The Breadalbane Campbells, The Campbell Brothers of Crieff and the American Civil War

Taymouth Castle

The Clearance Cairn Glen Quaich

The Breadalbane Campbells ,the Campbell Brothers of Crieff and the American Civil War


Considerable interest has arisen over the incredible tale of the two Campbell brothers from Crieff . Alexander or Sandy as he was better known and his older brother James who fought on opposite sides in the American Civil War away back in the mid 19th century .

I first became aware of this fascinating true tale of the two Crieff lads some years back when I was contacted by a descendant, Tim Campbell Naylor who lives in Baltimore Maryland .Tim , it transpired , is a two times great grand nephew of the two brothers . The purpose of this blog is two fold . I want firstly to look at the back ground to the scenario that saw them ending up fighting at the Battle of Secessionville in 1862 on different sides and secondly how the family came to Crieff in the first place .

John Campbell , the father of Sandy and James was born at Nether Balleychandey , a farm near Logierait between the towns of Pitlochry and Aberfeldy on the 26 July 1790 . His father in all probability was a farm worker but John was apprenticed as a stone mason and married a local girl , Clementina McLaren on the 21 September 1822 in Kenmore . He was 32 and she was 28 . Logierait is some 16 miles from Kenmore and one wonders why John was resident at that time in that particular place ? The answer in all probability lies in the activities of John Campbell’s kinsman who just had to have the same name as himself . John Campbell of Carwhin was the fourth Earl of Breadalbane and the owner of some 167 000 hectares or an incredible 412, 666 acres of Perthshire and Argyll . I know from historical research that in 1822 this incredibly wealthy Clan Chief had employed an architect William Atkinson to design and build a new East Wing to his palatial Taymouth Castle . This extension dwarfed the existing Adam pavilion and main house and required the skills of stone masons like John Campbell to bring it about .

This is a particularly contrasting time for the clansmen like John Campbell from Logierait and his Clan Chief . Despite the enormous wealth being generated by the Breadalbanes the land was exceedingly over crowded and the poorer members of the Clan were finding life more than a little difficult .It is perhaps apposite at this stage in the story to quote the following :

“In time the estates of Balloch will yield only one rent , then none at all, and the last laird will pass over Glenogle leaving nothing behind “

Prophecies of the Lady of Lawers c 1680

At this time a number of things happened which sullied the name and reputation of John Campbell , Marquis of Breadalbane .Glen Quaich runs North West from Amulree. From the furthest point the River Quaich runs South East from the hills into Loch Freuchie. Along the shore line of Loch Freuchie there are several sites of ruined communities. These communities would have several houses, sometimes a mill and would have been home to perhaps 10 to 15 families.
Most of this development happened in the 18th century when the communities in Loch Tay were being vacated as a result of the new farming and tenancy agreements brought about by the Marquis of Breadalbane. The families however did not remain in Glen Quaich for long, many emigrating to Canada. In the early 1800s around three hundred crofters left the glen to resettle in Canada. After a three month voyage they colonised the Easthope area of Ontario and named their settlements Amulree and Glenquaich.The road eventually rises up to the higher slopes of the glen where superb views make for an excellent photo opportunity and then descends down to Kenmore and the picturesque Loch Tay. R. Alister, author of ‘Barriers to the National Prosperity of Scotland’ details 500 families removed twixt 1834-53 from Breadalbane. 60 families from Glenquaich.
‘On the Braes of Taymouth, at the back of Drummond Hill, and at Tulloch youle, some forty or fifty families formerly resided where there is not one now. Glenorchy, by the returns of 1831, showed a population of 1806; in 1841, 831 - is there no depopulation there?....You must be aware that your late father raised 2300 men during the last war and that 1600 of those mean were from the Breadalbane estate. My statement is that 150 could not now be raised. Your Lordship has most carefully avoided all allusion to this - perhaps the worst charge of the whole. ..Those best acquainted with the Breadalbane estates assert that on the whole property no less than 500 families, or about 2500 souls, were driven into exile by the hard-hearted Marquis of that day.’

John Campbell, second Marquis of Breadalbane, was a man of austere countenance and commanding presence. He succeeded to the Marquisate in 1834, aged 38, and was inordinately proud of his ancestry and his exalted rank. Amongst his many other titles Wick; Viscount Tay and Pentland; Baronet of Glenorchy and Nova Scotia; and 15th laird of Glenorchy. His Gaelic patrynomic was Mhic Chailean mhic Dhonnachaidh and he was second only to the Duke of Argyll as Chief of all the Campbells. His ancestors had put together an estate of almost half a million acres in Perthshire and Argyll by fair means and foul, and in 1834 the second Marquis could ride fifty miles north and south, and a hundred miles east to west, without leaving his land.
But by 1834 the Breadalbane estates had become greatly over populated. There were 3500 people living on the north and south shores of Loch Tay in Perthshire who had between them 2000 head of cattle, 600 horses, 500 unbroken horses, 6000 sheep and 400 goats. The poor soil could not support so many and there was much hardship.
The first Marquis of Breadalbane had recruited 1600 men from his estates into a Fencible Regiment for the Napoleonic Wars. When the men returned home he divided farms into smaller units to give the veterans land, whether or not they were due to inherit as eldest sons. This well-meaning deed caused even worse poverty as the plots became uneconomic in size. His son, the second Marquis, listened to the fashionable liberals of the day who said that poverty stricken Highlanders should be removed from their miserable existence, and settled elsewhere. The younger sons of Highlanders had always had to leave home to seek their fortune elsewhere because the land could not support them. The terrible mistake of the new policy was to remove an entire stock of people and replace them with sheep, which were more profitable. On the advice of his factor the second Marquis evicted fourteen families from Rhynachuilg , twelve from Edramuckie, thirteen from Kiltyrie, nine from Cloichran, and nineteen from the farm of Acharn, all places lying at the west end of Loch Tay. The farm walls were levelled and the fields between turned into grazing for blackface sheep imported from the Borders.

Next to go was the entire population of Glenquaich, a lovely heather clad glen running inland from Loch Tay to the hamlet of Amulree, and where over 500 people lived. The evictions were carried out before the houses were set alight. The people decided to emigrate to Canada, and in particular to an untamed area of Ontario owned by the Canada Land Company. Eight or nine families had arrived here voluntarily in the summer of 1832 after a voyage lasting three months. Amongst these was John Crerar from Amulree who was older than the average immigrant. He was a tall, well built man who had been factor on the Shian estate in Glenquaich, and also a whisky smuggler, running distilled spirit from illicit stills in the glens to the towns. The excise men were closing in and John Crerar emigrated to Ontario to avoid arrest. Here he found employment constructing the Twentieth Line Road into an untamed region of 44,000 acres known as the North Easthope Concession,in South Ontario. This was named after Sir John Easthope, a director of the Canada Land Company and had first been surveyed just three years before in 1829.After the Breadalbane evictions began in 1834 more and more families from central Perthshire began to emigrate . They left with great sadness
The story of Anne Menzies is typical. She was born at Shian, Glenquaich in 1839. Her father was a local school teacher who also had a small croft. Out of this he had to provide the Marquis with two cartloads of peat, so many skeins of wool, so many pounds of butter and cheese, and £16 rent every year. Anne's family were forced to emigrate in 1842 and sailed from Greenock on the Clyde. The voyage was long and stormy and the ship was three times blown back to the Irish coast. Every one on board did their own cooking and ate their own supplies. There was much sickness and many died. Cholera was the scourge on the emigrant ships and over 20,000 victims of the ship-borne disease lie buried at Grosse Island, Quebec.

But the immigrants buckled down to the task of carving a new homeland out of the wilderness. The population of North Easthope had reached 2000 by 1850 and had 10,605 acres under cultivation. About this time the enormity of the evictions from the Breadalbane estates had dawned on the people of Scotland. The Marquis was condemned in the press and tried in vain to defend his policy. But the figures spoke for themselves. Out of 3500people on Loch Tayside only 100 were left. In Glenorchy in Argyll only 6 people were left out of a population of 500. The Marquis endeavoured to raise a Fencible regiment from the estate in 1850 but where his father raised 1500 willing men his son could only find 100, and none of them volunteered. 'Put your red Coats on the back of the sheep that have replaced the men !'.cried one old man These were prophetic words. The Second Marquis of Breadalbane died a lonely un mourned death in Switzerland in 1862. On the death of the third Marquis in 1922 the vast estate began to be broken up and by 1948 not a single inch remained out the half a million acres built up over 500 years by the family of Campbell of Breadalbane. 'The castle ha' sae big and braw' – Taymouth Castle - lies empty. Only the ruins of the deserted crofts remain in the empty glens.The clearances were only one contributing factor to the mass wave of emigration occurring at this time. The collapse of the kelp industry, extreme poverty, the potato famine all made a new life abroad seem desirable .

It was this sad chapter of events which undoubtedly brought the Campbell down the Glen and into Crieff . They took up residence at the foot of Mitchell in what was then termed Water Wynd ( not as now the lane from the “ Pret “ to Millar Street ) . Father John was still working away from home and Clementina was left to look after and bring up her five bairns : Janet aged 12 , Peter aged 8 , Ann aged 7 , James aged 5 and Alex or Sandy aged 3

In Part Two of this Blog I will look at what happened to the family - some staying in Crieff and others like James and Sandy seeking a new life .


  1. My daddy taught me years and years ago, "Never trust a Campbell."


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