A Little Family History

ht: answers.com

We’ve been enamored by Carlos’ whole tatoo drama, and now been faithfully watching LA Ink. So, Jen and I were talking and the question came up, “What would you get if you got a tatoo?”, and I was like well, I think I’d get something to highlight my Scottish heratige – that’s pretty hard core and still meaningful and cool. If I was really serious, I’d mix it with some kind of spiritual something celebrating a new life in Christ.

I’ve always had strong family influence and my mom is a geneology freak (love ya mom). Her and my dad used to drag us kids to the Scottish games to watch my sisters dance, me play drums (yup, I wore the dreaded kilt!), grown men throwing bags of hey, and telephone poles around, and those bloody bagpipes! I hated it as a kid, now when I hear bagpipes I almost cry.

So here’s the Clan McLean Crest – I think it looks pretty cool.

“Virtue Mine Honour” means virtue is my honor, or strength is my honor – that’s pretty cool.

Did I mention that I have a castle as well? Yeah it’s pretty cool, it’s called Castle Duarte on the Island of Mull on the west coast of Scotland (they filmed the movie Entrapment using this castle). So, I got that goin on for me. Here’s a picture for your viewing pleasure:

We have a pretty gnarly history, some really great war stories, lots of battle axes and fights to the death with other Scottish clans or the English. I’m going to commit possible purgery and paste a bunch of McLean history just below. As for the tatoo, well we’ll have to wait and see.

The name MacLean is usually translated from the Gaelic as: MacGille Eoin or “son of the servant of St John“. The founder of the clan was a Scots warlord descended from the royal House of Loarn named Gilleain na Tuaighe (“Gillean (pronounced Gillane not Gill-ee-un) of the Battleaxe”, who lived circa (1174-1249). The stories of Gillean being descended from the Fitzgeralds is ficticious, as the Fitzgeralds were of Irish-Norman descent and the Macleans were of Gaelic descent, having been in Scotland since the Dalriadic immigration from Ulster in 503 AD. Gillean’s great-grandfather was Old Dugald of Scone, born ca. 1050 during the reign of King Macbeth. He was a Judex (judge) and Councillor to King David of Scots.

Gillean’s son Malise (from the Gaelic Maoliosa “Servant of Jesus”) was thought by some to have taken the name Gillemor in 1263 and wrote his name as “Gillemor Mcilyn (” son of Gillean”), County of Perth” on the third Ragman Rolls of 1296. This has been disproved in “Warriors and Priests” by Nicholas Maclean-Bristol. Malise is said to have led his followers against the Norsemen at the Battle of Largs in 1263 during the Scottish-Norwegian War where the Scottish were victorious.

Gillean’s great-great-grandson settled in Mull and by 1390, Donald, Lord of the Isles gave land to his two brothers-in-law, thus starting the two main branches of the clan: MacLean of Duart and MacLaine of Lochbuie (both on the island of Mull where the name is still frequently found). In 1380 the Clan MacLean along with Clan MacKinnon and Clan MacLeod were defeated in battle by Donald MacDonald, vindicating his right as Lord of the Isles.

Fifteenth century and clan conflicts

  • The MacLeans had become powerful associates of Macdonald, Lord of the Isles. As a result tensions had increased between the MacLeans and MacKinnons. The climax came on a day around the year 1365, when the Lord of the Isles, who had been hunting in Mull, set out to return to Ardtornish Castle, his stronghold on the opposite shore of the Sound of Mull. As Mackinnon was stepping into his galley to follow, Lachlan and Hector Maclean fell upon him and slew him. They then disarmed his men, and hastening after the Lord of the Isles, seized his galley and forced him to grant them an indemnity for the deed. A long feud continued between the MacLeans and MacKinnons.
  • A desperate battle between the Clan MacLean and Clan MacKinnon at Doire Shaig began in MacKinnon’s favour. However a MacKinnon who had married a MacLean deserted the MacKinnons with all of his followers. This deserting branch of MacKinnons fled to a cavern, but the MacLeans found it and smoked out the fugitives. Some of the MacKinnons managed to get in a boat and row to the Isle of Staffa where they hid the deserter MacKinnon in a great cave which is still known today as MacKinnons’ Cave. He later escaped to Isle of Skye. As a result of this battle the MacKinnons lost all of their lands.
  • Many incidents have been related regarding the ensuing feud with the MacKinnons. On one occasion the young Chief of the MacKinnons was forced to seek refuge in Ireland. There the Earl of Antrim gave him forty men to support him. The party landed at Camus na fola, the Bloody Bay a couple of miles north-west of Tobermory in Mull, and in order to discover the whereabouts of his enemies Mackinnon paid a visit to an old woman of his clan who lived in a lonely glen. He told her he had forty men to carry out an attack. She replied, “Do as I tell you, and you will have possession of your lands by sunrise.” Following her counsel he took to the woods with his party, where each man cut and stripped a caber. Surrounding Ledaig House, where Duart and Lochbuie lay asleep, they planted their cabers in the ground, the Chief placing his before the door with his naked sword hung on it. In the morning the astonished MacLeans, realising that the MacKinnons could easily have taken their lives in the night if they had wished, sent for the Chief of the MacKinnons and restored his lands.
  • In 1411 The Clan MacLean fought as Highlanders at the Battle of Harlaw near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire on 24 July 1411 against an Army of Scottish Lowlanders. Their enemy was the forces of the Duke of Albany and Earl of Mar. The MacLeans were led by “Red Hector of the Battles”, the 6th Chief.
  • Battle of Corpach, 1439. Prior to this battle the Clan Cameron lands had been invaded by John Garve MacLean of Coll and Alexander MacDonald, Lord of the Isles. However in one such incident the MacLeans invaded and were met by the Camerons at Corpach. It is recorded that a young MacLean chieftain, Ewen/John Abrach (the son of John Garve Maclean, so called from his residence in Lochaber) was killed in this battle. It is not likely that he is one and the same as “Hector Bui M’Lean.” Rather, they were possibly the leaders of their respective tribes of the MacLeans. With the defeat of the MacLeans at Corpach, the Camerons retained their lands, despite Maclean attempts to “dislodge” them throughout the coming years.
  • The Chief of Clan MacLean known as “Red Hector of the Battles” engaged in single combat with the chief of Clan Irvine, known as “Sir Alexander de Irwine.” After a legendary struggle both died of the wounds inflicted upon each other.
  • In 1480 Clan MacLean fought at the “Battle of Bloody Bay” on the side of MacDonald, Lord of the Isles. When William Dubh MacLeod, chief of Clan MacLeod was killed (or taken prisoner) supporting John of Islay, Earl of Ross, chief of Clan Donald against his bastard son Angus Og Macdonald the flag was also said to have been unfurled in the Battle of Bloody Bay. According to MacDonald chronicles William MacLeod was taken prisoner by Angus Og MacDonald and Allan Moidertach but had been so severely wounded that he died on his way back to Dunvegan Castle. It is said by the Seanachie of Sleat that Ronald Bain, son of Allan the laird of Moidart seized MacLeod’s galley but an Irishman prevented it from being steered away by thrusting the blade of an oar below the stern post of the galley between it and the rudder. As already mentioned the flag was guarded by a dozen warriors and one after another they were slain. There is a special account of one of them, Murchadh Breac (Murdo the pock-marked) who was struck by a spear and collapsed on deck of the galley but kept holding the flag up by sticking its pole into the gaping hole of his body until he was relieved of his charge by a comrade. William Dubh MacLeod was taken prisoner. After the Battle of Bloody Bay these MacDonalds raided the Isle of Skye in revenge for the MacLeods supporting John MacDonald of Islay against his son Angus Og MacDonald. William Dubh must have been prisoner then as his son Alasdair MacLeod was not yet chief of the clan when he withstood the raging MacDonalds and was severely wounded between the shoulders by a battleaxe from which he never really recovered. Thence he was hunchbacked and so comes his name Alasdair Crotach MacLeod.

Sixteenth century and the Anglo-Scottish Wars

  • During the Anglo-Scottish Wars, the Clan MacLean fought against the English at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513. The clan extended its influence to other Hebridean islands such as Tiree and Islay and onto the mainland. Lachlan of Duart was killed in this battle.
  • The Battle of Eilean Bacchadh 1586, Donald Gorme chief of the Clan MacDonald of Sleat was travelling from the Isle of Skye to visit his cousin, Angus MacDonald of Kintyre. He landed with his company on the Isle of Jura, which partly belonged to [[Clan MacLean and partly to Angus MacDonald of Kintyre. By chance he landed in a part of the island belonging to MacLean. Two outlaws, MacDonald Herrach and Hutcheon Madgillespick, who had fallen out with Donald Gorme MacDonald, arrived also with a company of men. Understanding that Donald Gorme of Sleat was there, they secretly took away, by night, a number of cattle that belonged to the MacLeans. They then retired again to the sea, having raised a tumult against Donald Gorme by making the MacLeans believe that this was done by Donald Gorme MacDonald’s men, who, lying at a place called Inver-knock-bhric, were suddenly invaded unawares under silence of the night neither suspecting or expecting any such matter by Sir Lauchlan MacLean and the entire Clan MacLean. The MacLeans killed more than 60 of the Clan MacDonalds that night. Donald Gorme MacDonald escaped in a ship that lay in the harbour. Angus MacDonald of Kintyre, hearing of accident and falling out between his brother-in-law, MacLean (whose sister he had married) and his cousin, Donald Gorme MacDonald, travelled Skye to visit Donald Gorme MacDonald and to see by what means he could work a reconciliation between him and MacLean for the slaughter of Donald Gorme MacDonald’s men at Inverknock-bhric. After a lot of political arguing, the two sides were made to make peace by the King.

Sir Lachlan Mor MacLean

  • As mentioned previously, the MacLeans fought in battle alongside their allies the Clan MacDonald against their enemy the powerful Clan Campbell. However The MacLeans also had a dislike for the MacDonald clan, one of the most powerful families in the Western Isles. In the sixteenth century, Lachlan Mor, chief of Duart, continually harried the MacDonalds of Islay. Sir Lachlan MacLean laid claim to the whole Isle of Isla. However this land traditionally belonged to the Clan MacDonald, which was in 1598 under the leadership of Sir James MacDonald, Sir Lachlan MacLean’s nephew. MacLean assembled a group of clansmen and sailed the Isle of Isla for a peace conference. According to a legend, James peacefully offered his uncle half of the Island for the MacLeans to own for Sir Lachlan’s lifetime only. However MacLean refused all offers of peace unless his nephew gave him the entire island; this led to the Battle of Traigh Gruineard. MacDonald’s men were far inferior in terms of numbers but had been trained well and had fought in wars in Ireland. The MacDonalds retreated so as to fight with the sun on their backs; eventually, they were victorious. Sir Lachlan MacLean along with about 280 of his men were killed and the rest were chased to their boats. It should be noted that the Macleans came to Islay dressed for peace and not for war. An independent source stated that Sir Lachlan’s only weapon was a rapier. James MacDonald was seriously wounded after being shot with an arrow; he was found after the battle amongst the dead MacDonalds which numberd about 30. This brought an end to the feud between the MacDonalds and the MacLeans. However, afterwards, the King, not liking the MacDonalds, gave much of the land to Clan Campbell; this would later lead to a feud with them.
  • After Lachlan MacLeans death in 1598, his sons took revenge on his suspected murderers, the MacDonalds, by carrying out a massacre of the people of Islay which lasted for three days. In this he was assisted by the MacLeods, MacNeils,and Camerons. The quarrel between the Macleans and the Macdonalds of Islay and Kintyre was, at the outset, merely a dispute as to the right of occupancy of the crown lands called the Rhinns of Islay, but it soon involved these tribes in a long and bloody feud, and eventually led to the near destruction of them both. The MacLeans, who were in possession, claimed to hold the lands in dispute as tenants of the crown, but the privy council decided that Macdonald of Islay was really the crown tenant.

Seventeenth century and Civil War

  • In 1647 Duart Castle was attacked and laid siege to by the Argyll government troops of Clan Campbell, but they were defeated and driven off by the Royalist troops of Clan MacLean.
  • Clan MacLean fought at the battle Battle of Inverkeithing as Royalists in 1651. It was fought between an English Parliamentarian army under John Lambert and a Scottish force acting on behalf of Charles II, led by Sir John Brown of Fordell
  • Archibald Campbell the 9th Earl, son of the Marquess of Argyll, invaded the Clan MacLean lands on the Isle of Mull and garrisons Duart Castle in 1678.
  • A Clan MacLean regiment raised by Sir John Maclean and under the immediate command of Maclaine of Lochbuie shed the first blood in the Jacobite cause in the 1689 rising, at the Battle of Knockbreck. Sir John led the Clan at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. The battle was fought chiefly between highland Scottish clans supporting James II and VII and government troops (mostly lowland Scots, often incorrectly labeled “English”) supporting William of Orange on July 27 1689, during the Glorious Revolution.

Eighteenth century and the Jacobite Uprisings

During the Jacobite Uprisings of 1745 to 1746 the Clan MacLean supported the House of Stuart and the Jacobite cause. Sir Hector Maclean, living in exile in Paris, went to Edinburgh to gain support for the Prince Charles Edward Stuart, but was betrayed by his bootmaker and was imprisoned in Edinburgh Caste and then the Tower of London. Because he was consider a French citizen, he escaped a capital sentence and was released after the rising was over. Many members of the clan were killed fighting at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Charles MacLean of Drimin was killed leading the MacLeans at Culloden.

Later decline

Many of the clansmen were killed at Battle of Culloden. The massacre of the MacDonald clansmen in the late 17th century marked the point when the fortunes of the MacLean clan began to wane, and by 1691 century the Campbells had gained possession of Duart Castle and most of the MacLean estates. However, Duart Castle was reclaimed by the family in 1911 and has been restored as the family seat. Many MacLeans dispersed to other countries such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Duart Castle

Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull is the traditional home of the MacLeans. There has probably been a fortress on the site (the “Dubh-Aird” – Black Height) since early mediaeval times. The current castle originally consisted of a square curtain wall surrounding lean-to buildings, and was most likely built for MacDougall of Dunollie around 1250. Some 100 years later it was part of the dowery of Lady Mary Macdonald, daughter of the Lord of the Isles, upon her marriage to Lachlan Lubanach Maclean. Lachlan built the Great Keep of Duart ca. 1370, and additions were made to the castle in the middle and late 1500s, and late 1600s. Duart was abandoned by the Macleans in 1691, and the castle was inhabited by the redcoats until 1751.Duart fell into ruins but was restored early in the 20th century by Sir Fitzroy Donald MacLean and has been the seat of the clan chief since its reopening in 1912. The exterior of Duart was used in the film “Entrapment” with Sean Connery (whose mother was a Maclean) and Catherine Zeta Jones.

5 thoughts on “A Little Family History

  1. WorshipCity

    I’m with you man. Rae and I used to casually watch Miami Ink but we are faithful LA Inkers! We’ve been on the fence since we got married about getting tatts together and now we’re truly brainstorming. The problem I have now is narrowing them down 🙂
    My descent is Irish too (I believe.) Conner from my Dad’s side and Smith (English) from my Mom’s. We don’t have a castle however, just a pub! But then doesn’t everyone from Ireland! HA!

  2. alex

    I think after a couple pints I might trade a castle for a pub!

  3. Jen

    Yeah… Im all for a tat for you alex… but it should read
    “Jen..My Baby Frash Nug FOREVER” enclosed with a read heart!

  4. Billy Chia

    Honestly bro, I skipped a lot of the history. I can’t believe you put all those links in there. But that castle’s pretty sweet.

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