Cadets of the House of Argyll

CADETS OF THE HOUSE OF ARGYLL.
Bv Rev. P. J. Campbell, D.D.

It is interesting to observe the assiduity and sagacity with which the House of Lochawe prosecuted for centuries the policy which placed its wise and patriotic Chiefs eventually in the position of local sovereigns of Argyllshire. While with great foresight laying the foundations of their influence in the eye of the Court and of the Law, by securing, through charters—then little valued by Highlanders generally—the feudal superiority of the lands of the ancient proprietors of the soil, they, at the same time, lose no opportunity of basing it, in the meantime, on the Celtic feeling of the country, by allowing currency to theories of remote descent of these proprietors from their own family, and inducing them to adopt the name of Campbell. It was indeed a somewhat difficult task for the Seannachies to affiliate to the House of Lochawe races well-known to have been as long as or longer than itself, independent inhabitants of the country. The method most commonly resorted to was a discovery that a family which it was desirable to affiliate, had sprung from some clandestine and concealed marriage, or some illegitimate connection of a Chief of Lochawe at a remote period—a scheme to which the old Highland custom of hand-fast marriages gave much plausibility and success, especially as the interests of the families in question, and the advantage of securing the protection and favour of the potentates of Lochawe, induced them the more readily to acquiese in such theories of their descent. At the same time, the tradition of the country always preserved the distinction between the families really of Campbell origin and these other ancient races, and continued long to designate the members of the latter by their old patronymics. Thus, while no doubt has ever been entertained of the Campbell descent of Barbreck, Inverliver, or Ardkinglas, any more than of Glenorchy, Auchinbrek, Ellangreig, Ormidale, Calder (Cawdor), and Lochnell, of some of whom the progeny was very numerous, the tradition is different in the case of the following Argyllshire families:

M’DHONNACHIE, OR CAMPBELL, OF INVERAWE, with its offshoots, Ducholly, Kilmartin, Shirvain, Southall, &c. Of this family, which possessed the greater part of the magnificent mountain Ben Cruachan, and which produced many eminent clergymen of the Church of Scotland, and brave officers of the army, the Chief and many members, down to the middle of the seventeenth century, signed themselves M’Dhonnachie, M’Connachie, and Duncanson. In the pedigree of the Maconochies of Meadowbank given in Burke’s Landed Gentry (1847), the Inverawe family is derived from Duncan, a son of Sir Neil Campbell of Lochow, by his second wife, a daughter of Sir John Cameron of Lochiel. This genealogy is not more doubtful than that which represents the progenitor of the Meadowbank family, not merely as a member, but actually as the Head of the old House of Inverawe! The undoubted representative of that ancient race at that time was James A. Campbell, Esq. of New-Inverawe. There may be uncertainty as to the precise origin of the Inverawe family. There is none as to its extreme antiquity and position.

M’INNES (M’ANGUS), OR CAMPBELL, OF DUNSTAFFNAGE, theoretically traced to a natural son of Colin of Lochawe, d. 1390, or, as some say, of Colin, first Earl, d. 1492, but perhaps descended from the old Clan M’Innes of Ardgour or Morven. The constabulary of the Castle of Dunstaffnage was, no doubt, bestowed by Robert I. in 1321-22 on an Arthur, and afterwards on an Archibald Campbell; but neither the seannachies nor the family itself derive the M’Angus Campbells–now and for some centuries of Dunstaffnage—from these persons. The former allege Colin, first Earl, to be the progenitor.

M’NEIL, OR CAMPBELL, OF KENMORE OR MELFORT, deduced from a natural son of Sir Colin of Lochawe, d. 1340. This family, which, in the last generation, furnished several highly distinguished officers to the army and navy, although of very doubtful Campbell origin, seems to have no connection whatever with the Clan-Macneill.

M’IVER, OR CAMPBELL, OF LERGACHONZIE, STONSHIRAY, AND ASKNISH, one of the Barons of 1292, and the M’Ivers of Glassary and Cowal.

M’DUGALL, OR CAMPBELL, OF CRAIGNISH, of which the Chief latterly, after the recovery of the estate by Ronald Mac-Dhonuil-Mhic-Iain of Barchbeyan, was called M’Dhonuil-Vic-Iain. This—one of the most ancient families in Argyllshire, the head of it being one of the eleven Barons of 1292—is well known not to be of Campbell descent.

M’DHONNACHIE-MHOIR, OR CAMPBELL, OF DUNTROON. This family is by some supposed to be really descended from a natural son of Colin of Lochawe, d. 1390, but the tradition of a special brotherly alliance between it and the families of Dunstaffnage and Melfort, in accordance with which, on the death of any one of the three, the two others laid the one the head and the other the feet of the deceased in the grave, seems to argue a very ancient community of interest, if not of descent. Of Duntroon the Campbells of Raschoilly, Oib, Tayness, Knap, and Rudale, were cadets.

THE CLAN-CHEARLAICH, OR PERHAPS PROPERLY THEARLAICH—always reputed to be a branch of the Clan-Dugall of Craignish—whose original seat is uncertain. The Chiefs and a considerable number of this race seem to have accompanied the founders of the Breadalbane family into Perthshire, from Glenorchy, where they had been for some generations. They appear in Perthshire as the Campbells of West-Ardeonaig and Corrycharnaig, and are often mentioned also under the names M’Cairlich and Charliesoun in the Black-book of Taymouth. In Argyllshire, too, they appear of old under the name of M’Kerliche. The probable Chiefs of this old race are the Inverneil family, reestablished in Argyllshire by Sir Archibald and Sir James Campbell.

If to all these we add the number of MacDiarmids who in ancient times, and of MacGregors, MacLarens, and others, who more lately assumed the name of Campbell, it will be seen that many bearing that name in Argyllshire and Perthshire are descended of other races. In fact, prolific as some branches of the Campbells were, it would have been scarcely possible that all the bearers of the name in those counties should have sprung from them.*

A similar aggregation of large numbers from different races took place in many other cases, as in those of the Frasers, Gordons, &c.; but, while in these instances, the persons incorporated seem to have been mainly nativi without property, or members of broken septs, the Argyll family succeeded in attaching to itself and engrafting many old, independent, and well organised small Clans. If there is evidence of good policy here, there is also indubitable proof of the hereditary possession by the Black Knights of Lochawe, of the qualities that attract admiration and confidence.

It will be observed that almost all the families enumerated above are found in occupation of prominent and commanding points of Argyllshire—chiefly on the coast—a proof of early possession and power. It must also be borne in mind that, although not of the Campbell race, they almost all had latterly, through marriage with branches of the Argyll family—zealously promoted by the House of Lochawe—a large infusion, in many cases ultimately a preponderance, of Campbell blood.

* There is a third Argyllshire family of which the Head was styled M’Dhonnachie—Campbell of Glenfeochan. This family may probably have sprung from the House of Lochawe, but the writer has not traced its decent with certainty.

The Celtic Monthly, September 1907.

[Re: other errors of this author, see W. D. H. Sellar, The Earliest Campbells–Norman, Briton, or Gael?, Scottish Studies, vol. xvii., 1973.]

Black Duncan of the Cowl

Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy (1545–1631), by unknown artist, 1619; National Galleries of Scotland.
Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy (1545–1631), by unknown artist, 1619; National Galleries of Scotland.

The seventh laird [of Glenorchy], Sir Duncan, our author’s patron [i.e. the author of the The Black Book of Taymouth], is a person on whose history we dwell with more pleasure. Bowie records a glorious list of conquests of lands and church possessions, and the provisions he bestowed on his children, legitimate and illegitimate. But we have interest of another kind in Black Duncan — Donacha dim na curich, as he is called from the cowl in which he is represented in his picture at Taymouth. He was, if not the first of Scotchmen, the very foremost of Highland proprietors, to turn his attention to the rural improvement of his country. His predecessors had indeed built rude dwellings and places of defence, round which time and decay have thrown a picturesqueness little thought of in their erection. But we find no signs of these earlier lords appreciating their beautiful country, or trying to increase its comforts or its productiveness. It cannot be said that Sir Duncan himself had taste for the picturesque, but he knew the profit as well as the beauty that might accrue from clothing the hill-side with timber and securing shelter round his mansion. He had some feeling for art also “with chapel and painterie.” He built the tower of Achalladour, repaired Ilankeilchurn, built the house of Lochdochart, a great house at Barcaldine in Benderloch, (between Loch Etive and Loch Criran,) defended the grounds of Balloch against the river by a great embankment. He built or repaired the Church “of Glenurchy, and built a bridge over the water of Lochy, contentment and weal of the country.” He was enterprising enough to travel abroad and passed to the courts of England and France, and in 1602, thought good to take a view of Flanders and of the wars. He took measures for enforcing an old Scotch law which enjoined the planting of a few trees about every tenant’s and cottar’s dwelling, and on the greater scale which became the landlord, he “caused make parks in Balloch, Finlarg, Glenloquhay, and Glenurquhay, and caused sow acorns and seed of fir therein, and planted in the same young fir and birch.” He seems to have imitated his cousin, William Earl of Gowrie, in introducing trees of foreign growth, and tradition points to him as the planter of the venerable chestnut and walnut trees at Finlarg and Taymouth. He was probably the first of Scotchmen who brought in fallow deer, for our chronicler tells us that in 1614 he took a lease of the Isle of Inchesaile from the Earl of Argyll, and in 1615 “put fallow deir and cunnyngis” therein. In another department of rural policy, it is not so certain that he was first, but it is of him that we have the first evidence, in connexion with the rearing of horses. In one bloody foray the M’Gregors slew forty of Sir Duncan’s brood mares in the Cosche of Glenurchy, and at the same time a blood horse,– “ane fair cursour sent to him from the Prince out of London.” The horse had come to an untimely end even before his royal master was taken away, but the stud went on increasing under the careful eye and vigorous management of Black Duncan.

Duncan Campbell, 7th Laird of Glenorchy, engraving by W. Forrest after original painting (1619) in the Breadalbane Apartments, Holyrood.
Duncan Campbell, 7th Laird of Glenorchy, engraving by W. Forrest after original painting (1619) in the Breadalbane Apartments, Holyrood.

We have abundant evidence that the seventh laird was a man of affairs, and well maintained his place in that age of unscrupulous politicians. In his own territories, castles, and family, he practised a very vigorous personal control and the most methodical administration. The estate books and books of household accounts and inventories kept under his direction give us the earliest picture we have of the life of a great Highland lord. It is not so easy to imagine the rough chieftain cultivating literature: yet grim as he stands in the picture [above] the black Duncan had a taste for books, read history and romance, and is not quite free from the suspicion of having dabbled in verse himself. Several of his books are still preserved at Taymouth, where the frequent inscriptions in his own hand shew he took pleasure in them; and we must remember that book collecting was not yet a fashion. One of his favourites, in which he evidently much delighted, was “The Buike of King Alexander the Conqueroure,” a ponderous romance in MS. Some original verses, mostly moral and religious, written on the blank leaves of his books, would be worth preserving, if it were possible more satisfactorily to establish their authorship. The influence of Sir Duncan Campbell extended over an unusual length of time. He was forty-eight years lord of the family estates, and was eighty-six years old when he died in 1631.

— From the Preface of Cosmo Nelson Innes’ The Black Book of Taymouth, Edinburgh, 1855.

We Return No More

It is all over now — put me to bed — call in the piper; let him play “Ha Til Mi Tulidh” (We Return No More) as long as I breathe.

— Final words of Raibeart Ruadh MacGriogair (Robert Roy MacGregor).