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clan_colquhoun.svg Sir Alexander Colquhoun
XV Lord of Colquhoun, XVII Lord of Luss
1573 - 1617


FACTS AT A GLANCE
BORN: 1573
         Luss, Dumbartonshire, Scotland
MARRIED: Margaret Helen BUCHANAN
         18 AUG 1595
DIED: 23 MAY 1617
         Luss, Dumbartonshire, Scotland


Alexander Colquhoun of the Clan Colquhoun (also referred to as Alisdair) was born in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1573, the third son of Sir John Colquhoun. He became the Chief of the Clan Colquhoun after his brother, Humphrey was treacherously shot in 1592 and died without a male heir. Alexander was only 19 at the time of succession. Alexander inherited not only the estates and title upon Humphrey's death, but several long-existing feuds, including those with the Buchanans, the MacFarlanes and the MacGregors. Each of these on-going disputes was severe enough to have been a source of distress to King James VI of Scotland.

The Buchanan feud ended as may feuds ended in those days, with a marriage. In the summer of 1595, Alexander Colquhoun married Margaret Helen Buchanan, daughter of the Clan Chief Sir George Buchanan, thus turning a former foe into an ally.

The MacFarlane feud ended with an intervention of the Privy Counsel, with the issuing of bonds against the other beginning with a truce offered on behalf of the MacFarlanes by John Erskine, Earl of Mar and recipricated sometime later. While neither clan would ally themselves with the other, hostilities between them had disappeared by at least 1603.

The MacGregors had been a source of irritation to many clans and King James, having taken official notice, placed clan a under official restraint - Archibald, the seventh Earl of Argyll, having received a royal commission in 1593 specifically for this task. But by 1602 the MacGregor raids had grown so numerous and troublesome that Alexander received permission from King James VI on September 1st 1602, giving the Colquhouns the right to bear offensive arms. Alexander further complained to His Magesty against the Earl of Argyll for permitting the MacGregors to commit 'outrages' upon him and his tenants, but while fined, the charges themselves were dismissed when Alexander was unable to prove them.

On December 7th, 1603, the MacGregors raided Glenfinlas (not to be confused with the later battle at Glenfruin) breaking into homes, stealing personal and household possessions, and taking 300 cows, 100 horses, 400 sheep and 400 goats. Many people were also killed or wounded. Having failed to get the crown to act earlier, Alexander was convinced this time by two of his aides to take with him to court a number of women, carrying the bloody shirts of their murdered or wounded husbands and sons to the King, who was at Stirling. The tactic worked. James was so moved that he gave Alexander Colquhoun commission on December 21st to pursue and prosecute the MacGregors for this crime.

This commission enraged the lawless MacGregors. Clan chief Allester MacGregor led a force of 300 to 400 clansmen into the territory of Luss. Alexander quickly assembled a force of 300 militia and 500 calvary to repel the invaders. These forces met on February 7th, 1603 at Glenfruin (the Glen of Sorrows) a verdant valley with deep loamy soil. Allester, knowing of Alexander's approach, divided his army - the main body presented itself only after the Colquhouns were well into the soft, loamy soil of the Glen and the other half circling behind Alexander's forces to cut off any retreat. One tale says that Allester was initially discouraged when he saw the size of the Colquhoun force, but a Seer convinced the clanchief of success, telling him he saw 'shrouds of the dead wrapt' around the Colquhouns.

The soft ground put Alexander's calvary at a distinct disadvange, horses becoming stuck in the mire and unable to manouver. It was not long before the battle started to turn against the Colquhouns. Alexander's men, having taken terrible losses, fought their way through the MacGregor rear guard, Alexander himself having his horse shot out from under him and was chased all the way back to Castle Eossdhu. The Colquhouns had 140 dead and many more wounded, with the MacGregors killing even defenceless women and children found near the field of battle. The victorious MacGregors then plundered the Colquhoun lands, taking 600 cows and oxen, 800 sheep and goats, 200 horses and as much plunder as they could carry. Many of the houses and barnyards near Glenfruin were burnt to the ground.

For King James VI, this MacGregor outrage was the final straw. On April 3rd 1603, only two days before he left Scotland to take possession of the English throne (upon the death of Queen Elizabeth) an Act of Privy Council was passed abolishing the name of Gregor or MacGregor. All of this surname were commanded, upon penalty of death, to change it for another. Death also to anyone giving food or shelter to anyone to any MacGregor clansman. Furthermore, any MacGregor present at the Battle of Glenfruin was forbidden from carrying any weapon except for a pointless knife useful only for the cutting of meat. And when the MacGregors still refused to disband, the government offered bounties and free pardon to anyone who should arrest, put to death or present to justice any of that clan. What followed was an officially sanctioned extermination of that clan and Alexander led the Colquhouns on many attacks against the MacGregors, even as late as 1613.

Captured nearly a year after Glenfruin, tried and awaiting the gallows, Allester MacGregor confessed that the Earl of Argyll, who had been charged by the crown with restraining the clan, had secretly instigated the MacGregors into attacking the Earl's enemies, including the Clan Colquhoun. Whether Allester said this because his capture was the result of a betrayal by the Earl or because it was true is unknown. The crown did not believe him.

1615 was the year that Patrick, Earl of Orkney was tried for treasonable rebellion and Alexander Colquhoun was appointed to the court, but was absent citing a "great sickness". Alexander Colquhoun died two years later, on May 23rd, 1617 at the age of 44. His eldest son, John, became Lord of Colquhoun and Luss upon his passing.


WIFE of Alexander COLQUHOUN:
   Margaret Helen BUCHANAN

     1576-

PARENTS of Alexander COLQUHOUN:
    Sir John COLQUHOUN

     1538-1574
    Agnes BOYD

CHILDREN of Alexander COLQUHOUN:
   1. John COLQUHOUN
        1596-1655
   2. Humphry COLQUHOUN
        1598-
   3. Alexander COLQUHOUN
        1599-1632
   4. Adam COLQUHOUN
        1601-1634
   5. George COLQUHOUN
        1604-1686
   6. Walter COLQUHOUN
        1605-
   7. Jean COLQUHOUN
        1606-
   8. Nancy (McAUSELAN)
        1608-
   9. Katherine (MURE)
        1610-
   10. Helen COLQUHOUN
        1612-
   11. Mary COLQUHOUN
        1614-



COLQUHOUN FAMILY HOMEPAGE