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MacLean


MACLEAN, the name of a clan (badge, blackberry heath) of supposed Irish descent, founded by one of the Fitzgerald family, as the clan Kenzie is said to have been by another. The Macleans are not mentioned among the native tribes in the Gaelic MS. of 1450, and the Norman or Italian origin of their chiefs is therefore the more probable, the Fitzgeralds having sprung from the Florentine Geraldi, one of whom came over with William the Conqueror. Their progenitor, according to Celtic tradition, was one Gillean or Gille-oin, a name signifying the young man, or the servant or follower of John, who lived so early as the beginning of the 5th century. He was called Gillean-ni-Tuiodh, that is, Gillean with the axe, from the dexterous manner in which he wielded that weapon in battle, and his descendants bear a battle-axe in their crest, between a laurel and a cypress branch. Macalane, the Gaelic pronunciation of the name, may mean the great stranger, from magnus, great, and alienus, a foreigner.

      The Macleans have been located in Mull since the 14th century. They appear originally to have belonged to Moray. Mr. Skene says: “The two oldest genealogies of the Macleans, of which one is the production of the Beatons, who were hereditary sennachies of the family, concur in deriving the clan Gille-eon from the same race from whom the clans belonging to the great Moray tribe are brought by the MS. of 1450. Of this clan the oldest seat seems to have been the district of Lorn, as they first appear in subjection to the lords of Lorn; and their situation being thus between the Camerons and Macnachtans, who were undisputed branches of the Moray tribe, there can be little doubt that the Macleans belonged to that tribe also. As their oldest seat was thus in Argyle, while they are unquestionably a part of the tribe of Moray, we may infer that they were one of those clans transplanted from North Moray by Malcolm IV., and it is not unlikely that Glen Urquhart was their original residence, as that district is said to have been in the possession of the Macleans when the Bissets came in.”

      The first of the name on record, Gillean, lived in the reign of Alexander III. (1249-1286), and fought against the Norsemen at the battle of Largs. In the Ragman Roll we find Gilliemore Macilean described as del Counte de Perth, among those who swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296. As the county of Perth at that period included Lorn, it is probable that he was the son of Gillean and ancestor of the Macleans. In the reign of Robert the Bruce mention is made of three brothers, John, Nigel, and Dofuall, termed Macgillean or filii Gillean, who appear to have been sons of Gilliemore, for we find John afterwards designated Macgilliemore. The latter fought under Bruce at Bannockburn. A dispute having arisen with the lord of Lorn, the brothers left him and took refuge in the Isles. Between them and the Mackinnons, upon whose lands they appear to have encroached, a bitter feud took place, which led to a most daring act on the part of the chief of the Macleans. When following, with the chief of the Mackinnons, the galley of the lord of the Isles, he attacked the former and slew him, and immediately after, afraid of his vengeance, he seized the Macdonald himself, and carried him prisoner to Icolmkill, where he was detained until he agreed to vow friendship to the Macleans, “upon certain stones where men were used to make solemn vows in those superstitious times,” and granted them the lands in Mull which they have ever since possessed. John Gilliemore, surnamed Dhu from his dark complexion, appears to have settled in Mull about the year 1330. He died in the reign of Robert II., leaving two sons, Lachlan Lubanich, ancestor of the Macleans of Dowart, and Eachin or Hector Reganach, of the Macleans of Lochbuy.

      Lachlan, the elder son, married in 1366, Margaret, daughter of John I., lord of the Isles, by his wife, the princess Margaret Stewart, and had a son, Hector, which became a favourite name among the Macleans, as Kenneth was among the Mackenzies, Evan among the Camerons, and Hugh among the Mackays. Both Lachlan and his son, Hector, received extensive grants of land from John, the father-in-law of the former, and his successor, Donald. Altogether, their possessions consisted of the isles of Mull, Tiree, and Coll, with Morvern on the mainland; and the clan Gillean became one of the most important and powerful of the vassal tribes of the lords of the Isles.

      Lachlan’s son, Hector, called Eachin Ruadh ni Cath, that is, Red Hector of the Battles, commanded as lieutenant-general under his uncle, Donald, at the battle of Harlaw in 1411, when he and Sir Alexander Irving of Drum, seeking out each other by their armorial bearings, encountered hand to hand and slew each other; in commemoration of which circumstance, we are told, the Dowart and Drum families were long accustomed to exchange swords. Near the field of battle is a tomb, built in the form of a malt steep, where, according to local tradition, Donald of the Isles lies buried, and it is commonly called Donald’s tomb. But Donald was not slain in the battle, and Mr. Tytler conjectures, with much probability, that the tomb may be that of the chief of Maclean, or Macintosh, who was also slain there, and he refers, in support of this opinion, to Macfarlane’s Genealogical Collections (MS. Advocates’ Library, Jac. 5. 4. 16. vol. i. p. 180.) Red Hector of the Battles married a daughter of the earl of Douglas, His eldest son was taken prisoner at the battle of Harlaw, and detained in captivity a long time by the earl of Mar. His brother, John, at the head of the Macleans, was in the expedition of Donald Balloch, cousin of the lord of the Isles, in 1431, when the Islesmen ravaged Lochaber, and were encountered at Inverlochy, near Fortwilliam, by the royal forces under the earls of Caithness and Mar, whom they defeated. In the dissensions which arose between John, the last lord of the Isles, and his turbulent son, Angus, who, with the island chiefs descended from the original family, complained that his father had made improvident grants of land to the Macleans and other tribes, Hector Maclean, chief of the clan, and great-grandson of Red Hector of the Battles, took part with the former, and commanded his fleet at the battle of the Bloody Bay in 1480, where he was taken prisoner. This Hector was chief of his tribe at the date of the forfeiture of the lordship of the Isles in 1493, when the clan Gillean, or Clanlean as it came to be called, was divided into four independent branches, viz., the Macleans of Dowart, the Macleans of Lochbuy, the Macleans of Coll, and the Macleans of Ardgour. When King James was on his second expedition to the Isles in 1495, Hector Maclean of Dowart was among the island chiefs who then made their submission to him, and the following year he was one of the five chiefs of rank who appeared before the lords of council and bound themselves, “by the extension of the hands,” to abstain from mutual injuries and molestation, each under a penalty of £500. Lachlan Maclean was chief of Dowart in 1502, and he and his kinsman, Maclean of Lochbuy, were among the leading men of the Western Isles whom that energetic monarch, James IV., entered into correspondence with, for the purpose of breaking up the confederacy of the Islanders, “rewarding them by presents in the shape either of money or of grants of land, and securing their services in reducing to obedience such of their fellow chieftains as proved contumacious, or actually rose in rebellion.” (See Tytler’s Hist. of Scotland, vol. iv. p. 368). Nevertheless, on the breaking out of the insurrection under Donald Dubh, in 1503, they were both implicated in it. Lachlan Maclean was forfeited with Cameron of Locheil, while Maclean of Lochbuy and several others were summoned before the parliament, to answer for their treasonable support given to the rebels. In 1505 Maclean of Dowart abandoned the cause of Donald Dubh and submitted to the government; his example was followed by Maclean of Lochbuy and other chiefs; and this had the effect, soon after, of putting an end to the rebellion.

      The lands of Lochiel had, in 1458, been bestowed by the earl of Ross on Maclean, founder of the family of Coll, and this caused a quarrel between the Macleans and the Camerons, in which, in course of time, were involved all of the former name. The feud raged, with more or less bitterness, for several years, but it, and another, between the Dowart and Lochbuy branches of the Macleans, regarding their lands in Morvern and the isle of Tiree, appear to have been checked for a time, by the prudent measures of James IV., towards the end of his reign.

      Lachlan Maclean of Dowart was killed at Flodden. His successor, of the same name, was one of the principal supporters of Sir Donald Macdonald of Lochalsh, when, in November 1513, he brought forward his claims to the lordship of the Isles. He seized the royal castle of Carneburgh, near Mull, and afterwards that of Dunskiach in Sleat. By the earl of Argyle, however, he was prevailed upon, with several other island chiefs, to submit to the government, after having, in 1517, with Macleod of Dunvegan, made prisoners of Sir Donald’s two brothers. In a petition which he presented to the council on this occasion he demanded a free remission of all offences to himself and certain of his “kin, men, servants, and part-takers,” whom he named; that Sir Donald of Lochalsh, with his associates should be proceeded against as traitors, and their lands forfeited; and that Sir Donald’s two brothers, then in his custody, should be executed according to law. The remission he asked for was granted, upon hostages being given for future obedience, but when he claimed an heritable grant of one hundred merk lands in Tiree and Mull, free of all duties, the council would not give it for a longer term then till the king, who was then only in his fifth year, should come of age. With this arrangement he was forced to be content, and having appeared before the council, he gave his solemn oath of allegiance to the king.

      From this time till 1523, there was peace in the Isles, but in that year a feud of a most implacable character broke out between the Macleans and the Campbells, arising out of an occurrence, which forms the subject of Miss Baillie’s celebrated tragedy of ‘The Family Legend,’ and is thus related by Mr. Gregory: “Lauchlan Cattanach Maclean of Dowart married Lady Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of Archibald, second earl of Argyle; and, either from the circumstance of their union being unfruitful, or more probably owing to some domestic quarrels, he determined to get rid of his wife. Some accounts say that she had twice attempted her husband’s life; but, whatever the cause may have been, Maclean, following the advice of two of his vassals, who exercised a considerable influence over him from the tie of fosterage, caused his lady to be exposed on a rock, which was only visible at low water, intending that she should be swept away by the return of the tide. This rock lies between the island of Lismore and the coast of Mull, and is still known by the name of the ‘Lady’s Rock,’ From this perilous situation she was rescued by a boat accidentally passing, and conveyed to her brother’s house. Her relations, although much exasperated against Maclean, smothered their resentment for a time, but only to break out afterwards with greater violence; for the laird of Dowart, being in Edinburgh, was surprised, when in bed, and assassinated by Sir John Campbell of Calder, the lady’s brother. The Macleans instantly took arms, to revenge the death of their chief, and the Campbells were not slow in preparing to follow up the feud; but the government interfered, and, for the present, an appear to arms was avoided.” (Gregory’s Highlands and Isles, pp. 127, 128.) In 1529, however, the Macleans joined the Clandonald of Isla against the earl of Argyle, and ravaged with fire and sword the lands of Roseneath, Craignish, and others belonging to the Campbells, killing many of the inhabitants. The Campbells, on their part, retaliated by laying waste great portion of the isles of Mull and Tiree and the lands of Morvern, belonging to the Macleans. In May 1530, Maclean of Dowart and Alexander of Isla made their personal submission to the sovereign at Stirling, and, with the other rebel island chiefs who followed their example, were pardoned, upon giving security for their after obedience.

      In 1545, Maclean of Dowart acted a very prominent part in the intrigues with England, in furtherance of the project of Henry VIII., to force the Scottish nation to consent to a marriage between Prince Edward and the young Queen Mary. He and Maclean of Lochbuy were among the barons of the Isles who accompanied Donald Dubh to Ireland, and at the command of the earl of Lennox, claiming to be regent of Scotland, swore allegiance to the king of England. One of the two plenipotentiaries sent by Donald Dubh to the English court at this time, was Patrick Maclean, brother of Dowart, described as justiciar of the Isles and bailie of Icolmkill. Of the money sent by the English king to pay the islesmen engaged in the expedition against the regent Arran, Maclean of Dowart seems to have had the charge, but not making a proper division of it, the insular chiefs separated in discontent, and the expedition came, in consequence, to an end. Macvurish, in a note quoted by Mr. Gregory, says: “A ship came from England with a supply of money to carry on the war, which landed at Mull; and the money was given to Maclean of Dowart to be distributed among the commanders of the army; which they not receiving in proportion as it should have been distributed amongst them, caused the army to disperse.”

      The clan history subsequently consisted chiefly of feuds in which the Dowart family were engaged with the Coll branch of the Macleans, and the Macdonalds of Kintyre. The dispute with the former arose from Dowart, who was generally recognised as the head of the clan-lean, insisting on being followed as chief by Maclean of Coll, and the latter, who held his lands direct from the crown, declining to acknowledge him as such, on the ground that being a free baron, he owed no service but to his sovereign as his feudal superior. In consequence of this refusal, Dowart, in the year 1561, caused Coll’s lands to be ravaged, and his tenants to be imprisoned. With some difficulty, and after the lapse of several years, Coll succeeded in bringing his case before the privy council, who ordered Dowart to make reparation to him for the injury done to his property and tenants, and likewise to refrain from molesting him in future. But on a renewal of the feud some years after, the Macleans of Coll were expelled from that island by the young laird of Dowart.

      The quarrel between the Macleans and the Macdonalds of Isla and Kintyre was, at the outset, merely a dispute as to the right of occupancy of the crown lands called the Rhinns of Isla, but it soon involved these tribes in a long and bloody feud, and eventually led to the destruction nearly of them both. The Macleans, who were in possession, claimed to hold the lands in dispute as tenants of the crown, but the privy council decided that Macdonald of Isla was really the crown tenant. In 1562, the Macdonalds of Isla, assisted by those of Sleat, invaded the isles of Mull, Tiree, and Coll, and in 1565 the rival chiefs were compelled to find sureties, to the amount of £10,000, that they would abstain from mutual hostilities. But even this did not restrain a high spirited tribe like the Macleans. On the death of James Macdonald of Dunyveg, Hector Maclean of Dowart ravaged with fire and sword the isle of Gigha, being part of the jointure lands of Lady Agnes Campbell, Macdonald’s widow, and in consequence Queen Mary, then at the castle of Dunbar, granted, on 28th April, 1567, a commission of lieutenandry to the earl of Argyle against him and his clan (Analecta Scotica, p. 393.)

      Lachlan Maclean of Dowart, called Lachlan Mor, was chief of the Macleans in 1578. He is said to have got the name of Mor, from his great stature, but, as we have already shown in the article on Campbell, this term was frequently applied to denote superior rank. Under him the feud with the Macdonalds assumed a most sanguinary and relentless character. He is described as a young man of an active and energetic spirit, and of superior talents improved by a good education, but of a cruel and fierce disposition. He had succeeded young to the chiefship, and during his minority the estates were managed by his kinsman, Hector Maclean, whose father, Allan Maclean of Gigha and Turlusk, brother of the former Maclean of Dowart, is celebrated in tradition as a warrior, by the name of Alein na’n Sop. To obtain possession of the estates for himself, Hector designed to deprive the young chief of his life, but Lachlan Mor discovered his purpose, and on attaining his majority, had him apprehended, and after imprisoning him for a considerable time in the castle of Dowart, he was removed to the isle of coll, and beheaded by Lachlan’s order. The following year, on a renewal of the feud between the Macleans and the Macdonalds of Isla, the king and council commanded the chiefs of both tribes to subscribe assurances of indemnity to each other, under the penalty of treason. But although Macdonald of Dunyveg, at this time, married Maclean’s sister, hostilities were only suspended between the clans, to break out no long time after, with increased violence. It was in the year 1585 that this most destructive feud reached its height, and that under the following circumstances:

      Macdonald of Sleat, on his way to visit his kinsman, Angus Macdonald, was driven by stress of weather to the island of Jura, and landed on that part which belonged to Maclean, the other part being the property of Angus Macdonald. Two of the Clandonald, who had a grudge at their chief, one of whom was named Macdonald Terreagh, happened to arrive on the island at the same time, and that same night carried off some of Maclean’s cattle, with the object that the theft might be imputed to Sleat and his party. Under that impression Lachlan Mor Maclean assembled his followers, and suddenly attacking them at night, slew about sixty of them. The chief of Sleat himself only escaped by his having previously gone on board his galley to pass the night. After his return to Skye, whither he proceeded vowing vengeance against the Macleans, he was visited by Angus Macdonald, for the purpose of concerting measures of retaliation. On his homeward voyage to Kintyre, Angus Macdonald landed in the isle of Mull, and, against the advice of his followers, went to visit his brother-in-law at his castle of Dowart, in the hope of effecting an amicable arrangement of all their disputes. His two brothers, Ranald and Coll, who were with him, refused to accompany him, fearing treachery, and their fears were realized; for, although well received at first by Maclean, Angus and all his party were the following day arrested by Lachlan Mor and thrown into prison. The only one who escaped was Reginald Macdonald, the cousin of Angus. To preserve his life and recover his freedom, Angus agreed to renounce his right to the disputed lands in the Rhinns of Isla, and for the performance of this engagement he was obliged to give his eldest son, James, a young boy, and his brother, Ranald, as hostages. In a short time afterwards Lachlan Mor sailed to Isla to get the agreement completed, taking with him James Macdonald, one of the hostages, leaving the other in fetters in the castle of Dowart. On his arrival he encamped at the ruinous fort of Eilan Gorm on the Rhinns. Angus Macdonald was then residing at Mullintrea, to which place he invited Maclean, who declined the invitation. “There wes,” says Sir Robert Gordon, “so little trust on either syd, that they did not now merit in friendship or amitie, but upon ther owne guard, or rather by messingers, one from another.” Angus, however, pressed his invitation, with the strongest assurances of safety and good treatment, and Lachlan Mor, thrown off his guard, at length complied. With 86 of his followers he went to Mullintrea in the month of July 1586, and on his arrival was sumptuously entertained the whole day. The night, however, was signalized by treachery and blood. The event is thus related: “At the usual hour for retiring to repose, Maclean and his people were lodged in a longhouse, which stood by itself, at some distance from the other houses. During the whole day Maclean had always kept James Macdonald, the hostage, within his reach, as a sort of protection to him in case of an attack, and at going to bed he took him along with him. About an hour after Maclean and his people had retired, Angus assembled his men to the number of 3 or 400, and made them surround the house in which Maclean and his company lay. Then going himself to the door, he called upon Maclean, and told him that he had come to give him his reposing drink, which he had forgotten to order him before going to bed. Maclean answered that he did not wish to drink at that time, but Macdonald insisted that he should rise, it being, he said, his will that he should do so. The peremptory tone of Macdonald made Maclean at once apprehensive of danger, and getting up and placing the boy between his shoulders, as a sort of shield, he prepared to defent his life as long as he could, or to sell it as dearly as possible. As soon as the door was forced open, James Macdonald, seeing his father with a naked sword in his hand, and a number of his men armed in the same manner, cried aloud for mercy to Maclean, his uncle, which being granted. Lachlan Mor was immediately removed to a secret chamber, where he remained till next morning. After Maclean had surrendered, Angus Macdonald announced to those within the house that if they would come without, their lives would be spared; but he excepted Macdonald Terreagh and another individual whom he named. The whole, with the exception of these two, having complied, the house was immediately set on fire, and consumed along with Macdonald Terreagh and his companion. The former was one of the Clandonald of the western islands, and not only had assisted the Macleans against his own tribe, but was also the originator of all these disturbances; and the latter was a near kinsman of Maclean, one of the oldest of the clan, and celebrated both for his wisdom and prowess.”

      But this was only the beginning of the tragedy. What followed was still more horrible. Allan Maclean, a near kinsman of Lachlan Mor, in the hope that the Macdonalds would put him to death, in which event he would have succeeded to the management of the estate, as guardian to his children, who were then very young, caused a report to be spread that the hostage left behind at Dowart castle, had been killed by the Macleans. Under the impression that it was true, Coll Macjames, the brother of the hostage and of Angus Macdonald, took a signal vengeance on the unfortunate prisoners in his hands, two of whom were executed every day, until at last Lachlan Mor alone survived. An accident that happened to Angus Macdonald, as he was mounting his horse to witness his execution, saved his life. Information of these atrocities being sent to the king (James VI.), he immediately despatched a herald to demand that Lachlan Mor should be set at liberty, but the herald was unable to procure shipping for Isla. Macdonald was at length prevailed upon to release him, in his delivering into his hands his eldest son, Hector Maclean, and seven other hostages. Soon after Angus Macdonald went on a visit to Ulster, when Maclean, regardless of the safety of his hostages, and dreaming only of vengeance, hurried to Isla and laid waste a great portion of that island.

      On his return from Ireland, Angus Macdonald, at the head of a large force, invaded the isles of Mull and Tiree, which he ravaged with fire and sword, slaying many of the inhabitants, as well as the domestic animals of every description. “Finally,” says Sir Robert Gordon, “he came to the very Benmore in Mull, and there killed and chased the clan Lean at his pleasure, and so revenged himself fully of the injuries done to him and his tribe.” Instead of opposing him, Maclean made an inroad into Kintyre, great part of which he ravaged and plundered, and “thus for awhile they did continually vex one another with slaughters and outrages, to the destruction almost of their countries and people.” (Sir Robert Gordon’s Hist. of Sutherland, p. 186). An episode in this long continued and vindictive feud shows to what length the feelings of bitterness and cruelty engendered by it could be carried. To gain over to his side John Mac Ian of Ardnamurchan, who had been a suitor for the hand of his mother, the daughter of the earl of Argyle, Lachlan Mor, in 1588, invited him to Mull, with the view to the proposed alliance. Mac Ian accepted the invitation, and was accompanied by a retinue of the principal gentlemen of his tribe. No persuasion, however, could induce him to join against his own clan, the Macdonalds. furious at his refusal, Lachlan Mor, on the marriage night, caused Mac Ian’s attendants, to the number of 18, to be massacred; then, bursting into his bed chamber, would have murdered himself, had not his new-made wife interposed on his behalf, and for her sake his life was spared. With two of his followers, who had escaped the fate of their companions, he was thrown into a dungeon, and not released for a year afterwards, when he and other prisoners were exchanged for Maclean’s son, and the other hostages in the hands of Angus Macdonald.

      Previous to his liberation, however, with the assistance of a hundred Spanish soldiers belonging to the Florida, a ship of the Spanish Armada driven by a storm into the harbour of Tobermory in Mull, Lachlan Mor had ravaged and plundered the isles of Rum and Eig, occupied by the Clanranald, and those of Canna and Muck, belonging to the clan Ian. In this expedition he is said to have burned the whole inhabitants of these Isles, sparing neither age nor sex. On the mainland he besieged for three days Mac Ian’s castle of Mingarry in Ardnamurchan. The Macdonalds, on their side, assisted by a band of English mercenaries, wasted the lands of the Macleans with fire and sword.

      The mutual ravages committed by the hostile clans, in which the kindred and vassal tribes on both sides were involved, and the effects of which were felt throughout the whole of the Hebrides, attracted, in 1589, the serious attention of the king and council, and for the purpose of putting an end to them, the rival chiefs, with Macdonald of Sleat, on receiving remissions, under the privy seal, for all the crimes committed by them, were induced to proceed to Edinburgh. On their arrival, they were committed prisoners to the castle, and, after some time, Maclean and Angus Macdonald were brought to trial, in spite of the remissions granted to them; one of the principal charges against them being their treasonable hiring of Spanish and English soldiers to fight in their private quarrels. Both chiefs submitted themselves to the king’s mercy, and placed their lives and lands at his disposal. On payment each of a small fire they were allowed to return to the Isles, Macdonald of Sleat being released at the same time. Besides certain conditions being imposed upon them, they were taken bound to return to their confinement in the castle of Edinburgh, whenever they should be summoned, on twenty days’ warning. Not fulfilling the conditions, they were, on 14th July 1593, cited to appear before the privy council, and as they disobeyed the summons, both Lachlan Mor and Angus Macdonald were, in 1594, forfeited by parliament.

      At the battle of Glenlivat, in that year, fought between the Catholic earls of Huntly, Angus, and Errol, on the one side, and the king’s forces, under the earl of Argyle, on the other, Lachlan Mor, at the head of the Macleans, particularly distinguished himself. Argyle lost the battle, but, says Mr. Gregory, (Highlands and Isles of Scotland, p. 259,) “the conduct of Lachlan Maclean of Dowart, who was one of Argyle’s officers, in this action, would, if imitated by the other leaders, have converted the defeat into a victory. That chief acted the part of a brave and skilful soldier, keeping his men in their ranks, and employing, with good effect, all the advantages of his position. It was his division which inflicted the principal loss on the rebels, and, at the close of the action, he retired in good order with those under his command. It is said that, after the battle, he offered, if Argyle would give him five hundred men in addition to his own clan, to bring the earl of Huntly prisoner into Argyle’s camp. This proposal was rejected, but having come to the ears of Huntly, incensed him greatly against Maclean, whose son afterwards, according to tradition, lost a large estate in Lochaber, through the animosity of that powerful nobleman.”

      In 1596 Lachlan Mor repaired to court, and on making his submission to the king, the act of forfeiture was removed. He also received from the crown a lease of the Rhinns of Isla, so long in dispute between him and Macdonald of Dunyveg. While thus at the head of favour, however, his unjust and oppressive conduct to the family of the Macleans of Coll, whose castle and island he had seized some years before, on the death of Hector Maclean, proprietor thereof, was brought before the privy council by Lachlan Maclean, then of Coll, Hector’s son, and the same year he was ordered to deliver up not only the castle of Coll, but all his own castles and strongholds, to the lieutenant of the Isles, on twenty-four hours’ warning, also, to restore to Coll, within thirty days, all the lands of which he had deprived him, under a penalty of 10,000 merks. In 1598, Lachlan Mor, with the view of expelling the Macdonalds from Isla, levied his vassals and proceeded to that island, and after an ineffectual attempt at an adjustment of their differences, was encountered, on 5th August, at the head of Lochgruinard, by Sir James Macdonald, son of Angus, at the head of his clan, when the Macleans were defeated, and their chief killed, with 80 of his principal men and 200 common soldiers. Lachlan Barroch Maclean, a son of Sir Lachlan, was dangerously wounded, but escaped. Sir Lachlan, according to Sir Robert Gordon, had consulted a witch before he undertook this journey into Isla; she advised him, in the first place, not to land upon the island on a Thursday; secondly, that he should not drink of the water of a well near Gruinard; and lastly, she told him that one Maclean should be slain at Gruinard. “The first he transgressed unwillingly,” says Sir Robert, “being driven into the island of Isla by a tempest upon a Thursday; the second he transgressed negligentlie, haveing drank of that water before he wes awair; and so he was killed ther at Gruinard, as wes foretold him, bot doubtfullie. Thus endeth all these that doe trust in such kynd of responces, or doe hunt after them.” (Hist. p. 238.)

      Hector Maclean, the son and successor of Sir Lachlan, at the head of a numerous force, afterwards invaded Isla, and attacked and defeated the Macdonalds at a place called Bern Bige, and then ravaged the whole island. He was one of the principal chiefs of the Isles seized by Lord Ochiltree, the king’s lieutenant, on his expedition to the Isles in 1608, and carried to Edinburgh. The following year he and Macdonald of Dunyveg were selected to accompany the king’s commissioner on his survey of the Isles. With two of his brothers, and Hector Maclean of Lochbuy, and almost all the principal islesmen, he was present at Iona when the celebrated “Statutes of Icolmkill” were enacted. He was also one of the six principal islanders who met at Edinburgh on 28th June 1610, to hear his majesty’s pleasure declared to them, when they were compelled to give sureties to a large amount for their reappearance before the council in May 1611. In the conditions imposed upon the chiefs for the pacification of the Isles in 1616, we find that Maclean of Dowart was not to use in his house more than four tun of wine, and Coll and Lochbuy one tun each. At this time Maclean of Dowart and his brother Lachlan, having delayed to find the sureties required of them, were committed to ward in Edinburgh castle, whence the former was soon liberated, and allowed to live with Acheson of Gosfurd, his father-in-law, under his own recognisance of £40,000, and his father-in-law’s for 5,000 merks, that he should remain there until permitted by the council to return to the Isles. Dowart’s brother was not liberated till the following year.

      Sir Lachlan Maclean of Morvern, a younger brother of Hector Maclean of Dowart, was in 1631 created a baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles I., and on the death of his elder brother he succeeded to the estate of Dowart. In the civil wars the Macleans took arms under Montrose, and fought valiantly for the royal cause. At the battle of Inverlochy, 2d February 1645, Sir Lachlan commanded his clan. He was also engaged in the subsequent battles of the royalist general. Sir Hector Maclean, his son, with 800 of his followers, was at the battle of Inverkeithing, 20th July 1651, when the royalists were opposed to the troops of Oliver Cromwell. On this occasion an instance of devoted attachment to the chief was shown on the part of the Macleans. In the heat of the battle, Sir Hector was covered from the enemy’s attacks by seven brothers of his clan, all of whom successively sacrificed their lives in his defence. As one fell another rushed forward to interpose betwixt his person and the enemy, crying out in Gaelic, Bos air son Eachin, “Another for Hector!” this phrase, says General Stewart, has continued ever since to be a proverb or watchword, when a man encounters any sudden danger that requires instant succour. Sir Hector, however, was left among the slain, with about 500 of his followers.

      The Dowart estates had become deeply involved in debt, and the marquis of Argyle, by purchasing them up, had acquired a claim against the lands of Maclean, which ultimately led to the greater portion of them becoming the property of that grasping family. In 1674, after the execution of the marquis, payment was insisted upon by his son, the earl. The tutor of Maclean, the chief, his nephew, being a minor, evaded the demand for a considerable time, and at length showed a disposition to resist it by force. Argyle had recourse to legal proceedings, and supported by a body of 2,000 Campbells, he crossed into Mull, where he took possession of the castle of Dowart, and placed a garrison in it. The Macleans, however, refused to pay their rents to the earl, and in consequence he prepared for a second invasion of Mull. to resist it, the Macdonalds came to the aid of the Macleans, but Argyle’s ships were driven back by a storm, when he applied to government, and even went to London, to ask assistance from the king. Lord Macdonald and other friends of the Macleans followed him, and laid a state of the dispute before Charles, who, in February 1676, remitted the matter to three lords of the Scottish privy council. NO decision, however, was come to be them, and Argyle was allowed to take possession of the island of Mull without resistance in 1686.

      After the Revolution, a party of Macleans, under their chief, Sir John Maclean, fourth baronet, on their way to join Viscount Dundee, were surprised in Strathspey, by a party of Mackay’s dragoons, under Sir Thomas Livingston, when they threw away their plaids, and formed on an adjoining hill. In the skirmish that ensued, they sustained a loss of 80 or 100 men. At the battle of Killiecrankie, Sir John Maclean, with his regiment, was placed on Dundee’s right, and among the troops on his left was a battalion under Sir Alexander Maclean. The Macleans were amongst the Highlanders surprised and defeated at Cromdale in 1696. The following day, a party of Macleans and Camerons, who had in the flight separated from their companions in arms, crossed the Spey, but being pursued by some of Livingston’s men, were overtaken and dispersed on the moor of Granish near Aviemore, where some of them were killed. Subsequently, the earl of Argyle invaded Mull, with 1,900 foot and 60 dragoons, when the inhabitants took the oaths of allegiance to the government, and delivered up their arms. Sir John Maclean himself, with a few of his friends, took refuge in the fort of Carneburgh, one of the Treshnish isles, where a party of Macleans, during the civil wars, had held out, for some time, against a detachment of Cromwell’s forces.

      In the rebellion of 1715, the Macleans ranged themselves under the standard of the earl of Mar, and were present at the battle of Sheriffmuir. For his share in the insurrection, Sir John Maclean, the chief, was forfeited, but the estates were afterwards restored to the family. On the breaking out of the rebellion of 1745, Sir John’s son, Sir Hector Maclean, the fifth baronet, was apprehended, with his servant, at Edinburgh, and conveyed to London. He was not set at liberty till the passing of the act of indemnity in June 1747. At Culloden, however, 500 of his clan fought for Prince Charles, under Maclean of Drumnin, who was slain leading them on. Sir Hector died, unmarried, at Paris, in 1750, when the title devolved upon his third cousin, the remainder being to heirs male whatsoever. This third cousin, Sir Allan Maclean, was great-grandson of Donald Maclean of Broloss, eldest son, by his second marriage, of Hector Maclean of Dowart, the father of the first baronet. Sir Allen married Anne, daughter of Hector Maclean of Coll, and had three daughters, the eldest of whom, Maria, became the wife of Maclean of Kinlochaline, and the second, Sibella, of Maclean of Inverscadell. In 1773, when Dr. Johnson and Mr. Boswell visited the Hebrides, Sir Allan was chief of the clan. He resided at that time on Inchkenneth, one of his smaller islands, in the district of Mull, where he entertained his visitors very hospitably. “This island,” says Dr. Johnson, “is about a mile long, and perhaps half-a-mile broad, remarkable for pleasantness and fertility. Its only inhabitants were Sir Allan Maclean and two young ladies, his daughters, with their servants. Romance does not often exhibit a scene that strikes the imagination more than this little desert, in these depths of western obscurity, occupied not by a gross herdsman, or amphibious fisherman, but by a gentleman and two ladies, of high birth, polished manners, and elegant conversation, who, in a habitation raised not very far above the ground, but furnished with unexpected neatness and convenience, practised all the kindness of hospitality and refinement of courtesy.” From the following anecdote it would appear that the feeling of devotion to the chief had survived the heritable abolition act of 1747, if indeed the passing of such an act was at all generally known in 1773 among the humbler inhabitants of the remote Hebrides. “The Macginnises are said to be a branch of the clan of Maclean. Sir Allan had been told that one of the name had refused to send him some rum, at which the knight was in great indignation. ‘You rascal!’ said he, ‘don’t you know that I can hang you, if I please? Refuse to send rum to me, you rascal! Don’t you know that if I order you to go and cut a man’s throat, you are to do it!’ ‘Yes, an’t please your honour, and my own too, and hang myself too!’ The poor fellow denied that he had refused to send the rum. His making these professions was not merely a pretence in presence of his chief, for, after he and I were out of Sir Allan’s hearing, he told me, ‘Had he sent his dog for the rum, I would have given it; I would cut my bones for him.’ Sir Allan, by way of upbraiding the fellow, said, ‘I believe you are a Campbell!’

      Dying without male issue in 1783, Sir Allan was succeeded by his kinsman, Sir Hector, 7th baronet; on whose death, Nov. 2, 1818, his brother, Lieutenant-general Sir Fitzroy Jeffry Grafton Maclean, became the 8th baronet. He died July 5, 1847, leaving two sons, Sir Charles Fitzroy Maclean of Morvern, and Donald Maclean, of the chancery bar, at one period a member of parliament. Sir Charles, 9th baronet, a colonel in the army (1846), commanded the 81st foot for some time, and was subsequently military secretary at Gibraltar. He married a daughter of the Hon. and Rev. Jacob Marsham, uncle of the earl of Romney; issue, a son, Charles Donald, captain 13th dragoons, and 4 daughters; one, Fanny, married Capt. Hood. R.N., and another, Louisa, became the wife of Hon. Ralph Pelham Neville, son of the earl of Abergavenny.

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      The first of the Lochbuy branch of the Macleans was Hector Reganach, brother of Lachlan Lubanich above mentioned. He had a son named John, or Murchard, whose great-grandson, John Oig Maclean of Lochbuy, received from King James IV., several charters of confirmation under the great seal, of the lands and baronies which had been held by his progenitors. He was killed, with his two elder sons, in a family feud with the Macleans of Dowart. His only surviving son, Murdoch, was obliged, in consequence of the same feud, to retire to Ireland, where he remained for several years, and married a daughter of the earl of Antrim. By the mediation of his father-in-law, his differences with Dowart were satisfactorily adjusted, and he returned to the isles, where he spent his latter years in peace. His son, John Moir Maclean of Lochbuy, was so expert a fencer that, according to a history of the family, he fought on a stage in Edinburgh before the king and court, and killed a famous Italian swordsman, who had challenged all Scotland. By his wife, a daughter of Macdonald of the Isles, he had two sons, Hector, who succeeded him, and Charles, progenitor of the Macleans of Tapull. From the latter family descended Sir Alexander Maclean of Ottar, mentioned above, who attached himself to the interests of James VII. He accompanied the fallen monarch to France, and rose to the rank of colonel in the French service.

      The house of Lochbuy has always maintained that of the two brothers, Lachlan Lubanich and Hector Reganach, the latter was the senior, and that, consequently, the chiefship of the Macleans is vested in its head; “but this,” says Mr. Gregory, “is a point on which there is no certain evidence.” The whole clan, at different periods, have followed the head of both families to the field, and fought under their command. Of this house was Hector Maclean, elected bishop of Argyle in 1686. He had in his younger years taken arms for the king in the civil wars, but being of a religious disposition he ultimately entered the church. The Lochbuy family now spells its name Maclaine.

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      The Coll branch of the Macleans, like that of Dowart, descended from Lachlan Lubanich, said to have been grandfather of the fourth laird of Dowart and the first laird of coll, who were brothers. John Maclean, surnamed Garbh, son of Lachlan of Dowart, obtained the isle of Coll and the lands of Quinish in Mull from Alexander, earl of Ross and lord of the Isles, and afterwards, on the forfeiture of Cameron, the lands of Locheil. The latter grant engendered, as we have seen, a deadly feud between the Camerons and the Macleans, which led to much contention and bloodshed between them. At one time the son and successor of John Garbh occupied Locheil by force, but was killed in a conflict with the Camerons at Corpach, in the reign of James III. His infant son would also have been put to death, had the boy not been saved by the Macgillonies or Maclonichs, a tribe of Lochaber that generally followed the clan Cameron. This youth, subsequently known as John Abrach Maclean of Coll, was the representative of the family in 1493, and from him was adopted by his successors the patronymic appellation of Maclean Abrach, by which the lairds of Coll were ever after distinguished.

      The tradition concerning this heir of coll is thus related by Dr. Johnson, in his Tour to the Hebrides; “Very near the house of Maclean stands the castle of Coll, which was the mansion of the laird till the house was built. On the wall was, not long ago, a stone with an inscription, importing, ‘That if any man of the clan of Maclonich shall appear before this castle, though he come at midnight with a man’s head in his hand, he shall there find safety and protection against all but the king.’ this is an old Highland treaty made upon a memorable occasion. Maclean, the son of John Garbh, who recovered Coll, and conquered Barra, had obtained, it is said, from James II., a grant of the lands of Locheil, forfeited, I suppose, by some offence against the state. Forfeited estates were not in those days quietly resigned: Maclean, therefore, went with an armed force to seize his new possessions, and, I know not for what reason, took his wife with him. The Camerons rose in defence of their chief, and a battle was fought at the head of Lochness, near the place where Fort Augustus now stands, in which Locheil obtained the victory, and Maclean, with his followers, was defeated and destroyed. The lady fell into the hands of the conquerors, and being found pregnant, was placed in the custody of Maclonich, one of a tribe or family branched from Cameron, with orders, if she brought a boy, to destroy him, if a girl, to spare her. Maclonich’s wife, who was with child likewise, had a girl about the same time at which Lady Maclean brought a boy; and Maclonich, with more generosity to his captive than fidelity to his trust, contrived that the children should be changed, Maclean being thus preserved from death, in time recovered his original patrimony; and in gratitude to his friend, made his castle a place of refuge to any of the clan that should think himself in danger; and, as a proof of reciprocal confidence, Maclean took upon himself and his posterity the care of educating the heir of Maclonich. This story, like all other traditions of the Highlands, is variously related; but, though some circumstances are uncertain, the principal fact is true. Maclean undoubtedly owed his preservation to Maclonich; for the treaty between the two families has been strictly observed; it did not sink into disuse and oblivion, but continued in its full force while the chieftains retained their power. The power of protection subsists no longer; but what the law permits is yet continued, and Maclean of Coll now educates the heir of Maclonich.”

      The account of the conversion of the simple islanders of Coll from popery to Protestantism is curious. The laird had imbibed the principles of the Reformation, but found his people reluctant to abandon the religion of their fathers. To compel them to do so, he did not trouble himself with argument or reasoning of any sort, but took his station one Sunday in the path which led to the Roman Catholic church, and as his clansmen approached, he drove them back with his cane. They at once made their way to the protestant place of worship, and from this persuasive mode of conversion, his vassals ever after called it the religion of the gold-headed stick. Lachlan, the seventh proprietor of Coll, went over to Holland with some of his own men, in the reign of Charles II., and obtained the command of a company in General Mackay’s regiment, in the service of the prince of Orange. He afterwards returned to Scotland, and was drowned in the water of Lochy in Lochaber in 1687.

      Dr. Johnson seems to have been especially gratified with his reception at Coll. “We were at Coll,” he says, “under the protection of the young laird, and whenever we roved, we were pleased to see the reverence with which his subjects regarded him. He did not endeavour to dazzle them by any magnificence of dress; his only distinction was a feather in his bonnet; but, as soon as he appeared, they forsook their work and clustered about him; he took them by the hand, and they seemed mutually delighted. He has the proper disposition of a chieftain, and seems desirous to continue the customs of his house. The bagpiper played regularly when dinner was served, whose person and dress made a good appearance, and he brought no disgrace upon the family of Rankin, which has long supplied the lairds of coll with hereditary music.” As an instance of the expense which attended the funeral of persons of distinction in the western isles, he states that nineteen years before his visit, thirty cows and about fifty sheep were killed at the burial of the laird of coll, so great was the concourse of persons present at it. From Coll the travellers were conducted by the young laird to Mull, Ulva, and Sir Allan Maclean’s at Inch-Kenneth. The young laird of Coll, soon after perished in the passage between Ulva and Inch-Kenneth. Col. Hugh Maclean, London, the last laird of coll, of that name, was the 15th in regular descent from John Garbh, son of Lauchlan Lubanich.

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      The Ardgour branch of the Macleans, which held its lands directly from the lord of the Isles, descended from Donald, another son of Lauchlan, 3d laird of Dowart. The estate of Ardgour, which is in Argyleshire, had previously belonged to a different tribe (the Macmasters), but it was conferred upon Donald, either by Alexander, earl of Ross, or by his son and successor, John. In 1463, Ewen or Eugene, son of Donald, held the office of senechal of the household to the latter earl; and in 1493, Lachlan Macewen Maclean was laird of Ardgour. Alexander Maclean, Esq., the present laird of Ardgour, is the 14th from father to son. His numerous brothers are colonels in the army. Two of them are in the royal artillery.

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      During the 17th and 18th centuries the Macleans of Lochbuy, Coll, and Ardgour, more fortunate than the Dowart branch of the clan, contrived to preserve their estates nearly entire, although compelled by the marquis of Argyle to renounce their holdings in capite of the crown, and to become vassals of that nobleman. They continued zealous partizans of the Stuarts, in whose cause they suffered severely.

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      From Lachlan Oig Maclean, a younger son of Lachlan Mor of Dowart, sprung the family of Torloisk in Mull. Among the Highland corps embodied during the latter half of the last century was a regiment raised by Captain Allan Maclean of Torloisk, which was reduced in 1763. The Highland regiments in America and Germany were supplied with recruits from this corps. The estate ultimately fell to the heiress of line, Mrs. Clephane Maclean, whose grandson, 2d son of the marquis of Northampton, came to possess the property. Another grandson was the Baron de Norman, murdered by the Chinese in Pekin(g).

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      Of the numerous flourishing cadets of the different branches, the principal were the Macleans of Kinlochaline, Ardtornish, and Drimnin, descended from the family of Dowart; of Tapul and Scallasdale, in the island of Mull, from that of Lochbuy; of Isle of Muck, from that of Coll; and of Borrera, in North Uist and Treshinish, from that of Ardgour. The family of Borrera are represented by Donald Maclean, Esq., and General Archibald Maclean. From Isle of Muck and Treshinish is descended A. C. Maclean of Haremere Hall, Sussex.

      The Macleans of Pennycross, island of Mull, represented by Alexander Maclean, Esq., derives from John Dubh, the first Maclean of Morvern. General Allan Maclean of Pennycross, colonel of the 13th light dragoons, charged with them at Waterloo.

      General Sir Archibald Maclaine, born in 1783, 2d son of Gillian Maclaine, Esq. of Scallasdale, by the eldest daughter of Mac Quarie of Mac Quarie, chief of Ulva, after serving with distinction in India and the Peninsular war, was knighted for his defence of Fort Matagorda for 55 days, with only 155 men against 8,000 men under Marshal Soult.


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