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Rob Roy

Rob Roy [Scottish Gaelic, = red Rob], 1671–1734, Scottish freebooter, whose real name was Robert MacGregor. He is remembered chiefly as he figures in Sir Walter Scott's novel Rob Roy (1818). Deprived of their estates as a result of proscription, the MacGregors lived largely by stealing cattle and selling "protection." Because of the proscription, which was renewed in 1693, Rob Roy assumed his mother's name, Campbell. He exploited the fact that his territory, Balquhidder, lay between the estates of the rival dukes of Montrose and Argyll. The duke of Montrose at first supported him in a cattle-farming business, but Montrose withdrew his support, forcing Rob into bankruptcy, in 1712. Rob then took to brigandage in earnest, particularly against Montrose. He took advantage of the Jacobite rising of 1715 to engage in plundering raids, but he did not espouse the Jacobite cause. In 1717, Montrose induced the duke of Atholl, previously friendly to Rob, to capture him, but he escaped to the protection of the duke of Argyll. Rob later attempted to make peace with Montrose and with the Hanoverians and to deny culpability for his activities during 1715. However, he was arrested, imprisoned in Newgate, and in 1727 sentenced to be transported. He was pardoned and returned to Balquhidder, where he remained until his death.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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