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Timeline of Scottish History

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Thomas Dalyell

  • Name  : Dalyell
  • Born  : c. 1599
  • Died  : 1685
  • Category  : Military
  • Finest Moment : Formation of the Royal Scots Greys regiment, 1681

Born about 1599 into a well-known family based at The Binns near Linlithgow. Thomas Dalyell (also spelled Dalziel, with both being pronounced 'dee-ell') was called Tam, to distinguish him from his father Thomas.

Even as a young man, Tam was dedicated to the Royalist cause, taking up arms for Charles I, and fighting with the Scottish army at Worcester on 3 September 1651. Here he was taken prisoner and slammed into the good old Tower of London, happy boarding spot for many a Scot. He succeeded in escaping from the Tower however, and fled to Russia, serving well under Tsar Mikhailovitch and reaching a high rank. This earned him the nickname of 'The Muscovite De'il' (or Devil, de'il being a pun on his surname).

He was recalled home by Charles II in 1660, and was appointed as his Commander-in-Chief in Scotland from 1666-85. In 1681 he raised the Royal Scots Greys, formed from three new Troops of Horse in addition to three already raised in 1678. The regiment was named after its famous grey horses, and are also unique for their bearskin head-dress. They saw action at Sheriffmuir in 1715, and won many later battle honours, including Waterloo, Balaclava, and in both World Wars.

Tam Dalyell went on to earn a second nickname, that of 'Bluidy Tam', through his ruthless suppression of the Pentland Rising at Rullion Green. Following the execution of Charles I, Dalyell swore not to cut his hair or beard until the restoration of the monarchy; but even then he continued to wear his hair long, with his portrait showing a fine mane of locks down his back. He died in 1685 and was buried at Abercorn church.

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