Pipes and drums at Edinburgh Castle

Badger Head Sporran

macnabThe striking and imposing character glaring down from Sir Henry Raeburn’s celebrated portrait The Macnab appears to be the most wonderful figure of an eighteenth century highland main. This monster of a guy appears wearing the consistent of Lieutenant Colonel regarding the Breadalbane Fencibles – a green coat with silver braid, a red tartan vest, a kilt in Macnab tartan, tartan stockings, a badger-head sporran and a bonnet of tall black-and-white feathers on his head. Equipped with a dirk, broadsword and pistol, the main stands pictured against the background of a lonely highland pass, right hand poised at their pistol.

The man in the portrait is Francis Macnab (1734-1816), landowner and 16th main of Clan Macnab. Known to those around him as Francis More (Big Francis), he was a giant of a person, measuring six-foot three tall and of immense energy. Over their 82 years, Francis drank, gambled and womanised their means through what was remaining regarding the Macnab fortunes and estate, fathered at the least 32 children and passed away hugely indebted (£35, 000 at a negative balance become precise). While Francis is most well-known since the topic of Raeburn’s portrait, a reputation for exceptionally eccentric and uninhibited ways have actually guaranteed he remains recalled as one of Scotland’s many notorious chiefs.

Francis came to be in 1734 to John Macnab (fifteenth main) and Jean Buchanan, where they existed simply beyond Killin in Kinnell House – the heart of Clan Macnab area. At that time Kinnell House had been the seat of this clan after the destruction of Eilean went Castle by Cromwellian forces in 1654. Francis would have been 11 yrs old at the time of the 1745 Jacobite increasing, plus it appears like the clan, like many at that time, were divided within their loyalties.

John Macnab was an ardent Hanoverian supporter and significant in the British Army. His military history happens to be instead muddled as time passes, but some reports suggest he served when you look at the Hanoverian Army throughout the Rising. His bro Archibald Macnab had an impressive armed forces career, which included portion as a captain into the Loudoun Highlanders during increasing. He had been captured and taken prisoner by the Jacobites throughout the Battle of Prestonpans.

Regardless of the main’s loyalties, some Macnab clansmen had been listed as Jacobite followers, serving because of the Duke of Perth. The leanings had been well and really Jacobite on Francis’ maternal side of the family – Jean Buchannan’s bro had been Francis Buchanan of Arnprior, a notable Jacobite supporter who was simply beheaded at Carlisle in October 1746. Prince Charles gifted to him a ruby ring which can be on display inside National Museum in Edinburgh, and his sword (also a gift from Charles) is within possession regarding the existing Chief. Their lands at Arnprior had been confiscated following Rising, but ultimately restored to his sister.


The Macnab inherited the chieftainship in 1778 at the age 44 and lived the life of a traditional feudal main, admired and reverenced by all over him. For their lifetime, the Macnab battled contrary to the increasing quantities of an inherited financial obligation that had economically crippled previous generations of Macnabs. His daddy had supplied a lot of debt as a consequence of lengthy and unsuccessful litigation against their effective cousin and neighbour, the Earl of Bredalbane. The Macnab’s extravagant way of life sure performedn’t alleviate the monetary pressure – also inheriting his mother’s lands at Arnprior while the effective foundation of the Dreadnought Hotel in Callander cannot offer the fat of their excesses.

A particular evening, a bailiff who'd started to serve a writ had been seen approaching Kinnell home. The Macnab hid and offered purchases that bailiff be told the Laird would get back each day, plus in the meantime would be to be lavishly amused with as much whisky as he could deal with instantaneously. When the bailiff awoke each morning with a tremendous hangover, he looked over the window of Kinnell House and saw exactly what looked like a city-clad gentlemen holding by their neck through the branch of an excellent wych elm notice the house. When he requested Macnab’s housekeeper exactly what the grisly sight had been, she replied “Oh, that is only a wee little bit Baillie child just who angered the Laird. Now are you going to no’ tell us whit your ain business is, sir, the Macnab flow from straight back quickly.” The bailiff fled after, maybe not daring to provide the writ, additionally the dummy ended up being removed from tree.

The Macnab has also been notable as a substantial producer and consumer of whisky. Heron, whom toured Perthshire in 1792, typed: “The Macnab produced the most effective whisky to be found in Scotland.” He's also said to established his or her own illicit distillery in Killin, consuming the whisky created here from a nine gallon jug labeled as ‘The Bachelor’. He'd an enormous dislike associated with the federal government, which involved itself in what he thought to be his matters, and had a specific hatred of excisemen searching for unlawful whisky made by his clansmen.

The Macnab never married but truly held hectic during their lifetime, fathering at the least 32 illegitimate offspring. One particular legend tells of a day he saw two guys fighting in the main street of Killin. Upon asking all of them why, among boys replied: “we said I was the Chief’s child, and he said he was aswell.” Francis winked during the boys’ moms as he replied: “Ah kids, dinnae fight over that, ye both are.” Additionally, it is said your Macnab once proposed to a woman by offering as enticement the chance to have her last resting invest the most wonderful burial ground in Scotland, Innis Bhuide (the burial island associated with Chiefs of Macnab). There is also a tablet in memory of just one of their many progeny who acquitted themselves nobly on battlefield, on the wall surface of this burial enclosure on the island.

Loads of various other reports occur being testament to the Macnab’s bigger than life character. He as soon as greeted a visitor to Killin from Edinburgh with: “The Highlands are no location for a person with breeches on!” As well as on a call to a London seat, he was contemptuous of this top-notch dicks he saw battle, declaring which he could reduce a Scots bird that could quickly overcome any put against it. He accepted heavy wagers which he couldn't prove their point. The MacNab – he refused to acknowledge anyone who called him Mr MacNab – returned carrying a golden eagle on his supply.

The Macnab has also been present at a banquet held for George IV in Edinburgh, in which he had been presumably prohibited from subsequent festivities for defending just the right of MacDonnell of Glen Garry to place his hands around the corner whilst guests were dining. It was stated your Macnab threatened the security regarding the King, if Glen Garry had been harmed.

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