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Glimpses of Church and Social Life in the Highlands in Olden Times and Other Papers
Chapter II. Descent of Cluny from Gillicattan Mor


VARI0US origins have been assigned to the Clan Chattan; some writers deriving them from a warlike German tribe called the Catti, mentioned by Tacitus, others from Ireland, and others from the native tribes of Moray. All we know with certainty is that they occupied part of Lochaber in the thirteenth century, and that in the succeeding century, on the displacement or extermination of the Cummings and their followers, the Macphersons were located in Badenoch.

The earlier portion of the following abridged account is said to have been handed down by the genealogists of the clan, and from the time of Muirach the Parson it can be fairly corroborated. The first Gillicattan would appear to have been so named in honour of St Catan, to whom there were several dedications in Scotland—notably the Priory of Ard-chattan in Lorn, and as he was probably the name-father of the Clan Chattan, we begin our account with him, although the clan history has been carried much farther back.

1. Gillicattan mor, head or Chief of the Clan Chattan, lived in the reign of Malcolm Canmore, and left a son,

2. Diarmid, who succeeded his father about the year 1090, and was father of

3. Gillicattan (second of that name), who flourished in the reign of David I., and left issue two sons, Diarmid and Muirach. He was succeeded by his eldest son,

4. Diarmid, who did not long survive his father, and dying without issue anno 1152, was succeeded by his brother,

1 From the Memorial of Cluny’s “Golden Wedding,” published in 1883. .

5. Muirach, parson of Kingussie, who, on thus becoming head of his family and Chief of Clan Chattan, married, about 1173, a daughter of the Thane of Calder, by whom he had five sons—viz., Gillicattan, Ewen ban, Neill crom, Ferquhard Gillirioch, and David dubh. From this Muirach or Murdoch it is that the Macphersons derive their Gaelic name of Clann-Mhuirich. He died in the end of the reign of William the Lion, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

6. Gillicattan (third of that name), who lived in the reign of King Alexander III.; he left issue only one son,

7. Dougal dall, who died in the reign of King Alexander III., leav-issue a daughter,

Eva, his only child and sole heiress, who, anno 1292, was married to Angus Mackintosh, head of the family of Mackintosh, who with her got a good part of the Clan Chattan territory.

Dougal dall having died without male issue, as above mentioned, in him ended the whole male line of Gillicattan the third, eldest son of Muirach the Parson. The representation therefore devolved upon his cousin and heir-male, Kenneth, eldest son of Ewen ban before mentioned, to whom we now return.

Ewen ban, second son of Muirach the Parson, was called Macpherson, or son of the Parson; and surnames about this time becoming hereditary, it became the distinguishing clan appellation of his posterity, who were sometimes, however, indifferently named Macphersons, Mao mhuirichs, and Clan Chattan. He left issue three sons—

1. Kenneth, progenitor of Sliochd Kynich vie Ewen, or first branch of the Macphersons, from whom the present Chief Cluny is lineally descended;

2. John, progenitor of Sliochd Ian vie Ewen, or second branch of the Macphersons, from whom Berkeley Macpherson, Esq., is said to be lineally descended; and

3. Gilllosa, progenitor of Sliochd Ghilliosa vie Ewen, or third branch of the Macphersons, represented by Phoness and Invereshie in the earliest records of the clan, and now by Sir George Macpherson-Grant of Invereshie, Bart.

From the three sons of Ewen ban above mentioned all the Macphersons are descended, and from that circumstance they were at one time known in their own tongue as “Sliochd nan triuir bhraithrecm,” or the Posterity of the Three Brethren.

8. Kenneth, the eldest son of Ewen ban, upon the decease of his cousin Dougal dall without issue male, became undoubted male representative of the family, and consequently Chief of Clan Chattan. But as the family of Mackintosh, by marrying the heir of line, got possession of the Lochaber estate, the inhabitants thereof behoved to follow Mackintosh as their landlord, who was thereupon designed Captain of that part of the Clan Chattan of which he had thus got the command. The rest of the clan, who followed this Kenneth as their true Chief and heir-male, retired to Badenoch, where they settled, and where, for their special services to the king and country, they soon got large possessions.

He married--, and had by her three sons, Duncan, Lachlan, and Donald.

g9 Duncan, eldest son of Kenneth, married Isobel, daughter of the Laird of Mackintosh, and had by her two sons, Donald mor and Bean.

10. Donald mor, eldest son of Duncan, married - M‘Gillichguich, daughter of the Chieftain of the M'Gillichguichs (who were then a strong people in Badenoch), and had by her two sons, Donald dall and Gillicallum beg.

11. Donald dall, eldest son of Donald Mor, married - Macpherson, daughter of William Macpherson of Rimore, and had by her nine sons—viz., Donald og, Thomas, Ewen, Malcolm, Duncan, Bean, Alexander, John, and William og.

12. Donald og, eldest son of Donald dall, married - Gordon, daughter of James Gordon, then of Ardbrylach, and had by her four sons, Ewen, James, Paul, and William.

13. Ewen, eldest son of Donald og, married - Mackintosh, daughter of Donald Mackintosh of Stron, and had by her three sons, Andrew, William, and John.

14. Andrew, eldest son of Ewen, married - Gordon, daughter of

Gordon of Achamachy, and had by her an only son, Ewen.

Ewen (who predeceased his father, who lived to a great age) married

Forbes, daughter of Duncan Forbes of Culloden, and had

by her two sons, Andrew and Duncan, and three daughters."

He was a colonel in the army of Montrose, was the first in Scotland to join him, and fought with the whole clan in all his battles.

15. Andrew, eldest son of Ewen, succeeded his grandfather Andrew, and died unmarried.

16. Duncan, second son of Ewen, succeeded his brother Andrew, and married (i) Isabel, daughter of Robert Rose, Provost of Inverness, by whom he had an only child, Ann, who was married to a son of the Laird of Calder. He married (2) Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Gordon of Aradoul (relict of John Rose of Allanbuy), and had by her an only son, George, who died in childhood. He died in 1722, and was succeeded in the chiefship by his cousin and heir-male.

17. Lachlan (of Noid), third in descent from John, third son of Ewen, thirteenth Chief. He married Jean, daughter of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, and had by her seven sons and three daughters.

18. Ewen, eldest son of Lachlan, born 1706, married Janet, eldest daughter of Simon, Lord Lovat, by whom he had one son and one daughter. .

19. Duncan, only son of Ewen, born 1750, married, in 1798, Catherine, daughter of Sir Ewen Cameron of Fassifern, by whom he left issue four sons and four daughters. He was succeeded by his eldest son.

20. Ewen, the present Chief, and twentieth in succession from Gillicattan mor, born in 1804, married, in 1832, Sarah Justina, daughter of Henry Davidson, Esq. of Tulloch, by whom he has issue :—

1. Colonel Duncan, C.B., late of the 42d Royal Highlanders.

2. Ewen Henry Davidson, colonel commanding the 93d Highlanders.

3. George Gordon, late captain in the Coldstream Guards.

4. Albert Cameron; and three daughters.


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