Bonnie Dundee, or John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount Dundee (c. 21 July 1648 – 27 July 1689), known as the 7th Laird of Claverhouse until raised to the viscountcy in 1688, was a Scottish soldier and nobleman, a Tory and an Episcopalian. Claverhouse was responsible for policing south-west Scotland during and after the religious unrest and rebellion of the 1670s and 80s. After his death, Presbyterian historians dubbed him “Bluidy Clavers”. Contemporary evidence for the fairness of this soubriquet in the Covenanting tradition is mixed. Tales of the Covenanters and Covenanter monuments hold Claverhouse directly responsible for the deaths of adherents of that movement. However, Claverhouse’s own letters frequently recommended lenient treatment of Covenanters, and in 1684 he married into a prominent Covenanter family. Later, as a general in the Scottish army, Claverhouse remained loyal to King James VII of Scotland after the Revolution of 1688. He rallied those Highland clans loyal to the Jacobite cause and, although he lost his life in the battle, led them to victory at Killiecrankie. This first Jacobite rising was unsuccessful, but Claverhouse became a Jacobite hero, acquiring his second soubriquet “Bonnie Dundee”.

The Graham family was descended from King Robert III, through his second daughter Princess Mary. John Graham was born of a junior branch of the family that had acquired the estate of Claverhouse near Dundee. He was the elder son of Sir William Graham and Lady Madeline Carnegie, 5th daughter of the Earl of Southesk. He had a younger brother, David, and two sisters. Both John and David were educated at the University of St Andrews, graduating in 1661.

William Graham died in around 1652 and the brothers became the responsibility of their uncles and other relatives. In 1660 they were listed as burgesses of Dundee, probably at the instigation of their paternal uncle George Graham. John Graham inherited the Claverhouse estate when he came of age in about 1667. The Claverhouse properties included a house in Glen Ogilvie in the Sidlaw Hills to the north of Dundee (since demolished), Claypotts Castle, and a house at Mill of Mains. In 1669 Graham’s maternal uncle, David Carnegie, Lord Lour, secured him an appointment as a Commissioner of Excise and Justice of the Peace for Angus.

He began his military career in 1672, as a junior Lieutenant in Sir William Lockhart’s Scots Regiment. This regiment was under the command of the Duke of Monmouth, in the service of the French King, Louis XIV. By 1674, Graham was a Cornet in William of Orange’s guards. It is claimed that he was present at the Battle of Seneffe that year, and that he rescued the young Prince when his horse fell on marshy ground although there is little evidence to support or disprove this claim. It has been conjectured that, as a reward for his actions, Claverhouse received a Captain’s commission in the same troop. Two years later, following an unsuccessful siege of Maastricht, Graham resigned his commission and returned to Scotland. William wrote a letter to James, Duke of York (later James VII), who was both his uncle and father-in-law, recommending John Graham as a soldier.

After leaving Holland, Graham was appointed captain by Charles II and sent to south-west Scotland in 1678, with orders to suppress conventicles (illegal outdoor Presbyterian meetings).

On 1 June 1679 he stumbled upon a field conventicle, “little to our advantage; for, when we came in sight of them, we found them drawn up in batell, upon a most advantagious ground, to which there was no coming but through mosses and lakes. They were not preaching… They consisted of four battalions of foot, and all well armed with fusils and pitchforks, and three squadrons of horse.

Estimates vary, but it is certain that Claverhouse was outnumbered by at least four to one. He gave battle as his duty required him to. Despite the early success of his skirmishers he and his troopers had to beat a very hasty retreat from the Battle of Drumclog. Claverhouse returned to Glasgow, successfully defending it until his party left on 3 June and headed towards Stirling. In a letter about Drumclog, Claverhouse concludes by stating “This may be counted the beginning of the Rebellion in my opinion.”

 

Joined later by the Duke of Monmouth, the whole of the militia and two regiments of dragoons, both sides met again at the Battle of Bothwell Brig, on 22 June, and the Covenanters were routed. In 1680, he was dispatched to London to influence the King against the indulgent method adopted by the Duke of Monmouth towards the extreme Covenanting party. The King seems to have been fascinated by his loyal supporter, and from that moment onwards Graham was destined to rise in rank and honours. Early in 1680 he obtained a royal grant of the barony of the outlawed Macdougal of Freuch, and the grant was confirmed after some delay by subsequent orders upon the exchequer in Scotland.

In January 1681, he was appointed to the sheriffships of Wigtown, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Annandale. In December 1682, he was appointed colonel of a new regiment to be raised in Scotland. He had still greater honours in view. In January 1683, the case of the Earl of Lauderdale was debated in the House of Lords. Lauderdale was proprietor of the lands and lordship of Dundee and Dudhope, and the decree of the Lords against him was issued in March 1683 for the sum of 72,000 pounds. Graham succeeded in having the Castle of Dudhope (part of the property of the defaulter) and Lauderdale’s title of Constable of Dundee transferred to him by royal grant in 1684. In May 1683, he was nominated as a member of the privy council of Scotland.

He married Lady Jean Cochrane, a daughter of a fiercely Covenanting family in 1684. Shortly after the death of Charles II in 1685, Graham incurred a temporary disgrace – he stood up for the rights of ordinary soldiers who were being poorly treated – by his deposition from the office of privy councillor; but he was reinstated in May, although his commission of justiciary, which had expired, was not renewed. In 1686, he was promoted to the rank of major-general, and given the additional position of Constable, the dignity of Lord Provost of Dundee. One of his first acts as Provost was to abolish the death penalty for theft under his jurisdiction. In 1688, he was second-in-command to General Douglas in the army which had been ordered to England to aid the falling dynasty of the Stuarts. In the same year, however, he was created Viscount Dundee by James VII while with the Scots army in England. He was also given military command of all the King’s forces in Scotland.

Dundee returned to Scotland in anticipation of the meeting of the Convention of Estates in Edinburgh, and at once exerted himself to bolster the waning resolution of the Duke of Gordon, the governor of Edinburgh Castle, with regard to holding it for the King. The Convention proving hostile, he conceived the idea of forming a rival convention at Stirling to sit in the name of James VII, but the hesitancy of his associates rendered the design futile, and it was given up. Prior to this, on 18 March 1689, he had left Edinburgh at the head of a company of fifty loyal dragoons, who were strongly attached to his leadership. He was not long gone before the news was brought to the alarmed convention that he had been spotted clambering up the castle rock and holding a conference with Gordon. In excitement and confusion order after order was dispatched regarding the fugitive. Dundee retired to Dudhope. On 30 March, despite a letter to the Convention stating that he was not in arms and that he was living peacefully at home awaiting the birth of his first child, he was publicly denounced as a traitor. He had offered to give a bond or parole to no avail and in the latter half of April attempts were made to apprehend him at Dudhope, and at his residence in Glen Ogilvy; but the secrecy and speed of his movements outwitted his pursuers, and he retreated to the north.

 

In 1689, after the overthrow of King James VII, he continued to support the Stuart dynasty in his capacity as commander-in-chief of all Scottish forces. Dundee raised the Scottish Royal Standard on Dundee Law in support of his king, country and the Jacobite cause. However, in spite of his subsequent association with the city of Dundee, he was to face what the historian of Jacobitism, Bruce Lenman, has described as a “stony faced” reception from its townsfolk. It is claimed that Claverhouse’s association with Dundee was brief and unpopular as he was seen as the representative of an arbitrary authoritarian monarchy that was eroding the self-autonomy the burgh had enjoyed. Indeed, when he returned to Dundee with a small troop of horse (Dundee Law at that time lay outside the burgh walls) he was to find the walls guarded and the gates firmly shut.[8] In fact, the city was heavily garrisoned by Williamite forces at the time which may better explain why the gates were barred to him. The fact that the large force in Dundee made no attempt to give battle or capture him may actually suggest they were to some degree sympathetic to his cause. Later events show that cavalry based in Dundee at the time later attempted to defect and join his forces. For four months he rallied support in the hope that King James would return from Ireland. Modern biographers, particularly Andrew Murray Scott consider that his skill as a diplomat was as great as his inspiration as a leader.

His greatest victory was won at the Battle of Killiecrankie later that year against much greater Williamite forces led by General Hugh Mackay. Scott believes that Claverhouse’s death in victory as he led the Jacobite charge down the hill at sunset was the final desperate act of a man who was aware that he had been betrayed by Melfort, the King’s adviser, and was trying to overcompensate for their lack of support. The Highlanders were completely victorious, but Dundee, in the act of encouraging his men, was pierced beneath the breastplate by a musket ball of the enemy and fell dying from his horse.

Graham reputedly asked a soldier “How goes the day?”, to which the man replied, “Well for King James, but I am sorry for your lordship.” The dying Graham then replied, “If it goes well for him, it matters the less for me.” A short letter describing the engagement to King James was later produced which purported to be from Graham but is now believed to be spurious. The battle, disastrous as it was to the government forces, was in reality the end of the insurrection, for the controlling and commanding genius of the rebellion was no more.

The death of Dundee, in the midst of the confusion of a cavalry charge, became the subject of numerous legends, the best known of which was the long prevalent but of course entirely false tale that he was invulnerable to lead (due to having made a pact with the Devil) and was killed by being penetrated by a silver button from his own coat. He died on the battlefield and was carried the few miles to the nearby parish church of St Bride, above Blair Castle, where he was buried. The stone which commemorates him at the crypt gives his age (erroneously) as 46, when he was actually 41. Dundee’s helmet and breastplate, removed from the vault below the church in the 19th century, are preserved in Blair Castle,

The tune under the title of “Bonnie Dundee” (or “Bonny Dundee”) predated Claverhouse’s appointment as Viscount Dundee, and several 18th century songs under that title refer to the city of Dundee and not Claverhouse. With Walter Scott’s publication around 1828 of his poem adapting the old tune to praise Claverhouse, the phrase “bonnie Dundee” became generally associated with the Viscount rather than the town, though the older ballads were still published.

It might be worthy to note that, although Dundee’s helmet and breastplate are now in Blair Castle, this wasn’t always the case.  A century after his burial, his vault was opened and his armour removed, which was then sold to merchants, but eventually recovered.

most of the above text appears courtesy of wikipedia.org under the Creative Commons Attributtion-Share-Alike Licence

Up wi the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!  We’re sure many of you are familiar with the old song “Bonnie Dundee”, written by Sir Walter Scott over 100 years after the death of John Graham of Claverhouse, but did you know the original poem was heavily edited for the song, to the exclusion of several verses? Read them below, or sing along, if you like.

To the Lords of Convention ’twas Clavers who spoke.
‘Ere the King’s crown shall fall there are crowns to be broke;
So let each Cavalier who loves honour and me,
Come follow the bonnet of Bonnie Dundee.

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

Dundee he is mounted, he rides up the street,
The bells are rung backward,[14] the drums they are beat;
But the Provost, douce man, said, “Just e’en let him be,
The Gude Town[15] is weel quit of that Deil of Dundee.”

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

As he rode down the sanctified bends of the Bow,
Ilk carline was flyting and shaking her pow;
But the young plants of grace they looked couthie and slee,
Thinking luck to thy bonnet, thou Bonnie Dundee!

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

With sour-featured Whigs the Grass-market was crammed,
As if half the West had set tryst to be hanged;
There was spite in each look, there was fear in each e’e,
As they watched for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee.

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

These cowls of Kilmarnock had spits and had spears,
And lang-hafted gullies to kill cavaliers;
But they shrunk to close-heads and the causeway was free,
At the toss of the bonnet of Bonnie Dundee.

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

He spurred to the foot of the proud Castle rock,
And with the gay Gordon he gallantly spoke;
“Let Mons Meg and her marrows speak twa words or three,
For the love of the bonnet of Bonnie Dundee.”

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

The Gordon demands of him which way he goes?
“Where’er shall direct me the shade of Montrose!
Your Grace in short space shall hear tidings of me,
Or that low lies the bonnet of Bonnie Dundee.

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

“There are hills beyond Pentland and lands beyond Forth,
If there’s lords in the Lowlands, there’s chiefs in the North;
There are wild Duniewassals three thousand times three,
Will cry hoigh! for the bonnet of Bonnie Dundee.

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

“There’s brass on the target of barkened bull-hide;
There’s steel in the scabbard that dangles beside;
The brass shall be burnished, the steel shall flash free,
At the toss of the bonnet of Bonnie Dundee.

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

“Away to the hills, to the caves, to the rocks
Ere I own an usurper, I’ll couch with the fox;
And tremble, false Whigs, in the midst of your glee,
You have not seen the last of my bonnet and me!”

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle your horses, and call up your men;
Come open the West Port and let me gang free,
And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

He waved his proud hand, the trumpets were blown,
The kettle-drums clashed and the horsemen rode on,
Till on Ravelston’s cliffs and on Clermiston’s lee
Died away the wild war-notes of Bonnie Dundee.

Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Come saddle the horses, and call up the men,
Come open your gates, and let me gae free,
For it’s up with the bonnets of Bonnie Dundee!

Claypotts Castle is a late medieval castle in the West Ferry area of Dundee, Scotland. It is one of the best-preserved examples of a 16th-century ‘Z-plan’ tower house in Scotland. The castle is now maintained as an Ancient Monument by Historic Scotland and is open to the public for only a few days a year. Originally built by John Strachan, work commenced sometime in 1569 and was eventually completed in 1588, nearly 20 years later. The land the castle was built on was owned by Lindores Abbey in Fife, and was rented to the Strachans for a cost of £11 16s 8d and twelve cockerels. Yes, that’s right – twelve cockerels!

The spirit of a ‘white lady’ has been seen on numerous occasions at the castle. She has been mainly seen at one of the upper windows and witnesses have also said that, at times, she seems to be waving. She is largely believed to be that of Marion Ogilvie. In the 16th century Marion Ogilvie was the mistress of Cardinal Beaton – who was murdered in St. Andrews on 29th May, 1546. However, it’s unclear why the ‘white lady’ ghost is said to be that of Marion as Claypotts didn’t exist until much later in that century. It’s possible that another lady by the name of ‘Marion’ haunts the castle, and it may be that she is connected to another ghost that haunts the area – John Graham of Claverhouse. In 1601 Claypotts Castle was bought by the Grahams and later owned by John Graham of Claverhouse, more famous for the moniker ‘Bonnie Dundee’ or ‘Bloody Clavers’.

The castle was the focus of rumours about diabolic rituals and demonic orgies lead by John Graham. He had apparently made a pact with the devil during these satanic rituals, bestowing upon him the gift of invulnerability. Bloody Clavers was killed at the battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 and his spirit is also said to return to the castle on 29th May – the same date Cardinal Beaton was murdered in 1546. Tales tell of demonic screaming, “hell-fire”, lascivious orgies and the sounds of the horses of Hell stomping over the land.  Red, glowing eyes, cackling laughter and the devil himself have also all been reported…but never validated.  Ever. So widely believed were the rumours of devil worship that it was recorded that he had died by a either silver bullet or the silver button on his jacket as a bullet hit him, as he could not be felled by lead whilst under the protection of the devil himself.

 

Dudhope Castle, one of Dundee’s oldest buildings, sits overlooking the city, near the foot of the Law. The castle was originally built in the late 13th century by the Scrimgeour family, appointed Hereditary Constables of Dundee by William Wallace in 1298. John Scrimgeour entertained King James VI at Dudhope in 1617, and was granted a charter of the lands and barony of Dundee on 11 December that year. He refused to sign the Covenant in 1639. Later, King Charles I created him Viscount Dudhope and Baron Scrimgeour of Inverkeithing in November 1641. He died in 1643 and was succeeded by his eldest son James. On the death in 1668 of John Scrimgeour, Constable, and first Earl of Dundee, King Charles II ignored the existence of the rightful heir, and made a grant of Dudhope Castle and the office of Constable to Charles Maitland, a younger brother of the Earl of Lauderdale.

Later, whilst experiencing financial difficulties, Maitland sold Dudhope Castle in 1684 to John Graham of Claverhouse. It was from Dudhope Castle that he departed for Killiecrankie in 1689; the victory which resulted in his death. In 1694, the King therefore made a grant of Dudhope Castle to Archibald Douglas. The Douglas family were the last family of occupants of the castle, continuing until about 1790. During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, James the 2nd Viscount Dudhope, sided with the Covenanters and fought the Royalist army at the Battle of Marston Moor in July 1644 where he was mortally wounded.

The castle was converted to be used as a woollen mill in 1792 but the scheme never really took off. In 1795 the castle and park were leased to the Ordinance Office for 95 years. The castle was used as a barracks between 1796 and 1881 but in 1881 the stores moved to Perth and the Castle was abandoned. Town Council of Dundee took the decision to create a public recreation ground of the Park and obtained a sub-lease from the Ordnance Office in 1854 for 35 ½ years. The Earl of Home wanted to develop the grounds as terraced housing. This was prevented when Dudhope Park was acquired for the people by Dundee Town Council and opened as a public park in 1895.

Dudhope Castle image courtesy of Lost Dundee