Glasgow & West Scotland

The Appin murder: Victim's nephew suspected as murderer

Appin murder cairn Image copyright Euan Nelson/Geograph
Image caption A cairn marking the site of the 264-year-old murder

Historians who have re-examined Argyll's Appin murder of 1752 dispute a traditional theory that it was a Jacobite conspiracy.

James Stewart was hanged after being convicted of shooting and killing government officer Colin Campbell.

Some believe the killer was Stewart's son Donald or his foster son Ailean Breac.

However, Prof Allan MacInnes believes Campbell's nephew - and the murder's only witness - pulled the trigger.

Prof MacInnes, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Strathclyde, has examined what was recorded of the incident and also possible motives.

Another historian, Mhairi Livingstone, also agrees the nephew, Mungo Campbell, did the killing.

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Colin Campbell, the manager of three west Highland estates in government control, was shot as he travelled by horse to evict tenants, the Stewarts of Appin, and replace them with his own relatives.

The murder outraged the British establishment and came in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

At Culloden, Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite force was defeated by a government army.

Stewarts suspected of being involved in a conspiracy to murder Campbell were veterans of the battle.

'Perfect motive'

But Prof MacInnes believes the Stewarts were not to blame.

He said James Stewart, known as James of the Glen, was said to have been a "decent, God-fearing Highlander" but Mungo Campbell, was said to be a "difficult and ruthless" man.

"Mungo was a nutter," said the historian.

Prof MacInnes said members of the Campbell clan - including Mungo Campbell - were given the responsibility of finding the murderer.

He added: "Mungo was there solving the case, beating up prisoners, forcing confessions out and persuading people, working to take the blame away from himself."

Mungo Campbell also took over the role his uncle had held before his death.

Ms Livingstone said: "Usually murders are committed by people very close by, if not related.

"I think Mungo Campbell was in the perfect place and had the perfect motive, the means and the opportunity."

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