Tha an duileag seo a feuchainn ri rannsachadh a dheanamh nas fhurasda son coimhearsnaich a tha lorg an cuid shinnsear. Cuideachd ri sin, tha an duileag am beachd beagan stath a chuir fo an dualchas sin.


“The emigrants regarded themselves as exiles from their rightful home, a notion that persisted for many years. Writing in the 1920s, Malcolm MacQueen notes that “the intense loyalty of the early settlers to the Skye tradition burns in the breast of the present generation with a flame as steady as it did in any that has gone before” (Douglas Malcolm).

Poll Start Date: 28th August 2010

It would be helpful to the website and to gauge interests if  visitors without a query in the form of a post could complete the survey: 

It may be useful to in the first instance to identify the place of origin of the family name as this may give some clue as to an earlier migration. Knowledge of septs as well as clans will give a fair indication of the place of origin of a less common surname. If family researchers wish to explore their family roots in depth but to forego the steep learning curve and effort required to do this themselves, professional help is available at moderate cost. Otherwise, a thorough search for ancestors could include the following:

 How alike are you to your Hebridean or Highland Ancestor? 
How to Find Out More
  • Find out more about Identity Exploration (no cost attached, based on PhD research, no Freudian quackery).
  • Place your anonymised request on this page (your email address will register you with the administrator of the site who will get back to you).
  • Check Q-Celt Identity page on this website.
Family Research
A classic piece of family research at its best which could be a good template for any researcher must be that on the Fergusons. If the family researcher does not have the confidence, know-how or experience to replicate this work for his or her own family, help is available from alocal researcher such as Marjorie MacInnes  (Skye), Blair McAulay  (North Uist), Bill Lawson  (Harris) and Angus MacMillan (South Uist and Benbecula).

A sister website, ‘The Sea is Wide’,  is now also in Smashwords e-book  format and covers:

North West Ireland and the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland.
The period 1750-1850.
The lives and times of that period.


187 responses to “Genealogy

  1. John Loughney

    October 12, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Anyone know much about the Achnancoichan MacDonalds? I am looking after a Captain Angus MacDonald who emigrated to the Island of Saint John (Prince Edward Island) in 1772. Captain Angus was reportedly the 5th incumbent of the House of Achnancoichean.

    Capt Angus was the fifth incumbent of the House of Achnancoichean. The family were Jacobites and supported Prince Charles at Culloden. After the failure at Culloden, the family lost their ancestral lands, and it appears that the family resided at Boisdale on South Uist for some time. He and his brothers immigrated to the Americas in 1772 on the Alexander, landing at Island of St John (now called Prince Edward Island). His brothers travelled on to the Colony of Virginia, where Capt Angus daughter Mary later joined them, returning to Prince Edward Island years later. His parents were Archibald MacDonald (b 1700 Achnancoichean, Lochaber, Scotland, d Scotland) married Elizabeth Wilson Fowler b 1710. According to family legend his second wife, three sons & two daughters accompanied him. He settled in Tracadie only two or three years before moving to Savage Harbour. In 1791 he paid three hundred and eighty pounds for Springfield Farm, 406 acres at Syookley Pond in Lot 39, now known as St Peters Lake. He died in 1806 at St Peters Lake, Lot 39, Kings County PEI. Some of his children were referred to the Lake MacDonalds.

    Captain Angus MacDonald (b 1 Jan 1727 in Achnancoichean, Lochabar, Scotland d 1802 St Peters Lake, Lot 39, Kings PEI)
    married Magdelene Fraser (b 1731 Scotland d 1768 Scotland)
    1. Archibald MacDonald (b 1757 Scotland) m Isabel MacDonald
    2. Angus MacDonald
    3. Christina MacDonald (b 1755 Scotland d after 1798 PEI) m Alexander Fisher

    married Johanna MacDonald (b 1747 Scotland d PEI)
    1. Ann MacDonald (b 1769 Scotland ; d 26 May 1852 St. Peters Lake) m Roderick MacDonald
    2. Mary MacDonald
    3. Donald MacDonald (b 1770 Scotland; d 10 Apr 1852 St Peters Lake) m Catherine “Gernish” MacDonald
    4. John MacDonald m Ann MacDonald
    5. Allan MacDonald m Catherine MacDonald
    6. Isabel MacDonald m Allan MacDonald
    7. Margaret MacDonald m Augustine MacDonald
    8. Ellen “Nellie” MacDonald (b 1787 PEI)
    9. James MacDonald (b 1778 PEI; d 1816 Springfield Lot 39 PEI) m Jenny McVarish

    The MacDonalds of Achnancoichan were one of many cadet branches of the family of Keppoch which originated with Alexander Carrach MacDonald fourth son of John Lord of the Isles and Princess Margaret of Scotland, daughter of King Robert Bruce II. Alexander Carrach was granted vast land holdings in Lochaber and was titled “Lord of Lochaber”. Generations of internecine warfare in the Highlands considerably reduced the holding until it was no longer a lordship.

    X. ALEXANDER, known as Alastair nan Cleas.
    He married Janet, daughter of Macdougall of Dunollie, and had by her
    1. Ranald Og, his successor.
    2. Donald Glass, who succeeded his brother.
    3. Alexander, afterwards chief.
    4. Donald Gorm of Inveroy. ^^fc
    5. John Dubh, killed at the siege of Inverness in 1593.
    6. Angus, from whom the Macdonalds of Achnancoichean.
    7. Agnes, who married Robertson of Struan.
    8. A daughter, who married John Stewart of Ardshiel.
    9. A daughter, who married Macdonald of Dalneas.
    10. A daughter, who married Robertson of Colebuie.
    11. A daughter, who married Donald McAngus of Glengarry.
    12. A daughter, who married Macfarlane of Luss.
    Alexander Macdonald of Keppoch died in 1635, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

    This family is descended from ANGUS, fifth son of Alastair nan Cleas X. of Keppoch, who gave him as a hostage to the Earl of Argyll in 1595. There was another family at Achnaucoichean, descended, according to MacVurich, from John Cam, a natural son of Sir Alexander Macdonald of Lochalsh, known as ” Sliochd an larla,” no doubt on account of their descent from Alexander, Earl of Ross.

    Angus is said to have married a daughter of Sir James Macdonald of Dunny veg, by whom he had
    1. Angus, who succeeded his father.
    2. Alexander of Bohenie.
    3. John, mentioned in record in 1662.

    Angus, who was killed in the fight at Stron-a-chlachain in 1640, was succeeded by his eldest son,

    II. ANGUS. He is mentioned in record in 1660. He had-
    1. Alexander, his successor.
    2. Archibald.
    3. Angus, who in 1692 purchased the lands of Kenknock, in Gleulyon, where he was succeeded by his son, Angus, who sold the estate in 1750. The second Angus had a son, Captain John Macdonald of Garth, who served in the 84th Regiment. He had two sons, John and Archibald. Archibald entered the Army in 1805, and went to Canada in 1819. He had a large family, among whom Archibald, whose son is Colonel Archibald H. Macdonald of Guelph, Canada. Captain Macdonald of Garth’s daughter Helen married Lieut. General Sir Archibald Campbell, Bart, of Garth, and had, among others, Major-General Sir John Campbell. John Macdouald of Monachyle was of the same family.
    4. A daughter, a well-known poetess as Ni’ Mhic Aonghids Oig

    Angus was succeeded by his son,

    III. ALEXANDER. He signed the address to George I. in 1714. He was succeeded by his son

    IV. ARCHIBALD. He had several sons who emigrated to America, one of whom Angus, and a daughter, Christina, who married Angus Ban of Inch. He was succeeded by his eldest son,

    V. ANGUS. He married and had a family, but we cannot trace them further.

    The tack agreed between John MacDonald of Glenalladale & Donald MacDonald, on one part and Angus MacDonald of Boysdale, South Uist (and others) on the other part for 150 acres each on Lot 36 in the Island of St. John (PEI) in North America in 1772. []

    In May of 1772, under Captain John MacDonald, the Brig “Alexander” departed Greenock, Scotland bound for Prince Edward Island, carrying 210 passengers. It is assumed that Captain Angus MacDonald and family were aboard that ship.[]

    “Scheme of The Division of the Quit-rent of Lot 36 among different Possessors at five dollars each per year shewing the year each entered on the Possession to what year each continued the Possession, the number of years each possessed, And the Sum he comes to be assessed with Accordingly.” This lists an Angus ‘Roy’ MacDonald (Roy meaning red-haired) was charged 8 .. 15 from 1772 to 1779 in Tracady, and an Angus ‘Bain’ McDonald (Bain meaning fair-haired) was charged 11 .. 5 from 1772 to 1781 in Portage. []

    On the 1798 Angus McDonald was the head of household on lot 36, with 4 males between the ages of 16-60, one male over 60 and one female between the age of 16-60. []

  2. Catherine

    January 22, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Hi Anne Marie…thank you so much for replying to my post…have tried various spellings with both names…started work on my family tree 2005…just don’t know where else to look -:(

  3. Catherine

    January 19, 2014 at 10:44 pm


    I have just read through many parts of this great site.I was particularly grateful for the information on the Maclennan clan as there is very little out there about them.I have four primary lines I am working on, being MACLENNAN, MORRISON, MACDONALD and MACKINNON.I am a Maclennan by birth.

    I am hoping some one on here might be able to help. I am looking for information on Neil Maclennan who died 17 Nov. 1884 in Cluer HARRIS.I am trying to find his birth copy but I cannot find it anywhere. All my father’s people came from the Islands. I wonder now if NEIL MACLENNAN arrived from the mainland. Someone suggested that just maybe he may have arrived as a tacksman.I have managed to trace most of it through the official govt site but nothing for NEIL MACLENNAN. He may have come from BORVE, HARRIS.

    • Anne Marie

      January 22, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Catherine,

      Can you give some more details please on each name to see if I can help? Dates, places where from etc. Were they all from Harris or surrounding islands (Uist in particular) ?

      As it happens, I have a very small bit of info. on Munro, MacKinnon, MacLennan, MacAskill, MacDonald & Morrison all from Harris & in a small tree (direct line) I did as a xmas present for someone a few yrs ago.

      MacLennan’s include:
      Kenneth b c1780 = Mary MacKinnon
      Neil b c 1803 = Catherine Morrison
      Rachel b c 1846 = John Munro

      • Catherine

        January 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm

        Hi Anne…

        Father’s name was ANGUS FARQUHAR MACLENNAN. B LOCHMADDY NTH UIST.His father NEIL MACLENNAN was married to CATHERINE ANN MORRISON.Neil’s father ANGUS MACLENNAN was married to CHRISTINA MACDONALD. ANGUS’S father, NEIL MACLENNAN, was married to MARY MACDONALD. They were all from Harris….Thank you kindly 🙂 🙂

        • Catherine

          January 22, 2014 at 8:27 pm

          Hi Anne…..the Neil I am looking for died on 17 Nov 1884 in Cluer Harris at age 80 so that would look like he was born 1804….he was married to Mary Macdonald 10Jan 1854 in Stornoway (only marr copy for these two I could find…on that copy Neil says he is from Borve….:-):-)

  4. Don MacFarlane

    August 8, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Wishing to Become Chief of a Clan?

    Forget it if you are a Jacobite. Any new clan or new chief has to be recognised by the reigning monarch, through the auspices of the Lord Lyon, which rather defeats the purpose of the exercise.

    Most of the Jacobite clans retained their chiefships and appear to have been ‘bought off’. Armigerous (lacking a chief) Jacobite clans are:

    Fletcher (MacInleister)

    Most of the members of these clans emigrated en masse to North America, none of these were major clans nor did they pose any threat to the new-found established order, so they could be left toothless and chiefless.

  5. Anne Marie

    July 11, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Hi Gordon,

    I don’t speak Gaelic unfortunately but I have learned an awful lot regarding names through my interest in genealogy. To answer your question regarding the ‘d’, categorically speaking “no”.

    I am making no claim to knowing anything of your surname MacLeod (which coincidently is the surname of which I am busy doing a family tree on for someone), but my understanding no matter the name being spelt differently is very much a combination of several factors.

    Whether misspelt/mispronounced/variant etc. is basically down to twang/dialect/accent/pronunciation & how a name sounded was how it was written down in days of yore. An example of a ‘Uist’ name is/was O’Henley which has variants of O’Hanley, O’Handley, and O’Hendlay among others. I picked that as an example of a name somehow acquiring a “d” in the middle somewhere along the line & the “e” after the “h” becoming an “a” yet they are descended from the Uist O’Henley.

    I have only recently discovered a very interesting log of spellings (twelve to date) of one of my own Irish descendants’ surname (my maternal grandmother’s lineage). The surname Donoghue was the spelling of my g-grandmother on my grandmother’s birth cert. & my first encounter of the name has varied since, on almost every other document that I have.

    Having gone up the ladder by the usual steps, collating birth, marriage, death & census records etc. I have a seemingly never ending list of variants: Donahoe, Donoghue, Donohoe, Donohoo (census), Donoughoue, Donoughue, Donoughy, Doorhouse (census), Dothshow (census), Dunohoue.

    The penultimate Dunohow made me laugh as it suited the fact of “dunno how” I found them, but I did, although it wasn’t easy! The latest to join my ever growing list is “DONAFEE” which may indeed raise a few eyebrows.

    As the words (enough & tough) etc. all have the letters “gh” pronounced as an “f” that particular variant is probably in reality the closest to the actual name and merely down to pronunciation and it being written how it sounded. Although at times it’s frustrating having so many variants to consider when doing research, it also has its advantages because it’s lessons which we learn and knowledge we gain which makes it all worth while.

    I thought this example was good for others to read too who are in the early stages of their research as all too often people have the idea that their family name was spelt a particular or certain way and often bypass valuable info. thinking it can’t be theirs as it’s the ‘wrong’ spelling. It’s about having an open mind as spelling mistakes are made even in this day & age among educated people so mistakes/errors were bound to happen with so much illiteracy etc.

    • Waxwing

      July 12, 2013 at 8:50 am

      And Donaghey or Donaghy, which is a Scottish name and offshoot of Clan Robertson which in Gaelic is called Clann Dhonnachaidh? It may be that some of these Donaghues etc were originally Scottish settlers in Ireland as Gallowglasses or as part of the Plantations.

      Taking some of your names, they were to be found and still are in the following counties: Donahoe (Longford); Donoghue (Cork and Clare); Donoughue (Galway); Donoughy (Armagh). The others appear to be non-standardised versions, mispellings or transcription errors. From that, there appears to be a pattern that names ending in -y or -ey came from Ulster ; names ending in -ue or -hue came from Gaelic-speaking Munster; and names ending in -oe came from the Border Counties. In other words, the spellings can give useful clues to place of origin so as to narrow dwn a search.

      The name McGee is a very similar case to Donaghue/Donaghy in that the spelling – Magee, McGee, McGhee, Mackey, McKay – is a give-away to its origin (whether Ulster-Scots or Irish) and its place of location in Ireland. My favourite of these is McGhee which is only to be found in a small part of Donegal called Kilmacrennan where St Columba came from. Before translation from Irish into English it means either ‘those from the windy exposed places’ or ‘those with tonsured heads’ (monks). Although I guess with a bald head anywhere seems windy!

      • Waxwing

        July 12, 2013 at 9:57 am

        It tends to be airbrushed out of history that North Antrim and North Donegal were invaded and populated by Hebrideans who settled there. Highland names are very common in these parts of Ulster eg McDonald, McNeill, Campbell, McLean, Ferguson, Buchanan, Nicholson etc etc. Scottish Gaelic was spoken in the Glens of Antrim up until the mid 1800s, much like Cape Breton. The world champion pipeband (piping is very popular) is the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipeband which has won more titles than any other pipeband, including any from Scotland. Traces of these Gallowglasses and Planters exist today from Irish placenames. A placename in point is Milford outside Letterkenny which is still called Baile nan Galloglach (Town of the Gallowglasses). Perhaps Angus’s MacMhuirich bards made some reference to these Gallowglasses as many of them were followers of the MacDonalds of the Isles.

        Capercaillie draws this ancient link between Ireland and Scotland in their rendition of the Skye Waulking Song, or ‘My Father Sent Me to the House of Sorrows’, which refers to a son of a King of Ireland who married a Hebridean Princess but was murdered in Minginish in Skye. I far prefer this version (in the clip) which appears to have been withdrawn from Youtube that they performed at a festival in Northern Spain. It captures the emotion and heartache much better and was not spoilt by being jived up as a replacement version (in the link) seems to have been. Karen Matheson’s dodgy Gaelic (she is not a native speaker) does not detract as she learnt her music from the famous folksinger Flora MacNeill of Barra who was her aunt. Karen’s popularising of Gaelic music was rightly rewarded with an OBE and she has done more for the genre than anyone else I can think of, apart perhaps from Donny Munro of Runrig and from Uig in Skye who is a close second. See what you think, in particular what is going on body-language wise in the clip between certain members of the group. No clues yet, that will come later!

        You will gather from this ramble that I am far more interested in the history and social context that can be extracted from a genealogical search than I am from looking into family trees which leaves me somewhat cold. I have not really shown any interest in my own family tree although there are some colourful (not to mention vaguely unpleasant and self-righteous) characters in it. As an indication of that is my reaction to my daughter’s insistence that I wear a kilt at her wedding next year. I spent a few days in Edinburgh and I have decided I do not wish to wear my father’s tartan (MacFarlane) or any tartan on that side of the tree (MacKenzie, MacSween or Cameron) and I am veering towards my mother’s side (not MacDonald which is too common, but ideally MacNiven or Beaton which are hard to get).

        • Waxwing

          July 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm

          Another treat from Karen, this time a footstomper, supposedly loosely based on ‘The Old Wife of Raasay’. If the womenfolk waulked the wool in time with this tune they would get their work finished in no time!

          • Anne Marie

            July 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm

            Hi Don,

            Thanks for the historics of my ‘Donaghey or Donaghy’ ancestry which I do enjoy. You and Angus always have little bits to add for us and it all adds to the picture really so I’m always glad of the historic knowledge. I have read a few different bits ‘n’ pieces on different sites which give different bits of information.


            This particular ‘line’ I have only quite recently got going with after shelving it some years ago – 2007 I think as they were living in Northumberland & the English records are a nightmare to trace, not to mention the high costs as their search facility isn’t a patch on ours. You have to order the actual certificate at £10 almost, whether it be the right or wrong one, so you can imagine I was in no hurry to throw away £££££’s trying different variations. To crown it all, if and when you are lucky enough to find the correct image, there’s only the father’s name and we rely heavily on his given occupation to determine whether it’s the right or wrong person before we can progress really.

            The bottom line is, the only certificates with solid proof of our roots from the outset are birth certificates. I may add that I’m not having a “dig” (pun) 😉 at the English as the Irish & Welsh records systems are the same.

            On one particular page I read, Donaghy with the Robertson connection were first found in Perthshire of all places – my own birth place which was a surprise.
            My Scottish blood has now risen by 10% but I haven’t found the jam recipe yet 🙂


            This one gives the Irish variants and they were first found in Cork

            I think I have mentioned in the past that history & geography have always been my weak points so putting them together for me is a “RECIPE” for disaster – yes a bit of a pun there too. 🙂 I do enjoy reading as I go if you like. Whenever I’m adding to branches, I do look up origins, areas etc. and read about the places where they were born, married, lived, travelled etc. Although Cork was the seat, I found my first connection as Cork which was stated on the 1871 census of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in which the name was written down as ‘Donoghue’.

            I am presently awaiting my GG-grandfather James’ birth (Donoughue) & death (Donohue or Donohux) records. The two spellings for my g-grandfather’s death is the fact that two people with similar surname and forename, born approx. same year and registered the same quarter so it’s a hit or a miss until it arrives. Along with my GGG-Grandfather Timothy’ (bc 1801 – 1811) death (Donoughoue) the record will hopefully confirm that his wife was Ann McCrate? The spelling is a question (its a name I have never encountered before), born in Tipperary (1871 census) c 1799 – 1811. So that will probably be my next venture, finding out about her.

            I have James’ marriage (Dunohoue) and as father (Donahoe) on my G-Grandmother Jane Ann’s birth record while on her marriage record she is Donoughue and on her daughter Annie‘s (my Grandmother) birth record the name is Donoghue

            Don, that’s a few examples of the complexity/perplexity and diversity of it although it does make good use of the grey matter but there is always the “anxious” wait which is exciting – the ‘buzz’, the exuberance if you like, and the part which doesn’t enthral you. “leaves me somewhat cold” was a good pun although I’m sure it was unintentional!

            I think this is what helps to understand others like Susan O’Meara & Patricia MacLellan as you have witnessed reading their threads with some strange but humorous finds.

            The thing is, I’m very accustomed with the Uist variants, know the area and have an abundance of info. to check out/through, whereas I have nothing for Northumberland or elsewhere but it’s the cost outside of Scottish borders which dominates my preference of paths while root hunting.

            I do like Karen & Co. but I do have to admit that my heart is with Runrig (The Delectable Donnie Days) and my favourite has to be “The Mighty Atlantic”

            Your thoughts on that would really be appreciated?

            It just captures everything to be said about our, what I call “Homeland” and the sadness of the whole scenario our folks were faced with. This will give you an insight of my perception of things. Although I can’t contain the historics in my mind, it’s way too complex although I do have a knowledge of the “goings on” &amp enjoy reading things, I just don’t have the capacity to store it all or to reiterate it if that makes sense.

            I hated history and my hand is up to the fact that I did say “who wants to know about the past”? – I’m now eating my own words and got sore jaws!

            Regarding wearing the kilt, it’s great that your daughter has requested it. There is nothing more pleasing to the eye for a woman than to see a man in a kilt. For me it’s a feeling of being proud of our heritage and I do hope you manage to get whichever tartan you choose. It’s a long process making a kilt so I wouldn’t leave it too late as there is a lot of work & time goes into the making of it – very precise measurements & matching etc. Here’s a link:


            Is your daughter getting married in Ireland or Scotland?

            • Waxwing

              July 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

              Tipperary McCrates

              Apart from McGraths, Mc/Macs of any description are few and far between in either Tipperary. It is a bit ironic that so much blood has been spilt over the partition of Ireland into North and South when Tipperary could never agree to be one county – there are two Ridings; Tipperary North and Tipperary South.

              Anyway, in Griffiths Valuation there was Terence McCrate to be found in South Tipperary, from a Townland called Cappauniac, in a Parish called Clonbullogue (according to Griffith but now in Offaly). So you are on the right track. One version is that the McCrates were of Scottish origin and are also known by McCraith, or more commonly as MacRae. In Scotland they are mainly to be found in Kintail; in Ireland they are mainly to be found in Ulster but as McCraith, McRea or McCrea.

              By the time of the 1901/11 Censuses, the name was regularised as McCraith and there were sixteen McCraiths in Tipperary – four in Clogheen (one household with servants); four in Graystown (one household); three in Nenagh; one in Tubrid; one in Clonmel; three in Killenaule (one household); one in Ballysheehan and one in Ballyporeen (illegitimate). In other words, well spread out in Tipperay and not concentrated in one small area.

              As an afterthought which might explain how the name came to be McCrate. In certain parts of the South of Ireland, there seems to be an aversion or laziness about pronouncing the ‘th’ sound so ‘three’ becomes ‘tree’etc. Hence, McCraith becomes McCrait or uncommonly McCrate.

            • Waxwing

              July 12, 2013 at 8:51 pm

              Powerful song, theme and rendition, no doubt, which showcases Donny Munro’s purity of voice and diction. I have to admit, however, that a Gaelic song will always tug at my heartstrings more. It really doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the words, the theme is the same (the terrible beauty of the Atlantic). The words of the song in English and Gaelic, which is sung by Donny in Gaelic, are as shown in the link, so you can follow the song as it goes along:


              I think the imagery is terrific and shows Gaelic poetry at its best – picture for example the onomatopoeism in the lines – ‘gun mhuthadh gun truas, a sluaireadh gainneamh na traghd’. Just listening to that transports me instantly on some beautiful day like today to some imagined and glorious beach in Uist or Harris. The lyrics and music were composed by Donald MacIver d.1935, a school headmaster from Uig in Lewis (Domhnall Iain Ruaidh). If he never wrote another thing in his life it didn’t matter. Well done, Donald.

            • Waxwing

              July 17, 2013 at 10:05 pm

              Men in Kilts

              The Pipeband World Champions (Irish of course) in action – Field Marshal Montgomery Pipeband, from County Down, the most successful ever.

  6. Gordon Macleod

    July 11, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I wonder if one of the Gaelic speakers on here would care to comment on a little theory I have about the origin of my surname Macleod. For a long time the Macleods have celebrated a Norse origin, with their progenitor Leod said to have been a son of Olaf the Black, King of Man etc etc – I’m sure many of you will have heard this. In recent years however, this origin was disproved, the Norse connection is now known to have come from a female line see here:

    I began to wonder if the Norse explanation for the name Leod(Ljot, meaning ugly) was also incorrect. Around the same time, I began to think of old stories I’d heard/read which said that the Macleods were known as Siol na Laire/Larach or Siol a Chapuill – the race or progeny of the mare or horse. The horse was their totem just as the cat was to the clan Chattan or the dog to clan Donald. It was then, after a quick google search, that I came across the Epidii – an ancient tribe known as the horse people who inhabited the lands of Dal Riada.

    The Gaelic cognate for Epidii is Echoid or Eochaid, indeed there were Kings of Dal Riada by that name e.g. Echoid Buid. I then wondered if, just like the name Maclean(Mac Gille Eathain), Macleod is a contraction of an original name that would have been something akin to Mac Gille Eochaid or MacillEchoid. There is an Irish name McCloghy/McCloy from Monaghan which does indeed have that origin, i.e. Mac Giolla Eochaidh meaning something like son of the servant of the horseman. It’s also interesting to note that some of the earliest spellings of the name Macleod are McLoid or McCloyd(very similar to McCloy).

    What I’m unsure of though, and what I’m hoping some of the Gaelic speakers on here can help with, is the phonetics – is the pronunciation of the d at the end a problem?

    • Waxwing

      July 11, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Interesting theory and one that perhaps could be disentangled with some haplotyping. Two thirds of MacLeods are in an I haplogroup, rather than the R1a1b1 group that was found in about a third of the Vikings; the I group was to be found further North in Scandinavia.

      As far as the phonetics go, the theory passes muster. In English, MacLeod is pronounced MacLoud; in Gaelic it is pronounced Machk-Lyotch, with a prolongated vowel sound. Hence, MacGill’Eochaid would work as Irish have long since ditched the guttural ‘ch’ sounds which have become silent.

      • Gordon Macleod

        July 12, 2013 at 12:21 am

        Thanks for your reply Waxwing. I should say that I don’t necessarily believe the Macleods are descended from the Epidii or are of Gaelic origin in the direct male line.

  7. Anne Marie

    June 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Thanks Angus,

    Isabella Morrison, wife of Archie Beaton is a distant connection on my tree, was just hoping to fill in a few gaps with any info. which anyone had & wondered if they had any family so don’t want anyone spending creds on SP!!!

    Regards, Anne Marie.

  8. Roy Gannon

    January 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I am researching the families of the brothers John and Angus MacLellan, who came to Indian River, Prince Edward Island about 1790 from South Uist. John’s wife is Catherine MacPhee and the children are Donald, Catherine, Angus , Archibald, Alexander, Roderick, Philip and James(last two born on PEI). Angus’s wife is Effie Stewart(North Uist) and the children are Roderick and Donald. They are said to have lied at Glaich Laith near Ben Corodale. I’m looking to find the location of Glaich Laith. And if there is any information about John and Angus’s ancestors

  9. Stephen MacDonald

    May 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    I am seeking information on a Catholic Boisdale, South Uist, family c. 1800 mentioned in A.J. MacMillan’s book “To the Hill of Boisdale” – Alasdair MacDonald son of Ailean and Ciorsdan MacDonald. Alasdair and his brother Ronald immigrated to Boisdale, Cape Breton. Alasdair and his wife Catriona obtained two land grants in Cape Breton reputedly due to having significant wealth from being a distiller on S. Uist. I’m intrigued by the apparent wealth of this family to justify a second land grant in the name of a woman (Catriona) at that time. Since the records are sparse, what sources could I search to corroborate or expand on this family? Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated.

    • Angus Macmillan

      May 11, 2012 at 1:03 am

      I do have one immediate thought. If you search the MacDonald families around this one in Fr MacMillan’s books, you will find that the given name Ailean is largely absent. This is because it was largely confined to the chiefly families. You will also, for instance, find it referenced for an Ailean ‘Gardiner’ MacDonald. This Ailean was a descendant of Dougal VI of Clanranald via the South Uist family known as the ‘MacDougall MacDonalds of Morar’ and, indeed, it was Allan MacDonald IV of Morar who had sold that family’s patrimony in South Uist, from memory in 1748. As for Clanranald itself, that is not how the chiefly family was generally known up to the 18th Century; the chief [Captain of course in this case] was Mac ‘ic Ailein’ son of the son of Allan. This was presumably a reference to Ailean IX of Clanranald, floruit in the 16th Century, progenitor of the chiefly Clanranald and Benbecula lines, or just possibly to Ailean IV, who predated the setting aside of the direct line with the murder of Dougal VI in 1520. Accordingly, the family of your interest is pretty surely a branch of the chiefly family, hence perhaps the comparative wealth you notice.

      It is just possible that you will be able to confirm that via the records. However, assuming your surname is directly derived from the Ailean at the head of the sloinneadh, you can confirm or eliminate the descent via a Y-DNA test.

      • Stephen MacDonald

        May 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

        Thanks so much for the response. I’ve ordered the Y-DNA test (I’ve been looking for a good reason to do this for some time now). Can I ask what records you’d recommend going to? I thought nothing existed for S. Uist that early. I’ve been intrigued by all these discussions here, but I’m not sure where you are finding all your great information. Any pointers would be appreciated.

        • Angus Macmillan

          May 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm

          On the matter of a DNA test, do sign up for a 67 marker test. I don’t know what you had in mind and have no axe to grind but FTDNA has the largest database for comparison purposes and generally gives the best results at this level of testing. If you have not done so, do have a look at the Clan Donald USA website, which has a very good section on DNA and Clan Donald testees.

          On the other matter, what is generally in pretty short supply and that does not penetrate that far back, are formal records per se. There is nevertheless a surprising amount extant in less organised ways. Norman MacDonald’s book on the Clanranald of Garmoran has quite a bit of the historical material but it does require some familiarity to be developed with the personnel in order for the material to mean as much as it might. For example, there is a passing mention of an Alexander MacDonald who, in the absence of Clanranald, led the clan at the Battle of Auldearn in the Montrose campaign. This was undoubtedly Alexander, first son of Ranald MacDonald I of Benbecula by his second wife.

          Just the other day I came across a poem adding colour to the reference, addressed to ‘men of the short coats’ ‘ye gave your bible oaths/ Going down to Auldearn/that no sword should be sheathed/Till crowned was King Charles.’ Then many entries, even in the formal baptismal and marriage records, include a sloinneadh, sometimes quite lengthy, that can encapsulate significant information. Torlum has a MacDonald family back to a Rory, almost certainly to Rory Beg, son of Somerled the tacksman, brother of Flora MacDonald’s father. Little Rory was one of the oarsmen who carried Prince Charlie ‘over the sea to Skye’ with Flora on the night of 28th June 1746 on the boat steered by his brother John. Etc etc. Hope this helps to point the way. Angus

          • Stephen MacDonald

            May 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm

            Thanks so much Angus. I’ll look into this. I really appreciate all the assistance!

      • joanne

        March 20, 2013 at 11:35 pm

        I am sorry I do not know how to open a new thread and on reseaching my family tree I have noticed that you have a lot of knowledge on old families in Uist. I am from the Morrisons most recently living at Bornish and the Macintyre (Domhnall Ruadh) Paisley Bard line of Snishvail, I have a query re the Morrison line.

        On searching back I have reached a Margaret McVicar of Lochboisdale who had a natural daughter Flora Currie to an Alex Currie of Cape Breton, baptised in 1828?? Flora went on to marry my Gt Gt grandfather Malcolm in 1852. When I looked up Flora (Flory) on 1841 census she is living with a McIntyre family with a Margaret McNeill, listed as a pauper.

        1851 census states Margaret McNiel Cottar with daughter Flora Currie a general servant. My query, if you could answer is, why do you think Flora’s mother is no longer going under the name McVicar, and how did Alex Currie go or get to Cape Breton in 1827/28??? Thank you for your assistance.

        • Angus Macmillan

          March 21, 2013 at 10:17 am

          I am not sure I have rightly understood the who and where of your questions. Am I right that Margaret MacVicar was in Cape Breton in 1827/8 when there was a relationship with Alex Currie, also there, resulting in the birth of Flora? Or are the Censuses mentioned Scottish ones? No matter, it just means that I will have to answer in general rather than try to prise apart what actually happened.

          The variant name under which women appeared was by no means unsusual. Margaret MacVicar could have had Flora either as a spinster born MacVicar or as a widow, married name MacVicar. In either case, she could have (re)married as MacNeil by 1841. If she had in fact been widowed by 1828, she might just have reverted to her maiden name.

          There was a tendency but not a universal one, for women to take literally the part of the marriage vows ’till death us do part’ and, on the death of a husband to abandon the married name. Anywhere in Gaeldom you may find Mary MacIntyre wife of John MacDonald on gravestones. If the records exist and you look closely, you may be able to distentangle what actually happened in your case.

          As to Alex Currie migrating to CB, there were bursts rather than a steady flow of migration. Around 1770 was probably the first and there was another in the 1790s. In 1803, Robert Brown, the rather competent Clanranald factor, was worried about how many people were leaving the Uists as they were needed for the kelping that was the main source of income for the estate. He came up with the idea of an Act to improve the space and feeding standards on the emigrant ships, notionally on health and safety grounds. The effect, of course, was to raise the price and price many would be emigrants out of the market.

          In the 1820s, following the end of the Napoleonic wars, foreign the barilla was again accessible that was used in a number of industrial processes and this was better and cheaper than the results of kelping so the price of the latter collapsed and many folks in South Uist, who depended on it to pay their rents, could no longer do so and were forced to emigrate. Also the kelpers were no longer required so there was a surplus population. This stimulated emigration agents into action. If Alex Currie went to CB in the 1820s, this was the likely reason for him or his family making the move.

          Does that help?

          • joanne

            March 21, 2013 at 4:44 pm

            Thank you for replying so quickly. The info gathered was from the Scottish Baptismal records in Lochboisdale and Scottish Census records of 1841/1851.

            Natural daughter status I believe was to be unmarried to the father e.g A Currie, and that he had left Margaret pregnant to go to Cape Breton. With Flora being born in 1828 in Lochboisdale, I assumed Alex must have left late 1827 early 1828, as Bapt Cert says father Alex Currie Cape Breton. I can’t find Ships that travelled to CB in that time period? Flora’s Death Cert states Alexander Currie Crofter (dec) and a Margaret Currie (dec) maiden name unknown. Thank you again for your information I shall keep rooting about to see what other info I can unearth.

            • Angus Macmillan

              March 21, 2013 at 6:56 pm

              Joanne: Thanks for putting me on the right track. My first thought is how well you have done to find the various records. If they could be faded, marked or hidden off the bottom of a page, they were. Despite having seen all the records before, I must admit I had neither registered the flight to Cape Breton nor have I seen another like it. Perhaps there was a rather too good celebration and Alex headed off all unwares. He was evidently from that Lochboisdale set of MacMhuirichs alias Currie, descended from the bards to the Lords of the Isles from the 1220s and then to Clanranald from about 1500. I have spent recent months trying to work out where the South Lochboisdale set attach to the main stem. I will let you know if I have any success.

              Having looked at all the records and noting that Margaret was still recorded as unmarried in 1851, my guess about her use of the two names would be that she also was illegitimate. Neither of the names she gave were native to South Uist. One was from North Uist, perhaps Protestant, hence no marriage(?) and the other was from Barra, suggesting something other than girl-next-door romance.

              Were your Morrisons in Smerclate [origin of your Malcolm, intriguingly Mahon in Scotlandspeople] of the famous ‘pipers of the skull’ descent? Morrison and MacMhuirich, that really should donate you some artistic abilities.

              Regards Angus

              • Waxwing

                March 22, 2013 at 12:50 am

                This clip shows how infectious Gaelic music can be at its liveliest. Not one of the ensemble speaks Gaelic apart from Julie herself and Donal Lunny on the mandolin (Irish in his case). Even Bruce Molsky from New York (on the banjo) is joining in and having a whale of a time! What most of them are perhaps missing is the ironic twist in the song, so typical of Highlanders. Supposedly a lament to a departed lover, the tempo is clearly saying ‘Good Riddance!’. On the other hand, Julie has a mischievous glint in her eye so perhaps she has already told them.

            • Anne Marie

              June 8, 2013 at 8:57 pm

              Hi Joanne,

              Have just read your post. I’m wondering who registered Flora’s death as it seems almost bizarre that the person could identify an “absent father” whom she (Flora) herself had never known nor met, yet not know her mother’s name although she had lived on the same island although died c1853?

              Not that I can solve your query but for me, I would tend to go by the name she gave on Flora’s birth/baptism record, MacVicar as it was a catholic baptism – a legal thing if you like.
              However, my thoughts on the “name change” to MacNeil, whichever spelling, suggest she may have been living with a Mr MacNeil, who was possibly a fisherman, away for days on end and by coincidence just happened to be away on census nights???………Not impossible.

              Anne Marie.

            • Anne Marie

              June 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm

              Hi Joanne,

              Have you seen the actual baptism record or was the info. from the transcriptions?

              I have given this a bit of thought and if the writing on the baptism was slightly faded an “N” could possibly have looked liked “Vi” & with the prefix M(a)c there are not many other names with “Vi” and therefore the transcriber has possibly seen what looked to be “MacVicar”??

              It does seem odd for someone to change their name but it’s just a thought.

              I noted Malcolm & Flora had a large family (9) and Malcolm had 10 siblings.

              Regards, Anne Marie.

        • Anne Marie

          June 10, 2013 at 7:29 pm

          James Morrison c1857 son of Malcolm Morrison & Flora Currie = Catherine MacDonald 1852 dau of John MacDonald & Isabella Steele.


          Malcolm n/m
          Isabella = Archie Beaton of Stoneybridge (parent’s unknown)

          Does anyone have any further information on the descendants of Isabella & Archie & his parents names please.

          Regards, Anne marie

          • Angus Macmillan

            June 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm

            Archie did not die till the 1960s so a certificate has to ordered if you want one. He was living at home in Stoneybridge (aged 14) in 1901 with his parents, crofter Kenneth Beaton and mother Ann. Kenneth had died by 1911 but Alexander 37 and Mary 21 were at home, as was Archie 24 (28.11.1922). Archie married Isabella Morrison, spinster/housekeeper daughter of James Morrison agricultural labourer. James and his wife Catherine MacDonald, Bornish died according to the rites of the RC Church. It is all there on Scotlandspeople but the marriage did not show for Howmore until I pressed ‘All Districts’.

            • Anne Marie

              June 10, 2013 at 9:31 pm

              Donald MacMillan c1820 = Mary MacPhee c1821 – wed 1845 S/Uist & I believe they were both from Frobost, S/Uist?


              Angus 1847 S/Boisdale
              Roderick 1849 S/Frobost
              Neil 1851 Frobost
              Alexander 1853 Frobost
              John 1856 Frobost

              The family later moved to Kildonan, S/Uist so any advance on marriages/kids etc. would be great.

              Does anyone know the parents of Donald MacMillan please. Mary MacPhee is my relative so have the details on her.

              Regards, Anne Marie.

        • Jessica Ross

          January 27, 2017 at 8:02 pm

          Joanne, please contact Jessica Ross, . She thinks Alexander Currie is her ancestor. Steve McDonald

    • Paul Muto

      April 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

      Hello Stephen, I am also seeking information on the same family. I am descended from the brother Ronald. There is also a mention of a possible third brother. As they are an important early family in Boisdale, CB, I am trying to find out the year of departure from South Uist, the ship on which they came and the location on South Uist from where this family originated. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

      • Stephen MacDonald

        April 22, 2013 at 7:45 am

        Hi Paul, I got all of my information from A.J. MacMillan’s book “To the Hill of Boisdale” which is sounds like you did too. It’s believed that the family arrived in Cape Breton from Boisdale, South Uist and that’s why they named their settlement Boisdale. Not sure about ships or dates yet, but still looking.

        • Paul Muto

          May 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

          Hi Stephen, Thanks for the reply. Yes, my source is the same as yours. What is your connection to the MacDonalds of Boisdale? You can e-mail me at

  10. Douglas Mackinnon

    April 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Don

    I was very interested to read that Guy Macleod of Talisker has claimed the Macleod chiefship on the death of John Macleod (formerly Woolridge-Gordon), 29th Chief in 2007. Guy has been recognized by the clan’s leading genealogists as being the senior surviving male agnate of the Macleod chiefs, descended from Sir Rory Macleod, 15th Chief. However a spokesman for the Lyon Court has said that a person descended in the male line from the chiefs “does not necessarily have a better claim than a person descended in the female line”. I rest my case. In the Words of Guy Macleod; “How could John be Chief of the Macleods when he was not even a Macleod?” Soon we will have Polish, English, German, and maybe even Chinese clan chiefs. The officers of the Lyon Court should all be exiled to Alaska. They can set up their own clans there.

    • Gordon Macleod

      April 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      What do you mean soon, Douglas, by my reckoning the vast majority of clan chiefs are English and have been for many generations. They have been entirely assimilated into the English upper classes. Most of them have no real interest in the Highlands or the people that live there, nor could they care less for Gaelic culture – Give me a Chinese chief any day.

      • Douglas Mackinnon

        April 28, 2012 at 8:37 pm

        Hi Gordon. This is why I think that we clansmen from the “colonies” need to go back to Scotland- we are not tainted by the Anglicization of Scotland’s Gaelic nobility- we have a genuine interest in Scotland’s Gaelic culture. When I mentioned the Abandonment of Recognition of the Irish Chiefs by the Irish Government to Sir Malcolm MacGregor, he did not have the faintest idea what I was talking about. Even the M.P’s of the Holyrood parliament are more British than they are Scottish. How many Holyrood M.Ps can speak one word of Gaelic, much less understand the culture? As far as clan chiefships are concerned, everyone who wants to be anyone is applying to the Lyon Court- as Don puts it quite plainly- “Chiefships up for grabs” (for a small fee). As I have stated previously on this blog, the heir to a Scottish chief can only be chosen from the “Daoin Uaisle”- the male line relations of the incumbant chief (refer Rev Donald D. Mackinnon “Memoirs of Clan Fingon”, 1899). This was the case for generations- as evidenced by the MacGregor elections of 1714 & 1774. But this is Greek to the officers of the Lyon Court. Where the male line of a chief’s family dies out- the chiefship becomes DORMANT, it cannot pass to a female line heir, except a woman who is herself the daughter of a chief. The clan then becomes Armigerous until a surviving agnate can prove male-line descent from a former chief. This is still the case in Ireland. In Ireland, not even a woman born in the male line can claim an Irish clan chiefship. The Lyon Court has also created a bunch of new clans- most of them with little or no solid historical basis. And with all the new Asian immigrants, there will soon be a Clan Kitwala, and a Clan Hoosein.

  11. caledonhills

    March 19, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Thanks Angus and Douglas. I will look into that.

  12. Douglas Mackinnon

    March 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    The Perth MacGregors are most likely related to the Glen Orchy and Glen Gyle MacGregors. The MacGregors were forced to disperse and take other names during the various periods of atainder and prohibition that the clan was subjected to in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Y-chromosome DNA testing would quickly answer this question. Members of this group should contact Family Tree DNA in the U.S.A. See their website

  13. Don MacFarlane

    March 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    ‘Many who are First will be Last; and the Last First’ . Mark 10:31

    The intriguing debate between Angus and Douglas on who could be the next King of Scotland once there is independence puts me in mind of this quote from the Holy Bible. I promise there will be no more quotes as I am one of the least religious people about!

    The principle of primus inter pares works well enough for the election of a Pope, so perhaps there was nothing so very wrong with it under Brehon law, with the choice of a leader often being down to the Daoine Uaisle (cardinal-equivalents?). What particularly appeals to me is the thought of the King surfacing from what would often be thought of as one of the lesser clans – MacKinnon, MacMillan, Macquarie, MacLean. I am not so keen on the King being a MacKay, given the part that General Hugh MacKay of Scourie had in doing the dirty work for William of Orange in cleaning out the Highland glens of anti-Hanoverians.

    • Douglas Mackinnon

      March 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Don.

      The future of the Scottish Crown is a highly sensitive issue which no Scottish mainstream politician wants to discuss openly. Current opinion polls indicate that while Alex Salmond wants to revive the old dual monarchy of the 17th century, some 57% of his party members see “no place for a king or queen within a democratic Scottish state”. As for the population, support for the monarchy sliped to about 49% in 2005, it is now back at 75% according to latest opinion polls- following the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Prince William himself cannot bear to be seen wearing a kilt according to some reports.

      I suspect that an independent Scotland might go the same route as Ireland – it will tolerate Alex Salmond’s dual monarchy arrangement for about fifteen years, then dump the British monarch and inaugurate a republic. The only way to secure the long term future of the Scottish Crown would be to promote a dynastic change immediately after independence- with a possible restoration of the old Gaelic line, since the Stewart dynasty is now extinct in the male line.

      In my opinion, the best person for this role would probably be the MacGregor Chief, Sir Malcolm MacGregor. Besides being descended in the male line from the old Dal-Riada royal clan, he is descended about six times over from the Stewart kings in the female line. What also works in his favour- he has never been involved in party politics (unlike the Mackay chief), and he is a retired career army officer which makes him a good candidate for head of state. I have personally approached him on this issue- but he respectfully declined citing his oath of loyalty to the Queen.

      Oddly enough though, I received an e-mail invitation to take part in the SNP’s “National Conversation” about Scotland’s constitutional future some weeks after my conversation with Sir Malcolm. Whether there was any connection between the two events/incidents could be the subject of juicy gossip and speculation. One thing I can say about him – he is an absolute gentleman. Ultimately the Scots will have to vote on these various choices. I would not like to predict which way they would vote. Support for the insitution of monarchy north of the border seems to be quite volatile.

      • Gordon Macleod

        March 19, 2012 at 10:43 pm

        “Ultimately the Scots will have to vote on these various choices” – Yes Douglas, but you can be sure that Sir Malcolm MacGregor would not be voted in as King of Scotland; nor would any other member of the English establishment, because, let’s be honest here, that’s what most Scottish clan chiefs are these days.

        • Douglas Mackinnon

          March 20, 2012 at 10:08 am

          Hi Gordon.

          I quite agree. It is very sad. The truth is that – as I pointed out in one of my previous posts- many of the West Highland chiefs were ruined by the disastrous Jacobite rebellions. While “Bonnie” Prince Charlie was living it up back in Europe, his loyal clansmen back in Scotland were facing execution, imprisonment, forfeiture, financial ruin, and even starvation. For the atainted Chiefs it was a clear case of “if you can’t beat em, then join em”. They had to throw their lot in with the Hanoverian regime just to survive and their children were sent to English private schools like Eton and Harrow, which at one time were the gateway to entry into the upper eschelons of the British establishment. Their descendants are today more English than Scottish.

          I warned Sir Malcolm MacGregor five years ago that Scotland was heading for republican independence. He wrote back and suggested that independence would never happen and that Scotland could not survive on it’s own. I wonder what he is thinking now. Just very recently, Lord Peter Fraser, a leading Tory peer, publically stated that the British government was “wasting time and money” on fighting to keep the Union, and that “nothing will stop Scotland from becoming an independent nation”. I plan to forward Lord Fraser’s interview to Sir Malcolm.

          If Scotland does become a republic, the entire clan system will likely be swept away. This is what happened in Ireland. After a scandal involving a fake Irish prince, the Irish Government in Dublin formally abandoned recognition of all the Irish chiefs and the Irish princes in 2003. These men now have no status whatsoever in Ireland, not even heraldic status. This is very likely what will eventually happen in Scotland under a republican regime. Scotland’s republican camp is radical and socialist and, if they can get just 51% in a referendum, all the chiefs, dukes, and lords, etc will be disallowed from using their titles in Scotland. In Germany they can use their titles as part of their surname, that’s all. I am apalled at how out of touch many of these men are. Sir Malcolm did say in an interview that he was struggling to work up any interest at all among young Scots in the whole clan system.

          The truth is it’s not just the aristocracy which has changed- the people themselves have become more British than Scottish. You notice this if, like me, you grew up in South Africa. How many members of the Holyrood parliament can speak one word of Gaelic, yet this was once the home language of the majority of people in Scotland. While Scottish nationalists take pride in their “Scottishness”, many of their own ancestors would not recognize them! Other MSPs don’t even have Scottish ancestry.

          There is a fundamental difference between Celtic nationalism and European nationalism. The majority of rank and file members of the SNP are European nationalists- they view the whole clan system as elitist. After what many of the chiefs got up to during the Clearances, you can’t really blame these young nationalists for thinking that way. They view the Queen as a rather espectable old English lady who comes north to Scotland twice a year- once to open the Scottish parliament, and second time to enjoy a holiday at Balmoral. None of these young people can remotely identify with her. Prince Charles doesn’t fare any better. He is likely to have even less support in Scotland than the present Queen, who is at least repected because of her “Scottish” mother who was actually born in England. The whole aristocratic establishment throughout Scotland is facing it’s eleventh hour.

          South of the border, Englands “new” Britons who come from Asia will soon be challenging the monarchy itself when they get to be forty percent of the population, which is only about thirty years away. Makes you think, doesn’t it.

  14. caledonhills

    March 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Can I ask this group if the MacGregors of Perthshire (Kinclaven to be exact) are related to the Highland MacGregors? We have some in our tree and, because a lot of them changed their names after ’45, I’m having some trouble.

    • Angus Macmillan

      March 19, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Different branches of the one MacGregor clan were located from Stronmilchan and the head of Loch Awe through Glenorchy to Loch Tay, the latter being in Perthshire. The chiefly family of today was from the Balquhidder area at the time of the ’45.

  15. Douglas Mackinnon

    March 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm


    Today is the 17TH MARCH. On this day in 1058, King Lulach mac Gille-Comgain, High King of the Scots, was killed in Essie, Strathbogie, Scotland, by Mael-coluim mac Dhonnchaidh, claimant to the Scottish Throne. The Irish annals suggest he was killed “by treachery.”

    But who was Lulach “the Unfortunate”? He was the last King of the Scots from the original Gaelic royal house of Caibre Riada, and the last king to be raised to the kingship of Scotland according to the original Brehon law of succession which has always applied in Ireland, and which applied in Scotland officially until 1058. Lulach’s ancestors had reigned as Kings of Scottish Dal-Riada from 480 to 843, and as Kings of Scotland from 843 to 1058. His victor, Mael-Coluim mac Dhonnchaidh, was enthroned at Scone as king- illegally – according to Brehon law, since Mael-Coluim’s father, Donnchadh (Donnchadh II) claimed the Scottish Throne through his mother, not his father. Under Brehon legal tradition, only adult males born in the male line of the Caibre Riada royal Derbhine could claim the Scottish Throne. Under this law, the Scottish Throne was not hereditary- the heir or tannaiste was elected by the reigning king from among the male agnates of the royal derbhine with agreement from the other members of the derbhine- including the heads of branch lines. Sometimes, succession was achieved by violence- but always within the Brehon legal system.

    The new king, Mael-Coluim mac Donncaidh (Mael-Coluim III), changed all of this. He made the Scottish Throne hereditary, and under the influence of his English royal wife, Margaret of Wessex, replaced Gaelic customs and laws, the Gaelic language at Court, and suppressed the Columban Church of Scotland. He also moved the Scottish Royal Court from Dun-Fermline-in Fife to Edinburgh in Lothian. “Malcolm III” as he is known today belonged to a family which has been identified by DNA testing as a branch of the Irish royal house of O’Neill or Ui Neil. His grandfather, Crinan, Abbot of Dunkeld, married Princess Bethaig ingen Mael-Coluim, the eldest daughter of King Mael-Coluim II “the Destroyer”. Since Mael-Coluim II had no eligible sons, he nominated his eldest daughter’s son, Donncaidh mac Crinan as his heir- in violation of Brehon law which had governed the royal succession in the kingdom of Dal-Riada for centuries, and the royal succession in united Scotland since 847.

    Mael-Coluim III was supported by the King of England, Edward “the Confessor”, who in alliance with his vassal the Danish Siward, Earl of Northumbria, supplied Mael-Coluim with an army of more than 10,000 men made up partly of Englishmen, and partly of Scandinavian mercenaries, and a sea-force. In a four year campaign by land and sea, Soctland’s legitimate royal house was overthrown and replaced by Crinan’s family. First, King MacBeatha (Macbeth) was ousted as King of Strathclyde in 1054, then ambushed and killed at Lumphanan in August 1057. The Mormaors of Scotland enthoned Macbeth’s cousin, Lulach- who was also his step-son. Lulach was enthroned –not because Macbeth had no sons, but because Lulach was the senior Heir-male of the Caibre Riada royal Derbhine, he was also the senior Heir-general of King Malcolm II’s line – the Cinel Gabran which had become extinct in the male line in 1034. Lulach’s mother, Princess Gruoch was the grand-daughter of King Cinnaedh IV who was killed in battle by his first cousin Mael-Coluim II in 1005. However it was Lulach’s MALE line of descent which qualified him for the Throne, since his family, the Cinel Loairn was a surviving branch of the Caibre Riada dynasty who had been kings of Dal-Riada from 673 – 736. King MacBeth’s own sons were probably teenagers at the time of their father’s death, and therefore not yet eligible for the Throne under Brehon law. Recent research suggests that MacBeatha’s sons fled to Ireland afer Lulach was killed.

    King Lulach married Fionghuala, daughter of Sinel, Mormaor of Angus. They had two children , Mael-Snechtai, afterwards, provincial King of Moray, and Princess Olith (some say “Tul”). The details of Lulach’s enthronement and coronation at Scone Abbey in August 1057 are the first actually recorded in Scottish and Irish annals. He is believed to be one of the first Scottish kings who was actually crowned at his enthronement- since enthronement on the Stone of Destiny rather than crowning was the legal act of king-making in Scotland. Crowning was a later development.

    Mael-Snechtai laid claim to the Scottish Throne in 1078, and the Anglo-Saxon chronicles report that King Mael-Coluim III raided Mael-Schectai’s compound , seized his mother, Queen Dowager Fionghuala, and all his possessions. Mael-Schechtai himself, barely escaped. Now ruined, he entered a monastery where he died unmarried in 1085. Some writers suggest Mael-Schechtai may have been forced into a monastery by Mael-Coluim III. Mael-Schechtai’s sister, Olith, married, according to Mackay tradition, her own cousin, Aedh, Mormaor of Ross, who according to Michael Mackay, was a male-line cousin of the late King Lulach descended from King Lulach’s grand-uncle, Prince Domnall mac Ruaridh of Moray. Aedh succeeded Mael-Snechtai as Mormaor (not king) of Moray. He appears to have lived at peace with King Mael-Coluim’s family, since he witnessed several royal charters. Aedh and Princess Olith had three sons. These sons revived their uncle’s claim to the Scottish Throne. The eldest of these, Oengus, took the title of King of Moray on his father’s death, and led an army south into Scotland proper in 1130. There he was slain -some say in single combat with a Norman knight- at the Battle of Inchbare. His brother MaelColuim , Earl of Ross, fought and was imprisoned by King Mael-Coluim IV. This king also expelled the Moray royal family from Moray, along with most of Morays’ native inhabitants in a campaign which was conducted over about five years.

    The family resettled in Strathnaver, Sutherland where they founded a clan named Clan Aedh (sometimes referred to as Clan Morggan- Lulach’s royal ancestor). The present Chief of Clan Aedh, Lord Hugh Mackay of Reay, is the legal representative of King Lulach’s family, although his DNA has not yet been tested. The Chiefs of Clan Gregor (MacGregor) and Finguine (Mackinnon) are descended in the male line from Bishop Cormac of Dunkeld, who, according to the Irish Annals of Tigernach, was a great/great-grandson of King MacBeatha.

    Lulach’s demise changed the course of Scottish history and caused Scotland to be transformed by Mael-Coluim III and his descendants from a Gaelic-speaking Celtic state to an Anglo-Scots speaking Anglo-Norman state. Eventually foreign Norman-Breton families such as the Bruces and the Stewarts acquired the Scottish Throne through the female line, after Mael-Coluim’s family died out in the senior male line in 1286. The junior male line of the family of King Mael-Coluim III, the Cinel Longseach, is today represented by the Chief of Clann Dhonnchaidh, “Robertson of Struan” whose DNA has been tested. He is descended in the male line from Maeldred, a brother of King Donncaidh II, father of Mael-Coluim III.


    • Don MacFarlane

      March 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Fascinating stuff, Douglas

      I wonder can you pass comment on an earlier post of mine or on the historical accuracy of the story told in the ‘The Queen of Songs’, an ancient lament-turned-waulking song from the Alexander Carmichael ‘Carmina Gadelica’ collection. This tells of the heartbreak of the young beloved of Seathan, son of a King of Ireland, at his being cut down in his prime. How did this song (composed in the finest Scottish and not Irish Gaelic) come from Skye and was there ever really a Seathan, son of King of Ireland, who had a presence in the Western Isles.

      The parts of the song sung by Capercaillie go:

      Tha Seathan an-diugh ‘na mharbhan
      (Seathan is today a corpse)
      Sgeul as olc le luchd a leanmhainn
      (A most evil tale to those who follow him)

      Sgeul is ait le luchd a shealga
      (A tale to celebrate for his hunters)
      Naidheachd a bha dhomhsa searbh dhe
      (News that leaves me bitter at the hearing of it).

      ‘S mairg thuirt riamh rium gum b’e bhean dhubhach mi
      (Doleful accounts are usually told of what a disconsolate woman I am)
      Bean bhochd chianail chràiteach dhubhach mi
      (A pitiable, heartbroken, afflicted, inconsolable woman).

      Bean bhochd a thug spèis dha buidheann mi
      (A pitiful woman who once gave hope to my own kith and kin)
      Piuthar do Fhionn ‘s do Niall Buidhe mi
      (Sister to Finn and Yellow-Haired Niall).

      ‘S minig a chuala ‘s nach do dh’innis e
      (Often was it heard but never was it told)
      Gu robh mo leannan-sa am Minginis
      (That my beloved had been in Minginish).

      From my own rudimentary understanding of these times. this would have to fit into the following framework:

      King Aedh 11 of Ireland (568 AD) granted Dál Riada independence from Ireland at the Convention of Druim Ceat.
      Dál Riada went on to dominate Scotland until 843 when Cionaodh MacAilpín unified the Dál Riada and Pictish and became the first King of Alba.
      Seachnasach (665 AD), son of Blathmac, is a possible reference point, maybe an uncle?
      Niall Frosach (759 AD), reigned as King of Ireland for seven years before retiring to Iona Monastery.
      Aedh Fionnlaith (861 AD) married Maolmare (Mary), daughter of Kenneth MacAlpine.
      Irish Monarchy was ceded to Henry 11 of England in 1175.

      Therefore, certain conclusions can reasonably be drawn as the song is thought to have been written about four hundred years after this date:

      It was not contemporaneous with any kingship of Ireland (the Gaelic is too modern);
      Therefore, it was not written by a bereaved beloved of a prince as portrayed;
      Therefore, it was more of a mythical fabrication or loose historical reconstruction at best;
      Therefore, the emotive content of the song is more poetic than personal.

      Despite the probable inauthenticity of the song, the rendition of this ancient waulking song by Capercaillie has now been recognised as a classic of its type and it has been set as an examination piece for students seeking entry to music degrees courses in University.

      • Douglas Mackinnon

        March 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

        1. Queen of Songs: Sounds to me like it could actually refer to an historical figure- the question is whom?? Seathan could also refer to the son of a Chief, or the son of a local lord- if you say it was written 400 years after 1175? Someone must have composed this song for a reason. I will check it out on Youtube- this song is a good peace of Gaelic music for anyone- like myself- who is seeking to learn the language.

        2. Chiefships up for grabs: Quite right. The Lyon Court is destroying the whole Clan system- you can never apply the rules which govern the inheritance of heraldic arms to the succession of clan chiefships. I hope to write an essay on this when I get the time. Scottish clans are by definition AGNATIC kinship groups. While anyone who pledges allegiance to the Clan and it’s Chief can be inducted into the Clan, the late Rev Donald Mackinnon points out that there were always two ranks within the clan: (a) the general body of the Clan, and (b) The “Daoin Uaisle”- the body of male agnates of the Chief. It is from the Daoin Uaisle that the Chief was chosen- usually a son or brother, but not necessarily. When Chiefships fell vacant, the new Chief would be elected from the Daoin Uaisle. This was the case with the MacGregor elections of 1714 and 1774. Within this system, there was no place for women, or men claiming through the female line. This remains the case with Irish clans till today. Also the Chief had responsibilities and duties to his Clansmen. Modern Scottish clan Chiefships are a circus- men using illustrious titles to further their own prestige and perhaps line their pockets without any consideration for the ancient rules of succession, nor any responsibility to their clansmen. Of course not all Chiefs fall in to this category- but a good share of them do. Modern clans should be an opportunity to provide mutual care and financial assistance in a World gone mad. The Lyon Court must be raking in the money with all these new Chiefs- and clans!. But then again- the Lyon Court is an appendage of Britain’s Anglo-German monarchy- they can hardly be expected to be a Celtic regulatory body. Small wonder Scottish republicans want the whole system swept away. Time for a clean-up!

        • Angus Macmillan

          March 18, 2012 at 9:33 pm

          As the MacGregors keep leaping to the surface, I have one comment on this thread. They claim descent from Kenneth MacAlpin which would preclude them from being from a brother of the MacKinnons and the other sons of Bishop Cormac as suggested above. Nor do any of the MacKinnons, MacMillans, MacQuarries, pretty certainly brothers and sons of the Bishop, make the MacGregor claim ‘Royal is my race.’ The modern thought seems to be that the relationship may have been that a daughter of the Bishop may have married into the male line that became MacGregor. Otherwise, it is good to see the Gaelic heredity rules, laid out as they bear on the discussion following the identification of the descendants of MacDonald of Boisdale, with just a tendency here and there to think there might be something to put right, and that stems from primogeniture and feudal arrangements rather than from the much older Brehon usage of election from within a select group of the previous leader’s male relations of a suitable age.

          • Douglas Mackinnon

            March 19, 2012 at 8:55 am

            Hi Angus

            You might be interested in the Y-chromosome DNA results. I have a “related” DNA marker match of 61/67 with Sir Malcolm MacGregor, the Chief; 62/67 with Stuart Mcintyre MacGregor, 62/67 with Gordon Lawrie, and 61/67 with several other MacGregors. I also have numerous “related” marker matches with Mackinnons, Macquarries, MacPhersons, Macleans, MacKays, Fergusons, and a couple of Mathesons. These marker matches are all within the 60/67 and 63/67 range.

            According to the experts 61/67 means I share a common male-line ancestor (MRCA) within 1200 years. This ties in fairly well with the traditional genealogies which show a split between the various families in the 9th century. Remarkably, I also have a 11/12 DNA marker match with SIr Connor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond who is the Chief of the Dal-nCais in Ireland. This means that we are related through the male line within about two thousand years.

            Dr.Thomas Cairney PhD asserted in 1984 that the Dal-nCais of Thomond in Munster are cousins of the Dal-Fiatach in County Down, Northern Ireland, and also the Dal-Riada in county Antrim and Scotland. Cairney said in 1984, long before DNA profiling existed, that the Dal-cCais, Dal-Fiatach, and Dal-Raida, among others are all branches of the original Erainn tribe which settled Ireland about five hundred years before the Gaels, and from whom Ieland gets it’s name “Eire”. Cairney’s assertions are now supported by the DNA results, and DNA doesn’t lie.

            What is interesting about the results is that there appear to be TWO groups of Dal-Riada families: the first group-the Mull clans (Mackinnons, Macquarries, Macleans) show an alele result of “11” at marker locus 391, while the mainland group (MacGregors, Mackays, Macnabs, etc) show an alele result of “10” at locus 391. This indicates that while the Mackinnons, Macquarries and Macleans are descended from Bishop Cormac, it is possible that the MacGregors, Mackays and Macnabs are descended from a different branch of the old Dal-Riada royal clan. Alternatively the ancestor of the mainland group underwent a mutation in his Y-chromosome DNA about the year 1000. As DNA technology advances we will be able to work out this riddle more acurately.

            • Angus Macmillan

              March 19, 2012 at 11:04 am

              Hello Douglas

              We are not, I think, at odds at all. Your concluding sentences fit exactly with what I was suggesting, namely that the MacGregors cannot be descended from a brother of Finguon, Guaire or Gilchrist, sons of Bishop Cormac. Your Y-DNA results relate, of course, to a period three hundred years or so before Bishop Cormac’s sons gave (sur)names to the western clans. So, they are very interesting to the extent they may be taken to confirm shared ancestry, presumably in the Cinel Loairn, that much further ago. You might agree that there is something of a danger though in reading too much into the [minority of?] matches across the clan names. Perhaps the most telling as well as surprising thing to emerge from the DNA projects as a whole is just what a variety of quite different results is revealed under any one surname. The only explanation I can think of goes beyond the fosterage, NPEs and taking in of broken men normally advanced. It is, in this case, that when Bishop Cormac’s sons each took on a territory extending from Dunkeld westwards via the MacMillans, de Lenys, Hendersons [?], MacNabs, MacCallums[?], MacKinnons and MacQuarries etc. there was already a native population wholly lacking surnames. When those were gradually adopted, the whole local population rather than a tight knit family, was graced with the name of the leader.

              I have, as a matter of interest, kept pace with the DNA story as it has unfolded and, indeed, it has provided a whole new take on the descendancy of the MacMhuirich bards in the Outer Isles. I have a particular interest too in the MacGregor story as my daughter-in-law is a 6x great granddaughter of Major Evan MacGregor, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s aide-de-camp and father of the Sir John elected chief, that you mention above. I do incidentally have a doubt, though he was elected in something close to the old Gaelic custom, that John would have been part of the Derbhfine from which a chief would have been chosen, had the clan not been so suppressed and fragmented over the course of a hundred years and more. Evan was, after all, a younger son of Glencarnock, not exactly the most senior branch of the clan by the end of the 18th Century. John’s advantage was primarily that, having made good in the service of the East India Company, he was remarkably well-heeled by the standards of the day and he evidently had a great personal interest in clan matters.

              • Douglas Mackinnon

                March 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm

                Hi Angus.

                In reply to the issues you raise:

                (1) Yes, I too believe now that the Mull chiefs who descended from Bishop Cormac represent a different branch of the Dal-Riada Royal Derbhine. Furthermore, I believe that the MacGregors, Mackays and Macnabs are all closely related and that the one line of chiefs is most likely descended from the other. It is possible that the MacGregors represent a surviving ecclesiastical line of the Siol Ailpein which officially became extinct in 1034.

                (2) The big question is- from whom are the Mackay chiefs descended? They are descended from a daughter of King Lulach, but who did she marry? Many historians claim she was forced to marry a son of Mael-Coluim III but Michael Mackay believes she married Aedh, Mormaor of Ross, a male-line cousin. This would make the Mackay chiefs a division of the Cinel Loairn. However, the DNA results suggest the Mackay chiefs are descended from a different line of the Dal-Riada Royal Derbhine. Some Mackays are also of Norwegian origin. I am trying to make contact with Aeneas Simon Mackay, the heir to the Mackay chiefship, who lives in London. I want to get a DNA sample from him as this will sort the Mackay question out.

                (3) As I mentioned before, there are two groups within a clan. The DNA results show that a variety of men were inducted into these West Highland clans. For this reason it is very important to obtain DNA kits from known members of the Daoin Uaisle of each clan. I know that I am related to the MacGregors because I have compared my DNA signature with that of the Chief, and also Stuart McIntyre MacGregor, who is also descended from Ian “Cam”- the ancestor of the MacGregor chiefs.

                (4) Clan Elections: You are quite correct about John Murray’s election. It was all about money, also a large number (about eight hundred) clansmen were involved in this election, not just the Daoin Uaisle. The 1714 election of Alasdair MacGregor of Balhaldie was a more correct form of clan election as it was limited to the the cadets of the Daoin Uaisle. I would like to point out though that John Murray MacGregor of Glen Carnaig was in fact a member of the Daoin Uaisle, descended from the Brackley line of the Chiefs. It was his ancestor, Gregor, who was disinherited by the Campbells in 1519. The Campbells passed over the Brackley line in favour of the GlenGyle branch, possibly because the GlenGyle chieftain was married to Campbell of Glen Orchy’s daughter. Also the GlenGyle chief was a landed chief whereas the Glen-Orchy Brackley line had become tenants of their former estates. But the MacGregor elections also show that primogeniture played no formal part and that money, and ownership of land, was a significant factor in these elections. The Balhaldie chieftain represented a very junior line of the Daoin Uaisle but he was landed and monied at a time when the clan had largely become landless and destitute. John Murray’s family, on the other hand, was actually one of the senior branches descended from the original line of Glen Orchy chiefs. The fact that he had made money as a British Army officer and bought an estate also played a big role in his election.

                (5) The West Highland Jacobite clan chiefs showed how remarkably versatile and adaptable they could be by switching sides after the disaster of Culloden and exploiting the new Empire for their own gain by recruiting clansmen to fight for the Hanoverian state. The Frasers were a notorious example. Simon “The Fox” was executed in 1746 but his son changed sides and became a general in the British army, which gave him the means of recovering his forfeited clan estates. The MacGregor chiefs followed a similar path, abandoning any loyalty they previous held for the House of Stewart.

  16. Gordon Macleod

    January 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    “The chiefs of Clan Macleod did not support the Jacobite cause in the 1745 rebellion” – The MacGilleChaluim chief of Raasay, Calum Camachasach, representative of the Siol Torquil, raised a hundred men for the Jacobites and for which the clan paid dear.

  17. Don MacFarlane

    January 7, 2012 at 10:30 am

    From Douglas MacKinnon

    The senior (Carrick) line of the Royal House of Stewart died out upon the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587. The father of her son (and successor) was from the Lennox line which also died out in 1807. In any case the Stewarts are themselves an immigrant Breton family which married into the old Scottish royal family. Their Breton origins have recently been confirmed by DNA testing.

    The original Gaelic royal house of Scotland was dethroned by an English royal army in a four year campaign which ran from 1054-1058. The last two kings from this family were MacBeth and his cousin Lulach. The English king then installed his own candidate on the Scottish Throne- Malcolm “Longneck” who was related to the original Gaelic dynasty through the female line. All subsequent Scottish monarchs (except his brother Domnall VI) are descended in either the male or female line from this Malcolm. Malcolm’s family were a branch of the Irish royal house of Ui Neill.

    Current evidence suggests that the senior surviving male-line representative of the original Gaelic Scottish royal house is Lord Mackay of Reay, Chief of Clan Aedh (Mackay). The MacGregor, MacKinnon, and MacPherson chiefs are also descended in the male line from this family. The MacGregor, Mackay, and Mackinnon chiefs are also descended in the female line from the Stewart kings. If Scotland elected in a referendum, to have it’s own royal family, a king should be chosen from one of these families.

  18. donfad

    September 2, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Genealogy of MacKinnons
    (in response to posted query)

    The origin of the clan is thought to be Fingan, son of Gregor, son of Kenneth MacAlpine, King of Scots. If so, MacKinnons would appear along with the MacNabs and the MacGregors to have a greater claim to the epithet, usually attached to the MacDonalds – ‘Oldest and the Noblest’ of the Scottish clans.

    Their seats were in Gribun in Mull and Strathardle in Skye, as well as in Tiree and Arran. They later were given Pabbay and Scalpa by the Gillieses whose line had run out. So far so good but they later were obliged to give up much of their lands to the MacDonald Lords of the Isles. The MacKinnons with the MacLeans and MacLeods tried to wrest this back unsuccessfully in 1380 after the death of a MacDonald chief.

    • Angus Macmillan

      October 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm

      I suspect the Genealogy of the MacKinnons given above derives from the Victorian antiquarians. A more modern and correct account, based in part on MS 1467, tells a different story.

      Finguin or Fingon, ancestor of the MacKinnons, was a brother of Guaire, after whom come the MacQuarries and of Gilchrist, from whom are Clann an Maol, the mainland Clan MacMillan. None of these, unlike the MacGregors with their motto ‘Royal is my race’ make any claim to descent from Kenneth MacAlpine or to being directly royal. In fact they were sons of Cormac, Bishop of Dunkeld, son of Airbertach from the MacBeth royal line. Cormac was probably born and brought up in Ireland but his father, Airbeartach, is recorded in documents, when the Norse began to be driven out of the West, as being from the royal house of Lorne, and had ‘twelve treba among the Norse.’ On the maps, and also in Lorne, is Dun Airbertach, Airbertach’s stronghold.

      When the sons of Malcolm Canmore from the line of Fergus had problems with risings around the kingdom, they adopted various strategies to head off problems. One of these was the gift of lands and one of these was the Bishopric to Cormac from the rival Lorne/MacBeth household. His sons had a complete run of the territory from Dunkeld to the Islands, effectively along the line of Glenorchy. In this arrangement where, at much the same time, Somerled was clearing Morvern, Ardnamurchan and the northern half of Mull of the Norse, Fingon’s holding was the southern half of Mull.

      The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Scotland carries this account. Graeme MacKenzie’s scholarly ‘The Origins and Early History of the MacMillans and Related Kindreds’ provides the relevant modern take on the genealogy. There is a chapter there under my name, on the ‘Governance of Argyll’, included in ‘A Land that Lies Westward’ published in 2009 that gives the historical background.

    • Douglas Mackinnon

      December 14, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      Angus Macmillan is quite correct when he states that the Mackinnon chiefs are descended from Airbertach of the House of Labhran- King MacBeth’s family. The descent from King Alpin lies through the the female line. Myself and our clan Sennachie, Gerald Mckinnon, have researched the origins of the clan in depth. Gerald believes that Finguin’s father, Bishop Cormac, may have been a great-grandson of King MacBeth. MacBeth left at least one recorded son, Cormac, a priest at Abernethy who witnessed a charter of lands granted by Ethelred, Abbot of Dunkeld to the Culdees ca 1100. Gerald believes the Scots king had at least one other son who fled to Ireland when King Lulach, MacBeth’s successor was killed in March 1058.

    • Don MacFarlane

      December 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      Another MacKinnon Bone of Contention
      Courtesy of Private Communication

      It looks like the Mackinnon chiefship may be disputed for years and that there has not been a clan gathering called by the Chief for at least 100 years. There has been a recent petition to the Lyon Court for the Chiefship of the MacKinnon clan on account that the family of the current chief, Anne Mackinnon, is descended from a junior line to that of John of Mishinish. The claim is that the pedigree used by William Alexander Mackinnon of Antigua to successfully claim the chiefship in 1811 was incorrect. The Lyon Court will have to sort this one out and it remains to be seen what the outcome of this case will be.

      The Mackinnons of Mishinish previously held the estate of Mishinish on the Northern end of the Isle of Mull. This estate included Tobermory, Erray, and the castle of Dun Ara. The Mishinish line is descended from Lachlan Mor, 16th Chief of Clan Finguin who died in 1700, by his second marriage to a daughter of Macleod of Macleod. The Mishinish Mackinnons are thus a cadet line of the Chiefs and John of Mishinish’s sons emigrated to Canada and England. The Mishinish estate was held by the family until 1791 when it was sold to defray debts incurred by the chief’s house during the Jacobite rebellions. The last landed Chief, Charles Mackinnon of Mackinnon, 18th Chief of Clan Finguin, became destitute, and his pleas for help from his friends and relatives having fallen on deaf ears, he shot himself in 1796. His son and successor, John of Riachan, 19th Chief, also died destitute and without heirs in 1808.

      The Chiefship of the Mackinnon clan was then disputed for several years until the Lyon Court settled it on William Alexander, supposedly a male-line descendant of Donald, second son of Lachlan Mor, 16th Chief, by his FIRST wife, a daughter of Maclean of Duart. However recent research suggests that this Donald may have been a grandson of Iain Og, second son of Lachlan Og, 13th Chief- who is the ancestor of the Mackinnons of Kyle. This Donald dissapeared around the same time that Donald , “son” of Lachlan Mor, supposedly emigrated to Antigua. This makes Donald’s line junior to that of Iain of Mishinish.

      If the Lyon Court places importance on whether a chief is descended in the male line of his house or not, the Chiefship of the Mackinnon clan should fall to the Antigua branch or the Mishinish branch if it is granted arms by the Lyon Court. This by no means certain as, for example, the current Mackenzie chief is only remotely descended from the Kintail Mackenzie chiefs in the female line, while other families can claim descent through the male line from Alexander Mackenzie, 6th of Kintail. If the Lyon Court decides to retain the current Antigua branch, then the clan chiefship should go to the Wisconsin line which descends in the male-line from Captain Lachlan Bellingham Mackinnon, second son of the above William Alexander Mackinnon, 21st Chief. If the current succession from a female line is to remain, the Chiefship will pass from Anne Mackinnon , 26th Chief, to her son, the English born Andrew Jeffrey – now called Andrew Mackinnon, “Younger of Mackinnon”.

      As far as the origin of the chiefs is concerned, Gerald Mackinnon (seannchaidh) has reliably established that Mackinnons are descended from Cormac Mac Airbetach, Bishop of Dunkeld (1116-1132) who was supposedly a male-line grandson/greatgrandson of King MacBeth. The Charter register of the Priory of Saint Andrew’s records a “Cormac Fillii Macbeath” as a charter witness for the years 1097-1107. He may have been an uncle/granduncle of Bishop Cormac. The MacGregor chiefs are also descended from this bishop. The tombstone of Gillebride Mackinnon, a 14th century Mackinnon chief, found in the royal cemetary on Iona by the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, and DNA results, also support this descent.

      • Douglas Mackinnon

        December 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

        The Jacobite rebellions were an unmitigated disaster for the Mackinnons. The Chiefs had to sell all the clan estates to pay debts owing to their creditors who lent them money to buy arms to fight alongside Prince Charles Stuart. The last two chiefs of the direct line, Charles, 18th Chief & his son John , 19th Chief, were destitute. Charles shot himself in Dalkeith in 1796 and his son John, a junior officer in the King’s German legion, committed suicide in London in 1808. He was unmarried at the time and the Chiefship of the clan was disputed for several years until the Lyon Court settled it on John’s cousin William Alexander Mackinnon of Antigua in 1811. Some cadet families did not accept William Alexander’s nomination and the Chiefship is still disputed today.

  19. donfad

    July 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    From Kuini Rahera Ongamotu
    Shown here as a new thread on the Kinlochmoidart MacDonalds, so as to provide more space for ongoing postings on the subject.

    “There has been no recordable documentation (?) so far on what happened to Young Clanranald’s son James. Some genealogies show that he had issue but none is mentioned, others say he died without issue. Clanranald is mentioned as joining the Dutch Regiment after Culloden and he may have stayed in Europe until the end of the Battle of Waterloo when he returned home. I think his wife and son were killed in 1740 and he did not go back to Scotland (he was mentioned in the Act of Indemnity, although they called him Donald by mistake). His son James followed him into the army, and eventually had issue, which I believe was my GGG-grandfather. He became a hatmaker and went mad from the mercury in the hatmaking process. I don’t think his grandchildren realized that John’s line had daughtered out – the old man with his mercury poisoning in the last years of his life had lost his faculties. Clanranald had other sons but I am not sure what became of their issue. Any male descendants of Clanranald’s line would outrank the current Chieftain and would have to be included in the MacDonald genealogy in the correct order to preserve the integrity of the ancestral records”.

    • Angus Macmillan

      July 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      There is just the odd error or confusion here. Young Clanranald became Ranald MacDonald XVIII of Clanranald on the death of his father. After Culloden he lurked in the woods of Morar for eighteen months, he married Mary Hamilton and he went into exile in France, travelling via London under the pseudonym Mr. Black. He seems not to have felt himself to be covered by the Act of Indemnity but he did return to Benbecula in 1754 on the death of his wife. There was no confusion with his brother, Donald; the tale comes about because the authorities tried to forfeit him of the estates but he and his father had been left only a liferent. So it was Donald, who had been in the French Army during the ’45 and so had committed no offence, who was the heritor.

      Ranald remarried, to Flora MacKinnon of MacKinnon, and he died at Nunton 2 October 1776, which is rather too early for him still to be lurking in Europe until after the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, which took place forty years later in June 1815. Ranald & Flora had a successor as Captain of Clanranald called John in 1764 and then a James b. 1766, who became a Colonel in the army and survived until 1838. Col James in turn, as I have it, had offspring: Major Ranald R D H MacDonald, who d. 21.11.1848; Archibald; James; John d. 1857; and Flora Mary d. 5.11.1884. I don’t know what became of that John if that is the man you have in mind as a hatmaker. However, if he was still living in Scotland and lived till 1857, his death should be recorded in the Scotlandspeople records and that would confirm parentage.

    • donfad

      July 12, 2011 at 1:10 am

      For those interested in the fate of prisoners from the ’45, a good bet may be to get onto the Rootschat Jacobites blogsite:,282134.100.html

      Once logged on, try to get into discussion with ‘Old Rowley’ who seems to be the main man and he has garnered a lot of information on the Jacobite Prisoners of ’45 who were imprisoned in Tilbury Fort in Essex. There was a mass transportationon on 31st March 1747, via ships ‘Frere’ and others, of those who survived the rigours of that dungeon and their destination is listed as Barbados.

    • keith mcdonald

      August 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      I would like to ask for comment on some of the geneologies I am seeing where Hector, brother of Boisdale (Donald), the sons of Alexander MacDonald, first of Boisdale, supposedly fathered Alexander McDonald at Middlesex County, Virginia in 1743, who became ancestor of many of the McDonalds in Tennessee. Of course I have read that both Hector and Donald were killed in the American War 1758- 1760, and that they arrived in the colonies in 1756 before heading north. Is there any other information on Hector between the period when he was born in 1723 until 1756? Others believe that this Alexander was Alexander Sells MacDonald of Wigtonshire, born 1730.

  20. Grahame macDonald

    May 15, 2011 at 6:26 am

    I am a descendant of the MacDonalds of Kinlochmoidart. I would like to correspond with anyone who may also be of the Kinlochmoidart family.


    Here is part of the rally cry for Prince Charles Edward Stuart by Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, cousin to MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart:

    Ailein, Ailein, ‘s fhad an cadal,
    Tha ‘n uiseag a’ gairm ‘s an là a’ glasadh;
    Ghrian ag èirigh air na leacain –
    ‘S fhada bhuam fhèin luchd nam breacan.

    [Alan. Alan, too long is the sleep,
    The skylark is calling and the day is dawning;
    On the slopes the sun is rising –
    Hasten up the men with the plaids].

    The Alan referred to may have been the younger brother of Kinlochmoidart, or more likely the young Chief (Captain) of Clanranald who had been slow making his mind up (but finally relented) to join the cause. Letters were also despatched from the prince to Sir Alexander MacDonald and the laird of MacLeod to solicit their services. These powerful chieftains, who could have raised nearly 2,000 men between them, had promised to join the prince only if he brought a foreign force along with him. But when they found that he had come without troops, they refused to join in an enterprise which they then considered desperate.

    • donfad

      May 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      Plagiarised from SteamCommunity

      The MacDonalds of Kinlochmoidart were a cadet branch of the Clanranalds. It was in Clanranald’s territory that Prince Charlie first set foot on Scottish soil and it was to Clanranald that he first appealed for support for the cause. Although Charles’ efforts to win the support of the Chief, Ranald MacDonald, were thwarted by his cautious brother, Boisdale, who exercised great influence over him and prevented his clansmen in the Western Isles from joining in the rising, the Prince had much more success with his son Ranald, Young Clanranald, when he reached the mainland. The Clanranald cadets of Morar, Kinlochmoidart, Glenaladale and Borrodale all responded to their young chief’s call and hastened to raise their men. It is fair to say that had their decision been otherwise, there could have been no rising.

      A guard of 50 men was formed to protect the Prince and he was met at Glenfinnan by 150 more Clanranald MacDonalds under Morar. Young Clanranald was appointed Colonel, Morar, Lieutenant-Colonel and Glenaladale, Major. Kinlochmoidart was commissioned as Lieutenant-Colonel and was appointed Aide-de-camp to the Prince. The Jacobite Gaelic Bard, Alexander MacDonald (Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair), brother of Dalilea, was made a captain and Gaelic tutor of the Prince. Their warcry was that of MacDonald of Clanranald: “Dh’aindeoin co theireadh e”, loosely translated as “Gainsay who dare”, or in modern parlance “Bring It On!”

      Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart was a respected poet and soldier. He fought on the Jacobite side and he was very active in raising support for Prince Charles. After Prestonpans, Macdonald was captured, tried and hanged most brutally at Carlisle. A translated verse that expresses the feelings of his clan goes:

      “The sun is clouded. The hills are shrouded;
      The sea is silent, it ends its roar.
      The streams are crying; winds are sighing,
      Our Moidart hero returns no more.”

      • donfad

        May 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm

        All those executed at Carlisle with MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart

        Executed on Saturday, 18 October 1746 at Gallows Hill, Harraby near Carlisle.

        James Brand
        Donald Macdonald of Tyerndrich (Tir na Dris)
        Francis Buchanan
        Donald Macdonald of Kinloch Moidart
        Hugh Cameron
        John Macnaughton
        Rev. Thomas Coppoch
        Edward Roper
        John Henderson

        Executed on Tuesday, 21 October 1746 at Brampton.

        Michael Dellard
        Ronald Macdonald*
        James Innes*
        Thomas Park*
        Peter (Patrick) Lindsey*
        Peter Taylor

        Executed on Tuesday, 28 October 1746 at Penrith.

        James Harvey*
        Robert Lyon
        David Home*
        John Rowbotham*
        Valentine Holt*
        Andrew Swan*
        Philip Hunt*

        Executed on Saturday, 15 November 1746 at Gallows Hill, Harraby near Carlisle.

        Molineaux Eaton
        Barnabas Matthew*
        Charles Gordon*
        Sir Archibald Primrose*
        Thomas Hayes
        Robert Reid*
        Patrick (Peter) Keir*
        Alexander Stevenson*
        James Mitchell*
        John Wallace*
        Patrick Murray

        Rootschat forums on Jacobite Prisoners of 1745 give more details.

        • donfad

          May 15, 2011 at 7:58 pm

          Extract from Gallows Speech of Major Donald MacDonald of Tir na Dris.

          “As I am now to suffer a public, cruel, barbarous and in the eyes of the world an ignominious and shameful death, I think myself obliged to acknowledge, that it was from principle and through conviction of it being my duty to God, my injured King and oppressed country, that engaged me to take up arms under the Standard and conduct of Charles, Prince of Wales.

          It was always my greatest concern to see my ancient race and lawful Sovereign restored, and if such was the will of Heaven, to lose my life cheerfully in promoting it. I solemnly declare I had no view in drawing my sword in that laudable cause, but the restoration of the Royal Family and the recovery of the liberty of these unhappy islands : now too long oppressed with usurpation, corruption and bribery ; being sensible that nothing else but the King’s return could make our country flourish, under all ranks and degrees of men, and recover Church and State from these too many dismal consequences naturally flowing from revolutionary principles.

          I die an unworthy member of the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the Communion in which I have lived and however ill-spoken of or misrepresented, I am confident of happiness through the merits and sufferings of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And I here declare, upon the faith of a dying man, that it was with no view to establishing that Church or religion in this nation that I joined the Prince, but purely out of duty and allegiance to our only rightful, lawful and native Sovereign, due to him had he been a heathen, Mahommedan or even a Quaker.

          I am hopeful that our valorous Prince will ,by the blessing of God, be at last successful; and that in such case he will take care of my poor wife and family. I recommend my son to the protection of Almighty God, the best legacy I can bequeath him is to earnestly require his obedience to my dying command, to draw his sword for King and country as often as occasion shall offer.

          I have the honour to die a Major in the King’s army. I am hopeful if my dear child deserves it, he will be appointed to succeed in that rank, and I pray that he will serve with the same honour, integrity and fidelity as I have constantly endeavoured to do”.


          Major Donald MacDonald of Tir na Dris was 1st cousin to the 17th Chief of Keppoch, Alasdair MacColla, who was killed leading the Clan Donald on the left wing at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Major Donald, during his incarceration in Carlisle Castle, was strongly ironed along with another 118 prisoners, all confined in one room, where he remained for about 8 weeks before his trial and execution. He was refused permission at the place of execution to read his speech, which was a condemned prisoner of war’s rights.

          The heads and skulls of MacDonald of Tir na Dris and MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart were exhibited on the Scotch Gate of Carlisle, where they remained for many years. English soldiery saluted the skulls of both men as they passed by. This was after the grisly business of the execution which meant that after hanging for about ten minutes, the executioner cut the body down, laid it on a stage, stripped it naked, disembowelled it and threw the bowels into the fire. The executioner held up the heart before throwing it into the fire and cried “Gentlemen, behold the heart of a traitor.” After he called “God save King George”, the crowd gave a loud huzza. Then the executioner scored the arms and legs, but did not cut them off, crying “Good people, behold the four quarters of a traitor!” and next chipped off the heads.

    • Angus MacMillan

      May 16, 2011 at 1:16 am

      Grahame; have you looked at the Clan Donald USA website? If you go there and click on the DNA project and results, you will find two or three Kinlochmoidart descendants. Even better if you have been DNA tested and can compare results. As would be expected, Kinlochmoidart shares mutations with Clanranald but Clanranald picked up a number of mutations between Ranald Og II of Benbecula and the present chief. What identifies the chiefly families from the Gaelic descended mass of Clan Donald is being in the R1a Haplogroup rather than R1b.

      • sandra moffatt

        May 16, 2011 at 2:23 am

        Angus, I have a question. If my husband is descended from a daughter of a chieftain, not a son, would he still have the R1a Haplogroup?

        • Angus Macmillan

          May 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

          Sandra, the answer directly to your question is a negative. The usual test is for Y-DNA, which passes directly from father to son with just the occasional mutation, which is what differentiates lines from one another. FTDNA, the most used testing company and no doubt others, are now offering a family finder test that takes in all ancestors, male and female, though relevant only over approximately the past six generations. As well as that limitation, as with any new test, it takes time for the database to build up to a level where there are as many comparators as you might wish. The Clan Donald website is, in any event, worth visiting if you have not done so as it has a written description of the R1a/R1b considerations and it is also possible to construct a summary tree that confirms via DNA how the various branches and cadets of the Clan Donald chiefly lines relate to each other.

        • Angus Macmillan

          May 16, 2011 at 10:39 am

          Sandra, I was a bit slow this morning and I only made the connection with your question about Hugh MacDonald of Boisdale after posting my reply on DNA. I gather that you had made progress on the Hugh front but I had meant to post what you may not have seen, the notes by the Rev. Dr. Angus MacDonald of Killearnan in his manuscript history of South Uist. Angus was from Benbecula and joint author of the three-volume History of Clan Donald.

          Alexander MacDonald of Boisdale = in 1780 Marion only daughter of Hugh MacLean of Coll, with the following children resulting: Hugh; Colin, a medical officer of health in India who never married; Donald, an army major killed in battle; Janet, who never married; Isabella = 10.11.1829 Col. Caddell of the 28th Regt. and Margaret = Major Lawrence. Hugh himself b. 2.2.1785 succeeded in 1818 and he was married. His eldest daughter Flora = Allan Williams and died 8.11.1858; and youngest son, Norman, died aged 22 18.7.1869. Hugh’s death in Liverpool was recorded as 22.12.1875.

          I hope there may be something helpful among these rather sparse details. Angus

        • sandra moffatt

          May 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm

          Thanks for this info Angus. The DNA testing will be the next and your info really helps. As for the the Hugh Macdonald info from Rev. Angus Macdonald, it did fill in some blanks for me but I have 9 more children born to Hugh Macdonald IV and his wife. I know that there was not a lot of contact with Scotland after her moved to the UK. Of all his 11 children, only 2 daughters lived past 30 and 1 son. I am presently tracing the descendants of that son. I have direct lineage from father to son up to 1910 so far. As far as the Lord Lyon is concerned, the family became extinct in 1944. I’m just trying to confirm as I haven’t received any feedback from the Lord Lyon.
          My main interest is in Hugh’s early life in Edinburgh and I have not found any information (in newspaper archives) or elsewhere…so far. Thanks for all your help.

      • Kuini Rahera Ongamotu

        July 8, 2011 at 5:02 am

        I have also traced my roots back to Kinlochmoidart and Clanranald lines. I am interested in collaborating in DNA testing and I was wondering if there were any more of us out there. I would like to know what our family coat-of-arms is. My e-mail is

        • donfad

          July 9, 2011 at 5:49 pm

          The MacDonalds of Kinlochmoidart

          These MacDonalds are descended from John, son of Allan IX. of Clanranald, known as Iain MacAilein. He received from Clanranald a feu charter of Kinlochmoidart and of Askernish, as well as other lands in Uist. The Uist lands were afterwards exchanged for Glenforslan and other lands in Moidart. John married a daughter of Macleod of Lewis and had by her: 1. Alexander, his successor 2. John, who in 1664 married Katherine, daughter of Allan MacDonald of Knockeiltaig in Eigg 3. Roderick, whose issue is extinct.

          John died in about 1644 and he was succeeded by his eldest son, Alexander, who fought against the Cromwellians in Ireland and was wounded there. He married Marion, daughter of Allan Mor MacDonald of Morar, and he had by her 1. Ranald, his successor 2. James, who married Margaret, daughter of MacNeill of Barra 3. Angus, who married Anne, daughter of Charles MacLean of Drimnin 4. Una.

          Alexander Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart died in 1689 and he was succeeded by his eldest son, Ranald, who fought at Killiecrankie and afterwards at Sheriffmuir as Major in the Clanranald Regiment. Ranald married Margaret, only daughter of John Cameron of Lochiel, and he had by her 1. Donald, who succeeded him 2. John, a doctor of medicine, who fought with his father at Sheriffmuir and who was afterwards implicated in the affairs of the ’45. 3. Ranald 4. Aeneas 5. Allan.

          After the defeat at Culloden, Allan’s next generation of Kinlochmoidarts – less or little is recorded about Allan’s nephews and nieces other than those from his brother Donald through whom the chieftainship died out – included 1. Clementina Jacobina Sobieski (born 1768, died 1842) who married Francis Schnell, with issue 2. Allan Og who married and had a son who was killed with his father during the Revolution, and a daughter who married the Marquis Daringcour 3. James who went to America 4. Alastair, who emigrated to America 5. Archibald, who died unmarried 6. Margaret, who married James Macdonald of Aird with issue 7. Anne, who married Angus Maclean of Kinlochaline without issue 7. Mary, who married Alexander Macdonald of Morar 8. Flora, who died unmarried 9. Donald, who married Isabel, daughter of Robert Stewart of Appin by his wife, Catherine, daughter of Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell.

          Donald had by Isabel Stewart 1. Alexander, who succeeded him. 2. Charles, who was educated at the Scots College in Paris and who afterwards entered the French Army. Having served in the American War, he rose to the rank of General and was made a Count. He was guillotined in the early part of the French Revolution and he died unmarried 3. Allan, who died unmarried 4. Angus, a priest, who died in Jamaica 5. Donald, who died in Jamaica without issue.

          Donald was succeeded by his son, Alexander, who was educated at the Scots College in Paris and who entered the army for his first commission in the 42nd Regiment. He obtained his company by raising men in the Highlands and he ultimately became Lieutenant-Colonel of the 2nd Battalion of the 71st Regiment. He served with that regiment in the American War and was invalided home in 1780. He married in 1765 to Susannah, daughter of Donald Campbell of Airds who died in 1817 and had by her 1. John, who succeeded him 2. Donald, who succeeded his brother 3. Margarita, who succeeded her brother.

          Alexander died in Edinburgh on October 3, 1781 from injuries received during the American War. He was succeeded by his son, John, who was born in October and who was educated at the Jesuits’ College at St Omer. John entered the army and he was senior major of the 21st Highlanders (Royal Scots Fusiliers) when he was severely wounded during the storming of the Fort of La Fleur d’ Epee in Gnadaloupe, in 1794. He was carried on board H. M.S. Winchelsea and he died there shortly afterwards. John, who was never married, was succeeded in 1786 by his brother, Donald, who was born in 1771 and who was educated at the Jesuits’ College at St Omer. Donald entered the army, and eventually became Lieut.Colonel of the 2nd Battalion of the Royals. He served with distinction in Egypt and the West Indies and he was appointed Governor of Tobago. He died in 1804, while holding that post, from the effects of wounds received in the taking of the Island of St Lucie. He died unmarried and was succeeded by his sister, Margarita, who was born at Airds in 1773. She married in Edinburgh in 1799 to Lieut.Colonel David Robertson, youngest son of the celebrated historian and Very Reverend William Robertson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, and Historiographer Royal for Scotland.

          Colonel Robertson assumed the name of MacDonald in addition to his own when his wife succeeded to Kinlochmoidart. Margarita Robertson-MacDonald had issue 1. William Frederick, who succeeded her 2. Alexander, an officer in the 12th Regiment Madras Native Infantry, who died unmarried and aged twenty in 1824 3. James, born July 22nd, 1806, a Captain in the 9th Madras Native Infantry, and Assistant-Commissary-General. He was present at the capture of Rangoon, in May, 1824, and he served in the Ava Campaign till 1826. He married in 1820 to Anne Emilia, fourth daughter of Captain Charles Stewart of Blackball, and he died without issue at the Cape in 1851 4. David, born May 6th, 1810, who died in 1811 5. John, born in 1811, who was an officer in the 30th and subsequently the 9th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry. He was killed during an attack on a stockade at Saumwarfit in 1834. He was never married 6. David, who afterwards succeeded his nephew as representative of the family 7. Susannah Margarita, born July 10th, 1800, who died unmarried in 1889 8. Mary, born 1801, who died unmarried in 1884 9. Isabella Marie Stewart who married Robert Steele and emigrated to South Australia. She had four sons and one daughter, and she died at Melbourne in 1896 10. Margarita, born June 24th, 1808, who married Henry Wight of Largneau and who died without issue in 1891 11. Eleanor, born June 24th, 1813, who died unmarried in 1892 12. Elizabeth Brydone, born February 1st, 1818, who married C. Bering and died at Dresden without issue in 1870. 13. Janet, born September 15th, 1819, who married in 1840 to the Rev. John Gibson MacVicar, D.D., LL.D., minister of Moffat, with issue of 4 sons and 5 daughters.

          Margarita Robertson-Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart died in 1844, and her husband, Colonel Robertson-Macdonald, died in 1845. She was succeeded by her eldest son William Frederick Robertson-MacDonald, born in May, 1802, who married in 1828 to Sarah Adams, daughter of James Beck of Priors Hardwick and had by her 1. William, born June 10th, 1829, and who died the same day 2. William James, born Jime 10th, 1829, a Captain in the Army who joined the Black Watch as an Ensign in 1848, exchanged as Lieutenant to the 30th Regiment, and retired with the rank of Captain in 1857. He married Matilda Helen, daughter of Henry Crawley, and died, without issue, June 26th, 1869 3. William Francis, born October 14th, 1832, died 1837 4. William David Alexander, who succeeded his father 5. William Coker, born March 6th, 1837, died 1841 6. William Anstruther, born August 29th, 1839, died unmarried, June 17th, 1859.

          William Robertson-Macdonald, shortly before his death, contracted to sell the Estate of Kinlochmoidart. He died February 22, 1883, and he was succeeded as representative of the family by his only surviving son, William, who was born in August 4, 1834 and who married in 1870 to Ida Julia, daughter of Thomas Littledale, without issue. He was succeeded as representative of the family hy his uncle, David Robertson-MacDonald, a retired Admiral in His Majesty’s Fleet’.

          Editorial Comment:
          According to the Reverends MacDonald’s history, the Kinlochmoidart line ‘daughtered out’ with Margarita who married Colonel Robertson in 1799. The Reverends do not pick up on the genealogy of a whole host of junior sons, quite apart from the ‘French Connection’, who did not inherit the chieftainship and whose descendants could well stand in line now to do so, especially as the Robertson-MacDonald line has died out. These include Angus (son of Marion MacNeill); John and Roderick (sons of John, married to a MacLeod of Lewis); John, Ranald, Aeneas, Allan, James, Alistair and Archibald (sons of Margaret Cameron); and Charles, Allan, Angus and Donald (sons of Isabel Stewart).

    • donfad

      May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      Kinlochmoidarts in Burke’s Peerage

      John d. 1644, m. daughter of MacLeod of Lewis, received from Clanranald a feu charter of Kinlochmoidart and Askernish in exchange for Glenforslan in Moidart.

      Alexander, d.1689, 2nd of Kinlochmoidart, m. daughter of Allan Mor of Morar, fought for Royalist cause in Ireland.

      Ranald, 3rd of Kinlochmoidart, m. daughter of Cameron of Lochiel, fought at Killiecrankie and Sheriffmuir, d.1725.

      Donald, 4th of Kinlochmoidart, m. daughter of Stewart of Appin, ADC to Prince Charles, executed in 1746 for High Treason at Carlisle.

      Alexander, 5th of Kinlochmoidart, m. daughter of Campbell of Airds and sister-in-law of Boisdale, fought in American War of Independence, d. 1781.

      John, 6th of Kinlochmoidart, died in 1794 while a major in Royal Scots Fusiliers of wounds received in Guadaloupe, succeeded by his brother.

      Donald, 7th of Kinlochmoidart, died of wounds in 1804 received in St. Lucia while a colonel with the Royals, succeeded by his sister.

      Margarita, 8th of Kinlochmoidart, married Colonel David Robertson of Edinburgh.

      William Robertson-MacDonald, 9th of Kinlochmoidart, died 1845, first having sold his title. One of his four sons was guillotined in Paris.

    • Angus MacMillan

      June 2, 2011 at 11:13 pm

      Just a slight gloss to the commentary on the Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair verse beginning ‘Allan, Allan….’ Both the Captain of Clanranald when the Prince arrived and his son who eventually became XVIII of Clanranald bore the given name Ranald and not Allan. Young Clanranald had a brother also involved but his name was Donald. It is true that the patronymic of the Clanranald MacDonalds was Mac ‘ic Ailein but there is no sign of that ancestral usage in the verse. Incidentally, the implication that young Clanranald in some way dragged his feet is simply wrong. He had met Prince Charles in Paris, was deeply committed to the cause and, despite his uncle, Alasdair MacDonald of Boisdale having told the Prince to go home when he arrived in Eriskay with no army and then persuading Ranald XVII to forbid his island people from joining the rising, sequestering all the boats in South Uist and Benbecula to that end, in despite, Young Clan raised the family’s mainland forces in Arisaig and Moidart and was used as a messenger to try to persuade the other local chieftains to do likewise.

      • donfad

        June 3, 2011 at 7:04 am

        Yes, I see the commentary was badly worded and could lead to the impression that Young Clanranald was tardy, whereas the records appear to show that he was enthusiastic from the very start. Any tardiness was to do with the difficulty that he encountered in getting the necessary support for the Prince’s cause.

        I see also that a relative of his (?), Aeneas or Angus, was a solicitor in Paris who was an escort in bringing the Prince over from Paris. So there would definitely appear to have been two sides to the House of Clanranald, one Jacobite, one not.

        • Angus Macmillan

          June 3, 2011 at 8:58 am

          Indeed, Aeneas the banker was instrumental in much of the initiation and funding of the rising. It would be wrong though to see Clanranald as at all divided on the issue. After 1689 the lands were forfeited and Castle Tioram had a Government garrison until 1700. Having finally regained his patrimony, Ailein Dearg hazarded all again by hearing the Jacobite call in 1715 and, having died at Sheriffmuir, the clan was again forfeited, on this occasion the territories being sold by auction and only regained through the efforts of Ailein’s widow, Penelope MacKenzie, via the purses of the clan tacksmen. Ranald XVII was in his thirties at that time and, the main line having failed, was appointed chief. The last thing he and his brother [in common with Sir Alexander MacDonald of Sleat and the MacLeod chief, who had suffered similarly] were going to do was to throw that away on a long shot. However, once their fears were realised and Prince Charlie turned up in Benbecula looking for succour, it was Clanranald, his wife and his very close relations who again took all the risks. There was only ever a doubt about the loyalty of one man, Lachlan MacDonald of Drimsdale, uncle of Flora and of Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair and even that mistrust seems to have been misplaced. As for Old Clan and his half brother Boisdale, both were arrested and taken to London. This matter of involvement is all, incidentally, covered in detail in the Commun Eachdraidh Beinn na Faoghla book on Flora referenced on this site (see Intro to Uist and Barra Page).

    • Michael

      December 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm

      Graham, what is your DNA profile? I suspect that my family is also Kinlochmoidart family, but I would like to check against known verified ones.

  21. sandra moffatt

    April 20, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    The Continuing Search for Hugh Boisdale

    I’m trying to find the birth or baptismal record of Hugh MacDonald, born on February 2nd 1795 in South Uist. I have his birth date from his tombstone and death certificate but I would like to find the actual record if it exists. His parents were Alexander MacDonald III of Boisdale and Marion Maclean of Coll.

    • donfad

      April 21, 2011 at 6:59 am

      The BBC programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ has put together a nice search package. See:

      • sandra moffatt

        April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm

        Thanks, I managed to find the baptismal record. The baptism was 3 years after he was actually born (according to his death record) so I’m assuming that was normal or his recollection of his birthdate was incorrect.

        Does anyone know if the MacDonalds of Boisdale lived at Kilkennethmore?

  22. Ann Stewart

    March 21, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I found info on ‘The Grimsay Boat’, built by Stewarts. I located an article which mentioned “The Grimsay Boat built in Grimsay, North Uist by one family, the Stewarts of Ceannairigh. ever since Charles Stewart came from Appin to do the woodwork at Sponish House, Lochmaddy in 1803.” I googled Sponish House and found it was built for Lord MacDonald’s sheriff.

    Our Charles Stewart b1770, Appin married Margaret Macdonald. They lived in Grimsay where their son John was born in 1810. The Grimsay boat story would fit our timeline. John Stewart b1810 married Mary Macleod b1817, Lochmaddy.

    Do you have any historical information on the founder of Grimsay Boats?

    Many thanks, Ann

    • Angus Macmillan

      March 21, 2011 at 1:57 am

      There was a Grimsay Boat Day held three or four years ago and one output was a book. I don’t recall off-hand what it had to say about the original builder but it is difficult to think that it would have ignored available information. The museum at Lochmaddy in North Uist, Taigh Chearsabhagh, would have a copy handy [and its bookshop could supply one] and might well be able to answer your question if you email them. There was a Museums Officer located there when I last visited but what the effect of staffing economies will have been, I am not sure. Otherwise the library/museum at Sgoil Lionacleit in Benbecula, which is probably closer to Grimsay as the crow flies, would be able to help.

    • Angus Macmillan

      March 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      Bill Lawson’s ‘Croft History of Grimsay, North Uist Vol 3’ does have an introductory article to the Grimsay boat builders provided by William Stewart, great great grandson of Donald Ruadh, who may have been the first boat builder. He was born in North Uist in 1811, son of Tearlach Stewart, presumably the Charles Stewart you mention. It is not clear though whether Charles, who had disappeared by the time of the 1841 Census, may have indulged in a bit of boat building as well as his apparent activities as a joiner at Sponish House. I don’t find any trace of a John born in 1810, marrying or living in North Uist though. The Stewart story in the croft history is a bit confused by intermarriage with the family of a John Stewart, from the same generation as Charles, though with no indication they were related. In the 1860s, Donald Ruadh, in a reversal of the normal process, took over the croft at 5 Scoitbhein from his widowed daughter, who had married into the John Stewart family there. The line of boat builders given runs from Uilleam (at 3 Kallin) mac Thearlaich ‘ic Uilleam (b. 1850) ‘ic Dhomhnaill Ruaidh (1811-90) ‘ic Thearlaich Ruaidh (c. 1770-bef. 1841). The William at the start of the sloinneadh must have been of an advanced age when he provided the article in about 2000 as he first worked at the boat building in 1938 but he did have a son, yet another Charles.

      I do hope this adds something. Angus

  23. Tina

    March 18, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Along my, at times, frustrating journey of discovery of my paternal grandfather’s roots and of his family (who hailed from Rhenigadale, and latterly Bunavoneader) – either lack of information, or poor recording of information, misspelling of names, abbreviation of names etc, being the biggest bugbears – I guess the key was to start with what was known and to work backwards. Poor recording is everywhere – such as ‘Dond’ instead of “Donald” on a census; Christina on a marriage certificate but Chirsty, Cirsty or Christy on census; Phemmie or Effy instead of Euphemia.

    I knew that my grandfather was born in Harris c. 1900; he came from a large family (ten in all); that his parents were John and Ann; and that his father had been a gamekeeper. From contributors on this website, the really excellent website of, and the fact that my grandfather and I had a close relationship (especially with me into my teens and he in his late 70’s), I have been able to research back to my ancestors c. 1800. The Old Parish Records are somewhat lacking, some are missing, and often they are just very poorly annotated.

    Cross-referencing known information with reasonable and educated guesses were key. I started with my grandfather’s marriage and birth certificates and took it from there. My grandfather regailed me with what I thought at the time was “old people’s talk” but I am now thankful for his “bletherings” (and I say that in great affection for my grandfather). My grandfather was a very reluctant English speaker and Gaelic was most definitely his first language. But he brought his two sons up to speak English because that would be of better benefit in an English-speaking world. So from my father to me, the language was lost, which is very sad.

    Another source of information are various web sites, such as, although I must confess not so much for us Macinnes of Harris. Likewise, ancestry sites such as had not a lot about the Macinneses of Harris. Sometimes just googling a name might bring up something that could be followed up on and give results.

    If anyone out there is struggling, keep good heart, keep going, double check and triple check sources. I have been researching my grandfather’s family for more than five years now and I’m still only a tiny fraction of the way there, just scratching the surface. Every lead I thought I found, I followed it up, even if that lead turned out not to be of any use at all or related to a different family.

    I was born and bred in Fort William, Scotland but I have been living in NZ for the past 15 years. On a visit back to Scotland about 5 years ago, I took a “flying trip” over to Harris and I realised that I was home. Strange and perhaps some may think ‘airy fairy” but true. I’m planning another visit in 2013 and by that time, I hope to have found modern-day relations who I have no doubt are still living in Harris. I would also like to get to the old and modern burial grounds and see what I can find out there.

    My love of the sea, fishing, growing veggies and love of horses must be be inherent – my ancestors were either fishermen, crofters or gamekeepers. My grandfather was a gamekeeper and stalker and he used to take me out as a four year old on forays. He used a Highland pony to bring the dead stags down off the hill, then he’ would gut and hang them. Mum used to hit the roof (they just didn’t get on all as she was a “city girl”). I loved it!

    Anyway fellow bloggers and genealogists, as we say in NZ ‘ Kia Ora’ for now or, as I say to them, Cheers or Slàinte Mhath (that really gets the Kiwis!)

  24. Don MacFarlane

    February 24, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Tillidh mi Dhachaidh

    I will Return Home

    • Tina

      March 18, 2011 at 7:08 am

      Loved this clip, made me feel quite emotional even though my family are from Harris, I’m assuming that perhaps it wouldn’t have been too much different.

      • Don MacFarlane

        March 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm

        Hi Tina

        Glad you like the clip. I like the grainy footage but I am not so keen on the music – it sounds too much like a Coca Cola commercial and the Gaelic has a not very authentic twang. I find this puzzling as Donny Munro, the main singer in Runrig, is from North Uist. I much prefer Capercaillie (from Morven) – meaning Karen Matheson – but her Gaelic can also sound a little off at times. An interview with Karen confirmed that she is an advanced learner who was never spoken to in Gaelic but she would have heard plenty of it spoken. Julie Fowlis and the Lochies (check out their clips) sound more like they learnt their Gaelic on their mothers’ knees.

        To speak Gaelic with any kind of authenticity, this requires aptitude in forms of speech production which are alien to native English speakers. No matter how proficient Gaelic can be learnt as a second-language, a native listener will always be able to tell the difference. It is relatively easy to pick up the ‘real thing’ (back to Coca Cola again!) and as stated in an earlier post on this blogsite the tell-tale signs of pronunciation to look out for to separate native from non-native speakers include:

        Word-internal h
        A long vowel or diphthong reflex
        Non-palatal and palatal r as trills.
        Distinction between closed and open vowels.
        High unrounded vowels.
        Vowel quality to adjacent consonants.
        Short back vowels.

        None of this has to do with mispronunciation which can happen from too literal a guess from the written word as to how the spoken word should sound. Karen Matheson’s mispronunciation in her waulking song of ‘sgian’ as ‘skee-ann’ instead of ‘skee-in’ is an example.

  25. M A Morrison

    February 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I am researching the families of Morrison, Steele, and M(a)cDonald from Cape Breton NS between the years 1825 to the 1861 Canadian census, looking for their Scottish family origins of Benbecula and North/South Uist, maybe Isle of Lewis. The furthest back I could find were of the following married couples.

    Donald Morrison married to Ann M(a)cDonald, records indicate both born in Benbecula, 1815-1835.
    John Steele married Flora M(a)cDonald, she born in Scotland, unsure if he was. Only nine Steele families in the Cape Breton 1861 census.

    Are these three family surnames common to the same three areas prior to the immigration of many Scottish families to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in the 18th and 19th century?
    And did most families travel as a clan family, as opposed to individual persons leaving to go to Canada alone?
    What prompted such a large flux of Scots to leave the Western Isles and head to Canada?

    • Angus Macmillan

      February 18, 2011 at 12:59 am

      These names are all common in the areas you mention. MacDonalds were and are much to be found in the MacDonald of Sleat island of North Uist and the Clanranald islands of Benbecula and South Uist. Dr Alasdair MacLean suggested in his Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness article ‘Notes on South Uist Families’ that more than half the families in that island carried the MacDonald name.

      Morrison was the name of the Brieves or lawgivers in Lewis and the adjacent mainland. Some moved south to the other islands [not least from Pabbay when they were caught distilling illicit hooch] and there may have been a borrowing of the name in Uist folks when surnames were Anglicised.

      Steele is known to be a South Uist name and, in association with O’Henley, is said to be a sure sign of a Uist settlement anywhere in the world. There was a tendency for families to travel in groups, perhaps for cultural and language reasons. Successive migrations allowed newcomers to find support from those who had moved earlier. As for the reasons for emigration, they were to a significant extent economic. The chiefs were acting increasingly like commercial landlords and rights to land were unobtainable. Clearance played a part in some areas but it tends to be overstated as a cause. The collapse of kelping when the Napoleonic wars ended gave a boost to emigration from the 1820s to about 1850.

      I suspect the John Steele you mention was Iain Mor, son of the Alasdair Steele who arrived in Sydney on the Harmony in 1821 and who later married Mairi ni’ Alasdair nic Ailein MacDonald b. c. 1795, from Boisdale, Bras d’Or. John and family settled in Glace Bay at what became Steele’s Hill. The couple seemingly had eleven children. The wife’s family was, I think, quite closely associated with the Beatons and so may have been from Benbecula. Alasdair Steele will have been from South Uist, very probably from the southern end of the island, as there is no sign in any of the rather sporadic records of the Steeles having settled in Benbecula.

      I do not at first sight recognise the other couples and I suspect they may have left either as children or simply before detailed records become available with the 1841 Census.

      • M A Morrison

        February 18, 2011 at 2:06 am

        Thank you, Angus! That was some very helpful information and points me in the right direction for my research. I am grateful for the historic details, it helps paint a broader family portrait to create for my grandchildren here in the US. We are hoping to plan for a family trip to the Western Isles at some point in the future to walk in the Isles of their Scottish ancestors.

        • Angus Macmillan

          February 18, 2011 at 9:25 am

          Glad to help. Do you have the children of the John Steele family? If not, I do have a list. Angus

        • M A Morrison

          February 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm

          Angus, replying to your query as to a list of the John Steele family members, I only have those of the Cape Breton 1861 census, none of the members of the one with eleven children you mention. I would love to have that information. Thank you!


        • M A Morrison

          February 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm

          This is information I have gathered about the Morrison/Steele descendents who eventually ended up in southern Illinois, USA, which is my husband’s family.

          Donald and Ann McDonald Morrison had five children, John D. (baptised St. Joseph, North Sydney CB NS 1852), Normand, Lawrence, Teresa, James, and Mary Jane between 1852 and 1866, baptismal records indicating St. Mary’s , Frenchvale, CB, NS. John and Flora MacDonald Steele had four children, Jessie, Alexander, Neil, and Michael between 1854 and 1868 in North Sydney CB.

          John David Morrison married Jessie Steele and had eight children, Daniel, Florence, John, Joseph Alexander, Flora, Neil Douglas, Michael, and a second Daniel. No data on either of the Daniels except birthdates of 1883 and 1904, respectively. Joseph Alexander and his sister, Flora, traveled from Cape Breton NS through Port Huron, Michigan in 1910, he under the name “Alexander Morrison”. At some point prior to 1930, his parents, John and Jessie, as well as his brothers, Neil and Michael, ended up coming to Madison County IL, in Edwardsville IL, where John and Jessie are both buried in Calvary Cemetery. Neil lived in both Clinton County and Madison County IL, and married Clara Knemeyer of Beckemeyer, IL. Michael ended up in Marion County IL, Centralia IL. a coal miner, as was Alexander and possibly Neil. I am still searching for information on the remaining children and their descendents, if any remained in Sydney/Glace Bay CB, or if all came to US and the Edwardsville IL area together. I do not have points of US entry for John or Jessie as a family.

          Alexander came to Beckemeyer IL and married Catherine Peppenhorst in 1920 and had two children, Alexander James, and Mildred. (St. Anthony’s Parish). He served in the First World War with the US Army. He was hit by a train in Edwardsville IL in July 1930 while visiting his mother, Jessie. His son, Alexander, was my husband’s father.

          There are a number of Scottish familes that came to the state of Illinois to work the coal mining industry there in the early part of the 1900s. Of particular interest to anyone researching Cape Breton NS descendents who might have left between 1900 and 1940s, here is a link to information on one of the mining disasters in Marion County IL that lists the names of those who perished. Three of the major mine disasters in the US between 1909 and 1947 occurred in Illinois mines…Cherry, IL, West Frankfort IL and Centralia IL. Links to those two as well.

        • Angus Macmillan

          February 18, 2011 at 11:01 pm

          Alasdair Steele b. c. 1800 settled in Boisdale, CB to the East of the present church, died at age 42 after being kicked by a horse and had the following children: Iain Mor 1823 (the John you mentioned); Alasdair Ban 1824; Flora; Donald; Caitriona; Dhomhnall (Donald) 1830; Michael 1831; Eoghann; Peadair 1838; Ailean; Iain 1843.

          Iain Mor Steele in turn had: Alexander 1854; Neil 1856; Dougal 1860; Jessie 1862 (= John D Morrison); Catherine 1865; and twins Michael (= first a Currie and the Jessie MacDonald from Gillis Lake & Catherine 1867 (= Steve McAskill).

          Looking back at my note, I see this was material gathered by Fr MacMillan and published in ‘To the Hill of Boisdale’. If you can get access to a copy, I don’t think there is any more on this family but a careful trawl through might just come up with some leads on the other folks you are seeking. Good hunting. Angus

          • Allene Goforth

            December 30, 2011 at 4:28 pm

            Hi Angus!
            I have “To the Hill of Boisdale” on my lap right now. Pages 797-812 cover all the children and their descendants. A quick look shows a number of marriages between this Steele family and the family of my own g-g-g-grandfather Allan “Gardiner” MacDonald of Gillis Lake.

      • Ray Kimball

        September 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm

        I was reading these posts and I am trying to make a connection. I think there may be something here. My great great grandparents were Allen Steeves (a.k.a. Leonard Steel) who was supposedly born in P.E.I. and Agnes Fougere born in C.B. I have much of Agnes line established. She is of French and Irish decent and also quite likely Mikmaq Indian. I have nothing on Allen except that perhaps his parents were a John Steele and Mary McDonald from P.E.I. The couple also lived in P.E.I. for a time before moving through Maine to Hartford Ct. The mention of Bras d’Or makes me think there may be a connection as this is the area of Agnes’s ancestors.

        I would like to discuss further with whomever this pertains to.

        Thanks much.

        Ray Kimball

      • Iain MacKillop

        January 26, 2013 at 7:56 pm

        I was wondering if there is any connection at all between the Steeles of South Uist and the Steeles in Skye who are said to be descended from George Steele, a “landscape gardener, who laid out the gardens at Dunvegan Castle, and the waterfall in 1686 for Ian Breac MacLeod” ?

  26. sandra moffatt

    January 24, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Can anyone fill me in on when/how the MacDonalds of Boisdale ended up spending time in Guernsey? I know that 2 sisters of our Hugh MacDonald IV married soldiers on the island in 1829 and 1830. I am trying to fill in some blanks from 1800-1840. Our Hugh was living in Swansea by 1836.

    • Angus Macmillan

      January 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm

      I can tell you something about the reason for soldiers being garrisoned in the Channel Islands and Guernsey in particular. As a matter of policy, after 1746 many of the soldiers who fought around the world to gain and then keep an Empire were Scots. That was seen to keep them from being available for further Stuart risings. However, they were still more liable to mutiny than English troops and one thing that was sure to cause trouble was any proposal to send them to the East or West Indies, where disease could see a majority die. Accordingly, they were routinely moved to Guernsey and then sometimes told they were returning to Portsmouth when their destination was the Indies. Guernsey itself was garrisoned by veteran troops, who ran the system. By 1800, the great threat was Napoleon and the forces in the Channel Islands were apparently maintained at a high level until that threat disappeared. However, speculatively, the infrastructure was there and so was utilised. It will have been an attractive posting and perhaps the soldiers who married the Boisdale daughters had a bit of influence in order to be sent there?

  27. Don MacFarlane

    December 5, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Present Day Foreign Pretenders to the Scottish/British Throne

    Prince Franz van Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria
    Prince Michael of Albany, Michael Lafosse

    The main objection to these claims from Scottish Nationalists is that if some Alice in Wonderland decision proclaimed either of these to be the rightful heir to displace the Windsors (who took on that name, instead of their true German name, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, ) it would merely be replacing one German family with another. Not a fair comment, as the Windsors took the German name solely from Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria.

    • Douglas Mackinnon

      January 7, 2012 at 7:20 am

      Actually, the Nats are quite correct. The Duke of Bavaria is German speaking, from a German royal family, and descended in the remote female line from King Charles I. “Prince Michael of Albany” is Belgian and his claims have been exposed as a fraud.

      The senior (Carrick) line of the Royal House of Stewart died out upon the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587. The father of her son (and successor) was from the Lennox line which also died out in 1807. In any case the Stewarts are themselves an immigrant Breton family which married into the old Scottish royal family. Their Breton origins have recently been confirmed by DNA testing.

      The original Gaelic royal house of Scotland was dethroned by an English royal army in a four year campaign which ran from 1054- 1058. The last two kings from this family were MacBeth and his cousin Lulach. The English king then installed his own candidate on the Scottish Throne- Malcolm “Longneck” who was related to the original Gaelic dynasty through the female line. All subsequent Scottish monarchs (except his brother Domnall VI) are descended in either the male or female line from this Malcolm. Malcolm’s family were a branch of the Irish royal house of Ui Neill.

      Current evidence suggests that the senior surviving male-line representative of the original Gaelic Scottish royal house is Lord Mackay of Reay, Chief of Clan Aedh (Mackay). The MacGregor, Mackinnon, and Mac Pherson chiefs are also descended in the male line from this family. The MacGregor, Mackay, and Mackinnon chiefs are also descended in the female line from the Stewart kings. If Scotland elected in a referendum, to have it’s own royal family, a king should be chosen from one of these families.

  28. Don MacFarlane

    August 22, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    In response to Barrie

    Tim Pat Coogan in his most recent book summarises the Scots-Irish (Ulster-Scots) by regurgitating this sentiment which stereotypes them:

    We’ll sit upon the pint-stoup and we’ll talk of auld lang syne
    As we quaff the flowing haggis to our lasses’ bonnie eyne.
    And we’ll join the jubilation for the thing that we are not;
    For we say we aren’t Irish, and God knows we aren’t Scot!

    In other words, Scots-Irish supposedly latch onto their Ulster Irishness (even if only a few hundred years old at best) in preference to their Scots heritage which goes much further back. I find there is a grain of truth to this in that any American tourists I have come across seem to prefer to dig (albeit very superficially) into their Ulster – as opposed to Irish – roots rather than their Scots Lowland roots. Little does Coogan know (or he pretends not to know) that many Scottish clans have origins in Ireland in any case – notably MacDonalds. In truth, I don’t really know what he is trying to say.

    You’re safe enough (maybe) from this confusion in that Lees and Blair are Lowland clans, except that Lees were sometimes a branch of Clan MacPherson, also known as MacLeish, or Mac an Leighis (son of the healer). A branch of the clan Lees were Gaelic-speaking on the Isle of Arran up till the late 1800s. They were known there as Luos which may may be an incorrect spelling of ‘leighis’ – vowels do not come in the order ‘uo’ in Gaelic. Blairs were from Ayrshire and Renfrewshire as well and the name also derives from Gaelic.

    In other words, Lees and Blair were predominantly Lowland but they had links with the Highlands, and with Ireland. For those with mixed heritage, perhaps the best recourse is to give equal recognition to all.

  29. Bruce MacMillan

    August 6, 2010 at 7:21 am

    I’ve done some research through Bill Lawson & Blair MacAulay on my grandmother’s family. I’m told her mother descends from the Godfrey line of MacDonalds (Sleat) and Blair has provided me with a lineage back to the late 1400’s. The earliest ancestor was Donald of V MacDonald, born around 1490. Knowing that there were no written records back then, how accurate might this information be? There seems to be a gap in succession between this Donald and the known descendants of Godfrey.

    • Don MacFarlane

      August 6, 2010 at 8:53 am

      You should check what you have against the MacDonald Family Tree set out by Patricia Lelievre and see where yours fits in. I am sure Patricia will be happy to advise you further if you contact her direct (her e-mail address is on the PEI Island Register website). The current discussion thread on the Uist page on the origins of the MacDonalds should also be of interest.

      Like you, the main strains in my own family tree on my mother’s side are also Benbecula MacDonald – together with MacEachern and MacSween/MacQueen – a mixture of Clanranald and Sleat, I presume.

  30. Don MacFarlane

    June 29, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Some rarer forms of Gaelic names peculiar to the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde which was Gaelic-speaking up till the late 1800s:

    Caolaisdean (Kelso)
    Cearrach (Kerr)
    Luos (Lees)
    Mac a Charraige (Craig)
    Mac an Airgid (Sillars)
    Mac O’ Seannaig (Shannon)
    MacBhraighdeinn (Bryden)
    MacCnusachainn (Kennedy)
    MacCuga (Cook)
    MacEanain (MacKinnon)
    MacMhurardaich (MacCurdy)
    MacRaoimhin (MacNiven)
    MacUrchaidh (MacMurchie)

  31. Sandra MacIsaaac

    April 5, 2010 at 2:32 am

    I am seeking information regarding a Donald Morrison who immigrated from Scotland to the North River area of St. Ann’s, Victoria County, Cape Breton Island in 1858; according to Canadian Census records he was born Dec 20, 1820 in Scotland and was a Presbyterian; shortly after his arrival, he married Mary Matheson in 1859; she was born in Scotland on June 15, 1822 and had immigrated in 1827; she was the d/o John Matheson of Lewis and Effie Ann McLeod of Harris; three children were born to Donald and Mary:
    Mary 1860
    Effie c. 1863
    William James c. 1871

    Census records tell us that at the age of 80 years, Donald was still very much alive and residing at North River, St. Ann’s… I have not found a death record as yet.
    I would like to know more about Donald’s history pre his 1858 arrival in Canada.

  32. Ann Stewart

    March 3, 2010 at 5:11 am

    I am in search of Charles Stewart of Appin born circa1770. Married Jane Macdonald. I have record of one child, John Stewart b1800, Grimsay, North Uist. He married Mary McLeod b1817, Loch Maddy. Their children were: Charles b1834, Grimsay, John b1835, Grimsay, Neil b1839 Grimsay, Margaret b1842, Nova Scotia, James Angus b1844, Nova Scotia, Alexander b1845, Nova Scotia, Donald Y b1848, Nova Scotia, Mary Ann b1851, Nova Scotia, Margarette Flora b1854, Nova Scotia. Mary McLeod’s father was Captain John McLeod and she had a brother Malcolm also a sea captain.

    The family left diaries with stories of these people. Also in the stories were mention to skeletons in the closet. People and certain information had been omitted due to pirates and highwaymen in the family, which surname, I don’t know. How interesting. I have been online searching for info on pirates in the Hebrides, no connections yet. Have you any knowledge of this line?

  33. Don MacFarlane

    January 16, 2010 at 1:42 am

    The following are unusual septs of Clan Donald that still exist, many of them transported to Northern Ireland:


  34. Don MacFarlane

    January 14, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    You can find loads of MacIsaac names from Eigg and its surrounds on an Excel spreadsheet from an Eigg website
    See if you can strike lucky!

  35. Andrew Beachum

    January 14, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I am researching my MacIsaac ancestors from Eigg Mountain, Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Does anybody know of a family of MacIsaac’s that included Lauchlin Mor MacIsaac, Malcolm MacIsaac, and John Mor MacIsaac? Apparently their father was named Ruairidh MacIsaac, and they came from the Isle of Eigg. I know that Lauchlin married Catherine (or Mary Catherine) MacDonald in 1818 somewhere in the area around Eigg, but I cannot find any records, and it’s not for lack of trying or spending! Just thought I would ask the experts. Thanks for bringing us such a great forum!

  36. Angus Macmillan

    January 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    There was no definition of a gentleman. Not being something earned or bestowed but simply honorific, there would surely be no mechanism to remove it.

    Normally, some status would be accorded to chieftains and tacksmen but, if for example you look at the Catholic records for Ardkenneth in South Uist, there is a use of Mr and Esq on just a few occasions. In these cases, it was generally applied to a couple of merchants descended but three or four generations earlier from Ranald MacDonald I of Benbecula, a younger brother of the captain of Clanranald of the day.

    Chieftains or Tacksmen who left Scotland, even those deported, were often attended by a tail of followers. The act of deportation was liable to be regarded as a badge of honour rather than a vitiation of the title ‘gent.’ There were a couple of problems I can see with those of status maintaining it. One is that, in the aftermath of the Jacobite risings, estates were confiscated presumably leaving the gent destitute. The other was that the great attraction of the New World was availability of land without landlords.In this state of equality, the role of the chieftain/gent would swiftly have become redundant.

  37. Sandra McDonald

    December 28, 2009 at 12:11 am

    A really interesting website – I wonder if any of your contacts can help me. I recently discovered that my husband might be related to the McDonald’s of Kinlochmoidart. Donald McDonald, son of Donald McDonald executed for his part in the Jacobite rebellion, was transported to Jamaica in March 1747. He lived at Banks Estate in St Ann, Jamaica. He was described as a gentleman on his death in 1794. I under stand one of his brothers was Lt Colonel Alexander McDonald. We believe he had a son also named Donald (who was shown as a Free Person in the Vestry Records of 1792) and it is he who we believe my husband is descended from). In the parish of St Ann in Jamaica there is a town called Lewis where there are many McDonalds who live on their own land. I am related to them – they are all related to each other and are very proud to be a McDonald. How does one go from being convicted of treason to becoming a gentleman. Is there anyone out there who could throw some light on this matter for me.

    • Jan

      January 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

      Hello Sandra
      I too am a MacDonald but am trying to find out what happened to a relative of mine – Neil MacLeod who was transported in March 1747 to Barbados. Although these Jacobites were convicted of treason, I would suppose they had sympathisers in Jamaica and would have been gentlemen in Scotland before being transported. You did very well tracing your MacDonald back to a known place in Jamaica. Maybe there are some of my MacDonald relatives out there too.

    • Noni Brown

      January 25, 2010 at 9:36 am

      Hello Sandra,

      I have been hoping to track down young Murdoch Macleod and or any of his Macdonald uncles, 1st and 2nd cousins (all of Glenaladale, Borrodale and related to him on his mother Catherine’s side) who fought at Culloden and who either escaped, were imprisoned & released or transported –
      Glenalale & Borrodale Officers at Culloden:
      Major Alexander MacDonald (Glenaladale)
      Captain John MacDonald, his brother
      Captain Donald MacDonald
      Captain Ranald Macdonald
      Lt Roderick Macdonald
      Captain Angus Macdonald of Borrodale
      Captain Alexander his brother
      Captain Alexander his oldest son (V11 of Glenaladale) married a Mrs Handyside of Jamaica, without Issue; married (2) Miss Macgregor. He amassed a fortune in the West Indies and returned to Scotland and purchased large tracts of land including Glenaladale.

      Alexander “Sandy” Macdonald went to Jamaica and West Indies as a freeman or was he banished after Culloden?

      The Banished Scotsmen were sent to the West Indies to server 7 years as indentured servants and after that they were free to go to any of the Colonies but were not to return to Scotland. The Macdonald’s being a powerful family would have had connections throughout the colonies which would help a young man get on his feet – as did Alexander.

  38. Don MacFarlane

    November 17, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    From Prof Catherine Nash

    Research of this kind concentrates on patrilineal descent and then promotes particular models of native and nonnative ancestry. The reduction of descent to patrilineage and the idea of geneticized singular ethnic ancestry this promotes is joined to a reductive imagination of premodern relationships between power and male fertility. The result of the effort to produce historically informed and culturally informative interpretations of genetic research findings is a crude correlation.

    From Nick Mansfield

    A family tree usually traces familial interconnections via one line of relationship, the tracing of paternal surnames probably being the favourite. Each child is positioned in a consistent line of derivation that represents the family as a sequence of simple and direct inheritance. Your birth connects you to two families via your parents; through them to four families via their parents and so on. The complexity of the picture is intensified by the lines of flight conjoining you to siblings, cousins, their children, their partners, their partners’ families, and so on to infinity. Yet the genealogies pored over and celebrated by family historians tend to ignore this complexity, and ‘overcode’ it by a simple tracing of inheritance along a single dimension. It is no accident that this single line of usually paternal inheritance connects with traditional masculine authority and reduces social life to sex and power.

  39. Gordon MacLeod

    September 8, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Noni, have any of your male MacLeod relatives participated in the FTDNA MacLeod group project . I myself descend from a Normand(Norman) MacLeod born c1820 in Galtrigal. He was the son of a Donald MacLeod and Mary Shaw. Unfortunately nothing more is known about Donald, though his wife Mary was born around 1785 in Galtrigal and died aged 70 in 1855.

    • Noni Brown

      January 25, 2010 at 5:19 am

      Dear Gordon,

      Yes, Neil Macleod did and I believe his DNA proves the relationship to Macleod Clan. Neil descends from Donald Macleod (a brother of my ancestor William Macleod of Monkstadt). These brothers ..sons of Malcolm, son of Murdoch (?), son of Donald Macleod & Catherine Macdonald of Galtrigal. Neil’s branch also has a Norman born in 1821 in Skye.

      Donald and Catherine most likely had other children apart from Murdoch incluidng a Donald. Donald would have been around 52 yrs of age when Murdoch was born c1730.. he was was much older than Catherine and possibly he was married before.

      It is very likely your Macleod ancestors and ours from Galtrigal were related – but it is difficult to find births, deaths and marriages prior to 1820s.

  40. Jan Robey

    August 29, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Have been reading your previous posts especially regarding Murdoch Macleod. If he was the same Murdoch who was sent to Inverness Grammar School by his father, Donald, then it might be that he left the grammar school on the day of the Battle of Culloden to go to the battle. I have been looking through some old books recently and have found reference to that. Would that be the same Murdoch who was slightly wounded at the Battle but later became a Doctor and lived in Eyre on the Isle of Skye. If he attended grammar school, it is likely that he would go on to further his education. Maybe if you google Dr Murdoch Macleod you might be able to follow the link I got? If he became a Doctor then there might be a record of him on the Physicians register (if there is such a thing) at Edinburgh which seemed to be the great seat of medical learning then.

  41. Jan Robey

    August 28, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Do you know how the system of being indentured to Samuel Smith, for example, worked? Did he exchange money for the prisoners and hope to make a profit when he got them across to the Americas? If he bought them, to whom did he give money?

  42. Noni Brown

    August 27, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I have only just started to investigate Scots Banished to Barbados and Jamaica in 1747 as indentured servants under a Samuel Smith. I contacted an archivist in Barbardos looking for information on Murdoch Macleod born c 1729-31 and possibly Banished after Culloden. I heard back but no results found. I have yet to contact an Archivist in Jamaica.

  43. Jan Robey

    August 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    I am trying to find out whether or not a relative of mine, a Neil Macleod from Raasay, ever reached Barbados on the ‘Frere’ which left London, I believe, on 31 March 1747. Also, I am trying to establish what might have happened to his wife, Agnes? Their baby son, James or John, and his mother in law, Margaret MacDonald, left Skye or Raasay in 1752 or 1753 and settled in Auchenbowie, the home of Munro Primus one of the eminent surgeons in Edinburgh and someone who tended the wounded of both sides after one of the Battles near Edinburgh during the rebellion.

  44. Angus Macmillan

    July 31, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Thanks for the response. I suspect you have quite a hunt on your hands so good luck with that.

    Forgive me for returning to the subject but the point about what happened to Donald, which does not controvert the point about his having been at the Prince’s service for a couple of months, is that there are really pretty detailed records of who was with the Prince from time to time after the return to South Uist. Donald does not figure in any of those accounts such as, say the three day drinking session with Alexander MacDonald of Boisdale and Hugh MacDonald of Baleshare, or the quiet period succeeded by scares in Glen Corrodale. Donald as a MacLeod would have had no clout or contribution to make when Charles was in the hands of Clanranald [more actively of Lady Clan] or Neil MacEachen. Nor would there have been any question of concealing a crowd on the hills of South Uist. I simply wondered where he [and presumably Murdoch] was lurking.

    I don’t know if you will have heard the nice story about when he was with the part. When they set off for Stornoway via Scalpay, there was a bit of a storm going on. Accordingly, they crept up the coast of Benbecula and then across to the east coast of North Uist, where they stopped for tea at the house of a MacPherson family in Carinish. The parents knew who the visitors were but the three daughters did not. Once told after the visitors left, there was a tussle over possession of the stool the Prince had used. The youngest girl lost a tooth in the process and so was allowed to keep the school. That was Ned Burke territory, incidentally, so he may have suggested the stopping off point.

    • Noni Brown

      August 8, 2009 at 11:30 am

      Yes it is certainly a hunt, I heard back from an assistant Archivist in Barbados. No records found for a Murdoch Macleod. She is forwarding a contact for Jamaica. Murdoch’s 1st cousin, Alexander Macdonald 11 of Borrodale amassed a fortune in the West Indies, he married (1) a Mrs. Handyside of Jamaica.

      It is not know how 15 year old Murdoch found his way from Culloden to distant and desolate Borrodale. Did he walk, did he find a horse on the battlefield and ride to find the Prince and his father. After his release from prison, during his interviews with Reverend Robert Forbes, Donald says…”And this was the way, that I met wi’ my poor boy”. I wonder by this time did Donald know something untoward happened to his young son?
      Donald Macleod was the helmsman and Pilot Guide on the eight oared boat (which belonged to John Macdonald of Borrodale who was missing or killed at Culloden) – the passengers: The Prince, Captain O’Sullivan, Captain O’Neil, Allan Macdonald of Clanranald (a priest), a Clergyman of Church of Rome and the eight oarsmen included six Highlanders from Borrodale : Roderick Macdonald, John MacDonald, Duncan Roy Macdonald, Alexander MacDonald, Lachlan MacMurrich, Roderick MacAskill plus Edward Burke and young Murdoch Macleod

      Later on another boat, borrowed from Donald’s friend – Campbell (a Hanoverian married to sister of Donald Roy Macdonald, brother of Baleshair) – Murdoch was one of the six remaining oarsman. No doubt these oarsmen had strength and endurance. Murdoch is mentioned in “Prince Charlie’s Pilot” book numerous times, throughout the 61 days, he and old Donald were in the service of the Prince. On a number of occasions, young Murdoch was left in charge of the boat, while his father was sent on a number of short and long missions to obtain money, arrange boats or to seek intelligence.

      On the 21st June 1746 the party, except Captain O’Neill, bid a sad farewell to the Prince. It is not known if Donald sent Murdoch off on his own to find his way home to Skye. Old Donald attempted to hide from the Militia, but when arrested two weeks later he was alone.

      Donald, as a Macleod, may not have had clout with the Macdonalds of Glenaladale, Borrodale or Clanranald. We know Donald was certainly trusted by them, not only as a son-in-law, brother-in-law and uncle-in-law, but also as man noted for his intelligence, honesty, loyalty and trustworthiness. Old Donald was a well known trader, helmsmen, pilot and mariner throughout the Isles, who knew his way around the coves, caves and other hideaways and he knew the “safe” families and friends who would support to the Prince. It is very probably the Glenaladale’s sent Donald to the Prince at Borrodale on the 21st April at the request of Ænas Macdonald.

      In his letter of 21 October 1747 to Lord Arbuthnott, Reverend Robert Forbes refers to Donald as “one of the first men in the world… a man of rigid virtue and integrity, a prisoner who went through an uninterrupted series of the greatest hardships and severities for several months… reduced to the lowest ebb of misery….had the mortification of seeing others dying about him like rotten sheep… has been absent from his wife and children for nineteen or twenty months…a truly noble (though poor) worthy …”.

      John Walkinshaw of London gave Donald a large engraved silver snuff-box, handsomely chased and doubly gilt in the inside, as a gift for his service to the Prince. Prince Charlie lived for several years in exile with his Scottish common-law wife, Clementina Walkinshaw (1720-1802) whom he met and may have begun a relationship with whilst on the ’45 campaign. Their daughter Charlotte was the only acknowledged child of the “Young Pretender”. Clementina was the daughter of the wealthy John Walkinshaw of Barrowfield and Camlachie. Could John Walkinshaw of London and Clementina be related I wonder?

      Catherine, Murdoch’s mother, was the youngest of ten children (nine brothers and one sister) of John V of Glenaladale and NicAngus Macdonald of Milton. Catherine’s brothers included John Macdonald V1 of Glenaladale and Angus Macdonald 1 of Borrodale. Therefore, young Major Alexander Macdonald V11 of Glenaladale (his brothers Lieutenant John and Allan) and young Alexander Macdonald 11 of Borrodale (his brothers John and Ranald)…were all first cousins of Murdoch.

      As their great grandparents (John Macdonald 1 of Kinlochmoidart and Angus Og Macdonald 1 of Milton) were siblings, Ænas Macdonald and Murdoch were 3rd cousins. For the support they gave to the Prince, the Glenaladale’s property and cattle were destroyed and Borrodale’s house burned down. Most of the supporters were arrested and property destroyed.

      I have read the full itinerary of the Prince and you are right, it is very well documented and records all the names of the many men and women gave their support to the Prince during his fugitive days. Prince Charlie was clearly very charismatic, charming, courageous and it seems his supporters had difficulty saying no to him.

      In an article – the “Order of Battle” Jacobite Army it says: “Executions were conducted on the basis of drawing lots on a ratio of about 1 in 20. In total, 3,470 Jacobites, supporters, and others were taken prisoner in the aftermath of Culloden, with 120 of them being executed and 88 dying in prison; 936 transported to the colonies, and 222 more “banished” (to Jamaica or Barbados). While many were eventually released, the fate of nearly 700 is unknown”.

  45. Angus Macmillan

    July 30, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Had Catherine been born in about 1680 [I think incidentally that Donald was born just before rather than just after 1680 – no-one had any clear idea of ages at the time] then she was rather unlikely to have a fifteen year old son in 1746? On the same basis, her mother was a sister of Flora’s father and Flora is usually accepted as having been born in 1722. That also makes a 1680 birth for Catherine a little tight, don’t you think?

    I am now a bit puzzled about the relationship you are looking for. Just to be clear, is it back to Murdoch, who you suspect may have been deported in 1747?

    I don’t think it is right to see the Prince hiding with Donald and Murdoch for a couple of months, incidentally. After the flight to Benbecula, Donald was certainly of the company until after the attempt to obtain a passage in Stornoway. He enjoyed a drink there and rather gave the game away about the identity of the Prince and thereafter it was Donald Campbell’s boat the party used while skulking in South Uist and eventually crossing to Skye and Donald MacLeod seems to have faded from the picture. He was not the pilot on the return journey as that honour fell to John MacDonald. There is no mention of Murdoch in any of those tales as far as I recall?

    • Noni Brown

      July 31, 2009 at 12:38 pm

      I agree Flora Macdonald was born 1722 and her 1st cousin Catherine, a fair bit older, born say 1700 makes sense. Flora’s mother Marion, was the 2nd wife of Ranald Macdonald, brother of Catherine’s mother NicAngus. NicAngus appears to be the youngest daughtern(ref. History of Clan MacDonald Vol 111).

      Page 203 -“Prince Charlie’s Pilot” – says the Prince was in the keeping of old Donald 61 days. This confirms the detailed itinerary we have derived from Rev. Robert Forbe’s “The Lyon in Mourning”. Donald first met the Prince in Borrodale Forest on the 21st April 1746 and the Prince finally parted from Donald, Murdoch and fellow boatmen on 21st June 1746. On parting, the Prince ordered O’Sullivan to pay the boatmen (including Donald’s young son Murdoch) a shilling sterling a day, besides their maintenance. He gave a draught of Sixty Pistoles (French name given to Spanish Gold Coins) to Donald (apparently never retrieved by Donald). These payments representing the number of days and level of service the boat men gave to the Prince.

      Admittedly, I haven’t researched the period between the Prince’s departure from Donald (and the other boatmen) to the time Flora Macdonald took part in the last two days of the Prince’s escape to France – but I have noticed a John MacDonald, son of Borrodale was involved during the period in between. I think old “canny” Donald’s slip of the tongue during that drinking session was a deliberate and clever ploy to sidetrack the King’s men – as he successfully guided the Prince on a long “walk-a-around” to another location, thus avoiding capture.

      My goal is to prove (or disprove) the relationship between our Malcolm Macleod, born about 1760 (married to Christy MacMillan), and Donald Macleod via one of his sons. I know from the “Lyon” that he had “children” back in Galtrigal – so Murdoch was not the only child of Donald and Catherine. I’m not sure how to achieve my goal as records for this period are dismal. I found in the 1841 census a Malcolm Macleod and Christy MacMillan born c1760 in Ross and Cromarty on – they appeared to have emigrated to PEI or another colony in the Americas.

      As no descendents in any known branches of our MacLeod families are named Murdoch, it is unlikely he was the father of our Malcolm? As Donald was known to have “children back in Galtrigal in 1747”, it is possible our Malcolm’s father was another son of Donald. The MacLeods of Milivaig (close vicinity to Galtrigal) are a distinct possibility. The names match but the links do not work – so I cannot verify?

      As history has not recorded young Murdoch’s whereabouts after 21st June 1746 – perhaps he was “banished to Jamaica or Barbados”, perhaps he avoided arrest and returned to Galtrigal? Norman Macleod, the 22nd Chief, shunned Donald after his release from prison and was very displeased with Donald. It may be, after Donald’s death, Catherine and her children returned to live under the support of her Glenaladale family. If this was the case we should search in and around Fort William.

  46. Noni Brown

    July 30, 2009 at 2:32 am

    I have read “Prince Charlie’s Pilot” and enjoyed it very much – also “The Lion in Mourning” – very comprehensive and informative.

    We didn’t know Catherine was 20+ years younger than Donald, giving her a birth date of c1700. We had her birth date to be around Donald’s in about 1682 , based on that he died on 10 Oct 1749 age 67. Perhaps Donald was married previously? Where did you find information on Catherine’s birth date?

    According to family tradition, it was the Prince who gave his scarf pin to Donald or Murdoch as a little token to remember him. Another family tradition has been to pass this Pin down from youngest son to eldest son to youngest son and so on. Norma Beard now 82 yr, another descendent, told me recently the “Pin” was an ordinary scarf pin that was on some clothing given to the Prince by a lady Jacobite supporter, from her household, to replace his torn and worn clothing, during the 60 days he spent in hiding with Donald and Murdoch. This “Pin” is still displayed by the current family, “keepers of the Pin”, at New South Wales Macleod Clan gatherings.

    According to the article, “The Glenaladale Pioneers”, Donald and Catherine lived next to the “Manners Stone” at Galtrigal. A story about the “Manners Stone”, apparently told by a Galtrigal man, went – “Now, the man on whose land it was thrown had six strong sons, and when his crops were trampled down and ruined by people visiting and circling the stone he grew angry and told his sons to remove it. They did, and they threw it into the ravine [there is a deep ravine close by] and it broke. …. Sheriff Nicholson came from Husabost and was angry and said, “Replace the stone as it was or on rent day you’ll lose your croft”. This may of course have had nothing to do with this Donald.

    Another article in the “Celtic Magazine” says Donald was a well-to-do farmer and tenant of Norman Macleod, 22nd Chief of Dunvegan. We know Donald was also a well known Trader and as well as a Pilot and Helmsman – who sent his son Murdoch to the Grammer School in Inverness. There is a possibility that young Murdoch was the 18 yr old Murdoch Macleod, one of hundreds of Jacobite Prisoners “Banished to Jamaica or Barbados” in 1747 as an indentured servant under Samuel Smith.

    Various members of the family have just about exhausted all avenues, including trips to Skye to research Donald, Murdoch and link to our Malcolm Macleod. Norma Macleod from Skye-Roots could not find any records for any of our family prior to 1820. Perhaps the only way to find out now is to pay for professional research of the library archivists at Dunvegan Castle (Macleod’s Galtrigal Estate records) and Armadale Castle (MacDonald’s Monkstadt Estate Records). Estate records could contain old records and names of household servants, tenants, crofters and families. I recently emailed requests to both for professional research – no response as yet.

    • Rachel Mcdonald

      July 18, 2011 at 2:19 am

      Noni, It is doubtful that your ancestor was Donald MacLeod. The scarf pin was likely part of the disguise as “Betty Burke” that Lady clanranald gave the Prince when he came to Monkstedt, by which time Donald Macleod had left the Prince’s side. You say your ancestor William MacLeod was from Monkstadt, so it’s much more likely that’s how the pin came into your family. Note also that Monkstadt is on the Trotternish peninsula of Skye, whereas Galtrigill is in north-west Skye.

      • Gordon J. M. Macleod

        December 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm

        Rachel, you make an interesting point regarding the Monkstadt connection. I have had a lot of correspondence with Noni and had not thought about your point before. While Noni’s family may be descended from The Pilot, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence for it, apart from the scarf pin being associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Yet that tradition in it’s original form makes no mention of Donald of Galtrigill. Noni’s family could just as easily be descended from Margaret Macdonald of Monkstadt or even Capt. Malcolm Macleod, who was also in the prince’s company for a time. For anyone interested in Donald of Galtrigill, I believe that I have uncovered who he was, see:

  47. Don MacFarlane

    January 31, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Courtesy of Angus MacMillan

    The Wars of Independence saw a bundle of clans split into two confederations. One based in Lochaber and Lorn was effectively absorbed into the Lordship of the Isles (MacDonald). The other, led by a Sythac MacMallon or Shaw MacMillan on record in 1228, based itself a bit further inland on the Perthshire borders and was left much more to its own devices. Shaw had a son Ferquhar who had a son Angus, father of Uilleam mac Aonghais ‘ic Fhearchar ‘ic ‘Shaw’. William was Captain of Clan Chattan in 1346 and, in consequence of his status, his descendants were MacIntosh, sons of the Chief, captains of Clan Chattan in Badenoch.

  48. Angus Macmillan

    January 26, 2009 at 11:32 am

    There is a further thought about the dates for the arrival of the O’Henleys, prompted in part by the information above. Donald the Clanranald, chief of the day, was art and part of the Montrose – Alasdair MacCholla Royalist rising of the mid-1640s. When the rising went the way of all flesh, he was left on the mainland with his Clanranald followers and some Irish troops. He then went and fought in Ireland, later being imprisoned. Clanranald was so appreciated by the Irish that later, while in the process of negotiating through his cousin MacDonnell of Antrim lands in Ulster, he was decorated for his efforts. I just wonder if it may have been at that stage some of the O’Henleys, having lost their lands, adhered to the Captain of Clanranald?

  49. Don MacFarlane

    January 18, 2009 at 10:28 am

    The O’Hanley (Ua’h-Ainlighe) Saga

    An interesting early history of the O’Hanley (O’Henley) clan during the period 326 -1641 while still in Ireland can be found in the Connacht Annals , in the Hanly Page and in the O’Hanley Saga .

    O’Hanleys were the major chieftains of the tribe known originally as Cenel Dobtha. Cenel Dobtha was one of the three tribes which comprised a confederacy known as Na Teora Tuatha or The Three Tuathas which were located in East County Roscommon. These were Tir-Briuin na Sinna, Cenel Dobtha and Corca Achlann. The O’Hanleys were dispossessed of their lands in 1641, and quite possibly of their name as they are known only as Hanley in Ireland today, because of their rebellion against Oliver Cromwell.

    Remembering Angus MacMillan’s account that the South Uist O’Henleys left from Roscommon in 1601, a mere 40 years before the Cromwell rout, this may explain why the Uist and Canadian branches are the only ones that managed (almost) to hold onto the original form of the name O’Henley (O’Hanley).

  50. Douglas Mackinnon

    January 14, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Hi Angus. Yes, this was a truly shameful and shocking episode in Scottish history. I read, with horror, that the MacDonald and MacLeod chiefs knowingly sent some of their tenants into slavery in the cotton plantations in the Carolinas, USA, the so-called “white slaves”. Small wonder, then, that the Scottish parliament has recently introduced major land reforms. This whole episode has done a lot for the republican movement in Scotland which is sad, but understandable.

    I have not seen the tins you describe, but I would very much like to see one. Major Evan seems to have been a real character. Makes you wonder, what would have happened had the French honoured their alliance, and landed troops in England as promised. I have read that they couldn’t leave France because of storms.

    I have recently been reading John Marsden’s book “Tombs of the Kings- The Iona Book of the Dead”. Our royal ancestors were a truly bloodthirsty lot, although with Vikings banging on your door every summer, they just had to be.

    Reflecting on the Balconie marriage above, the Highland and Island families were heavily intermarried, there must have been a great deal of inbreeding, especially when you consider that the same families lived in the same area for some thirty generations or more, which may explain why my relatives are all a little crazy!

  51. Angus Macmillan

    January 11, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Douglas: Thanks for filling in those elder brothers of Major Evan MacGregor. Have you noted, even in recent years, that he still appears from time to time in full regalia on Walker’s biscuit tins? I mentioned that he was more interesting than his son. He took Edinburgh single-handedly for the Jacobites when the city fathers kept the gates close but sent a deputation to discuss terms. After their return, the city gates were opened to allow the horses out to their stables and Evan took the chance to run in frighten of the guard and allow, I think it was Lochiel’s men to secure the enty. Then he had a very long handgun carried by a relay of his MacGregors and was credited with inflicting the first casualty on Cope’s army before the forces were within conventional reach of each other before Prestonpans. After Culloden, he saw Murray of Broughton to safety before himself fading into the background and avoiding the hospitality of the prison hulks on the Thames.

    Evan then re-emerged as innkeeper at Lochearnhead, where he overheard the James of the Glen threat to kill Duncan Campbell of Glenure rather than allow the latter to reset the Appin tacks and later gave the crucial evidence at the loaded Invererary trial that led to James being hanged at Ballachulish.

    Evan married Janet in London and died in Guernsey, where he was responsible for popping unsuspecting Highlanders onto transports and telling them they were bound for Portsmouth. It was the only way of avoiding mutiny in sending Highland regiments to probable death by disease in the East and West Indies. His will, of which I have a copy, is in the archives in St Peter Port.

    Janet was a daughter, as you say, of John MacDonald of Balconie, who was indeed a son of Sir James Mor MacDonald X & 2nd Bart of Sleat.
    Thereby she was first or second cousin to almost all those involved in the succour and escape of Prince Charles, including Clanranald and his wife, Flora MacDonald’s stepfather, Hugh Cam MacDonald the Baleshares and Donald MacLeod of Galtrigil ‘the old pilot’ who took the party to Benbecula though not on the return journey ‘over the sea to Skye.’

    • Noni Brown

      July 29, 2009 at 6:35 am

      Dear Angus,

      In the last paragraph you mention Donald MacLeod of Galtrigal. We believe our family descend from Donald and his wife Catherine Macdonald, daughter of John MacDonald V of Glenadale and nic (daughter of) Angus Macdonald of Balinavich (later Milton); nic Angus being the sister of Ranald MacDonald -Flora’s father. We only know the name of one son, Murdoch – a scarf pin has been passed down through the generations of our MacLeod family, purportedly given to Donald or to his son Murdoch. To prove this we have to make the connection between our known ancestors:

      Malcolm Macleod married Christy MacMillian – two known sons: William Macleod b. c1796 – possibly Monkstadt (he married …….Marion ‘Sarah’ MacQueen, daughter of Angus and Flora Macqueen; and Donald Macleod b. c1799 – possibly Monkstadt (he married Ann MacDonald, daughter of Norman Macleod and … Buchanan.

      Do you have any information on these families.

      Thank you.

      • Angus Macmillan

        July 29, 2009 at 11:12 am

        Hello Noni and good to hear from you. As it happens I have Barron’s book ‘Prince Charlie’s Pilot’ in front of me as I read your note. I have had a quick flick in the hope that there would be something about Donald’s family but there are just the usual tales about Murdoch’s adventures surrounding Culloden and following the Prince to Moidart in the aftermath.

        Your understanding of the ancestry of Donald’s wife matches mine, which gives her grandmother a home in Balivanich on the mound close to the Old Schoolhouse at today’s 7/8 Balivanich. As I have it, she was twenty+ years younger than Donald and was born about 1700. That late marriage [given that Murdoch was born c. 1730] might suggest that the one son was not unreasonable. I expect you have the details of Donald’s death a couple of years after his 1746 adventures?

        I’m sorry but I don’t have anything on the families you mention beyond Murdoch. Skye is foreign territory for me. However, from your dates you, you should be able to find a complete trail via Scotlands People at

        Have you exhausted that line of enquiry? Or is the issue you still have with the families you list?

  52. Douglas Mackinnon

    January 8, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Hi Angus. Incidently, there is a Western Isles connection with the Mac Gregors of Glen Carnaig: Major Evan Mac Gregor, father of Sir John of Lanrick, 18th Chief of the Clan, married Janet, daughter of John Mac Donald of Balconie, who I believe, was a scion of the Sleat family.

    Alexander of Balhaldies, above, was 7th of Balhaldies, and 17th Chief, by election, of Clan Gregor. He was elected in July 1714 by the chieftains of Roro, Glengyle, Brackley, and “nine gentlemen of the Clan”. Alexander’s male line was disinherited by the Gregarach clansmen in the election of 1774. His male line ended with his great-grandson, Donald Mac Gregor, 11th of Balhaldies who died in 1855. The Balhaldies family descend from Gregor, 5th Laird of Roro.


  53. Douglas Mackinnon

    January 7, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Hi Angus. Sir John Murray (Mac Gregor) was Auditor- General of Bengal, as you say. He “sent money back to Scotland to buy the Estate of Lanrick”. He swore loyalty to King George III who lifted the proscription against Clan Gregor, and made John 1st Baronet of Lanrick. Sir John was the 8th Chieftain of the Children of the Mist, before being elected 18th Chief of Clan Gregor by some 800 of his clansmen in 1774.

    Sir John was the eldest son of Major Evan Murray (Mac Gregor), Jacobite ADC to Prince Charles Stuart. Evan was the 4th son of Iain Og Mac Gregor of GLEN CARNAIG in Balquihidder. Iain Og was the 5th Chieftain of the Children of the Mist.

    Iain Og was succeeded in Glen Carnaig by his eldest son (eldest brother of Major Evan above), Robert, 6th Chieftain of the Children of the Mist. Robert had 2 daughters, one of whom appears to have inherited Glen Carnaig, though I stand to be corrected here. Robert’s brother Peter predeceased him leaving a son and daughter of whom we hear no more.

    Robert was succeeded as 7th Chieftain of the Children of the Mist buy his next brother, Duncan, a lawyer in Edinburgh, who left a son, John, an officer in the Royal Navy who died of fever in Batavia, and a daughter named Drummond Mary (who married twice with issue).

    Duncan was succeeded by his nephew, John Murray as 8th Chieftain. Sir John is believed to have married his cousin Anne mac Gregor of Roro, but others say he married Anne, daughter of William Mac Leod. Perhaps he was twice married. It is from him that the present line of Chiefs descends.

    The Chieftains of the Children of the Mist, descend in the direct male line from Gregor Patrickson Mac Gregor who should have succeeded as 7th Chief of the clan in 1519, but was disinherited by the Campbells in favour of his cousin, Eoghan of Clan Dugal Ciar Mac Gregor ( a son-in -law of Campbell of Glen Orchy?) , from whom the Glen Strae line of Chiefs till 1704.

    Gregor Patrickson was the grandson (or great grandson) of Iain Mac Gregor of Brackley- the cadet family which was later so persecuted by the Stuarts and the Campbells.

    There is no evidence of any illegitimacies in the Brackley line, although the names of one or two spouses have been lost. However, there was at least one illegitimacy in the Glenstrae line- I think Gregor, 15th Chief was illegitimate. The Law of the Clan is similar to the Law of succession in the Kingdom of Georgia: legitimate males prevail over illegitimate males, who prevail over legitimate females.

    The Glen Strae line died out in 1704. In 1714, the heads of the Cadet families elected Alexander Mac Gregor of Balhaldies, a wealthy landowner, and a junior cadet of the Chieftains of Roro. This line were avowed Jacobites and were recognized by King James VIII. The Balhaldies line became unpopular after the death of Alexander, and being non resident, were disinherited by the Clansmen in 1774, though they unsuccessfully litigated against Sir John. The Balhaldies line died out in about 1850.

    You can find the the complicated genealogies of the Mac Gregor cadet families on, or /roro,
    or /glengyle, etc.

    regards Douglas

  54. Don MacFarlane

    January 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Yet Another Ulster-Hebridean connection

    Angus MacDonald de Yle, second son of Sir Angus Mor MacDonald of the Isles, came into his inheritance only after his elder brother, Alexander de Yle, forfeited his by siding with Balliol against Robert the Bruce. Angus, on the other hand, was a staunch friend of Bruce even during his misfortunes and he fought at Bannockburn.

    Angus married Agnes, daughter of Sir Guy O’Cahan of Limavady and Dungiven (County Derry) in Northern Ireland. She brought a troop of Ulsterman over with her as part of her dowry. It is thought by some that notable amongst these were the Beatons who are therefore Irish by extraction. I would take that with a pinch of salt as Beaton is a name that is almost non-existent in Ireland.

    Hence it was Ulster blood that perpetuated the Lord of the Isles lineage. Sir John de Yle, Lord of the Isles, son of Angus MacDonald and Agnes O’Cahan (O’Kane) later married Margaret Stewart, daughter of King Robert II after being granted papal dispensation

  55. Angus Macmillan

    January 5, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Back to the Burkes: Donald’s list above is not as deficient as the O’Henley list but there is at least one family missing. There was a cottar, John Burke married to Kitty with children Malcolm, Sally, Ann, Donald and Roderick. A couple of the families emigrated to PEI in the 1840s. The North Uist folk mentioned were, incidentally, the family of Ned Burke, the Edinburgh chair runner who acted as body servant to Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745/6. Rather sadly, after the Prince left the Uists, his family were too scared to take Ned in or help him in any way.

  56. Angus Macmillan

    January 4, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Thank you Douglas. That all fits with my understanding set out in my note. It is an especially nice thought that 1774 saw a reversion to election of a MacGregor chief on merit. My accountant is a splendid fellow but I am not sure that qualifies him to become a clan chief. Am I not right that Sir John Murray MacGregor’s claim to fame [and access to wealth] was that he was Auditor-General of Bengal? I suspect his marriage to a MacGregor of Roro may have played a part in bringing the clan together.

    Sir John’s father was I think third son of Glencarnock. Do you happen to know if his elder brothers left children? I have sometimes wondered. The answer would bear on whether Sir John was even the senior representative of his own immediate family. His father was, in any case, a much more interesting character.

    Apologies too that a sentence in my previous posting made a bid for freedom. The mention of Anrias, putative ancestor of the MacGregors, thought to be a younger brother of your Finguine, and hence a descendant of MacBeth and clann Morgainn, should have suggested a marriage to a daughter of either Alexander I or other of The Canmores, hence restoring the descent from Gabrainn via Alpin. All very speculative but it would make sense of what otherwise are contradictory traditions.

    I suspect we are now straying far from the Hebrides.

  57. Douglas Mackinnon

    January 4, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Angus. You are quite right about the Mac Gregors. They are by no means the senior surviving representatives of the ancient Scots royal house, however DNA has shown beyond reasonable doubt that are descended from the original Celtic royal house, something which not even the present Queen can prove!

    The present Chief of Clan Gregor is descended in the legitimate female line from the Stuart kings via Lady Elizabeth Murray, daughter of the 4th Duke of Atholl. Based on the research I have carried out, The Glen Carnaig family is the living representative family of the Mac Gregors of Brackley who were the senior cadet family in 1519 when the Campbells imposed a new chief on the Mac Gregors from the junior line (Clan Dugall Siar). The Glen Carnaig line is most likely legitimate one though this cannot be proved beyond doubt, since the names of one or two of the spouses of the Chieftains of the Children of the Mist have been lost in all the chaos, persecution and attempted extermination of this family.

    The disputes you mention above arose out of the claim of the Glengyle chieftain to the Mac Gregor chiefship. There has long been a dispute as to which of the cadet families which arose in the 15th century were the most senior. I have read that this dispute is now being unravelled by 67 marker Y-DNA analysis. In any case the Celtic law of tanistry traditionally disregards genealogical primogeniture, in favour of merit, so the election of 1774 was oddly, a re-assertion of this ancient Celtic principle. The election, as you say, was based largely on money and possessions, but also on the claim that the Brackley family and their descendant, Sir John Murray Mac Gregor of Lanrick, were the senior surviving cadet family anyway.

    Hi Don. The systematic removal of Scottish history, culture and heritage from Scottish school curricula borders on the criminal, but was begun by the British government some 150 years ago. I sincerely hope that the new Scottish Parliament will rectify this in due course.

  58. Don MacFarlane

    January 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Burkes of Uist

    Further to the earlier discussion about the Irish immigration from Roscommon to Uist in foot of the Fionnsgoth Burke tocher: the following Burkes are reported by to have lived in Uist in 1841. As with the O’Henleys and as pointed out by Angus MacMillan, this is likely only to be about a quarter of the true numbers:

    South Uist
    Ann (12), (14); Angus (17); Catherine (15); Donald (20), (2); Duncan (1); John (20); Mary (25); Murdoch (25); Peter (20); Roderick (1); William (60)

    Donald (2); Duncan (1); Mary (37); Murdoch (25)

    North Uist
    Jane (15); Jean (14); Leay (20); Mary (64), (60), (37), (20); Oliver (74)

  59. Don MacFarlane

    January 3, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Here is a list of the clans which did not ‘come out’ for Prince Charles, although few of them were averse to fighting when it suited them. Clans that were never bellicose are in bold and those which fought on both sides during the Jacobite rebellion are in italics. The remainder were neutral or fought for the Government (G).

    Anderson, Bethune, Boyd, Brodie, Buchanan,
    Campbell (G), Cunningham, Douglas

    Fleming, Graham, Grant (G), Gunn, Henderson, Johnstone
    Kennedy, Lamont, Lindsay, Matheson, Menzies, Montgomery (G), Munro (G)

    MacAlister, MacAulay, MacCallum, MacEwen, MacFarlane, MacKay (G), MacLellan, MacLennan, MacNab, MacNaughton, MacNicholl, MacQuarrie, MacQueen

    Ross (G), Sinclair, Skene, Sutherland (G)

    Most of these are minor clans or septs, none of them from the Western Isles, and it is possible they came out under some other flag of convenience. For example, treaties of Manrent existed between Brodie and MacKenzie (1466), Montgomery and MacFarlane (1545), MacAulay and MacGregor (1591), MacQueen and MacKintosh (1609). Hence, the firstnamed of each of these pairs may not have been free in who they fought for or against without prior permission from their senior partner.

    It would still be interesting to speculate whether restoration of the Stewart monarchy would get the vote if there were a plebiscite today north of the Highland Line !

    On a personal note, I went to school in Benbecula and South Uist but I don’t remember being taught a single lesson about the Jacobite Wars or the Stewart monarchy. Likewise, I often remember my mother, who was a MacDonald of Clanranald, often referring to her own clan as the Oldest and the Noblest (no mention of the Stewarts there)! Of course, the MacFarlanes didn’t get a look in. She was also a great admirer of the House of Windsor which I found bizarre and I would have told her so. I don’t know what any of that says about the level of interest in Uist families in things Royal (probably not much).

  60. Angus Macmillan

    January 3, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Such matters are, as Donald says, for the Lord Lyon under whatever name his organisation now hides but, of course, as an officer of the Crown and particularly since the Union, he would have no locus or authority in determining rival Royal claims as opposed to purely Scottish and family/clan issues.

  61. Don MacFarlane

    January 3, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Like any other arena where there could be claims and counterclaims, these matters would be expected to go to arbitration. As far as I understand it, matters to do with pedigree go to the Heraldry Society of Scotland. I am not sure what the pedigree of that authority is as it has only been in existence in its present form since 1977?

    The duties of the Court include establishing rights to pedigrees, which, when satisfactory evidence is produced, results in granting a warrant to the Lyon Clerk to record in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings the particular coat of arms and genealogy which have been established to his Lordship’s satisfaction.

    How that relates to establishing pre-eminence of a clan over others is another matter I would not be clear about. Taking the Isle of Skye, for example, MacLeods might find any such claim hotly contested by MacDonalds, MacAskills, and Nicholsons for starters?

  62. Angus Macmillan

    January 3, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Dear Douglas: forgive me but I have not given much thought to the matters you raise about the kingship. If I did, I am not sure how I would resolve the number of skips back over Royal lines. I see you have left the Stewarts but passed over the Bruces, the Balliols, the Canmores and clann Morgainn in order to arrive at a MacGregor. I seem to recall that the latest thinking suggests that the MacGregor ‘Royal is my race’ claim was based on a marriage between Anrias, not necessarily the oldest of the sons of Cormac, an Gilleasbuig Mor, so I imagine the MacGregors might find themselves under heavy challenge from MacKinnons, MacMillans, MacQuarries, Henrys and so on.

    Moreover, the fragmentation of the MacGregors as a result of the ‘Children of the Mist’ period surely makes it less than certain that the Glencarnock line were anciently the legitimate chiefs of Clan Gregor. The Boards were full of heated claim and counter-claim at one time. The undoubted legitimacy of the present chiefs arises from an election of Sir John MacGregor [Murray] about the date you mention. Like Mr Obama, this stemmed from acquiring a substantial kitty and becoming persona grata at the right moment. On reflection, I’m not absolutely sure I would prefer my head of state to stem from an 18th Century election above starting afresh with a proper franchise.

    You will gather that I suspect legitimacy in these matters is relative rather than absolute and, it may be a defect in me but whilst, by background and instinct, I would have been on the losing side at Culloden, I certainly have no residual feeling of personal loyalty to any of the claims represented by the descendants of Jacobite worthies whose ancestors went into exile 260+ years ago.

    Interesting thought so thanks for raising it.

    At this point, I will duck as I suspect any and all such comments, if they command attention at all, will tend to raise a storm.

  63. Douglas Mackinnon

    January 2, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Angus. I must make a correction to my previous e-mail. Walter Stewart, Baron of Morphy was the SON, not the spouse of Janet Erskine. The big genealogical debate about this family raises the following 2 questions:
    1. Was Walter Stewart, Master of Fife, legally married to Janet Erskine ?, and
    2. Was Walter, Baron of Morphy, the biological child of the above Walter and Janet.

    If the answer is YES to both these questions, then the present Earl of Moray, John Moray Stewart, is the Heir Male of the Royal House of Stewart, being an agnatic descendant of King Robert II. As such, he would have a strong claim to the Scottish Throne, in the very unlikely event of a Stewart restoration in Scotland. However, the chronology seems to suggest that Walter, Master of Fife, was too young to be the father of Walter of Morphy, at the time of his execution in 1424/25- unless his recorded date of birth is wrong. A.G. Stewart in his book “Stewarts of Castle Stewart”,1858, claims that Walter, Baron of Morphy was the legitimate son of Walter of Fife, son of Murdoch, Duke of Albany, but his legitimacy was deliberately suppressed by his grandfather to prevent his extermination at the hands of James Stewart, King of Scots, who ordered the execution of most of the members of this branch of his family.

  64. Douglas Mackinnon

    January 2, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Hi Angus. In response to your e-mail about Charles Stewart, my family and clan were the most avowed Jacobite loyalists, and we paid very dearly for our loyalty- loosing all of our ancestral lands (some 73 000 acres) much of it held by Crown Charter from Robert Bruce himself.

    I was very interested to discover 1 year ago, during a private correspondence with Sir Malcolm Mac Gregor, 24th Chief of Clan Gregor, that his entire clan went over to the Hanoverian side in 1774, having been the most enthusiastic adherents of the Stuart cause. This all happened while Charles Stewart and his brother Henry were still very much alive. This transfer of allegiance by a very great Jacobite clan represents a serious indictment of the Stuart family who were, like their Bourbon cousins in France, the architects of their own destruction. Sir Malcolm’s family are now adherents of the House of Windsor, a Germanic family which I have little personal feeling for, although I once signed an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen upon attaining British Citizenship.

    The Stuarts are now finished- genealogically, and politically.The nearest female line heir is the German speaking Duke of Bavaria and the nearest male line heir is, I believe, the Earl of Galloway although the Earl of Moray could claim this title, if he can prove that his ancestor, Walter, Baron of Morphy, was legally married to Janet Erskine, and the father of their child.

    Personally, I would like to see the restoration of the original Celtic royal house in the person of the above Sir Malcolm Mac Gregor, who is descended in the male line from the original Dalriadic dynasty of Scottish kings (supported by DNA evidence), and also in the female line from the Stuart king, James II (1437 – 1460), as well as Duncan III (May – Nov 1094). However, I doubt very much whether the “powers that be” would allow that to happen without a revolution of some sort, given the Windsor family’s emotional attachments to their Scottish estates- “Balmorality”. Such a revolution or rebellion would more likely lead to a republican regime in Scotland, given the results of recent opinion polls (Mori 2005).

    At this point, it is nevertheless important to mention that Charles Stuart could never have succeeded without the support of his French allies who, had they invaded Kent in 1745, could have brought about a change of dynasty in Britain. As usual, the French dropped the Scots in the dwang, as they have always done since the time of John Baliol. Without this continental support base, no Jacobite uprising could ever have been successful in the long term, since most of Britain had by this time become settled with the Welf family of Hanover. So we must give Charles Stuart some credit in this regard. Louis XV of France was a very different man from Louis XIV, and had no personal attachment to the Stuart dynasty. He saw the Stuarts as a useful diversion, rather than as blood allies. I have always wondered, however, why Charles Stuart never made a concerted effort to perpetuate his dynasty, especially when he had ample time to do so, and produced at least one illegitimate child by Clemetina Walkinshaw. Much food for thought.


  65. Angus Macmillan

    December 31, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Donald makes a very good point about the sufferings the Prince left behind when he headed off, free to resume his privileged life in France/Italy. Even those who had hazarded all in his cause were devastated by the outcomes of the Rising. Much more mundanely than in the Capercaillie song, Iain Fraingeach, one of the sons of MacDonald of Borrodale, commented on that day, 19th September 1746, that the Prince embarked: “ … from Borrodale where he first landed (in mainland Scotland) ; and after refreshing himself weel, directly went aboard, and with a fair wind set sail next morning for France and left us in a worse state than he found us.”

  66. Don MacFarlane

    December 31, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Songs of the 45 by Capercaillie

    A song which serves as an antidote to romantic twaddle about the Jacobite rebellion is ‘Mo Run Geal Og’. This lament of a young woman left a widow after the death of William Chisholm at Culloden leaves one in no doubt what she thought of Charles Stewart.

    Och a Thearlaich og Stiubhart
    ‘Se do chuis rinn mo leireadh
    Thug thu ‘uam gach ni bh’agam
    Ann an cogadh ‘nad aobhar;
    Cha chrodh is cha chaoraich
    Tha mi ‘caoidh ach mo cheile
    O’n la dh’fhag e mi ‘m aonar
    Gun sion san t-saoghal ach leine
    Mo run geal og

    Translation in English

    Alas, young Charles Stewart,
    it is your cause that has left me desolate.
    You took from me everything
    that I had in a war in your cause.
    It is not (lack of) cattle or sheep
    that have pained me, but my spouse
    since the day that he left me on my own
    with nothing in the world but a shift
    My fair young love.

    Perhaps the Capercaillie English translation does not do this song justice, as ‘leireadh’ could be more empathetically translated as ‘heartbroken’ or ‘mortally wounded’, ‘mo cheile’ as ‘my soulmate’ and ‘caoidh’ as ‘lament’?

    • Don MacFarlane

      October 8, 2009 at 7:33 am

      To put a less sentimental spin on the song, another source states that the authoress nagged her husband, who was not a Jacobite, that much that he was glad to escape her to fight in Culloden. Hence the song, which points the finger at the Prince, has as much to do with her own guilt at contributing to her husband’s death.

  67. Angus Macmillan

    December 29, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Just three quick comments.

    This mechanism for raising a force was a hangover from Feudal days when say the Bruce’s charters were conventionally given in exchange for ‘knight service’, a quarter of a knight in some cases [for a man at arms but forget pennants and jousting and taps on shoulders] up to a ship of forty oars, fully manned and available on demand for up to forty days a year. This was later commuted to a payment in silver and/or produce but, evidently, the obligation remained.

    In the Jacobite times, the obligation was exercised as much to prevent joining the conflict as to recruit for either side. In Benbecula and South Uist, all the boats were confiscated precisely to prevent mass recruitment to the Jacobite army, with the result that there was a modest Clanranald regiment drawn from the mainland estates and just a select few officers from the island tackmen families.

    For all I know, the quoted proportion of men recruited may somewhere have tended towards the 20%+ quoted. However, of a Benbecula population of say 1500 in 1801 to 1820, I would put the number of reruits to Wellington’s armies in the Napoleonic wars as between a dozen and twenty men [about 1%], not all serving at the same time and some of them incomers, able post hoc to sustain a small tack on the basis of their pensions.

  68. Don MacFarlane

    December 29, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Excerpt from ‘Clearance and Improvement’, TM Devine (2006).

    ‘There was no neat sundering of the bonds of clanship and lordship after the debacle of 1745. The claim to land was perpetuated by the landlord custom of raising regiments for the British Army by promising tenancies in return for service. Land was distributed in return for the most fundamental rent payment of all, the life of a son or husband. Few communities could have remained untouched. A rough estimate is 75,000 men from a population of 350,000 in 1801.’

    Devine goes on to say that, even if a family could afford to pay rent, this would not be accepted if the quota for recruitment in that locale had not been reached and another family offered a son or husband for military service instead. So much for the bond of clanship or lordship, it would appear to have been one-way.

    Devine’s book purports to cover the period 1700 onwards but the above extract is the only reference to military service. At least for now, a reasonable assumption can be made from his phrase ‘perpetuated’ that the same manner of recruitment was in place during the Jacobite period. I will try to get my source on matters military, Dr. Diane Henderson from Cambridge, to clarify this.

  69. Angus Macmillan

    December 29, 2008 at 1:14 am

    It is certainly right that many islesmen, when faced with a choice, first obeyed their Chiefs who were scared of forfeiting their estates once more, and then consistently protected Prince Charles either actively or by omitting to mention his presence in their neighbourhood. But then they were all incredibly closely related. It was a family rather than Highland effort to rescue him.

    Reverting to Capt John and family, I rather doubt the two marriage theory as there is not an iota of evidence in that direction but it must be a possibility that he was sent to North Uist to start life afresh with Margaret Nicolson. It would perhaps explain the absence of earlier children, who might have remained in Skye with in-laws of a first marriage.

    John was fourth son of William the Tutor. The eldest was James, who married Catherine MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart and is shown with four children, two daughters marrying with children, one to a Donald MacDonald who succeeded Capt John at Balranald and another marrying one of Flora MacDonald’s sons, Charles. No room for a hidden Jane there, I fancy.

    The second son was Donald, who had a tack of Kingsburgh in 1728 before Flora’s future father-in-law took over the tack. In 1738, although James had the tack, it was Donald who seems to have been at Aird [Borneskittaig}. He had the one son, also Donald, who died without issue.

    The third son was Ewen who, in 1727 in right of his father’s second marriage to a MacLean of Vallay, had taken over that tack. As the one in North Uist at the time, he was Factor of North Uist from 1733 to 1740, when he was succeeded by brother John. Eventually, he became head of the family adding Aird to Vallay. He was succeeded by a son William and then by a grandson.

    If a Jane is lurking anywhere apart from in John’s family, that is where it would have to be, I think. There was one more brother, Allan, who had the tack of Graline in 1734 but is recorded as dying without issue.

  70. Douglas Mackinnon

    December 28, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Hi Angus. In the light of your above discussion of the concealment and escape of Prince Charles Stuart, it would appear that many Islesmen served in the Hanoverian Militia for political expediency rather than personal conviction, and perhaps actively exploited their position to assist and protect Jacobites, and especially Charles Stuart. This would particularly apply to the Mac Donalds. I have often wondered why John Mackinnon, whose family were staunch Jacobites would have married a daughter of Capt John MacDonald- a Hanoverian militiaman? Much food for thought!

  71. Douglas Mackinnon

    December 28, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Angus. I must thank you for your interest and assistance in this rather mundane, but nevertheless personally significant question.

    I am inclined to agree with you. You seem to imply that Captain John might also have been twice married- which has crossed my mind. If so, who was the other Mrs Mac Donald? John Mackinnon and Jane Mac Donald were married in 1770, according to the Kyle family tree. She was probably born around 1745- during the ’45. She might well have been born in Airds. It is interesting to note that Capt. John’s brother was Capt. James Mac Donald “of Aird & Vallay” . Is it possible that Jane was James’ daughter, or as you suggest- born to Capt John during his time at Aird & Kendrom.

    I will look up this Kendrom identifier on the Web. I will also consult the Clan Donald Centre as you suggested.

    Many thanks and kind regards


  72. Douglas Mackinnon

    December 28, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Don. Many thanks for your reply. If you would like to investigate the history of how the Isles became divided between Catholics and Protestants, I would like to suggest that you read up John MacLeod’s “Highlanders- A History of the Gaels” ISBN 0-340-63991-1, published by Hodder & Stoughton (look up on Also Tom Steele’s “Scotland’s Story” ISBN-0-00-216351-9, published by William Collins. John MacLeod in particular is an authority on the Western Isles history and culture- he actually lives there, and is a veteran Journalist. You might also read up Prof J.D. Mackie’s “A History of Scotland” ISBN 0-14-020671-X, published by Penguin Books.

    As far as I know, the people of the Isles were adherents of the Celtic Church till about 1400. Following the suppression of the Scottish Celtic Church, the Islesmen became converts to the Roman Catholic and Episcopalian Churches (The Mackinnons were Benedictine and Episcopalian). Then during the 19th century, many Islesmen became staunch Protestants, though the Southern Isles (especially Barra) remained Catholic- being close to Ireland, and being colonised by Irish immigrants to some extent. However I am not an authority on this subject, I would strongly refer you to the above authors in this regard.

    I know little about the distribution of Catholics and Protestants in the Lowlands- the above authors should be of some help. I would imagine, that following the succession of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I in England, many prominent Catholic English families would have sought refuge in the more tolerant Scottish Lowlands, also many Catholic Irish economic immigrants- especially in the Strathclyde region.

    Regards Douglas

  73. Angus Macmillan

    December 28, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Douglas: I have been back to the Clan Donald history and have a further thought for you in respect of the putative Jane, daughter of Capt John.

    Bear with me a moment if I say that Capt John was never ‘of Kirkibost, Kyles and Balranald.’ That territorial designator was formally for the holder of a three generation tack that usually took the form ‘three lives and three x nineteen years.’

    Capt John was born at Airds House, his father’s tack including Borneskittaig a couple of miles north of duntulm in Trotternis, the main Sleat dwelling pre-Monkstadt. He himself, as Baron Baillie, had the tack of Kendrom until 1740. It was then that he was moved by Sir Alexander of Sleat [or actually by his own father William the Tutor] to become Factor of North Uist. In that capacity, he held Kirkibost, Kyles [Paiblesgarry] and Balranald until his death by 1750.

    My thought is that any family born before 1740 will have lurked under the Kendrom or even Airds identifier and never have been collected together under Kirkibost. That latter was confined to the one daughter Margaret, who received the tack of the farm of Paiblesgarry after her father’s death. By 1754 there are extant tacks of Kirkibost and Balranald in favour of men not closely connected to Capt John.

    Accordingly, I suggest you should be keeping an eye out for a Jane MacDonald of or in Kendrom. or Airds or even Trotternish rather than a Jane of Kirkibost.

  74. Douglas Mackinnon

    December 27, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Many thanks. I think that this is the case with Jane MacDonald. She may have married John Mackinnon of Kyle in Skye, or even in Inverness, hence the lack of record of her in Erskine’s account of the Sleat family in North Uist. Kyle, or Kyleakin, was a tack of the Mackinnon estate of Strath (the Parish of Strath in Skye). Sadly all these lands had to be sold (in 1756, and 1791) to defray enormous debts incurred by Iain Dubh Mackinnon, 29th Chief of Clan Fionghuin, during the disastrous Jacobite rebellions. In fact both the Chief and his cousin, Neil Mackinnon, 1st of Kyle were locked by at Tilbury, on the Thames till 1750, charged with treason. It is very possible, Neil’s son, John, married outside of Scotland, or at least the Isles.

    When I get hold of Major John Mackinnon’s book, I will send you a copy. it is quite rare. We might as well all share information.

    Speaking of Christmas, I was interested to read that the ancient Celtic Church of Scotland and Ireland was Judaic in it’s traditions, and did not celebrate Christmas, which of course has it’s origins in Roman Pagan tradition.

    Bet Irish Catholics won’t like to hear that!

    Regards Douglas

  75. Angus Macmillan

    December 27, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Hello Douglas: glad to see that the turkey and mince pies did not altogether oust family history on Christmas Day.

    From what you say, Blair has supplemented my earlier response. We know that statutory recording came too late to resolve your problem. In theory, Old Parish records and sometimes local censuses of populations on particular estates provide earlier relevant records. Blair has evidently confirmed that he does not know of anything for North Uist that would fulfil that role.

    That does not mean it is the end of the story though. There are other sources for the sorts of family you are interested in. Have you looked for Wills/Inventories for Capt John or other members of the family? I have one for a member of Flora MacDonald’s Milton family that names not only all her own sisters but their husbands and offspring as well. You will find an index and access to images on scotlandspeople. Capt John was, as I recall, Factor of North Uist for the MacDonalds of Sleat. It is very probable there is a considerable correspondence in the Sleat family archives. You might start by contacting the Clan Donald centre at Armadale Castle in Skye which, in my experience, is very helpful either with the information you want or in knowing where it might exist.

    There is another sort of information consisting of family tradition and collections. This sort of Antiquarion material often contains all sorts of truths but has to be treated with caution as the approach to evidence was different from ours and there was often an agenda to attach to great or noble families. However, you ask about the possibility of Major MacKinnon, in this sort of family/ antiquarian output, knowing of a lost daughter compared with the database Blair sent you. It is entirely possible. I imagine the Blair information is from the Rev Dr Angus MacDonald of Kilearnan, [from Griminish in Benbecula] whose manuscript history of North Uist certainly mentions there being the one daughter, Margaret, who remained at Paiblesgarry after Capt John’s death and therefore figures in the North Uist memory/records. The Rev Angus also wrote the great 3 volume history of Clan Donald that carries the same assumption. However, I can point to a very similar instance in my own family tree. A granddaughter of Sir James Mor MacDonald X & 2nd Bart of Sleat via his son John MacDonald of Balconie does not show up in those family lists but is in the MacGregor of Glencarnock tree as she married one of Prince Charlie’s Aides de Camp in the ’45 Jacobite Rising, Major Evan [MacGregor] Murray. The reason she has not been picked up in the usual ways is evident as she was married in London and her husband died in the island of Jersey, of all places.

    The message is that it is worth continuing to search but looking for confirmation beyond the obvious, what I earlier called primary. records. I hope this helps.

  76. Douglas Mackinnon

    December 25, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Angus. Many thanks for your comprehensive reply. I am perplexed at this time, since The family of William, Tutor of Sleat, is said to be well recorded as you suggest. Yet Blair MacAulay says that there were scanty Birth, Marriage and Death records in North Uist before the Census of 1841/51. Furthermore, the MacDonald database he sent me suggests that Captain John MacDonald of Kirkibost had only one daughter, Margaret, who succeeded him in Kiribost and died unmarried.

    However, the family tree sent to me a few years ago by Major John Mackinnon, author of ‘The Mackinnons of Kyle and their connections’ states quite unequivocally that John Mackinnon, 2nd of Kyle, married “Jane, d/o Capt John MacDonald of Kyles, Kirkibost & Balranald, g/s of Sir Donald MacDonald, 10th of Sleat”. Is it possible that Captain John MacDonald married twice, and if so to whom? Is it possible that John and Margaret Nicholson had another daughter, Jane, whose name has been lost to the MacDonald memoirs, but whose identity has survived in the Mackinnon memoirs because of this marriage (John Mackinnon of Kyle)? Perhaps you can sort out this problem for me.

  77. Angus Macmillan

    December 18, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Hello Douglas: to answer your question, you were asking, in effect, for the sort of B,M,D data that is familiar after statutory registration was imposed. My reference was to the fact that, short of that sort of info. there is a pretty good audit trail for the descendants of William MacDonald the ‘tutor of Sleat’ who had been responsible for raising Sir Alexander MacDonald XV and 7th Bart of Sleat, and for the Borneskittaig and Vallay family generally. William was a son of Sir Donald MacDonald XI & 3rd Bart and grandson of Sir James Mor MacDonald X & 2nd Bart so it was an important and well recorded tacksman family. Margaret Nicolson was a member by her marriage to William’s son, John, of this family and so figures in those records. She is mentioned in all the relevant accounts of the Prince Charlie arrival at Kilbride/ Monkstadt dressed as Betty Burke at the end of June 1746, beginning with Flora MacDonald’s own account to Bishop Forbes via Dr Burton that was reproduced in the Lyon in Mourning.

    My reason for thinking she may have been fairly young at the time is that her husband’s brother, Capt James MacDonald of Aird and Vallay, who had Flora’s half brother James as his Lieutenant at the time, was still active in military matters many years later. I would need to check how matters stood with John but the same may have applied to him?

    I hope that makes sense.

  78. Angus Macmillan

    December 15, 2008 at 12:20 am

    I don’t have original records, I’m afraid, but all the secondary records do point to Margaret, wife of John MacDonald of Kirkibost, as daughter of MacNicoll or Nicolson of Scorrybreac. By that, and why I am aware of her origins, is that her husband was Captain of one of the Independent companies [I think from memory it was that rather than the Militia] holding part of the coast of Skye when Prince Charlie, dressed as Betty Burke, arrived from Benbecula with Flora MacDonald on the ‘over the sea to Skye’ escapade. As ‘Mrs MacDonald’, Margaret figures in all the accounts as having crossed the Minch the previous day to alert Lady Margaret [Montgomerie] MacDonald of Sleat to the couple’s arrival. After she herself landed, Margaret made an almighty fuss about how closely she had been searched, it is thought as a bit of protection for the soldiery guarding the coast, whom she is thought to have warned to relax their guard the next day.

    On the other questions, concerning the dates of Margaret and her daughter Jane, I am sorry but I do not have that information. My feeling is that Margaret and John were relatively recently married in 1746, if that helps at all. If you have not already done so, Blair MacAulay, who knows so much about the North Uist families might be worth tracking down on the Western Isles board.

  79. Douglas Mackinnon

    December 14, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Angus Macmillan mentions a Margaret Nicholson of Scorrybreac who was “the wife of Capt John Mac Donald of (Kyles) Kirkibost”. According to the late Major J.F. Mackinnon, (see “The Mackinnons of Kyle and Their Connections”), the above Capt John and his wife Margaret, are my ancestors, since their daughter Jane, married John Mackinnon, 2nd of Kyle. I would like to know from Angus whether Margaret Nicholson was the daughter of Mac Nicol of Scorrybreac, Chief of Clan Neacail, and when she died, also the date of death and marriage of her daughter Jane Mac Donald.

  80. Angus Macmillan

    November 20, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    On the question about MacSweens in Benbecula above. there was the one family, the head of which was Neil MacSween from Skye, married to Catherine MacRaild or Ranaldson. They were initially in Dunganichy and sons spread out to Lionacleit, Balivanich and Gramsdale. The most influential was the family at 18 Lionacleit that had the ground officership.

    The MacAulays were rather more complex but mostly merchants/shopkeepers, literate and incomers from, I think North Uist. The main family had lands at the Aird end of Balivanich, and were eventually replaced by MacLennans and the store of the name when the MacAulay family moved away to Pennyloddan. There were also Lionacleit and Torlum representatives of the name.

    Does this help?

  81. donfad

    November 20, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Useful site that looks at Gaelic surnames and other odd and ends:

  82. Angus Macmillan

    November 16, 2008 at 1:07 am

    I am sure descendants will know all the details but it may interest others that the MacDonalds of Vallay of the mid-18th Century were central to the moment that Flora MacDonald handed Prince Charlie over to the folks in Skye. There was a Mrs MacDonald recorded as crossing the Minch to warn Lady Margaret MacDonald wife of the Sleat chief at Monkstadt of the Prince’s arrival from Benbecula. The first of these Mrs MacDonalds was Margaret Nicolson of Scorrybreck, wife of Capt John MacDonald of Kirkibost in North Uist, who was in charge of one of the Militia companies guarding the Skye coast. He was a son of William MacDonald of Borneskittaic & Vallay. He had Alexander MacLeod of Balmeanach, the ‘sneaking little gentleman’ who cross questioned Flora on her arrival, as his Lieutenant.

    Another of the three companies concerned was commanded by Capt James MacDonald of Aird & Vallay, another son of William the ‘Tutor’ or guardian of Sleat and brother of John of Kirkibost. James had as his Lieutenant, James MacDonald, Flora’s half brother, son of her mother Marion and her stepfather, Hugh MacDonald, who was just by then ‘of Armadale.’ This Militia company seems to have been the one closest to Monkstadt.

    Then they wonder why Flora and her charge ‘Betty Burke’ were not intercepted.

  83. donfad

    November 15, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    The etymology of surnames could become an obsession or all-consuming past-time, whichever you prefer.

    Courtesy of the GlasgowGuide ‘Are the Scots really Irish’ blogsite is this extract:

    ‘Mac Aodha or MacAodha is the Irish Gaelic spelling of McHugh/McCue. Mhaoil Ghaoithe is the Irish Gaelic spelling for McGee in west Ulster (Donegal). Mag Aoidh or MagAoidh is the Irish Gaelic spelling for Magee in east Ulster. Mac Aoidh or MacAoidh is the Scottish Gaelic spelling of McKay, McKee/McKie and McGhee. Aodh is the Gaelic word for Fire which has been Anglicised as Hugh. There is also an Irish Gaelic surname O’h-Aodha. O’hAodha was Anglicised as Hayes in the south of Ireland and as Hughes in the north of Ireland. Occasionally, the native Gaelic Irish surnames of MacAodha and MagAoidh were also Anglicised as Hughes in the north of Ireland instead of as McHugh or Magee respectively’.

    Putting my own toe in the water and rather tongue in cheek (mixed metaphor), I can offer the following:

    The Donegal variation of Magee is Muintear Mhaoil Ghaoithe. Maol in modern-day Gaelic is the word for bald but it used to refer to the particular form of self-inflicted baldness of monks known as the tonsure. In particular, maol referred to the tonsure worn by the followers of St. Columba, the Irish saint who brought Christianity to Western Scotland. As the Donegal Magees originated from Kilmacrennan, were the Magees the disciples of St. Columba whose birthplace was also Kilmacrennan? Alternatively, maol is also a word for an exposed piece of ground and gaoithe is ‘of the wind’. So does Muintear Mhaoil Ghaoithe merely mean those ones that came from the exposed windy places! MacMhaolain is also Gaelic for MacMillan who are no relation that I know of to the Magees.

  84. donfad

    October 28, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Why is it that those of the clan MacDonald get called Domhnallach in Gaelic? I am not aware of other surnames which have the prefix Mac in English but have the suffix -ach in Gaelic. This suffix invariably attaches itself otherwise to the names of clans that do not begin with Mac e.g. Greumach, Rothach, Laomanach, Moireach etc. Why is MacDonald the exception to the rule?

  85. donfad

    March 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    What theories can help to explain similar patterns of migration to Uists and Prince Edward Island (PEI) from various parts of Scotland?

    1. Was Clanranald responsible for much of the internal migration into the Uists? For example, MacFarlane from Perthshire might have been his estate manager, Cameron from Sutherland might have been his schoolmaster, Beaton from Skye might have been his doctor.
    2. Why bring these people in at a time when Clanranald was shipping people out in big numbers to Canada? Why bring them in when the standard of education in local Uist people was actually quite good (some letters from ordinary people at that time were in good English)?
    3. Were other names unusual to the Uists such as Buchanan, Walker, Steele, MacQuarie, MacNiven, MacLellan, brought in for similar reasons?
    4. What exactly was the link between the Uists, Perthshire where Clanranald now lives, other places in mainland Scotland and the Inner Hebrides. Similar migration patterns are to be found in the maritime provinces in Canada where the majority of people of Highland extraction came from the Uists, Argyll, Perthshire, Skye and Sutherland. How much of a coincidence is that? Some of the links are obvious but, as usual, the ‘devil will be in the detail’.

  86. donfad

    March 29, 2008 at 11:44 am

    The MacIsaacs of Moidart and the Isles were once quite numerous in Scotland but most of them emigrated to Nova Scotia. They were associated with the Clanranald MacDonalds in the capacity of bailiffs and were entitled to wear the tartan. When Dugal, 5th Chieftain of Clanranald, was assassinated at Arisaig in 1519 by Allan na Corc it was his MacIsaac bailiff or “Maor” who rescued the body and took it away for decent burial. It seems that the MacIsaacs perhaps came over from Ulster to the Western Highlands and many of them changed their name to MacDonald.

    The name MacIsaac is an ecclesiastical one, meaning “son of Isaac”, and the names Kessog and Kessan are found as personal names in Perthshire about 1500. St. Kessog, the patron saint of Loch Lomond district, was born at Cashel in Munster in Ireland. On coming to Scotland he resided on the Island of Innis-Mhanach, Loch Lomond, from where he carried on his work of evangelising the neighbourhood.

    The 1749 records for South Uist show the following:

    John MacIsaac at Bornishochterach
    John MacIsaac at Stonybridge
    Lachlan MacIsaac at Stonybridge
    Angus MacIsaac at Machiemeanach
    Donald MacIsaac at Machiemeanach
    Donald MacIsaac at Aird
    Donald MacIsaac at Linique
    John MacIsaac at Linique

  87. donfad

    March 26, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Godfrey Crovan was of mixed Icelandic-Gaelic lineage and was the King of the Hebrides, Dublin and the Isle of Man from 1079-1095. His nickname Crovan has been variously interpreted as Crobh Ban or Crubach (take your pick) which means White Hand or Hunchback. He was succeeded in the Isles by the rather better-known Magnus Barefoot and in Dublin by the infamous Domhnall MacMuircheartaigh.

    He was born in the Isle of Man where he is known as King Orry and there may possibly be some link (??) with Creagorry in Benbecula, Goraidh being Scots Gaelic for Godfrey. He survived the Battle of Stamford Bridge 1066 and he died on the island of Islay.

    • alasdairmacdonald

      June 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      New Y-DNA research has revealed that the clan MacLeod and MacNeils of Barra share a common ancestor.

      L165 is a new marker discovered by Dr Jim Wilson of Edinburgh University and in the Western Isles indicates Norse Viking ancestry. There are two groups emerging in the results: Cluster one includes the MacNeils of Barra, Buies of Jura, Carmichaels of Lismore and a group of MacDonalds who have been scattered to the Northern Highlands. The second cluster is dominated by the MacLeods.

      The project can be found at

      Please contact me if you wishes participate or know more about the project.

  88. Laurie

    March 25, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Another excerpt from a 1943 letter by my great grandmother, Marion McQuien Adams:

    “The same year (1829), John and Lochlin McQuien and their baby Margaret came to this country (USA). They settled in Pine Woods, where they spent their lives. These two brothers had lived without work on money from some holdings of their mother’s, Margaret Monroe, which expired at her death-so they came here to seek their future or fortune. They made no future but were able to live on the money they brought with them. Their name was originally McDonald, their home was in North Uist, an island of the Hebrides, and they traced this descent on their fathers side from Somerland of Argyle and a grand daughter of Godred Cronen, King of the Hebrides and Dublin” (spelling is as in the letter).

    I was intrigued that this story was passed down to Marion, two generations removed from her North Uist ancestors.

  89. Laurie

    March 24, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Here is a letter written to my ancestor John McQuien in upstate NY by a cousin in Cape Breton. I think John’s sister Margaret Fell traveled to Cape Breton and met Murdoch and his wife for the first time. This is Murdoch’s letter of introduction to John, talking about their family.

    False Bay Beach
    Jan 17 1887

    My Dear Cousin,

    I take the present opportunity of writing you these few lines for the first time in my life. I am well and all mine, hoping these few lines will find well and all yours. Dear cousin I am at a loss what to write to you. I am now an old man of 64 years born in Loch Maddy in 1823. In 1826 then father moved in land to Drammanan and took your father’s place which he held until 1841, then all the tenants were swept away we came here. Our family was small, only me and Donal. He got married about the year 1846. He was killed about 1862, leaving a widow and eight children, three boys and five girls, two of them are in Boston, one in the asylum, one at home. Two of the boys are home, one in California. I was married in 1850 to Euphema McQueen. I had five sons and five daughters, all living but one boy he died an infant. Two of my sons are married here. Ian is in Boston and Esabella, she is married there to John Boyd. Three more of my daughters are married here so I am all alone almost but my youngest daughter Flora. My father in law he is with me also. I had to take in his at (?) he is (93?) year, he is also blind but his memory is good yet. He was a seaman along with Uncle John and able to tell us good old yarns about their seafaring. He himself was (capt?) of the Pomona until he lost her.

    Now my dear cousin, I hope your dear sister and my beloved Mrs Fell got home all safe. She is a dear soul. She stole my heart and the Lord bless her. Tell her I got home all right and for her to let me know if she got my likeness from that Mr. Askill. I suppose you heard of the death of your dear cousin Donal McLean. I saw it in the newspaper and for him we shall not mourn as them that have no hope for I verily believe to him to die was no loss but great gain.

    Now dear cousin I must come to a close and you must write to me as soon as you get this and give me your age and your wife’s name and number of children and their names and their age. Is there any of them married. My dear cousin, give my love to all my cousins. Mrs. McLeod sending her love to Mrs Fell. I remain your affectionate cousin

    Murdoch McLeod

  90. londonderry

    October 17, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I have researched my wife’s M’Cormick roots from the Uists, but have not been able to establish some of the more important links that are necessary to be able to locate living rellies on the Islands. The reason I’m responding to your posting to the Western Isles board on Rootsweb is that one of the ladies who married into that M’Cormick family that emigrated to Cape Breton in the mid-1800s (I believe) was an Annie Ferguson, who was the first wife of Angus M’Comick, who was born in Benbecula about 1811. It is believed that Annie was a daughter of a Ewen Ferguson, who was also born in Scotland. Angus and Annie had three or four children, John, Effie, Flora, and possibly a Mary Ann, who may have been twin sister to John. I believe that those two may have been born in Scotland, but Effie & Flora seem to have been born in the Gabarus area of Cape Breton, about 1850.

    I believe that Angus was the oldest son of a John Frank M’Cormick of Benbecula, who was married to an Effie Nicholson of (possibly) S. Uist. However, the John Frank / Effie family became Protestant (John F. was born in a Catholic family), and the family story is that they moved to Lochmaddy. There, the family of Angus, Margaret, John Jr., and Penny were born. Angus, Margaret and John Jr. seem to have emigrated to Cape Breton, possibly with their father, but Penny remained behind and married Donald Og Currie of S. Uist. That Currie family later emigrated to Cape Breton and farmed in the Upper Mira River area (above Victoria Bridge). One of the John M’Cormicks (father or son) who emigrated to the Gabarus area was a weaver of some reputation, and was noted for having taught his countrymen of the Gabarus / Belfry Lake area how to weave. He also taught (I believe) one of the men from a related family how to build a loom, so that others in the area could weave their own cloth. A grandson of John Jr., Hector by name, was in the Canadian Navy during WWII and visited Benbecula. He gave a related widow M’Cormick an awful fright when she saw him walking up the lane to her house, as he looked so much like her deceased husband. Hector said that the rellies he visited in Benbecula were not only astonished to learn that they had kinfolk in Cape Breton; they completely blown away to learn that those rellies were staunch Presbyterians! In fact, the brothers, Angus and John Jr. had both been elders in the Gabarus Lake Presbyterian Church. I don’t know if this makes any sense to you or not, Don, but hope that it may fit some of the data that you have in hand. If so, and you can add anything that will help me resolve some of my outstanding brick walls about the early days in the Uists, or provide something that could permit members of my wife’s family to contact living rellies in Benbecula or elsewhere, I’d be most grateful.

    I did contact Bill Lawson several years ago, but did not get a lot of useful information (over and above what I already had in hand) from that source.

    Robert J. Brown,
    Kanata, Ontario

    • homebody69

      March 3, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Many thanks to Anne Barr for giving me this website to read. I have spent the better part of the last few weeks reading both the Uist and Barra site, as well as the Genealogy site, and all the suggested sites that people have listed in their blogs

      The different opinions, educational information, and interesting conversations have been wonderful. I especially found the article on the Deserted Village on Barra interesting. The closest link to my family that I think are mine were found in Brurinish last in 1851.

      I was disappointed however to hear Mr. Brown say that Mr. Lawson did not have a lot of useful information to add to what he already had. I was hoping to go that route myself as I haven’t found proof positive yet.

      Lois McKinnon Wheaton
      Brantford, Ontario, Canada

      • Waxwing

        March 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        Feel free to post whatever information you may have and it need not be ‘proof positive’. You never know what might turn up as sometimes it can be a waiting game. However useful or otherwise the website might be it has some glaring holes. The site is very sparse with topics on the Long Island, Barra and Skye, amongst others. With its strong musical tradition Barra could be of particular interest.


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