A Policy Characterised by Cunning and Perfidy

Inveraray Castle, on the shore of Loch Fyne, Argyll.
Inveraray Castle, on the shore of Loch Fyne, Argyll.

After this period the rise of the Argyll family to power and influence was rapid, and the encroachments which had commenced with the branches of their own clan soon involved most of the clans in their neighbourhood; and their history is most remarkable from their extraordinary progress from a station of comparative inferiority to one of unusual eminence, as well as from the constant and steady adherence of all the barons of that house to the same deep system of designing policy by which they attained their greatness.

It would be inconsistent with the limits of this work to follow the history of this family farther, and the omission is of the less importance, as during the early part their history is identic with that of all the other Highland clans of no great notoriety; while in the later part, when they began to rise upon the ruins of the great families of the Isles, it becomes in some degree the same with that of the Highlanders generally, and consists principally of the details of a policy characterised by cunning and perfidy, although deep and far-sighted, and which obtained its usual success in the acquisition of great temporal grandeur and power.

William Forbes Skene, The Highlanders of Scotland, Vol. 2., London: Murray, 1837.

Clan Campbell Genealogy from MS 1467

MS 1467, folio 1 recto; Adv. MS. 72.1.1, National Library of Scotland. In the 19th century, William Forbes Skene added chemicals to sections of the text in an effort to enhance their legibility.
MS 1467, folio 1 recto; Adv. MS. 72.1.1, National Library of Scotland. In the 19th century, William Forbes Skene added chemicals to sections of the text in an effort to enhance their legibility.

genelach cloinni cailin ann so cailin og mac gille easpuig
mhic cailin mhic ailin mhic neill mhic ailin moir mhic gille espuig
mhic dubgaill mhic donnchaidh mhic gille easpuig mhic gille colaim
renabartha mac duibne mhic duibne mhic eirenai[n]
mhic meirbi mhic artuir mhic iubair*.i. righ in domain gan rusan**

The genealogy of the Clan Colin here: young Colin son of Archibald
son of Colin son of Allan son of Neil son of great (big) Allan1 son of Archibald
son of Dugald son of Duncan son of Archibald son of Gille Colaim
(who is called Mac Duibhne) son of Duibhne son of Eirenan
son of Smeirbhe son of Arthur son of Uther i.e. the unopposed king of the world.

* Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur, is clearly the person Dubhghall has in mind here.

** “gan imresan” is a common expression in these manuscripts meaning “without contention”. He must have meant this.

— Advocates’ MS 72.1.1 (MS 1467), folio 1 recto, col. d, ll. 39-43;
transcription and translation by Ronald Black.

1 This is Cailean Mór Caimbeul. In isolation Ailín is ‘Allan’; following the c of mac or mhic it can represent either ‘Allan’ or a sort of scribal shorthand for Cailín ‘Colin’.