Colonel Donald Murchison

c.1687 - 1727

Loyal factor and Jacobite commander. Born at Bundalloch, on the shores of Loch Long, Murchison was a weakly child who was not expected to live beyond his first day. He survived and was educated in the classics and then studied law in Edinburgh, before becoming Factor to William MacKenzie, 5th Earl of Seaforth (1681 - 1740). He commanded Seaforth's troops at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715 but remained in Scotland after Seaforth fled to France, having lost his titles and estates. Murchison illegally continued to collect rents and personally delivered these to his master in Paris. When Seaforth briefly returned in 1719, Murchison raised troops and gave good tactical advice which brought success in an initial engagement with government troops near Glen Shiel but this rebellion soon fizzled out. In 1721, having become an effective military tactician, Murchison led the Clan Mackenzie in successful skirmishes with government troops known as the Battle of Glen Affric and Battle of Coille Bhan. He continued to support the Jacobite cause, continuing to collect rents which he used to finance local armed resistance.

When the Earl of Seaforth returned to Scotland in 1726, having received a pardon from the government, Murchison felt betrayed when Seaforth offered him little in return for his loyal and brave service. Murchison was so upset he took ill and retreated to a friend's house in Strathconon, where he died. Seaforth attempted a reconciliation, but the damage had been done.

Murchison was lionised by his great grand nephew the geologist Sir Roderick Impey Murchison (1792 - 1871) who built Donald Murchison's Monument overlooking Loch Alsh and commissioned Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73) to paint Rent-day in the Wilderness in 1868, which records several distinct episodes from Murchison's life, as recounted in the Domestic Annals of Scotland (1858-60) by Robert Chambers (1802-71).

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