[Clan Crest]

Clan MacLea - Livingstone

The Official Home of the Clan McLea (The ancient historical name of the Livingstones)

The Lion Rampant


Incidents of the Jacobite Risings - DONALD LIVINGSTONE


The Celtic Review Volume VI July 1909 pp340-348

Donald Livingstone, Bun-a-mhuilinn, Morvern, was of the Livingstones of Achnacree, Benderloch. These Livingstones of Achnacree had been the keepers of the Royal Forest of Dail-an-eas till this was wrested from them by the Macdonalds of Glencoe.

The Livingstones of Achnacree were of the same line as the Livingstones of Bachuill, Lismore, keepers of the Staff of Saint Moluag. The two families separated many centuries ago, yet they still resemble one another, physically, mentally, and characteristically. Dr. David Livingstone was of the Lismore Livingstones and resembled that family so closely that the late Baron Alexander Living-stone, Bachuill, was taken for him several times, to the great confusion of the singularly shy, modest Baron. Similarly the late Robert Livingstone of the Achnacree Livingstones had been mistaken for the famous missionary, and that by men and women who had seen and spoken to the great traveller. Honest Robert Livingstone said that he had never been so much put out as when a stout, elderly lady tourist on Oban pier insisted upon kissing his hand 'once more after his great travels.' Bystanders who knew the facts were bursting out in laughter at Robert Livingstone's speechless confusion!

So much for the tenacity of family characteristics.

Donald. Livingstone of Bun-a-mhuilinn was eighteen years of age in the year of Culloden. - He was very stout, strong, active, and hairy, and he was known as Domhull Mollach - Hairy Donald. There was kinship and fostership between the Lismore and Benderloch Livingstones and the Stuarts of Appin. Donald-Livingstone from Morvern joined his friends the Stewarts of Appin and fought with them at Culloden, as did also his clansman Donald Livingstone from Lismore.

The sibyl of the place predicted that nine Donalds would fall carrying the blue banner of the Stewarts. The Carmichaels were the standard-bearers of the Stewarts, and the first Donald to fall was Donald Carmichael, and seven other Donalds fell in succession.

When the eighth Donald fell Donald Livingstone took up the banner, and tearing it from the stag, wrapped the banner round his body. He had hardly done this when a musket ball struck him on the' breast and knocked him clown. The folds of the silk broke the force, of the bullet, thereby saving the life of Donald Livingstone, although the impact knocked him down and rendered him senseless. Donald would never show the bullet mark to any one. nor was the bullet mark even seen by any one till he died. He never knew how long he lay breathless and speechless upon the ground but when he opened his eyes he saw a rider less steed rushing down in his direction, trampling upon the dead and the dying in its wild career.

When the steed was nearly upon him, Donald Livingstone exerted all his strength and seizing the bridle sprang, into the empty saddle of the frightened horse, and was out of the luckless field with all possible haste.

Two English troopers saw Donald Livingstone riding away from the field, and they followed him. When he saw that his exhausted horse was unable to save him from his pursuers he wheeled round and faced them. The nearest trooper aimed a blow at his head. Donald Livingstone, already a good swordsman, parried the blow, and coming down upon the head of his opponent clove him to the chin. The second trooper was about to join in, but when he saw the fate of his companion he wheeled about and fled.

Donald Livingstone did not know what to do with this second troop horse now upon his hand, whether to leave it or to take it. He thought, however, that he might see some needful fugitive like himself, so he led the horse and renewed his journey. Upon going round the first knoll on his way he heard the call of a familiar voice from a cleft in some scarred rocks behind him. He turned, and this was a neighbour badly wounded and bleeding profusely. Donald stanched the bleeding as best he could and helped his friend to mount the horse and the two rode on.

Upon reaching a secluded corrie they dismounted to rest their tired bodies and their wearied horses. They made di-leum - fetters of withes - and placing these upon their horses, left them to graze while they themselves went up the hill and hid behind big boulders beyond the reach of troopers.

By and by a troop of cavalry rode along the way below them. Hearing the noise of their companions, the two horses in the fetters neighed again and again.

The troopers suddenly stopped and listened and booked around, but could see nothing. The neighing echoed round the corrie among the rocks and the English troopers turned and fled, evidently fearing that they were ambuscaded.

The two youths made their way home, resting by day and riding by night till they reached Morvern. They betook themselves to the, hills, resting in caves. by day and getting food from friends by night, and shifting from place to place to avoid the ‘red coats.' Upon several occasions they would have fallen into the hands of the soldiery had it not been for the daring courage and resourceful actions of Donald Livingstone.

As the night lengthened and the day shortened, the patience of Donald Livingstone shortened also. He moved about everywhere in search of news of the Prince or news of any kind, but he could get none save of the brutalities of the soldiers and of the woes of the people.

Failing to hear anything of the Prince in Morvern, Donald Livingstone resolved to swim from Morvern to Mull in the: hope of getting news. He was a good swimmer and had crossed and recrossed the Sound of Mull many times carrying his clothes behind his neck. Several times he had narrowly escaped being shot in mistake for a seal by passing ships. Upon one occasion a bullet grazed his ear. A second bullet might have ended his career had he not risen up in the sea and shown himself to the astonished people on board the vessel

In swimming from Morvern to Mull Donald Livingstone came dangerously near a warship passing up through the Sound of Mull. The night was calm and clear, but occasion- ally cloudy, and before he was aware of her presence the strong tidal current, of the :Sound carried him towards a ship-of-war moving westward to join the many other war vessels in search of the Prince.

Upon landing in Mull, Donald Livingstone made his way to Drum-fionn in the neighbourhood of Tobermory. From this vantage-ground he -saw two ships-of-war towing in two other ships-of-war, bringing news of their own defeat and of the escape of the Prince. These were the two English war-vessels which the French war-vessel defeated and eluded in Loch-nan-Uamh. Much excitement ensued in Tobermory over the news that the Prince had escaped, and it took the daring Donald Livingstone no time to be in the midst of the commotion.

Donald retraced his steps, and recrossed the Sound. This was the most exciting and perilous journey. In mid-channel he encountered a large shoal of herring followed by a huge whale, blowing loudly and throwing up volumes of water high in the air. In after life Donald Livingstone confessed that the whale frightened him. He was wondering how he could escape if the whale were to swallow him. Would he be expelled from the stomach of the whale as Jonah had been? This and many other questions passed through his mind while he was near the whale.

Donald Livingstone continued to hide himself as before, gradually coming more and more into the open the soldiers were gradually withdrawn.

The banner of the Stewarts had been safely concealed, no one knowing where it was except Donald's own family

Before long this daring youth set out for Appal, carrying the precious banner next his skin round his body, and riding the horse of the slain trooper. He gave the flag into the hands of the chief of the Stewarts of Appin, now bowed down with age and sorrow. He then went and gave the English troop horse to James Stewart, better known as Seumas a Ghlinne - James of the Glen. This was in acknowledgment of a kindness, shown by James Stewart to Donald Livingstone's father in sending him the year before a bag of barley for seed corn.[1]

Things had hardly settled down, and the soldiery had hardly been withdrawn, when Donald Livingstone began to cater for the garrisons of Fort William and of Fort Augustus. He bought cattle from the people and sold them to the garrisons and continued this trade during many years. He became a favourite with the officers and men of the garrisons from his daring courage and absolute honesty, and although they knew his history they never molested him.

Notwithstanding his many narrow escapes by sea and land, Donald Livingstone lived to be an old man, dying peaceably in bed at the age of eighty-eight. He never had an illness and never wore trousers always the kilt. His makeshifts in evading the law against the kilt and the tartan were innumerable. How he escaped was a miracle to all, and could only be accounted for by his dauntless courage and honest nature, which rendered him a favourite with officers and men of the garrisons.

Dr. Macleod, Morvern, remembered Donald Livingstone and many of his daring deeds and his honourable traits. Dr. Maelcod said that he used to sit at his door in the coldest weather with a scant tartan kilt over his knees and with a broad blue bonnet over his head, bright and cheerful and happy to the last. He was never inclined to fight his own battles over again, but always ready to tell of the good deeds of other men. Every one had a word of loving admiration for the daring, honest Donald Livingstone, known as Domhull Mollach.

It may be mentioned that the blue banner of the Stewarts of Appin is in the possession of a Stewart of Appin living in Edinburgh. The colour of the beautiful silk is much faded and the cloth is full of bullet holes and bloodstains.

[1] It was this James Stewart who was executed for the murder of Colin Campbell, Glenuir. It is a known fact, however, that it was not James Stewart but another Stewart who fired the fatal shot. A secret compact was made among six leading Stewart men to kill Colin Campbell, factor upon the forfeited estates, for his evictions and cruelties towards the tenants. Lots were drawn, and the lot fell upon a certain Stewart gentleman. James Stewart was suspected, tried, and executed. The real culprit pressed to be allowed to declare the guilty and to free the innocent. James Stewart, however, would not listen to this, declaring that he was in the faction and that he might as well suffer the penalty as any other one of the party. The writer has this from a high-placed relative of the Stewarts concerned.

The trial of James Stewart was one of the most famous criminal trials of the time. Stevenson, who lived in Appin for a time, deals with it in Kidnapped.

Last updated 20 April, 2013