Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

History of the MacIntyre Clan
Part I - Scottish History - 7000 B.C. to c. 1800 A.D.

To fully understand the history of Clan MacIntyre one must be familiar with the ethnic origins of the Scottish people, the creation and inheritance of Scottish surnames, the Scottish clan system, and the major events in Scottish history. What you are about to read is neither pure fact nor fantasy but simply the best judgment of this author after reading the opinions of many writers, including the author of the first edition and the other MacIntyre published historians (seanachies). These authors are in general agreement but often disagree on the details. Remaining areas of controversy are given extensive discussion in appendixes.


In the Gaelic tradition, the history of Scotland and Clan MacIntyre comes primarily from legend and a few remaining artifacts. The Celtic culture and Druid religion relied on bards (poets), storytellers, and seanachies (genealogists/historians) to maintain a rich oral history in the form of sagas, legends, songs, and poems. Archeology can confirm approximate dates, but the search for truth requires a sprinkling of common sense and intuition. For example, legends abound in fanciful exaggeration and may miss the mark by a millennium or a continent, yet they still contain a great deal of truth. It is the desire to know our past and to pass it on that creates these stories, and motivated the writing of this book. Legends make wonderful bedtime stories and MacIntyres are truly blessed with many colorful ones.1

Written histories donít appear until the last half of the 15th century and it was difficult to distinguish between legend and known fact, until the 20th century. The most reliable information comes from church and legal documents but these sources rarely reveal the life stories behind the names. Those stories were sometimes found in the so-called Black Books kept by many clans, although they are biased, as all histories are, including this one.


Origin of the Scots

There is archeological evidence in Scotland of the presence of hunter-gatherers around 7000 B.C. By 3000 B.C., there were Neolithic farmers and cairn2 builders. Around 1500 B.C., there are early Mesolithic, Bronze-Age people. The first wave of Celtic tribes from southeastern Europe arrived about 1200 Ė 1000 B.C. and eventually populated England, Wales and Ireland.3 None of these people were the direct ancestors of the Scots.

According to the legends, in about 500 B.C., another Celtic group who came by sea from the Iberian Peninsula conquered the earlier Celtic people in Ireland. These conquerors have been referred to by several different names: Gaels, Milesians, and Scoti.4 Their legends had foretold they would find an Isle of Destiny. They brought with them their "Stone of Destiny" (Lia Fail)5 upon which they proclaimed their High Kings (Ard Righ). Around this same period, the Britons, an Iron-Age Celtic group from northern Europe, conquered England and Wales.

Because the Celts did not have a written history of their own, the only written descriptions of them were by outsiders, who said they were warlike, artistic, and egalitarian. Some combination . . . but it fits the Gaelic and Scottish persona like a glove!

At the beginning of the first millennium A.D., most of the western world was under the control of the Roman Empire, except for the British Isles, which was still controlled by Celts. To the outside (Roman) world,

1. A few of these legends are included in Part I but most of them are in Part V.
2. Pile of stone indicating a gravesite.
3. This area is due north of Greece and Turkey that is now known as Romania. It was the site of the ancient Scythians.
4. Named Gaels after their place of origin in Asia Minor, Milesians after a revered king, and Scoti after an ancient queen.
5. See Part V. Lia Fail (Stone of Destiny) and The Isle of Destiny.

Scotland was known as Alba or Caledonia; Ireland was known as Scotia or Hibernia; and, England plus Wales was known as Britannia. The English Channel did not deter the Roman Legions for long. By the middle of the first century, they had subjugated the Britons.1 Although the Romans tried, they could not vanquish the inhabitants of Alba, whom they called Picts.2 The Picts were so fierce and troublesome that Emperor Hadrian built a protective wall from sea to sea.3 The location of this wall is almost identical to the present border between England and Scotland.

The Romans had plans to conquer Scotia (Ireland) but their empire was declining and they never got around to it. Deprived of doing battle with the Roman Legions, the Scoti continued to battle each other - an enduring, if not endearing, hallmark of the Gaelic people. Between battles, they continued to live on their Isle of Destiny and to give temporary allegiance to their High King at Tara.

(Map showing Tara, Ulster, Scotia, Iona, Alba, Argyll, Dal Riada, The Dalriada, Loch Etive, Glen Noe, Ben Cruachan)

The Celtic Isles c. 33 A.D.

Ulster, the northeast corner of Scotia, was only a short distance across the sea from the west coast of Alba and there was a natural interchange between the islands. Around the time of Christ,4 the Scoti High King, Conor (Conchobar) MacNessa unintentionally started the first known Scoti colony in Alba as described in Deirdre of the Sorrows, one of the three Sorrows of Irish legend.5 This legend is important in MacIntyre history because it refers to Glen Noe, Loch Etive, and Ben Cruachan, the ancestral home of the MacIntyre Chiefs.

Two hundred years later, in the third century, High King Carbris Riada established a significant Scoti colony on the west coast of Alba. He called it "The Dalriada" after his Kingdom of Dal Riada in Ulster. The Dalriada was located in the area we now call Argyll, meaning "of the Gaels" or "coast of the Gaels." This enclave of Scoti (Scots) had to be continuously defended against the Picts. About every 100 years, the colony was strengthened and enlarged by kings of Ulster, including King Eric who assigned the task to his three sons -- Lorne, Angus and Fergus Mor. Lorne ruled the part of Argyll around Loch Etive and it is still referred to as Lorn. The Dalriada ultimate triumph over the Picts was not by military force but by the mission of St. Columba in the latter-half of the sixth century, who converted the Picts to the Celtic form of Christianity. This change in religion, removed a major difference between the Scots and Picts. In 576, the colony formally claimed independence from Scotia and became known as Scotia Minor, to distinguish it from Scotia Major.6 In recognition of their independence, they brought their Stone of Destiny to Iona, the center of the Catholic missionary, St. Columba, and it was eventually taken to their political capitol, Dunstaffnage, at the entrance to Loch Etive.7

Scotia Minor kept increasing its territory on the mainland until the middle of the ninth century, when Kenneth MacAlpin united the Picts and the Scots to become the first King of Scotland.8 In keeping with this change, Scotia Minor became known only as Scotia and eventually called Scotland, while Scotia Major reverted to being called Erin or Eire, the names before the Scoti Gaels arrived in Ireland, more than a millennium before.

This has been a brief, albeit complicated, recounting of the origin of the Scots and Scotland. It demonstrates the close connection between Scotland and Ireland that resulted from their common Celtic-Gaelic-Scoti ancestry, and centuries of trade, colonization, communication, religious missionaries, and intermarriage. Although most of these connections are not described in written records, they are manifest in the commonality of their Gaelic language, family names, art, literature, music, and customs. The cultural heritage of the modern Scots does not end here but its most enduring and distinctive roots are from the Gaelic Celts.

1. Unless otherwise noted, from this point forward, all dates will be A.D.
2. The Romans called these people Picts because their warriors drew colorful designs (pictorials) on their skin.
3. Hadrianís Wall was built from 122-128 A.D.
4. There is a brief comparative chronological history of the MacIntyres, Scotland and the World is inside the back cover.
5. Part V. Legend, Deirdre of the Sorrows.
6. Scotia Minor was ratified as an independent Kingdom in 576 at the Convention of Drimceatt in Scotia Major (Ireland).
7. ## Bibliography, p. 155 (In Scotland Again, H.V. Morton, 1933). Part V., Lia Fail-Stone of Destiny.
8. King MacAlpin was a Scoti but his mother was of Pictish descent.

Scottish Surnames

Shakespeare has Juliet muse, "Whatís in a name?" Alas, poor Romeo and Juliet lost their lives because one was a Montague and the other, a Capulet! In a like manner, many a Scot lived or died, prospered or declined, because of their clan name.

In the Gaelic culture, last names were just that, the last name in a list of names, and the last name changed, depending on where one stopped reciting the list. The Scottish bards and seanachies spent most of their lives memorizing and reciting the lineage and heroic deeds of their patrons. Alexander (Alister) James MacIntyre of Inveraray related how his grandfather Alister had a common ancestor with Duncan Ban MacIntyre, the famous Gaelic bard, and nine generations earlier. In the early 1800s, when these two gentlemen met on the main street of Inveraray, Duncan Ban would greet Alisterís grandfather as follows: "Failte Alister, Mac Alister, Mac Alister, Mac Alister, Mac Alister, Mac Alister, Mac Iain, Mac Hamish, Mac Callum, Mac Callum Mhor." The recitation of names not only kept the names alive, but more importantly, the stories and legends associated with the names.

Mac means "son of" or "descendant of."1 Thus, if you were Ian, son of Fergus, your name was Ian Mac Fergus. If Ian Mac Fergus had a son called Donald, his name would be Donald Mac Ian. If there were another person in the village with the same name, as well there might, these two individuals would be distinguished by adding the grandfatherís name e.g., Donald Mac Ian Mac Fergus. The names from each generation would have to be recited until there was no confusion with someone else, and to show pride in their origin. Nevertheless, in a normal conversation, nicknames were used just as they are today, emphasizing some personal characteristic, e.g., Donald the Fair (Ban). Within a family, a second name was often used to indicate the position of a son within the family as Og (younger or first son) and Faich (second son). If your father was the townís only shipwright, you might be known as Donald, son of the wright. Nicknames were not passed on to the next generation unless that individual started a new clan and his nickname became the new clanís name. If the famous ancestorís name was Donald, then your surname would be MacDonald "descendant of Donald." If, in honor of a heroic act, you started a new clan and your nickname was Bheathain or "lively one," then your descendants would be Mac-ic-Bheathain, pronounced MacBain or MacBean, "descendants of the lively one."

Clan System

The clan system is based on blood relations, usually led by a patriarch.2 All old-world cultures used this system, which had both social and political functions. Clans are as old as the concepts of family, ancestor, and leader. Even the word "chief" sounds like, and has the same meaning as, "sheik" from far off Arabia. This system is associated with Scots and Scotland because Scottish clans endured into the modern era when it was surrounded by newer systems, especially the feudal system. Although the recording of the clan names and territories was probably influenced by the feudal system, the underlying concept was Gaelic. The clan system has been both romanticized and vilified. The Scots fine-tuned it, and it sustained them through the "best and worst of times" as they were dispersed to the four corners of the earth. The clan system continues to bring Scots together at Highland gatherings, a rare demonstration of national and cultural solidarity.

Clans, Cadets, and Septs. Over the centuries, Scottish clans emerged and disappeared. New clans were formed to honor an individual for a heroic act and to acknowledge an individualís leadership, or strength. As a clan prospered, the lack of space, or a problem of succession, resulted in a part of the clan settling elsewhere. If the new group came from the male line of the chief and claimed a new name, and became strong enough to protect itself, it was a new clan. Formation of most clans Highland clans occurred before the 13th century. If the new group was formed by a younger brother who had his own territory and was separated from the original clan, after four or more generations, his descendants would style themselves as a cadet or branch of the clan, but retain the Clan Name e.g., MacDonald of Sleat.3

If the group was led by someone other than the male heir of the chief, or by a daughter of the chief, or still required the protection of the Clan, they were not a cadet but were referred to as a sept. The term sept was also used to describe the relationship between a weak clan that sought and received protection from a more

1. "Daughter of" in Gaelic is "Nic." Since "Nic" is not used as a family name, we have added "descendant of" as a meaning for "Mac", especially when used as a clan name.
2. Clan in Gaelic means "children of " or "family of," so Clan MacIntyre means, Children of the Son of the Wright.
3. The Highlander, Vol. Page

powerful clan, or a clan that was forced to submit, but allowed to keep their name. A sept could also be formed when an individual attached himself to another clan as their piper or bard.

In modern times, the term Ďseptí has been applied to surnames that might be connected with a clan. This became popular when people with Scottish ancestry wanted to know their Clan name, when they werenít found on the list of tartans. They werenít listed because their clan had been eliminated, or because their Gaelic surname was Anglicized when they left Scotland. For example, MacDonald might have been changed to Donaldson, which is why Donaldson is listed as a sept of Clan Donald. It is for this reason that in this edition, Wrightson has been added to the list of MacIntyre names or septs.

The term sept, is not part of the heraldic system.

Of course, there were clans who were decisively defeated in battle and lost everything -- their lives, land, and even their clan name.1

The Chief and his Clansmen. Among his clansmen, the chief was considered the first among equals. The land belonged to the clan and those who lived on the clanís land were usually related in some way. Although the chief administered justice, he did not make the laws. Special individuals called brehons helped to develop and pass down the laws. Although this system eventually disappeared, even today, Scottish and English laws differ in many important ways.2

The clan name indicated a personal relationship between the clansman and his chief through a common descent from the first chief. This relationship was also expressed by symbols that were worn on their bonnet, such as the badge (plant)3 and the crest badge.4

Thus, the clan system was a large extended family that ensured a degree of certainty and safety to clansmen in times when both were tenuous. This concept of family even extends to acknowledgment of a close relationship and duty among independent clans who had a common ancestor, as illustrated by the MacIntyres, MacDonalds, and MacDougalls. The sense of an extended family bound by a name, still exists today.

Selection of the Chief. In the earliest times, the chief was selected by his peers. As in most systems, over long periods of time, the process became more defined and codified. In determining who would succeed a chief, the Celtic tradition used a method called tanistry in which the chief named his successor (tanist).5 This was usually the chiefís brother because battles had a way of cutting oneís life short, especially if you were leading the way. There was no time to wait for a baby to grow up and lead the Clan into battle. This was eventually changed from the brother to the first-born son. The change came from the influence of feudalism and from those instances when the chief lived to see their sons become an adult. It was then possible to chose the eldest son, although the Celtic tradition also allowed him to choose a stronger, but younger, son. If the chief died without naming a tanist or without a male issue, then any male in the chiefís family, with the same great-grandfather was eligible to be chief. The election of a chief took place at a derbhfine (council meeting) of those eligible to be the chief.6,7

The chief was central to the clanís survival. Inheritance of property by the chiefís son was not an issue, since the territory belonged to the clan. However, once the feudal system took hold in Scotland, the chief owned the land, which his first son inherited. If the main line was without issue, then the chieftain of the senior cadet became chief, and if there were no cadet, the clan became extinct or a sept of another clan.

1. For many years, the MacGregors were outlawed and so was their surname. During that time, they used the names of neighboring Clans, e.g. MacIntyre.
2. There is no law in Scotland against trespassing as there is in England. Also, Scotís Law has a not proven verdict, in addition to the standard verdicts of guilty and not guilty.
3. The badge refers to the plant, e.g., white heather.
4. The crest badge is the crest of the chiefís coat-of-arms encircled by a belt. This does not mean that all persons with the surname MacIntyre, or variations thereof, are descendants of the first chief. This name could also have originated in Scotland outside of the Highlands, simply as the son of a wright. This was true for Ireland as well. Nevertheless, the need for family, that we all crave may lead anyone with the name MacIntyre, or an associated name, to want to be part of the extended Clan MacIntyre. Who would deny someone this basic need?
5. Tanistry, as distinct from the feudal system. The feudal system used primogeniture (the eldest son inherited all of his fatherís land and titles).
6. There were rare exceptions when a female inherited the chiefship, as in the case of the Mackintoshes.
7. An adaptation of this method is still available for use by the Court of the Lord Lyon in selecting a temporary clan representative (ad hoc derbhfine).

The King and the Chiefs. Just as the chief was the first among equals within his clan, the Gaelic king was only the first among his peers, who were the clan chiefs.1 The clans retained their own lands and administered their own justice. Until the time of Robert the Bruce, the Scottish kings had very little power by the middle of the first century.2 This is one reason why the Scottish kings had difficulty in bringing the clans together for any length of time to oppose their enemies. The interests of the individual clan were always more important than the king or nation. When the English fought the Scots, the Scots usually won the first battle but lost the war. Even when it appeared that the clans were united, there were clans who abstained from fighting, and sometimes fought on the other side. Conversely, the English were ruled by an absolute feudal king who the barons had to support, or else. The best alternative was exile but the punishment was often the Tower of London or the chopping block.


The Norse and the English were the last two important bloodlines and cultures to influence the Gaelic world. Around 800 A.D., the Scandinavian kingdoms of the far north began to attack and even settle parts of Scotland, England, and Ireland. The Vikings, as they were called, started their expansion in the northern islands of Scotland. They hop scotched to the northern mainland, then to the Western Isles (Inner and Outer Hebrides), and south to the Isle of Man, and over to Ireland. Over the next 500 years, they went as far south as Sicily, east to Kiev, and west to Newfoundland (Vineland). Although often ruthless in their brutality toward those they conquered, they were not alone in this approach. Contrary to this stereotype, the Vikings often settled down and intermarried with the local population. For example, they established the city of Dublin, the Kingdom of Sicily, and a large Duchy in France called Normandy (Land of the North Men).

The Vikings did not spare Argyll and the western islands of Scotland. There were raids followed by times of accommodation, when tribute was paid and strategic marriages were arranged. The founders of most of the Highland Scottish clans, including the MacIntyres, had some Norse blood in their veins and there were Highland clans, like the Andersons, who were primarily Norse.

The Norwegian Kingdom didnít relinquish its last Scottish possession until 1266 A.D. Given the 400 years they were overlords of northern and western Scotland, the remnants of the Norse influence is very small. They left many place names and family names but had relatively little cultural influence. Many of the Norse men married Scoti women and never returned to their homeland. This allowed the mothers to speak Gaelic and to pass on the legends that embodied the Scoti-Gaelic heritage.

The final cultural and political influence came from England where wave upon wave of political refugees - Britons, Angles, Danes, Saxons, and Normans - came over Hadrianís Wall and resettled in the Scottish Lowlands. It was from these refugees that the Gaelic-Scoti political system met its match and was eventually overcome.


Clash of cultures

In Scotland, two major systems of governance and culture competed for preeminence. There was the clan system that originated with the Celts, then the Gaels, and finally the Scoti, with a touch of Picts and Norse thrown in for spice. From the south came the newer European feudal system that originated with the Germans and was refined by the French-Normans. Gaelic and feudal systems affected daily life in different ways that instigated many conflicts. The final military battle to retain something of the Gaelic clan culture was fought at Culloden in 1746. Although defeated

In the modern vernacular, the clan system was organized from the bottom up and the feudal system from the top down. The essential difference was the clanís emphasis on family, relative equality, and leadership, while the feudal system was based on land ownership, inequality, and ultimately on the divine right of kings.

1. This was the same as in the old Scotia (Ireland), where there were the regional kings and then there was the elected, High King at Tara.
2. MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, was able to ignore the Kings of Scotland through an alliance with the Norse Kings.
1. For those who canít wait to read about Clan MacIntyreís history, you can skip to Part II. For genealogists, anxious to study the MacIntyre Chiefs and Chieftains, go directly to Part III. For those who have had enough "history" for a while, you can take rest by reading about MacIntyre culture in Part IV and MacIntyre stories in Part V. For the rest of you, I say, stay right here and "charge ahead."

In the feudal system, the barons (equivalent to Gaelic chiefs) gave their land and allegiance to the king who, at his pleasure, returned to them the use of the land along with honorary titles and privileges. These privileges included administering the laws, "in the name of the King." The land and honorary titles were passed on to the first-born male, as the heir apparent, in a system known as primogeniture. The king had the power to create new titles and reclaimed his land from any baron who failed in his allegiance. This was a common occurrence, with the titles and land given to a more loyal subject, for services rendered or promised. In the feudal system, the people who worked on the nobleís land were not related to him, except for extramarital relations. In fact, the livestock were often treated better than the peasants because they were more valuable, reliable, and less trouble.2 Feudalism, and its continuations in the form of the "barons" of industry, eventually lost its control of the peasants to newer social, political, and economic systems that were based on freedom of the individual or on the power of a non-hereditary, nationalistic government.

By comparison, in the Gaelic clan system, the position of chief was by consent of the clansmen, who were family. A change in a Gaelic king did not change the relationship of a clan chief to his clansmen. A chief would not and could not treat his clansmen as his personal property. Clan territory belonged to the clansmen and could not be transferred by the chief to another clan or to the king without their consent. The chief and the clansmen protected each other with their lives, even against the king. This meant that the military strength of the clan determined their independence from the king and the strength of the king depended on the strength of the clans that supported him. The chiefís status depended on his wisdom, military prowess, and leadership skills. Among different clans, there were always disagreements due to the lack of distinct territorial boundaries, and fierce clan loyalty, without regard to right and wrong.

The collision between the English and Gaelic cultures and between the feudal and clan systems intensified in the middle of the 12th century and continues to this day.1 Other underlying conflicts were Highland vs. Lowland, traditional vs. new, Catholic vs. Protestant, and Scottish Protestant vs. English Protestant.

The problem developed as wave after wave of vanquished English rulers and their entourage crossed into Scotland. This immigration continued for a thousand years. These "refugees" smoothed their welcome with gold and forged alliances with their daughters. The sequence of immigration was: Britons, Saxons, Angles, and then the Danes who were ousted by the French-Norman, William the Conqueror, in 1066. Each of these groups seemed to be willing to accept the Gaelic culture as their own. Meanwhile, in England, the French-Normans had installed a highly sophisticated and oppressive form of feudalism. Thatís how things stood for the next century, until 1154, when there was a split in the Norman-English royal house. The losing faction landed on Scotlandís doorstep as so many groups before, with their money and daughters with one major difference; they brought their feudal system.

While most of the nobles came from England to Scotland, there were instances when the flow was reversed. In these instances, an unsuccessful claimant to the Scottish throne fled to the English court for the safety of his family. These children were brought up speaking French and later English, but certainly not Gaelic. As important, he learned the customs of the English court (Anglicized). When the Scottish king was became caught up in the power struggles, he was often assassinated and the son of the previous king to return to rule Scotland. Unfortunately, he had been brainwashed and was Scottish in name only, and through marriages with English royalty, lacking even Scoti blood.

In the Scottish court and at the border of the Highlands, the concept of chief and clansman began to lose ground to the concept of lord and subject. The nobles from England curried favor with the weak, Anglicized, Scottish kings, and in return, for their money and daughters, they were given land, titles, and privileges. The lands were often taken from Highland clans who backed the losing side in the intrigues over who was the rightful king. The concept of land ownership within the feudal system slowly became imposed on much of Scotland, which meant that the king and not the clans owned the land.

A Slow Demise

The clan system reached its high point in 1156-58 when Somerled took control of Argyll and the western Isles from the Norse overlords. He never had a chance to rest due to constant pressure from the feudal tide from the

2. See Jonathon Swiftís, A Modest Proposal, which is from a later period and satirical but the based on the same premise.
1. It is the reason Scotland recently voted for devolution and their own Parliament.

south. In 1164, on the eve of his first great battle with Malcolm IV (the Maiden), King of Scotland,1 Somerled was murdered and the battle was lost.2 One would think that a united Scottish Kingdom would be good for the clan system, but the system was based on the independence of the clans loosely held together by an appointed king. Starting with this victory, the kings of Scotland began to impose the feudal system on the Highlands, including an inherited monarchy. This led to a Scottish civil war, which superficially ended in 1266 when the feudal King of Scotland, Alexander III, defeated The MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, the strongest supporter of the clan system, as long as it suited him. By outward appearances, Scotland was at its strongest, with both the Highlands and Lowlands united under one feudal king who was still of direct Scoti descent and to whom all owed their fealty (feudal allegiance). However, neither the marriage between the clan and feudal systems nor the marriage between the Gaelic and English cultures, was ever consummated. The internal conflicts based on their inherent differences contributed to constant conflict and the eventual loss of Scotlandís independence. Not by coincidence, Alexander III (1249 Ė 1286) was the last King of Scotland with a direct Scoti blood descent.

The demise of the Gaelic culture in Scotland was also unfolding in Ireland but with less subtlety. There were direct attempts by the English to conquer, subjugate, and, if necessary, annihilate the Irish Gaelic population in order to take over their Isle of Destiny. The first attempt was by the newly established King, William the Conqueror. His Normans conquered Ireland in a military sense, but they, in turn, were conquered by the Gaelic culture, which they found so enjoyable that they became "more Irish than the Irish."

However, that didnít stop the English kings from trying again and again. The efforts intensified when Henry VIIIís new religion made it legal to kill Roman Catholic priests and to steal from the Irish monasteries. Ireland was now seen as the bastion of Catholicism. Elizabeth, the First, carried on where her father left off, and it was close to genocide. The resistance of the Gaelic chiefs (earls) led by Hugh OíNeill, Earl of Tir-Owen, continued for nine years. Although the English lost most of the battles, their superior numbers and armament eventually wore the Irish down. The Gaelic king, "The OíNeill,"3 with a red hand on his banner, reluctantly agreed to terms. But Elizabeth I, died before the agreement was signed. Her successor, King James VI of Scotland, now became King James I of England as well. King James was an ardent Protestant and his Irish solution was to settle Scottish Protestants in OíNeillís Ulster so he could control the Catholics Gaels. So, in 1607, The OíNeill and his earls were forced to leave Ireland for the Continent. This tragic event in Irish history is known as "The Flight of the Earls" and signaled the end of 2500 years of Gaelic rule in Ireland. The OíNeill was eventually hunted down and murdered in France. It is indeed ironic that this took place at the hands of a Scottish king who should have supported Gaeldom. Unfortunately for the Irish, James had become "more English than the English." Once the Ulster chiefs had left Ireland, their lands became forfeit and King James gave them to his English and Scottish supporters. The consequences of his policy to bring in Scottish Protestants to manage the Ulster Plantations continue to this very day in the violent religious and cultural divide known euphemistically in Northern Ireland as, "The Troubles."

After their "success" in Ireland, the English monarchs turned their attention once more to putting an end to the last vestige of Gaeldom, the Scottish clan system in the Highlands. This should have been easy since for over three hundred years, Scottish kings hadnít been of Gaelic or Scoti descent, and Gaelic hadnít been spoken in the Scottish Court or Parliament. Yet, the Highlanders were still speaking Gaelic and acting as if they were Gaels, and this represented a real threat to the Crown. Time after time, it appeared that the clans were doomed starting with Malcolm IV, who ostensibly united the Scottish Kingdom as far back as 1164. Then in 1266, Alexander III defeated The Lord of the Isles, which again, supposedly removed the last opposition to the king and the feudal system. In 1314, Robert the Bruce (although a Scot on by acculturation) appeared to maintain and strengthen an independent Scottish Kingdom at Bannockburn. Technically, an independent Scottish kingdom was maintained in 1603, when the crowns of the two kingdoms (Scotland and England) were united under the Scottish King, James Stewart, the sixth of Scotland, and the first of England. But James and his Stewart successors stayed in London. In 1707, the de facto domination of England became a legal reality, when the two kingdoms (with one king) became one kingdom, the United Kingdom. Under immense pressure, liberal bribes, and threat of invasion from England, the Scottish Parliament, by passing the Act of Union, created a 

1. He was the King of Scotland but not a Scottish king because only a small portion of the Kingís blood was Scottish and he possessed even less Scottish culture. After all, English had been the language of the Scottish court for 100 years, starting with Malcolm III (Canmore) and his Saxon wife, Margaret.
2. In Part II you will see how some would blame a MacIntyre for the death of Somerled and by inference, the death of the clan system.
3. In an act of defiance, Hugh OíNeill, called Earl of Tir-Owen under the feudal system, returned to his Gaelic roots, publicly rejected his Earldom, and henceforth, was only addressed by his Gaelic title, The OíNeill.

single country, Great Britain.1 This appears to be the only instance where a sovereign nation voted itself out of existence.


The royal union of Scotland and England under one monarch in 1603 coincided with the subjugation of the Gaels in Ireland. The Highland clans continued their resistance to this "union" for another 150 years. The clan system, with its family ties based on equality and a blood relationship, was so strong that it could not be dismissed easily or peacefully. In a direct effort to weaken the clan system, an Act of Parliament in 1608 officially severed the patriarchal relationship of the chief to his clansmen by making him their legal landlord. Although this did not change the hearts of the Highlanders or their loyalty to their Chief, it was another incursion of the feudal system. It was now necessary to provide proof of title, both to land and nobility. This included a coat of arms, a land designation, and an honorary title. Even the staunchly Gaelic chiefs began to accept this system of nobility, including those who didnít have title to their land e.g., MacDonald of Keppoch and MacIntyre of Glenoe. The Scottish chiefís coat of arms signified his familiesí past and therefore the past of his clan, but it was also a symbol of feudalism.



There were always feuds among clans that sporadically resulted in minor battles.2 These battles were short because they took the combatants away from their families and cultivation of their meager crops. The feuds ranged from a single death (blood feud) to conflicts over land, inheritance, or power (king of the hill). Every so often, feuds escalated into major conflicts. These were usually kept within the confines of Scotland, but when they involved the Scottish monarchy, one side often sought help from the English, with disastrous consequences. The wars were ostensibly fought over important principles, but the underlying conflict was between the Gaelic-Highland culture and the English-feudal system. Among the more significant "feuds" was Robert the Bruce and the MacDougalls who fought at the Pass of Brander. This ultimately led to the ascendancy of the Campbells in the Highlands, and a feud massacre of the MacDonalds by the Campbells at Glencoe, which has caused many Highland clans to associate the name Campbell with the English.


There were a series of wars to establish or maintain Scotland as a separate nation. The most famous of these were there ones led by Wallace in 1297-98, and by Bruce in 1314 at Bannockburn. Prior to these was Somerledís successful sea battle n 1556, to free western Scotland from the Norse, and a second one by Alexander III against King Haakon of Norway, at Largs in 1263. There were a number of other battles to maintain independence as the goal, including Flodden Field in 1513, and both Dunbar and Worcester in 1651.

Civil War

Starting in the late 1500s there was disagreement over governance of the Scottish church. On one side were the King and his appointed bishops, known as Royalists. Opposing them was the laity, known as Presbyterians or Covenanters. The result was a civil war. Although it was the reverse of their normal position, the MacDonalds supported the King and the Campbells supported the Covenanters.

This was just the beginning of a long period of large scale fighting which saw clans fighting on one side and then reversing themselves and fighting for the other side. The changes were some times just pragmatic - to be on the winning side - or based on a change in the issue, e.g., from church governance to independence from English domination. Among the major events during this period of upheaval were the execution of the Stuart King Charles I of the United Kingdoms, the exile of Charles II, the rise and fall of Oliver Cromwell, the restoration of Charles II, the execution of the Marquis of Argyll, the rise and fall of James the VII of Scotland and II of England, the accession of William and Mary, and the massacre of the MacDonalds at Glen Coe.

The Last Rebellion

1. See Robert Burnís poem, Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation, with the famous line "Ö bought and sold for English gold."
2. A minor battle except for those who died.

The civil discord that started in the late 1500s never really ended because the Scots were never free of the English yoke. The Parliament was in London and the new King, William of Orange, had no connection with Scotland. In 1715, the monarchy was given to George I, a German from Hanover. This instigated a failed rising in support of James, the son of James II, who was the legitimate blood successor to the throne of the United Kingdom through the Stuart line. Once again, it was the MacDonalds leading the Highland clans in support of a Scottish king who was more English than Scottish in opposition to the Campbells, who supported the established monarchy, even though the English king was a German! The rebels were called Jacobites, Latin for James. If successful, James, called the Old Chevalier or Old Pretender, would have been James VIII of Scotland and would have separated the two kingdoms that had only officially united eight years earlier.

In 1745, there was one last great rebellion to return to the throne the son of James, the Old Chevalier, Charles James Stuart. His supporters called him Bonnie Prince Charlie, and his detractors called him the Young Pretender. The motivation for the Highlanders was to free Scotland from English domination even if it meant accepting a hated feudal system. As we all know, after initial success brought the rebels to the doorstep of London, the rebellion ended at Culloden, where the depleted and bedraggled Highland clans were defeated on April 16, 1746.

Aftermath of the í45 Rebellion. Despite loss of their rights, internal warfare, and total military defeat at Culloden, the sense of clan loyalty, based on eternal feelings of kith and kin, the Gaelic culture, and the Highland lifestyle could not be quenched. The losing chiefs fled to the Continent and many of their clansmen voluntarily or involuntarily emigrated to the colonies. The concept of the clan and the loyalty that it demanded was still alive during the major Scottish emigration to the New World. While clans have been characterized by the feuds between the Martins and the McCoys, the clan system and Gaelic culture served as a source of strength for the Scottish immigrants. The warm coals of clanship remained and were rekindled wherever they were taken. They continue to burn in the hearts and minds of Scots to this very day in every corner of the earth.

As happened to the Irish earls 150 year before, the lands of the Highland chiefs who supported the Jacobite cause were forfeited to the Crown and given to chiefs who supported the Government. Unlike what happened in Ireland, the forfeited lands in Scotland were given to Scots, instead of foreigners. However, this didnít end the strife because, in one respect, the new landlords were worse than foreign conquerors, they were traitors! The Campbells were the major beneficiary of this land grab and in Argyll; they became the hated agents of the Crown who collected the unjust and exorbitant rents. Many clansmen remained loyal to their exiled chiefs and in addition to paying rent to their new "Land-Lord," they made a secret payment to their chiefs in exile. In this way, they recognized their clan obligations even though there was no legal bond.

The victorious English forged ahead with numerous steps to eliminate the last vestiges of the Scottish clan system. Following the indiscriminate butchery of the survivors of Culloden, laws were enacted that kept Scots from bearing arms or even playing the bagpipe, for the pipes were considered Articles of War.1 Recognizing the potential threat from cultural and family ties, the Hanoverian government outlawed and ruthlessly suppressed the wearing of the kilt or showing the tartan. They had previously abolished the hereditary jurisdiction of the chiefs as local magistrates and they fostered the feudal system that discouraged a family relationship between the lord of the manor and his tenants.

These restrictions were retained for almost forty years, more than a generation, during which they were resisted by Scots whenever possible. The resistance is evidenced in one of R.R. McIanís famous prints where a MacIntyre has a plant badge of white heather in his bonnet and has used a skirt of purple cloth stitched down the middle, to masquerade as trews (trousers). The white heather was a statement that he was a member of the MacIntyre clan, and the pants were clearly a kilt in disguise, sans tartan. Duncan Ban MacIntyre, a famous Gaelic poet, protested the ban on wearing the kilt in his The Song of the Breeches and he spent time in jail for his breach of the peace. It was not until 1782 that the fear of another clan rebellion had receded enough for James, Marquis of Graham, to obtain a repeal of the ban on the wearing of tartan and kilt. Duncan Ban celebrated its repeal in his verse, The Highland Garb, but the "clan" as a way of life and governance, was 

1. There was an element of logic in this since the kilted Scots were piped into battle. There are many stories of how the pipes saved the day. The one I liked as a child (as told by my father) was how the Scots fooled the English by tripling the number of pipers. Since the Scots were out of sight, the English assumed they had three times as many fighters are than actually had and decided to retreat when they actually far outnumber their outnumbered Scots. Perhaps the most celebrated occasion was at Waterloo, when the Duke of Wellingon ordered the Highland regiments to the weakest point of the line to stave of a fierce counterattack by Napoleon. Wellington ordered their pipers to play "as if your lives depended upon it." The rest is history.

doomed forever. It was the very next year that the first MacIntyre from the chiefís line, Donald, the Younger, and heir apparent to James (III), emigrated to the New World on the heels of the defeat of the English in the American Revolution.

Although the Stuart crown was lost, the Jacobite cause lingered on into the present century. It was fueled by sentimentality rooted in the Highland and Scoti clan culture and traditions. In January 1966, the Royal Stuart Society held a meeting of the Jacobites in England to celebrate a mass for James VII of Scotland and III of Great Britain. They proclaimed Albert of Bavaria as the legitimate Stuart successor to the claims of Prince Charles Edward and their "rightful" king, although they knew that the German Prince Albert would not claim the throne or apply for recognition to the Court of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms as Chief of the Royal Stewarts.


The many military defeats resulted in both voluntary and involuntary exile of Scots to all the continents. At the same time, there were social and economic changes that worked against the survival of the clan system and caused many people to leave Scotland.


Fighting was a well-known vocation and avocation for Highlanders. For centuries, clansmen had fought in foreign armies, either as mercenaries or for a cause in which they deeply believed (e.g., against England). The Kings of France had a Scots Guard in which you could find clansmen with names like Bouquenaine and Ualis, which had been Buchanan and Wallace. There were Scots in the army of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, who took part in the Thirty Years War in Germany. The Protestants served Sweden and their military experience later helped the Covenanting Army. The Catholics entered the service of Spain, Austria, and France. Often a bantering over a rampart or a challenge by a Scot in Gaelic would be answered in Gaelic! Centuries later, Scots who served in the British navy went to Chile to train their sailors and many stayed. While some Latinized their names, there was an Admiral Donald MacIntyre in the Navy of Chile some generations later.


After each of the continuing conflicts, clansmen and clanswomen were forced into exile, most of them never to return. The most common relocation was to Ireland but this was too close for comfort and these "unsociable" Scots had too much in common with the "unsociable" Irish. The next best place to get rid of prisoners was the American Colonies.

There was a major shipment following the Battles of Dunbar and Worcester in 1651 when many Scots lost their lives but many more were captured. Oliver Cromwell did not want to send the prisoners back to Scotland, to live and fight another day. Instead, as virtual slaves, they were sent to the American colonies in Massachusetts, the Carolinas, and the Barbados to work off their sentences. Among them were MacIntyres. Almost a century later, following the debacle of Culloden, a second contingent of prisoners arrived in the Barbados and, to their amazement, heard the natives and non-Scottish slaves speaking Gaelic that they had learned from their Scottish overseers! After 1776, the Americas were no longer a place to send undesirables and Australia became the prime destination.

Irish Plantations

Since the time when the Scots came from Northern Ireland to settle Alba (Scotland), there had been continuous interchanges between these two lands, especially between Ulster and Argyll. County Antrim in Ulster is only 20 miles across the Irish Sea from Kintyre in Argyll. The Scottish MacDonnell, Lords of Islay and Kintyre at one time held the Glynns (Glens) of Antrim, married with the O'Neills, fought against plans to colonize Ulster with English settlers, and one of his descendants became the 1st Earl of Antrim. Ireland was always a place where Scots who lost their land in Scotland could go and still maintain their Gaelic culture.

As mentioned previously, to subdue the Irish Catholic rebels and to stabilize control of the forfeited territory, Queen Elizabeth I conceived the Plantation of Ulster, which gave the lands of the Gaelic Chiefs to English and Scottish friends of the Crown. Her successor, James VI/I of the United Kingdom implemented Elizabethís plans and brought Scots to Ulster to manage the plantations (1608-20). MacIntyres were among those leaving Scotland to settle on plantations in Northern Ireland, particularly Tyrone and Donegal.1 Scots were considered the best settlers because of their work ethic and Protestant religion. The major problem was their tendency to intermarry with the native Irish.

The Scotch-Irish

They were called Scotch-Irish because they came from Ireland but they were Scots by culture. After all, they had only been in Ireland for 150 years. Continuation of their Scottish culture was aided by their relative isolation in a separate layer of society and the northeast corner of Ireland, site of the Ulster plantations. In 1717, drought caused an economic depression that forced around 5,000 of these Scotch-Irish to leave Ulster for emigration to America. This continued in significant numbers for half a century, until 1775. By 1790, the Scotch-Irish were the second largest nationality group in the United States.2 They preferred the Appalachian mountain range, because it reminded them of Scotland. They initially settled in New York and moved south across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. Significant concentrations of MacIntyres can still be found in the mountains of New York and North Carolina.

Voluntary Emigration

Some decided to leave on their own, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall. The Argyll Colony was one of the earliest Scottish settlements in what was to be the United States. The first colonists arrived from Argyll on the Thistle after a three and a half month voyage from the Isle of Gigha to what is now Wilmington, North Carolina at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Others followed including some, like John McIntyre from Glenorchy, in 1775. This colony was the source of many descendants who still live in the area and some when on to concentrate in other areas, such as Charleston, South Carolina and Mississippi. Of course, there were those, Like Donald (IV) who decided to come to the new world alone to use their skills where they were most needed.

Canada was another place where Scots were welcomed. There were undoubtedly a significant proportion of Scots in the English armies that came to fight in the French and Indian wars and later in the English Army in the Americans War of Independence. Some certainly remained in Canada rather then returning to a less than certain life in England or Scotland. There were others, like the daughters of James III, who left Glenoe for Canada and then the United States at a time when successive droughts had made farming in Scotland increasingly difficult.

Australia, although halfway around the world, became another destination for voluntary emigration. The word got back from former prisoners that life wasnít so bad and the opportunities were good. This fostered the first wave of emigration to Australia in 1830s coinciding with the clearances in Scotland and bolstered by the gold rush from 1850-60.

The Clearances

Although relatively peaceful, the period from 1775 to 1825 was perhaps an even more difficult challenge to the clans than the Ď45 defeat. This period included crop failures, fear of war with France, and more importantly, the rapid advancement of the Industrial Revolution. These problems werenít as acute as a war, but the ultimate effect was more devastating and long lasting.

The threat and reality of the Napoleonic wars required coke to stoke the iron furnaces and the coke was made from Highland timber. Wool for the mills could not be obtained from the continent so the Highland pastures were converted from cattle to sheep. These two activities, tree cutting for coke and pasturage for sheep, complemented each other. The forested hills of Scotland quickly became the largely barren, grazing hillsides we see today. The higher elevations were used for deer hunting by the Lords and their friends. One shepherd could look after many sheep and what was left of the forest as well. As a result, many of the crofters were put off the land. The removal of the tenants was chronicled in the two books, Highland Clearances by John Prebble and The History of the Highland Clearances by Alexander Mackenzie.

(PHOTO) (newspaper article from that time enumerating the loss of population)

1. A map of Ireland, published on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1954 by The Washington Post Washington, D.C. shows MacIntire in County Donegal and MacIntyre in County Tyrone among the great names of the Emerald Isle.
2. The Germans were the largest group and the English were third.

By this time, fewer and fewer Scottish tenants were blood relations or even in the same clan as the owner of the land. Also, the sense of clan obligation had diminished over the 200 years since the time when the clans owned the land. Despite these major economic and social changes, between 1755 and 1795 there was only a small reduction in the population around Glen Noe. This was only a temporary reprieve because in the ten years between 1831 and 1841, there was a sixty percent reduction in the population of Argyll. The new, largely absentee, landlords used the land for the highest monetary return. In only a short fifty years, sheep had replaced cattle and then hunting had replace sheep as the most valuable use of land. An important factor was the economics, with that land for hunting requiring even fewer workers than sheep. Fewer workers meant fewer problems and fewer expenses for the lords who used the added profits to pay for townhouses in Edinburgh and London. The uprooted tenants had three choices: seek their fortune overseas, go to England as beggars or servants, or enlist in one of the Kingís kilted regiments that forged the bonds of the Empire upon which the sun never set.


Regardless of the reasons for their emigration, a Scot kept a warm spot in his heart for the glen he called home. He also took with him his stories of loyalties and injustices, which he passed on to his descendants, via the same oral method that his father and grandfather used; in fact, the same way my father passed them on to me (until he wrote this book). Thus, clan loyalties (and feuds) did not die with the destruction of the clan system. To this day, there remains a strong kinship among people of Scottish descent, especially those who bear the same name. There is no other explanation for the feeling pride or disgrace that we feel when someone with our name is in the news. Regardless of their socio-economic status, location, religion, or race, we know that we are somehow connected to them and that this connection is important.

The rivalry between clans remains, especially between clans who in the past were deadly enemies. At annual clan gatherings, there is a feeling of Scottish unity while maintaining, in jest (usually), the traditional clan feuds such as, the MacDonalds vs. Campbells with the MacIntyres still caught in between. Even as we toast the Queen, we think of her as the Scottish Queen, so we can retain our enmity toward the English who tried, and still try, to take away our Highland heritage and independence. We also smile when we see the present monarchs take pleasure in wearing the kilt on their Scottish holidays at Balmoral Castle, especially because the "Queen Mum" is a Scot by birth.

Despite centuries of defeats on the battlefield, the culture of the clan has survived, as witnessed by this book, the Clan Societies, and the many annual Highland gatherings. Tartan, kilt, bagpipe, Scotch whiskey, country dancing, Highland dancing, country music, and golf, have all found their way into the fabric of daily life wherever the Scots have settled.

A worldwide gathering of the clans was held in Edinburgh, Scotland in May 1977, when the descendants of those who had left centuries before, returned to celebrate their clanís survival and to visit the land their clans once held. This reunion was testimony to the hardiness - and luck - of ancestors who survived war, famine, pestilence and the other hardships of life in both the old and the new world. The motto of all of the clans might well be that of the MacIntyres, Per Ardua.