Seals of the Burghs of Argyll

Seal of the Royal Burgh of Campbeltown, Argyll.

CAMPBELTOWN is built on what was originally the seat of the Dalriadan monarchy. About the middle of the third century Cormac, King of Ireland, quelled a dispute which had arisen between two tribes, and during this civil war Cormac’s cousin, Cairbre-Riada, conquered a district in the north-east of Ireland, which he called Dalriada, or the portion of Riada. About 503 A.D. the three sons of Erc, the then King of Dalriada, named respectively Loarn, Fergus, and Angus, settled a colony on the promontory of Cantyre, which was effected by peaceful means. These three chiefs then each took possession of a separate territory. Fergus took Cantyre, Loarn took what is now known as the district of Lorne, and Angus is said to have taken possession of Isla. When Campbeltown was the seat of the Dalriadan monarchy it bore the name of Dalruadhain. In the sixth century St. Ciarnan landed here, and lived in a cave known as Cove-a-Chiarnan. He became the patron saint of all Cantyre or Kintyre, and having founded a church at Dalruadhain, the place became known as Chille-a-Chiarnan, which has been modernised to Kilkerran. After this the Macdonalds of the Isles took Kilkerran for a capital, built a castle, and rebuilt the town, calling it Kinlochkerran, which means the head of Ciarnan’s Loch. It is said that King James IV. built the castle, and called it his “new castle of Kilkerane in Kintyre.” He seemed to have resided here in 1498. King James V. had many conflicts with the Macdonalds, and as he was unable to subdue them, he granted the place to the Campbells of Argyle, and they, after many fierce struggles, almost depopulated it. On account of this grant the place once more changed its name, and has since been known as Campbeltown.

The town was erected into a Royal Burgh in 1700, and the charter states that this was done at the desire of Archibald, the tenth Earl of Argyll, who was made Duke of Argyll in the following year. Previous to this it had been a Burgh of Barony, and the charter quotes a charter of King James VI., which ordained that “for the better entertaining and continuing of civility and policy within the Hielandes and lies,” . . . “that there be erected and builded within the bounds thereof, three burghes and burrowetowns, in the maist conuenient and commodious partes meet for the samen; to wit, ane in Kintyre, another in Lochaber, and the third in the Lewis.”

The Seal of the Burgh of Campbeltown is as follows: A shield divided into four. In the first quarter a castle; the second quarter gyronny of eight; the third quarter a lymphad, with sail furled and oars in action; and in the fourth quarter a fret. Beneath is the motto, “Ignavis precibus fortuna repugnat,” meaning “Fate is deaf to idle prayers.”

The castle represents the old castle of Campbeltown, the site of which is now occupied by the parish church, which was built in 1780.

The gyronny of eight is the armorial bearings of the Clan Campbell. Nisbet speaks of the gyronny as follows: “The giron is a French word which signifies the lap—one sitting with knees apart if line drawn from one knee to the other the space within makes a giron with the point in gremio. So all girons are of a triangular or conal form, broad at one end and sharp at the other. The first is at the sides of the shield, and the other ends at the naval, or centre point of the shield. They are said to represent triangular pieces of stuff, commonly called gussets, placed in garments and women’s smokes, to make them wide below and narrow above.  . . . This armorial figure is frequent in armorial bearings in Europe, and . . . has its rise in armouries from the robes, gowns, and coats of armour used by the ancients.”

The lymphad, an old-fashioned ship with one mast and oars, is the armorial bearings of the ancient House of Lorne, because in ancient times the Island chiefs held their lands under the tenure of providing one or more ships for the use of the sovereign.

The fret sable is the armorial bearings of Baron Tollemache. At the time of the erection of the Burgh, Lady Elizabeth Tollemache was the wife of the then Earl of Argyll, and the device was adopted by the Burgh in compliment to her. The fret is a figure composed of a narrow saltire or cross and a mascle, which are interlaced. Nisbet says that the mascle “is a lozenge voided of the field—i.e., with the centre cut out. Heralds make it represent different things—the eye or ring to fasten a coat of mail. Others the mesh of a net; others mirrors.” And regarding the fret, he says: “Mr Thomas Crawford, in the fragments of his ‘Manuscript of Heraldry,’ . . . says the fret is . . . a badge of fastness and fidelity, like a knot or tie of ribbons . . . is called by some English heralds the herald’s love-knot, because it is devised by them as an armorial bearing.” In Seton’s “Heraldry” it is said that the origin of the lozenge has been variously accounted for, and Sylvanus Morgan says that while the form of the shield was taken from Adam’s spade, that of the lozenge was derived from Eve’s spindle.

Seal of the Royal Burgh of Inveraray, Argyll.

THE earliest notice of Inverary is in a charter dated 8th May 1472 granted to Colin, first Earl of Argyll, erecting Inverary, or “Inoureyra” as it is there spelt, into a Burgh of Barony. It takes its name from being situated “on the Aray,” and Queen Mary in 1554 “for policie to be hade within this realme, and increasing of vertue within the samyn, created the burgh of the Innerrara a free royal burgh forever—appointed Archibald, Earl of Ergile, customer of the burgh for life, and gave power to the Provost, Baillies, Councillors, community and inhabitants to build a pretorium for the administration of justice.” This “pretorium” was used till about 1754, and was the first of the kind in Argyleshire. Then another court house and prison were built, which is now used by the Chamberlain of Argyll as an office. The town obtained another charter from King Charles I. in 1648.

The Seal bears in the centre a shield, with horizontal wavy lines representing the sea, and with five herrings swimming into a net which is shown suspended at one side. Above the shield is the name Inverary, and surrounding the lower part, the motto “Semper tibi pendeat halec” which may be freely translated “May the fish sauce always be ready for you.”

As the principal industry of the Burgh is the herring fishing in Lochfyne, the design speaks for itself, and is intended to represent a net set in the loch with herrings entering it.

The motto, however, requires a word of explanation, as it seems to refer to the fishing industry being the most important of all industries, and the Lochfyne herrings being the finest of all fish. The Latin word halec or alec is translated in dictionaries as “the sediment of a costly fish sauce called garum; and the meaning of garum is given as “a thick sauce-fish sauce.” This garum was much used by the Romans in almost all their dishes, and seems to have been very expensive. It is said that the most esteemed was that which came from Antipolis and Dalmatia, but Horace praises that made at Byzance, and says that it was considered the best as well as the most expensive. Pliny says that garum is a liquid of a very exquisite nature made from the intestines of fish, and several parts which would otherwise be discarded. These are macerated in salt, and, he says, garum is, in fact, the result of their putrefaction. He also remarks that it was originally prepared from a fish called “garos” by the Greeks. He then proceeds to speak of “alec” which, he says, is the refuse of garum, or its dregs when imperfectly strained. He also tells us that in course of time this alec became a great object of luxury, and that an infinite number of different kinds of it were made, and he adds that garum also became much improved, and was made to resemble the colour of old honied wine, and that it was so pleasantly flavoured as to admit of being drunk as a beverage. Possibly the Romans knew the delicacy of the Lochfyne herrings, and from their indulgence in them, or the alec made from them, the motto may have originated.

From time immemorial this part of Lochfyne has been celebrated for its herrings, and the “Old Statistical Account” says that the harbour of Inverary was anciently called Slochk Ichopper, meaning a Gullet where vessels bought or bartered for fish, and it goes on to say that “anciently the French merchants used to come and barter their wines for herrings, as there is a point of land, about 3 miles south of Inverary, still called the Frenchman’s point; and the tradition of the country is that it was to that particular spot the herrings were in use to be brought, in order to be cured and sold.”

Seal of the Burgh of Lochgilphead, Argyll.

LOCHGILPHEAD came under the provisions of the various previous Police Acts in 1858, and under the Burgh Police Act of 1892 adopted as the Common Seal a design illustrative of the fishing industries of the place. The Seal is—On a shield an anchor with a cable, and across the anchor and in front is a herring. The whole is encircled by a cable. Beneath, as the motto, is the Gaelic word “Dochas” meaning “Hope.”

Loch Gilp, at the “head” of which the town is situated, is said to take its name from the Gaelic Gilb meaning a chisel, from the shape of the loch bearing a fancied resemblance to that tool.

Seal of the Burgh of Oban, Argyll.

THE “Old Statistical Account” tells us that about 1714 the first house of any consequence was erected in Oban by a trading company of Renfrew, which used it as a storeroom. In 1736 a custom-house was erected “Oban being reckoned a proper place for clearing out vessels for the herring fishery.” About 1774 “there were from 20 to 30 vessels registered at Oban which were chiefly employed in the fisheries; but from the decrease of that trade on the N.-W. coast the number of vessels is now much smaller.” In 1811 it was erected into a Burgh of Barony in favour of the Duke of Argyll. But the Court of Session afterwards set this charter aside, and another charter was granted in 1820 in favour of the Duke of Argyll and Mr Campbell of Combie. The town was made a Parliamentary Burgh in 1833.

The Seal of the Burgh is a shield in the base of which is a representation of the galley of Lorn with oars in action, and beneath, in the sea, a fish swimming. In the left hand chief is a lion rampant, the Scottish Arms; and in the right hand chief the Campbell Gyronny. The motto beneath “Air aghart” is in old Celtic characters, and is the Gaelic for “Forward.” The fish refers to the nature of the industry long carried on by the inhabitants of the town before it became famous as a watering-place.

Seal of the Burgh of Dunoon, Argyll.

DUNOON adopted the Lindsay Act of 1862 in that year, and, under the provisions of the Burgh Police Act of 1892, took the following device as the Common Seal of the Burgh.

The lower division of the shield on the Seal bears a representation of the ancient Castle of Dunoon, beneath the shadow of which the town of Old Dunoon arose. The old castle, which crowned a rocky headland between the east and west bays, takes one back into the dark mists of antiquity. Some antiquarians think it was founded by remote Dalriadic chieftains in the early years of the sixth century, and, later on, to have been a stronghold of Scandinavian rovers. Some allege that it was at one time a nunnery, and that the name of the town comes from the Gaelic Dun-no-oigh, meaning “the house of the virgins.” But the origin of the name is uncertain, though Buchanan derives it from the Gaelic dun, a castle, and nuadh, new, and calls it Novio-dunum.

From the reign of Malcolm Canmore the castle was the seat of the Lord High Stewards of Scotland, and when King Robert II., son of Walter Stewart, and grandson of King Robert Bruce, came to the throne, it became a Royal palace, and was placed under the hereditary keepership of the Campbells of Lochow, the ancestors of the Dukes of Argyll. As they lived in it, their vassals and attendants had houses built in the neighbourhood for them to reside in, which houses were the origin of the town, and the ferry between this place and Greenock gave an additional importance to it. Part of the feudal tenure by which one of the proprietors in the vicinity holds his lands is that of maintaining this ferry across the Clyde.

The castle seemed to have covered an acre of ground, and to have had three towers. By Royal charter of 1472, Colin, Earl of Argyll, Lorne, and Campbell, obtained certain lands round the Castle of Dunoon. These lands he held of the crown for a white rose, shown at the bottom of the Seal. In 1544 the castle was besieged and taken by the Earl of Lennox, who had desired to be Regent during the infancy of Mary Queen of Scots, and on 26th July 1563 Queen Mary herself visited it. In 1646 it was the scene of a cruel atrocity perpetrated by the Campbells on the Lamonts of Cowal and Bute. Thirty-six of these were conveyed from the houses of Escog and Castle-Toward to the village of Dunoon and hanged on an ash tree at the kirkyard. “Insomuch that the Lord from heaven did declare His wrath and displeasure by striking the said tree immediately thereafter, so that the whole leaves fell from it, and the tree withered, which, being cut down, there sprang out of the very heart of the root thereof a spring like unto blood purpling up, and that for several years till the said murderers or their favourers did cause howk out the root.” After this the castle was utterly neglected and fell to ruin. Its stones were taken to build neighbouring cottages, and now its outline can hardly be traced, but it is believed there are a vast number of vaults underground.

The upper division of the shield bears a steamboat, indicating that the town received a new lease of life by the introduction of steamers on the Clyde. The shield is surrounded by Scotch thistles, and the recently added motto, “Forward,” shows that continuous prosperity is looked for.

Seal of the Burgh of Tobermory, Mull, Argyll.

TOBERMORY, in the island of Mull, was founded in 1788 by “The British Society for extending the Fisheries and improving the Sea coasts of the Kingdom.” In 1875 it adopted the Lindsay Act, and under the Burgh Police Act of 1892 designed a Common Seal as follows:—

On a background of thistles a shield divided into four. The first quarter bears a representation of the Virgin and Child, the Virgin being the patron saint of the Burgh, hence the origin of the name from the Gaelic Tobar Moire, the Well of the Virgin Mary. This was originally a fountain which, in the days of popery, was dedicated to the Virgin. In the second quarter is a dolphin spouting water; in the third, an ancient galley with flags on the mast and at the stern; and in the fourth, a fish, probably a herring. These three latter devices are emblematic of the scheme for the foundation of the town, and its subsequent development as a fishing centre.

Regarding the dolphin, we are told by Nisbet: “The dolphin is taken for the King of Fishes . . . for his strength and swiftness in the pursuit of other fishes his prey, and is said to be an admirer of men, so as to be humane, and a lover of music, for which he is often used in arms and devices. Ulysses is said by Aldrovandus to have carried the dolphin on his shield. . . . Hopingius says, that Ulysses carried the dolphin on his shield and signet-ring, upon the account of that creature’s humanity for saving his son Telemachus when he fell into the sea.”

The motto “Ceartas” is a Gaelic word, meaning justice or equity.

— Porteous, Alexander, The Town Council Seals of Scotland; Historical, Legendary and Heraldic, Edinburgh: W. & A. K. Johnson, 1906.

Kintyre Prophecy

When the mole shall reach the Mull: when the thorn tree near Inveraray shall be destroyed; when a road shall be made throughout the country; when bells shall ring from a rock in Loch Fyne; when Strone Point, near Inveraray, shall be covered with wood, high enough to conceal an invading army: and when the Atlantic shall flow into Loch Fyne, then shall the Argyll Campbells be driven from Cantire, excepting so many of them as shall escape on a crooked and lame white horse.

Prophecy of Niven MacVicar, first Reformed minister of Inveraray and reputed seer, regarding the extermination of the Campbell power from Kintyre, as quoted in Bede Cuthbert, Argyll’s Highlands, Glasgow, 1902.

A Contentious and Offensive Neighbour

Inveraray, 4th November, 1747.—The Magistrats considering that Mary Semple, spouse to William Smith, soldier, did lately, when called before them to answer for immoral practices, shew the utmost contempt of their authority by giving very abusive language and resisting their officers and having also learnt from several of the inhabitants of this place that the said Mary Semple is a contentious and offensive neighbour, and harbours bad company in her house, and is in several respects an unworthy member of society, they do therefor appoint her to be banished out of this burgh and limits thereof not to return under the pain of imprisonment and such other punishments as the Magistrats shall think fit, and they appoint the town officers to-morrow at twelve of the clock to put this sentence into execution.

Peter McIntyre, Odd incidents in olden times, or, Ancient records of Inveraray, Glasgow: Aird & Coghill, 1904.

Strangled by a Silken Cord

Monday, 25th October [1773].—My acquaintance, the Rev. Mr. John M’Aulay, one of the ministers of Inverary, and brother to our good friend at Calder, came to us this morning, and accompanied us to the castle, where I presented Dr. Johnson to the Duke of Argyle. We were shown through the house; and I never shall forget the impression made upon my fancy by some of the ladies’ maids tripping about in neat morning dresses. After seeing for a long time little but rusticity, their lively manner, and gay inviting appearance, pleased me so much, that I thought, for the moment, I could have been a knight-errant for them.

We then got into a low one-horse chair, ordered for us by the duke, in which we drove about the place. Dr. Johnson was much struck by the grandeur and elegance of this princely seat. He thought, however, the castle too low, and wished it had been a story higher. He said, “What I admire here, is the total defiance of expense.” I had a particular pride in showing him a great number of fine old trees, to compensate for the nakedness which had made such an impression on him on the eastern coast of Scotland.

When we came in, before dinner, we found the duke and some gentlemen in the hall. Dr. Johnson took much notice of the large collection of arms, which are excellently disposed there. I told what he had said to Sir Alexander M’Donald, of his ancestors not suffering their arms to rust. “Well,” said the doctor, “but let us be glad we live in times when arms may rust. We can sit to-day at his grace’s table, without any risk of being attacked, and perhaps sitting down again wounded or maimed.” The duke placed Dr. Johnson next himself at table. I was in fine spirits; and though sensible that I had the misfortune of not being in favour with the duchess, I was not in the least disconcerted, and offered her grace some of the dish that was before me. It must be owned that I was in the right to be quite unconcerned, if I could. I was the Duke of Argyle’s guest; and I had no reason to suppose that he adopted the prejudices and resentments of the Duchess of Hamilton.

I knew it was the rule of modern high life not to drink to any body; but, that I might have the satisfaction for once to look the duchess in the face, with a glass in my hand, I with a respectful air addressed her, “My Lady Duchess, I have the honour to drink your grace’s good health.” I repeated the words audibly, and with a steady countenance. This was, perhaps, rather too much; but some allowance must be made for human feelings.

The duchess was very attentive to Dr. Johnson.

I know not how a middle state came to be mentioned. Her grace wished to hear him on that point. “Madam,” said he, “your own relation, Mr. Archibald Campbell, can tell you better about it than I can. He was a bishop of the nonjuring communion, and wrote a book upon the subject’.” He engaged to get it for her grace. He afterwards gave a full history of Mr. Archibald Campbell, which I am sorry I do not recollect particularly. He said, Mr. Campbell had been bred a violent whig, but afterwards “kept better company, and became a tory.” He said this with a smile, in pleasant allusion, as I thought, to the opposition between his own political principles and those of the duke’s clan. He added that Mr. Campbell, after the revolution, was thrown into gaol on account of his tenets; but, on application by letter to the old Lord Townshend, was released: that he always spoke of his lordship with great gratitude, saying, “though a whig, he had humanity.”

Dr. Johnson and I passed some time together, in June, 1784, at Pembroke college, Oxford, with the Rev. Dr. Adams, the master; and I having expressed a regret that my note relative to Mr. Archibald Campbell was imperfect, he was then so good as to write with his own hand, on the blank page of my journal, opposite to that which contains what I have now mentioned, the following paragraph; which, however, is not quite so full as the narrative he gave at Inverary:

“The Honourable Archibald Campbell was, I believe, the nephew of the Marquis of Argyle. He began life by engaging in Monmouth’s rebellion, and, to escape the law, lived some time in Surinam. When he returned, he became zealous for episcopacy and monarchy; and at the revolution adhered not only to the nonjurors, but to those who refused to communicate with the church of England, or to be present at any worship where the usurper was mentioned as king. He was, I believe, more than once apprehended in the reign of King William, and once at the accession of George. He was the familiar friend of Hicks and Nelson; a man of letters, but injudicious; and very curious and inquisitive, but credulous. He lived in 1743, or 44, about seventy-five years old.”

The subject of luxury having been introduced, Dr. Johnson defended it. “We have now,” said he, “a splendid dinner before us; which of all these dishes is unwholesome?” The duke asserted, that he had observed the grandees of Spain diminished in their size by luxury. Dr. Johnson politely refrained from opposing directly an observation which the duke himself had made; but said, “Man must be very different from other animals, if he is diminished by good living; for the size of all other animals is increased by it.” I made some remark that seemed to imply a belief in second-sight. The duchess said, “I fancy you will be a methodist.” This was the only sentence her grace deigned to utter to me; and I take it for granted, she thought it a good hit on my credulity in the Douglas cause.

A gentleman in company, after dinner, was desired by the duke to go to another room, for a specimen of curious marble, which his grace wished to show us. He brought a wrong piece, upon which the duke sent him back again. He could not refuse; but, to avoid any appearance of servility, he whistled as he walked out of the room, to show his independency. On my mentioning this afterwards to Dr. Johnson, he said, it was a nice trait of character.

Dr. Johnson talked a great deal, and was so entertaining, that Lady Betty Hamilton, after dinner, went and placed her chair close to his, leaned upon the back of it, and listened eagerly. It would have made a fine picture to have drawn the sage and her at this time in their several attitudes. He did not know, all the while, how much he was honoured. I told him afterwards, I never saw him so gentle and complaisant as this day.

We went to tea. The duke and I walked up and down the drawing-room, conversing. The duchess still continued to show the same marked coldness for me; for which, though I suffered from it, I made every allowance, considering the very warm part that I had taken for Douglas, in the cause in which she thought her son deeply interested. Had not her grace discovered some displeasure towards me, I should have suspected her of insensibility or dissimulation.

Her grace made Dr. Johnson come and sit by her, and asked him why he made his journey so late in the year. “Why, madam,” said he, “you know Mr. Boswell must attend the court of session, and it does not rise till the twelfth of August.” She said, with some sharpness, “I know nothing of Mr. Boswell.” Poor Lady Lucy Douglas to whom I mentioned this, observed, “She knew too much of Mr. Boswell.” I shall make no remark on her grace’s speech. I indeed felt it as rather too severe; but when I recollected that my punishment was inflicted by so dignified a beauty, I had that kind of consolation which a man would feel who is strangled by a silken cord. Dr. Johnson was all attention to her grace. He used afterwards a droll expression, upon her enjoying the three titles of Hamilton, Brandon, and Argyle. Borrowing an image from the Turkish empire, he called her a duchess with three tails.

He was much pleased with our visit at the castle of Inverary. The Duke of Argyle was exceedingly polite to him, and, upon his complaining of the shelties which he had hitherto ridden being too small for him, his grace told him he should be provided with a good horse to carry him next day.

— James Boswell, The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson.

Isle of Dreams

I recall one whom I knew, a fisherman of the little green island: and I tell this story of Coll here, for it is to me more than the story of a dreaming islander. One night, lying upon the hillock that is called Cnoc-nan-Aingeal, because it is here that St. Colum was wont to hold converse with an angel out of heaven, he watched the moonlight move like a slow fin through the sea: and in his heart were desires as infinite as the waves of the sea, the moving homes of the dead.

Arid while he lay and dreamed, his thoughts idly adrift as a net in deep waters, he closed his eyes, muttering the Gaelic words of an
old line.

In the Isle of Dreams God shall yet fulfil Himself anew.

Hearing a footfall, he stirred. A man stood beside him. He did not know the man, who was young, and had eyes dark as hill-tarns, with hair light and soft as thistledown; and moved light as a shadow, delicately treading  the grass as the wind treads it. In his hair he had twined the fantastic leaf of the horn-poppy.

The islander did not move or speak: it was as though a spell were upon him.

“God be with you,” he said at last, uttering the common salutation.

“And with you. Coll mac Coll,” answered the stranger. Coll looked at him. Who was this man, with the sea-poppy in his hair, who, unknown, knew him by name? He had heard of one whom he did not wish to meet, the Green Harper: also of a grey man of the sea whom islesmen seldom alluded to by name: again, there was the Amadan Dhu . . . but at that name Coll made the sign of the cross, and remembering what Father Allan had told him in South Uist, muttered a holy exorcism of the Trinity.

The man smiled.

“You need have no fear, Coll mac Coll,” he said quietly.

“You that know my name so well are welcome, but if you in turn would tell me your name I should be glad.”

“I have no name that I can tell you,” answered the stranger gravely; “but I am not of those who are unfriendly. And because you can see me and speak to me, I will help you to whatsoever you may wish.”

Coll laughed.

“Neither you nor any man can do that. For now that I have neither father nor mother, nor brother nor sister, and my lass too is dead, I wish neither for sheep nor cattle, nor for new nets and a fine boat, nor a big house, nor as much money as MacCailein Mòr has in the bank at Inveraora.”

“What then do you wish for, Coll mac Coll?”

“I do not wish for what cannot be, or I would wish to see again the dear face of Morag, my lass. But I wish for all the glory and wonder and power there is in the world, and to have it all at my feet, and to know everything that the Holy Father himself knows, and have kings coming to me as the
crofters come to MacCailein Mòr’s factor.”

“You can have that, Coll mac Coll,” said the Green Harper, and he waved a withe of hazel he had in his hand.

“What is that for?” said Coll.

“It is to open a door that is in the air. And now, Coll, if that is your wish of all wishes, and you will give up all other wishes for that wish, you can have the sovereignty of the world. Ay, and more than that: you shall have the sun like a golden jewel in the hollow of your right hand, and all the stars as pearls in your left, and have the moon as a white shining opal above your brows, with all knowledge behind the sun, within the moon,
and beyond the stars.”

Coll’s face shone. He stood, waiting. Just then he heard a familiar sound in the dusk. The tears came into his eyes.

“Give me instead,” he cried, “give me a warm breast-feather from that grey dove of the woods that is winging home to her young.” He looked as one moon-dazed. None stood beside him. He was alone. Was it a dream, he wondered? But a weight was lifted from his heart. Peace fell upon him as dew upon grey pastures. Slowly he walked homeward. Once, glancing back, he saw a white figure upon the knoll, with a face noble and beautiful. Was it Colum himself come again? he mused: or that white angel with whom the Saint was wont to discourse, and who brought him intimacies of God? or was it but the wave-fire of his dreaming mind, as lonely and cold and unreal as that which the wind of the south makes upon the wandering hearths of the sea?

— Fiona MacLeod (William Sharp), The Works of “Fiona MacLeod” (Uniform Edition), Volume IV, arranged by Mrs. William Sharp, London, William Heinemann, 1912.

The Lad with the Curly Black Hair

LITTLE MARY OF LOCHOW.

It is a tale of true love that I am going to tell this time. You know what that means. A man and a maid, with trystings in the gloaming, and a breaking heart at every good-bye. If that was the whole of it, the tale would have an easy telling. But in this adventure of hearts there were three and not two who tried to strike the holy bargain—and when a third creeps in there is sure to be hatred and curses and a clenching of fists, with weeping for the maid before the end. It is hard for the Highland heart to love lightly, and when the other fellow comes between, the fire of hate leaps up in a moment, and the blows are struck before ever the one knows what he is doing or the other knows what he has done. Which shows, I am thinking, that a comely maid is held in great esteem among the hills and by the side of the sea lochs. For the measure of our love for a lass is the selfsame as our hate for the man who tries to steal her love from us.

It was in the Campbell country that it all happened, a good handful of days before the red-haired Lord of Argyle with his jury of Campbells sent James of the Glen to the hanging for the murder of Glenure. That would be a diverting theme to argue over, and it will come to the tip of my pen before long to tell you who killed the Red Fox—but not now. Oh no! this is a love tale. Like all our love tiles, it may be splashed here and there with blood and dool; for though Argyle had by this time taken philabeg and dirk from us, it will not be a thing to wonder at, I am sure, when I tell you that in Argyle’s own countryside there never was any scarcity of steel or tartan all through the time of proscribing. What was sin in Appin and Lochiel was aye God’s own truth in Inneraora. But to my tale.

The three of them were Campbells, which made the matter woree and worse. Little Mary Campbell of Lochow, Nial Campbell of Barbreck, and Colin Campbell of Innismore each of whom was own cousin by, I cannot mind how many removes, to Argyle himself. That is small matter of import, however, for when it comes to cousinship among the clans you may marry us and move us and mix us as you please, yet are we cousins still with no confusion of sentiment or forgetting of our proper lineage.

Little Mary was the sweetest of all the gentlewomen who were staying at the castle of Argyle. She had a head of hair that made envy loup in the heart of all the women—so thick and glossy and long was it, that the waitingmaids used to say it swept the floor of her retiring room like a shower of russet leaves in Autumn when she let it down. It was the real red hair of the Campbells—and when it was coiled on the top of her head it made an aureole of golden glory round the winsomest face that at that time was to be seen at the Court of Inneraora. Her cheeks minded one of a blush rose. Her neck was as white as the swan’s. Her eyes had in them the depths of the blue sea with its lights and shadows and all its mystery. And when she smiled, a pretty pair of dimples appeared from Heaven only knows where, and gave the bonny blushing face that witching power which made men quarrel to the death for very passion in their love of her. She was little and quick witted and mischievous. When she took the floor to tread a minuet she danced with the nimbleness and grace of a fairy queen. And when she laughed—it minded one most irresistibly of the ripple of waves along the sand on a fair sunlit day of Spring. This was Little Mary of Lochow.

Continue reading “The Lad with the Curly Black Hair”

Mouth of the Aray

[The castle and bridge, Inveraray, Scotland] print no. 13128, from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J foreign section. Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Photographic Company, 1905.
[The castle and bridge, Inveraray, Scotland] print no. 13128, from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J foreign section. Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Photographic Company, 1905.
[Inveraray from S. (i.e., South), Scotland] print no. 13126, from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J foreign section. Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Photographic Company, 1905.
[Inveraray from S. (i.e., South), Scotland] print no. 13126, from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J foreign section. Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Photographic Company, 1905.
[General view, Inveraray, Scotland] print no. 13125, from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J foreign section. Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Photographic Company, 1905.
[General view, Inveraray, Scotland] print no. 13125, from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J foreign section. Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Photographic Company, 1905.

Argyll Pipe Banner

Torquhil Ian Campbell, 13th and 6th Duke of Argyll and Chief of Clan Campbell, together with the Duchess of Argyll, presents a new pipe banner to Senior Pipe-Major Martin MacDonald, on behalf of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Torquhil Ian Campbell, 13th and 6th Duke of Argyll and Chief of Clan Campbell, together with the Duchess of Argyll, presents a new pipe banner to Senior Pipe-Major Martin MacDonald, on behalf of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The Duke and Duchess of Argyll presented a pipe banner to the Royal Regiment of Scotland during the Inveraray Highland Games at Inveraray Castle. The Senior Pipe-Major for the British Army, Martin MacDonald, received the banner on behalf of the Regiment.

The pipe banner is embroidered with the badge of the Royal Regiment of Scotland on one side and the Duke of Argyll’s coat of arms on the other, symbolising his support for Scottish soldiers and in particular for Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) who have a historic link to Argyll.

Soldiers from Balaklava Company marched through Inveraray to the Games and were joined at the event by soldiers from The Highlanders, 4th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland and 51st Highland, 7th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (one of two Army Reserve Battalions in the Regiment) some of whom took part in the athletic events.

His Grace The Duke of Argyll said:

As a Campbell and an Argyll, it is a great privilege for my wife and I to be able to present this pipe banner to Balaklava Company, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and of course to carry on what is a very long association with the Regiment.

Captain Chris Hesketh, who was leading the Balaklava Company contingent at the Games, said: “As Scottish infantry soldiers we draw strength from the community around us and we will be proud to parade this symbol of support from The Duke and Duchess of Argyll. Balaklava Company is very proud of our heritage and we have relished the support we have enjoyed here at Inveraray, marching through the town and taking part in today’s Highland Games.”

(British Army press release.)

Colla Ciotach and Dunstaffnage

The site of Dunaverty Castle, Southend, Kintyre.
The site of Dunaverty Castle, Southend, Kintyre.

After the defeat and murder of Sir Alexander MacDonald’s (Colla Ciotach’s son) followers at Dunaverty (Dunàbhartaidh) in Kintyre, General Leslie and the Earl of Argyll crossed over to Islay (Ile) and besieged Dun-naomhaig, held by Colla Ciotach. After a short resistance, Colla consented to surrender on certain conditions, to which Leslie agreed. While the terms of surrender were being drawn out, Colla thinking that all was settled, went out of the fort to speak to MacAonghais an Duin (MacAngus of the Fort, the patronymic of the Dunstaffnage  (Dun-staidh-innis) family), a gentleman for whom he had a great regard. No sooner was Colla out of the fort than he was made prisoner, taken to Dunstaffnage, and placed in irons, but received every kindness and leniency that Dunstaffnage could afford him, and was allowed to roam about as he pleased. Dunstaffnage having occasion to go to Inverary (Ionaraora), was asked by the Earl of Argyll if he had Colla in irons. MacAonghais answered that he had. The Earl swore that if he found out that he allowed Colla to be at large he would make him suffer for it. A man on horseback, with orders to change horses at every stage, was at once despatched to Dunstaffnage to see if it was true what he was hearing. Dunstaffnage gave a sign to his foster brother (Comhalta) MacKillop, who was along with him, and who set off at once, taking all the by-paths between Inverary and Dunstaffnage, and outran the rider. When they both took the road by Port Sonachan (Port Shonachain), the footman arrived first at the ferry; consequently the Earl’s horseman had to wait till the boat came back. When the Earl’s messenger was at Connel (A’ Chonaill), the man on foot was on the hill above the road south of Tigh-na-h-uallaraich, and seeing the reapers in a field over opposite, and Colla binding sheaves after them, he cried, “Colla fo gheimhlibh!  Colla fo gheimhlibh!” (Colla in fetters). Colla himself was the first to hear the cry; he understood how things were, ran into his prison, and placed himself in irons.

Shortly after this he was sentenced to be hanged. He was hanged from the mast of his own galley, which was placed across a cleft of the rock on a hill called Tom a’ chrochaidh (hill of hanging). He met his fate without fear or dismay, entreating that they would bury him so near to the place where MacAonghais would be buried that they might take a snuff from each other in the grave. When his request was told to Dunstaffnage, the latter ordered him to be buried under the second step at the door of the burying-place, and when they would be burying him, that they would step over Colla’s grave. Colla Ciotach was carried prisoner to Dunstaffnage after the fall of Dun-naomhaig in 1647.

— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).

 

 

Inveraray Castle c. 1829

Drawing of Inveraray Castle by John Preston Neale,  p. 216 of Modern Athens, displayed in a series of views; or, Edinburgh in the nineteenth century; exhibiting the whole of the new buildings, modern improvements, antiquities, & picturesque scenery of the Scottish metropolis & its environs, by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (original drawings) with John Britton (text), London, 1829.
Drawing of Inveraray Castle by John Preston Neale, p. 216 of Modern Athens, displayed in a series of views; or, Edinburgh in the nineteenth century; exhibiting the whole of the new buildings, modern improvements, antiquities, & picturesque scenery of the Scottish metropolis & its environs, by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (original drawings) with John Britton (text), London, 1829.

Caisteal Ionaraora

A nearby marker reads: "The white stone pillars in the immediate foreground are on the site of the old Inveraray Castle. It was built early 15th. century by Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll. By the mid 18th. century had fallen into a state of disrepair and was replaced by the present castle."
A nearby marker reads: “The white stone pillars in the immediate foreground are on the site of the old Inveraray Castle. It was built early 15th. century by Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll. By the mid 18th. century had fallen into a state of disrepair and was replaced by the present castle.”

Old Inverary1 Castle (Caisteal Ionaraora)

The grey turrets of this old castle witnessed the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots when she came riding from Dunoon (Dun-odhain) with her retinue on a visit to her half-sister the Countess of Argyll — that Countess who was seated in the Queen’s closet at Holyrood at supper when the arras was drawn aside in the adjoining bedroom, and Ruthven’s ghastly form, clothed in full armour, gloomily surveyed the party, when all rose, and the Italian troubadour, David Rizzio, knowing his hour had come, clung shrieking to the Queen’s skirts, to be but rudely torn away and despatched with dagger-thrusts before her eyes.

There at the head of the table in the old hall, sat MacLean’s wife, Argyll’s sister, whom MacLean supposed drowned. The story of how the lady was saved from the rising tide on the island not far from Duart is well known, and how she fled to Inverary; how MacLean was induced to believe she had perished, and his letter to Argyll saying he would bring her body to Inverary, and bewailing her untimely fate,– are all sufficiently well known. But it may not be as well remembered that Argyll caused a room to be prepared for the body to rest in overnight; and how, when the dinner-hour came round, Argyll in bitter scorn introduced MacLean to his wife seated at the head of the table; and how through the entreaty of the injured wife, he was allowed to go free. It is on record that MacLean was fully armed, and that Argyll’s people who met MacLean at the top of Glen Ara (Gleann-aora), were not so armed.

In the old castle lived the Marquess of Argyll during the stirring times of Montrose’s wars. From here he wrote many a curious letter; and here he received correspondence from all parts of Europe, gave audience to those whom it suited him to receive, or abruptly ended an inconvenient discussion by leaving the room and closing the door — as will be related elsewhere.

There, too, lived Archibald, ninth Earl, who loved his fellow-countrymen, and declared that if heaven were half as beautiful as the glen or valley of Eas-a-chosain, he would be satisfied — who ended his career on the scaffold at Edinburgh, murdered by the legal tribunal of the day.

Here dwelt John, second Duke of Argyll and Greenwich; and here sojourned Earl Crauford of the 42d, who learnt to love the ways of the people among whom he lived, and became famous for his rendering of the national sword-dance — the ancient dance, not to be confounded with the modern sword dance.

There the Earl of Ilay (Ile), later Archibald, third Duke, planned the new castle a pistol-shot from this fine old place, and, alas! ordered the old one to be destroyed, as being no longer habitable.

Here Athole lived and raised the rents during the days of the attainder of the Argyll estates, and the Athole Highlanders made free with whatever they could lay hands on, as is elsewhere described in the depredations committed on the Campbell Clan by the Atholl men.

– Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).

1 Now spelt “Inveraray”.

Fostering: Argyll and Glenorchy

Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll with his second wife Anna; unknown artist; National Portrait Gallery, London.
Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll with his second wife Anna; unknown artist; National Portrait Gallery, London.

The following correspondence, reproduced in Cosmo Nelson Innes’ Preface to The Black Book of Taymouth: with Other Papers from the Breadalbane Charter Room, Edinburgh, 1850, intimately details the fostering of Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll, son of Archibald Campbell, 8th Earl — and 1st (and only) Marquess — of Argyll, by Sir Colin Campbell, 8th Laird of Glenorchy and his wife, Juliana Campbell, daughter of Hugh Campbell, 1st Lord Campbell of Loudoun.

* * *

From Sir COLIN CAMPBELL of Glenurchy to ARCHIBALD LORD LORNE.

MY NOBLE LORD AND CHEIFF,

I receauit your lordships letter from Archibald Campbell schawing me that syndrie of your lordships freindis wer most desyrous to have your lordships eldest sone in fostering, yet for diuerss respectis your lordship wes better pleasit to have him brought vp with me, quich I acknowledge is a great testimonie both of your lordships trust and love, and I hop in God evir so to approve myself to be most willing and desyrous to deserue both. And in regard that your lordship and it may be your lordships lady have occasioun to be ane great part of this sommer in the Lawlandis, gif it may stand with your lordships pleasour, I desyre that your lordships sone may come heir to me about the 17 or 18 of Maii nixt, quhair, God willing, he sall have all the cairfull attendance that may ly in my powar to give him. And in regaird that I am not weill able to travell myself so far a iourney, I intend to send my wyfe and some vther of my friendis to be his convoy, quhairwith I thought guid to acquaint your lordship, hoping that agane that tyme your lordship will provyde some discrit woman and ane sufficient man quha hes bothe Irisch and Englisch and will have a care not onlie to attend him, but sometymes lykewayes to learne him and quhat else may concern him quhill he is in my company. God willing, my wyfe and I sail have a speciall care thairof. As for the rest of the particularis contenit in your lordships letter, I sail ansuer thame at my wyfes coming to your lordship or vtherwayes at my meiting with your lordship the aucht of Junii as your lordship hes desyrit at Stirling, to quhich time with the remembrans of my humell seruice to your lordships nobill lady, and evir I remane

Your lordships assurit frend and kinsman to my powar to serue,

[COLIN CAMPBELL of Glenurquhay. 1633.]

LORD LORNE to GLENURCHY.
For my loving cousing the Lard of Gleanorquhay.

LOVING CUSIN,

Man propons bot God dispons. I intended to heave gon presentlie to Inuerraray bot I had ane letter within thir two or three days from the Thesaurar Traquair desyring me to be in Edinburgh so soon as I could, quhiche hes altered my resolution that my familie cannot stur till it pleas God I returne. I will assoor you your foster longs very much to see you and doethe not dar to tell he had rather be thair nor her, and I assoor you he shall heave his choice, bot as you may see be this letter of his grandfathers the Erle of Morton that he intends to be in Scotland so shortlie, his mother desyrs if it pleas God to heaue hir childring togither till that tym, to draw her father her; and if wee hear any contrair advertisment of his dyet you shall immediatlie heaue him (as Archie calles it) home. So remembring my service to your lady I rest

Your loving cusin,

LORNE.

Rosneithe last May.

ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL of LORNE to GLENURCHY.
To my lowing foster-father and respected freind the Lard of Glenvrqhey, thes.

LOUING FREIND,

Louing foster-father, I thoght good to wryt thir few lyns to yow to shawe yow that I am in good health and am vearie sorie that ye wryt not for me and I long weri much to sie yow; and as ye wold wis me to be well and to come to yow, send to me in all the heast and diligence ye can, Duncan Archibald and tuey horse with him, on to Mr Johen and on for my cariage: and prays and requests yow to send them in all the heast ye can, and I wil looke for them that they may be heir a Fryday or at the fardest at Setterday at night: and take it not in anay vncounes that I send not back the ansuere of the letter that I got in Edinbruch. I could not stay because I was in heast; and bring my commendations to your shelf and to yowr wyf and houpes that I wil seie yow my shelf shortlie, if ye doe yowr deutie, not duting but ye wildoe the same, comiting yow to Gods protection for euer. So I rest

Yours at pouer,

ARCHIBALD LORD OF LORNE.

Wryten at Inderaray,
the thretie day of September.

From the LADY LORNE to GLENURCHY.
To my much respectit and gud freind the Laird of Glenurquhy.

LUFFEING FREIND,

I haife sent this bearar to knowe how yea and my sone are in healthe, and to shaw you thatt all freindis heare are weall. I heair my sone begines to wearye of the Irishe langwadge. I intreatt yow to cause holde hime to the speakeing of itt, for since he hes bestowed so long tyme and paines in the getting of itt, I sould be sory he lost it now with leasines in not speaking of itt; bott this I know yea wilbe more cairfull as in ewery thing that concernes hime, so that I will fully leaffe him to your awin caire; only prayeing the Lord to giffe ane blessing to all the meanes of his educatioune: And so I shall still remain

Your most assurett friend,

MARGARET DOUGLAS.

Rosnethe,
the 14 of December 1637.

GLENURCHY to LORNE.

MOST HONOREDE,

I have desyrit my brother Roberte to schau your lordship in quhat manere Maister Jhone Makleine misbehauis himself. I am sorie that I haue caus to do it, bot the respect I carie to my lorde and to your lordship and the loue I haue to your lordships sone makis to do so. Quhen your lordship plaissis your lordship may lede my lorde knau it, and I thinke it may be best remediete be provydinge in deu tyme on to supplie Maister Jhone his place, and your Lordship knauis it is requisit he be ane discreite man that is ane scollar and that can speike both Inglis and Erise, quharof I think thair may be hade in Argyll. Your lordship may do heirine as my lorde and your lordship thinks expediente. Your lordships sone is veill and in guide healthe, praysit be God. The Lord continou the same. So vissinge your lordship all prosperitie I remain

Your lordships assurite and affectionat friende to serue you,

GLENURQHAY.

Balloche the          [1638.]

ARGYLL to GLENURCHY.
For my loving Cusin the Laird of Glenwrquhy.

LOVING CUSIN,

Since it hath pleased God to call my father to his eternall rest, I doubt not bot you kno als weall as I can desyr you what is fitting for yourself to doe. Onli in this I desyr you to suffer your foster with you to wear murning. And so ever mak use of me as

Your most affectionat cusin to my power

ARGYLL.

Rosneithe,
4 September [1638.]

The COUNTESS OF ARGYLL to GLENURCHY.
To my loveing freind the Laird of Glenvrquhy.

LOVING FREIND,

Accordeing to this other lettre of my lordis, I will earnestlie desyire you to send heire my sonne, and to have him at your house in Glenvrquhy on Frayday at night the tuentie ane day of this instant preceislie, and I shall appoynt folkes to meitt him thair on Satterday in the morneing, for bringing him alonges heir. I hoipe ye wilbe cairfull to send sufficient company with him and to caus prowyd some secure place be the way, quhar he may be that night he comes frome you. So referring all to your cair, exspecteing assuredlie that ye will send him the tyme foirsaid,

I rest your loving freind,
MARGARET DOUGLAS.

Inverrarey,
14 Junii 1639.