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Historical Geography of the Clans of Scotland
By T. B. Johnston, F.R.G.S. and Colonel James A. Robertson
Extract from "Memoriall Anent The True State Of The Highlands"

(The authorship of this Memorial has been attributed to Duncan Forbes of Culloden.)

* * * * * * * * * *

I NOW proceed to Narrate the Highland followings and dependances beginning in the South at Argyll-Shire.

CAMPBELLS.—In the Irish (Gaelic) tongue Called Clanquin. The Duke of Argyll is their Chieften, and is Named in the Highlands Mack-Callen-More, he can raise out of his own property, Small Vassals, and Kinsmen Lands, 3000 Men. The Earl of Broadalbine more than 1000 and the many Great Barrons such as Auchinbreck, Ardkindloss, Lochnell, etc., etc., at least Another 1000. So that that Clan Could bring to the field above 5000 Men besides a Vast many Barrons and Gentlemen, not only out of Argyll, but out of Dumbarton, Streoling and Perth Shires, and are at present the Richest and Most Numerous Clan in Scotland, their Countreys and Bounds Most Extensive, their Superiorities, Jurisdictions and other Dependances by far the Greatest in the Kingdom, which makes them the familie of Greatest Significancy and power in North Brittain and Always has been So, Since the Declyn of the Douglasses, the totall Fall of the Cummins, and the extinction of the Earl of Ross his Familie.

MACKLEANS. -In Irish called Clan Lein, Sir Hector Macklean is their Chieften and is Called in the Highlands Mackillein, was a very potent Clan About 200 years Agone, and Could have raised above 800 men, but now that the familie of Argyll are possessed of their Chieften’s Estate, they will hardly make 500, and even Many of these brought out of the Duke’s Lands.

MACKLACHLEN.—In Irish Called Clan Lachlen, the Laird of Macklachlen is the Chief, can raise 200 Men.

STEWART OF ASSIN.----The Laird of Assin is the Chief, he holds his Lands of the Crown, and can raise 300 Men.

MCDOUGALS OF LORN.—In Irish called Clanrickcuil, their Chieften the Laird of Makdougall and is Called in the Highlands Mackcuill Lorn, was a more potent familie of old but now much Diminished by the Campbells, and Can (I believe) Still bring out 200 Men.

Proceeding Northward by the Coast and Isles.

MACKDONALD OF SLATE.—Sir Alexander Mackdonald is their Chief, in Irish Called Mack-Conell simply, by way of Preheminence, he has a very considerable Estate which holds all of the Crown, and lyes in the Isles of Skye and Uist and can bring out 700 Men.

MACKDONALD OF CLANRONALD. In Irish the Chieften is Called Mackick-allen, and in English Captain of Clanronald, he has a very handsome estate, holds most of it of the Crown, which lyes in Moidart, and Arisack, on the Continent, and in the Isles of Uist, Benbecula, Cana, Rum, etc., he brings out 700 Men.

MACKDONALD OF GLENGARY.—The Laird of Glengary is their Chief, who in Irish is Called Mackick Alaster, he has a pretty good estate, all holden of the Crown, which lyes in the Countreys of Glengary, and Knoidart, both on the Continent, and Can bring out 500 Men.

MACKDONALD OF KEPOCH. Kepoch is their Chieftain, in Irish is called Mackickvailt, he is not so much as a Propriatar of one furr of Land, but only Tacksmen and tennants, both himself and kinsmen, in most of their possessions, to the Laird of Mackintosh, and the remaining part to the Duke of Gordon, all lying in Lochaber, he can raise and bring out 150 men.

MACKDONALD OF GLENCO.—-The Laird of Glenco is their Chief, who in Irish is Called Mackickian,’ he is but a very small propriatar, he holds his lands of Stewart of Apin, and Can raise 150 Men.

These Five Chieftens of Mackdonalds, all Claim a Lineal Descent from Alexander Mackdonald, Earl of Ross, Successor and Representative of Donald of the Isles, but none of them have any Clear Documents to Vouch the Same, So that that great and Aspyring Familie, who wadged frequent wars with our Scots Kings, and who Acted as Sovereigns themselves, and oblidged Most of the Clans to Swear Fealty to them, is now Utterly Extinct, The last Earl having No Sons, neither had he any Near Male relation to Succeed him.

CAMERONS.—A very potent Clan in Lochaber, the Laird of Lochiel is their Chief, who is Called in Irish Mackoildin, he has a good Competent estate, but none of it holden of the Crown, The most of it is of the Duke of Argyll, and the remainder of the Duke of Gordon, he can bring out 800 Men—of Old there were Severall Small tribes in that Countrey—Viz. McMartins, Clanigilivile, and Clanigilouvie, who were always esteemed to be of the Clancattan, but now Call themselves all Camerons and are very faithfull to their Chief.

MACKLEODS.—Were Two distinct and both very potent families of Old, Viz. Mackleod of Lews and Mackleod of Harris, both thought to be of Danish Extraction, But the former is Utterly Extinct, and their Lands purchased and possessed by the Mackenzies, The now only Laird of Macleod is their Chieften, and is in Irish Called Mackloit, he has a very Considerable Fortune, all holden of the Crown, lying in Glenelg on the Continent, and in the Isles of Sky and Harris, etc., etc., he can raise and bring out 700 Men.

MACKINNONS.—The Laird of Mackinnon is their Chief, who in Irish is called Mackenoin, holds his Lands of the Crown, both in the Isles of Sky and Mull and Can raise 200 Men.

I pass now again to the South to give Account of the Inland Chieftens beginning again at Argyle Shire and from thence proceeding Northward.

There are Severalls of Qualitie, as well as Gentlemen who are Chieftens, who have the Command of Severall Highlanders in the Countreys of Argyll, Monteith, Dumbarton, Streoling, and Perth Shires, Such as the Duke of Montrose, Earls of Murray and Bute, as also the Macfarlands, Macknails, Macknabs and Macknachtens, etc., etc., whom I freely pass over Since for Some Considerable time they have given No Disturbance by Armaments or Convocations.

DUKE OF PERTH.—ls no Claned familie, although the head of a Considerable Number of Barrons and Gentlemen of the Name of Drummond in the Low Countreys, he is brought in here Allennarly Upon account of his command of about 300 Highlanders in Glenertonie and Neighbourhood.

ROBERTSONS.—The Laird of Strowen is their Chief, they are in the Irish called Clandonachie, his Lands holds of the Crown and lye in Roinach and Brae of Atholl, he can raise on his own Estate about 200 Men; There are near 500 More Robertsons in Atholl who Seldom or Never follow their Said Chief being a part of the following of the Duke of Atholl after Named.

MENZIESES.—Sir Robert Menzies of Weem is the Chieften and is in Irish Called Menernach, he has a very handsome Estate all holden of the Crown, Lying in Apenedull and Roinach, and can raise 500 Men.

STEWART OF CAIRNTULLIE.—Is no Chieften but has an handsome Estate in Strathbran and Strathtey, all holden of the Crown, out of which he can raise 200 Men.

CLAN GREGORE.—Are a people very Remarkable for wicked Achievements, that Name has been Severall times Discharged by Act of Parliament, So that they are at present Disguised Under the Severall Names of Campbells, Graham, Murray, and Drummond, etc., and Dispersed thorrow Dumbarton, Streoling and Perthshires, They have No freeholder or Barron Amongst them and few or None that have any heritage, they have no present Chieften, the said Dignitie being just now Elective and Continues no longer than the Current Expedition and is Detur Digniori, they can raise among them 500 Men and Are rarely Absent from any Great Convocation whatever the Quarrell may be, Since plunder and Booty is their Bussiness.

DUKE OF ATHOLL.—He is no Claned familie, although Chieften and head of a Number of Barrons and Gentlemen of the Name of Murray in the low Countrey, but is deservedly placed here upon the Account of his extensive following of About 3000 Highlanders, a Good Many of them out of his own property, but most of them Upon the Account of Vast Superiorities in Glenalmond, Glenlyon, Balquhidder, Strathtay, Atholl, Bishoprick of Dunkeld, Strathardel and Glenshee.

Crossing the Grampians we come to Marr.

FARQUHARSONS.—The only Claned familie in Marr, or Aberdeenshire, Are the Farquharsons, in Irish Called Claniunla, they Can bring out 500 Men, The Laird of Invercald is their Chief, who has a very handsome estate holden of the Crown, both in Perth and Aberdeen Shires, there Are Severall other Barrons of his Name, that have competent fortunes.

DUKE OF GORDON. Is no Claned familie, Although a Chieften of a Very Considerable and powerfull Name in the Low Countries, besides that he has a great Posse of Gentlemen on horse back in Enzie and Strathboggie, but he is only placed here, upon the Account of his followings of Highlanders in Strathavin and Glenlivet, which will be about 300 Men. His extensive Superiorities and Jurisdictions in the Highlands, Viz., in Badenoch and Lochaber, does not yield him Any followers, the possessions of his own very property, as well as these whole Countreys, follow their Naturall Chieftens, of whom they are Descended, and have no Manner of Regard either to Masters or Superiors.

GRANTS.— A Considerable Name and familie in Strathspey, the Laird of Grant is their Chief, who has an handsome and Large Estate, both in Strathspey and Urquhart, all holden of the Crown except Abernethie, which he holds of the Earl of Murray, He can raise out of Strathspey 700 Men and out of Urquhart 150, he has Severall Barrons of his Name, both in Inverness, Murray, Bamff, and Aberdeen-Shires.

MCINTOSHES.—This was one of the most potent Clans in Scotland, when their Residence was at (sic) Castle in Lochaber, the Antient Seat of their familie (of which Countrey they are Still Heritable Stewarts) but the Camerons having purchased most of Said estate has much Diminished their power. The Laird of Mackintosh is their Chief, in Irish Called Macintoshuk and in English Commonly termed Captain of Clan Chattan, he can bring out 800 Men, Including the Small Neighbouring families, of Mackgillivray, Mackqueen, Mackbain, etc., etc., who all own themselves his Kinsmen, His Countreys are Brae Lochaber, Badenoch, Strathern and Strathnern. He Still retains a very Competent Estate, he holds Brae Lochabar, Moy and Largs of the Crown, Badenoch of the Duke of Gordon, and Most of his kinsmen hold Strathern and Strathnairn of the Earl of Murray.

MCPHERSONS.—Called in Irish Clanvurich, their chief is the Laird of Clunie, he can bring out 300 Men, his whole Lands and all his Kinsmens lands, are holden of the Duke of Gordon and lye in Badenoch.

FRAZERS.—Are a Considerable Clan in the Countreys of Aird and Stratharrigg. Their Chieften is Lord Lovat, in Irish called Mackimmie, has a very Considerable estate all holden of the Crown, and Can raise 700 Men, he has a good Number of Barrons of his Name, All in Inverness Shire.

GLENMORISTON GRANT.—Is no Chieften, neither does he ever follow any, he brings out 100 Men, his lands are holden of the Crown, and does frequently in Armaments join with McDonald of Glengary.

CHISOLMS.—Their Chieftain is Chisholm of Straglass, in Irish Called Inshisolich, holds his Land of the Crown and Can bring out 200 Men.

MCKENZIES.—One of the Most Considerable Clans Under one head (next to the Campbells) in the Nation. The Earl of Seaforth was, and Now Lord Fortrose is, their Chief, in Irish is called Mackkynnich, He out of his Countreys of Kintaile, Lochelsh, Lochbroon, and Lochcaron, on the Continent, and in the Isles of Lews, etc., Can raise 1000 Men which is all he can Command, The Earl of Cromartie with 8 or 9 Barrons of the Name and an Number of Smaller Gentlemen can amongst them raise 1000 More, but are not Much Inclined to follow their Chief, Neither are they in Use, or Very Apt to Armaments in that Countrey of Ross, etc., of late they are much come in to Independancy.

MONROES.—Sir Hary Monroe of Foules is their Chief, his Lands are holden of the Crown, and Can raise 300 Men.

ROSSES.-—-Lord Ross is their Chief, his Lands hold of the Crown, and Can raise 300 Men.

SUTHERLANDS.—The Earl of Sutherland is their Chief, Can raise 700 Men.

MACKAYS.—The Lord Rae is their Chief, His Estate lyes in Strathnaver, and he can raise 500 Men.

SINKLAIRS.—The Earl of Caitness is their Chief, and Could raise 500 Men, but his Estate being Mostly gone, both it and the followings are now in the hands of Sincklairs of Dunbeth and Ulpster, etc.

The whole following brought in one View is 21,650 Men.

Ye have Now all the power of the Armed Highlanders att one View which ye may perceive to be above 20,000, A Sufficient force to have Conquered All the rest of the Scottish Nation, if they had a mind, and Could but have agreed how to Divide the Booty, and Consequently a force, that was Capable when United to Disturb the peace of the whole United Island at their pleasure, and Might at last, with but a small Conjunction of foreigners, have endangered the totall overthrow of our happy Constitution.

This was the State of the Nation as to our Scots Highlanders before the Rebellion, but now that the Government, out of their great prudence and wisdom, by many wholsome Laws and Acts of Parliament, have so far Destroyed and eradicate the most of all Dependances by Discharging all obligations, for Hunting, Watching and warding, And Also Discharging all personall Services in Charters, and further taking Away all Wardholdings which in the very Nature imported the Same, Besides the Subjects being Now happily liberate from forfietry in time of Minority and from their being deprived of their wifes portions, as also free’d of the Sadd effects of the hard and oppressive practices, of Recognitions, Single And Life-rent escheats, and All this Most Generously done by his Most Gracious Majesty to the Great Loss and Diminution of his Crown rents.

And further Now Considering that Not only the Smaller Gentrie, but the whole Lowest class of People, have their Chattels and Moveable Effects, as well as their lives, taken out of the power and hands, of all Heritable Jurisdictions Great and. Small, and thereby freed them from the terrour of being Subject, to the penalties and Arbitrary Decrees of these Ignorant and Mercenary Judges, and that hereby not only Vassalls, but all within Regallities, Stewartries, etc., are fully liberate from their former Slavery and Dependance, but Now also that all farmers, tennantries, and the very Lowest people are free’d from being bound to pay their Masters any oppressive or Illegal Services, which will not bear being Named in Such.

When all that is Said is Maturely Considered, and the whole body of the people clearly perceive themselves manumitted from a State of Slavery and Misery, and Now made free Denisons of the happy English Constitution; and when once Convinced that it is not in the power of Any Superior, Chieften, or Land-Lord, to oppress (or in the least hurt) them either in their persons or estates, Ye may be sure it will make a very Strange Revolution in their Minds and Sentiments and will determine them as to their future peaceable Deportment.

And if that Villainous practice of Thieving was once totally Suppressed, which forces them to retain the Use of Arms for Self Defence there would never thereafter be Use for any, Neither any Convocation be heard of in an Age.

It is with Good Ground Now believed, that of All the Grand list Mentioned More than three fourths of them will vanish, and be laid Aside, particularly the whole Inland Chieftens and Superiors, and that henceforth none of those potentates (of any Denomination) will ever be Capable to bring a Single 100 Men to the field More than their Domestick Servants, Excepting these Naturall Chieftens After-Named, whose followers are Generally all their Kinsmen Descended of their families, and who have no manner of Regard either to Superiors or Landlord but where it Chances to be their own Chieften.

Mackleans - 500
Mackdonald of Slate - 700
Mackdonald, Glenco - 150
Macklachlans - 200
Mackdonald of Clanranald - 700
Mackleods - 700
Stewart of Apin - 300
Mackdonald of Glengary - 500
Mackinnons - 200
Carnerons, Lochil - 800
Mackdonald, Kepoch - 150

In all, 4900 Men

These families are Now the only people whose Chieftenries and Capacitie of Giving Disturbance Still Subsists, and are not, in the least touched or Diminished, by all the Acts and Laws as Yet made. Since they have an Inherent Attractive Virtue, which makes their people follow as Iron Claps to the Loadstone, whereas the whole others in the Generall Grand list was rarely brought out (even before the late good Laws) without Some force and Compultion.

It must be a Work of Some time before these Ignorant and Barbarious people, Can be brought to make the right Use of their Reason, So as to Compare their State with others, if that was once happily done, their Miserable and beggarly Dependance, and blind obedience without Asking Questions, would Soon fall to the Ground.

Return to Historical Geography of the Clans of Scotland


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