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Old Castle Lachlan

Maclachlan, or Maclauchlan, is the name of another clan classified by Skene as belonging to the great race of the Siol Conn, and in the MS, so much valued by this writer, of 1450, the Maclachlans are traced to Gilchrist, a grandson of that Anradan or Henry, from whom all the clans of the Siol Gillevray are said to be descended. They possessed the barony of Strathlachlan in Cowal, and other extensive possessions in the parishes of Glassrie and Kilmartin, and on Loch Awe side, which were seperated from the main seat of the family by Loch Fyne.

They were one of those Gaelic tribes who adopted the oared galley for their special device, as indicative of their connection, either by residence or descent, with the Isles. An ancester of the family, Lachlan Mor, who lived in the 13th century, is described in the Gaelic MS of 1450, as "son of Patrick, son of Gilchrist, son of De dalan, called the clumsy, son of Anradan, from whom are descended also the clan Neill".

By tradition the Maclachlans are said to have come from Ireland, their orgional stock being the O'Loughlins of Meath.

According to the Irish genealogies, the clan Lachlan, the Lamonds, and the MacEwans of Otter, were kindred tribes, being descended from brothers who were sons of De dalan above reffered to, and tradition relates that they took possession of the greater part of the district of Cowal, from Toward Point to Stacher at the same time; the Lamonds being separated from the MacEwans by the river of Kilfinan, and the MacEwans from the Maclachlans by the stream which separates the parishes of Kilfinan and Strath Lachlan. De dalan, the common ancestor of these families, is stated in ancient Irish genealogies to have been the grandson of Hugh Atlaman, the head of the great family of O'Neills, kings of Ireland.

About 1230, Gilchrist Maclachlan, who is mentioned in the manuscript of 1450 as cheif of the family of maclachlan at the time, is a witness to a charter of Kilfinan granted by Laumanus, ancestor of the Lamonds.

In 1292, Gilleskel Maclachlan got a charter of his lands in Ergadia from Baliol.

In a document preserved in the treasury of Her Majesty's Exchequer, entitled "Les petitions de terre demandees en Escoce", there is the following entry - "Item Gillescop Macloghlan ad demandi la Baronie de Molbryde juvene, apelle Strath, que fu pris contre le foi de Roi". From this it appears that Gillespie Maclachlan was in possession of the lands still retained by the family, during the occupation of Scotland by Edward I in 1296.

In 1314, Archibald Maclachlan in Ergadia, granted to the Preaching Friars of Glasgow forty shillings to be paid yearly out of his lands of Kilbride, "juxta castrum meum quod dicitur Castellachlan". He died before 1322, and was succeeded by his brother Patrick. The latter married a daughter of James, Steward of Scotland, and had a son, Lachlan, who succeeded him. Lachlan's son, Donald, confirmed in 1456, the grant by his predecessor Archibald, to the Preaching Friars of Glasgow of forty shillings yearly out of the lands of Kilbride, with an additional annuity of six shillings and eightpence "from his lands of Kilbryde near Castellachlan.

Lachlan, the 15th chief, dating from the time that written evidence can be adduced, was served heir to his father, 23rd September 1719. He married a daughter of Stewart of Appin, and was killed at Culloden, fighting on the side of Prince Charles. The 18th chief, his great-grandson, Robert maclachlan of Maclachlan, convener and one of the deputy-lieutenants of Argyleshire, married in 1823, Helen, daughter of William A. Carruthers of Dormont, Dumfries-shire, without issue. His brother, the next heir, George Maclachlan Esq, has three sons and a daughter. The family seat, Castle Lachlan, built about 1790, near the old and ruinous tower, formerly the residence of the chiefs, is situated in the centre of the family estate, which is elven miles in length, and, on an average, a mile and a half in breadth, and streches in one continued line along the eastern side of Loch Fyne. The effective force of the clan previous to the rebellion on 1745, was estimated at 300 men. Their original seat, according to Mr Skene, appears to have been in Lochaber, where a very old branch of the family has from the earliest period been settled as native men of the Camerons.

In Argyleshire, also are the families of Maclachlan of Craiginterve, Inchconnell, etc. and in Stirlingshire, of Auchintroig. The Machlachlans of Drumblane in Monteith were of the Lochaber branch.

A guided walk at Lachlan Bay

Another Account of the Clan

BADGE: Paochag, no Gillefuinhrinn (Pervinca minor) lesser periwinkle.
PIBROCH: Moladh Mhairi.

Mac LachlanFROM its location on the western coast of Scotland, Clan Lachlan might straightway be assumed to be either of early Scottish or of Norse origin. Its name might point to the latter source. Lochlin or Lochlan was the name under which the Norwegian invaders of the early centuries were known to the people of western Scotland. They appear constantly under this name in the poems of Ossian, Further, in the traditions of the clan, and in a manuscript of 1450, published by the lona Club, the MacLachlans are closely associated with the Lords of the Isles. The usual traditional account of the origin of the Clan, however, is that they are descended from the early Scottish race in the north-east of Ireland. There are many references to them in the Annals of the Four Masters, and from this it is believed they were the elder branch of the Irish Hy Niall, who were kings in Ireland for a thousand years. The lona Club manuscript already referred to, which was preserved in the family of the MacLachlans of Kilbride, gives the early genealogy of the race as follows: "Kenneth, son of John, son of Lachlan, son of Gille Patrick, son of Lachlan Mor, son of Patrick, son of Gille Christ, son of Dedalan, son of Andadan, from whom are descended also the children of Niall." The probability is that they were among the early Scottish settlers who came over from Ireland with the renowned Fergus and his two brothers, in the early years of the sixth century, to make the first beginnings of the little Scottish kingdom of Dalriada, and give the part of the country in which they settled its new name of Earrha Gael, Argyll, the Land of the Gael. According to one tradition, dealt with at length by Buchanan of Auchmar in his famous work, the earliest settlement of the MacLachlans was in Lochaber, where for several centuries the senior cadets of the clan, the MacLachlans of Coire-Uanan, held the hereditary office of standard-bearers to the Lairds of Locheil. A tradition of the MacLachlans of this region is recounted in MacIan’s Clans of the Scottish Highlands as follows:

"A story is told of one of this branch which we do not recollect having met with in any publication. A quarrel having arisen between a young man and one of the Camerons of Glen Nevis, he took his revenge by the slaughter of his enemy, which was accomplished in a somewhat singular manner. Glen Nevis passing the fold where the young women were milking the cattle, he was presented, according to custom, with a draught. MacLachlan, who had been lying in wait for him, and was celebrated for his skilful archery, let fly an arrow which simultaneously split Cameron’s head and the vessel which contained the milk. MacLachlan instantly, fled, and was obliged to wander through the Highlands and isles for many years, in constant dread of being captured or slain by his enemies. During this time it was his practice to sleep in caves, or the least accessible mountains, and even when in the shelter of a house, he always rested his head on his naked dirk, a weapon peculiarly convenient in case of sudden or close attack. He is represented as having been the last of his family, and perhaps was therefore more reckless of his life; however, in process of time, he ventured to revisit his native hills, and as he passed by the house of Glen Nevis, he observed by looking through an open window, a very fine gun, which he resolved to appropriate to himself. A broad ditch intervened between him and the building, but, being remarkably athletic, he cleared it at a bound, and silently entering, seized the gun. At the moment when he was retreating by the window, Glen Nevis entered the room, and, pouncing on the depredator, seized him by the arm with an iron grasp, exclaiming, ‘You are now in the talons of the mountain eagle, and a death struggle alone shall disengage them! ‘ A minute’s portentous pause ensued, when MacLachlan, with unsuspected dexterity, stabbed Cameron with his dirk, and then, relieved from his hold, leaped across the ditch and escaped! The gun, a very curious piece, is still preserved by Glen Nevis."

There is a tradition that when King A!exander II., in the thirteenth century, was making his way into the West Highlands in prosecution of his campaign against the Norsemen, in which he declared his intention to plant his standard on the walls of Thurso, he ordered the MacLachlan chief to send him his tribute by the swiftest messenger. MacLachlan, it is said, complied by tying the bags of tribute to a roebuck, which he despatched by a trusty and swift-footed messenger to the king, at which Alexander was so impressed that he conferred upon the chief a pair of roebucks as supporters to his coat of arms.

There was long treasured in the family of the MacLachlan chiefs a custom which was said to have taken its origin during one of the crusades. Upon that crusade, it is said, the chiefs of Strath Lachlan and of Strachur, who were close friends as well as neighbours, made a promise to each other that, if one of them were slain in battle, the other would see to it that his body was carried home and duly laid in the family burying-place. For centuries afterwards the custom remained that when a Laird of Strath Lachlan or a Laird of Strachur died his neighbour laid his head in the grave.

According to tradition the chiefs of Clan Lachlan at one time owned very extensive lands in Argyllshire, and even yet their possessions run eleven miles along the shore of one of the most beautiful parts of Loch Fyne. Their present estate is said to have been acquired by marriage with the daughter and heiress of one of the chiefs of Clan Lamont. The manuscript above mentioned puts it that "Caitrina, the daughter of Duncan Mac Lamain, was the mother of Kenneth, Patrick, and Gille Easpuig, and Agais, daughter of MacDonald, was mother of John, and Culusaid, daughter of the Maormar of Cowal, was the mother of Lachlan Oig." In whatever way their present possessions on the western coast of Cowal were acquired, the MacLachian chiefs are believed to have possessed Strathlachlan since the eleventh century. The first documentary evidence of their ownership appears in 1292, when the lands belonging to Gilleskel MacLachlan were recorded as included in the Sheriffdom of Argyll or Lorne, and King John Baliol granted Gilleskel a charter of them. The same chief also received a charter later from King Robert the Bruce, and appears on the roll of the Scottish magnates who sat in the first Parliament of Bruce at St. Andrews. The chief’s name also appears on one of the seal tags of the letter sent by the Scottish barons to King Philip of France. From Gilleskel the direct line of the chiefs is declared to be clearly traced to the present day, and, though they never played a leading part in the great affairs of the realm, their history has not been without its tincturing of adventure, heroism, and romance.

Castle Lachlan

During the disorders of the Douglas Wars in the reign of James II., when Lauder, the Fifeshire Bishop of Lismore, was endeavouring to dominate the clansmen with the law of the Church, Sir Gilbert MacLachlan and Sir Morier MacFadyan, respectively chancellor and treasurer of the diocese, raised the whole strength of Clan Lachlan, attacked the bishop and his train on the way to his cathedral, stripped them of their robes, plundered the church of its treasures and charters, and forced the bishop himself to promise to make no reprisals.

Archibald MacLachlan of Strath Lachlan appears in the Rolls of 1587 and 1594. The chiefs were Jacobites, and as their possessions were situated in the midst of the territory of the powerful Campbell race, who were upon the other side, their position must at all times have been precarious, and their opinion must have required more than the usual courage and loyalty to express.

During the civil wars, when the Marquess of Montrose raised an army for King Charles I. in the Highlands, Colonel MacLachlan was one of his most active officers. At the battle of Alford he led a regiment of foot, and routed the enemy’s cavalry. His fate was as grievous as it was undeserved. After the surprise and defeat of Montrose’s little royalist army at Philliphaugh, he was taken prisoner, carried to Edinburgh, and executed by the Covenanters.

After the Revolution in 1689 the Chief of MacLachlan took the field with King James’s general, Viscount Dundee, and as a result he figures in the curious Latin poem of the time, "The Grameid." Fifty-six years later, when Bonnie Prince Charlie raised the Stewart standard in the Highlands for the last time, Lauchlan MacLachlan, the fifteenth chief, raised his clan and marched to join him. This chief had evidently all the courage of his convictions, for, notwithstanding the danger of the proceeding, with the Campbells at his door, he is said to have proclaimed his intentions at Kilmichael market, where he openly summoned his clan; and it says much for his leadership that he made his way successfully through the heart of the Argyll country, to join the Prince in the north. The military and other esteem in which he was held may be gathered from the fact that he acted as aide-de-camp to Prince Charles; and his career ended in the gallant fashion such a brave man might desire, for he was killed at Culloden.

A pretty story is told in connection with this event. The chief, it is said, owned a favourite dun horse. When he was slain at Culloden this dun horse escaped, and made its way home to Strath Lachlan, where it was the first to bring the terrible news. A few months later the castle was bombarded and destroyed by a Government frigate, but the horse took up its quarters in one of the ruined apartments, which, from that fact, is still known as The Dun Horse’s Stable.

As a result of the part taken in the Rebellion by the thief, the lands of Strath Lachlan were forfeited, but the next heir succeeded in recovering them in 1749.

It says much for the finer spirit of the clan in a rude and warlike time that they were among the few who cherished the literary memorials of their race’s past. When James Macpherson produced his translation of Ossian in the sixties of the eighteenth century, the erudite and unbelieving Dr. Samuel Johnson declared in scorn that there was not in the Highlands a Gaelic manuscript more than a hundred years old. Among the evidences which were forthcoming to refute this statement was a wonderful collection of ancient manuscripts which had been preserved by the MacLachlans of Kilbride. Besides the manuscript of 1450 above quoted, this collection included many details throwing light upon Highland history and the authenticity of the Ossianic poems. It attracted much attention at the time, and was eventually purchased by the Highland Society and deposited in the Advocates’ Library.

A few years later Clan MacLachlan itself produced a Gaelic poet and scholar of considerable repute. Ewen MacLachlan, headmaster of Aberdeen Grammar School, was the author of at least two volumes of poetry, published in 1807 and 1816. And in more recent days Thomas Hope MacLachlan, barrister of Lincoln’s Inn, abandoned law for the painter’s art, in which he attained considerable reputation. His picture, "Ships that pass in the night," has a place in the National Gallery.

In recent times the MacLachlans have also won distinction in other ways. In 1810 Captain MacLachlan of the Royal Marines distinguished himself in the Basque Roads at the storming of the battery on the Point du Chée, where with conspicuous bravery he spiked the guns.

The present head of the Clan is one of the most popular of the Highland chiefs, an enthusiast for all things pertaining to the traditions and welfare of the Gaelic race, and possessor of perhaps the most characteristic designation and address of any landowner in the Highlands—MacLachlan of MacLachlan, Castle Lachlan, Strath Lachlan, Argyllshire.

Septs of Clan MacLachlan: Ewing, Ewen, Lachlan, Gilchrist, MacEwan, Lauchlan, MacGilchrist, MacEwan.

Another account of the Clan

The Maclachlans are of ancient origin and are said to descend from the 5th century Ulster Royal family of O'Neill. Aedh, a grandson of the King Flaithbertach married a Scottish princess who was heiress of Cowal and Knapdale. His descendant, Lachlan Mor gave his name to the clan. In 1292 King John Balliol erected Argyll into a sheriffdom, and Gillescop Maclachlan was named as one of the twelve barons of whose lands it was composed. His son supported Robert the Bruce and attended the Kings first parliament at St. Andrews in 1308. The Maclachlans also supported the Celtic church, because of Saint Columba's connection also with the O'Neill royal line. The Maclachlans prospered through their connection with the Campbells, through alliances and marriages, but feuded with the Lamonts, their neighbours in Cowal, supposedly being involved in their massacre by the Campbells in 1646. In 1680 the Maclachlan of that Ilk had his lands of Strathlachlan made into a barony and despite the distance of a few miles from the Campbell seat managed to retain its independence. The Maclachlans freedom of action continued as they loyally supported the Stewarts throughout their troubled years. They were probably at Killiecrankie in 1689 and Lachlan Maclachlan was with Mar at Perth in 1715. His son, Lachlan, the 17th chief was killed by a cannonball at the battle of Culloden in 1745 where he was acting as Prince Charles Edward Stewart's A.D.C. His son, only a young child, was also in the camp at Culloden and was killed by a chance shot. After Culloden, Castle Lachlan was ruined by a bombardment from the sea, but the estates were returned to the 18th chief by the help of the Duke of Argyll in 1749 and this remains today the seat of the Clan Chieftainess, Marjorie Maclachlan of Maclachlan.

David Helleren, President, Clan MacLachlan Society (Victoria) Inc Melbourne Australia got in touch to inform us that "Unfortunately Chief Marnie (Marjorie) died approx. 4 years ago and her son is now Chief and still resides at Strathlachlan. His name is Euan John Rome MacLachlan of MacLachlan and he is the 24th (I think) hereditary Chief.



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