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June 3rd 1554

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Murder most foul

Premeditated murder was by no means uncommon in the 15th and 16th Centuries but it is none the less chilling to read some of the accounts of such affairs. How, for instance the Lairds of Gormack, Drumlochy, Ardblair, Clayquhat and Knockmahar together with servants, friends and tenants “to the number of 80 persons boding in fear of weir”  (i.e. armed and equipped for war) came to Blairgowrie with the intention of murdering George Drummond and his son William. But “uthers being with him in company”  they went instead to the Laird of Gormack’s house and “there dynit with him and sent furth spyis that he was cuming furth of his place.” 

Having received the good news from their spies they marched to the old high market gate behind the kirk at Blairgowrie where George and William Drummond were “doublet alane at their pastyme play and at ye rowbowlis, in sober manner traisting na truble nor harm to haif bein done to them but to haif levit under Goddis peace, and thair crewellie slew them upon ald feid (an old feud) and forethocht felony.” 

Even in these lawless times this was considered to be a somewhat brutal murder and the conspirators in an attempt to safeguard their own lives made a gesture of conciliation to the Drummond family. The five lairds offered;

1) To going or cause to gang to the four heid pilgromaigis in Scotland
2) To do suffrage for the saul of ye deid at his Paroche Kirk
3) To do honour to ye kyne and friendis as effeiris as use is.
4) To asyth ye partye in content to gyf to the kyne, wyf and bairnis Imp 1,000 merks.

Understandably the Drummonds were not very impressed, and Chalmer of Drumlochy then offered a Bond of Manrent. This bound the Laird of Drumlochy to serve the Drummond family in perpetuity and “take their trew and awfald part in all and sundry thair actions and causis and ride and gang with thame therein upon thair expenses when they require me or my airis thairto, againis all and sindry personis, our Sovereign Ladye and the authoritie of this realme allenarlie exceptit.” 

These Bonds of Manrent were legal and accepted documents and by no means uncommon in Scotland at this time. They had the supreme practical function of resolving a quarrel that might otherwise have been carried on from one generation to another.

The Drummonds accepted the Bond of Manrent and so pardoned the Laird of Drumlochy for his part in the murders. The Laird of Gormack was put to the horn, that is proclaimed an outlaw, while Patrick Blair of Ardblair and Robert Smith of Drumlochy were hung for their parts in the affair.

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