John Fergusson, Colonel of a Regiment of Foot, rode from Craigdarroch to Killiecrankie in 1689, where he was killed in battle. His servant returned with his master's horse and saddle and the saddle was kept at the top of the stairs until 1918 when it went to Caprington Castle where it still is. The story goes that his wife, Elizabeth, refused to believe her husband was dead and pined her days away waiting for his return, and subsequently haunted the saddle right up until 1920 when the ghost was laid by a Jesuit with Bell, Book and Candle.
Married 1 May 1682 Elizabeth M''Ghie c 1660-D:1691
Battle of Killiecrankie
27th July 1689
In the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England, the Catholic James II fled to France in favour of the Protestant William of Orange and Queen Mary. In 1689 the Scottish parliament voted to give the crown of Scotland to William & Mary. In response Viscount Dundee raised mainly Highland forces under the standard of James VII(II) in the first Jacobite rebellion against the newly installed monarch. They were supported by a small force of Irish troops. A Scottish government army was raised to counter the rebellion. This army comprised Lowland Scottish (including John Fergusson), English and Dutch forces, under General Mackay. On 27th July 1689 they intercepted the Jacobite rebels just to the north west of the Killicrankie Pass, on the key strategic communications route into the Highlands from Perth to Inverness.
Dundee arrived at the pass before Mackay and set up position on a ridge above the pass with his force of 2400. When Mackay arrived they saw they had no hope of attacking Dundee's force; they instead deployed in a line and started firing on them with muskets.
The Jacobite line was shorter than the Government, due to the disparity in numbers, leaving Ewen in the middle with an open flank on the left. By the time all of the forces were formed up it was late afternoon and the Jacobites had the sun in their eyes, so they simply waited for sunset under the desultory fire from Mackay's forces.
At seven o'clock Dundee gave the order to advance, at which point the entirety of the Highlanders dropped their gear, fired what muskets they had, and charged. Mackay's forces, realizing the battle was on, stepped up their rate of fire, however due to a shallow terrace on the hillside shielding the advancing Jacobites, this fire was partly masked. Eventually the lines met and Mackay's men in the centre were "swept away by the furious onset of the Camerons." So fast was the Jacobite charge that many Government troops had insufficient time to fix their bayonets, leaving them defenceless at close-quarters (during this period, the plug bayonet was used, which fitted into the barrel of the musket and prevented further reloading or firing - unfortunately this meant that fixing bayonets was delayed till the last possible moment). The battle soon ended with the entirety of Mackay's force fleeing the field, quickly turning into a rout that killed 2,000.
However, the cost of victory was enormous. About one-third of the Highlander force was killed, and Dundee was fatally wounded towards the end of the battle.
Government: 5000, also 9 small artillery pieces
Jacobite: 2500 foot; 1 troop of horse
The Jacobite advance continued until being stopped by government forces at the Battle of Dunkeld.
This was the first and most significant of the battles of the first Jacobite rebellion. Although it was an important victory for the Jacobites, it also resulted in the death of the rebel leader, Viscount Dundee, a major factor in the subsequent collapse of the uprising.