the holly tree hotel

Location: Oban, Lorn and the Slate Islands
the jacobites

The Appin Murder

The Appin Murder of 1752 has been transformed into Legend by Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novel 'Kidnapped'. However, the real story is closer to home.

The legend is based on local clan rivalry between the Campbells, who were in favour with the Hanoverian government of the time, and the Stewarts of Appin, who were Jacobites. The story goes that the 'Red Fox' - Colin Campbell of Glenure, a government agent, was on his way to evict a local tenant when he was shot in the back by an unknown assailant.

The suspicion fell on Alan Breck Stewart, the colourful character in Stevenson's book. Wisely, Breck, who was probably innocent, fled for his life. A local man, James Stewart, in whose house Breck had stayed, was immediately arrested. At his trial in Inveraray he was found guilty of being part of the murder plot, and was hanged on the 8th of September 1752, at a spot beside the present site of the Ballachulish bridge in a public spectacle.

It is almost certain he did not have anything to do with the murder, but eleven out of the fifteen jury members were Campbells and so it is doubtful if his trial was fair. His body was gruesomely allowed to hang for several months as a warning to the local people. There is now a cycle path that runs along the old roadway and the various Appin Murder sites can be visited either by foot or by the road.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.