MacLaren of Balquidder
After the failed 1745 Jacobite Rebellion trials and executions were held in Carlisle and York as well at other locations. The accused were not tried under Scottish law and it was thought that they would receive the sympathy of the Scottish judiciary.
At the beginning of August 1746 a group of prisoners were herded down to Carlisle from the Highlands to take their chances with the English judicial system. “One Maclaren, a Balquidder man, who had been concerned in cattle-dealing, and had often travelled this road in more peaceful style, contrived to make his escape amongst the hills of Dumfries-shire. There is in that district a deep hollow called the Marquis of Annandale’s Beef-tub, because the Border thieves used to keep their stolen cattle in it. The road skirted along the top of the steep down-sides of the pit. Seizing a lucky moment, Maclaren enveloped himself in his plaid, and rolled down into the hollow, regardless of the shot which the soldiers sent after him. Being received into the mist which lay at the bottom, he was instantly lost to pursuit; and it is said that he spend that night in the Crook Inn, where the party had been the night before, and where he obtained concealment, although there was another party of soldiers in the house.”
History of the Rebellion of 1745 by Robert Chambers (1840), footnote at the foot of page 460
This edited version was taken from the State papers and can be read in 'The Prisoners of the '45'.
Captain Donald McLaren was a Drover from Western Invernentie, Balquidder.
Captured on 19 July 1746, with some others, while living in a hut in the Braes of Leny. Defending himself he was wounded in the thigh. When on his way to Carlisle during August 1746 while strapped to a dragoon, he cut the strap, threw himself over a cliff and escaped. Being a Drover he would be familiar with the area where he escaped. This incident occurred on the Erickstane Brae at the hollow formerly called Annandale’s Beefstand (Devils Beef Tub) but now McLaren’s Leap. After his escape he went back to his own country and remained in disguise until the Act of Indemnity (1747).
The Prisoners of the '45, Vol. 3, Scottish History Society, 1929, pages 142 & 143
The location of this escape can be seen when driving on the A701 Leadburn to Moffat road. The Devil's Beef Tub, as it is now known by, skirts the side of the road some five miles north of Moffat.