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James Irvine Robertson

James Irvine Robertson is an author, broadcaster, historian, humourous columnist & contributor to a wide variety of newspapers and magazines in the UK, US and Australia

After working in advertising he became a pig and dairy farmer in South West England, contributed to agricultural journals and wrote a series of comic novels - the ‘Any Fool’ series. He returned to Scotland in 1991 since when he has concentrated on history.

The prime purpose of this website is to give access to family historians and others interested in the history of Highland Perthshire to the transcripted archives of his family papers. These have been used as the basis for 'The Lady of Kynachan,  Out of Atholl (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2008) and other works listed in the bibliography.

His latest book is The Poet Chief (Elgin: Librario, 2011) 'The principal merit of this book is that it is a good read, written in a lively style that brings the Jacobite period vividly to life. The author is steeped in the history and traditions of the times and his three-dimensional portrayal of the central character makes one feel that one knows him as well as if one had met him in the flesh.

The second thing to say is that the book is packed with good solid information presented in an entertaining and easily digestible form. Much of the content is not otherwise available in print, being largely derived from unpublished documents in family possession and private archives. It also makes excellent use of the Poet Chief’s own poetry and verse, which is otherwise hard to come by in the unexpurgated version, from which many facets of his complicated personality may be deduced.

The Poet Chief is the sobriquet given to Alexander Robertson of Struan (1670 – 1749) who was 13th chief of Clan Donnachaidh. His chief-ship and active life coincided with the whole of the Jacobite period from Killiechrankie in 1689 until after Culloden in 1746. He went through many vicissitudes, including exile for two prolonged periods, and his lands were confiscated by the Crown because of his implacable opposition to the Hanoverian regime. When he died at Carie on 18 April 1749, he was in debt and his twin ambitions of restoring the Stewarts to the throne and of passing on his estates and chief-ship into safe hands were neither of them realised. But he was not bitter at these disappointments; indeed he seems to have turned from his former debaucheries to a life of piety, and whatever befell him during his long life, he never ceased to write poetry.

Librario Publishing Ltd. has made an excellent job of the printing and publishing side of things and the book is clearly laid out and well presented. There are ten pages of illustrations in the centre of the book, mostly portraits of the various protagonists, and there are some maps of the Clan area around Rannoch, together with plans of Carie and Mount Alexander (now called Dunalastair), where the Poet Chief lived.' HSF