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October 21th 1490

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A Disgraced Drummond

Like all the best feuds it concerned money and power. In 1490 George Murray, who was at this time Abbot of Inchaffray, decided to assess the teinds of the Drummond lands of Monzievaird and asked his friends the Murrays of Octertyre to collect the assessments. This the Murrays did with such enthusiasm and brutality that the Drummonds were provoked into violent retaliation.

Lord Drummondís second son David, together with a body of his retainers set out to achieve a forcible eviction of the Murrays. Unfortunately the news of their coming reached the Murrays who were ready for the assault and proved to be more than a match for the Drummonds. However at a critical moment in the battle, a party of McRobbies from Balloch appeared and with their assistance, the Drummonds were able to force the Murrays northwards. They made a final stand at Rottenreoch where many of them died and the remainder fled back towards Ochtertyre.

This might have been the end of the affair but the Drummonds retreating happily towards Drummond Castle, came upon Duncan Campbell of Dunstaffnage with a party of his clan. He also had a score to settle with the Murrays, a little matter of the murder of his father-in-law and two of his sons by a party of Murrays some time previously. It did not need much persuasion to get the Drummonds to agree to resume the pursuit and the two parties marched together towards Octertyre.

In the meantime, the Murrays with their wives and children had taken refuge in the church at Monzievaird so the Drummonds found no trace of their enemies. Unfortunately one of the Murrays in a fit of bravado and incredible stupidity shot an arrow from the window of the church and killed one of the Drummonds outside.

This not only gave away the position of the Murrays but infuriated their enemies. They gathered every available piece of brushwood and stacked them against the church, which was built of wood and thatched with heather, and set the building on fire. A hundred and twenty men together with their wives and children were either burned alive or killed as they tried to leave the church. Only one escaped, a young lad who jumped from a window and was caught by a Drummond who took pity on him and spirited him away.

Such uncharacteristic compassion was not popular with the rest of his clan and he was forced to leave Crieff. He crossed over to Ireland where he remained for many years. When he eventually returned to Scotland, the Murrays had regained their power and to show their gratitude gave him a small estate known as Drummond Ernoch or Drummond of Ireland. It lies about a mile south-west of Comrie and still bears the same name today.

This whole incident might be cited as an example of the state of Scotland at this period, of the lawlessness and savagery of a people with little central authority. But this would not be altogether true.

James 4th, when he heard of the massacre, gave orders for the arrest of David Drummond and a number of his followers. They were all executed at Stirling later in 1490. There is also at least some evidence that the Drummond family were not proud of the episode and the name of David Drummond disappears completely from all histories and genealogies of the family.

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