Following Montrose’s defeat in April 1650 at the battle of Carbisdale and his subsequent capture, Montrose was paraded south through Scotland on his final journey to his execution in Edinburgh. On this journey his captors ensured that Montrose was exposed to the wrath of the covenanting folk, who were encouraged at every opportunity to scorn and abuse him. This was nowhere more so than in Edinburgh where the common women, many of whom had lost husbands and sons in the wars, had been hired to throw stones and filth at him. For this purpose, Montrose, who was met at the Watergate by the town magistrates, was placed on a cart with his hands bound such that he was unable to protect himself from whatever was thrown at him.
During the procession up the High Street however, such was Montrose’s carriage and noble bearing, the common folk were so moved that, far from abusing him, they were turned to tears and prayers. So much so that the next day the Ministers roundly rebuked them from the pulpits for not stoning and reviling him.
When the procession reached Moray House in the Canongate the wedding of Lord Lorne (Argyll’s son) was taking place and the cart was stopped beneath the balcony to allow those thereon (including Argyll and Wariston) to abuse Montrose. Sensing what was about to happen, Montrose turned his face towards the balcony, whereupon Argyll and Wariston crept back into the throng. An Englishman watching in the crowd below the balcony shouted that it was no surprise that they couldn’t look Montrose in the face, because they had been unable to do it for these seven years past.
Following this the procession continued on to the Tolbooth (then situated next to St Giles Cathedral) where Montrose was to be held captive until his execution on 21st May 1650.
The balcony at Old Moray House can still be seen and the building can be found on the south side of the Canongate (High Street) opposite Gladstone Court.