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The Scottish Nation

MACLENNAN, the surname of a minor clan, called in Gaelic, the Siol Fhinnan, or race of Finnan. There was a celebrated Highland saint of this name, and the tribe or sept of the Maclennans derive their descent from one of his devotees. According to a tradition of the Sennachies, a chief of the Logans of Drumduirfait in Ross-shire, in the beginning of the 13th century, called Gilliegorm, had been killed in a clan battle with the Frasers, and his widow being carried off, bore a son, surnamed Crotach, of humpbacked, from his crooked appearance. It is even asserted that he was, in his infancy, intentionally injured by those into whose hands his mother had fallen, to prevent his ever attempting to avenge his father’s death, by leading his clan to battle, the Highlanders having a strong aversion to follow a deformed leader. He was therefore designed for the church, and with that view was placed with the monks of Beaulieu, to receive the requisite ecclesiastical upbringing. On coming of age, and duly set apart for his holy work, he set out upon a tour to the west coast, the isle of Skye, and other places adjacent, where he built the churches of Kilmuir in Sleat, in the churchyard of which parish the celebrated Flora Macdonald lies buried, and Kilchrennan in Gleneig. Disregarding the recent decree of Pope Innocent III., strictly enjoining the celibacy of the clergy, he married, and had several children. One of his sons he called Gillie-Ghinnan, in honour of the renowned St. Finnan, and as the Fh is here not pronounced in the Gaelic, Ghilli-inan became of course Maclennan.

      The Maclennans inhabited with the Macraes the district of Kintail in Ross-shire, the boundary between them being a river which runs into Loch Duich. At the battle of Auldearn in1645, they were intrusted with the standard of Lord Seaforth, and they defended it so gallantly, that great numbers of them were cut down around it. Eighteen of the widows of the Maclennans slain on this occasion married their neighbours the Macraes. Like the latter, the Maclennans were subordinate to the Seaforth branch of the Mackenzies, and in the different rebellions, fought under the renowned “Caber feidh,” or Caberfae, as the Mackenzie’s banner was called, from the deer’s head on the centre.

      The old Jacobite ballad of Sheriffmuir, to the tune of

                        “We ran and they ran,”

was written by a clergyman of this name, the Rev. Murdoch Maclennan of Crathie in Braemar. He became minister of that parish in 1749, and died there 22d July 1783, in the 82d year of his age. An abridged version of it is inserted in Motherwell and Hogg’s edition of the Works of Burns, vol. ii. page 164.

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