(In alphabetical order)
A confederacy of related Highland clans that traced their ancestry back to the ancient Kings of Alba.
It consisted (alphabetically) of the clans of FERGUSSON (of
Strachur), GRANT, MacALPIN, MacAULAY, MacGREGOR, MacKINNON,
MacNAB, MacPHEE, and MacQUARRIE. The Clan GREGOR
is universally accepted as the senior member of this confederacy.
Although there were instances of feuds between some of these clans, generally any and all could be expected to assist one another in times of peril, i.e. in 1690, Rob Roy sent two strong runners with their families to live with the Grants at their castle in Speyside should theMacIntoshes(who dominated the clan Chattan Confederacy) continue to annoy them.
There were other confederacies amongst clans of the Highlands, including the powerful Clan CHATTAN Confederacy, and the Comyns. The early Kings of Scotland were chosen from among these 'power brokers', and maintained control until 'foreign' interlopers in the form of Anglo/Normans succeeded in usurping the traditional influence of the Gaelic clans.
The history of Scotland after MacBeth, the last Gaelic King, became a litany of racism, with the ancient Gaelic houses of Scotland being fair game for any Lowland family (Angles or Norman) that had managed to ingratiate themselves with the current monarch.
The Fergusson clan is widely dispersed throughout Scotland and
the various families are no doubt unrelated and descended from several Fergussons.
Argyll was the ancient home of the Fergussons of Strachur, which claims descent from Fergus Mor, son of Eric, who founded the Kingdom of Dalriada in the early 6th century. They long held the lands of Glenshellich of Stra-chur on Loch Fyne, and the Celtic office of hereditary Mayors of Stra-chur.
The Fergussons were listed in the Act of Suppression of 1587 and the family clashed with authority again during the Jacobite risings.
The GRANTs are descended from Gregor Mhor
MacGREGOR, who lived in the 12th century. Their territory was Strathspey, where
an extensive moor called 'Griantoch' (Plain of the Sun) is the origin of their
Their Chiefs became hereditary Sheriffs of Inverness. They supported Robert Bruce and consequently were allotted additional lands in Glen Moriston and Glen Urquhart. Through adroit marriages and astute political manoeuvring, the Grants were elevated to a Barony in 1493.
For his support in the Revolution of 1688, King William granted the chief the Regality of Grant in 1694, enabling them to rule as monarchs in their clan territory. In spite of the clan's support for the house of Hanover in 1715 and 1745, the regality was abolished with all such independent jurisdictions after Culloden.
By the 1600s, the Lamont Chiefs lived in Toward Castle. Satellite branches were established at Knockdow,Otter, and Silvercrags. Situated as they where in the heart of Argyll,the Lamonts became the first victims of Campbell aggression and treachery.
In 1646, the Lamont country was ravaged by the Campbells, who carried away about 200 prisoners to Dunoon and massacred them at Gallowhill. After Sir James Lamont, the Lamont Chief, had surrendered under written terms, women and young girls were murdered first, then 36 of the principle men of the clan were buried alive. This wholesale murder became a trademark of the Campbells. Ironically, one year earlier, Sir James had actually fought for the Campbells at the battle of Inverlochy.
This devastating event marked the end of Lamont power. They were overawed by the Campbells and became mere tenants in a Campbell empire. After the massacre, Ardlamont became the seat of the Chief, and so remained until its sale in the 19th century.
MacALPINE ancestry is very
distinguished. The founder of the clan was Alpin, a 9th century king of
Dalriada, reportedly slain by the Picts in 834AD. His son, Kenneth MacAlpin,
was much more famous. In 834AD, he managed to unite the thrones of the Picts
and Scots thereby forming the nucleus of a future Scotland. By
the time of his death in 858AD, he had established the Scottish hegemony so effectively
that the very Pictish language soon disappeared in favour of Gaelic.
This founding family engendered many clans. It must be remembered that "Mac" in Gaelic means 'son of' so in the early years of Gaelic society, it was not uncommon to see the family surname change with each generation to identify with the immediate male parent. It was also a common tradition to name the first born male after the father so as to continue the original family name, but sometimes through misfortune or otherwise, a break would occur and a new branch of the same genetic stock would appear.
There are two Clans MacAULAY (Sons of Olaf). The best
known were the MacAULAYs of Ardincaple, in Dumbartonshire. Sir Aulay MacAULAY
of Ardincaple appears in 1587 in the Roll of the Landlords and Bailies in the
Highlands and Isles as one of the principal vassals of the Earl of Lennox. The
MacAULAYs are coupled with the MacLEAYs and MacIVORs in the 15th century as giving
trouble to the Earl of Ross and his tenants.
The last portion of the clan territory passed out of the hands of the 12th Chief in 1767, when Ardincaple was sold to the CAMPBELL Duke of Argyll.
The MacKinnons began as a branch of the MacAlpine clan.
Their name means 'son of Fingon', indicating they were descended from one of the younger
sons of King Alpin. They were based on the coast at Skye and Mull. Through marriage
with a Norse Princess, Findanus, 4th Chief, acquired Dunakin, (Haakon's fort) and
levied tolls on passing ships. Several members of the clan became abbots of Iona and
eventually Bishops of the Isles.
The MacKinnons supported the Stuarts during the Great Civil War and ensuing uprisings. Sir Lachlan MacKinnon of Strathard, 28th Chief, was a Royalist, and was created a Knight-Banneret by Charles II on the field at Worcester, in 1651.
They answered the Jacobite call to arms fighting at both Sherriffmuir and Culloden, and similarly to other clans who had fought for the Bonnie Prince, were dealt harshly with by the Hanoverians and their Campbell quislings. Their old Chief was taken prisoner and after a long imprisonment died in 1756.
His son, Charles was forced to part with the twenty-six mile long valley of Strathairdale in 1765. The last of the clan lands, held in unbroken succession for 450 years, went under the hammer in 1791. John, son of Charles, last of the direct line of the Chiefs of Clan Fingon, inherited nothing except his ancient office and died in poverty.
In Gaelic, this name means 'son of the Abbot.' This clan
claims descendency from the Abbots of Glen Dochart. This area was MacGregor
clan territory before Christianity was introduced into the region, so it is generally
accepted that the origins of this clan lay with the MacGregors.
The MacNabs suffered much in the early decades of the 14th century. Due to the murder of their relative, Red Comyn, by Robert Bruce and because of Bruce's treachery against William Wallace, the MacNabs took up arms against him. After Bannockburn, Bruce had a free hand and he seized much of MacNab lands which he decreed to the Campbells, the Stewarts, and others of his favourites.
For political reasons, thechief of this clan acknowledged himself as a branch of the stronger Clan MacKinnon. In 1645, John MacNab gained fame for his exploits with Montrose and his later escape from capture.
In 1823, Archibald MacNab fled to Canada to escape his debtors . Many of his clansmen and their families jammed emigrant ships and joined him in an effort to establish a clan community. Due to extreme hardship in the wilderness there, he returned to Scotland and proceeded to re-establish a Grant homeland. He eventually overtaxed the resources of his clansmen and died a broken man in France in 1860.
This clan lived on the island of Colonsay, in the Inner
Hebrides. The oldest form of the name is MacDuffie, which appears as a charter
in 1463, but it is also written as MacFIE or MacPHEE. MacDuffie of Colonsay was
Hereditary Keeper of the Records of the Lords of the Isles.
In 1615, Malcom MacFIE of Colonsay joined Sir James MacDonald of Islay and was one of the principal leaders in his subsequent rebellions. With the defeat of that rebellion, the clan was dispossessed of their original inheritance and became a 'broken clan,' lost their independence, and so were obliged to rank under more powerful clans.
MacFIE became a dependent of the Macdonald's and later of the Campbells of Argyll, as the Island of Colonsay was first awarded by Royal decree to the former and then the latter.
In 1623, Malcom of Colonsay was slain while hiding under a pile of seaweed, and the island passed into other hands. Those MacPhees still remaining on the island did so under the precarious tenure as crofters. Some clansmen and their families settled in Cameron country on the mainland. So many of this broken clan became rootless that the very name of MacPHEE became synonymous with the itinerant tin smiths known as tinkers..
This clan claims descendency from Guarie, a
great-grandson of King Kenneth MacAlpin. ('Guarie' in Gaelic means 'Noble' in
English). The clan lands included the island of Ulva and part of Mull. The
clan followed the MacDONALDs or the MacLEANs of Duart, but they were badly affected by
the defeat of the MacDONALDs at Inverkeithing (1651), when the clan was almost
wiped out. They were then forced to become dependent on the Campbells of Argyll.
Lachlan MacQUARRIE, the 16th Chief, was forced to sell his ancestral lands in 1778, and at the age of 63 joined the British Army. He served with distinction as an officer in the Duke of Argyll's regiment, the Argyll Highlanders.
Given the sad fate of most of our allies, it is surprising that the MacGregors, the most victimized of all the clans by the Campbells and the Stewarts, has survived to date.
It is a reflection of our unique stubbornness and inner strength in the face of horrible oppression that we were not wholly absorbed by our nemesis. God only knows they tried.
May I make an ancient toast to our family?
Up the MacGregors!!!