At the dawn of history, the western islands of what is
now Scotland were populated by a group of Aryan people known as the Celts.
They were a nomadic race who had originated in Asia. Also known as Gaels,
they had trekked slowly across India and Asia Minor and once were so
numerous at one location that one area was called "Galatia". These people
slowly but deliberately spread northward over Europe and finally reached
the northern shores of what is now France. This hearty race soon
established themselves in northwest Ireland.
In Ireland, these tough Celts were known as "Scots".
Their language was a composite of basic utterances acquired over centuries
of migrations through strange lands and was called "Gaelic" meaning
"Stranger". The clothing was primitive and consisted of the hides of
animals wrapped around the loins and draped over the shoulders. This mode
of crude dress was "Celtic" or "kilted". By necessity, they were required
to live together in small groups or families for distribution of work and
procurement of food. Each group controlled a certain portion of land; thus
the clan society originated. Another peculiarity was their music which was
centered around a device composed of a sheepskin bag which emitted a
background drone through hollow pipes while the musician played a tune
through a mouth instrument; the entire apparatus was called a "bagpipe".
In the Sixth Century, three Celtic princes, also
brothers, from Ireland, descendents of a celebrated leader Carbre—Riada,
invaded the nearby islands to the northeast and portions of the adjacent
mainland known then as Caledonia. Carving out empires for themselves, the
princes formed the kingdom of Dairida, so—named in honor of their
ancestor. These Dalriadic Scots intermingled with the preexisting peoples
known as the Picts, a prehistoric tribe from across the North Sea. About
this time, the Scots and Picts were converted from their primeval
religions to Christianity by missionaries from Ireland.
One of the princes, Angus, claimed as part of his realm
a wild rocky island a few miles off the coast. The island, 30 miles long
and eight miles wide, was constricted at the center by a narrow isthmus,
and had three mountains on the southwest portion. The highest peak was
2600 feet in elevation and these "Paps" were visible from the sea at great
distances. On the island’s northern straits was a gigantic open—sea
whirlpool composed of boiling, treacherous waters. The eastern coastline
was generally calm, but the wind—swept western shores featured raised
beaches and numerous caves. Surely Angus must have longed for the green of
Ireland as he stood on the foreboding quartzite terrain.
The island was known to the Dairiads as "Hinba";
however, years later the Norse would give it the name "Jura" from "dyr Oe"
meaning "deer island", since the place was inhabited by hundreds of red
deer. Another source states that Jura was named after the Danish brothers
Dih and Rah who killed each other and were buried there.
In 608 A.D., the kingship of Dairlada fell to Eochaid
or Eugene IV, a blond—haired Scot. Because of this physical feature, he
also wore the name "Buidhe" from the Gaelic word meaning the color yellow.
This nickname was also designated to persons of sallow complexion. Buidhe
is pronounced in Gaelic "boo—ee" and was sometimes shortened, when
written, to "Buie". Eochaid Buidhe led his Scots against the Saxons and
successfully defended the kingdom until his death in 621. Although none of
his descendents continued the name "Buidhe", Eochaid is the first person
in history known and documented to have used it.
After a period of time, the Scots and Picts merged to
form one nation known as Scotland. However, the western islands were soon
threatened by the Norsemen who initally robbed and plundered the
inhabitants. Later, these northerners settled on the islands, including
Jura, and intermarried with the Scots. The Norse contributed to the people
of the islands their striking blond hair, blue eyes and their seamanship
Out of this Norse—Celtic race came Somerled. His name
was Norse, but his father’s, Glue Brighde, was Gaelic. Somerled conquered
much of the western lands and was an arch—foe of Malcolm IV, King of
Scotland. The daughter of the Norse King of Man became Somerled’s wife,
and after his death in 1164, one son, Dugald, controlled Jura. However,
another son, Reginald, was favored and Reginald’s son Donald was the
progenitor of the great Clan Donald. After visiting Norway, Donald was
granted sovereignty over "the Isles". There followed many generations of
wars which eventuated in the expulsion of Norse influence in Scotland in
1266, and in 1354 Clan Donald was granted vast lands on the mainland and
the islands. Their leader was known as Lord of the Isles.
Socio—economic order in the Highlands of early Scotland
revolved around the clan system. The mountainous geography divided the
people naturally into small autonomous communities. These sequestered
populations were headed by a chief whose role was law—giver, judge, and
military leader. His subjects were granted land or assigned jobs in return
for their loyalty and allegiance to the tribal chieftain Some of these
followers could claim blood relationship to the chief; others were related
by marriage, but many were not related and were allied to him for
protection. Also, the people were expected to respond to the clan leader’s
call and follow him into battle against any adversary or enemy. The clans
were sometimes connected to each other by alliances which on occasion were
quite complex, and the poor serfs were sometimes required to fight for the
feudal masters to fulfil the latter’ political obligations. To help
distinguish which clan each member belonged, the groups adopted a
particular tartan composed of stripes of different hues which was worn in
the kilted fashion of the ancient Celts. Every clan had their own pipe
tunes, arrnorial bearings, slogans and war cries. Different branches or
subdivisions of a clan, whether descended from a common ancestor or simply
allied to the chief, were known as septs.
Traditionally, surnames were introduced into Scotland
in the last half of the Eleventh Century by King Malcolm III. Many adopted
the name of an ancestor and simply added the Gaelic "mac" which meant "son
of". For example, the descendents of Donald used the surname "McDonald".
The heirs of Donald’s son Alasdair adopted the name "McAlister". The
children of a man named Robert might be called "Robertson. Others took
names which described their occupations. The son of the parson became
"McPherson". The hereditary wolf hunters of a clan were known as
"McHeanich", anglicized to "Shaw", meaning "son of the wolf". The local
clerk’s boy became "McChleirich" which was shortened to "Chleirich" and
finally anglicized to "Clark". Many people adopted the name of their
particular locality or an outstanding geographical feature. Thus, those
who lived by a large hill or knob might have taken the name "Knox". Since
their chief was the Earl of Crawford, some of the Lindseys used the
surname "Crawford". The people living in the district of Gowrie became
McGorrys or McRorys. And finally, there were some who used as surnair
which described a physical characteristic or oddity. The children of a
grizzled man were called "Mcllriah" from the Gaelic meaning "gray" later
anglicized to "Darroch". The son of the black—haired lad was known as
"Mcllledhuibh" or the short form of "Black" in English. The prefix "ille"
or "gille" was used commonly and was synonymous with "junior".
On the mainland of Scotland from a very early time when
surnames were first used, some persons in various locations and in
different periods of time adopted the surname
"Buidhe" because of their blond hair or fair features. Buidhe was
the pure Gaelic form. In some areas of the Highlands, the
name was anglicized to "Buie" and in the Lowlands close to the English
border the name was "Bowie" to better accommodate the English phonetics.
Other spellings included Bowey, Bouie, Boy, Buy, Bouwie, Buoy, Boie, Bouy,
Boye, Bui, Bhuie. Occasionally, patronymic forms in various combinations
appeared such as McGillibuidhe, Mcllbowie, or McGhillebule. Some
anglicized versions of these patronyms were Mcllvuy, McEvoy, and McVeagh.
The name was not only used for persons; also, localities utilizing the
descriptive color of yellow incorporated also the Gaelic "buidhe". Hence,
the yellow—tinged inlet lake on the Isle of Mull was named "Lochbuie".
Similar place names dotted the map of Scotland including Ballochbuie,
Killbuie, and Slachbuie. In recent times the McKinnons, struck by the
golden yellow color of their sweet liqueur combination of whiskey and
honey, dubbed their product "Drambuie", or golden drink, which is known
Electric Scotland Note:
We got an email in which was said...
You mention about
the origins of the drink ‘Drambuie’. This was actually created and
named by a different individual and NOT a McKinnon. This has been
recently documented on a Scottish television production, paying
tribute to the work of a Scottish suffragette – who’s father James
Ross was the man who created and named Drambuie. It is also
documented elsewhere on the web (such as Wikipedia etc) with more
details. Ross created Drambuie in the late 1800s and he also
patented it under this name in London in the 1890s. It was then
bottled and shipped by Ross as Drambuie, and across the Atlantic
(this much is known), for a good few years before his untimely
death. Ross’s family then sold the Drambuie recipe and the business
to a McKinnon family of Edinburgh, who still now own the brand.
family are of no relation to any of those involved with the history
of the drink, from the Bonny Prince Charlie episode or during the
life of James Ross. The ‘family’ story was created in the 1980s to
boost sales – and it achieved this, but not without a lot of
opposition from the north-west of Scotland where its history is well
known and respected, from its true origins in Broadford, Isle of
Skye. There followed a legal case and the owners of Drambuie had to
withdraw parts of this story. However, in the wider interest of
Drambuie, Ross’s descendants allowed some of it to be reinstated,
but without direct reference to the McKinnon’s involvement in its
creation. There is now a ‘Ross suite’ in the Broadford Hotel, in
tribute to James Ross!
The name is, as
you say, thought to be from ‘golden drink’ or ‘yellow drink’.
Although some people have also mentioned that it could even stem
from the Gaelic for ‘a drink that satisfies’; I have a feeling that
what you have said is more likely...
And so we provide this email as
a reference note.
History records some of the early individuals and
groups who used the name "Buidhe". Occasionally the name or one of its
forms was adopted; in most instances, the name was eventually discarded.
Eochaid Buidhe of the Seventh Century has been mentioned. About 806 A.D.
the Viking Bui the Big, thought to be a descendent of the god Odin, lived
in the Hebrides. His name was probably derived, however, from another
meaning in the Norse language. Some historians contend that the ancient
clan Ogilvuy of the eastern Highlands originally wrote their name "O’
Gillie Buidhe". The constable of Eilean—Donan in 1570, was Murdoch Buidhe,
also considered the progenitor of the Matheson Clan. Some scholars contend
that the McEachans descended from Eachuinn Bhuidhe. Neill Buie McNeill,
originally of Colonsay, settled in Antrim in the late 1700’s, but none of
his children used the name Buie.
In Ireland, the name in Irish Gaelic was
MacFhiodhbhuidhe which anglicized is McEvoy. The family of this name
originated in West Meath and later became lords in the parish of Mountrath
in Leix County, where the surname McEvoy is common today. In the counties
of Donegal and Derry, there were several families named Mac a’bhuidhe
which was shortened to McElwee or McGilloway. One member of this group was
Conn Mac Giolla Bhuidhe, the Abbot of Mungret in 1100.
There was one locale on the mainland of Scotland where
the name was perpetuated. In
The name "Bowie" most commonly appeared in the parish
records of Lowland Scotland near the English border and thus in the
southern counties of Stirling, Renfrew, Lanark, Ayr, and Midlothian, and
represented an attempt to phonetically Spell in English the original
Gaelic "Buidhe". Conversely, although occasionally found in the Lowlands,
the surname "Buie" was almost exclusively encountered in the Highlands
and, in particular, Argyll. "Bole" was more closely related to the Pure
Gaelic language. In many instances, however, "Bowie" and
"Buie were used interchangeably along with various other spellings.
the Fifteenth Century much of the Scottish western
islands called the Inner Hebrides were controlled by the Clan Donald. The
supreme ruler was the Lord of the Isles. So powerful was the clan that the
King of Scotland could not exercise auhority in their lands. Among the
Lord’s subjects were the Gaelic—Nordic people living on the rugged island
The inhabitants of Jura during the lordship of the
McDonalds lived by agriculture and fishing. The land they cultivated and
on which their simple stone homes stood was granted to them by McDonald of
Islay in return for their service as stewards of hunting or foresters. On
a small island, Fraoch Eilean, located in the sound, the McDonalds had
Clag Castle which was also used as a prison. Occasionally, Lord McDonald
would boat over from Islay to hunt the red deer which flourished on the
moors and the slopes of the Paps. This mutual relationship worked well for
both parties and the people of Jura felt secure and contented.
Most of the persons of Jura at this time went by given
names. The men’s most popular names were Donald, Daniel, Gillour, and Ian;
for the women, Catherine, Mary, Christine, and Margaret were the most
preferred. Several persons claimed blood relationship to the McDonalds.
Others were connected to the McDonalds by marriage or by manrent bonds and
pacts. Thus, frequently, when a last name was needed many conveniently
used "McDonald". When the common names became so numerous that there was
trouble identifying a particular person, then the adoptions of nicknames
became practical. On Jura the second name was usually of the descriptive
class. For example, Ian, who might have been a forrester for the
McDonalds, used the name Ian McDonald. Later, because of his blond hair
and fair complexion and since there were so many lans in the neighborhood,
he used Ian Buie McDonald or Ian Buie which after a time became John Buie.
Historical data indicates that family name Buie originated about 1475—1500
on Jura and was initially used more or less informally for a few
It is not known if the Buies of Jura were actual blood
descendents of the mighty Somerled. A progenitor of the Buie family has
not been identified in the genealogy of the branches of Clan Donald. The
name was not uncommon among the McDonald chiefs, however. Sorley Buidhe,
brother of James McDonald of Dunnyveg, fought to retain the lands of his
family Clan Ian Mor. The defense of these properties, some located in
Antrim, cost Sorley his life in 1565. Old sallow Alexander McDonald, also
known as Alasdair Buidhe, was the McDonald chief at Keppoch. Alexander
ruthlessly murdered his own two nephews in 1663 to solidify his position
as chief, but, alas, the deceased nephew’s revengeful friends succeeded in
beheading the old man after a fiery attack upon his castle. Allan Og, 14th
Chief of Clan Ranald, brought home a Moorish servant from the Spanish
wars, and local tradition in South Uist states that this secretary was the
progenitor of the Bowie families in this sector. One scholar believes that
the McDonald Bowies or Buies were descended from Hector Buidhe McDonald,
the ancestor of the McEachen and McGeachey septs, and that the Buies were
a branch of this family. About 1700 a certain Walter Bowie was sent to
Holland as a minister to the Scots and was patronymically described as a
"son of Mr. James Bowie, the third son of Mr. James McDonald of Slate, in
the Isle of Skye". The name in Skye has now disappeared. Some of the older
Buies on Colonsay contended that the Jura branch was more closely related
to the McDonalds of Keppoch, but this assertion is not proven.
One family legend relates that after the massacre of
the Glencoe McDonalds in 1692, a baby boy was found by a shepherd or
deerherd, who hid him from the Campbell marauders, and crossed by row boat
to Jura. The man reared the child who had flaming yellow hair and was
known as "Gillie Buie". They lived in a cave and when the man was out
tending the deer, a dog would protect the baby. The boy grew to manhood
and his home was at Beinn an oir which means "Hill of Gold", hence his son
was called "Mac Gille Buidhe na fhaidh o’sliabh Beinn an oir" or "son of
the yellow haired lad of the deer from the side of the Hill of Gold".
Most evidence, however, supports that the Buies of Jura
were descended from the native people of the island and not immigrants
from elsewhere in Scotland. Other original families of Jura were Darrochs,
Shaws, Blacks, Clarks, and McCraines who would share a common history with
the Buies and intermarry with them for many generations.
The earliest Buies of Jura owned lands mainly at
Largiebreac and also periodically at Sannaig, Knockbreac, Knockchrome, and
Damhskir. The ancient Buies were buried at Kilearnadil. Their plots are
covered by three recumbent stone slabs dating from the 12th Century that
were probably transported from Kintyre. The slabs bear no inscriptions but
are decorated with incised Celtic scroll designs around a central sword;
also, one contains a motif of a pair of scissors and another a pair of
shears. The Buies must have appropriated these slabs and used them for
many years, even to the present time.
Since they were closely allied with the McDonalds, the
Buies adopted the great clan’s tartan. The badge was heather. According to
Burke’s General Armory, the coat of arms resembled closely that of Lord
McDonald and bore the symbols of an attacking red lion, a held cross, a
galley, and a fish. Some have thought the Buies used the coat of arms of
McDonald of Keppoch, but the former seems more accurate. The motto was
"Coelestia Sequor" or "O Follow Heavenly Things".
Soon, the Buie family of Jura was well established and
stood ready to defend their lands and help their McDonald benefactors.
They would get their chance, for historical events would soon throw the
islands into an era of bloody chaos, pitting clan against clan and
dissolving all semblance of peaceful existence.
The Lords of the Isles eventually fell into the
disfavor of the Scottish monarchs mainly because of their quest for
additional lands and their alarming growth in power. In 1493, the lordship
was dissolved by the King and the branches of the McDonalds were declared
independent. As another result, the McLeans acquired North Jura above
Tarbert. The McDonalds, nevertheless, held on to the more populated South
Jura which was administered by McDonald of Islay. Still, King James, IV
aided by the Campbells of Argyll, united to exploit the waning McDonalds
and attempted to control Jura from the mainland. The McDonald’s power over
their constituents lessened and the individual branches exerted themselves
more independently in their various localities.
Although not initially affected by these events, the
Buie families soon became involved when, in 1506, the Mclans were granted
lands in Jura by King James IV. These properties included some held by the
Buies. Even though both groups were branches of the McDonalds, their men
met in combat near the sea at Sannaig. History does not record the victor,
but after the battle the bodies of the slain were buried together where
they fell near the burial mounds at Cladh Chlann Vic Ian. The feud between
the Buies and Mclans continued for several years.
There were some attempts to re—establish the old
Lordship. Donald Dubh, a legal heir, made an attempt in 1539 and 1543, but
was defeated. The leadership of the McDonalds fell to James of Dunnyveg
and the Glens who in 1545 received a Charter from Mar Queen of Scots
granting him the lands in South Jura. About this time, an agent for King
James VI described the island: "The half part thereof Pertains to the
McLeans and the other half to the Clan Donald.. .
part of this isle is excellent land and very fertile for crops; but
it is for the most part wilderness and woods wherein there are many deer
and other wild beasts...there is better hunting on this isle than any of
In 1585, outright war erupted in Jura between the
McLeans and the McDonalds of Dunnyveg over disputed lands, which was
followed by such savage clan warfare that one observer wrote
". . . these island men are.
. .very proud, suspicious, avaricious, full of deceit and evil
intention each against his neighbor... they are so cruel in taking of
revenge that neither have they regard to person, age, time or cause•
. . so far addicted to their own tyrannical opinions that, in all
aspects, they excel in cruelty the most barbarous people that ever has
been... ." In 1598, James McDona of Dunnyveg,
under threat of impending attack by the McLeans commanded by Lachian
McLean of Duart, lit a fiery cross on the hills of Islay which summoned
the old McDonald allies to his aid. The Buies of Jura responded and boated
over to Islay. One of the Buies was named Dubhsith, a diminutive man but
an excellent archer. He was described as "a dwarf hatched by the Devil in
Lagg in Jura." Dubhsith apparently had second thoughts about his true
allegience and offered his services to Lachian McLean, but the Duart chief
only laughed at Dubhsith’s physical shortcoming. Infuriated, Dubhsith
returned to the McDonald camp. That afternoon, at Gruainart Bay on Islay,
Lachian McLean led his army toward the McDonald position. Lachian himself
was at the front of his troops and loudly hurled personal insults at James
McDonald. The revengeful Dubhsith took deadly aim with his bow. The arrow
struck Lachian McLean’s heart through a small opening in his armor and his
lifeless body fell to the ground. Confusion swept the McLean’s ranks and
the McDonalds, aided by the Buies, attacked the enemy with their bagpipes
screaming the war song "Spaidsearachd Mhic Dhomhnuill". The demoralized
McLeans were annihilated.
During this time, a legend developed about the Buies of
Jura. There lived in a cave on one of the Paps a forester of the McDonalds
named Ian Buidhe na Faidh or "John Buie of the Deer". John protected a
McPhee (McDuffie) child who lived with him in the cave. Also, at the
nearby settlement of Largiebreac lived the Witch of Jura called Cailleach
a’ Bheinn Mhair. The Cailleach stole the McPhee youth from the cave. When
McPhee attempted to escape the witch threw a ball of magic thread at him.
The twine ensnared the boy and drew him back into the witch’s lair.
Finally, McPhee concealed a hatchet and made a dash for a boat at
Knockbreac. From the Pap ot Beinn a’ Chaolais the Cailleach hurled the
ball of thread at McPhee, but he cut the twine as it wrapped around him
and made good his escape to Kintyre. The loss of the boy angered the witch
and in her madness she began killing the agents of McDonald of Islay as
they crossed over by ferry. In desperation, someone approached a Buie of
Largiebreac and promised him a nearby farm if he would kill her. The
Buie’s son stepped forward and presently he was locked in mortal combat
with the Cailleach. With her supernatural powers, the witch brought the
son to his knees and triumphantly exclaimed "Thou art in extremity, a’
Mhic Mheadh Buidhe". Yet, the youth, gathering strength from his
ancestors, returned "My grandmother, who is on the hither side of Alba, is
here and will come to help me if I be." With these words, young Buie
raised his dirk and plunged it into the Cailleach’s evil heart killing her
instantly. The farm at Largiebreac was handed over and the Buies lived
there for many generations.
At last, in 1607, the McDonalds jurisdiction over the
southern part of Jura came to an end when the Earl of Argyll was granted a
charter. In the ensuing years there were various attempts by the McDonalds
to regain control, but all ended in defeat. The Earl sent Campbells to
Jura as his bailies who were later granted vast acreages. The old McDonald
septs were required to abandon their long—held lands to the Campbells and
recognize these strangers as their landlords. These times were most
unhappy for the Buies.
One group of Buies did not submit to the new order.
Several families, known only as "McDonald Buies", migrated to northeastern
Scotland. Their struggles were described: "Portion of the obstinate Clan
of Macdonald, refusing to surrender to the agents of the Crown, removed to
Forchabers in Banff, and settled on the river Spey at a place called Slach
Bowie" These Buies defended their new lands in the Spey Valley
successfully, even though there was a bounty for them set by the
government. Their main positions were the passes of the Burn of Aldargh
and the Muckle Dramlech. At an early date, a complaint was registered
against John Buie and others for raiding the lands of the sheriff of
Moray. Evidently, they later became allied with the Grants in the area.
Numerous listings of Buies appear in county and parish records of northern
Moray and Banff particularly the towns of Elgin, Dallas, Keith, and
Ruthven. In one of the earliest registers, James Buie married Isobel
Russell on June 28, 1667, at Alves in Moray. A lykewake was held for
Alexander Buie in Elgin in 1737.
In the 17th century, the Buies lived essentially as
resident prisoners in their own land. They had no rights since the
Campbell lords dictated everything. One promising developement was the
re—establishment of religion on the Island which had previously lost
strength during the terrible clan wars. There was a brief Franciscan
effort from Ireland, but by 1640 the Catholic influence had vanished.
Essentially, thereafter, Jura was solidly Presbyterian. From 1632 to 1641,
John Darroch, Glasgow—educated but apparently a native, was minister on
Jura. In 1653, it was written "some people.. .hath been married and
received baptism." The church was located at Kilearnadil. Also, the
ministers made efforts to conduct schools for the Jura children. Despite
such noble advances, the McLeans of North Jura and the Campbells raided
each others territories. In 1620, the McLeans reportedly used mad dogs to
demolish the Campbell’s cattle. No doubt the Buies, tired of destructive
clan fueds, remained neutral during these altercations.
One of the best first—hand accounts of Jura and its
people was recorded by Martin Martin in 1695: "..
.The isle is mountainous along the middle, where there are four
hills of a considerable height...The paps of Jura. They are very
conspicuous from all quarters of sea and land in those parts.
. .The mold is brown and greyish on the coast
and black in the hills which are covered with heath and some grass that
proves good pasturage for their cattle, which are horses, cows, sheep, and
goats. There’s a variety of land and water—fowl here. The hills ordinarily
have about three hundred deer grazing on them. . .
This isle is perhaps the wholesomest plot of ground either in the
isles or the continent of Scotland, as appears by the long life of the
natives. . . There is no epidemical disease that
prevails here. . .none of them are at any time
observed to become mad.. .there was not one woman died of child—bearing
there these 34 years past.. .The inhabitants for their diet make use of
beef and mutton in the winter and spring as also of fish, butter, cheese,
and milk. . . Salmons here are in goodness and
taste far above those of any other river whatever. . .
There is a church here called Killearn. The inhabitants are all
Protestants and observe the festivals of Christmas, Easter, and
Michaelmas.. .The natives are very well proportioned, being generally dark
of complexion, and free from bodily imperfections. They speak the Irish
language and wear the plaid, bonnet, etc. as other Islanders."
Several Jura Buies relocated in neighboring islands
especially Islay and Colonsay. Most of the Islay families resided on the
northern shoreline along the Sound in the Bowmore Parish. Mary Mac’Ilbowie
was a tenant in Machrie on the western Coast in 1733. Several Buies are
listed In the parish records of Kilchoman. The earliest Scottish census in
1841 enumerated Buie families in both Bowrnore and Kilchoman.
According to legend, the first Buie to own land in
Colonsay was rewarded these properties when he saved McNeill of Colonsay
from drowning. After McNeil]. visited a ladyfriend in Islay, he tried to
swim his horse across the sound to Jura, but floundered and Buie of Jura
came to his aid. Eachan Buidhe na Faidh, or Hector Buie of the deer, was
the earliest known Buie from Jura to live on Colonsay. Numerous Buies are
present in the parish records of Colonsay and in the 1841 census. Also the
census mentioned several families on the nearby island of Oronsay.
Another wave of desolation struck Jura during the
Revolution of 1688 when the Presbyterians suffered religious persecutions.
Gilbert Clark, returning to Jura from Ireland after the Battle of the
Boyne in 1690, remarked "but three smokes in a Jura could be seen".
Clark’s wife had been killed. He resettled in Jura and his grandson,
Alexander Clark who married Flora McLean, migrated to North Carolina.
For reasons stated in the next chapter, emigration
began in 1736, thus started a steady depopulation of Jura and its neighbor
islands which has continued to the present day. It should be noted that
the movement to America and, to a lesser extent, Canada, began a full nine
years before the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, therefore in the majority of
cases the people left not because of political retribution or military
In 1745, Charles Edwart Stuart, also known as Bonnie
Prince Charlie, landed in Scotland in an effort to regain the British
throne for the Stuarts. After gathering recruits from the Highland clans,
Prince Charlie invaded England and almost succeeded, however, he
eventually was forced to withdraw back to Scotland. On April 16, 1746. the
English army under the Duke of Cumberland defeated the Scots at Culloden
Moor. Prince Charles fled the country aided by a spirited young lady named
Flora McDonali who disguised the prince as her maid. The result of the
Jacobite defeat was the official disintegration of the clan system by the
British government. All weapons were confiscated. Also, the wearing of the
Highland garb was prohibited. The role of the chief changed from
land—overseer to landlord and his lieutenants, the tacksmen, were required
to now pay full rent. To the poor farmer rents were oppressively high. For
the remainder of the Eighteenth Century, depression and far swept Scotland
Probably no Jura Buies were present at Culloden. Jura
was Campbell territory and the Campbells opposed the Stuart’s attempt. Of
the list of prisoners taken at Culloden, no Buies from Jura were present,
although several were from Aberdeen and the Buie stronghold at Banff.
Perhaps, too, the Jura families had seen too many of their number
slaughtered in the clan wars, and decided to avoid the conflict. However,
they were affected by the Jacobite defeat since they suffered the economic
depression that followed. In 1792, Thomas Pennant toured Jura and wrote
"The very old clan names are the Macilvuys and Macraines." The Macilvuys
were the Buies in Pennant’s anglicized form.
Further misery was applied during the Clearances. The
estate proprietors found it economically advantageous to turn their farms
into grazing lands for sheep or stalking fields for the deer. Rents were
raised so high that the tenants could not afford them. Or, leases were not
renewed. The financial and social gaps between the rich and poor widened.
A devastating famine struck the islands in 1836. As a result, and also
because of the economic plight, many families left for Canada in the
following years. Included in the emigrants were Buies from mainly Colonsay
and Islay. Between 1831 and 1951, the population of Jura, Colonsay, and
Oronsay dropped from 2213 to 496. Today, there are only about 250 persons
living on Jura. The majority are employed on Jura’s four large estates as
farm workers, gamekeepers, gardeners, and tradesmen. Rev. Donald Budge
wrote in 1950 "The people of Jura including the Buies, are intelligent,
healthy and good to look at; they are hospitable and generous, and the
greatest pity is that there are so few of them."
At this time, there are no Buies on Colonsay or Islay.
The last male representative of the family on Colonsay, Murdoch Buie, died
about 1950. The last female Buies were married to MacAllisters; therefore,
the name on Colonsay is extinct.
Many of the islanders have gone to mainland Scotland
and England. Frequently these Buies visit Jura. Others, being excellent
seamen, scattered to the seas and distant lands such as Australia.
Alexander Lamont of Edinburgh, Scotland, a sailor and descendent of the
Jura Buies, once stated that in travels all over the world, he never met a
Buie who did not trace back origins to Islay or Jura.
There are two families presently living on Jura with
the name Buie. The minister Rev. Peter Youngson, describes them "Dougald
Buie of Craighouse is a man of about 55 and also an elder of the Kirk and
my session clerk. He is a joiner to trade and descended from a long line
of joiners and boatbuilders. He has a clear connection wIth the
Largiebreac families. Dougie has a son, Duncan, aged about 30, living in
Jura. Alexander "Sandy" Buie of Knockchrome, aged about 73, is a crofter
and elder of the Kirk. Sandy has two daughters, one of whom is married and
lives here and is carrying on the croft. Descended from at least six
generations of Buies in his own community, Alexander Buie is a wise and
deep man with a rich vocabulary in English and Gaelic."
Migration to America
Conditions had grown nearly miserable for the Buies of
Jura as the fourth decade of the Eighteenth Century closed. Essentially,
the clan system on the western islands of Scotland was finished, since the
Earl of Argyll and his Campbell baillies controlled the local governments.
The Campbell lairds had no use for the tenant—farmer and could make more
profit by leasing the land for pasture or create large deer hunting
estates. Consequently the rents soared to unpayable levels. Also, the
tacksman, a form of sub—leaser in some areas, was eliminated so the
landlord could exploit the tenants to whatever degree he desired. As a
result of these economic perils, crime became prevalent. Thievery and
vandalism wem common. The Buies had no means of protection except through
their despised landlords. moreover, another factor was overpopulation. One
person noted "a half—starved ilighiand woman frequently bears more than
Reports from America, especially North Carolina, told
of fertile land which an individual could actually own. Donald Campbell of
Jura wrote to his friend Collin Shaw in North Carolina, "I find by your
letter to Neill McArthur that you are in a good way of living." Mary Clark
of Islay begged her father in North Carolina,"... now if you could write
me and send me some way or another what would help me go over myself, my
husband, and five children, as I would fain wish to go where you are if I
could, and if you are so well off as what I am informed you would not miss
much would you take us there." Alexander Brown of Islay wrote his cousin,
Neill Brown the son of Hugh Brown and Mary Buie, "...
when people come to age in this country (they) always come to
poverty, which makes me willing to leave it because of my children
... we are under bondage in this part of the
world." An anonyomous pamphlet circulated in Islay voiced,
.. ." the Highlander should seek help for refuge
in some happier land, on some more hospitable shore, where freedom reigns
and where, unmolested by taskmasters, they may reap the produce of their
own labor and industry."
One of the first to leave Jura for North Carolina was
Alexander Clark in 1736. He paid the passage of many poor immigrants, and
provided them employment until the debt was repaid. A large group left the
Hebrides in 1739 carrying many emigrant from Jura including Archibald Buie
and also probably Daniel Buie and others. Betwe 1747 and 1750 Baliol of
Jura ran a vessel regularly from there to Wilmington, each ship packed
with Highlanders filled with hope. A ship from Jura landed in Brunswick in
1767 with fifty Scotch settlers. In 1771 a magazine reported, "upwards of
500 souls from Islay and the adjacent islands, prepare to migrate next
year to Arnerica. Another boat left Jura in 1774. The exodus halted during
the American Revolution, but resumed at the restoration of peace. In 1792
Rev. Francis Stewart of Jura stated "Emigrations to America have proved
once and again a drain to this island."
The earlier emigrant groups were organized by tacksmen.
The Highlanders sold their stock and farm implements for funds some of
which was paid to the tacksman as a down payment. The tacksman then
contracted a shipowner to provide the vessel, food, water, and
accomodations. After the Revolution commercial ship companies arranged for
As the Scots left Jura, they took one last look at the
Paps. Each would pick up a stone and collectively erect a mound known as a
cairn. The pile of stones was a monument to their homeland signifying that
the memory of their island friends and relatives would never fade. And, as
they boarded the waiting ship, the emigrants would turn tearfully and bid
farewell to their relatives and friends, "Cuiridh mi clach ‘nad charn"
meaning that upon arrival in North Carolina "I will add a stone to your
Conditions on the trip were terrible. The Scots were
placed in filthy, unventilated, crowded compartments below deck. Meals
were composed of spoiled pork, mouldy bread or raw oatmeal. The water was
often brackish. Death, particularly among the children, was common. The
ships captains and crews were mostly indifferent to the sufferings of the
One traditional story handed down by several
generations of Buies states that their forefathers were part of a large
group of about 300 Scots who either purchased an old ship or used a
tacksman to contract one. The overcrowded vessel stopped briefly on the
coast of Northern Ireland for supplies then launched for America. The trip
was long and difficult. Food and water became scarce. Several of the
people went mad and jumped overboard. Finally, the ship arrived in North
Carolina but during a storm the vessel wrecked or ran aground at the mouth
of the Cape Fear. The starved survivors of the voyage disembarked to
begin their new life. This story may be a personal account of the 1739
Scots remaining in Jura watched sorrowfully as ship
after ship left the island’s shores carrying old friends and beloved
kinfolk to America. One who stayed, Duncan Campbell of Ardmenish, wrote
Collin Shaw in North Carolina in 1764, "I desire that you mind me kindlt
to the Jura people who were my good neighbors. My wife and I join in our
compliments to you and your sister, to Hugh McLean and his family, Malcolm
Buie and his family, Archibald Buie/Smith and his family, Alexander Clark
and his family, Donald Peterson, and all the McCrains and tell them I am
very well and want to hear the same account of them." Then, in a nostalgic
tone, perhaps fondly remembering old friendships, he closed, "And tell
them I have killed a deer this same year on the moors of Tarbert."
Life in North Carolina
In September of 1739, a large group of 350 Highland
Scots arrived in Wilmington, North Caolina, under the leadership of Duncan
Campbell, Dugald MeNeill, Coil McAllister, Daniel McNeill, and Neill
McNeill. Among the colonists was the family of Archibald Buie, the first
documented Buies to set foot in the New World. In June, 1740, Archibald
was granted 320 acres on the southwest side of the northwest branch of the
Cape Fear River opposite the mouth of a stream which would soon be named
Buies Creek. Malcolm Fowler contended that Daniel Buie was also a member
of this group. Buies Creek branches into three streams coursing northward
with the left, center, and right forks known as Archibald Buies Creek,
Daniel Buies Creek and Hugh McCranies Creek.
Very few records of Buies’ arrivals in North Carolina
survive resulting in dependence upon sometimes unreliable family
tradition. As mentioned, Archibald and Daniel Buie were the first settlers
in 1739. There were probably more Buies in this group since only 22 of the
350 persons received land grants. Angus Wilton McLean stated that Neill
McNeill of Jura disembarked at Wilmington with 1500 settlers in 1746 among
whom were McNeills, McMillans, Clarks, Kellys, Ballentines, Buies, and
others. Some of these families followed Neill McNeill into the Brown Marsh
area of Bladen County. In November of 1767, a ship from Argylishire landed
at Brunswick with 50 people from Jura including McDougalds, McLeans,
Buies, Campbeils, Clarks, Sinclairs, and Darrochs. Some of the Buie
families relate that their ancestors arrived from Scotland with Buies, but
by mistake landed in Virginia and had to travel to North Carolina. Indeed,
there is record of a shipload of Scots being left in Virginia in 1769 and
the Virginia legislature had to provide food and transportation to North
Carolina. In 1775 a Mary "Bowie" arrived in North Carolina from Scotland.
Miss Kate Power, in her discussion of the Smylie family, asserted that
James Smylie and Jane (Watson) Smylie left Argylishire, Scotland and
reached North Carolina in early 1776 along with families of McNairs,
Buies, Watsons, and others connected by marriage with the Smylies. Mrs.
Kate McGeachey Buie wrote that Malcolm Buie of Robeson County came over
with his three brothers, but did not state if any others accompanied them,
nor did she mention the date. One can conclude that several families of
Buies came over in 1739 and 1767 and a few others probably migrated in
When Archibald Buie set foot on colonial North Carolina
soil at Wilmington in 1739, he faced numerous challenges. His only
possessions were the clothes on his back and the small articles he and his
family could carry. Although he had a limited knowledge of the English
language, the Scot felt definitely more comfortable conversing in his
native Gaelic. The land and the climate were different and he knew that
adaptation would be necessary in order to make a living and provid for his
family. But not everything was an adversity. His friends from Jura
— the McCraines, the Clarks, the McDougalds, and
the rest — were with him and would endure the
same hardships. And the government was with him, for in February, 1740,
"as an encouragtnent to Protestants to remove from Europe to this
Province", the Colonial Council exempted persons arriving in groups of’
forty or more from paying any public or county tax for ten years.
After the landing, Archibald and his family boarded
small pole boats or long boats and made their way up the Cape Fear River
for about 100 miles. The journey lasted over a week. Archibald finally
found the place he wanted where bottom land faced the Cape Fear near the
mouth of a small stream. Archibald returned to Wilmington with his family
in early June, 1740, and presented his petition for land grant to the
Colonial Council, and after payment of fees, he received the title to 320
acres on the southwest side of the Cape Fear in the vacinity of what would
be later called Buies Creek.
The same procedure would be followed by the other Buies
who later came to the Cape Fear region; however, for convenience, they
would be allowed to deliver their requests for grants at County courts
rather than be compelled to travel to the council. Archibald was granted
200 more acres on the north side of the Cape Fear in 1746. Duncan and
Gilbert Bule received their grants in 1750. Archibald Buie, Jr. was
presented 200 acres on the Cape Fear in 1754. By 1755 Archibald Buie,
Duncan Buie, Gilbert Buie, Daniel Buie, and Archibald Bule, Jr. were all
labdowners and listed on the Cumberland County tax list. In 1755,
Archibald Buie the Piper bought 91 acres on the northeast side of the Cape
Fear from Archibald McDonald. The Buies continued to acquire land by grant
and purchase and in 1767 the tax rolls of Cumberland included Archibald
Buie, Malcolm Buie, Archibald Buie, Junior, Daniel Buie, Gilbert Buie,
John Buie, Duncan Buie, and Archibald Buie the Piper.
Not all of the early Scots owned land. Some could not
pay the land grant fees. Many were indentured servants and spent years
paying back others for financing their voyage. The poor frequently became
tenant farmers and paid their landlords portions of their yearly crop and
stock increases. Still others, not wanting to pay taxes, simply became
squatters and did not bother to apply for grants or register their lands.
Neill Buie was one of the unfortunates who did not have
enough money to purchase land or pay the grant fee. He farmed as a tenant.
When Neill died in 1761, he could give his children only a small modicum
of money and a few cows and hogs. His personal possessions included a pair
of stockings and garters, a jacket, gloves, blankets, a razor and a knife,
and a few other items of bare necessity. Old Daniel Buie, a man of
slightly better means, owned a plaid cloak in 1764 which represents the
last known article of Highland garb worn by an early Buie in North
Carolina. The Scots seemed eager to break with their unfortunate past.
There is no documented proof that the Buies of North Carolina expressed
any allegiance to the McDonalds or tried to preserve the clan system. A
landowner, Archibald Buie, Jr., in 1775 owned several slaves in addition
to horses, cattle, hogs, and sheep.
Several Buies turned to other occupations to supplement
their income from agriculture and animal husbandry. John Buie, a weaver,
bought land on the Cape Fear in 1763 near Archibald Buie, a blacksmith.
Malcolm Buie was liscenced to keep a tavern near Cross Creek in 1775. The
1777 Cumberland County tax list included Archibald Buie, shoemaker, and
Duncan Buie, tailor. Another Buie used a talent learned in his youth on
Jura. He played the bagpipes for his Highlander friends at their
ceremonies and social gatherings and was appropriately known as Archibald
Buie the Piper.
"Piper Archie" first lived on the Cape Fear and later
in the Barbeque area. Piper Archie never married and went blind in his old
age. When he became lost in woods and swamps he just sat down on a log and
wailed away on his pipes until someone found him and led the aged,
bow—legged fellow to his destination. In 1759, Archie’s neighbor Niall
Ruadh or Big Red Neill McNeill fell ill with swamp fever at Smylie’s Falls
on the Cape Fear. Archie visited his old friend and droned on the pipes
hoping their tones would perk old Niall Ruadh up, but after awhile, Red
asked Archie to fell a tree for him. While Archie played on, the giant
Scotchman took the log and carved himself a coffin while uttering ancient
prayers in Gaelic, "Is a Dia fein a’s buachaill dhamh cho bhi ml ann an
dith..." As he weakened and the end drew near, Red motioned to Piper
Archie and told him "Bury me across the river on the brow of Smylie’s Hill
where it faces west. When ye ha’e buried me, speed me on my way wi’ a
skirlin’ o’ the pipes." In a few moments, Niall Ruadh had passed on to
join his ancestors in the New Caledonia. Piper Archie placed his friends
body in the coffin, but the river was swelling from rains and he couldn’t
get it across, so he dug a shallow grave, lowered his friend below,
covered the hole with dirt and played the McNeill lament. Years later
during the Civil War, decades after Piper Archie’s death, a rain deluge
hit the Cape Fear Valley while Sherman’s Yankees marched and fought at
Averasboro. After the waters receded, a gum log coffin was found
containing the red—bearded skeleton of a huge man. The news reached
Alexander "Sandy" Buie up the river and he rushed to the scene with his
coon dog Beauregard. Sandy had heard the story of Red’s desire to be
buried across the river and now he obliged the wish. The body was buried
on the brow of Smylie’s Hill. The story didn’t end here, though, for even
today when the mists rise from the river and the cypress swamps near
Smylie’s Hill, one can hear the low moan of bagpipes and barely see the
ghostly spectre of bow—legged, little Archie Buie playing for a dancing
giant apparition with curly red hair and beard.
Beginning in 1755, when Duncan Buie was granted 100
acres of land on the "forks of Barbeque", there was a movement of Buies
from the Cape Fear westward along Upper Little River to the Barbeque Creek
and Cranes Creek area. Gilbert Buie moved to Barbeque in 1763 and Malcolm
and Daniel Buie settled on Upper Little River in 1765. Ultimately, by
1777, the vast majority of the Buies were on Barbequ Upper Little River,
Cranes Creek, or Jumping Run. Jurisdictional boundaries had changed also.
Cumberland County was formed from Bladen in 1754 and the new county seat
was at Cross Creek. In 1784, Moore County would be carved from western
Cumberland and changed the county residencies of several of the Buie
Since 1741, the Presbytery of Inverary had been
interested in establishing the church among the North Carolina "Argyll
Colony". Finally in 1755 the Synod of Philadelphia sent Rev. Hugh McAden,
who could not speak Gaelic, to North Carolina on horseback to the Scots.
After preaching to a group of Highianders at "Bluff" Hector McNeill’s home
he wrote "the people understood scarcely a word I said
— the poorest singers I ever heard in all my life." A few days
later McAden held a service at Alexander McKay’s home on the western
frontier of the Scotch settlements and preached "to a small congregation
mostly of Highianders, who were very much obliged to me for coming, and
highly pleased with my discourse. Though alas, I am afraid it was all
feigned and hypocritical". After the service the Scots remained around the
house all night, drinking and cursing, and kept poor McAden awake. Maybe
Archie Buie was there spurring on the festivities with his shrieking
The language barrier was real. As early as 1739 some of
the "Argyll Colony" leaders had requested "a clergyman who can speak the
Highland language since... many cannot speak any other language". A
well—to—do Scotswoman disembarked from a ship in Wilmington and overheard
two men conversing in Gaelic. Turning around, she was horrified to
discover they were negroes. Another friendly black lady greet her with
"Ceud mile failte" meaning "one hundred—thousand welcomes". The Scotswoman
initally reeled in horror because she concluded that her predecessor
Highlanders had turned dark—skinned because of the Carolina climate.
Apparently, however, even the slaves spoke Gaelic.
In 1756, Rev. James Campbell, a Gaelic—speaking
Presbyterian minister, settle on the Cape Fear opposite "the Bluff". On
October 18, 1758, several men, includin Archibald Buie, contracted Rev.
Campbell to preach to the Scotch settlers. He dutifully ministered for
many years at first in the homes of Roger McNeill and Alexander McKay on
alternate Sundays. In 1758 he began preaching at John Dobbin’s house on
Barbeque Creek. Finally, in 1765, a log church was built near the Dobbin’s
house known as Barbeque Church and the first elders were Gilbert Clark,
Duncan Buie, Archibald Buie of Gum Swamp, and Daniel Cameron. These men,
nourished by the Sermons at the old Jura church at Kilearnadil, were so
knowledgeable of doctrine that they were known as "the Little Ministers of
Barbeque". The church historian Rev. James D. MacKenzie described the
worship at Barbeque: "The building had no chimney, for the worshippers
inside did not believe in being comfortable in church. There was no piano
or organ there, for they did not believe in using instrumental music in
the worship of God. Nor were there hymnbooks. They didn’t believe in hymns
either. Their hymnbook was the Bible, and they sang the Psalms of David
which had long before been rendered in verse form and set to music. There
was no carpet down the center aisle and no upholstered pulpit furniture.
But the love of God was there, and this was sufficient for them." And, of
course, much to the satisfaction of the members, Rev. Campbell would fill
their hearts with sermons preached in their beloved Gaelic tongue.
The Presbyterian Church was the central axis for the
early Buies of North Carolina around which all facets of life revolved.
The highlight of a parent’s life was when a son or daughter was baptized.
All marriages were performed by Presbyterian ministers mostly in homes.
Frequently, the Scots willed considerable amounts of money to the church.
One person left $300 to a church the interest of which would be paid
annually to the pastor so long as "Sound old Presbyterian doctrine is
there preached". The Scots, especiallyat Barbeque, knew the scriptures
thoroughly. When Rev. John McLeod, a noted minister educated in Scotland,
attempted to deliver an eloquent sermon, several of the members
interrupted his delivery to argue with him about several points of
doctrine, prompting him to say, "I would rather preach to the most
fashionable congregation in Edinburgh than to the little critical carls
(or boors) of Barbeque."
William Buie was a charter elder of the Buffalo Church
in Moore County in 1797, and Neill Buie, Sr. was a charter elder of the
MacPherson Presbyterian ‘Church west of Fayetteville in 1802. Rev.
Archibald Buie, son of Archibald Buie of Gum Swamp, was licensed to preach
by the Orange Presbytery in 1811 and served many congregations in
Cumberland County including Barbeque, and helped organize the Antioch
Church in Robeson County in 1833. The descendents of Malcolm Buie were
leaders at the Philadeiphus Church in Robeson. Conclusively, the Buies
were devoted and active members of the Presbyterian Church of North
Unfortunately, many of the early Buies of North
Carolina were illiterate. Poor Neil Buie could only sign his name with an
"X" in 1761. To help alleviate the problem, the ministers conducted
classes for the children. Later, private Schools were introduced. Duncan
Buie of Robeson County specified in his will that some land should be
rented out and the income applied to the education of his daughter. After
a few years, as a result of these efforts, nearly all of the Buies could
read and write.
When the large group of Buies landed at Brunswick in
1767, they first took up land on Upper Little River. However, beginning in
1771, most of these Buies eventually moved to the Beaver Creek and
Rockfish Creek areas west of Fayetteville. Also, Malcolm Buie and his wife
Ann moved from the Upper Cape Fear area to Robeson County as early as 1767
and settled near Richland Swamp. Nevertheless, in the 1770’s, the
rnajority of the Buies still lived along Barbeque and Crane’s Creeks and
Upper Little River.
The first recorded participation by a Buie in military
service was in 1771 when Neil Buie of Cumberland County enlisted in the
militia under Captain Farquard Campbell. This call to arms was in response
to the menace of the Regulators, Piedmont farmers who revolted against the
colonial government. At the Battle of the Alamance in May, 1771, the
Regulators were defeated and peace was restored. The battle was fought
only a week after Neil enlisted and it is not known whetherhe saw action
in the conflict.
The famous Flora McDonald arrived at the Barbeque area
in 1775 along with her husband Allan and their children. Flora had helped
Prince Charles escape from capture after Culloden in 1746. For her part in
the event, Flora was arrested and taken to London to be tried for treason,
but through the influence of several frie she was released. Flora returned
to Skye where she married Allan McDonald. Later in 1775, because of high
rents, the McDonalds emigrated.
Duncan Buie sold 100 acres on the south prong of
Barbeque to Alexander McDonald in 1772. Alexander was the husband of
Annabella, a half—sister of Flora McDonald. This land, later to be known
as Camerons Hill, was attractive to Allan and Flora, they lived nearby for
a time. They attended Barbeque Church where they became acquainted with
the Buies. Already, however, there were political storm clouds gathering
which would eventuate in the disintegration of this brief friendship and
the chaotic division of the Barbeque area by community civil war. In April
of 1777 the American Revolution, also known as the War for Independence,
More can be read of the Buie's at the Odom Library.