Rob Roy MacGregor’s name and reputation strides through late-17th- and early 18th-century Scottish history and he is probably the nation’s best-known historical figure next to Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Along with those three, Rob Roy’s portrayal in book and film has created a figure that does not really tally with the man that Nigel Tranter believes was much more than a mere Trossachs-based cattle thief, blackmailer, outlaw and protection racketeer. That he stole cattle, forced lairds to pay money to ensure their cattle were safe and lived on the wrong side of the law is not in dispute, but there are two sides to every story, and Rob’s is one of the most fascinating in Scottish history. In this comprehensible portrait of Rob Roy, master storyteller Nigel Tranter reveals a strange man who always had to stay one step ahead of everyone around him, be it in the business of cattle, his financial and political dealings with the dukes of Montrose and Argyll, his endeavours in support of the Jacobite cause, or his continual struggle with Montrose’s factor, Graham of Killearn.
When he failed to manage this complex set of activities, the repercussions were dire, not only for himself and his clan, but most importantly for his relationship with his remarkable wife, Mary. That he managed to survive in the political cauldron that was Jacobite Scotland, reconcile himself with his wife, maintain his nephew’s clan lands and somehow survive into relative old age to die in peace in his bed is wholly remarkable.