Rob Roy MacGregor has gone down in history as a kind of Scottish Robin Hood, a ginger outsider who would take from the rich to give to the poor - like Geri Halliwell stealing from Victoria to give to Mel B.
MacGregor was a famous Scottish outlaw recognisable by his thick red hair, his remarkable strength, his ability with a broadsword and his capacity to down a litre of MD2020 – all traits Rob Roy shares with Mhairi Black. Rob Roy was a dedicated Jacobite, he had been a part of the fearsome ‘Highland Charge’ at Killiecrankie and acted as a guide for the Jacobite army at Sheriffmuir. Such Jacobean involvement meant he spent most of his life wanted by the British Hanoverian government, a man with a price on his head - except for one Friday in the middle of November when he was 50% off.
Rob Roys’s clan, clan MacGregor, were infamous in Scotland for cattle rustling in the Trossachs a kind of Scottish frontier land between the ‘civilised’ Lowlands and the wild 'Mexilands'. Rob Roy would herd cattle from the Highlands through the Trossachs to the Lowland cattle markets making a sizeable fortune in the process. A lack of physical borders, checks, and freedom of movement along with shared trade arrangements with other cattle rustlers made cattle rustling easier, more profitable, and provided security from rival Russian cattle rustlers who had already annexed Cowmea in the Bovaine and were prone to taking out livestock using novichok.
Business was booming, MacGregor was able to purchase enough land to become the Laird of Inversnaid – a ‘laird’ is a Scot’s word for someone who owns lots of land, Jacob Rees-Mogg for example owns hundreds of hectares of land in Somerset and several English Country manors, in Scotland he would have been given the title ‘c*nt’.
Rob Roy was renowned for his trustworthiness, it was a trait that would cost him dearly in 1712 when he sent one of his most trusted drovers to the lowlands to buy cattle with funds raised by the Duke of Montrose. Inevitably Rob Roy’s most trusted drover run off with the money and, years later, that cattle drover went on to become manager of the Bay City Rollers. Overnight Rob Roy’s business was ruined. Undeterred, Rob Roy liquidated his old Cattle Rustling company and all its assets re branding first as ‘Sevcow’ and then as ‘The Rob Roy’ and continued to claim to be the world’s most successful cattle rustler.
The Duke of Montrose called bullshit on Rob Roy’s story about the drover making off with his money and what followed was a long-standing personal feud between the two. When Montrose put a warrant out for his arrest Rob Roy responded by carrying out raids and rustling cattle on Montrose’s lands. He even kidnapped one of Montrose’s debt collectors who was released unharmed after it became apparent Montrose had no intention of paying his ransom - presumably because he had no one to collect it. MacGregor’s ambushes made him feared throughout the Trossachs allowing him to set-up a profitable protection racket, in exchange for money Rob Roy would guarantee herds protection from horny Aberdonians.
MacGregor placed himself under the protection of the Duke of Argyll. Despite being a Unionist supporter of the Hanoverian Government who had provided men from Clan Campbell for the Government forces at Sheriffmuir Argyll was more than happy for Rob Roy to carry out raids against the Duke of Montrose whom he considered to be a total prick. So, Argyll gave Rob Roy refuge on Campbell land at Glen Shira near Inveraray and from there he would carry out ambushes then retreat into the wilderness of the Trossachs. Rob Roy is in fact responsible for the now well-established practice of stealing government money in the West of Scotland. As well as drawing unemployment benefit while doing cash-in-hand jobs on the side, Rob Roy would also ambush passing government troops, free their prisoners, steal their loot, then distribute it amongst the poor, and every time he was captured Rob Roy always managed an audacious escape.
A violent, ginger haired outlaw who sabotaged government troops, freed prisoners, gave to the poor, always bought the first round, and had a knack for escaping prison, it really is hard to see exactly what it was about Rob Roy that made him such a popular figure in Scotland – he’s also rumoured to be the man who came up with the recipe for original irn-bru.
Rob Roy was eventually caught and jailed in the infamous Newgate prison in London in 1727. Much worse than mere imprisonment Rob Roy was facing deportation to Barbados, which for a ginger basically amounted to a death sentence. MacGregor was spared prison and deportation at the last moment by the unlikeliest person of all, King George I. In 1723 Daniel Defoe published the bestselling book ‘Highland Rouge’ a fictionalised account of Rob Roy’s life. The book caused a stir across the length and breadth of the country and made Rob Roy a Scottish folk hero cementing his reputation as the ‘Scottish Robin Hood’. George I loved the story so much that he granted Rob Roy an acquittal even more unlikely that that of Steven Avery. Rob Roy MacGregor was given an official Royal Pardon and allowed to live out the rest of his life in peace at his home at the head of Glen Balquhidder.
Rob Roy MacGregor’s extraordinary life and reputation as a man always true to his word makes him a great Scottish hero both real and fictitious. The story of Rob Roy is one that continues to live on. In 1834 Sir Walter Scott wrote another novel about Rob Roy entitled ‘Rob Roy’ and the story of his life is one that has been dramatised time and again for film and television - most notably the 1995 film starring Liam Neeson which was kind of like the ‘2-stripe’ version of Braveheart.
Rob Roy may not have won Scotland’s independence at Bannockburn or died a martyr for the cause of Scottish independence, he was basically just a mad ginger prick pissing off Unionists and causing bother around central Scotland – again, more traits Rob Roy shares with Mhairi Black. Rob Roy MacGregor is unlikely to be on the back of any Scottish banknotes anytime soon and in terms of Scotsmen handy with a broadsword Rob Roy will probably always be ‘Jamie Murray’ to William Wallace. But Rob Roy is the hero ginger people deserve. He would never have settled for playing second fiddle to some wee middle-class gluten free Hogwarts prick, he would have been front-right-and-centre taking out dementors with his broadsword. His legend should be resurrected for people in the 21st century to enjoy, in these tough times we need a strong ginger hero with a massive broadsword – although if the rumours about Prince Harry are to be believed...........