the surname of a clan of great antiquity in Argyleshire; badge, the
mountain ash. They possessed the barony of Strathlachlan in Cowal,
and other extensive possessions in the parishes of Glassrie and
Kilmartin, and on Loch Awe side, which were separated from the main
seat of the family by the arm of the sea called Loch Fyne.
The clan Lachlan (in Gaelic Lachuinn) was one of those great
Agryleshire clans, which, during the existence of the Celtic kingdom
of Argyle and the Isles, formed by Somerled in the 12th
century, composed a body of powerful tribes under his sway, and
after the forfeiture of the last Lord of the Isles, occupied an
independent position. They were one of those Gaelic tribes who
adopted the oared galley for their special device, as indicative of
their connexion, either by residence or descent, with the Isles. An
ancestor of the family, Lachlan Mor, who lived in the 13th
century, is described in the Gaelic MS. of 1467, (the date 1450
usually ascribed to it having been found to be wrong,) as son of
Patrick, son of Gilchrist, son of Aida Alain, called the clumsy, son
of Henry or Anradan, from whom are descended also the clan Neill.
From the genealogy of the clan Lachlan being given with much greater
minuteness than that of any other of the clans, the author of the
MS. is supposed to have been a Maclachlan, and it seems probable
that it once formed a part of the well known collection of ancient
MSS., so long preserved by the family of Maclachlan of Kilbride (see
Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis, page 60), and eventually
purchased by the Highland Society of Scotland.
By tradition the Maclachlans are said to have come from
Ireland, their original stock being the OLoughlins of Meath.
According to the Irish genealogies, the clan Lachlan, the
Lamonds, and the MEwens of Otter, were kindred tribes, being
descended from brothers who were sons of Aida Alain above referred
to, and tradition relates that they took possession of the greater
part of the district of Cowal, from Toward Point to Strachur at the
same time; the Lamonds being separated from the MEwens by the river
of Kilfinan, and the MEwens from the Maclachlans by the stream
which separates the parishes of Kilfinan and Strath Lachlan. Aida
Alain, the common ancestor of these families, is stated in ancient
Irish genealogies to have been the grandson of Hugh Atlaman, the
head of the great family of ONeils, kings of Ireland.
About 1230, Gilchrist Maclachlan, who is mentioned in the
manuscript of 1467 as chief of the family of Maclachlan at the time,
is a witness to a charter of Kilfinan granted by Laumanus, ancestor
of the Lamonds (see Chartulary of Paisley.)
In 1292, Gillleskel Maclachlan got a charter of his lands in
Ergadia from Baliol. (See Thomsons Scott. Acts, vol. i. p.
In a document preserved in the treasury of her Majestys
Exchequer, entitled Les petitions de terre demandees en Escoce,
there is the following entry, Item Gillescop Macloghlan ad demande
la Baronie de Molbryde juvene, apelle Strath, que fu pris contre le
foi de Roi. From this it appears that Gillespie Maclachlan was in
possession of the lands still retained by the family, during the
occupation of Scotland by Edward I. in 1296. (See Sir Francis
Pulgraves Scottish Documents, vol. i. p. 319.)
In 1308, Gillespie Maclachlan sat in the first parliament of
Robert the Bruce at St. Andrews, and his signature and seal tag are
attached to the roll of that parliament. (See Thomsons Scott.
Acts, vol. i. p. 99.)
In 1314, Archibald Maclachlan in Ergadia, granted to the
Preaching Friars of Glasgow forty shillings to be paid yearly our of
his lands of Kilbride, juxta castrum meum quod dicitur
Castellachlan. He died before 1322, and was succeeded by his
brother Patrick. The latter married a daughter of James, Steward of
Scotland, and had a son, Lachlan, who succeeded him. Lachlans son,
Donald, confirmed in 1456, the grant by his predecessor Archibald,
to the Preaching Friars of Glasgow of forty shillings yearly out of
the lands of Kilbride, with an additional annuity of six shillings
and eight-pence from his lands of Kilbryde near Castellachlan.
Muniments Fratrum Predicatorum de Glasgu. (Maitland Club.)
Lauchlan, the 15th chief, dating from the time that
written evidence can be adduced, was served heir to his father, 23d
September 1719. He married a daughter of Stewart of Appin, and was
killed at Culloden, fighting on the side of Prince Charles. The 18th
chief, (1862) his great-grandson, Robert Maclachlan of Maclachlan,
convener and one of the deputy-lieutenants of Argyleshire, married
in 1823, Helen, daughter of William A. Carruthers of Dormont,
Dumfries-shire, without issue. Next heir, his brother, George
Maclachlan, Esq., married, issue 3 sons and a daughter. The family
seat, Castle Lachlan, built about 1790, near the old and ruinous
tower, formerly the residence of the chiefs, is situated in the
centre of the family estate, which is eleven miles in length, and,
on an average, a mile and a half in breadth, and stretches in one
continued line along the eastern side of Loch Fyne. The effective
force of the clan previous to the rebellion of 1745, was estimated
at 300 men.
In Argyleshire also are the families of Maclachlan of
Craiginterve, Inchconnell, &c., and in Stirlingshire, of Auchintroig.
The Maclachlans of Drumblane in Monteith were of the Lochaber
a Gaelic poet and scholar, was born in 1775 at Torracalltuinn, in
Lochaber. His forefathers came originally from Morven. He was the 2d
youngest son of a weaver, and in his youth was engaged as a tutor in
several families in the Highlands. Several pieces of Gaelic poetry
composed by him were published about 1798, in a volume printed at
Edinburgh for Allan Macdougall, or Ailean Dall, (Blind
Allan,) musician at Inverlochy, afterwards family bard to Col.
Ranaldson Macdonnell of Glengarry. In the following year Maclachlan
was introduced by Dr. Ross of Kilmanivaig to that truly Highland
chief, by whose assistance he was enabled to fulfil a long-cherished
desire of going to college. After a very strict competition, he
succeeded in obtaining the highest bursary at Kings college, Old
Aberdeen. On taking the degree of A.M., he entered the divinity
hall, having been, through the good offices of his friend, Dr. Ross,
presented, in 1800, to a royal bursary in the gift of the barons of
exchequer. About the same time he was appointed assistant to Mr.
Gray, librarian to Kings college, and teacher of the Grammar school
of Old Aberdeen. He was subsequently made a free burgess of that
town, and for some time was custodier of the library attached to the
divinity hall of Marischal college. To add to the scanty income
which his various offices brought to him, he devoted several hours
every day to private teaching.
Besides being an accomplished scholar, Mr. Maclachlan was well
versed in oriental literature and in the languages of modern Europe.
Of the Iliad of Homer he translated nearly seven books into Gaelic
heroic verse, which still remain in MS. Having begun to collect
materials for a Dictionary of the Gaelic language, he was, by the
Highland Society of Scotland, conjoined with Dr. Macleod of
Dundonald, in carrying on the national Dictionary, compiled under
their patronage. The department assigned to him was the
Gaelic-English, and in the Preface to the work published by Drs.
Macleod and Dewar, he is thus mentioned: Mr. Maclachlan of Aberdeen
especially brought to the undertaking great talents, profound
learning, habits of industry which were almost super-human, an
intimate acquaintance with the Gaelic language, and devoted
attachment to the elucidation of its principles.
In 1816, Mr. Maclachlan published at Aberdeen a volume of
poetry, in various languages, entitled Metrical Effusions. An ode,
in the Greek language, On the Generation of Light, contained in
it, gained the prize given by Dr. Buchanan of Bengal to Kings
college, for the best ode on the subject. Among the contents, also,
were an elegant Latin ode addressed to Dr. Beattie the poet, on
whose death, in 1810, Maclachlan had composed an elegy in the Gaelic
tongue, and an English ode, entitled A Dream, being an apotheosis
on his deceased friend.
In 1819, Mr. Maclachlan succeeded Mr. Gray as head master of
the Grammar school of Old Aberdeen, and also principal session clerk
and treasurer of the parish of Old Machar. He was likewise secretary
to the Highland Society of Aberdeen, and, we are told, wore the full
Highland garb when officially attending the meetings of the Society,
and on other particular occasions. In 1820 he became a candidate for
the office of teacher of the classical department of the Inverness
academy, but was unsuccessful, local politics, it seems, having
ruled the appointment. He died 29th March 1822, aged 47.
A Memoir of his life and some of his Gaelic pieces are inserted in
Mackenzies Beauties of Gaelic Poetry (Glasgow, 1841).
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