Smuggling across Scotland, especially in the hills and glens of the country, was prevalent after taxes were placed on the manufacture of whisky and other spirits.

To try and evade paying these taxes, some took matters into their own hands.

At Tillicoultry Glen, illicit spirit stills were set up, hidden in old mine workings or in secluded areas, well away from the prying eyes of the excise officers.

One of the village’s most famous smugglers was Andrew Scotland. He had married Elisabeth Dunlop in October 1840, and had two children. He was well-known to the gaugers, but getting a conviction was difficult as the locals had much sympathy for the local smugglers.

Once, three gaugers from Carsebridge pounced on Scotland. With the agility of a cat, he grabbed the small copper still, jumped to the right side of the burn, and ran as fast as he could to the front of Tillicoultry Hill, with the excisemen in hot pursuit.

Although he knew the path better than they did, they sometimes got uncomfortably close to him. He was nearly caught but managed to escape. Carrying a small brass crane, he tried to mislead them into thinking it was a pistol, so when they did get close, he pulled it out. It had the desired effect.

When he reached the wood above Tillicoultry House, he managed to lose them. After waiting until he was sure the coast was clear, he made his way back to his home before going to Monteith’s public house for a drink, where the gaugers were telling the tale of what had happened that day. Luckily, they never recognised Scotland.

He overheard them talking about how they had been baffled that evening as to the whereabouts of the wild smuggler who had managed to escape their clutches. Soon afterwards, the story of the pistol was told around dinner tables at the expense of a few red faces of the excisemen.

As Scotland’s exploits were well-known in the village, the minister of the parish church Henry Anderson often took him to task. He refused him church privileges, and declined to baptise his children, Andrew, born in 1841, and John, born 1843.

This offended the smuggler, and in later years, as revenge, he cut out the words ‘Haughty Priests, Proud Kings, and Humble Slaves Must all lye here’ on the old minister’s gravestone near the entrance of the parish church.

Anderson had died in 1845, but Scotland never forgave him for what he did to his sons.