CLELAND, WILLIAM (1661?-1689), Scottish poet and soldier, son of Thomas Cleland, gamekeeper to the marquis of Douglas, was born about 1661. He was probably brought up on the marquess of Douglas's estate in Lanarkshire, and was educated at St Andrews University. Immediately on leaving college he joined the army of the Covenanters, and was present at Drumclog, where, says Robert Wodrow, some attributed to Cleland the manœuvre which led to the victory. He also fought at Bothwell Bridge. He and his brother James were described in a royal proclamation of the 16th of June 1679 among the leaders of the insurgents. He escaped to Holland, but in 1685 was again in Scotland in connexion with the abortive invasion of the earl of Argyll. He escaped once more, to return in 1688 as agent for William of Orange. He was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Cameronian regiment raised from the minority of the western Covenanters who consented to serve under William III. The Cameronians were entrusted with the defence of Dunkeld, which they held against the fierce assault of the Highlanders on the 26th of August. The repulse of the Highlanders before Dunkeld ended the Jacobite rising, but Cleland fell in the struggle. He wrote A Collection of several Poems and Verses composed upon various occasions (published posthumously, 1697). Of "Hullo, my fancie, whither wilt thou go?" only the last nine stanzas are by Cleland. His poems have small literary merit, and are written, not in pure Lowland Scots, but in English with a large admixture of Scottish words. The longest and most important of them are the "mock poems" "On the Expedition of the Highland Host who came to destroy the western shires in winter 1678" and "On the clergie when they met to consult about taking the Test in the year 1681."
An Exact Narrative of the Conflict of Dunkeld ... collected from several officers of the regiment ... appeared in 1689.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)