Eodem anno  infra octavas Ascencionis beatae Virginis Mariae idem rex Ergadiensis devicit in medio Ergadiae et totam terram sibi subegit, ducem eorum nomine Alexandrum de Argadia fugientem ad castrum de Dunstafinch per aliquod tempus inibi obsedit, qui eidem regi Castrum reddidit et sibi homagium facere recusans, dato salvo conductu sibi et omnibus secum recedere volentibus in Angliam fugit et ibidem debitum naturae persolvit.
John of Fordun, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, cxxvi.
The king that stout wes stark and bauld
Till Dunstaffynch rycht sturdely
A sege set and besily
Assaylit the castell it to get,
And in schort tym he has thaim set
In swilk thrang that tharin war than
That magre tharis he it wan,
And ane gud wardane tharin set
And betaucht hym bath men and met
Sua that he lang tyme thar mycht be
Magre thaim all off that countre.
“Claw for claw,” as St Conan said to the devil. The expression “blow for blow” occurs in Waverley, and in a note the following explanation is given of it.
In the Irish ballads relating to Fingal, or Fion, there occurs, as in the primitive poetry of most nations, a cycle of heroes, each of whom has some distinguishing attributes. Upon these qualities and the adventures of those possessing them many proverbs are formed which are still current in the Highlands. Amongst other characteristics Conan is distinguished as in some respects a kind of Thersites, but brave and daring even to rashness. He had made a vow that he would never take a blow without returning it, and having like other heroes of antiquity descended into the infernal regions he received a cuff from the Arch-fiend who presided, which he instantly returned, using the expression in the text. Sometimes the proverb is rendered thus–‘Claw for claw, and the devil take the shortest nails.’
We should be very unwilling to believe that St Conan and Thersites–the evil-minded, “scurrilous Grecian”–had anything in common, and though in those rough early days even a churchman–with little law to look up to or to help him–might now and then have to take it into his own hands, he could not well be a brawler, and at the same time retain the reputation for piety which we know was attached to St Conan. The Conan of the ballad of Fion may have been a Thersites, and the saying may have originated in his time, and may have been appropriated and applied to their master by the monkish scribes. At anyrate, one of them gives the following explanation of it: It appears that at one period of the saint’s earlier life the Evil One had great power in Argyllshire. We find in everyday life that one man, when disputing with another, will now and then find it politic to bargain and perhaps give way a little, even when he knows himself to be in the right, rather than provoke a contest in which he is not sure he will altogether be the victor, and so the good monk found it necessary to temporise with the Devil. There were many very bad characters–so says the old chronicler–in those days in the district of Lorn, or what we call Lorn now, to whom St Conan could not altogether deny the Fiend a right; some of whom were hopelessly wicked, and the latter was about sweeping them all, middling, bad and very bad, into his net. St Conan gave up the last and offered to draw alternately for the others, stating his determination if this proposal was refused of fighting most desperately for them all. The Devil, knowing how very formidable an opponent the saint would prove, agreed. The very black ones were raked away, and then the champions took in turn the souls of the remainder. It was while they were thus engaged that the saint made use of the memorable expression, for his great enemy grew so terribly excited in the grim game that he could not keep his turn, and was continually stretching out his awful hands for his prey. “Keep your turn,” thundered the saint, “play fair, claw for claw.”
— The Highland Monthly, Vol. II, no. 18, September 1890.
MY DEAR LORD ARCHIBALD,– It was not in my power to get to the Museum till yesterday, when I carefully examined the lately discovered sword. That it is in its original condition there can be no doubt. As little doubt can there be that the style of the hilt a form of basket considerably earlier than that with which we are familiar on Highland broadswords is in perfect accordance with the date engraved on the blade; or that that date, with the Argyll and Lorne achievement, and the device and legend also engraved thereon, are contemporaneous with the fabrication of the weapon.
You may assure Lord Lorne that the shield is all right,– 1st and 4th, gyronny of eight; 2d and 3d, lymphad.
With regard to the device on the reverse of the blade,– taken in connection with the legend, which, though much effaced, may be read, “God’s strength and the nations,”– I am inclined to think it is meant to represent a hand holding, not a dagger, but a sword, erect– a “sword of the Lord and of Gideon” emblem! The armourer’s mark on the blade is not Eastern; and your first impression that the inscription was Arabic was no doubt due to the defective rendering obtained by a rubbing.
The extreme rarity of armorial bearings on Scottish, and especially on Highland weapons, fully warrants the inference that this sword was made for some personage of note; and I am not prepared to say that in assuming that it belonged to the Earl of Argyll of the period, you would overstrain the significance of the fact that it is engraved with the full heraldic achievement of his house.
From Dr Anderson I learnt that many years ago a number of old swords were presented to the Society of Antiquaries by the Town Council of Edinburgh, but that it is no longer possible to identify the weapons so presented. Could it be proved that this sword was one of these, an important link in its history would be supplied. The circumstances connected with the end of Archibald, the ninth earl, would rather lead to than discourage the impression that it might have been the sword of that ill-fated nobleman, taken possession of by the civil authorities here.
Yesterday I met Ian Islay in Princes Street, and told him of the sword, which he promised to go and see to-day. You may probably hear from him in regard to it. I send this memorandum to you, as you requested, so that you may make such use of it as you may deem advisable. In very great haste.– Faithfully yours,
MACFADYEN came from Ireland (Eirin) to Cantyre (Cinn-tìre), with a following of 1400 men, to assist King Edward in his efforts to conquer Scotland. From Cantyre he made his way to Lorne (Lathurna), where he was joined by a party of the MacDougalls. When the Knight of Lochow (Loch-odha) heard of his coming, he sent a messenger to inform Sir William Wallace of it, who was at the time in Perthshire (Siorramachd Pheairt). Sir William was not slow in marching to meet the enemy. The two hosts encountered each other in the Pass of Awe (Atha). MacFadyen and his men were defeated and routed. He, and as many of his officers as escaped with him, hid themselves in a cave in the face of a rock called Creag-an-aoinidh. Sir William sent the Knight of Lochow and a party of men in pursuit of the fugitives; and having found them in the cave, they cut off their heads, and placed them on stakes on the top of Creag-an-aoinidh. This cave is called MacFadyen’s Cave to the present day.
The battle between Wallace and MacFadyen took place in 1300.
Makfadyane fled, for all his felloun stryff
On till a cave, within a clyfft of stayne
Wnde Cragmore, with fyftene is he gayne
Dunkan off Lorn his leyff at Wallace ast;
On Makfadyane with worthi me he past
He grantyt him to put them all to ded:
Thai left nane quyk, syne brocht Wallace his hed;
Apon a sper throuch out the feild it bor.
The Lord Cambell syne hint it by the har;
Heich in Cragmore he maid it for to stand
Steild on a stayne for honour off Irland.
Henry the Menstrel, Buke Sewynd, 858-868.
— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).
Interfectio et decapitatio Duncani McGregor et filiorum eius videlicet Gregorii et Malcomi Roy, per Colinum Campbell de Glenurqhay et per Duncanum Roy Campbell de Glenlyon et Alexandrum Menzheis de Rannoch cum suis complicibus. Chronicle of Fortingall.
Colene Campbell, brother germane to the forsaidis Duncane and Jhone, succedit, as said is, sext laird of Glenvrquhay.
The said Colene mareit befoir he succedit laird of Glenvrquhay Margaret Stewart, (dochtir to Bischop Alexander Stewart,) lady coniunct fear off Inchebraky, on quhome he begat tua dochteris: The eldar callit Beatrix Campbell, quha wes mareit on Sir Jhone Campbell of Lawiris: The vther namit Margaret Campbell, quha wes mareit on M’Cowle of Ragray in Lorne.
The said Colene, eftir the deceis of the said Margaret his first wyffe, succeding laird of Glenvrquhay, mareit Katherine Ruthwen, dochtir vntill Williame Lord Ruthuen, on quhome he begatt four sones: The eldest callit Sir Duncane, quha eftir succedit laird: The secund namit Colene: The thrid Maister Patrik, quha deceissit in his flouris: The fourt Archbald: And four dochteris, the eldest callit Margaret Campbell, quha in hir parentis tyme wes mareit on the Erle of Glencarne: The secund Katherine, quha deit in her yowtheid: The thrid Marie: The fourt Annas, bayth mareit be thair eldest brother, as in the awin place salbe schawin.
The said Colene was laird induring the space of threttie thre yeiris, in the quhilk tyme he conquesit the few of the Kingis landis and Chartirhows landis in Braydalbane, the takis quhairoff his predicessouris obtenit as is abone writtin. Item, he conquesit the ten markland of Auchlyne, Easter Ardchyllie, and Dowinche, togidder with the superioritie of M’Nab his haill landis. Item, he conquesit the superioritie of the tuentie markland of Stronmeloquhan in Glenvrquhay. Item, he cost ane auld ludging in Perthe: quhilkis conques and superiorities forsaidis as yit remains with the hows.
Item, he conquesit the tuentie pund land of Edinambill; item, the fyve pund land of Edinkip vnder reuersioun; item, the aucht markland of Kingartt; quhilkis, with the tuelff markland of Ardbeich, and takis of the land of Cranduich foirsaidis tane frome the hows, he bestowit on his secund sone Colene.
Item, he bestwoit on his thrid sone Maister Patrik the tuelff markland of Auchinryre, Condalict, and Drumnavoke, the eight markland of Auchnacroscre, Penniefurt, Tirewin, and Killen, all lyand in Lorne. But, the said Maister Patrik departing this lyfe but lauchfull airis of his awin body, the saidis landis returnit to the hows.
The said Colene in his tyme biggit the castell of Balloch, the castell of Edinambill in Buchquhidder, the haill ludging of Perth within the closs, the four Kirnellis of the castell of Ilankeilquhirne in Glenvrquhay, and the north chalmeris thairoff.
Memorandum. He was ane great justiciar all his tyme, throch the quhilk he sustenit thee deidlie feid of the Clangregour ane lang space. And, besydis that he caused executt to the death mony notable lymmaris, he beheiddit the laird off M’Gregour himselff at Kandmoir in presens of the Erle of Atholl, the justice clerk, and sundrie vther nobillmen.
The said Colene departit this lyffe the ellevint of Apryle anno 1583 in Balloch.
And was honorablie bureit in the chapell off Finlarg foirsaid.
Sir Duncane Campbell, eldast and lauchfull sone to the foirsaid Sir Colene, succedit secund laird of Glenvrquhay, as said is.
The said Sir Duncane mareit Margaret Dowglas dochtir lauchfull to the Erle of Angus, on quhome he begat thre sones: The eldast callit Sir Colene: The second namit Archbald: The thrid Patrik, quha deit being ane young man in the Ile Badchelich: And ane dochtir callit Elizabeth Campbell, quha wes mareit on the laird of Monivaird.
The said Sir Duncane eftir the deceis of his said first wyffe he mareit Margaret Moncreiff, dochtir to the laird of Moncreiff, on quhome he begat ane sone callit Maister Jhone Campbell (quha wes secund bischope of the Iles of the hows of Glenvrquhay), and tua dochtiris: The eldar callit Katherine Campbell, quha wes mareit on the laird of Tullibardin: The other nameit Annabill Campbell, quha wes mareit on the laird of Merchistoun.
The said Sir Duncane levit laird threttie thre yeiris, induring the quhilk tyme he obtenit tackis of the Kingis landis in Braidalbane, and of the thee Chartirhows landis lyand within the same, the takis of the tuelf markland of Cranduich.
Item, he conquesit the heretable tytill of the baronie of Finlarg: Quhilkis takis and heretabill conques for said, togidder with the bailyerie of Discheoir, Toyer, and Glenlyoun, tane of the King, he annexit to the hows.
Item, he conquesit the threscoir markland of the baronie of Glenlyoun, quhilk he gaiff to his secund sone Archbald Campbell forsaid, togidder with the twenty-four markland of the thrid of Lorne, quhilk he tuke fra the hows.
Item, he conquesit the eight markland of Scheane in Glenquoich, quhilkis he gaiff to his brother Jhone Campbell of Lawiris, to be haldin of the hows.
Item, the said Sir Duncane excambit the thrid of the landis of Dolour and Aucharnsyde, etc., with the landis of Kilbryde lyand on the side of Lochfyne.
The said Sir Duncane biggit the laich hall of Glenvrquhay; the great hall, chapell, and chalmeris, in the Ile of Lochtay.
The said Sir Duncane was slane at the feild of Flowdane, with King James the ferd, the 9 of September anno 1513.
(These notes on the Galley for Lorne are based upon letters which appeared in the ‘Scotsman,’ signed “Ergadiensis,” “T.H.I.S.,” and “Mr H.D. Smith,” all of whom wrote in answer to letters from me in the ‘Scotsman’ or ‘Glasgow Herald.’ — Ed.)
THE charter […] 1470 was no confirmation of the heiresses’ claim to Lorne, for none of the respective husbands ever made any claim through them; it was the sequel of a long tragedy. In 1463, John Stewart, Lord Lorne, was murdered at Dunstaffnage by a MacDougall, to prevent him legitimising his son Dugald; but he lived a sufficiently long time to marry Dugald’s mother.
For six long years there was a bloody struggle for the possession of Lorne, between Dugald and the Lorne Stewarts on the one side, and the MacDougalls, secretly helped by Argyll and Dugald’s, uncle Walter Stewart, on the other. In the year 1469, Dugald Stewart and the MacDougalls, being both exhausted, Mac Cailein Mòr got from Walter Stewart a resignation in his own favour of the claims of Walter, which he alleged he had in Lorne, and interfered actively in the quarrel. Neither Dugald nor his adversaries were able, after six long years of contention, to resist this powerful opponent, and he had to compromise his right to the whole of his father’s lands for Appin, and became the ancestor of the Stewarts of Appin.
After this compromise only, in 1469, Walter took seisin of Lorne, and granted it in pretended exchange for others to Cailein Mòr; and in 1470 this exchange was confirmed by the minor James III., at whose Court Argyll was supreme.
About the year 1388, the Galley, the family cognisance of the MacDougalls — the “Lords of Lorne of Auld,” as Sir David Lyndsay, Lord Lyon King-at-Arms calls them — a branch of the family of the Lords of the Isles, was quartered by Sir John Stewart on his marriage with a daughter and co-heiress of John MacDougall, Lord of Lorne; and three generations later it was assumed by Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, and Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, afterwards first Earl of Argyll, some time after their marriage with two of the daughters of Sir John Stewart, Lord of Lorne. Glenorchy, who married the eldest, also assumed the fess “checquy” of the Stewarts.
John of Lorne, having no lawful son (Stewart of Appin being a natural son), some years before his death executed a deed of settlement in favour of his own brothers, the Stewarts of Innermeath, as next heirs male.
The deed was confirmed by charter under the Great Seal, 1452; and on the death of the old chief in 1463, his eldest surviving brother, Walter, claimed and succeeded to the estate and dignity.
Argyll’s seal, appended to a charter dated 17th December 1470, granting to his uncle, Sir Colin of Glenorchy, a part of his recent acquisition of Lorne, in exchange for Glenorchy’s share of the Clackmannan lands, is not charged with the Galley (Laing’s ‘Ancient Scottish Seals’).
The three daughters1 were co-heiresses of the lands of Dollar and Gloom, but not of Sir John Stewart’s great baronies of Redcastle, Innermeath, and Lorne. The actual transaction by which these were transferred to Argyll was this: In 1469 the new chief granted an indenture binding himself to resign the lordship of Lorne in favour of Colin, Earl of Argyll, in exchange for the lands of Kildoning, Baldoning, and Innerdoning, in Perthshire; the lands of Culrain, in Fife; and Cutkerry, in Kinross: the Earl on his part binding himself to use his influence (which was very great) to procure for him another title — namely that of Lord Innermeath — which was done, and within a year the patent passed the Great Seal.
It is scarcely correct to say that the co-heiresses of the Clackmannan lands, one-third of which estates were appointed to each of the three heiresses, inherited only these lands; for the eldest, marrying Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, 1448, carried to her husband a small grant of lands adjoining Glenorchy, extending to somewhat less than six2 merks out of the Lorne estates (Orig. Par. Sc.)
Such is the story of the “blazoning” of the Galley “For Lorne” on the shields of the Campbells of Argyle and Breadalbane.
1 The eldest married Glenorchy; the second, Sir Colin Campbell, first Earl of Argyll; the third, Arthur Campbell of Ottar.
2 Or as another authority says, an eighteen-merk land.
— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).
Once when Black Duncan of the Cowl was in the house of Buchanan of Bochastle (Bochaisteil), the food that was customary at the time was put before him — milk, bread, and cheese. Black Duncan liked the cheese well, and he said to Buchanan, “Where was this cheese grown (made), laird of Bochastle?”
“It grew among the broom in these yellow braes and hollows,” replied Bochastle.
In a short time thereafter Black Duncan observed, “I should like to see your title-deeds. I am sure they are good.”
“I have no written title-deeds,” rejoined Bochastle; and he went to his armoury, got a sword and a target, stood before Black Duncan with these, and said, “These are the title-deeds of the land of Bochastle, and there are none but these.”
“Oh, very good — very good. Lay them by — lay them by;” and the laird of Bochastle went and laid by his sword and target. There was nothing further about this for the time being.
Black Duncan went home, and the laird of Bochastle did not in the least suspect that he himself and Black Duncan were not on amicable terms.
It happened some time after this affair that the laird of Bochastle went to Edinburgh, and Black Duncan of the Cowl was there at the same time.
They met one another at the same inn. Black Duncan had sent Green Colin1 with a large force of men to plunder Bochastle; but Buchanan was not aware of this, and Black Duncan felt inclined to give him a hint of the matter. So he said to Buchanan, “Would not this be a fine day to carry off a cattle-spoil from Bochastle?”
“It would be equally as good a day for turning back the cattle,” answered Buchanan. Nevertheless the latter did not know that Black Duncan had sent a force of men to carry off a spoil, and the two were speaking to one another as though they were in jest.
When Green Colin had reached Bochastle, the people of the place did not expect that he was coming for pillaging purposes, till the men who were with him began taking away the cattle. The people of Bochastle did not know that Black Duncan was not at peace with them; but Colin took away the cattle of the district, and went with them up the Strath of Balquhidder and the way of Lairig Eirinn (Pass of Eirinn or Erne). The laird of Bochastle had five sons, who were called the Red-haired Lads of Bochastle: these went and raised all the men in Bochastle and Lenny (Làinidh), who went after the cattle-spoil to turn it back.
There was a man at Lenny (Làinidh) who had been fishing on the river. He killed a trout, with which he went home. He spoke of the excellence of the trout, and a woman who was in said —
“It does not signify much to you; you shall never eat a bit of it.”
“It is a lie,” he said; “I will eat a part of it.” He cut a piece off the trout and put it on the fire to roast it, but before it was ready the cry came for armed men to turn back the cattle-spoil.
This man went out and went away with the rest. He was slain at the battle of Lairig Eirinn (Pass of Erne), and never returned.
They overtook the plunderers at Lairig Eirinn. Green Colin turned back towards the pursuers and said, “Let the best man among you hold up his hand!”
The eldest son of the laird of Bochastle held up his hand. Green Colin let fly an arrow at him, and the arrow pierced his armpit.
Green Colin cried, “Bring home that spike to the women of Lenny (Làinidh), that they may see how good the aim was.”
“Well now,” said Bochastle’s eldest son, “let the best among you hold up his hand.”
Green Colin scorned to decline to lift his hand himself, and he lifted his hand. Bochastle’s eldest son put an arrow in his bow: he shot it at Green Colin, and the arrow went in at his mouth and out at the back of his head; and the laird of Bochastle’s eldest son cried, “Bring that spike home with you, that the women of Lorne may see how good the aim has been.” A battle then began between the plunderers and pursuers, and the battle went against the plunderers. The latter were scattered, and six of the sons of Black Duncan of the Cowl were slain that day. Black Duncan’s force had to flee, and the red-haired lads of Bochastle turned back the cattle.
Black Duncan, as has been said, was at the time in Edinburgh, and the Baron of Bochastle along with him. A messenger was sent to Edinburgh to inform Black Duncan of the affair of the cattle-spoil, and of how the battle went. The messenger arrived in Edinburgh, and the Baron of Bochastle met him in the street, and knew by his dress that he was from the land of the Campbells.2
So he inquired of him, “What is your news? I perceive that you come with intelligence to the Black Knight.”
“I come to the Black Knight with the intelligence,” replied the messenger, “that the cattle-spoil which his men were taking away from Bochastle was turned back; that a battle was fought; that Green Colin was slain, and his men slaughtered.”
The laird of Bochastle continued his inquiries until he ascertained all the particulars, and he then said to the messenger, “You would be the better of a drink after your journey. Come into the inn, and I will give you a drink.”
They went in. The laird of Bochastle called for a bottle of ale. They gave a drink to the messenger, and said to him, “Stay here till I come back. I will go and get the Black Knight and bring him home.”
The messenger sat where he was, and the laird of Bochastle went out quietly, got the messenger’s horse, and rode home before Black Duncan could obtain information concerning the battle, and then get men and send him (Bochastle) to jail. The messenger sat in the inn till his patience was exhausted, and he had thereafter to search for Black Duncan in the best way he could.
— From the Dewar MSS. Given to the Editor by Lord Lorne, for whom and the Duke of Argyll the tales were collected in 1870-1871. Translated by Mr. Hector MacLean, Islay; Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll: Legends, Traditions, and Recollections of Argyllshire Highlanders, Collected Chiefly from the Gaelic, with Notes on the Antiquity of the Dress, Clan Colours, or Tartans, of the Highlanders (1885).
1 “Green Colin” must have been a natural son, as he cannot be Black Duncan’s eldest lawful son Colin, who succeeded as 8th Laird and 2nd Baronet of Glenorchy.
2 This is perhaps an important early reference to district (tartan) dress.