Jean Kay of Edenbellie

A young woman named Jean Kay or Wright lived at Edenbellie, Balfron, in Stirling. She had been a widow for four months, and was possessed of some property. The young Macgregors were probably in desperate straits . Cattle-lifting and blackmailing were extinct callings. It occurred to one of them (you suspect James) that a marriage might be arranged between the widow and Robin.

Accordingly, on the 3rd of December 1 750, a band of them entered the house. Jean hid herself in a closet, but the terrific Gaelic curses were too much for the mother, and she produced the trembling girl, who pleaded in vain the sudden nature of the proposal.

Her request for time to consider was scornfully rejected. She was presently thrown over a horse and carried off from place to place in the Highlands, where, after about three months, a mock form of marriage was gone through. Robin had an almost childish faith in the efficacy of the ceremony. Jean was brought to Edinburgh, and there he lost grip of her. The poor thing speedily died from fright and fatigue, and proceedings against the three brothers for hamesucken, or forcible attack on a house, as well as various other Offences involved, were taken.

Again Robin could not be found, and was outlawed. But the other two were put on their trial . Robert was acquitted ; J ames was tried on the 5th August 1 752. The jury returned a special verdict . It seems they meant that he Should be punished, but not capitally. There was some doubt as to the legal effect of the verdict, so the case was adjourned for further consideration to the 20th of November of that year, when the Court was to fix the appropriate sentence, which there is reason to believe would have been capital . But on the 16th he escaped from the Castle, to which he had been removed, the Tolbooth not being considered sufficiently secure. The town was full of Highlanders, as caddies, chairmen, even City Guard itself . There were rumours of a rescue, for clan feeling was strong.

No doubt the authorities had in their mind the leading case of Captain Porteous .

Extracted from R.L.S. by Francis Watt, 1913