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.]

The Irish According to Fynes Moryson (II)

The Irish are by nature very factious, all of a sept or name living together, and cleaving close one to another in all quarrels and actions whatsoever, in which kind they willingly suffer great men to eat upon them, and take whatsoever they have, proverbially saying ‘Defend me and spend me’; but this defence must be in all causes, just or unjust, for they are not content to be protected from wrong, except they may be borne out to do wrong.

They are by nature extremely given to idleness.  The sea coasts and harbours abound with fish, but the fishermen must be beaten out before they will go to their boats.  Theft is not infamous but rather commendable among them, so as the greatest men affect to have the best thieves to attend upon them; and if any man reprove them, they answer that they do as their fathers did, and it is infamy for gentlemen and swordsmen to live by labour and manual trades.  Yea, they will not be persuaded that theft displeaseth God, because He gives the prey into their hands, and if He be displeased, they say, yet He is merciful and will pardon them for using means to live.  This idleness makes them also slovenly and sluttish in their houses and apparel, so as upon every hill they lie lousing themselves, as formerly in the discourse of the Commonwealth.  I have remembered four verses, of four beasts that plague Ireland, namely, lice upon their bodies, rats in their houses, wolves in their fields, and swarms of Romish priests tyrannising over their consciences.  This idleness also makes them to love liberty above all things, and likewise naturally to delight in music, so as the Irish harpers are excellent, and their solemn music is much liked of strangers; and the women of some parts of Munster, as they wear Turkish heads and are thought to have come first out of these parts, so they have pleasant tunes of Moresco dances.

They are by nature very clamorous, upon every small occasion raising the hobou (that is a doleful outcry), which they take from one another’s mouth till they put the whole town in tumult.  And their complaints to magistrates are commonly strained to the highest points of calamity, sometimes in hyperbolical terms, as many upon small violences offered them have petitioned to the Lord Deputy for justice against men for murdering them, while they stood before him sound and not so much as wounded.

– The Manners and Customs of Ireland, Fynes Moryson.

Gallowglass and Kern

Irish gallowglass and kern. Drawing by Albrecht Dürer, 1521.

The gallowglass or galloglass (also spelt gallowglas or galloglas) — from Irish: gallóglaigh (plural), gallóglach (singular) — were a class of elite mercenary warriors who principally were members of the Norse-Gaelic clans of Scotland between the mid XIII century and late XVI century.  As Scots, they were Gaels and shared a common background and language with the Irish, but as they had intermarried with the X century Norse settlers of western Scotland, the Irish called them Gall Gaeil (“foreign Gaels”).

Large numbers of gallowglass septs settled in Ireland after being dispossessed of their lands in Scotland for choosing the wrong sides in the Wars of Scottish Independence.  The first and probably most famous of these were the MacSweeneys (who unlike most were said to be of native Irish ancestry) settled originally by the O’Donnells in west Donegal.  These were followed by MacDonnells, MacCabes and several other groups settled by powerful Irish nobles in different areas.  The gallowglass were attractive as a heavy armour-trained aristocratic infantry to be relied on as a strong defence for holding a position.  In time there came to be many native Irish gallowglass as the term came to mean a type of warrior rather than an ethnic designation.

A Gallowglass and his kern attendants await their Irish lord, Shane O’Neill, during his visit to the court of Elizabeth I, London, 1562.

They were a significant part of Irish infantry before the advent of gunpowder, and depended upon seasonal service with Irish chieftains.  A military leader would often choose a gallowglass to serve as his personal aide and bodyguard because, as a foreigner, the gallowglass would be less subject to local feuds and influences.

A raid depicted in The Image of Irelande (1581). Kern made up the bulk of the army, as light infantrymen.

The word kern is an anglicisation of the Middle Irish word ceithern or ceithrenn meaning a collection of persons, particularly fighting men. An individual member is a ceithernach.  The word may derive from a conjectural proto-Celtic word *keternā, ultimately from an Indo-European root meaning a chain.  It was adopted into English as a term for a Gaelic soldier in mediæval Ireland.

The lower position in a two-tiered army structure, lightly-armed and swiftly moving kern infantrymen attended the more skilled and heavily armoured gallowglass on the battlefield.  The dart was the kern weapon of choice; javelins, and slings were also used in battle.  They made up the overwhelming majority of Gaelic forces in the Middle Ages.