Chat's with Frank R. Shaw
FSA Scot A Chat with
Alasdair Campbell of Airds,
Unicorn Pursuivant of the Court of The Lord Lyon
noticed on the jacket of your book that you served in the Army. How long
were you in the regular army, what was your rank, and where did you serve?
A:8 years; Sandhurst, then commissioned into
family regiment (4th generation) - The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders;
served Cyprus, Libya, Scotland and Nigeria (attached as Instructor to
Royal Nigerian Army). Rank of Captain.
wife and I enjoy a good glass of wine. What wine companies were you
associated with in the wine trade?
A: (a) Family firm of Wine
Importers, London, exclusive agencies for Krug Champagne, Grahams Port,
Remy Martin Cognac and others; (b) Scottish and Newcastle Breweries,
Edinburgh, joined as Marketing Manager, spent last five years as Managing
Director of Groups Wine and Spirit interests; Chairman of oldest firm on
UK Wine Trade, Christopher and Co., London, in operation before the Great
Campbell, the Duke of Argyll and Clan Campbell Chief, died on Sunday, 22
April 2001 in London of complications during heart surgery. Our
condolences appeared in this column in the April/May issue of The
Family Tree. Who succeeded him? Tell us something about your new
A: His only son and heir, Torquhil,
is now 13th Duke of Argyll. Aged 33, unmarried, educated like his father
at Glenalmond College in Perthshire and then at Royal Agricultural
College, Cirencester; served as assistant estates manager of Buccleugh
Estates and then joined French drinks giant, Pernod Ricard, for whom he
was working in the Far East. He has now joined their new, worldwide Scotch
marketing company, working out of London, and will oversee Inveraray and
family estates from there.
Writing three volumes of history on Clan Campbell must be a huge
undertaking. How many years, from beginning to end, will you have spent on
this Herculean project? What are your plans for the future when you finish
Volume III? Will you then help your wife mow the grass?
A: Actual writing at two years per
volume is a six-year project but many years previously spent on the
subject! One or two other books still to write if I am still compos
mentis after finishing Volume III, and a lot more time spent on
painting. Hopefully, Mr. Stuart will continue to mow the lawn!
many of us in America know what a Unicorn Pursuivant is or does or why
there is such. Would you please briefly explain.
A: The Lord Lyon has three Heralds
and Three Pursuivants to assist him. Unicorn is the title of one of the
latter, a name going back to 1426. The Officers of Arms act as Judges of
first instance at the Court of the Lord Lyon, acting for private clients.
They appear on state occasions and are members of the Royal Household in
indicated that you were writing a history "warts and all," but you do not
go into detail on some of the events that are listed in The Great Feud
or by other authors who depict a few Campbell warts. Why is that?
A: Unaware of any such incidents in
period of Volume I. To what, precisely, are you referring? Suggest you
wait until you have seen Volume II.
friend and personal physician is a Burns, and he attests to being a
Campbell. You mention the inclusion of Burns "is based on very thin
evidence and can only be classed as a prime example of optimism!" How do I
break this to the good doctor, a man of science, who firmly believes he is
A: Facts are chiels that winna
ding . . . At a distance? You could, of course, keep quiet.
Throughout Scottish history, we read of the narrow neck of land between
East and West Loch Tarbert where mariners pulled their boats while Kings
and Chiefs actually sat in the boat as if posing for a modern "photo op".
Why, if the neck of land is so narrow, was a canal not built to connect
the two to save time?
A: It would perhaps be easier to
understand if you knew the actual site; a considerable task in mediaeval
times when I do not think we were into canal building in Scotland, but
good question for later on when, in fact, they built the Crinan Canal
farther north. I do not know if there is an actual answer.
was the originator of the concept that "all inheritance of the lands
should be by male heirs only" and, if that eventually failed, the lands
were to be returned to the Chief of the Clan, thus ensuring that Campbells
held on to their land?
A: The Campbell chiefs seem to have
been wise enough to have inserted this clause into their grants of land,
to ensure that the land could not pass through an heiress to an alien
owner. On occasion, they themselves had exploited the lack of such a
clause as the book makes clear. I think normal feudal practice, although
by no means universal, was for succession by male heirs, and the Campbells
made sure that this was so.
want to thank you personally for including, toward the end of the first
volume, chapters on "The Clan" and "Clan Tartans", much of which is
information for the entire Scottish community. Why did you feel the
necessity to do so?
A: Delighted if you found them
interesting. I would actually hope that much of the book would be of
interest to others apart from Campbells for whom, of course, it is
principally aimed. Certainly anyone from a clan in direct contact with the
Campbells should find plenty of interest, as should people with a wider
interest in Highland and Scottish history.
finally, as a Shaw whose ancestors come from the Isle of Jura, was there
ever a time the Jura Shaws were looked upon as a sept of Clan Campbell?
I'm familiar with the MacDonald concept, but I wondered if Shaws under
Campbell ownership of Jura ever went over to Campbells?
A: I cannot answer with any
certainty. If such an occasion had arisen under Campbell ownership, the
inhabitants would have followed their masters - or else. I attach my notes
on your family which you may find of interest.
you see Tony Blair taking the United Kingdom into the European Union? If
so, is there a parallel to the 1707 Union between Scotland and her
neighbours to the south?
A: TB is thought to harbour personal
Messianic ambitions as regards Europe. The British public as of now are
strongly opposed to the idea. It will never work; it doesnt now and the
addition of a motley collection of new members will spell its death knell.
Personally I hope we come out.
As regards 1707, we have been some 10% of the UK
electorate with 11.2 % of Members of Parliament with a loud shout in all
affairs. In Europe, we would have six votes out of 626, or 1%.
America, we are aware that one of the parties is pressing for
independence. In your opinion, could Scotland support herself with the
services they now have with a population of 5.5 million people?
A: Yes, of course, we could - at a
price. I think an independent Scotland might be an excessively
uncomfortable place to live; it would split between the rural Highlands
and Lowlands and the industrial Middle Belt that contains the bulk of the
population. It would be a very left-wing country with punitive levels of
taxation necessary to pay for services. I also mistrust the calibre of our
politicians and the inherent factionalism (is there such a word?) of the
Scot - in other words, the deep divisions which fight with each other in
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.