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The Highlanders of Scotland
Part II -
Chapter IV

The Gallgael – (continued)

NOTWITHSTANDING the ill success of the two attempts which the Macdonalds had made to set up one of their race as lord of the Isles, they remained determined not to give up all prospect of having a chief of their own race without a farther struggle. The effects of the last insurrections had indeed so completely depressed and crushed them for the time, that they appear to have been, during the remainder of the reign of James V., in no condition to attempt such an enterprise; and it was in consequence not till the regency of Mary of Guise, that an apparently favourable opportunity offered itself for the purpose. The race of Celestine, John’s immediate younger brother, being now extinct, they turned their thoughts towards Donald Du, the son of Angus Og, in whose favour the first attempt had been made shortly after the death of the last lord of the Isles; and they now determined to make a final effort to place him in possession of the inheritance which they conceived to have been unjustly wrested from him. Donald Du had been carried off, when still a minor, on the successful siege of Kerneburgh, by Sir Andrew Wood, and had been detained in captivity ever since in Inchconnel; but a sudden and unexpected attack upon his castle by the Macdonalds of Glenco effected his liberation, and he had no sooner arrived in the Isles than he was declared lord, and received the submission of the chiefs of the different branches of the Macdonalds and the other Island lords. In this insurrection, Donald Du was supported by the earl of Lennox, who was at that time in the English interest; and as long as Lennox continued in league with him, he remained in possession of the Isles; but that earl having soon after made his peace with the king, and disbanded his followers, Donald Du went to Ireland for the purpose of raising forces to support his occupancy of the territories of the Isles, but having been attacked with fever, he died at Drogheda, on his way to Dublin, and with him ended the direct line of the earls of Ross and lords of the Isles, and all hopes of a descendant of Somerled again reigning over the Isles. Thus ended the last effort made by the Macdonalds to regain their former state and power, and from this period they have remained divided and broken up into various branches, whose numerical strength is rendered unavailing by their mutual jealousy and want of union.

      Upon the forfeiture of the lords of the Isles, and failure of their subsequent attempts to retrieve their affairs, the various clans occupying the extensive territories which had owned their sway, were found in one or other of three situations: of one class were a number of clans which became dependent upon the Macdonalds, but were not of the same origin, and these clans, with thee exception of the Macleods, Maclanes, and others, opposed all the attempts made for the restoration of the family of the Isles, while upon the success of that opposition all of them raised themselves in strength and power. A second class were of the same origin as the family of the Isles, but having branched off from the main stem before the succession of the elder branches fell to the clan, in the person of John of the Isles, in the reign of David II., and before they rose to the height of their power, they now appeared as separate clans; of these were the Macalasters, Macians, & c. The Macalasters are traced by the MS. of 1450 from Alaster, a son of Angus Mor; and while the general derivation is confirmed by their tradition, the particular steps of the genealogy contained in that MS. derive corroboration from the records.

      The Macalasters inhabited the south of Knapdale and the north of Kintyre, and during the government of the lords of the Isles, we of course know little of their history. But after the forfeiture of the Isles they became independent, and were immediately exposed to the encroachments of the Campbells, so that their principal possessions soon found their way into different branches of that wide spreading race.

      The Macians of Ardnamurchan are descended from John, a son of Angus Mor, to whom his father gave the property which he had obtained from the crown; while the descent of the Macians, or Macdonalds, of Glencoe, from John Fraoch, a son of Angus Og, lord of the Isles, is undoubted, and never has been disputed, and their history in no degree differs from that of the other branches of the Macdonalds. There is but one circumstance peculiar to them which has rendered their name celebrated in the annals of the country, – that of the infamous massacre to which this unfortunate clan was subjected; a well-known transaction, into the details of which it is unnecessary here to enter. It must for ever remain a blot upon the memory of the king in whose reign it happened, and on that nobleman by whom it was perpetrated, which can never be effaced; and so detestable a transaction is almost sufficient to justify the hatred and opposition of the Highlanders towards the established government, which, united to their personal attachment to the line of their ancient kings, produced the unfortunate insurrections of the years 1715 and 1745. The third set were the descendants of the different lords of the Isles, who still professed to form one clan, but among whom the subject of the representation of the lords of the Isles soon introduced great dissensions. These branches all adopted the name of Macdonald, and the first great division which took place among them was between the descendants of the sons of the two marriages of John, lord of the Isles, in the fourteenth century. The descendants of the first marriage were limited to the clan Ranald; those of the second consisted of the Macdonalds of Sleat, Isla, and Keppoch, and the former, now that the circumstances which had given the latter in some degree a pre-eminence were at an end, loudly asserted their right to be considered as the patriarchal chiefs of the clan Donald.

      Among the descendants of the latter family, the representation now clearly devolved upon the Macdonalds of Sleat, who were descended of Hugh, brother of John, the last lord of the Isles. The three branches, however, remained in every respect independent of each other. The second branch, or Macdonald of Isla and Kintyre, after maintaining themselves for some time in a state of considerable power, at length sunk gradually before the secret but powerful agency of the Campbells, and were finally extinguished in the beginning of the reign of Charles I., when the Campbells, having procured letters of fire and sword against the whole clan Jan Vor, and having also obtained the assistance of the Macleods, Macleans, Macneils, Camerons, and others, compelled the last representative of that house, Sir James Macdonald, to fly to Spain, upon which the earl of Argyll got a grant of their lands, which forms the most valuable portion of his property.

      The Macdonalds of Keppoch remained for a long period in the forcible possession of their district of Lochaber, in spite of every effort to dispossess them, which occasioned their being engaged in perpetual feuds with their neighbours. They were the last of the Highlanders who retained the system of predatory warfare, in which at one time all were equally engaged; and as it is not long since they became extinct, it may be said that they preserved the warlike and high-spirited character of the ancient Highlander until it terminated with their own existence. The Macdonalds of Sleat is the only branch which has increased in power and station, and as their elevation to the peerage by the title of Lord Macdonald has placed them in the apparent situation of chief of the race, it will not be improper to add a few remarks on the claims of the different branches to that station.

      While it is fully admitted that the family of Sleat are the undoubted representatives of the last lord of the Isles, yet if the descendants of Donald, from whom the clan took its name, or even of John of the Isles in the reign of David II., are to be held as forming one clan, it is plain that, according to the Highland principles of clanship, the jus sanguinis, or right of blood to the chiefship lay unquestionably in the male representative of John, whose own right was undoubted. John of the Isles had, by Amy, the daughter of Roderick of the Isles, three sons, John, Godfrey, and Ranald, of whom the last only left descendants, and from whom the clan Ranald unquestionably derive their origin. By the daughter of Robert II., John had four sons, Donald, lord of the Isles, from whom came the Macdonalds of Sleat; John Mor, from whom the Macconnels of Kyntyre; Alaster, the progenitor of Keppoch; and Angus.

      In this question, therefore, there are involved two subordinate questions which have given rise to considerable disputer. – First, was Amy, the daughter of Roderic of the Isles, John’s legitimate wife, and were the sons of that marriage John’s legitimate heirs? And secondly, if the sons of the first marriage are legitimate, who is chief of the clan Ranald, the only clan descended from that marriage? With regard to the first point, there are two documents which place it beyond all doubt that Amy was John’s lawful wife. The first of these is a dispensation from the Pope in 1337 to John, son of Angus of the Isles, and Amie, daughter of Roderic of the Isles. The second is the treaty between John and David II. in 1369, in which the hostages are “Donaldum filium meum ex filia domini senescali Scotiae genitum Angusium filium quondam Johannis filii mei et Donaldum quemdam alium filium meum naturalem.” John had by Amy three sons, John, Godfrey, and Ranald, and the distinction made in the above passage between John “filius meus,” and Donald filius meus naturalis, proves that this family were legitimate. But it is equally clear that the children of this marriage were considered as John’s feudal heirs. When Robert II., in pursuance of the policy which he had adopted, persuaded John to make the children of the two marriages feudally independent of each other, it was effected in this manner. John received charters of certain of his lands containing a special destination to the heir of the marriage with the king’s daughter, while he granted a charter of another portion of his lands, consisting of the lordship of Garmoran, part of Lochaber, and some of the Isles, among which was that of Uist, to Reginald, one of the children of the first marriage, to be held of John’s lawful heirs, and this charter was confirmed by the king. That a special destination was necessary to convey part of John’s possessions to the children of the second marriage is in itself a strong presumption that they were not his feudal heirs, and from the terms of Reginald’s charter it is manifest that he must, on John’s death, have held his lands of the person universally acknowledged to be the feudal heir of the lord of the Isles. This person, however, was his brother Godfrey, the eldest surviving son of the first marriage, for in a charter to the Abbey of Inchaffray, dated 7th July, 1389, he designates himself “Dominus de Uist,” and dates his charter “Apud Castrum meum de Ylantirum,” both of which are included in Reginald’s charter. Moreover it appears that he was succeeded in this by his son Alexander, for when James II. summoned a parliament at Inverness, to which those only who held their lands in chief of the crown, were bound to attend, and when, from the state of the country at the time, it is apparent that no one would appear who could on any ground excuse his absence, we find among those who obeyed the summons, Alexander Macreury de Garmoran. Macreury and Macgorry, or son of Godfrey, are convertible expressions, and the attendance of this chief in parliament proves that the son of Godfrey held the lordship of Garmoran in chief of the crown. We find, however, that the rest of Reginald’s lands were equally held of this Alexander, for Reginald’s charter included a considerable part of Lochaber, and in the year 1394 an indenture was entered into between the Earl of Moray and Alexander de Insulis dominus de Lochaber for the protection of certain lands in Morayshire. We thus see that when it was intended that the eldest son of the second marriage should hold his lands of the crown a special destination to him was requisite, that a charter of certain lands was given to Reginald to be held of John’s feudal heirs, and that these very lands were held in chief of the crown by Godfrey, the eldest surviving son of the first marriage, and by his son Alexander. It is, therefore, plain that the actual effect of Robert the Second’s policy was to divide the possessions of his formidable vassals into two distinct and independent feudal lordships, of which the Dominium de Garmoran et Lochaber was held by the eldest son of the first marriage, and the Dominium Insularum by the eldest son of the second marriage; and in this state they certainly remained until the fatal parliament of 1427, when the lord of Garmoran was beheaded and his estates forfeited to the crown.

      The policy of James I., induced him then to reverse the proceedings of his predecessor Robert, and he accordingly concentrated the Macdonald possessions in the person of the lord of the Isles, but this arbitrary proceeding could not deprive the descendants of the first marriage of the feudal representation of the chiefs of the clan Donald, which now, on the failure of the issue of Godfrey in the person of his son Alexander, unquestionably devolved on the feudal representative of Reginald, the youngest son of that marriage.

      Of the descent of the clan Ranald, there is no doubt whatever, nor has it ever been disputed, that they derive their origin from this Reginald or Ranald, a son of John, lord of the Isles, by Amy Mac Rory. Ranald obtained, as we have seen, from his father the lordship of Garmoran, which he held as vassal of his brother Godfrey, and these were the same territories which the clan Ranald possessed, as appears from the parliamentary records in 1587, when mention is made of the “Clan Ranald of Knoydart, Moydart, and Glengarry.” There has, however, arisen considerable doubt which of the various families descended from Ranald anciently possessed the chiefship, and without entering in this place into an argument of any great length on the subject, we shall state shortly the conclusions to which we have been led after a rigid examination of that question.

      That the present family styling themselves “of Clanranald” were not the ancient chiefs there can be no doubt, as it is now a matter of evidence that they are descended from a bastard son of a second son of the old family of Moydart, who assumed the title of captain of Clanranald in 1531, and as long as the descendants of the elder brother remain they can have no claim by right of blood. The point we are to examine is, who was the chief previous to that assumption?

      Ranald had five sons, of whom three only left issue, viz.: Donald, from whom descended the family of Knoydart and Glengarry; Allan, the ancestor of the family of Moydart; and Angus, from whom came the family of Moror. That the descendants of Angus were the youngest branch, and could have no claim to the chiefship, has never been disputed, and the question accordingly lies between the descendants of Donald and of Allan. The seniority of Donald, however, is distinctly proved by the fact, that on the extinction of the family of Moror, the family of Moydart succeeded legally to that property; consequently by the law of Scotland they must have been descended from a younger son than the family of Knoydart and Glengarry, and it follows of necessity that the latter family must have been that of the chief. Independently, however, of this argument, derived from the history of their properties, the same fact is evinced by the constant appearance of the latter family at the head of the clan previous to the usurpation of the family of Moydart; thus when after Alexander, the lord of Garmoran, had been beheaded in 1427, and the lord of the Isles was soon after imprisoned, the whole clan rose in arms and revenged the death and imprisonment of their chiefs by the defeat of the king’s army at Inverlochy in 1433, they were commanded by Donald the son of Ranald, for the oldest authorities term the Donald Balloch who led the clan of this occasion, the son of Alexander’s uncle. The only other Donald who stood in this relation to Alexander was the son of John Mor, of Isla; but the same authorities state that the Donald Balloch of Inverlochy was betrayed and slain but a very few years afterwards, while the Donald the son of John Mor was unquestionably alive in 1462. The Donald Balloch of Inverlochy must, therefore, have been Donald the son of Ranald, and unless he was the chief of the clan Ranald it is difficult to suppose that he would have been placed in command of the whole clan, while the natural inference from the transaction is, that the clan turned themselves to Donald as the person who had the best right to lead them. Donald had three sons, John, Alaster, and Angus. [MS. of 1450.] On the forfeiture of Alexander Mac Gorry of Garmoran in 1427, that part of Lochaber possessed by him was granted to the Earl of Marr, while all those lands held of him by the clan Ranald remained in the crown, and consequently the chief of clan Ranald must have held them as crown vassal. [Not only did the chief of clan Ranald hold these lands of the crown, as he had previously held them of Alexander Mac Gorry, but it actually appears that the Lore of the Isles was his vassal in some of them, for Alexander, Lord of the Isles, grants a charter to the ancestor of the Macneills, dated in 1427, of the island of Barra, and of the lands of Boysdale in the island of Uist, both of which islands are included in Reginald’s charter, and one of which was, as we have seen, certainly held in chief of the crown by the heir of the first marriage.] Accordingly we find John, the eldest son of Donald, holding his lands of the crown, as appears from a gift of the nonentries of Knoydart to Cameron since the decease of John Mac Ranald, [That this John Mac Ranald was John, the eldest son of Donald, appears from two facts; first, his lands adjoin those of Alaster, the second son, and are separated by them from those of the other branches of the clan; second, on the failure of his descendants the descendants of Alaster succeeded to them.] and this sufficiently indicates his position at the head of the clan, as, if he had not been chief, he would have held his lands of the Moydart family. John appears by another charter to have died in 1467, and in 1476 the lands of Garmoran were included in a crown charter to John, lord of the Isles. The lords of the Isles had invariably manifested the most inveterate hostility to the rival family of Garmoran and their supporters. On the acquisition of Lochaber by Alexander, lord of the Isles, after his release from prison, this animosity displayed itself in the proscription of the Macdonalds of Keppoch, Macmartins of Letterfinlay, and others who were always faithful adherent of the patriarchal chief of the clan. The same animosity was now directed against the chief of clan Ranald; his lands of Knoydart appear to have been given to Lochiel, the lands of Southmoror, Arisaig, and many of the isles, were bestowed on Hugh of Slait, the brother of the lord of the Isles, and in this way the principal branch of the clan Ranald was reduced to a state of depression from which it did not soon recover. To this proscription there was but one exception, viz., the family of Moydart, who alone retained their possessions, and in consequence, on the forfeiture of the lords of the Isles, they did not hesitate to avail themselves of their situation, and place themselves at the head of the clan, a proceeding to which the representative of the ancient chiefs was not in a situation to offer any resistance. This was principally effected by John, surnamed Mudortach, a bastard son of the brother of the laird of Moydart; but the character of the usurpation is sufficiently marked by the title of captain of clan Ranald, which alone he assumed, and which his descendants retained until the latter part of the last century, when the Highland title of captain of clan Ranald was most improperly converted into the feudal one of Macdonald of clan Ranald. At the forfeiture of the lords of the Isles, the family of Knoydart and Glengarry consisted of two branches termed respectively “of Knoydart” and “of Glengarry,” of which the former was the senior; and while the senior branch never recovered from the depressed state to which they had been reduced, the latter obtained a great accession of territory, and rose at once to considerable power by a fortunate marriage with the heiress of the Macdonalds of Lochalsh. During the existence of the senior branch, the latter acknowledged its head as their chief, but on their extinction, which occurred soon after the usurpation by the family of Moydart, the Glengarry branch succeeded to their possessions, and as representing Donald, the eldest son of Ranald, the founder of the clan, loudly asserted their right to the chiefship, which they have ever since maintained.

      As the Moydart family were unwilling to resign the position which they had acquired, this produced a division of the clan into two factions, but the right of the descendants of Donald is strongly evinced by the above fact of the junior branch acknowledging a chief during the existence of the senior, and only maintaining their right to that station of its extinction and by the acknowledgment of the chiefship of the Glengarry family constantly made by the Macdonalds of Keppoch and other branches of the clan, who had invariably followed the patriarchal chiefs in preference to the rival family of the lords of the Isles.

      These few facts, which are necessarily given but very concisely, are however, sufficient to warrant us in concluding that Donald, the progenitor of the family of Glengarry, was Ranald’s eldest son; that from John, Donald’s eldest son, proceeded the senior branch of this family, who were chiefs of clan Ranald; that they were from circumstances, but principally in consequence of the grant of Garmoran to the lord of the Isles, so completely reduced, that the oldest cadet, as usual in such cases, obtained the actual chiefship, with the title of captain while on the extinction of this branch, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, the family of Glengarry, descended from Alaster, Donald’s second son, became the legal representatives of Ranald, the common ancestor of the clan, and consequently possessed that right of blood to the chiefship of which no usurpation, however successful, could deprive them.  The family of Glkengarry have since then not only claimed the chiefship of the clan Ranald, but likewise that of the whole clan Donald, as undoubted representative of Donald, the common ancestor of the clan; and when the services rendered by the family to the house of Stuart were rewarded by a peerage from Charles II., Glengarry indicated his rights by assuming the title of Lord Macdonell and Arross, which, on the failure of male heirs of his body, did not descend to his successors, although his lands formed in consequence the barony of Macdonell.


Quarterly. First – Or, a lion rampant, azure, armed and langued, gules. Second – A dexter hand coupee, holding a cross crosslet, fitchee sable. Third – Or, a ship with her sails furled, salterwise, sable. Fourth – A salmon naiant, proper, with a chief waved argent.



Principal Seat.


Oldest Cadet. Mac Alaster of Loup, now Somerville Macalister of Kennox.


The Ranaldson Macdonells, of Macdonell and Glengarry, are the unquestionable male representatives of the founder of the clan, and therefore possess the right of blood to the chiefship.


In 1427 the Macdonells of Garmoran and Lochaber mustered 2000 men. In 1715, the whole clan, 2820. In 1745, 2350.


Clan Dugall.

The Macdogalls have, in general, been derived from Dogall, the eldest son of Somerled, and it has been hitherto assumed, that Alexander de Ergadia, who first appears in 1284, and who was the undoubted ancestor of the clan, was the son of Ewen de Ergadia, or king Ewen, who appears so prominently at the period of the cession of the Isles. But this derivation, to which the resemblance of name has probably given rise, is unquestionably erroneous, for independently of the fact that there is strong evidence for king Ewen having died without male issue, it is expressly contradicted by the manuscript of 1450, in two several places. That invaluable record of Highland genealogies says expressly, that from Ranald sprung the clan Rory, clan Donald, and clan Dogall; and that this was no mere mistake, but the real opinion of the author, is evident, for in another place he gives the genealogy of the Macdogalls of Dunolly from Dugall the son of Ranald. This, however, is confirmed by the chartulary of Cupar, for the manuscript makes Alexander de Ergadia, the son of Duncan, son of Dugall, son of Reginald; and in that chartulary Duncanus de Lornyn witnesses a charter of the earl of Atholl of the lands of Dunfallandy, dated certainly between 1253 and 1270, while during that period Ewen was in possession of the lands of his branch of the family. These facts seem to leave little room to doubt that this clan were in reality descended from Ranald, the son of Somerled, and that their ancestor Dugall was the brother of Donald, the founder of the clan Donald.

      The first appearance of this family is at the convention of 1284, where we find the name of Alexander de Ergadia, and his attendance on this occasion was probably procured by a crown charter of his lands; but from this period we lose sight of him until the reign of Robert the Bruce, when the opposition of Alexander de Ergadia, lord of Lorn, and his son John to the succession of that king, has made his name familiar in Scottish history. Alaster having married the third daughter of John, called the Red Comyn, who was slain by Bruce in the Dominican church at Dumfries, became, from that circumstance, the mortal enemy of that prince, and on more than one occasion, was the means of reducing him to great straits, in the early period of his reign. After his defeat at Methven, in June 19, 1306, Bruce retreated to the mountainous part of Braidalbane, and approached the borders of Argyllshire, where, with his followers, who did not amount to three hundred men, he was encountered by Lorn with about a thousand of his followers, and repulsed after a very severe engagement. The Bruce with difficulty escaped, and the greatness of his danger is attested by the fact, that upon one occasion he was only able to extricate himself from the followers of Lorn by unclasping his mantle; and the brooch, which is said to have been lost by him during the struggle, is still preserved as a remarkable relic in the family of Macdogall of Dunolly.

      The place where this battle was fought is still called Dalry, or the King’s Field. On another occasion, when he had been obliged to hide from his enemies, he was tracked for a long distance by John of Lorn and his party, by aid of a bloodhound, and only escaped by the exertion of almost incredible personal courage and activity. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that when Bruce had finally established himself firmly on the throne of Scotland, one of his first objects should be directed towards crushing his old enemies the Macdogalls, and revenging the many injuries he had received from them.

      Accordingly, he marched into Argyllshire for the purpose of laying that country waste and taking possession of Lorn, and found John of Lorn, with his followers, posted in the formidable and nearly inaccessible pass which intervenes between the mountain of Ben Cruachan and Loch Awe. But the military skill of Bruce was able to overcome even the natural difficulties of the country, for he dispatched a party to scale the mountain, and gain the heights, while attacking the enemy in front, he speedily changed their resistance into precipitate flight – the difficulty of the pass, which had been of advantage to them in the attack, now proved their ruin when in flight, and accordingly, being unable to effect their escape, they were totally routed, and that with great slaughter. Upon this event Bruce laid waste Argyllshire, and besieged the castle of Dunstafnage, which he compelled to surrender. Alaster, of Lorn, hopeless of successfully continuing his opposition, submitted to the victorious king, while his son John, who could not expect to be admitted to any terms, fled to England. The greater part of their territories were forfeited by the king, and given to Angus of Isla, who throughout had been one of his main supports, while Alaster was allowed to retain the district of Lorn. At this time the king of England was making preparations for that great expedition into Scotland, which resulted in the battle of Bannockburn, and on the arrival of John of Lorn as a fugitive, he appointed him admiral of the fleet and dispatched him to Scotland, to co-operate with the land army. The battle of Bannockburn soon after confirmed Bruce in the secure possession of the crown, and he was no sooner relieved from the apprehension of any farther attempt on the part of the king of England to regain possession of Scotland, than he determined to drive the lord of Lorn out of the Isles, where he had arrived with his fleet. For this purpose, when he had accompanied his brother Edward in his expedition to Ireland, he turned his course towards the Isles, and having arrived at Tarbet, he is said to have caused his galleys to be dragged over the isthmus which unites Kintyre and Knapdale.

                        “And quhen thai, that in the Ilis war,
                        Hard tell how the gud king had thar
                        Gert hys schippis with saillis ga
                        Owt our betuix (the) Tarbart (is) twa,
                        Thai war abaysit sa wtrely
                        For thai wyst, throw auld prophecy,
                        That he that suld ger schippis sua
                        Betuix thai seis with saillis ga,
                        Suld wyne the Ilis sua till hand
                        That nane with strength suld him withstand,
                        Tharfor thai come all to the king,
                        Wes nane withstud his bidding,
                        Owtakyn Ihone of Lorne Allayne,
                        But weill sun eftre was he tayne
                        And present right to the king.” [Barbour.]

      The result of this expedition was the complete dispersion of the English fleet and the seizure of John of Lorn, who was imprisoned in Dumbarton, and afterwards in Lochleven, where he remained during the rest of Robert Bruce’s reign. The death of Robert Bruce seems to have procured for John of Lorn his liberty, and as his marriage with a relation of the Comyn had caused the forfeiture of his possessions, so he was now to recover his former station by a more politic connexion with the royal family. He appears to have married a grand-daughter of Robert Bruce, early in the reign of his successor, David II., and was in consequence not only restored to his possessions, but even obtained a grant of the additional property of Glenlion. These extensive territories were not, however, doomed to remain long in the family, for on the death of Ewen, the last lord of Lorn, they passed into the family of Steward of Innermeath; John Stewart of Innermeath and his brother Robert having married his two daughters and co-heiresses, and by an arrangement between the brothers, the descendants of John Stewart acquired the whole of the Lorn possessions, with the exception of the Castle of Dunolly and it dependencies, situated in the heart of their lordship, which remained to the next branch of the family.

      Thus terminated the power of this branch of the descendants of Somerled, who at one time rivalled the other branches in their power and the extent of their territories. The chieftainship of the clan now descended to the family of Dunolly, who were descended from Allan, the son of John of Lorn, and brother of Ewen, the last lord, and who still survive the decay of their ancient grandeur. This family continued to enjoy the small portion of their ancient estates which remained to them until the year 1715, “when the representative incurred the penalty of forfeiture for his accession to the insurrection of that period, thus losing the remains of his inheritance to replace upon the throne the descendants of those princes whose accession his ancestors had opposed at the expense of their feudal grandeur.” But the estate was restored to the family im 1745, in consequence of their having taken no part in the attempt of that year.


Quarterly. First and fourth – In a field azure, a lion rampant, argent for Macdogall. Second and third – Or, a lymphad sable, with flame of fire issuing out of the topmast, proper, for Lorn.



Principal Seat.



Macdogall of Dunolly.


In 1745, 200.


Siol Gillevray.

      Besides the Macdonalds and the Macdogalls, the MS. of 1450 deduces various others of the Argyllshire clans from the same race. According to that ancient document, a certain Gillebride rig eilan, or king of the Isles, lived in the twelfth century, and was descended from a brother of Suibne, the ancestor of the Macdonalds slain in 1034; and from Anradan, or Henry the son of Gillebride, the same authority deduces the Macneills, Maclachlans, Macewens, and Maclaisrichs. That the genealogy by which this Gillebride is brought from an ancestor of the Macdonells, in the beginning of the eleventh century, is authentic, is perhaps more than we are entitled to assert; but the existence of a traditionary affinity between these clans and the race of Somerled at so early a period, sufficiently proves that they were of the same race. Gillebride, probably, merely possessed the Norwegian title of a Sudreya Konungr, or Hebridean king, which was bestowed on the principal Island chiefs; and the seat of his race appears to have been Lochaber, as the different clans descended from him can in general be traced from thence, and his immediate ancestor is termed “Abrice,” or of Lochaber. I have ventured to call this tribe the Siol Gillebride, or Gillevray, as I find an old Sennachy of the Macdonalds stating that in the time of Somerled, “the principal surnames in the country (Morvern, Ardgour, and Lochaber) were Mac Innes and Mac Gillevrays, who were the same as the Mac Innes.” It appears from this passage, that the oldest inhabitants of these districts consisted of two clans, the Mac Gillevrays and the Mac Innes, who were of the same race; and as there is a very old traditionary connexion between the clan A Mhaisdir, or Mac Innes of Ardgour, and several of the clans descended from Anradan Mac Gillebride, it seems to establish the identity of this tribe with the old Mac Gillevrays of Morvern. The various branches of this tribe probably formed but one clan, under the name of the clan Gillevray, until the conquest of Argyll by Alexander II., when they fully shared in the ruin which fell upon those who adhered to Somerled, with the exception of the Macneills, who agreed to hold their lands of the crown; and the Maclachlans, who regained their former position by marriage with an heiress of the Lamonds. The other branches of this tribe appear, on the breaking up of the clan, to have followed as chief the Macdogall Campbells of Craignish, a family descended of the kindred race of the Mac Innes of Ardgour, who likewise attained to considerable power.

Clan Neill.

      The Macneills first appear in the beginning of the fifteenth century as a powerful clan in Knapdale, and as this district was not included in the sheriffdom of Argyll, it is probable that their ancestor had agreed to hold the district as a vassal of the crown. In the beginning of the preceding century we find that the district of Knapdale had been forfeited and given by Robert Bruce to John de Menteth, and in 1310 there is a letter by the king of England granting to John Terrealnanogh and Murquocgh, the sons of Swen de Ergadia, the lands of Knapdale, “que quondam fuit antecessorum dictorum Johannis Terrealnanogh et Murquogh,” and from which they had been driven out by John de Menteth. This Swen appears to be the Swen Ruoidh alluded to in an ancient manuscript genealogy of the Campbells, which adds, he was owner of a great castle, Swen in Knapdale, nd was Thane of Glassrie and Knapdale. The next notice of the Macneills is a charter by Alexander, lord of the Isles, dated in 1427, to Gilleonan Roderici Murchardi Makneill, of the Island of Barra, and the lands of boysdale, in Uist, to him and the longest liver of his brothers procreated between Roderic Makneill and the daughter of Ferquhard Mac Gilleon, and failing them to the heirs whomsoever of the said Roderic.

      But Barra was not at this time chief of the clan, as we shall afterwards see. In 1472 we find Hector Mactorquill Macneill, keeper of Castle Swen, witnessing a charter of Celestine, lord of Lochalsh; and from his office of heritable keeper of Castle Swen, which, together with Knapdale, had been again srested from his ancestors by Robert Bruce, and granted to John of the Isles by Robert II., there seems little doubt that he must have been chief of the clan. Six years after this the family of Geya first make their appearance in the person of Malcolm Macneill of Gigha, who, in 1478, witnesses a charter of John, lord of the Isles.

      From this period the clan remained divided into these two families of Gigha and Barra, and exhibits the somewhat remarkable feature of part of their possessions being completely separated off and lying at a very great distance from the rest; and as both these properties appear in the possession of the clan at a very early period, it is difficult to say how one part of the clan came to be so detached from the rest. This circumstance, however, had afforded grounds for a dispute between the Macneills of Barra and the Macneills of Taynish, or Gigha, with regard to the chiefship, a circumstance which can be easily accounted for when we recollect that the remoteness of the two possessions must have superseded all dependence or connexion between their occupiers, and that a long period of independence would naturally lead each of them to claim the chiefship of the whole.l As late as the middle of the sicteenth century, it is certain that neither of these families were in possession of the chiefship, for in the Register of the Privy Seal there appears in that year a letter “to Torkill Macneill, chief and principal of the clan and surname of Macnelis;” and it is unquestionable that this Torkill was neither Gigha nor Barra, for at this date Macneill of Gigha’s name was Neill Macnele, and that of Barra, Gilleownan Macneill. As this Torkill is not designated by any property, it is probable that the chiefs of the Macneills possessed the hereditary office of keeper of Castle Swen, in which capacity the first chief of the clan appears. Afteer this period we cannot trace any chief of the clan distinct from the families of Barra and Gigha, and it is probable the family of the hereditary keepers of Castle Swen became extinct in the person of Torkill, and that his heiress carried his possessions to the Macmillans, whom we find soon after in possession of Castle Swen, with a considerable tract of the surrounding country. Tradition unquestionably points to Barra as now chief of the clan, and in this family the right to the chiefship probably exists, although the extreme distance of his possessions, which he appears from the first charter of Barra to have obtained in consequence of a marriage with an heiress of the Macleans, from the rest, led many of them to follow the Macneills of Gigha, and made the latter family almost independent.


Quarterly. First – Azure, a lion rampant argent. Second – Or, a hand coupee, fessways, gules, holding a cross, crosslet, fitchee, in pale azure. Third – Or, a lymphad sable. Fourth – Parted per fees, argent and vert, to represent the sea, out of which issueth a rock, gules.


Sea Ware.

Principal Seat.

Knapdale, afterwards Barra.

Oldest Cadet.

Macneill or Gigha.


Macneill of Barra.


Clan Lachlan.

      The Maclachlans are traced, by the manuscript of 1450, to Gilchrist, the son of Dedaalan, who was son of that Anradan from whom all the clans of this tribe are descended, and besides the high authority which this genealogy derives from the circumstance that there is every reason to think that the author of the manuscript was a Maclachlan, it is father confirmed by the fact that at the period at which the manuscript mentions a Gillepadrig Mac Gilchrist as one of the chiefs of the clan, we find in the Paisley chartulary a charter by “Laumanus filius Malcolmi,” the ancestor of the Lamonts, witnessed by Gillpatrick filius Gillchrist. Universal tradition asserts that they acquired these lands in Cowall by marriage with an heriess of the Lamonds, and the manuscript apparently indicates the same fact, for it states that this Gilchrist married the daughter of Lachlan Mac Rory, while Lachlan Mac Rory is exactly contemporary with Angus Mac Rory, lord of Cowall, chief of the Lamonds. Their original seat 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. But as this clan soon after their acquisitions in Cowall became dependent upon the Campbells, we are unable to furnish any history of the subsequent generations. Although the Maclachlans were thus reduced by the Campbells to a species of dependence, they still remained a clan of considerable strength, and for a long period do not appear to have been subject to any great change in their condition: in the year 1745 their strength was estimated at three hundred men.


Quarterly. First – Or, a lion rampant gules, Second – Argent, a hand coupee fessways, holding a cross, crosslet, fitchee, gules. Third – Or, a galley, her oars in saltyre, sable, placed in a sea proper. fourth – Argent, in a base undee vert, a salmon naiant, proper.


Mountain ash.

Principal Seat.

Strathlachlane in Cowall.

Oldest Cadet.

Maclachlan of Coruanan, in Lochaber.


Maclachlan of Maclachlan.


In 1745, 300.


Clan Ewen.

      The Reverend Mr. Alexander Macfarlane, in his excellent account of the parish of Killfinnan, says, “on a rocky point on the coast of Lochfine, about a mile below the church, is to be seen the vestige of a building called Caesteal Mhic Eobhuin, i.e., Mac Ewen’s castle”’ and he adds, “This Mac Ewen was the chief of a clan, and proprietor of the northern division of the parish called Otter.” The reverend gentleman professes his inability to discover who this Mac Ewen was, but this omission is supplied by the manuscript of 1450, which contains the genealogy of the clan “Eoghan na Hoitreic,” or clan Ewen of Otter, and in which they are brought from Anradan, the common ancestor of the Maclachlans and Macneills.

      This family became very soon extinct, and their property gave a title to a branch of the Campbells; of their history consequently, we know nothing whatever.


Soil Eachern.

      Under this name are comprised the Macdogall Campbells of Craignish, and Lamonds of Lamond, both of whom are very old clans in Argyllshire, and were, as we have reason to think, of the same race.


Clan Dugall Craignish.

The policy of the Argyll family led them to employ every means for the acquisition of property and the extension of the clan. One of the arts, which they used for the latter purpose, was to compel those clans which had become dependent upon them to adopt the name of Campbell, and this, when successful, was generally followed at an after period by the assertion that that clan was descended from the house of Argyll. In general, the clans thus adopted into the race of Campbell, are sufficiently marked out by their being promoted only to the honour of being an illegitimate branch, but the tradition of the country invariably distinguishes between the real Campbells and those who were compelled to adopt their name. Of this, the Campbells of Craignish afford a remarkable instance; they are said to be descended from Dogall, an illegitimate son of one of the ancestors of the Campbells im the twelfth century, but the universal tradition of the country is that their old name was Mac Eachern, and that they were of the same race with the Macdonalds. This is partly confirmed by their arms, being the galley of the Isles, from the mast of which hangs a shield, containing the gironé of eight pieces or and sable of the Campbells, and still more by the manuscript of 1450, which contains a genealogy of the Mac Eacherns, deducing them, not from the Campbells, but from a certain Nicol Mac Murdoch in the twelfth century. When the Mac Gillevrays and Mac Innes of Morvern and Ardgour were dispersed and broken up, we find that many of their septs, especially the Mac Innes, although not residing on any of the Craignish properties, acknowledged that family as their chief. Accordingly, as the Mac Gillevrays and Mac Innes were two branches of the same clan, and separate from each other, as early as the twelfth century; and as the Mac Eacherns are certainly of the same race, while Murdoch, the first of the clan, is exactly contemporary with Murdoch, the father of Gillebride, the ancestor of the Siol Gillevray, there seems little doubt that the Siol Eachern and the Mac Innes were the same clan. [There was an old family of Mac Eachern of Kingerloch, and as Kingerloch marches with Ardgour, the old property of the Mac Innes, it strongly confirms the hypothesis that the two clans were of the same race.] That branch of the Siol Eachern which settled at Craignish in the ancient sheriffdom of Argyll, were called the Clan Dogall Craignish, and are said to have obtained this property from the brother of Campbell of Lochow in the reign of David II. Certain it is that in that reign, Gillespie Campbell obtained these lands on the forfeiture of his brother, Colin Campbell of Lochow, and it is probable that from him the clan Dougall Craignish acquired their right. The Lochow family were afterwards restored from this forfeiture, and the Craignish family were then obliged to hold their lands of the Argyll family.

      They remained for some time after this a powerful family, though unable eventually to resist that influence which swept all the neighbouring clans under the power of the Campbells, where they soon became identified with the other clans which had been compelled to assume the name of Campbell and to give up their existence as a clan, to swell the already overgrown size of that powerful race.


Clan Lamond.

      There are few traditions more universally believed in the Highlands, or which can be traced back to an earlier period, than that the Lamonds were the most ancient proprietors of Cowall, and that the Stewarts, Maclachlans, and Campbells, obtained their possessions in that district by marriage with daughters of that family. At an early period, we find that a small part of Upper Cowall was included in the sheriffdom of Argyll, while the rest of the district remained in the shire of Perth; it is plain, therefore, that the lord of Lower Cowall had, on the conquest of Argyll by Alexander II., submitted to the king, and obtained a crown charter. Towards the end of the same century, we find the high steward in possession of lower Cowall, and the Maclachlans in that of Strachlachlan; and as it appears that, in 1242, Alexander the high steward married Jean, the daughter of James, son of Angus Mac Rory, said to be lord of Bute, while the manuscript of 1450 informs us that about the same period Gilchrist Maclachlan married the daughter of Lachlan Mac Rory, it seems probable that this Roderic or Rory was the person who obtained the crown charter of Lower Cowall, and that by these marriages the property passed to the Stewarts and Maclachlans. The identity of these facts with the tradition, at the same time, indicate that Angus Mac Rory was the ancestor of the Lamonds.

      After the marriage of the Stewart with his heiress, the next of the Lamonds whom we trace is “Duncanus filius Ferchar,” and “Laumanus filius Malcolmi nepos ejusdem Duncani,” who grant a charter to the monks of Paisley, of the lands of Kilmore near Lochgilp, and of the lands “quas nos et antecessores nostri apud Kilmun habuerunt.” In the same year there is a charter by Laumanus filius Malcolmi, of Kilfinan, and this last charter is confirmed in 1295 by “Malcolmus filius et haeres domini quondam Laumani.” That this Laumanus was the ancestor of the Lamonds is proved by an instrument, in 1466, between the monastery of Paisley and John Lamond of that ilk, regardeing the lands of Kilfinan, in which it is expressly said, that these lands had belonged to John Lamond’s ancestors. From Laumanus the clan appear to have taken the name of Maclaman or Lamond; and previous to Laumanus they unquestionably bore the name of Macerachar, and clan ic Earachar. The close connexion of this clan with the clan Dougall Craignish is marked out by the same cirdumstances which have indicated the other branches of that tibe; for during the power of the Craignish family, a great portion of the clan ic Earacher followed that family as their natural chief, although they had no feudal right to their services. There is one peculiarity connected with the Lamonds, that although by no means a powerful clan, their genealogy can be proved by charters, at a time when most other Highland families are obliged to have recourse to the uncertain lights of tradition, and the genealogies of their ancient sennachies; but their great antiquity could not protect the Lamonds from the encroachments of the Campbells by whom they were soon reduced to as small a portion of their original possessions in Lower Cowall, as the other Argyllshire clans had been of theirs. As a clan, the Lamonds were of very much the same station as the Maclachlans, and like them, they have still retained a part of their ancient possessions.


Azure, a lion rampant argent.


Crab-apple tree.

Principal Seat.

Lower Cowall.


Lamond of Lamond.

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