James Graham, 5th Earl and later 1st Marquis of Montrose, was born in 1612 and studied at St Andrew’s University.
In 1638 he contributed to the National Covenant, and fought for the Covenant in the Bishops’ Wars. As the country moved into ever more turbulent times, Montrose’s sympathies moved back from the Presbyterian extremists towards Charles I. He would not support the Scottish Parliament joining with the Roundheads and was jailed in Edinburgh Castle for five months.
In 1644 he became King’s Lieutenant in Scotland, and with a small, unlikely group of Scots and Irish for an army, used incredible leadership and tactics to claim six victories. Between 1644 and 1645 he defeated the Calvinists and Campbells in battles at Tippermuir, Aberdeen, Inverlochy, Auldearn, Alford and Kilsyth, effectively halting their tightening grip on the country.
In the Lowlands however, his already small army’s numbers dropped.
Pushing over the border, however, his tiny army was taken by surprise on 13 September 1645 at Philiphaugh, near Selkirk. Although he escaped, his men and their families, who accompanied in those days, surrendered and were rounded up. At first General David Leslie was prepared to spare their lives, but the Calvinists persuaded him to slaughter every man, woman and child.
On his King’s orders, Montrose made for Norway. In Europe he was made a mareschal by the Germans with a similar honour from the French. Vengeful at the news of Charles I’s execution, he returned in 1650 to recover Scotland for Charles II.
Shipwrecked in Orkney, only two hundred of his men made it ashore.
His force was too small to defend themselves at Carbisdale on 27 April. He was later captured when betrayed by MacLeod of Assynt for £25.95,000, and executed without a trial in Edinburgh on 21 May, ordered by the Scottish Parliament to be hanged then disembowelled.
His body parts were displayed in cities across the kingdom for ten years, till Charles II was restored and arranged for him Scotland’s greatest ever State funeral.