Peter Newling

Location: Ullapool, Gairloch and Lochinver
clearances and resistance, the jacobites, worship

The Reverend James Robertson

After his speedy victory at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Duke of Cumberland shipped the prisoners were sent away from their homes; some to other places in Scotland and others were shipped to the colonies as slave labour.

In those days, the Parish Church of Loch Broom was led by the formidable, but well-admired, Reverend James Robertson. A man who could easily turn his hand to the land, he was known locally as the 'Strong Minister' – possibly tall and broad, with eloquence and forthrightness – he was respected for his ability to work the land along with his congregation. Many local young men signed up to fight alongside Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, of which Reverend Robertson did not approve. He thought of them as innocents and wished for them to lead peaceful lives.

News of the Culloden disaster, and the fates of the local rebels who had survived, prompted many families to appeal to the minister for help. Roberston made a long, trip to London to meet (uninvited!) with the Duke of Cumberland to appeal for leniency. Robertson quite clearly stated “I am a long way from home, but my demand is quite simple. I wish for the young men in my congregation to be released.” ‘Well now, Minister, thank you for your request, but the answer is simply - no. They are enemies of the King and will be deported.’

With this closing remark, the Duke extended his hand to the Minister, signalling the interview was over, and bid him a good journey back to Loch Broom. This act was his undoing.The Minister took Cumberland’s hand with a gentle and friendly grip, and staring deep into Cumberland’s eyes suggested that the interview was not yet over. The hard-working hand squeezed the pen-pushing hand ever tighter. Cumberland, conscious of keeping appearances, was now trying vainly to hold on to it whilst keeping a smile on his face. With his hand bones cracking and sweat on his brow, he had to give ground. Through clenched teeth, he said that the prisoners will return home along with the minister. Thus ended the 'interview.''

Upon return to Loch Broom, no one questioned the Minister on what means of persuasion he had used to conclude the interview. But if asked, he merely suggested that a friend, who had given strength to his plea, had had a hand in it.

As told by Nacnab Mackenzie of Nabbie's Yarns

More information on visiting the area can be found here.