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Donald E. Wilkes, Jr. Collection: Archibald Campbell

The Law Library thanks Research Assistant Savanna Nolan, (J.D. '13) for her assistance with this project.


Early Life

Born at New Battle Abbey, Dalkeith, on Feb. 26, 1629, Archibald Campbell was the eldest son of the 8th Earl of Argyll (then still Lord Lorne) and Margaret Douglas.1 The family of the 8th Earl of Argyll consisted of two sons, Archibald and Neil, and four daughters, Anne, Jane, Mary, and Isabella.2 As an infant, Campbell had poor health and suffered so much pain that his father remarked that the “tides of his death would almost be a relief.”3  Between four and five years of age, Archibald Campbell was “fostered” or brought up away from home by Sir Colin Campbell, 8th Laird of Glenurquhay.4 Fostering, an accepted Gaelic custom prevalent in Argyllshire and Breadalbane, served as a means to procure friend and allies in times of need.5 Sir Campbell, a man of considerable culture and well versed in Latin, French, and Italian literature, resided in the Castle of Balloch in Perthshire.6

It was early in the boyhood of Archibald Campbell that the discontent in Scotland, which the misgovernment of Charles I had occasioned, developed into open rebellion against his authority.7 Many Scottish nobles (the Covenanters), including Sir Colin Campbell and the 8th Earl of Argyll, prepared to resist royal authority by force of arms.8 It was at this time (around 1639) when Archibald Campbell (then Lord Lorne) ended his fostering and journeyed from Perthshire to Inveraray to reunite with his family.9 Three years later, Campbell, then still under the age of fourteen, enrolled at Glasgow University.10

Early in 1647, Campbell and his younger brother, accompanied by a tutor and servants, set out upon a two year continental tour through France and Italy.11  At the outset of Campbell’s foreign travels, the English Civil War had ended and Charles I was in the custody of the Scotch contingent of the Parliamentary army.12 Around this time, Campbell’s Royalist sympathies began to emerge.  After the execution of Charles I and the abolition of the monarchy in England, he wrote a letter to Queen Henrietta Maria expressing his undivided loyalty to the dynasty during its disastrous eclipse.13

Campbell returned to Scotland in late 1649, and, in the following year, he married Lady Mary Stewart, eldest daughter of the 4th Earl of Moray.14 In the same year, he was given a place on the Committee of Estate, a body which ruled Scotland in the name of Charles II.  After the King and the Covenanters reached agreement and Charles II arrived in Scotland, Campbell was appointed colonel of Charles’s Foot Life Guard.15  Campbell discharged his office in such a way as to earn the gratitude of the Charles, with the King soon ascertaining that Campbell was a devoted servant and a most trustworthy adherent.16

Early MilitaryThe potential restoration of Charles II to the Scottish throne soon became the greatest threat to the new English Commonwealth, necessarily involving war between the two countries.17  On July 22, 1650, Oliver Cromwell entered Berwickshire with an army of 16,000 men.18  After six weeks of warfare in which Cromwell failed to induce the Scottish army to come to an open engagement, Cromwell defeated the army at the Battle of Dunbar, with Campbell’s regiment taking part in the conflict and suffering severely.19 After the defeat of the Scottish army, the Covenanter allies of Charles II refused to participate in any further conflict for the royal cause, weakening Covenanting authority in the government of Scotland.20

As the influence of the 8th Earl of Argyll deteriorated, Campbell declined to accompany Charles II and his Royalist army in a contemplated invasion of England.22  After the defeat of Charles II at the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651, Scotland formally united with England and the 8th Earl of Argyll (now Marquess of Argyll), though endeavoring to preserve some trace of national independence, accepted their rule.22  Campbell, however, chose to ignore the Articles of Agreement with the English Government and devoted himself to the royal cause.23  Late in 1652, Royalist risings in the Highlands led the English government to suspect that a new rebellion was brewing in Scotland.24 Though the Marquess of Argyll warned his son not to join the Royalists, Campbell refused and joined in July 1653.25  On July 27, 1653, the standard of Charles II was set up at Killin in Perthshire, and from various parts of the Highlands and of the adjoining country, armed men gathered for the defense of the Royalist cause.26  Their plan was to avoid meeting the forces of the Commonwealth in open field, to attack small parties of the enemy, and by sudden raids and all the various methods of guerilla fighting, to exhaust the patience and resources of the opponent.27

Early in the Rebellion, Campbell and his cousin, Lord Kenmore, with about 260 horse and foot, engaged the Commonwealth in Mentieth and Kintyre, before reuniting with Royalist commanders in Badenoch.28 As Campbell’s military efforts intensified in Argyllshire, the Marquess of Argyll, compelled by the position he occupied in the country and by his obligations to the English government, joined the English military action against his son.29 English advances eventually led most Royalists to submit, many negotiating terms of surrender by late 1654.30 On May 17, 1655, Campbell made terms with the English Government, pledging himself to live peaceably under the Protector and Commonwealth.31

Campbell was, from the time of his surrender, subjected to very close and jealous surveillance on the part of the Government.32  In early 1657, in an attempt to uncover those still sympathetic to the royal cause, Cromwell ordered an oath to be administered to all those Royalists in Scotland who had been in rebellion, by which they renounced the Stewarts and declared their allegiance to the Commonwealth.33 Campbell refused the oath and was promptly imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle until his eventual release in July 1659.34


When Charles II was restored to the English throne in May 1660, Campbell hastened to London and was received with a considerable show of kindness.35 The Marquess of Argyll, who was uncertain about presenting himself to the King, followed his son and was arrested in the outer chamber at Whitehall and held in the Tower on a charge of treason.36 After five months imprisonment in the Tower, the Marquess was tried in Edinburgh, where he was condemned and his titles and estates forfeited.37  Campbell’s father, the Marquess of Argyll, was beheaded on May 27, 1661.38

Although Charles II was inclined to restore the Earldom of Argyll and the ancestral property to Campbell, attempts were made to persuade him to secure the ruin of the House of Campbell.39 The dangers threatening Campbell were considerable, but by an act of indiscretion, he intensified them further.40  Hindering the restoration of Lorne’s Earldom and estates of Argyll was the animosity of the Earl of Clarendon, Lord Chancellor of England, who saw Campbell strength as a continued threat to the crown.41 A friend of the Chancellor, Lord Berkshire, undertook to pacify Clarendon upon receiving a bribe of £1000 sterling.42  Campbell wrote from London to his brother-in-law in Scotland, expressing to him an account of this bribery.43 The letter was intercepted at the post-office and presented to Parliament, which concluded that Campbell exposed himself to the capital charge of lease-making, or of sowing dissension between the King and his subjects.44  Charles II, not believing Campbell guilty, agreed to send him to Scotland to be tried, allowing him to return to Scotland voluntarily rather than being arrested.45 Campbell reached Edinburgh and appeared before the bar of Scottish Parliament on July 17, 1662, pleading that his letter was a reaction to gross provocation and that he was simply defending himself from lies.46 On August 26, 1662, Campbell knelt down at the bar of the Parliament, as his father had done fifteen months before, and heard the same sentence of beheading pronounced upon him.47  Charles II ordered that the sentence was not to be executed without further instructions from him, delaying Campbell’s execution until his release from Edinburgh Castle on June 15, 1663.48

Three months later, on October 16, 1663, the title Earl of Argyll was restored to Campbell with most of his father’s estate.49  The new Earl was admitted to the Scottish Privy Council on June 9, 1664 and restored to the hereditary sheriffship of Argyll in 1666.50 Campbell quickly won an evil reputation for being harsh and unscrupulous, using his public offices in his own interests and exploiting the financial and other difficulties of neighbors.51  Campbell, however, also found time to beautify the grounds about the castle at Inverary, enclosing gardens, planting trees, and, with his wife, raising their six children who survived infancy. 52  The Countess of Argyll died from childbirth complications in May 1668.53 On January 28, 1670, the Earl married his second wife Lady Anne or Anna Mackenzie, daughter of the Earl of Seaforth and widow of the 1st Earl of Balcarres.54  During the next several years, Campbell found it necessary to secure his legal rights by taking up arms against the Macleans, a Highland neighbor. The Lord of Maclean, who resided on the island of Mull, had been in debt to the Earl, and Campbell sought to forcibly recover the money from him.55 On November 1, 1679, with the island of Mull effectively passing into Argyll’s possession, Charles II, in a letter to the Privy Council of Scotland, declared himself satisfied with the prudence and moderation shown by Campbell in his dealing with the Macleans.56

In the same month, James, Duke of York and younger brother of King Charles II, arrived in Scotland as King’s Commissioner.57 James at once assumed the attitude of superiority to statutory law, taking his seat at the Privy Council without reciting the Oath of Allegiance, which contained a declaration against Popery.58 Campbell was one of five councilors who took the strong course of protesting this act. Although the councilors were overruled, it had become apparent to James that Campbell's influence was dangerously great and it was necessary for him either to gain control or to ruin Campbell to avoid trouble in the future in Scotland.59 In February 1681, James paid a visit to the Earl at his house in Stirling. Initially thanking him for his civility and kindness, James then told Campbell that he would be “the greatest man in Scotland” if he would exchange “the worst of religions for the best.”60

Campbell refused, but it was not Campbell’s refusal to convert but his opposition to one of James's key policies, the Test Act, which brought about his downfall.61 Imposed on all public officeholders, the 1681 Test Act required a profession of the Protestant religion and an affirmation of royal supremacy in all temporal and spiritual matters.62 The Act attempted to reconcile the irreconcilable in pursuit of James's determination to make the legitimacy of his right to succeed to the throne unassailable.63  The Earl refused to vote on the act in Parliament, taking a prominent part in arguing that “as few oaths should be required, as could be, and these as short and clear as possible.”64

By leading opposition to the Test Act, Campbell both drew upon himself the hostility of the James and revived the hopes of personal enemies and rivals.65 When the Earl appeared before James and the Privy Council on November 3, 1681, he swore the oath “in so far as it is consistent with itself and the Protestant religion.”66 Essentially mocking the Test oath, Campbell was summoned to swear again on November 4, 1681, where he sought to avoid repeating his explanation by saying simply that he now swore “as before.”67  James, however, demanded that Campbell explain what he meant by submitting a written explanation.68 Campbell did so, and the Privy Council ordered the Earl imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle.69

Trial before the Court of Justiciary commenced on December 12, 1681, with Campbell maintaining that he was not being prosecuted for any actions of political disloyalty, but only for the sense of words misconstrued to the greatest height and stretched to imaginary inclinations.70 He was convicted of treason and sentenced to death.71 Facing execution, he escaped from Edinburgh Castle on December 20 1681 with the aid of his stepdaughter, Lady Sophia Lindsay.72 Helped by Presbyterian sympathizers, Campbell made his way to London, with a lingering hope that he could find someone to approach the King on his behalf.73 Pardon for Campbell would have been seen as indicating a weakening of the policy of guaranteeing James's right to the throne. Instead, Campbell's real hopes for the future came to lie in collaboration with extreme English Whig politicians, whose prolonged attempts to have James excluded from succession to the throne had recently failed.74  Campbell met secretly with one of their leaders, the Earl of Shaftesbury, who offered to serve Campbell to the best of his now considerably enfeebled power.75 Reports that Campbell was now actively involved in treason led to the renewal of attempts to trace and arrest him, and in the autumn of 1682, he fled to the Netherlands to join the Scottish and English exiles gathering there.76

Accession of James II and Invasion

Following the death of King Charles II and the accession of King James II in February 1685, Campbell moved from Friesland, where he had been living,77 to Rotterdam, and then to Amsterdam, where he had a series of meetings with Scottish exiles.78 It was determined that an attempt should be made on the western coast of Scotland, and that it should promptly be followed by a descent on England.79 Campbell was to hold nominal command in Scotland, subject to the control of a Committee which reserved to itself all the most important parts of military administration.80 The Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, was to command the expedition in England.81

The extent of Campbell’s ambition was to raise his supporters in the Western Highlands, presenting a sufficient threat that would prevent Scottish troops being sent south against the army Monmouth would land in England.82 Campbell was said to have declared that, as he was the head of a Highland clan as his father had been the leader of the Covenanting party, he was sure that great numbers of his fellow countrymen would join him.83

With about 300 men in three vessels, the Earl set sail for Scotland at the beginning of May 1685.84 On May 6, he unwisely anchored off Kirkwall and granted permission for two of his followers to go ashore.85 They were arrested by order of the Bishop and Magistrates as “servants to a rebel,” and information of what had occurred was forwarded to the Privy Council.86 Leaving Kirkwall, the fleet sailed down the Minch inside the Outer Hebrides, with the purpose of landing upon Islay, where it was hoped military recruits might be obtained.87 They entered the Sound of Mull and landed in the bay of Tobermory on May 11th.88 There, Campbell erected the “cross of yew,” a fiery cross quenched in goat blood that was ignited to summon all Campbells capable of fighting.89 The muster, though small, was still formidable, assembling a force of about eighteen hundred men.90

Moving slowly south, delayed by contrary winds, Campbell's army reached Kintyre, where it was expected that numerous recruits to the cause represented by the invaders would be forth coming, given the country was directly under the Earl’s influence.91 Crossing Kintyre and landing at Campbelton on May 20, the leaders went ashore and the formal Declaration of the reasons for insurrection and the objects aimed at by it was read at the Market Cross.92  The Declaration detailed the oppressions of government in Scotland since 1660, the risks to Protestantism of a Catholic king, and the unjust treatment of himself and his father.93 The Declaration failed in making the desired impression upon those to whom it appealed.  Many in the country detested the illegal and oppressive conduct which it recounted but thought that the overthrow of the laws of the country by a miscellaneous group of revolutionaries might still be a greater evil.94

Meanwhile, the Earl and his followers disputed over military priorities, a matter which had begun in Holland and had never ceased during the course of the expedition.95 The great question was whether the Highlands or the Lowlands should be the seat of war.96 Campbell remained committed to establish his authority over his own domains, to drive out the invading clans which had been poured from Perthshire into Argyllshire, and to take possession of the ancient seat of his family at Inverary.97 He might then have hoped to have four of five thousand men at his command, securing an excellent base for offensive operations in the Lowlands.98 The Committee, however, saw that as head of an army chiefly composed of his own tribe, Campbell would be able to bear down their opposition and exercise the full authority of a general.99 They tended to favor an immediate move to the Lowlands to raise the dissidents there.100 When a rendezvous at Tarbet with Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck and the Earl’s son, Charles, produced nearly twelve hundred clansmen, the Earl proposed to advance to recover the Campbell heartland around Inveraray, arguing that the rest of his clan would be unwilling to march into the Lowlands until this was done.101 Ultimately the pressure of circumstances shaped their plans.102 As provisions were no longer to be had in Tarbert, and as retreat into the Highlands remained unfeasible, it was decided to cross over into the island of Bute.103  Movements of the enemy allowed Campbell to return to the mainland, where he suggested that his army lodge all their arms and ammunition and stores within the castle of Ealan Ghierig.104 Campbell again endeavored to make an attempt upon Inverary, and again encountered opposition.105 Campbell skirmished successfully and was about to advance on Inverary, when news from the ships and factions in the Committee forced him to turn back.106

The King’s frigates had come nearer to Ealan Ghierig than thought possible.107 With the arrival of English naval ships, the garrison Campbell had left at Ealan Ghierig fled, leaving arms and other stores landed there to the enemy.108 After blundering through Dunbartonshire as his force disintegrated, Campbell crossed the Clyde into Renfrewshire, hoping to find help from Lowland dissidents for a bold push for Glasgow.109 But, as soon as this resolution was announced, the Committee, who had been urging Campbell to hasten into the Lowlands, took fright and laid a scheme for seizing the vessels, making their own escape and leaving the Earl and his clansmen to conquer or perish unaided.110 Since it was determined not to fight, Campbell disguised himself and, armed with three loaded pistols, attempted to make his way back to the Highlands.111 On trying to cross the Clyde at Inchinnan, the Earl was arrested by John Riddel, a weaver, and his identity revealed.112

Last Sleep of Argyll (Edward Ward)

On June 20, 1685, exactly seven weeks after Campbell left the shores of Holland, he was brought captive into Edinburgh Castle for the third time in his life.113 It had been determined not to bring Campbell to trial for his recent offense, but to instead put him to death under the sentenced pronounced against him in 1681. Awaiting his death, a paper of interrogatories was laid before him by order of the Privy Council.114  After cautiously providing answers so as to not endanger his supporters, he was told that that unless he returned fuller answers, he should be put to torture.115 James II sent down positive orders that nothing should be omitted which could wring out of the traitor information against all who had been treasonous.116 The torture, however, was never inflicted, and Campbell said nothing to betray his supporters.117 Campbell wrote his own epitaph, a short poem complaining that though his enemies had repeatedly decreed his death, his friends had been still more cruel.118 On June 30, 1685, shortly before he was to be taken to his execution, Campbell was found sleeping “as sweetly and pleasantly as ever had done.”119 The incident had come to be interpreted as demonstrating his remarkable serenity in the face of death, overlooking the fact that he had had to sleep for a time each day since his accident in 1658.120 

On ascending the scaffold where the old guillotine of Scotland awaited him, the Earl of Argyll addressed the crowd that had gathered to witness his death, largely referencing the Bible but ending with a denunciation of oppression and Popery.121 As his head fell, his body jumped upright on its feet, spouting blood “like a cascade or jette d'eau” before being held down by the executioners.122 In accordance with the sentence pronounced on the Earl, his head was affixed on a spike on the West end of Edinburgh Tollbooth, while his body was buried at Newbattle Abbey, where he had been born.123 After the Revolution the head was taken down and buried there also. On the death of Campbell’s son, Archibald, 10th Earl and 1st Duke of Argyll, both bodies were taken to Kilmun, the family burial place.124


David Stevenson, ‘Campbell, Archibald, ninth earl of Argyll (1629–1685)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online ed., Oct 2005 [, accessed 15 Nov 2007].

Clare Jackson, Restoration Scotland, 1660-1690: Royalist Politics, Religion and Ideas (2003).

John Willcock,A Scots Earl in Covenanting Times: Being Life and Times of Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll (1629-1685) (1907).

Thomas Macaulay, The History of England, From the Accession of James the Second (1913).

1 John Willcock, A Scots Earl in Covenanting Times: Being Life and Times of Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll (1629-1685) 2 (1907).

2 Id. at 3-5.

Id. at 5.

4 Id.

5 Id. “There is something very engaging in the idea which lay at the root of this custom, that in a bond of friendship there is something more enduring than could be secured by treaties written with a pen and liable to be affected by the changing moods and circumstances of the contracting parties.” Id.

6 Id. at 6.  Documents pertaining to the fostering of Archibald Campbell (primarily letters between the parties concerned) are preserved in the charter-room of Taymouth Castle.  Taymouth Castle was built on the site of Balloch Castle; all that remains of Balloch Castle is a small piece of wall on the right hand side of the front door of Taymouth Castle.  Id. at 6, n.2.

7 Id. at9.

8 Id. at10-12.

9 Id. at 11-12.

10 Id. at15-16.  At Glasgow, there was no evidence showing that Campbell distinguished himself from his peers.  The graduation lists of the time did not contain Campbell’s name.  Id. at 16.

11 Id. at 19.

12 Id. at 21.

13 Id. at22.  Scholars have seen this letter as a means for Campbell to distance himself from his father and events in Scotland.  Id.

14 Id. at 25.

15 Id. at26-27.

16 Id. at 27.

17 Id.

18 Id.

19 Id.

20 Id.

21 Id. at 30-31.  The invasion never took place as the expected uprising of English Royalists never materialized.  Id.

22Id. at31.

23 Id. at38-39.

24 Id. at 41.

25 David Stevenson, ‘Campbell, Archibald, ninth earl of Argyll (1629–1685)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online ed., Oct 2005 [, accessed 15 Nov 2007].

26 Willcock, supra note 1, at 43.

27 Id.

28 Stevenson, supra note 25.

29 Willcock, supra note 1, at 69.

30 Stevenson, supra note 25.

31 Willcock, supra note 1, at 72-73.

32 Id. at 76.

33 Id. at 79.

34 Id. at 79-81.

35 Id. at 84.

36 Id. at 85.

37 Id. at 85, 87-88.

38 Id. at 87.

39 Id. at 115-16.

40 Id. at 118.

41 Id.

42 Id.

43 Id. at 118-19.

44 Id. at 119.

45 Id. at 120.

46 Id. at 121.

47 Id.

48 Id. at 122; Campbell’s release coincided with the dismissal of the Earl of Middleton.  Stevenson, supra note 25.

49 Willcock, supra note 1, at 122; Stevenson, supra note 25.

50 Stevenson, supra note 25.

51 Id.

52 Willcock, supra note 1, at 152-53.

53 Id. at155.

54 Id. at173.

55 Id. at 197.

56 Id. at 199.

57 Stevenson, supra note 25.

58 Willcock, supra note 1, at 242.

59 Stevenson, supra note 25.

60 Willcock, supra note 1, at 249.

61 Stevenson, supra note 25.

62 Clare Jackson, Restoration Scotland, 1660-1690: Royalist Politics, Religion and Ideas 149 (2003).

63 Stevenson, supra note 25.

64 Willcock, supra note 1, at 255.

65 Stevenson, supra note 25.

66 Willcock, supra note 1, at 261; Jackson, supra note 63, at 150.

67 Willcock, supra note 1, at 262.

68 Id. at262-63.

69 Id. at 263.

70 Thomas Macaulay, The History of England, From the Accession of James the Second 490 (1848).

71 Stevenson, supra note 25.

72 Willcock, supra note 1, at 277-80.

73 Stevenson, supra note 25.

74 Id.

75 Willcock, supra note 1, at 299.

76 Id. at 304-05

77 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 491.

78 Willcock, supra note 1, at 331-34.

79 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 495.

80 Id.

81 Id.

82 Willcock, supra note 1, at 329-30; Stevenson, supra note 25.

83 Willcock, supra note 1, at 329-30.

84 Stevenson, supra note 25.

85 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 501.

86 Willcock, supra note 1, at 350.

87 Id. at 352.

88 Id.

89 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 503.

90 Id.

91 Willcock, supra note 1, at 356.

92 Id. at 357.

93 Stevenson, supra note 25.

94 Willcock, supra note 1, at 363

95 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 503.

96 Id.

97 Id.

98 Id.

99 Id. at 504.

100 Willcock, supra note 1, at 367-67

101 Id. at 370.

102 Id. at 372.

103 Id.

104 Id. at 378-39

105 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 506.

106 Id. at 507.

107 Id.

108 Stevenson, supra note 25.

109 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 507; Stevenson, supra note 25.

110 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 508.

111 Stevenson, supra note 25.

112 Id.

113 Id.

114 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 512.

115 Id.

116 Id.

117 Id.

118 Macaulay, supra note 70, at 512.

119 Willcock, supra note 1, at 414.

120 Stevenson, supra note 25.

121 Id.

122 Id.

123 Willcock, supra note 1, at 425-26; Stevenson, supra note 25.

124 Willcock, supra note 1, at 426.

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