MacDonald Ross the Notorious Robber


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A horrible story or perhaps just 15th-century propaganda against the powerful MacDonald Earls of Ross.

An extract from the Genealogy of the Earldom of Sutherland.

"Now give me leave to show you a notable example of condign punishment afflicted (about this time 1426) by King James the First, upon a notorious thief called Donald Ross, who, with spoils and robberies, became exceedingly rich. This wicked oppressor shod a woman with iron horse-shoes, because she told him (upon some injuries he had offered to her) that she would go to the king and reveal his wicked doings.

How soon the woman was recovered of her wounds, she went to the king, and declared the cruelty done to her by that ungracious and wicked person. The king had gotten this malefactor into his hands before her coming and imprisoned him, determining to see just and due punishment inflicted upon him for so heinous a crime. In the meanwhile, he comforted the poor woman, promising her, that she should see a just revenge of her wrong. Where upon Mackdonald Ross being brought out of prison, with twelve of his associates, the king commanded, that they should be likewise shod with iron shoes, in the same sort as they had before served the woman, and afterwards, that they should be carried there several days through the streets of Edinburgh, for a spectacle to the people. 

All which being performed the said Mackdonald Ross was beheaded, and his twelve companions hanged on the highways. A notable pattern of justice which maybe an example to the negligent and sluggish Justiciary of our time, who suffers the poor and weak to be oppressed by strong and idle vagabonds.”