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May 30th 1693

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Dealing with the perpetrators of Glencoe

Lord John Murray, afterwards Duke of Atholl to the Duke of Hamilton.

“There is a Commission under the great Seal from the King to the person in the note enclosed, empowering us to examine anything that concerns the murder of the Glencoe men; and to call for any we judge can give information and examine them on oath. We have examined the Major General, Major Forbes and any we thought could make discoveries here. I have sent to acquaint the Laird of Glencoe and any of his people who can best give information of matters of fact and who I hope will give satisfaction with their goods. Breadalbane gives out that he is sure that nothing will be made out against him because the orders and letters of that affair came from a friend of his The Master of Stair. But it concerns the whole nation to have that barbarous action fully and clearly made out and laid on the true author and contriver of it whoever he be; innocent blood is a crying sin which all have reason to endeavour to bring the authors of to light. I know none who has been more sensible of this than my father, and I doubt not but he will assist to bring it above board. I know Balcardine well knows all the intrigues of the affair and of the capitulation Breadalbane made with the Highlanders. It is to be hoped he will not be ingenuous where his master is concerned. Keppach understands the business and the private transactions Breadalbane had with the Clans, which is desired by the Government here to be discovered truly and will cause the Glencoe affair to be best understood. I have sent a permit to Keppach that he may be in no hazard. We are sworn not to divulge the particulars of the Glencoe business until the examination be ended. When it is, your grace shall see that it has been a more horrid business than was imagined.” 

In spite of these fine words the enquiry brought forth little in the way of punishment for those who had planned the massacre. This was hardly surprising as King William himself was one of the prime movers. The Master of Stair was eventually pronounced to be the source of the orders. He resigned and was immediately given an Earldom by the King. Others were dealt with “as his Majesty saw fit.” 

Not surprisingly His Majesty saw fit to be very merciful indeed and the whole affair teetered on to a very unsatisfactory end.

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