adapted from piracy in appin (2016) on the appin of yesteryear website

Location: Oban, Lorn and the Slate Islands
travel by sea, ships and boats

Piracy in Appin and the barque boat Jennet

Inveraray Court House records indicate that on a night in 1699, the barque boat called the Jennet of Inverkip, belonging to Alexander Taylor, merchant in Greenock, was lying at anchor in Loch Creran, between Lochnell and Glaiceriska, on the coast of Appin, being bound for Fort William.

About 11 o'clock at night, six or more armed men came from Appin's side and half-cocked guns. They cut the ropes of the sails and tied up the seamen and proceeded to plunder the ship, from which was removed the following: – two big casks full of meat, four dozen of horn combes, two great and small weights with a steel balance, £22 sterling of money, 24 rolls of tobacco, weighing 236 lbs, six pieces of cloth, consisting of 30 ells, six bonnets, 18 men's shirts and other body aboulements and two new forks and fails.

A search was made in Appin by men of Captain Hay's Company Brigadier Maitland's Regiment. On June 1, 1699, two rolls of tobacco were found in a locked chest in the house of John MacWalter alias Stewart, Appin's ground officer, living at Annat. MacWalter was out fishing, but being hard pursued, his wife produced the key of the chest. He and John Stewart, uncle's son to Appin, were arrested and confined at Fort William. The latter, however, having entered into a compact with other thieves and murders, did attack the keepers of the prison and guards, broke the irons, fettering the jailor and leaving him almost strangled to the death, made his escape, fleeing Appin: MacWalter also made his escape.

Several witnesses were examined, among them being Airds, who in his evidence stated that he does not know who robbed the boat but heard it was done by John Dow na Boin, Alex. Roy Stewart, his kingsman, Duncan MacCarmag, John Stewart, Appin's cousin, John Bain MacIlchrist – he supposed that a little while before or after robbing ye boat he was with Donald Stewart, Invernahyle's son, that he heard that John Dow was in a barn in Lettirshenna three or four days after he was dead: that old Invernahyle and John Roy MacColl in Glasdrum came to see him as having some still of this. The court decided that Appin, Airds, Ardseal and Fasnacloich give in lists of tenants and others dwelling upon their grounds upon oath.

This story was suggested by Stuart Carmichael. Read more about Piracy in Appin and other historical tales.

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