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Amelia Volume 1 Chapter 5

15th Century - Various Conflicts

[page 44}
“Baronage,” continued from page 12. “MALCOLM (son of Gregor Aulin) succeeded his father, but dying soon after unmarried, in 1420, was succeeded by his second brother.

“XIII. [1]   John MacGregor of that Ilk (formerly of Brackly), a man of very martial spirit. In his days the Knight of Lochow found means to stir up the McNabs to insult the MacGregors, in consequence of which, a party of the latter fought the Clan an Abba at Chrianlarich, and cut them off almost to a man. Lochow, having on that pretence obtained letters of fire and sword against both Clans, got military force to assist him in reducing them; and, after many bloody skirmishes, fought in conjunction by both, in which many of their enemies were destroyed, they in the end lost part of their lands, which the Knight of Lochow and his friends assumed possession of. (“Scots Magazine”, May 1768, p. 226; observation on Act 4, Parliament 1st. - James I.).

“John married a daughter of the Laird of McLachlan, and died in 1461, leaving three sons -
1. Malcolm, his heir.
2. Gregor of Breachd-sliabh.
3. John.

“Margaret, his daughter, married Lauchlan mor Macquarie, Chief of that Clan. John died anno 1461, and was, succeeded by his eldest son,

“XIV. Malcolm, who lived in the reigns of King James III. and IV. In this Laird’s days, the MacGregors lost many more of their lands. They had been provoked to chastise the MacNabs, in a manner not at all unusual in every corner of the Highlands in those days; but, as they had never been disloyal to the Royal Family, they considered the letters of fire and sword, obtained as above, as marking them rebels, “not by their own acts, but by the act of their sovereign or of his ministers,” and because they did not tamely yield possession of their lands to the King’s forces, whom they looked upon as the executive tools of ambitious individuals, his Majesty, by, [page 45} insiduous information (and because the MacGregors had been formidable adherents to his father, James III., against the faction which he while Prince, had headed, and which proved the death of his late Majesty), was much incensed against them.

“In consequence of which they lost great part of their lands. Seumas Beg, descended from a natural son of the Duke of Albany, possessed himself of the country of Balquhidder, and several other lands, and Sir Colin Campbell, as second son of the Knight of Lochow, became Laird of Glenurquhay. They lost the lordship of Glendochart, the extensive lands and Baileries of the countries of Desser (Deasser) and Tuar (Tuath) - the south and north sides of Loch Tay - Glenlyon, the Port of Loch Tay, the country of Rannoch, the Barony of Finlarig, “with the Castle, town, and fortalice,” the lands of Shian, Balloch - now called Taymouth - and Achrioch, &a., &a.,” inter annos 1465 and 1504. [2]  

The “Baronage” states that Malcolm was first married to a daughter of MacIntosh, by whom he had a son, James, his heir (and several daughters), but this is an error explained on next page. His immediate successor was his brother, Gregor Mor.

The Latin history of the Alpinian family appears to have ended about the time of Gregor X., 1248. [3]   After Malcolm XIV. the article in the “Baronage” falls unintentionally into misleading errors for several generations. The genealogy is very complicated, but the patient investigations of Mr. MacGregor Stirling throw considerable light upon it. The care with which he worked out his researches, and the conclusions to which they led, can be exemplified from his correspondence with the late Sir Evan. In December 1824 Mr. MacGregor Stirling had drawn up a genealogical tree, in which Malcolm, No. XIV. of the “Baronage,” is shewn succeeded by a son James as above mentioned, and that James, followed by two legitimated sons. But in a letter of the 26th March 1825 he wrote that “Dominus Jacobus MacGregor, 31st January 1557-8,” who he and Mr. Gregory had imagined to have been “James MacGregor of that Ilk,” turned out to be the Dean of Lismore. Again, on the 14th April 1825, Mr. MacGregor Stirling wrote –

“The accident of an inaccurate copy of a voucher, dated 1571 instead of 1671 has, in the printed history of the Gregorian race, perplexed the genealogy for more than a [page 46} century. It is now ascertained that James MacGregor of that Ilk, who entered into a bond of friendship with Lachlan McFingon of Strathardle, was that Laird of MacGregor who had Malcolm Douglas for tutor, and for whose name we were at a loss.” [4]  

Returning to the “Baronage,” and passing over the two next erroneous personages, we have this account of Gregor Mor :-

“XIV. Gregor Mor or the Great, second son of John MacGregor of that Ilk, to whom his father gave the lands of Breachd-sliabh, commonly called Brackly in Glenurchy, with a numerous following of men. [5]   He lived in the reigns of King James III. and IV., and, grieved at the oppression of his family and friends, he raised his men, and, making several successful expeditions against their enemies, recovered possession of a large tract of country called Glen Lochy, the forest of Corrychaick, the lands of Ardeonaig, and several others on the side of Loch Tay, which his descendants enjoyed till the reign of James IV.

“Gregor took to wife Finvola or Flora, daughter to McArthur of Strachur, by a daughter of the family of Argyll, ancestor of the present Colonel Campbell of Strachur. “By this lady he had four sons and several daughters.
1. Duncan, his heir.
2. Gregor, a Captain of great reputation, who, having come to the south, country, performed several valiant actions against the English Borderers in conjunction with his cousins the Griersons of Lag.
3. Malcolm, a man of great prudence and valour, famous for his dexterity in all manly exercises, and in great esteem with Alexander, Earl of Mar, at whose request he raised his patrimony from his brother, and acquired the lands of Inverey, with several others in Brea-Mar, where he settled. He married a daughter of Dougal Lamont of Stiolaig ( by a daughter of the family of Bute ); by whom he had several children; the eldest of whom, Alexander, acquired the lands of Cherry, Killach, Dalcherz, Balachby, &c. There are several good families, and some hundreds of commoners, of this branch of the MacGregors in Brae-Mar and the adjoining countries to this day; but during the general persecution they lost their lands, and betook themselves to several different names, as Ogilvies, Gordons, &a. [6]  
[page 47}
4. John who afterwards got the lands of Brackly from his eldest brother. [7]  

“XV. Duncan, called Ladasach, or “the complete hero,” [8]   suceeeded - a man of resolution, much celebrated by the bards. He lived for some time with his uncle Strachur in the Island of Orann in Glenfalloch, and did him the good service of reducing the Macilvanes, a tribe who possessed some lands of Strachur’s, without any acknowledgment. Thereafter he acquired the lands of Ardchoill [9]   (which belonged to Strachur), and several others in Breadalbane, besides his former possessions, upon which he gave those of Brackly to his younger brother, John, as before observed. He took to wife Mary, [10]   daughter to the Laird of Ardkinlas, ancestor of Sir James Campbell of Ardkinlas, by a daughter of the family of Argyll, by whom he had two sons :-
1. Gregor, his heir.”
Another son, John, is mentioned on the authority of a charter witnessed by “domino Joanne MacGregor, militi,” but this is a mistake, as the John in question was John MacEwin Vic Allaster of Glenstray. Details of the history and tragical end of Duncan and his eldest son will be given farther on. There were other sons :-
2. Malcolm, who perished with his father and brother. [11]  
3. Duncan Oig Laddosoun.
4. Patrick Dow McGregor Vic Duncan Laddosach, murdered in Balquhidder, 4th Oct. 1574, by the Clan Dowilchayr.”

Sir John MacGregor Murray, with the scanty sources of information then in his possession, had not only been led by the wrongly dated voucher into the error of giving a son James as the successor to Malcolm XIV., but supposed this James to have been the father of the Alexander MacGregor who was the leader in the celebrated battle of Glenfruin; whereas that leader was Glenstray, of a different line. Returning to [page 48} Chapter IV., where the entries are given from the Obituary under date 1415, mentioning the deaths of two sons of John Cham, there appears some reason to believe that Gregor Aulin, whose line has been traced on as far as Duncan Ladosach and his son, was the elder brother, and the argument sustained by Mr. MacGregor Stirling is that Gregor’s descendants, eventually Glencarnoch, and through him the present Chief, Sir Malcolm, carry down the representation from the early Chiefs by right of blood as the eldest line. [12]  

We have now to trace the House of Glenstray, or Clan Dowlagneir, a distinctive name occurring in the Black Book of Taymouth, and supposed to be derived from “Dubh Lag an Iar” - Black Hollow of the West. The authority for the Founder of the House, and for the first succeeding generations, is the repeatedly quoted Obituary, or Chronicle of Fortingal. (See Chapter VIII.)

“I. John dhu McEan Cham Vic Gregor, brother of Gregor (Aulin), and mentioned as having died at Stromelochane, 1415.
“II. Death of Malcolm, son of John dhu MacGregor, at Glenurquhy, on the 20th April in the year 1440; he was buried in the manner formerly mentioned.”
There is evidence that he had a brother Allaster ( to be noticed farther on ).

“III. Death of Patrick MacGregor, of Glenstray, at Stronemelochane, on the 24th of May in the year 1440. He was buried at Dysart in the way formerly mentioned.

“IV. Death of John dhu MacGregor of Glenstray, son of Patrick, at Stronemelochane, on the 24th May in the year 1519.

His son predeceased him, and is thus mentioned in the Obituary-
“Death of Malcolm MacGregor, son and heir, of John MacGregor of Glenstray, at Glenlyon. He was buried in Dysart, South of the Altar, in a stone coffin, on the 22nd of June 1498. [13]  

On the death of John Dow, in 1519, the representation of this line passed to his heir [page 49} and successor, John McEwin McAllaster, his second cousin. [14]   Contemporary with Gregor Mor, XIV.

In the Dean of Lismore’s Book, [15]   the genealogy of this John dhu McGregor of Glenstray is given in old Gaelic, [16]   with the following translation:-
“John, son of Patrick, son of Malcolm, son of John, the black son of John, son of, Gregor, son of John, son of Malcolm, son of Duncan the little, son of Duncan from Srulee, son of Gilelan, [17]   son of Hugh of Urchy, son of Kenneth, son of Alpin; and this Kenneth was head King of Scotland, in truth, at that time; and this John is the eleventh man from Kenneth, of whom I spoke. And Duncan the servitor, son of Dougal, son of John the grizzled, wrote this from the books of the genealogists of the kings, and it was done in the year of our Lord one thousand five hundred and twelve.”

The genealogy is here reversed for greater distinctness :-
Hugh of Urchy.
William ( see “Baronage,” No. IX.), or Gillefealan.
Duncan a Strwlee; he was probably the second son.
Duncan beg ( see same page ).
Malcolm (see No. XI. of “Baronage,” and page 11, or, more probably, Malcolm VIII.).
John ( not mentioned in “Baronage” ).
Gregor do. do.
John (Cham). ( Died 1390, )
John Doef (or dhu). (Died in 1115. Had a brother Gregor, who also died in 1415).
Malcolm. ( Died in 1440 as above. Had a brother Allaster.)
Patrick. ( Died May 1440 as above. )
John (dhu). ( Died in 1519 as above. )

[page 50}
The Bard may be assumed to have had accurate information about the late generations, although he skipped over several ancestors prior to Hugh of Urchy. The Latin MS. followed in the “Baronage,” was probably the labour of a monk or ecclesiastic of the name of MacGregor. It has been found, by the scrutiny of sundry ancient chronicles, that the monks sometimes drew on their fertile imaginations; but, although some generations may have been omitted by them also, and the names mixed up, the accounts of the various Chiefs, as related in this MS., were probably founded on old traditions; and thus the two pedigrees embody all that can now be known about the early days of the Clan’s heroes. We reach solid and perfectly reliable ground in the Obituary of the Chronicle of Fortingall. On the next page a Genealogical Table of Ian Cham’s immediate descendants is given.

As remarked by Mr. Skene in a note to the genealogy :-
“It is obvious that a number of generations are omitted, not even excepting the ancestor who gave his name to the clan. The omission of generations is by no means an uncommon feature in traditional genealogies.”

The circumstance that Malcolm MacGregor of Glenstray, who died in 1440, had a brother, and that his name was Allaster, has been made out from the patronymics of his grandson, given in a genealogy occurring in the Black Book of Taymouth.

We therefore return to the said -
II. Allaster, younger brother of Malcolm, [18]   and thus younger son of John Dhu McEan Cham VicGregor. (See previous page.)
III. Ewine, cousin-german of Patrick of Glenstray, his existence being trace in the same way.
IV. John MacGregor of Glenstray, second cousin and heir to the last of the same name, who died in 1519.
Against this individual, as John MacGregor of Glenstray, a claim was brought by the widow of his predecessor.

[page 52}
“1522-23, February 9th. Anent the actioune and causs persewit be Marioune Stewart ye Relict of umquhille Johnne McGregour of Glenstra his air and successor the reduction relates to the “fermes and profittis of the lands of Edindarnycht,” being, as appears, part of the estate of Glenstrae (“Chartulary”).

“1522, Feb. 9. Action pursued by Marioune Stewart, relict of John McGregour of Glenstra, against John McGregor, his heir and successor, to content and pay to the said Marioune the fermes and profits of the lands of Glendarnycht, in the Earldom of Argyle, and shire of the same, pertaining to her in conjunct fee, of the terms of Whitsunday and Martinmas 1519, extending to seven bolls of oatmeal, price of the boll 16s.; four bolls of beir, price of the boll 20s.; twelve stone of cheese, price of the stone 40d., one mart price 40s.; and four wedders, price of the piece 6s. and 8d. The said Marioun, compeared by Robert Leslie her procurator, and the said John McGregor did not compear. The Lords of Council continued the action to the 24th May next to come.” - From the “Acta Dominorum Concila.”

He married a daughter of Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchy, Knight, by a daughter of Luke Stirling of Keir, Sir Colin’s fourth wife. [19]   From the Obituary :-
“1528, April 12th. Death of John MacGregor McEwine, Captain of the ClanGregor of Glenstray, who died of good memory, at Achallader in Glenurquhay, on Easter Day, the 12th of April, in the year 1528; he was buried in Dysart, as others of his name used to be. May God have care of his soul.”

This family of the ClanGregor having become connected with the Glenurchay family, the Black Book of Taymouth gives a genealogy of it. According to this the marriage of:-
“ ‘Johnne Makewin Vic Allaster McGregour with Helene Cambell, dochter to Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchay, and widow of Lochbuy,’ was not perfectly regular, but it must have been condoned for the Campbells of Glenurchay afterwards favoured the Glenstray family; and it may have been in consequence of the Campbell support that Glenstray became Captain. With regard to Sir Colin’s son-in-law the Black Book has the following notice : ‘The foresaid Johne wes not righteous air to the McGregour, bot wes principal of the Clandowlaniar.’” [20]  

[page 53}
This remark on John McEwin’s position is not understood as casting a doubt on his legitimacy, but as implying that he was head of his branch only of the clan. [21]  

“Details of the Glenstray Family, from the Black Book of Taymouth, Johne Makewin VcAllaster McGregour, in anno . . . ravischet Helene Campbell, dochter to Sir Coline Campbell of Glenurquhay, Knight. This Helene Campbell wes widow and lady of Lochbuy, and scho wes ravischet. The foresaid Johne wes not righteous air to the McGregour, bot wes principall of the Clan Doulagnear.

“This Johne McEwin begat upon the foirsaid Helene, Allaster McGregour of Glenstray quha, mariet ane dochter of the laird of Ardkinglass, being widdow to McNachtan of Dundaraw.

“This Allaster McGregour of Glenstray begat upon the said dochter of the Laird Ardkinglass, Johne McGregour of Glenstray and Gregour Roy, his brother. The said Johne diet of the hurt of an arrow going betuix Glenlyoun and Rannoch.

“Gregour Roy, his brother, succeidit to him. The said Gregour Roy mariet the Laird of Glenlyoun’s dochter, and begat upon her Allaster Roy McGregour and Johne Dow McGregour, his brother. This foresaid Gregour Roy wes execute be Colin Campbell of Glenurchay.

“Allaster Roy McGregour succeidit to the foirsaid Gregour, his Father, and had no children bot ane dochter. This Allaster Roy McGregour wes execute and hangit at the mercat Croce of Edinburgh, and forfaultit in anno 1604.

“Johne Dow McGregour, brother to the said Allaster McGregour, mariet ane dochter of the Laird of Strowane Murrayis, and begat upon her Gregour, Patrik and Ewin McGregouris. This Johne Dow McGregour wes slaine in Glenfrune be the Laird of Luss, anno 1602.”

By the said Helen Campbell, relict of Lochbuy (MacLean), John MacGregor of Glenstray left three sons :-
1. John, who with his father witnessed a grant by the Earl of Argyle to _____ Campbell, of the lands of the Phanans, but nothing is known of him beyond this solitary notice.
2. Allaster, who succeeded his father, as is believed.
3. Gregor, who predeceased his father, and whose death is thus recorded in the Obituary :-

[page 54}
“1526, July 31: Death of Gregor, son of John MacGregor, alias McEwine McAllaster of Glenstray, at the Isle of Loch Rannoch; he was buried in Dysart, in a stone coffin, on the north side of the High Altar of Glenstray, on the last day of July in the year 1526. May his soul rest in peace.”

This Gregor left a son, Allaster, who became ancestor of the MacGregors of Ardlarich, [22]   a very important branch of the Clan in Rannoch. [23]  

V. Allaster [24]   McGregor of Glenstray, son of John McEwine MacGregor, was formally infeoffed in Glenstray in 1528, which, including Stronmelochan, amounted, as appears from the enfeoffment, to twenty merks old extent. He “mariet ane dochter of (Campbell) the Laird of Ardinglass, being widdow to McNachtan of Dundaraw” - B. B. of Taymouth - and left four sons, or more –
1. John, his heir.
2. Gregor Roy, who succeeded his brother.
3. Ewin, Tutor of Glenstray.

4. Allaster Galt (or the Travelled), mentioned in Record as the “Brother to the Laird of MacGregor.” He lived in Culquhirrilan. He had five sons -
1. Allaster.
2. John Dhu McAllaster, in Cannoquhan.
3. Duncan McAllaster Galt.
4. Patrick McAllaster Galt.
5. Gregor McAllaster Galt, executed at Edinburgh, 28th July 1612.

5. Duncan na Glen of Phanean, so styled in Bail Bond, 22nd April 1601, by his nephew, Alexander McGregor of Glenstray, and mentioned elsewhere as “Duncan McGregor in Glen, Brother to the Laird of McGregor.” He had sons -
[page 55}
1. Gregor, a famous soldier.
2. Patrick.

6. Patrick our (or Dun) (and Mor), in Cadderlie or Caddernoch in Glencorf.
1. Allaster McPatrick in Cadderine.
2. John Dhu.
3. Duncan.

It is recorded in the Continuation of the Chronicle of Fortingall that - “1543, 31st August: The House of Trochray in Strathbran was burnt by Alexander McGregor of Glenstray.”

VI. John MacGregor of Glenstray, in which property he never was never infeoffed. He died of the hurt of an arrow, without issue, and was succeeded by his brother.

VI. Gregor Roy of Glenstray, who was never enfeoffed in the property either. Of him hereafter. [25]  

[1] The numbers in the “Baronage” refer to the different generations, not to individual successors.

[2] Many of these lands had been granted to others much earlier than this period.

[4] i.e. James MacGregor, last of the line of John Dhu Nan Lurag; died probably about 1678.

[5] The “Baronage” does not quote its authority for these statements. If Gregor Mor survivied his brother and became chief, it would account for his numerous following.

[6] Curious history of this family, by John Gregory penes Mr. John Murray. (Extant.) - Ed.

[7] His descendants continued on the lands of Brackley for many generations, and his line often mistaken for that of Duncan Ladasach.

[8] The Gaelic work signifies rather “rich,” “lordly” - laoch is the Gaelic for “hero.”

[9] From the name of this property came the “slogan” or war cry of the ClanGregor, although some of the families, according to a MS. by Pont, preserved in the Lyon Office, used the motto “Bad Guibhas” or “Clump of Firs.” - “Chartulary.”

[10] It is probable that there may have been confusion of names here, as Glenstray is known to have married into this family.

[11] Vide Notice in the Obituary, as given later, and Duncan Oig (young) Ladossoune (son of Laddeus) is also mentioned in the Records, 1562-63, &c. See Chapter XVI. volume 1 chapter 16

[12] Sir John MacGregor Murray recognised Glenstray as the Chief, but supposed him to be a grandson of Malcolm

[13] It is remarkable that all of this line continued to be buried at Dysart in Glenurchy.

[14] See Genealogical Table at end of Chapter.

[15] From the MS. collection made by Sir James MacGregor, Dean of Lismore, in the beginning of the sixteenth century; edited with translation by Revd, Thomas McLauchlan, 1862. The Obiturary had been previously printed in the “Archaeologia Scotica,” vol. iii.

[16] “Eone Macphadrick vec Volychallum vec Eonedoef vec Gregor vec Eone vec Woilchallum vec Conquhy veg vec Conquhy a Strwlee vec Illehand vec Ey Urquhaych vec Kennane vec Alpen.”

[17] Mr Skene reads this name as Gillefealan (it seems probable); William in modern Gaelic is Uilleam.

[18] The evidence of the connection of John MacGregor of Glenstrae with his predecessor is sufficiently clear to all who have studied Highland genealogies and their patronymics. Finding that John, son of Ewan, son of Alastair, is heir to John, son of Patrick, son of Malcolm, son of John Dhu, the conclusion to be drawn is, that Alastair must also have been a son of John Dhu, and that through him came the claim to the property. See page 52.

[19] “Black Book of Taymouth” and “Stirlings of Keir,” by William Fraser, 1858.

[20] In another part of the “Black Book of Taymouth,” enumerating the wives of Sir Colin Campbell, first of Glenurquhay, it is stated that Sir Colin married fourth “Margaret Stirling, dochter to the Laird of Keir, by who he had ane dochter callit Helene Campbell, quha wes first mariet on Makeane of Ardnamurroch, and thairefter on Makgregoure.”

[22] Mr. MacGregor Stirling’s MS. History of the House of Glenstrae, from which this list is adapted

[23] To be hereafter enumerated.

[24] Born, according to the Chronicle of Fortingall, in 1525.

[25] See Chapter XVIII. volume 1 chapter 18