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the Birthday of Rob Roy MacGregor
"A famous man is Robin Hood,
The English ballad-singer's joy!
And Scotland has a thief as good,
An outlaw of as daring mood;
She has her brave Rob Roy!"
~ William Wordsworth, Memorials of a Tour in Scotland, 1803
Raibeart Ruadh MacGriogair (baptized this day 7 March 1671, was a Scottish outlaw, who later became a folk hero. Rob Roy became a well-known and respected cattleman - at a time when cattle rustling and selling protection against theft were commonplace means of earning a living. Rob Roy borrowed a large sum to increase his own cattle herd, but owing to the disappearance of his chief herder, who was entrusted with the money to bring the cattle back, Rob Roy lost both his money and cattle, and defaulted on his loan. As a result, he was branded an outlaw, and his wife and family were evicted from their house at Inversnaid, which was then burned down. After his principal creditor, James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose seized his lands, Rob Roy waged a private blood feud against the Duke until 1722, when he was forced to surrender. Later imprisoned, he was finally pardoned in 1727. He died in his house at Inverlochlarig Beg, Balquhidder, on 28 December 1734, aged 63.
'S Rioghal Mo Dhream - "Royal is my race"
Depending on one's point of view or choice of historical sources, Rob Roy can be looked upon as a chivalrous Scottish Robin Hood, or nuisance cattle rustler.
Regardless, his story has made for fabulous legends and immortalization in poetry, music, novels, and film.
For centuries the ‘Wild MacGregors’, roamed the Trossachs in Scotland. The most infamous member of the clan was Robert MacGregor, who acquired the name of ‘Roy’ early in life due to his red curly hair.
The notes from the Scottish Register of Tartans for this pattern indicates that no documentary evidence of Rob Roy actually wearing it exists, but in the 1850 book 'The Clan and Family Tartans of Scotland,' it is stated: 'Of this distinguished personage no fewer than three original portraits exist - all taken from life, and all dressed in this Tartan.' One of these, 1704 is at Broomhill near Hamilton, one being 1714 Scottish Antiquarian Society, and one is at 1734 in possession of George Buchanan, Esq, of Arden.'
Also known as 'Old MacGregor,' the 'Rob Roy' name for this tartan is thought to have been popularized during the Victorian period. There is no set thread count for this pattern, and it is woven at various sizes from 1 inch to 6 inch squares in equal proportions.
In the United States and elsewhere this pattern is also known as "lumberjack" or "buffalo" plaid.
For more on Rob Roy, click one of the 19th century portraits.