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John Campbell


(1st Earl of Breadalbane)

1635 - 1717

Noble and politician. The son of Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy, Breadalbane was a Royalist who wished to see the restoration of King Charles II. He sat in the Scottish Parliament representing Argyllshire between 1669 and 1674. Having been owed a debt by the Earl of Caithness, Campbell claimed his title and land on his death in 1677 and was created Viscount Breadalbane at the same time. However, after dispute and his invasion of Caithness to dispossess a legal heir, the Caithness title was not confirmed in 1681, although he was created Earl of Breadalbane by way of compensation.

He became a supporter of William of Orange and the expulsion of King James VII (1633 - 1701). Campbell took an enthusiastic part in the emasculation of the Highland clans and, with Archibald Campbell (c.1658 - 1705), 1st Duke of Argyll, and John Dalrymple (1648 - 1707), the Earl of Stair, Breadalbane brought about the Massacre of Glencoe (1692) where the MacDonalds were murdered in a government plot to make an example of those with Jacobite sympathies and give a message to other Highland clans. The MacDonald's demise suited Breadalbane because he had always found the clan troublesome. The massacre was particularly disturbing because the Campbell troops had turned on the MacDonalds after accepting their hospitality.

Although he did not vote for the Union with England in 1707, Breadalbane was chosen as one of the peers to represent Scotland in the British Parliament. He half-heartedly supported the Jacobite Rising of 1715, but withdrew his support after the Earl of Mar's withdrawal following Sheriffmuir.


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