as evidence of his supposed treachery or double dealing, though it is doubtful if the capture of the Lord President at that time would have in any way influenced the outcome of the rising.

Coll with his battalion was sent with the force under Cromartie, some 1500 strong, in pursuit of the Earl of Loudon’s force, but being unable to obtain any boats to cross the Dornoch Firth, they accomplished little and Cromartie was replaced by the Duke of Perth. Perth succeeded in collecting a number of boats in secret and conveyed his force across the firth. Part of Loudon’s force was surprised and surrendered while the remainder fled across Sutherland; some as far as the Isle of Skye accompanied by the Lord President and MacLeod of MacLeod where they remained until after the battle of Culloden. Perth left Cromartie the task of reducing Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, who in turn left matters in the hands of his son, Lord MacLeod and of Barrisdale. On March 20th Coll and his men captured Dunrobin Castle, seat of the Earl of Sutherland while the Earl escaped under cover of a fog and took refuge on board an English ship. His pretty young Countess, a devoted Jacobite, remained at home and although in a letter written by her to the Prince on March 26th she complains of being roughly handled and even scratched on the breast by a dirk, she writes of Coll as “being my acquaintance” and that in his presence she sent a gentleman to request the Earl’s tenants in arms to disperse and await a call to arms in support of His Royal Highness. Coll’s letter to the Countess the following day addressed to “My Faire Prisoner” expresses the gallantry he showed Her Ladyship.

Writing to his father Sir James on April 3rd, Ludovick Grant of Grant says:

“Barrisdale returned to Inverness Fryday last, and brought with him about 80 of Lord Loudon’s people who they came up with near Dunrobin. Major McKenzie, Sutherland of Force, Robert Grant, ensign and adjutant to Lord Loudon, young Glenmoriston, and John Grant the comptroller, are among the prisoners taken in Sutherland…”

Coll returned to the north and once more visited his “Faire Prisoner” at Dunrobin before marching south and halting at Beauly On April 16th, the day before Culloden. His traducers have claimed that “he might easily have reached the field, had he been any way resolute or brave”, but such a claim is unjustified. The decision to give battle was taken hastily and the following testaments by eye witnesses show that Coll had received no word that a battle was imminent. John Brown, factor to Sir Henry Munro of Foulis deponed that:

“he saw Coll Macdonald of Barisdale ride at the head of his own men the very day the battle of Culloden was fought, and that he and his men marched all to the west, on the road to Dingwall.”

Bailie Alexander MacKenzie of Dingwall deponed that:

“Barisdale was several times at the deponent’s house, and, in particular, that MacLeod of Raza (Raasay) and Barisdale dined at his house the very day the battle of Culloden was fought;”

Bailie Colin MacKenzie of Dingwall deponed that:

“the deponent saw Coll McDonald of Barisdale and McLeod of Raza in arms, and wearing white cockades, as they passed through the town of Dingwall with their men.”

Hearing the result of the battle on his way south through Inverness, Coll naturally decided that the time had come to seek safety in his native hills and switched direction, heading westward.

On April 29th two French warships, the Bellona and the Mars arrived at Loch nan Uamh in Arisaig and landed stores, including a large quantity of brandy, arms and seven large casks of gold, and after a sharp engagement with HMS Terror and HMS Greyhound, left for France. The Highlanders on shore, who included Coll and his men, got their hands on the brandy and much carousing took place. The Knoydart men were afterwards accused of carrying off 240 casks of brandy and a cask containing 800 Louis d’or. The rest of the treasure was buried on the shore of Loch Arkaig by Dr. Archibald Cameron, a brother of Lochiel’s.

At a meeting of the Jacobite leaders held at Murlagan near the head of Loch Arkaig on May 8th it was decided that Lochiel, Lochgarry, Young Clanranald and Coll of Barrisdale, should assemble their men a week later at Glenmallie and cross the Lochy for Brae Lochaber where they expected to be joined by Keppoch’s men and the Macphersons. About this time two officers in the French service, Captain Lynch and Lieutenant “Spanish” John MacDonell, son of MacDonell of Crowlin, a cousin- german of Coll’s, reached Loch Arkaig where they met “about 50 Highland soldiers of my native part of the Country, commanded by my cousin Colonel Coll Mcdonell younger of Barrisdale whose face I immediately recollected … He told me that all was over – that Cameron of Lochiel was at Achnacarrie … that he was going to raise more men; that most of Glengarry’s regiment would be there tomorrow under the command of Colonel Donald McDonell of Largary (Lochgarry), to try what terms could be obtained from the Duke of Cumberland, then at Fort Augustus…”

On May the 9th, the Furnace sailed up Loch Nevis and its Captain, the notorious Fergusson, put ashore a landing party of 120 men who burnt all the houses including Coll’s fine mansion with its “eighteen fire rooms and as many without chimnies, beautifully covered with blue slates”. Fergusson reported that “a great number of Highianders were seen running to arms and opening fire on the boats” but the guns of the Furnace drove them “with great haste” up into the mountains.

When the Jacobites assembled as planned at Glenmallie, their force was only about one third of the expected strength, being about 400 men (according to Murray of Broughton who was present) of which one half were Lochiel’s and the remainder provided by Lochgarry and Coll of Barrisdale. Lochgarry, after seeing that his men had been paid, left them, promising to return within a few days and at the same time to observe the Earl of Loudon’s movements; but he was unable to keep either promise as Loudon was already marching through Glengarry with the intention of entrapping the force with Lochiel.

According to Murray of Broughton, Coll disliked his cousin Donald of Lochgarry and at this time openly accused him of treachery – which was quite unjustified and perhaps intended to divert attention from himself – and before the arrival of Loudon’s force took his leave, saying it was necessary for him to return to Knoydart to put his affairs in order and to bring out the rest of his men, leaving his son Archibald to command his corps. After Coll’s departure, two messages reached Lochiel warning him of Loudon’s approach. After the first, it was decided to contest their crossing of the river, but the second message indicated that the enemy was too strong so they decided instead to retire by the south side of Loch Arkaig. Young Barrisdale, however, insisted on marching by the north side of the loch to which they all finally agreed and on reaching the head of it found Coll awaiting them.

His reasons for leaving them earlier appeared to be a mere feint and made them suspicious that he was in communication with the enemy or with Lochgarry (who was innocent) or both. Major General Campbell wrote Albermarle on August 4th thus:

“I am informed that Colonel McDonald of Barasdell was in Company with them a day or two before they were Surprysed by the party and that he parted with the Pretender’s Son in as good terms as usual.”

According to the author of the 1754 “Life of Archibald of Barisdale”, Coll and his son both surrendered to Ensign Small, in a ve on June 10th, 1746. Coll’s son Archibald states, when a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle, that:

“Soon after his R.H.’s victory … at Culloden, the prisoner heard his father had made his peace with the Government, and that he had been received in or near the camp at Fort Augustus.”

Coll himself, in his narrative given to the Lord Justice Clerk in 1749, while a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle, states that he received from Sir Alexander MacDonald a protection from the Duke of Cumberland with the promise of further favours from the Duke if he would endeavour to persuade those with whom he had any influence to surrender their arms directly; which he did at the barracks of Glenelg immediately thereafter. This is corroborated by old Glengarry’s Memorial in 1750. Archibald states that he found his father at his house of Inverie in Knoydart, and having told him of his intention to surrender, Coll accompanied him to the Isle of Skye where he met Sir Alexander MacDonald, whom Coll had seen the previous day, and to whom he surrendered.Sir Alexander allowed Archibald his liberty on his giving his parole after which he obtained a pass from Lord Albermarle. He returned to Inverie where he was confined to bed for some weeks with fever. Coll, in his narrative says that when the Prince returned from the isles to the mainland, Sir Alexander wrote to him “desiring to inform him of some particulars, which he did very distinctly,” soon after Cumberland left Fort Augustus and the Earl of Albermarle who succeeded him as Commander-in-Chief, desired Sir Alexander to send for Coll to appear before him.

Accordingly Coll and Albermarle met in the presence of Sir Alexander when Albermarle stated as a condition of renewing his protection that he would expect Coll to give assistance in attempting to secure the person of the Prince. Coll stated that Sir Alexander never made such a proposal to him from Cumberland and that

“it would be very inconsistent with Honour, for a Man formerly in the Jacobite interest to go to such lengths. But … were he to do his utmost to comply with his Lordship’s desire, he could expect little success … since all the Jacobite Party were on their Guard, even the meanest Highlander, to give no Intelligence to any he had influence with.”

He was urged that evening by Lord Loudon to get what information he could regarding the Prince’s whereabouts and the following day was again pressed by Albermarle himself. At length Coll agreed to obtain what information he could and transmit the same to the Earl, upon which he obtained an extension of his protection for 10 days. During the period of extension Coll sent two letters containing information to Loudon to which he received no replies, and on expiry of the period, he went to see Sir Alexander MacDonald in Sleat who, hearing that two French ships had arrived at Arisaig, advised Coll to go on board in search of information which the former desired. This he did and was promptly arrested.

Archibald, Coll’s son gives a different version. He says that having recovered from his fever, he went with his father to Moidart and Arisaig where they were seized by some Camerons, who had taken offence at them, for reasons he chose not to mention, (consider Coll’s trial in 1736) and carried on board a French privateer where they were put in irons.

The Declaration of Donald MacDonald, a merchant in Edinburgh, and a Government spy, who was trusted by the gentlemen of Clan Ranald, states:

“Saturday the 13th September. Barrisdale and his Son went on board of those ships, where they remained on board all night, and next morning Barrisdale, having left his Son abroad, returned home … in order to Settle his affairs, but the Declarant was told how soon Barrisdale returned aboard, he and his Son would be detained prisoners aboard, because he had carried off some money that came last from France without accounting for it, and it was also said that he had undertaken to betray and deliver up the Pretender’s Son, which young Clanronald did not seem to believe…”

On the 16th of July, Coll with his kinsmen, Donald MacDonell of Lundie, Alexander MacDonell of Auchtera, John and Alexander MacDonell, sons of Scotus, Ranald MacDonell of Shian and Donald MacDonell, cousin of Ardnabie signed a document giving information against Glengarry in which they accuse their Chief of having kept for himself a sum of money given him by the Prince for the purpose of raising his Clan and for having forced his tenants “out” with threats and cruelty and in which they crave pardon and promise to serve “his Majesty’s Government.” This document they sent to Albermarle and on the strength of it Old Glengarry was arrested and incarcerated in Edinburgh Castle.

Loudon wrote to Albermarle on August 18th:

“I have had two letters from Barasdel of no great import, and Orders are gon in Words I receved them for Partyes to Vissit him and his parts of the Country…”

and Albermarle wrote to the Duke of Newcastle on September 25th:

“…though Barisdale is a thorough Jacobite and a Rogue, he has no head to my certain knowledge, for I had long conversations with him at Fort Augustus. If Sir Alexander McDonald had wished well to the cause, I ought to have heard from him at this juncture. I have a long while doubted his sincerity.”

The charges made against Coll by the Jacobites were sent to him in a letter written by George Kelly, the Prince’s Secretary and may be summarised as follows:

(1) Advising the Lord President and Lord Loudon of the Prince’s approach to Inverness and thereby enabling them to make their escape.

(2) Surrendering himself to the enemy and entering into certain articles with them.

(3) Engaging and promising to apprehend the person of the Prince and deliver him up to the enemy within a limited time in return for a Protection.

(4) Asserting that Glengarry had promised to deliver up to the enemy several gentlemen of his Clan and inducing them to sign an information against their Chief.

(5) Delivering up to Lord Albermarle, Glengarry’s letters ordering them to take up arms upon which the Chief was apprehended.

Both Coll and Archibald were carried to France aboard the French ship Le Conti in irons and imprisoned, according to Archibald, first at St. Malo and then at Saumur, from which Archibald escaped after “a twelve month” and Coll likewise in 1749. According to Coll, he was imprisoned at St. Malo for 2 years and 4 months, and released on 7th February 1749, with a sentence of banishment to leave France within a few days, which he did and returned to the north of Scotland where he was soon apprehended by Lieutenant Small, the same officer by whom he had been taken in 1746, about the beginning of March, and sent to Edinburgh where he arrived on the afternoon of April 12th, escorted by a party of Pultney’s Regiment. He remained a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle until he died of fever on 1st June, 1750, never having been brought to trial. He was never attainted but his name was excluded from the Act of Indemnity in 1747. When he died, Coll was so heavy that it took six soldiers to carry his coffin to its burial “at the foot off the talus of the Castle”.

Thus ended the career of Coll Ban but the legend lived on.

Did Coll really intend to betray the Prince or did he only agree to Albermarle’s request in order to save his own life? We shall probably never know. In answer to those who quote Coll’s narrative of 1749 as irrefutable evidence of his guilt, the writer wishes it to be remembered that Coll was then a prisoner and that what he said was said with a view to saving his own life.