View Full Version : The Last Clansman’s Reputation Is At Stake by Michael T. Stewart

Kelly d
15th September 2010, 04:57
The Last Clansman’s Reputation Is At Stake

We all die, but how will we be remembered if we are remembered at all? How about if you lived your life as honorably as you could, supporting your family, giving continuously to the community, adopting children, training men in the art of war, ranching and farming and serving honorably on the field of battle only to be arrested, confined, tried in a sham court, convicted by your neighbors and HANGED for a crime you did not commit?

Such was the life and death of Seamus a’Ghlinne (James of the Glens), known also as James Stewart of Acharn who was half brother to Charles of Ardsheal. Both James and Colin Campbell of Glenure were victims of forces greater than themselves in what was to become known as the Appin Murder during an episode in time known as the Highland Clearances. The Appin Murder has been immortalized and popularized by Robert Louis Stevenson in “Kidnapped” and “Catriona.” Cinematic and literary works continue to reinvigorate interest in the case even today.

If the execution of James and confiscation of property was not bad enough for the Stewarts, it was ordered that Seamus’ body be hung in chains on the gibbet as a warning to all highlanders to submit to the Hanovarian government or face the consequences. Various accounts tell of his bones being wired back together and hung from 18 months up to three or more years and guarded around the clock by a detail consisting of one officer, one sergeant, one corporal and 16 soldiers. Despite the guards eventually being relieved, it was still illegal to remove him. But it didn’t take long for his bones to finally be laid to rest at Kiel Churchyard, reportedly by the young Donald Stewart (of Ballachulish).

It has been said Ballachulish finally ended the spectacle, collecting James’ bones by night to place at Kiel with his wife who passed most likely due to a broken heart whilst James still hung from the gibbet. By this time, his family was far flung and not much is recorded of their diaspora.

On November 8, 1752, as he climed the gibbet, Seamus a’ Ghlinne prayed:

‘False witnesses rose; to my charge things I not knew they laid. They, to the spoiling of my soul. me ill for good repaid.’ ~Psalm 35
There is a movement afoot to gain a Free Pardon for James of the Glens. John Campbell of Lanarkshire has hired attorney John Macualay (46 London Road, Glasgow G1 5NB) to pursue the case. In 2008 it was before the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission but was denied due to the case being so old it was not in the interest of justice. Now the application is with The Scottish Ministers.
Having learned recently through family legend and DNA that James is likely my paternal grandfather (x7) if not at least a cousin, I have begun to rally the Clan to petition the Ministers to PARDON Seamus a’Ghlinne. Seamus’ last words speaks volumes as to his honor and his commitment to the truth. While he was not afraid to die for his convictions, he lamented that people of the ages may think him capable of a horrid and barbarous murder. We have the opportunity to ACT NOW and take the appropriate steps to exonerate the man.
Whether by email or letter campaign:

St. Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Thanks in advance for supporting your cousin, my forefather, Seamus a’Ghlinne. Additionally, please contact me regarding any known descendants of James of the Glens. Late 1752, after sons Allan and Charles were released from custody, having lost everything in Appin they left and and laid low enough that records are not readily available of their lives. I want to find his ancestors so we can properly honor the man, the family and the Clan James was ultimately martyred for.
For the latest, most comprehensive and most enjoyable read on the Appin Murder, please read James Hunter’s, “Culloden and the Last Clansman.”

Michael T. Stewart, P.E.

"Cuimhnich air na daoine o'n d'thaining thu" -Remember the men from whom you are descended