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Clan McComb


Thanks to Murray McCombs for this information. 

I'm composing the McCOMB history that is definately pointing to the son of John M'Combie Mor - Alexander M'Combie of Forfar, Scotland, who settled in Kirkmaiden, Dumfries, Galloway Scotland after the Clan lands were sold to absolve the legal debt and arbitrary fine imposed by Royalist Scottish Parliament of 1682. Alexander's whereabouts is unknown in present Clan MacThomas history.

The following are two postings for John M'Combie M'or, c1575-1782. These first two are for his lands in Glenshee. Following articles will be his involvement in the ECW with Royalist Montrose and subsquent wealth under Parliamentarian Cromwell, conflict and legal proceedings post ECW leading to the desolving of the family and properties in Glenisla, resulting from the Restoration of Charles II, and the illegal proceedings forthwith.

After Glenisla, from this point I will outline the families in Kirkmaiden and StoneyKIRK Galloway 1684, then go to Northern Ireland where we pick up John Gordon McCOMB (aka MACOMB), etc. Heavy relations with GORDON, WALLACE, and COCHRANE, etal.

Yours Aye
Murray McCombs

[Ref: Memoir of the Families of M'COMIE and THOMS, originally M'Intosh and M'Thomas, by William M'COMIE SMITH, New Edition,  c1878, catalogue British 929.241 M135s]

The John M'COMIE M'or in Glenshee - THE LEGEND "Clach-na Coileach - the Cockstane"

See Map

For positional reference consult: http://www.expedia.com type in Glenshee, Scotland

Those passing  along the Highland road from Blairgowrie to Braemar, may observe a large stone on the  west side of the road, about opposite to Dalnaglar, and about a mile south  from Finnegand. This stone is known  by the few Gaelic speaking people in the district as Clach-na-Coileach - the stone of the cock; by those who speak Scotch, as Cosksteen, which originated as follows.

Proprietors in Glenshee - and most if not all  those in the Blackwater district - in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, held their lands by feu-charter from the then Earls of Athole, who levied kain - that is, so many fowls  annually, as a tax or rent - from every reeking house on the various properties. The term was probably derived from the Gaelic "ceann", a head - as this tribute would consist of so many head of whatever kind of live stock the kain had to be paid in. This annual gathering of kain by the Athole men, while M'COMIE Mor was in Finnegand, had gone on peacefully one year, from the head of the glen to a small cot above Finnegand. Here the kain-gatherers, finding a poor widowed woman - a tenant of M'COMIE Mor - heartlessly took not only their lawful kain, but all her stock of poultry, despite her most urgent entreaties to leave at least some of them, in pity for her circumstances. We can easily conceive that the retainers of the powerful Earl of Athole carried matters with a high hand, as in those times there was practically no redress of grievances except by the strong arm. The widow's only strength lay in tears and entreaties; and finding these of no avail, she bethought her of the strong arm of M'COMIE Mor, if only he could be persuaded to aid her.

There was no time to lose; for the kain-gatherers were making their way down the glen, and her treasured poultry would soon be irretrievably beyond reach. In all haste she set out for Finnegand, with many tears laid her complaint before M'COMIE Mor, and to her great joy he at once consented to accompany  her to ask redress. We can picture the widow, with heart already lightened - for who would dare  to refuse what M'COMIE Mor asked in Glenshee? - trudging along by the side of her stalwart protector, and relating all the circumstances of her visitors' harsh words and still harsher deeds. It would no be difficult to find the kain-gatherers, as their progress would be accompanied by  the shrill l"scraichs" of the captured cocks and hens, mingled, no doubt, with equally shrill objurgations in Gaelic from irate goodwives, whose ideas of what should be taken and what should be left would doubtless differ widely from those of the Athole men.

M'COMIE Mor and the widow came up with them near the big stone, when the former explained the circumstances of the poor widow, and asked that at least part of her poultry might be returned to her, especially as they had taken more from her than they had a right to. To the widow's great surprise and renewed grief, this reasonable demand was met with a decided refusal, couched in terms the reverse of polite. There was nothing for it, then, but to return to her cot, and put up with her loss as best could. But if the widow was  to be  content with silent submission to those with part right, and seemingly whole might, on their side, not so M'COMIE Mor. It was bad enough to be refused, but to be spoken to with insolence on his own ground, when making a reasonable request for one of his own dependents, was intolerable.

The civil request for the restitution of part of the widow's fowls became a peremptory command to deliver up the whole. The command meeting with no better reception than the request, was at once followed up by M'COMIE Mor drawing his sword and attacking the leader of the band. The he kain-gatherers at once set down their creels, and rushed to their leader's assistance. But he was "hors de combat" before assistance could reach him; and the astonished Athole men soon found that might as well as right was on the side of the widow, for wherever a blow from M'COMIE Mor's right arm fell, there fell and Athole man also. 

As by this time a good few Glenshee men were arriving, who had learned what was going on, the Athole men  wisely gave way. M'COMIE Mor then advanced and unceremoniously cut open the coops containing  the widow's feathered treasures, whereupon one crouse young cock mounted the big stone, and sent forth a shrill, clear, and  triumphant paean of victory. That was a scene not likely soon to be forgotten in Glenshee: the poor widow, doubtless but a moment before in an agony of fear for the safety of her chivalrous champion, risking his life against such heavy odds on her behalf, now gladly pouring forth her thanks, while rejoicing over her recovered treasures; the crest=fallen kain-gatherers making off with what kain was still left to them - doubtless strictly civil and honest in their further requisitions while in Glenshee; the stalwart chief sheathing his sword; and high over all the brave  little chanticleer, sending forth his notes of defiance to all the race of Athole kain-gatherers. The  scene was not likely to be forgotten, and is not forgotten; for the Clach-na Coileach still remains, a mute but steadfast witness: and often is the story told in Glenshee of how M'COMIE  Mor supplied the much-needed might for the widow's right.

"Redemption to the Earl of Athole - the Champion of Athole." [M'COMIE Mor would add another insult to the Earl of Athole before this story]

....As a matter of course, M'COMIE Mor did not expect that the Earl of Athole would quietly submit to this fresh indignity. An unforeseen event, however, brought the matter to a more friendly termination than could otherwise have been looked for. Shortly after the unsuccessful attempt to carry off M'COMIE Mor to Athole (the previous insult to the  Earl), a professional champion swordsman, or bully as he was called, a gigantic Italian, made his appearance at Blair Athole, and as usual challenged the best man the Earl of Athole could produce to fight; and in the event of no one accepting his challenge, or any one accepting it and being beaten, he would claim, as a right, a sum of money, as a sort  of tribute earned by his prowess.

The payment of the money was a less source of annoyance to one in the position of the Earl of Athole than the thought that in all the wide district of which he was superior, he could  not find a man of sufficient strength and courage to successfully cope with this foreign bravo. And in proportion also to the disgrace of having no man in Athole a match for him, would be the glory to the Earl and his vassals if he could produce an Athole champion able to conquer such a redoubted hero. In the present instance, disgrace instead of honour appeared likely to fall on Athole and Athole men; for a sight of the foreigner, who was of immense size and fierce aspect, together with the notoriety of his extraordinary skill as a swordsman, proved  sufficient to deter the strongest and bravest of the Athole men from risking their life and limb in a fight with him.

In this emergency, the Earl at last reflected that M'COMIE Mor, who had recently lowered the prestige of the Athole men as their opponent, was the very man to raise it again as their champion. We can easily understand that at a time when personal prowess was of such account, the Earl's displeasure at the double indignity offered to his immediate retainers was tempered with a felling of satisfaction that he had amongst his vassals a man possessed of such unusual strength, courage, and sagacity. it was evident, also, to a prudent man, that it would be a more satisfactory termination to the present quarrel that M'COMIE  Mor should give satisfaction to the Earl's offended dignity by rendering a personal service to him, than that so brave a man should be subdued by mere force of numbers. Accordingly, a trusted retainer was despatched to Finnegand, who was to explain to M'Comie Mor that if he would come to Blair Castle, and there render a personal service to the Earl of an honourable nature, that in that case the Earl would look on this as making full amends for the indignities inflicted on his retainers on their last two visits.

For some time M'Comie Mor was in great doubt as to this intimation being made in good faith, and had a strong suspicion that it was merely a ruse to get him quietly into Athole, where satisfaction would be required of him for the affair of the kain-gatherers, and his outwitting the second expedition. Assured at length that the Earl's invitation was made in good faith, he set out with the messenger, and arrived at Blair Castle. But here a fresh difficulty arose.

On being confronted with the Italian champion, and the purpose for which he had been summoned explained to him, he flatly refused to fight with any man with whom he had no quarrel. At this unlooked-for declaration, the hopes of the Athole men, which had been raised to great height, from the account given by the kain-gatherers of his extraordinary strength and courage, and from his magnificent personal appearance, received a rude fall. In vain the Earl urged and entreated him, in vain some of the Athole men began audibly to hint that the redoubted M'Comie Mor's courage had vanished like their own at the sight of the fierce and stalwart Italian. This latter worthy's behaviour soon brought about the desired result.

On learning that the man who was expected to fight with him refused to do so on the plea that there was no quarrel between them, and therefore no occasion to fight, he at once attributed this to cowardice. and began to indulge in much high-sounding bravado. This having no effect, he next proceeded to personal indignity, and approaching his apparently imperturbable opponent, he with one had lifted his kilt, and with the other - "horresco referens" - bestowed a sounding whack on the astounded chief's posteriors. In an instant, with the peculiarly graceful sweep that always marked the drawing of his sword - a  peculiarity which afterwards stood him in good stead on another occasion - his sword was out of its scabbard.

The Italian immediately sprang back, and put himself in position. The Athole men now silent, in breathless suspense watched  the two gigantic opponents, for there was that on the face of M'Comie Mor that showed it was to be a battle " outrance".  Nor were the spectators held long in suspense as to the result. A few careful parries, and almost before they could comprehend or believe what they saw, M'Comie Mor's blade, with lightning-like rapidity and extraordinary force, was through the Italian's guard, and his fighting career in this world was for ever ended.

See also entries in our Mini Bios section


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