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Genealogy of The Clan Gregor 1 - introduction

The immediate descendants of Gregor, the founder of the Clan

Please click on the link at the head or tail of this page to enter the genealogy pages.

Acknowledgements

The early genealogy of Clan Gregor on the following pages is very much a joint effort. Although I have put it all together and host the webpages, it would not have been possible without the contributions and constructive criticisms of Richard and Keith MacGregor of the Clan Gregor Society, and Neil and Matt MacGregor in Australia.

It cannot be sufficiently emphasised that these pages remain a 'work in progress'. If you have any constructive comments please email me at this address

The How

To develop the early part of the genealogy has involved a considerable degree of guesswork. Taking the 'name father' of the clan as Gregor, who probably lived around 1300, the first recorded use of the name 'MacGregor' is by his grandson Eoin dubh, who died in 1415 according to the Dean's obits. I have assumed that Eoin dubh's father Eoin cam had three sons shown here (sorry ladies, I have no idea how many daughters he may have had). There may have been more. We are reasonably sure of Eoin dubh and his brother Griogair, but Donnchadh mor has been included here as a third son because the dates fitted and it seemed logical that he was the father of Uisdean (Hugh), Donnchadh beag (Duncan beg), Niall and Uilleam (William) all of whom were to establish signicant lineages in the new lands settled by the clan in the 15th century - GlenLyon, Rannoch and along Loch Tay - shown here. I do have to emphasise that these are my assumptions and I am open to criticism.

I also have to point out that this genealogy does not include the MacGregors of Ardinconnal in Dumbartonshire, where the family appear to have been settled as early as 1429. It is possible that these branch off earlier but we have no proof. By 1611, this family who had not been involved in the troubles of the rest of the clan, had adopted Stewart as an alias and exchanged Ardinconnal with the MacAulays of Ardincaple, for their estate of Ballylaw, in County Donegal. A descendant would become Lord Castlereagh and Viscount Londonderry.

As well as assuming that Eoin cam had just three sons, I have also assumed the birth order, another fruitful source of dispute, as the Baronage account by Duncan Murray, insisted that Griogair or 'Gregor Aluin' had been the elder brother, but that his brother Eoin dubh had been promoted unfairly by the Campbells.

I am also conscious that the Duncanssons and Charlissons shown here are not shown with any descendants. They are witnesses to surviving Campbell charters. I have been unable to make them fit except as sons of Duncan, and putative grandsons of Eoin dubh. It could well be that the Roro descent, for example may have to be revised.

Due to the severe difficulties experienced at the hands of the Campbells and the Scottish state by the Clan Gregor from 1550 to the late 18th century, no documentary evidence written by its members survives, with the exception of the Book of the Dean of Lismore, created by the family of the MacGregors in Fortingall in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Apart from that, the surviving sources, except for charter evidence, are largely hostile, and include the following and other records not listed:
Campbell of Glenorchy papers: (GD112 at NAS);
Various archives of Menzies of Weem, Colquhoun of Luss, Earls of Atholl and other landlords who had MacGregors on their lands after 1550;
State records from the period when the Campbells had convinced the crown that the Clan Gregor, rather than themselves, were the greatest threat to good order,
and the published Privy Council records
The sheriff court records for Stirling, Perth, Argyll and elsewhere as MacGregors became increasingly dispersed.

The one advantage that we have in compiling this genealogy has been the use of multi-generational patronymics and placenames as the following examples show.
Duncan McGregour VcCondoquhy abrach, (~1545 to 1604) is mentioned in a Glenorchy bond of 1576 during the relative peace following the execution of Gregor Roy (1570) and the settlement with Ewan the tutor in August 1571. This is Duncan abrach, the son of Gregor and grandson of Duncan ladasach (MhicDhonnchaidh ladasach). see here Duncan is later listed as having been killed at Bentoig in 1604

Archibald McCondochue VcAllaster McGregor in Ardlarich, (~1550 to after 1629) mentioned in the Luss papers in 1613 and again listed in 1629, was Archibald (Gillespic dubh), son of Duncan, son of Alasdair, son of Gregor - see here and also here

John Macculquheir MacGregor in Drummiliche, (~1542 to after 1604) is mentioned in the 1586 'horning' (declaration of outlawry). This was John, (acquitted in 1604) son of Malcolm (see here) who was a son of Dougal Ker (Dubhgall ciar) (see here)

Unfortunately we have no records of birth or marriage, only deaths or mentions of names in charters, court records or various lists. Therefore estimates have to be made and continually revised as the genealogy develops. In general nobody is assumed to have had children under the age of 20 or over 60, although both are biologically credible. It has been noted that in the more settled period from 1400 to the mid 16th century, first sons are likely to appear to fathers in their mid 30s, as they become possessed of resources. At the end of the 16th century, the only way to fit the genealogy in many cases is to assume the first son to a father in his early 20s. There is no way of knowing about second families, etc, so without other evidence, subsequent sons are assumed to follow relatively soon after the first, for example 1500, 1501, 1503, 1506. In fact, it is quite possible with second marriages that the latest births might have occured when the first son had already become a father. Without any evidence of this, I have not been able to assume it. However, in the 18th century, evidence such as Inverhadden's genealogy of the Rannoch lineages does show evidence of this.

After 1603, we find that most of the surviving members of the clan were dispersed and using aliases, so unless their descendants have preserved evidence, placing them in the tree becomes much more difficult.

Finally, with apologies to the ladies, the name passes through the male line, so for reasons of space, etc, I have not included wives and daughters. The frequent evidence of reset, much to the annoyance of Black Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy and King James, is proof of the marital links to other families who may have feared the rising power of Clan Campbell.

A brief historical setting

Many claims have been made over the years that the Clan Gregor are a dark age kindred, descending from 'Gregory the Great', sometimes identified with Giric, a dark-age King or sub-King of Dalriada, possibly a nephew of Kenneth MacAlpin.

The identification of the Clann Ailpein which, according to Martin Macgregor, appears to have been the dominant kindred in the Loch Awe area during the 12th and 13th centuries with the possible descendants of a kinship group which might descend from King Kenneth MacAlpin (843-858) has added to the confusion. Late medieval writers such as Hector Boece and John of Fordoun appear to have been responsible for some of these assertions.

The strength of these stories is reflected in the motto of the Clan Gregor - “ ‘S Rioghal mo Dhream, or “My race is royal,”. The arms of the Clan Gregor feature a sword crossing an uprooted tree. The following tale is quoted from "Douglas's Baronage of Scotland", it is printed in Amelia Murray MacGregor's "History of Clan Gregor". According to this fable, in the time of King Malcolm Canmore (1058-1093), Malcolm was the 8th chief of Clan Gregor:-
“Sir Malcolm was a man of incredible strength of body. Being of the King’s retinue at a certain hunting party, in a forest, his Majesty having attacked a wild boar, or some other animal of prey, was like to be worsted, and in great danger of his life, when Sir Malcolm coming up, demanded his Majesty’s permission to encounter it, the King having hastily answered, ‘in,’ or ‘e’en do, bait spair nocht,’ Sir Malcolm is said to have torn up a young oak by the root, and throwing himself between his Majesty and the fierce assailant, with the oak in one hand, kept the animal at bay till with the other he got an opportunity of running it through the heart. In honour whereof his Majesty was pleased to raise him to the peerage of Lord MacGregor, to him ‘et heredibus masculis’; and in order to perpetuate the remembrance of the brave action, gave him an oak tree eradicate, in place of the fir-tree which the family had formerly carried."

It's amusing that he had to ask permission before he was able to intervene to save the King's life! Apart from the use of 17th century Scots instead of Gaelic, heraldic coats of arms did not come into use in Europe for at least another hundred years, and feudal peerages were only introduced into Scotland by David I in the 12th century. Martin MacGregor quite rightly described the 'history' of Clan Gregor in Douglas's Baronage as a 'work of fiction marred only by the occasional intrusion of fact'.

The claim of descent of Clan Gregor from King Kenneth MacAlpin first appeared in the late 15th or early 16th century and may have been spread by the family of the Dean of Lismore who lived in Fortingall. This family were MacGregors and will be developed (here in the genealogy). To them we owe one of the oldest surviving complete Gaelic texts. Part of the descent of Clan Gregor to the chief at the time, Patrick of Glenstrae who died in 1461, is shown in the table on the right. The generation length is impossibly long for this to be true, however, elsewhere in the Dean's book, a poem lists 21 generations from Kenneth MacAlpin, which would be more credible, if provable. Some of the names may well be imaginary but Martin MacGregor has pointed out, by comparing this genealogy with the traditional descent of other West Highland kindreds, there is a possibility of an early common source among the traditional Bards.

Having largely discounted the validity of the traditional descent of the Clan from Kenneth MacAlpin and the Kings of Dark Age Dalriada, it is necessary to point out that current DNA studies do appear to support the descent of the leading families of the Clan Gregor, the MacNabs, the MacKinnons and others from a common ancestor who was very likely to be a member of the ruling elite of Dalriada.

The purpose of these webpages is not to dwell on the traditional foundation myths of Clan Gregor, but to draw on the obituaries in the Dean of Lismore's work, together with mentions in charters and other early documents, where patronymics are of great assistance in determining descent. I have attempted to show a probably descent of Clan Gregor from a man named Griogair or Gregor who lived at the beginning of the 14th century. The genealogy on the right of Patrick, goes back 4 generations to Gregor which is where this study begins.

Before moving on, a few words about the impact of the Wars of Independence.
Following the untimely death of Alexander III in 1286, and the death of his only heir, the maid of Norway, Scotland was thrown into a crisis, with various competitors for the crown, of whom the leading ones claimed descent from David I (1124-1153). To avoid a civil war, Edward I of England was invited to adjudicate. He chose John Balliol, kin to the powerful Comyn family, over the other principal claimant, Robert Bruce. However, Edward used this as an excuse to impose himself on Scotland and when Balliol eventually objected, he was stripped of power and Edward sent in his army of occupation.
Ultimately the competitor Bruce's grandson would succeed as King Robert I, crowned at Scone in 1306. In terms of the genealogy of Clan Gregor, it appears that the Clann Ailpein mentioned above were clients of the MacDougalls, then the most powerful kin in Argyll and related by marriage to the Comyns. Colin Campbell, a minor laird of the isle of Innis Chonnaill on Loch Awe. took Bruce's side throughout. We know little of the details, but the result was that feudal superiority over the kindred which became Clan Gregor was granted to Colin Campbell by King Robert and confirmed in subsequent grants by his son, David II. Mariota, the heiress of the Clann Ailpein, who may have been the daughter of John of Glenorchy, was married to Colin Campbell. Gregor appears to have been a junior member of the ruling kindred which had been disrupted by the Wars.

According to Martin MacGregor's 1989 thesis, the relationship of the Clan Gregor with their Campbell feudal superiors remained relatively positive until the mid 16th century as both kindreds expanded into new territories across Argyll and Perthshire. This is demonstrated by the dispersion of the clan with new locations appearing over time. However, the relationship broke down with the accession of Cailean Liadh, Grey Colin Campbell, as Laird of Glenorchy in 1550, followed by his son, Black Duncan, in 1583. In 1562, Grey Colin's refusal to infeft the young Gregor Roy MacGregor in 1562 with his lands in Glenstrae led to an outbreak of violence. Ultimately this would lead to the proscription of the entire kindred by King James VI in 1603 and the abolition by the state of the very name 'MacGregor'. This proscription was not finally lifted until 1774.

The language spoken by these people was, of course, Gaelic. However, almost all of the sources which have been used to compile this genealogy were written in either Latin or the Scots form of English, and often rendered as the scribe may have heard them.

Returning to the lists of chiefs shown in the sidebar, the following summary of our early origins is taken from an article by Dr D C McWhannel.
"Based on an examination and analysis of the extant early records, it may be suggested that the earliest known leading family in Glenorchy descended from Ailpín (circa 1100). The sequence of chiefs of the house of Glenorchy from Ailpín to Eoin, or John de Glenorchy, who was mentioned in the Act of Parliament of King John Baliol in 1292 may be given as follows.-

Ailpín “oighre Dubhghaill” (c.1100)
(Ailpín may or may not have been the heir of a yet unidentified Dubhgall. Ailpín is however potentially the eponym of all the related Clann Ailpeín kindreds as well as being the oldest known ancestor of the Clann Griogair.)
Cianán or Conán
Aodha Urchadhaigh
Giolla Fhaolain Oirchill
Donnchadh Sruighlea
Donnchadh Beag
Maol Coluim (with brothers Eoin and Griogair, below)
Eoin of Glenorchy (mentioned in Act of Parliament in 1292)
(The individuals named above would almost certainly have lived under MacDougall lordship until 1315.)
Mariota, heiress of Glenorchy, married John Campbell of Ardscotnish (d.1386), a great-grandson of Colin Mor. Their daughter, Mary, heiress of Ardscotnish and Glenorchy married Colin, son of Gillespic of Arran.
Griogair, “of the Golden Bridles” (d.1360)
Eoin Cam, or John of Glenorchy ((d.1390). who initially held his lands from the Crown).

It is likely that Eoin of Glenorchy was succeeded in his lands by his daughter, Mariota, who married John Campbell. John Campbell, a grandson of Neil Campbell was granted a Royal Charter for Glenorchy in 1357. At his death John Campbell’s rights over Glenorchy passed to the Campbells of Lochawe such that in 1432 Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochawe granted Glenorchy to his third son Colin who thus became the first Campbell Laird of Glenorchy. Glenstrae was however not included in Colin Campbell’s grant to his son and was held by Maol Coluim, the son of Eoin Dubh MacGriogair, most probably as a tenant of Campbell of Lochawe.

Griogair “of the Golden Bridles”, a younger son of Donnchadh Beag and the likely eponym of the Clann Ghriogair, continued the male line of the Glenorchy family. His son Eoin Cam died in 1390 leaving three sons, Padraig, Eoin Dubh and Griogair."

Dr McWhannel mentions three sons of Eoin Cam as Padraig, Eoin Dubh and Griogair. Eoin Dubh succeeded his father as chief, occupying the lands of Glenstrae. Griogair became a tenant of the Campbells, but their relationship appears to have been cordial and his descendants, the Brackley line, were castellans of Kilchurn until the 1580s.
However, I disagree with Dr McWhannel regarding Padraig. In my analysis of dates and patronymics, Padraig was a son of Eoin dubh, a younger brother of the next chief Maol Coluim, and founder of the lineage in Glenlednock. Again from a study of patronymics and dates I have placed Donnchadh mor, the founder of the Roro line, as a third son of Eoin cam.
In my analysis, it has not been possible to identify the ancestor of the MacGregors of Ardinconnel in the Lennox. They could have come from Eoin cam, or perhaps from Griogair.
The Dean's 16th century genealogy

Alpin (Ailpin)

Kennan (Connan)

Hugh of Glen Orchy (Aodha Urchadhaigh)

Gillelan (Giolla Fhaolain)

Duncan (Donnchadh)

Duncan the small (Donnchadh beag)

Malcolm

John the lucky or learned

Gregor

John (Eoin cam)

Black John (Eoin dubh)

Malcolm

Patrick

The immediate descendants of Gregor, the founder of the Clan
 
 
 
 
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