CAPTURE OF MENZIES CASTLE IN THE ’15 RISING - 1715
by James E. Fargo, FSA Scot
In 1714, Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch died. To ensure a Protestant secession, Prince George of Hanover was offered the British Crown. In August 27, 1715, the Earl of Mar raised the flag of rebellion in the highlands. Alexander Robertson of Struan (13th chief) joined Mar in Perth with 300 clansmen and was sent under orders to take Castle Campbell, some 14 miles south of Crieff and clear that area of the enemy.
The river Tay passes between Weem and Aberfeldy in the clan Menzies country. Near the end of October, a party of clansmen captured the Castle of Weem (home of the Whig Menzies chief) by a surprise attack while the garrison commander and most of his men were out drinking at a local inn. This success procured plentiful provisions that had been stored there for Argyle's army and these were delivered to Mar's army. Mar, in a letter dated October 30, noted Struan's brigade as being the strongest in the army. George Robertson of Faskally also had his own contingent of clansmen raised from his lands around Pitlochry.
Then matters turned for the worst. Mar split his army and tried to catch Argyle's army in a pincer movement. Our united clan strength of approximately 800 men was divided between the two attacking forces. The Atholl brigade which included clansmen under Captain Alexander Robertson of Drumachuine (father of our future 14th chief) entered England and ended up surrendering at Preston on November 13th. That same day at Sheriffmuir several miles north of Dunblane the armies of Mar and Argyle met. Struan and his clansmen were attacked by the right wing of Argyle's army. At one point, Struan was briefly captured by a party of dragoons but his men led by Robert Robertson of Invervack charged to the rescue and saved him. Although Argyle's left wing fled the field after being routed, his right wing held the battlefield. The next day Mar's army retreated back to Perth.
By February 1716, the Rising was over and James VIII (the Old Pretender) was back in France. Struan escaped to Holland in the summer of 1716 and rejoined the exiled royal court in France and served in the Scots Brigade until he was able to return home in 1726.
Moncreiffe, Sir Iain, "The Robertsons, Clan Donnachaidh of Atholl", 1954, p 32.
Robertson, James "Chiefs of Clan Donnachaidh 1275-1749", 1929, p 58.
2007 Clan Donnachaidh Annual, pp 23-25.