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MacGregor


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Claiming a regal origin, their motto anciently was, "My race is royal". Griogar, said to have been the third son of Alpin, king of Scotland, who commenced his reign in 833, is mentioned as their remote ancestor, but it is impossible to trace their descent from any such personage, or from his eldest brother, Kenneth Macalpine, from whom they also claim to be sprung.

According to Buchanan of Auchmar, the clan Gregor were located in Glenorchy as early as the reign of Malcolm Canmore (1057-1093). As, however, they were in the reign of Alexander II, (1214-1249) vassals of the Earl of Ross, Skene thinks it probable that Glenorchy was given to them, when that monarch conferred a large extent of territory on that potent noble. Hugh of Glenorchy appears to have been the first of their chiefs who was so styled. Malcolm, the chief of the clan in the days of Bruce, fought bravely on the national side at the battle of Bannockburn. He accompanied Edward Bruce to Ireland, and being severely wounded at Dundalk, he was ever afterwards know as "the lame lord".

In the reign of David II, the Campbells managed to procure a legal title to the lands of Glenorchy; nevertheless, the Macgregors maintained, for a long time, the actual possession of them by the strong hand. They knew no other right than that of the sword, but ultimately that was found unavailing, and at last, expelled from their own territory they became an outlawed, lawless and landless clan.

John Macgregor of Glenorchy, who died in 1390, is said to have had three sons; Patrick, his successor’ John Dow, ancestor of the family of Glenstrae, who became the chief of the clan; and Greogor, ancestor of the Macgregors of Roro. Patrick’s son, Malcolm, was compelled by the Campbells to sell the lands of Auchinrevach in Strathfillan to Campbell of Glenorchy, who thus obtained the first footing in Breadalbane, which afterwards gave the title of earl to his family.

The principle families of the Macgregors, in process of time, except that of Glenstrae, who held that estate as vassals of the Earl of Argyll, found themselves reduced to the position of tenants on the lands of Campbell of Glenorchy and other powerful barons. It being the policy of the latter to get rid of them altogether, the unfortunate clan was driven, by a continuous system of oppression and annoyance, to acts of rapine and violence, which brought upon them the vengeance of the government. The clan had no other means of subsistence than the plunder of their neighbours’ property, and as they naturally directed their attacks chiefly against those who had wrested from them their own lands, it became still more the interest of their oppressors to represent to the king that nothing could put a stop to their lawless conduct, "save the cutting off the tribe of Macgregor root and branch". In 1488, soon after the youthful James IV had ascended the throne which the murder of his father had rendered vacant, an act was passed "for staunching of thiftreif and other enormities throw all the realme"; evidently designed against the Macgregors, for among the barons to whom power was given for enforcing it, were Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy, Neil Stewart of Fortingall, and Ewin Campbell of Strachur. At this time the Macgregors were still a numerous clan. Besides those in Glenorchy, they were settled in great numbers in the districts of Breadalbane and Athol, and they all acknowledged Macgregor of Glenstrae, who bore the title of captain of the clan, as their chief.

With the view of reducing these branches Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy obtained in 1492, the office of bailiary of the crown lands of Disher and Toyer, Glenlyon, and Glendochart, and in 1502 he procured a charter of the lands of Glenlyon. "From this period", says Mr Skene, "the history of the Macgregors consists of a mere list of acts of privy council, by which commissions are granted to pursue the clan with fire and sword, and of various atrocities which a state of desperation, the natural result of these measures, as well as a deep spirit of vengeance, against both the farmers and executors of them, frequently led the clan to commit. These actions led to the enactment of still severer laws, and at length to the complete proscription of the clan""

But still the Macgregors were not subdued. Taking refuge in their mountain fastness, they set at defiance all the efforts made by their enemies for their entire extermination, and inflicted upon some of them a terrible vengeance. In 1589 they seized and murdered John Drummond of Drummond Ernoch, a forester of the royal forest of Glenartney, an act which forms the foundation of the incident detailed in Sir Walter Scott’s "Legend of Montrose". The clan swore upon the head of the victim that they would avow and defend the deed in common. An outrage like this led at once to the most rigorous proceedings on the part of the crown. Fresh letters of fire and sword for three years were issued against the whole clan, and all persons were interdicted from harbouring or having any communication with them. Then followed the conflict of Glenfruin in 1603, when the Macgregors, under Alexander Macgregor of Glenstrae, their chief, defeated the Colquhouns, under the laird of Luss, and 140 of the latter were killed. (Details of this celebrated clan battle can be read in the Clan Colquhoun pages). Duglad Ciar Mohr, ancestor of Rob Roy, is said on this occasion to have exhibited extraordinary ferocity and courage.

In relation to the betrayal and melancholy end of the unfortunate chief, Alexander, Macgregor of Glenstrae, there is the following entry in the MS diary of Robert Birrell: "The 2 of October (1603) Allester M’Gregour Glainstre tane be the laird of Arkynles, bot escapit againe; but efter, taken be the Earle of Argyill the 4 of Januar; and brocht to Edinburghe the 9 of Januar 1604, with mae of 18 his friendis, M’Gregouris. He was convoyit to Berwick be the gaird, conforme to the earlis promese; for he promesit to put him out or Scttis grund/ Swa he keipit ane Hieland-manis promes; in respect he send the gaird to convoy him out of Scottis grund. But thai wer not directit to pairt with him back agane! The 18 of Januar, at evine, he come agane to Edinburghe; and upone the 20 day, he was hangit at the croce, and ij (eleven) of his freindis and name, upone ane gallows: Himselff, being chieff, he was hangit his awin hicht above the rest of his friendis". That Argyll had an interest in his death appears from a declaration, printed in Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials, which the chief made before his execution, wherein he says that the earl had enticed him to commit several slaughters and disorders, and had endeavoured to prevail upon him to commit "sundrie mair".

Among other severe measures passed against this doomed clan was one which deprived them of their very name. By an act of the privy council, dated 3d April 1603, all of the name of Macgregor were compelled, on pain of death, to adopt another surname, and all who had been engaged at the battle of Glenfruin, and other marauding expeditions detailed in the act, were prohibited, also under pain of death, from carrying any weapon but a knife without a point to cut their victuals. They were also forbidden, under the same penalty of death, to meet in greater numbers that four at a time. The Earls of Argyll and Athole were charged with the execution of these enactments, and it has been shown how the former carried out the task assigned to him. With regard to the ill-fated chief so trechously "done to death" by him, the following interesting tradition is related: His son, while out hunting one day, met the young laird of Lamond travelling with a servant from Cowal towards Inverlochy. They dined together at a house on the Blackmount, between Tyndrum and King’s House, but having unfortunately quarrelled during the evening, dirks were drawn, and the young Macgregor was killed. Lamond instantly fled, and was closely pursued by some of the clan Gregor. Outstripping his foes, he reached the house of the chief of Glenstrae, whom he besought earnestly, without stating his crime, to afford him protection. "You are safe with me", said the chief, "ahtever you may have done". On the pursuers arriving, they informed the unfortunate father of what had occurred, and demanded the murderer; but Macgregor refused to deliver him up, as he had passed his word to protect him. "Let none of you dare to injure the man", he exlaimed; "Macgregor has promised him safety", and, as I live, he shall be safe while with me". He afterwards, with a party of his clan, escorted the youth home; and, on bidding him farewell, said, "Lamond, you are now safe on your own land. I cannot, and I will not protect you farther! Keep away from my people, and may God forgive you for what you have done!". Shortly afterwards the name of Macgregor was proscribed, and the chief of Glenstrae became a wanderer without a name or a home. But the laird of Lamond, remembering that he owed his life to him, hastened to protect the old chief and his family, and not only received the fugitives into his house, but shielded them for a time from their enemies.

Logan states, that on the death of Alexander, the executed chief, without surviving lawful issue, the clan, then in a state of disorder, elected a chief, but the head of the collateral branch, deeming Gregor, the natural son of the late chief, better entitled to the honour, without ceremony dragged the chief-elect from his inaugural chair in the kirk of Strathfillan, and placed Gregor therein in his stead.

The favourite names assumed by the clan while compelled to relinquish their own, were Campbell, Graham, Stewart, and Drummond. Their unity as a clan remained unbroken, and they even seemed to increase in numbers, notwithstanding all the oppresive proceedings directed against them. These did not cease with the reign of James VI, for under Charles I all the enactments against them were renewed, and yet in 1644, when the Marquis of Montrose set up the king’s standard in the Highlands, the clan Gregor, to the number of 1000 fighting men, joined him, under the command of Patrick Macgregor of Glenstrae, their chief. In reward for their loyalty, at the Restoration the various statutes against them were annulled, when the clan men were enabled to resume their own name. In the reign of William III however, the penal enactments against them were renewed in their full force. The clan were again proscribed, and compelled once more to take other names.

According to Buchanan of Auchmar, the direct male line of the chiefs became extinct in the reign of the latter monarch, and the representation fell, by "formal renunciation of chiefship", into the branch of Glengyle. Of this branch was the celebrated Rob Roy, that is, Red Rob, who assumed the name of Campbell under the proscriptive act.

Rob Roy was born about 1660, he was the younger son of Donald Macgregor of Glengyle, a lieutenant-colonel in the service of King James VII, by his wife, the daughter of William Campbell of Glenfalloch, the third son of Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy. Rob Roy himself married Helen-Mary, the daughter of Macgregor of Cromar. His own designation was that of Inversnaid, but he seems to have acquired a right to the property of Craig Royston, a domain of rock and forest lying on the east side of Loch Lommond. He became tutor to his nephew, the head of the Glengyle branch, then in his minority, who claimed the chiefship of the clan.

Like many other Highland gentlemen, Rob Roy was a trader in cattle or master drover, and in this capacity he had borrowed several sums of money from the Duke of Montrose, but becoming insolvent, he absconded. In June 1712 an advertisement appeared for his apprehension, and he was involved in prosecutions which nearly ruined him. Some messengers of the law who visited his house in his absence are said to have abused his wife in a most shameful manner, and she, being a high-spirited woman, incited her husband to acts of vengeance. At the same time, she gave vent to her feelings in a fine piece of pipe music, still well known by the name of "Rob Roy’s Lament". As the duke had contrived to get possession of Rob’s lands of Craig Royston, he was driven to become the "bold outlaw" which he is represted in song and story.

"Determined", says General Stewart of Garth, "that his grace should not enjoy his lands with impunity, he collected a band of about twenty followers, declared open war against him, and gave up his old course of regular droving, declaring that the estate of Montrose should in future supply him with cattle, and that he would make the duke rue the day he quarelled with him. He kept his word; and for nearly thirty years – that is, till the day of his death – regularly levied contributions on the duke and his tenants, not by nightly depredations, but in broad day, and in a systematic manner; on an appointed time making a complete sweep of call the cattle of a district – always passing over those not belonging to the duke’s estates, or the estate of his friends and adherents; and having previously given notice where he was to be on a certain day with his cattle, he was met there by people from all parts of the country, to whom he sold them publically. These meetings, or trysts, as they were called, were held in different parts of the country; sometimes the cattle were driven south, but oftener to the north and west, where the influence of his friend the Duke of Argyll protected him. When the cattle were in this manner driven away, the tenants paid no rent, so that the duke was the ultimate sufferer.

Loch Katrine (119277 bytes)
Loch Katrine, with the SS Sir Walter Scott steaming up the Loch. The landscape that inspired Sir Walter Scott to write "The Lady of the Lake". Looking over clan lands of MacGregors, MacNaughton, MacLaren & Drummond. copyright Scottish Panoramic

But he was made to suffer in every way. The rents of the lower farms were partly paid in grain and meal, which was generally lodged in a storehouse or granery, called a girnal, near the Loch of Monteath. When Macgregor wanted a supply of meal, he sent notice to a certain number of the duke’s tenants to meet him at the girnal on a certain day, with their horses to carry home his meal. They met accordingly, when he ordered the horses to be loaded and giving a regular receipt to his grace’s storekeeper for the quantity taken, he marched away always entertaining the people very handsomely, and careful never to take the meal till it had been lodged in the duke’s storehouse in payment of rent. When the money rents were paid, Macgregor frequently attended. On one occasion, when Mr Graham of Killearn, the factor, had collected the tenants to pay their rents, all Rob Roy’s men happened to be absent, except Alexander Stewart, called ‘the bailie’. With this single attendanthe descended to Chapel Errock, where the factor and the tenants were assembled. He reached the house after it was dark, and looking in at a window, saw Killearn, surrounded by a number of the tenants, with a bag full of money which he had received, and was in the act of deposting it in a press or cupboard, at the same time saying that he would cheerfully give all that he had in the bag for Rob Roy’s head. This notification was not lost on the outside visitor, who instantly gave orders in a loud voice to place two men at each window, two at each corner, and four at each of two doors, thus appearing to have twenty men. Immediately the door opened, and he walked in with his attendant close behind, each armed with a sword inhis right hand and a pistol in his left hand, and with dirks and a pistol slung in their belts. The company started up, but he desired them to sit down, as his business was only with Killearn, whom he ordered to hand down the bag and put it on the table. When this was done, he desired the money to be counted, and proper receipts to be drawn out, certifying that he received the money from the Duke of Montrose’s agent, as the duke’s property, the tennants having paid their rents, so that no after demand could be made on them on account of this transaction; and finding that some of the people had not obtained receipts, he desired the factor to grant them immediately, ‘to show his grace’, said he, ‘that it is from him I take the money, and not from these honest men who have paid him’. After the whole was concluded, he ordered supper, saying that as he had got the purse, it was proper he should pay the bill; and after they had drunk heartily together for several hours, he called his bailie to produce his dirk, and lay it naked on the table. Killearn was then sworn that he would not move, nor direct any one else to move from that spot for an hour after departure of Macgregor, who this cautioned him – ‘If you break your oath, you know what you are to expect in the next world, and in this’, pointing to his dirk. He then walked away, and was beyond pursuit before the hour expired.

At the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715, in spite of the obligations which he owed to the indirect protection of the Duke of Argyll, Rob Roy’s Jacobite partialities induced him to join the rebel forces under the Earl of Mar.

On this occasion none of the Clan Gregor, except the sept of Ciar Mohr, to which Rob Roy belonged, took up arms for the Chevalier, though they were joined by connexions of the family, and among others by Leckie of CroyLechie, a large landed proprietor in Dumbatonshire, who had married a daughter of Donald M’Gregor, by his wife the daughter of Campbell of Glenfalloch, and who was thus the brother-in-law of Rob Roy. "They were not" says Sir Walter Scott", commanded by Rob Roy, but by his nephew already mentioned, Gregor Macgregor, otherwise called James Grahame of Glengyle, and still better remembered by the Gaelic epithet of Ghlune Dhu i.e. Black Knee, from a black spot on one of his knees, which his Highland garb rendered visible. There can be no question however that being then very young, Glengyle must have acted on most occasions by the advice and direction of so experienced a leader as his uncle. The Macgregors assembled in numbers at that period, and began even to threaten the lowlands towards the lower extremity of Loch Lommond.

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Loch Lomond looking north.The west bank home of Clan Colquhoun
& Clan MacFarlane.The east bank the home of Clan Buchanan.
copyright Scottish Panoramic

They suddenly seized all the boats which were upon the lake and probably with a view to some enterprise of their own, drew them overland to Inversnaid, in order to intercept the progress of a large body of west country whigs who were in arms for the government and moving in that direction. The whigs made an excursion for the recovery of the boats. Their forces consisted of volunteers from Paisley, Kilpatrick and elsewhere who with the assistance of a body of seamen, were towed up the river Leven in long boats belonging to the ships of war then lying in the Clyde. At Luss, they were joined by the forces of Sir Humphry Colquhoun, and James Grant, his son-in-law, with their followers, attired in the Highland dress of the period, which is picturesquely described. The whole party crossed to Craig Royston, but the Macgregors did not offer combat. If we were to believe the account of the expedition given by the historian Rae, they leaped onshore at Craig Royston with the utmost intrepidity, no enemy appearing to oppose them, and by the noise of their drums, which they beat incessantly, and the discharge of their artillery and small arms, terrified the Macgregors whom they appear never to have seen, out of their fastness and caused them to fly in a panic to the general camp of the Highlanders at Stathfillan. The low-countrymen succeeded in getting possession of the boats, at a great expenditure of noise and courage and little risk of danger.

"After this temporary removal from his old haunts, Rob Roy was sent by the Earl of Mar to Aberdeen to raise it is believed a part of the clan Gregor, which settled in that country. These men were of his own family (the race of the Ciar Mohr). They were the descendants of about three humdred Macgregors whom the Earl of Moray, about the year 1624, transported from his estates in Monteith to oppose against his enemies the Mackintoshes, a race as hardy and restless as they were themselves. We have already stated that Rob Roy’s conduct during the insurrection of 1715 was very equivocal. His person and followers were in the Highland army, but his heart seems to have been with the Duke of Argyll’s. Yet the insurgents were constrained to trust to him as their only guide, when they marched from Perth towards Dunblane, with the view of crossing the Forth at what are called the Fords of Frew, and when they themselves said he could not be relied upon.

"This movement to the westward, on the part of the insurgents, brought on the battle of Sheriffmuir; indecisive indeed in its immediate results, but of which the Duke of Argyll repaed the whole advantage". We have already given an account of Rob Roy's vacillating behaviour at this battle. "One of the Macphersons, names Alexander, one of Rob’s origional profession, videlicet a drover, but a man of great strength and spirit, was so incensed at the anactivity of his temprary leader, that he three off his plaid, drew his sword and called out to his clansmen, ‘Let us endurethis no longer! If he will not lead you, I will’. Rob Roy replied, with great coolness, ‘Were the question about driving Highland stots or kyloes, Sandie, I would yield to your superior skill; but as it respects the leading of men, I must be allowed to be the better judge’. ‘Did the matter respect driving Glen-Eigas stots’ answered Macpherson, ‘the question with Rob would not be, which was to be last, but which was to be foremost’, Incensed at this sarcasm, Macgregor drew his sword, and they would have fought upon the spot if their friends on both sides had not interfered.

"Notwithstanding the sort of neutrality which Rob Roy had continued to observe during the progress of the rebellion, he did not escape some if its penalties. He was included in the act of attainder, and the house in Breadalbane, which was his place of retreat, was burned by General Lord Cadogan, when after the conclusion of the insurrection, he marched through the Highlands to disarm and punish the offending clans. But upon going to Inverary with about forty or fifty of his followers, Rob obtained favour, by an apparent surrender of their arms to Colonel Patricj Campbell of Finnah, who furnished them and their leader with protections under his hand. Being thus in a great measure secured from the resentment of government, Rob Roy established his residence at Graig Royston, near Loch Lommond, in the midst of his own kinsmen and lost no time in resuming his private quarrel with the Duke of Montrose. For this purpose, he soon got on foot as many men, and well armed too as he had yet commanded. He never stirred without a body guard of ten or twelve picked followers, and without much effort could increase them to fifty or sixty".

For some years he continued to levy blackmail from those whose cattle and estates he protected, and although an English garrison was stationed at Inversnaid, near Aberfoyle, his activity addres and courage continually saved him from falling into their hands. The year of his death is uncertain, but it is supposed to have been after 1738. He died at an advanced age in his bed, in his own house at Balquhidder. When he found death approaching, "he expressed", says Sir Walter Scott, "some contrition for particular parts of his life. His wife laughed at these scruples of conscience and exhorted him to die like a man, as he had lived. In reply, he rebuked her for her violent passions, and the counsels she had given him. ‘You have put strife’ he said, ‘between me and best men of the country, and now you would place emnity between me and my God’. There is a tradition no way inconsistent with the former, if the character of Rob Roy be justly considered, that while on his deathbed he learned that a person with whom he was at enmity proposed to visit him. ‘Raise me from my bed’ said the invalid, ‘throw my plaid around me, and bring me my claymore, dirk and pistols; it shall never be said that a foeman saw Rob Roy Macgregor defenceless and unarmed’. His foeman, conjectured to be one of the Maclarens entered and paid his compliments, inquiring after the health of his formidable neighbour. Rob Roy maintained a cold haughty civility during their short conference, and as soon as he had left the house, ‘Now’ he said ‘all is over; let the piper plat Ha til mi tilidh’ (we return no more), and he is said to have expired before the dirge was finished". The grave of Macgregor, in the churchyard of Balquhidder, is distinguished by a rude tombstone, over which a sword is carved.

Rob Roy had five sons – Coll, Ranald, James (called James Roy, after his father and James Mohr, or big James, from his height), Duncan and Robert, called Robert Oig or Young Robin.

On the breaking out of the rebellion of 1745 the clan Gregor adhered to the cause of the Pretender. A Macgregor regiment, 300 strong, was raised by Robert Macgregor of Glencairnock, who was generally considered chief of the clan, which joined the price’s army. The branch of Ciar Mohr, however regarded William Macgregor Drummond of Bohaldie, then in France, as their head and a separate corps formed by them, commanded by Glengyle, and James Roy Macgregor, united themselves to the levies of the titular Duke of Perth, James assuming the name of Drummond, the duke’s family name, instead of that of Campbell. This corps was the relics of Rob Roy’s band, and with only twelve men of it, James Roy, who seems to have held the rank of captain or major, succeeded in surprising and burning, for the second time, the fort at Inversnaid, constructing for the express purpose of keeping the country of the Macgregors in order.

At the battle of Prestonpans, the Duke of Perth’s men and the Macgregors composed the centre. Armed only with scythes, this party cut off the legs of the horses and severed it is said the bodies of their riders in twain. Captain James Roy at the commencement of the battle, received five wounds, but recovered from them and rejoined the price’s army with six companies. He was present at the battle of Culloden and after that defeat the clan Gregor returned in a body to their own country, when they dispersed. James Roy was attainted for high treason, but from some letters of his, published in Blackwood’s Magazine for December 1817, it appears that he had entered into some communication with the government, as he mentions having obtained a pass from the Lord Justice-clerk in 1747, which was a sufficient protection to him from the military.

On James Roy’s arrival in France, he seems to have been in very poor circumstances, as he addressed a letter to Mr Edgar, secretary to the Chevalier de St George, dates Boulogne-sur-Mer, May 22, 1753, craving assistance "for the support of a man who had always shown the strongest attachment to his majesty’s person and cause". To relieve his necessities, James order his banker at Paris to pay Macgregor 300 livres. James Roy, availing himself of a permission he had received to return to Britain, made a journey to London and had an interview, according to his own statement, with Lord Holderson, secretary of state. The latter and the under secretary offered him, he says, a situation in the government service, which he rejected, as he avers his acceptance of it would have a disgrace to his birth, and would have rendered him a scourge to his country. On this he was ordered instantly to quit England. On his return to France, an information was lodged against him by Macdonnell of Lochgarry, before the high bailie of Dunkirk, accusing him of being a spy. In consequence, he was obliged to quit that town and proceed to Paris, with only thirteen livres in his pocket. In his last letter to his acknowledged chief, Macgregor of Bohaldie, dates Paris, 25th September 1754, he describes himself as being in a state of extreme destitution, and expresses his anxiety to obtain some employment as a breaker and breeder of horses, or as a hunter or fowler, "till better cast up". In a postscript he asks is chief to lend him his bagpipes, "to play some melacncholy tunes". He died abouit a week after writing this letter, it is supposed of absolute starvation.

It was not till 1784 that the oppressive acts against the Macgregors which how for several years had fallen into desuetude, were rescinded by the British parliament, when they were allowed to resume their own name, and were restored to all the rights and privileges of British citizens. A deed was immediately entered into, subscribed by 826 persons of the name of Macgregor, recognising John Murray of Lanrich, representative of the family of Glencarnock, as their chief, Murray being the name assumed under the Proscriptive act, by John Macgregor, who was chief in 1715. Although he secretly favoured the rebellion of that year, the latter took no active part in it; but Robert, the next chief, mortgaged his estate, to support the cause of the Stuarts, and he commanded that portion of the clan who acknowledged him as their head in the rebellion of 1745. Altogether, with the Ciar Mohr branch, the Macgregors could then muster 700 fighting men. To induce Glencarnock’s followers to lat down their arms, the Duke of Cumberland authorised Mr Gordon, at that time minister of Alva, in Stathspey, to treat with them, offering them the restoration of their name, and other favours, but the chief replied that they could not desert the cause. They chose rather to risk all, and die with the characters of honest men, that live in infamy, and disgrace their posterity.

After the battle of Culloden, the chief was long confined in Edinburgh castle, and on his death in 1758, he was succeeded by his brother Evan, who held a commission in the 41st regiment, and served with distinction in Germany. His son, John Murray of Lanrick, was the chief acknowledged by the clan, on the restoration of their rights in 1784. He was a general in the East India Company’s service, and auditor-general in Bengal. Created a baronet of Great Britain 23rd July 1795, he resumed in 1822 the original surname of the family, Macgregor, by royal license. He died the same year. The chiefship, however, was disputed by the Glengyle family, to which Rob Roy belonged.

Sir John Murray Macgregor’s only son, Sir Evan John Macgregor, second baronet, was born in January 1785. He was a major-general in the army, K.C.B. and G.C.H, and governor-general of the Windward Isles. He died at his seat of government, 14th June 1841. By his wife, Lady Elizabeth Murray, daughter of John, fourth Duke of Athole, he had five sons and four daughters.

His eldest son, Sir John Athole Bannatyne Macgregor, third baronet, born 20th January 1810, was lieutenant-governor of the Virgin Islands, and died at Totola, his seat of government, 11th May 1851. He had four sons and two daughters. The eldest son, Sir Malcolm Murray Macgregor, fourth baronet, was born 29th August 1834, and styled of Macgregor, county Perth.

Another Account of the Clan

BADGE: Giuthas (pinus sylvestris) pine. 
SLOGAN: Ard-choille.
PIBROCH:
MacGregor’s Salute, and Glen Fruin.

Mac Gregor "DON’T mister me nor Campbell me! My foot is on my native heath, and my name is MacGregor!" These words, put into the mouth of the cateran, Rob Roy, by Sir Walter Scott, express in a nutshell much of the spirit and story of this famous clan. Strangely enough, no tribe the Highlands was more proud of its ancient name than the MacGregors, and no tribe had to suffer more for bearing that name, or was more cruelly compelled to abandon it. "Is Rioghal mo dhream" —my race is royal— was and is the proud boast of the MacGregors, and no more bitter fate could be imposed upon them than to give up the evidence of that descent.

The clan traces its ancestry and takes its name from Gregor, third son of Alpin, King of Scots in the latter part of the eighth century, and from Alpin himself it takes its alternative patronymic, Clan Alpin. Doungheal, the elder son of Gregor, was the first MacGregor, and handed on the name to his descendants, while his brother Guarai became the ancestor of the Clan MacQuary. In the early feudal centuries the clan possessed a wide stretch of territory across the middle Highlands, from Ben Cruachan to the neighbourhood of Fortingall in Glen Lyon, and as far south as the Pass of Balmaha on Loch Lomondside and the chain of lochs which runs eastward to Coilantogle ford in Menteith, not far from Callander. Throughout all the centuries of Highland history they were notable for their deeds of valour. When Alexander II. overthrew MacDonald of the Isles and conquered Argyll one of the leaders of the royal army was the MacGregor chief, as a vassal of the Earl of Ross, and as a reward he received a grant of the forfeited estate of Glenurchy. A later chief, Malcolm, who lived in the days of Robert the Bruce, supported that King and the cause of Scottish Independence with the whole might of his clan. He was among those who fought stoutly at Bannockburn, and afterwards he accompanied Edward Bruce in his invasion of Ireland. There, at the siege of Dundalk, he was severely wounded, and through that circumstance is remembered in the clan story as "am Mor’ ear bacach" —the lame lord. Through that fact the MacGregor chiefs might have been expected, like others whose fortunes were built upon their support of the house of Bruce, to find their prosperity, go on like a rising tide. But this was not the case. The chiefs made the fatal mistake of adhering to the old order of things in the security by which they held their lands. Like the MacKays in the far north, they scorned the "sheepskin tenure" of feudalism, introduced by Malcolm Canmore and his sons. Taking their stand on their descent from the ancient Celtic kings, they kept to the old allodial system of independent ownership, and determined still to keep their possessions, as their fathers had done, by the coin a glaive, or right of the sword. As a result, throughout the feudal centuries, they, found themselves constantly engaged in brawls over the possession of territory for which they could show no title-deeds. Their endeavours to hold their own were looked upon as mere lawless disturbances of the peace, and again and again their more powerful neighbours found it profitable, first to stir them up to some warlike deed, then to procure a royal warrant for their extermination, and the appropriation of their territory.

Chief among these enemies were the Campbells of Loch Awe, who, in the fifteenth century, became Earls of Argyll, and the collateral branch of the Campbells who, in later days have held the titles of earls and marquesses of Breadalbane. A notable incidence of the methods of these enemies of the MacGregors occurred in the fifteenth century, when Campbell of Loch Awe induced the MacNabs of Loch Tayside to pick a quarrel with the MacGregor chiefs. The two clans met in a bloody battle at Crianlarich, when the MacNabs were defeated and all but exterminated. Forthwith Campbell procured a commission from the King to punish both of the breakers of the peace, with the result that presently the MacGregors were forced to procure a cessation of hostilities by yielding up to Campbell a considerable part of their territory.

Stories of the clan’s escapades in those days make up much of the tradition of the Central Highlands. On one occasion the MacGregors made a sudden descent upon the stronghold on the little island in Loch Dochart. This was a fastness deemed all but impregnable by reason of the deep water round it; but the MacGregors chose a winter day when the loch was frozen, and, sheltering themselves from the arrows of the garrison by huge fascines of brush-wood which they pushed across the ice in front of them, they stormed and took the place. In the gorge of Glen Lyon, again, there is a spot known as MacGregor’s Leap. Here, after a fierce conflict, in which a sept of the MacGregors, known as the Maclvers, were all but cut to pieces, their chief, fleeing before his enemies, came to the narrowest part of the gorge, and by a wild leap from rock to rock across the torrent succeeded in making his escape.

The troubles of the MacGregors came to a climax towards the close of the sixteenth century. Driven to desperation, and fired with injustice, they were induced to perpetrate many wild deeds. In 1588, for example, took place the dreadful ceremony in the little kirk of Balquhidder, remembered as Clan Alpine’s Vow. A few days earlier a mysterious body, "the Children of the Mist," had surprised the King’s forester, Drummond-Ernoch, in Glenartney. They had killed him, cut off his head, and on their way home along Loch Earnside had displayed that head in barbarous fashion on the dinner table at Ardvorlich to the sister of the slain man, who was Ardvorlich’s wife, by reason of which she had fled from the house demented. On the following Sunday the MacGregor clansmen gathered in Balquhidder Kirk where one after another approached the altar, laid his hand on the severed head, and swore himself a partner in the dark deed that had placed it there.

Acts like this were bound to bring upon the clan the last extremities of fire and sword. The house which profited most by the reprisals was the younger branch of the Campbells of Lochow. Already early in the fifteenth century Sir Colin Campbell, head of that younger branch, had become laird of Glenurchy, formerly a MacGregor possession. He had built Kilchurn Castle at the north end of Loch Awe, and he and his descendants had built or acquired a string of strongholds across the middle Highlands, including the castle on Loch Dochart already referred to, Edinample on Loch Earn, and Finlarig and Balloch, now Taymouth Castle, at the opposite ends of Loch Tay. In their heading-pits and on their dule trees these lairds of Glenurchy executed "justice" on many persons as the king’s enemies and their own, and among others who suffered publicly on the village green at Kenmore was a Chief of MacGregor in Queen Mary’s time, Gregor Roy of Glenstrae. Nevertheless, according to Tytler, the MacGregors were in the royal army, commanded by the young Earl of Argyll, which suffered disastrous defeat at the battle of Glenlivat in 1594.

In 1603, instigated by the Earl of Argyll, Alastair of Glenstrae made a descent upon the Colquhouns of Luss, fought a pitched battle with them in Glenfruin on Loch Lomondside, and defeated them with a loss of 140 men. The Colquhouns secured the indignation and sympathy of King James VI. by parading before him a long array of widows of their clan with the bloody shirts of their husbands upon poles. As a result, Argyll was commissioned by the Privy Council to hunt the "viperous" MacGregors with fire and sword till they should be "estirpat and rutit out and expellit the hail boundis of our dominionis." This Argyll undertook to do, and among other matters managed to trap the Chief of MacGregor by persuading him to accompany him to the new court of King James in England. He promised to conduct MacGregor safely into that country and procure his pardon. The first part of his promise he performed, but no sooner was the MacGregor Chief across the Tweed than he had him arrested and carried back to Edinburgh, where he was executed, with thirty of his clan. At the same time severe laws were made against the clansmen. Any man might kill a MacGregor without incurring punishment, and for doing so receive a free gift of the MacGregor’s whole movable goods and gear. The very name MacGregor was proscribed under pain of death. No MacGregor was allowed to carry a weapon, and not more than four of the clan were permitted to meet together. The unfortunate clansmen, it is said, were even chased with bloodhounds, and the spot is still pointed out on Ben Cruachan where the last of them to be hunted in this fashion turned and shot his pursuer. Among other clans stirred up to attack the MacGregors were the Camerons, but, even in its extremity, Clan Alpin mustered its force and, reinforced by its friends the MacPhersons, marched northward and inflicted a signal defeat upon the followers of Lochiel.

Through all its troubles, however, Clan Gregor survived. Among interesting episodes of its history there is a wild story of the year 1640, remembered on Speyside. A MacGregor, the tradition runs, wooed, won, and carried off Isabel, daughter of the Laird of Grant. A member of the Robertson clan, whose suit had been favoured by the lady’s friends, pursued the fugitives with a number of his followers. MacGregor took refuge in a barn, and with dirk and claymore, and a musket which his wife loaded for him, managed to destroy every one of his assailants. Then, in the joy of his victory, he took his pipes, and on the spot composed and danced the wild air still known as the "Reel o’ Tulloch." Alas! this doughty champion was afterwards shot, and at the sight of his bloody head which they fiendishly showed her, the poor girl who had fought so bravely to save her lover suddenly expired.

Five years later the MacGregors took the field for King Charles I., with the whole strength of their clan under Montrose, who promised that the King, when his affairs were settled, should redress the grievances of the clan. By way of reprisal Cromwell sent one of his forces into the fastnesses of Clan Gregor. Loch Katrine, which took its name from its owners’ character as caterans, was still a possession of the Clan, and on the little islet now known from Sir Walter Scott’s account of it as Ellen’s Isle, they had placed their women for safety. Not a boat was to be found, though several were seen on the island shore, and the English officer offered his purse to the soldier who should cross and bring one back. Forthwith a young soldier plunged in and swam to the island side. The exploit seemed easy, and he had indeed laid his hand on one of the shallops, when the branches parted, a knife in a woman’s hand flashed in the air, and the would-be ravisher sank in the water dead.

At the restoration of Charles II. the clan was rewarded for its support of the royal cause by having all its rights and privileges restored to it; but a generation later, after the Revolution, this act of clemency was rescinded by William III., and all the old laws against the MacGregors were again put in force. It was little wonder, therefore, that, when the Rebellion of 1715 in favour of the Stewarts broke out, the clan should favour that cause. John MacGregor, who was then the Chief, though he had adopted the name of Murray, was a Jacobite, but he did not take the field, and instead the clan was led by the "bold Rob Roy," who belonged to the Dugal Ciar branch of the family. At the battle of Sheriffmuir he might have decided the day by charging with his men, but he prudently waited to see how affairs would turn, and in reply to the urgent message of the Earl of Mar, imploring him to attack, he answered that if the day could not be won without the MacGregors it could not be won with them.

The next Chief, Robert, raised his clan and mortgaged his whole estate for the cause of’ Prince Charles Edward in 1745, and refused the offer sent him by the Duke of Cumberland, that if the MacGregors would lay down their arms they should have their name and all their privileges restored. When the day was lost at Culloden the clan marched from the field with its banners flying, but as a result the whole MacGregor country was ravaged by the victorious "Butcher Duke," and the Chief was long confined a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle.

On the death of this Chief in 1758, the honour fell to his brother Evan, an officer in the 41st regiment, who served with much distinction in Germany. The eldest son of the latter was John Murray, a lieutenant-colonel in the East India Company’s service, and Auditor General in Bengal. General Murray was created a baronet in 1795, and on the removal of the laws affecting his name and family, he resumed by royal licence the original surname of MacGregor. On that occasion, 826 clansmen of mature age subscribed a deed acknowledging him to be Chief, and though the honour was disputed by MacGregor of Glengyle of the "Sliochd Gregor a Chroie," Rob Roy’s branch, descended from the twelfth chief who died about 1413, Sir John and his descendants have been loyally recognised as the actual heads of the race.

This reinstatement took place in 1822. In the same year Sir John Murray MacGregor died. His only son and successor, Sir Evan MacGregor, was a Major General, K.C.B., G.C.H., and Governor General of the Windward Isles, and he married a daughter of the fourth Duke of Athol. His son, again, Sir John, married the eldest daughter and co-heir of Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Bart., G.C.B., Governor of Greenwich Hospital, who was the famous Captain Hardy of Nelson’s ship the Victory at the battle of Trafalgar, and through this connection several interesting relics of Nelson and the Victory are preserved at the present seat of the family. Sir John died Lieutenant-Governor of the Virgin Islands, and since then, probably through the Hardy connection, the Chiefs of MacGregor have followed a naval career. His son, Sir Malcolm, was a Rear-Admiral of the British Navy, and received the Crimean medal and clasp for Sebastopol, as well as the Turkish War medal and the medal of the Royal Humane Society. He married Helen, only daughter of the ninth Earl of Antrim, and died in 1879. His eldest son, the present baronet, Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor, entered the Navy in 1886, attained the rank of Commander in 1904, became Assistant to the Director of the Naval Ordnance at the Admiralty in 1907, and retired with the rank of Captain in 1911. Sir Malcolm’s sister is the Countess of Mansfield, and his grand-aunt was the author of a fragmentary history of the Clan prepared at the request of the Clan Gregor Society.

Edenchip, the present residence of the Chief, stands at the eastern end of the Braes of Balquhidder, pretty near the centre of the old country of the clan, and it is pleasant to think how, after all their fierce trials and troubles of the past, the chiefs and members of the clan are now able to settle quietly upon their native heath, and to acknowledge once again the now long respected and always honourable name of MacGregor.

Among many notable members of the clan throughout the centuries, MacGregor, Dean of Lismore in the time of Mary Queen of Scots, should be mentioned for his famous collection of Ossianic and other Gaelic poetry known as the Dean of Lismore’s Book. Fortingall in Glenlyon, where he lived, was also the home of a famous race of MacGregor pipers, known as Clann an Sgeulaich.

Septs of Clan MacGregor: Black, Comrie, Fletcher, Gregor, Gregorson, Gregory, Greig, Grier, Grierson, Grigor, King, Leckie, Macara, MacAdam, MacChoiter, Macaree, Macgruder, Macgrowther, Macilduy, MacLeister, MacLiver, MacNee, MacNeish, MacNie, MacNish, MacPeter, Malloch, Neish, White, Peter.

Read the History of Clan Gregor in pdf format...


A wee note from Chris & Shawna McGregor

Here is the geneology of William Mcgregor of Osian's glen or there abouts:

William sr had three known sons  William jr, and twins named Ezekiel and Willis.   Ezekiel was born 1784 on Nov. 26 in Stanly co. North Carolina he married Sarah Ware her parents were Roland and Temperance Ware. Ezekiel begat 9 children there names were  1. Temperance (F) 2.Willis Nard (M) 3. Jason (M) 4. Jemima"Minnie" (F) 5. Wiley A. (M) 6. Avie (F) 7.Henderson(M) 8. Clinton (M) 9. Susan(F) Ezekiel died on 9/23/1856 in Warren co Tennesee.

Willis Nard had 10 children Willis was born in 1812 died in 1859 his children were as follows 1. William Washington (M) 2. Audley Harrison (M) 3. Sarah Elizabeth (F)  4.Jemima (F)  5. George H. (M) 6. John, died of Pneumonia in the civil war 7. Mexico "Aunt Mac" (F) 8. Wiley Bud (M) 9. James Joseph James Clinton Pleasant Henderson "Coon" (M) 10. Rev. Newton Ezekiel


Another wee note from a McNish

Macnies - A small clan that had lost most all land during the clan wars. It is written that the last members of the clan survived on a small island off the coast. Their enemy the clan Mcnab did a night attack killing all but one young Macnies, who escaped. He is said to be the father of all Macnies's. I was also told that the crest of the Mcnabs is a hand holding a human head, a Macnies head.

The most common American version of Macnies is McNish and McNese or McNees.

Places to visit suggested by Richard McGregor

1) the churchyard at Dalmally - see the McGregor carved stones in the churchyard.

2) Rob Roy's grave at Balquhidder.

3) the stone in Glen Fruin commemorating the 1603 battle between MacGregors and Colquhouns.

4) the Clan Gregor display at the Folklore Museum in Killin.

5) the Rob Roy Centre at Callendar.

6) Glen Orchy - Stronmelchan site of the white house where the MacGregors lived before 1603.

7) Roro - MacGregor settlement from c1500 in Glen Lyon.

8) North of Loch Rannoch - MacGregor settlements from 1500.


Obituary of Brigadier Sir Gregor MacGregor


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