« PreviousContinue »
from the turbulent times which wrought disaster everywhere, have left but little information concerning the ancestry prior to the beginning of the fourteenth century. However, information is gained here and there which affords some assistance in unraveling the history.
It has been claimed that the MacLeans and MaeKenzies are descended from a common ancestor. This is based on the following grounds: 1. The tradition in the families is to that effect. 2. Comneach, the founder of the clan MacKenzie, was a descendant of Gilleain. 3. There was a close friendship which always existed between the two clans, which was particularly exemplified by Sir Lachlan Mor MacLean sending his son, Hector, to be educated in the house of Cailean Can, and in Sir John MacLean, when a child, being sent for protection from the Campbells to the Earl of Seaforth, with whom he lived several years. It does not follow that all Gillcains were the same. The Gilleain of the MacKenzies was known as Gilleain na h'Airde, proving that he lived either in Aird Mhic Shimi in Inverness-shire, or else in Aird Rois, the name by which the mountainous region in the center of Rossshire was designated in early times. The founder of the Clan MacLean was Gilleain na Tuaighe, or Gilleain of the Battle-ax, who lived in Argyleshire.
The MacLeans can trace their origin with precision to Old Dougall of Scone, who must have flourished about the year 1100, and has been described as an influential, just, and venerable man.* In some genealogies he is made the son of Mocche, and again the son of Fearchar Abraruadh, who must be placed four centuries earlier. Raingce, son of Old Dougall, had three sons, Cucatha, Cusidhe, and Cuduilig. Cucaths, or Dog of Battle, was the progenitor of the Clan Conclmtha, in the district of Lennox, by whom it is possible the Clan Colquhoun is meant. Cusidhe, or Dog of Peace, was the progenitor of the Clan Consithe, in Fife. What clan is here referred to is not known. Cuduiligh, from whom the Clan Conduilig, that is, the Clan MacLean, in the island of Mull, became lay-abbot of the Monastery of Lismore, in Argylshire. His son was called Niall, and Niall's son was named Rath, or MacRath. Rath is said to have married a sister of Somerled, Sombairle M6r MacGillebride, who was slain at Renfrew in 11t;4. he had a son named Gilleain, r Gille-Eoin, the founder of the Clan MacLean, or more truly MacGhilleain.
nSkene's I Scotland, Vol. D p. 34:?.
I. Gilleain flourished about the year 1250. He was known as Gilleain na Tuaighe, from his carrying, as his ordinary weapon and constant companion, a battle-ax. He was a man of mark and distinction. The following anecdote is related of him, which probably accounts for the origin of the MacLean crest, which consists of a battle-ax between a laurel and cypress branch, and is still used on the coat-of-arms: He was on one occasion engaged, with other lovers of the chase, in a stag-hunt on the Mountain of Bein 'tsheata, and having wandered from the rest of the party in pursuit of game, the mountain became suddenly covered with a heavy mist, and he lost his way. For three days he wandered about, unable to recover his route, and on the fourth, exhausted by fatigue, he entered a cranberry bush, where, fixing the handle of his battle-ax in the earth, he laid himself down. On the evening of the same day his friends discovered the head of the battle-ax above the bush, and found its owner, with his arms round the handle, stretched, in a state of insensibility, on the ground.
The evidence, so far as it is now attainable, goes to show that Gilleain, as well as his father, Rath, held large possessions in Upper-Mull, and along the whole northern coast of that island. It also appears that the island of Kerrera was part of his property, and at its southern end he established himself, and there built a castle, which still bears his name, Gylen, or Gillean. It afterward became one of the strongholds of the MacLeans of Duard, and in it, at one time, was kept the famous Brooch of Lorn, belonging to King Robert the Bruce. The lofty ruined tower of Gylen Castle, covered with ivy, rests on the edge of a cliff, over a beach where the Atlantic has rent the rocks into fantastic shapes.
As Gilleain was the undoubted founder of the clan, to him has justly been ascribed—The First Chief of MacLean. He had three sons, Bristi, Gillebride, and Maoliosa. •
II. Gille-Iosa, second chief.
Maoliosa, or Malo-Iosa, or Gille-Iosa, means the servant of Jesus. He was a distinguished follower of Alexander III. of Scotland, and was conspicuous in expelling Haco. From the Norwegian account,* we learn that Alexander III. sent an embassy to King Haco, requiring him to give up the territories in the Hebrides, which Magnus Barefoot had unjustly wrested from Malcolm, predecessor to the Scottish king. Haco refused; then the embassy offered to purchase the territory; this was also refused. In 1263, King Haco assembled ll numerous host, declaring the expedition was intended against that part of Scotland which bordered the western seas, and the object was to revenge certain inroads made by the Scotch into his dominions. The expedition was commanded by Haco in person. The armament is described as mighty and splendid; the ships being many, large, and well appointed. When the expedition arrived at the island of Kerrera, it was joined by King Dugal, predecessor of the MacDougalls of Dunolly, with other Hebrideans. This increased the armament to one hundred vessels, for the most part large, and well provided with both men and arms. There the forces were divided, fifty ships being sent south to the Mull of Kintyre to plunder. Haco then sailed south to Gigha, where he anchored, but soon after proceeded to the Mull of Kintyre. The Norwegians committed great depredations, both in the islands and on the mainland. The Scottish monarch, however, was not idle. He assembled his forces, and proceeded against the invaders. The two armies met at Largs, on the coast of Ayrshire, on October 2,1263. The Norwegian army, although very large, could not all be brought into action, because a violent tempest arose, which prevented the greater part of the army from being brought ashore. In the Scottish army was a body of fifteen hundred horsemen, mounted on Spanish horses, armed, both horse and man, from head to heel, in complete mail. The foot-soldiers were well-accoutered, and in addition to the long spears of the Saxons, they carried the Norman bow. This memorable engagement was commenced by the Scots. The right wing, composed of the men of Argyle, Lennox, Athole, and Galloway, was commanded by Alexander, Lord High Steward, while Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, commanded the left, composed of the men of Fife, Stirling, Berwick, and Lothian. The king, in person, commanded the center, which was composed of the men from Ross, Perth, Angus, Mar, Mearn?, Moray, Inverness, and Caithness. Haco also commanded his center, which brought the kings close together in combat. The High Steward turned the enemy's left, and by an adroit maneuver wheeled back on the rear of Haco's center, which forced
Haco to retreat from the field, leaving from sixteen to twenty-four thousand of his men on the field, while the Scottish loss did not exceed five thousand.
Gille-Iosa, or, as it has been written, Gillise MacGillean, must have performed prodigies of valor in this action, for he has received honorable mention. This distinguished warrior died in the year 1300, and was succeeded by his son—
III. Malcolm, third chief of MacLean.
Malcolm's name has been written Maol-Calum and Gille-Calum, which means Servant of Columba. He was married to Rioghnach, daughter of Gamaliel, Lord of Carrick.
The name of Gille-Moire MacGilleain is attached to the Ragman Roll in 1296. It appears to be the same as Gille-Calum of the genealogists. This is a point by no means certain, but is more than probable.
Malcolm, at the head of his clan, fought at the battle of Bannockburn, on Monday, June 24, 1314. It was at this battle that the power of the English Edwards was broken, and the sovereignty of Scotland once more recognized. Robert Bruce's army consisted of thirty thousand men, while that of Edward has been estimated at over one hundred thousand. The English lost thirty thousand, and that of the Scots did not exceed ten thousand. With Edward were all the great English nobles and barons, and their followers, all well equipped. The engagement was commenced by the English, who poured forth their arrows, until they fell like flakes of snow. The Scottish army was arranged in a line consisting of three square columns, the center commanded by the Earl of Moray, the right by Edward Bruce, and the left by Sir James Douglas and Walter, the Steward of Scotland. The reserve, composed of the men of Argyle, Carrick, Kintyre, and the Isles, formed the fourth line of battle, and was commanded by Bruce in person. In this reserve were five thousand Highlanders, under twenty-one different chiefs, commanded by Angus Og MacDonald, father of John, first Lord of the Isles. The following clans, commanded in person by their chiefs, have the distinguished honor of fighting nobly: Stewart, MacDonald, MacKay, Macintosh, MacPherson, Cameron, Sinclair, Drummond, Campbell, Menzies, MacLean, Sutherland, Robertson, Grant, Fraser, MacFarlane, Ross, MacGregor, Munro, MacKenzie, and MacQuarrie. The Clan Cumming, MacDougall of Lorn, MacNab, and a few others, were present, but unfortunately on the wrong side. As already observed, the MacLeans were under the immediate command of their chief, Malcolm. After the battle was fully on, Bruce brought up the whole of his reserve, which completely engaged the four battles of the Scots in one line. The noise of the battle, as described by an eye-witness, was awful; there was the clanging of arms, the knights shouting their war-cry, tlie flight of the arrows maddening the horses, the banners rising and sinking, the ground covered with gore, the shreds of pennons, broken armor, and rich scarfs soiled with blood and clay; and amidst the din was heard the groans of the wounded and dying. Step by step the Scots gained ground, and fortunately, in a critical moment, the camp-followers, desiring to see the battle, appeared over the hill, and were taken by the English for Scotch reinforce- ments. Immediately dismay spread through the English ranks, which, the Scots noticing, made a fearful onslaught, which broke the English army into disjointed squadrons. The flight at once became general, and the slaughter fearful to behold. In the thickest of the fight the Highland clans plied their battle-axes with terrible effect. This did not escape the attention of the watchful Bruce; and, to show his appreciation for the great service, he assigned to Angus and his descendants, forever, the honorable position of the right flank of the royal army.
Malcolm, who died in the reign of King David Bruce, had three sons, Donald, Niall, and John. Donald and Neil appear in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland. In an account rendered by the constable of Tarbart, on July 13, 1325, of his disbursements from April preceding, these entries occur: (1) "And to the men who came round the Mull with a ship belonging to Donald McGilhon, by four codri of cheese, value 2 shillings, 8 pence. And for watching the same ship at AVesta Tarbart for 15 days, 5 shillings. And of eight men of John and Neil, sons of Gilhon, staying by the king's command for one month, 28 codri of cheese, value 16 shillings and 4 pence." (Exchequer Rolls, Roll II., Vol. I., p. 57.] In an account rendered by John of Logan at Scone, 2-ith August, 1329, from 17th February, 1327-8, this1 item occurs: (2) "And to Neil McGillon by the king's gift one child." (Ibid., Boll XL, p. 201.] In account rendered by Sir Robert of Teblis, Chamberlain of Scotland, at Scone, 9th December, 1329, this entry occurs: (3) "And to Neil McGillon in part of payment for keeping the castle of Scraburgh,* by letter of precept of the keeper, and his receipt, 10 pounds." [Ibid, Roll XII., p. 238.]
Donald had two sons—Maoliosa, or Malise, and John—two daughters, Beatag, or Beatrice, and Aithbric. Neil had two sons, Diarmad and MaolCalum, or Malcolm.
IV. John, Fourth chief of MacLean.
John succeeded his father as chief of the clan. He was known as Ian * Supposed to be Cuirnburgh, on one of the Treshnish Isles.