Known as a thief and extortionist but also a daring hero, few men have been as celebrated in folk legend or literature as Robert Roy MacGregor.
He was born in March 1671 in Glen Gyle in the southern Highlands, the third son of Donald Glas, a MacGregor chieftain, and Mary Campbell. From an early age he was given the nickname Ruadh, Gaelic for red because of the colour of his hair, later anglicised to Roy.
He started his own business dealing cattle under the patronage of the Duke of Montrose. He became very successful and earned the lands and title of Laird of Inversnaid in the process.
However, Rob Roy's success was undone in 1711 when, having borrowed the huge sum of £1000 from Montrose, his chief drover stole the money. Although Rob Roy tried to catch the culprit and promised to repay the loan, Montrose declared him to be a thief. He was made bankrupt, his lands were repossessed and he was forced to go on the run.
Legend has it that when the soldiers came to evict the MacGregors his wife was branded and raped by the government men.
Rob Roy became an outlaw and pursued a vendetta against the Duke of Montrose. He rustled cattle, stealing the animals and extorting money from farmers to 'protect' them from other rustlers. The feud returned Rob Roy to the political stage by making him a friend of the Duke's enemies, who sheltered him from pursuit.
At this time his generosity to the poor, especially those ill-used by the Duke of Montrose, earned him a reputation as a friend of the common man.